Amen. Living the way you are supposed to live can stack the deck but it's no
For new members especially, it's a great disservice to hear sermons preached by
life-long members that include their own personal-favorite magical formulas. I
later had to question those hopeful ideas and discard incorrect notions as
life's lessons ensued. It was difficult because I believed I was supposed to
inculcate not only the standard works but any heart-felt admonitions of my new
leaders. Yes, we all have opportunities to mislead each other, and most speakers
aren't trying to lead us astray; and we must learn to discard dross in favor of
hidden gold. What still eludes me, though, is why dross is so prevalent in
Church meetings and allowed public advocacy without correction. As a former
Relief Society president, I felt strongly the need to protect tender, developing
testimonies of the women I loved, as well as encourage the strength of the
whole. I had to find a way to rein in leanings amongst teachers, for example,
who'd otherwise redesign the gospel during their lessons. It can be done without
offense if approached carefully. More of this in our meetings would reduce
Another aspect of "magical thinking" among Mormons is that they assume
that just because they're Mormon, they're automagically going to be *saved*.(but this seems to be true of most religions too)
I think a related, but not quite identical, mode of thinking is "Why didn't
God warn me?" Why did God allow me to feel right about marrying that spouse
when He could foresee that the spouse would not be faithful? Why did God allow
me to feel good about having that child when He could foresee that the child
would go off the rails?Agency is part of the answer. D&C 122
provides some answers as well.
Thank you for this article. Magical thinking can have many other bad
outcomes---one of which is neighbors and ward members criticizing because of
failures in a home. ("You must not have read the Book of Mormon in your
home" "If your mother didn't work" "If this child had only
been involved in Church sports" "If you had only been more
understanding your husband wouldn't have left." "If you had only gone
to the temple every week."No. These aren't magical solutions.
And, as one who has experienced a couple of the situations you mention, I will
tell you that the grief at times is terrible, and it comes and goes. And we do
feel failure. The scriptures tell of godly sorrow. We are not God, but we do
know the sorrow that comes from poor choices that those dear to us sometimes
make. We have to be careful to realize that in relationships as well
as in parenting, the right to choose is everyone's, and some will choose another
Brother Card presents a common argument to the problem of theodicy. The argument
is typically listed under "Free Will," but our (Mormon) correlated
term for it today is "Free Agency." God granted us the ability to
choose and act for ourselves, hence the occasional tragic consequences. Lacking
this agency, we find ourselves in a situation described as "Lucifer's
plan."Card seems concerned that our "magical
thinking" sometimes precludes the free agency of others. I caution against
this view, however. What have we got, if not the stories we tell ourselves?
Could it be that magical thinking is important to human hope? When we assign a
meaning or significance to some act, we are practicing magical thinking. This is
because there is no epistemological basis for religious belief that does not beg
the question. The fundamental act of faith is essentially "magical."
We do these things, not because we know, but because we hope (and only think we
know).And if our hopes are dashed? A crisis; we come face-to-face
with the absurdity of the universe. Our faith (ie "magical thinking")
is challenged. I suggest that perhaps it is good for man to struggle with his
I was trying to comment in my own words but decided to say this........locate
and read the book "One More Strain of Praise" by Neal A. Maxwell.
Perhaps the slide from faith to "magical thinking" occurs most readily
when we fall into the "entitlement trap"? In short, "I've been
good so I'm ENTITLED to ice cream!" Isn't virtue supposed to be it's own
reward? Thank you once again, Bro. Card, for your insight.
In the most recent LDS General Conference, Richard G. Scott said,"Scriptures...can accelerate physical healing."Mr. Card,
do you consider this statement to be an example of "magical
thinking"?Do members of the LDS Church engage in harmful
"magical thinking" of their own accord, or is such thinking encouraged
(or even demanded) as part of faithful membership and "worthiness"?
als Athiest,The full quote, which you could not be bothered to
supply, was:"Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to
unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures
can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence
in ones ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to
heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate
physical healing."There is nothing magical about the connection
between mind and body, nor any real dispute in the medical community that a poor
mental state ("agitated soul") can be a hindrance to physical recovery
from injury or illness. So, no, this is not an example of magical thinking.
Card is not suggesting that Latter-day Saints cease to believe in miracles or to
pray. He is pointing out a tendency among us to expect an outcome based on our
actions alone, when the outcome may be contrary to the will of someone else,
including the Lord. There is also a tendency among us (I see it in
myself, and I thank Card for pointing it out) to expect cause and effect to be
simple and uncomplicated, when the reality is often very complex. It is at
least as complex as a human being.
The scriptures, over and over again, say: "Ask and ye shall receive."
Perhaps as a human race, we don't know everything about "faith" or
"sealing in the temple, " or "patience" or any other
principle, doctrine and ordinance. We think patience should hurry up. The
scriptures do say that whoso sacrifices house, car, time, priorities, ego
etc...will receive a hundred fold in the next life. It will all work out, but
it is hard to swallow at times.
"RanchHandHuntsville, UTAnother aspect of "magical
thinking" among Mormons is that they assume that just because they're
Mormon, they're automagically going to be *saved*.(but this seems to
be true of most religions too)"As a Mormon, I wholeheartedly
agree. Sure, people in other religions may do this, but Mormons should be the
last people who do (meaning we shouldn't at all).On the flipside,
there are people in all religions who think if someone leaves that religion,
that person is condemned for eternity. Mormons should be the last people who do
this, as well. The plan of salvation, if true, is very merciful.
RE: RanchHandActually Mormons believe everyone will be saved so some
degree or another.All based on faith and works.The
Greatest reward is for those with the greatest faith and good works and who
obey God's commandments and accept His eternal ordinances.The only
for one not to be saved is have once to have had and embraced the truth and then
"When we assign a meaning or significance to some act, we are practicing
magical thinking."Assigning meaning, significance, value, good
is inherent in free agency, aot 'free will', which is a smaller notion. We
build ourselves, our lives, by the cumulation of subjectively assigning
'meaning, significance, value, etc.' to our daily experiences. We are in a
state of 'becoming'. We largely make ourselves, every day, and are dependent on
grace for any real 'progress'. When our sense of entitlement ignores grace and
sinks to the level of a quid pro quo for acting per commandments, we make a
graven image in our life. The power to ascribe 'meaning, significance, value'
is something only humans in this creation can do. Nietsche spoke pompously of
the 'will to power'; I prefer to stand in awe of and have all due respect for
'the power to will'. Thankfully, this world is transitory and not eternal. The
messes we can create around us will not last forever.Thanks OSC for
enlarging our understanding of the gravamen of Free Agency.
The truth,You wrote:"Actually Mormons believe
everyone will be saved so some degree or another. All based on faith and
works."Please provide scriptural support for this claim. Please
show that Mormons believe that "everyone will be saved to some degree or
another", and please show scripturally where Jesus or other known Christian
sources ever articulated "salvation by degrees".As I
understand it, salvation is on or off: you are either saved or not. I know of
nowhere in scripture that says you can be "somewhat saved".I understand the LDS concept of "exaltation" (which I do not believe
is Biblical), and degrees of exaltation are understandable, but not salvation.
Moreover, I find it peculiar that LDS people defend this distinction
between salvation and exaltation when explaining away the "faith vs
works" dilemma, yet the distinction is not found in LDS scripture. Yet LDS
frequently say ALL will be saved (resurrected, which is free), but not all will
be exalted (which is based on works).For instance, LDS 3rd Article
of Faith says "...all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and
ordinances of the Gospel."It does NOT say "exalted, by
Valjean,Nothing you wrote makes any difference to my point. The idea
that reading scriptures can "accelerate physical healing" IS magical
thinking, and has no basis in fact, and no scientific support whatsoever.
RE: VankaPaul Teaches of this in 1 Corinthians 15:35 But
some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they
come?...38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to
every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh:... 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of
the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory
of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42
So also is the resurrection of the dead....I did not mean to imply
you can be "somewhat saved". you'll be saved as long you're not
Son(or Daughter) of perdition,And you will recieve a glory
according to your works and faith.John teaches in Revelations 20:12
...and the dead were judged out of those things which were written
in the books, according to their works.Matthew 16:27...then he will reward each person according to what he has done.Pretty straight forward.
my comment was approved and rec'd recommendations, but was then deleted. my, my
The truth,You did not address my point. Please re-read my earlier
comment and try again. This is a significant problem in LDS soteriology.
RE: VankaYou asked for scriptural reference I gave it to you, even
from the bible.Salvation is the overriding or overarching doctrine,
exhaltatation is part of that.I can not make it any more simpler.
Exhaltation is part of salvation. It is the whole point of the "Plan of
Salvation". According to what God revealed to Moses:"For behold, this is my work and my gloryto bring to pass the immortality
and eternal life of man."Without Exhaltation, there is no
"eternal life" ('eternal' meaning 'of God' or "Godly' and 'with
God', this is the LDS understanding of 'eternal', which must be distinct from
'immortal'. Christ's resurrection gave us "immortality' we will all be
ressurected, But what does the atonement do for us? And faith and obedinece, and
baptism and all other the ordinances and doctrinal things do for us?)Without Exhaltation there is no point to our earthly experiences and
probation, no point of judging us for our works and obedience and faith, none at
While following God's will and making the right choices in life do not guarantee
the desired results, I hope that when we do the right thing, we do have a
guarantee that we may always have His spirit to be with us.
No matter how rational people consider themselves, if they place a high value on
feelings, events of personal significance push them strongly toward magical
meaning-making.This same magical meaning-making is evident in those
who claim a supernatural witness to truththeir claim to have a special knowledge
that their version of the truth is superior to the facts. Such magical
meaning-making is nothing more than a psychological product of the claimant's
own unique effort to find value and meaning in what they have been indoctrinated
to believe as true."While such feelings are natural, there is
no logic behind them."
the truth,No, you did not give scriptural support for the
distinction (or connection) between salvation and exaltation, nor did you
clarify the confusion created by the LDS 3rd Article of Faith requiring
"obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel" in order to
receive (earn) "salvation" (not exaltation).You gave us a
lot of your own interpolation, speculation, and opinion, but nothing in the way
of doctrinal scriptural support for your conjectures.
als atheist,The existence of a placebo effect, and the value of
stress reduction in speeding recover from illness or injury, aren't even
controversial. It is entirely plausible, from a completely cold scientific point
of view, that a religious person migh experience enough of a calming effect from
reading scripture to show a significant improvement in rate of recovery.A perfectly natural phenomenon rather than a divine miracle? That it is
a perfectly natural phenomenon is, after all, Card's point. This does not
preclude it being a miracle in Mormon understanding.
Reading through the comments, I'm wondering how the distinction between
salvation and exaltation has anything to do with what Bro. card said. His point
was simply that we can't take away someone's free agency by doing the right
things. The important conclusion I draw from this is that when someone near to
us makes choices we wish they hadn't made, there is no need for us to feel
guilty and wonder what we did wrong.
I'm a fan of Brother Card's work, but in this case, I need to point out that
magicians don't think like that and magic doesn't work like that.