Mormonism LIVE! 040: Symphony Of LGBT Mis-Direction & Mr. Holland Dopus

Since its inception in 1830 LDS Leaders have been consistent at one thing. While lip service is given to being a Church that has Prophets, Seers, and Revelators who claim to speak for God and give direction from on high, these men seem to always be behind the times, stating outdated false misconceptions and teaching false and at times harmful rhetoric. No where can this be more easily recognized than on the LGBT issue. But….. sadly It doesn’t stop there.

RESOURCES:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg36L1989Ss&ab_channel=BYUSpeeches

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ay5dk9mky0p0sm7/OnTheRecord7-27.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y9z40tx8wd9rt9m/homosexuality.pdf?dl=0

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/interview-oaks-wickman-same-gender-attraction

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/same-sex-attraction?lang=eng

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/explaining-religious-freedom-and-lgbt-rights

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How To Not Answer Questions On Church History With Steven Harper Part 2

Today we dissect the Mormon Channel’s video titled “How to Answer Questions about Church History” hosted by  Amy Iverson where she interviews Steven Harper on how he as a Church Historian deals with tough issues within Church history.

You might expect a Church historian who is on such a program due to his immersion and professional understanding of LDS Church History to use Church history to show that the tough questions have solid answers.  You might expect him to encourage members who come across a tough issue to dive deeper, to find original sources, or refer them to the Gospel Topic Essays, or at least the Joseph Smith Papers Project as he had a major hand in it.  You might expect him pick out a few tough issues and then show how a more informed understanding of Church history helps to sort these issues out.  BUT……  As you will see he does anything but this.

– Notice his hesitancy to discuss the specifics of Church history.  He seems to, as a Church historian, not want to talk about Church history, and it feels his reason is he senses there is little there to build faith on.

– Notice when asked if Church history has built faith and has resolved his questions he constantly deflects from answering such questions directly and imposes that his testimony is not based in Church history.

– Notice his progression from A.) Questions always resolve themselves  B.) We have some questions that are yet unresolved but We have a lot of answers and I have faith the unresolved will yet be resolved.  C.) There are both several questions resolved as well as several questions unresolved.  D.) I have way more questions than answers and the more I learn Church history, the unresolved questions grow exponentially. and finally where he ends up E.) I hate to burst your bubble but dealing with the data causes us to reconstruct the Church in ways that have our faith in “what the Church is” being similar to how we reconcile Christmas after deconstructing the literalness of Santa Claus.

While Amy imposes that Church history has been, to Steven Harper, “an illumination to his soul”.  Radio Free Mormon and Bill Reel’s analysis shows it to have been anything but.

In the end it becomes obvious that not only does a Church historian avoid using Church history to resolve concerns, but also that he realizes avoiding Church history is the only way to tackle the difficult questions as to dive into the history is anything but faith promoting.

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How To Not Answer Questions On Church History With Steven Harper Part 1

Today we dissect the Mormon Channel’s video titled “How to Answer Questions about Church History” hosted by  Amy Iverson where she interviews Steven Harper on how he as a Church Historian deals with tough issues within Church history.

You might expect a Church historian who is on such a program due to his immersion and professional understanding of LDS Church History to use Church history to show that the tough questions have solid answers.  You might expect him to encourage members who come across a tough issue to dive deeper, to find original sources, or refer them to the Gospel Topic Essays, or at least the Joseph Smith Papers Project as he had a major hand in it.  You might expect him pick out a few tough issues and then show how a more informed understanding of Church history helps to sort these issues out.  BUT……  As you will see he does anything but this.

– Notice his hesitancy to discuss the specifics of Church history.  He seems to, as a Church historian, not want to talk about Church history, and it feels his reason is he senses there is little there to build faith on.

– Notice when asked if Church history has built faith and has resolved his questions he constantly deflects from answering such questions directly and imposes that his testimony is not based in Church history.

– Notice his progression from A.) Questions always resolve themselves  B.) We have some questions that are yet unresolved but We have a lot of answers and I have faith the unresolved will yet be resolved.  C.) There are both several questions resolved as well as several questions unresolved.  D.) I have way more questions than answers and the more I learn Church history, the unresolved questions grow exponentially. and finally where he ends up E.) I hate to burst your bubble but dealing with the data causes us to reconstruct the Church in ways that have our faith in “what the Church is” being similar to how we reconcile Christmas after deconstructing the literalness of Santa Claus.

While Amy imposes that Church history has been, to Steven Harper, “an illumination to his soul”.  Radio Free Mormon and Bill Reel’s analysis shows it to have been anything but.

In the end it becomes obvious that not only does a Church historian avoid using Church history to resolve concerns, but also that he realizes avoiding Church history is the only way to tackle the difficult questions as to dive into the history is anything but faith promoting.

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Stages of Faith & Building Bridges

This audio program is hosted by Bill Reel, an active faithful Latter-day Saint who has himself gone through a difficult and painful faith transition and has remained active in the Church.  This program is for the loved ones of those struggling in hopes for understanding and a safe space to have conversations.

You likely received this audio program from someone you love who is going through a hard time.  They need you as a trusted friend and they treasure your relationship and are hopeful you will listen to this episode in hopes that you can better understand their struggle of faith.   In the end the real solutions to a crisis of faith is love, empathy, compassion, and support and most importantly validation.  May this be one step to such things.

WEB RESOURCES:

paulien stages of faith

Keeley Stages of Faith

Perry’s Scheme of Development

Fowler’s Stages of faith

 

BOOKS:

The Critical Journey

Faith Shift

Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis

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276: Fix your faith crisis with this one weird trick! – WOOD vs STEEL Tools

Today we read  an incredible blog post written by “Thinker of Thoughts“.

Faith crises are all the rage. Everybody’s talking about them. Okay, well not everybody. Mainly the people who have gone through them. Most other people are probably wishing that the people who keep bringing them up would just go away. They are like the Debbie Downer of religious circles, or your local family reunion.

Be that as it may, chances are that at some point in your life you (or someone you love) will be faced with a crisis of faith. Depending on what faith your crisis originates from, the experience can be quite devastating. This post is going to give you a single simple trick to fix a crisis of faith – but, before I reveal this trick to you, there is some groundwork that must be laid involving what it means to “fix” a faith crisis.

As I read this blog post it struck me that Apologetics in Mormonism at its core is no different than the apologetics of the false High Demand religions out there and that STEEL tools are rarely encouraged and seen as valid to one in crisis.  As the author here points out, if the apologetic strategy would work in true religions as much as false ones than the strategy is too imperfect to be utilized by a true truth seeker.  The end goal of WOOD tools is to keep the doubter in the Church and also minimize his doubts to others.  Since the methods have been shown to be just as useful in false religions as in Mormonism, these WOOD tools are useless for real truthseeking!

The use of the blog post was done with the permission of “Thinker of Thoughts”

RESOURCES:

thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/fix-your-faith-crisis-with-this-one-weird-trick/

https://carm.org/logical-fallacies-or-fallacies-argumentation

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/how-to-make-sound-arguments-for-the-faith

http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa208.htm

 

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264: Gone Are The Days….. (Version 2)

I was broken.  I was mad.  I was frustrated.  I was sad.   I was at an impasse and I prayed for the Church to create real space for truth seeking.  Please….. Please……  Make a safe space…….  I need you and hope for you to truly honor my questions by having a vulnerable conversation about them.  Please hear my heart.  Please hear my soul.  I am begging for you to be real with me and all the others who are hurting.

First Presidency Statement:

We understand from time to time church members will have questions about church doctrine, history or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them.

Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine. (June 28, 2014, First Presidency Statement)

RESOURCES

Questions Are Honored Blog Post

Questions and Apostasy

 

(This Episode in a different version released to the public on May 1st 2017.  It had been recorded in January 2017.  Due to my discomfort as I re-listened to it in part due to its tone, the episode was pulled and edited and re-released.  Over the next 24 hours, I edited a few small portions and re-recorded some sections.  I believe this version is more in line with the tone I want the podcast to convey while speaking vulnerably to the hurt and pain of those in a faith transition)

The message I read

“My real dilemma comes when the church holds tightly to its need to be correct, its need to be consistent and its need to claim ‘unchangeable doctrine’ despite mistakes, inconsistencies, and doctrines that change.

Let’s look at what the church is doing now. The church has rolled out essays containing statements that will be surprising to members. They did so without any acknowledgment that this information is new and/or contradicts past curriculum. They put forth essays containing information that in the past would only have been available in the anti-Mormon literature they told members NOT to read and the church expects members to accept it as if it had been available all along and as if it is consistent with previous teachings.

The subtle message to members is this: Information we previously told you was anti-Mormon, we are now telling you is true. We are not going to explain why we misled you in the past. We are not going to apologize for our error.  Even, though you now realize that you lied to others because you trusted us, we take no responsibility. Still, we expect you to trust us now and in the future. And we expect you to be honest in your dealings.

The method in which the church released these essays – without any acknowledgement that they contain information different than what they taught (and what they previously asked members to teach) – feels like a type of mental and spiritual abuse.  The fact that these essays have been released without giving extra training and help to Bishops and Gospel Doctrine teachers seems unwise at best, and unethical at worst.

The church has presented these essays in a way that implies members should be okay with this new information. If a person is confused, the implication is that something is wrong with the member, not the information or the way it was presented. The reality is that this is traumatic information for many people. Many feel lied to by the church.

The church has completely placed the burden of reconciling this information on the shoulders of its people while it maintains a stance that there is nothing to reconcile.

And this burden will continue with our current curriculum – with these essays silently inserted – week after week…[Most] people are not leaving the church because of problems with Church history. [Most] are leaving because of issues of trust. They are leaving because they were taught one thing in their youth and are being told something completely different now with the expectation they can continue believing that nothing has changed. Most people cannot do that in a way that maintains integrity – let alone sanity!!!”

Now, I would also add these thoughts:

Anyone who has read the essays knows that something significant has changed, something at least as significant as the change in 1978. Yet as leaders are largely silent, some wards teach the old narrative while some wards are trying to bring in bits and pieces of the new. Nobody knows exactly what to do.

The issue here is more than one of trust. The new narrative has changed reality for many of us. And it’s getting in the way of our relationships because some members believe one reality while other members believe another.

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Mormon Primer On Belief: The Examination Of The Controversial Issues Of Mormonism From An Objective Position

CLICK HERE FOR MORMON PRIMER

Introduction:

The major aim of writing this article is to display various perspectives on Mormonism’s most controversial issues.  Herein, we share the Orthodox, Apologetic, Critical, and Progressive viewpoints together with resources helpful to the reader at the end of each chapter, that the reader may explore each issue further.  This is a living document where edits and addendums are welcome.  Any revision suggestions can be emailed to [email protected]  For the most current copy of this document please go to mdpodcast.org and search for Mormon Primer

258: Duane Miller – Living Among the Breakage

Today I sit down with Duane Alexander Miller, author of “Living Among the Breakage: Contextual Theology-Making and Ex-Muslim Christians”  Duane tells us about the transition that Muslims entering Christianity are making.  The disruption or “faith crisis” they are having in islam, what it means to leave their faith and what transitions and adaptations they make enter Christianity and that Christianity is making to welcome them.  Duane also tells us of his his church, the Anglican Church, is handling some of the same issues pressing on Mormonism at the moment giving us a taste of where a Church that has exponentially more members and been around longer is dealing with such things.

Living among the Breakage: Contextual Theology-Making and Ex-Muslim Christians

duanemiller.wordpress.com

Arab Evangelicals in Israel

Duane’s Twitter handle  = @DrDuaneMiller

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257: Those Who Doubt – Part 2

We did an episode recently title “Who is the Doubter” where we explored the data about Latter-day Saints who have serious doubts.  We explored where they are finding information, what is their education, Socioeconomic status, level of activity, and their growth.

Today we pick up and share part 2 of some of their stories.  There are around a 100 of these personal accounts.  Today we share four of them of specific individuals who were part of this data including a Mission President.  We tell their story.  Rather then the naive labels applied recently by Meridian Magazine and the recent Deseret News Article  we can see the real reasons dedicated members lose faith.  We can hopefully allow space where rather than us decide the story of another, we let them tell their own story.  When we honor another’s story we allow ourselves to be open to deeper truth.   Join us for this and other episodes where we tell their story.

Personal Accounts of those who have lost faith and have serious doubts

Meridian Magazine’s article “8 Things That Can Pull You Away From the Church” 

Deseret News’ article “Mormons with doubts shouldn’t give up faith….”

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256: Those Who Doubt – Part 1

We did an episode recently title “Who is the Doubter” where we explored the data about Latter-day Saints who have serious doubts.  We explored where they are finding information, what is their education, Socioeconomic status, level of activity, and their growth.

Today we pick up and share some of their stories.  There are around a 100 of these personal accounts.  Today we share four of them of specific individuals who were part of this data.  We tell their story.  Rather then the naive labels applied recently by Meridian Magazine and the recent Deseret News Article  we can see the real reasons dedicated members lose faith.  We can hopefully allow space where rather than us decide the story of another, we let them tell their own story.  When we honor another’s story we allow ourselves to be open to deeper truth.   Join us for this and other episodes where we tell their story.

Personal Accounts of those who have lost faith and have serious doubts

Meridian Magazine’s article “8 Things That Can Pull You Away From the Church” 

Deseret News’ article “Mormons with doubts shouldn’t give up faith….”

 

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To Our Loved Ones: The Struggle Is Real

This audio program is hosted by Bill Reel, an active faithful Latter-day Saint who has himself gone through a difficult and painful crisis of faith and has remained active in the Church.  This program is for the loved ones of those struggling in hopes for understanding and a safe space to have conversations.

You likely received this audio program from someone you love who is going through a hard time.  They need you as a trusted friend and they treasure your relationship and are hopeful you will listen to this episode in hopes that you can better understand their struggle of faith.   In the end the real solutions to a crisis of faith is love, empathy, compassion, and support and most importantly validation.  May this be one step to such things.

RESOURCES:

The LDS.ORG Gospel Topic essays accessed from one location

More Info on how to better frame support

Many of the issues discussed in more detail

Richard Bushman discusses Faith Transitions

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Ward or Stake Resource: Help Thou Mine Unbelief


STAKE HANDOUT HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF BY STUDY AND BY FAITH:

Suggestions and Resources to Work Through Questions Related to LDS Church History, Doctrine, and Social Issues

In the Church, we value truth and we value those who seek after it. Joseph Smith once said, “Mormonism is Truth.” He encouraged the Saints to let truth in no matter what source it came from. Truth is truth. In our faith we are having to do just that. In the Information Age we are becoming aware as a culture that adjustments need to be made in how we tell our story and how we respond to a better grasp of information on our history and doctrine. Many in our faith are having for the first time to deal with this awareness, and it can be unsettling. We are as a church taking steps to respond and likely have a lot of work to do, but in the meantime we must find ways to help each other adapt. Rather than judgment and self-righteousness, we ought to be humble and willing to lift the hands that hang down and to strengthen the feeble knees. The following handout has been designed to give people the tools they need to press forward through this transitional phase of their faith. This handout is not designed to answer the issues directly. To do so would take hundreds of pages with multiple factions agreeing and disagreeing over what is the best of answers. Instead, here is a surface view of what is helpful and what is not, giving the reader the framework of what may lay ahead, what to be careful of, and what to be aware of as one takes this journey.

For My Wife And Children: Why People Doubt

This letter (I did not author this) was done with Charity and not drawing the conclusion for others but sharing the messiness of Mormonism that compels us to re-evaluate our narrative. I am hoping this will be seen as informative and helping others to bridge conversations and to see why folks lose faith without being seen as advocating for apostasy.

Why People Doubt

235: What My Faith Journey Taught Me

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My shelf crashed around the age of 32.  I was serving as a Bishop well late into my second year of that calling.  No one knew…. not my Stake President, not my counselors, not even my wife.  I had many a sleepless nights and tried every solution I could to find the kind of peace that allowed me to maintain my prior beliefs.  There was an ebb and flow to my faith.  Finding way stations along the way to pause and rest believing perhaps I had found an answer.  But those gifts of grace were only momentary plateaus useful in slowing me down, giving me time to process, and helping see forward was the only way as I sought truth in that way a real truth-seeker does.

 

toomuchstudying

I delved into every nook and cranny of Mormonism, ingesting every faithful evidence, every critical question.  I dove deep into a study of the atonement, and those beautiful gifts of Mercy and Grace.  I read Quinn, Bushman, Givens, and  Prince.  I also gave an immense amount of time to Holland, Gene R Cook, Brad Wilcox, Maxwell, and others.  I spent a lot of time in my job on the road alone.  Sometimes hours a day.  Just me, My MP3 player, and those voices of leaders and scholars.  I found podcasts and audio books feeling if I just listened to one more thing I could find that missing puzzle piece that helps me see where all the others belong and fit.  Trying so hard to keep it together I wrote apostles pleading for help.  I communicated with Church leaders at every level with no one having answers.

13525511_952108124910643_1072607922_n…. One day something shifted in my mind.  Some new idea entered in and it pushed an old idea out.  Rather than continue the compulsion to make the pieces fit, this new idea which was almost a living breathing thing… It was the permission to take it all down.  To disassemble everything.  To deconstruct my faith piece by piece.  Each piece removed would be studied with wondrous intent.  Examining every nook and cranny.  Every side of every piece.  Checking it over and over to see if some angle was missed.  Feeling for the first time in my life I was beginning to own my own faith.  I kept the pieces that were beautiful, interesting, and some simply because they were still useful.  Others that were ugly, unhealthy, or untrue were discarded.  Others still were set off to the side for later examination, their final place yet to be decided.

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When this process had progressed…. one can never say finished or completed as this is a process that continues over a lifetime…. but when this process had progressed to a point where I began to have some retrospective insight of where I was and how far I had come, I realized some particles of wisdom, of insight, of advice that may be useful to those less familiar with this terrain.  I don’t claim to know any ultimate truths but I do suggest that those of us on this narrow path can learn much from the collective wisdom from the whole of us who are traveling and have traveled it.  I offer here several thoughts.  If they are helpful great.  Claim them and make them yours.  If not please discard them and continue searching for others.

 

churchfail

Jesus vs Gospel vs Church:  How the Church even in its weakness does its job.
Let me start by being blunt.  Jesus as the literal divine Son of God who lived 33 years in mortality, died on the cross for you and me, and rose in three days….. well…….  His story may not be literally true.  In fact God himself may not be real.  At least not this figure from whom we were literally made in his image, whom sits on a throne up in yonder heavens.  I think everyone skirts around this and no one wants to just put this out into the ether of Mormonism but it needs to be said.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I have faith in God.  I have faith in Christ.  I hope in Jesus and his atonement.  And to be honest whether he is historical and divine or not, I have truly been affected… might I say changed…. by his grace and mercy.

With that stated, let me share that his Gospel is absolutely true.  Jesus gives us a example, a path, a way of life that calls us to both connect with the divine and to be something bigger than ourselves.  I know the Gospel is true because when I am striving to live it, it lives within me.  Whether Jesus is historical, I suggest you come to grips that his gospel is real and living.

When I say Gospel, I don’t mean Church.  They are very different separate things… even unrelated or polar opposites at times.  The latter is flawed, imperfect, and at times downright unhealthy.  Might I even say dead.  Dead in that anytime it operates unconnected to the living Gospel it commits behaviors that are empty of light and life.  The former is Perfect, a source of strength or in other words living waters.  The gospel is truly deep and alive and it calls us to be so as well.

stepping-aside-main_article_image

I need to say here as well… The Church or specifically The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may not be true and living in the way many are seeking to prove or disprove.  Yet at that same moment it may be just that…. True and Living.  Let me explain.  The Church’s mission is to bring all unto Christ.  The Church in its deep and unhealthy shortcomings may do just that.  For those of us in such a faith journey we need this tension… in fact it is this tension which picked us up and set us down on the narrow path.  Without this tension we would still be living in a binary world, looking to extrinsic authorities and never seeing the world through glass less darkly.  As mad and angry as I am at times with my religion, it is this very tension which has pointed me to Christ.   That for way too long I had looked to the Church to save me, until one day I saw it for what it was, a failed human led endeavor that provided more disappointment and shortcomings then I was ever expecting.  In that moment when I perceived just how flawed it was, it is as if in my mind I could picture the church sadly stepping aside and pointing me towards that which was truly redemptive… Christ and his gospel.

In failing, the Church essentially has asked us not to ultimately trust it.  Not to place it as our foundation but rather to see it only as a tool designed to help us see that our trust all along should have been placed elsewhere…. in Christ.  In other words you need this tension.  If you can bear it, you need to swim in these waters.  For those who leave for their personal well-being, I validate and honor your choice.  I have been oh so close myself at times and reserve the right to say enough at some future point.  For now, I need this tension.  That even if the Church isn’t “TRUE”, it is true and living and performs the very mission that Christ allegedly gave it.  Even in failing, and it fails miserably at times, it does its job.  I could even argue if the Church was healthy enough that none of us saw reason to doubt it, that it actually would fail at its mission.  Can you make space in your heart and mind to see that the very reason you have moved onto the narrow path is because the Church failed you?

 

Questions concept

Answers vs Questions: Living in the Question:
When your shelf first cracks you go into panic mode.  At least I did.  I knew there were troublesome questions but also knew if I just read enough I would find satisfactory answers.  I needed the answers.  I craved them but around every corner was 5 more questions.  And the original question?  Well it would, once in a great while, end with a satisfactory answer but mostly disappointing and at times those answers were desperately overreaching and at times downright absurd and unreasonable.  But I could not walk away.  I knew the answers were there if I just said one more prayer, read one more scripture, fasted one more hour, read one more book, listened to one more podcast, or asked one more apologist.  I knew the Church was True or at least I needed it to be and darn it, I would see this through.  But as I learned by study and by faith, eventually it rested upon me.  An awareness that the questions no longer mattered.  Was the Book of Mormon historical… maybe… probably not….. in the end it doesn’t matter…. at least not to me.  By that I mean I no longer cared if it was historical.  It was no longer a question I had to find the answer to.  Rather I now quite enjoy living in the question.  I apply this to Prophets, Book of Abraham, Divine Translation, Old Testament historicity and, even the historical Jesus.  The answers to those issues don’t matter.  In fact a significant portion of my being is grateful that we don’t have the answers we want on such things as the questions are much more enjoyable than the answers.  And in questions, not answers, is real growth present.  I get it…… some of you are in that phase where you need the answers so bad.  Keep pushing.  Keep moving.  Keep pressing forward with steadfastness…. eventually your likely to find yourself in that space where the questions mean so much more than the answers.

without

In Proving Contraries Truth is Made Manifest:

“In Proving Contraries, Truth is Made Manifest” is a quote by Joseph smith.  It is deep.  It is one I love.  It is profound.  As I have wrestled with paradoxes, nuance, contradictions, and complexities I have discovered truth.  As I wrestle with scripture, with prophets, and even with God I have felt divine growth within me.  I have found the very attributes Christ exemplifies, showing up in my life with greater profundity.  Not that I have become perfect but rather that I know and sense the very Christ in attendance.  That as Paul relays Christ telling him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  And like Paul I exclaim “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  Growth… real personal growth…. occurs in our lives when our lives are messy.  When there is conflict, when there is tragedy, when deep challenges are present in our lives.  It is in this wrestling with the greatest paradox of all…. our very life…… that we are challenged by Christ and his gospel to become something more.  Again this is another thing we need.  We need contradictions within our life and for them to be in our very face day in and day out for us to learn deep and expansive truths that lead us into further stages of development.

 

fd

Apostasy vs Faith Development: The Crux of Mormon Cognitive Dissonance:
Cognitive Dissonance is defined as the tension in our mind when we are torn between two or more competing thoughts.  In Mormonism we use this a lot to describe the angst we feel wanting the Church to be what it claims while feeling distanced from such claims by the data and our experience.  Often people when they first enter this space they describe this “cognitive dissonance” as a Faith Crisis.  This angst feels like a real crisis.  Like everything you once held sacred and close has been torn from your arms and you are struggling, with no progress, to get it back.  The trouble is that in this phase or stage one has a faulty perspective.  It feels as though you are losing something.  That this loss places you as somehow further distanced from God and your very Church assures you something is wrong.

This is the crux.  I will try not to get too technical.  The trouble is that the Church has created a rhetoric and a culture which makes you to feel as though you lost something when you really are gaining things.  When you recognize that the majority of Church members and for that matter Church curriculum writers, and Church leaders are in a earlier stage of development it becomes easy to see why our culture would be defensive in order to protect orthodoxy, certainty, and everyone fitting in and not challenging the status quo.  We have phrases like “wheat and tares” or “wheat and the chaff”, or “falling away”, or “slippery slope to apostasy”.  We are made uncomfortable by tough questions.  We don’t like our beliefs challenged.  And we certainly do not create a safe space in our faith for deeper thought and critical thinking.  But who can blame them?  They have not experienced this before.  Their faith works so well for them, just as it had for you only a short time ago.  Their pieces all fit and they know they are the chosen generation and  know with every fiber of their being that God is working so closely within their lives directly because of the religion they belong to.  Why would anyone open themselves up to having that which works so well and brings so much peace to being critically examined?  And so as you have progressed into another stage, others around you are left to feel threatened and to see your progress as its opposite…. regression.

Only in the progressive stages can you grasp for the first time that faith is something more honorable than knowledge.  That doubt is the others side of the faith coin.  That real truth seeking will compel you to set down those things that only a short time ago were so obviously true.  You are a threat.  You are exhibiting the very traits they have been taught to see as losing something.  You have to shake that off.  You are growing.  You are progressing.  You are developing into deeper stages of being.  It is a positive.  Often early on people call it a crisis.  But there comes a moment when that word no longer is useful.  It is almost offensive.  Instead phrases like “faith journey”, “Faith reconstruction”, and “Faith transition” become more useful and point to a “Mighty Change” within you.  This cognitive dissonance at some point vanishes away and makes room for the development of your inner authority and ability to hold your own spiritual ground.  You begin to find joy in complexity and nuance, and begin to claim your own individual faith.

 

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Literal vs Mystical:

In earlier stages Literal interpretations are everything.  A literal Adam and a literal Eve in a literal Garden partaking of literal fruit and experiencing a literal fall in the very literal Missouri.   Noah is obviously real… duh.  The stories in their literal interpretation have a very limited scope of discussion and a very limited amount of application.  Something magical happens when you begin to grasp that many of these stories are likely not literal events with literal people experiencing them.  In this faith journey, I am guessing you are likely beginning to sense that these stories are something other than historically literal.  That there likely was no global flood, no talking donkey, and no tower from which all languages disseminated out from.  Your beginning to see that these stories may be figurative, mythical, allegorical, and perhaps plain and simple fiction.  I am also hoping you are beginning to see just how rich scripture can be once you see these other lenses in which to view holy writ.  The interpretations and meanings can become very deep and rich once the literal chains which these stories are bound by are loosed.  Jesus and his teachings have, for me, become more meaningful.  Stories like David and Goliath, Abraham and Isaac, and Moses and the Israelites begin to open up my mind to new thoughts and inspired understandings once I have made space in my mind for such heterodoxy, or unorthodox thinking.  Again are these stories real and literal?…..  Maybe…. probably not…… but again it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that you have given yourself room to examine other paradigms and open to new modes of discovery.

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Wounded Church vs The Wounded Christ:

Let me conclude with a comparison in order to offer some validation and some encouragement.  The Church is wounded.  It also is wounding others.  It prefers to hide and conceal those wounds.  It has clearly stated that it does not seek nor offer apologies.  Its LGBT approach is almost certainly contributing to LDS LGBT suicide and yet we brush off accountability and dismiss such discussion.  Church leaders make serious mistakes and yet the kind of acknowledgement or change seemingly only happens when the involved parties have long gone beyond the veil.

This is very different than Christ.  In terms of seeking apologies Christ taught “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”  And in giving apologies Christ has taught “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

Christ didn’t hide his wounds.  He offered them.  “Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”.  Christ has set the example and I want you to know that I validate the real hurt the Church may have or currently is causing you.  Sadly it often falls short of Christ’s example.  I join with you and pray that they Church will come to a place where it authentically offers its wounds and asks us to thrust in thy hand.  I, like you, pray for a day when the Church can apologize for its wrongs.  I too pray for the Church to be more open to real sincere truth seeking rather than giving lip service to it in the name of keeping the masses comfortable.  But in spite of all the church’s weaknesses and flaws we must remember it is pointing us to Christ.  It is Christ whom we should emulate and follow and whose opinion we should concern ourselves.

Paul stated “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”  I validate the Church is for many a burden and it would be easy to simply go somewhere else.  It is my hope that you might consider staying and seeing this through.  That this can truly be the narrow path and that this church even in its flaws can be true and living.

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My Testimony:

I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  I know because when I am striving to live those gospel ideals like faith, hope, charity, service, and sacrifice in my life I feel connected to something bigger than me.

I have a deep faith in what I will call God.  Faith that there is something bigger out there that has influence in the world for good.

I believe in Jesus Christ.  Not that he is historical but that the Christ of faith is worthy of my emulation.  He is worthy of my conversation.  He is worthy of my adoration.  Whether historical or not I have truly been affected by his grace and mercy.

I know the book of Mormon is true.  Again not that it is a historical depiction of real people and real events but rather that it is scripture or in other words it is a sacred text accepted by my tribe and me as a book we shall call holy and one that invites us to interact with the divine.  I personally have had interactions with the divine through that sacred book.   For me it is truly scripture and worthy of being called such.

I have faith in the restoration, that divine gifts have truly been restored to me through Mormonism.

I hope in Joseph Smith.  I hope he was sincerely seeking God.  I hope he found that God he was seeking.  I hope God in some way is pleased with the offering Joseph submitted for future generations.  I hope in Prophecy, Seeing, and Revelation today as it truly offers the solutions to present ills in our faith.

Lastly I have a knowledge that as we live in the tension as a people we can move towards Zion.  In the sacred name of Jesus Christ
May the Lord warm your shoulders,

Bill Reel

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232: Jon Ogden – When Mormons Doubt

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Today I sit down with Jon Ogden, author of “When Mormons Doubt: A Way To Save Relationships And Seek A Quality Life”.  We talk about his own journey as well as the book.  We discuss his premise that Truth and Beauty are different and that truth is often confused for beauty and that each has there own path to discovery.

https://www.amazon.com/When-Mormons-Doubt-Relationships-Quality-ebook/dp/B01D7T93CQ

 

 

 

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