Learning from Muslims

Several years ago a group of professors at BYU-Idaho designed an interdisciplinary course called “Global Hotspot: Pakistan at the Crossroad of Conflict.”

Students are asked to learn and analyze issues relating to Pakistan’s history, geography, culture, languages, and religions. But the real purpose of this course is to use Pakistan as a giant case study to help students develop skills and abilities that they can use in understanding people and countries that are quite different.

Those skills include–

  • Recognizing and overcoming stereotypes in their own thinking;
  • Understanding how factors such as history, geography, and religion influence countries and individuals;
  • Identifying and appreciating strengths and weaknesses in other cultures and nations, and
  • Understanding how the nations of the world are connected.

Professor Eaton notes that we all sometimes engage in sloppy analytical thinking by casually accepting stereotypes or the assumptions of others, and we should challenge these notions.

He also thinks that respecting others while holding firm to unique beliefs is a somewhat lost art but a necessary balancing act for members of the Church to engage in. We can respect other believers of God without sacrificing our beliefs.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast as she interviews Robert Eaton about understanding Pakistan and our own place in the world.

To access material mentioned in this episode, visit LDS Perspectives Podcast.

Announcing the 1st Semiannual LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous

This year marks the 10th year that I’ve been involved with LDS blogging. TEN YEARS! Back then it was all new. Nobody knew if you were a dog. I was a guest blogger at the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog. Me!

Since then I have attracted a few Internet antagonists and I have written things that have antagonized others.

While I do not regret my honest, though sometimes clumsy, efforts to stand up for what I believe online, 10 years of watching LDS Internet battles has saddened me.

Between the effects of cyber-disinhibition, which lead people to say things online that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, and the tendency of Internet discussion to super-size Wiio’s Laws of Communication, we have managed to dehumanize and demean each other in all kinds of ways.

Our online foes are often not real people to us but human-shaped containers into which we have poured all of our Internet-distorted perceptions and disagreements.

And that is why I am inviting you all to the 1st Semiannual LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous. Continue reading

Diversity vs Moralizing All Differences

I saw a comment on the Internet about how there was a male dancer at BYU that had been reprimanded because he did his dancing try out not matching BYU honor code standards, specifically showing up with no shirt and in shorts.

A number of people (practicing but not believing Mormons) were commenting. Comments included the idea that the LDS Church had an immature attitude towards the human body and that it was dangerous and hurtful. Further, comments mentioned that there was a great inconsistency between being concerned about a violation of the honor code on a dance try out and then not being concerned over a man wearing a swim suit at the pool – which obviously covers just as much. One commenter (same one that claimed Mormons had an immature attitude about the body, I think.) mentioned that there was real danger in having an institutionalized inconsistency like this.

If I had a dime for every set of comments I see like this on the Bloggernacle or Facebook, I’d be a very rich man.

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Discussion: What is Tolerance?

This is a summary version of my last post, plus thoughts for a serious discussion on what ‘tolerance’ really is. I would really ask that people try to look at this ‘proposed definition of tolerance’ and criticize the heck out of it. However, remember the primary rule of rationality. Rationality is to advance a counter explanation, not to shoot holes in someone else’s.

Legal Tolerance is More Important Than “Everyday Tolerance”

When we speak of ‘tolerance’ there are really two kinds or degrees. The first is the more important: we must never make laws (or break laws) to force people to believe in ways we prefer. This is the single most important aspect of tolerance. [1] This form of ‘intolerance’ is therefore about violence or threat of violence, either in the illegal or legal variety.

Everyday Tolerance: Being Respectful in Disagreements

But legal tolerance is not what we generally mean when we speak of tolerance. If it was, then skin-heads that don’t break the law would be as tolerant as anyone else. So I would suggest that when we speak of “tolerance” we generally mean civility in non-violent conflict. This being the case, then I suggest the following “rules of tolerant behavior” for your consideration:

  • Tolerance Does Not Mock Other People’s Beliefs
  • Tolerance Does Not Misrepresent, Lie, of be Deceptive about Other People’s Beliefs
  • Tolerance is Being Respectful and Civil in Your Communication to People of Another Belief
  • Tolerance Does Not Use Stereotypes
  • Tolerance Allows People to State their Own Beliefs; It Does Not State it For Them
  • Tolerance Does Not Use Dual Standards

See my previous post for more detail on each of these.

Continue reading