Friday, May 23, 2014

How to Break the Unbreakable Nalgene (Or, Why I Understand Those Who Leave the Church)

I don't know if Nalgene officially bills its water bottles as unbreakable anymore.  Truthfully, I don't know if it ever did.  I do know that they can withstand an incredible amount of abuse.  You can probably find plenty of clips on YouTube.  But it is surprisingly simple to break one.

Here's a decent video that captures the main points (it's only 50 seconds long).  When you watch, you'll notice that the bottle is full of, not water, but ice.  If you fill the bottle up to the cap, put the cap on, and freeze the bottle for a day or two, all of the water in the bottle will freeze.  The nifty thing about water is that it expands when it freezes.  So if the bottle was full before you froze it, all that ice is going to push on the inside of the bottle, creating a large amount of force pushing outward.  The second component is the drop onto a hard surface.  If the drop is far enough to create enough force, the combined forces pushing inward and outward will be enough to break that virtually indestructible bottle.

By Common Consent ran a post yesterday titled "Our Sisters are Leaving," in which the author discusses how some of the Church's public relations choices may influence some men (and women) to leave the Church.  Especially when the PR choices implicitly endorse hyper conservative positions on gender roles.

I believe the Church needs to make changes in how it addresses gender issues.  I'm convinced that there are several Church leaders who believe it needs to change the way it addresses gender issues.  The status quo is inadequate and many of the statements and policy changes in recent years lead me to believe that there will be more changes coming in the future.  But I also see how the Church tries to message these changes, and I also see how incredibly slow and hard fought these changes seem to come.

One of the comments in the BCC blog post stated
if the church is God’s church, however inadequately administrated, you don’t get to wander off and blame it on somebody else. You have to stay, to serve, to contribute, and even enlighten. You don’t really have a choice. What are you going to say? “Yes, God, I felt the BOM was from you, yes, I’ve felt priesthood power, yes, I made covenants, but people weren’t very understanding of my feelings, I didn’t feel valued enough, and your apostles don’t listen to you very well, so I left” I just don’t think that’s going to fly.
Unfortunately, change--kind of like breaking a water bottle--often only comes as a factor of internal and external pressure.  So I get it when people get frustrated that their voices aren't heard.   I can relate to how it feels to be marginalized because you have some of those 'crazy ideas.'  I understand the temptation to express myself with my feet, walk out the doors, and not come back.  I've sat on the precipice of leaving the Church twice in my life1.

Alas, I am a promote-change-from-the-inside kind of guy.  If you're feeling like you don't have a place in the Church; if you feel a desire to leave it, know this: I don't want you to leave.  I also don't want to you live in constant pain at church.  I want you to stay and help build a network of saints that can support change.  But I also understand if that is a burden too heavy for your soul to bear right now.

To you I say, "please, don't go."  But if you do, know that I still value you.  I will always consider you an ally and a friend.  And I hope that as I push on that bottle from the inside I'll see your familiar hands, opposite mine, pushing firmly from the outside.

1 And one time even had a full exit plan established.


  1. I dig it. balancing how to just love people and still be a church with hard doctrine that requires change and faith is the hardest thing I've ever let this weenie brain try and figure out, it's a hard thing

  2. Very fitting with yesterday's news. Thank you for this balm.