Latter-day Saints who experience a faith crisis are thrust into unfamiliar and difficult territory, where they are forced to face many issues, including the decision to remain actively engaged with Mormonism, to step away for a while in an effort to regain their bearings and perhaps live into new perspectives or find fresh ways to engage the church, or to sever ties altogether. At the heart of many of these difficult decisions is a strong desire on the part of the person in crisis to live a life of integrity, to act in harmony with their ideals, highest values, and understandings of what is and isn’t true.
In this Mormon Matters episode, host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Joanna Brooks, Brian Johnston, and Jeff Green examine in depth issues described by questions such as: “How do I live with integrity when I no longer believe the truth claims the way I used to, or when my experiences at church no longer uplift me or even cause me great pain, or when the majority of church members hold such radically different views from me?” In the discussion, the panelists all take great care to honor the many differences in experiences, temperaments, life circumstances, and understandings about the nature of truth (and especially Mormon truth claims) that can lead different people, all with equal integrity, to choose different paths. If there is a bias, it is toward the importance of really taking one’s time before making these decisions or enacting one’s decisions in ways that might burn bridges or cause irrevocable harm to relationships.
This episode is significantly longer than most Mormon Matters, but it’s a topic that we’ve only just scratched the surface of. After listening, please help us dive even deeper by participating in the discussion below.
Of possible interest:
Here are the lines from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself,” that Jeff mentions in the podcast:
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
Link to the entire poem.
Link to “How to Stay in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a Major Challenge to Your Faith” mentioned by Brian in the podcast.
Link to J. Bonner Ritchie’s classic article, “The Institutional Church and the Individual,” mentioned by Dan in the podcast.
Link to Dan’s April 2002 Sunstone magazine editorial in which he describes his personal encounter with James Fowler, author of Stages of Faith and other books, on an airplane and how that led to perspectives that helped him greatly in negotiating his own faith crisis. (NOTE: The link takes you to a pdf file that contains the editorial mentioned above, but the essay itself begins on page 4 of that file.)