Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Being an Orthodox Member with Heterodox Views

I am considered an orthodox member of my ward and stake NOT because of the actual nature of my beliefs, but rather because of how I state those beliefs - and, perhaps more importantly, by how I live my life. I don't actively or openly "battle the Brethren" in any way, and when I state my opinion about something in church I almost always do so simply as a statement of opinion - not as a challenge or in an argumentative way. Therefore, even though many of my personal perspectives and beliefs are quite unorthodox, my life and my actions are quite orthodox - and others accept me as orthodox, even though what I say often disagrees with what they say. They don't see me as an opponent, so they don't label me as such in any way.

As a friend once said, I "try to find ways of expressing what might be slightly heterodox modes of faith in more orthodox ways." At its heart, that is much more important, in my opinion, than the academic level of the vocabulary I use and than any need to convince someone else that she is wrong.


Unknown said...

How do I make my unorthodox views more palatable to a largely orthodox audience? I've been working for years to make plain what most consider mysterious. So, this is a very real problem in my world. Any suggestions?

SilverRain said...

I agree, it is not opinions that people find offensive (usually), it is the way they are shared. When someone who has unorthodox views shares them in meekness (not apologetically, but humbly), they become much more palatable.

When someone believes that their views are ultimately right, and if only those around them were as enlightened, they'd believe them too . . . well, that comes across in attitude.

Papa D said...

Anthony, I don't know the nature of your unorthodox views and how you've gone about sharing them, so my advice will be generic, but there are three main components I have found that are critical in expressing unorthodox views.

1) As SilverRain says, the first is the delivery method. It just doesn't help to be confrontational in any way and come across as someone who is looking to convert people to heterodox views. That is important to me. I really am not trying to convince others of anything; I'm just sharing my own views as humbly and meekly as possible.

2) Part of the humility I try to achieve is the realization that I might be wrong - or that my own view might not be "right" or "best" or "appropriate" for everyone else. It's a recognition that what is best for someone else is what works for them - just as what is best for me is what works for me. Some people just see things differently than I do - and it's important to me that I acknowledge that and admit that it's not my job to change anyone else's mind. I need to understand that shattering someone else's working paradigm isn't always (or even often) a good thing, especially if I can't replace it with something THEY can understand and accept.

3) "We love him, because he first loved us." Nothing I share can work if it comes from a position of condescension or arrogance or a superiority complex. Sometimes what is plain to me is mysterious to others, and sometimes there's just nothing I can do to change that - except humble patience and a core love of those who don't see it as I see it. I really do need to love them unconditionally - not just if they accept my views.

Melisa Summy said...

I'm so glad I finally found my way to your blog! I have "unorthodox views" myself, and have been really uncomfortable or afraid at church many times to express them. I try to find other people with similar beliefs, but it is a VERY slippery slope most times. I am a temple recommend holder and "follow the bretheren," and I don't have any opinions that go against church doctrine, just church culture sometimes. It feels really lonely to be me and when I do think I've found a kindred soul or forum online, it usually turns out that there is a lot of church or church leadership bashing and I have to leave. Have you found any good sites or blogs where faithful members express unorthodox views? I miss our political discussions by the way, up for any more via e-mail? (
my blog is up again -

Papa D said...

Hey, Melissa!! I'm so glad you found my blog. Tell everyone I said hello.

If you want a "faithful" group blog that has people with unorthodox beliefs, I would recommend you start at By Common Consent. There are some really good posts and discussions there. I also would recommend Mormon Mommy Wars, especially since you have young children.

Take a look at my blogroll, and especially the aggregators I include. You can browse the blogs on them until you find a few you really like. There are a lot of them.

Clean Cut said...

Ray, what a fantastic attitude. (Both the OP and the follow up comments.) I want/need to be more like you. I'm not always as meek as I should be. The last thing I want to be mistaken for is arrogance.

I will say this--being an orthodox member with heterodox views is quite the balancing act. And it certainly involves some stretching. :)

Conifer said...

I've found that, in addition to what's already been said, if you say it in a way that makes it sound like you don't see your line of thinking as being really all that different from the norm then it slips in better. Does that make sense? In my experience that makes all the difference. I just present what I think in a clear, logical, unassuming way as though it's obvious to me, which it is (also keeping to the rules others have already outlines, esp. Papa D's thoughts). I'm much more likely to see nodding heads when I put things forth that way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melisa-snap.I've found myself generally comfortable at 'feminist mormon housewives'.I enjoy the heteredoxy that I find there,and also largely the respect for all comers.Although you may have to feel generally pretty robust,it's generally LDS positive.

Clean Cut said...

A friend of mine who noticed that I could perhaps use some pointers sent me some random thoughts. I don't necessarily agree with everything, but I did find a lot of it helpful. I'll leave them here just in case someone else finds something helpful:

The people who went to Utah, both from Nauvoo, and subsequently England & Europe, were those most susceptible to persuasion to accepting leadership or direction. Sometimes this can be described as gullible. The leaders were authoritarian. This helps explain why Utah is the “rip off” capital of the word. We as a people are taught and conditioned to “go along”. “Evil speaking of the Lord’s Anointed” (without definition what that means).

There is a place for compliance, but not everyplace. Is it possible that we, as a Church, have erred too much with accommodation and passivity? Where do we place the lines to keep between? What is the amplification of Elder Oaks counsel to not criticize—even when the leaders are wrong? There has to be exceptions to this. This suggests “infallibility” down to the 2nd counselor in the Elder’s Quorum—or more.

If you have to throw people out of the Church because they see something differently than a specific leader does, then IS IT the Church Joseph Smith taught we should have, or the people Joseph Smith taught we should be. How does this “square” with “Through proving contraries, the truth is made manifest”?

A few ideas may be (1) strike while the iron is cool, (2) ask can this be better treated with a word reversal, (CHANGE: IT IS! to IS IT?)(An original idea) (3) ask before speaking: is this the venue to shower this light on these Saints, and (4) is there a soft and discreet approach (5) ask a softening introducing question as “is there exceptions to this”? Or “does another authority see this differently”?, start, I could be wrong, but I wonder about…. (6) cite a scripture or authority and ask “how does this relate?”…