All or Nothing

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Brian Johnston
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All or Nothing

Post by Brian Johnston » 11 Nov 2008, 14:24

This is a common mode of thinking.

If one thing is wrong, then it must all be wrong. One crack and it all comes tumbling down.
If one positive event really happened, then everything else attached to it must be true. The Church uses this a lot in missionary work.

How do you all deal with getting your mind wrapped around this idea? Or better yet deprogramming yourself, so to say. It's very natural to see things this way. It's not just natural, it is a way we make rational judgments about what to expect in the future. We do this all the time even outside of religion.

The problem with it in the LDS faith is what happens when we doubt one portion of the overall story. What happens if a prophet makes a wrong prediction? What happens if a leader fails (local or historical)? What happens when a prayer is not answered, or someone is not healed by a blessing?

I'd love to hear how other people process this type of disappointment. Does it damage your trust/faith relationship?

Also, do find yourself doubting your good spiritual experiences? We can still have positive promptings. How far are you comfortable going with the interpretation of those good feelings and experiences?
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: All or Nothing

Post by hawkgrrrl » 11 Nov 2008, 16:56

Sometimes prayer is really just seeking for a sign. People want God to answer very clearly that He exists or that He wants you to do X,Y, or Z. It's really easy to get the idea in your head that "If I just get this one answer, I won't have to ask any more questions." There's a real tendency to turn off our inquisitiveness. Life is too short to keep questioning. People also want to think they are personally important and that God is involved in the intimate details of their life. We don't believe in predestination, but there are many who like to live as if we do.

One thing I tell myself is that I don't let the things I don't know erase the things I do know. But I would also say I don't know very much (I believe and hope more than I know), and I am always willing to evaluate the things I do know, realizing that some things are not knowable.

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Re: All or Nothing

Post by SallyM » 11 Nov 2008, 20:06

hawkgrrrl wrote: One thing I tell myself is that I don't let the things I don't know erase the things I do know. But I would also say I don't know very much (I believe and hope more than I know), and I am always willing to evaluate the things I do know, realizing that some things are not knowable.
(this is my first attempt at using a quote so lets see if it worked!)

Totally agree with this line of thinking....very much describes how I am now dealing with the all or nothing change of thinking. I see too many good things that have come out in my life from living for the most part as a TBM, hence why I am not wanting to just drop it all now.

I guess too I am now trying to move forward SOMEHOW. I dont think I will ever be a TBM again...now I question things like modern day relevation more then I ever did...so I am kind of moving forward as a non-traditional Mormon then anything else right now(well this is the plan for now anyway). I would say this is different to a NOM. I dont want to be at church just nit picking at how TBMs are doing stuff wrong, or not infomed etc. I want to be at church and to feel uplifted, so I am hoping I can just see more positives then negatives...you know the net good theory....

I want to move forward as an LDS that practices what I really do believe, and not feel guilty or LESS THEN PERFECT about not necessarily practicing the other things that perhaps I have only done beforehand out of respect, culture, tradition etc. Its only now that I am even thinking about it all...ie why I am doing certain things? is it because I beleive they are of God, or someother reason etc?

This is current for me right now as I am questioning the diviness of things like the Temple, and wearing garments etc. When I am honest I have only lived this part of the LDS religion due to the expectations....I guess I dont know if it is of God, or man yet...again I only started to think about it recently due to being confronted with events in USA that made me feel I was not on the same page as Pres Monson (ie Prop 8).

Dont get me wrong I think the temple is a wonderful place. I have never had an amazing spiritual experience inside or anything...but I like the peace i feel in the celestial room. But the crtic in me now questions whether I wouldn't also feel that peace in other temples even of other faiths that are also dedicated to worship?

So I want to stay LDS, but still be honest to what I think is really important (ie of GOD), and thus I cannot ever see my self as a traditional LDS person again. So time will tell I guess. I am taking it all one step at a time.

Its a pity many have this all or nothing mindset..it is hard to fight...but I may not want or now accept it "all"...but I know I do not want "nothing" also!

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Re: All or Nothing

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Nov 2008, 22:53

Sally,

I started something this year that has been wonderful! I really wish I had done so many years ago, since, even though I have been active my entire life, I feel like I have grown more this year than perhaps in the 21 other years combined since my mission.

If you are interested, read the following post on my personal blog - then read any of the ones under the "Resolutions" category in the archives:

http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008 ... ution.html
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: All or Nothing

Post by hawkgrrrl » 12 Nov 2008, 09:24

Its a pity many have this all or nothing mindset..it is hard to fight...but I may not want or now accept it "all"...but I know I do not want "nothing" also!
I really relate to what you are saying. I think the key is that once you have taken the "backstage tour," you start to get an idea for how things work to bring it all together, and you realize that all human organizations are make-believe to a certain extent. Some people take this newfound perspective and use it to criticize and mock the actors from behind the curtain. Some people try to drop sandbags and sabotage the play. But some just sit back and enjoy watching how it all comes together and realize that it's not the only stage in town, and every theater works the same way. What I think is interesting is that the new insights really just reveal the kind of person YOU are. I'm sure you've seen other approaches out there.

It's also like the process of growing up, but we forget that there are certain elements to growing up that are unpleasant. But growing up spiritually is similar. It involves rejecting one's parents to some extent, seeing their flaws, and even at times hating them, but eventually we start to see the whole picture. After that, they are never those perfect people we thought they were (that they never were in the first place). But we can find that they are good, they have moments of greatness despite their flaws, and ultimately they are a part of us.

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Orson
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Re: All or Nothing

Post by Orson » 12 Nov 2008, 09:51

I really appreciate your post Hawkgrrrl.
hawkgrrrl wrote:I think the key is that once you have taken the "backstage tour," you start to get an idea for how things work to bring it all together, and you realize that all human organizations are make-believe to a certain extent. Some people take this newfound perspective and use it to criticize and mock the actors from behind the curtain. Some people try to drop sandbags and sabotage the play. But some just sit back and enjoy watching how it all comes together and realize that it's not the only stage in town, and every theater works the same way.
I love this analogy. Some people can get so caught up in the hurt they experience through learning that "it's a play - not 'real' life". But I think what they miss is even more profound: If you sit back and pay attention to the story unfolding on the stage, you realize how it IS inspired. It may not be exactly what you originally thought it was, but as you come to see what it in fact IS - you have an even greater appreciation of how it came to be, how it is true/good (even with, or even because of its flaws), and how it can impact lives.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

mcarp
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Re: All or Nothing

Post by mcarp » 10 Dec 2008, 12:31

Two of my problems with all or nothing thinking are (1) that's how I was raised and (2) that's what the church teaches.
Gordon B. Hinckley wrote: We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith.

When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, “Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.”

That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens. (November 2002 Ensign, an October 2002 conference address)
So, if you come across information that shakes your foundational testimony of Joseph Smith, then it looks like "this work is a fraud" and it is tough to deal with. So, it seems like the church itself is perpetuating this idea.

I'm not trying to contradict anyone, I would just like to hear your thoughts (esp. hawkgrrrl and Valoel).

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: All or Nothing

Post by hawkgrrrl » 10 Dec 2008, 14:33

(1) that's how I was raised and (2) that's what the church teaches.
Most of the cultural stuff I don't like is related to the fact that the church is a gerontocracy (although to be clear, I see tremendous upside to that also). My parents' generation was just more black & white (TSM is the first president in their lifetime who is younger than my parents). If you fought in WWII, you see the world as heroes and villains, good and evil, and frankly, there's a lot of that in the scriptures, too. But that's just not how real life is or how real people are. I would add that children really do see things as very black & white too, so that we were raised that way is probably just because it's how you perceive things growing up. Does the church teach that? Yes and no. There are also members of the 12 who don't stick to polemic arguments or who find them to be problematic. They tend to be the ones focused on the exception rather than the rule, more able to see the gray, and more focused on love in their talks than on obedience. I've gotten pretty good at tuning down the voices that say things that feel less enlightened and good at tuning up the ones that speak to my soul. There's some cafeteria Mormonism for ya!

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Re: All or Nothing

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Dec 2008, 15:57

Human nature: 1 negative experience cancels out 7-8 positive experiences. (Like one "visit to the principal's office" cancels out six good talks with that principal in the hallway, and one blown call by a referee cancels out an otherwise flawless game. Think about that last example.) The same is true of talks and statements. That's important to understand, since it means that one apostle's words with which we disagree can negate what six other apostles say with which we agree.

I mean this sincerely:

I have found that most members who claim the Church teaches absolutism generally do so over a handful of statements (and sometimes only one), while, if they stopped and did an actual count, there are dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of other statements that they could point to as counter-examples. It is a sad fact that all of us remember most clearly those things that bother us the most and least clearly those things that "merely" are good things.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: All or Nothing

Post by kupord maizzed » 11 Dec 2008, 07:11

Hawkgrrrl,

I really like your analogy. But it really isn't like a play at all. It isn't even like a David Copperfield show. Both of those are obvious tricks and illusions. We willingly suspend disbelief for the duration of the show. How we feel about our testimony of the LDS Church is more like one who trusted in a puppet government in Chicago.

You think you are in a democratic society. You think your leaders are popularly elected. You think there is freedom of the press etc. You think there is the Rule of Law. Then you get the smoke-filled room tour. You meet Blagojevich and all the aldermen. Some people take this newfound perspective and use it to shine light into those smoke-filled rooms and try to bring about the realization of the promised ideals. Some people try to mobilize the press and spoil the party. But some just sit back and watch it all crumbling and realize that it's just human nature, and every town works the same way.

So ask a given Sunday school class whether the Church is all an illusion to be enjoyed or a righteous government to trust in. Are the whistleblowers the cynics, or are the handlers the cynics?

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