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Today, I feel like Skeletor

February 2, 2009

I hope everyone knows who I’m talking about.

Alan Colmes - uncanny resemblance, no?

Alan Colmes - uncanny resemblance, no?

From the few times I have listened or watched Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes, it seems that Sean Hannity wears the pants and is the real bulldog of the right, but Colmes is there for equal opportunity time. So, now Fox can say that it has prominent liberal talkshow hosts too. (Although, I think I remember Fox changing its slogan from “Fair and Balanced” to “We Report: You Decide”…ouch…)

Regardless, Colmes, I guess, is a role model for every devil’s advocate operating in enemy terrain. And you know what, a round of applause for dear Mr. Colmes — in recent times, I’ve heard him getting more of a voice for himself, putting some zings on people himself. That’s moving up the ladder.

So, why do I feel like Skeletor (I hope I don’t get sued or something…)? It seems to me that for the most part on this blog, I’m not too charitable towards believers (of course, I hope I’m not super insulting either, but still), and that makes me sad indeed, since I value my member friends and would not like them to think I’m eeeeeeeevil. But every once in a while, I redeem myself and advocate for the church! Not to say I’m actively bringing people to the gospel or anything, but there are some times when even *I* have to point out some unfair accusations against Mormons.

So, consider my post on Straw-ex-mormons. Ever since my temporary traffic booster mishap, it’s gotten popular all over again. The original piece actually was designed to of course chastise (what a strong word!) the attitudes of certain members who tried to reduce the exmormon experience to simplistic, gospel-tastic explanations.

But then came commenter Donnie, who must be commended for bringing a second wind into the issue. He comes out relatively early swinging punches against the church:

Joseph Smith gives his teachings to the mormons by way of sticking his head in a hat with 2 “magical rocks” to translate the “magical plates”.
I would have to deny a stable mind to believe this! A man sticking his head in a hat and looking at magical stones? All I can say is wow. Paul states in the Bible that anyone, even if it was an angel, who brought a different gospel than the one he taught, let them be accursed.

Dear Mormon friends, he denies a “stable mind” could “believe this”! Is that not insulting? Because he evoked Paul, I suspected that he might too be religious — of the Christian variety that doesn’t accept Mormons as Christian.

So, I played right back. This is the part I love about my position — I don’t represent the church and I don’t pretend to represent the church, so if he claims that Mormons have outlandish beliefs, I’ll raise him one and point out that every religion (including his own) has outlandish beliefs. (Caveat: if you are a believer and intend to argue for religion, you should not do this.)

I mean, this guy is breaking some cardinal rules about proselytizing that I’ve already elaborated on site. Even when you think someone is misguided and wrong, if you want to have any hope of bringing them over to your side, you can’t come out and trash their beliefs, or else you immediately hurt your cause. Personally, I don’t care about bringing people to my side, so I trash whomever I want. (I love this job.)

Donnie came back with a story of despair and rejection, of how in SLC those bad, bad Mormons treated him and his family so poorly.

Best of all Donnie revealed his magical sense of discernment:

Judging from your own sarcastic post you are a card carrying member yourself.

Wow! Amazing! I guess I should be flattered.

Now, getting back to his story of despair and rejection, what immediately became apparent is that 1) this isn’t a Mormon-only thing. This is something that people of any religion or any ingroup can do to members outside of the group. This is a HUMAN thing. 2) It does not follow that because Mormons in SLC did this that this is what “Mormons must believe.”

Donnie also takes a full comment to write about his outstanding virtues!

In the end, Donnie just remarks that he wants an apology. Reparations from someone who has no relationship with the people who wronged him (I never thought I would get a chance to zing reparations in one of these essays.)

And you know, I’m willing to grant him that in this case, there is a complete and abject failure of ethos. But, you know, there is just so much more here, because what really puzzles me is that Donnie cannot see anything wrong with the way he posts on the site. He cannot see how the conclusions he has drawn do not follow from the premises (the way some Mormons act in SLC does not tell you how Mormonism teaches you should act, and it most certainly says nothing about the truth or falsity of the religion.) His experiences may be indicative of the fact that everyone (not just Mormons, but everyone) needs to work on improving their behavior with others, and it may be terrible advertising for the church (which it most certainly is), but I can’t even reach to concede that much as long as the well is so poisoned.

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5 Comments
  1. I think it plays into what expectations and needs people bring to a website.

    Some people want to discuss issues thoroughly.

    Others want a group therapy session.

    Donnie wanted therapy, and was upset when he didn’t get it.

  2. I guess that is the case, but I mean, even in therapy, you’ve got to separate the issues and rout out the misconceptions. Without even that, then there truly isn’t anything possible.

  3. I just found this article today, but I think this is pretty much the internet Theory of Everything:

    …when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.

    …the skills that engender competence in a particular domain are often the very same skills necessary to evaluate competence in that domain—one’s own or anyone else’s.

    It’s actually kind of obvious when you think about it. Donnie’s conclusions don’t follow from his premises because he’s bad at logic; because he’s bad at logic, he can’t even tell that his conclusions don’t follow from his premises. His approach is offensive because he’s bad at imagining how a Mormon would probably respond to his words (or something like that); because he’s bad at imagining the response, he can’t even tell that it’s offensive.

  4. haha, kuri, I remember having to read that exact article for a business class, and I thought, “Now, when will that EVER be relevant.”

    And now I know. Oh, how I know…

  5. Please ask your friend to read:

    http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com

    to discover why Mormons don’t subscribe to Fourth Century (Nicene Creed) Christianity, but do adhere to First Century Christianity.

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