And you know what? It bothered me not one bit that he did not engage me on it. I never expected him to. He has admitted that this is not the reason he comes here. He is fascinated with the collective obsession with Mormonism. He enjoys going the rounds with people the more irrational and obsessive they seem to him. Why then would he do more than acknowledge that I was not being unreasonable and then move on?
I think it does help to understand people’s intents in interaction. DCP has frequently affirmed he’s not interested in serious discussion, but rather in observing what he seems to think of as the collective hatred, irrationality, and obsessiveness of internet exmormons. Of course, he gives out mixed messages, because he does, on occasion, actually address serious discussion. He’ll offer a seemingly serious response to the actual content of the discussion, but when challenged, turn around and retreat back into the “I’m not interested in serious discussion” mode.
But let’s ignore the mixed messages, and just focus on the “going the rounds” with obsessive and irrational people. I admit that these discussions tend to take on an obsessive loop once Daniel gets involved, but a large part of that is in reaction to what he’s doing. If he were really just interested in observing the obsessive, irrational, hate-filled behavior of internet exmormons, he shouldn’t be inserting himself in the middle of the loop, because what the subsequent discussion evolves into has as much to do with him as with the nature of internet exmormons. In other words, had Daniel not started his schtick on this thread, posters would have stated their points and rested their cases long ago. I know I would have. So what he’s observing isn’t really just about the obsessiveness of internet exmormons at all. It’s also about DCP’s obsessiveness.
I was not attacking beastie. I was stating a simple fact. Look at how the thread began. Then tell me why any faithful Mormon would expect it to inspire a fair reading of the book from people around here. I am not saying Daniel is right. I am not saying beastie is wrong. I am saying, "let's look beyond that and try to understand each other as more than sparring partners in an interminable pissing contest."
First, the vast majority of Daniel’s posts on this thread have not been about the OP – they’ve been about my posts. Second, I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect understanding to take place in interactions with DCP when he’s stated his interest lies elsewhere (see the first part of this post).
As in real life, people do have different objectives in these sort of interactions. Personally, I am too jaded by years of past interactions with internet defenders of the faith to have much hope in trying to understand each other, or bridging any gap. Yes, when I first discovered this odd little world, I did have that hope or objective. But I was still treated harshly and with suspicion by a core, influential group, which pretty much disabled that objective. I personally concluded that unless and until the LDS church changes its basic teachings about apostates, the goal of understanding and bridging the gap is doomed and will only result in frustration. There are a few folks on both sides who do a good job enduring the insults and jabs and, with good humor, make their points and let it go. They may make a dent. But, to me, that feels like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. So my interest has shifted, and not unlike DCP, I am more interested in the way internet defenders of the faith act. This is the part that interests me:
So tenaciously should we cling to the world revealed by the Gospel, that were I to see all the Angels of Heaven coming down to me to tell me something different, not only would I not be tempted to doubt a single syllable, but I would shut my eyes and stop my ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard.” (Luther) To rely on the evidence of the senses and of reason is heresy and treason. It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible. What we know as blind faith is sustained by innumerable unbeliefs. The fanatical Japanese in Brazil refused to believe for four years the evidence of Japan’s defeat. The fanatical communist refuses to believe any unfavorable report or evidence about Russia, nor will he be disillusioned by seeing with his own eyes that the cruel misery inside the Soviet promise land.
It is the true believers ability to “shut his eyes and stop his ears” to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacles nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence. Strength of faith, as Bergson pointed out, manifests itself not in moving mountains but in not seeing mountains to move. And it is the certitude of his infallible doctrine that renders the true believer impervious to the uncertainties, surprises and the unpleasant realities of the world around him.
So what entertains me, in particular, is laying out simple, obvious facts in a more and more stark fashion to see just how far defenders of the faith will go in their attempts to avoid or deny those facts. I realize that may be irritating to people who do not share that particular interest, and would like to see more understanding between the two sides. (They can try to get that going on other threads and see the results.) I also realize it must be doubly frustrating to those who still believe understanding is attainable when defenders of the faith aren’t particularly interested in understanding, either, and prefer goading what they see as obsessiveness, hatred, irrationality. Of course, I could be “polluting” the observation field as much as DCP does. Perhaps believers like DCP are repeatedly “shutting their eyes and stopping their ears” in a deliberate manner to provoke repeated (and hence “obsessive”) commentary by exmormon critics. Funny, eh? Good thing this is just a diversion in my life, and nothing serious. ;)
So, Trevor, what would you have liked to have seen as response to your comments about the content of the book?