This episode wrestles with exclusivist claims in religion, including Mormonism, as well as in our psyches. How does the idea of chosenness, specialness, uniqueness, and being “right” or on the “true” path work in our minds and hearts in both positive and negative ways? Why do we want to cling to ideas that work to set us apart from others rather than unite us with the rest of humanity in struggling and wrestling with life’s biggest questions? Why do so many of us focus on being “right” about the way things “really are” in the heavens? Does it make sense to skip the struggle of determining our own values and power in exchange for safety in some yet-unknown and indeterminate future?
Being “the one and only true church” has played a fascinating role in Mormonism and in the lives of its adherents. And because of the power of this idea, many of us struggle when we are presented with alternate views that challenge its exclusivist claims. Do we “dare” explore these other areas more? Do we answer this deep call within us to become our “own” person rather than remain safely in the Mormon (or whatever religion one associates with) current, moving steadily ahead toward goals we have been taught were certain to be achieved if we keep with the group?
In this Mormon Matters discussion, two wonderful LDS therapists, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife and Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen, join host Dan Wotherspoon for a deep dive into the dynamics of exclusivism as they play out in Mormonism and in the deepest parts of ourselves. How can we trust ourselves to venture beyond the stories and assurances we’ve been given and not become lost? Is it a wrestle that all of us must eventually take on in order to be psychologically and mentally healthy? Are there ways that we are seeing Mormonism change with regard to exclusive truth claims that open up our Sunday and other LDS spaces for genuine exploration and wrestling rather than primarily being dedicated to shoring up truth claims? Finally, what good is the idea that we know the “Truth” anyway? How well does it serve us and our souls? Are there other types of searches that are far more important to embark on than seeking to “have all the answers”?
Please listen and then share your ideas in the comments section!
“Treasuring All Truth,” LDS Newsroom, 13 October 2017
Quotation from Krista Tippett’s book, Speaking of Faith, that Dan referred to in the episode, wondering if this is a model of sorts for affirming that Mormonism does have a unique role to play while still not insisting that it is “the” only true path:
In conversing with hundreds of amazing religious people, Tippett says:
I began to imagine religious truth as something splintered and far-flung—for good reason, [as it was] too vast for one tradition to encompass. I saw [Christian] reformers across time as people who noticed a scattered piece of the Christian truth that the church itself was neglecting. They picked it up and loved its beauty, and saw it as necessary, and embodied its virtues. The Anglicans saw common prayer, Lutherans saw the Bible, Mennonites saw pacifism, Calvinists saw intellectual rigor, and the Quakers saw silence. And the multitudinous traditions I haven’t named in that inadequate summary see nuances of those pieces of truth and other aspects altogether, all of which make the whole more vivid, more possible, in the world.”
This analogy holds as I now [go deeper into] explor[ing] the splinters of all of the world’s traditions. The gentle single-mindedness of Zen complements the searching discipline of Theravada Buddhism. The exuberant spirituality of Sufism rises to meet the daily lived piety of Sunni and Shiite Islam. [And so on.] (Speaking of Faith, 178-79)
“Gaining Spiritual Confidence,” Mormon Matters podcast, 27 April 2017
“Mormon Women Gaining Spiritual Confidence within a Patriarchal Church,” Mormon Matters podcast, 30 May 2017