The Church is True Faith Crisis and Reconstruction podcast series is here. The first three episodes were released this week. Here’s a link to the first episode: Mormon faith crisis podcast link
At the beginning of the podcast, I give a strong warning to only proceed if you are already very aware of all the church history and scripture issues, the gospel topics essays, CES Letter issues, etc. I don’t want to cause faith crisis for someone who is not already familiar with the issues. But I think the audience already fits that bill.
Episode 1: introduction of my personal journey through faith crisis and reconstruction. Topics: trust, what to do with previous spiritual confirmations, cognitive dissonance, faith vs belief, belief as a choice, apologetics, neoapologetics, metaphorical vs literal paradigms, fundamentalistic vs nuanced testimony.
Episode 2: Old Testament. Literal, 19th century view vs modern scholarly view. Gotcha issues for LDS. Evolution, Noah’s flood, prooftexting. Pete Enns: this is what it looks like when God lets his children tell the story. My testimony of the OT after faith deconstruction and reconstruction.
Episode 3: Book of Mormon Evidence. 19th century hemispheric model Native American origination story vs new church essay LGT and Mixing Populations, DNA Science, anachronisms like horses, steel, etc, ancient metal plates, Reformed Egyptian, Stephen Smoot’s critique of an inspired but non-historical view of the BOM. My view of the BOM as inspired and sacred scripture yet not being historical and viewing it as a revelation through Joseph Smith. My testimony of the BOM.
Here’s where you can find them on iTunes. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/church-is-true-lds-mormon/id1516616452
I threw down some ambitious goals at the beginning of the first episode. Goals for the podcast series:
- define an intellectually bullet proof version of Mormonism that satisfies all church critics. I will break down all the apologetic issues. This part will align me more intellectually with Exmormons than most faithful LDS, but it’s important for my project to do this.
- retain a version of Mormonism that is true and beautiful and worthy of engaging in. This part will align me more with my faithful LDS religionists, which is where I feel most comfortable.
- avoid getting excommunicated. I’m trying very hard to present this from a faithful standpoint.
Going into the podcast series, I thought I had a 0.1% chance of getting in trouble by my stake president for doing this. I’m upping that probability to 1% now. The reaction from the conservative LDS side has been a little more negative and aggressive than I thought it would. I will work very hard to disarm that negative energy and work to reconcile those feelings. I want very much to be aligned with all my fellow LDS. On the positive side, I’ve received a lot of praise and thankyou’s and that motivates me to keep going. Thanks to the people that support the project!
Have you listened to any episodes? Don’t let the terrorists win who want to shut down the facebook discussion. Let’s discuss the episodes here.
How was your Facebook account disabled? I don’t use social media, so I am not familiar with the issue. (Thanks for doing the podcasts, by the way. Great idea.)
Church, I want to look after you. Those are very exacting ambitions you have, and I think it’s very important that you don’t burn yourself out with this. I’m assuming you have other things to do also.
My own crisis continues, unresolved, but I’m guessing that is actually full human experience, we just have a little more headspace to think about and express it.
Be careful not to give anyone else too much power, that includes your SP. You are in charge of your own life and accountable for your own decisions. You don’t actually have to lift your head above the parapet unless you want to, but be careful to choose which hill you want to die on.
Wish someone had said this stuff to me 25 years ago, it might have saved my mental and physical health. Then again, who knows?
Hi wayfarer, thanks for your concern. I am strong and am good at prioritizing important things first. I’ve had extra time with COVID-19 cutting down the number of hours I need to dedicate to my business. (thank God for SBA funds to get my by) And this is energizing for me. So, don’t worry. I’m putting in probably 30 hours a week on this project for a few months to knock it out. But I still have time for golf. And maybe a little family time. But only after golf. The criticism from the extreme ends (it depends on the subject whether it comes from the TBM side or the Exmo side) sometimes gets me down, but it’s not that significant. I’m still not worried about kickback from church officials. I would seriously be shocked if I get that. I try very hard to show that I’m doing this from a faithful perspective, and I think it shows. Thanks for your support!
You walk a challenging middle ground. To the one who has lost belief completely, it may seem you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too. You are well informed of the issues and have followed the data to their logical conclusions, but somehow the church is still “true.” It may not make sense from the perspective of someone who has made similar conclusions as you in regards to historicity and other issues. It is those very conclusions that leads some to say the church is “not true.”
To the more orthodox, you may come across as a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Sure, you say the “church is true,” but you don’t accept most conclusions the believer accepts that informs their belief in the church. They mah see your conclusions as incompatible with belief in the church. They may see you as leading others astray.
I for one, value your perspective and your path. Even from my viewpoint as a complete lack of belief in anything supernatural, I think you are doing valuable work. I see your path as choosing mormonism as a way of life, even after your mind has been unable to accept the truth claims. There are many good reasons to choose mormonism and I applaud your choice and your efforts in trying to make the tent bigger for everyone else.
I don’t know if you’d be comfortable with the label of “secular mormon,” but that’s kind of how I see your viewpoint. You seem to approach mormonism from a sort of post-modern lens, or maybe even post-post-modern if that’s a thing. I like it. I think it’s a fresh take and definitely steers away from the old black/white narrative that was too divisive and untenable to begin with.
As to your podcast, it’s on my listening list, but I’ve read basically everything on your blog so I have a sense for what you’ll be saying. Kudos to you in this project and good luck walking the middle ground. I truly hope it does not lead to any negative consequences for you. I think you’re doing this at a safer time than say 10-15 years ago would have been.
Welcome to the world of Mormon podcasting! From what I understand, yours is a short-term project with and end date, and won’t go on indefinitely. Is that right?
While there is some overlap in topics, you definitely have a different approach than I do. It’s good to have a variety of approaches that will appeal to different people.
Rick, the plan now is to do the 12 episodes as a finite series. I’ll see if there is interest and motivation to turn it into a regular podcast.
I am rooting for you!
Fearing “discipline” from church leaders for adherence to known facts, be they genetic, archaeological or linguistic, is absolutely unacceptable. What’s the analog here, the Chinese Communist Party? What kind of men demand this kind of willful blindness, and what does this have to do with the message of Christ.?
Good luck with the podcast. One issue:
“avoid getting excommunicated. I’m trying very hard to present this from a faithful standpoint.”
Things are what they are and your interpretation is what it is. Why feel the need to compromise or hold back to satisfy any perceived reactions of church authorities or believers who would raise alarm with church authorities? Therein lies the difference between the critics and the believers. Critics can’t say anything that might affect your status in an organization to which you belong and claim to be trying to defend. Believers can.
P, John W: I don’t think it’s wrong for an organization or a church to have boundaries in terms of what sort of public behavior is appropriate. And my motivation to say express things from a faithful perspective is not solely fear of being punished. The primary motivation is simply to be a good, faithful member, regardless of an excommunication threat. That’s mainly why I’ve never even thought it was possible that I could be disciplined for this. Because I intend to stay far, far way from that kind of boundary. But I mention I upped my probability to 1% just because of the reaction of some on the conservative LDS side. It makes me stop and pause for a second about whether or not I’m delusional or in solid reality in my perception of how this will be received by church leaders. I think it will be totally fine. But people freaking out and getting mad at me is making me wonder if I’m overly optimistic about this.
Just in case some of you are worried about Church discipline based on what you say and write, remember this: former members have been excommunicated over the discussion of material that is now found in apologists’ books and even the Gospel Topic Essays. In other words, the goal posts keep moving. But the only way they move is when brave members speak out. So please be forward leaning on this.
Let me give you a perfect example that is very timely: We need to push and push and push the Brethren to apologize for the Church’s history of racism. Some members have gotten into hot water when making this point too strongly. But it has to be made in order for there to bean apology. And I predict that there will be one, but it will only happen because of a grass roots effort to make it happen. Without that effort, it will never happen. And it also won’t happen due to external pressure.
So fight the good fight and don’t worry about getting into trouble.
I am looking forward to your project. I think that one of the areas I will be curious to see the reaction to is around BoM historicity. FairMormon (who isn’t anyone’s bishop or Stake President or anything, so who knows how important their opinion is) specifically addresses BoM historicity with this statement: “If someone comes to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon is not historical at all, is there a place for him in the Church? Probably. We cast a very broad net. That person cannot go around teaching his heterodox views on the subject, but if he is willing to keep them to himself, he can be a contributing, active member of the Church, simply bracketing the historicity issue.” FairMormon would seem to prefer that you keep silent on your opinion. As you continue to break your silence on the issue, it will be interesting to see how members accept you within the body of Christ while holding this particular heterodox view. Will they be like FairMormon and prefer that you keep silent or will they simply overlook it or will they go to great lengths to convince you otherwise or will they be less accepting.
We make a very big deal about TRUTH in this church. I got news for our leaders: some truth is extremely uncomfortable, and your reaction to same is a perfect reflection of your soul. My own drift from orthodoxy began w/ the odious machinations of one Boyd K Packer who drew a bead on “so-called” intellectuals because they insisted on open inquiry & fact. The supine acquiescence of the rest of the quorum to his various inquisitions sealed the deal for me. Too bad. Still love the Church but it is no longer my everything because frankly in some important ways I don’t trust it.
I look forward to these podcasts. I doubt it will help me believe again but I’m interested anyway. I’m not sure that I believe in God anymore. I believe that Jesus was a real and a good person but I also have doubts about the historical accuracy of his life when we know the accounts were written decades after he lived? It’s a lot to unpack when your spouse is fully believing and also children and grandchildren. Fortuanately I can describe my spouse and active children as fairly nuanced Mormons but I’m still finding it a challenge to be my authentic self with everyone when there are expectations and perceptions of who you are and what they think you believe. I continue to consider the church my community but it’s been nice to take a break during this pandemic.
I listened to three one-hour episodes. I hope you always have links available on a blog because I don’t access podcasts from iTunes.
You were clear about your intention, your faith and devotion, so I find no reason to be concerned about disciplinary actions. There will always be fundamentalists and Pharisees, and they will always ask for your crucifixion. If you get summoned, be willing to apologize and recant—even if you are correct—and there will never be an issue.
In the first three episodes, I thought you went over issues too quickly for the intended-audience. If you only plan on a dozen episodes, then focus on a dozen topics to go deep into. It will help narrow the focus of discussions and forums. The value isn’t in the fact that you’ve survived faith crisis: the value is the journey—the step-by-step psychology. Your narrative is strong, clear, great voice, listenable—I will tune in again!
I’d like to hear you tackle “beliefs” versus “doctrine.” You mentioned faith versus belief, but I don’t think we consider how institutional beliefs get mingled with gospel doctrine. Institutionalized Mormons see belief and doctrine as the same thing (maybe because somebody wrote a book of beliefs and called it Mormon Doctrine).
I wouldn’t recommend too much Jordan Peterson. Just go straight to the source: Carl Jung, Erich Neumann, Edward Edinger, Marie-Loise Von Franz—these minds dwarf Jordan. Jung formalized the language of revelation, illuminated archetypes, gave context for spiritual sight. Reading Joseph Smith after reading Jung’s “Aion” and “Answer to Job” really grounds how we look at the idea of prophesy and revelation.
The range of a congregation’s faith varies. There are few things we are required to believe—the rest is institutionalized dogma.
If there was a single-focused topic, I would have responded to the discussion.
I find what you are doing valuable. Thanks.
churchistrue– “I don’t think it’s wrong for an organization or a church to have boundaries in terms of what sort of public behavior is appropriate.”
In some cases I might agree, but I don’t give the church a total pass on this. It is an organization that claims to teach all truth.
The church brings people under its umbrella as infants and socializes them deeply into its culture. The price to leave, if one decides to, later in life, is extraordinarily high. At this point one has made major life decisions based on church teachings and paid a significant amount of their lifetime earnings to the church. Most have likely formed relationships based on mutual church membership, many of which, even including marriage, may not survive if they leave. Many have forsaken career advancements due to church obligations and, if they are female, church teachings which for decades very forcefully discouraged women from working outside the home, leaving many without reasonable means to support themselves. Leaders at high levels have discouraged members from associating from those who are excommunicated or have left the church. Even in recent years this has been taught, without regard for the relationship.
The church claims to teach truth. No one should ever be excommunicated for speaking or seeking truth. For certain behaviors that violate community standards such as domestic violence/child abuse, for hate speech, excommunication might be acceptable. But never should a person be excommunicated for speaking truth or for discussing science-based findings.
The church is not an ordinary organization and must be held to higher standards. Where much is given much is expected.
Really enjoyed Episode 1. Looking forward to the rest.
Anon, is the church not an ordinary organization? What if it were just an ordinary organization? I’m going to argue that it is oh, so ordinary, but it saddles itself with outrageous expectation and then passes that along to members who do their best to comply but can’t because no one can. The church behaves like an organization–an ordinary organization. It responds defensively to threats. It circles the wagons. It offers mealy-mouthed excuses. It puts people in boxes to the benefit of the organization. Come to think of it, I would say the church is a less-than-ordinary organization. Perhaps if the organization had not set an unreasonable standard for itself, it could just do the right thing most of the time.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” -John Steinbeck, East of Eden