Denial

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Fifi de la Vergne
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Denial

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:32 pm

I started this as a response to the"Secret Mormon Meetings" thread over in the Doctrinal Discussions forum, but it got kind of long and then I was afraid of hijacking the thread, so I'm making it its own topic.

For years I didn't allow myself to face some serious issues that were going on in my life, mainly having to do with the church and my marriage. I mean, I didn't even spare enough conscious thought to recognize that I was avoiding thinking about anything. For years though, I had this recurring dream where I would open a door in my house and find a staircase I hadn't known was there, and it would lead to a den of vampires, or some room filled with filth or decaying muck . . . it sounds cheesy but these were awful dreams filled with dread and hopelessness. They finally stopped cold when a couple of things came to light about my marriage, coincidentally right about the same time I was gobsmacked by the realization that Joseph Smith (whatever his intentions) invented everything.

Of course, you don't have to be a psychologist to see that my subconscious knew a lot more than I did about my life at that point. And I just kept closing those doors and trying to avoid thinking about the nastiness behind them. For years and years, and kept dreaming about finding horrible, hidden places in my home.

I was in all kinds of denial. And it's my opinion that the church leaders are, for the most part, in denial as well. They feel uneasy, and some of them are angry because they feel threatened, but I don't think any of them are making a conscious, calculated decision to perpetuate a fraud. Somewhere along the way those of us on this board became open to the possibility that the church wasn't true, probably because one way or another it didn't work for us . . . but for these guys it has worked just fine. That's why they're in the positions they are. With very, very few exceptions (Hans Mattson, . . .?) it works for them. Besides, they're way too busy to waste their time on troubling historical research that doesn't fit the church's comfortable narrative or anything else that isn't faith-promoting. I have no trouble believing this, because this was me until just a few years ago (six years next month!)
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glass shelf
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Re: Denial

Post by glass shelf » Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:36 pm

You're more generous than me. I always think that no one is in a better position to realize that he has no clothes on than the emperor who is feeling the chair on his bare bottom.

I think they believed at some point, but they all know they weren't face to face with Jesus in the holy of holies. Also, special witnessess of the NAME of Christ. For goodness sake.

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wtfluff
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Re: Denial

Post by wtfluff » Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:02 pm

Denial eh? Probably should be a keyword for my entire life...

One sentence in your post hits me hard also:
Fifi de la Vergne wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:32 pm
I mean, I didn't even spare enough conscious thought to recognize that I was avoiding thinking about anything.
For me, this is one of the most heinous thing that religion in general teaches: It literally teaches you not to think. What's that quote we apostates love that ends with "the thinking has been done." ??? Is this "not thinking" the same as denial?

Either way, it drives me a little bit nuts thinking of all the years I just obeyed, didn't think, ignored red flags, and just followed along, thinking that if I pretended to be a Freemason hard enough, everything would work out in the end. Turns out that's not a very good life plan...
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: Denial

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:42 am

glass shelf wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:36 pm
You're more generous than me. I always think that no one is in a better position to realize that he has no clothes on than the emperor who is feeling the chair on his bare bottom.
The image of bare, shriveled-up GA bottoms on the big red chairs at GC made me laugh out loud.

As for generosity -- well, I try to give my past self the grace of believing I was doing the best I could and with the best intentions. Assuming the same of others, even the bare-butted GAs, is only fair.😊
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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: Denial

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:48 am

wtfluff wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:02 pm
For me, this is one of the most heinous thing that religion in general teaches: It literally teaches you not to think. What's that quote we apostates love that ends with "the thinking has been done." ??? Is this "not thinking" the same as denial?
Right??
Either way, it drives me a little bit nuts thinking of all the years I just obeyed, didn't think, ignored red flags, and just followed along, thinking that if I pretended to be a Freemason hard enough, everything would work out in the end. Turns out that's not a very good life plan...
Hugs, Wtfluff.
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Mormorrisey
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Re: Denial

Post by Mormorrisey » Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:57 am

Before I give my thoughts on this particular thread, and I really hope alas doesn't mind, but her response on that other thread is absolutely spot on to this one. So I've copied it in full for ya'll:

"When you know something and refuse to know it, it is called denial. Yes, it is dishonest, cowardice, willful ignorance, and lying to yourself as well as lying to everybody else. But when the truth is too painful to deal with, it is what cowards do. Basic Freudian defense mechanism. Psych 101. You know it, but are too afraid of it to face it, so your brain “takes care of the problem” by refusing to know.

John supposedly has more education in psychology than I do, but he must have been absent when his classes covered denial ....or maybe he is just in denial about the fact that cowards are going to coward. What gets me is that as a psychologist he is ranting about this as if he has never run into it before, or just doesn’t understand how someone can be staring right at the facts and not see them. But that is denial for you. It is the mother who walks in on her husband having sex with her 10 year old daughter and “doesn’t know.” And then just can’t understand how later that child is more angry with her than the father who raped her. But that mother did not know because knowing then she would have to do something, and here she is pregnant with her sixth kid and no way to support herself and her kids if her husband goes to prison...so her brain just shuts down. She doesn’t make a conscience choice to not think about it. Her brain just shuts down. Like the deer in the headlights that all it can do it stare stupidly at the oncoming lights, too afraid to even run.

A different mother with more courage would protect her child even it it put her in a terrible position.

Well, it the GA had more courage, they would have looked under the bed long before they got to the position of GA. That thing under the bed makes enough noise that of course they know something is there, but they are too afraid to look. But to say they “know” the church is not what it claims is to give them credit for having the courage to look under the bed. Nope. They are too afraid to look under the bed because then they would have to deal with the monster. Better to not know about the monster under the bed who is eating children, as long as they shelter the monster, it won’t eat them. They know the “arrangement” they have with the monster. They ignore it (and protect it at the same time) and it doesn’t eat them. But if they look under the bed, the deal is off and they know the monster will then be after them. So, no, they do not know there is a monster under the bed. They just know the monster will eat them if they look under the bed."
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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: Denial

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:04 am

Mormorrisey wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:57 am
Before I give my thoughts on this particular thread, and I really hope alas doesn't mind, but her response on that other thread is absolutely spot on to this one. So I've copied it in full for ya'll:

"When you know something and refuse to know it, it is called denial. Yes, it is dishonest, cowardice, willful ignorance, and lying to yourself as well as lying to everybody else. But when the truth is too painful to deal with, it is what cowards do. Basic Freudian defense mechanism. Psych 101. You know it, but are too afraid of it to face it, so your brain “takes care of the problem” by refusing to know.

John supposedly has more education in psychology than I do, but he must have been absent when his classes covered denial ....or maybe he is just in denial about the fact that cowards are going to coward. What gets me is that as a psychologist he is ranting about this as if he has never run into it before, or just doesn’t understand how someone can be staring right at the facts and not see them. But that is denial for you. It is the mother who walks in on her husband having sex with her 10 year old daughter and “doesn’t know.” And then just can’t understand how later that child is more angry with her than the father who raped her. But that mother did not know because knowing then she would have to do something, and here she is pregnant with her sixth kid and no way to support herself and her kids if her husband goes to prison...so her brain just shuts down. She doesn’t make a conscience choice to not think about it. Her brain just shuts down. Like the deer in the headlights that all it can do it stare stupidly at the oncoming lights, too afraid to even run.

A different mother with more courage would protect her child even it it put her in a terrible position.

Well, it the GA had more courage, they would have looked under the bed long before they got to the position of GA. That thing under the bed makes enough noise that of course they know something is there, but they are too afraid to look. But to say they “know” the church is not what it claims is to give them credit for having the courage to look under the bed. Nope. They are too afraid to look under the bed because then they would have to deal with the monster. Better to not know about the monster under the bed who is eating children, as long as they shelter the monster, it won’t eat them. They know the “arrangement” they have with the monster. They ignore it (and protect it at the same time) and it doesn’t eat them. But if they look under the bed, the deal is off and they know the monster will then be after them. So, no, they do not know there is a monster under the bed. They just know the monster will eat them if they look under the bed."
Ouch. :cry:
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Mormorrisey
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Re: Denial

Post by Mormorrisey » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:16 am

After reading this thread this morning, and ponderizing it for most of the morning, I think I've hit on why, like you, Fifi, I tend to have a little more empathy for those in denial about the church. Unlike alas' example of a woman being in denial about her husband as a child abuser, which I absolutely agree is just pure cowardice; and I do tend to see those at the top of the pyramid being cowardly and have less patience for them.

And it's simply because I was once a church denier, and I'm currently married to a church denier. For me, I had read No Man Knows My History and some Sunstone stuff in my late twenties, so I knew some of the problems. I just turned it off, like a light switch. And as alas said in her excellent metaphor, I just stopped looking under the bed. In my defense, I was really busy with trying to jump start an ultimately short academic career, raising a family and then busywork as a bishop. I just didn't have time or the willingness to put my critical thinking skills to bear on the church itself. Once I did, it was game over. Was it cowardly at the time? Maybe it was, and perhaps I simply just don't want to see myself that way, and so I tend not to see others that way.

And I certainly don't want to see Sis M this way. And I can't. I have worked very hard over the last few years to not let my thinking disturb our relationship, and to her credit, she's giving me a lot of space these days. And she has no choice, because it's becoming VERY clear that not only do I see the church differently, but three-quarters of her children see the church in a NOM-ish way. So is it cowardly for her to hold on to her church beliefs like a lifeline, while her entire world is changing and in flux? In fact, in my humble opinion, it's the opposite. I see her as extremely brave in dealing with us (albeit in a very misguided way, and I daily shake my head at her thought processes on church matters). It's probably because I love her very much, and that's the end of the story. So I do understand some level of empathy for deniers, Fifi, because I have to be patient with people I love.

I get it.
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jfro18
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Re: Denial

Post by jfro18 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:31 am

To tag onto Mormorrisey's post...

I left the church years ago and it was because polygamy always bothered me. I knew it was wrong and my wife and I dated in high school and she was very jealous of when I talked to other girls, which I realize is a very common high school thing to do.

But when I would think about how jealous she was (and to be fair I was jealous when she was in groups with other dudes too), I just could not get that awful feeling out of my stomach about what polygamy would do to her. And ironically enough she told me last year that she'd get into a polygamous relationship if the prophet asked the church to, which still eats away at me today.

But at the time I figured she'd be just destroyed by seeing me celestualizing with other women, and then I thought about it and the ban on blacks and I kept hanging on because I felt like it was doing good things and the current leadership seemed like they were men of God.

Then the temple finished me off. We were married first civilly (I was a convert and was not going to keep my family out) and then got sealed a year later @ Nauvoo.

That experience was like taking a bulldozer to my shelf. The moment the old man touched my naked groin I was just mentally done. The rest of the day was creepy and culty and my main takeaway was walking out of the temple and my mother-in-law standing there with a beaming smile saying "Wasn't that wonderful."

It still took a long time after that for me to leave, but I was mentally out from that day.

The point of this story is that even after all of that, I still didn't look into church history for YEARS after I stopped going. I was TERRIFIED of what would happen if I found out info that made me know this was all a lie because I knew what that might mean for my marriage.

So I was a coward then and at the time I thought I was just doing the honorable thing by leaving it alone. The only reason I started researching the church was when our kid was coming home and telling me he wanted to go to the temple and that he wanted to share the BoM combined with having nephews going on missions.

The only reason I got over my own fear was because I knew I needed to know so I could keep my kid from something that was untrue, unhealthy, and absolutely insane.

So I agree with Alas and Mormorrisey - I KNEW there was a monster under the bed and instead of looking under the bed I ran out of the house because I was terrified of what seeing the monster would do. I was 100% a coward and it only compounded my problems today because I guarantee that at that point DW would've been more open to the info.

It is what it is. I was in denial and I was terrified of what I might find and that was AFTER I knew the church wasn't from God. So how can I then tell me wife to learn from my mistakes and dive into church history when she has parents that make life hell for the one sibling who left?

Or how can I expect a GA who is living their dream job to actually research the problems that they know are there (remember we are told they reviewed those essays) when they are jetsetting around the world with nice stipends and the adoration of millions?

They are in denial. They are cowards. But they are human and are not going to go against their own self interest to study a religion that they have believed since they were indoctrinated with it as children.

Sorry for the long post... I think we all have gone through the denial and cowardice part on some level and even though I want everyone to learn from me, I also know that's just not how this works.

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Re: Denial

Post by alas » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:38 am

I had a long post written up about how this is not as simple as people want to think, and it got lost in cyber space.

But basically, there are several factors that you don’t know about how someone else thinks. Hell, it is hard enough to figure out how I think. Why waste time speculating on what level of denial the GA or my husband or your wife is at?

First of all, there is the factor of how much does the other person really know. You don’t know how aware of the bad history the GAs or you loved ones really are. So quit trying to tell yourself that “they know it isn’t true and are just cowards.” You don’t know what they think.

You don’t know how much they know and ignore compared to how much they really don’t know.

Second, I know I had a lot of things besides pure cowardice that kept me from seeing the truth about the church. I was busy surviving. There was good in the church. I needed something from the church. Social pressure. Good that I got from it. Lots of things kept me from “being honest with myself” about the church. Some good, some not so good. It isn’t just cowardice, but many motivations that cause denial.

Third, people can know things and still decide it is less important than something else. That is where my husband is. He knows lots of bad stuff about the church. But he looked at it and decided that the good is more important. He does not see that the church can be harmful. Maybe That is where the GAs are at. Sometimes I think they think the church is helpful at whatever (GBH said it made him a better husband)

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Re: Denial

Post by jfro18 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:16 am

alas wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:38 am
But basically, there are several factors that you don’t know about how someone else thinks. Hell, it is hard enough to figure out how I think. Why waste time speculating on what level of denial the GA or my husband or your wife is at?

First of all, there is the factor of how much does the other person really know. You don’t know how aware of the bad history the GAs or you loved ones really are. So quit trying to tell yourself that “they know it isn’t true and are just cowards.” You don’t know what they think.

You don’t know how much they know and ignore compared to how much they really don’t know
I agree with this which is why I was more focused on my own story here, but I also think that many of us have had talks with our loved ones on these issues too.

For me personally I know what books/rebuttals my wife has read because she's told me. So she knows of the issues, but she knows of them only through the responses from FAIR and, sadly, #DezNat types. I don't know what she might've studied beyond that, but I do know that the moment we've gotten into specifics on issues she will say "I haven't heard that" and then shut it down. I'm not calling her a coward, but I am saying that she is terrified of getting into the details - she has said as much by saying that it makes her too uncomfortable to look at the stuff I've written or other critical people.

As for the GAs I think we covered that on the other thread - we can't know what they know and we can't even know if they've read the gospel topics essays because even though they're said to have approved them, there are no signatures. I still think they are cowards for not being willing to discuss the problems, but I also don't expect them to risk it all to do so.

But you're right - no matter how close we are with someone, it's still a lot of speculation to know what they "know" about these issues, how they process that info, and what the underlying motivations are for doing so.

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alas
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Re: Denial

Post by alas » Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:36 pm

jfro18 wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:16 am
alas wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:38 am
But basically, there are several factors that you don’t know about how someone else thinks. Hell, it is hard enough to figure out how I think. Why waste time speculating on what level of denial the GA or my husband or your wife is at?

First of all, there is the factor of how much does the other person really know. You don’t know how aware of the bad history the GAs or you loved ones really are. So quit trying to tell yourself that “they know it isn’t true and are just cowards.” You don’t know what they think.

You don’t know how much they know and ignore compared to how much they really don’t know
I agree with this which is why I was more focused on my own story here, but I also think that many of us have had talks with our loved ones on these issues too.

For me personally I know what books/rebuttals my wife has read because she's told me. So she knows of the issues, but she knows of them only through the responses from FAIR and, sadly, #DezNat types. I don't know what she might've studied beyond that, but I do know that the moment we've gotten into specifics on issues she will say "I haven't heard that" and then shut it down. I'm not calling her a coward, but I am saying that she is terrified of getting into the details - she has said as much by saying that it makes her too uncomfortable to look at the stuff I've written or other critical people.

As for the GAs I think we covered that on the other thread - we can't know what they know and we can't even know if they've read the gospel topics essays because even though they're said to have approved them, there are no signatures. I still think they are cowards for not being willing to discuss the problems, but I also don't expect them to risk it all to do so.

But you're right - no matter how close we are with someone, it's still a lot of speculation to know what they "know" about these issues, how they process that info, and what the underlying motivations are for doing so.
Yeah, that post was more of a reaction to the people like JD who go on the rants about how the GAs have to know and they are lying than it really is about our spouses. I would hope that no one is so unempathetic about their believing spouse.

And even if we conclude that it is based in fear, let’s have some respect for what they are afraid of.

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Re: Denial

Post by Phil Lurkerman » Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:33 pm

alas wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:38 am
I had a long post written up about how this is not as simple as people want to think, and it got lost in cyber space.

But basically, there are several factors that you don’t know about how someone else thinks. Hell, it is hard enough to figure out how I think. Why waste time speculating on what level of denial the GA or my husband or your wife is at?

First of all, there is the factor of how much does the other person really know. You don’t know how aware of the bad history the GAs or you loved ones really are. So quit trying to tell yourself that “they know it isn’t true and are just cowards.” You don’t know what they think.

You don’t know how much they know and ignore compared to how much they really don’t know.

Second, I know I had a lot of things besides pure cowardice that kept me from seeing the truth about the church. I was busy surviving. There was good in the church. I needed something from the church. Social pressure. Good that I got from it. Lots of things kept me from “being honest with myself” about the church. Some good, some not so good. It isn’t just cowardice, but many motivations that cause denial.

Third, people can know things and still decide it is less important than something else. That is where my husband is. He knows lots of bad stuff about the church. But he looked at it and decided that the good is more important. He does not see that the church can be harmful. Maybe That is where the GAs are at. Sometimes I think they think the church is helpful at whatever (GBH said it made him a better husband)
Well said. I would add one more point to this list.

Many people sincerely believe things even when they are aware that there is no evidence to support the belief - and even when there is a mountain of contradictory evidence. I don't know why this is, but I'm sure I am as prone to this phenomenon as many other folks. The news cycle is full of examples of people who believe in a whole variety of conspiracies, or deny generally accepted truths (vaccination, flat earth, etc.).

One of the best examples I can think of in the LDS world is D. Michael Quinn. A brilliant historian and author, he is one of the most knowledgeable people ever on the challenging history and doctrines of the church. As I'm sure everyone here knows, he was excommunicated as part of the "September Six" and is now openly gay. He also remains a sincere believer in the overall story of the Restoration and reality of Joseph Smith as a prophet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._Michael_Quinn

Obviously, I draw different conclusions than Dr. Quinn based on the same evidence. But if someone with his level of awareness can remain a sincere believer, it does not seem a stretch to me that the men in the big red chairs are also genuine in their beliefs.

TL;DR - Facts are just not that important to many peoples' beliefs - ironically this is a fact that many other people find infuriating. :?
I was once a cafeteria Mormon on a hunger strike. Have since found a buffet elsewhere.

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Journey
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Re: Denial

Post by Journey » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:46 pm

This reminded me of a book. I haven’t read it, just heard of it. The title was:
Too good to leave, too bad to stay
alas wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:38 am
Second, I know I had a lot of things besides pure cowardice that kept me from seeing the truth about the church. I was busy surviving. There was good in the church. I needed something from the church. Social pressure. Good that I got from it. Lots of things kept me from “being honest with myself” about the church. Some good, some not so good. It isn’t just cowardice, but many motivations that cause denial.

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glass shelf
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Re: Denial

Post by glass shelf » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:05 pm

Fifi de la Vergne wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:42 am
glass shelf wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:36 pm
You're more generous than me. I always think that no one is in a better position to realize that he has no clothes on than the emperor who is feeling the chair on his bare bottom.
The image of bare, shriveled-up GA bottoms on the big red chairs at GC made me laugh out loud.

As for generosity -- well, I try to give my past self the grace of believing I was doing the best I could and with the best intentions. Assuming the same of others, even the bare-butted GAs, is only fair.😊
Eh, I draw the line when you're clearly profitting off of others. I have no problem extending that grace to anyone on a local level, but when you're allowing people to believe that you literally commune with Jesus and living way better than most of the people that you're insisting pay their 10% before they feed their own kids while telling them that you only get a "modest stipend", I think there's a different standard involved.

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alas
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Re: Denial

Post by alas » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:28 am

glass shelf wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:05 pm
Fifi de la Vergne wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:42 am
glass shelf wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:36 pm
You're more generous than me. I always think that no one is in a better position to realize that he has no clothes on than the emperor who is feeling the chair on his bare bottom.
The image of bare, shriveled-up GA bottoms on the big red chairs at GC made me laugh out loud.

As for generosity -- well, I try to give my past self the grace of believing I was doing the best I could and with the best intentions. Assuming the same of others, even the bare-butted GAs, is only fair.😊
Eh, I draw the line when you're clearly profitting off of others. I have no problem extending that grace to anyone on a local level, but when you're allowing people to believe that you literally commune with Jesus and living way better than most of the people that you're insisting pay their 10% before they feed their own kids while telling them that you only get a "modest stipend", I think there's a different standard involved.
There is this.

I really think there are many different motives for denial, and getting rich isn’t one that I respect much. There are so many different levels of awareness from the bare butted GA to the struggling bishop who is unaware of the horrid history. Some of them obviously know there is damaging history, yet they are cruel in blaming those who are honest about that history and dare to print it or podcast it.

I have a beloved family relative who is “up there” in the church, let’s just call him uncle Joe. He isn’t getting rich off the church, and isn’t the kind of position where all his children get free BYU tuition. I really think he doesn’t know or care about the history. He is a very genuine, loving, kind, humble, and nonjudgmental man. I have never seen or heard him use the kind of “trust me, I am closer to God than you,” kind of crap that Oaks, Bednar, and a few other GAs use. I have never heard of him using his position or fame being rude or unkind. I would lose respect for him quicker than you can blink if he did. He is in a very different category than, oh, say BKP who said some of the history shouldn’t be told because it wasn’t useful in promoting faith. BKP obviously knows some bad history and is advocating that people purposely ignore it. He knows some of the history can destroy people’s trust in the church.

They all (GAs and those up there in the church.) have something in common in that the church “worked” for them, giving them esteem and fame. So, some of the motives are the same. They have their ego invested in the church being what it claims. But when they are cruel about people who doubt that shows a different level of dishonesty. It kind of shatters my ability to give them the benefit of the doubt and look at them with more charity than they have for others. When they do know there is damaging history and they do know they don’t have answers, and yet they put it out there that doubters are controlled by Satan, then I think they are guilty of the real cowardice, greed, and selfishness kind of denial. Where they can be staring at a blue sky and swear it is pink, because that is what is best for them and to hell with anyone that is harmed by their lie. Yeah, that doesn’t deserve our sympathy.

It is the attitude of hurting others and not caring that I can’t respect.

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