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New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 09 Jun 2020, 16:08
by churchistrue
Hi people. I've posted on and off here in the post. I finally am putting together the podcast I've been thinking about for several years. I hope you can check it out and we can have a discussion about the content. I think I touch on issues that are important to many people here. Here's a link to my blog post with the first episode linked. You can find it in most podcast apps by searching for "churchistrue" or "church is true faith crisis lds mormon".

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/mormo ... isode-one/

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 10 Jun 2020, 15:46
by Roy
Could we get a brief synopsis of the topics discussed in this first podcast of yours for those of us that are hesitant to follow links but would still like to participate in the discussion?

Thanks.

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 10 Jun 2020, 20:35
by churchistrue
Sure, thanks. The first three episodes are out. I plan to do 12 total. I'll gauge interest and post to introduce future episodes if the content fits. I think it will, because I've interacted with folks here before that seemed aligned with my way of thinking.

The main thing is that I am defending the church and advocating to stay for people who have gone through faith crisis to the point where they are considering or had considered or have already left the church. My material is not for people with a minor question like horses in the Book of Mormon but otherwise are not questioning. I don't want to cause faith crisis for someone who is not already familiar with the issues. But I think most people here already are.

Episode 1: introduction of my personal journey through faith crisis and reconstruction. Topics: trust, what to do with previous spiritual confirmations, cognitive dissonance, faith vs belief, belief as a choice, apologetics, neoapologetics, metaphorical vs literal paradigms, fundamentalistic vs nuanced testimony.

Episode 2: Old Testament. Literal, 19th century view vs modern scholarly view. Gotcha issues for LDS. Evolution, Noah's flood, prooftexting. Pete Enns: this is what it looks like when God lets his children tell the story. My testimony of the OT after faith deconstruction and reconstruction.

Episode 3: Book of Mormon Evidence. 19th century hemispheric model Native American origination story vs new church essay LGT and Mixing Populations, DNA Science, anachronisms like horses, steel, etc, ancient metal plates, Reformed Egyptian, Stephen Smoot's critique of an inspired but non-historical view of the BOM. My view of the BOM as inspired and sacred scripture yet not being historical and viewing it as a revelation through Joseph Smith. My testimony of the BOM.

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 11 Jun 2020, 07:38
by nibbler
I'll acknowledge my bias from the outset. Apologetics don't do it for me, so I'm probably not a part of your intended audience. I do recognize the real need and appreciate that you're out there serving people that are in a position where their needs are not being met.

Episode 1:
  • "Intellectually bulletproof." I've seen how people on opposite ends of a divide can be thoroughly convinced that their logic is sound and that the other side's logic is flawed. I think people can logic themselves into any conclusion and intellectualism swims within the channels of one's perspective. I don't think finding the right argument is a silver bullet.

    I don't know how productive it would be for me to seek out something that is intellectually bulletproof. I recognize that my own logic will always be limited by my current perspective. Also, people hold the positions that they hold because their reasoning is sound to them, otherwise they'd probably hold a different position.
  • People that are done after reading the CES letter. I can't speak for them, I can only speculate. I think there are a lot of members that attend/engage because they feel duty bound out of a belief that the church is True or because they believe their salvation is tied to the authority of the church. If that belief erodes, the duty to remain goes along with it. If someone leaves after reading the CES letter that may be a good indication that they didn't enjoy the church experience that much before reading the letter and are awakening to the fact that they no longer have to be tethered. Again, not saying this is how it is for people that leave after reading the CES letter, but it may hold true for some.
  • Yes, people can set high expectations, but I don't think the high expectations develop in a vacuum. I think our lessons, messages during general conference, and the overall church culture go a long way towards establishing those expectations. I also think that the people in authoritative positions that help set those expectations are operating under the influence of those same expectations. In other words, they're subject to the same culture they've helped create.
  • Apologetics as a bigger tent. Maybe, I don't know. Sometimes it feels like the goal of apologetics is to keep the tent the same size. Example:

    Narrative A Information B Conclusion C
    Conclusion D
    Narrative E
    Narrative A'

    We start with narrative A. Someone arrives at conclusion C after exposure to information B. They then use conclusion C to arrive at narrative E.
    An apologist might look for ways to use information B to arrive at conclusion D, where conclusion D leads back to narrative A (or variant narrative A').

    Often a part of the apologetic process is to invalidate both conclusion C and narrative E. While narrative A' makes the tent larger, it does not make the tent as large as it would have become if the tent was allowed to expand to house conclusion C and narrative E.

    Not to judge apologetics, the other side of the divide can be just as engaged attempting to tear down narrative A, A', and conclusion D. That approach makes for a smaller tent too.
(cont.)

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 11 Jun 2020, 08:41
by nibbler
Episode 1 (cont.):
  • Good thoughts on not viewing lack of belief as a moral failing. Good thoughts on changing/differing perspectives and how it's hard to see things as others see them.
  • "We've overloaded the truth cart."

    Just like when we say the church is true, it may help to use more pointed language to describe exactly what we're really trying to say.

    Compared to say... 20 years ago, the majority of our communications within the culture are about the church itself. How true it is, how it has authority, the restoration, etc. I get it; at church we're going to focus on things that delineate our tribe from the next tribe over, the restoration is often the subject du jour because so much of our focus is on missionary efforts, and leaders feel like people are leaving because they simply don't understand the role/nature of the church.

    Given other statements you made in episode one I think you'd agree... lessons about ways to live a more Christlike life are more useful than lessons on how True the church is. I feel our current culture fixates on the later. Anniversary celebrations aside, just look at the most recent general conference.

    To me it's less a question about whether the church is true/True and more a question of whether the church is relevant. So much of our SM meetings, SS meetings, PH meetings, ministering efforts, and other programs revolve around filling the void of insecurity over the truthfulness of the church that I find the majority of the experience irrelevant. I've said it too many times, "Ok, I concede, the church is true/True. Now what?" Oh, another lesson on the restoration. Sigh.
  • You mentioned (paraphrasing) an assumed sameness and a desire to keep up appearances as factors that lead us to believe that literal interpretations are the only interpretations out there. I think you're right, but I'd add another factor. Many wards have "that guy" that polices comments and lessons. I feel like they're in a vocal minority, meaning just one or two of them in a SS class of 50 people can make you feel like you're all alone. It doesn't help that "that guy's" opinion is seen as authoritative, if your opinion is different it's assumed "wrong" because it doesn't have that same backing of authority.

    We're far more diverse than we know, though I do think culturally authoritative answers tend to suppress our diverse viewpoints.
  • Evangelicals locked into a position by the Bible and the church being in a better position due to modern day prophets. Yes, but I'd argue that the benefit is only slight. A community will only progress as fast as the prophet is willing to let it progress. This quote has been shared here a few times:
    Excerpt from The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James wrote: A genuine first-hand religious experience like this is bound to be a heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely madman. If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn. The new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous religious spirit, and to stop all later bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration.
    I think we've fallen victim to this to some degree.
(cont.)

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 11 Jun 2020, 09:16
by nibbler
Episode 1 (cont.)
  • Random thought. Some people absolutely need orthodoxy and the church ministers to them very well but we're so good at ministering to people that need orthodoxy that I feel it begins to harm people in groups that need less or even no orthodoxy.

    Can an organization like the church be all things to all people?
  • Trust me when I say this, I'm not trying to be pedantic, just a point I wanted to raise...

    You mentioned that at one point in your journey on a good day you believed, on a bad day you didn't believe. I realize I'm reading too much into that statement and that you'd probably phrase it differently in this context but I found the framing of (believe/good) and (not believe/bad) to be interesting. The culture seems to embed that idea into our bones. I don't think there's anything good about believing church narratives or bad about not believing church narratives, and vice versa, it just kinda is, yet in the beginnings of a transition that's how it can feel, that we're somehow bad for believing differently.
  • "Gone are the days when students are protected from people that attack the church."

    I think our culture has the tendency to feel attacked when it is simply being corrected. In some cases I wonder whether the church is genuinely "attacked" or whether it's just us identifying valid criticism/correction as an attack on the church. If someone points out incorrect thinking within the culture or something that came from a leader, is that an attack on the church or an attack on incorrect thinking? Maybe it depends on whether the culture derives some of its identity from the thinking being questioned/challenged.

    Gone are the days where we view progressivism as attacks. :angel: Though I 100% acknowledge that the church is indeed attacked... it's just that not everything that challenges us is an attack.
  • Episode one is all I have time for right now, maybe this will be covered in the future when you talk about what it means to you to sustain leaders, but I found the disclaimer about supporting the leaders to be interesting. Earlier in the podcast you mentioned that you didn't worry about your SP (or whoever) coming after you and I guess your healthy disclaimers about supporting leadership goes a long way towards establishing that safe space.

    Still... I think it's kind of sad that sort of thing has to be disclaimed so emphatically. Maybe leadership idolatry is the one line in Mormonism that cannot be crossed or it's where we derive a large portion of our cultural identity.

    You did quote, I forget who... Oaks? in saying that it's okay to disagree with leaders. It sounded like you had more to follow in that subject.
  • "The lived experience is true and beautiful."

    For some... not to rain on your parade or anything. :P

    And so you know I'm not 100% downer, I'm glad the church has been and continues to be a positive force in your life. I only tossed in that playful dig as an acknowledgement that it's tough for a lot of people. Acknowledging that it's not going to work out can be the healthiest path for some people, and that's okay too. I've said this too many times, staying doesn't make you better than someone that left, leaving doesn't make you better than someone that stayed.

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 11 Jun 2020, 11:01
by churchistrue
nibbler, great thoughts. let me digest this and reply. thanks!

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 12 Jun 2020, 14:13
by nibbler
Episode 2:

Not many comments on this episode, it's pretty self explanatory.
  • I took an OT class in college (non-LDS school), so I had been exposed to a lot of the information you shared in the beginning (the R, S, T, L, N, and E; now give me three more consonants and a vowel authors). I remember thinking way back then, "These guys have got it so wrong. It's nice to have the real truth." :lol:

    Of course that college class didn't touch on all the implications related to LDS literalism.
  • Thought on foundation stories with flawed characters instead of super heroes. I think that would make for a nice speculative conversation.

    Maybe that phenomenon is rooted in presentism and oral tradition? What was a flaw and what was a hero to the culture when those stories were first told? Perhaps what we see as flaws weren't considered flaws to the ancient people that invented the stories, they were just happenings that were neither considered good or bad. Perhaps they were heroic qualities when the stories were first dreamed up?

    Granted how a society defines god is more of a reflection on that society than it is on god, but look at the god of the OT. That god was jealous, angry, vengeful, etc. Things that we consider flawed today. We may see those same flaws in Abraham, Moses, etc. because in those times they were considered attributes that god might display.

    I also wonder how presentism in ancient times fared against the strength of oral tradition. As ancient peoples began to see old behaviors as bad there was still the issue of the momentum of an oral tradition to overcome. In the end it was easier to accept flawed players in the story as opposed to changing an oral tradition.

    Just a theory, and it falls apart considering the perfectionism in some other contemporary oral traditions.

    Another theory... the culture moved towards monotheism. Maybe the story tellers had to inject flaws in their foundational leaders to draw a clearer line of distinction between man and god? There's less of a chance of Abraham or Moses becoming competing deities if they were obviously flawed in some way (though that kinda happened to some degree anyway).

    When did people transition from a belief that god represented perfect behavior vs. the god with more normal human qualities of jealousy, anger, wrath, vengeance, etc.?
  • Evolution of religion. Yeah, JS just did what others before him have done and what others will do after, synthesize existing things to create new and more complete things.
  • IMO The Lord of the Rings can be scripture.

    In the previous podcast you mentioned Evangelicals being hamstrung because they can only go as far as the Bible takes them and how we can go further because we have a living prophet. If we accept the Bible as scripture and the BoM as scripture, there's no reason those should hamstring us.I I think the LotR can be scripture, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy can be scripture, the rustle of leaves on a cool autumn breeze can be scripture. Anything that inspires us or helps us be spiritual can be scripture.

    I appreciate how "scripture" for a group requires group buy-in. Something people agree to be authoritative as scripture, but at the individual level anything can be scripture if we allow it to be. That's the challenge of groups though, people in the group that want those hard definitions for what is and isn't scripture often attempt to invalidate individual scripture.

    But you'll see non-traditional things treated as scripture from time to time during general conference when speakers will quote Dickens and the like.
  • I agree that there is beauty in our canon outside of literal interpretations. This combines with points I bring up too often though. At church we tend to focus less on the moral of the story and more on how the literalness of proof-text scripture proves the church is authoritative/True. We've made establishing authority the moral of many of our scriptural stories.

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 14 Jun 2020, 13:48
by Roy
Thank you for giving of your time for this project. I am impressed at the organization and thoughtful way that you are using to approach this.

I like miniseries or trilogies. They have a well defined story arc. I dislike when a series goes on and on to morph into something very different from the original storyline just because the show wasn't cancelled yet and so they had to shoehorn in yet another season. It appears to me that you have something similar on your hands. It is a series with a clear arc and direction. This can help your podcast from meandering and turning into something different then when you started.

I jotted down some notes while listening to part 1.

I like that this is an introduction of sorts and gives your personal and lived experience. Nobody can invalidate your experience.

You had stated I believe that Hugh Nibley was the father of apologists. I am not sure that is true. There seems to be others in the church that predate Nibley and certainly apologists in broader Christianity. Many of the early church fathers could be classified as apologists. I do imagine that Hugh Nibley is probably a well known church apologist and someone that many church members would be familiar with as a sort of personification of the work of FARMS and FAIR Mormon. I imagine that was your intent - to help people understand the role of an apologist.

Overall you had a great explanation of Apologists generally and I liked that you took note of apologists outside of our faith.

I liked the explanation of the "shelf" metaphor and how things that are not well explained or do not seem to make sense can build up over time.

I enjoyed the discussion of faith as a choice and how most psychologists would not frame beliefs as choices. I personally compare my own faith crisis to the stages of grief in that there were powerful forces operating at a level below my conscious mind compelling me forward. I can make choices during the grief process, for example - a positive choice is to not cut yourself off from your support system when going through grief. However, I cannot choose to stay in a particular stage of grief indefinitely or just skip forward to the more peaceful acceptance part. The choices made seem very limited and at times I was made to feel like I was a passenger on a rollercoaster going along for the ride. This was uncomfortable for me as I had based much of my identity of being "in control" of my destiny. I feel that the subconscious forces at play in the grief process and the faith crisis process are similar and that a faith crisis is a form of grief.

I liked the Richard Bushman quote about the picture of the young woman and the older woman. I imagine after seeing the older woman it must be so invalidating for people to try to convince you that the old woman isn't there, or that to see her is to succumb to Satan's tricks, or that you can just choose to not see her.

I liked that you own those places in your story where you take a leap of faith. That is rather personal but not necessarily something that everyone might feel comfortable with. Sometimes our journey allows us to take a leap of faith, sometimes our journey requires us to take a leap of faith, and sometimes our journey prohibits a leap of faith.

In listening to the story about Brother Peck, I feel sorry for him. I imagine that there are large pressures put upon him. It is one thing to say "I believe in evolution and I see no contradiction between revealed science and the gospel." It is quite another thing to say "XYZ church leader was wrong in their statement about evolution or the age of the earth etc but I still believe in the gospel." Many of us church members have some level of pressure that the church could apply towards us if something we said publicly was not well received. I understand that those on church payroll have a much greater level of pressure and tightrope walking. Bro. Bushman is one that I have seen be uncommonly forthright in his words. I imagine that he feels empowered to say some things whereas some others might not feel empowered.

I liked that you brought up that our current situation is not unique to Mormonism. Many religions are struggling with faith crises right now.

I loved the part about religion being possibly a human "bottom up" endeavor to draw closer unto and please God - rather than a top down imposed/revealed structure by God. This to me is perhaps the major paradigm change in your belief system and one that would be fairly antithetical to what is taught most Sundays at church.

Finally, there is much good in the concept of "redeeming the world" or making heaven on earth by collectively deciding to do good. I worry that this might frustrate me in my effort to StayLDS. There is so much good that we could be doing in the world and unfortunately much of our labors seem to be inwardly facing. We serve the church and we serve our fellow members. We do not seem to get outside of that internal circle as much as I might like.

I am excited to listen to the other parts.

Re: New faith crisis podcast

Posted: 16 Jun 2020, 19:06
by churchistrue
nibbler wrote:
11 Jun 2020, 09:16
Episode 1 (cont.)
  • Random thought. Some people absolutely need orthodoxy and the church ministers to them very well but we're so good at ministering to people that need orthodoxy that I feel it begins to harm people in groups that need less or even no orthodoxy.

    Can an organization like the church be all things to all people?
  • Trust me when I say this, I'm not trying to be pedantic, just a point I wanted to raise...

    You mentioned that at one point in your journey on a good day you believed, on a bad day you didn't believe. I realize I'm reading too much into that statement and that you'd probably phrase it differently in this context but I found the framing of (believe/good) and (not believe/bad) to be interesting. The culture seems to embed that idea into our bones. I don't think there's anything good about believing church narratives or bad about not believing church narratives, and vice versa, it just kinda is, yet in the beginnings of a transition that's how it can feel, that we're somehow bad for believing differently.
  • "Gone are the days when students are protected from people that attack the church."

    I think our culture has the tendency to feel attacked when it is simply being corrected. In some cases I wonder whether the church is genuinely "attacked" or whether it's just us identifying valid criticism/correction as an attack on the church. If someone points out incorrect thinking within the culture or something that came from a leader, is that an attack on the church or an attack on incorrect thinking? Maybe it depends on whether the culture derives some of its identity from the thinking being questioned/challenged.

    Gone are the days where we view progressivism as attacks. :angel: Though I 100% acknowledge that the church is indeed attacked... it's just that not everything that challenges us is an attack.
  • Episode one is all I have time for right now, maybe this will be covered in the future when you talk about what it means to you to sustain leaders, but I found the disclaimer about supporting the leaders to be interesting. Earlier in the podcast you mentioned that you didn't worry about your SP (or whoever) coming after you and I guess your healthy disclaimers about supporting leadership goes a long way towards establishing that safe space.

    Still... I think it's kind of sad that sort of thing has to be disclaimed so emphatically. Maybe leadership idolatry is the one line in Mormonism that cannot be crossed or it's where we derive a large portion of our cultural identity.

    You did quote, I forget who... Oaks? in saying that it's okay to disagree with leaders. It sounded like you had more to follow in that subject.
  • "The lived experience is true and beautiful."

    For some... not to rain on your parade or anything. :P

    And so you know I'm not 100% downer, I'm glad the church has been and continues to be a positive force in your life. I only tossed in that playful dig as an acknowledgement that it's tough for a lot of people. Acknowledging that it's not going to work out can be the healthiest path for some people, and that's okay too. I've said this too many times, staying doesn't make you better than someone that left, leaving doesn't make you better than someone that stayed.
Thanks for your replies on Episode One. Nearly all of your observations you make I agree with or could easily see your perspective.

My style is that I'm acknowledging historical and scriptural issues, but I'm focusing on the positive aspects of the lived experience. The church is not perfect, and I see the imperfections. I intentionally focus on the positive, because I truly see it as a net positive, and want to reinforce that. Many people going through a faith crisis tend to over-focus on the negatives, is my experience.

As for my disclaimers about supporting the brethren, and all that. I know that can be seen as someone bowing to pressure, but I don't see it that way. I truly want be part of my faith community and be one of the good guys not a trouble maker. I do believe as part of a faith community, you have an obligation to express dissent respectfully.