February 22, 2010

"I Leave the Church But They Won't Leave Me Alone!"

Or "Dealing With a Child's Loss of Faith"

I'm not a parent yet. I can't fully sympathize with members of the Church whose children leave the fold. I can recognize, however, that in a church that places so much emphasis on eternal families, such a situation can be devastating.

Over the weekend I heard an interesting episode of "This American Life," a radio show on NPR.  The second segment of the program was called "Letter Day Saint." It told the story of a LDS family struggling with this issue:

Rebecca was 16 years old when her mother Elizabeth died of cancer. But before she died, she wrote letters to Rebecca, to be given to her on her birthday each year for thirteen years. At first the letters were comforting, but as time went on, they had much more complicated effects. David Segal tells the story. David is a reporter for The New York Times.1
The mother's letters often and repeatedly encouraged the daughter to marry in the temple and stay active in the Church. As the daughter drifted away, the father could learn and grow with the daughter, but the mother's perspective was frozen in time. The segment is only 14 minutes long, a free download is available here. It raises fascinating questions about the nature of family relationships in time and eternity.

I can think of at least two ways members of the Church help create strained relationships with family members who decide to leave the fold.2 First, is what Jeff Lindsay creatively labeled "honor chilling":
...cold treatment due to religious differences. Parents chilling their children, husbands chilling their wives, former best friends chilling each other--all because they are angry that someone has changed their religious views...Many Christians have struggled when a loved one becomes an atheist or joins a different religion, and folks from many other religions have had similar problems.3
I don't have a creative label for the second phenomenon, but it occurs when well-meaning family members try to pressure a "lost sheep" back into the fold with constant reminders, expressions of disappointment, hints, etc. The more optimistic parents would likely be comforted and encouraged by this quote from Apostle Orson F. Whitney:
You parents of the willful and the wayward! Don't give them up. Don't cast them off. They are not utterly lost....Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return....Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God...4
More recently (and perhaps more sympathetically towards the lost sheep), Elder Dallin H. Oaks urged Latter-day Saints to “never give up hope and loving associations with family members and friends whose fine qualities evidence their progress toward what a loving Father would have them become….We should never give up on loved ones who now seem to be making many wrong choices.”5

This encouragement might be taken to mean parents should repeatedly and specifically address a child's decision to become inactive...for years. Some "lost sheep" might bleat: "I leave the Church and they won't leave me alone!" I believe it's important to find ways to be supportive of and loving towards family members and friends without making that love and support conditional upon whether a person remains active in the Church.

Check out the podcast to see how one LDS mother tried to keep it together, even after death. Parents seeking practical advice can also check out Vickey Taylor's "The Sariah Dilemma: Finding Increased Faith When Our Children Misplace Their Own" from the 2009 FAIR Conference. Spencer W. Kimball's struggles with his own son, Spencer, who left the Church are recounted in Edward L. Kimball's Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball.


FOOTNOTES
[1]
Episode 401, "Parent Trap," This American Life, 19 February 2010. The image is Sam Brown, "there is a possibility," Exploding Dog Comics, 16 November 2009.

[2]
I also recognize that those who leave the Church are not always blame-free in terms of family difficulties, etc. I believe members of the Church often hold the higher cards in the poker game that is the family, though.

[3]
Jeff Lindsay, "A Barbaric Practice: Honor Chillings," mormanity.blogspot.com, 19 October 2009.

[4]
Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report (April 1929): 110.

[5]
Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32–34.

33 comments:

mfbukowski said...

I think it is indescribably important to remember that we are all here on our own journeys and need to follow our own paths. I for one firmly believe that if I had been born into the church, I would not now be a member; my eternal journey required me to spend time in a world where I could fully appreciate the consequences of my own foolish decisions, and learn to follow God's way instead of my own. I firmly believe that those who leave for similar reasons will eventually see the errors of their ways, either in this life or afterward. I have never pressured my children into church activity and never will for these reasons; so far it has "worked", but I know it may not always be this way.

Kent (MC) said...

It's funny, but I was in Mexico with John Lund on a Book of Mormon lands tour and he addressed this topic at a fireside. He said that parents should pour out their frustrations to the Lord and pour out love to their wayward children (and he has one or two himself). He said that to nag or remind a child will never work, but that if one is diligent and loving, God will find someone (not a parent) who can help that child come back to the fold eventually (even in the next life).

Reflecting on his comments, I realized that we often act as if Christ can't do his own work in bringing salvation to others. We act as if "it all depends on me to save this person," which is frankly depressing and debilitating. Christ can do his own work, we are privileged to help him in it, but that he CAN save others. I see this nagging of children and despair due to a false worldview of God and how he truly works. I suppose it is easy to be optimistic with my oldest child being 11, but I really think we just need to have more faith in Christ.

Mike Parker said...

Kent (MC) is right: Part of the problem is Mormon parents who constantly "talk church" around their inactive or ex-Mormon children, trying to get them back into the fold by convincing them or guilting them into it.

On the other side there are inactive or ex-Mormon kids who do nothing but make snide comments and otherwise "trash talk" the Church at family gatherings.

Both are to blame.

BHodges said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. One of the things that stuck out most to me in the podcast was the daughters lack of bitterness or angst regarding the Church. Instead, she seemed to recognize how important it was for her mom. At the same time she was able to articulate the pain she felt while reading the letters. It's really interesting to me to think about how we grow as people over time, and how relationships can grow and adjust. The father has found peace regarding his daughters choices, but the letters still drove something of a wedge between he and his daughter.

David said...

Hodges, Excellent piece. The one thing I told my friend over this related subject is that he cannot control whether I pray for his return or not. He can only exercise choice for himself. The same works in reverse.

cinepro said...

"Honor Chilling". Excellent.

Dan Ripple said...

"Some "lost sheep" might bleat: "I leave the Church and they won't leave me alone!""

Nice. Deep topic that hits close to home for most members. Also, I completly agree with Kent (MC):" We act as if "it all depends on me to save this person," which is frankly depressing and debilitating."

I think it's sad when I see families in the church who abandon their wayward child...reminds me of some families (that every missionary runs into at some point) that say their family member is no longer part of their family because they joined the Church.

BHodges said...

Dan, that might be a nice way to knuckle a member of the Church who has disowned (for lack of a better term) a wayward child. Tell a really tear-jerking story about a person who joined the church whose family disowned them, then ask what the person thinks about it. Then pull the old Nathan-to-David "Thou art the man!" action.

Allen said...

My sister became a Catholic while in college. We've always had a good relationship with her, because we accepted her as an adult and didn't try to change her. During the past decade, I've had an especially close relationship with her, because she is our family genealogist and I'm the webmaster who is putting her research online.

BHodges said...

I think finding a bonding activity like that is a great idea, Allen.

Andrew S said...

Good post, B.

I just find it interesting that you had a term for the first reaction (honor chilling), but not the second...whereas most people I know refer to the second as "love bombing" (is that something different), but don't have a term in particular for the first.

I sometimes feel like this is a bad situation...a catch 22. If both doing too little and doing too much will be seen by the leaving family member or friend as problematic, then what can believing relatives or friends do?

I honestly don't have a workable solution, because I know that for a faithful member, the solution I'd propose is ludicrous and unacceptable. But within both of the previously mentioned options, the believing members do not *accept* the individual's beliefs. Because of this, it reaches deep into the way they interact with the nonbeliever.

Even though I know that for a member, Whitney and Oaks's hope are necessary for faith, but I just chafe at it. The attitude here is always, "Hope they realize they were wrong." This is something many of your commenters also carried on (e.g., mfbukowski, "I firmly believe that those who leave for similar reasons will eventually see the errors of their ways, either in this life or afterward.")

Even Kent's comment (which is more *tolerable* in outcome because it presumably leads to less nagging) has the assumption that, "someone else will bring them back to the truth."

Again, I realize that for the faithful, this is how things probably must be. It's pretty depressing in the end.

BHodges said...

The attitude here is always, "Hope they realize they were wrong."

I think Oaks is more along the lines of "hope they are becoming better."

You chafe at their perspective, what would you say to someone chafing at your chafing?

Andrew S said...

B, I would like it if that were the case. When it is, I am appreciative, however, many times, I find that there are a couple of caveats, particular in your quote of Oaks.

1) "Progress toward what a loving Father would have them become" often takes the interpretation of what the LDS church says a loving Father would have them become...or what a Christian in general...or what a theist in general.

2) "wrong choices" tend to be seen as those that lead one away from the rules and regulations of the church, or whatever a Christian should do, or whatever a theist in general should do.

If I asked you what you thought "becoming better" meant, I would think that your answer as a faithful member would be a little (or maybe a lot) different than a non/ex/post/former member's answer.

At all the chafing...the problem is I realize that it is natural. Someone chafing at my chafing would only be expected. In fact, I would wonder if the other person didn't care enough or wasn't faithful enough if they didn't chafe back.

So, I think I can't really chastise someone for chafing back. Really, I have to learn to be more patient with them and their beliefs.

BHodges said...

1) "Progress toward what a loving Father would have them become" often takes the interpretation of what the LDS church says a loving Father would have them become...or what a Christian in general...or what a theist in general.

I don't personally see a big problem with hoping people love their neighbors more, live honestly, perform acts of charity, etc. though.

2) "wrong choices" tend to be seen as those that lead one away from the rules and regulations of the church, or whatever a Christian should do, or whatever a theist in general should do.

Or a charitable atheist. Or a good Samaritan. Or a nice agnostic.

If I asked you what you thought "becoming better" meant, I would think that your answer as a faithful member would be a little (or maybe a lot) different than a non/ex/post/former member's answer.

I believe there would be enough important similarities.

At all the chafing...the problem is I realize that it is natural. Someone chafing at my chafing would only be expected. In fact, I would wonder if the other person didn't care enough or wasn't faithful enough if they didn't chafe back.

So, I think I can't really chastise someone for chafing back. Really, I have to learn to be more patient with them and their beliefs.


Now you're on the trolly! ;)

Andrew S said...

1) if only these were the church's only goals. However, don't the missions of the church also require a priesthood and priesthood keys, ordinances, baptism, etc.,? Or are all these not required in the slightest?

2) ...I only wish more people would see it your way.

BHodges said...

1) if only these were the church's only goals. However, don't the missions of the church also require a priesthood and priesthood keys, ordinances, baptism, etc.,? Or are all these not required in the slightest?

As a believer you know where I stand on that. However, I am also a believer in what Elder Oaks talked about in that conference address. Is mortal death the ultimate cutoff point? Some have said yes, others have said no.

2) ...I only wish more people would see it your way.

I only wish more of the people who've left the faith wouldn't act intellectually superior and pity us benighted believers. But I also think we can think of better wishes.

Andrew S said...

As a believer you know where I stand on that.

Apparently not, since there are more ways to believe every day. Some people even question whether there is such a thing as Mormon orthodoxy, although based on some of the people who say that (e.g., DMI Dave), I'm pretty sure they do feel there is an orthodox set of LDS core beliefs.

I only wish more of the people who've left the faith wouldn't act intellectually superior and pity us benighted believers. But I also think we can think of better wishes.

Well, I don't want to get into this one (seems like I've hit a nerve???), but you have to realize what it's like for many ex/post/whatever members. They have had questions. Big questions. They have searched a long time for answers. They have become disappointed, disillusioned, unfulfilled by the standard answers, and even more disappointed, disillusioned, and unfulfilled by the creative answers of apologists. And members who respond to them and ask, "How can you have these questions?" or "How can you dare not be satisfied by these answers?" or "How can't you just have faith and endure to the end?"

So, if some ex-members "pity [you] benighted believers," then I think it's because their experiences put them there. What they see are really iffy answers -- answers that, when they were searching, did not fullfill them. They see that as the depth of what the church and its supporters have to offer, and it didn't work for them.

I think the problem (so I guess it's on both sides) is that people don't realize that mileage may vary. It's kinda like when people convert to the church and say that everything before was terrible. Many times, people say that they once went through, say, an atheist phase, but everything was terrible and depressing, etc., So, they often ends up pitying atheists and attributing all the bad things to atheism (or whatever their previous state was) because of their previous experiences when really, that was just their experience and it is not necessarily generalizable to everyone else.

Same sort of deal, I think, with ex-members.

I guess I do need to work on my wishmaking skills though, right? :D

BHodges said...

Apparently not, since there are more ways to believe every day.
OK, so you don't know where I stand on it, other than the indications I've given here.

Well, I don't want to get into this one (seems like I've hit a nerve???),

Not a nerve, I just thought I'd return a similarly vague lament to stir the pot a bit.

but you have to realize what it's like for many ex/post/whatever members.

Which assumes I don't try to realize, right? I think that may be where you're running into difficulty in our conversation. Assumptions about what I do or don't, can or can't realize. Hence my return question.

They have had questions. Big questions. They have searched a long time for answers. They have become disappointed, disillusioned, unfulfilled by the standard answers, and even more disappointed, disillusioned, and unfulfilled by the creative answers of apologists.

Sure, while others have had big questions, searched a long time, been satisfied, worried, lazy, energetic, etc., some not disappointed with apologetic responses.

Some of them have been disillusioned by creative criticisms by apologists for atheism or agnosticism.

And members who respond to them and ask, "How can you have these questions?" or "How can you dare not be satisfied by these answers?" or "How can't you just have faith and endure to the end?"

Right, such questions would be grating. Sort of like questions like "how could you buy into those 'creative' answers of apologists?" I can't tell if your points here are supposed to be responding to my own perspective or to a vague crowd of people you have become familiar with, but I touch on these issues in my review of Shawn McCraney's book and elsewhere on this blog.

So, if some ex-members "pity [you] benighted believers," then I think it's because their experiences put them there.

No need for any personal accountability? It's an either/or? They were acted upon, not actors? Not both?

What they see are really iffy answers -- answers that, when they were searching, did not fullfill them. They see that as the depth of what the church and its supporters have to offer, and it didn't work for them.

We're talking about non-specified "iffy answers," I think that is a little too imprecise for what I have time to discuss.

I think the problem (so I guess it's on both sides) is that people don't realize that mileage may vary.

This is pretty much what I've been saying all along. Your comments don't seem to be related to my own points, but to a few of the quotes used.

It's kinda like when people convert to the church and say that everything before was terrible.

I don't hear many people talk about their life this way, especially converts. Again we're sort of stepping into vague territory here discussing hypotheticals.

Many times, people say that they once went through, say, an atheist phase, but everything was terrible and depressing, etc., So, they often ends up pitying atheists and attributing all the bad things to atheism (or whatever their previous state was) because of their previous experiences when really, that was just their experience and it is not necessarily generalizable to everyone else.

I think it's easy to judge based upon our own experiences, so such a thing doesn't surprise me whether it's right or wrong.


I guess I do need to work on my wishmaking skills though, right? :D

Take up photography!

BHodges said...

BTW, you're sort of difficult to please. The post is an effort to help family and friends improve relationships even when beliefs differ. I think that's something we both desire.

Andrew S said...

Which assumes I don't try to realize, right? I think that may be where you're running into difficulty in our conversation. Assumptions about what I do or don't, can or can't realize. Hence my return question.

Sorry. My original thoughts were that when you expressed your wish to counter my wish was that, to have that wish, you didn't understand why these exmembers took that position in the first place. That was stupid of me -- you never said that, only that you wished they didn't take that position. Reflecting, I had the same intention for my own "wish" (I understand why more members aren't so open, but I wish that they were.)

Sure, while others have had big questions, searched a long time, been satisfied, worried, lazy, energetic, etc., some not disappointed with apologetic responses.

Some of them have been disillusioned by creative criticisms by apologists for atheism or agnosticism.


Of course! Did you see my part relating to that?

I can't tell if your points here are supposed to be responding to my own perspective or to a vague crowd of people you have become familiar with, but I touch on these issues in my review of Shawn McCraney's book and elsewhere on this blog.

Actually, my points here are supposed to be responding to a "vague crowd of people" that "the people who've left the faith [who]...act intellectually superior and pity...benighted believers." I'm still addressing your wish.

No need for any personal accountability? It's an either/or? They were acted upon, not actors? Not both?

Would you say that your experiences influence and predispose you to your beliefs and emotional states. And would you say "pitying" someone an action or an emotional state?

I would say my experiences do highly influence and predispose me to my beliefs and emotional states. And I would say that pitying someone means someone feels pity (an emotion) for someone else. So, for example, if I'm angry (another emotion), I don't believe that is something I brought upon myself or can just will away. I don't feel personal responsibility, then, for the emotion. However, I do note that I hold responsibility for my actions -- even actions taken while angry.

I guess the same would be true for pity for me. Does that answer your question?

We're talking about non-specified "iffy answers," I think that is a little too imprecise for what I have time to discuss.

Hold your horses. We're not going to try to dive into any issues today. After all, you'd have to get one of those "people who've left the faith [who]...act intellectually superior and pity...benighted believers" for that!

This is pretty much what I've been saying all along. Your comments don't seem to be related to my own points, but to a few of the quotes used.

Yes. I'm not attacking you. Did you get where I said I wished *more* people thought like *you*?

I don't hear many people talk about their life this way, especially converts. Again we're sort of stepping into vague territory here discussing hypotheticals.

Do I need to start recording testimonies? Do I need to start linking around? I would have thought this was prevalent enough so that you wouldn't need specific examples, but I guess it's not universal?

BTW, you're sort of difficult to please. The post is an effort to help family and friends improve relationships even when beliefs differ. I think that's something we both desire.

The reason I'm "sort of difficult to please" is the same reason we've been going back and forth all about two "wishes," with assumptions revealed and criticized, etc., Wishes aren't reality, unfortunately, whether it's for people who aren't as empathetic or whether it's for people who act intellectually superior and pity benighted believers. (geez, you have such a better phrase to hang on to).

BHodges said...

Actually, my points here are supposed to be responding to a "vague crowd of people" that "the people who've left the faith [who]...act intellectually superior and pity...benighted believers." I'm still addressing your wish.

Right, which was a parody of your wish. ;)

I would say my experiences do highly influence and predispose me to my beliefs and emotional states.

I think they play a large factor as well, as noted.

And I would say that pitying someone means someone feels pity (an emotion) for someone else. I So, for example, if I'm angry (another emotion), I don't believe that is something I brought upon myself or can just will away. I don't feel personal responsibility, then, for the emotion. However, I do note that I hold responsibility for my actions -- even actions taken while angry.

I should note I used 'pity' deliberately, because I differentiate it from empathy in that it seems to set up a hierarchy of superior/inferior.

In regards to emotion, like you I don't believe I can change my emotions at the drop of a hat by will. I also admit that sometimes I feel at least partially responsible for my emotions, depending on how I think through them, express them, and act on them.


Yes. I'm not attacking you. Did you get where I said I wished *more* people thought like *you*?

Must not have given it enough weight in light of the broader conversation, duly noted.

Do I need to start recording testimonies? Do I need to start linking around? I would have thought this was prevalent enough so that you wouldn't need specific examples, but I guess it's not universal?

I'm not denying you believe you've heard these things. I've heard people talk about difficulties pre-conversion (that is, pre-conversion to Mormonism, atheism, agnosticism, and republicanism). See Shawn McCraney's personal narrative on his becoming born-again. His life was horrid as a Mormon, etc. then he was saved and it fixed things. I don't think such life-framing would be unique to McCraney, Mormons, etc. but I also don't recall hearing such a black-and-white view of things universally. I recall a lot of testimonies that express gratitude for earlier beliefs, friends, experiences, etc.

The reason I'm "sort of difficult to please" is the same reason we've been going back and forth all about two "wishes," with assumptions revealed and criticized, etc.,

Again, my wish was a parody, a mirror reflection of yours to show the problems inherent to it. Hopefully we're on the same page now. ;)

Andrew S said...

I'm not denying you believe you've heard these things. I've heard people talk about difficulties pre-conversion (that is, pre-conversion to Mormonism, atheism, agnosticism, and republicanism). See Shawn McCraney's personal narrative on his becoming born-again. His life was horrid as a Mormon, etc. then he was saved and it fixed things. I don't think such life-framing would be unique to McCraney, Mormons, etc. but I also don't recall hearing such a black-and-white view of things universally. I recall a lot of testimonies that express gratitude for earlier beliefs, friends, experiences, etc.,

I recall plenty of testimonies that express gratitude for earlier beliefs, friends, experiences, etc., too. However, I can't say that these are the majority of testimonies I've heard...the general idea I seem to notice is that people want to elevate their new association (whether it is the church or being outside the church). How can they do that? Well, even though this is terrible for job interviews, and maintaining bridges, speaking about bad experiences from the past is one way.

I don't think this is always engineered/re-engineered. Rather, I think that at least some of it is genuine. After all...why would people convert unless they *didn't* think they were missing something from their old viewpoint/religion/whatever? They may exaggerate what it was they found not quite right as time goes on, but I don't think that means the entire narrative must be scrapped as too biased.

Again, my wish was a parody, a mirror reflection of yours to show the problems inherent to it. Hopefully we're on the same page now. ;)

...I think so?

BHodges said...

However, I can't say that these are the majority of testimonies I've heard...the general idea I seem to notice is that people want to elevate their new association (whether it is the church or being outside the church).

True, I haven't heard too many testimonies that say "Well, life was a lot better before, now my life is miserable. I used to have better beliefs than I do now. I elected to join a group with whom I had significant disagreements with in terms of truth." I have, however, heard some testimonies of the difficulty of becoming Mormon in the face of family opposition. This is what Dan Ripple mentioned above. Mormons would do well to consider such situations, as I noted.

How can they do that? Well, even though this is terrible for job interviews, and maintaining bridges, speaking about bad experiences from the past is one way.

Sure. It's also not necessarily the only way. Nor necessarily the most prominent way. Nor necessarily the most important thing aspect of testimony to begin with.

Andrew S said...

I have, however, heard some testimonies of the difficulty of becoming Mormon in the face of family opposition. This is what Dan Ripple mentioned above. Mormons would do well to consider such situations, as I noted.

Agreed.

Nor necessarily the most important thing aspect of testimony to begin with.

I've also heard (and probably borne) many testimonies that don't even scratch the most important things...

BHodges said...

It's an interesting thing to start questioning a personal thing like a testimony. While you're at that, I hope you'll also consider Mike Parker's comment above:

On the other side there are inactive or ex-Mormon kids who do nothing but make snide comments and otherwise "trash talk" the Church at family gatherings.

;)

BHodges said...

*not that I am saying you are one such individual, but while you're trying to explain how you think Mormons cause problems it would be nice to see you hold non-Mormons to the same standard, right?

mfbukowski said...

""The attitude here is always, "Hope they realize they were wrong." This is something many of your commenters also carried on (e.g., mfbukowski, "I firmly believe that those who leave for similar reasons will eventually see the errors of their ways, either in this life or afterward.")...
I think the problem (so I guess it's on both sides) is that people don't realize that mileage may vary. It's kinda like when people convert to the church and say that everything before was terrible. Many times, people say that they once went through, say, an atheist phase, but everything was terrible and depressing, etc., So, they often ends up pitying atheists and attributing all the bad things to atheism (or whatever their previous state was) because of their previous experiences when really, that was just their experience and it is not necessarily generalizable to everyone else.""


I don't think any of those things. There is a difference between attempting to predict the results of a given moral attitude and pitying those who take that attitude.

I was perfectly happy when I was an atheist, it's just that I had some experiences which made it clear to me that there was someone "out there" who knew me and was guiding my life, and I needed to somehow resolve the cognitive dissonance which resulted. For me, the dissonance was about how to resolve spiritual experience into atheism rather than the other way around.

But I do believe there are just things which work in society and things which do not work. Murdering children for fun is not acceptable, while peaceful social cooperation is valued in every culture. Complex societies require laws and leaders if one wants to avoid anarchy, which has never been shown to work for an extended period in any society. Following and acting on such principles have survival value and thus we call them "right".

I just happen to believe that the principles taught in the church are the highest principles to which mankind can aspire. How can one aspire to anything higher than becoming like God?

You can see these principles as having "evolved" or you can see them as being "revealed", -- and personally I believe both -- in my opinion, both of those positions simply reflect a difference in language games. But eventually, I think that all will come to this realization. In gospel parlance, we express that as "Every knee shall bow," etc.

But of course as I said in my first post, I have no problem with you disagreeing. Even I have been known to be wrong occasionally. Last time was 1987, I think. ;)

I also have problems with continually badgering "inactive" members as we sometimes do in the church- if that is their life choice, I would hope it would change, but I am not about to try to nag them back into activity. It's not effective anyway!

Andrew S said...

On the other side there are inactive or ex-Mormon kids who do nothing but make snide comments and otherwise "trash talk" the Church at family gatherings.

You know; this annoys me often even now. Just for the fact that these people especially should know better, because of their own experiences. I don't know how to explain it, but then again, my family doesn't try to rock boats. Not trying to imply that when members "talk church" or "love bomb" that they shouldn't "know better," of course. (Well, maybe :))

mfbukowski:

There is a difference between attempting to predict the results of a given moral attitude and pitying those who take that attitude.

My bad. Then I just disagree with the prediction.

I needed to somehow resolve the cognitive dissonance which resulted.

Would you say that having cognitive dissonance is conducive to being "perfectly happy." I think cognitive dissonance counts as something that can make someone discontent or unhappy. At the very least, not "perfectly happy." If someone is going through this cognitive dissonance, is there any emotion you feel for them, having gotten through it? Is there any emotion you feel for those who, say, don't see "the error of their ways"?

You can see these principles as having "evolved" or you can see them as being "revealed", -- and personally I believe both -- in my opinion, both of those positions simply reflect a difference in language games. But eventually, I think that all will come to this realization. In gospel parlance, we express that as "Every knee shall bow," etc.

Interesting...I don't know if evolved vs. revealed only reflect a difference in language games...but then again, the way I'm looking at the different might just be part of my own language game. I think the issue is...what is God like, and what does it mean to become like him?

BHodges said...

Cinepro: Thanks, Jeff Lindsay's post was a treat to read.

mfbukowski said...

Andrew S:
I was perfectly happy until the experiences which caused the cognitive dissonance. I don't think you are saying that cognitive dissonance is not possible for non-believers, I think this happens to everyone all the time.

As far as "emotion"- I would always hope anyone can resolve their psychological conflicts and experience peace. I don't know if you would call that an "emotion" or not.

As far as what God is like and what it means to be like him, I am happy to go with the LDS view. After all, that's why I joined the church.

Andrew S said...

mfbukowski:

No, I understand you. But what I'm saying is that *when* those experiences occurred, things *did* change, right? I'm not saying that cognitive dissonance is impossible for nonbelievers. I'm just saying that, when it happens, it's not very conducive to someone being perfectly happy.

I guess hope is an emotion.

Right. I guess my final question was kinda silly.

Chris said...

>>I don't have a creative label for the second phenomenon...

"Evangelistic needling" seems like it would be an appropriate term. My mom does this. While I understand how troubling it must be for her that I have changed my views, it is also quite annoying and painful to be subjected to this sort of constant prodding and proselytism in my own home and with my own family. I don't think she realizes quite how much this makes me feel like an outsider and a disappointment to her.

BHodges said...

Chris, I'm sorry it took me so long to reply. I meant to originally, but didn't complete the thought. I'm glad to hear your perspective on it, I think you're in a tough position and only hope things can improve for you on that particular front.

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