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Jana Riess: Who is leaving the LDS Church? Eight key survey findings.


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On 3/12/2024 at 3:32 PM, The Nehor said:

It is a technical point but they technically do belong to the community even if they don’t see social experiences within it or agree with the majority viewpoints.

The individual I know very well, does not want anything to do with this community.  To the extent that he thinks about the LGBT community (which is rarely, if ever), he thinks of y'all through his political lens.  Different side of many fences.  Not alike.  Not on the same team.  I've never asked him specifically, but I'm guessing he'd say something like "You mail in a form letter and you're not mormon any more.  You can give up your US citizenship if you don't like where you were born.  The Catholics never let go of you, no matter what you do, same as the spammers and Nigerian scammers.  Now these guys throw a fit if you misgender them or use a deadname, but they think there's some sort of rule that makes me theirs, and I can't do anything about it?  They're worse than the Catholics and scammers."

(One of the reasons we're buddies, is he's as snarky and sarcastic as I am, but with less tact and fewer filters.)

 

On 3/12/2024 at 3:32 PM, The Nehor said:

On a practical level how do you take into account the wishes and existence of people who wish to be silent and/or closeted. 

So what do they want? How do they want to be factored in? I have seen you do this before where you try to pick some sub-group and argue people are excluding them. What would factoring them in look like?

On 3/12/2024 at 8:06 PM, Calm said:

How do you believe this should be approached?  ...  So what’s the happy medium approach in addressing this issue of enough defining and disclaimers for clarity, but not too much required to avoid being tiresome?

If I were in the LGBT community, I would approach it by understanding that nobody, no human, no group, no culture leader, no influencer, nobody can speak for all LGBT folk.  I'd approach it by understanding that when I talk about an aspect or desire of the community, I will never be able to group them all together meaningfully.  

The guy I know well, and the guy I know a little, both want absolutely nothing to do with the community.  Don't speak for them.  You can understand them as much as you can understand any random person you pass at the grocery store.  

 

 

On 3/12/2024 at 3:33 PM, california boy said:

There is however quite a bit of evidence on how the LGBT community wishes to be referred to in general, and it is not someone having same sex attraction.  Can we agree on that?

Agreed.  Folks who are out there wanting to be known as a member of this community, would seem to overwhelmingly not like the term SSA.  I'm happy bowing to your superior experience here, especially when all the media/news/online discussions I've had, pretty much is in support.  

 

Again, I'm new to this line of thinking.  This survey got sent out, and out of everyone who wrote back saying "I'm a current member", a full 4% of of them also identify as some flavor of gay?  So surprising.  I'm legitimately floored, and it's where all my energy on this thread is coming from.  

My wife's family has a yearly reunion in the mountains.  200-250 folks every year.  The legacy of great-great-grandpa Whatsisname's pioneer journey.  It's one of those families where everyone knows everyone else's business.  Just walking around and listening to the women talk, I get a feel for who's left the church, who got divorced, who just got made bishop, how many of cousin XYZ's dozen kids went on missions.  Probably 80-85% LDS in this extended family.  Probably half a dozen gay folks in the family, all but one has left the church.   Doing the math from that survey, there's probably 8-10 gay folks at that reunion, that just don't ever talk about it.   I ask myself about them, and I think about my two people I know.  One of them I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he's utterly offended to his core at the notion of someone thinking of him as gay.  He's off doing what a lot of us are doing - trying to live life as best he can.  He's a mormon, a man, a college graduate, a professional [X], a father, a husband, a [insert political flavor here], and a fisherman.  Calling him "closeted" is an insult.  Fighting words.  He might be willing to go to jail for assault if someone wants to press the issue with him. 

 

 

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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6 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

The individual I know very well, does not want anything to do with this community.  To the extent that he thinks about the LGBT community (which is rarely, if ever), he thinks of y'all through his political lens.  Different side of many fences.  Not alike.  Not on the same team.  I've never asked him specifically, but I'm guessing he'd say something like "You mail in a form letter and you're not mormon any more.  You can give up your US citizenship if you don't like where you were born.  The Catholics never let go of you, no matter what you do, same as the spammers and Nigerian scammers.  Now these guys throw a fit if you misgender them or use a deadname, but they think there's some sort of rule that makes me theirs, and I can't do anything about it?  They're worse than the Catholics and scammers."

(One of the reasons we're buddies, is he's as snarky and sarcastic as I am, but with less tact and fewer filters.)

And when the LGBT ministering brothers and/or sisters show up to be annoying I will think this is comparable. Lots of people don’t want to participate. That is fine. They still fit into the group by virtue of being who they are. 

What exactly are they whining about? Being a part of the community confers no special privileges or obligations.

6 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

If I were in the LGBT community, I would approach it by understanding that nobody, no human, no group, no culture leader, no influencer, nobody can speak for all LGBT folk.  I'd approach it by understanding that when I talk about an aspect or desire of the community, I will never be able to group them all together meaningfully.  

The guy I know well, and the guy I know a little, both want absolutely nothing to do with the community.  Don't speak for them.  You can understand them as much as you can understand any random person you pass at the grocery store.  

I hear this rhetoric all the time. The LGBT community is very diverse and divided and contains all kinds of people and you cannot meaningfully expect them to want the same things and yada-yada. It is an attempt to dilute any political force the community can have when there are things that virtually all of the community agree on like protecting LGBT rights, gay marriage, etc. We have some Quislings who hate themselves or sold out or specifically want “rights for me but not for thee” in the community but we pretty much ignore them.

6 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Agreed.  Folks who are out there wanting to be known as a member of this community, would seem to overwhelmingly not like the term SSA.  I'm happy bowing to your superior experience here, especially when all the media/news/online discussions I've had, pretty much is in support.  

Again, I'm new to this line of thinking.  This survey got sent out, and out of everyone who wrote back saying "I'm a current member", a full 4% of of them also identify as some flavor of gay?  So surprising.  I'm legitimately floored, and it's where all my energy on this thread is coming from.  

My wife's family has a yearly reunion in the mountains.  200-250 folks every year.  The legacy of great-great-grandpa Whatsisname's pioneer journey.  It's one of those families where everyone knows everyone else's business.  Just walking around and listening to the women talk, I get a feel for who's left the church, who got divorced, who just got made bishop, how many of cousin XYZ's dozen kids went on missions.  Probably 80-85% LDS in this extended family.  Probably half a dozen gay folks in the family, all but one has left the church.   Doing the math from that survey, there's probably 8-10 gay folks at that reunion, that just don't ever talk about it.   I ask myself about them, and I think about my two people I know.  One of them I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he's utterly offended to his core at the notion of someone thinking of him as gay.  He's off doing what a lot of us are doing - trying to live life as best he can.  He's a mormon, a man, a college graduate, a professional [X], a father, a husband, a [insert political flavor here], and a fisherman.  Calling him "closeted" is an insult.  Fighting words.  He might be willing to go to jail for assault if someone wants to press the issue with him. 

Most of them are probably some flavor of bisexual. They are possibly closeted in that they haven’t told anyone but they are probably not in marriages with people they aren’t attracted to. I know I would have a much higher chance of getting married in the gospel if I was still closeted or hadn’t figured out my sexuality.

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Lol excellent @The Nehor!   I'll tell my buddy that you think he's a [cutting and pasting here] "bisexual closeted Quisling sellout who hasn't figured out his sexuality and hates himself and specifically wants rights for me but not for thee”.  Then I'll let him know you demand to think of him as part of your community, while ignoring him at the same time.

Dude, your LGBT missionary work needs some serious attention.  You could learn from us mormons.

But if you ever see that quote on a t-shirt, you can be happy to know he's decided to uncloset himself and reclaim the slur. :D   Kind of like that lady who was one of the original organizers of the Stonewall riots, who got banned from the 2023 Pride parade for wearing a t-shirt that said "Adult human female".

Oh man.  I'm literally laughing.  Your post will keep me giggling all day.  I tried hard to keep my snark and sarcasm at bay, but I have my limits. At least I did build some genuine common ground with California Boy.  

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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10 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Lol excellent @The Nehor!   I'll tell my buddy that you think he's a [cutting and pasting here] "bisexual closeted Quisling sellout who hasn't figured out his sexuality and hates himself and specifically wants rights for me but not for thee”.  Then I'll let him know you demand to think of him as part of your community, while ignoring him at the same time.

You can lie to your friend if you want I guess. I mean, you kind of shoved a bunch of phrases I used together to mean something else and then put quotes around it so who knows how far you are willing to go with your dissembling.

So your friend will be offended and/or amused at *checks notes* how I categorize him in my head without first asking permission? That is weird. 

13 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

But if you ever see that quote on a t-shirt, you can be happy to know he's decided to uncloset himself and reclaim the slur. :D   Kind of like that lady who was one of the original organizers of the Stonewall riots, who got banned from the 2023 Pride parade for wearing a t-shirt that said "Adult human female".

Whose name you don’t know and could be any TERF? I am not going to try to figure out which one this is.

19 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Oh man.  I'm literally laughing.  Your post will keep me giggling all day.  I tried hard to keep my snark and sarcasm at bay, but I have my limits. At least I did build some genuine common ground with California Boy.  

Congrats I guess.

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On 3/9/2024 at 9:29 AM, bluebell said:

I have two thoughts on this post too.  :lol:

1-I understand your point and I think it makes sense.  I just think that it doesn't work to think of the leaders as a different entity from the members, when the vast majority of leaders are just members serving in that position for a few years.  

2-You are assuming that your friend is only doing everything she is doing because "it's what they've been taught from day one that must be done."  Do you actually know that that's the only reason that she's doing these things or are you maybe projecting your thoughts and feelings onto your friend?  I ask because in some ways she sounds like my own mother and the things that she is doing right now, but I can tell you with certainty that she does what she does because of her relationship with Jesus and for no other reason. 

She loves Christ and she loves her family and she loves the members of her ward.  Her service to each group comes from that love, not obligation to the church.

I've pondered a lot on what you've said here. But I'm just still frustrated too. The temple calling is going to be every Saturday for several hours, 7 or 8 I believe. 

If she's helping her parents and tending her grandchildren throughout the week, and then has her Primary President calling too? When is she going to rest or recreate. They also bought a toy hauler last year and had plans to go camping a lot. 

Do you know how long these temple callings last? Thanks!

ETA: I googled and it said 4 to 6 hour shifts in the temple.

Edited by Tacenda
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On 3/15/2024 at 12:53 PM, Tacenda said:

I've pondered a lot on what you've said here. But I'm just still frustrated too. The temple calling is going to be every Saturday for several hours, 7 or 8 I believe. 

If she's helping her parents and tending her grandchildren throughout the week, and then has her Primary President calling too? When is she going to rest or recreate. They also bought a toy hauler last year and had plans to go camping a lot. 

Do you know how long these temple callings last? Thanks!

ETA: I googled and it said 4 to 6 hour shifts in the temple.

Temple workers are generally asked to pick a shift that works for their schedule, so I'm assuming that your friend must have picked Saturday for their assigned shift.  Also, I know of an active and faithful couple in my ward that declined the invitation to serve as temple ordinance workers because of the time commitment, so there's nothing wrong with that option.  And if the individuals involved feel overworked in the church because of other callings they have in addition to being a temple worker, they can point out this portion of section 25.5.1 of the General Handbook to their leaders, which says:

"Members who are called or assigned as temple workers normally commit to a regular time to serve in the temple each week. Leaders should avoid issuing additional callings that would interfere with members’ ability to serve in the temple."

My wife and I are currently serving in the temple.  We moved to Utah a little less than two years ago, and there are a lot of temples in our area.  We will soon be switching to a new temple, and we were given the opportunity to decline to work in the new temple if we didn't want to do it anymore.  When we were first asked to serve in the temple I felt overwhelmed because I have a busy and chaotic work schedule, and it was hard for me to pick a shift that would fit my schedule (I sometimes work in the evenings).  But I can honestly say after the several months of serving in the temple that I look forward every week to the time I spend there.   It is a treasure to me.  I block out that time and set it aside and forget about my busy work life for the time that I'm there, and I feel I have been blessed in other aspects of my life in ways that I couldn't imagine.  I wouldn't trade that time for anything.

You should ask your friend how she feels about working in the temple on top of everything else she's doing.  She may not perceive it the same way that you are seeing it.

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On 3/15/2024 at 12:53 PM, Tacenda said:

I've pondered a lot on what you've said here. But I'm just still frustrated too. The temple calling is going to be every Saturday for several hours, 7 or 8 I believe. 

If she's helping her parents and tending her grandchildren throughout the week, and then has her Primary President calling too? When is she going to rest or recreate. They also bought a toy hauler last year and had plans to go camping a lot. 

Do you know how long these temple callings last? Thanks!

ETA: I googled and it said 4 to 6 hour shifts in the temple.

It very much could be that that sister is overextending herself and she needs to say no to some things.  Or, her life might be set up exactly how she wants it/how it will best benefit herself and her family in the long run. 

I think my point was that, it seems more helpful to treat our friends like adults who are making the choices they want to make rather than victims who are being forced to do things against their will because they don't know any better.  If we feel they are making bad choices, then we can try to help them choose better I suppose, while trying to remember that we may not actually know what we are talking about.  :lol:

Sometimes we apply our own perspectives to other people and get upset on their behalf for how we feel about something in their life.  When we care about other people we naturally want to protect them.  But no one wants to be treated like a child that people need to feel sorry for.

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2 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Temple workers are generally asked to pick a shift that works for their schedule, so I'm assuming that your friend must have picked Saturday for their assigned shift.  Also, I know of an active and faithful couple in my ward that declined the invitation to serve as temple ordinance workers because of the time commitment, so there's nothing wrong with that option.  And if the individuals involved feel overworked in the church because of other callings they have in addition to being a temple worker, they can point out this portion of section 25.5.1 of the General Handbook to their leaders, which says:

"Members who are called or assigned as temple workers normally commit to a regular time to serve in the temple each week. Leaders should avoid issuing additional callings that would interfere with members’ ability to serve in the temple."

My wife and I are currently serving in the temple.  We moved to Utah a little less than two years ago, and there are a lot of temples in our area.  We will soon be switching to a new temple, and we were given the opportunity to decline to work in the new temple if we didn't want to do it anymore.  When we were first asked to serve in the temple I felt overwhelmed because I have a busy and chaotic work schedule, and it was hard for me to pick a shift that would fit my schedule (I sometimes work in the evenings).  But I can honestly say after the several months of serving in the temple that I look forward every week to the time I spend there.   It is a treasure to me.  I block out that time and set it aside and forget about my busy work life for the time that I'm there, and I feel I have been blessed in other aspects of my life in ways that I couldn't imagine.  I wouldn't trade that time for anything.

You should ask your friend how she feels about working in the temple on top of everything else she's doing.  She may not perceive it the same way that you are seeing it.

We usually go out to dinner on a regular basis, her husband is my other friend's brother, so usually all of us get together. We went with that couple and missed seeing this friend. But I think someone mentioned they'd be working in the temple from 2:00 to 8:00 on Saturdays. I wouldn't think that would be their first choice, but could be wrong.

And something struck me today while thinking about my friend, and that is how giving she is to everyone. And it made me remember a time in the temple, it was early in my marriage and I was trying to get used to going to the temple and would always be the last one of my family, (my in-laws usually) to get through the veil, and the temple worker at the veil was so very patient and loving while I was trying to remember everything. I picture my friend being this way too. So undoubtedly if she was asked to serve, it's because they know how she is. 

Edited by Tacenda
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On 3/10/2024 at 6:45 AM, smac97 said:

Mine is not a categorical dislike.  It's more of an aversion to its overuse or misuse as a "throwaway intensifier" (hence the qualification in my previous statement: "I wonder if 'I know' declarations in the Church are also sometimes being used as a 'throwaway intensifier...'").

By way of example, this year I will be celebrating my 28th anniversary of being married to a wonderful woman.  I feel quite at ease declaring that I know that I love her, and that she loves me.  That's not an affectation or a "throwaway intensifier."  It would feel odd for me to say "I believe that my wife loves me," or "I hope she loves me."  At this point in my life, I know it.

Are there Latter-day Saints who can comfortably - and accurately - say that they "know" that God lives?  That Jesus Christ is His son?  Yes, I think so.  I also think there are plenty of Latter-day Saints who make declarations of "knowing," when perhaps "believing" is a bit more apt.

No.  I haven't really taken a poll, but I think most Latter-day Saints, if specifically asked about whether "I know" declarations in testimonies are declarations of sure knowledge or of strong belief, most would point to the latter.

Well, reasonable minds can disagree about such things.

To some extent, you are probably correct.  But it's a mixed bag, as I think there are Latter-day Saints who, in declaring "I know," intend it to be construed as a statement of knowledge transcending strong belief, whereas others may be using it as more of a "throwaway intensifier.  Latter-day Saints aren't really unique in having a fuzzy boundary between things we "know" and things about which we feel very strongly and confidently.

The one right before he died?  Isn't it possible that he had obtained "knowledge" at that point?  In this 1972 talk, he stated

"I have a perfect knowledge."  I can't say that.  But I don't think I can assert that nobody else can say it either.

Not sure what you are referencing here.

I think so.  Consider, for example, this April 2013 General Conference talk by Elder Holland:

"I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for 'only believing.'"

Alma 32 is frequently discussed in the Church, and I am glad of that.  It does an excellent job of reminding us that faith "{is} not a perfect knowledge," and that we "cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge" (Alma 32:26).

Elder Holland continues:

I think Elder Holland was situated here to use "I know" advisedly and with particularized intent.  

Well, there are plenty of references to "perfect knowledge" in the scriptures and in General Conference talks.  If there is perfect knowledge, then there must also be imperfect knowledge.  Can a person say "I know" in that context, and have it be substantially accurate and true?

As for "official sources," see this 1991 talk by Elder Maxwell:

And these 1994 remarks, also by Elder Maxwell:

And these 1972 remarks by Elder Joseph Anderson:

And these 2016 remarks by Elder W. Mark Bassett:

And these 1973 remarks by Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.

"{R}eal faith lets a man act as if he knows it is true when he really doesn’t."

And these 2010 remarks by Bishop Richard C. Edgley:

"{W}hen we choose faith and then nurture that faith to a perfect knowledge of the things of the Lord, then we use the words 'I testify' or 'I know.'"

Getting to this thread very, very late. And jumping in before reading it to its current completion. 

On 3/10/2024 at 6:45 AM, smac97 said:

I am also curious what other Latter-day Saints here think on this topic.

Thanks,

-Smac

I am well past the point of mere belief, but not yet to perfect knowledge, as Elder McConkie used the term. If I were to stand in testimony meeting and say "I believe" instead of "I know," I would feel like I were betraying the Holt Ghost, who has testified to me over and over again that these things are true:

God lives; Jesus is The Christ; the Church is true; Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God; and Russell M. Nelson is a prophet today.

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On 3/10/2024 at 7:22 PM, Calm said:

Have you considered the same conditions in the next life probably exists for those who are attracted to the opposite sex?

Are you saying that SSA people may be resurrected with SSA? Or "gay" as some prefer.

 

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7 hours ago, Stargazer said:

Are you saying that SSA people may be resurrected with SSA? Or "gay" as some prefer.

 

No.

I am saying heterosexuality will disappear along with homosexuality as both will be replaced with or evolve into something deeper and more fulfilling and appropriate for the Celestial Kingdom and likely in my view, the other kingdoms as well.

Edited by Calm
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48 minutes ago, Calm said:

No.

I am saying heterosexuality will disappear along with homosexuality as both will be replaced with or evolve into something deeper and more fulfilling and appropriate for the Celestial Kingdom and likely in my view, the other kingdoms as well.

What a wonderful thought! So instead of spiritually refined and perfected romantic love existing between exalted husbands and wives in the celestial kingdom, sealed men and women get to look forward to spending eternity together as passionless roommates who no longer have any romantic desire each other? I’d be willing to bet that there never has been and isn’t now a single Apostle or member of the First Presidency who would go along with this idea. Imagining that romantic love between husbands and wives isn’t spiritually perfectible is about as sad an idea as I’ve ever heard. And I’ll say this, if God the Father isn’t deeply romantically in love with my heavenly mother I’ll lose a lot of my respect and admiration for him.

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2 hours ago, teddyaware said:

What a wonderful thought! So instead of spiritually refined and perfected romantic love existing between exalted husbands and wives in the celestial kingdom, sealed men and women get to look forward to spending eternity together as passionless roommates who no longer have any romantic desire each other? I’d be willing to bet that there never has been and isn’t now a single Apostle or member of the First Presidency who would go along with this idea. Imagining that romantic love between husbands and wives isn’t spiritually perfectible is about as sad an idea as I’ve ever heard. And I’ll say this, if God the Father isn’t deeply romantically in love with my heavenly mother I’ll lose a lot of my respect and admiration for him.

I heard just the opposite.  Straight couples will spend eternity together as passionless roommates who no longer have any romantic desires for each other.  Gays will now be able to spend eternity having passionate love and wild sex with their married spouses for eternity.  Payback is a b***h.

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10 hours ago, Calm said:

I am saying heterosexuality will disappear along with homosexuality as both will be replaced with or evolve into something deeper and more fulfilling and appropriate for the Celestial Kingdom and likely in my view, the other kingdoms as well.

I think it's possible that Jesus Christ's teaching on the subject will turn out to be the most accurate of all:  "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

Unfortunately apparently nobody thought to ask him what the relationship among "the angels of God in heaven" looks like.  It is often assumed that their relationship would somehow be less than marriage as we know it.  But perhaps that level of relationship is actually more than marriage (including temple marriage) as we know it.  

If the relationship that exists in heaven could be drawn, I think it would look like a multi-dimensional web wherein every node of the web is connected with every other. 

But I could be wrong. 

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5 hours ago, manol said:

the relationship that exists in heaven could be drawn, I think it would look like a multi-dimensional web wherein every node of the web is connected with every other. 

 

I agree, but I do think the web could be different colors (different types of relationships—-people you connect with intellectually vs people more emotionally connected, maybe some you like to do physical things with…Celestial Kingdom’s version of pickleball?, one at least romantically connected whatever that might mean).  A particular node might have multiple connections.

I think there is likely romance because I find it hard to believe mortality has the most elevated form of anything that is good.

Edited by Calm
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8 minutes ago, Calm said:

I agree, but I do think the web could be different colors (different types of relationships—-people you connect with intellectually vs people more emotionally connected, maybe some you like to do physical things with (Celestial Kingdom’s version of pickleball?), one at least romantically connected whatever that might mean.  A particular node might have multiple connections.

I think there is likely romance because I find it hard to believe mortality has the most elevated form of anything that is good.

That makes sense to me.  I think our associations will be natural and based on affinity.  I think union rather than separation will be pervasive.

Edited by manol
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On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

You: "In my experience, and in my interactions with members who have left, when they apply the same critical thinking skills that led them out of Mormonism to other religions or sects, those fall apart as well."

You: "I did not say that those who stay don't have critical thinking skills, now did I?  But once one uses them and deconstructs Mormonism, they tend to use the same skills when approaching other religions. And they also may be cautious because they have already been burned by one religious organization."

You: "Like it or not, often those who are high end critical thinkers have a tough time using the same skills when digging into supernatural beliefs that they think are real."

Also you: "You know I only referenced critical thinking skills as it related to ME."

I have been thinking a bit about this post and interaction and I thought it worth a response.

 

So first, I stand corrected. I was referring to my own journey and I did reference others as well. However, you seemed to take offense and seemed to think I was implying that those who stay do not have critical thinking skill.  As noted, we all process information and experiences in our search for meaning in this life.  Also as noted, smart people believe all sorts of things that are likely incorrect.  Humans apply their own critical thinking skill in a variety of ways.  And it seems we all have blind spots. But for me, and for others who I have talked to who have moves away from the church, critical thinking skills were in the mix and in a painful difficult way. Others can apply the same skills and come to a different conclusion.  I don't brand anyone who stays and believes in Mormonism and a dolt or non critical thinker.  If my posts came across that way that was not my intent.  One of my closest friends who was the SP who when I was called as a bishop, is one of the brightest most well read people I know.  He has since served as an area authority 70 and a Mission President.  We tall a lot about the church and issues.  He is a brilliant environmental attorney. He still believes and I don't think he is not  critical thinker.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

Wow.  I see nothing like that in Bitton's article.  See, e.g., here:

Apparently we disagree about the article.  No surprise there really.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

He is speaking here not of "history," but of our expectations when we examine history. 

Who decides what expectations should be when we examine history?  Certainly the church rises or falls on the claims of primarily Joseph Smith.  Studying his life, his claims, his behavior, his character and so on have significant bearing on whether we can trust his claims.  This is history. So who sets  the expectations?

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

 

This jibes with my previous comment: "I think there are presuppositions, biases, etc. that are labeled as 'critical thinking skills.'"

We all have biases. You do. I do.  For me and Mormonism my bias for most of my life is that Joseph's claims were in fact true.  So my bias tilted for decades towards favoring his story and the church and its claims.  The fact that I eventually came to a different conclusion does not mean that my bias in presupposition where devoid of critical thinking skills. The fact that I came to a very different conclusion than you have does not negate the fact that I used critical thinking skills.  Your comment above seems to imply that I, and other previous full believing and active members who no longer believe really did not apply critical thinking skills. It seems you are accusing me and others of what you seem to be offended over what you think I was implying about believers and critical thinking skills.

 

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

And an individual's acceptance or rejection of those claims often stands or falls on the "expectations" (Bitton) or "presuppositions" (Smac) that one brings to an evaluation of those claims.

Everyone has expectations. So what?

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

Your comment here seems to validate Bitton's observation here: 

The critics would have you believe that they are disinterested pursuers of the truth. There they were, minding their own business, going about their conscientious study of Church history and — shock and dismay! — they came across this, whatever this is, that blew them away. As hurtful as it is for them, they can no longer believe in the Church and, out of love for you, they now want to help you see the light of day.

This fits you to a tee.

No it does not. Not one whit. And the only way you can conclude that is by reading my mind. I defended the Church narrative for decades. ANd it was apologetics like Bittons essay and your approach here that helped lead me out.  Bitton's essay wants to twist the leave taker into something as weak and misguided on how they approached the historical narrative. Total garbage. It disparages the lived experience of those who conclude differently.  It moves the goal posts.  And I still hold to my position that this is a newer apologetic tactic and plays right into the new primary and secondary theories you apologists use now. As I said who sets expectations?  Who decides primary and secondary issues?  Bitton's essay mocks those who conclude differently-see bolded above.  For me, and many other I have spoken with it most certainly NOT a shock and dismay and out we went. I spent years wrangling with m concerns before I rejected it all.

Bitton''s essay is a joke and reeks of desperation.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

I think the reality is more complex, hence the value of Bitton's essay and its invitation to re-examine our individual expectations.

I am constantly evaluating my spiritual journey and expectations.  Can you say the same?  I doubt you do.  

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

 

Right.  That's why I quoted Bitton, a historian, to support my position, and why you are rejecting Bitton out-of-hand.

Rightfully so.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

Bitton has it right:

Can you say confirmation bias?  No he has it totally wrong. But I am sure his essay works well on some. 

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

I like the candor with which Bitton presents his expectations. 

Bully for you.

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

 

 

Some of "the issues" are "hard to defend" because they are not defensible.  In surveying the lives of past Latter-day Saints (particularly the leaders), I don't have an expectation of perfection and infallibility.  So flaws and mistakes known to us, even serious ones, are not dealbreakers for me.

 

See this is the further problem. I did not and do not  expect perfection, infallibility or lack of mistakes. Yet you imply I do and overlay it on me and others who no longer believe.  Why do you do that? Are you insecure in your own testimony?  My issues go well beyond these things. 

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

In terms of the doctrines of the Church, the only one that is a real outlier for me is polygamy.  It's a toughie, to be sure, but rejection of it based on emotion, based on it being uncomfortable, would be problematic for me. 

Once again, it is not a rejection based on emotion for me. It goes well beyond that.  But that is another topic.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

 

There are all sorts of things in play here.  Context matters.  A lot.  Historical context.  Social/cultural context.  Scriptural context.  Gospel context.  So does accuracy in conveyed information.  So do my personal life experiences, as well as the importance of properly characterizing those experiences as finite, blinkered, and not altogether accurate (rather than definitive, perfected and utterly, pristinely correct).

No not really. It is pretty simple. And I doubt you would cut such slack to anyone else that you did not  believe was a prophet of god.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

In other words, my sense of unease is not the most reliable moral barometer in the world.  So objectivity helps.  So does research.  Lots of research.  And patience.  And humility (at the prospect that my "ick factor" may be more about me than about the thing I find to be "icky").  And a willingness to re-assess previous assumptions.  But most of all . . . faith.  Lots and lots of faith.

Why lots and lots of faith?  Because perhaps without it it easily falls apart. If one needs lots and lots of faith to by into something that screams against their own morals and integrity it seems a good sign that there is a problem.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:


Having qualms about polygamy is understandable from a sociological/cultural perspective is understandable.  My parents returned from a mission in Zimbabwe and reported that the Church's historical polygamy, long a part of their culture, creates little unease amongst those folks.  The discomfort is, in the end, personal and subject and cultural.  That's not, I think, a flaw in the doctrine.  Rejecting the doctrine outright, however, is rather hard to reconcile with D&C 132 (and Jacob 2).

Apart from my personal struggles with polygamy, though, I think the doctrines of the Church are facially wonderful.

We all know you think the church is the bomb and all that. So what?  "Wonderful" doctrines are in the eye of the beholder.  Finding something wonderful does not make it true.

 

On 3/12/2024 at 1:10 PM, smac97 said:

 

 

 

And if I can pick it apart, that may be evidence that I understand the issue, but do not agree with others about it.

Thanks,

-Smac

Obviously.

Link to comment
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I have been thinking a bit about this post and interaction and I thought it worth a response.

Quote

You: "In my experience, and in my interactions with members who have left, when they apply the same critical thinking skills that led them out of Mormonism to other religions or sects, those fall apart as well."

You: "I did not say that those who stay don't have critical thinking skills, now did I?  But once one uses them and deconstructs Mormonism, they tend to use the same skills when approaching other religions. And they also may be cautious because they have already been burned by one religious organization."

You: "Like it or not, often those who are high end critical thinkers have a tough time using the same skills when digging into supernatural beliefs that they think are real."

Also you: "You know I only referenced critical thinking skills as it related to ME."

So first, I stand corrected. I was referring to my own journey and I did reference others as well. However, you seemed to take offense and seemed to think I was implying that those who stay do not have critical thinking skill.  As noted, we all process information and experiences in our search for meaning in this life.  Also as noted, smart people believe all sorts of things that are likely incorrect.  Humans apply their own critical thinking skill in a variety of ways.  And it seems we all have blind spots. But for me, and for others who I have talked to who have moves away from the church, critical thinking skills were in the mix and in a painful difficult way. Others can apply the same skills and come to a different conclusion.  I don't brand anyone who stays and believes in Mormonism and a dolt or non critical thinker.  If my posts came across that way that was not my intent.  One of my closest friends who was the SP who when I was called as a bishop, is one of the brightest most well read people I know.  He has since served as an area authority 70 and a Mission President.  We tall a lot about the church and issues.  He is a brilliant environmental attorney. He still believes and I don't think he is not  critical thinker.

Sounds like we are more in agreement than otherwise.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Who decides what expectations should be when we examine history? 

Well, that's up for discussion.  There are all sorts of problems with presentism and navel-gazing and faultfinding.  I also think the "nirvana fallacy" and notions of prophetic infallibility ought to be rejected.  I also think that, when evaluating historical figures, we generally ought not reduce the entirety of a the person's life down to only his errors, mistakes and worst qualities, and then judge them on those narrowed grounds.  I also think the "neither condemn, nor ignore, but learn" principle in Mormon 9:31 is quite worthwhile.  Contextualization is also important.

I have previously laid out my perspective at some length here and here.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Certainly the church rises or falls on the claims of primarily Joseph Smith.  Studying his life, his claims, his behavior, his character and so on have significant bearing on whether we can trust his claims.  This is history. So who sets  the expectations?

From our friend, Mr. ChatGPT (in response to "What are the general principles we ought to use when examining the lives of historical persons?  What historiographical principles ought we adopt?") :

Quote

When examining the lives of historical figures, several principles and historiographical approaches can guide our understanding:

  1. Contextualization: Understanding the historical context in which the individual lived is crucial. This involves considering the social, political, economic, and cultural factors that shaped their life and decisions. Without this context, it's challenging to interpret their actions accurately.
  2. Multiple Perspectives: It's essential to consider multiple perspectives and sources of information. History is often written by the victors or dominant groups, so seeking out marginalized voices and alternative viewpoints can provide a more nuanced understanding of the individual in question.
  3. Critical Analysis of Sources: Historians must critically evaluate the sources of information available about the historical figure. This includes considering biases, reliability, and the agenda of the sources. Primary sources (contemporary accounts, letters, etc.) are generally considered more reliable than secondary sources (interpretations by later historians), but both require critical examination.
  4. Avoiding Presentism: Presentism involves interpreting the past through the lens of present-day values, norms, and beliefs. Historians should strive to understand historical figures within the context of their own time, rather than imposing modern judgments on them.
  5. Complexity and Contradiction: Historical figures, like people today, are complex and multidimensional. They may hold contradictory beliefs or engage in actions that seem inconsistent. Historians should be willing to grapple with this complexity rather than simplifying individuals into heroes or villains.
  6. Historical Methodology: Adopting sound historical methodology, including research, analysis, and interpretation, is essential. This involves gathering evidence, constructing arguments based on that evidence, and subjecting those arguments to peer review and critique.
  7. Interdisciplinary Approach: Drawing on insights from other disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and literature, can enrich our understanding of historical figures. These interdisciplinary perspectives can provide additional context and shed light on motivations and behaviors.
  8. Ethical Considerations: Historians should consider the ethical implications of their work, including the potential impact on living descendants or communities associated with the historical figure. Sensitivity to these concerns can help ensure that historical research is conducted ethically and responsibly.

By adhering to these principles and approaches, historians can strive to present a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of historical figures and their significance in shaping the course of history.

I think much of this can be adapted to an examination of Joseph Smith.  To be sure, the Latter-day Saints invite others to examine his truth claims in a religious/spiritual context, but that's up to the individual.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

We all have biases. You do. I do. 

I concur.  Hence my objection to selective citation to "critical thinking skills."

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

For me and Mormonism my bias for most of my life is that Joseph's claims were in fact true.  So my bias tilted for decades towards favoring his story and the church and its claims.  The fact that I eventually came to a different conclusion does not mean that my bias in presupposition where devoid of critical thinking skills.  The fact that I came to a very different conclusion than you have does not negate the fact that I used critical thinking skills. 

I have not disputed your critical thinking skills.  Rather, I think we tend to attribute the reaching of "very different conclusion{s}" from each other to "critical thinking skills," when I think the more salient factor is the presuppositions, biases, etc. which we bring to the table, and which we sometimes end up conflating with, or labeling, "critical thinking skills."

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Your comment above seems to imply that I, and other previous full believing and active members who no longer believe really did not apply critical thinking skills.

That was not my intent, but I apologize for giving that impression.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

It seems you are accusing me and others of what you seem to be offended over what you think I was implying about believers and critical thinking skills.

Less "offended" than simply disagreeing with the sentiment that "critical thinking skills" tend to lead people out of the Church.  

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Everyone has expectations. So what?

Some of those expectations (and presuppositions, and biases, etc.) can be flawed or include flawed components, and may deserve to be re-examined, modified, set aside, etc.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

No it does not. Not one whit. And the only way you can conclude that is by reading my mind.

I stand corrected, then.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I defended the Church narrative for decades. And it was apologetics like Bittons essay and your approach here that helped lead me out.  Bitton's essay wants to twist the leave taker into something as weak and misguided on how they approached the historical narrative. Total garbage. It disparages the lived experience of those who conclude differently.  It moves the goal posts. 

I don't think that is Bitton's intent.  And it's not mine either.

I have heard many narratives about people leaving the Church after finding some previously-unknown and totally shocking item - or series of items - that "blew them away."  These days it is increasingly common to see opponents of the Church helpfully compile "big list"-style "questions" and publish them with the specific intention of tearing down the faith of the Saints.  Jeremy Runnells is the most obvious example.  I previously addressed this in the context of presuppositions and biases here:

Quote

Another challenge is that some folks, having encountered these "Big Lists," can end up adopting a variant of the "Nirvana Fallacy."  This fallacy is described here:

Quote

The nirvana fallacy is the informal fallacy of comparing actual things with unrealistic, idealized alternatives.
...
In La Bégueule (1772), Voltaire wrote Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, which is often translated as "The perfect is the enemy of the good" (literally: "The best is the enemy of the good").

The nirvana fallacy was given its name by economist Harold Demsetz in 1969, who said:

Quote

The view that now pervades much public policy economics implicitly presents the relevant choice as between an ideal norm and an existing "imperfect" institutional arrangement. This nirvana approach differs considerably from a comparative institution approach in which the relevant choice is between alternative real institutional arrangements.

 

My sense is that some members of the Church are harboring idealized, unrealistic expectations about the Church, and its leaders and members, and its history.  This is the "perfect" part of Voltaire's maxim. 

Then these folks encounter "big lists" and other online resources that distill and summarize all sorts of controversies, errors, shortcomings, etc. by members and leaders of the Church.  Such compilations are full of cheap shots presented for shock value.  Presentism.  Facile criticism.  Misrepresentation by omission and distortion.  A determined effort to keep these topics decontextualized and sensationalized.  Sarcasm.  No effort to study or meaningfully understand.  And intermingled with them are some legitimate criticisms. 

These summaries of the Church are, understandably, difficult or impossible to reconcile with the Church's narrative about itself, which has long tended toward an idealized presentation (though the Church's publication of Saints, Vol. 1: The Standard of Truth is signaling some real change on this issue).

Some members, then, end up facing seemingly irreconcilable options

  • Option A: the Church is essentially good and decent and ordained of God (as claimed by the Church), or
  • Option B: the Church is essentially flawed and corrupt, and even evil (as claimed by authors of the above-referenced "big lists").

Applying Voltaire's maxim, the "perfect" (the idealized perception of, and expectations about, the Church and its members) becomes the enemy of the "good" (Option A).  Consequently, some folks go with Option B, because it seems the only plausible means of reconciling what they thought about the Church with what they now know about the Church.

These members can, and often do, grapple with these issues in secret.  Maybe they don't want to "rock the boat" (in the ward, amongst family members, etc.).  Maybe they don't want to disappoint family members and friends.  Maybe they struggle in secret out of fear.  Maybe they feel overwhelmed and anxious at the prospect of their Latter-day Saint "worldview" being challenged or upended.  This can be a particularly potent factor in their decision-making process, as such secrecy tends to isolate the individual from other members, and also tends to lead the individual to hostile sources, who are at liberty to characterize the Church in the worst ways possible.  

In addition to making the foregoing observations, I formulated a list of things I think we can do to improve the situation (previously posted here) :

Quote

1. We should innoculate, not insulate.  The {Gospel Topics} essays are a good start.  I think we need to have more discussions in seminary, and in YM/YW.  And in the home.

2. We should take gospel study as an individual responsibility.  Take ownership of it.  Don't insist that the only gospel instruction is that which we receive during the {two}-hour block and in seminary.

3. We should ditch the "I know" paradigm.  "I'd like to bear my testimony.  I know this church is true..."  Well, actually, no.  Most of us, I think, have faith that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, that the Church is what it claims to be, etc.  "I know" has become an affectation, and an inaccurate one at that.  Just as people use "literally" to mean "figuratively" ("I was so bored yesterday, I was literally climbing the walls..."), I think members of the Church use "I know" to mean "I believe."  And in so doing we've set up an incorrect perception of things.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  (2 Cor. 5:7).  "{I}f a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it."  (Alma 32:17-18).  "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."  (AoF 1:9).

We are supposed to not have a sure knowledge.  We are supposed to be proceeding in faith.  But we've made it seem like anything short of a pulpit-thumping "I know..." just isn't good enough.  But "I know" seems too rigid.  Too fragile.  Too glass-jawed.  "I believe...", on the other hand, gives us some room.  Some time and some space to absorb challenging/difficult things.  

4. We need to ditch the notion that the Oracle of Google will tell us everything we need to know.  It won't.  It will tell us selected bits and pieces based on algorithms and page views and dozens of other factors that are largely untethered from accuracy, reasonableness, and so on.  

5. We need to put some space between action and reaction.  Ours is an impatient era.  We need to give ourselves time to study, to grow, to learn, to absorb, to evaluate new information, to re-assess, and so on.  Context matters.  Information matters.  Knowing how much we don't know about a given topic matters. As it is, I think a lot of people are making rash, knee-jerk decisions about the Church that are neither studied nor reasoned.

6. I think we need to stop speaking evil of the Lord's anointed, both past and present.  We can and should address disagreements in the Church, but in the right time, and place, and manner.  

I think we need to remind ourselves of Mormon 9:31.  Often.  "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

For the love of pete, we need to cut the early members of the Church some slack.  A lot of slack, actually.  It's not like the Lord gave them books entitled "How to Establish the Kingdom of God in Ten Easy Steps," or "Apostleship for Dummies," or "Everything You Want to Know About Revelation (But Are Afraid to Ask)."

The early leaders of the Church were functioning in their leadership capacities with little or no "institutional knowledge" regarding the ins and outs of church governance.  So when Brigham Young became an apostle, and then the Presiding High Priest, he had very little in the way of training from more experienced general authorities to teach him how to run the LDS Church.  And he had very little in the way of formal education (which, in the 19th century, would have been fairly limited anyway).  The same goes for his predecessor, Joseph Smith, his contemporaries, and his successors.

And the Church was in tremendous turmoil and under much hardship for many years (persecutions in Nauvoo, the initial trek west, the ongoing flow of immigrants in the ensuing years, the settlement of the west, the creation of towns, the feeding and provisioning of thousands of newly-minted and -arrived church members, international missionary work, building the Salt Lake Temple, Johnston's Army, Mountain Meadows, polygamy, and on and on and on).

I am deeply impressed at the accomplishments of the early leaders of the Church.  Their experiences, their successes, and their failures, have been helpful to the subsequent generations of leaders and members of the Church.  One of the benefits which are now accruing to today's leaders is the ability to look back and see what was done by past leaders, including perhaps some occasional tendency to publicly conflate personal opinion with scriptural/revelatory precepts.  I think today's leaders are much better about differentiating between the two, and focusing on the latter to the exclusion of the former when making public, formal remarks in their capacities as General Authorities.  These men and women had to deal with many more life-and-death issues, moral conundrums, matters of civil governance, and so on, than we do.  It's easy for us to sit in front of our computers and presume to dole out judgments against people we've never met, who faced situations we've never seen, and dealt with challenges we've never endured.

"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."  (3 Nephi 14:2)

7. I think covenant-keeping needs more emphasis.  Covenants are not intended for times when the going is easy.  Covenants are supposed to keep us bound together when the going is not easy.  When it's downright difficult.

8. I think we should spend less time fretting about the frailties and failures of the leaders of the Church, and more time in service to our fellow man, in study of the Restored Gospel, and in fostering basic virtues like patience, humility, kindness, forgiveness, penitence, and so on.

This is geared toward those who still harbor some notion of faith in and affection for the Restored Gospel, and for the Church that houses it and the men and women who are called upon to lead that church.  For those who have lost these sentiments, or else never had them, I suppose distance is needed.  Also needed, though, is apologetics.  And unapologetic apologetics at that.  @Kenngo1969 summed things up well here:

Quote

I agree that, in engaging in apologetics, one must take great care that one's zeal does not exceed one's knowledge (see Romans 10:2), that one should not overstate the evidence, and that one should be mindful always of the potentially changing state of the evidence from one moment to the next. 

That said, I see no reason why one should avoid engaging in reasonable extrapolations of the evidence to provide plausible explanations for what, as yet, we don't know for certain, why opponents of the Church of Jesus Christ (both within and without the Church) should be allowed what Elder Neal A. Maxwell called "uncontested slam dunks," why we should not, in Orson Scott Card's words, encourage those who doubt to doubt their doubts and to question their questions rather than doubting or questioning their faith, or why we should not employ Austin Farrer's dictum:

Quote

Though argument does not create conviction the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish” (see Farrer, “Grete Clerk,” in Light on C. S. Lewis compiled by Jocelyn Gibb, Harcourt and Brace, 1965).

I am indebted to Daniel C. Peterson for providing the source of the quote from Farrer, which I got from here: Daniel C. Peterson (November 17, 2016), "The many uses of 'apologetics," Deseret News, accessed on line at https://www.deseret.com/2016/11/17/20600667/the-many-uses-of-apologetics, last accessed July 15, 2021.  As usual, Professor (Emeritus, alas!) Peterson's column is worth a read in its entirety.

Yep.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

And I still hold to my position that this is a newer apologetic tactic and plays right into the new primary and secondary theories you apologists use now. As I said who sets expectations?  Who decides primary and secondary issues? 

Ultimately, each individual gets to choose.

For myself, I see a hierarchy of "issues" regarding the truth claims from and pertaining to Joseph Smith.  For example, whether Joseph really experienced the First Vision, really obtained the Gold Plates, really translated them "by the gift and power of God," really did receive the priesthood from angelic ministers, are more "primary" than whether polygamy was a divinely-instituted practice.  And flaws and errors in Joseph's implementation and practice of polygamy are downstream from that.  

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Bitton's essay mocks those who conclude differently-see bolded above. 

I don't think so.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

For me, and many other I have spoken with it most certainly NOT a shock and dismay and out we went. I spent years wrangling with m concerns before I rejected it all.

Okay.  Many others speak of a rather abrupt and radical collapse of their faith.  Individuals lose (and gain or re-gain) faith in different ways.

This seems to take us back to presuppositions and biases.  Neither of us has a corner on "critical thinking skills."

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I am constantly evaluating my spiritual journey and expectations.  Can you say the same?  I doubt you do.

I've been on this board since April 2004.  Next month makes it twenty years.  This board has its flaws, but it is not an echo chamber.  Plenty of diverse opinions here.  One of the reasons I come to this board is because it is not an echo chamber.  Critics of my faith, such as yourself, are plentiful.  I have found much value in listening to what you folks have to say.  I seek to use it to my advantage.  Interacting with people like you, though often less than pleasant, requires me to regularly re-examine both what I believe and why I believe it.  So I have.  And as a result, such interactions have had a substantial refining - and strengthening - effect on my faith in the Restored Gospel, on my assessment of the substantive goodness and verity of the doctrines, on my respect and honor for the Lord's anointed (whom I now view with clearer eyes than I did in my "put them on a pedestal" days), on my affection and regard for the Church as a whole, and ultimately, on my faith in Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith was spot-on when he said that "{b}y proving contraries, truth is made manifest."  Your assessment of the Church, etc. is pretty "contrary" to mine.  I want to get to the truth, and you and your perspective help in that endeavor.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:
Quote

Some of "the issues" are "hard to defend" because they are not defensible.  In surveying the lives of past Latter-day Saints (particularly the leaders), I don't have an expectation of perfection and infallibility.  So flaws and mistakes known to us, even serious ones, are not dealbreakers for me.

See this is the further problem. I did not and do not  expect perfection, infallibility or lack of mistakes. Yet you imply I do and overlay it on me and others who no longer believe.  Why do you do that? Are you insecure in your own testimony?  My issues go well beyond these things. 

I was speaking from long experience in listening to folks like you.  If the shoe fits, wear it.  Otherwise, don't.

I think there are times when the shoe fits and some just don't want to admit it.  They do harbor presuppositions/biases/expectations regarding prophetic infallibility.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:
Quote

In other words, my sense of unease is not the most reliable moral barometer in the world.  So objectivity helps.  So does research.  Lots of research.  And patience.  And humility (at the prospect that my "ick factor" may be more about me than about the thing I find to be "icky").  And a willingness to re-assess previous assumptions.  But most of all . . . faith.  Lots and lots of faith.

Why lots and lots of faith? 

Not just "lots and lots of faith."  Objectivity and research and patience and humility and willingness to re-assess previous assumptions.

But to answer your question: I think being a Latter-day Saint can require "lots and lots of faith" because there are many people out there who are going out of their way to tear down and disparage our our beliefs and the objects thereof.  There's a fair amount of opposition out there.

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Because perhaps without it it easily falls apart.

Two "its" here.  The first is a reference to "faith," but I'm not sure what the second is referencing.  Perhaps you mean "testimony" or "relationship to the Church and the Restored Gospel it houses," or something like that?

If so, I quite agree with you, but probably not for the reasons you think.  My relationship with my wife requires lots and lots of effort as well.  Without such effort, my marriage would "easily fall apart," some of which failure would be attributable to outside influences, but some of which must also be attributable to me and my failure or refusal to make the requisite effort.  My relationship with my wife is not supposed to be self-sustaining.  It requires real and consistent effort on my part and my wife's.

Similar principles are in play regarding my relationship to the Restored Gospel.

Also, I'm sort of confused at your narrative here.  In one breath, you say that you spent years grappling with your faith, but here you say it "easily falls apart."  On the one hand, you acknowledge that people with "critical thinking skills" can readily stay in the Church, but here you seem to suggest that their devotions are so fragile that they might "easily fall apart."

1 hour ago, Teancum said:

If one needs lots and lots of faith to by into something that screams against their own morals and integrity it seems a good sign that there is a problem.

Well, here we get to those "presuppositions and biases" again.  You are projecting.  For me, there are basically just two principles of the Restored Gospel which I struggle to substantially reconcile with my personal "morals and integrity," namely, polygamy and animal sacrifice.  But these are not "screaming" issues.  I think my aversion to these things is borne more of circumstance and cultural strangeness.  So these are a "problem" in some sense for me, but not intractable ones.  Not dealbreakers.  Far from it, actually.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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18 hours ago, smac97 said:

Sounds like we are more in agreement than otherwise.

Well, that's up for discussion.  There are all sorts of problems with presentism and navel-gazing and faultfinding.  I also think the "nirvana fallacy" and notions of prophetic infallibility ought to be rejected.  I also think that, when evaluating historical figures, we generally ought not reduce the entirety of a the person's life down to only his errors, mistakes and worst qualities, and then judge them on those narrowed grounds.  I also think the "neither condemn, nor ignore, but learn" principle in Mormon 9:31 is quite worthwhile.  Contextualization is also important.

I have previously laid out my perspective at some length here and here.

From our friend, Mr. ChatGPT (in response to "What are the general principles we ought to use when examining the lives of historical persons?  What historiographical principles ought we adopt?") :

I think much of this can be adapted to an examination of Joseph Smith.  To be sure, the Latter-day Saints invite others to examine his truth claims in a religious/spiritual context, but that's up to the individual.

I concur.  Hence my objection to selective citation to "critical thinking skills."

I have not disputed your critical thinking skills.  Rather, I think we tend to attribute the reaching of "very different conclusion{s}" from each other to "critical thinking skills," when I think the more salient factor is the presuppositions, biases, etc. which we bring to the table, and which we sometimes end up conflating with, or labeling, "critical thinking skills."

That was not my intent, but I apologize for giving that impression.

Less "offended" than simply disagreeing with the sentiment that "critical thinking skills" tend to lead people out of the Church.  

Some of those expectations (and presuppositions, and biases, etc.) can be flawed or include flawed components, and may deserve to be re-examined, modified, set aside, etc.

I stand corrected, then.

I don't think that is Bitton's intent.  And it's not mine either.

I have heard many narratives about people leaving the Church after finding some previously-unknown and totally shocking item - or series of items - that "blew them away."  These days it is increasingly common to see opponents of the Church helpfully compile "big list"-style "questions" and publish them with the specific intention of tearing down the faith of the Saints.  Jeremy Runnells is the most obvious example.  I previously addressed this in the context of presuppositions and biases here:

In addition to making the foregoing observations, I formulated a list of things I think we can do to improve the situation (previously posted here) :

This is geared toward those who still harbor some notion of faith in and affection for the Restored Gospel, and for the Church that houses it and the men and women who are called upon to lead that church.  For those who have lost these sentiments, or else never had them, I suppose distance is needed.  Also needed, though, is apologetics.  And unapologetic apologetics at that.  @Kenngo1969 summed things up well here:

Yep.

Ultimately, each individual gets to choose.

For myself, I see a hierarchy of "issues" regarding the truth claims from and pertaining to Joseph Smith.  For example, whether Joseph really experienced the First Vision, really obtained the Gold Plates, really translated them "by the gift and power of God," really did receive the priesthood from angelic ministers, are more "primary" than whether polygamy was a divinely-instituted practice.  And flaws and errors in Joseph's implementation and practice of polygamy are downstream from that.  

I don't think so.

Okay.  Many others speak of a rather abrupt and radical collapse of their faith.  Individuals lose (and gain or re-gain) faith in different ways.

This seems to take us back to presuppositions and biases.  Neither of us has a corner on "critical thinking skills."

I've been on this board since April 2004.  Next month makes it twenty years.  This board has its flaws, but it is not an echo chamber.  Plenty of diverse opinions here.  One of the reasons I come to this board is because it is not an echo chamber.  Critics of my faith, such as yourself, are plentiful.  I have found much value in listening to what you folks have to say.  I seek to use it to my advantage.  Interacting with people like you, though often less than pleasant, requires me to regularly re-examine both what I believe and why I believe it.  So I have.  And as a result, such interactions have had a substantial refining - and strengthening - effect on my faith in the Restored Gospel, on my assessment of the substantive goodness and verity of the doctrines, on my respect and honor for the Lord's anointed (whom I now view with clearer eyes than I did in my "put them on a pedestal" days), on my affection and regard for the Church as a whole, and ultimately, on my faith in Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith was spot-on when he said that "{b}y proving contraries, truth is made manifest."  Your assessment of the Church, etc. is pretty "contrary" to mine.  I want to get to the truth, and you and your perspective help in that endeavor.

I was speaking from long experience in listening to folks like you.  If the shoe fits, wear it.  Otherwise, don't.

I think there are times when the shoe fits and some just don't want to admit it.  They do harbor presuppositions/biases/expectations regarding prophetic infallibility.

Not just "lots and lots of faith."  Objectivity and research and patience and humility and willingness to re-assess previous assumptions.

But to answer your question: I think being a Latter-day Saint can require "lots and lots of faith" because there are many people out there who are going out of their way to tear down and disparage our our beliefs and the objects thereof.  There's a fair amount of opposition out there.

Two "its" here.  The first is a reference to "faith," but I'm not sure what the second is referencing.  Perhaps you mean "testimony" or "relationship to the Church and the Restored Gospel it houses," or something like that?

If so, I quite agree with you, but probably not for the reasons you think.  My relationship with my wife requires lots and lots of effort as well.  Without such effort, my marriage would "easily fall apart," some of which failure would be attributable to outside influences, but some of which must also be attributable to me and my failure or refusal to make the requisite effort.  My relationship with my wife is not supposed to be self-sustaining.  It requires real and consistent effort on my part and my wife's.

Similar principles are in play regarding my relationship to the Restored Gospel.

Also, I'm sort of confused at your narrative here.  In one breath, you say that you spent years grappling with your faith, but here you say it "easily falls apart."  On the one hand, you acknowledge that people with "critical thinking skills" can readily stay in the Church, but here you seem to suggest that their devotions are so fragile that they might "easily fall apart."

Well, here we get to those "presuppositions and biases" again.  You are projecting.  For me, there are basically just two principles of the Restored Gospel which I struggle to substantially reconcile with my personal "morals and integrity," namely, polygamy and animal sacrifice.  But these are not "screaming" issues.  I think my aversion to these things is borne more of circumstance and cultural strangeness.  So these are a "problem" in some sense for me, but not intractable ones.  Not dealbreakers.  Far from it, actually.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks for your comments.  I think we have beat this one up enough.  Some points we agree on. Some we are at an impasse on.  That is fine. Like you say, reasonable  minds can disagree.

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On 3/17/2024 at 11:23 AM, InCognitus said:

Temple workers are generally asked to pick a shift that works for their schedule, so I'm assuming that your friend must have picked Saturday for their assigned shift.  Also, I know of an active and faithful couple in my ward that declined the invitation to serve as temple ordinance workers because of the time commitment, so there's nothing wrong with that option.  And if the individuals involved feel overworked in the church because of other callings they have in addition to being a temple worker, they can point out this portion of section 25.5.1 of the General Handbook to their leaders, which says:

"Members who are called or assigned as temple workers normally commit to a regular time to serve in the temple each week. Leaders should avoid issuing additional callings that would interfere with members’ ability to serve in the temple."

My wife and I are currently serving in the temple.  We moved to Utah a little less than two years ago, and there are a lot of temples in our area.  We will soon be switching to a new temple, and we were given the opportunity to decline to work in the new temple if we didn't want to do it anymore.  When we were first asked to serve in the temple I felt overwhelmed because I have a busy and chaotic work schedule, and it was hard for me to pick a shift that would fit my schedule (I sometimes work in the evenings).  But I can honestly say after the several months of serving in the temple that I look forward every week to the time I spend there.   It is a treasure to me.  I block out that time and set it aside and forget about my busy work life for the time that I'm there, and I feel I have been blessed in other aspects of my life in ways that I couldn't imagine.  I wouldn't trade that time for anything.

You should ask your friend how she feels about working in the temple on top of everything else she's doing.  She may not perceive it the same way that you are seeing it.

Went to dinner last night with this friend, and we talked about it. I guess her husband has a shift every Saturday and my friend's is on Friday. They couldn't get one together. And as we were talking about my friend's schedule all week, I'd forgotten that she is also watching her son's 9 month old son twice a week. So my friend's week is this...she watches her grandson from her son on Tues. and Thurs. and she watches her granddaughter and grandson, from her daughter on Wednesdays. And she watches ;) her parents, no she quit her job to be their caretaker, on Monday and Friday. Besides that she is her father-in-law's house cleaner, and don't faint, clips his toenails! She is this woman! On top of that, speaking of holding other callings while being temple workers, she's the Primary president, a recent call, and her husband is the bishop's clerk. They both have held many callings like these throughout the years, very very strong members.

I guess my worries stem from an experience last year of my husband's sister and husband not being able to attend my husband's other sister's husband, who died of colon cancer's, funeral. This sister and her husband were called to serve a couple or more years in the Logan temple, and for some reason weren't able to go to the funeral because of their temple assignment. And these couples were very close. The brother in laws both were bishops years ago and had a lot in common. They both moved to farms and raised animals and crops. One in Preston, Idaho and the other in Lewiston, Utah. So this concerned me that they weren't able to get out of going to the temple for a family member's funeral!! That made me worry for my friend. But last night when I told her I was worried about the two of them getting away for vacations with family or other reasons, she told me family comes first. But hope that is the case. 

Edited by Tacenda
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