Friday, April 20, 2007

Irritating Gobbledygook?

Another of my comments from Sunstone blog, slightly revised:

What I've been saying related to this Dutcher deal is just a bunch of irritating gobbledygook if you don’t accept Mormonism’s basic truth claims. If you do accept them, then I fail to see how you could NOT think that something is amiss in someone who leaves. Because if something isn’t amiss in them, then something is amiss in Mormonism, because it didn’t live up to its claims in that person’s life.

I choose to give Mormonism the benefit of the doubt rather than Dutcher, especially because it’s not hard for me to imagine how an artistic ego could play into someone leaving. Certainly not that I know much if anything about the reality of Dutcher’s situation—I’m just imagining how it could play out for me if I were in the same boat.

While I just can’t see any justification for rejecting Mormonism wholesale like Dutcher has essentially done, I obviously think there’s room for a whole range of behaviors within Mormonism, as shown by my own activities. As far as his admission to drinking beer, I could make a case for beer being a gateway drug in this modern day and age for a whole carnal lifestyle/mindset that hadn't yet materialized when the Word of Wisdom was first penned. I'm not making any comment specifically on Dutcher and beer; rather, I'm making a generalization and also an inference about the role beer would play in my own life, if I chose to resume its consumption.

And here’s another thing to tell you where I’m coming from: If Mormonism’s basic truth claims aren’t true, then I’ve really been wasting my time and effort, because I don’t much like the institution or the culture or the lifestyle, although I can begrudingly admit the benefits of most aspects of Mormonism. I’m just living this religion because I believe in the restoration story and in the eternal doctrine, not because I like the lifestyle or culture. For me, it’s either all true or it isn’t, and if it’s all true then by definition you gotta stick with it.


C. L. Hanson said...

I've been following your series in this subject, and at first I was a little disconcerted by the whole "if you leave the church there's something wrong with you" angle. But looking at it as a mathematician, the hypothesis "the LDS church's truth claims are true" implies the conclusion that "you leave only if there's something wrong with you," so I can hardly fault you for reaching that conclusion... :^)

I've talked about this a bunch of times before, most recently in my comment here.

The same logic doesn't exactly go the same way in the other direction though: If you believe the truth claims of Mormonism are false, that doesn't imply that there's necessarily something wrong with someone who thinks they are true. I use the following example:

Suppose there's a really hard question on a math test (one where the answer is a specific value, so there isn't more than one possible right answer). If two students came up with different answers, one can conclude that at least one of them must be wrong. But does it also follow that it least one of them must be an idiot or something like that? Of course not.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Thanks for the great response, C.L. Hanson! It's a good reminder to separate judgment on decisions from judgment of people, which I hope I'm pretty good at doing, since I still like many ex-Mos and often respect them in areas other than their decision regarding Mormonism. And maybe leaving Mormonism really is the right, necessary decision for some people as part of their spiritual development . . . if they eventually come back around, that is.

Bull said...

I agree with your logic: if it is true you need to stick with it even if there are aspects you don't like. After all, if it is true then your goal needs to be to align and change your life and not expect the truth to change and fit you.

Which is why I stuck with the church for a decade despite growing doubts about its truth claim.

However, once I bit the bullet and investigated its truth claims I reached the difficult decision that I didn't believe it and though it was a fraud.

If you believe, I understand your position. But I can't understand the NOMs who pretend to believe even if they don't. To me that sounds like hypocrisy and a recipe for internal moral decay. So for me it was a pretty easy decision to separate myself from a church that I don't believe in.

I understand the problem Mormons and other believers have with quitters but I think they need to look closely at the true sources of their irritation.

BTW, I enjoy an occasional beer or glass of wine now with no ill effects. Perhaps its because drinking doesn't have any associations with past lifestyle issues.

Anonymous said...

"If you do accept [Mormonism’s basic truth claims], then I fail to see how you could NOT think that something is amiss in someone who leaves."

Oh, Chris, Chris, you're accurate of course about what you have to believe if you accept Mormonism's basic truth claims. But do you also realize, of course, that the fact that you're right is part of why Mormonism is inherently flawed?

What you've written, although an accurate description of Mormonism, is an inaccurate and inadequate and offensive with regards to a larger world view as the same smug belief in the doctrines of Catholicism or Christian fundamentalism or Islam or whatever.

It's also part of why Mormons who hold this belief are, at some level, so bad at having genuine christian compassion and charity.

It's why the system you believe in prevents you from having the primary ideal it claims to espouse: love of the divine and for other human beings.

it's just so sad.