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Why Niceness Weakens Our Witness


Calm

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4 hours ago, Calm said:

But there is a difference in my view and in dictionaries that list “nice” as pleasant, satisfactory, agreeable.  Nice does seem more associated with respectability, something that is seen while kind is more emotional, an inner state in action.  Kind hearted.

I am just nitpicking though. I think your point is mostly correct. Most people understand them to be the same.

 I also think there are different forms of niceness, and to say just Christ wasn’t nice is more gimmick than truth. It feels along the same lines of misquoting Christ as saying “I never said it would be easy...” when actually he did say that. 
 

Nice for appearance sake is in the same arena as respectability as opposed to be respected. Respectability is a focus on wanting to be perceived a certain way, civility in order to be perceived as nice is selfish. Niceness out of a true desire not to hurt people is admirable though imo...as long as we actually think about what is truly helping and hurting people.  I used to get so frustrated because friends and family members wanted my mom to enjoy their visit and so instead of walking with her like I was begging them to do, they would sit and talk with her in her room and go home feeling great about it...while she got weaker and in more pain because she lost the habit of movement as her dementia grew because I and my husband were the only ones willing to nag her about it, but couldn’t get over often enough to make a difference. 
 

I see being nice as desirable just so long as it is done with consciousness and introspection so that it is a positive addition to the circumstances...pretty much the same as any virtue. If you don’t take sufficient time to think of the consequences of your behaviour, you can unintentionally harm with love, generosity, meekness, reverence, being a witness, etc.  We often don’t always have the time or ability to understand the circumstances well enough to make wise choices, there we have to guess or better, be guided by the Spirit. 

I think you are right.  Being agreeable (a synonym of nice) and being kind are not the same thing.    

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3 minutes ago, DBokovoy said:

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It sounds like part of the reason that the issue of the videos is so complicated is that there have been both good fruit and bad fruit from them (if the letters FM have received are an accurate indication).

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5 hours ago, Calm said:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/august-web-only/virtue-vice-why-niceness-weakens-our-witness.html

An interesting perspective...what happens when the desire not to offend becomes a high priority?

 

I remember the good old days when defending the church, critics would admonish the apologists because they were not nice. The critics could speak their minds in an aggressive way and when the apologists responded harshly, the critics accused them of not having the love of Christ. Even though many critics were atheists. It was an passive-aggressive tactic.

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5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

It sounds like part of the reason that the issue of the videos is so complicated is that there have been both good fruit and bad fruit from them (if the letters FM have received are an accurate indication).

Exactly.

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14 minutes ago, bluebell said:

It sounds like part of the reason that the issue of the videos is so complicated is that there have been both good fruit and bad fruit from them (if the letters FM have received are an accurate indication).

I guess we have some cutting/burning and grafting work to do then :)  See Jacob 5.   Keep the good.  Lose the bad. 

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Nah, the issue isn't complicated at all.  Gaining money and some letters from people telling you how much they enjoyed the videos isn't good Christian fruit.  Donations, I'm sure, are a nice reward, but the the tree if rotten, and it will not produce anything that truly nourishes.  Nothing good ever comes from hurting others, even when you deem them to be your religious enemy.  Watch and see. 

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I think a lot of people think that someone who is essentially telling them they are wrong about something is not being nice.  Or that someone is not being nice when they tell others that what they are doing is not good.  Basically that just trying to correct someone else's false ideas or bad behavior is not a nice thing to do.  But in fact such behavior is actually nice, even if the counsel is unwarranted or based on a misunderstanding, because such behavior is based on a desire to help someone else, either to try to correct a false idea or a bad behavior.

I've had many people try to tell me that I was wrong about something, or that my behavior was bad or inappropriate, and I don't think any of them were not being nice or at least not trying to be nice.  From their point of view they were only trying to help me, and even if they were the ones who needed to be corrected, they were still at least trying to be nice to me.  Loving someone is all about trying to help that someone in some way, and even if people think it is not nice to trey to help someone in some wayu, it is actually a very nice thing to try to help someone in any way someone can see to try to help them.

So I'd rather see someone tell me that I am wrong about something, because then at least I know they are trying to be nice to me.  And I would rather see someone try to be nice to me than to ignore me or to disregard my efforts to try to help them.

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2 minutes ago, pogi said:

I guess we have some cutting/burning and grafting work to do then :)  See Jacob 5.   Keep the good.  Lose the bad. 

We are hoping that will be the result.

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5 minutes ago, DBokovoy said:

Gaining money and some letters from people telling you how much they enjoyed the videos isn't good Christian fruit

That is not what I have been describing as good fruit.  For me the letters thanking us for helping them or their family members as well as many going on to view the other, more informative, less confrontative videos is what I view as good fruit.  And we are getting a lot of that.

Edited by Calm
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7 minutes ago, Dan McClellan said:

The statement is that Jesus "was not nice." I disagree with this statement. Yeah, we could carefully split a whole pile of hairs to come up with a way that "nice" can be interpreted to refer to something that arguably doesn't characterize every single thing Jesus did, but at that point, what is the value of the statement? The statement was a silly rhetorical flourish that I don't think helps anything. 

I think this is an issue of one word have multiple definitions.  If we were to say Jesus was not agreeable (a valid definition of the word nice) I don't think people would have a problem with that.  If we were to say Jesus was not kind (another valid definition of the word nice) people would have a problem.  

That's not splitting hairs, that's accepting the reality of conversing in the English language, where words often have multiple definitions.

What we need to do is to figure out what definition of the word "nice" the author of the blog was using, because that's the only definition that is relevant to her point.  

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5 minutes ago, DBokovoy said:

Nah, the issue isn't complicated at all.  Gaining money and some letters from people telling you how much they enjoyed the videos isn't good Christian fruit.  Donations, I'm sure, are a nice reward, but the the tree if rotten, and it will not produce anything that truly nourishes.  Nothing good ever comes from hurting others, even when you deem them to be your religious enemy.  Watch and see. 

Have you read the letters or are you assuming what the good 'fruit' is?  You seem to be speaking from a position of information so I'm just trying to clarify where you are coming from.

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5 minutes ago, pogi said:

I guess we have some cutting/burning and grafting work to do then :)  See Jacob 5.   Keep the good.  Lose the bad. 

Good fruit that results from trying to help someone else  The other person is helped in some way

Bad fruit that results from trying to help someone else:    The other person just ignores or lashes out at someone who was trying to help them

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10 minutes ago, Calm said:

We are hoping that will be the result.

That's great.  We shouldn't necessarily burn the entire tree because of some bad fruit.  We all have some bad fruit.  I think the roots and intention to appeal to a younger audience with a more light and entertaining delivery is good and should be nourished.  I hope that FAIR doesn't abandon the project but listens to the many good and valuable Latter-day Saint voices who are concerned with sharing bitter fruit, and work towards capturing the spirit of Christ as the project evolves into a pleasing tree.

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17 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think this is an issue of one word have multiple definitions.  If we were to say Jesus was not agreeable (a valid definition of the word nice) I don't think people would have a problem with that.  If we were to say Jesus was not kind (another valid definition of the word nice) people would have a problem.  

That's not splitting hairs, that's accepting the reality of conversing in the English language, where words often have multiple definitions.

What we need to do is to figure out what definition of the word "nice" the author of the blog was using, because that's the only definition that is relevant to her point.  

I think he should have been much more clear and careful with his word choice, honestly.  Nice means so many things for different people.  If he simply meant "agreeable", he should have used that word.  I think if we were to take a poll asking Christians if they view Christ as "nice" or "not nice", I think the vast majority would describe him as being nice.  So, for this author to suggest that he was "not nice" and therefore we should not be nice, could therefore be dangerous fuel if misinterpreted for justifying contentious behavior.   With all of the synonyms I listed for nice, agreeable didn't even make the list.  

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3 minutes ago, pogi said:

I think he should have been much more clear and careful with his word choice, honestly.  Nice means so many things for different people.  If he simply meant "agreeable", he should have used that word.  I think if we were to take a poll asking Christians if they view Christ as "nice" or "not nice", I think the vast majority would describe him as being nice.  So, for this author to suggest that he was "not nice" and therefore we should not be nice, could therefore be dangerous fuel if misinterpreted for justifying contentious behavior.   With all of the synonyms I listed for nice, agreeable didn't even make the list.  

Now you're on it.  It is nice to tell others they are wrong, especially when they really are wrong, and it was wrong of that woman person to suggest our Lord was not being nice or that we should not be nice.

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3 hours ago, pogi said:

I think he should have been much more clear and careful with his word choice, honestly.  Nice means so many things for different people.  If he simply meant "agreeable", he should have used that word.  I think if we were to take a poll asking Christians if they view Christ as "nice" or "not nice", I think the vast majority would describe him as being nice.  So, for this author to suggest that he was "not nice" and therefore we should not be nice, could therefore be dangerous fuel if misinterpreted for justifying contentious behavior.   With all of the synonyms I listed for nice, agreeable didn't even make the list.  

If the author hadn’t said that Christ is not nice but is kind, I’d agree.  But I think that the author’s explanation of how Christ is kind clears up that confusion. 

Edited by bluebell
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31 minutes ago, pogi said:

  I hope that FAIR doesn't abandon the project but listens to the many good and valuable Latter-day Saint voices who are concerned with sharing bitter fruit, and work towards capturing the spirit of Christ as the project evolves into a pleasing tree.

I believe we are trying to.  There have been a lot of the less than sincere complaint letters (pretty easy to identify) and we haven't been able to respond yet to all those who have written in.  We treat everyone as sincere (almost everyone...the ones telling us to die are generally ignored), so it is taking time.  I have been impressed by the hours those answering letters are putting in when they have spare time and sometimes when they don't.

Edited by Calm
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23 minutes ago, pogi said:

think he should have been much more clear and careful with his word choice, honestly. 

She actually....

Quote

SHARON HODDE MILLER

 

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6 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

I think that this is an element of a controversy which is underexplored. This Is The Show is not a reaction to criticism from the likes of Vogel, Smith, Thomas, Larson, Bokovoy, or Townsend. It's a response to r/exmormon, Zelph on the Shelf, Missed In Sunday School, and the like. 

 I need to see the same vigorous response to this element as I am seeing against a few misguided videos from FM. I no longer find the excuse that we are supposed to have higher standards compelling. Actually, I find it bizarre that so many think ethical, moral, and even Christlike standards are not to be expected in the exMormon population. I am mystified why that isn't high insulting to them. 

I also do not think progmo/exmo, or whatever label is preferred, are immune from the same guilt by association they expect us to accept when they defend and frequent these mocking sites. 

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48 minutes ago, juliann said:

I see two distinct issues here. The videos themselves (see my pinned board nanny thread!) and the reactions.  As of this moment, I don't think niceness is the point in the very, very big picture. It isn't even questioned, actually, but it sure is used as a weapon rather than dealing with the underlying problem.

I started with and I'm going to end with the problem of double standards and hypocrisy in a tiny bubble of a world of Mormons and Mormon detractors. We can all make nice speeches and make sure we position ourselves to be seen on the popular side of things but nothing is going to change until the double standards are addressed. 

I would like to see FM compile a database of all of the official statements, articles, conference talks about treating our detractors kindly. Then I would like to challenge the detractors to produce something similar about behavioral standards for them, albeit not from official sources. Because I am not seeing it in their forums. What I do see and have since the creation of this board, is that Nemesis had to do mass bannings just to be able to have one place where believing Mormons could gather without being harrassed, defamed, and ridiculed. We cannot even get away from those who do this when we ask. Nicely. 

No more double standards. 

Most voices of concern I have personally heard are coming from respectable Latter-day Saints, however.  I think we need to listen to and consider those voices above any hypocrisy of some detractors. 

Honestly, I don't know if pointing out hypocrisy and double standards in others, even if true, is effective at converting, or convincing, or changing behavior...it mostly just leads to defensiveness and strife.  I have never seen good fruit come from it.  All we can control is our own behavior.  If there truly are many articles about treating our detractors kindly, and we subsequently put out unkind videos which mock detractors, then I think it would be a good exercise to check our own hypocrisy and double standards.  We may not be as mean, as ferocious, as nasty, as many who oppose us, but how they behave should have no bearing on our own personal standards or justify poor behavior if it is not as bad. 

 

Edited by pogi
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28 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think this is an issue of one word have multiple definitions.  If we were to say Jesus was not agreeable (a valid definition of the word nice) I don't think people would have a problem with that.  If we were to say Jesus was not kind (another valid definition of the word nice) people would have a problem.  

That's not splitting hairs, that's accepting the reality of conversing in the English language, where words often have multiple definitions.

What we need to do is to figure out what definition of the word "nice" the author of the blog was using, because that's the only definition that is relevant to her point.  

Words don't have any definitions or meanings at all. All meaning exists entirely in the mind of the hearer, reader, or viewer (I've written about this here). Definitions are attempts to impose boundaries on conceptual categories that very rarely develop or are used with reference to boundaries. We impose boundaries when they become rhetorically useful to us. The reality is that the various definitions that exist of the word "kind" equally overlap with the concept of agreeableness. It's silly rhetorical hair-splitting to say Jesus was kind but was not nice, but we're only being shown a tiny decontextualized snippet of a larger argument. The whole essay is an adaptation of a book called Nice, and that book defines the "idol of niceness" as "the ways we make ourselves pleasant, agreeable, acceptable, or likable in order to get something." Clearly the author is constructing a larger rhetorical point about how "niceness" is manipulated to serve our personal interests, which I think is a good point to make, but it is going to demand ignoring the most salient sense of the word in order to promote this very specific conceptualization the author wants to promote. Suggesting Jesus' behavior falls conveniently into the specific conceptualization she has crafted to serve the rhetorical goals of her book is a rhetorical move, not an analytical one. At times Jesus was both kind and nice, and at other times he was neither. That's why I call it a silly rhetorical flourish.

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