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
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
With that said, I leave it up to you readers to decide where
this blog goes from here.