The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
Carburettor
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Joined: 10 Jul 2023, 01:49

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by Carburettor »

I imagine that each of us hangs around here because, like the flawed apostle Paul, we believe and hope a bunch of things while understanding that, by design, "we see through a glass, darkly." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

That being said, what are one or two things that:
  1. Keep your faith alive.
  2. You have reservations about despite seemingly working for others.
  3. Are red lines that you won't cross in terms of your convictions (i.e., if someone bluntly asks, "do you believe that?" you must honestly answer, "no, I don't").
I'll go first.

1. The Good
  • If life exists now, the laws of mathematical probability dictate that it must always have existed and will always exist. Life is eternal. That being the case, humanity is on an almost explosive trajectory toward artificial intelligence, which, given enough time and resources, could yield an omniscient presence if it manages to avoid annihilating everything as it develops. In my view, the LDS Church has the most credible explanation for what God is all about for the most part, but I'm beginning to accept that God may not be what we have been led to believe by our stablemates who also look through a glass, darkly. Still, the idea of a great plan — rather than a great anarchy — resonates with me.
  • If the Book of Mormon was produced in the timescales claimed, it was nothing short of a modern-day miracle. Try dreaming up (if not translating) just a fraction of the length of the material produced within a few weeks — in coherent sentences and paragraphs — to discover what a truly remarkable achievement it was.
2. The Bad
  • Prayer. I accept that it can be therapeutic to pray, but I don't believe God steps in to invoke change based on the prayers of individuals or of multitudes. I am willing to let it go, but when I peel back the layers, I am unconvinced.
  • Scriptures. Christianity cherry picks the bits that support the narrative it wishes to hear and discards the rest. If some parts were inspired while others were not, what does that imply about the gift of prophecy?
  • Garments and much of the temple experience. I've been doing it for over 40 years, so I can handle it — but I suspect the primary purpose is to keep us invested "in the club." I took out my endowment back in the day when it included death threats. How was that content inspired if it has since been removed? Am I still under the original covenant that has been removed?
  • Teachings about gender and identity — past and present. If the Spirit has ever taught me anything, it's that doctrine in this area is little more than the expression of uninspired gut feelings touted by conservatives.
Sorry, that was four. Oops.

3. The Ugly
  • Polygamy. Yuck. For me, it should be a dictionary definition example of the word "predilection." And people who supported it (and probably still would given half a chance) would convince us that it is me who is a pervert.
  • Murder for the greater good in the Book of Mormon. Nope, I won't accept it being justified under any circumstances. Why stop there? How about rape for the greater good? Maybe throwing individuals off roofs for the greater good — oh, hang on, that's still done in some parts of the world.
AmyJ
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Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by AmyJ »

I guess I can add a few things.


The Good:
A) Charity Never Faileth (Even When God Does) - I have developed a more nuanced view of "Charity" aka "Compassion" aka "LovingKindess". For me, God may or may not exist but "Charity/Compassion/LovingKindness" is eternal and does exist.

The Bad:
A) Biological/Genetic Programming - I think that "performing gender" is largely based on what biological hormones (testosterone/estrogen etc.) are genetically and environmentally wired to be "available" to the brain. We are to the point (last 40-10 years primarily), where we have an idea of "what the hormones do" and can develop synthetic versions (and other types of supplements). The degree of "meddling" we do genetically and epigenetically with the cultural standardized supplements (like coffee) will have consequences of unknown origin.

B) The Church - I don't know to what degree we can depend on the original words of JS and BY to help with "The Bad" (and I am not sure I would trust JS with ethical questions of this nature anyways - they seem outside his scope).

The Ugly:
A) "Purity vs LovingKindess Culture" - To me, this is the essence of a situation, and why I have walked away from the church as much as I have. Saints are good people everywhere who gather together behind a specific set of beliefs that I don't necessarily do so and support a culture that does not have a place for a bossy, forecasting female like I am. I used to be a staunch "Purity Culture" and "Rules Follower" - up until I wasn't because I didn't want to see that there wasn't a place for me, or for some of my children.
Last edited by AmyJ on 12 Sep 2023, 13:33, edited 1 time in total.
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PazamaManX
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Joined: 24 Nov 2018, 03:21

Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by PazamaManX »

Carburettor wrote: 12 Sep 2023, 09:39 That being said, what are one or two things that:
  1. Keep your faith alive.
  2. You have reservations about despite seemingly working for others.
  3. Are red lines that you won't cross in terms of your convictions (i.e., if someone bluntly asks, "do you believe that?" you must honestly answer, "no, I don't").
1. What keeps my faith alive
What keeps my faith alive is that Christ is at the center of it. It is not dependent upon what any person says or any church teaching or policy. If this church were to show that it has strayed from Him, or another church would do a better job of teaching His gospel, I would switch churches. But so far, in spite of everything, this church has remained my best option. In comparison with my research into other denominations, our doctrine makes the most sense. And I like it the best.
I like eternal marriage. I like our beliefs on the afterlife. Weirdly, I like tithing. I like many things about our doctrine and teachings. So I stay.

2. My reservations
  • Personal revelation: In my life, I can only think of two times when a thought that wasn't really mine provided guidance or an answer. But the way I've heard people talk about listening to the promptings of the Spirit, or things along those lines, how they describe it has not been my experience. If it works for them, great. But, if someone where to ask me to bear my testimony on revelation, I'd say, "Pass."
  • General Authorities: I suppose I should clarify that my issue isn't with the GAs per se, but more of how they are treated. The culture of unquestioningly following anything they say is something I'm not comfortable with. To my great irritation, talks in my local sacrament meetings reference GAs far more than scripture (yes, I keep track). GAs are supposed to teach the gospel, not be the gospel.
3. My red lines
  • The Word of Wisdom: This may seem like a small one, but I cannot stand that we treat the WoW like a commandment. D&C 89:2 specifically says "not by commandment or constraint". To my knowledge, nothing in the four standard works says that's changed. Yet, the policy of the church is to use adherence to the WoW as a requirement for baptisms, temple recommends and ecclesiastical endorsements. That is a gross error in my opinion.
  • Formal missions: Admittedly, I am viewing this through very biased lenses. There are many who liked or even loved their missions, but I and many others have had horrendous experiences. The pressure for young men to go on one, and the shame thrust upon them for not going or returning early is something I feel very strongly about. Thankfully, there does seem to be a subtle shifting in the cultural winds on that front.
  • Bonus red line... Worthiness: The obsession with being "worthy" feeds into some of the more negative aspects of our culture. I think we would be a lot better off if that word was removed from our vocabulary.
As you might have noticed, a lot of it for me comes down to gospel vs. culture.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Carburettor
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Joined: 10 Jul 2023, 01:49

Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by Carburettor »

Thank you, AmyJ and PazamaManX!

I loved what you wrote! You offered me a tiny, honest glimpse into how you view things without feeling obliged to focus on positives at the expense of negatives and vice versa. I found it a refreshing read. I hope there will be more.
Roy
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Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by Roy »

My faith:
Love wins! I believe that what we say and do matters. Compassion matters and kindness matters. I like the image of a Father God that takes compassion on us, knows us, accepts us, and loves us completely. I feel that I have received what I call personal revelation that these things are true.
Jesus! I tend to prefer the idea of the trinity just because it allows me to believe that God came Himself to suffer and die to rescue me (rather than sending His son. Fortunately for me, the BoM teaches my preferred framing rather abundantly). The whole idea that we are loved enough by Divinity to give everything to cover our misdeeds is powerful.
Family I believe in families. I love the idea that family relationships continue forever. I love when this idea of eternal commitments and eternal bonds "works" to help families draw together in love, unity, and mutual support.

My reservations:
I could probably make a very long list but there are some foundational things for me.
Blessings formula I do not feel that God blesses us based on our obedience. I have thought extensively about this topic. I understand that many others take great joy and comfort from the idea that God has reached out with blessings and "tender mercies" as tangible evidence of divine love or favor. I was once in that same category. Sadly, it was not sustainable for me but I don't want to rain on anyone else's parade. I now believe that life itself is a blessing that we are all given without merit and we should honor and cherish that gift for as long as it lasts.
tithing Here is where my trouble with the blessings formula hits my overall frugality and becomes a perfect storm. There are other, more altruistic, reasons to pay tithing besides trying to earn blessings. However that seems to be the dominant reason preached from the pulpit. I believe that is because it is very effective as a motivator and I believe that when it comes to keeping the church financially solvent we have collectively allowed "the ends to justify the means."

The ugly:
Exclusion I feel that many of the good things that maintain my faith have been weaponized. The threat of losing these good things or having them withheld motivates through fear. I feel that we fight against the concept of "unconditional love" because we fear that this concept will reduce the amount of control available to church leaders. I believe that we place limits on the extent of the atonement of Jesus Christ for this same purpose. Theoretically, God/Jesus can decide what and whom from among us they will forgive. Church leaders act as mouthpieces for God and in some respects take that responsibility very seriously. As a loving Father, one of the things that would most pain me is for one of my children to convince another of my children that my love has limits and that if they didn't perform certain expectations that they could find themselves outside of my love. Could it be possible that, in the final judgement, God would be displeased with things that were done and taught out of loyalty to the church and what might be good for the organization. Perhaps the most pointed example of exclusion is the concept of "empty chairs" in heaven and exclusion from the eternal family. That is my definition of Ugly
"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
Carburettor
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Joined: 10 Jul 2023, 01:49

Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by Carburettor »

Thank you for joining in, Roy. I have enjoyed peering into the minds of those who have responded. The comments are an illustration of the metaphorical group of blind individuals reaching out to touch an elephant and each concluding it is an entirely different beast.
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 Family I believe in families. I love the idea that family relationships continue forever.
Do you have kids, Roy? If so, how old? I have experienced fundamental shifts in immediate and extended family relationships over the years — altering my perceptions on "the family" and the significance of it. When my children were young, the dynamics were critically different from when one of my adult children recently confessed she had undergone therapy to try to undo the "religious programming" to which we subjected her in her childhood. I still love her, but it's different now.
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 tithing Here is where my trouble with the blessings formula hits my overall frugality and becomes a perfect storm.
I pay tithing like taxes; I try to avoid giving it too much thought. Funny how PazamaManX experiences it in an entirely different way.
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 Exclusion I feel that many of the good things that maintain my faith have been weaponized.
Too true, buddy. The "gospel" is often wielded like a stick. Not quite like Islam, but I struggle to find God in some of what we do — and the way we do it. All too often, I see an American corporation driven run by a bunch of KPIs.
AmyJ
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Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by AmyJ »

Carburettor wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 03:53 Thank you for joining in, Roy. I have enjoyed peering into the minds of those who have responded. The comments are an illustration of the metaphorical group of blind individuals reaching out to touch an elephant and each concluding it is an entirely different beast.
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 Family I believe in families. I love the idea that family relationships continue forever.
Do you have kids, Roy? If so, how old? I have experienced fundamental shifts in immediate and extended family relationships over the years — altering my perceptions on "the family" and the significance of it. When my children were young, the dynamics were critically different from when one of my adult children recently confessed she had undergone therapy to try to undo the "religious programming" to which we subjected her in her childhood. I still love her, but it's different now.
I am not Roy, but I have a 14 year old and a 7 year old - both girls.
I think that we make our own families - and sometimes biology gives us a head start:)

As for what your adult daughter is going through, I am curious whether it was "processing out loud" feelings about her relationship with you, or just processing/revising her experiences in the past that the church experience presented to her by you doesn't work and she is figuring out "why" and "how" and "what she needs".
NOTE: These are not the same question - and she may not be in a position to tell which question/assumption she is looking at.

If she is in her 30's and 40's (or so), she might be essentially on the "heroine's journey" (or parts of it) where she has to reject some parts of patriarchy and authoritarianism to figure out some stuff. Also, the decreasing estrogen swings will make it likely that she "lets go" of some of the previous gender expectations because she isn't hormonally prompted to give as much of a care.

For what it's worth, I figure that a person feels prompted to "invent" and "re-invent" themselves about every 10-20 years. We have the "coming of age" story that defines the 1st time that a person invents themselves. We have the "midlife crisis" for the 2nd or 3rd time that someone invents themselves. We now have "Barbie" to remind us that women (but people in general) are "made, then co-made, then self-made, and she [they] chooses to draw breath on her [their] own terms."

As for your experience, I think I can relate because of the many times that my child is blunt with me/at me and I am left holding the bag to figure out what she really means and what her priority actually is. Sometimes it's an ungraceful bid to "mourn", other times a deflection of pain that the child is not ready to sit in, and sometimes just a really crappy way of saying "you were there and a catalyst of the experience I am processing for different meaning now" - without making it clear that the emphasis is "I am processing for different meaning" instead of the beginning "you were there/you caused"...
Carburettor wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 03:53
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 Exclusion I feel that many of the good things that maintain my faith have been weaponized.
Too true, buddy. The "gospel" is often wielded like a stick. Not quite like Islam, but I struggle to find God in some of what we do — and the way we do it. All too often, I see an American corporation driven run by a bunch of KPIs.
The "gospel" that comes to us from a Jewish splinter group, outlasted the empire that birthed it, becoming a bona fide super power (with armies) during the "Dark Ages", survived the drastic splintering and revisions of the "Renaissance", "Enlightenment" and "New York's Burned Over Districts" (from the amount hellfire preached in a very small area), before being re-interpreted and revised further by Joseph Smith and Brigham (as well as the test of the "Pioneer Days") to start... there are at least 3 drastic societal shifts (Hebrew/Greek/Roman Fusion of the NT, "Dark Ages" shifts to "Eastern Christianity", "France", and "Germanic"/ shifts from German-English to American) that cause a "loss of translation" and a "loss/drastic revision of meaning".

Anyways, I don't believe we have "Christianity" as it was intended I also think that the next "Bible-like compilation/great writers" are actually going to come to us from either/and/or the "self-help/mental health field", the "entertainment industry" (like "Lord of the Rings") with contributions from genetics and epigenetics.

Assuming that there is God to find, I think it will be similar to one of the closing lines from "The Avengers":
“They’ll [The avengers - though I am referencing God here] come back.” “You sure?” “I am.” “How?” “Because we’ll need them to.” – Nick Fury and Maria Hill, ‘The Avengers’ (2012)
Roy
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Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by Roy »

Carburettor wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 03:53 Do you have kids, Roy? If so, how old? I have experienced fundamental shifts in immediate and extended family relationships over the years — altering my perceptions on "the family" and the significance of it. When my children were young, the dynamics were critically different from when one of my adult children recently confessed she had undergone therapy to try to undo the "religious programming" to which we subjected her in her childhood. I still love her, but it's different now.
I have a 17 year old daughter that is in her senior year. She is both a really good kid (keeps strong grades and works part time) and tests us as parents (by pushing boundaries, setting her own life course, and plans to move far away for school). To be honest, I am struggling with the transition. I feel like I have been relegated to the "back seat." I can give directions from my back seat position but my daughter can ignore them or decide that she wants to drive to an altogether different location. However, if we get metaphorically lost, or get a flat, or a breakdown, or into an accident, then I am called upon to take a leadership role again.
I also have a 15 year old son with Autism (highly functioning) and I worry about him becoming successfully independent.
I have told them that I believe that we as a family "are forever" not because of promises made in the temple but rather because we will it so, because we will continue to seek after each other until we reestablish connection. Admittedly, I was trying to counter the teaching that we can be together with our families forever but only if we "endure to the end" as faithful and covenant keeping members of the church. I hadn't considered that my children might reach a point where they do not want that connection with me.

That would be a type of mourning for me. :cry:
"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
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PazamaManX
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Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by PazamaManX »

Carburettor wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 03:53 Thank you for joining in, Roy. I have enjoyed peering into the minds of those who have responded. The comments are an illustration of the metaphorical group of blind individuals reaching out to touch an elephant and each concluding it is an entirely different beast.

...
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 tithing Here is where my trouble with the blessings formula hits my overall frugality and becomes a perfect storm.
I pay tithing like taxes; I try to avoid giving it too much thought. Funny how PazamaManX experiences it in an entirely different way.
Roy wrote: 13 Sep 2023, 10:39 Exclusion I feel that many of the good things that maintain my faith have been weaponized.
Too true, buddy. The "gospel" is often wielded like a stick. Not quite like Islam, but I struggle to find God in some of what we do — and the way we do it. All too often, I see an American corporation driven run by a bunch of KPIs.
Tithing is a huge metaphorical elephant. Everyone's experience and views on it vary. I like it because it works for my wife and I. My father-in-law hasn't had the same experience, and he views it as one of those sticks ("pay us if you want to be with your family in the next life").

I've wondered why everyone seems to have such different experiences. Our church teaches commandments as though they were an 'if, then' statement. If you pay tithing, then you get blessings. You don't have to look far to find someone who has not had success with that. The best thought that I've had to explain that is something that The Chosen kind of gets into.

*spoiler-ish warning* A couple points of struggle for some characters closest to Jesus in the show is 'why is Jesus performing miracles for others but not me?' The answer that they end up getting from Jesus boils down to 'Do you have enough faith in me to trust that me not removing your difficulty/tragedy is what's best for you?"
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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PazamaManX
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Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Post by PazamaManX »

Roy wrote: 14 Sep 2023, 09:35
I have told them that I believe that we as a family "are forever" not because of promises made in the temple but rather because we will it so, because we will continue to seek after each other until we reestablish connection. Admittedly, I was trying to counter the teaching that we can be together with our families forever but only if we "endure to the end" as faithful and covenant keeping members of the church. I hadn't considered that my children might reach a point where they do not want that connection with me.

That would be a type of mourning for me. :cry:
The teaching of eternal families does seem to be more of a benefit for parents than the children. It's natural for kids to become distant from their parents to some extent and be able to live without them. In my first post on this thread, I specifically said 'eternal marriage' and not 'families' because the relationship with my wife is the only one I care to carry over. I can't live without my wife and it wouldn't be Heaven without her. My parents on the other hand, I love them, but I wouldn't be heartbroken if we were just heavenly neighbors with no formal connection.

My wife and I don't have any children and it remains to be seen if we will (the clock's ticking). Should we be fortunate enough to have kids, I know I'll gain a new appreciation for parent/child sealings. And if my kids are anything like me, they probably won't feel the same.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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