Friday, December 11, 2009

The Danger of All-Encompassing Absolutism

I would like to see some survey data, but one common denominator of most of the people I have known who have left the Church after being dedicated members for multiple years is an all-encompassing, black-and-white, absolutist view. I have seen it in kids with parents who fit this description and with converts who come into the Church with this perspective. I think it’s much more complicated that just that, but I think inflexibility will lead to either incredibly difficult struggles or a refusal to even consider different perspectives. In my experience, what it produces is either anti-Mormon fodder or simplistic generalizations, stereotypes and denial by members, since it essentially leads one to not be able to accept what one can’t understand - which is, at the core, a loss of faith.

This belief that everything is black-and-white (that everything can be "known" in the here and now) is what I see as a lack of faith among many members - what I see as the opposite side of the bitter, ex-Mormon coin. One refuses to accept gray areas and leaves; the other refuses even to consider gray areas and stays. In both cases, it is faith that is lost - or never gained in the first place.

1 comment:

Chuck McKinnon said...

Had to give an amen to this. I've said on other forums that it seems people sometimes just bit-flip their allegiance: it was all true before so it's all false now; it was all good before so it's all evil now.

I once imagined that people who had gone through such a radical rethinking of their foundational beliefs would "graduate" from Mormonism, and continue to move their lives in a positive direction without feeling bound to, say, the Word of Wisdom. I do know a handful who have accomplished this, but most seem to have only changed teams.