Sunday, August 8, 2010

a fortnight's worth of profundity

Weird imaginings have been transpiring at the locus of the emergent intelligent realization of my grey matter (um, in other words: my brain). My mind has been a flutter with cross pollinating possibilities. One fantasy world gives way to the next until the boundaries between them blur and I find myself wandering in a strange chimeric wasteland. A lone voice crying in the wilderness "make way, filthy heathens, for the day of Loren is nigh at hand." But what is the cause of this non-drug induced mind expansion? A number of synchronicitous moments have reshaped my now amorphous character. I'm a chameleon ready to adapt to any all circumstances. Behold the makings of a nondescript opportunist...

1. The number one ranked commenter on slimodsoc by sheer volume of words,Justin, challenges me to a duel concerning the validity of witnesses to the BoM, a dialogue that spirals wildly out of control. It however, prompts me to wonder what do I believe. The answer? Nothing.
2. The ever philosophical Andrew S, comments on a post reminding me of a long forgotten uni class I once took, where I learned how David Hume single handedly destroyed the foundations of natural philosophy.
3. I read Zen and the Art of Happiness, and The Life of Pi. By their powers combined, I'm almost convinced that the stories we tell ourselves are more important than their Truth value.
4. I watch Inception, Blade Runner and the first two seasons of Breaking Bad. I can't articulate how these reconcile with the other trans-formative points except to say they are some of the most fucking awesome things I've ever seen.

And that's the pervading theme of the last two weeks for me. Everything is marvelous and everything is bullshit. We need not get angry if some one else's bullshit smells or looks different from ours. Let them wallow in it. I am not above wallowing in it myself. In fact I welcome this prospect. Letting go of what I usually cling to has been completely liberating. Taking ownership of beliefs that I am diametrically opposed to has done wonders for my empathy. I am a comic book writer. This has been the greatest quantum leap in the craft that I have ever achieved. I can step into another persons shoes without maintaining absolute or even a little contempt for them, and sometimes I can almost convince myself that what they say makes sense on some level. Amazing.


Justin said...

Regarding perspectives, more from the same woman.

Justin said...

Justin said...


Loren said...

it is not without it's benefits

Loren said...

Why is she on the verge of tears through the whole talk? It's like she graduated from the Henry B. Eyring school of public speaking. It's gonna be OK Wendy, I promise. Anyway let's look at this.

One thing I've learned throughout our dialogue is that any argument that you or I use, can be turned around on ourselves. I mean what is the past trauma that has rendered Wendy incapable of functioning in society without needing a religious institution to guide her every thought? Was she mobbed by hippies as a child?

I like the thought behind this. It's very (early) Freudian. Some past trauma comes back to haunt you in the form of personal apostasy. In this type of scenario it doesn't even have to be a repressed memory. Just some reasonably unacceptable pet peeve that you've developed over time. Don't you see Loren, this really just comes down to your own personal failings. The church couldn't possibly be at fault. Anything questionable it does can easily be explained away (remember when I talked about how we can't ask probing questions in church, this is what I'm talking about, the church exists in some mystical realm beyond criticism. What apologists call answers, I call fudging).

Well, what if I have a problem with all the controversial issues in the church's history, not just one? Not exactly playing by the rules, but what can I say I'm a rebel without a cause, James Dean eat your heart out. Let me count the ways: Polygamy, polyandry, pedophilia, racism, homophobia, lying, lots and lots of lying, charlatanism, whitewashing. Oh yeah did I mention lying? The prophets claim to talk to God he just hasn't had much new to say for awhile except *pregnant pause* women should only wear one pair of earrings. Got that? One. Yes, I'm sure if there was a God that would be high on his priority list. Heavy stuff.

Should we go into the Book of Mormon? Anachronism central. Where is the Hill Cumorah? Why aren't there any swords or breastplates or any real archeological evidence anywhere (I'll grant you Nahom)? Sure, LDS apologists will claim different, but I think they might be just a little biased. No credible non-Mormon archeologist accepts the BoM as a historical document. Could there be a reason why this is? Let me guess, Satan. What about DNA? Science, puh, that's just another name for Satan. That dirty snake.

You know what now that I think of it, I did have this strange notion instilled in me from when I was but a child. Maybe this sweet sweet lady is on to something after all. I've never been able to get over this. All right here it is, my fatal flaw: I've always felt that you should seek out the truth and go wherever it takes you. The truth has set me free.

Justin said...

A few months ago I was teaching at church and a new convert raised something (he didn't agree with the teaching that Marriage is important to Salvation, in fact he was emotionally opposed to it). Now an attempt at an answer was given by several attending class (good answers I thought), but his emotional level kept building.

Personally, I wanted to make a contribution but felt it was best to move on with the rest of the lesson, Why did I do that? a. I wasn't personally preped to answer the quesion in a way that would satisfy him, I didn't well understand his personal background b. I realised others in the class may want to actually hear my planned lesson, c. the impromtu nature of the whole thing made the likelyhood of emotions on both sides getting out of control and a real scrap breaking out.

A similar thing happened last sunday actually, but I didn't understand much of what was being said and I wasn't conducting conducting the lesson. He had his say, but not much response was made.

I do feel concerned about those people and I do want ot answer their questions (even if in vain). But I feel that there is a suitable time and place to do it. Another issue is that it's a real asrt getting answers through on a personal level with most of these people. I have rarely seen apologetics work, regardless of how logical I personally find the answers.

I don't think many church members are good at answering the more thorny questions when they pop up. And I'm not surpised, because I doubt that many of them find them interesting onn a personal level or crucial to their testimonies.

On the other hand some people do a very good job of answering these questions. Whether their answers properly satisfy an individual or not is another matter. The way I see it, most(all?) apologetic answers are going to leave unanswered gaps in a person's subjective understanding. How those gaps are filled is up to the individual. If that person ponders the information with a positive attitude it is likely he can come up with a satisfactory answer.

A person who doesn't want the church to be true however, will take that same information and use it in an attempt to paint an ugly picture.

Gaps between dots will always exist. How you connect the dots is a creative act, but that creation is largely determined by our attitude and faith.

I hear what you've said but...
Do you want to believe or not?

Loren said...

"I don't think many church members are good at answering the more thorny questions when they pop up. And I'm not surpised, because I doubt that many of them find them interesting onn [sic] a personal level or crucial to their testimonies."

This may be true for a lot of people, but there are probably at least as many who don't even know about the events in question let alone the answers to the questions. They may be of interest if people only knew they existed.

I'm in favour of the church being more open about its past, some concerned members call it inoculation (introducing some of the more controversial issues, surrounding the church, right from the start, the advantage being that we set the context for the discussion instead of "outsiders" using all that ammo they have at their disposal right now). But I'll lower my right arm from its squared position, because I can't see the general membership sustaining this motion. The church culture is too uptight at the moment.

Loren said...

"I hear what you've said but...
Do you want to believe or not?"

The short answer is: No.

But let's take a step back for a moment. I feared that we'd butt heads once we started down this path. I admire your persistence, because I've taken many subtle and sometimes not so subtle cheap shots at the religion I used to (and occasionally still do) call my own. They're not intended to be taken personally, but sometimes we find it hard to separate what believe from ourselves, I know I do. I hope that I can bring myself to be (slightly) less offensive in future. It's going to take an incredible effort though.

In spite of my lack of decorum we've continued to make a case for our contrasting world views. I get the feeling that you think somewhere deep down in my innards, that there may be a spark that wants to believe or worse (worse, because it intimates that my atheism is a dishonest front for something else ) that I really know it's true, but my pride wont allow me to acknowledge it. I understand that your heart's in the right place, so I suppose I can't complain too much, but let me assure you that as sure as you are of your position , that I am equally certain of the correctness of mine (with the small caveat that I always reserve the right to change my mind or to make tweaks as further light and knowledge become available). We both proabably shake our heads asking "why can't he see?" That's all part of the fun.

So, should we keep talking at each other and hopefully, one day come to an understanding of the other side? Or should we focus more on what unites us rather than what divides us? Things as they are, I'm definitely still learning from our talks, but more in the sense of self discovery than anything else. It would truly take something amazing to change my mind.

I'd like to be a little less silly when making my points, but I honestly find the whole concept of a personal God silly. A completely respectful dialogue would be fake anyway, it's OK letting the emotions loose once in a while I suppose. But yeah, no I don't want to believe, I choose not to and I've very satisfied with my decision. In the end I'm all for a live and let live mentality though. You got your thing I got mine.

Justin said...

No real surprises, but all good to be confirmed. I want to keep talking regardless of outcome. The blog environment gives us enough time/space to think about what we are going to say before saying anything that may do real damage our friendship.

Beleive it or not, I've found your posts respectful so far.