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Non-starters to conversations with believers

March 17, 2014

I’m sure that Dan Wotherspoon’s latest podcast episode, Preserving and Strengthening Relationships During Faith Transitions, will be far more polite and erudite and deeper diving than what I have to say on the subject, but I just wanted to make a few quick comments about some behavior I’ve noticed from some disaffected Mormons on the internet.

See, if you begin a topic about prayer with:

The best thing about prayer is you can make God’s answer be whatever you want it to be.

This isn’t going to be received very well by folks who believe prayer has value.

If someone gently questions you by pointing this out:

Can you see how posting topics like this makes the group inhospitable to anyone who may personally value prayer?

And even throws you a bone by offering another secular framework that you missed in your secular dismissal of prayer

Not only that, but if you’re going to go a secular route, you’re also just downplaying or ignoring how much socialization plays a role in these things.

And someone responds:

Can you see how defending prayer makes a community inhospitable to reasonable people, and even reason itself?

Then can you see how this statement also isn’t going to be well-received by anyone who believes in the value of prayer (now that they have been excluded from the entire population of “reasonable people”)?

I have enough experience on the Mormon internets to know that an opening post like the top quote I had is basically only good for people going around high fiving and giving each other “attaboys” about how stoopid people who believe in prayer could possibly be. So, just ignoring this thread won’t work if you want a Mormon internets where disaffected folks don’t just high five each other all the time. (I understand the counter that many wards basically amount to conservative believing members high fiving each other, and so why can’t disaffected Mormons have something similar? Well…the thing is…they do — most of the Mormon internets. So why not let other places try to do other things with the internet?)

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