Sunday in Outer Blogness: Apostasy Edition!

In response to last week’s news (about all that apostasy), the exmo/borderland community stepped up with lots of helpful discussion and ideas! Including fun ways to introduce less faith-promoting information. Personally, I think correlation is the problem — if people weren’t told to discuss only what the correlated manuals tell them to discuss, they wouldn’t be shocked to discover that there’s interesting info outside the manual. Plus less correlation = more fun! (Even gospel topics!)

(Maybe next the exmos will have suggestions for getting along with the French.)

In other news, it hasn’t been a great week for women. In addition to the usual humiliations, our health care is thrown under the bus (since freedom is slavery and being treated like property is respect).

And, while we’re on the subject of people’s rights, the overturn of Prop 8 made a big splash, and another state may be next!

In personal stories, BKP strikes again, turning a tragic event horrific! General J.C. Christian told two interesting stories of his life in Mormon-land. Dad’s Primal Scream actually danced onstage on Broadway!!! And he’s kind enough to share his NYC trip tips with the rest of us. Bill Hess has been posting photos of his great whale rescue adventure (which was later made into a movie). Maya visited Mormon Lake.

In discussion topics: peculiarity, diversity, and empathy; causes, beliefs, and ethics. The CoJCoL-dS has some interesting insurance policies. Panties!! Atheists: beat ‘em or join ‘em? And how about this fantasy?

Sorry I haven’t had much time for Internet this past week, but I hope next week will be livelier. We’re in the last stretch on the Brodies voting — so if you haven’t voted yet, don’t miss your chance!!

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    Hellmut says:

    I agree with you. Correlation is a drag on the LDS Church. If people enjoyed Church and felt that their sacrifice actually made a difference, some of the dissidents wouldn’t even care about history.

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  2. 2
    chanson says:

    Hellmut — Exactly.

    If the truth claims of the CoJCoL-dS aren’t true, then rearranging the deck chairs isn’t going to make them more true — and many people will leave simply because it’s not true, no matter what changes the organization makes.

    So the CoJCoL-dS has, basically, two possible strategic directions: (1) keep people from concluding it’s not true, and (2) keep people from deciding that the not-true-ness is a reason to leave. Correlation is a big problem on both fronts.

    Correlation’s increasing stranglehold on information — deciding what can be said and who can say it — worked, in a sense, for a while. But it became a catastrophically bad strategy with the advent of the Internet, where people can’t help but get exposed to all sorts of information from all different sources.

    The correlated party line says that anyone (except the church itself) who’s talking about church history (especially if they deviate one iota from the hagiographic story), then they must be anti-Mormons spreading lies! Then the faithful Mormon accidentally encounters something non-faith-promoting, but true, from a neutral source. This raises a huge conflict! But it wouldn’t have, if the church hadn’t lied in the first place about all non-church sources being lying anti-Mormons.

    That’s why I’m a little leery of strategies of the church simply being more forthcoming about the less-faith-promoting history. That’s sort of the right track but kind of missing the boat (to mix a metaphor). The church should just stop trying to dictate what people can and can’t discuss in a church context period, and then members won’t be surprised that there’s stuff out there that’s true but not specifically stated in the manual.

    Similarly, micromanaging the whole church experience limits the number of people who feel they’re contributing and being edified at church. Yes, there are absolutely people for whom the correlated church experience fits like a [testimony] glove! But not everybody — there are particular personality types it will fit a lot better than others. The correlated experience limits the roles people can play, and a lot of people are simply left feeling: “I’m not getting anything of value out of this, and I’m not contributing anything of value. It’s costing me 20+ hours of [potential family] time per week, and it’s a waste.”

    Put the two together, and you have a great recipe to get people to say “Wait, it’s odious and it’s not even true? I’m outta here!!”

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  3. 3
    dpc says:

    “The correlated party line says that anyone (except the church itself) whos talking about church history (especially if they deviate one iota from the hagiographic story), then they must be anti-Mormons spreading lies!”

    I disagree with this and I don’t think it squares with the facts. I haven’t heard any one saying that Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” counts as anti-Mormon lies. Something should be considered anti-Mormon based on agenda. If something is purposefully caluclated to destroy faith then it would be considered anti-Mormon. There’s a big difference in writing “There are several accounts of Joseph’s first vision that may contradict each other” and “Joseph Smith fabricated numerous accounts of his ‘first vision’ in order to shore up his followers’ flagging belief in his self-appointed prophetic role.” The former is arguably neutral. The latter may not be strictly anti-Mormon, but it is antagonistic. And it presents conclusions as facts. The first might lead a person

    “Then the faithful Mormon accidentally encounters something non-faith-promoting, but true, from a neutral source. This raises a huge conflict!”

    But I don’t hear of many people leaving after reading, say, wikipedia, that they decided to leave the church. (Wikipedia is not really ‘neutral’, but that’s another argument) My experience with history websites is that they tend to advocate for or aganist a certain position (and not in a way that could be described as scholarship). So, you could say that people with a certain state of mind (brought on by negative life experiences) encounter advocacy and they are persuaded.

    “The church should just stop trying to dictate what people can and cant discuss in a church context period, and then members wont be surprised that theres stuff out there thats true but not specifically stated in the manual.”

    I think that the whole “hidden history” thing is more of an unintended consequence of correlation, rather than the target. I think correlation was designed to distill the core teachings of the church so as to protect against “apostasy creep” in places where the church was less established. For example, they wouldn’t have emphasized polygamy, not because they necessarily wanted to hide it, but that they feared that discussion in a church environment may have led to an imprimatur of approval for practice of it. How do you maintain doctrinal purity and advoid schisms? Correlation is one answer. Is it the best answer? I don’t know, but I would like to hear what other people think would be a better solution that would avoid schisms.

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  4. 4
    chanson says:

    I think that the whole hidden history thing is more of an unintended consequence of correlation, rather than the target.

    Absolutely!!! If you read my posts/comments carefully, you’ll see that correlation fits squarely into the “never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence” category.

    I’ll read your other objections more carefully in the morning, but we may agree more than you expect…

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  5. 5
    Alan says:

    Dpc, I’m pretty sure the Church treats even “neutral history” as potentially not faith-promoting. For example, Boyd Packer once stated that teachers should “give milk before meat” and that LDS historians who follow the “tenets of [their] profession, regardless of how they may injure the Church or destroy the faith of those not ready for ‘advanced history’, are [themselves] in spiritual jeopardy.”

    In other words, sometimes “neutral history” is “advanced history” that should not be taught until a certain time (or never). I would consider this logic to be about intentionally hiding history.

    they wouldnt have emphasized polygamy, not because they necessarily wanted to hide it, but that they feared that discussion in a church environment may have led to an imprimatur of approval for practice of it.

    I don’t think this is it. Basically, I think the Church had to surgically chop polygamy out of its doctrines, but it keeps regrowing as a topic because of emphasis placed on nineteenth-century personalities, like Joseph Smith. And really, if any Mormon spends time reading their D&C, polygamy will creep up regardless of how much the Church tries to “hide” it.

    I think there are plenty of people — especially international converts (who are the majority of the Church these days?) — who could care less about the 19th-century Church. There’s an extent to which talking about the pioneering days and Smith and the golden plates, etc, excludes Mormons because it overwrites indigenous histories. For example, if I were a Filipino Mormon in the Philippines, why would I want to go to church to learn about white 19th century pioneers in the Utah valley? On the other hand, if a local instance of the Church becomes completely a “Filipino space” where Philippine history is emphasized above and beyond certain American elements, then according to the Church, this would also not be considered “faith-promoting” because there’s a chance Utah GAs will lose their sway. At some point, I do think the Church will have to think about handing over certain administrative reigns to foreign nationals (simply as a matter of respect), and who knows what would happen then.

    I would like to hear what other people think would be a better solution that would avoid schisms.

    Whoever said schisms are bad?

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