A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

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Old-Timer
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A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by Old-Timer »

Over the last few years, I have come to love the idea that "exercising faith" means "choosing how we interpret and act on things based on our hope in the unseen". Phrased differently, we have the ability and the right to interpret things in any way we want that gives us hope - to be agents unto ourselves - to act and not be acted upon.

For example, I might not accept the "God of the Lost Keys" or the "God as a slot machine" concepts, but I do accept other people's right to believe those concepts - both generally and in order to accept my very different view(s) as legitimate options.

For what do I hope but not see/know? If I don't believe I can know something, what interpretation gives me hope in my not knowing - even if that interpretation doesn't ring true with or irritates or even scares someone else? Consciously allowing myself to choose an interpretation allows me to let go of other interpretations that don't work for me - without condemning or criticizing or ridiculing people who choose to interpret things differently.

Of course, I recognize the danger of that concept, since some hopes and interpretations are unhealthy or even dangerous, to widely varying degrees, to self and others - but, still, I love the concept. I have come to believe it is a central part of what makes us "fully human" and "partially divine", and it certainly relates to our mission and focus here.
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
AmyJ
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by AmyJ »

Old-Timer wrote: 17 Mar 2022, 20:51 Over the last few years, I have come to love the idea that "exercising faith" means "choosing how we interpret and act on things based on our hope in the unseen". Phrased differently, we have the ability and the right to interpret things in any way we want that gives us hope - to be agents unto ourselves - to act and not be acted upon.
POINT 1:
For the last few years, my family has had the courage to be in personal and marital counseling and it has challenged a variety of assumptions, and updated some doctrinal-levels of how we do things with very positive results.

The primary assumption that keeps coming back to haunt us more often then a mutating virus in various forms is:
That my husband and I "interpret" and "act on things based on our hope of the unseen (with the other person)" accurately (we don't. We REALLY don't).

One of the best habits we (ok maybe just mostly me) have picked up, is assuming that a metaphorical card on the table in any discussion being had is that our "interpretation" of the actions and reactions in real time needs to be calibrated and re-calibrated. We HAVE to keep asking each other to describe their interpretation - and what is driving it, and how it aligns with the current options. That the ONLY way to come closer to getting the choices made to make it "right" (more comfortable, sustainable, in line with our values, etc.) and acted on in our lives REQUIRES us (well at least me) to assume we are getting it "wrong" and not fully hearing/understanding the other individual.

POINT 2:
One of my favorite quotes (and life tenets) taught by Robert Fulghum (a celebrated writer/essayist) is:
Look around and see the infinite variety of human heads—skin, hair, age, ethnic characteristics, size, color, and shape. And know that on the inside such differences are even greater—what we know, how we learn, how we process information, what we remember and forget, our strategies for functioning and coping. Add to that the understanding that the “world” out “there” is as much a projection from inside our heads as it is a perception, and pretty soon you are up against the realization that it is a miracle that we are communicating at all. It is almost unbelievable that we are dealing with the same reality. We operate on a kind of loose consensus about existence at best.
[Bold Added By Me]
http://roykealing.weebly.com/uploads/1/ ... _brain.pdf

We absolutely have to have the ability and the right to interpret things differently - because a) that is the absolute reality - everyone is different, and b) when we deny that ability and/or deny that right (especially on a group level), we run the real risk of de-humanizing that individual (in our own minds if nothing else).
The paradox is, that not interpretations are helpful, useful, or sustainable - even if they are "valid" or "rational" in an individual context. And actively listening to all voices at the very long table leads to a) the diminishing of power, b) opportunity costs, c) diminishing returns on hearing other voices, d) increases in project scope and "expenditures" as it were because of the additional heard concerns brought to to that that table, e) more compromises instead of self-serving choices. It's easy to say that every individual has the right to speak, but harder to make the time/space for multiple individuals to listen - and sometimes waiting for everyone to speak their piece has real-time opportunity costs that are hard to accept.
Old-Timer wrote: 17 Mar 2022, 20:51 For example, I might not accept the "God of the Lost Keys" or the "God as a slot machine" concepts, but I do accept other people's right to believe those concepts - both generally and in order to accept my very different view(s) as legitimate options.
This is great - until it becomes a non-verbalized "quid pro quo" exercise. I spent a good 2 years of my life off and on trying to persuade my husband to accept my right to be in a faith transition (NOTE: It was my "right to be" in a state that I was actually in) - that my state of being was a rational reaction to the experience that I was having - that I wasn't sinning, being lazy, or offended by the church.

I used to get mad/resentful that as the person who knew more of what was going on (it was my faith transition after all), I had the responsibility to work my faith trauma stuff out myself so that I could practice seeing his point of view and do the additional work to "defuse the triggers" as it were to minimize the perceived traumatic impact it had on his life (without him returning the favor).

Eventually, it wound up looking like I did my homework to see what boundaries I could put in place that were reasonable (analogous to basic hygiene practices we perform every day to be in the space as other humans), and some boundaries that were extra work for me but requested by him and refined so that I got something useful from the boundary being set too.
Old-Timer wrote: 17 Mar 2022, 20:51 For what do I hope but not see/know? If I don't believe I can know something, what interpretation gives me hope in my not knowing - even if that interpretation doesn't ring true with or irritates or even scares someone else? Consciously allowing myself to choose an interpretation allows me to let go of other interpretations that don't work for me - without condemning or criticizing or ridiculing people who choose to interpret things differently.

Of course, I recognize the danger of that concept, since some hopes and interpretations are unhealthy or even dangerous, to widely varying degrees, to self and others - but, still, I love the concept. I have come to believe it is a central part of what makes us "fully human" and "partially divine", and it certainly relates to our mission and focus here.
I have been buried in acronyms for the last few years - and I have started to see each "clinical description" or "educational description" as one of those semi-transparent scarves up in the air that are overlapping and shading each other. You might have a blue scarf (childhood trauma) and a yellow scarf (the ability to zoom in on specific activities at the expense of everything else) creating a green scarf look. These are 2 aspects of a "description" or diagnosis of "ADHD" - which is its own lime green scarf, and may or may not be a different shade of green then the 2 first scarfs produced. This concept of "shading" and "blending" illustrated by scarves has helped me to remember that everything has more depth then we give it credit for (so trod carefully) and also to avoid the black and white thinking of "interpretations" being distinct schools of thought that argue with each other.

TRUE STORY:
I wound up investigating some specific autoimmune descriptions that matched some experiences being had by a family member. We wound up saying something like, "We are looking at these autoimmune descriptions as reasons why this very common (and easily dismissed) symptom of dry eye is being experienced, can you please run this test for us?" to our eye doctor. The testing itself came back inconclusive, BUT the eye doctor was able to advise some actions to take to reduce the irritation that the dry eyes were having, and has re-calibrated the treatment plan several times now to treat this condition. NOTE: He finally concluded that the only reason his patient had had the more severe eye symptoms that the eye doctor was looking for was because the patient was basically bathing the eye in eye drops.

I know that our eye doctor would not have changed his treatment plan without our introduction of the autoimmune descriptions we were looking at - (the most recent evidence being that he was expecting to see more damage to the eyes based on the information we gave him). However, our introduction of the terminology gave us the words to he needed as terms to connect the sense of the degree of severity of the symptoms being experienced our side to what he could do to test/treat/monitor as an eye doctor to provide more effective care.
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DarkJedi
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by DarkJedi »

Thanks for your insights Old Timer. I think I'm pretty much in the same place and of the same mindset.

I think a very good example that many people would be familiar with is Obi Wan's conversation with Luke Skywalker after Luke realized Darth Vader was really his father. Luke's first reaction was that Obi Wan lied about his father, and it would appear he did (Vader did not physically/literally kill Anakin Skywalker). But from another point of view, as Obi Wan explained, Vader did indeed kill who Anakin Skywalker was. Truthfully, I am of the opinion that Obi Wan lied - but I also see what he's saying about another point of view and we are not necessarily limited to only those two points of view. I respect both points of view and the right of anyone to draw their own conclusions about what actually happened (especially since many years later in the prequels we saw what happened). And while I am of the opinion Obi Wan lied, it's such a complex situation that it's really hard to know happened, and I am also of the mindset I can't know anything for sure (at least in this life).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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AmyJ
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by AmyJ »

DarkJedi wrote: 18 Mar 2022, 06:54 I think a very good example that many people would be familiar with is Obi Wan's conversation with Luke Skywalker after Luke realized Darth Vader was really his father. Luke's first reaction was that Obi Wan lied about his father, and it would appear he did (Vader did not physically/literally kill Anakin Skywalker). But from another point of view, as Obi Wan explained, Vader did indeed kill who Anakin Skywalker was. Truthfully, I am of the opinion that Obi Wan lied - but I also see what he's saying about another point of view and we are not necessarily limited to only those two points of view. I respect both points of view and the right of anyone to draw their own conclusions about what actually happened (especially since many years later in the prequels we saw what happened). And while I am of the opinion Obi Wan lied, it's such a complex situation that it's really hard to know happened, and I am also of the mindset I can't know anything for sure (at least in this life).
This is awesome, thanks:)

But it brings up 2 questions:
  • Did Obi Wan actually lie? That's usually easy to eventually limit the values available as an acceptable answer to "Yes" or "No".
  • Does Obi Wan perceive that he lied AND/OR that his statement could be construed as a lie? That question with 2 sub-questions, cannot be limited to a "Yes/No" binary. And that answer expansion usually causes a review of question #1.
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DarkJedi
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by DarkJedi »

AmyJ wrote: 18 Mar 2022, 07:14
DarkJedi wrote: 18 Mar 2022, 06:54 I think a very good example that many people would be familiar with is Obi Wan's conversation with Luke Skywalker after Luke realized Darth Vader was really his father. Luke's first reaction was that Obi Wan lied about his father, and it would appear he did (Vader did not physically/literally kill Anakin Skywalker). But from another point of view, as Obi Wan explained, Vader did indeed kill who Anakin Skywalker was. Truthfully, I am of the opinion that Obi Wan lied - but I also see what he's saying about another point of view and we are not necessarily limited to only those two points of view. I respect both points of view and the right of anyone to draw their own conclusions about what actually happened (especially since many years later in the prequels we saw what happened). And while I am of the opinion Obi Wan lied, it's such a complex situation that it's really hard to know happened, and I am also of the mindset I can't know anything for sure (at least in this life).
This is awesome, thanks:)

But it brings up 2 questions:
  • Did Obi Wan actually lie? That's usually easy to eventually limit the values available as an acceptable answer to "Yes" or "No".
  • Does Obi Wan perceive that he lied AND/OR that his statement could be construed as a lie? That question with 2 sub-questions, cannot be limited to a "Yes/No" binary. And that answer expansion usually causes a review of question #1.
1. In my opinion, yes, but I see how the answer could be no. Don't get me wrong, I think he lied for good reason but he could have not lied from the beginning. I agree mostly we can come to a conclusion about truth after very close examination - but in some cases we really can't know for sure.
2. Also difficult to answer because my Jedi skill is not mind reading. He knew Anakin was not physically dead, and my own opinion is that when he was "caught" in the lie he brought up the whole "things we hold to be true depend on our own point of view" thing. Maybe what he was really saying was "Luke, from your point of view I lied, from my point of view I was protecting you from potential harm." And of course if Obi Wan hadn't lied we would have never gotten the point of view statement (that I personally consider scripture).

I actually came back to edit my previous post but then you had a response so I'll just add my other thought here. This came to me as I was having a conversation this morning with a coworker. I don't believe in chiropractors or naturopaths and wouldn't go to either - but my coworker does and that works for them and I'm OK with that for them. I have never said to them that I think their naturopath is a quack selling them snake oil, I keep my opinion to myself - if they think it works, good for them and they can keep doing what they believe. I don't have to believe it for me though.

Relating this to the OP, I think there's a tendency in the church (or more specifically by some church members and leaders) that we all have to have the same point of view and believe the same things (correlation to the Nth degree). But I think that as we individually mature in our personal faith some of us recognize that uniform belief is not really part of the plan and that's OK - because that's the plan (Wirthlin's orchestra). I think Joseph Smith recognized that as well, and I think the early church reflected that.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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AmyJ
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by AmyJ »

DarkJedi wrote: 18 Mar 2022, 07:49 Relating this to the OP, I think there's a tendency in the church (or more specifically by some church members and leaders) that we all have to have the same point of view and believe the same things (correlation to the Nth degree). But I think that as we individually mature in our personal faith some of us recognize that uniform belief is not really part of the plan and that's OK - because that's the plan (Wirthlin's orchestra). I think Joseph Smith recognized that as well, and I think the early church reflected that.
I think this tendency to believe that we have the same point of view and belief the same things is being driven by some of these factors:
  • The church teachings label out a very specific plan. Church members are raised to look for a "plan" rather than to be their own "planners" as it were. It's a feature, not a bug ;)
  • Church members adapted the "plan" to their own circumstances with a stunning array of results until the era of the 1950's to 1970's - and then the "official storyline" is that church members actually did follow 1 "plan" - to make correlation easier and to "model good behavior".
  • The functionality of the church in the administration and pastoral roles flourished (mostly ish) for the first 75-100 years of the church (ish) [CAVEATS for Polygamous families and non-white racial groups - we have all kinds of data to show how these groups had a harder time flourishing for a variety of reasons]. There are quite a few different ways that this plays out as tension between members and the church organization requirements - with plenty of spectacular failures in both areas and lack of innovation decreasing the relevance of the divine administration and the divine pastoral roles in the lives of the individual members as contrasted against the innovations the "world" is making/reinventing that are markedly improving the lives of people and supplying information that is more accurate and/or more useful then what the church provides in a variety of fields. The information and the faith can (probably) co-exist, but not easily.
  • Trust. Transparency of information is making it harder to blindly "trust" the church and its corporate impulses. It doesn't help that these impulses reflect a corporate environment from about 50-70 years ago - complete with male/female power dynamics and expectations and employer/employee "at will" power dynamics and expectations.
  • The "salvation" of church members and their dead is taught as a worldwide divine administration AND pastoral role - but the number of people on the earth is ALOT and those roles ARE HUGE - so church leaders wind up getting overwhelmed by that scope and trying to herd humans like sheep even though humans herd about as well as cats do.
Watcher
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

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Old-Timer wrote: 17 Mar 2022, 20:51 Over the last few years, I have come to love the idea that "exercising faith" means "choosing how we interpret and act on things based on our hope in the unseen". Phrased differently, we have the ability and the right to interpret things in any way we want that gives us hope - to be agents unto ourselves - to act and not be acted upon.

For example, I might not accept the "God of the Lost Keys" or the "God as a slot machine" concepts, but I do accept other people's right to believe those concepts - both generally and in order to accept my very different view(s) as legitimate options.

For what do I hope but not see/know? If I don't believe I can know something, what interpretation gives me hope in my not knowing - even if that interpretation doesn't ring true with or irritates or even scares someone else? Consciously allowing myself to choose an interpretation allows me to let go of other interpretations that don't work for me - without condemning or criticizing or ridiculing people who choose to interpret things differently.

Of course, I recognize the danger of that concept, since some hopes and interpretations are unhealthy or even dangerous, to widely varying degrees, to self and others - but, still, I love the concept. I have come to believe it is a central part of what makes us "fully human" and "partially divine", and it certainly relates to our mission and focus here.
This subject is of great importance to me. I would compare true faith to what most believe in and have faith in – electrons.

I would point out that no one has ever seen an electron, and no one knows the extent of election capability. But when ever someone goes to turn on a light and that light does not come on – I have never heard anyone that loses faith in electrons – rather they always blame something else. They may begin by thinking that the light has burned our or is not longer working. If they replace the light with one that works but still no light – they will blame the switch or the wiring – but never the electrons. They may think a braker has turned off or even that the power has shut down. Even if all else has failed to be the reason no one thinks it was that electrons have just quit working.

I have often wondered why we tend to have more faith in electrons than G-d? Even as a scientist it does not seem logical to me that it is because we know more about electrons than G-d – and yet that is the only reason I can think of.
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DarkJedi
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

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Watcher wrote: 15 Aug 2022, 17:48 This subject is of great importance to me. I would compare true faith to what most believe in and have faith in – electrons....
I have often wondered why we tend to have more faith in electrons than G-d? Even as a scientist it does not seem logical to me that it is because we know more about electrons than G-d – and yet that is the only reason I can think of.
I don't have faith in electrons. I don't have faith the sun will rise each morning. I know those things to be true and exist. I don't see the sun rising as the same as belief in anything related to God by any stretch of the imagination, and using the sun rising as an analogy doesn't work for me. While I do believe in the end science and religion will match, we're not there yet. I think you're right that we believe science more than God because we know more about science and what we can see and feel. That's God's fault, not man's.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

Post by Roy »

Dear friend,

I think that in this analogy the electricity is very predictable. You turn the switch and the light comes on. If you turn the switch and the light doesn't come on then something went wrong and you can trouble shoot. It is a very reliable formula.

G-d doesn't seem to work like that. I am still trying to work out if G-d's promises are being fulfilled but only on his own timetable (sometimes in this life and sometimes not) or maybe some of the promises that have been attributed to G-d were not actually from Him and will never be fulfilled.

Imagine if you turned the switch and the light didn't go on but you were told that maybe the effect of your action (turning the switch) would make the light go on years from now or even after you have died but that you need to have faith that the light will go on eventually. I feel that like is what people are asked to accept as "faith" and it can be very hard.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
Watcher
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Re: A View of Faith I Have Come to Love

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Roy wrote: 16 Aug 2022, 07:54 Dear friend,

I think that in this analogy the electricity is very predictable. You turn the switch and the light comes on. If you turn the switch and the light doesn't come on then something went wrong and you can trouble shoot. It is a very reliable formula.

G-d doesn't seem to work like that. I am still trying to work out if G-d's promises are being fulfilled but only on his own timetable (sometimes in this life and sometimes not) or maybe some of the promises that have been attributed to G-d were not actually from Him and will never be fulfilled.

Imagine if you turned the switch and the light didn't go on but you were told that maybe the effect of your action (turning the switch) would make the light go on years from now or even after you have died but that you need to have faith that the light will go on eventually. I feel that like is what people are asked to accept as "faith" and it can be very hard.
Thank you for engaging with me. Perhaps yours and my experiences with electrons are quite different. I agree that electrons are very predictable within the very narrow range of experiences that most of us have with electrons. When I finished college, I gained employment with the government doing research for the military. I will try to make this short. I became convinced that there is a great deal more that we do not know about electrons that what we think we know. Electrons are theorized to be a quantum particle. And yet the stability of electrons is primarily understood in what we call Newtonian and relative physics which can only explain about 5% of what we have learned about our universe.

I cannot account for what others claim are their empirical experiences with G-d. As for me – whenever I have discovered the reason my experiences with G-d have failed it is because of a flaw in my understanding – usually resulting in my relying on someone (someone being a person admittedly who is not loyal to the laws, ordinances and covenants of G-d) else’s defined view of experiences. And then it is more to do about uncertain “doctrines” than anything empirical. For example, the one sure empirical experience of all life as we know it – is that all living things (we) will, of divine necessity, experience suffering and death. Christ, as the example being the son of G-d, demonstrated this by his own suffering and death. For myself, I find the promises of G-d to be more reliable and exact (worthy of faith) than anything I have learned and experienced in a successful lifetime profession in science.
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