Dirty Belief

“S/he knows all the dirt and still believes.” Often this kind of statement is taken as evidence that since someone who “knows” more, is smarter, or more experienced is able to navigate the “dirt,” it must be okay for someone who is less informed to believe too. In some interesting discussions on our back channel, the question has arisen, are these two beliefs in fact the same?

One problem that we potentially face in analyzing this question is that often those who do have this kind of dirty belief are not always entirely forthcoming about what they believe. There are many completely legitimate reasons for doing so. They may be sensitive about protecting others from the difficult things they’ve faced, and seek to reassure rather than speak forthrightly. They may seek to protect themselves from unwanted public and ecclesiastical scrutiny, and want to avoid having to defend their dirty beliefs. They may have decided that belief itself is the completely wrong category for how religion, and Mormonism should be practiced. They may think that emphasis on historical origins rather than meaning misses the point, and deflect such questions preciely to make a methodological point.

The point is that the examined faith is not necessarily the same as the unexamined faith. For whatever reason, there seems to be little incentive for those on either side of this divide to emphasize or acknowledge a gap between the two types of belief. The problem that this creates is that those who straddle this divide, those just beginning to deal with the dirt, those not comfortable with the solutions that those with dirty belief have staked out. Where do they turn for peace?

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