Saturday, December 22, 2012

Learned Arrogance

I want to talk about learned arrogance.  What I mean by this is that many members of the church get an attitude where they will act as if they have it all figured out.  They will act like they have the answers, and unless you agree with them you are someone to be pitied.  They have the "truth," and they are just waiting until you humble yourself to see it.  There are several things wrong with this.  One, it is the wrong attitude to have, even if you do have all the answers, no one will listen to you if you take this arrogant attitude.  Second, once you have an attitude of knowing everything, you are not likely to ever learn anything more.  Third, even if Mormonism were truth, no one would have sufficient understanding to be able to take this position with anyone else.  Finally, it is completely out of line to assume a teacher/mentor position with someone else without prior consent or position of authority to do so.

I want to take each of these in turn.

First, no one will listen to someone with this attitude.  If I act like I am better than you because I have all the answers, that I have things figured out and you just need to get on board with the program, or that I have some privileged knowledge or position that you are completely missing, then you almost automatically assume that I am wrong.  You have no reason to trust my position, and my attitude would just be poisoning any benefit you get from my position.  In actuality, my arrogance has no bearing on the truthfulness of anything I say, but people will automatically distrust because they will dislike my attitude.  I am, of course, using the "I" only metaphorically.

Second, you are not likely to learn anything anymore.  You have all the answers, what more could you hope to learn?  You already know it, nobody else can tell you anything.  This is essentially what many of these people will communicate implicitly.  How do you expect to learn anything, even about your own religion, if you are so cock that you think everyone else doesn't have it quite as figured out as you do?  This brand of arrogance leaves me disgusted.  They are so sure of what they know that they don't leave any room for error, to the point of treating other people poorly (perhaps not intentionally) just because they disagree.

Third, no one knows enough to be rightfully this certain.  There are these elements of faith that Mormons talk about, but when it comes down to it, there is no way for them to truly know.  I know most of them will argue this, but when it comes down to it it simply just doesn't work out quite that way.  To be able to appropriately take this stance with someone, you would have to have a similar situation as a parent with a toddler.  The toddler thinks they know the way the world works, and the parent just kind of knowingly says "haha, you will learn someday."  To have one adult take that stance with another?  That is ridiculous.

Finally, to assume a teacher/mentor role with someone without permission is the height of arrogance.  There are times when we relinquish this role to others, such as a professor when we are taking a class, a parent, or even ecclesiastical leadership, but it is an invasion of personal space to have someone simply take this role on themselves.  However, it is practically encouraged for church members to do this with non-believers.  "Teach them the gospel, tell them how it is, bring them to Jesus."  This is inappropriate and distasteful.  If you are Mormon and reading this, please don't do it, if you have done this in the past, please stop.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fake, False, and Phony

Why are people so fake?  Everyone in the church seems so concerned with putting on this air of perfection that they don't seem to be concerned at all with actually living their religion.  They are so concerned with looking like they live their religion that they don't actually do it.  They take the adage "avoid the appearance of evil" that they don't actually concern themselves with not being evil.  When visible defects or sins become less socially acceptable than more deep seated character flaws then something is definitely wrong.

Socially it is unacceptable to appear flawed.  If you aren't always smiling that plasticy smile, then people get all freaked out and avoid you.  If you don't have every sinful behavior under control, then people start to talk about you behind your back and assume that you are "going off the deep end."  If you have any emotions aside from joy, that obviously means that you are sinning or doing something wrong.

What does this end up coming down to?  People will beat themselves up if they don't do everything perfectly.  If they aren't reading their scriptures every day, they feel guilty.  If they have to miss out on a single week of church or any church activity, even if it is due to sickness, travel, or any other reasonable reason, then it is a huge guilt trip for themselves.  If they can't go to the temple every week, then all of the sudden they are the worst person in the world.  However, if they are judgmental, cruel, gossiping, and holier than thou, then it isn't that big of a deal, no one sees or asks about these things.  I have met way too many many hypocritical people that will crucify you for not studying your scriptures for at least 30 minutes a day and will make be disgusted at anything remotely suggestive, but they will turn around and make their roommates' lives hell, they will be racist, sexist, and bigoted in every way possible, and they will never let anything short of perfection go.

I don't think most people even realize how deep this behavior goes.  However, it is everywhere.  When people try so hard to "do what is right" without actually trying to follow the savior that they claim to believe in, it isn't hard to see why most of the world has a hard time calling Mormons Christians.

It is really frustrating to see the fakeness everywhere.  Everyone is false, they don't have a real personality, they don't really share their true feelings, and they try and control themselves in every aspect possible.  This goes to the point of suppression.  This all becomes, in many ways, psychologically damaging.

The craziest part of it all, is that there are actually people that don't feel this way in the middle of the culture, but they are afraid of speaking up and finding others like themselves because they are afraid of being judged.  Others will give them crap if they drop the phony and start being real.

Any group that encourages phony (whether actively or implicitly) has serious issues, and can't be considered a good thing.