StayLDS and the Middle Way

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Tom Haws
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StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by Tom Haws » 29 Sep 2010, 20:34

We are all changing. No one of us knows today where our faith may be tomorrow. At StayLDS, we welcome that. We embrace it. And we explore it in the context of enjoying our LDS-ness.

John Dehlin is one of our forum members. In fact, he is the founder of this site. He is changing too. He is growing and discovering new things. I have watched him change as I have changed too. John has put his money where his mouth is with regard to ministering to misfit Mormons, and he is well toward earning a doctoral degree in psychology with the intent of counseling.

Recently after counseling with thousands of misfit Mormons (and moving through his own changes), John suggested that for a big majority of misfits, the StayLDS approach isn't sustainable in the long term. Therefore while he appears to honestly appreciate the work going on here, he no longer directs people to these forums as a matter of course. And I believe his conclusion is in harmony with the philosophy and approach we take here, as we support people in their happiness, whatever direction that may lead them.

It's hard to define the Middle Way. Here at StayLDS we don't really worry about that term a lot. We simply suggest perhaps it's possible to Enjoy Staying LDS even if it's not all True in the same was it used to be for us.

We are all different. And it is good that there are appropriate forums for all of us, each doing good in the way they know how. The new not-Mormon-Matters will continue and broaden that diversity. Within LDS Mormonism! And I think that is a Good Thing.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

doug
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by doug » 29 Sep 2010, 20:53

Tom Haws wrote:John suggested that for a big majority of misfits, the StayLDS approach isn't sustainable in the long term.
That seems to make intuitive sense, but I just got here and I'd really like to know when I'm supposed to bail.

Are you referring to a comment that can be found online?

Edit: Oops. Never mind. Did some research and saw enough to get the picture. Carry on.
Last edited by doug on 01 Oct 2010, 21:53, edited 2 times in total.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

Curt Sunshine
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Sep 2010, 20:59

I think John's point is that many people aren't in a place where they can deal constructively with the Church - and I mean that internally and socially. Pretty much all of the sites I've seen that are dedicated to those who are ticked off at the Church, and their MO tends to be pure validation of the emotion and condescension toward traditional believing members.

That simply isn't a recipe for success - and it absolutely is NOT the "StayLDS way". I wouldn't be participating if we weren't focused on open but constructive solution seeking.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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cwald
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by cwald » 29 Sep 2010, 21:40

Tom Haws wrote:John Dehlin is one of our forum members. In fact, he is the founder of this site. He is changing too. He is growing and discovering new things. I have watched him change as I have changed too. John has put his money where his mouth is with regard to ministering to misfit Mormons, and he is well toward earning a doctoral degree in psychology with the intent of counseling.
I have great respect for John Dehlin, and appreciate what he has done for the "misfit mormons" like myself. Maybe, and I mean MAYBE because I'm not convinced, that what he did at MM was out of line at all (and I have read the blogs/FB and links) but even so, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I continue to believe in his "dream" of progress and the middle way within the LDS church. FOR ME - If the church is "true" - if there is any "truth" in it, there HAS to be a middle way and/or a StayLDS way. Finding it and "living it" is my job.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

Curt Sunshine
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Sep 2010, 06:39

Well said, cwald.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SilentDawning
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by SilentDawning » 30 Sep 2010, 07:43

Perhaps the unsustainability of the middle way is a good thing -- if it's replaced with a return to full activity.

I was in the same place I am now spiritually about 15 years ago, but worse, and coped by stopping my tithing, not holding a calling, and doing only home teaching and volunteering for the odd service project. I still felt the Church was probably true, but just didn't like it anymore due to the experience that led to my trial of faith. So I participated on my own terms -- that was my own Middle Way.

This "middle way", although not the party-line, helped me to stay, to attend priesthood, and to let the good parts of the experience work on me. I did feel spiritual things at Church now and then, and eventually the memory of the faith-trying experience dulled, and I got fully active again with a TR.....for 6 years.

So, perhaps the MIddle Way isn't necessarily sustainable -- and this may be a good thing if it helps people abandon the Middle Way and return to full activity like I did at that time.

The other thought I have -- if people DO abandon the MIddle Way and leave the Church, isn't this what they would have done anyway, except sooner? And for the period they are in the middle way, isn't it good for the Church for these Middle Way Mormons to practice the "don't express doubts at Church or to others" principle we learn here -- at least for the benefit of those around them?

Granted, if there is an even better way than the MIddle Way, then I think it needs to be discovered and explored, but for the time being it's the best I have seen out there to help a person stay in the Church, and continue to receive its positive influence until former spiritual feelings return.
"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

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canadiangirl
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by canadiangirl » 30 Sep 2010, 08:02

Tom said, "Therefore while he appears to honestly appreciate the work going on here, he no longer directs people to these forums as a matter of course. And I believe his conclusion is in harmony with the philosophy and approach we take here, as we support people in their happiness, whatever direction that may lead them."
Where does he direct them now?

This statement worried me and I'm not sure why. I guess it scared me that maybe I wouldn't make it through this faith crisis and have to make a decision that would really rock my world and create distress among my family. URGGGh......

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SilentDawning
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by SilentDawning » 30 Sep 2010, 09:01

canadiangirl wrote:Tom said, "Therefore while he appears to honestly appreciate the work going on here, he no longer directs people to these forums as a matter of course. And I believe his conclusion is in harmony with the philosophy and approach we take here, as we support people in their happiness, whatever direction that may lead them."

Where does he direct them now?

This statement worried me and I'm not sure why. I guess it scared me that maybe I wouldn't make it through this faith crisis and have to make a decision that would really rock my world and create distress among my family. URGGGh......
I felt the same way when I read it -- feeling my only alternative would some of the negative-to-LDS sites our there (not an option) or going back to just keeping my mouth shut at Church and feeling angst. However, I still see the value, even if others feel there may be better ways. Plus I respect John as a shaker and mover, and retooling and tweaking and trying new things is all part of progression. I think he deserves that....
"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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Sep 2010, 10:33

John hasn't stopped referring people here. He's just stopped referring everyone as a matter of course.

We can work for a lot of people - but we can't work for others. That really is our message - that there is no one-size-fits-all answer or one place that has all the answers for all the people. We're doing our part for ourselves and those who are helped here - and I personally am glad that not everyone gets thrown here willy-nilly with the idea that we are a total, turn-key solution for all who struggle. We just aren't.

(Plus, I like "willy-nilly" and was happy to be able to use it. :P )

One more thing:

We don't advocate "a middle way". Rather, we advocate individal, personal ways. There's a HUGE difference between those approaches, and I think John is starting to realize there is no one way for all. I'm sure he will continue to try to find another way that helps another group of people - and that's one thing I really love about him.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Brian Johnston
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Re: StayLDS and the Middle Way

Post by Brian Johnston » 30 Sep 2010, 10:53

Our site isn't called "StayLDS forever and ever and ever.com" ;) Anyone who finds them self here participating already knows from at least one direct experience in their life that our beliefs and spiritual needs change.

I had a couple of phone conversations and emails with John to clarify his change in position. John is concerned that many people in his sphere of experience have not been successful at forging a middle-way path happily. And this is a very valid and important observation of his -- they feel like a double failure after not even being able to be "slackers" at Mormonism.

In addition to this, John is going into the field of family therapy and counselling. He has another very valid concern that a still-believing spouse might demand that their disaffected spouse "fake it" as a condition of their marriage (or other relationships). "See! That guy John Dehlin can do it, why can't you!?" This is a destructive and damaging demand. It is almost guaranteed to backfire in a bad way.

The middle-way isn't for everyone. Seriously. And more importantly, it doesn't have to be a permanent solution for all eternity, or it has no value at all. Maybe I will stay an active member of the church for the rest of my life, and maybe I won't, or many places in between. I will know when I get there. But more important that worrying about what will happen next year or next decade, is my life in the NOW. Maybe some of us stay forever. Maybe some of us stay for a short while, and use StayLDS as a tool to transition out in a much more peaceful way with less damage to our important personal relationships. I try not to have expectations. I just want to help people right now, which helps me very deeply in return. This site is as much therapy for me as it is for anyone else.

Our main function as a community is to explore the ideas of using some or all of Mormonism in a positive way, in a positive and encouraging environment. It isn't to force people backwards into orthodoxy, or even to keep people in the church at all costs.

We can define the "Middle-way" a lot of different ways. But I try to make it as inclusive as possible. And nobody is a personal failure if the LDS Church doesn't bring value to your life. It is what it is. Use what works. Use tools that build good things. We explore LDS tools here, alternate uses, alternate perspectives, we challenge each other.

FWIW, John continues to live in the middle-way, and says he is quite happy and satisfied with it.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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