Bill Maher on Larry King Live: Mormons as “Shapeshifters” John Dehlin February 6, 2008 history, LDS, mormon, Mormons 28 Comments
Awesome video John. My post for this afternoon (That seems to have vanished from the admin board but hopefully will come up) is my view on Huckabee’s decision to change the constitution.
I also am planning a “shapeshifter” post JUST LIKE….what Bill Maher is talking about. Great minds think alike hey?
I think it is quite true that if the church which we belong to, and the church that affects our morality, changes position over time to a form of heterodoxy that the founder (and Brigham Young) would probably disagree with…then I think it would be hypocrisy to not allow members to change their own brand of mormonism as it fits them. In psychology, this is called the DOUBLE BIND…and promotes schizoprhenia and emotional pain.
But when all is said and done…I love the church inspite of this and love the people and the ability it has to empower people.
I can understand Maher’s opinions on shapeshifting. I also agree with him that Huckabee’s comments were arrogant. However, Maher is not lacking in the arrogant department either. While I was relieved he did not attack Pres. Hinckley, he was obviously unwilling to be influenced by any view different from his own. Maybe this is true for most TV/radio personalities. Maybe a commentator who is thoughtful and is actually willing to learn something new or change from time to time would not be successful. No doubt Maher is smart, and he’s funny, sometimes. But he’s not any less arrogant than Limbaugh or Bush or Cheney or Lawrence O’Donnell.
Stephen–I am interested in your thoughts on the subject at hand. Specifically, is shapeshifting an ineffective thing? Is it unethical? I think “shapeshifting” is both natural and positive, to an extent.
The fight over what defines revelation and how it is received is great and important, the defining issue of how Mormons understand themselves. Bill is expressing a fundamentalist view of revelation, which I reject, but the way that we deal with the issue defines how we are perceived. I found it largely inoffensive, but I have a thick skin.
I would like to hear what others have to say about the “shapeshifting” issue. I personally agree with him in the fact that it does appear pretty sketchy from an outsiders perspective looking in. Maybe I’m somewhat liberal in my Mormon beliefs, but I don’t know that I could have swallowed some of the revelations such as polygamy…but that was a different time period, so who knows.
Huckabee is arrogant about his comments of the Bible and constitution and needs to get out of the race. He messed up this election for all conservative voters.
Let your evangelical friends know that Dr James Dobson endorsed Romney. I have info on this on my website: http://www.graceforgrace.com
Maher, from what I understand, isn’t a fan of any religion.
Based on Maher’s statement I would venture a guess that he has never studied Mormonism in any kind of detail and probably received his information regarding shapeshifters from an anti-Romney media source.
I find it very hypocritical that Maher ridicules Huckabee for attempting to push his evangelical beliefs on others when Maher himself does the exact same thing. He pushes his left wing anti-religious beliefs on others. And if someone does not conform to his way of thinking he denigrates and belittles them.
The fact that anyone watches Maher’s show or would pay money to go see his new movie is a sad commentary on the state of our country. I accept and applaud diversity, but I choose not to accept his type of hateful philosophies.
Shenpa Warrior – I think the idea of “shape shifting” can be seen in different ways. The “Double Bind” is most effective in promoting schizophrenia in children due to their undeveloped perspective on right and wrong.
The church, by being very dogmatic in the past, was hindering its members spiritual development although it did what it thought was best. Just as parents, who place their children in paradoxical moral situations, can promote “cognitive dissonance (opposing views and will bring about the person abandoning one…and in the rational person this will probably mean that the person will abandon beliefs in gold plates, stones in hats and subservient blacks).
When one realizes that life is paradoxical then one can remain in the church whilst maintaining both beliefs.
I am glad the church is moving in the direction it is and I wouldnt be here if the church wasnt…..
This is a difficult road to travel…but it is the only option for the church as I see it.
The church has finally grown up…it has finally realized unconditional “governance” and with it is tremendous emotional and spiritual liberation for its members.
Now it is time for us to grow up spiritually and recognize paradox and agnosticism(the definition being that the ultimate problems of philosophy and religion are insoluble.)
And thus we need to be tolerant to the church and to others…and live by TRUE faith.
I hope that wasnt too pontifical.
What are your feelings Shenpa-Warrior?
I think Larry King hit in on the head when he asked Maher, ‘are you saying that Romney god something from God ?’ (or something along those lines). I think the question throws a necessary wrench in Maher’s logic that Romney’s flip-flopping on issues is somehow related to his religion. Where is the basis for that sort of deduction?
You are spot on. The logic there is TERRIBLE…but it is incredibly insightful and makes one step back and think…”interesting.”
Romney and Mormons just want to be loved by the establishment…is that too much to ask?
I think it was Richard Poll that said “In this world institutions have two options. They either change or they die.” Shapeshifting is necessary as a religion matures.
Stephen, I cringe when I hear the words “Double Bind” and “cognitive dissonance” because they have beem code-words online for the denegration of my faith. Thanks for lifting to a higher level for me. Great response!
By the way, the fact that we WANT to be loved by the establishment is understandable, but it’s not faith-building, it’s just sociological security–which gets most movements nowhere.
Nate Fuller – Awesome quote. Thank you. But do we define it as “maturing” do you think? Or as conforming?
Peter Brown – Thankyou. If you havent noticed I am rather anti-establishment lol….I have to be being an anarchist. What I said was in jest. I totally agree that cosying up to these crooks that run governments and corporations is not where I want the church to be at all…and managing Private Equity companies (hint hint…Romney) is about as “sold your soul to the evils of capitalism” as you can get in my mind.
I think Maher’s logic is that Romney was raised in, and belongs to a church that does 180’s on significant issues, (even revelations from God). So it would seem natural for Romney to do 180’s on issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control etc…
These “shape shifts” cause generational divides between members, and create credibility problems for the church.
It shouldn’t take a “PHD in Mormonism” to understand what God’s true church is about.
Stephen–I agree with your views on paradox. Life is paradoxical quite often, and faith can be as well. I was a little confused by this statement, however:
“The “Double Bind” is most effective in promoting schizophrenia in children due to their undeveloped perspective on right and wrong.” Are you using the term “schizophrenia” in the popular sense (i.e. contradiction)? If so, then I get it. You don’t actually mean schizophrenia, the mental illness, do you? Just making sure. : )
As for kids and the “double bind,” I think they need things in black and white due to their developmental level. As they get older, they can tolerate more ambiguity. Maybe faith is similar. Those who are newer to a faith may need more good and evil/clear cut beliefs. As we progress spiritually, I think we can handle more paradox.
“I think Maher’s logic is that Romney was raised in, and belongs to a church that does 180’s on significant issues, (even revelations from God). So it would seem natural for Romney to do 180’s on issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control etc…”
Well there’s the nasty two, Priesthood and Polygamy. But are they not really outliers? Other doctrinal deviations have ocurred, but they have been more like 5 to 10 degrees or even algorithmic in their application? Just a little rhetorical question.
Romney was raised as a liberal Republican. Liberal Republicans haven’t been able to survive national politics. Romney isn’t a ideologue, he’s a Mr. Fix-IT, which is why I like him. That there seems to be no political fundamental core beliefs is troubling, which is part of the reason why he hasn’t done very well–and its antithetical to most Mormons I know. The other reason is good old fashion bigotry. Hard to measure because Romney’s own offputting makes the laboratory of anti-Mormonism ambiguous. I have noticed that those who don’t like Romney like to stretch that ambiguity pretty far, and those that do sense a rat in the pizza.
Point taken Stephen. I think a better way of stating it would be a certain level of conformance is needed to stay relevant.
”Well there’s the nasty two, Priesthood and Polygamy. But are they not really outliers?”
Maybe if you’re the traditional white male mormon. What if you’re female or black?
”Other doctrinal deviations have occurred, but they have been more like 5 to 10 degrees or even algorithmic in their application?”
More like 170 to 175 degrees, or a degree 2 Polynomial 😉
”The other reason is good old fashion bigotry.”
Like the bigotry that 90% of Utah republicans exhibit who wouldn’t even consider other non-mormon candidates?
The two primary reasons I didn’t support Romney are:
1. You don’t know where he’ll stand a month or a year from now.
2. It would most likely be 4 more years of Bush.
No thanks 🙂
We should just ignore Maher.
All this Godless hell bound atheist want is promote his anti-mormon agenda.
Notice how he reacts to King when told that Hinkley was a good guy; says it all.
Oops, should be:
“All this Godless hellhound atheist wants is to promote his anti-Mormon agenda.” i never could spell
#6 Murphy said:
“I find it very hypocritical that Maher ridicules Huckabee for attempting to push his evangelical beliefs on others when Maher himself does the exact same thing. He pushes his left wing anti-religious beliefs on others. And if someone does not conform to his way of thinking he denigrates and belittles them.”
Murphy, do you think there is a difference between Maher using speech to try to persuade others to his point of view and Huckabee’s desire to want to enshrine his personal religious views in law? It seems to me that Huckabee’s proposal to make the Constitution conform to God’s Word (i.e., the Bible, according to Huckabee) uses the force of government power to restrict the liberties of people who might disagree. Maher does not seek to use the power of government to force his views on others. Do you really not see the difference?
Huckabee is free to run on any platform he wishes. I did not say he was going to get elected or that I agreed with him. I beleive his statements make it even less likely that John McCain can choose him as a running mate.
Have you ever watched Maher’s show? Are you really naive enough to think that he does not try in every way he possibly can to influence the political landscape? If there was any chance he or one of his left-wing cronies could be elected to office and change the laws to force their beliefs on others, they would?
The two men are one in the same, just at opposite ends of the spectrum far right and far left. That is why I called Maher a hypocrite. When he was ridiculing Huckabee he is really just ridiculing himself.
TJM…I totally agree with your reasons for not suppporting Romney. I would LOVE to throw my political weight behind a Mormon who I felt really cared about the people. But Romney, the Private Equity Manager, I cannot. I find him rather disingenuous.
Carlos…I see where you are coming from. Maher is the classic global skeptic. He doesnt believe in anything and criticizes everything. I dont find that he brings much to the table in terms of reasonable and solutions. Chomsky on the other hand does…once you get past it all 🙂 I think these guys need to be taken “tongue in cheek” but also kept at a distance. I would probably enjoy Maher’s company and enjoy a good intellectual debate but wouldnt want him spouting around my kids.
Shenpa Warrior…I do actually mean schizophrenia the mental illness as interpreted by Bateson, Jackson, Haley, Weakland, from their 1956 study. It is a fitting theory that helps to explain the environmental aspects of schizophrenia. Genetic factors must also be considered. However, I see the church as the classic “parent” figure that demands respect whilst also placing the child (members) in a double bind. I think it could be seen in the church as the The classic “You MUST be free!” syndrome…wanting us to be free but yet using subversive psychology to prevent this. The point here though is that the church is remedying this and was like this in the past. And this is why it is crucial that when someone leaves the church they are treated with respect so that bridges can be built. John Dehlin has a great screencast on that…
John whats the link for it?
I agree with Stephen and Nate that the “shape-shifting” is more of a conformance into a changing society, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully, a society advances toward improving human and civil rights, and if it pulls the church in that direction, that is good.
Bill Maher thrives on his position as a librel pundit. It’s his thing and what earns him money. Furthermore, the guy tries to be funny, so it is sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what is satire and what is a point to take seriously. I don’t necessarily think that Maher is hypocrite simply because what he does is intentionally polemical. Maher intends to argue his side, but I think that his side has more merit than Huckabee’s. For the most part, Maher’s argument of church/state has law on its side.
RE: 22 “If there was any chance he or one of his left-wing cronies could be elected to office and change the laws to force their beliefs on others, they would?”
There’s no evidence of this, making it a “tu quoque” fallacy.
Bill Maher is not a pleasant guy to listen to sometimes. I wager that I could be labeled as more left wing than he on most issues. But sometimes there are interesting ideas that are expressed by genuinely uninteresting people.
Romney is not credible. That is why his candidacy failed. He has a commendable record as a Republican in a Democratic state – not an easy task. He has always been that type of Republican that would rub shoulders with a Lincoln Chafee or some other person within the Eisenhower tradition. Romney ran on a platform that recalls more of the tradition of the Religious Right and late Ezra Taft Benson political beliefs.
It is usually a virtue to recognize mistakes and make adjustments accordingly; however, Romney’s changed positions have been too comprehensive and diametric to be credible, at least for me.
The church arrived at the doctrines raised in the interview and comments through a process of revelation. Those beliefs / practices were abandoned as a result of political and or social pressure. Romney’s beliefs (like most people) have been arrived at through a process of self examination (a process I would describe as personal revelation), his beliefs / practices / policies have appeared to change as a result of political and social pressure. The parallel is interesting by what it suggests, but doesn’t say much else.
Maher is just rude to discount the possibility that GBH was a great guy. Heck I always imagined that GBH would be a great guy to have a beer with.
(What? Is that not taught / emphasized?)
Why didn’t you post my last post?
Maher is hilarious though quite arrogant. True, Romney flip-flopped. I don’t connect it will his religion at all. It’s just typical politics as usual.
I know people who say that you should follow your priesthood leaders no matter what. They say if the leadership is wrong, they will be the ones held accountable, not you. That’s where a religious connection can be made for Romney. In every debate and interview and rally clip I saw, he would never criticize or dare to suggest the current Republican leadership ever had a misstep. I have more respect for Huckabee who at least as the cajones to not agree with everything the current administration does.
Maher comes off to me as being a psuedo-intellectual. In a recent interview on Larry King premoting his new movie “Religilous”, Bill asked why everyone took their parents views on religion and asked why you would trust someone else to answer a question about your beliefs. Why not just say, “I don’t know”.
I would like to know why anyone would listen to a stand up comic for advice about anything this important. If I need financial advice I don’t asked my broke neighbor what to do. What is the difference. It is sad that this is what is coming out of Cornell University.
Personally, if I need advice on God, I’ll ask some other false idol like Paris Hilton