Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Back to you, Dieter

Dear Dieter,

Two years ago I started this blog because you recycled a mind-numbingly stupid slogan about how we needed to be aggressively critical towards our doubts instead of towards our faith. It's a slogan that suggests we should engage in self-censorship by turning a blind eye to unfavorable information. You suggest that ignorance is better than honesty. The fact is it's not.

In one of your talks earlier this month, you repackage the story of Daniel ("and other young students in Israel") in Babylon like it's the story of a young, enthusiastic Mormon headed off to a liberal university where he must resist the peer pressure to adopt the philosophies of man. "But Daniel believed. Daniel did not doubt." It's a clever move. It's also a very misleading juxtaposition. To suggest that today's higher education systems throughout the world are comparable to the vicious theocracy of King Nebuchadnezzar in which nonconformists are burned alive is, in a word, bizarre. Seriously, the Babylonian "team of scholars" (the Bible says "magicians and astrologers") has nothing to do with thousands upon thousands of highly trained researchers across the world who endlessly critique each other's work. Daniel, the Israelite captive carried off to be indoctrinated probably has more in common with young LDS missionaries than college students being pressured to binge drink with their fraternities and sororities.
Just think about it. I am, Dieter, and I think your analogy sucks. How much easier would it have been for Daniel to simply go along with the ways of Babylon? I don't know. I imagine he would have faced some pressure from his fellow Isrealites in captivity and I can't imagine how attractive the Babylonian belief system would have been, if at all. Please don't think that replacing one's belief system is easy. When a belief system is not yours, you're mostly likely going to think it's obviously ridiculous. He could have set aside the restrictive code of conduct God had given the children of Israel. He could have feasted on the rich foods provided by the king and indulged in the worldly pleasures of the natural man. Think of all the vile bacon he could have been eating! He would have avoided ridicule. I didn't see where in the book of Daniel it mentions ridicule. Can I get a verse on that?
He would have been popular. WTF? He was the prince of the eunuch's favorite and one of Nebuchadnezzar's top four councilors.
He would have fit in. Poor kid. At least the totalitarian king loved him. :S
His path might have been much less complicated. Had he just drank the Kool-aid, er... wine...
As silly as your talk is up to this point, it's outdone in the next section where you blame it all on Satan and shame people who are skeptical or have doubts.
Satan, our adversary, wants us to fail. Satan is an early Christian invention, not an actual spirit being. He spreads lies as part of his effort to destroy our belief. What lies? That Joseph Smith had a history of making shit up to get money out of people starting from his early teens? That he plagiarized and falsified rather than actually translate? That he cheated on his wife many, many times and tried to exonerate himself with a fabricated revelation? He slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naive, blind, or brainwashed. No, that's not Satan, that's logic. Satan will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of true prophets. No one's doubting because it's "cool", you asshole! People doubt because they see various inconsistencies in the theory of spiritual gifts and the teachings of those claiming to be prophets. Most of us don't go hunting for them; they arise naturally throughout the years of indoctrination. Right now you sound like the type of person who would claim fossils were put on earth by Satan to deceive us.
And now for the token quote from this train wreck of a prophetic message - the part where you call doubters ignoble, unimpressive, lazy, morally weak, disloyal and cowardly.
Brethren, let me be clear: there is nothing noble or impressive about being cynical. Skepticism is easy—anyone can do it. It is the faithful life that requires moral strength, dedication, and courage. Those who hold fast to faith are far more impressive than those who give in to doubt when mysterious questions or concerns arise.
Who the fuck do you think you're fooling? First off, don't conflated cynicism for skepticism. Now let me show you the other side:
Following your family, your friends and your community in their beliefs is easy. It's great having everyone around you be in constant agreement because they think like you do. It's very hard when you don't share the beliefs of your community and you live your life as an outsider. Your kids might even have a hard time finding friends whose parents will let them come over to play. But it is the sincere life of inquiry and careful judgement that requires moral strength, dedication and courage! Those who hold fast to integrity of thought and open-mindedness are far more impressive than those who allow their family or the geographical location in which they were born to provide a prepared set of default answers to questions or concerns about your worldview.

You end your talk with the horrible idea that we simply choose to believe because somehow that will make all the absurdities of the LDS history and doctrine magically disappear. You're asking us to shut off our brains, to stop thinking. Most people can't do this. Most people will struggle silently with cognitive dissonance, will wear out their knees praying for answers, will hate themselves for not understanding and not getting any divine enlightenment. Others will have the courage and good sense to accept the reality of life on earth and walk away from the Church.

Dieter, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your talk will hurt thousands of people who are struggling to make Mormonism work somehow. My only consolation is that the only reason you gave this talk in the first place is because so many people are leaving the Church. You're desperate. You can't defend the Church with facts, so you attack the people who have seen the facts. How cowardly of you.

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