Faith Crises and Grace

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
Roy
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by Roy » 20 Jun 2019, 13:25

Arrakeen wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 10:40
I appreciate the church trying to talk about issues like faith crises, but I wish they would include more stories where things didn't just work out in the end. I understand that they want faith-promoting, inspirational stories, but sometimes I just want validation of what I've been going through, without an assumption of where I should end up. I wish we could be comfortable with stories that have no clear resolution, where the answers never come and we end up trying to figure things out on our own.
I like that too. I remember a talk by a GA in GC about losing a child in death. He stated that his family would not be whole or complete until they were all reunited on the other side of the veil. It was refreshing to hear that the promise of families forever did not fill the gap left in the family completely.
I also understand that most LDS members crave security and certainty. Stories "where things just didn't work out in the end" are unsettling. I now love the SWK talk "tragedy or destiny" because it admits significant limitations in knowledge about how much God plans out our individual life stories - especially our deaths. When I first found the talk, it was unhelpful to me. I wanted a clear and positive answer. I did not want to hear "we do not know". That is the whole purpose of having a prophet, I thought. If the prophet doesn't know then he can go and ask God and get back to us when he knows the answer.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 09:08
It absolutely is possible to go through a crisis and emerge with something that resembles the previous situation. It also is possible to emerge with something that is radically different. Most people here are here specifically because their new paradigm is different enough that they struggle(d) to reconcile that new paradigm with the organization that facilitated or shaped the previous paradigm. Many other people find a new paradigm and don't struggle as mightily with the organization.
Yes, one book I read was from an LDS father of 3 severely disabled children (to the point where they were a large hardship and burden to the family AND would likely die before reaching adulthood). He went through a faith crisis where it seemed that everyone around him was being blessed and he and his family were continuing to struggle. Ultimately he hit upon the idea that God tailors each of our probationary states to us as individuals in order to maximize our growth. It could even be theorized that the beings that are destined for ultimate greatness may have additional struggles in order to more fully develop that embryonic godhood. His major source for this doctrine was the Currant bush talk by Hugh B. Brown but he found lots of other helpful GA quotes as well. His post faith crisis landing point was such that he felt supported by current LDS positions - even if he had to downplay or ignore some things (like SWK saying "we don't know" in Tragedy or Destiny).
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Roy
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by Roy » 20 Jun 2019, 15:04

DarkJedi wrote:
19 Jun 2019, 15:17
I had previously seen this video as well, recommended by a well-meaning friend. I was unaware of Mom's perspective of his depression issues, but I remember wondering then and wondering now if what he had was really a faith crisis. I suppose if he thinks it was, it was - but it was not the same as mine despite the similar feeling that God had cut me off and it lasting for years. That was a major component of my faith crisis. The difference? It doesn't really sound like McLean ever really stopped believing. Through it all, he still believed that it was all for a purpose, it would all be OK in the end, and someday he'd understand. That's not at all how I felt or feel. I felt betrayed and unloved and more than questioned if there really was a God - I began to believe there wasn't. Fifteen years down the road, I still can't look back at any times (certainly not 25) and say "God was with me then" or "Jesus helped me then." McLean apparently really never stopped praying, I did and I still don't really pray in the sense that most Mormons would think of prayer. I do not believe that prayers are answered. I have checked out many times, but I can never leave (and the place is not all that lovely).
I have been pondering on this. My experiences with the stillbirth of my daughter broke my belief in a righteousness = blessings model which in turn put into serious question how much direct involvement God has with our lives. DJ, I understand that you have a similar perspective with more of a Deist view of God. Believing is seeing and when we do not go looking for God's interference in our life, we do not find it. I have had enough things go right in my life in the last 9 years that if I had a gun to my head I could probably come up with a list of 25 times that I could make the case that God had blessed me (Everything from being in the right place at the right time, to landing a fortuitous job offer, to receiving an unexpected kindness from a friend or neighbor).
I find it interesting that Bro. Mclean's final "answer to prayer" miracle might not seem to be very miraculous to an incredulous observer (not to take anything away from the personal meaning Bro. Mclean derives from his experience). I had assumed at first glance that these songs that Bro. Mclean received were the genesis of the Forgotten Carols - What an amazing backstory that would have been. Unfortunately, the timing is all wrong. Forgotten Carols is now over 25 years old. Forgotten Carols was copyrighted in 1991 and it sounds like the 9 years of faith crisis is roughly in the 2008 to 2018 time period. During this time, Bro. Mclean has a dream in which Mother Theresa sings a song about her own faith crisis. Why does Bro. Mclean not interpret this dream as a vision or a visitation of Mother Theresa's disembodied spirit? I don't know. Do we believe in visions and visitations for non-prophets in the modern LDS narrative? Also it might have been controversial for a famous LDS person to claim that one of the most venerated Catholics in recent memory came back across the veil to deliver a message about sticking it out as a Mormon. Regardless, he saw the dream as a dream. He chose to go through the motions in spiritual darkness. He chose to keep "promises [his] heart no longer feels."
I assume that Bro. Mclean's decision to "hold on no matter what" to "recommit" to "wait on the Lord" meant that he was still performing and testifying and evoking emotional spiritual responses in audiences to the Forgotten Carols plays, to EFY, and to TOFW. He could not merely "show up and shut up and listen and wait." He had a job to do and his job would not simply wait on hold for 9 years while he figured it out. I would be interested to understand if Bro. Mclean wrestled with doing his job while his heart didn't feel it.
He asks, "In the most difficult trial of my faith journey, would I hold on to faith or give in to despair?" This seems like an interesting dichotomy, I wonder if this is simply hyperboly. What would it look like to "give in to despair" from Bro. McLeans perpective? Have agnostics or atheists "given in to despair"?
Anyway, many years pass and Bro. Mclean receives a wellspring of inspiration/revelation in regards to songs from the perspective of people that interacted with Jesus in the scriptures. This, he feels, is the answer that he has waited almost a decade for. Except, it doesn't strike me as all that miraculous. This seems very similar to the Forgotten Carols that Bro. Mclean created 25 years earlier and has been performing ever since. I am not sure that composing more songs of the same sort that you did a quarter century ago and have become your bread and butter qualifies as an answer to prayer.
Except that … it does. This is Bro. Mclean's journey and it is different that mine. He has ordered his points and interpreted and prioritized them in such a way as to craft a specific narrative and meaning. Perhaps he could have latched onto the dream of Mother Theresa so many years earlier and saved himself all those years of struggle. Maybe it just didn't feel right to him. Regardless, I believe that he is genuine. He really does feel that God intervened on his behalf in a personal way. Good for him.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Jun 2019, 15:54

Arrakeen wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 10:40
I think he had a very real faith crisis, but his experience was very different from mine. My only problem with the video was how some people who knew I was going through a faith crisis tried to apply it to me, assuming that what worked for him should work for me too.
This was essentially the case with the aforementioned well meaning individual. My friend thought that if that's what worked for McLean it would work for everyone. In some ways that's kind of a church "doctrine," for example: "I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and I know it is, therefore if you pray you will have the same experience I did." Except we all don't have the same experience. For whatever reason (pr perhaps no reason at all) some people get an immediate witness while others may go years, decades, or a lifetime without that witness.

I did struggle a bit with the wording of my previous post. My own faith crisis was a crisis - it was painful beyond description, it damaged many relationships and to some extent my livelihood. The earliest parts of the faith crisis were more like McLean's experience but that developed into full blown crisis, there is no better word for it.
Crisis:
1. a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
2. a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
3. a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life.
All three of those definitions applied in my case. I would add traumatic to definition 3 (or perhaps as part of a 4th definition).

I do recognize that what is a crisis to someone else may not be a crisis to me, I deal with that with my employees all the time. And I do agree that I may have seemed dismissive in the earlier post (that is a weakness of mine) and that I don't appreciate it when others do it to me. So if McLean believes his was a crisis, it was a crisis (and I did state that previously). But some of us have had much tougher rows to hoe.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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SilentDawning
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by SilentDawning » 21 Jun 2019, 08:50

I can't question anyone's faith crisis or their emergence from it. It's really all about perception. Sometimes we choose the faithful route since it creates the least amount of tension. Sometimes we go our own path. It's all internal -- often there are experiences no one can verify either. Who is to say what is truth, and what isn't?

That's why I think an agnostic approach, with a focus on whether the belief system of another makes them happy is in order. And its the same litmus test for my own belief system. Is it bringing me peace? Is it making me happy? If the answer is "yes" then perhaps it's the right thing to believe for now.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Roy
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by Roy » 21 Jun 2019, 08:54

DarkJedi wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 15:54
Except we all don't have the same experience. For whatever reason (pr perhaps no reason at all) some people get an immediate witness while others may go years, decades, or a lifetime without that witness.
I suppose an extra frustrating part about this video from that perspective is that once Bro. McLean had his awakening experience he says that looking back he could identify 25 instances where God was reaching out to him. Rather than suggest that maybe God had a purpose in having Bro. McLean wait it out for 9 years, this instead suggests that God was there all along and that maybe Bro. McLean was just blind to it.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Jun 2019, 16:40

Roy wrote:
21 Jun 2019, 08:54
DarkJedi wrote:
20 Jun 2019, 15:54
Except we all don't have the same experience. For whatever reason (pr perhaps no reason at all) some people get an immediate witness while others may go years, decades, or a lifetime without that witness.
I suppose an extra frustrating part about this video from that perspective is that once Bro. McLean had his awakening experience he says that looking back he could identify 25 instances where God was reaching out to him. Rather than suggest that maybe God had a purpose in having Bro. McLean wait it out for 9 years, this instead suggests that God was there all along and that maybe Bro. McLean was just blind to it.
I do think this is at least somewhat a matter of perspective. From Br. McLean's point of view, God was always there, and as you point out, he probably just didn't recognize it. From my point of view, God was never there even though I had thought God was there before my crisis. I have given it quite a bit of thought (I have lots of think time on my commute but I had thought about it well before that). Any of the times I could say "God may have had a hand in that" could just as easily be "coincidence" that God had nothing to do with. I don't believe I'm any more (or less) blessed than anyone else, including my "unholy" neighbors and acquaintances. Is it possible God has been involved in things in my life and I just don't recognize (or won't admit) it? Yes. Is it also possible God has nothing to do with my life and I do recognize (and admit) it? Yes. The Santa myth has been busted, I can't go back again. McLean still believes in Santa, and I'm really all good with that. What I'm not good with is McLean being held up as a model,either by himself or by others. For some he could be a model, for the rest of us it just doesn't work that way.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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mom3
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by mom3 » 21 Jun 2019, 22:02

for the rest of us it just doesn't work that way.
And every time it gets sold like that, a mass set of people get thrown under the bus.

I appreciate that the church is allowing the acknowledgment of faith crisis' - like many things - the depth and severity of crisis' is ranging.

I lived through a massive, life destroying earthquake. I felt the full impact. Yet my house, in didn't suffer. Just blocks away it was different story. And for miles around me in other directions, it was even worse. The Richter scale was no different, nor the buildings or infrastructure, but the consistency of the damage was insane. The epicenter was 80 miles from San Francisco - and passed right through my town - San Francisco went up in flame. The epicenter town had Armageddon type destruction. Entire malls sunk. For us, the power went out, stores were closed, fire men were out of town pulling people out of rubble.

That's how I see Faith Crisis. They are real. Their impact should not be dismissed. I keep praying someone will grow a pair and send aid the burning houses and collapsed malls of humanity before we get too far. Brother McLean had some power outages, water shut off, and no fire department to call for a few hours.

We owe it to the severely impacted to send aid to them, too. It would be most humanitarian of the church to do that. Not holding my breath.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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DarkJedi
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by DarkJedi » 22 Jun 2019, 08:45

I think the earthquake is a good analogy, Mom. In my area it's flooding. As a young teen we lived through a flood where we lost absolutely everything. When we were evacuated I was wading through water up to my knees. Our house was washed off it's foundation and floated about a quarter mile down the road. There was nothing left except literally the clothes I was wearing. In the early 2000s when my kids were early teens we had another flood. Our house got water in the basement, easily pumped out in about an hour with a generator, and we were without power for a week. We weren't able to go anywhere for a couple days because of flooded and/or washed out roads. A quarter mile away were people who suffered what I suffered in the earlier flood. Put in perspective, I know which one was the real crisis and which one was more of a pain in the butt inconvenience.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

AmyJ
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Re: Faith Crises and Grace

Post by AmyJ » 24 Jun 2019, 06:20

An additional feature with this "natural disaster" analogy is it can also explain the secondary ripples and triggers after the initial crisis (which is a thing).

Mostly I have more or less "made peace" with where I am - but there are little things (and some doctrinal points) that spike my cognitive dissonance and shake the foundation I have rebuilt (or try to).

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