Well, it’s been almost six months since writing my last post…and it would seem I have more to say. I feel like I am, most of the time, in a much different place than I was even six months ago. I feel like my perspective has changed quite a bit. I am much more settled in a place of acceptance. Regarding belief, I accept where I am and where others are as well. I don’t need to convince anyone of anything.
In the past, the main focus of this blog was on trying to increase understanding between believing members of the LDS church and those that leave. While I hope that this blog will continue to provide that understanding to believers that want to understand, I no longer see that focus being the main purpose moving forward. I find immense utility in building bridges of understanding, and while I have found other venues to make attempts to do this, I have realized something. Gaining understanding is inherently based on the willingness of both believer and non-believer to think outside their bubble.
Believers have to be open to hear a perspective that is outside of their comfort zone. Researching the Gospel Topics Essays as well as information and original sources from Fair Mormon would be a good start for those seeking to understand. But to truly comprehend those that leave, research would have to continue. In a way, believers have to go against what leaders have said about people that stop believing and allow themselves to research from sources outside of what is “approved.” To use an analogy, they must look up information about Fords from the perspective of someone that is not selling Fords.
For non-believers, they have to be open to the idea that those that choose to stay in the church find benefits from doing so. Members of the church may see some of the issues but choose to stay anyway. They may also use completely different paradigms in determining the validity of spirituality than we do. They have the right to believe whatever they want, just as non-believers do. They also have the right to not discuss their belief with us if they choose. Those that no longer believe want respect, we need to also give it. Many of those that no longer believe often see things from their own point of view and find it hard to realize there are other perspectives. I am working on improving this within myself.
Recently, my purpose in trying to open dialogue with believers is not to debate or convince. It’s not necessarily to help others understand either. Lately, I have been trying to understand believing perspectives better for my own growth. I have communicated with several nuanced believers to see if their approach might work for me. To see if their way of believing makes sense, at least to me. I have listened to several podcasts and chatted online with a few “high profile” nuanced believing members. While I have not resonated or agreed with many of their perspectives about the truth claims of the LDS church, I have respected their beliefs and decisions.
So, gaining understanding has taken somewhat of a back seat for me. Back to the blog, I now feel a greater drive towards supporting people that have gone through what I did. Members that remain in the church have a very solid support system. People that leave do not. At best, interactions with family and friends become somewhat awkward and at worst, those that leave are ridiculed or disowned. More support is needed for those that have a faith crisis and who determine it cannot be resolved in a believing way.
To the point, while this blog will remain a place where I can externalize by writing the things that are on my mind, from this point on I will open it up for articles to be written by anyone. There are many different blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and Tik Tok channels that deal with faith deconstruction and the LDS church. But I have not heard of any crowd-sourced venue where anyone is able to submit an article about their experiences, what they are researching, etc. I gained a lot of relief from being able to write out my feelings but not everyone has the opportunity or desire to create their own website or blog. By allowing others to write and have a place to direct loved ones to read about their experience, I hope to help them release the intense feelings that come with a faith crisis and having to build a new life as a result.
I mentioned in the past that I have been told I have a rescuing persona. I don’t disagree. To this end, I want to help others find answers and support as well as a way to get out the difficult emotions within them. There will still be rules and expectations for what is written, regardless of who is writing. Things like monitoring tone, being respectful, etc. But the range of topics allowed is endless. I hope people will write about bible scholarship, summarise the Gospel Topics Essays, the likely direction church doctrine may go in the future, LGBTQ+ issues (including how gender has not always been taught as eternal), etc.
I personally want to write about what I believe a realistic nuanced faith would look like based on well documented and researched information. I don’t do this to dictate what I think people should believe. Rather, I do it to show that there are several ways that faith in the LDS church could look and that there are ways that make more sense than others.
I see believing members like Rick Bennett from the Gospel Tangents podcast be maligned by orthodox believers on his own social media forums for not believing the “correct” way. This is not okay. The signs on every Latter-day Saint chapel say “Visitors Welcome.” I would assume this would also mean that diverse beliefs are accepted within the walls from whoever it is that enters. I would hope these different beliefs would be accepted from members of the church that check all of the same boxes as those that are orthodox except for them being better versed in the history and sticky issues with the church.
I believe the church has changed drastically over it’s lifetime and many of those changes cannot be reconciled with the boilerplate response of “We believe in present day revelation” or “The Lord continues to reveal His will.” I believe that as time goes on, we will continue to see changes, most of them positive, that will align the church with current knowledge. In order for this to occur, orthodox members must be willing to look at their faith, compare it to history and logic, and alter what needs to be altered. Rick Bennett has done this. Rob Terry from The Church is True blog and podcast has done this. Marvin Perkins, Jana Reiss, Richard Ostler, Peter Bleakley, and Richard Bushman among many others have done this. It’s time for every member of the LDS church to do the work to get here too.
This post was never meant to be a long one but more of a segue towards a new direction. I hope that my blog can have a positive impact on both believers and non-believers alike. I have tried to let go of the church and just move on with life. I find that idea (and practice) very hard. It’s like telling someone with anxiety to “just stop worrying.” I don’t necessarily want to make my life about a church that I no longer belong to but I do want to help people wherever I can. I do want to support people in the church that are struggling, but I want them to make their own educated decisions. When I have spoken with those in faith crisis, I try to be mindful of what they want their outcome to be and I go from there. Anyway, I hope those that read this blog feel supported regardless of any decisions they make about their faith.
For those that would like to write an article, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As stated earlier, one of the few requirements that I have is that the submission is respectful of differing opinions and the tone is not overly harsh or negative. I will accept posts from both nuanced believers as well as non-believers. Unfortunately, orthodoxy will have a harder time getting through the vetting process unless I know the person has put in significant research and thought about how their perspective works considering history. I will accept articles from people that struggle with a faith shift out of religions other than Mormonism. I am hoping for a range of topics, including evidence for or against truth claims, reasons members that no longer believe have stayed active in the church, how individuals have come to a nuanced belief and continue to have faith in the foundational claims of the church, contradictions in scripture or doctrine, personal stories, experiences with family or friends or ward members after you stopped believing (good or bad). It could even be about your experience reading this blog, whether positive or negative.
I want to make it clear that I respect my family, friends, and acquaintances who have decided to remain part of the LDS church, even if they haven’t researched the truth claims for themselves. I respect those that choose to stay a part of the church after losing belief, regardless of their reasons. I respect those for leaving, whether it’s due to research, the church not matching their values, or wanting to live an authentic life that did not fit with the expectations of the church. I hope that anyone that reads this sees these future posts written by others for what they truly are: an expression of emotion which will hopefully provide healing to the person writing. I don’t continue this blog to hate on the organization that many people love. I continue it to support those that need a voice in order to heal from an organization they used to love but later discovered was not what they thought.
With that said, I leave it up to you readers to decide where this blog goes from here.