Date: May 14, 2013 05:32PM
First of all, what is a "TBM"? I've been racking my brain on this and can't for the life of me figure it out.
Second, I will attempt to later reply to those posts that jumpe out at me in some way, which is probably how I'll approach my involvement when I'm not asked a specific question.
Where the proverbial "rubber hits the road" for me in this Introduction is in (a) realizing the crucial importance of "real" doubt (note 1) and the ways in which such doubts are betrayed either by suppression and denial, or by inadvertant exposure, and (b) appreciating how one might therapeutically attend to such doubts once they are acknowledged an accepted as the asset they are.
In both of these pragmatic outcomes the issue seems to be, for many still in the faith to some degree, the desire and will to personalize a and b, and not merely intellectually acknowledge them in principle, or the abstract. Reflection is no substitute for hard, analytical work on one's own "faith" (and explicit or tacit beliefs) when engaging in the OTF.
Peck's "dilemma" (which he personally suffered from as a Christian psychotherapist) afflicts all of us in some way throughout our lives in virtue of our humanity. For those theists or "spiritualists" who do not consider themselves "in a box," however, the "box" is regarded as a "(Mighty) Fortress," a good thing that "defends" them from the "wiles of the devil" (or, perhaps in "spiritualis-speak", the "dark energy" or "negative auras" of "dark spirits" or the "unenlightened" worldly masses).
So, how does one come to regard their "World-View" or explicit or tacit "control beliefs" as a limiting and suffocating "box" he or she is "trapped" in, and how can one get out of such a box? And why should anyone really care if others (particularly family and loved ones) are so entrapped?
More specifically, from what privileged view point, if any, can any of us come to legitimately believe or assert, for example, that we, as Atheists or Agnostics, are not the ones trapped in a box and theistic believers or spiritualists are? By assuming such a stance are we not, as perhaps self-regarded "Free Thinkers" in fact trapped ourselves in the Platonic, Cartesian, Kantian "boxes" that are as language-dependent and therefore confining as the idealogical, theological thinking they foster and support.
These questions are, to me, crucial and lay at the heart of the pragmatic, analytical, dialogic (i.e. Socratic) decontruction and justiciation of Mormonism and all theistic faiths I espouse in the book. There is, from my perspective, no Archimedian Point from "somewhere" (or "nowhere") by which anyone can infallibly determine who (or what) is right or wrong morally, or what statements or beliefs can be absolutely and decisively regarded as"True" of "False."
Once we accept the view, if we do, that our thoughts, language and beliefs do not represent or mirror ("correspond" to) reality -- or "things as they really are" -- and that, therefore, knowledge about "reality" for us is not concept and language independent, we will, I think, take the first important step of allowing "real" doubt to take root.
Such doubt for theists constitutes what Nielsen referred to in his Foreword as the "wolves of disbelief," an apt metaphor in my case, and I suspect in others as well who are participating in this forum and reading my book.
In my experience, the "bites" from such wolves -- when of the nature of those inflicted by the "wolves" of personal crisis, disenchantment, and/or analysis and assessment offered, in part, in DM and, for me, in Kai's books (1982, 1996, 2001, 2006) -- are usually, ultimately fatal to faith in all gods for all who are truly "bitten".
This brings me to SC's personal dilemma, if I may...
SC, my guess (and it is at most a guess informed only by personal experience, and my acceptance as a psychologist that, to quote Carl Rogers, "That which is most personal is most universal") is that your good wife has likely been "bitten" by the the wolves of your disbelief -- i.e. by your own real doubts -- and is likely suffering and resisting the spread of infection in her own way.
This suggests, if my guess has any merit, that your wife is in a terrible, "either-or" double-bind; a bind that is created and reinforced by the conditioning and indoctrination she likely sufferred in her Mormon family of origin, if she was born and raised in the faith, and throughout her life as a "faithful Mormon," if she is. This "double-bind" pits the good of the "marriage" bond against the imperative of remaining "true to God and the faith."
Further, it is also likely that, appearances and denials to the contrary notwithstanding, her resistance -- perhaps in the form of a "reaction formation" (e.g. an increase or steadfastness in her religious devotion) -- very well might be, perhaps among other indicators, a betrayal of her own real doubts.
In any case, sometimes it's best to hold the tension and let our unspoken (or spoken) doubts do their natural work. Alternatively, seeking to be understood, instead of seeking to understand (or seeking to convince), can at times facilitate the openness needed to promote openness, and with it, make room for real doubt.
Consider, for example, the following hypothetical conversation in this regard:
"Have you ever wondered what my real doubts are that have led to my abandonment of the faith (or inactivity)?"
"No, but I think I know what they are."
"Would you please share with me, in your words, what you think they are so I know you truly understand? I really need to know that you at least understand."
"I'd rather not."
"I'm struggling to understand why you won't at least share your understanding of my doubts with me. Will you please help me understand why you won't?"
What would any of you make of such a conversation? How does it make room for real doubt, if it does?
Atheism or rejection of Mormonism in a "Mormon marriage" where one spouse is faithful to the Church typically doesn't end well in my experience. As an aside, this is one of the reasons I consider the Mormon faith to be a toxic belief system and social system, as I discuss in some depth in Ch. 8, and also in the Epilogue and PPS.
Even so, where there is greater (or at least equal) commitment to the marriage than to the faith, there is room for healing. The above hypothetical refusal of one spouse to deeply understand the real doubts and crisis of faith of the other seems to indicate the need for non-LDS, non-religious marriage counseling to independently evaluate and work on the marriage. Otherwise, it will likely die a slow death, and might fail anyway.