Belief as Cop Out

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Symmachus
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Symmachus »

Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:19 pm
I have no clue who "Doctor Scratch" is. Or Everybody Wang Chung.
They are both Daniel Peterson.

I am hardly able to stay afloat amid this wash of insights and this flood of observations. I have to say that, while I don't have much of value to add to it, I think this is one of clearest statements of our fundamental situation:
Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:19 pm
Those who are safest are those who share as little of themselves as possible beyond a narrowly construed, heavily curated, performance of themselves. If you step back and watch what is going on, it almost looks like what is under attack is humanity.
Yes, I think this captures so much more than the ecosystem here. All the world's fast becoming Twitter, and all the men and women merely profiles.

I find myself in agreement with this:
Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:19 pm
Declarations of belief and unjustified claims of knowledge, to the extent that they are abused, are part of the problem.
My reverence for real philosophy requires me to ask some preemptive forgiveness from some of the more skilled adepts of that science in this forum, like the Dean and the great Stakhanov. If they can grant it with a calm expression, I thank them; if with laughter, I join them.

Our problem is not of epistemology but of the performative use of it. I certainly have experienced much of this as a Mormon, and often as an after-Mormon, for that matter. I could never utter the phrase "I know [the Church is true/Gordon B. Hinckley is a true prophet/Joseph Smith was the true prophet/the Book of Mormon is true/etc.]." I was interrogated (that's what it felt like it, anyway) more than once by ecclesiastical bosses as to why I would not just say it as an act of will, if not of knowledge—"A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it," according to B. K. Packer. I tried to wiggle out of this know/not-know constraint by using the word "believe," but of course in a Mormon context it was insincere.

Of course the opening post sends scents of the creed that hundreds of millions of Christians recite every week in one form or another—but as part of some larger performance. In the Roman church, the credo is not an insignificant feature yet it is still a small part of the mass, which culminates in the Eucharist itself. In traditional Judaism, the declaration of God's oneness (not couched as "I know" or "I believe") in the shema is also a communal statement (adonai elohênu= "the lord is our god"), and even in Islam, the profession of faith, the shahāda is always the prelude to something else. But what for what liturgy does Mormonism's "I know" testimonial open access for the average member? (and I think we should readjust our expectations of what the average member is: people who go to the temple and pay tithing are actually a kind of sub-elite part of the membership, and most members don't have access to those sacral spaces). Let's just assume that the sacrament is the central of worship on Sunday, in theory. In practice, nobody knows what to do with it, and no one really sees how it is connected to all the testimonies and stories and "ward business" and hymning. Structurally, it's an interruption.

What's uniting all of these, though? I'm sure some New Maxwell Institute fellow or other has a theory, but I'm just talking about the practical experience of it. If we go by that, the most intense emotions surround or emanate from the testimony bearing—or in other words, the performance of a personal epistemology. All of its attendant problems are dealt with here much more nimbly than I could handle them, but I wish to add the suggestion that, whatever those problems are, they are compounded by the centrality that the performance of epistemology has in Mormon life and thought-world. The personal testimonial that someone knows or even believes that something about the Church is true is a very weak joist, yet upon it are hung what passes for liturgy in Mormonism. It's also what sustains whatever mythic qualities Mormonism has (the testimony is how you know the mythos about the gold plates is true). It's the glue that holds the members to the hierarchy ("I know that so-and-so is a true prophet" or "that the Church is true"). It's considered a necessary link between partners in a marriage. And on and on.

Of course we are all familiar with the rehearsed response that we have to interpret testimonies, according to the tenets learned in Religious Studies graduate seminars, as speech-acts that are part of the ritual language of Mormonism ("take them seriously, not literally," in other words). But of course that is exactly what the problem is. To say, "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible" is plainly not an empirical claim (which is not to say that it is false). The points of reference here are in another realm entirely, quite outside ordinary and accessible experience. But to say "Lyndon Baines Johnson appeared to the ancient inhabitants of Sri Lanka and taught them about the Great Society" contains referents that can be accessed empirically, and on those grounds it is a false statement. Mormonism has made statements like that the load-bearers of theology, ecclesiology, liturgy, morality, and even personal relationships.

My only quibble then is with the parenthetical qualifier "to the extent that they are abused" because the misuse of ordinary categories of experience for some other thing, whatever it is, is so pervasive a feature of Mormon life and thought that "abuse" of empirical modes of thinking is what characterizes their use at every extent.

The Church really needs a liturgy.
"As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."
—B. Redd McConkie
honorentheos
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by honorentheos »

Themis wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:45 pm
Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:03 pm


I think we are talking about different things.
I noticed honorentheos said pretty much what I have said.
I should clarify.

Some time ago when Kishkumen added his current signature, "Esse et facere quam videri", it caught my eye. The core phrase, "Esse quam videri", or to be rather than to seem, is conceptually ingrained into stoicism. The addition of "et facere" was not something I'd seen before. I don't know jack about classical languages and get my knowledge of stoicism from English translations. Kishkumen is an expert on classical languages, and my thought then was perhaps there was meaning in the Latin that a ham-fisted translation into the English missed that some classic thinker was seeking to capture that Kishkumen had read. So I asked him about it.

To me, the idea action is involved in "being" rather than just seeming is inherent. But it can be easy to fall for the illusion of "being" something or other with minimal effort in a world where there is an app or YouTube video that can provide someone a base level of proficiency that previously was inaccessible without genuine investments of time and concentration.. A Google search can provide the means of constructing a veneer of being knowledgeable in a subject one had just heard of moments before. It was in that light I could see that explicitly noting the role of doing in becoming is perhaps a good modern addition.

Authenticity, or being, inherently requires doing in order to achieve both genuine capabilities as well as the integration of that expertise into one's core identity. The new enthusiast who charges into a subject with visions of becoming a ______________ within a short period of time will find themselves moving on to a new enthusiasm in short order unless there is a genuine commitment to becoming that is playing the very long game. In different religious texts and stories one finds this as a common theme. The zen master tells the eager student that doubling their effort will not shorten their time to achieving enlightenment but instead more than double it as well, while the doctor who offers to give up his practice to follow a master is instructed he will best find enlightenment by simply going back to his life and doing. Endurance to the end is a Mormon expression that life is a marathon of dedication rather than a sprint.

With this in mind, I asked Kishkumen where the addition came from and what it meant to him? He offered an explanation which is in a thread in the off-topic forum and the thread ended. I left with the view the extra phrase was personal to Kishkumen and his daily pursuit of being, and that was that.

It was in this light that I chose to comment on this thread, though. In my experience, seeming inherently is done for an audience and out of desire to be accepted by a community of some sort or other. Sure, the road to becoming can begin by first stepping onto it out of a desire to become part of a particular community. One becomes an expert rock climber, a mountain biker, a musician, or developing into genuine expertise often out of first being introduced by another, and being brought into a community to which one wishes to genuinely belong. But in my experience, the urge to seem comes from taking shortcuts often due to in-group dynamics.

I couldn't care less about learning classical languages for a multitude of reasons. Being able to do so would have some degree of valuable in isolation in that I read books originally in Greek and Latin so it'd probably be nice to be able to do so in the original. But enough value to justify the required time? Not based on my individual needs. There isn't an aspect of my life that would really benefit meaningfully from the effort in a way that justifies the opportunity costs in time I would have to devote to really do so. I have both hobbies and a profession I consider a craft that deserves regular practice to be worthy of consideration as a professional. My need to read and think on the writings of stoic thinkers is met by the availability of translations since I consider it a lived philosophy rather than something one best engages from an arm chair with pipe in hand. If I encounter something in a writing that demands visiting the original texts, I'm usually more than served by finding a source that can explain it. Our dear Kishkumen has been more than gracious in sharing his expertise with me on occasion when asked as well. But I can't say there is a good reason to spend the time.

Why point that out? Because it touches on my reading of the OP. I don't think there is something inauthentic in engaging in a subject that has otherwise inaccessible depth without intense effort so long as a person is being honest with themselves and others in what that engagement is, its limitations, and also its utility to me as an individual. We are inevitably limited in our ability to "be" experts in anything, and if we limited our living to only engaging with areas where we are genuinely expert, we'd all be pinpoint deep but narrow individuals. Authenticity is not that. Being human is to be evolving, uneven, inquisitive. It's best when that inherently also involves individual integrity. But the role of a community changes the dynamic. To keep with the example already used, engaging with classic language specialists inevitably means engaging with a community that has invested a lot of effort into something whose utility is defined by the community more than it is recognized by a wider society. Unless somethings having a moment in the spotlight as a fad, most things that require a lot of effort to master and have a certain esoteric value are going to be under appreciated by society as a whole. There is inherently a need to defend the value of that investment that becomes part of the communal identity where the investment is great but society doesn't value it the same way the ingroup does. Communities have hierarchies, they have gatekeeping, they have metrics of measuring and comparing. Communities are, by nature, kinetic in their influence on those on the outside while static in their influence on those on the inside. They can attempt to repel outsiders or compel them to make a big change by engaging and becoming a part of the community. But often inside, the energy and effort exerted by the community is all positioning and inertia. And the path of least resistance there is using the minimal amount of doing to achieve the greatest amount of benefit, right? In other words, the doing can more readily lead to seeming rather than becoming as an authentic individual in order to reinforce one's being a member of the community. Becoming a member of the community may be its own kind of becoming, but right now I'd need to invest more thought into what makes that different than just giving in to the urge to seem that I don't see at the moment.

So the OP's closing note struck me as out of harmony with the idea of being rather than just seeming. The doing, expressed in the OP as I read it, has the appearance of caving in to the pressure of the community to exchange one's individual authenticity for acceptance.

I've experienced communities of very capable people who have achieved a level of indifference towards appearance and opinion. And my experience with that is in general, communities that focus heavily on expression are not helpful to the person interested in being rather than seeming.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:59 am
Thanks for that, Reverend. I can’t say that I hate those words, but I find them mildly irritating. And I’ve never tried to figure out why. You’ve given me something to chew on.
Thank you for reading, Res Ipsa! I apologize for not acknowledging your post earlier. I did read it shortly after you posted it and I appreciated your message.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

honorentheos wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:30 am
Why point that out? Because it touches on my reading of the OP. I don't think there is something inauthentic in engaging in a subject that has otherwise inaccessible depth without intense effort so long as a person is being honest with themselves and others in what that engagement is, its limitations, and also its utility to me as an individual. We are inevitably limited in our ability to "be" experts in anything, and if we limited our living to only engaging with areas where we are genuinely expert, we'd all be pinpoint deep but narrow individuals. Authenticity is not that. Being human is to be evolving, uneven, inquisitive. It's best when that inherently also involves individual integrity. But the role of a community changes the dynamic. To keep with the example already used, engaging with classic language specialists inevitably means engaging with a community that has invested a lot of effort into something whose utility is defined by the community more than it is recognized by a wider society. Unless somethings having a moment in the spotlight as a fad, most things that require a lot of effort to master and have a certain esoteric value are going to be under appreciated by society as a whole. There is inherently a need to defend the value of that investment that becomes part of the communal identity where the investment is great but society doesn't value it the same way the ingroup does. Communities have hierarchies, they have gatekeeping, they have metrics of measuring and comparing. Communities are, by nature, kinetic in their influence on those on the outside while static in their influence on those on the inside. They can attempt to repel outsiders or compel them to make a big change by engaging and becoming a part of the community. But often inside, the energy and effort exerted by the community is all positioning and inertia. And the path of least resistance there is using the minimal amount of doing to achieve the greatest amount of benefit, right? In other words, the doing can more readily lead to seeming rather than becoming as an authentic individual in order to reinforce one's being a member of the community. Becoming a member of the community may be its own kind of becoming, but right now I'd need to invest more thought into what makes that different than just giving in to the urge to seem that I don't see at the moment.

So the OP's closing note struck me as out of harmony with the idea of being rather than just seeming. The doing, expressed in the OP as I read it, has the appearance of caving in to the pressure of the community to exchange one's individual authenticity for acceptance.

I've experienced communities of very capable people who have achieved a level of indifference towards appearance and opinion. And my experience with that is in general, communities that focus heavily on expression are not helpful to the person interested in being rather than seeming.
Thank you for this thought-provoking and well-written post, honor. It is up to and even surpasses your usual standard of excellence. What you say challenges me, as is so often the case. You have given me a lot to think about by introducing "becoming" into the mix. Yes, I admit that the closing note was out of harmony with the rest. It was deliberately so because I like to question myself and my own commitment to my position. We are all regularly challenged by communities we engage with in one way or another to seem rather than be on occasion. My guess is that we find ourselves compromising because it is taxing to meet that challenge every time it pops up. Direct resistance is usually saved for when it really matters.

As an example if those times that can really matter, there were things I simply refused to do as an LDS person in order to seem like I was in line with what the Brethren were saying God wanted us to do. I would not support Proposition 8, for example. And I was adamant about that to the point of verbally telling my bishop (in person) that I would not support those efforts. In the scheme of things, that was not a big deal, but it was a big deal to me because of the position that the LDS Church had maneuvered me into. Once you go through the endowment, as it was configured at the time I did, they basically have you where they want you. They can tell you to jump off a cliff and you have basically agreed in advance to do that. This is one of the reasons that I am opposed to the endowment as it was configured at the time--it equated the Church with God.

This is one reason that I refuse to be LDS. Perhaps the biggest reason. The Church is not God and it should not put itself in the position of God. The person who claims to speak for God still does not have (and cannot have) the pellucid connection to the divine to arrogate divine authority to him/herself. Acting in the capacity of one who knows the divine will in the way the LDS Church does is the most brazen act of seeming in the world. To seem in such an extreme is so brazen, in fact, that for some it is transformed into being, as those who buy it assume that no one would dare seem on that level of conviction. I find it striking in the Doctrine & Covenants when Joseph Smith speaks for Jesus. Speaks for God. That is pretty disturbing stuff, when you think about it.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Symmachus wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:07 am
Our problem is not of epistemology but of the performative use of it. I certainly have experienced much of this as a Mormon, and often as an after-Mormon, for that matter. I could never utter the phrase "I know [the Church is true/Gordon B. Hinckley is a true prophet/Joseph Smith was the true prophet/the Book of Mormon is true/etc.]." I was interrogated (that's what it felt like it, anyway) more than once by ecclesiastical bosses as to why I would not just say it as an act of will, if not of knowledge—"A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it," according to B. K. Packer. I tried to wiggle out of this know/not-know constraint by using the word "believe," but of course in a Mormon context it was insincere.

Of course the opening post sends scents of the creed that hundreds of millions of Christians recite every week in one form or another—but as part of some larger performance. In the Roman church, the credo is not an insignificant feature yet it is still a small part of the mass, which culminates in the Eucharist itself. In traditional Judaism, the declaration of God's oneness (not couched as "I know" or "I believe") in the shema is also a communal statement (adonai elohênu= "the lord is our god"), and even in Islam, the profession of faith, the shahāda is always the prelude to something else. But what for what liturgy does Mormonism's "I know" testimonial open access for the average member? (and I think we should readjust our expectations of what the average member is: people who go to the temple and pay tithing are actually a kind of sub-elite part of the membership, and most members don't have access to those sacral spaces). Let's just assume that the sacrament is the central of worship on Sunday, in theory. In practice, nobody knows what to do with it, and no one really sees how it is connected to all the testimonies and stories and "ward business" and hymning. Structurally, it's an interruption.

What's uniting all of these, though? I'm sure some New Maxwell Institute fellow or other has a theory, but I'm just talking about the practical experience of it. If we go by that, the most intense emotions surround or emanate from the testimony bearing—or in other words, the performance of a personal epistemology. All of its attendant problems are dealt with here much more nimbly than I could handle them, but I wish to add the suggestion that, whatever those problems are, they are compounded by the centrality that the performance of epistemology has in Mormon life and thought-world. The personal testimonial that someone knows or even believes that something about the Church is true is a very weak joist, yet upon it are hung what passes for liturgy in Mormonism. It's also what sustains whatever mythic qualities Mormonism has (the testimony is how you know the mythos about the gold plates is true). It's the glue that holds the members to the hierarchy ("I know that so-and-so is a true prophet" or "that the Church is true"). It's considered a necessary link between partners in a marriage. And on and on.

Of course we are all familiar with the rehearsed response that we have to interpret testimonies, according to the tenets learned in Religious Studies graduate seminars, as speech-acts that are part of the ritual language of Mormonism ("take them seriously, not literally," in other words). But of course that is exactly what the problem is. To say, "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible" is plainly not an empirical claim (which is not to say that it is false). The points of reference here are in another realm entirely, quite outside ordinary and accessible experience. But to say "Lyndon Baines Johnson appeared to the ancient inhabitants of Sri Lanka and taught them about the Great Society" contains referents that can be accessed empirically, and on those grounds it is a false statement. Mormonism has made statements like that the load-bearers of theology, ecclesiology, liturgy, morality, and even personal relationships.

My only quibble then is with the parenthetical qualifier "to the extent that they are abused" because the misuse of ordinary categories of experience for some other thing, whatever it is, is so pervasive a feature of Mormon life and thought that "abuse" of empirical modes of thinking is what characterizes their use at every extent.

The Church really needs a liturgy.
Profound is the joy I feel when our most illustrious consul takes my disconnected and halting thoughts and weaves them into gold. The performance of epistemology as the central liturgy of Mormonism is one of the most brilliant insights I have ever read in any discussion of things Mormon.

You have nailed it, i.e., managed to encapsulate the core nature and problem of LDSism in a single post. I have opined on occasion that those like James Strang and all since him who have manufactured ancient documents, their discovery, and their translation have understood the true core of Mormonism much better than any one else. *This* is, to me, the kind of thing a Mormon liturgy might look like, were it at all practical to go through these complex and demanding rituals on a regular basis. Alas, it is not, and even Smith himself rarely engaged in this kind of activity.

In fact, he did it perhaps a handful of times in his entire career.

But, it is the case that the finding of the gold plates and their translation is perhaps the most uniquely, culturally relevant aspect of Mormonism's mysteries, and it is also more open and accessible by far than the temple rites.

And then you hit us with the bomb of the reason why this would be a complete disaster: because it can be accessed empirically.

Indeed, and that is why it does not work. I am reminded of the wisdom of the Roman Senate in 181 BCE, when it enjoined the urban praetor with the task of having victimarii take the Books of Numa to the Comitium to have them sacrificially burned. The Roman Senate knew, in its great wisdom--wisdom that the figure Numa himself had taught in Roman myth--that the great secrets have to remain secret (I am thinking of the shield that fell from heaven and was subsequently copied in order to hide it). Joseph Smith also knew the same and he carefully curated access to the "plates," before he destroyed whatever they were and told everyone that the angel had taken them back.

The crucial difference here is that the Roman Senate never shared the contents of those Books with anyone. They were in a sense ritually legitimized in the act of sacrificial burning at the same time they were removed from any further consideration. Sure, some tidbits of information were more widely circulated. The Books contained pontifical law, or Pythagorean philosophy, or something of each. The senators were concerned that knowledge of the contents would demystify Roman religion to the point that people would not observe its laws any longer, etc. Still, no one really examined it in depth, and then the Books were destroyed.

Joseph Smith could not very well do that because he needed something more like the Books of Democritus, excavated from the tomb of Democritus. He needed content that bore the charisma of some ancient prophet from a lost civilization in order to provide authoritative prescriptions for his new organization. And now that content has, unfortunately, effectively undone the entire edifice (not that so many people realize it). Whatever FARMS was intended to do, it ended up propping up the disastrous contents of the Book of Mormon. The Mopologists are like quindecemviri for oracles that every Tom, Dick, and Jane has access to any day of the week. They are there to spin the balderdash back into oracles and tell everyone that, no, this is really interesting, mysterious stuff after all.

The story of the finding of the Book of Mormon will always remain far more important than the Book of Mormon itself, because the gold plates are fixed in the imaginations of Mormons as the anchor for their faith. Joseph Smith retrieved the plates by angelic agency, and then he returned the plates to the angel. Observe how the mere existence of this object becomes the lynchpin for the entire edifice. The text of the Book of Mormon is practically an albatross compared to the witness statements, and I say that knowing exactly how disastrous those witness statements are.

But your average member will think of those fine, upstanding gentlemen--decent folk--who consented to have their names fixed below those statements. That is all they need to acknowledge the existence of that transaction between Joseph Smith and the angel. As preposterous as the entire thing is, on every level, that is why the Witnesses movie is a thing of pure genius. DCP may be criticized for many reasons, but he was entirely perspicacious in the way he fastened on the witnesses as the final, remaining prop that Mormonism could cling to.
Last edited by Kishkumen on Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Dr Moore »

Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:15 pm
As an example if those times that can really matter, there were things I simply refused to do as an LDS person in order to seem like I was in line with what the Brethren were saying God wanted us to do. I would not support Proposition 8, for example. And I was adamant about that to the point of verbally telling my bishop (in person) that I would not support those efforts. In the scheme of things, that was not a big deal, but it was a big deal to me because of the position that the LDS Church had maneuvered me into. Once you go through the endowment, as it was configured at the time I did, they basically have you where they want you. They can tell you to jump off a cliff and you have basically agreed in advance to do that. This is one of the reasons that I am opposed to the endowment as it was configured at the time--it equated the Church with God.
In 2008, I did support Prop 8, monetarily and otherwise, entirely based on a belief that following the prophet was (a) the right thing to do, (b) would bless my life, and (c) would eventually provide me with the privilege of looking back on a difficult choice that kept me on the virtuous side of history. It took until about 2013 for me to fully internalize my error. Since that time, I have sought out and held many -- several dozen -- conversations with friends, church associates and family members for whom LGBTQ rights and church policy collide. I made a point to apologize to each of them for allowing my true north sense of morality to be clouded by adherence to church leaders, and for any pain my contribution might have caused. Truly those have been some of the most "sacred" interactions of my adult life.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Kishkumen »

Dr Moore wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:00 pm
In 2008, I did support Prop 8, monetarily and otherwise, entirely based on a belief that following the prophet was (a) the right thing to do, (b) would bless my life, and (c) would eventually provide me with the privilege of looking back on a difficult choice that kept me on the virtuous side of history. It took until about 2013 for me to fully internalize my error. Since that time, I have sought out and held many -- several dozen -- conversations with friends, church associates and family members for whom LGBTQ rights and church policy collide. I made a point to apologize to each of them for allowing my true north sense of morality to be clouded by adherence to church leaders, and for any pain my contribution might have caused. Truly those have been some of the most "sacred" interactions of my adult life.
That reads to me as a story of redemption, and I say that sincerely in a positive sense. The Church's fight against gay marriage was a truly horrific thing, a deep betrayal of itself. If there is anything that could invalidate the entire edifice of LDS Mormonism, it is acts such as this--the November Policy is on that list to be sure. The wrongness of what they were doing, given the organization's own history, was so clear that it could not be mistaken. Yet the LDS Church joined forces with people who consider them heretics or demon worshipers in order to violate their own identity. Monstrous.

That we were put through that ringer is unconscionable. It makes me profoundly sad to think about it. They broke me with these things. It was a one-two punch. Prop 8 was the first punch, and the November Policy was the coup de grace. Membership in the LDS Church: R.I.P.

Your experience is very moving reading for me. I have some small appreciation of why those interactions are so sacred to you.
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by Gadianton »

Honor,
The zen master tells the eager student that doubling their effort will not shorten their time to achieving enlightenment but instead more than double it as well, while the doctor who offers to give up his practice to follow a master is instructed he will best find enlightenment by simply going back to his life and doing.
But in my experience, the urge to seem comes from taking shortcuts often due to in-group dynamics.
I couldn't care less about learning classical languages for a multitude of reasons. Being able to do so would have some degree of valuable in isolation in that I read books originally in Greek and Latin so it'd probably be nice to be able to do so in the original. But enough value to justify the required time?
I think I get what you're saying, and broadly agree with you, but I do question of where you place certain Mopologists in this scheme. Examples that resist your categories are Mormons who become Egyptologists, pay the huge price of admission, advance the field, are career professionals as much as any career professional, but at the end of the day, the whole thing is a protracted exercise of revenge-taking against critics. And what about a certain proprietor of a blog somewhere out there on the Internet who has the language skills and degrees, and boasts of reading the New Testament in Greek for the third time that year? The main use of the activity is to let critics know that they aren't qualified to question his faith.

Isn't it possible for a "Zen master" to be guilty of seeming in certain situations like this?
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by dastardly stem »

Kishkumen wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:08 pm
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.
Reverend, I appreciate the thread and the various thoughts being thrown around. I'm feeling stuck on this thought.

How you use "imagination" to characterize someone who sees no God, who can't be seen, in the cosmos is throwing me for a loop. Isn't it lack of imagination to not add unknowns to explanations of the cosmos? To say it's imagination for one to think there is no God interacting in the universe seems to legitimize imagination as a valuable explanation of reality. As if it's true to suggest the earth is 6,000 years old, created by an unseen power speaking things into existence, created into a state that makes it appear the earth is much older, and making it appear evolution occurred.

And now that feels counter-intuitive to the issues you raise as per belief. Suddenly "I imagine..." is the same as "I believe..." and the weakness of these two phrases are on the same plane. If so, then imagination and belief are synonymous and it seems to render an "I know..." statement meaningless.
honorentheos
2nd Counselor
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Re: Belief as Cop Out

Post by honorentheos »

Gadianton wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:40 pm
Honor,
The zen master tells the eager student that doubling their effort will not shorten their time to achieving enlightenment but instead more than double it as well, while the doctor who offers to give up his practice to follow a master is instructed he will best find enlightenment by simply going back to his life and doing.
But in my experience, the urge to seem comes from taking shortcuts often due to in-group dynamics.
I couldn't care less about learning classical languages for a multitude of reasons. Being able to do so would have some degree of valuable in isolation in that I read books originally in Greek and Latin so it'd probably be nice to be able to do so in the original. But enough value to justify the required time?
I think I get what you're saying, and broadly agree with you, but I do question of where you place certain Mopologists in this scheme. Examples that resist your categories are Mormons who become Egyptologists, pay the huge price of admission, advance the field, are career professionals as much as any career professional, but at the end of the day, the whole thing is a protracted exercise of revenge-taking against critics. And what about a certain proprietor of a blog somewhere out there on the Internet who has the language skills and degrees, and boasts of reading the New Testament in Greek for the third time that year? The main use of the activity is to let critics know that they aren't qualified to question his faith.

Isn't it possible for a "Zen master" to be guilty of seeming in certain situations like this?
The first time I read through the collection of Zen Stories titled Zen Flesh, Zen Bones the behavior of many of the masters in the stories seemed off to me. What qualifies a person as having gained mastery of their inner self is a worthy question. I unfortunately only have insight into the state of my own inner self knowledge and that is muddy at best.
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