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Unrealistic Ideals

July 29, 2010

Urban Koda wrote a great post at Main Street Plaza today, about giving things up. Within, he posts about a lot of things he believes he has given up since leaving the church, but one thing in particular which he has not:

The problem is that I still have in my mind the doctrine of the dichotomy of good and evil.  I still judge Joseph Smith on the scales – was he all good, or all bad, and I do the same with those around me.  Just snap judgments – this person is good, that person is evil.

This is one thing I think many people don’t give up…but which is the thing that we must. I wrote a comment in response about something I feel I have not given up:

…the baggage that I have is in thinking that ideals *should* be all or nothing. I feel that heroes, for example, should be superhumanly good, and as a result, I don’t have many (if any) heroes. I feel like a true church *should* be supernaturally good, and as a result, I don’t feel there are many (if any) true churches.

I suppose this is something I must, eventually, give up.

The problem is it’s hard to give these things up. With every ideal, we think we should preserve the ideal no matter what pressures we have from others to give them up. So, ideals are sticky to change, even when everything else changes.

So, now, I feel like I’m debating whether I have another ideal that I must stick to, or which eventually I must give up. It is spoken about eloquently at this Exponent post: The Unorthodox Mormon. Stella writes about it so succinctly:

I’ve jokingly said, in a few passing conversations, that I’m trying to create a world where orthodox and unorthodox Mormons can all just get along. But why does it always sound like a funny joke when I say it?

Trying to create a world where orthodox and unorthodox can all just get along…but yes, unfortunately, it just sounds like a funny joke.

It’s naive. It’s just not how communities work. And one especially can’t try to “take over” someone else’s community without resistance.

But if this is the ideal…if this is the craving, then I can’t help but feel that some people are missing the point when they offer alternatives

I don’t know. I don’t think we can try to satisfy this craving to have a world where orthodox and unorthodox can just get along by creating a separate world (especially one that’s just limited to the unorthodox who feel this way). I don’t think we can satisfy this craving just by finding some other world. And I don’t think we can satisfy this craving just by eliminating the unorthodoxy to fit into the current Mormon world. We can satisfy compromise cravings, but this is essentially a destruction of the original craving the destroys a part of ourselves.

I feel that pointing out that on the internet, no one knows you’re a furry animal does not capture the fact that, even on the internet, you will always know you are a furry animal, and you will always know you are a liar if you lie about that fact to fit in. But just as well, if you stick to furry animals, you will always know that you’re lying about your desire to hang out with the less-furry animals. Ultimately, though, it is clearly ludicrous to say that just because everyone else doesn’t have to know that you also don’t.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Thank you for this post and your continuing discussion of a topic that is hard to figure out just right.

  2. MCQ permalink

    Hmmmmm. I thought you were saying that you didn’t know you were a furry animal. Now you seem to be saying that you always know, even if others don’t. Maybe I misunderstood you before.

    In any event, Andrew, I don’t think orthodoxy is the issue. Many, if not most, of the folks in the bloggernacle are pretty unorthodox Mormons in many ways. Strict orthodoxy actually gets you a lot of crickets chirping, or even hostility, when you bring it into the bloggernacle. It’s outright disbelief and enmity that don’t fit in. And heck, if you’re not a dick about it, you can even get away with a fair amount of disbelief.

    Jack is a good example of this. She’s certainly not a believing Mormon and probably never will be. Yet she’s easily a part of the community, as much as she wants to be, anyway. I don’t see her being annihilated or compromised by associating with all those in the Boggernacle who know and love her.

  3. Thanks for commenting, Stella!

  4. MCQ, the last part of my last comment at 9M was satirical, but it didn’t work out.

    I was trying to point out that it would be sad at best, even impossible, for an individual to trick himself as to his identity. It shouldn’t make sense to say, “No one has to know you’re a cat; not even you.”

    I understand what you’re saying; there is a kind of unorthodoxy in the bloggernacle that is alluring (and which, as you said too, marginalizes some of the most conservative, orthodox LDS commenters). But that is not to say that orthodoxy itself is NOT an issue. There is a bloggernacle orthodoxy, and it is strictly maintained. It may not be the same kind of orthodoxy in the average ward, but it is still an orthodoxy nonetheless. It is partial belief orthodoxy, partial social orthodoxy. So, it is partially “disbelief and enmity” that gets you axed, but it is partially “being a dick” that gets you axed.

    In another comment (on one of my responses here to a different Exponent thread), ESO spoke similarly, with examples:

    There are ex-mos who are well-liked and trusted: look at MikeinWeHo or John Hammer. Everyone loves those guys. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that when they comment on Mormonism, they do so in a complimentary way. They have earned the trust to have hard conversations. But they don’t run a blog connected to a vaunted part of LDS past, or portray themselves as Mormons, either.

    That line was the killer for me. Obviously, Jack’s example fits as well (in fact, it fits in more cleanly, since she isn’t ex-).

    She doesn’t have to make the compromise of what she blogs about or what she portrays herself as; she doesn’t have to shift a big part of her identity, because she never even started there. And sure, for whatever reasons, MikeinWeHo or John Hamer have identified in the ways they want to be identified. But there is still a standard here…and people are essentially saying, “fit these molds or get out.”

  5. Oh, outwardly I get along fine with conservative contemporary Mormonism.

    It’s just that privately, I end up subtly working to undermine it during my Sunday meetings. I always have an underlying agenda not outwardly stated.

    This is why I go to church each Sunday with a smile on my face.

  6. I’m going to quote Lawrence of Arabia, just because I think the quote is freaking awesome, and at least tangentially related to the discussion (though I could be wrong on that later point):

    “If we’ve told lies, you’ve told half lies. And a man who lies – like me – merely conceals the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.”

  7. Seth, interesting quote. Will have to think about its (at least tangential) relation…

  8. I disagree – I think there are already worlds where orthodox mormons and unorthodox mormons get along. They happen in interactions on various blogs and in families and amongst friends today. And those worlds are growing…the internet helps.

    Of course, not *all* communities are this open or accepting – but it is possible. I don’t think I’m naive in this. Some people and communities are more accepting than others.

    Now, to explain why one person is more accepted than someone else? I have no idea. People are fickle and strange sometimes.

    Okay, but back to the idea that the ideal is that orthodox and unorthodox get along – not everyone agrees with that ideal. And IMO that’s okay. I’ve met people on both sides of the fence who would disagree strongly with that.

    Can a person have an ideal for themselves and their interactions that disagrees with others’ ideals?

    (some mormons want *all* mormons to be orthodox, despite evidence to the contrary. Some exmormons want all former mormons to stop interacting with the mormons in their lives due to LDS leadership’s political posturing, etc.)

  9. aerin,

    these worlds are growing, but they still are small, disjointed, disconnected, and do not have the force or influence as the alternative blogs, families, and friends.

    I think these conflicting ideals unfortunately prevent and defeat the possibility of coming together despite the difference of ideals

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