Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The apologetic way

For some reason I keep re-engaging in my thoughts on the problems I have encountered with Mormonism. I almost feel like I am getting ready to depart from this endeavor of expressing my thoughts in response to Mo-ism. It seems like there is less and less that I find compelling enough to blog about anymore. To be honest, my target audience for my blog changed not too long ago. You see, I started out just throwing out all my feelings and figured that whoever encountered what I wrote would have a better understanding of where I was at. My secret hope was that orthodox members of the church in my family would encounter my words and have a better glimpse into what I was going through. I sincerely hoped that it would lead to a better understanding of where I am at and would cause them to research the issues I brought up. However, what ended up happening is those people may have read a snippet or two of a few entries (or never even bothered with my blog at all - even though it is not really hidden - I have a link to it in my Facebook profile), but then they turned it off and tuned me out.

No serious consideration is given to what I am saying because what I am saying is quickly categorized as "anti-Mormon" and thus many members of the church find it easy to quickly dismiss what I am writing.

Frankly, I don't understand this. I guess I am left with the ultimate reality that I just care enough about this stuff so much that I wanted to take it seriously. Was that my problem? Did I just fall for the joke and believed it? Was I wrong for believing that what I was taught my whole life by my parents, and re-enforced by my grandparents, friends, leaders and peers was actually THE way to live? Was I wrong when I actually believed that the LDS church was the ONE and ONLY TRUE church on the face of the earth? Was I wrong to expect that the church could provide an explanation for every single question that I might encounter in my life? Did I miss something? Was I absent the day they said, "Oh, just kidding, you don't really have to believe all this stuff in any kind of literal sense. It's just literary and is all just somebody's opinion."

I've never heard this until I pushed the question about where I went wrong. When I address the cognitive dissonance head on, this is where it ends up. Nobody knows what will happen in the next life, or if there is even a next life to look forward to. However, they tell their children to say "I know the church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, I know Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today". How sick is this?! Why do people tell their children to say they know something they don't even know themselves?!

This post is not going where I intended it to go. I wanted to give a review of the way apologists work. Exposing their methods is what I wanted to write about here. Instead this has turned into a rant about my situation.

I really just have one thing to say about apologists, they are way too wordy and nobody can understand the points they try to make. When I was going through my crisis of faith, I tried really hard to believe what I read as rebuttals to my questions by apologists. As I did so, I quickly discovered several things. Apologists utilize one of several methods (or all of them) to respond to challenges. They are as follows:

1. Kill with wordiness. Apologists generally tend to want to try and lay a lot of groundwork in their responses to tough questions. They lay groundwork after groundwork, all the while they keep asking you to bear with them while they promise to eventually address the question at hand. The problem is, they never seem to actually get to addressing the question at hand. They cite some obscure example and then another and then at some point (if they ever get to the point) they proudly announce that all of their distraction points have indeed addressed the question posed! How wonderful. When I was trying to get faithful responses to the question of the mistranslation of the Book of Abraham papyrus, there were no simple, let alone short, answers. The apologists that I read would try to start outlining similarities between a few Egyptian words and those "divined" by Joseph Smith. As if a few similarities in words makes up for everything else he got wrong! I had a simple question. My question was, why do the Egyptian characters on the facsimiles (i.e. the pictures contained in the Pearl of Great Price) not translate the way Joseph claimed? I mean, those drawings (including the Egyptian characters contained in them) have survived. We have a copy of them in every copy of the Pearl of Great Price published by the LDS church. Apologists want to try to re-define what it means to translate in order to address this question.

When reading apologetic responses, I usually would get bored and start looking for the readers digest version, but there is none. All the believers who attempt to respond to my question, refer back to the apologists. It's really funny, because if you ask a believer how they understand an issue brought up, they might respond with some ideas, but then they will go on to say, "you should read the apologists response to this, I'm sure they have addressed everything you are bringing up." I would love to ask if they have read the work of their apologists and if they could give a summary of just the main points they bring up, they never can. If you insist on getting a good answer to your question, they just start blaming you for being so concerned and inquisitive about this one thing. Don't I have a right to be concerned and inquisitive? Yes, just as long as I don't reveal my concerns to anyone who believes, then, sure, I can question to my little heart's content.

In congress, this method utilized by apologists of being wordy, is known as filibustering. Just like members of congress take the floor (and don't yield their time to anyone who wants to call for a vote on the issue until the time to address the issue runs out) use an administrative loophole to keep things from getting accomplished, apologists do the same thing. Apologists take the floor with their claim to have all the answers and then talk until you get bored and get tired of seeking the answer to your question or get so zoned out so that it is easier to just admit that your question wasn't really a very good one in the first place, instead of having to endure more of their talking.

Aside from being very wordy and attempting to resolve simple questions with extremely lengthy responses,

2. apologists engage in re-directing. This is known as "twisting" in the financial world. Meaning they take your question and then bring up something not really related, but since they can resolve that issue, it must mean your question can get resolved too. Since the unrelated issue is out there and seems just too good to be true, your question must be insignificant or irrelevant. They are essentially telling me with this response to "try again, retard."

The mental gymnastics required to keep up with these people is mind blowing. And, of course, the longer I am in this place I am in, the clearer it all becomes to me.

Frankly, I am tired of it all. I think I am about ready to just move on and accept that all this is out there and not devote any more time or energy to it. But, just when I feel like I can get comfortable in that place, something draws me back in. I guess that is the way it goes. Peace.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm with you there, and I think it's normal. You're at a place where you've exhausted all your mental energy on this topic and covered all you can. It's part of the healing process. The fact that you can get passed it eventually is a step in the right direction. But saying that... one thing that always draws us back is having close family still in the morg and always having to face the issue because of them. You/I will probably never be able to let it go as long as our loved ones are in it, and we have to accept that and be ok with it.

    I find I don't read blogs as much or spend hours reading about this topic as I used to. Finally able to move on? I hope so, and when the issue comes up again, I hope it's to help, guide and support others who need our help as we have needed it.