Friday, September 30, 2011

Those Who Feel Betrayed By the LDS Church: An Analysis

I think one of the reasons some members feel betrayed by the Church is that they are either analytical by nature or emotional by nature - and they come to see the Church as the opposite.

Think about that a bit:

Someone who has developed a black and white view of Mormon history and finds that shattered by exposure to opposing and compelling accounts often reacts emotionally to that result - since black and white views tend to be more emotional than analytical. Such a person sees the Church as having been conniving and disingenuous - both of which, in that person's mind, are "analytical" attributes. So, an emotional person criticizes the Church for being analytical, if you will, and "hiding the truth" consciously and for purely selfish reasons.  The "truth" (whatever it is) doesn't matter in such a situation, since the reaction is predominantly emotional. 

Turn to someone who has a more nuanced, gray view. That is generally a result of being more analytical than emotional, and such a person often sees the Church as more subjective and emotional. This manifests itself in charges of hiding truth and covering up negative things (and even lying about stuff) consciously in order to feed the emotional attachment of the membership. The end result is a charge of anti-intellectualism - relying more on emotion than the intellect.  Again, the "truth" (whatever that is) doesn't matter in such a situation, since the the reaction is based on a perceptual difference. 

That happens all the time on various group blogs that are more critical than others, and it can be frustrating to see how blind most people are to that bias. My interactions over the years with certain people are a great example of this:

I drive them nuts, largely because I am both analytical and emotional - so it's hard for many people to categorize me and see "consistency" in my words. Especially with those who are emotional, they often see my analysis of their posts and comments initially as rejection or criticism - rather than simply as analysis.  On the other hand, those who are more analytical often try to read between the lines to find nuance and deeper meaning - and I try to avoid such nuance and hidden meaning when I am writing in a public forum.  Hence, those who are prone to nuance and analysis often misunderstand fairly simple statements by over-thinking things. 

The fascinating thing is that anlaytical and emotional people can reach the same overall conclusion, but each person attributes the motivation behind it to a different genesis - whatever is the opposite of their own personality.

It's a natural way to justify rejecting others, by classifying others as different than one's self.


Michael said...

I like this observation. There is truth to it.

ji said...

This is a very new thought for me -- I'll have to think about it, but I like it.

I have been thinking for some time that some people, such as those on the group blogs, seem to expect perfection from the Church and its leaders -- but as I look back, and consider the persons and the circumstances and the passage of time, to me everything is beautiful. Those who lived in the past were in their time, and we cannot judge them by today's standards. And those who live today must keep everything in balance as best they can, and they cannot always make everyone happy.

And I've also been thinking that some people expect too much. The Church cannot possibly meet all the needs of all its members. Some people have certain emotional needs that perhaps could better be met by a social club or in the workplace -- needs for feeling included in decision-making, needs for feeling part of a democratic process, needs for feeling "validated" as a person (whatever validated means) -- and they feel betrayed when these needs are not satisfied by the Church. But the Church doesn't exist to meet all of our social and emotional and psychological needs, and it and its members cannot possibly be expected to do so.

Matthew said...

"It's a natural way to justify rejecting others, by classifying others as different than one's self."

I think this is so important. Zion is about unity, and rejecting classifications of other as opposed to rejecting others. I don't think we as a people really get that. (I count myself in that, too.) It puts an interesting spin on putting off the natural (tribal) man in favor of the spiritual (Zion).

Great post, Ray.