Post Training Report

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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SunbeltRed
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Post Training Report

Post by SunbeltRed » 15 May 2015, 13:34

I did some training with the Bishops of my stake last night about helping those who are experiencing a faith crisis (big thank to Bill Reel for his help on this). It was a good conversation, I was crunched for time and didn't get through everything, but so it goes.

I really only got through about the first four slides. Time ran short and it turned more discussion based than me presenting, which was good.

I spent most of my time going through my five take-aways (Doubt is not a sin, all you can offer is love, don't make out people to be anti-Mormon in your head, people probably won't approach faith the same afterward, and telling people to just read and pray is usually not helpful) and pointing out some of the things we have discussed here (people aren’t reading anti-Mormon material, etc..). The discussion was good and it really came down to Bishops offering love and support, don’t get defensive, just listen and show concern and give people time and space. Love bombing is not effective and does not equal love.

There were some comments (and I expected this as I’m sure we all would) that rubbed me the wrong way, but I tried to keep a smile on my face. Some of those comments included:
• People have a faith crisis not because they have studied too much but because they have studied too little (this just drives me nuts, but the discussion was in a flow and I didn’t want to interrupt and get too defensive, so I let it pass without saying much)
• People are engaging in pseudo-intellectualism and leaving faith out of the equation (blarg! )
• People just need to read and pray and get back to having spiritual experiences (this after we covered the whole reading and praying probably won’t work and there is probably a significant lack of trust in the process and the authority of the process)

There were also some really good comments about just loving people, we don’t stop loving our kids if they aren’t doing exactly what we want them to do.

At one point there was some discussion about how there was a general sense that resignations were increasing and it feels like there is some “purging” going on. Elder Cook’s comments about the church being stronger than it has ever been was brought out and everyone agreed that it’s just the internet that amplifies everything and we don’t need to worry because look, Elder Cook! At this point I couldn’t keep quiet and said I don’t know where Elder Cook is getting his data, but there was the report released from the Pew Foundation this week and the only real religion increasing in adherents is the “Unaffiliated.” Those identifying as LDS in that survey decreased, so if we just sit here and think all is well then we won’t actually be forward thinking about what we can do and how we can be spiritually innovative and how to make the church better for people. At which point I got cut off because we were way over time.

Some of the more interesting conversations were those after the training:
• A friend and I were discussing the Elder Cook statements and he was pushing back on me (“No unhallowed hand”, “Stone cut out of the mountain” and all that). I asked him how he reconciled what Elder Jensen said and what Elder Cook is saying. Two contradicting statements; he didn’t have a good answer. I didn’t push on him just offered those as two different opinions, and I don’t know which one is right
• Conversation with a couple of Bishops afterward: One has an RM son who is going, been through, exactly what we were talking about. The only thing he has been able to do is let his son know that he loves him and keep a relationship. We talked about how that is the most important thing.
• I got asked a question and opened up a bit more than I would have liked to. I made myself vulnerable and I’m kind of worried about it, but not sure what I can do about it now. One of the Bishops (the one with the struggling son) asked me how I stay or how I reconciled things. I don’t have a good answer to this question but I talked about how I feel called to be in community with my fellow Mormons, the example of my parents, this is my spiritual home, I feel a connection to the diving though I don’t know exactly what that is (this is the answer that worries me the most), but I really enjoy the community and want to be there even though there are things I can't reconcile ( well I can't talk about how I have reconciled them because then I would be a heretic :)

Some final thoughts:
• One of the reasons I stick around is I see people concerned and caring and doing the best they can. They really care, they just don’t understand, and I don’t think they can. I think the reason they go back to pray and read is because they don’t have any other good answers or rebuttals. They really don’t, they don’t know how to address the issues other than “just believe.” That works for some, but not everyone.
• I wonder what those Bishops think about me. I didn’t talk about my experiences at all (except a small thing after with a couple of the Bishops). But I wonder if they think I’m a faith crisis survivor or something and how that might affect my relationship with the church going forward.
• I don’t know if this changed anything or helped or hindered, but I felt like I was doing the best I can in the paradigm I live in. I let them know that they can use me as a resource and I am willing to come talk to their ward councils or whatever but I kind of doubt anyone will reach out.

If you made it this far, I salute you.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by DarkJedi » 15 May 2015, 13:44

Thanks for sharing, I'm glad it went well. Wouldn't it be great if every stake could have something like this?
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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startpoor
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by startpoor » 15 May 2015, 13:49

Great job!!! You just can't know what doubters go through unless you've been through it yourself, that's what makes this conversation so challenging. If they didn't seem real receptive now, just wait till people start coming to them for help. I don't know what level of training the leaders in our area get, but a bishop gave a talk about doubt at our last stake conf and talked about the essays, and named the url. That said, I still hear "pray and obey" from the area authorities. Somehow Elder U's message isn't getting out like it ought to.


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Happiness (n.) The state of being in compliance with Mormon norms, regardless of one’s actual resulting emotional state

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 May 2015, 13:57

Thanks for sharing this.

Floods kill as much much as they help.

I know it can be frustrating watching water flow gradually through an irrigation ditch while plants need water now, but dipping water from the steam and watering carefully and intentionally is the best approach, imo. That is what I see you doing, and I applaud the effort.
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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Orson
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by Orson » 15 May 2015, 14:23

Thanks for the info, I am encouraged that things like this are happening in the church today. Good work! :thumbup:

What stands out to me is the simple fact that different personalities will need to process things in different ways. Some people do find comfort in "forgetting" the issues and focusing on their spiritual experiences - "reading and praying." Others are more helped if they are allowed to "let go" of some of the issues: "you don't need to have a burning conviction of the historicity of the BoM to commune with us."

I just hope we as a church can grow in tolerance toward a greater variety of personal spiritual paths. And I hope as individuals we may learn to speak comfortably using a common spiritual vocabulary even as our personal meaning applied to that vocabulary may vary.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

Roadrunner
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by Roadrunner » 15 May 2015, 14:38

Loved this SBR, thank you for sharing!

I've been toying with the idea of suggesting a bishopric training topic like this sometime and I'm glad you experienced some success with yours. Can you tell me - where do you consider your stake on the orthodox / progressive spectrum? Mine is more on the orthodox side but there are a few people that might open up to a discussion like this. The comments I hear virtually every bishopric training are that people who leave are sinners and that people who don't wear their garments every possible moment are sinning.

As a side note I think my stake presidency is realizing that I'm on the more liberal side of things and I'm not sure what they think about me. They can always release me, but I suppose it doesn't matter what they think - I think we need to start examining how we present our own religion.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 May 2015, 17:09

I think the Church has been trying to present itself as diversely as possible for a while now. The "I'm a Mormon" campaign and the "Meet the Mormons" movie, imo, were as much for the members as the non-members.

I just wish the local leaders were unanimous in their understanding of our existing diversity. Many are; many aren't. The water still is flowing to the end of the rows.
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: Post Training Report

Post by SilentDawning » 15 May 2015, 17:53

Courageous effort SBR. I think you showed some great restraint, did the right thing in ignoring some of the comments and not letting them pierce your cultural "veil", putting you in "open Kimono" mode, as Hawkgrrl puts it.

The part I didn't understand was the part you described thus:
I feel a connection to the diving though I don’t know exactly what that is (this is the answer that worries me the most)
"diving"? Not sure what you mean or if that was a typo I'm not seeing properly. Can you clarify?

Based on the rest of it, I don't see that you said anything that would make me label you as apostate, or even unorthodox, even as I adopt a TBM perspective.
"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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SunbeltRed
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by SunbeltRed » 16 May 2015, 12:18

SilentDawning wrote:Courageous effort SBR. I think you showed some great restraint, did the right thing in ignoring some of the comments and not letting them pierce your cultural "veil", putting you in "open Kimono" mode, as Hawkgrrl puts it.

The part I didn't understand was the part you described thus:
I feel a connection to the diving though I don’t know exactly what that is (this is the answer that worries me the most)
"diving"? Not sure what you mean or if that was a typo I'm not seeing properly. Can you clarify?

Based on the rest of it, I don't see that you said anything that would make me label you as apostate, or even unorthodox, even as I adopt a TBM perspective.
Haha...yeah that should be "Divine" not "Diving". Good catch! I guess that statement worries me the most because I did not quantify it...I said "connect to the divine though I'm not exactly sure what that is." I think that can be scary for Mormons to have someone say they don't exactly know what the divine is right? The theology of the religion is a deity with flesh and bone, but I didn't say any of that. Perhaps they didn't notice or so many other assumptions get rolled into an explanation that type of comment doesn't really register, or they are like holy cow, how is that guy on the HC! :)

Either way, whatever. Maybe its good for the Stake and Bishops to have someone they can turn to with difficult questions or if their members have questions they don't know how to or are uncomfortable dealing with and its a way for me to create some space for myself and others, which I hope is helpful.

Ann
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Re: Post Training Report

Post by Ann » 16 May 2015, 14:57

SunbeltRed wrote: At one point there was some discussion about how there was a general sense that resignations were increasing and it feels like there is some “purging” going on. Elder Cook’s comments about the church being stronger than it has ever been was brought out and everyone agreed that it’s just the internet that amplifies everything and we don’t need to worry because look, Elder Cook! At this point I couldn’t keep quiet and said I don’t know where Elder Cook is getting his data, but there was the report released from the Pew Foundation this week and the only real religion increasing in adherents is the “Unaffiliated.” Those identifying as LDS in that survey decreased, so if we just sit here and think all is well then we won’t actually be forward thinking about what we can do and how we can be spiritually innovative and how to make the church better for people. At which point I got cut off because we were way over time.
How convenient that an outside source could help on this one.

I'm impressed with how you handled it all. :thumbup:
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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