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Friday, July 20, 2012

Talking about it

In the interest of continuing to think about that blasted Hairpin thread/giving myself an ulcer, happy Friday!...having lived on the Internet since I was fourteen and begun unpacking my spiritual knapsack about five years ago, it really seems to me that it's very difficult for people to have a useful discussion about a religion they aren't and have never been part of. 

I don't mean that only people who have directly experienced a religion are the ones who can talk about it.

Or maybe I do. Because really, what useful things do I have to say about Catholicism or Judaism or Islam? All my knowledge of those religions is strictly academic and must ever remain. Any opinion I have about the Catholic church has little to do with personal experience, and religion is all about personal experience. As we can see in the Pin thread, there are people who have poor opinions of the church and its followers, and there are people defending the church and its followers who largely draw from the pool of "all the Mormons I've met are nice people." Yes, it's true, most LDS folk will not tell you to your face that you are going to Outer Darkness--unless you used to be part of the church. Like, those arguments just do not work on apostates. I can say the same thing about Catholics; I have never met a Catholic who told me point-blank that I was a heathen sinner. But my ex-Catholic gentleman heard plenty of that ilk when he was a teenager. What exactly are we trying to prove with these statements of "but all the [blank] I know are nice"? Your lack of experience does not cancel out my lived experience. 

This Pin thread was really disheartening to me. At the most basic level, I was disappointed to see the comments devolve into name-calling. As I said in the previous post, I had a genuine critique of the article, one which was barely mentioned in the comment thread and which, for my money, is the only viable critique (other than maybe you just aren't into cute travel writing, which is pretty valid. I think the market for that is sort of over-saturated, myself). I have no idea how or if the site editors will address yesterday's mess. But I really am beginning to think that I Just Don't Care about your opinions of my former religion unless the conversation is purely academic, as in, Let us discuss how Jewish temples and Mormon temples are similar! or something of the kind. This thread was not academic in the slightest; it could have been, if anyone had been interested in talking about why and how missionary work is problematic, but that didn't happen. This thread was a case in which I just wanted to scream at everyone on both sides of the argument to do their homework before opening their mouths.

...so yeah, I'm pretty glad it's Friday. I need a stiff drink after this week.

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