Friday, June 14, 2013

talking to people of faith.

A few things.

First, this article by professor Michael J. Stevens on his studies of elevated passive aggressive behavior in Mormons raised on the Wasatch Front:

"As I began to teach my usual rotation of courses using the BDQ, I noticed a striking trend with my students along the Wasatch Front—occurring with undergraduate and graduate (MBA) students, and with males and females. The preference for the avoidance style of conflict resolution was surfacing at a significantly higher rate than I had seen in the Midwest and Texas... Passive-aggression is the least common response option to conflict among the U.S. population at large and is typically viewed as an inadequate and unconstructive strategy (at least over the long term). It is generally used by those who would prefer that the conflict simply go away... In its milder forms, passive-aggression will manifest itself merely as polite and innocuous attempts to steer clear of uncomfortable topics or encounters with others. However, in its more insidious forms, passive-aggression can rise to a level of interpersonal hostility and contempt that embodies a “whatever” response to the views and opinions of others... The presence of significantly elevated levels of passive-aggression among the LDS population born and raised along the Wasatch Front deserves some analysis." ~read more

Then in the SFF community, This open letter from Nancy Fulda about feeling discriminated against for being Mormon:
"In a recent conversation with other authors who are practicing a religious faith, it became apparent that many of us feel social pressure to hide our beliefs. I’m not talking about common politeness and self-censoring during conversations at conventions and on the internet. That’s a no-brainer. I hope anyone who’s met me in person can testify that I’m not the kind of jerk who goes around rubbing other people’s noses in her opinions. I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about feelings of rejection because of who we are and what we believe — independent of any specific actions we have taken. Feelings of invalidation and dehumanization. Fear of being ridiculed or publicly dogpiled if we allow our religious affiliations to be known..... I realize that many people within SFF have had horrible experiences with members of organized religions. I am not those people who mistreated you. Please do not treat me as if I were. Once we have gotten to know each other, you may conclude that I am a despicable person, or you may decide that I am actually quite reasonable. I can deal with either option, but please do not reduce me to a stereotype." ~read more

A response from Keffy Kehrli:

"Basically, it’s religious intolerance unless I remain completely polite in all instances, no matter what someone says? It’s religious intolerance if I emphatically distance myself from any single tenet of what someone believes? Fuck that.....If you want to start dialogue with, “I want to discuss this but refuse to change any aspect of my faith,” then why the fuck should I participate? What’s in it for me, except a gradual wearing down of my defenses until I smile pretty and agree that why yes anything you say is totally acceptable regardless of any potential harm it may do to others?... Wow, it must be really nice to be so privileged that as long as nobody raises their voice, you feel welcome and comfortable. That must be fucking amazing. You know what makes me feel unsafe in a space? When someone rolls out some bullshit about queers and then nobody SAYS ANYTHING BACK because we’re all just being nice here and arguing isn’t nice. Fuck nice.
" ~read more

The other side of that argument from Christie Yant:

"In the vast USian social, political, and cultural arena, we as atheists, agnostics, Jews, pagans, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Baha’ist, Wiccans, B’Nai Noach, Sikhs, etc. often feel excluded and as if the majority were living in a completely different world than we are....And then we find SFF, and the majority is like us. Or at least, not Christian. It is a tremendous relief–we can breathe....We forget that there are people among us with deeply held religious views, who believe in a higher authority and in mysteries that don’t require proof. We start to talk about religious people as if they are stupid (they are not). We don’t understand why or how anyone could think the way that they do. We openly mock their beliefs in our conversation, our shared popular culture... People are afraid to mention that they went to church, or that they pray, because they are afraid that they will be derided and treated with contempt. They have good reason to feel that way. I know exactly how that feels, and I should know better than to do it someone else... I don’t assume that an individual necessarily agrees with every aspect of their church’s doctrine (and am often shocked when I learn that they do agree). There are Catholics who use birth control and Mormons who support marriage equality and Jews who oppose circumcision." ~read more


Yesterday was the memorial for my Grammy, my mom's mom. Our family is so rife with religious tension; I've gotten used to feeling isolated and excluded for having left the Mormon tradition to become an atheist but I tend to forget, my mother joined the Mormon church in her twenties, earning her isolation and exclusion from her extremely evangelical Christian family, causing protracted tensions and religious arguments that have lasted decades.  Yesterday's memorial had distasteful elements of the Evangelical crowd using a eulogy to target and exclude the Mormon contingent in the family. To target my mom. (Who at times has barely been able to speak to me because of my own choices regarding faith. Well, and vice versa, I admit.)  Wow I wish I had a better way to wrap this all up nice and tidy with a great conclusion, but I don't. I'm too guilty in too many ways and just want move on and get to work.

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