Fear: The Great Motivator

After watching for a few years, I understand that what motivates much of Mormon apologetics and “defense of Mormonism” efforts is fear.

The worst fear is that Mormonism might not be true, after all, and that it might be obviously untrue to those who look at it objectively. It’s a terrifying thought to contemplate that the “knowledge” by which you organize and live your life might actually be a lie, that you have given so much of yourself for a manmade institution, that your spiritual confirmation of Mormonism might not have been anything spiritual at all.

When you’re afraid you do funny things like see everything in black and white, good and evil, and you carefully draw lines between yourself and the evil around you. You see those who disagree with you not just as opponents but as enemies to be destroyed lest they destroy you. You adopt an exaggerated, overwrought, outward image of certainty, but inside you’re just a scared child.

This is the only way to explain the bizarre antics of so many apologists from an apostle who warns that “some things that are true are not very useful” to university professors who fake photos to self-professed cleaners of the temple who decide for themselves who is faithful and who is not.

People who aren’t afraid stand out because they are comfortable in their own skin, they aren’t threatened by different points of view, and acknowledge that their understanding is always limited, so they could be wrong. That’s the key: Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Often we learn best by discovering we were wrong in our earlier understanding. To insist that what we believe is true, full stop, is to stop learning and growing.

9 Responses to Fear: The Great Motivator

  1. Randy Gavin says:

    Or as a good fried of mine in Ohio likes to say…’everybody is wrong about something’

  2. Truly great piece of writing, Runtu. I recognize so much of my mindset as a Mormon in this piece, along with some of the continued actions of my family members. Especially the part about outwardly being exaggeratedly certain but inwardly being a scared little child.

  3. mb2rider says:

    Wow, you hit on a topic that I have thought a lot about during my faith transition. I love this idea of not being afraid to be wrong. What a liberating feeling! I read a great book last year, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. She talks about how there are no objective feelings that describe being wrong about something. When you ask some what it feels like to be wrong most people will say embarrassing, disconcerting, uncomfortable, stuff like that. But what they are really describing is what if feels like to realize they’re wrong. “Being” wrong and “realizing” you’re wrong are different things. When we are wrong about something, I mean in the moment of being wrong, what if feels like is that we’re right. Someone might think to themselves the moment they realize they’re wrong, “Wow, I’m wrong”, but moment that happens it is in the past. When they verbalize it they will say, “I was wrong.” I know now that there are so many instances in our lives when we are convinced we are right because if feels like we are but in all honesty we’re wrong. And I have come to a realization in my life that I was wrong about many things. While that has been a difficult experience I am getting more and more comfortable admitting it.
    Thanks for a great post.

  4. openminded says:

    Reminds me of the time when a Mormon told me he ate my anti-mormon kind for breakfast.

    Cheese level: Mormon apologist?

  5. Great explanation of fear as a motivator in bad behavior. This certainly pertains to more aspects of life than religion. “Don’t be afraid to be wrong” would be a great mantra for most of us mortals.

  6. Odell says:

    Well written. When that quiet, desperate fear fades away, a whole new world where you are allowed to be wrong emerges with far wider horizons than a narrow and shallow existence of always having to be right.

  7. CEWinchesteriii says:

    Amen and amen. You capture exactly what I was feeling when I was defending the church.

  8. Hi! I have been taking my time reading your site about many things from the missonnaries of LDS CHURCH and even the relating of many evident truth kept hiden of the LDS. But in many ways I profoundly find myself into these really true things you have been released and related. I Realise how strong you are to reveal all these good stuffs for helping people to understand the devil’s church which is the Church of Jesus Christ of latter days saints as they so pretend to be but it is not true. I am not able to share all my experiences from this devil’s church, because these experiences are too many. I am a native of Haïti, I have been serving a mission at Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission, and by the way, in 2003 , after 10 months have been past over this mission field, I have been left this miraculously to preserve my life because I have been recognised that I am in a bad way; too many staff arrived to me. I have been victim of discrimination stuff, segregation stuff, violation of my rights an abuse of authority even many other things again. Since I have been leaving the mission field miraculously on November 16th2003, I never return to this church and I will never come back. It’s not easy for every people who chooses to leave the church; cause family, friends and every one would not understand what you are trying to explain to them all bad things we may be suffered.

    As you can understand, it’s not easy for any ex-mormon to explain his past suffering from mission field because it seemed like anormal to share these troubles. The zeal of any mormon’s family,friends, leaders would thing about you like become a fool or crazy people.

    But whatsoever they may think, say, relate I will cease not to tell the truth I have been discovered about the mormon’s church. My conscience will not allow me to hide the truth for any reasons. Because the only way I may become free in my conscience it’s to share what I discovered about the mormons even if I know that will not be easy to me because all these are like a “tourbillion “(French word )
    By the way here is my statement about the LDS-church: “The Mormon’s doctrines are completely founded on lying only. This is a devil’s church disguised in Jesus Christ to induce people in fatal errors. This is a cult church’s leader’s. I qualify every mormons as liars and brainwashed. The lying is what’s made them survived. “

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