I recently finished listening to the podcast called The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling. Part of the pod included interviews by Megan Phelps-Roper, a political activist who was a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church. In case you aren’t familiar with them, as a Church they perform “stunts” like showing up at the funerals of gay people with signs that the deceased is going to hell. She said that she was raised in that Church, and she had always been taught that this type of activity was the only loving way to treat gay people, to warn them of their impending judgment.
How did she change her mind? She was participating in an online space sharing her religious opinions about all the various people who were going to Hell or whose acceptance of homosexuality was bringing destruction to the earth in terms of war, famine, and natural disasters. Because she was young and tech savvy, she had been encouraged by her mother to be the online voice of Westboro Baptist Church, trying to get their message out on Twitter specifically. She saw this as an important part of what she had been taught was her Church’s ministry. While she was spreading her message, someone on Twitter engaged with her and asked her questions until she finally realized that maybe everything she had been taught was wrong. You can read about her (de)conversion story, watch her TED talk, or listen to an interview with her.
It might surprise you to know that Megan and her family are all lawyers, and her grandfather, like Pres. Nelson, was awarded by the NAACP for his support of civil rights. The stranger on Twitter who kindly engaged with her and eventually convinced her that what she was preaching was wrong, was also a lawyer. Based on the Westboro teachings, I certainly expected them to be a bunch of backwoods hillbillies who were probably also racist, not just homophobic, since so many of these things seem to correlate elsewhere.
I mentioned my family is full of lawyers. And they are extremely analytical and very intelligent. And you know, given the premises, like if you go along with the two foundational beliefs of Westboro, which is that the Bible is the literal and infallible word of God, and that they
have the only true interpretation of it, everything else follows. Or so it seemed to me, until I got on Twitter.
There were these few internal inconsistencies in our beliefs. Like if you had made arguments that didn’t go along with those two premises, I couldn’t have heard them. I just dismissed them out of hand. I had Bible verses ready to explain why any argument outside of that was wrong. But those internal inconsistencies, that was the initial wedge that allowed me to see that we could be wrong, that there might be other appropriate ways of seeing things.Megan Phelps-Roper
She describes conversations with this random stranger on Twitter, and with others on Twitter, people who engaged with her Tweets, and sometimes argued, but often asked her questions that got her to think about the impacts of what she was doing, how she was hurting people by blaming them for their tragedies, and how she was attacking grieving families at the worst moments of their lives.
So before Twitter, I never felt ashamed. I always felt very proud of what I was doing. So I would say, like, all of those things were major contributors to my eventual realization that, you know, this– I came to this question of, oh my god, what if we’re just people? What if this isn’t this divine institution, you know, ordained and led by God himself? What if we’re just human beings trying to figure things out? We think the answer is in the Bible. What if they’re not? And that was this really destabilizing moment. And from then until the day that I left was about four months.Megan Phelps-Roper
Her newfound Twitter community had become a social group to her, and by violating the norms of that new social group, she felt shame for the actions of her Church, and began to question whether they were really right in their assertion that their interpretation of the Bible was an accurate guide to how God wanted them to act.
When I first listened to her story, I was struck by the fact that during the Mitt Romney campaign, LDS Church members were likewise encouraged to go online to “defend” the Church and to engage with critics. (I entered the blogosphere in 2008 in part due to this mandate). It doesn’t seem that this actually worked out so well for retention, though. Online spaces are communities. In my early days participating online, I had some conversations with other bloggers (I was asked to join the perma team pretty quickly once I started commenting), and we noted that people who joined online discussion groups often left the Church.
One reason is that “doubters” are mostly invisible in our congregations, but online they find that they are part of a very large group of Church members. Because doubts are not welcome at Church, anyone who wishes to discuss them is essentially forced into a space that welcomes dissent, and from there, one’s smaller set of doubts will often grow to a much larger one. People start out thinking they are there to re-convert the heretics, but they often discover that the heretics have some good points, points they have not dared to voice, sometimes even to themselves. They start out closed-minded to the doubts of others, but as they become attached to their new community, their minds open up to different perspectives. I used to refer to this as the Father Damien problem. Father Damien chose to live among the lepers and serve them, but as a result he contracted leprosy and died.
In the J.K. Rowling series, Megan Phelps-Roper shares a list of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not you are open-minded about a specific belief (or how open-minded you are):
- Are you capable of entertaining real doubts about your beliefs or are you stuck on certainty?
- Can you articulate what evidence you would have to see to change your belief?
- Can you articulate the opposing viewpoint with clarity and in a way they would agree with?
- Do you cut off relationships over disagreements on this belief?
- Are you willing to use excessive means against those who disagree with you?
When I began engaging online, I would say I was actually quite open-minded on all these points. I had always been a nuanced believer (e.g. did not believe polygamy was ever divinely sanctioned). My best friend’s mom was ex-Mo and like a second mother to me. I had relatives who had left the Church as well. I might have felt superior to those who had left the Church, but not really superior. As I examined my feelings, I also had a dose of superstition about the Church because it had worked out for me fairly well, and I led a pretty charmed life. Messing with that felt risky, but logically I couldn’t defend that concern.
When you get the rush of adrenaline due to your belief that you are right, stop and question.J.K. Rowling
Rowling’s perspective in the podcast series is frankly one I find disturbing, but I also recognize how she got there. I don’t agree with her; she’s unquestionably a TERF, even though she is not anti-trans. I have met others who, like her, are so traumatized by their own experience as a woman (and the culpability of sexually violent men) that it clouds their ability to recognize that trans women are women in any real sense. So while I don’t agree with her, I do understand why she thinks as she does. In her case, Twitter has not been her friend. In Megan’s case, it most certainly was.
- How open minded were you when you first engaged in online Mormon discussions?
- Have you gotten more or less open-minded over time?
- What beliefs do you have that you feel are your “deal-breakers,” that are so important to you that you are closed-minded about them?
“Can you articulate what evidence you would have to see to change your belief?”
I would have to “see” my nonexistence after I die.
I believe I was quite open minded when I first engaged. However at that time I felt a discontent with patriarchy in the church that I was blind and confused towards. I couldn’t allow myself to see and face my true feelings. Over time I came to encounter more and more information that allowed me to see. For instance right in our canonized Old Testament we have the authoritative prophet Huldah who King Josiah visits to get directions for restoration of the temple. Finding the church’s josephsmithpapers.org with the minutes of the first RS mtg where Joseph directed his first counselor to give the priesthood to Emma and her counselors was another such moment.
At this time my family is working to stay in our church family based on a faith in Christ and personal authority and revelation. So far we haven’t been directed by God to leave.
My belief in personal revelation independent of any authority is the bedrock my personal testimony is built on. I have never seen it as an all or nothing issue either. I have always believed a person can believe in one issue, but have doubts about another. I think honesty is important to pursuing testimony and belief. Forcing oneself not to think and consider feels inherently wrong to me. I also hate to be silenced.
I choose to speak to others in a way that I can be heard hopefully, from where they are at the time.
If someone in authority chose to try to control or silence me personally at any point, that would be a deal breaker for me. My loyalty is to Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Parents, and to vulnerable marginalized people, not to a human leader or institution, as valuable as I may find them to be.
I have LGBTQ family and I can’t allow nastiness on this issue in my presence and I have friends I can no longer talk to because of this.
I have been reading the book Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences which lays out a summary of all of the research into biological differences between liberals and conservatives in the US. It is well-shown that some people beginning at young ages are simply more prone to lean into and cling to the value-system of their upbringing while others are more prone to question it. Conservative minds tend to be quite different from liberal minds. I’m liberal through and through having questioned the value-system of my upbringing as well as the political beliefs of my surroundings. And I feel as though I’ve been this way since I was young. It was just baked into my personality.
I feel as though I’m more open-minded, although the people I’ve had intense debates with would probably call me closed-minded. I like to entertain many different positions on a variety of issues. However, I have a special aversion to conspiracy theories and demand lots of evidence before I conclude that something is a conspiracy. The most intense debates I have gotten into have been with people who promote conspiracy theories about 9/11, vaccines, and a range of other matters.
Have I cut off relationships over belief differences? I have never announced to someone that I am no longer talking to them over disagreements. But in the age Trump, I have let many relationships cool. I have unfriended people on Facebook (which I no longer use) because they have brandished unapologetic support for Trump and have promoted conspiracy theories. I try not to. There have been occasions where I have interrupted a Trump-supporting friend going off about cancel culture or some other issue, and have blurted out that I find their narratives highly exaggerated and that I support the Democrats and am against Trump and that I feel that they should know that and have left it at that.
“What beliefs do you have that you feel are your “deal-breakers,” that are so important to you that you are closed-minded about them?”
I hopped onto twitter a year ago and only lasted a few months. Granted, a few months may not be enough time to give it a fair shot, but it was not a good place for me emotionally. There was so much hatefulness, sarcasm, bitterness, and name-calling around political and religious topics. So, I would have to say that the “deal-breaker” for me is found in those things: hatefulness, sarcasm, bitterness, and name-calling.
I have no problem with, and even welcome differing view points and disagreements. I would often rather spend time among people who have different outlooks, than in an echo chamber.
“Have you gotten more or less open-minded over time?”
I’m sure I’m more open-minded today than ever. However, I believe I have always been open-minded. I remember when I was ordain a deacon at age 12 (in 1970) I questioned the priesthood ban and felt is was not right that a person could not hold the priesthood simply because a his skin color. Then four years later when the church fought against the Equal Rights Amendment I disagreed with that and was jolted into the reality of the sexism surrounding the other priesthood ban in the church.
In 1975 when one of my best friends was abducted and raped, and her bishop prohibited her from taking the sacrament for 6 months, I became a full fledged questioner, and have remained such to this day. (BTW, that was not just one bishop being unfeeling; it was church policy and a hold-over from Kimball’s book “Miracle of Forgiveness”.)
I believe being open-minded is an in-born trait that gets stifled when a person grows up in a church that promotes itself as “The one and only true church”, and teaches pre-schoolers to stand up and declare they “know” the church is true. Open-minded thinking is not encouraged in a church that is always right, knows everything, does not admit mistakes, and never apologizes. Open-minded thinking my not be encouraged, but it is essential in a “living church”.
Most people claim to be open minded but most people aren’t. And that includes us (Wheat & Tares). Some of us probably feel like we are more open minded than ever because we’ve re-examined our relationship with the Church or the Republican Party in recent years. That’s the case with me. After 50+ years I left the Church and I left the Republican party, so does that make me open minded? Not really. There’s a 0% chance that I’ll ever return to the Church or to Trump’s party so I can’t really claim to be open minded.
I think far right conservatives and orthodox members of the Church are pretty set in their way and close minded based on my interactions with them. But you libs and x-Mormons really aren’t open minded either…don’t kid yourselves.
I think the older I get (60 years old now), the more I am open to other people who are different from me, even seeking them out at every opportunity. Just having those connections changes us and helps us see (some of) the many differing worldviews and life realities that are out there. The more people I connect with, the more I feel connected to all of humanity. I am embarrassed (appalled, really) at my 16 year old self and the attitudes I held (and had been taught) about many things, but especially toward the LBGTQ community. But I am heartened that a life which has been full of interactions with that community has completely changed me, and brought me to a place of love, respect and a desire to just be one with everyone, to live and let live. I think as we open our hearts and lives to other people, especially those who appear different from us, our minds expand, as does our capacity to love everyone.
I’m sure I have reputation (here and at BCC and other like venues) for being closed minded–and I definitely am on certain things. For example, if you believe there’s a greater composer than Bach you’re *wrong*. I don’t want to hear any arguments about it–you’re wrong, Wrong, WRONG. On the other hand, you might be surprised to learn I–being a super orthodox type–am a near universalist.
Interesting post. I’m more open-minded about some things than I used to be. When I was younger, I was a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who didn’t want to hear anything about conservative approaches to solving problems. In that sense, I’ve grown more open-minded and moderate. On some other things, I’ve become more rigid, such as LGBTQ and women’s issues. I simply cannot and will not listen to any argument that denies full equality and personhood to anyone; I’m especially impatient with any arguments that have a supposed “religious” rationale. I’m also skeptical, like John W, of conspiracy theories. There are so many crackpot theories out there and the fact that people do their own “research” and then think they are all of a sudden smarter than people who actually study an issue is absolutely mind-boggling to me.
And re: Mormonism, I’m much less tolerant of TBMs now than I probably should be. I’ve seen so much damage done to people because of either the Mormon beliefs of others or because of members of the church wilting under the impossible mental and emotional strain of trying to intellectually justify Mormon beliefs and not being able to that I just can’t tolerate a lot of the relatively mainstream Mormon bullsh*t anymore, e.g. “the B of M is historical”, “the B of M isn’t a white supremacist manifesto”, “anyone who isn’t married in the temple is broken, flawed, etc.”, “women don’t need the priesthood because they’re more virtuous than men”, and on and on. I try to be kind to the true believers at church, but I certainly would walk away from any conversation having to do with the subjects above.
I agree with josh h. I’m not an x, but I am a lib, and like Brother Sky, there are places I just can’t go. Ideas I just won’t entertain because the damage I’ve seen is just too painful. In that sense I am closed-minded.
That being said, I am way more open to true conservative philosophy than I used to be. Burke’s notion of a cross-generational social contract appeals, even if I don’t always draw the same conclusions. Even some of his less palatable ideas about the necessity of prejudices I don’t exactly agree with, but I understand.
I’d love to take a class in the history of conservative thought, but I’m not sure I could discuss what passes these days for “conservative thought” among the MAGA crowd. And that’s probably as much on me as it is on them.
One of the interesting aspects of the JK Rowling podcast is that both sides are not equivalent (trans activists and TERFs). I do honestly believe that I can see where the TERFs are coming from, but I disagree with them. I think their worries are (mostly) hyperbolic, and that it’s a Cheney 1% doctrine problem. You can’t harm the 99% to prevent the 1% (or in this case much much smaller) outcome. Solutions to these thorny issues need to preserve the dignity and rights of all people. (In fairness, I believe JKR would agree with that, but she also IMO goes too far in her protectionist viewpoint against dangerous men, as do the other TERFs I know). I wouldn’t cut someone out of my life for being a TERF, but I would try to help them see why they should rethink that.
The Trump stuff is yikes, but I haven’t cut people out of my life for voting for Trump. I might have distanced a little, though. People can and do change. I’ve seen it.
I truly can’t abide any anti-LGBT ranting, though. If they are completely closed off on this topic, I don’t want to give their hatred any oxygen. If they demonstrate curiosity or an interest in understanding more, that’s a different matter. I tend to think it’s easier to get through racism than it is to get through homophobia since homophobes frequently see it in religious terms which makes rational discussion more difficult for some.
When it comes to the Church stuff, I find that it’s a waste to try to talk to someone who is just a full-on apologist, meaning that no matter what the Church does or says it’s always right; it is right sometimes and wrong sometimes, like every human institution. Defensiveness and blaming critics for observing reality are just too much of a turn off. Why bother? Endless appeals to authority are also tiresome, although I’ll engage for a while.
I did have a former colleague of mine text me about confederate statues (that were erected during Jim Crow to intimidate black people) being taken down as “erasing history” and I did pretty quickly clarify that I disagreed with him. He didn’t hit me up with these conservative screeds again, but AFAIK, we are still friends. We only get together every few months anyway.
Are you open-minded? is a fun question, because I don’t know of anyone who is going to say “Nope.” 🙂 So I appreciate the framing of, what things are you open-minded about and what things are deal breakers?
My version of being open-minded/(close-minded), is that there are a lot of views that I’m not ready to adopt, but I am open to hearing, understanding, and considering all ideas- even ideas that contradict my own. I have written about my “Book of Knowledge” where I write down the beliefs/conclusions that I have come to after careful consideration. I also have a “Book of Anti-Knowledge” where I lay out the best argument I can of someone who believes the opposite thing that I do, so I can really understand their perspective and where they are coming from. Understanding other perspectives has been very beneficial to me, and it has caused me to change my beliefs/conclusions and update my Book of Knowledge.
>Can you articulate the opposing viewpoint with clarity and in a way they would agree with?
This is probably the question that resonants most with me.
You don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to concede that the point has merit. You don’t even ave to play devil’s advocate.
But if you cannot articulate a person’s viewpoint or argument in a way that they would recognize as a fair representation, then regardless of the strength of your own position or argument, you are merely shadow boxing against a puppet of your own creation.
I actually think the open-minded/closed-minded binary is a false dichotomy and here’s why:
If the FP sent a letter to all congregations saying, “We shall now be referring to the sacrament as The Xalothian Feast” or “Members shall be barefoot at all times in the chapel,” a lot of members who might get labeled here as closed-minded for being conservative would just go with it. They would adapt right away even if it felt weird or off-putting. They’d be open-minded about it, even if they aren’t open-minded about other things like trans rights or feminism (we had a mini stress-test of this concept with the axing of the word “Mormon”). Anyone can be open-minded about some things and closed-minded about others. It’s simply a matter of what epistemological system and authority figures we trust.
Many of us who used to be all-in regarding the church’s truth claims or the Republican Party experienced, at some point, a harrowing few moments, months, or years in which we suddenly lost trust in those epistemological systems or authority figures. And it was terrifying. It was a vast and cavernous space of limitless possibility to allow ourselves to consider ideas that were previously off-limits.
But then, for most of us, we probably anchored ourselves in a new epistemological system (like empiricism or astrology) or new authority figures (like our own selves or perhaps a de-colonized Jesus). I, for one, am not open-minded when Fox News is on because I don’t trust a word they say. But if Neil DeGrasse Tyson starts telling me something that shakes my worldview somehow, I’m likely to be open-minded about it because I expect there will be empirical evidence to back it up.
The current stress-tests of my open-mindedness are:
– Am I willing to abstain from eating farmed animals now that I’m aware of how sentient and emotionally intelligent they are and how cruel are farming systems are to them?
– Can I entertain the possibility of the existence of God after having been burned so badly by toxic versions of deity in Mormonism? I know there are longterm social and personal health benefits to faith but am I so wrapped up in empiricism that I’m unnecessarily locking myself out of a healthier version of spirituality?
It seems that science has learned a lot in recent decades about the mind and human behavior. I’m far from an expert on this, but my impression is that the idea that humans could actually craft some kind of objectivity is doornail dead. It is replaced by the acknowledgement that human beings are narrative creators and rationalization machines. We can hardly be trusted to be really neutral on anything, despite what Switzerland thinks it has accomplished all these years. Even liberals (I am absolutely one) are big on tolerance but are intolerant of intolerance, as well as most conservative religious beliefs, traditional values and ways of life, and Ford F-150s.
The only way I ever found to approach objectivity was to employ a tactic I learned from Buddhism: Don’t care. In a culture where we are taught to have an opinion on everything, particularly those things about which we know nothing, Buddhism said to me, “You don’t have to care about any of these things that don’t impact your life. You can tune it out.” I don’t always achieve the intended objective, but the option is always available to me. That has been liberating. It has also been helpful to focus on people and ignore agendas. Moving closer to open-mindedness is easier when the focus is on who is actually harmed in any scenario and NOT what political ox is being gored.
I do feel that we are doomed, however. Social media has made not having a biased opinion almost impossible. I’m in complete agreement with Mike Sanders in that any pretense of open-mindedness has to include, at a bare minimum, the ability to frame the other side’s position. When I taught English Composition and we worked on arguments, I was seriously deflated when most students simply could not frame the opposing side’s position on well-worn topics like abortion, capital punishment, and free speech. Anything that looks like being open minded starts with critical thinking, which I think will be banned soon in the deep south, Missouri and Idaho. Alas …
We have a Halloween decoration with a floating witch head suspended in a crystal ball that says, “if you’re too open minded, your brains will fall out.” It describes some of the push back I’ve received for my less than orthodox beliefs- a fear that something tangible, irreversible, and life ending would occur for thinking outside the conventional bounds.
When I first engaged in online Mormon discussion, I thought I was very open minded. Rush after rush of confirmation bias bliss. I finally belonged somewhere outside of “I know this church is true.” Then came a break down of even the things I thought I’d never question and it was uncomfortable. I doubled down on certain things, “the church is wrong about LGBTQ issues but families can still be together forever sealed in the temple,” “women should be ordained to offices of the priesthood but Joseph Smith literally saw two personages one of them Jesus and this is his church.” Because of the courage of bloggers and commenters here and elsewhere, bravely and vulnerably posting their ideas for discussion, along with other life events that have occurred personally, I’ve been able to embrace more uncertainty and respond to once rock solid issue questions like, “does God exist?,” “do our families stay together forever,” with “perhaps” and “maybe.”
I now teach my children that it’s okay to not know for sure and we all choose to believe in whatever deity we’d like and worship how ever we please, and that’s just fine. My rock solid issues now have to do with acceptance and kindness for all. When I start to feel bristled by uncertainty, I stop and listen to that part of myself and welcome what it’s doing for me- protecting me, unnecessarily, from my brains falling out.
“Most people claim to be open minded but most people aren’t.”
josh h, I think you’re spot on with this. Being open-minded is like being egalitarian. Most people see it as a good ideal, so we figure it describes us even when it doesn’t. When I try to evaluate myself honestly, I think I’m clearly less open-minded than I imagine. When I first started participating on the Bloggernacle, I was far more prone to at least trying to imagine how the GAs or the Church could be right about things, or how they could be divinely inspired. And of course like with so many folks who comment here, this was a massive shift from my younger years when I was quite convinced that they were 100% inspired and the Church was always right. With time, I’ve become far more closed-minded on these issues, and I refuse to give them the benefit of any doubt. When there’s an obvious natural explanation for things they do (and there is pretty much 100% of the time), I’m not going to attribute anything to deity or even try to see things GAs do in a particularly positive light. They’re just people like anyone else, fumbling their way through life and trying to make sense of it. They just happen to be people who are especially dangerous because they’re clumsily wielding a huge amount of power, and who are certain that their every whim is correct.
Also, on the political side, on Facebook, where I’m pretty active, I have kept friends who are conservative, but any who have gone full Trump, and celebrated his hatefulness and attempts to undermine democracy, I’ve unfriended. I can understand and respect and even articulate arguments in favor of conservative policies (I appreciate several commenters above mentioning the importance of being able to state arguments for ideas you oppose in terms fair enough that people who support those ideas would recognize and agree with them), but I refuse to do so with things like Trump’s love of authoritarianism or his embrace of racism.
Jack, Jack, Jack . . . you didn’t even throw a crumb to Herr Mozart, the lad who COMPOSED more music than most people would simply be able to WRITE DOWN; and all of it is supreme. Somebody once opined that when God desires to listen to music, he dials in a Mozart composition. OK, Bach is/was great on harmonics and counterpoint, but the GOAT ???? Let’s discuss this more before jumping off that cliff. [thx for posting, BTW]
Not attempting a threadjack here, but I don’t see how any composer could be considered superior to ABBA or Lennon/McCartney. Just sayin’.
Ziff: I should clarify that I did unfriend / block those who literally called for civil war over their Trump allegiance, and there were actually some who did, even long before the insurrection at the Capitol. But your random conservative semi-unthinking Trump-voter, I stayed friends while thinking less of them.
Jaredsbrother: Your reframing of the Buddhist principle of detachment is brilliant! I audibly chuckled. Yes, it is a fantastic strategy to simply remind yourself that you don’t have to care or have an opinion about everything.
I think it’s important to see those areas where we are closed-minded because we are all closed-minded on some things. There was a rebuttal of sorts to the JK Rowling witch hunt podcast on the Best of the Left podcast (one of my favorites–a compilation of various pods into one program with a great host). He explained that it’s disingenuous for a wealthy TERF to use her power and platform to contribute negatively toward a community that is already targeted and marginalized if it is eroding their basic human dignity. In some cases, she was fairly flippant in her dismissal of trans concerns (foregrounding women while excluding trans women as “not real women”), which is a byproduct of the character limit on Twitter. Her views aren’t anti-trans per se, just exclusionary feminism, which is (checks notes) what TERF means. She’s received death and rape threats for her views, which are just apparently the new normal for women involved in public discourse (thanks, Gamergate). She’s probably more closed-minded than she thinks she is on this topic, and everyone who attacks her for it solidifies her resolve.
When it comes to the Church discussions online, I think there are some other dynamics that make it mostly unidirectional. When you are at Church, you can’t share your true opinions unless they are 100% pro-Church and pro-leaders without some social blowback (and often some down-low appreciation from others who feel relief that they aren’t the only ones). When you are online, the apologists who are coming in to defend the Church often feel like a self-appointed freelance police force, coming in to re-explain the party line. Every single person in these online discussions knows that party line backwards and forwards. We know those arguments. We recognize the indoctrination when we see it, so it feels like having a tenth grader explaining to a grad student how things work. That’s certainly not to say that no tenth grader can teach a grad student anything, nor is it to say that every grad student is a genious. It’s just that the tenth grader hasn’t been exposed to everything the grad student has, but the grad student has been exposed to everything the tenth grader has.
Now now, Raymond. It’s OK for Mozart to be *as* great as Bach–but greater? Not on your fireless cooker, mister.
Brother Sky, I agree that Lennon/McCartney are the GOAT for pop songs. And anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know music from a pack of laughing hyenas.
How’s that for an open mind? 😀
Bach for sure is defensible for the top spot – a master of musical engineering.
Bob Dylan may have to take the songwriting cake from Lennon/McCartney though…a very close race. Carol King is in that race too.
“We know those arguments. We recognize the indoctrination when we see it, so it feels like having a tenth grader explaining to a grad student how things work.”
Yes, but remember, the tenth graders in many instances are not trying to convince the graduate students that they’re wrong. They’re trying to warn other tenth graders that the graduate students might be wrong in spite of their education.
“It’s just that the tenth grader hasn’t been exposed to everything the grad student has, but the grad student has been exposed to everything the tenth grader has.”
Many tenth graders have been exposed to graduate level training but have chosen to return to the tenth grade because that’s where they feel they can do the most good.
I am not open-minded to continue teaching Gospel Doctrine for BOM or D&C as they are not “true” books for me; at the end of this year I will resign without stating a reason. But I will have taught OT and New Testament so maybe that’s good enough and hopefully I can avoid the Kevin Pearson thought police.
AFAIK Dua Lipa and Bon Jovi are great musicians, crocs and sweats are comfortable, 7-11 and Dairy Queen serve tasty treats etc. If there is anything praiseworthy happening at honky-tonks, I am inclined to seek after it.
Chet, please stay. Or at least–before you go–find a quiet place and sit and read chapter 17 of 3 Nephi. Reflect on it and then ask yourself if you’re truly ready to let go of the God of the Book of Mormon.
@Angela – It’s apparent that you work hard to try to stay balanced and allow for nuance, it’s very refreshing.
“I think it’s important to see those areas where we are closed-minded because we are all closed-minded on some things.”
Yeah I agree for sure. It’s also important to note that being open minded also doesn’t necessarily involve changing one’s position.
I can open-mindedly consider someone’s argument that the Earth is flat…I can still be open minded even if my position about it being round doesn’t change.
It can also be hard to gauge the actual open-mindedness of someone else. It’s plausible that Rowling has open-mindedly considered other positions and remains unconvinced…it’s also possible she hasn’t. Hard to know without knowing her personally (or being her).
“He explained that it’s disingenuous for a wealthy TERF to use her power and platform to contribute negatively toward a community that is already targeted and marginalized if it is eroding their basic human dignity.”
This is way too idealistic IMO. The response from the podcaster just sounds like whining that Rowling has a bigger platform and a different opinion. Agree or not with Rowling’s position, it’s naive for them to expect anyone with status, power, and strong opinion to just withhold it (*cough* Elder Oaks *cough*)…now add ego, immense wealth, and widespread public popularity to the equation.
“In some cases, she was fairly flippant in her dismissal of trans concerns (foregrounding women while excluding trans women as “not real women”), which is a byproduct of the character limit on Twitter. Her views aren’t anti-trans per se, just exclusionary feminism, which is (checks notes) what TERF means.”
I think this is also worth pausing on. 1) Twitter is just a vehicle for oversimplification and divisiveness 2) You using TERF as a neutral description (like it was originally intended) is appreciated…Now it’s almost always used as a slur, which usually just makes it reductive and antithetical to open-mindedness. Thanks for not doing that.
“Everyone who attacks her for it solidifies her resolve.”
This is just all humans. The backfire effect and motivated reasoning is something we’re all subject to. They’re very hard to avoid or combat…even in low-stakes discussions in the comments section of a blog like this; much less publicly under pressure.
“Every single person in these online discussions knows that party line backwards and forwards. We know those arguments. We recognize the indoctrination when we see it, so it feels like having a tenth grader explaining to a grad student how things work.”
This is so great. The tenth grader comment just reminded me that greek root of “sophomore” (wise fool) is meant to mock second-year students with an inflated sense of their own knowledge and importance, despite their lack of experience/expertise.
It’s not necessarily a good thing to be open minded. Jonathan Streeter’s description of wood tools vs steel tools is a good way to think about evaluating ideas and helped me recognize the types of arguments I make. Being open minded to arguments designed to close your mind is just counterproductive. Mormonism Live! did a show on this a couple weeks ago.
Here’s the URL to Jonathan Streeter’s original post: https://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/fix-your-faith-crisis-with-this-one-weird-trick/
@Corou: I don’t know that I agree. One can still remain open minded and hear an argument even coming from a closed-minded source – the argument can still be rejected if it doesn’t hold water. At some point we have to hear ideas we don’t like or agree with.
I read the article you linked – I thought it was ok. The article was wordy and a bit hard to follow.
I did like these bits:
-Recognizing that a crisis of faith can devastating, especially from within a high-demand religion.
-A crisis isn’t necessarily a bad thing despite what others in the religion may say. Framing it as a transitional state is great.
-The premise behind “steel tools” about trying to objectively evaluate ideas and information from all sources is good. We can all learn things from people we may not like or agree with.
-The point that you can reject something without knowing the right alternative.
I really didn’t like these bits:
-The one weird trick felt like “Discern the solutions your doubts by discerning them.” Not very practical.
-The selected analogy was poor IMO. There are plenty of useful wood tools in the world…maybe toy tools vs real tools? Idk, I don’t like that either, haha. If the analogy works for you, great. I just didn’t like it.
-Some of the examples on the “wood tools” list are actually viable arguments. e.g. Faith is very much about trying to understand mysteries we may not be able to readily understand. We truly weren’t there however many centuries ago…so we often can’t understand the true context of something, right or wrong (this also doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for our day)….then there’s all the people in between that could have muddied the original message.
@The Pirate Priest. I think the difference we’re getting into here is semantics. Thanks for considering my post!
Jack: “Many tenth graders have been exposed to graduate level training but have chosen to return to the tenth grade because that’s where they feel they can do the most good.” Maybe in an Adam Sandler movie, but in real life? I am doubtful.
Pirate Priest: “I can open-mindedly consider someone’s argument that the Earth is flat” Yes, exactly! There is something to be learned by this exchange. It’s probably not ultimately going to be a lesson about the actual shape of the earth. Maybe it’s a lesson about how we come to believe the things we believe, and how well we even understand the things we think we understand.
“The tenth grader comment just reminded me that greek root of “sophomore” (wise fool) is meant to mock second-year students with an inflated sense of their own knowledge and importance, despite their lack of experience/expertise.” LOL, that’s funny because I wasn’t consciously thinking of the word “sophomoric,” but maybe that was an unconscious factor in my word choice.
I don’t know how we avoid hubris without being open-minded to the fact that we might be full of crap.
I understand that analogies have their limitations. Even so, at the risk of pushing your analogy too far, the Lamanites were kindergarteners when they were converted. They were not able to express the change they had experienced in theological terms–but they were certainly able to bear witness of it in plain terms.
“The glory of God is intelligence . . . [and thus,] as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith . . . [unless you are a tenth-grader, or, in other words, one who spurs higher education, instead calling it liberal mind-washing; for such, there is no progress].”
As Jacob said: “But to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.”
And often that counsel comes to us in terms that even “them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” can comprehend.