Belief as Cop Out

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Dr Moore
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Dr Moore »

Reverend, you've hit at one a difficult realization that I've been slowly arriving at these past few years.

In Mormonism, outward performances matter infinitely more than beliefs. I say infinitely more in the scientific sense: actual belief counts for zero, or is a null contributor, to full participation in Mormonism.

Statements of belief or knowing don't have to be sincere or frequent, or ever made for that matter. Behind closed doors, members routinely to express doubts with local leaders. Those same leaders will almost always grant full participation rights (eg, temple recommends) based on nothing more than observations of, or a member's good word about, intended performances. Will the doubter sustain the prophet and local leaders? Yes? Well, then, great, welcome to the club! Will the casual drinker claim to keep the WoW? Yes? Here's your card. Will the non tithe-payer claim to give a full tithe? Recommened!!!

The sad thing to me is that statements of belief have become a cop out for cultural honesty. I know that isn't what you intended in the OP. But in my experience, the favoritism afforded to performances -- including statements of belief or knowing -- fosters a dishonest culture. It's terribly painful how much real "belief" goes unsaid among Mormon families and friends for fear of othering. Literally, in Mormonism, being honest violates the most sacred social code.

Nelson's "lazy learner" talk is a great example of this principle in action. Members are encouraged to over-share the positive evidences of LDS narratives. But, according to Nelson, members are specifically proscribed from "rehearsing" the negative evidences. In other words, "belief" in Mormonism is better phrased "fake it till you make it."
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

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Gadianton wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:58 pm
Okay, I get that Mormonism is oppressive in terms of gender equality. Now that you are pagan, you can worship goddesses, and this is some of what I saw. But inventing a spiritual order to the universe that gives me access to whatever I felt I was denied in mainstream religion is also kind of lame.
Yeah, I get what you are saying. I have a difficult time giving myself license to make things up to fulfill what was denied me in mainstream religion. If anything, it seems like more of what many see Joseph Smith as having done. Not knowing, but making it up to suit one's personal perspective. On the other hand, I think there are serious issues tied up in the human imagination and the uses to which it is put. It seems to me that an organized spiritual system gives some direction and purpose to the imagination, and that a bad system or the lack of any system can be a dangerous thing. Some of this is about styles of imagination. I will risk making a fool of myself by saying that the atheist imagines a cosmos in which God does not exist. Now that can arguably be a very solid place for the imagination to land based on the lack of direct and compelling evidence for the existence of God, but I still view that as a position of the imagination. In other words, everyone has imagination and uses it; they just put it to different uses. People who populate their imaginations with elves and Klingons may seem silly to people who do not, but they ought not to think that they are not also relying on their imagination or the imaginations of others all the same.
I admit I don't really follow you on the Marxist angle. Some form of impersonal technology will always mediate, phone conversations also and somebody is profiting here. People role-playing and being what they aren't, fantasizing, hiding from others is something that's always been with us. In fact, funny enough, I wasn't thinking about this part of your post when I wrote the paragraph above this one, but that organization I rubbed elbows with is called the SCA, where basically it's a bunch of people who pretend they're living in medieval times and have sword fights and mock courts, there's a fake king and everybody defers to the guy -- for some reason it's fun pretending to be a peasant deferring to a fake king but would be pretty horrible if it were real. and it's not done satirically. And this is all very real and predated the Internet by a long shot.
I get you. I would still argue that the situation is different, in that, much like people engaging in dropping bombs from thousands of feet in the sky, the experience of killing is perceived as qualitatively different based on how you do it and in what quantities. If I am present as an embodied human being to deal with the consequences of my impact on other human beings, that is a very different kettle of fish from posting anonymously online. If I am in person and go by the name King Herbert the Strong, I am still a human being facing other human beings in person and obliged to deal with the consequences of my actions in a very direct way.

I would argue that a lot of the way our current civilization is organized is no different from the abuses of the past. A corporate structure, much like an ancient empire, gives power to a few people to destroy the lives of countless others without facing the consequences. In some ways the situation is even worse than those ancient empires. Someone may have once said the gods loved them more and gave them the power to rule the world. Here we have legal documents (and the money paid to uphold them) that are written in such a way that people are deprived and killed deliberately, and the refrain one hears in response to complaints is, "It was all perfectly legal."
While getting enough bread to people who are hungry should be our most worthy goal, people aren't fulfilled by bread. It's apparently, part of our humanity to want to be something above the drudgery of sustaining ourselves materially. Perhaps some of those "real" people who don't post here find other venues where ideas are exchanged in a more ordinary fashion?
Oh yes. I agree completely. Chapel LDS Mormonism is one of those ways people seek sustenance. I think it has devolved into an increasingly parched and deficient way of doing so, but a lot of people still pursue it. Others tune into Osteen or follow TMZ. We want stories and meaning. We will go practically anywhere to get it. If you can't avoid that--can anyone truly rise above it?--then you ought to choose your fix wisely.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Dr Moore wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:34 pm
Reverend, you've hit at one a difficult realization that I've been slowly arriving at these past few years.

In Mormonism, outward performances matter infinitely more than beliefs. I say infinitely more in the scientific sense: actual belief counts for zero, or is a null contributor, to full participation in Mormonism.

Statements of belief or knowing don't have to be sincere or frequent, or ever made for that matter. Behind closed doors, members routinely to express doubts with local leaders. Those same leaders will almost always grant full participation rights (eg, temple recommends) based on nothing more than observations of, or a member's good word about, intended performances. Will the doubter sustain the prophet and local leaders? Yes? Well, then, great, welcome to the club! Will the casual drinker claim to keep the WoW? Yes? Here's your card. Will the non tithe-payer claim to give a full tithe? Recommened!!!
I think increasingly there is this hope that participation by people who seem to have pure intentions will result in stronger testimonies in the end. Yeah, perhaps a kind of fake it till you make it argument. If there were not so much emphasis on testimonies aside from that, I would be much more sympathetic to this position. If I go lift weights although I am still unsure that I will look like a champion bodybuilder at the end of the day, then I will certainly get farther than if I say I believe in the efficacy of bodybuilding without being willing to do the hard work at all.

Prayer, reflection, meditation, good works--all of these things have a lot more value than getting up and saying "I know" or "I believe," and I say that regardless of the factual existence of God, Jesus, and Moroni. Spiritual discipline has benefits. Pushing yourself into feeling good making declarations about spiritual knowledge without having spiritual knowledge is the opposite of beneficial. It is deleterious.
The sad thing to me is that statements of belief have become a cop out for cultural honesty. I know that isn't what you intended in the OP. But in my experience, the favoritism afforded to performances -- including statements of belief or knowing -- fosters a dishonest culture. It's terribly painful how much real "belief" goes unsaid among Mormon families and friends for fear of othering. Literally, in Mormonism, being honest violates the most sacred social code.

Nelson's "lazy learner" talk is a great example of this principle in action. Members are encouraged to over-share the positive evidences of LDS narratives. But, according to Nelson, members are specifically proscribed from "rehearsing" the negative evidences. In other words, "belief" in Mormonism is better phrased "fake it till you make it."
It might help if people were not obsessed with testimonials in the first place. The ideal is to declare boldly your knowledge regarding something; if you can't then you go through the motions; if you can't go through the motions, don't rock the boat at least. I say these testimonials are garbage. There has to be a more effective way of cultivating spiritual discourse. Empty declarations really don't take anyone very far.
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Dr Moore
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

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Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:32 pm
If I go lift weights although I am still unsure that I will look like a champion bodybuilder at the end of the day, then I will certainly get farther than if I say I believe in the efficacy of bodybuilding without being willing to do the hard work at all.

Prayer, reflection, meditation, good works--all of these things have a lot more value than getting up and saying "I know" or "I believe," and I say that regardless of the factual existence of God, Jesus, and Moroni. Spiritual discipline has benefits. Pushing yourself into feeling good making declarations about spiritual knowledge without having spiritual knowledge is the opposite of beneficial. It is deleterious.
Totally agree with you here, Kish. The model tees up for any repetition-based goal. Doesn't make the goal true or worthy of achieving the desired "conviction."
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

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Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:03 pm
Themis wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:45 pm
I disagree. The people in history who have invested heavily in their community that resulted in positive change have not been those who just go along with what their community always demanded. Those who always made the declarations their community demanded tend to be the sheep, not the shepherds.
I think we are talking about different things.
I noticed honorentheos said pretty much what I have said. Again history shows plenty of examples of people not conforming to the community, but helping the community to conform to them. In some cases it may be positive and in some cases it is negative. Perhaps this is why communities can change over time. Jesus was not a conformist who touted the party line and yet built a following of people in his community. I look at the republican community and how it has changed. A lot of that change didn't come from the pillars of the community. Today many of those pillars are finding themselves on the outside as they did not keep up on that change.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Who is the leader in your Republican scenario? Q?
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

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Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:08 pm
Who is the leader in your Republican scenario? Q?
Mitt Romney comes to mind. He was the top pillar for a bit. Not so popular anymore even though he has not changed.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

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Themis wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:10 pm
Mitt Romney comes to mind. He was the top pillar for a bit. Not so popular anymore even though he has not changed.
I don’t know why Romney comes to mind, since he is one if the most compliant flip-flippers in the history if politics. The only unpopular position he eventually followed through on was his opposition to Trump. No big community coalesced around that position.
Last edited by Kishkumen on Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Moksha »

Themis wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:10 pm
Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:08 pm
Who is the leader in your Republican scenario? Q?
Mitt Romney comes to mind.
Mitt does present an interesting protagonist to believers touting Trump as their anti-christ-like messiah, who will lead them into a millennium of MAGA weekly tithes.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Themis »

Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:22 pm

I don’t know why Romney comes to kind, since he is one if the most compliant flip-flippers in the history if politics. The only unpopular position he eventually followed through on was his opposition to Trump. No big community coalesced around that position.
I don't argue he doesn't flip flop, but at one time he was the pillar and now he is not. Trump is the pillar atm and is changing the party in ways past pillars are horrified about. Most of that community would not have followed Trump maybe even 10 years ago. Jesus was the other example of one who did not follow the party line and was successful in making change in the community.
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