Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, October 23

Filters of Reality 2: More on Perception, Frames, and Conversion

Filters of Reality 2: More on Perception, Frames, and Conversion
by grego

“Perception”: what you see and what it means
“Frame”: why you saw what you saw and why it meant to you what it meant

Hi, I’ve had a few thoughts since last time, so I wrote this…

Many LDS have a hard time understanding why non-LDS just can’t “see” it. It’s true, many non-LDS have a really hard time even allowing themselves to be open to Mormonism. To some, the very word “Mormon” sets off images of something like Satan masquerading as an angel of light talking with Joseph Smith, holding a Book of Mormon and many demons inside waiting to jump out and grab the soul of any who dares open the cover, much less pray to God about the book…

Following are a few examples of frames and conversion.

One member explained it like this (from Ensign ):
“This philosophy led me to an intense study of all world religions. This type of study was not new to me. I had taken numerous classes on multicultural worship practices, in which I had been shown why these religions were inaccurate according to the Bible. Yet new questions now rang in my head: What if the Bible was inaccurate? What if everything I had believed to be true was wrong?
From the earliest years of my religious training, my family, church, and professors had educated me on the danger of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had seen almost every anti-Mormon movie, prayed for the lost souls giving tours of Temple Square, argued with LDS peers, and taken classes comparing the Book of Mormon with the Satanic bible. Decades of anti-Mormon training had equipped me with the tools and motivation to stay far away from any LDS affiliation. Although I wanted to open my mind to all religions as a form of truth, I did not allow room for the LDS Church.” (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=a2aad326b221c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1)
Wow! ANY church or religion EXCEPT the LDS church.
But through a process of reframing, he went from that to joining the Church.

President Faust shared this story:
“A few years ago, when Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Presidency of the Seventy was in Japan, the missionaries introduced him to a young Japanese brother who had just joined the Church. He was from a non-Christian background. When he met the missionaries, he was interested in the message, but he could not understand or feel the need for a Savior, and he didn’t have a witness regarding the gospel. One day the missionaries decided to show him a film about the Atonement. The young man saw the film, but still he didn’t have a witness.
The next morning he went to work. He worked in an optician’s shop making eyeglasses. … An elderly woman came in. He remembered her coming in a few weeks before. She had broken her glasses. She needed a new pair. When she had come in earlier, she didn’t have enough money and had gone away to save more in order to purchase the new glasses. As she came in that day, she again showed him her spectacles and showed him the money that she now had. He realized that she didn’t have enough yet. Then a thought came to him: I have some money. I don’t need to tell her. I can make up the difference. So he told her the money she had was adequate, took her glasses, [and] made an appointment for her to return when he had finished making the spectacles. …
She returned later. He had the glasses ready for her. He handed them to her, and she put them on [and exclaimed] ‘… I see. I see.’ Then she began to cry. At that point, a burning sensation began to grow within his bosom and swelled within him. He said, ‘… I understand. I understand.’ He began to cry. Out the door he ran, looking for the missionaries. When he found them, he said, ‘I see! My eyes have been opened! I know that Jesus is the Son of God. I know the stone was rolled away from the tomb and on that glorious Easter morning He arose from the dead. He can make up the difference in my life when I fall short.’ ” (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=22769aafed472110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1)
A reframe, caused by a personal experience and the Spirit.

This is similar to this story by Joe Sugarman, who tells his story of buying insurance (yeah, ok, not quite conversion to the LDS gospel/ church, but read…):
An insurance salesman, also a good customer, kept telling him, but he didn’t want to be bothered with it. Then one day, he heard the siren, and a few minutes later, saw his neighbor, in his 40’s, rolled out covered with a white sheet. Massive heart attack. “I was 36 at the time.” Joe says. He called and got insurance the very next day. He says, “I had finally made the plunge. Was it Howard’s salesmanship? Was it his persistence? Maybe. But I realized from that experience a really effective way to sell a whole series of products. Howard succeeded because he had planted enough seeds in my mind for me to realize what insurance was for, who should sell it to me, and who was a good friend and customer. When it came time to buy, only I, Joseph Sugarman, would know. And only when there was an immediate experience that hit close to home, would I see the value of insurance. I went through the experience, and I responded.”

There are many things we “know” (or, uhmm, “knew”):
*4-4-3-2, that’s the way for me and you” is the way to eat for perfect health… or, the current food pyramid. (My grade school health book.)
*The Maya were a peaceful people, unlike the Aztecs. (My grade school history book.)
*The earth is the center of the universe.
*The desert mouse is extinct–for over 150 years! Along with the Husky hopping mouse, the Sumatra muntjac (gone since 1930), etc. (see http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/mouse151yrs/)
*Cholesterol is good… bad… depends on the kind… good… ??

I learned many things in school (from grade school through college) which were untrue, and even more that were incomplete or uncertain but which were presented as true. There’s a time to hold on, and a time to let go.

I sure remember math. “You can’t do 2-3.” Oh, ok. It didn’t sound right, but ok. Then I got to algebra. “There are negative numbers, but that’s it.” Then I got to deeper math. “There are irrational numbers, but that’s it.” Then I got to deeper math. “There are imaginary numbers, but that’s it.” Well, that’s where I stopped, but I’ve heard there are even more kinds of numbers…

Once we get an idea or what we believe to be a “truth”, it’s often hard to let go–especially if we like it, we feel a special connection to it, or it had special meaning to us when we learned it, or we shared it with someone special, or we had a good experience with it, or someone special taught it to us, etc. Because of those connections, we often feel that by letting go of that “truth”, we are also letting go of all good that is connected with it. Sometimes, the connection doesn’t even have to be really clear. For example: if our deceased grandfather, who we were really close to, was a devout _fill in the religion_, we feel obligated to remain in that same religion–even if grandfather never told us to. Or: “My dear mother said you had to cook it like this or it’s wrong”, so anything else is anathema.

A few of us are opposite–from one new thing to the next, be it computers, gadgets, jobs, partners, religion, etc.

Oh, did you realize that by not being able to understand why others don’t understand, you are in the same position as them?

Interestingly, LDS who were mainstream Christians (or otherwise) often lose the ability to relate to other non-LDS after their conversion, because once someone shifts, they often forget what it was like before they shifted. This is, in fact, somewhat common of all shifters, not just converts to the LDS Church. Those who do energy work might have had this experience; for example, the “apex effect” in EFT. The Book of Mormon seems to support this in the story of Lamoni:
Alma 20:9 And behold, the father of Lamoni said unto him: Why did ye not come to the feast on that great day when I made a feast unto my sons, and unto my people?
Alma 20:10 And he also said: Whither art thou going with this Nephite, who is one of the children of a liar?
Alma 20:11 And it came to pass that Lamoni rehearsed unto him whither he was going, for he feared to offend him.
Alma 20:12 And he also told him all the cause of his tarrying in his own kingdom, that he did not go unto his father to the feast which he had prepared.
Alma 20:13 And now when Lamoni had rehearsed unto him all these things, behold, **to his astonishment**, his father was angry with him…
True, Lamoni’s father was stricter than he was, but Lamoni was astonished that his father didn’t see things like he did and didn’t understand what he had said and its significance–even though Lamoni himself had only been changed for a very short time, after a few incredible experiences!

While many members can’t seem to understand why someone “can’t see”, let’s move in another direction for a second, to lesser things, and imagine, what if someone told you:
*that 9/11 was an inside conspiracy?
*that Lincoln was more evil or caused more destruction than Hitler?
*that leaving cancer untreated instead of treated gives you better odds of survival?
*that getting sun is a good thing and prevents cancer and sickness?
*that Democrats and Republicans are just different means to the same end?
*that McCain and Obama were both puppets of the same controllers?

So, what was that just like? How was that? Did your emotions rise up? Did you start seeing red or feeling hot? Did you start shaking your head? Did you throw up your defenses pretty quickly? Did you start thinking someone else was blind, a kook, delusional, very ignorant, stupider than you?

This is much like how many mainstream Christians feel when they hear about the LDS church and its beliefs, and there’s a reason behind it: someone has been framed!

*You* might know the gospel is true and the LDS church is the true church; but someone else might not.

Think for a second, though–if you were not willing to be open to the possibility that those statements above might be true, why should you or anyone expect mainstream Christians and other religious believers/ adherents to be open to accepting/ believing in the LDS church?

“But the Spirit!” Yes, and if you have the Spirit, why aren’t you open to what might be true, like in the above comments? Come now: has the Spirit really, truly told you that those comments are all wrong? Could you bear a testimony about that, even if it meant risking your salvation? (Note that many others are certain of their beliefs, and risk their salvation on it…)

“The gospel is true, but we all know those above comments are lies!” Yes, just like others know the anti-Mormon stories are true, and that what their congregational leader tells them is true, but that the Book of Mormon and apologetic explanations are all lies.

“But the evidence, it’s so clear and easy to see!” Well, if you’re in that frame, yes, it is easy to see.

Here’s something else that’s interesting: you often only “see” what you’re concentrating on, or what you’re “framed” to see. For example, news on TV also runs on the psychological connection between specific and general–they might run two stories on people who are crazy and are dressed in brown suits, and suddenly the news and the police are inundated with phone calls about crazy people in brown suits.

And suddenly, unexplainedly, no one wears a brown suit anymore… ;)

Here’s another interesting thing: you often only “see” what fits your frame. In other words, people generally ignore evidence–sometimes even blatantly–that doesn’t fit into their frame–especially if it’s not a personal experience.

Being framed doesn’t mean it’s bad and you see everything wrong; it just means you don’t control what you see, and you can be controlled to see what others want you to see.

Yeah.

Don’t believe me, huh?

Who are you voting for, McCain or Obama? Visit these two websites:
http://www.obamawtf.blogspot.com
http://www.powmccain.org

So, what was that like?

Which one made you excited? Which one made you mad? Did you easily agree with everything you found on “the other” guy’s site, or on “your” guy’s site? Which site gave you “Spirit” feelings?

Ok, that might have seemed almost sacrilegious, about the Spirit part. But remember, there is a difference between the Spirit, which brings heavenly peace and calm and resolute direction, versus persuasion and propaganda, which brings earthly peace and calm and resolute direction. How well can you tell the difference? It’s not always easy for most people.

So, how can you see more? One of the greatest helps is to “defend the other side”. If you did it in school for a class, great. If you’ve never had the experience, you missed out on an essential part of education. Do you want to have fun? Find someone with an opposing point of view where both of you feel you are right about different answers to the same topic, where both of you feel there is only one right answer. (Don’t pick something big.) Then, switch sides, give each other a day, present arguments for the opposing side, and the loser buys lunch!

Change is not easy, especially when it involves reframing.

As one woman said:
“I was a non-practicing *(religion). I grew up in the * church, but when I hit high school I stopped attending. I didn’t know much about their doctrine…
In high school I went to a few other churches with friends. A * church, *, a couple of * churches, a *.
I have been attending an LDS church for 2 years, my baptism was 16 months ago. At first many of it seemed odd. I had to pray about it, read about it, and study about it.
I remember when the Sister Missionarries told me about their garments, underwear. I was picturing cute little styles, in white of course. At the time it had seemed funny and made me giggle. When I understood a little more about it, it seemed very weird and odd and couldn’t picture myself ever following that part of the church. Once I studied the scritpures, it now feels like a comfort and a privledge to have that choice.
I also remember the first comment I heard about the temple. It was when I was investigating and my mother, who by the way, was baptized a year ago, was spouting off on how it is wrong that anyone who wants to cannot go into their temples. It wasn’t a huge block or hurdle, but those comments for a moment put the same idea floating around in your head until you can deal with them.
Then there are the little bits of things you hear about and have to figure out for yourself. The Kirtland, I think, bank failure, mountain meadows massacure, the Adam-God Theory from Brigham Young and of course, Polygamy.
My husband and I are preparing to go to the temple next month. I have been faithful and waiting, but nervous and scared. From members at church you hear how amazing and wonderful the temple is. But online, there are so many accounts of people who were creeped out.
But then when you really study and pray, things that seemed odd, or unknown, turn into something beautiful and amazing. Last night at our last temple prep class, we were talking about the meaning of the salt of the earth. The whole lessons was centered on not only making covenants but keeping the covenants you make.
After discussing salt, and how it does not lose its flavor over time, and only contamination can turn the salt into something else, at the very end our teacher said, Is it coincidence that Brigham ended up in the Valley of the Salt Lake? I think not. What am amazing moment. It is those little things that build my testimony and make it stronger.
I have learned to recognize, that statements can be misunderstood and taken out of context to suit the purpose of someones agenda. I also had to figure out that while I hold our Prophets of the church, as prophets, sears and revelators, they too are human.
Faith is a decision. It does not just happen upon you magically. Once I received my first testimony of the Holy Ghost, something I had never felt before in any of the churches I attended. I chose at that moment, to follow in faith.”

Did you notice words like odd, weird, figure out, nervous, scared, creeped out, unknown? That’s how it often is at first, when we look at something–even if it is true. Some might feel the Spirit immediately and deeply; others need to do what this sister had to do: pray, read, study, understand more, study the scriptures, figure out, faithful and waiting, really study and pray, being open to the “little things”, and finally, feeling the Spirit and *deciding* to believe and follow.

Does being framed mean that you are wrong? No, not at all. Being framed doesn’t mean anyone’s point of view is wrong, invalid, or that it doesn’t have anything to contribute. I believe it does mean the more framed you are, the less likely you are to be able to see the truth unless you started with it or it’s right in your frame. Hopefully, this helped you understand a little about perception, framing, and conversion.

Good luck!

I ran into this today, and thought it might be good to add:
http://www.skeptdic.com, http://www.skeptico.com, etc.–I can’t help but mix those up with “septic” (as in “septic tank”) and other words, and maybe a few more words at the unconscious level. (I wonder if those website name choices had anything to do with Freud?) I guess that has to do with more of what they’re like and how they talk about the things they talk about, than the things they talk about.
To be skeptical is ok; to be a close-minded skeptical, is not. And that’s what these types of sites really are.
Ironically, from Wikipedia::
“In ordinary usage, skepticism or scepticism (Greek: ‘σκέπτομαι’ skeptomai, to look about, to consider; see also spelling differences) refers to (a) an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object; (b) the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain; or (c) the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism that is characteristic of skeptics (Merriam–Webster).
Also:
“In classical philosophy, skepticism refers to the teachings and the traits of the “Skeptikoi”, a school of philosophers of whom it was said that they “asserted nothing but only opined.” (Liddell and Scott) In this sense, philosophical skepticism, or Pyrrhonism, is the philosophical position that one should avoid the postulation of final truths. Turned on itself, skepticism would question that skepticism is a valid perspective at all…
In religion, skepticism refers to “doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation).” (Merriam–Webster).”
Looking at those websites, you’ll see there is no scepticism except of the definition “a” type, which would be “toward a particular object” called “anything I don’t believe especially if it conflicts with my science of religion”; and no scepticism at all for “be”, “c”, “philosphy”, except for possibly religious scepticism, where it’s not “doubt concerning basic religious principles” but “(absolute) belief in the opposite”. There is doubt, unbelief, and close-mindedness about other people and things, but no *true* scepticism.
They say they’re logical, but I find much less (and more) than that on their websites. Sometimes it seems they are more illogical than the sites of the people and things they try to tear down.
I don’t believe in some of they things they don’t believe in, true.
But I guess unlike them, I don’t believe in some of the things they seem to; things like:
*you can use faulty reasoning to make fun of faulty reasoning,
*everything not supported by the majority is wrong,
*anything that contradicts science’s sacred cows is heretical,
*what I believe is the final, and well, only source of truth.

It’s just so ironic that people who should know better, do yet don’t. I mean, most of the people they attack never claim to be completely logical (can anyone find me a Spock? Wait… not even Spock was completely “rational”, except to understand that sometimes it’s rational to accept irrationality.). Sites like these–well, that’s their propaganda trademark. So to me, when they are very illogical, and you see an agenda outside of logic and clear thinking, and you see lots of propaganda techniques and faulty reasoning instead of reasoning, it makes it a double strike: one for pretended and claimed superiority, and one for stupidity and hypocrisy.

Believe me: these people are also framed, and much more so than others. If you don’t believe me, check it out, and see if those sites pass the “no emotion”, “no propaganda”, “no agenda”, “no faulty reasoning” tests.

I leave these words:
“More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much”
–P.T. Barnum


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