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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Richard Dutcher leaves the Mormon faith? Not really sure but a beautiful farewell. (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Richard Dutcher leaves the Mormon faith? Not really sure but a beautiful farewell.
MattB
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Amancer - I agree with your second; I'm fairly sure he does have some doctrinal differences. And while the BCC post seems more conclusive than the Herald essay in regards to his membership status, I'm still not 100% that he has resigned. I'm fairly sure he's remaining involved in the Mormon community, if only as an outsider. His wife and children remain practicing Mormons, for instance.
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Pat
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I hated his Buhdda/Boat reference, for I think it doesn't really apply to a spiritual journey. Of course, I'm not quite sure of his complete context of how he arrived at his decision, but I'm not sure you can continue a spiritual journey by leaving "The Boat" completely behind. If i decided to become Catholic, I would bring to that conversion my Mormon background and the truths that were what I still thought to be individual truths to my new life in the Catholic Church. I guess I wouldn't bring the whole boat, but I'd at least bring a paddle to equip me for the next stage of my journey.
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lem
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quote:
If i decided to become Catholic, I would bring to that conversion my Mormon background and the truths that were what I still thought to be individual truths to my new life in the Catholic Church.
One of the more interesting things about my spiritual journey as I have left Mormonism is keeping the Mormon teachings I like while rejecting the doctrine and priesthood. I was raised Mormon. I went on a Mission. I went to BYU for a time (until I realized it was a poor fit and took off to teach English in Asia). I even married in the temple.

In short, I think and breath Mormonism. It is not like I can just ignore it. My mind was framed with Mormon lingo and concepts during the critical time of it's development.

I can add new ideas and expand my mind--which I try to do. But I can't, nor should I, try to ignore the Mormonism in me.

I like the boat analogy because it says he is grateful for his Mormon life, he is not abandoning it, he is acknowledging it's importance, but he is moving on.

I liked his letter and subsequent blog because it resonates with me.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
I certainly think it's true. (Tom's comment.)

I happen to be a Mormon who works very hard to find good movies that I enjoy that aren't compromising to my standards. Most of my peers simply take the selection at the local Blockbuster and cancel out all the R-rated ones. Most of what they watch IS drivel.

I know exactly what you mean, though I was not sure if you were saying your friends standards were too loose or too tight.

I've found when a bunch of Mormons get together to pick a movie, its more of an argument about what is OK in a movie and what is not. I've seen good Mormons who laugh when a punchline is obscene, shudder at an R rating because the movie drops the F bomb once or twice.

I was disappointed when my wife's best friend ripped into her for suggesting a movie her friend thought was bad and telling her she and her husband were bad people for thinking its a good movie.

My only problem with people who have stricter standards then me is that they never seem happy with them. They always seem to be taking pride in their misery. [Dont Know]

When they say, "If you were a good person you would know that is wrong." Its everything I can do to not respond with, "I'm surprised I can stand sharing the same religion with you."

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Cashew
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I was puzzled by Dutcher's claim of "character assassination" when somebody leaves the church. I've never seen that.
Occasionally, when someone's leaving the church turns into attacking it, there's mystifued shaking of the head and sentiments like "What got into them?" expressed, but I've never come across anyone setting out to blacken someone's character for going inactive. Quite the opposite really...

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lem
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quote:
I was puzzled by Dutcher's claim of "character assassination" when somebody leaves the church. I've never seen that.
Have you ever left the church?
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Puffy Treat
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I haven't, but I've had friends who have.

If anything, I've seen the brothers and sisters try to be even better friends to them. As have I.

I highly doubt yours or Dutcher's experiences are the only ones, lem. In fact, I know they aren't.

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lem
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quote:

I highly doubt yours or Dutcher's experiences are the only ones, lem. In fact, I know they aren't.

I'm sure their(the negative character assassinations) are not the only experiences. I am also sure they are not just isolated experiences. Just like when you learn a new word you suddenly hear it everywhere, when you leave the church suddenly a ton of people come out of the woodwork with a need to talk about their experiences.

Their are many who have a smooth transition, but there is a significant number who feel the character assassination.

There is also a number of people who leave the church who turn to the vocal "anti" crowd. There is also a surprisingly large number of people who don't become vocal anti-Mormons.

That is just the experiences I have had and witnessed. Being in a small Mormon town probably exasperates the problem on both sides.

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Speed
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I'm with lem on this one. Fortunately, I stopped going to church at the same time that I moved to a different city, so I haven't noticed any backlash. But I've seen it happen to other people.

If someone leaves the church, I wouldn't expect their closest friends, in most cases, to turn on them overnight. But there is a tendancy in many organizations, the LDS church included, to explain away decisions that we aren't comfortable with, particularly from people whose motivations we don't completely understand.

Keep in mind that we're not talking about burning crosses on anyone's lawn. Dutcher didn't say that he feared for his life. He only said that he didn't want to be turned into a "Sunday school lesson." This is the route I've seen the backlash take more often than any. Many members don't maliciously spread hate or slander about people who have left the church. But reading motivations into actions we don't understand and turning complex stories into simple cautionary tales can be hurtful.

I saw this happen several times on my mission. The first time I went on my mission I left after a week in the MTC. I went back 18 months later and served a full 2-year mission. While I was out the second time I saw a few missionaries go home. Whenever they did, I always heard some explaination ascribed to their actions. Maybe this missionary stopped reading his scriptures every day. Perhaps he stopped praying, got his hands on some anti-Mormon literature, or someone overheard him talking on the phone to one of the Laurels after curfew. I rarely heard anything that was truly malicious or overtly mean-spirited. But whenever anyone said anything, it always made me wonder what motivations I was given by my first MTC district after I left.

I'm sure Dutcher doesn't expect any of his closest friends in the church to gossip about him. And he probably doesn't expect anything seriously Jim Jones-ish from anyone else in the church. But he clearly doesn't want to be turned into a cautionary tale. It's not the worst fate in the world, but still, I don't blame him.

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Cashew
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I can't find anything in what Speed described that remotely equates to "character assassination".
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Speed
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Well, I guess it depends on what you, personally, are comfortable having done to your character.
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katharina
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For someone who doesn't believe in the scriptures, whispers that "he didn't read his scriptures everyday" probably shouldn't be that disturbing. In a missionary context, though, someone who wasn't reading their scriptures every day was breaking the rules, doing something else instead of studying the scriptures during the personal study hour, failing to prepare himself to answer questions and therefore be a good missionary, and also closing himself off to the inspiration, knowledge, and blessings that come from reading the scriptures. A missionary who isn't reading his scriptures every day is being a crappy missionary, and since most missionaries are being supported by family who is often making sacrifices for them to be there, on top of everything else, they wasting their family's investment. It takes effort to not read the scriptures every day as a missionary, and doing so is breaking trust with leaders, family, investigators and the Lord.

That does NOT mean that whispers that he didn't read his scriptures every day means that people are actually thinking that someone is untrustworthy. It usually is, I think, kind of an insurance policy.

Person 1: "How could this happen?"
Person 2: "He didn't read his scriptures everyday."
Person 1 thinks I can prevent this from happening in my life by reading my scriptures everyday and is reassured.

That's what Dutcher meant by not wanting to be a Sunday School lesson - even if he doesn't feel attacked, it can't be fun to be seen as a cautionary tale.
quote:
Perhaps he stopped praying, got his hands on some anti-Mormon literature, or someone overheard him talking on the phone to one of the Laurels after curfew.
If those things did happen, is it character assassination to say so?

Although I don't think it is, I think it's not a good idea to talk like that, for lots of reasons including the practical one, which is that it feels like crap to be gossiped about and it makes someone less likely to feel comfortable coming back.

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Cashew
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My experience with people leaving the church is that they are not gossiped about. Reasons are sought for "what happened", but mostly it's sadness expressed that they have left something that they used to feel was special and wonderful to them.
I guess in the seeking of reasons the sort of thing Katharina talks about is mentioned, but more in a way of surprise.
I think most people are careful to not be judgmental about people who do leave. I've been racking my brains to try and remember examples of personal attacks or hurtful criticism of the people who I knew who left the church and joined anti-Mormon groups, but can't recall hearing any. (Not saying it doesn't happen, just haven't experienced it.)
As I said, generally these people leave friends behind, not enemies.
A friend of mine who had been close friends with a couple who left the church in the 80s and set up an anti-Mormon group tried remaining friends with them, but every time they got together the time was spent in attack and defense of the church, so they naturally drifted apart.
Again in my experience, gossip or personal attacks of any kind about anyone would be reprimanded.

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Amanecer
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quote:
That does NOT mean that whispers that he didn't read his scriptures every day means that people are actually thinking that someone is untrustworthy. It usually is, I think, kind of an insurance policy.

Person 1: "How could this happen?"
Person 2: "He didn't read his scriptures everyday."
Person 1 thinks I can prevent this from happening in my life by reading my scriptures everyday and is reassured.

That's what Dutcher meant by not wanting to be a Sunday School lesson - even if he doesn't feel attacked, it can't be fun to be seen as a cautionary tale.

I think that's part of it. I think the other part is that it's pretty ingrained that losing faith is a failing. It's the idea that if a person had been doing everything right, that never could have happened. So for them to have lost faith, they must have done something wrong. I think that's the mindset that leads to character assasination.

And I have to say for me, my experiences with Mormons (other than my parents) after leaving the church has been mostly positive. If anything, people are too friendly as though if they could just connect with me I'd come back. But they mean well, and the only feeling I get from them is that of love. The one exception is a friend of the family that likes to talk about ex-mormons very loudly whenever I'm around and refer to them as "children of Lucifer." Takes all kinds. *shrugs*

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katharina
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I think it's true that leaving a faith is seen as a failing. There's no getting around that - he's leaving; others aren't; those that stay aren't going to approve his leaving. I don't think they should approve and I definitely don't think he gets to pick how people react. We can choose our own actions, but we can't choose how other people feel about our actions.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Amanecer:
The one exception is a friend of the family that likes to talk about ex-mormons very loudly whenever I'm around and refer to them as "children of Lucifer." Takes all kinds. *shrugs*

You obviously need to start up a band and call it "The Children of Lucifer".

It's what I would do. [Smile]

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Amanecer
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quote:
I think it's true that leaving a faith is seen as a failing. There's no getting around that - he's leaving; others aren't; those that stay aren't going to approve his leaving. I don't think they should approve and I definitely don't think he gets to pick how people react. We can choose our own actions, but we can't choose how other people feel about our actions.
I'm not saying people need to approve. I'm just saying that the idea is they've done something wrong for that to have happened. Clearly not everybody is going to go from there to character assasination, but it's not exactly a huge step and some people are going to take it. I'm not trying to accuse or anything- just explaining why I think people feel that way.

quote:
You obviously need to start up a band and call it "The Children of Lucifer".
[ROFL] If only I had musical talent. [Razz]
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Occasional
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I have always been curious if when other people leave their Churches (particularly Catholic or Jewish) if there is an equal amount of "distancing" between those who go and those who stay? Perhaps it is the strength of community connections (and not just religious) that creates such huge divisions.
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dean
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Most Mormons seem to admit only a few reasons why anyone would ever leave Mormonism. One, they obviously wanted to sin with a free conscience. (E.G. She just wanted to have premarital sex. He's probably having an affair.) Two, someone offended them, and instead of making peace, they pretended the church wasn't true. ("The Church is perfect, its members aren't.") Three, they got their hands on some anti-Mormon literature.

The first option implies that they don't have the fortitude to be a Mormon, that they value "the flesh" above what they know to be true. It implies a defective moral character and a lasciviousness.

The second option implies that they would put their own wrath over what they know to be true. That instead of forgiving people lovingly for their failings (as Mormons do), they gave vent to their anger and wounded vanity.

The last implies a certain brainwashed duped-ness. They don't mean it, they're just easily influenced and kind of dumb.

There is no way to leave the Mormon church because of something about the Mormon church-- doctrine, church policy, or finding something better elsewhere. People always leave the Mormon church because they have severe character flaws or because they were never really Mormon.

As an ex-Mormon does it offend me when I come across these attitudes (particularly from my own family)? Well, yeah, I don't want people attributing base motives to a struggle that was difficult to me anymore than someone enjoys their beliefs and way of life being called a "phase." It's pretty condescending. And usually inaccurate.

But do I do things Mormons would call sinning? Well, sure. I don't regard them in the same light as Mormons do or as I used to. Merely because I used to be Mormon doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to use new information or to come to new ways of thinking or to try out new things. People are allowed to change and to react to new situations and experiences without it being a character flaw.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Dean -- while that may be your perception of what Mormons think, I don't think your post accurately portrays what we (or at least some of us) actually do think about why people leave the church.
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Uprooted
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
You obviously need to start up a band and call it "The Children of Lucifer".

It's what I would do. [Smile]

There was a group called "The Gadianton Band" in the Northern Virginia area when I was there. [Wink]
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dean
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Oh, I don't think every Mormon thinks this deep down, but these seem to be the most common reasons attributed to people who leave, and I have had these reasons attributed to me, and have had people confront me about why I would leave for such a silly reason. I'm sure that there are plenty of Mormons who would ask me why I left and would believe my answer, and the Mormons of Hatrack are more likely than the general populace to be this way. However, a few counter-examples don't change my general outside-Hatrack experience of leaving. (And as I recall, I heard several comments on Hatrack that fell within this generalization as well when I was first going through leaving the church.)
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
these seem to be the most common reasons attributed to people who leave
At least by the people you hear talk about it.
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lem
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Dean,

I think you hit the nail on the head on what ex-Mormons go through. I have never really had the Grand Character Assassination that public figures like Dutcher and Thomas Marsh had. Well, my Bishop did question my wife whether I was physically abusive since I didn't go to church.

I think Merril protrays Mormon perception perfectly at this part in his letter.
quote:
With his latest tirade, Dutcher has become a wonderfully ugly poster child for the pitfalls of Mormons who want to play in the movie business but don't take seriously the warnings of scripture, prophets and GOD -- that seeking "the honors of men" and "riches of the world" are paths into darkness. Read apostasy.
That is a character attack. Altho Merrill has apologized, he did say succinctly what I found to be common LDS feelings when I was active.

It is all about Pride.

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Occasional
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Well, something has to account for a person leaving the "Only True Church" with the "Only True Authority" on the face of the Earth. That isn't something Mormons who still believe take lightly. Some Mormons come up with excuses that would explain why anyone would want to leave such an important institution.

"Merely because I used to be Mormon doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to use new information or to come to new ways of thinking or to try out new things. People are allowed to change and to react to new situations and experiences without it being a character flaw."

Theologically, that character flaw would be spiritual insensitivity or lack of ability to recognize the Truth. There is not much room in Mormonism for gray areas.

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katharina
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Occ, that's not fair. I don't have time to get into it because I have to leave, but what you are not speaking for me when you say that.
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lem
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quote:
Well, something has to account for a person leaving the "Only True Church" with the "Only True Authority" on the face of the Earth. That isn't something Mormons who still believe take lightly.
That is why I asked Cashew if s/he ever left the church. Until you have personally been there, I don't think you can appreciate how thick that sentiment is. And it does in many cases affect family relations as well as close friends.

EDIT:

quote:
Occ, that's not fair. I don't have time to get into it because I have to leave, but what you are not speaking for me when you say that.
S/he doesn't need to speak for you; s/he only needs to speak for enough people in the church to make that a "Mormon Experience" for people leaving. I can say that has been a Mormon experience for everyone I know in real life who has left the church and stayed in their neighborhood. I would wager that only a minority of people who have left the church haven't encountered that reaction.
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Occasional
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No, but I am speaking for a lot of Mormons. You can question exactly how fair such ideas are, but they do exist in large numbers. Yes, I hold to them myself.
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MattB
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quote:
Theologically, that character flaw would be spiritual insensitivity or lack of ability to recognize the Truth. There is not much room in Mormonism for gray areas.
That's not terribly theological; you're being quite vague, and theology is about precision.

Firstly, you have to define what you mean by character. This is important - can we, fallen beings, arrive at faith without the grace of God - that is, must we work to gain faith, or does God grant it despite our recalcitrant natures? This is a hugely important question; I've seen Mormons fall on both sides - the one from Alma's "faith is a mustard seed that we must nurture," the other from Mark (and Lamoni's) "Help thou my unbelief."

This is related to your second - I'm not sure what you mean by 'spiritual insensitivity.' Now, is it not true that scripture (see D&C 46), describes faith as a gift from God? This implies, therefore, that faith require God's participation as well as (perhaps) our own. (The balance and order, as per above, being unclear.) It's important not to assume that we know when God might chose to grant such a thing. Further, it's quite clear that people from a huge multitude of faiths have experienced spiritual confirmation and visionary experiences; assuming Mormons are the only ones who receive such things (or that they all lead one to Mormonism) is a hugely problematic assumption.

Thirdly, 'spiritual insensitivity' and 'lack of ability to recognize the Truth' are two different things; one is about sentiment and affections (in Jonathan Edwards's term); the second, about rationality (unless I'm interpreting you wrong; in either case, your statement lacks precision). What role does rationality play in faith, if any? Do we have to rationally accept Mormonism before God can confirm it for us - or can God instill faith in us in ignorance? Both legitimate questions.

quote:
There is not much room in Mormonism for gray areas.
Actually, there's a huge amount of room. There are Mormons who believe every word Gordon B. Hinckley speaks is God's will; there are those who believe he has the right to receive such revelation but does only rarely (or never, so far). There are Mormons who believe the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction, and those who believe the American Indians are literally Lamanites. There are Mormons who believe women can bless their sick children and Mormons who recoil at the thought; Mormons who believe the earth is six billion years old and Mormons who believe it's six thousand; Mormons who believe that scripture is literally God's word and Mormons who believe it's the writings of sometimes inspired historical figures. There are Mormons who believe God picks out every leader down to Sunday school teachers and Mormons who believe that God merely wants us to support each other in such duties. All of these folks can go to the temple.

Heck, there are Mormons (defined as one who believes that Joseph Smith revealed the Book of Mormon through the power of God) who believe Stephen Veazey or Jim Harmston or (God help us) Warren Jeffs is God's prophet and can bear fervent testimony to the spiritual experiences that have confirmed them in that faith.

So, again, I'd disagree that it's a black and white issue.

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Occasional
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"Well, something has to account for a person leaving the "Only True Church" with the "Only True Authority" on the face of the Earth."

THIS is something that has no gray areas. Now, I know those like you listed that believe or act as if there are gray areas. I, however, strongly disagree with them! For instance I believe that those Mormons who believe that " the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction," are not really Mormons, but hypocrites. The same with the idea that the Church is simply another religious organization the same as any other, or who deny the Priesthood as Divine and the only one on Earth with the proper authority from God.

The LDS Church is the only True Church or it is not. That is what I mean by the Gray area. Edit: If it is not true then it is all a lie and at best a sick joke. If it is true then leaving it is a serious mistake with eternal ramifications.

[ April 23, 2007, 07:02 PM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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MattB
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quote:
Now, I know those like you listed that believe or act as if there are gray areas. I, however, strongly disagree with them!
Of course, you're not the one who gets to make that decision; if the General Authorities agreed with you, the temple recommend interview would be somewhat longer. Indeed, there's a mass of evidence that Mormon leaders have held wildly diverging opinions about some of these things. For example, pick up BH Roberts's book on the Book of Mormon sometime.

quote:
If it is not true then it is all a lie and at best a sick joke.
I've heard this a lot, but don't particularly understand it. For one thing, it's sort of a backhanded slap at every other religion in the world. For another, it denies all the valuable things that Mormonism does, for example, for all those millions of folks who aren't Mormon but have benefited from its welfare programs, as well as all the ancillary benefits other than salvation that Mormons receive from participation in the church. Finally, it assumes that a religion is either entirely true or spiritually worthless, a theory a First Presidency statement called "The Love of God for all Mankind" specifically rejected in 1978; rather, stated the First Presidency, all churches have and continue to receive of God's light.
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Cashew
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"The LDS Church is the only True Church or it is not. That is what I mean by the Gray area. Edit: If it is not true then it is all a lie and at best a sick joke. If it is true then leaving it is a serious mistake with eternal ramifications."

My feelings too. The LDS church makes the strong claim that it is the only true church, and that is why there is no grey area. Either Joseph Smith was what he claimed to be or he was a liar and a fraud; either the Book of Mormon is the word of God or it's a waste of time.
That's why we react the way we do when people leave: we worry for them.
And, for my part, I would be horrified to hear someone say the things about people leaving that Dean mentioned. There's no excuse for that at all, and anyone saying things like that goes against everything being LDS means.

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Cashew
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The whole justification for the LDS church's existence is that it is the only true and living church on the face of the earth. It's a strong claim and the church lives or dies on the truth or otherwise of it. There's no need for the church if that isn't true. There are plenty of other charitable, spiritual and social organisations out there that fulfil people's needs perfectly well.
(edit for clarity)

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MattB
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quote:
Either Joseph Smith was what he claimed to be or he was a liar and a fraud
Or he became a fallen prophet at some point, or he misinterpreted genuine experiences with the divine, or he was what Harold Bloom calls a 'religious genius' who created religion as a means to explore truth in the way artists create art, or he was slightly bonkers, or he believed he was doing the will of God but improvised on his own, etc.

quote:
either the Book of Mormon is the word of God or it's a waste of time.
As I noted above, there's a lot of gray area in 'word of God.' Further, it could also be a masterful but non divinely inspired literary work, a profound but non divinely inspired meditation on Christian theology, etc.

This is the same false and oversimplified dichotomy CS Lewis sets up about Christ.

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Amanecer
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MattB, I really enjoy hearing you talk about Mormon theology (not specific to this thread). I don't remember reading your own specific theological views except that you consider yourself non-orthodox. Is sharing that something that you don't want to do? If it is something you are willing to share, I would be very interested in hearing it. If not, I understand. [Smile]
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Cashew
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"Or he became a fallen prophet at some point, or he misinterpreted genuine experiences with the divine, or he was what Harold Bloom calls a 'religious genius' who created religion as a means to explore truth in the way artists create art, or he was slightly bonkers, or he believed he was doing the will of God but improvised on his own, etc. "

If it's any of that then it's not something I would want to stake my eternal salvation on.

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Occasional
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"Or he became a fallen prophet at some point, or he misinterpreted genuine experiences with the divine, or he was what Harold Bloom calls a 'religious genius' who created religion as a means to explore truth in the way artists create art, or he was slightly bonkers, or he believed he was doing the will of God but improvised on his own, etc."

Yes, but any of these goes against the plain and unambiguous doctrines that Joseph Smith taught. It would be an equovication based on denying the meaning and purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anyone who believed any of these things are worthy of my personally seeking to hound them out of the Church or repent of their unbelief.

"This is the same false and oversimplified dichotomy CS Lewis sets up about Christ. "

NO, it is NOT false and oversimplified. It is WHAT IS THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. PERIOD! Again, anyone who says otherwise I consider not worthy of calling Mormon.

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Cashew
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Amanecer, what you say would apply if the church was equivocal about what it claims. But it isn't. It either is or isn't the kingdom of God on earth, the only body authorised to act in God's name. There's no room for grey in that.
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Amanecer
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I'm not sure why you are addressing me. I haven't really entered this part of the converation except to ask MattB his views.
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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
NO, it is NOT false and oversimplified. It is WHAT IS THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER. PERIOD! Again, anyone who says otherwise I consider not worthy of calling Mormon.

Whoa, did anyone say anything worthy of being yelled at, Occasional? I was just noticing how civil this thread was, and then that comes out of nowhere.

These ideas may not fit with what you believe, but they're not totally illogical or internally inconsistent. They are, at very least, as worthy of discussion and consideration as any other ideas about Mormonism that are brought up here.

You're free to believe what you want. But there are plenty of people here, Mormon or otherwise, whose beliefs will allow them to at least consider these possibilities with an open mind and a clear conscience. I know you're orthodox, but there's no need to call down a Jihad on anyone who is open to a frank discussion of theology.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Cashew:
Amanecer, what you say would apply if the church was equivocal about what it claims. But it isn't. It either is or isn't the kingdom of God on earth, the only body authorised to act in God's name. There's no room for grey in that.

But if it's not, does that make it worthless?

It could also be part of God's kingdom on earth, with other churches also authorized to act in God's name. Although that would mean it is wrong about at least part of what it teaches about itself. But just the "only" part.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Again, anyone who says otherwise I consider not worthy of calling Mormon.
Good thing you don't get to make that call, really.
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BlackBlade
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Occasional: I completely respect your POV, I personally am inclined to lean more towards the ultimate truth of the Mormon religion, but there is no need to yell, you can vehemently disagree with a point or statement made without yelling.

Matt: Joseph Smith being a fallen prophet is problematic because as the head of this dispensation you would think God would call somebody He knew would not fall down the road. As far as I understand it, Joseph Smith turning to be a fallen prophet makes all subsequent theology fall like a stack of cards. I agree that much of what Mormonism is is valuable besides the claim to eternal truth.

But even you must admit that if it is in fact not true then Mormons are very mistaken and take alot of pride in an untrue statement.

Why do you think that Lewis sets up a false dichotomy about Christ? Unless we claim the gospel writers did not accurately record Christs words and beliefs, how is there a way to reconcile Christ's belief in his own divinity without calling him either the son of God, crazy, or a liar?

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MattB
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quote:
Yes, but any of these goes against the plain and unambiguous doctrines that Joseph Smith taught.
I'd argue that most of the stuff Joseph Smith taught was neither plain nor unambiguous. Many of his views evolved over time, and it's not really evident where he might have been going had he not been killed. This isn't merely tangential; it's not particularly clear, for example, whom Joseph intended to lead the Church after him, and whether his successor would be a prophet and exercise authority in the same ways Joseph himself was and did. Brigham Young was similarly unclear about this. It seems to me this is directly relevant to the issue at hand.

Anyway, as to the issue of salvation - it's important to distinguish between salvation and exaltation. According to Mormon doctrine, the atonement is universal; it applies to all humanity, within and without the Church. Ordinances, however, are something different, and require particular Mormon authority. They do not, however, confer salvation, but rather exaltation. This is different.

Anyway, I don't believe any of that conflicts with my points about, say, the 1978 First Presidency statement and other churches, or about false dichotomies. What I'm talking about there are the ways logical fallacies artificially narrow the range of one's choices. What you folks are talking about is which of those choices one should pick. However, I believe I've demonstrated two things - first, that it's possible to hold a range of beliefs on a variety of issues and be a temple-going Mormon; secondly and relatedly, that it's entirely possible, despite Elder Holland's assertions to the contrary, to be a cafeteria Mormon (that is, to treat Mormonism as a buffet) and be logically consistent.

Further, it occurs to me that I'm actually the only one citing evidence rather than personal opinion here.

Thanks for your kinds words, Amancer. I'm definitely - even profoundly - Mormon, but I suspect that I take the church seriously in ways differently than some other Mormons do.

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MattB
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Hi, BB! [Smile]

quote:
Matt: Joseph Smith being a fallen prophet is problematic because as the head of this dispensation you would think God would call somebody He knew would not fall down the road.
This is actually the position that the RLDS hold; according to them, Joseph screwed up with polygamy. (A few irreverently speculate that God removed him). Anyway, my point was that arguing that Joseph was either a conman (Cashew's word was 'fraud') or the prophet that the SLC church argues is not logically consistent; there's a multitude of other options.

As to your last sentence, I don't believe that it's possible to believe that 1)God is embodied, 2)God has perfect knowledge of the future, and 3)we have free will all at the same time. But that's another topic. [Smile]

quote:
Why do you think that Lewis sets up a false dichotomy about Christ? Unless we claim the gospel writers did not accurately record Christs words and beliefs, how is there a way to reconcile Christ's belief in his own divinity without calling him either the son of God, crazy, or a liar?
You get at it with your first point. Lewis dismisses the possibility that the writers of the gospels presented the Christ they believed in rather than the historical Jesus. I'm not saying that this is what everyone has to believe, but it's a perfectly acceptable option, and makes it possible for people to believe that Christ was merely a great moral teacher and Paul made up all the Messiah stuff.

Further, as with Joseph Smith, it's possible Jesus of Nazareth had a series of powerful religious experiences and interpreted them subjectively.

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Occasional
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I guess I will have to bow out on this issue because I find the whole concept of questioning the historical Book of Mormon, the Divine Priesthood and only True Church to be so basic to belief in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I get as angry as a Jihadist. Such people I consider a danger to the mission of the LDS Church and will lead to its near destruction. You can go join the (formerly) RLDS Church, another branch, or set up your own. However, if you are to remain a member of the largest one in SLC, there are some things you cannot question and be considered more than a pariah.
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MattB
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Fair enough - and I respect you for your honesty and desire to avoid contentious feelings.

quote:
However, if you are to remain a member of the largest one in SLC, there are some things you cannot question and be considered more than a pariah.
However - again, it appears the leadership of the SLC church disagrees with you on exactly what these are, and their danger.
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ElJay
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<removed because it is unnecessary, sorry>
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Occasional
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"SLC church disagrees with you on exactly what these are, and their danger."

And, of course, they will be held accountable by God if there actions are right or wrong (and yes, that goes for myself).

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Tatiana
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I agree with the earlier point made that people get unwarranted assumptions made about them when they leave the church. Obviously, people who have left think they made the right choice for themselves, and they are the ones who have stewardship over that decision. Not anyone else.

It's equally obvious that many of us who stay feel a powerful ongoing spiritual confirmation that it's the right place for us to be. I know that some of the saints feel that it's the right place for everyone to be throughout their entire lives, and perhaps that is true but it's not necessary to believe that to be Mormon. In fact, I don't believe it. I think each person has their own path to walk, and it may be more beneficial to some people at some times in their lives to be outside the church. I have stewardship only over my own choice, and receive revelation about my own choice, but I have no right to receive revelation for anyone else.

But I think that deany is exactly right that lots of Mormons think the only reason someone could leave is if they lost the guidance of the spirit through sin, through lackadaisy or by some other moral failing of some sort, or else they possibly never acquired their own adult testimony of the truth of the restored gospel. I think there are plenty of people who leave because the church (including the people in it) doesn't live up to their high standards of morality. Because, in other words, they see the church as fatally flawed. So the failing might well have been not theirs at all, but that of other members.

[ April 23, 2007, 10:03 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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