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Avoiding Cliches to an Extreme

Guest - January 23, 2005

The subtitle to this blog states that one of the reasons it is here is to laugh at Mormon culture. It has done just that to a great extent and it has been a very enjoyable part of posting and commenting on this blog (and I know, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted!). As with all cultures, we have many quirks and conundrums that, when viewed with objectivity, are really quite silly and sometimes dangerous to ourselves and/or others.
Let me try to make this clear through an example dealing with my roommate. My roommates and I have grown somewhat tiresome of the many cliche things many members of the church do here at school. Things like getting criticized for not being dressed in Sunday clothes for devotional, growing facial hair between semesters, and not going to stadium singing. Some of the worst complaints are made in the school newspaper about people getting offended for an article they read that they obviously did not get the satire of.
Anyway, the danger I find hard to avoid is not in going the extreme that these people are, but in trying to avoid that by going too far the other direction. I feel like one of my roommates has done this. He hates hearing these complaints and seeing members of the church be so judgmental that he ends up judging them and raises his own trump to the case. He becomes satirical at inappropriate time and in inappropriate places, purposely grows his hair to the maximum (w/o braking the Honor Code), and avoids going to devotional. Even in controversial things, he makes no qualms about watching any R-rated movie, drinks caffeine incessantly, and so on.
Does this make any sense? I love the kid and am not really worried about his testimony or anything, I just find it dangerous to overcompensate for self-righteousness with anti-righteousness. I have fallen into this at times myself and can see it being just one more problem for we as followers of Christ to find that fine line between the two. Of being true followers of Christ who work to help our fellow men without condemning them.

1 Comment »

  1. Interesting thoughts, Bret. I guess I’d only really be concerned if you can show that his behavior really is a kind of rebellion, rather than just his behavior. There’s nothing wrong per se with what he’s doing, but the potential attitude situation is the real problem.
    Steve Evans | Email | Homepage | 01.23.05 – 9:12 pm | #

    Yeah, the attitude is the problem that is the concern, like you said. I just used some examples of actions to get my point across.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 01.24.05 – 3:10 am | #

    It is difficult going thru life without judging. We make judgements all the time. The problem comes when we judge unrighteously and or our judging make us acr or re-act wrongly.

    There is also a fine line between rebellion and individuality. It sounds like your roommate does have a problem, maybe with both. And I think you’re right, it’s the attitude he has toward these things that probably is his biggest problem.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 01.24.05 – 1:24 pm | #

    I like your perspective, Bret. Interesting take. I see your main point in your last few sentences: 1) It’s dangerous to overcompensate for self-righteousness with anti-righteousness, and 2) we all need to be careful we’re not condemning others for their decisions. (In fact, could we say that by heeding the second point we could avoid getting caught in the first point?)

    A seminary teacher once gave my class these guidelines on “judging righteously” (because, as Don implied, we have to make judgments in this life). He said our job is “evaluation,” while the Lord’s job is “condemnation.” Of course that almost over-simplifies it, but Don and Steve also provided good tips: watch your attitude and don’t let your evaluation result in wrong actions/reactions.

    I just try to remember that I don’t know someone else’s heart — if their actions don’t directly affect me then I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and move on with my life the best I can, knowing the Lord gets to sort it out.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 01.25.05 – 1:04 am | #

    (If their actions DO directly affect me, I tell them to go straight to Hell because surely they deserve it.)
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 01.25.05 – 1:05 am | #

    Man, you guys just need to get out of Rexburg. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a better perspective when I’m not living in Utah. I’m not saying the focus is different, because I think we are all trying to come unto Christ, but there seem to be a lot more weird distractions in Provo (Rexburg).
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 01.25.05 – 7:51 am | #

    Well DUH! Of course it’s more of a problem in a more Mormon populated area! (And you RUN this blog?>8p) It can be applied to outside of that area, however. Self righteousness is everywhere within AND without the church.

    Your last paragraph is perfect. I just found a GREAT couple of scriptures last night in my study that are perfect for this post too! (Too bad I didn’t have them when I wrote it!) D&C 19:30, 31:9 and Alma 34:40 all talk about how we should not “revile against the revilers.”
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 01.25.05 – 1:48 pm | #

    Of being true followers of Christ who work to help our fellow men without condemning them.

    Would our world not be… a better place, if we spent even a minimal amount of time striving to maintain this attitude.
    Lisa M | Email | Homepage | 01.26.05 – 1:57 am | #

    Bret | Email | Homepage | 01.26.05 – 3:38 am | #

    I guess my question is: Define righteous judgment/evalutaion, and who then has that right to do so? The thing I’ve noticed in my “expirences” with judgmental people is that somehow they feel justified in their judgments. That whatever it is they have deemed upon another is entirely true and rational to every extent. I dont understand how someone can be so bold as to begin to know someone’s place before really ever understanding them.
    Now granted, in my times under such judgements I too have either “counter-judged” or have even gone “anti-righteous” at times due to what I was recieving from many different people. It wasnt/isnt the best way to carry things out, and I regret many of my actions, but niether party is right, yet both feel justified.
    In a perfect world I dont think that it comes down to “helping people w/o judgement,” but that we come to one another as we come to Christ. We all need His help and we all need each other to get there too. None of us can begin to put ourselves above that goal of “all men may be saved” and exclude ANY who are comming to Him. Long hair, caffine drinking R rated movie watcher or not, we’re still His, and I pray that my fellow brethern around me would help me achive my goal of returning to Him. None of those things listed above are asked in the temple interview, and that when final righteous judgment is placed, I doubt the longest my hair ever grew or number of cans of Mt. Dew I drank will come up. There’s so much of our own life to be lived, why waste another moment on such petty dribble.
    Bryce | Email | Homepage | 01.26.05 – 8:51 am | #


    You ask an excellent question: just what IS “righteous judgment/evaluation?”

    Unfortunately I imagine that most of us, most of the time, do not meet whatever requirements there are for such a thing. And my best guess is that it involves being so in tune with the Spirit that you are making a judgment Christ would make.

    As to who “has that right to do so,” I’d answer “everyone” (everyone in tune with the Spirit, that is). We all have a need to evaluate the people and situations around us for our own good — to determine if we will follow or join such behavior (good or bad).

    Moroni tells us we’re SUPPOSED to judge to “know good from evil” (Moro. 7:15-16) and that the way we know is through the Spirit of Christ that we’ve all been given. Also, Christ tells the Nephites they are to be judges of the people, “according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just” (3 Ne. 27:27). What I find interesting about this verse, however, is that he then goes on to tell them NOT how to make good judgments, but how to be good people: “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily, I say unto you, even as I am.”

    In short, more of us probably need to start making more judgments to improve our own behavior and less judgments to improve others’.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 01.26.05 – 10:11 am | #

    One thing not mentioned so far is the difference between judging behavior and judging people.

    I feel we have the right to judge behavior, based on the criteria Amy points out using the guidelines Christ has given us.

    I don’t feel we have the right to judge the people. You never know what has brought someone to the point where they do what they do. Walk in my moccasins and you may have done worse things than I.

    Behavior is bad….people aren’t bad. God loves us all, no mater what our behavior. I don’t think He loves me more, in a quantitative sense, if I’m good. He loves me and wants me to be with Him. He loves me and allows me to choose Him. He loves me and has provided the way.

    If my friend’s behavior isn’t what it should be, do I judge? Sure! Do I judge my friend? NO! I still love him and want what’s best for him.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 01.26.05 – 1:20 pm | #

    The point I think we have all made is that we should judge for certian reasons at certian times.
    I like to put that as we should judge people (or their actions, whatever) in a way that will benefit THEM, not us for feeling like we’re better then them. So, if someone is doing something I think is pushing them away from God, I want to make the decision that will best help them turn around. What that exactly is all the time, I have no idea.

    you make an excellant point, but be careful when it comes to the Temple recommend interviews. Those are VERY generalized questions that encompass just about everything in life.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 01.27.05 – 3:05 am | #



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