Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Personal Apology

In the world of apologetics, moral behavior is only ever utterly right or totally wrong.  This is very problematic, for reasons that I am going to rant about now.

Prophets are either right about sex, or wrong: there is no middle ground, no room for any kind of experimentation or trial, and no mercy for mistakes.

Bank regulators are either right about interest rates, or wrong: there is no middle ground, no room for any kind of experimentation or trial, and no mercy for mistakes.

By endorsing ideas like these, apologists for the absolute authority of any social order inevitably weaken that order (pressuring it to exist in a way that precludes antifragility and invites cataclysmic destruction--when dear little Pete is gay or Suzie gets knocked up or someone buys a passle of bad mortgages: the righteous Mormon family folds, just like the righteous global economy built on the Pax Americana).

Recently it came to my attention that a certain Mormon apologist made some pointed remarks about the motives people like me have, people who disagree publicly with things the LDS church does and says in an official capacity.  This apologist assumed that I would necessarily wish to destroy the church, utterly and entirely.  For the record, that is not true.  I am not interested in destroying the church (not even when apologists refer to me and/or my friends as "hostile ex-Mormons"). I prefer to contribute to society in positive ways rather than negative ones. What hurt me about the church was that I found my contribution there coming out to a net negative: I was hurting myself and other people more inside the the church than out (where I currently am, though I have not taken my name off the rolls and I have no intention of doing so).

I wish the church well. I wish it could say the same for me (i.e. send me off to hell with a pat on the back instead of attempting to crucify my character to family members still under its spell). To be fair, I don't think the church as a whole does wish me harm; the problem is that there are all these apologists in it, apologists who want to look at my life and explain every failure (of any kind: i.e. personal moral shortcomings and impersonal natural disasters) as a result of me not believing in or living up to their personal idea of what constitutes a really righteous rain dance.

"You had sex and felt bad? Well, obviously you weren't following the prophet."

"You bought stock and prices plunged? Well, obviously you weren't following the prophet."

"You stuck your head in a hat and suddenly thought you understood life, the universe, and everything? Well, obviously you weren't following the prophet."  You have to stick your head in the right hat and use only proper scrying technique under the supervision of certified experts (like those two clueless 18-year-olds the prophet sent to your door to explain these mysteries of God).

It's quite simply a pile of crap. Life is more random than the ability of people to predict or guarantee, even when some people wind up wearing fancy duds and sporting titles to match (titles like "prophet, seer, and revelator" or "vice-president in charge of risk management" or "royal astrologer"). The nice suit doesn't qualify you to place bets for other people that are guaranteed to succeed. The splendid track record enshrined in your curriculum vitae doesn't qualify you, either. I don't care how much money you made playing Russian roulette with nature, buddy: I happen to know that the game is not safe, that people die doing the same rain dance you do, that there is no such thing as a bet guaranteed to pay more upside than downside. Knowing this does not make me want to destroy you--any more than I want to destroy the guy who tries to sell me diet pills or the doctor who thinks I should get a colonoscopy (because I'm getting older and "you can never be too careful") or the stockbroker who wants me to buy a bunch of junk bonds.  I don't want to shoot the messenger. I'm just not interested in buying any of the useless junk he sells, and I'm tired of this reticence on my part being used as some kind of weapon to malign me to friends and family (as though I were an awful person merely because I don't like buying junk from charlatans).

1 comment:

  1. And I don't expect the charlatans to know they are charlatans. I don't demand that they admit it, or that they shut up shop and never sell another junk bond again. I have been around the block enough to know that you don't get rid of generic illness merely by knocking down a few particular diseases. People will still be liable to fall down dead when every infectious disease we know of at the moment has gone the way of smallpox. I don't know what will kill them, but I am pretty sure something will--and I have no interest in hastening the arrival of that unknown illness by hastily stamping out all the illnesses I happen to be familiar with. Better the devil you know, as the saying goes.