I’ve occasionally heard a curious phrase…”Doubt your doubts.” “Be skeptical of your skepticism.” I have wondered what these phrases could mean and of what import they could be.
In the past, the sheer foreignness of these admonitions has been like a Langford basilisk to me — I can’t help but take the words in, but my mind, uncomprehending, does not deal with them. Part of this mental incomprehensibility is the voluntaristic nature of beliefs that it presents. I understand that many people think differently, but I do not imagine consciously choosing to believe or to doubt something. Rather, my beliefs and doubts seem to me the unconscious conclusions of evaluation of the data I perceive.
So, in the past, I didn’t think about what such a phrase could mean, and when I did, I concluded that the phrase was just a cheap attack.
But like the idea of Langford’s basilisk, my mind only required time and a somewhat more comprehensive, yet similar concept to recall the uncomprehended and incomprehensible and crash.
I have often thought about what it means to “leave the church, but not leave it alone.” This is another phrase frequently flung at the faithless flock, but immediately easier to grasp. I can understand why a member would want someone who disbelieves, disagrees, and disaffiliates to disengage, disassociate, and desist (although I believe this may not capture why the person “does not leave the church alone” in the first place.) I have read other members’ dealings with “full-time” anti-Mormons (the twitter-engaged ones, at least), and I have myself dealt with accusations of being an anti-Mormon. And I have grappled with the idea of engaging with Mormonism, of loving Mormonism despite not believing and not engaging with a physical community. What can such a thing even mean?
I have at times been discouraged to write here at Mormon Matters, because sometimes I feel it could damage the site’s reputation among our brethren in the Bloggernacle. Is Mormonism a big tent or not?
In my quiet considerations, others have been quite charitable. They have expressed how I’m always welcome…how a break is a natural or a good thing. Some have gone so far to say that separating, that moving on completely, is a natural or a good thing.
And here I have come to doubt, and to doubt my doubts.
I feel like the comments from the others are an inception. An inception comes from another, but must be planted far enough in the subconscious so as to seem as if it comes from the self. And so, as others have suggested, “It’s ok to move away from Mormon blogging if you doubt your goals and purposes within both the blog and the Mormonism,” I have understood the savory sensibility of this simple statement, and I have adopted it as my own simple statement. But I have also doubted this doubt, and doubted this statement.
I have doubted my doubt that (blogging about) Mormonism can remain compelling or relevant to me.
A while back, I was reading an entry from a friend introducing his series into the Book of Mormon. He, like me, does not believe, but he stated:
I disagree with Elder Holland that the only available answer is that Joseph Smith translated an ancient American history by the power of god…But I do actually agree with Elder Holland on this point: Some critics are too quick to dismiss the Book of Mormon. And while the burden of proof rests primarily with its believers, I nonetheless think we owe the Book of Mormon more than just an indifferent shrug or rolled eyes. That’s why I’m writing this series—to grapple honestly with the Book of Mormon.
I had at the time challenged the idea that we owe more than just an indifferent shrug or rolled eyes. I’d probably still challenge the idea, because I believe that what we “owe” the Book of Mormon — or any text — is not some universal prescription inscribed in pristine marble, but is tied to our personal motivations. His prescription, I thought, reflected his motivations and desires to grapple honestly with the book.
With time, I have come to see blogging in a similar way. I know people who would say this is inferior to parking my posterior in a pew, or to diving into the doctrines of official scriptures. I know others who would say it doesn’t make sense to try to “grapple with” blogging once I’ve “burnt out.” Perhaps they are all right.
Nevertheless, I feel this, my sincere if substandard offering, is worth offering, if only for myself.