I’m still playing around with the ChatGPT we discussed a week ago in Bishop Bill’s post. Just a quick note, ChatGPT as it is now is basically not very different from a Google search except that it cobbles together one imperfect answer from the scraps and detritus of the internet rather than returning an array of possible links to sources you might like. If you want info, you’re better off in a search window. If you’re an English major who didn’t read the book, ChatGPT is your best friend. If you’re a small business owner who needs to write a quick ad with house cleaning tips, Chat GPT is great. But if you want to ask it bigger questions, it’s going to be limited.
But hey, I’m not going to let that stop me! For funsies, I asked it to create a list of 10 reasons people join the Mormon Church. Here’s what it said:
- Strong Community: One of the biggest draws of the Mormon Church is the tight-knit community that it offers its members. People often find comfort and support in being surrounded by like-minded individuals who share the same beliefs and values.
- Family Focus: For many, the Mormon Church is seen as a place where families can come together and grow stronger. With a strong emphasis on family values and the importance of raising children in a supportive environment, it’s no wonder many people join to support their loved ones.
- Sense of Purpose: The Mormon Church provides its members with a clear sense of purpose and direction. From participating in service projects to learning about the teachings of the church, people often find meaning and fulfillment in being a part of the faith.
- Emphasis on Service: The Mormon Church is known for its focus on service and giving back to the community. Many people join for the opportunity to serve others and make a positive impact in the world.
- Strong Moral Code: The Mormon Church has a strong moral code that encourages its members to lead a virtuous life. People often join for the guidance and support in becoming better versions of themselves.
- Empowerment: The Mormon Church provides its members with the tools they need to succeed in life. From educational opportunities to leadership training, members often feel empowered to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.
- Positive Message: The Mormon Church is known for spreading a positive message of hope, love, and compassion. Many people join to be part of a faith that brings joy and positivity into their lives.
- Global Reach: The Mormon Church has a global presence with members all over the world. People often join to be part of a larger community and connect with others from different backgrounds and cultures.
- Social Opportunities: The Mormon Church provides its members with a variety of social opportunities, from youth groups to service projects. People often join for the chance to form new relationships and make lifelong friends.
- Sense of Belonging: For many, joining the Mormon Church provides a sense of belonging and comfort. People often find peace and comfort in being part of a larger community that shares their beliefs and values.
Then I asked it for 10 reasons people quit the Mormon Church.
- Lack of Inclusiveness: Some people may feel that the church does not adequately support the LGBTQ+ community, leading them to question their involvement in the organization.
- Disagreement with Doctrine: Some individuals may have theological differences with the church’s teachings, causing them to reevaluate their commitment to the organization.
- Disillusionment with Leadership: Some members may feel that the leaders of the church are not acting in the best interests of the community, leading them to seek alternative spiritual paths.
- Lack of Transparency: Some members may feel that the church is not transparent enough in its operations and decision-making processes, causing them to question their trust in the organization.
- Gender Roles: Some individuals may feel that the church places unequal emphasis on gender roles, leading them to feel uncomfortable with its teachings and practices.
- Historical Issues: Some people may be troubled by the church’s history, such as its stance on polygamy, and feel that it is not in line with their values.
- Cognitive Dissonance: Some members may feel that the teachings of the church are in conflict with scientific knowledge and evidence, causing them to question the validity of the church’s beliefs.
- Cultural Appropriation: Some members may feel that the church has adopted cultural practices that are not its own, leading them to question its authenticity.
- Pressure to Conform: Some members may feel that the church places too much pressure on them to conform to its beliefs and practices, causing them to feel suffocated and seek alternative spiritual paths.
- Financial Burden: Some members may feel that the church requires too much financial sacrifice, leading them to question the value of their involvement in the organization.
Anyone else notice what I did? These are basically the same reasons. In other words, it’s not that the Church really is and does all those good things on the first list. It’s that the things it does are perceived situationally. If your circumstances fit what the Church offers, it is a positive in your life. If not, or if your circumstances change, it can be (or become) a negative in your life. If you are an investigator, you can see the Church’s community and actions as either positive or negative.
Consider the following dichotomies:
- You are raising your children, and you want your kids to make friends who are like them, “good” kids who follow the rules and get good grades, white kids (you don’t think this, but the “ideal” friends you picture fit this image), straight kids (again, you don’t think this, but your own friends, those “ideal” friends you are imagining weren’t LGBTQ), kids who stay out of trouble (you imagine the teachers praising them and their smiling cheerful faces in your home as they treat you with respect and interest while you hand out orange slices), kids from suburban middle-class backgrounds like yours (you imagine their parents becoming your friends, people you can talk with, who might even offer job opportunities and help you move or carpool). The Church’s homogeneous culture is appealing. You would say that the Church provides strong community support and a focus on family values. You can even send your kids to a college where they will meet and date and marry similar people (and not meet and date and marry kids who don’t share their beliefs or backgrounds). Is the Church family focused? Is the Church welcoming?
- You are a single parent raising your children, and you want them to meet people who are different from them, who challenge their ideas. You want them to befriend kids who are not like them. You want them to break the rules sometimes like you did. You don’t want them to be so obedient to authority that they don’t live their lives. You find their unique personalities charming and hilarious. One of your children is LGBTQ. Another has a best friend who is transgender. Another is dating a boy from India whose family is Hindu. Is the Church family focused? Is the Church welcoming?
- You are financially secure and feel compelled by an internal desire to donate to those in need. Giving 10% to a Church you love and trust is an easy way to feel that you are doing good in the world without having to think much more about it, and you have confidence that the Church will have your back if you are ever the one in need.
- You have paid tithing for decades, sometimes at great sacrifice, and you were happy to do so. Now you’re in a financial bind and have serious health issues. Due to your health problem, you have had to take extended unpaid leave, but the bills keep coming. You worry about losing your house. You can’t handle routine errands while you recover and you reach out to your local ward for assistance. You are treated with sympathy but also told that they can bring in meals for one week, but can’t help beyond that. If you need help with bills, the bishop wants to go through your finances with you first, and there is a time limit on how long you can rely on assistance, and only after exhausting all other options. The Relief Society President will come out to help you with a grocery list, but first she wants to go through your cupboards. You feel embarrassed and frustrated, realizing that if you had saved that 10% all those years, you’d be in a better situation now without being put on trial to get help.
Several years ago I did a post called the Testimony Puzzle. I still think it’s one of the best posts I’ve ever done. In the post I shared a conversion story that was also a deconversion story. It showed how an investigator’s perspective changed from faith in one church to another, but also how it changed from viewing the same aspects of the Church negatively, with skepticism, to a positive view of faith and trust in the Church. In that post, the investigators went from seeing the high demand commitments of the Church (including giving up cola) as “narrow-minded” and “too demanding” to being “inspired from God” and “easy to do.” What was being asked didn’t change; it was the circumstances. Specific changes included their previous congregations letting them down. They were deconverted. They were seeking a change because they lost faith in their church of origin. Conversion to something implies conversion from something.
We trust, we invest time, emotion and money in something, and our trust may be reconfirmed or at some point, it may be damaged. The more we need it in that moment, the more important it is that it come through for us. If it fails us in our moment of need, when we are thinking about it, that feels like a betrayal. That makes it hard to believe in or trust a Church after that point.
The Church frequently cautions members to avoid questioning their faith in the Church (I’m not even going to say in Jesus at this point). Belief in an institution is necessarily flimsy and subjective. You are loyal to your employer until they lay you off. You are loyal to a service provider until you run afoul of their policies. Institutional loyalty depends on one’s situation not changing, on having reliably good experiences. Everything that can cause you to deconvert from a Church can happen in any Church: not feeling welcome, hypocrisy, cognitive dissonance, demands higher than benefits. If you allow yourself to notice those things as they happen, you may lose belief. You may divest. If you ignore what doesn’t work, more of it works. We don’t believe what we see. We see what we believe.
The difference between the list of reasons people join and the reasons people leave is the same list because it all depends on what people believe. If they believe the Church is a good influence in their lives, even if it sometimes falls short, they still see the first list. If they believe the Church is a net negative in their lives, they see that second list. Every time they look, it’s more and more clear.
- Do you find it interesting that this is essentially the same list?
- Have you seen the deconversion process as part of conversion (e.g. on your mission)?
- What can the Church do about this problem, if anything?
ChatGPT requires one to sign in with a phone number.
@Hawkgrrl … maybe a missed opportunity … this post could’ve been titled “13 Reasons Why” 🙂
“We don’t believe what we see. We see what we believe.”
True that. Our minds are pitifully limited. We’re stuck with noticing only a thin slice of the reality around us, and the way we slice it depends critically on our own preconceptions.
For example, when I look at the world, I see youngsters hanging out in their dads’ attics in yoga pants and flip-flops, eating tacos while watching Demi Lovato videos and listening to Bryan Adams. The only time they get out is when they’re visiting discotheques or the local Circle-K. That’s probably not the world that others of you notice.
“If they believe the Church is a net negative in their lives, they see that second list. Every time they look, it’s more and more clear.”
This is a succinct summation that I’ll use in the future – net negative. For many of us, the church worked until it didn’t and it’s pretty hard to reverse that.
1. Yes, it is interesting that they are so similar.
2. Essentially, a “conversion” to an idea, a process, a way of living is a “de-conversion” to other idea(s), process(es), and other way(s) of living. Some of them are more like “one-offs” such as the traditional New Year’s Resolution to go to the gym.
Sometimes, the motivation to change, to “convert” to different idea(s), process(es), and way(s) of living is so strong that an individual finds the motivation to convert a “one-off” into a “habit” and then part of a person’s character or “how a person is perceived to be”.
Sometimes the “de-conversion/conversion process” is intentional, sometimes it is just collateral fallout like “throwing the baby out with the bath water” as the expression goes. When our family “de-converted” from eating higher sodium foods (finding lower sodium replacements and cutting some foods entirely), we wound up accidently “converting” to higher sugar/starch foods (that qualified as low in sodium) and are working on re-calibrating what we eat again.
On a church level, my faith transition “de-converted me” from church institutional authority to personal authority as I lost a foundational testimony of God (including the God of the institution that was cited as the church’s source of authority). It also included a general household shift in family leadership from a more authoritarian stance to a more collaborative/accountability and accommodation stance as I refused to co-lead my family using the traditional authoritarian tools and focused my attention on sustaining and building a more mutually power-sharing environment.
The church doesn’t recognize the “problem” or “scenario” at all (mostly due to black and white thinking). Individuals are objectified as “converted” to the “Gospel” (aka church teachings) and then “led astray” or “tempted to go astray” in a variety of specific ways that must be minimized and/or not talked about.
The individual’s “attention”, “motivation”, and “activity levels” must also be graded/analyzed and the church’s “market share” of that individual preserved by whatever bait and switch policies produce the greatest number of attentive individuals in the church. NOTE: This is not necessarily callously done. Participating with other individuals can build communities that inspire and motivate each other and end up with net positives as well as being a survival mechanism for the church organization(s).
If the church was trying to solve this “problem”, the best thing it could do is give up on any of the following: the authoritarian model of priesthood leadership being the only viable option (with “nurturing” as the “soft-power” assigned to women without regard to gender), the practices of black-and-white thinking (the “OR” instead of an “AND”) and choosing purity culture over lovingkindness culture that are its trademarks.
I don’t see any of this happening because it diminishes the church’s “brand” doctrinally (either diluting the church into something similar to other Christian groups, or as “false” because it isn’t what the individual expected). I see attempts at it sporadically with some leaders and/or some talks. Most individuals who need alternative sources of leadership, and/or need spectrums of thinking instead of binary thinking, and/or value lovingkindess (not sweating over bared shoulders for example) over purity and wind up substituting something else (hobbies/other organizations/jobs) for the church to get what that individual and/or their family need(s).
If we dig a little deeper we may find that the “same reasons” for conversion and deconversion produce wholly disparate outcomes. We may enter or quit the church for reasons that seem the same–but what happens if we “quit” our belief in Christ? Some folks may claim that their transition into and out of a belief in the Savior were similar–but what does that mean in terms of a change in worldviews? In one there’s a resurrection in the other there probably isn’t. That’s huge.
This post is educational. It’s all in our individual perspectives. We see different things depending on where we are looking from. They are all real things even though we don’t experience them in the same way.
I saw myself in the comments about being dependent on the church to meet our needs… and then when it doesn’t…
That happened to us. I was desperately trying to keep my medically fragile infant alive while mostly ignoring his 4 older brothers. My husband had become depressed and was only a financial support (still valuable) but otherwise no help…
I really valued my bishop’s support. Then he was released and the new bishop blamed me for our marital conflict. This really degraded our situation and my feelings of acceptance and support from the church.
It took me years to know what I was thinking about patriarchy and infallibility of leadership from that experience. Experience teaches so much about reality, if we are willing to learn.
@Jack, I agree.
The belief in the Atonement is a equally huge worldview divider. What we don’t think about as a group of humans is that the belief in Jesus Christ is in part a “safety net” – that whatever we can’t do, Jesus Christ can and will do out of love for us. Losing that safety net is hard on having faith in anything, and is a personal moral authority catalyst – You don’t have the belief in Jesus Christ to lull you into thinking a miracle will happen and the situation will resolve with a lesser effort from you (in terms of what you need to contribute and/or in terms of magnitude of effort).
It also takes the church and church authority out of the equation, making it harder to be perceived as person who “wants to sin and wants to be offended”. When a person isn’t a “Christian” (believer in Jesus Christ), the standard storyline is that they will become “Christian” eventually – and that the community can be part of that process through inclusion and forgiveness (the opposite of judgement and exclusion of reasons people leave). This cognitive dissonance (“do I shun or include the non-Christian”) is unexpected, and does not resolve with platitudes (visits to Dairy Queen may be helpful as part of the relationship-building process, though 7-11’s may need to be avoided).
I def see how community/lack of belonging are opposites but not as much the others on the list.
For a few years that’s been my theory: when the church is a net positive staying is manageable (if desired), but once it’s a net negative, the clock is ticking. In this theory, there’s not A LOT one can do to make folks stay, although I think there are some projects out there helping folks shift the lenses/language they use to describe their experiences to keep the needle in the net positive.
When I read the first list I kept thinking “yes, but.” Reading the second list I kept think how it related to the first list but also how I know people who have had problems in one or more of the points including myself.
What can the church do? Evolve would be a good starting point. It’s great to believe in having a prophet but when that prophet spends his time more concerned about what we call ourselves vs. what we can do in these troubling time about social justice, forgiveness, providing for the poor, etc. we might need to open up and have more conversations in the church.
We have general conference twice a year but we never confer about anything. The flow of information is always top to bottom. If it ever comes from the bottom, first there is an excommunication, then a change in policy, and finally another top down declaration. There needs to be a place to both have a conversation and a place to implement change after the conversation.
I’m sure this would bring “politics” into the church but it’s already there now, it’s just hidden. Well, it’s hidden in the upper levels but at the ward level, it’s more of a covert reaction in comments and discussions in the halls of the church or even behind closed doors. It’s obvious that conservatives run the show and liberals are on the outside but I’d theorize that liberals are leaving fast and more often because they experience the things mentioned in the second list.
@hawkgrrrl, I’m glad you are bringing ChatGDT into this conversation (it’s its own subject), and I think using it to show how it can serve as a kind of ‘turn around’ model and then apply those ideas to conversation and deconversion is a fantastic thought exercise.
A comment about ChatGDT: I asked it a few weeks about questions about what the LDS church would be in 100 years. It gave me radically different prognostications depending on the prompts I inputted and number of key word tokens and overall number of tokens I included in the input. In short, I was disappointed by how easy it was to lead ChatGDT’s outputs. In that way, I did not find it helpful. My expectations (essentially asking it to be a crystal ball) may be unrealistic. It does better if you input a math problem and ask for a solution. This is outside the scope of your OP but I thought I would include my experience with ChatGDT asking questions about future outcomes.
The idea of conversion and deconversion shows how dynamic we are as humans. Most often the church and many of its members view deconverting from the church as a sign of weakness, or being disloyal, or lacking faith, when in fact the process of converting and deconverting is much more about the way humans are adaptable–it’s one of our most distinctive traits as a species. Being able to make conversion and deconversion pivots is a reflection of human strength and brilliance. It’s not a weakness to convert or deconvert. As humans, it is virtuous feature, not a bug. If those in authority and leadership changed the lens through which they see conversion and deconversion to what you articulate when you describe the Testimony Puzzle, I’m convinced we would see far more dynamic leadership than we do, and far more good solutions to the most serious problems we face as a church.
Interesting that my reason for joining (well I was baptized at 8 but I consider “joining” to mean being actively engaged as an adult) was the same as my reason for leaving but neither is on your list: belief in the truth claims of the Church. I didn’t always like Church but I was all in because I believed it represented the truth (restoration, priesthood, sealed families, etc.). Once I decided the Church wasn’t true I quit.
I enjoyed many of the advantages of Church membership listed above and was irritated at the Church for many of the same reasons listed above. But the decision to “join” and leave was my analysis of what was true. I don’t think I’m alone.
What can the Church do about this problem?
I may be completely off base on this, but I can’t help but wonder if the Church sees any problem at all? Sure, they don’t like to lose members, but if the leadership truly belies the they are led by Christ, then the end result is acceptable to Him. If He wanted a different result, He would reveal what changes should be made.
Thanks for the response, Amy. I think we should also consider how time and place affects our movement one way or the other on the conversion-deconversion spectrum. It might be a little easier for us folks in the West to live without the idea of a resurrection than it is for the many who have lived as paupers or peasants or servants or slaves.
@ Jack. Can you provide more insight into your statement about the West please?
We watch a lot of anime (long story) – but one of the key takeaways has been that universal themes of family, wanting youth/vitality, wisdom (anti-hotheadedness)/, and legacy (and to a degree another or different existence) are up there. While is is fiction that has been translated from primarily Japanese to America that is biased towards what American audiences will pay for – those human themes and desires cross their culture to mine both the American culture and the religious culture I was raised in. Japanese anime has resurrection sequences in a variety of flavors:)
I think that it is safer to assume that everyone wants a “resurrection” of some sort or another – but Christianity is the group that ties it directly to Jesus Christ. And we have our own traditions/ways of thinking that connect Mormon theology to Christianity and what the resurrection means to us.
If you are looking at whether paupers/peasants/servants/slaves believed in and valued a resurrection – we have little to no way of knowing that because the powerful/wealthy have time time and resources to write things down that are either preserved or published prolifically enough to withstand the test of time. I like to think that some did, some didn’t, some really did, and some really didn’t.
I love the summary – but I do see some key differences…
I agree that point 1/2 in the first list and 1/9 in the second list are different experiences on generally the same topic -and as others noted – it really comes down to whether an individual/family is a “fit” for the church culture.
To me, it seems that much of the top 10 positives relate to the community feeling/purpose/values – which we tend to experience at the local ward/branch level (or other wards/branches when traveling).
However, much of the top 10 negative were less “experiential” and more “factual” – issues with senior leadership decisions, honesty, official policies, history, doctrine, inconsistencies, etc.
Yeah–I was a bit vague. I mean the modern western industrialized world. Places like Japan and South Korea might fit that description–though they differ culturally to a large degree. I think that while you’re probably right — that we don’t always have a clear sense of what people from that past believed — we can still try to measure their circumstances against our own. And so, If I’m at the point of deconverting from the Latter-day Saint faith — or any faith that believes in a resurrection through Christ — I might ask myself what would my newfound beliefs would mean for the whole of humanity. Can I live with the idea that the vast majority of humanity — those who have lived far below the modern poverty line — only get one opportunity to live a meaningful life? Certainly those of us who believe in a continuation of life that is calculated to impel us toward a fulfillment of our potential will probably experience the most dissonance at letting go of the doctrine of resurrection–that is, as we consider the plight of humanity since the dawn of civilization.
Josh H: “Interesting that my reason for joining (well I was baptized at 8 but I consider “joining” to mean being actively engaged as an adult) was the same as my reason for leaving but neither is on your list: belief in the truth claims of the Church. I didn’t always like Church but I was all in because I believed it represented the truth (restoration, priesthood, sealed families, etc.). Once I decided the Church wasn’t true I quit.”
My guess is that if you were able to dig deeper (and I don’t mean that you personally haven’t been thoughtful, just that humans really don’t have insight into why we believe what we believe), you would find that these types of factors were contributing more to your belief than you see at first blush. You think (as do we all) that you came to your conclusions rationally based on evidence (in both your conversion and your de-conversion), but consider how your “rational” thought process was influenced by the situation and circumstances. And consider that the facts & evidence themselves did not change. You may have found out new information, but that information was already there, and you believed because you trusted. Later, you didn’t trust.
Would you have trusted the information you were given if the community didn’t work for you initially (e.g. if you were a woman and were shown that the Church sees you as less than men, or if you were gay and were told you wouldn’t be gay in the eternities, or if you were black and were told that you’d become white after you died)? If you were baptized at 8 (as I was), there really was no formation of belief. You accepted it because you were 8. What were you going to do? Resign your family? Later in life, as you developed a belief, the weight of your upbringing was already on the belief side of the scale as you received new information and new experiences.
Facts and evidence are neutral, but our experiences are what push us to interpret those facts in a certain way, and even to overlook contrary evidence because it’s disconfirming to our beliefs. I really recommend you follow that link and read the post I mentioned “The Testimony Puzzle” that I wrote several years ago. I think it’s such a fascinating case study of what we are talking about.
Fascinating list. On ChatGPT, I think it is overhyped. Chatbots will be useful technology for a variety of obvious reasons, but a bot can never replace good writing. I think a lot of tech people are honestly out-of-touch and think that the future will be Star Trek and that we are rapidly advancing towards that. And then too many journalists (and many others in other professions) don’t understand technology and take tech fantasists at their words that the robot apocalypse is really coming. No. And sorry, there will never be widespread self-driving cars. Humans feel more comfortable with a perceived controlled risk than a perceived uncontrolled risk.
On the question of the church being able to do anything about the problem, they maneuver as best they can. I think they’ve actually learned a lot from Trump and the Trump experiment in this country. Largely that you can engage in doublethink and hypocrisy and followers don’t seem to care too much. Bad logic works great on those who don’t think too much. Bad history works on people who don’t really study history.
I think ChatGPT got it mostly right and yet the brethren are still convinced people leave because –
They are lazy learners
They want to sin
@ Jack, Regarding this question, “Can I live with the idea that the vast majority of humanity — those who have lived far below the modern poverty line — only get one opportunity to live a meaningful life?”
I don’t know that it is the most accurate question to ask because a theme of Eastern religious thinking (to a degree and for several regional religions) is based in reincarnation – so “No – multiple opportunities to live a meaningful life” are on the table as a default assumption.
Slight thread tangent – a case can be made that a theme of human thinking is “Resurrection/Afterlife Existence” [Christianity, Islam as examples] vs “Reincarnation/Cycles of Existence” [Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism as examples]. I suspect that we can’t even count the cost of actual wars and cultural wars caused by this perception shift.
I don’t know what the question to ask is in this case – but the default assumption that “we all believe we only get 1 shot” rings false to me. I think that we all innately believe we get as many “shots” at a good life as we need – just decked in different packaging (more or less) about who supplies the environment for the life after this one and what they want from us to do so.
One of the things that I struggled with was having an agnostic mindset while mourning the death of my step-grandmother. I hoped that God existed and that there was an afterlife for my loved one. For me, since everything is based on belief/what I choose to hope for – I decided that I could hope for/chose to believe that there is an existence/life after this one for myself and my loved ones with or without God, so that is what I did. I don’t have “evidence” that God exists completely just as I don’t have “evidence” that there is an afterlife [all statements and examples of evidence are meaning made by individuals and their narratives – which may or may not be 100% accurate and/or relevant to my narrative and what motivates me and my thinking]. In the absence of what I “know” (which is very, very little) – “what I hope for” and “what I value” is the best that I can bring to the testimony table – and it doesn’t have to be what everyone else does:)
This might diminish the cognitive dissonance involved:)
In terms of a disconnecting deflection argument, it’s beautiful:)
And it dumbfounded my religious family members when I countered those reasons for my personal experience, focused on sustainable connections whenever possible, and simultaneously accepted the appearance of accuracy of their narrative while refusing to make it a “blamable” situation.
Usually I wound up framing my narrative as a “survivor” scenario – my faith transition was something that entered my life and caused some things to happen and caused some pain and some growth. I understood how their experience and their “storyline of how things work” was what it was – and had minimal application to me (which was fine). I gave them to opportunity to “sit with” my experience instead of “shouting at me” about my experience – and made that the focus of conversations when that focus was getting derailed.
Everyone’s mileage may vary on this one – heck, my mileage has varied depending on the family member and the state of the relationship over time.
To me, the difficult-to-really intolerable situations that too many people have in life is a reason to focus on the here and now. I admire people who advocate and influence for change.
I had a bishop who countered the then-current zero population thoughts by quoting the D&C about there being enough and to spare. Later I came to recognize that for that to be true, we would need to be very careful stewards of the earth and her resources. Wealth inequality and wage disparity leave too many people lacking basic freedoms and necessities.
I think a hope for a future mansion in heaven does not justify much.
(I apologize for continuing the tangent.)
decay: Not coincidentally, those reasons (lazy learners, easily offended, wanted to sin) all absolve the Church from making any improvements and also have the added benefit of impugning the character of those “doubters,” thus sidelining their influence. You would think that would be obvious to people, but it isn’t because as I noted in the post, we don’t believe what we see, we see what we believe. I assume, generously, that they really believe that the “doubters” are all those bad things because they sincerely believe that they are what they say they are and that the Church is what they say the Church is, and therefore both groups are above reproach (for hell’s sake, we’ve got E. Hamilton blasphemously recommending that you substitute “the Savior” for “the Church” to literally make it above reproach!) Cynical me would think this is what happens when the dumbest people are put in charge and told they are the smartest, but in reality, it’s probably just that everyone is seeing things the way they do because that’s what they expect to see; their belief (or unbelief) demands that they see it that way.