Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Spirit by any other name

What really did me in, in regards to the church, was realizing that the spiritual experiences I considered noetic were 1) experienced by other people in relation to mutual exclusive ideas and 2) replicable using psilocybin.

I've told this to a number of still-believing Mormons. It doesn't phase them at all. I find this very curious. To me, it is like growing up in a family in which we call a certain color red. As I meet more and more people, I find them referring to other colors, such as my yellow or green, as red. At the end of the day, I have to question what it means for something to hold the property of redness. I will certainly reject that an objective redness exists.

So, too, goes the Spirit. I have come across so many recorded instances of people having "spiritual" experiences, I have read testimonials from participants in the Good Friday Experiment (who's drug trips were profoundly meaningful decades later), I have felt similar feelings when passionately discussing humanist principles. People use the same words and describe the same things as a typical Mormon speaker in F&T meeting. I cannot discern some consistent difference between what Mormons (including myself) appear to be describing and what others are describing.

Some people have suggested that I weight my own spiritually noetic experiences (of which there have been several over my life) with more significance. That seems distorted to me--when I think about those experiences, it wasn't that I knew something as much as I felt a profound sense of love. That's a great thing, to be sure, but doesn't have anything to do with knowledge. At least not in any way that I can tell.

I certainly don't think that personal meaning has to coincide with objective reality. It's similar to how my love for my wife and kids is real, but doesn't tell me the state of some extra-subjective thing. They're important to me but they're obviously not important to most people in the world (who are unaware of their existence), so to state that the universe somehow dictates their importance is a great myth (which I subscribe to!), but that's all. I can see the boundaries on the myth without deflating its personal meaning. I can confidently say, "I matter," or "My wife and kids matter," as a statement that transcends myself. For some reason, God doesn't work like that. If I think that God is just my God, but not other people's God, then it doesn't seem like God's really THE Judeo-Christian God anymore. Same for the truthfulness of a church that claims other churches cannot by true.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm sorry...not!

Since "coming out" to my in-laws I have been corresponding with my FIL on all things philosophical, ethical, spiritual and religious in an attempt to be better understood. I think this has gone fairly well (as he has since acknowledged that I didn't stop believing in order to commit whoredoms), but sometimes we get somewhat snippy with each other. In his last missive to me, he referred to the September Mountain Meadows Massacre article in the Ensign and asked if I was disappointed that the church was handling it so well.

Goading attitude notwithstanding, I was actually quite pleased as I reflected on the article. It's a pretty honest account I think--you really can't definitely pin it on BY, and I don't think you have to in order to learn valuable lessons about the dangers of obedience.

Then I heard about Henry Eyring's remarks on the anniversary of the event: We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today.

I was pretty proud of my little church...a growed up! I realized he didn't say, "we're sorry," but organizations so rarely do. This seemed like an apology to me, so I was going to respond to my FIL that I was, in fact, quite pleased with the church's apparent progress from Hinkley's weasely: That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day. I was really happy.

So, I'm all the more disappointed (slightly angry, even?) to find out that a PR hack, Mark Tuttle, had this to say in response to Eyring's (apparently uncorrelated) apology: We don't use the word 'apology.' We used 'profound regret.' It's like seeing your brother come out of rehab and go straight back to the needle! Why, oh why, must they act this way? The organization is at fault, and it is the same organization that existed when the atrocity occured. Was nothing learned from this mistake? Apparently not. For although "regret" can be construed as an apology, it can also be spoken generally, as in, "We regret the Holocaust." Regret doesn't explicitly invoke responsibility. So now, unfortunately, the bar is raised--"regret" won't cut it anymore because you (through your PR guy, no less) have made sure we realize that you're not accepting any responsibility for it. How sad. How truly sad.

But of course, it's not "the organization" deciding not to apologize, it's the leaders. So the finger of blame does have somewhere to point. Who has not learned the lessons of warning from the actions of President Hale and Bishop Lee? Who has not taken corrective actions to ensure that the organization could not facilitate future moral missteps? Who has decided that "being right" is more important than "being loving" to the survivors, some of whom clearly still feel emotional pain over this past event?

The answer is obvious. And how inspired could such people be by a God of Love?

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