Dear Anonymous Mormon commenter.

I don't normally get worked up by comments people leave, but a particular comment left anonymously on my last post has kind of ruffled my feathers. (oh yeah, did you know I have feathers? Strange but true.)

Because of this, and because I really wanted this anonymous commenter to read my reply I am making a blog entry of my comment. I feel the anonymous commenter is more likely to notice my response if it is in a post of its own, rather than tucked away in the comments section of my previous post.

What I am writing here is essentially what I wrote in the comments section, with a few additions and edits.

I will first post the Anonymous comment which inspired this:

Anonymous said...

Always funny how those who leave the church never can leave it alone. Your pursuit of self justification will yield no fruit, of course. This isn't a final judgment, of course, a word of advice: keep this nonsense to yourself.

To begin with, I do not begrudge your leaving your comment anonymously. I have noticed other people call out anonymous commenter as cowards for not revealing their identity. I understand it can be an awkward situation to post a critical comment on the blog of someone you may not know well and so understand your desire to remain unknown. However, I am very curious as to your identity. While I have my guesses, you are welcome to reveal who you are in the comment section of this post. I understand if you are not comfortable revealing your identity, however, I would still be interested in hearing whatever response you may have to my reply to your comment.
Also, while I have made an effort to not be un-kind in my response, I am likely being more blunt and unsparing in my response than I may have been had you revealed your identity.

Based on your comment, it seems clear that you are a believer in the Church. Can you imagine how you would feel if you wrote a blog post expressing your feelings about the Church and I left you a comment telling you to 'keep your nonsense beliefs to yourself'?
I imagine you would find it frustrating. You would likely find it further justification of the truthfulness of what you were saying and if anything it would give you encouragement to speak of your beliefs more often.

This is close to how I feel after reading your comment.

I will try and explain more of why your comment is so deeply frustrating to me:

Your comment represents part of the reason I left the Church and part of the reason I stay away. Ie. People who are uncomfortable with the truth and want to silence voices which disagree with their own. I am not saying this represents all Church members, but it clearly represents yourself and others within the Church generally and some of it's leadership.(thankfully not all.)

Any organization which seeks to silence those who disagree with them strikes me as the opposite of 'good'. Any group or individual claiming to seek after truth should be open to all forms of inquiry and commentary.

When a person seeks to silence his/her critics it weakens their position. It comes across as evidence that they have something to hide. This makes their beliefs automatically suspicious, and less likely to be believed. On the other hand, when someone is open to all forms of truth and inquiry, it makes their claims much more believable.

That anyone would wish to silence those who disagree with them strikes me as being strange and unkind. That someone would want to do it in the name of God(ie, Truth) is even weirder.

If you had merely disagreed with me I would have felt entirely different. Suppose in your comment you had tried to refute any points I made, I would feel 100% okay about it, in fact I would likely even appreciate it, as I enjoy a friendly debate or having pointed out to me an error I may have made. But to belittle my beliefs while trying to silence me is disconcerting, to say the least? Do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, see this as good?

I would now like to address the first part of your comment. You said: "Always funny how those who leave the church never can leave it alone."

Were you to have said "always funny how those who spend the first 24 years of their lives in a particular organization can never leave it alone", perhaps it would be more obvious why this is true, and not funny at all or something unique to the Church.

Anyone who grows up in an institution that influences so many aspects of their life and one in which they were intimately a part of, will, of course, find it deeply affects much of their life even after they leave and therefore will find it difficult to 'leave it alone'.

This does not mean they are attacking that organization or seeking to justify themselves. It is also not evidence that the organization is true, as some Church members seem to claim. If this were the case, Scientology would probably be the most true religion as it has the most vehemently outspoken critics and former members.

I have found that many people who have left tightly knit religious communities, particularly those they have grown up in, find it difficult to leave that organization alone. This includes the FLds Church, Jews, Muslims, various forms of Christianity and, as mentioned above, Scientology.

This phenomenon is by no means exclusive to the Lds Church. It is common to most religious organizations, particularly those which exert a strong influence on the lives of its members.

Do you feel that people who are lapsed Jews, Muslims, Flds etc, and who speak out about the organization they were raised in are trying to justify themselves? I imagine not. Because you are not emotionally tied to these organizations, you are able to see more objectively that it is only natural that anyone who is raised in a particular organization and leaves it later in life, will find it difficult to 'Leave alone'.

Imagine a former Muslim writes a blog post about Islamic missionaries coming to their door to which a currently practicing Muslim responds by telling them to 'keep that nonsense to themselves'. Wouldn't you find that level of censorship off putting? Wouldn't it make you feel that the active Muslim had something to hide or was uncomfortable with the truth? Perhaps you would even see it as further evidence that Islam is not a true religion?

I imagine you often talk about your belief in the Church. Do you see this as 'self-justification' Of course not and neither do I. I wish you could afford me the same respect as to view my beliefs, and my right to talk about them, as you do yours. This is what it means to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

One final point I would like to make. One particular reason your comment ruffles my feathers is that you left this comment on my personal blog. My place to talk about my personal thoughts, feelings experiences. Yes, it is viewable by the public, yet by no means are you obligated to read anything I write. That you would have the audacity, to try and dictate to me what I may and may not write about in my personal blog is upsetting to me. Had I written negative comments about the Church on, for example, your blog or in a personal email to you, your response might be understandable.
If the things which I write about are as upsetting to you as it seems, perhaps the best solution would be for you should consider not reading it in the first place rather than reading it and then telling me to "keep this nonsense to yourself".
One last thing. While your comments may be relevant to some other things I have written in regards to the Church, it is strange to me you would have left this comment on this particular post because it isn't as if I, just out of the blue, decided to write this super long blog entry about mormonism. I wrote it because missionaries came TO MY HOUSE.
In this instance, I wrote about mormonism, not because I can't leave the Church alone, but because it is something which just barely happened to me.
What is also weird to me, is that this entry wasn't even necessarily negative towards the Church. I explained some of my views of the Church insofar as it was relevant to the story, but otherwise this wasn't a critique on Mormonism. It just seems that anything about Mormonism which isn't absolutely positive you find offensive. Which is unfair. People are allowed to not feel positively towards things you feel positively towards.


We Are Three said...

I was thinking the same exact thing you mentioned in your last paragraph. Your previous entry in no way (in my opinion) spoke negatively about the church. You even brushed over the topic when the missionaries asked you about your current beliefs. I'm sure you went into greater detail with the elders but in your post, it was just a mere mention. I also agree that this is your personal blog and your personal words and if that anonymous person doesn't agree with what you have to say and can't stand seeing anything but uplifting comments towards his (I don't know if it's a man but I'm just using the word his for the heck of it) religion, he should go check out lds.com and stop reading what you have to say.

You have a right to your own opinion and that opinion should be respected. It's fine that an individual disagrees with that opinion, it's bound to happen, but to attempt to silence your freedom of speech is an outrage. I for one find it very refreshing that someone (that someone being you) would so openly write their thoughts on numerous topics including those towards an organization that you held so dear for a good portion of your young life.

Preach on, most of us enjoy what we're reading.

Marissa N. Paolacci said...

amen, babe. amen.

Starman said...

I haven't read the whole post, I just read their comment and thought I'd say, I left the church for several years and I left it alone just fine. I even still kind of liked a lot of things about it. I just realized it wasn't where I was supposed to be. Anyway, you can leave the church and you can leave it alone, unless you are a crazy, insecure stalker person... in which case you can't ever leave anything and leave it alone. Anyway, you can leave the church and leave it alone and even leave it in very mature ways and for good reasons. That is all.

Starman said...

Okay, I read the whole post now and I would like to say that I agree with the commentor that you should keep nonesense to yourself. But, I want to point out that Christopher is not spewing any nonsense, so the advice doesn't really apply to his situation.
-This message brought to you by David Hampton Bisson and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Chris Almond said...

Heather, thank you for your comment. I enjoyed it very much. The part about checking out lds.org got some lulz.

I'm happy you are reading my blog. I think you are a cool guy. Thank you for your comment as well, and for saying i'm not spewing nonsense.
I'm really curious about your re-entry into Mormonism. If you ever have a chance, I would love to hear why. Not because I would want to dispute it, or try and talk you out of it or anything. It is just interesting to me people who leave the church for intellectual reasons and are then able to reconcile their doubts and rejoin. I spent a great deal of time trying to do that but failed, so I find it interesting, and perhaps even admirable, when others are able to do so.

betty said...

I would be really disappointed if anonymous did not read either of these posts but somehow I think he/she will have a hard time leaving you alone.