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I've been listening to the new Mormon Discussion podcast interview with Patrick Mason. I've heard a number of his other interviews and always appreciate his perspective. He seems to be a true believer who is empathetic to the struggle many are facing in faith transitions. That empathy is often missing in church on Sunday and on the internet. While I don't always agree with him, Mason's approach and tone is something I really support. He acknowledges that sometimes the church can sin collectively and may be in need of repentance for false doctrines that were taught from the pulpit but are now disavowed and "the worst day in Mormon history" at Mountain Meadows. But he also calls for respect and understanding for leaders. I think he gives the true believer and the doubter a lot to think about.
At the beginning of the podcast Bill makes a great observation about how hope is sometimes discussed in the church as simply a starting point that should move towards knowledge but that many experiencing faith crisis/transition started with knowledge and now hope is all that is left. Not belief. Not even faith. Hope is what many of us hang on to by our fingernails but sometimes we have to adjust our grip of what we hope for or exercise faith in.
I love how Mason talks about Hope as being more than just a starting point of faith. He talks about how hope is foundational to Christianity and is not some cute principle meant only for beginners.
This got me thinking about the language of faith crisis and faith transition. I think we sometimes misuse the word faith in referring to crisis and transition. It seems more accurate (for me at least) to talk about a belief crisis or belief transition as it relates to the church. I believe we are intended to have faith in Christ but I have made the mistake in the past of placing my faith in the church. The church and Christ are not the same things.
There's a lot of good stuff in this podcast to chew on. I recommend it.
This weekend, my wife's visiting teaching companion asked to be released as a VT. My wife reached out to her and said she hoped everything was OK, and that she loved VT with her. She got a text back reciprocating those sentiments, but not much more information. Then Sunday morning, this same site was released from her other ward calling from the pulpit. Then the bishop asked if he could seek with us after the block.
When we met with him after in his office, he confided with us that this site and her husband had recently discovered and read the CES letter. They told the bishop they wanted to be released from their callings and needed to take a break from church. He asked if they were still willing to read the scriptures and pray, and they said after all that they have "discovered" the don't feel like they can. He hen asked them if they would be willing to talk to other members. That is when out bishop thought of my wife and I. He knew that with my experiences with my family leaving the church in a very antagonistic way with me that I had read the CES letter and chosen to maintain my faith and my membership. He asked us to go and see this couple and talk to them.
We relied we would love to show them we love them and that we don't judge them for struggling with these things. I also informed the bishop that I would not want to get into trying to give a point by point rebuttal to the couple, and that my experience is that most people who talk like they are talking have already made a choice on what they believe about the letter and are not looking for answers. The bishop has not read the letter and asked me if I thought he should. I told him that it probably would not serve him well to read it, and that his advice to be proactive spiritually is probably good advice coming from a bishop.
My appeal to you all is - help me understand how you would approach this "assignment". What would you do, and avoid doing? How do you even begin such a conversation? How do we avoid getting into a legalistic feeling debate about the letter, while still eating them know we know of it's contents and have resolved the dissonance for ourselves?
I want to serve this couple well, and welcome your input!
In an interview with Gina Colvin on the A Thoughtful Faith podcast, Greg Prince discusses *this* Mormon moment. Here's a link to the podcast page. It's a great podcast -- worth the listen regardless of your opinion on the issues.
“I don’t know the way forward yet. I think that it’s going to be a combination of people at the top exercising their inspiration and the people at the bottom exercising their inspiration as well and somehow coming to a comfortable interface in the middle that takes advantage of both sources.” ~~Greg Prince
He talks about the new policy. Church growth, activity, and the future.
He asked an interesting question: What happens when today's 25 year old eventually becomes a Stake President?
Also, he's currently writing a book on the Church and LGBT issues. Should be a fascinating read.
Bill Reel was recently interviewed on Mormon Stories about FAIR erasing him from their history. It's a fascinating discussion where they talk about the state of apologetics in general and Bill's personal experience with FAIR and other apologists like Brian Hales who kindly told Bill "I hope your podcast dies." I'm curious if anyone else listened and has any thoughts about the state of FAIR and apologetics in general or about Bill's experience in specific.
By Robert F. Smith
TheSkepticChristian has asked me to post this new topic based on the extensive debunking by FAIRMORMON at http://debunking-cesletter.com/ of the ever-changing "Letter to a CES Director."
TheSkepticChristian finds that that letter "is full of bad arguments and patternicity," and calls particular attention to what the FAIRMORMON debunking says at the end:
"By academic standards, The CES Letter is inadequate. It makes numerous non-peer reviewed claims that ignore what the actual peer-reviewed literature has said on these matters. Due to their biases and incomplete representations of the topics they address, such publications are often classified as spin or propaganda by scholars"
Does FAIRMORMON do an adequate job in this case, or do you find it lacking in some way?