Belief, Morale, and Near Misses: Round Three on Atheism, Disaffection & Mormonism

By: hawkgrrrl
January 28, 2014

Like a tennis match, the posts continue, back and forth

When I read Jeff’s post Friday (“Maybe Everything Is a Lie?”) that was in response to Andrew’s post Wednesday (“4 Reasons Why Disaffected Mormons Become Atheists“), I knew I had to get my own response in.  It’s an important discussion and probably the real reason the bloggernacle exists.  Why does new information create deeper conviction in some but put others on a completely different path?  Is it the nature of the information, the nature of the individual, the support structure, the circumstances, a mix of these, or something else entirely?  And what about those who, like Jeff in his post, face their doubts head on and hang in there?

The Disaffection Blitz

I was recently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath:  Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.  In it, he talks about the anticipated vs. actual effect of the London Blitz during World War 2.  British leaders were prepared for the worst, not only in terms of casualties and collateral damage, but in predicting that the psychological damage would be severe.  They expected citizens to be disoriented, shell-shocked, fearful, their morale so devastated that they would be wandering the city by the thousands, in need of psychiatric care.  They thought it would cost them the war, but they were wrong.

The panic never happened.

Although the Brits are hasty to credit their inherent stoicism (the famous “stiff upper lip”), Canadian psychiatrist J.T. MacCurdy evaluated the effect in his book The Structure of Morale.  He looked at cities that were bombed, dividing the affected population into three groups:  those killed, the near misses, and the remote misses.  As I read the descriptions of these groups, I couldn’t help but see clear parallels with those impacted by new negative information about their faith.

Here’s how MacCurdy described the Londoners during the Blitz:

  • Those directly killed.  While there are some who are immediate casualties, and clearly they have the most severe impact, it is not their loss, but the reaction of the survivors that affects the psychological reaction of the group.  These folks actually cease to influence the community, or as MacCurdy callously (yet accurately) put it ‘corpses don’t spread panic.’
  • The near misses.  In a bombing, these are the people who feel the blast, see the destruction, are horrified by the carnage, may even be seriously wounded but not killed.  They survive, but are deeply impressed by the experience.  In these cases, their “impression” reinforces a fear reaction associated with bombing.  They are usually jumpy, dazed, preoccupied with the horrors of what they saw and may experience PTSD.  This is the reaction leaders expected to prevail in the wake of the bombings.
  • The remote misses.  These are the people who listen to the sirens, hear the bombs, and even see the explosions in the distance, but they are not personally injured or often close enough to be blown off their feet by the blasts.  Psychologically, the consequences to these survivors are the exact opposite of the near miss group.  Their survival comes with an excitement associated with the attack and a feeling of invulnerability.  A near miss leaves you traumatized, but a remote miss makes you believe you are invincible.

“We are all of us not merely liable to fear.  We are also prone to be afraid of being afraid, and the conquering of fear produces exhilaration.  When we have been afraid that we may panic in an air-raid, and when it has happened, we have exhibited to others nothing but a calm exterior and we are now safe, the contrast between the previous apprehension and the present relief and feeling of security promotes a self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.”

The Blitz

So how does this play out in a faith crisis?  The parallel between the two latter groups is the most interesting one to understand how different people handle a faith crisis, and how they respond to others in the community who are likewise affected by doubts.

Remote Miss or Near Miss

While working on the StayLDS board, I have noticed that people come to the forum with different issues:  Joseph Smith, polygamy, treatment of homosexuals, political discourse at church, racism, sexism, boredom, depression, ecclesiastical abuse.  Invariably, the issues they are dealing with are incredibly important to them.  But those same issues are not equally important to every participant in the forum.

For a quick example, a recent discussion was started by a woman who was rattled by the overt sexism in the temple ceremony.  While a few of the men agreed that they disliked the sexism inherent in the temple, nearly all the women agreed that it was a big concern for them, one that created a lot of personal hurt and disaffection, and several stated it was one of their core issues.  Perhaps understandably, the men who expressed empathy simply didn’t consider this to be a core issue for them.  For the women in the discussion, sexism was a near miss.  For the men, it was a remote miss.  In this case, these were men who had also experienced near misses of their own, just not on that topic.

Empathy vs. Optimism

Another example from the book is a self-made man, Dr. Jay Freireich, who was orphaned at a young age and lacked the support many children take for granted.  Against all odds, he  was able to overcome his financial and familial adversity and become a doctor.  He was mostly a great success story, but with an important caveat.  He lacked empathy for his colleagues and nearly all of his close friends could give examples of his angry outbursts, argumentative nature and even his accusation and insults hurled at colleagues.  At the same time, he had unparalleled optimism and felt that other doctors were giving up too soon when a prognosis wasn’t good, and his dogged approach led to unparalleled success in curing childhood leukemia.

This seeming paradox is because empathy comes from being supported, understood and comforted in our suffering (which he wasn’t); that support gives us a model for how to feel for and care for others.  But the roots of optimism are from remote misses, and remote misses create the kind of optimism associated with a sense of personal invincibility, a personal feeling that you are magical or special enough to have survived adversity; conversely, those who were killed or injured (near misses) weren’t special, weren’t invincible.  It’s a short step from seeing yourself as invincible to victim-blaming of those who have been impacted, the byproduct of lack of empathy.

Dr. Freireich faulted those who gave in to feelings of depression or pessimism.  He couldn’t relate.  After all, he never gave into depression, and look at all he had been through.  He never sat around crying.  He worked hard and fought for what he wanted.  Why didn’t everyone just do what he did?  He had optimism, but not empathy.


I don’t doubt that there are many who have faced their issues head on and found satisfaction to their issues.  And as Jeff points out, sometimes the issue is related to unrealistic levels of trust and previous lack of rigor.  But that same optimism that issues can be resolved for individuals can often include a lack of empathy for others for whom the issues fall nearer.

  • Does the concept of near misses vs. remote misses help explain how some people are greatly impacted while others come out feeling stronger than ever?
  • Have you observed people who were remote misses for a specific issue who lacked empathy for those who wear nearly missed (or killed) by that issue?
  • What role does support play in the development of empathy within the church?  Are those who lack empathy people who’ve been given less support in their doubts?  Are they simply modeling the lack of support they had in their own families (e.g. intolerance for doubting)?
  • Given that polygamy and other sexist issues can’t be a near miss for men, is there any hope women’s concerns will be taken seriously?  Likewise for how homosexuals and minorities are treated, given that all decision-making church leaders are white heterosexual men?  Taking it one step further, have any of our top leaders had any near misses (in terms of church disaffection), or only remote misses with thorny issues?
  • Does empathy really help or does it just prolong feelings of frustration?  Is it optimism and action that are needed to address issues?


Tags: , , ,

25 Responses to Belief, Morale, and Near Misses: Round Three on Atheism, Disaffection & Mormonism

  1. ji on January 28, 2014 at 4:46 AM

    It seems strange to me that this discussion is silent on the matter of faith in the Lord. When a person seeks after and nurtures the faith that is described in the scriptures, he or she finds strength to endure to the end, hopefully with some measure of optimism, however close to the bombs he or she may be. The keys to survival in the bombing are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    A faith centered anywhere else (on the church as a social institution, for example, or on a particular point of history or culture or issue) can never have the same saving effect. I tend to think that many or most of the faith crises you describe occur because faith was misplaced in the first place. Faith that the church is true is nice, but that is misplaced faith. Faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet is nice, but that is misplaced faith. Faith that everyone in history should have the same outlook and perspective on social matters as we do today is error and is misplaced faith.

    Some will likely say I’m a remote miss and that I accordingly lack empathy, but that would not be honest. But I have decided for myself that there is one thing that is important (faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ = I call it one) and other matters are small in comparison. It seems to be our nature to tend to get overly wrapped up in matters that don’t matter, to the missing of that which really does matter.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  2. SilverRain on January 28, 2014 at 5:33 AM

    I’m sorry, but this way of framing the difference does not resonate for me. Often, I find the opposite to be trite. When there is something I have struggled deeply with, I often find myself less sympathetic with those who wallow in it. With things less personal, I feel more patient, perhaps because I don’t have any answers.

    But to me, the bottom line is faith and humility more than anything else. If someone approaches their struggles with an attitude of entitlement and pride (as so often happens online,) I’m utterly disinclined to reach out to them. They are going down their path because they want to, and I won’t waste my energy fighting something for someone which they are wholly embracing.

    But if they approach their doubts with humility towards God, a willingness to learn and change, without demands, ridicule, or condescension, my patience is endless. It doesn’t matter what choice they ultimately make, I will be there with them.

    I find this to almost always be the difference in which path they ultimately choose.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  3. MB on January 28, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    “Given that polygamy and other sexist issues can’t be a near miss for men, is there any hope women’s concerns will be taken seriously?”

    Made me remember conversations in the 1960s. “Given that the policy of blacks being denied ordination to the priesthood doesn’t closely affect white men, is there any hope that concerns about racial equality in priesthood ordination will be taken seriously?”

    Apparently there was.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  4. MB on January 28, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    Should be “1970s”. Mistyped that.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  5. Jon on January 28, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    Technical question why does the mobile site continually have the atheist posts at the top?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  6. Jeff Spector on January 28, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    I find myself agreeing with both jj and Silverrain on this. I am particularly taken with this statement:

    “But if they approach their doubts with humility towards God, a willingness to learn and change, without demands, ridicule, or condescension, my patience is endless. It doesn’t matter what choice they ultimately make, I will be there with them”

    I would agree with this. I am more than happy to have a conversations to help. Empathy does not have to mean agreement.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  7. Hedgehog on January 28, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    I can agree that near misses leave us feeling jumpy and nervous, and unwilling to put ourselves even remotely at risk in the future, having experienced one such as a family on a level crossing with no warning signals. Doesn’t matter how times we tell ourselves we should just be happy nothing happened, that we made it, the trauma is there.

    I’m not sure that I can entirely see how the analogy fits with faith crises.

    Unlike SilverRain however, I find experience of something makes me more empathetic and patient, not less.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  8. Hedgehog on January 28, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    #2, #6
    “But if they approach their doubts with humility towards God, a willingness to learn and change, without demands, ridicule, or condescension, my patience is endless. It doesn’t matter what choice they ultimately make, I will be there with them”

    This approach would require that they trust God however. Perhaps in many cases where that trust had previously existed it has been damaged, or lost entirely.

    For myself, my default setting appears to be guarded suspicion, and has been from childhood. Whilst not entirely protecting from disappointment etc, does appear to act as some form of protective buffer in dealing with fallout.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  9. Howard on January 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    I dunno, the trauma required to create post traumatic stress is pretty large, it typically doesn’t come about in day to day life unless you happen to live in a combat zone. I could be wrong but I don’t think church betrayal fits in this category. I think our individual psychological makeup predisposes us far more than any common adult group experience short of PTS.

    Regarding church related empathy I’m sure there are exceptions on both sides but there is a great perspective divide between two groups of people; those who were lucky enough to be born healthy, raised in basically healthy families and generally felt secure and loved as they grew up vs. those who weren’t and were impacted with some level of dysfunction.

    The healthy group tends to respond very well to behavior changes via. obedience and creating new desirable habits as taught by the church, but most in the dysfunctional group are dealing with a much higher baseline stress, dissonance, compulsion, anxiety, insecurity, etc., etc. Telling them to create new habits just increases their stress! That methodology doesn’t often work for them, they simply can’t do it. If they continue to try (it’s like hitting their head against a wall) they may be admired by the faithful group for their effort and struggle but for most this is a largely fruitless but painful effort.

    So the healthy group tends to project and moralize about those in the dysfunctional group by judging and blaming from their healthy but limited perspective, to them the problems of those in the dysfunctional group are obviously caused by not following the teachings (never mind that the teachings won’t work for them) so obviously they don’t care, are lazy, are sinners etc. having no idea how the other group feels or how much baseline stress they are continually dealing with in their lives. One hears the same kind of moralizing from many of the the faithful regarding homeless beggars, according to the faithful if the beggar just needs to stop their substance abuse and got a job! Okay maybe this fits a few lazy posers who happen to hang out in your affluent neighborhoods but it’s just self soothing folklore when applied to the others. When dysfunctional stress is high enough they tend to self medicate using tobacco, alcohol or drugs to cope but to the healthy group they are clearly just sinners even though the “faithful” who are judging them may well be using prescription drugs to cope while living on the Wasatch front!

    I don’t think the healthy (privileged) group are trying to be callous or mean, they just lack the life experience and therefore the perspective to be able to relate to the dysfunctional group. But seeing the on-going dysfunction they keep moralizing and prescribing the same old trite non-solutions and the dysfunctional group keeps (predictably) failing their expectations.

    This is the simplistic default position of the healthy (privileged, so called faithful) group; if (almost) anything significant is going wrong in your life you are obviously not living the gospel, if you were you would be like me! When a member wakes up from their long slumber to a new conscious awareness that the church lied and isn’t what it purports to be or they begin to see the chauvinist aspects of patriarchy that healthy (privileged, so called faithful) group still cannot see sympathy is minimal and empathy is non-existent among the faithful who’s belief system is threatened by this demonic thing that has taken place because you are obviously not living the gospel. It’s the result of very simplistic black and white one answer fits all people and all situations indoctrination coming from an egocentric, Utah-centric, 1950s broadcast vs narrow cast-centric position emanating from the top of the church. The same group that brought us the (failed) concept that homosexuality is curable.

    Just recently Elder Oaks has recognized this one rule broadcast limitation; As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions…Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. His solution to the exceptions is You must work that out individually between you and the Lord. So with just a few words Elder Oaks let himself of the hook, according to him he has discharged his responsibilities but how do you suppose it will go when you attempt to tell the critical faithful or your Bishop that you are one of the exceptions?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  10. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I run into people who act like they have an OCD issue driving them. I’m at a loss. My last post here was right before I tried to write on how to have issues and not sound mentally ill. Try as I did, I could not avoid insulting people with those characteristics.

    That is similar to “an attitude of entitlement and pride” which is another group. I’m at a loss at how to discuss those who come across as privileged.

    Realized this has created a form of writers block.

    I need to think on the topics more, but I appreciate the comments and essays.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  11. hawkgrrrl on January 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    MB – I disagree with your assessment that the “white men” addressed the race ban because of empathy. On the contrary. It wasn’t really addressed until it affected “the white men” through inability to grow the church and public embarrassment at how late in the game the church was. At some point that will probably happen with sexism and gay rights.

    Jon – we changed our mobile format to WP. It’s highlighting the top current post by traffic. It is automatic.

    Howard – I think that’s an interesting perspective that for many people, when something goes wrong, we blame the person with the issue because “good people don’t have issues.” This actually fits the Blitz scenario very well. The remote misses felt like they were truly special and lucky, and therefore couldn’t be touched by the bombs. The psychological effect was that they behaved very strong in the face of opposition. So when someone is hit hard / nearly missed by new information, they are particularly vulnerable when more information comes. When someone is remotely missed, they can take almost anything you can throw at them and shrug it off because the first thing wasn’t a problem for them.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  12. Howard on January 28, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Humm, now I see how you’re applying it hawkgrrrl.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  13. Jeff Spector on January 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I tend not to buy into the theories and propositions that various authors and researchers make because they usually fail to take into account how complex humans really are. They try to boil things down to some hard and fast rules/conversations that can never apply to everyone. As a result, they have no real validity, like those Meyers-Briggs tests you take where one year you have a certain profile and three years later you are 180 degree opposite one.

    The one thing we have is choice and we make choices based on the best information at the time, even if it turns out to be wrong. Sometimes those choices are opportunistic, some times well planned and thought out. That can have no bearing on the outcome or the correctness of the decision.

    When all is said and done, its the only thing we are left with is our choices.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  14. hawkgrrrl on January 28, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Jeff – have you read Free Will by Sam Harris? Like you, I tend to believe we are defined by our choices. But he makes a lot of great contrary points. And he even points out that it’s hard for us to let go of our notion of free will and be convinced by his points. I do think it’s worth a read.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  15. Howard on January 28, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    …they usually fail to take into account how complex humans really are… I’m not sure that applies here since the conclusion is the result of how a lot of people reacted to a actual traumatic event, their complexity would have been included in the conclusion. Although I do know some psych researchers who are doing some work on post traumatic hardiness, those few exceptions who came out of situations that produced PTSD stronger and better adapted than they went in. So at least one small group was omitted here.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  16. Ellen on January 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Yes, as a “for instance,” the concept helps explain differences between my husband and me. Yes, I have observed a lack of empathy for me as I wrestle with gender issues. (Which is not to say that I feel unloved in general by him.) There is no practical, church-blessed support for women who struggle with gender issues. I see little reason to hope that things will change in my lifetime. It doesn’t seem that you can get to optimism and action without at least a few moments spent in empathy.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  17. New Iconoclast on January 28, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    I like the analogy you’re using here, but in many ways I agree with ji (#1) and SilverRain (#2). The Church has let me down, and members of the Church have let me down, and I think they’ll probably continue to do so on a pretty regular basis. But the Lord has never let me down. I also tend to be more of a “fix it” mindset once I have my initial whining out of the way – it really is about the nail.

    Repeated exposure to, and listening to, near-miss experiences will help the remote-miss population understand better and thus build the empathy needed to drive change, or so I surmise. Otherwise, there might never be any social change without revolution.

    That said, as a white male, I know I’m playing the game on the lowest difficulty settting and I try to be conscious of the ways in which that privilege blinds me. I’m not always successful, but I try.

    That said, what you might really be saying here is that we need to get remote-miss people out of their comfort zone and into near-miss experiences, making changes in what is effectively a privileged remote-miss culture, so that we can stop losing our brothers and sisters who can no longer stand to be around. Many of them may not lack in testimony or faith, at least not at first, but simply cannot tolerate what they perceive as an unfriendly, uncomfortable, and unwelcoming environment. That often seems to happen over time – they’re eroded out of the Church, not shocked out of it, and that happens because no one bothers to understand what they’re feeling.

    That is a totally different question from testimony. Testimony isn’t enough, not forever.

    This comment was much better-written the first time, but my browser ate it. My apologies.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  18. kd on January 28, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    I understand the sentiment, and I think it has some applicability. However, I also think that the study itself has problems. For example, why is it that every remote miss in the blitz has a feeling of invincibility and then all judge others who were near misses? Or why is it that every near miss is so psychologically crippled? It seems to be that experiences shared across wide groups would only increase the likelihood of variation.

    The bigger problem then is how this analogy is used to answer the main question of the OP, “Why does new information create deeper conviction in some but put others on a completely different path?” It seems to me, correct me if I’m wrong, that the OP is suggesting that those who have more doubts and problems with the church have suffered a special hardship (making them a near miss) that separates them from those who stay faithful (making them a remote miss). However, that seems too neat for me. New information about the gospel, assuming its unfavorable, is not a bomb. Bombs blow off your legs and destroy your house. It is a physical event. While I expect everyone who is hit by a bomb to die or be wounded, I don’t expect every person who hears about the salamander letter to go inactive. There is far more room for subjective interpretation, which even in the case of a bomb can lead to a person acting differently than someone in the same circumstance. If there is something which divides those who are strengthened in the church by new information or hardship and those who are weakened, it is not necessarily the fact that one group or the other have experienced something that differentiates them from the other more fortunate one.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  19. hawkgrrrl on January 28, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    kd: Actually, I think there is a big difficulty with identifying what is a near miss and what is a remote miss, including in the book. It seems that only by their fruits ye shall know them. In the book, Gladwell uses both being orphaned before age 15 (something like 33% of US presidents were) and being dyslexic (a fairly high percentage – can’t remember how many – of CEOs and famous entrepeneurs were dyslexic) as examples of things that could be either a near miss or a remote miss, but purely labelled as such based on outcomes. So how to predict what will cut someone off at the knees vs. what will spur them on to greatness? Impossible to predict. Only possible to describe in retrospect. I’m not willing to say that dyslexics who didn’t become entrepeneurs were entirely unsuccessful either.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  20. Andrew S on January 28, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    re 18


    You actually bring up another good point (that I blogged about on my own blog) — I think that Hawkgrrrl’s model works pretty well for “lived” crisis points — the church’s present heterosexist and sexist institutional policies, for example.

    But there are so many more people who disaffect than those who are, say, LGBT, or feminist. So, there is still the question of how *information* (especially about things which did not affect the individual) could fit in the near miss category. I think that the church’s teachings about homosexuality could be a psychological bomb to an LGBT person who is not secure in his or her identity…but I’m not sure how the salamander letter ends up being a bomb to anyone.

    As HG mentions…the model doesn’t really predict well…it’s a framework for hindsight and retrospect. This is pretty problematic, because models like, “they left to sin” are also hindsight/retrospect sort of models without predictive power.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  21. Jared on January 28, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Thanks for the post.

    It’s a clever idea to use the example of traumatic experiences from London bombings to understand disaffected Mormons. At some level it may be helpful, but like others who have commented (1,2, 6, etc) I think it is a strained analogy.

    I like the parable of the sower as a basis for discussion on disaffection. The Savior gave this parable to teach why some people become disaffected (lose faith).

    The parable teaches about various kinds of disaffection from faith in God. This is really what the discussion is about.The parable of the sower deals directly with the little understood quality of faith, how it acquired and how it is lost..

    It would be interesting to see what hawkgrrrl, Jeff, and Andrew would come up with if they used the parable of the sower as a starting point to employ their considerable ability to analyze the various kinds of disaffection we see today.

    Matthew 13:3-23

    Of course, there are other scriptural sources that could be used in this discussion. For example:

    Parable of the 10 Virgins

    Lehi and Nephi’s vision of the tree of life.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  22. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    I also think that black and white thinking can make a difference as well as how concrete a thinker someone is.

    I’ve seen people with very rigid thinking have issues as a result.

    But, narrow slice of perspective thought are good to consider.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  23. New Iconoclast on January 29, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    I seem to be having difficulty leaving a comment here; not sure why. This is kind of a test and I beg your indulgence.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  24. New Iconoclast on January 29, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    kd says, It seems to be that experiences shared across wide groups would only increase the likelihood of variation.

    Actually, experiences shared across wide groups increases the likelihood of predictability. If I take all of the people in your demographic cohort, or at least a large enough number of them (same age, gender, general level of health, and so on) I can predict with a great deal of accuracy a date by which time half of y’all will be dead. What I can’t predict is which half you, personally, will be in – the room temperature half or the breathing half.

    Likewise with the stats behind hawkgrrrl’s analogy (and that’s all it is, an analogy). If we only have a half-dozen people who lived near the Blitz and a half-dozen who lived miles away, the results wouldn’t be statistically significant. But we have tens of thousands and so we have enough data to make some predictions, always recognizing that individuals are unique. (That is why, as the saying goes, “the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not data.” Until you have enough anecdotes.) We can make some general observations about the differing reactions of people to real or perceived (“near-miss” or “remote-miss”) inequalities and injustices in the Church based on who’s doing the reacting and how closely affected they or a loved one are. There’s even a Scriptural expression for this: it depends on whose ox is gored (Exodus 21:35-36).

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  25. New Iconoclast on January 29, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Not sure why this had to go in two parts.

    To me, a very interesting question is the one kd raises in his/her (sorry, not sure which) next paragraph: “Why does new information create deeper conviction in some but put others on a completely different path?” I think Hawk is saying in part, and she can adjust my thinking if I’m off, that it isn’t the new information so much as it is either the individual’s general feeling of safety and security relative to the perceived “center” of the group (thus, new info can “dislodge” an individual who already feels marginalized) or the individual’s perception of the relative importance of the new info to the rest of the group compared to their own estimate of its importance, usually due to its being related to an issue of personal significance (i.e., the individual becomes marginalized when others don’t react with the same enthusiasm, horror, or amazement as they do).

    Depending on whether the info nudges us closer to the group or farther from it, and whether we’re already in the thick of the group or on the edges, will have a lot to do with how we react. Like, for example, if you lived in downtown London, or out in the rural sticks, during the Blitz. And thus we circle back ’round.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting


%d bloggers like this: