Saturday, January 31, 2009

Putting someone in a lose-lose situation

Growing up, I was a steadfast republican. I was certain that democrats were demonic liberals out to destroy the foundations of our society. The Rush Limbaugh program had told me so.

Some chinks started to form in my secure armor during my early 20's. I started to notice the lose-lose position we always put the opposition in. If they went up, they should have gone down. Forward? It should have been backward.

It really struck home one night with a reaction Bob Dole had to Clinton during the primaries. Kim Jung Il's father had died and President Clinton sent his condolences. Dole lashed out, stating that Clinton had no business offering condolences given the history of North Korea. It occurred to me that I had formed my judgment of Clinton based on the opinions of people for whom he could do no right. Though I was backing Dole, I realized that his view of the proper response was conditional - based on which path Clinton selected.

I knew then that what I was observing was a game about winning, not being truthful. All is fair in politics.

This revelation affected my religious views as well. All is fair in religion it seemed. I began to notice how often certain religious persuasions would put the "opposing" camp in lose-lose scenarios. It is ironic that those who put others in lose-lose situations the most often also happened to be the ones who crowed loudest about "truth".

I was reminded of this yesterday as I read an article over at Mormon Coffee. Though this was not the main point of the article, the argument below is regularly made by folks who have made converting Mormons a focus of their lives.

Basically, Mormons are chastised for certain temple ceremonies in their history where Protestant/Catholic priests are depicted as servants of Satan. Admittedly, probably not the best thing to be teaching if you have any hope for inter-faith relations (but given the history between Mormons and other churches that was probably not a high priority at the time).

By 1990, this language was pretty much removed from the ceremony. Forward movement, right?? Wrong! Mormons are now charged by the same voices as being duplicitous and hiding how they really think. Lose-Lose. They are wrong for having it.... they are wrong for removing it.

I believe that every time we put someone in a lose-lose situation, kindness dies, a part of our soul withers, and the heart of God sighs - while looking forward to the day when his children will love each other.


didymus said...

I read that post of theirs the other day to. You make a good point, so true.

Adam Gonnerman said...

Excellent post.

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

Never mind the fact that the Mormon temple ceremony has been heralded as a restoration of ancient, eternal ordinances, and that the reason for the removal of sections in 1990 was never given. Thus, the older generation of Mormons are free to assume that the removed parts are still correct.

A parallel situation is Mormon neo-orthodoxy. Millet and friends want to push a more "evanjelly" view of repentance and forgiveness. But never mind the fact that the destructive teachings of the Miracle of Forgiveness, etc., are pushed still in LDS distribution centers.

What we want is change with integrity, the kind that reflects the work of the Holy Spirit, not something shallow that simply reflects the desire to be more culturally acceptable. It's not sufficient for gigantic religious institutions to quietly move from colossal error. If the change really comes from a penitent heart, it is going to include the elements and fruits of repentance. At the very least, that involves a form of public confession.

On a related note, I have long thought that postmodernism fosters a lack of integrity. See, for example, the "Third Way" ("New Order Mormon") approach to Mormonism popular among those who no longer believe in fundamental Mormon truth-claims, but still promote remaining in the religion. Professing Christians who have largely swallowed postmodernism in a similar vein simply do not seem to care about calling people to genuine repentance and integrity.

Andrew said...

Aaron - It sounds like you have a lot of requirements and hoops for people to jump in order to get right with you.

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

If the leadership of a 13-million-member heretical religion wants to get on my good side, they have to abandon heresy in a clear and repentant fashion. In other words, they can't take the shallow route of "let's just forget about that..." If the saving work of the Holy Spirit is working through them, then their public sin of wide-impact will be followed up with public repentance.

Perhaps the watershed is that I really do believe the Holy Spirit would yield the fruits of public repentance in the salvation of the leadership of an institutional religion which has taught heresy for 175 years.

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

I should note that Mormonism has clearly and consistently defined the repentance which (at completion) brings forgiveness as a process that necessarily involves confession, even qualifying it to the point of saying that public sins warrant public confession. So I am simply calling upon the Mormon Church to abide by their own standards. If there's no confession, and no willingness to make a confession, there isn't genuine repentance. Mormonism has been saying that for years.

Anonymous said...

Great post Andrew - I guess I am a fan of honesty and always will be - and integrity. I have my run-in's with the Mormon faithful - but in the end I just think they are 'good people' matter the religion that they think is fact or truth. In the end, all we really need is love anyways.

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