Today, I’m not even going to write a post. I’m just going to link you over to this post by Sara Lin Wilde, Am I Too Obsessed with the Catholic Church.
Because I just want to say…Sara Lin’s experience is something that will resonate with a lot of folks — even people who have never been involved with the Catholic church.
I mean, really. My disaffected Mormon readers, do this experiment: read Sara Lin’s post…but every time you get to the word “Catholic,” replace it with Mormon.
It still works. Nearly every word. Not only does it still work, but it’s something that I have definitely seen on several disaffected Mormon blogs. Something that I could probably find in this blog’s archives. Read more…
At this point, I’ve written something like three posts referring to the recent interviews with John Dehlin (at A Thoughtful Faith and cross-posted at Mormon Stories). I have at least one more post definitely planned, and I know I have material to make at least a couple more.
But if you haven’t listened to the interview, and you don’t have 3 hours to invest in your life to listening, then maybe you might consider reading a partial transcript at Wheat & Tares?
The transcript therein relates just to John’s comments on morality after faith crisis. They have been quite controversial in the various Facebook discussions I’ve seen about the interview, so I took all the comments and put them in one place so I could see what people who hadn’t listened to the interview thought.
The latest frenzy in the liberal/new order/middle way/uncorrelated Internet Mormon circles has been discussion of John Dehlin’s latest interview with A Thoughtful Faith, as has been reposted at Mormon Stories. I hope to make a longer post about some things I got from the interview, probably at Wheat & Tares, but that would involve me to re-listen through the podcast, devoting far more attention than I normally do. And it would involve notetaking. Then writing. Then creating jazzy little graphics.
I care about my art.
The basics of the story is that unlike most podcasts where John is interviewing someone else, in this podcast, John was the one being interviewed. And this three-hours-over-three-parts podcast delves into John’s history…but more importantly, his present and future, especially with the church. As the title of the podcast episodes say, he has reconstructed his faith, and is returning to church activity.
…of course, everyone is freaking out about this. Does this mean that middle way Mormonism is dead? That the Big Tent is not really possible? Does John really think so poorly of disaffected/ex/post or former Mormons? (That last topic will probably be more addressed at Wheat & Tares, since there’s a lot to unpack about the moral progression and/or regression of Mormons undergoing faith crisis.)
For this post, I just wanted to respond to Kiley’s latest post at We Were Going to Be Queens, and some related topical comments she made on FB. You may notice that this post is almost completely stolen from my my comment over at We Were Going to be Queens. Wanna fight about it?
Early in her post, Kiley describes Mormon Stories thusly:
If I had to summarize what Mormon Stories has meant to me I could do it in one simple sentence.
The church is not and never has been what it portrays itself to be.
I agree here. In fact, I think this idea is crucial for discussing what “middle way Mormonism” looks like. (For this post, I’ll use the middle way and Big Tent interchangeably, even though I feel like they are referring to different things.)
Over at Times and Seasons, Dave Banack has written his third and final post on his series addressing Adam Miller’s Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology.
One thing I’ve said about Adam Miller’s writings is that I just don’t get it. I imagine that if I got Rube Goldberg Machines, that would happen within the first few paragraphs. But the thing about Dave’s series is that in just three posts, I feel like I’m getting it. Dave’s latest post, Thrown into the Mormon Life, describes experiences I’ve had several times in my life. From Dave:
Adam sets up this inquiry with a reference to the opening of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Dante claims that we each awake, if we wake at all, to find ourselves already midway through life. We, each of us, are shaken from feverish dreams to find ourselves already promised to bodies we did not choose, to families we did not elect, to times and places we did not will. Or, to borrow a similar image from Jonathan Swift: we each wake, if we wake at all, to find ourselves like the hero of Gulliver’s Travels, smack in the middle of Lilliput, shipwrecked, bruised in the head, and already bound by ten thousand gossamer threads of circumstance.
Children are not reflective: they are too busy living an energetic life of one thing after another. Teenagers, same thing. Young adults are busy getting independent life started: get through school, get married, get a job, get a career started, and deal with those energetic children. When did you first stop, look around, and seriously reflect on your life, your Mormon life? At 25? 35? 45?
Let’s consider a question that arises from Adam’s essay but was not directly addressed: If we waken to Mormonism or a Mormon life, what did we awaken from? Pre-reflective busyness? Ignorance? Babylon? The world? Selfishness? Pride? Sin? Childhood? Think about the best-known reference to awakening in the popular culture of our day: “Wake up, Neo. The Matrix has you.” What was your matrix? Before you woke up to Mormonism, what had you? If, like me, you are a convert to Mormonism, that’s a simpler question. Waking up to Mormonism was a conscious choice. If you’re a convert, you have a pretty good sense of what had you before you chose Mormonism. Every convert has a story about waking up to Mormonism or they wouldn’t be here. But if, like Adam, you were raised within Mormonism, waking up to Mormonism is not a prerequisite of being here, it is not so well defined, and the matrix of a pre-reflective Mormon life is perhaps more problematic. So I’m guessing converts read Adam’s essay differently than lifers. Lifers don’t choose Mormonism, they’re just thrown into a Mormon life from the beginning and have to figure out what that means as they live it.
So much I like in all of this.
I keep reading these things that try to define a space between “staunch” theism and “staunch” atheism. Typically, the person who is doing this is going to be some sort of agnostic who thinks that his agnosticism is mutually exclusive to both theism and atheism…but there are many variations on this theme — religious agnostics, atheists who want to reconcile with liberal/moderate religious folks, and even liberal/moderate religious folks themselves.
This post is my thoughts about that last group — just a response to some things I’ve seen from an article I’ve read.
In the July 2009 edition of Sunstone, Boyd Peterson wrote an article Soulcraft 101: Faith, Doubt, and the Process of Education. Apart from sounding a great name for a video game, Soulcraft attempts to harmonize “doubt” (which, honestly, I don’t even know what Peterson means when he uses that term) with faith. The following passage from early on sets up the dichotomy that is so often heard in the church — a dichotomy that Peterson wishes to dismantle:
“Either everything taught about the Church is true, or none of it is; either Joseph Smith was a flawless prophet, or he was a fraud; either the Book of Mormon is historically true, or it isn’t. Such extremes and ultimatums may set these students up for a fall. When they encounter, as they surely will, problems in our history, theology, or scripture, the message they have been given since birth tells them to reject the whole thing. They feel they must either deny the problems or renounce the Church, retain a naïve faith or adopt a sophisticated agnosticism. This simple, either/or view of faith seems not only unproductive but detrimental to true, abiding faith. It confuses the interplay that doubt and faith have in the development of the soul.
“Deny the problems” or “renounce the Church” — ok, I can see how this is a false dichotomy.
“Retain a naive faith” or “adopt a sophisticated agnosticism.” — OK, I can also see how this is a false dichotomy, but particularly because it seems so weird. Read more…
Ultimately, I don’t know how I feel about having multiple Mormon-interest internet media awards series happening at the same time. Maybe there’s enough gap in the two populations that it doesn’t matter, but I don’t quite think so. And in this case, I have to admit what chanson pointed out before — Main Street Plaza’s Brodies began planning and executing earlier than Wheat & Tares Wheaties and Tare-ific Awards, so really, W&T should have deferred.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t too involved in the planning of either award, and I have to give my props to chanson and Mormon Heretic for implementing instead of just talking (which is pretty much all I do.)
That being said, as this introduction would suggest, there are two sets of awards to check out…and I definitely think that you should, when you have time. (I don’t have a whole lot of time, but I look forward to reading various categories’ entries.) Given that I don’t have a lot of time, this post will focus on the stuff that doesn’t take a lot of time to do — recommend stuff that I (or the bloggers closest to me) have written.
The other day, I found myself awake at around 3AM. Folks, I would not recommend being up at 3AM.
A friend had sent me a Facebook message earlier (around midnight) or so, saying the following:
If I start a new religion, it will be high humanism
(How cool is it that I have friends who have sentences that begin “If I start a new religion…” and who have the credentials that they probably could do it?)
Although I didn’t expect any responses, I replied anyway at 3AM.
I don’t know how you would accumulate so much pomp from scratch
Much to my surprise (although I really shouldn’t be surprised with this friend), the friend responded back. Without making this post simply be a transcript of a conversation (that in FB etiquette is designed to be private — a chat, not a timeline conversation [I wash my hands with the thought that if I don't blog about this, then said friend probably never will...so it's ok if I take the bushel off this light]), I’ll summarize some of the thoughts that the friend wrote, and some of my thoughts thinking about it all in the past few days.
See, the friend said that he didn’t think it would be tough to make pomp from scratch. Instead, he thought it would be tougher to build loyalty and a sense of continuity (which I still don’t know if that was 3AM speak for “community”).
These things seem like reasonable problems for secular and humanistic religions and quasi-religious organizations. Heck, even liberal religious denominations tend to have problems with loyalty.
…so, the question is: can one distill the binding qualities of religion without conservative, traditional, or transgressive theologies and politics? And if so, how?
I think that I’ve written before about my perception of the differences between various terms — cultural Mormon vs. ex-Mormon vs post-Mormon vs…and so on. I won’t bother to look for those posts, but I’ll just say that the main difference I personally perceive in a post-Mormon is that the post-Mormon has moved away from the church, culture, etc., The ex-Mormon might be “recovering”; the cultural Mormon might be “remembering” or “reminiscing” or “celebrating”; but the post-Mormon doesn’t have meaningful interaction with Mormonism anymore.
…and it terrifies me that I’ll be at that point some time.
(Or perhaps, the better question might be: do Mormons know they don’t believe in an omni- God?)
Every so often, I’ll see a discussion on Facebook, usually of someone who is disaffected from Mormonism, asking some question about God. The thing is…they’ll usually address their question at a concept of God that makes more sense in a non-Mormon context, and makes little sense in a Mormon context. For example:
Sincere questions for those who believe in an intervening God:
1. Do you believe God is limited in his ability to intervene in everyone’s life? If so, how do you reconcile this belief with the concept that God is omnipotent, all-powerful?
2. If you believe God CAN intervene in everyone’s life, do you believe that he does, or does he intervene selectively? If selective, why?
3. If he does intervene in everyone’s life (assuming fairly), are some people just unable to recognize it?
4. If he intervenes just selectively, does believing in God’s selective intervention in your life require you to believe you are somehow chosen or more special than God’s other children who were not privileged to receiving his attention and care?
Sorry, lots of questions, but I am interesting in your thoughts.
The second question in number 1 just doesn’t really make sense. Mormonism doesn’t have the concept that God is omnipotent, all-powerful.
…Or does it?