303: Why Is This All So Hard?

21378-faith-wordsFaith journeys are insanely difficult. Why?

In this episode, Lindsay Hansen Park, Jon Grimes, Brian Whitney, and Emily Grover join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in a spirited discussion about a few of the many factors that come into play when one’s faith and understandings about God, church, and ourselves are challenged. The group occasionally offers suggestions about possible approaches for mitigating some of the most painful aspects of our journeys, but mostly it just tries to stand in solidarity and empathy for the challenges.

It’s a lively discussion, but we need your input as well! Please share in the comments section below!

To learn more about the World Table commenting system, please watch this short video.

Links:

Emily Grover, “Recovering My Sea Legs on the Old Ship Zion,” ByCommonConsent blog, 12 October 2015
Eugene England, “Why the Church Is As True As the Gospel,” Sunstone magazine, June 1999
The State of Public History in Today’s Mormonism,” Mormon Matters podcast, 23 September 2015 (earlier episode with Lindsay Hansen Park, Brian Whitney, and Jon Grimes)

301–302: Doubt and Faith as Discussed in the October 2015 General Conference

doubtsFour talks in the October 2015 General Conference focused, at least to a significant degree, on the issues of doubt and faith, and also chose to warn church members about possible harm should they turn primarily to Internet sources when they are faced with questions about Church teachings, practice, or history. Many of us who participate in the kinds of online discussions take place in social media spaces that have grown up around various blogs and podcasts like this one have felt uneasy about some of these messages and their rhetoric. For us, doubt and skepticism feel second nature to us, part of our personalities and the way we approach life in general. Furthermore, these tools, as we work with them and see both their strengths and limitations, seem to us to be helpful as we try to grow into better rounded and more firmly centered spiritual adults. Were these talks nodding toward all forms of doubt and skepticism, or was their focus on more caustic types and the cynicism that often flows out of that? Were these talks casting dispersions on the kinds of conversations hosted here and/or in the more constructive and “spiritual journey” related groups? How can and does doubt relate to “faith”? What about to “truth”?

In this two-part episode, Adam Miller, James Patterson, and Jordan Harmon join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of these topics and more. While focusing mostly on the subjects at hand, they also engage with parts of the four talks under consideration. How should we “hear” these talks? If we do so less defensively, what pieces of wisdom are there for us? Certainly we all have spiritual work to do. How can even difficult messages serve us well?

Please listen and then share your comments in the section below! And feel free to register for and then begin using the World Table commenting system. It’s easy to do, and you can begin right away developing a great online reputation for engaging with others in constructive ways. As you seek to create and raise your World Table “score,” you will one day find your voice magnified (deservedly so as someone who engages fairly and forthrightly) across all sites that adopt the WT system.

Links:

The Four Talks Concentrated on in this Episode:
President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, “It Works Wonderfully,” October 2015 General Conference
President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, “Be Not Afraid, Only Believe,” October 2015 General Conference
Elder Vern P. Stanfill, “Choose the Light,” October 2015 General Conference
Elder James B. Martino, “Turn to Him and Answers Will Come,” October 2015 General Conference

Other materials:
Jordan Harmon, “Blessed Doubt, Blessed BeliefPublish Peace blog
William James, “The Will to Believe

 

299–300: Being Wrong (in a Church and Culture that Emphasizes Being Right)

Being Wrong coverIn this two-part episode, Brian Dillman, Julienna Viegas-Haws, and Anna Smith join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in a discussion about “being wrong!” Or make that Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (CCC, 2010). It’s a rich subject and wonderful book, and each of the panelists share favorite insights from their encounters with the things Schultz talks about and how those have helped them understand themselves, others, and many more areas of life much more clearly–and helpfully. Since this is Mormon Matters, after all, they also speak about the ways some of these ideas are in tension with certain ideas and various cultural habits (ways of thinking) in Mormonism. How does the material discussed impact their views on the methodology that we are taught in Mormonism’s D&C 9:8-9 (“study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right” along with burnings in bosoms and stupors of thought)?  With Mormonism’s emphases on and teachings about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how it is a sure guide to what is “true”? With the Alma 32 passages on faith as a seed and “experimenting upon the word” and coming to know that a seed is good? With it’s emphases on the superiority of “knowing” over “believing” when it comes to one’s testimony. It’s a great discussion!

Please listen and then share your thoughts in the comments section below! Use either the World Table commenting system or the regular one (or place your comments in both). To learn more about the World Table and why we are helping it in its initial roll-out, please click on this short video.

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Links:

Kathryn Schulz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (New York: CCC, 2010)
Kathryn Schulz, “On Being Wrong,” TED talk, March 2011
Kathryn Schulz, “Don’t Regret Regret,” TED talk, November 2011
Carol Tavris and Eliott Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (New York: Harcourt, 2008)
Robert A. Burton, On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009)

297–298: The State of Public History in Today’s Mormonism

MTCExterior1_DetailIn this two-part episode, Lindsay Hansen Park, Brian Whitney, and Jon Grimes join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of how Mormon history is understood and engaged with among typical Latter-day Saints. How do non-historians understand the nature of the historian’s task, about how many different approaches to understanding history there are, each with its own types of lenses, each with different goals? In talking about particular incidents in the Mormon past, is the history book or article we are reading trying to tell a no-frills and highly detailed account of what transpired, or are they more interested in using that event or series of incidents to illustrate larger themes—or even to teach moral lessons? No historical text is “innocent”—every one reveals assumptions, methodologies, goals, and many other motivations in the historian’s mind alongside its accounts of whatever it is describing.

With websites such as MormonThink and documents such as the Letter to a CES Director by Jeremy Runnells making such an impact on so many Latter-day Saints, it’s high time for discussions like this. In these influential presentations, who is present in the story, and who is not? What questions are being asked? Are they the best ones? What else might one ask the story or teaching under question? What assumptions lie below the approach? And perhaps the even more important to ask are questions of ourselves. Why are we reacting the way we do to these storytellings? Are our responses purely from the power of the textual presentations themselves, or are they validating for us deeper things that we’ve already been feeling, or are these texts helping us continue the important processes of breaking out of un-examined understandings? In many ways, history is a Rorschach test!

We very much hope you’ll listen and then share your comments and questions in the discussion section below!

295–296: John Dehlin Interviewed by Dan Wotherspoon about His Beliefs, Spiritual Path, and Upcoming Projects

John Dehlin & Dan WotherspoonCo-released with Mormon Stories podcast, this two-part episode features Dan Wotherspoon interviewing Mormon Stories host John Dehlin about his life within Mormonism and role as a public voice for greater openness, transparency, and compassion within the LDS Church, especially those who find themselves marginalized by the institution and local communities. As a tireless fighter on behalf of those in pain, they also discuss John’s future projects.

See also Mormon Matters episodes 293-294 in which John interviews and has a discussion with Dan about Dan’s path and how he has found a rich spiritual home within Mormonism.

Another related podcast (in some ways the first of three segments)–an interview of John Dehlin about his life and spiritual journey by Gina Colvin of A Thoughtful Faith podcast–is also now available as “John Dehlin: From the Beginning” at A Thoughtful Faith, and at the Mormon Stories podcast website as: “561-563: Gina Golvin Interviews John Dehlin on the 10th Anniversary of Mormon Stories Podcast.”

293–294: Dan Wotherspoon Interview by John Dehlin about Helping People Find Rich Spirituality within Mormonism

John Dehlin & Dan WotherspoonCo-released with Mormon Stories podcast, this two-part episode features John Dehlin interviewing Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon about his life within Mormonism and role as a public voice for finding peace and richness within the LDS faith even as he is not what many Latter-day Saints would consider as fully orthodox.

See also episodes 295–296 in which Dan, in turn, interviews and has a discussion with John about John’s beliefs and path, and the projects he is planning to pursue next.

Another related podcast (in some ways the first of three segments)—an interview of John Dehlin about his life and spiritual journey by Gina Colvin of A Thoughtful Faith podcast—is also now available as “John Dehlin: From the Beginning” at A Thoughtful Faith, and at the Mormon Stories podcast website as:  “561–563: Gina Golvin Interviews John Dehlin on the 10th Anniversary of Mormon Stories Podcast.”

Please listen and then share your thoughts in the comments section below!