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David Ostler's book Bridges on LDS faith crisis

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Anyone read this?   https://gregkofford.com/products/bridges

I think it's fantastic. I rank it up with Mason's Planted as the best book available to understand the LDS faith crisis problem.

Here's my review of it if you want to see a bunch of quotes and get the gist of the book. 

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/david-ostler-bridges-review/

I loved this book. If you don't know the background, David Ostler is a former mission president who was called to be a service missionary to less active single adults in his stake. He met personally with hundreds of people that had left the church due to faith crisis issues. He decided to do what we all should do facing such a daunting challenge. Shut up and listen. He listened to their stories. He did an online survey. After this exhaustive effort, he developed an empathy and understanding that is nearly unprecedented among the upper tier faithful LDS. I hope everyone peripherally involved with the LDS faith crisis issue will read his book and promote it among their sphere of influence. The key idea from the book is that those who pass through faith crisis, ie the dark night of the soul, can be retained in the church if three conditions are met.

They feel like they can trust church leaders.
They feel like they belong.
They can find meaning in the church with a non-traditional testimony.

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4 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

Anyone read this?   https://gregkofford.com/products/bridges

I think it's fantastic. I rank it up with Mason's Planted as the best book available to understand the LDS faith crisis problem.

Here's my review of it if you want to see a bunch of quotes and get the gist of the book. 

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/david-ostler-bridges-review/

I loved this book. If you don't know the background, David Ostler is a former mission president who was called to be a service missionary to less active single adults in his stake. He met personally with hundreds of people that had left the church due to faith crisis issues. He decided to do what we all should do facing such a daunting challenge. Shut up and listen. He listened to their stories. He did an online survey. After this exhaustive effort, he developed an empathy and understanding that is nearly unprecedented among the upper tier faithful LDS. I hope everyone peripherally involved with the LDS faith crisis issue will read his book and promote it among their sphere of influence. The key idea from the book is that those who pass through faith crisis, ie the dark night of the soul, can be retained in the church if three conditions are met.

They feel like they can trust church leaders.
They feel like they belong.
They can find meaning in the church with a non-traditional testimony.

These are good points. I think those in faith crisis can also be coached and mentored one-on--one, requiring a good example, to cultivate charity and forgiveness, serve and get their testimony from the Spirit, which transcends both "traditional" and "non-traditional" conclusions and beliefs.

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21 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

Anyone read this?   https://gregkofford.com/products/bridges

I think it's fantastic. I rank it up with Mason's Planted as the best book available to understand the LDS faith crisis problem.

Here's my review of it if you want to see a bunch of quotes and get the gist of the book. 

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/david-ostler-bridges-review/

I loved this book. If you don't know the background, David Ostler is a former mission president who was called to be a service missionary to less active single adults in his stake. He met personally with hundreds of people that had left the church due to faith crisis issues. He decided to do what we all should do facing such a daunting challenge. Shut up and listen. He listened to their stories. He did an online survey. After this exhaustive effort, he developed an empathy and understanding that is nearly unprecedented among the upper tier faithful LDS. I hope everyone peripherally involved with the LDS faith crisis issue will read his book and promote it among their sphere of influence. The key idea from the book is that those who pass through faith crisis, ie the dark night of the soul, can be retained in the church if three conditions are met.

They feel like they can trust church leaders.
They feel like they belong.
They can find meaning in the church with a non-traditional testimony.

I would love to see this, ever since not being able to find anything to replace the church.

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19 minutes ago, Duncan said:

"non traditional testimony"? Either the Holy Ghost bears witness to something or he hasn't, that's how you get a testimony. 

To be fair to ChurchisTrue I think he means things like I say on this forum. For instance I have a testimony that Eden is in the Middle East rather than America. I have numerous parts of my testimony which don't fit with what became taught in the correlated materials. I have a testimony of the restored gospel, but numerous parts of my testimony don't jive. I was even once asked to apologize for giving my testimony. So I have a testimony, but it is not what most LDS members would call a traditional testimony or one that they would agree with right away anyway. I understand perfectly what he means. Or maybe ChurchisTrue is just reporting exactly what David Oslter said - but still I believe I understand what is being said.

I would like for the Church to learn to become more inclusive this way. Because I don't always agree and have at times voiced my disagreements, I have been ostracized to a certain extent. It is really hard for people like Tacenda to stay active in that environment. That is what this book is about in my estimation. I haven't read it, but I kinda dislike the cookie-cutter mold approach to "the truth" that I perceive to be in the Church. I think this book is trying to address this problem which I applaud. 

Edited by RevTestament
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6 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

To be fair to ChurchisTrue I think he means things like I say on this forum. For instance I have a testimony that Eden is in the Middle East rather than America. I have numerous parts of my testimony which don't fit with what became taught in the correlated materials. I have a testimony of the restored gospel, but numerous parts of my testimony don't jive. I was even once asked to apologize for giving my testimony. So I have a testimony, but it is not what most LDS members would call a traditional testimony or one that they would agree with right away anyway. I understand perfectly what he means. Or maybe ChurchisTrue is just reporting exactly what David Oslter said - but still I believe I understand what is being said.

No, those were my words. And you explained it well.

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1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

To be fair to ChurchisTrue I think he means things like I say on this forum. For instance I have a testimony that Eden is in the Middle East rather than America. I have numerous parts of my testimony which don't fit with what became taught in the correlated materials. I have a testimony of the restored gospel, but numerous parts of my testimony don't jive. I was even once asked to apologize for giving my testimony. So I have a testimony, but it is not what most LDS members would call a traditional testimony or one that they would agree with right away anyway. I understand perfectly what he means. Or maybe ChurchisTrue is just reporting exactly what David Oslter said - but still I believe I understand what is being said.

I would like for the Church to learn to become more inclusive this way. Because I don't always agree and have at times voiced my disagreements, I have been ostracized to a certain extent. It is really hard for people like Tacenda to stay active in that environment. That is what this book is about in my estimation. I haven't read it, but I kinda dislike the cookie-cutter mold approach to "the truth" that I perceive to be in the Church. I think this book is trying to address this problem which I applaud. 

did the Holy Ghost tell you that the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East rather than the US? would you mind sharing how the HG told you this information? or did you deduce this from your own rational thought and call it a testimony? People share "testimonies" all the time but is that actually a testimony or what? I'll be honest I don't care to hear about what someone learned from your recent neck surgery 🤢 or how you used to visit the Temple every week when you lived in XYZ and now you can't because you have can't find a sitter for your 15 cats now, where is the HG in any of this?

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4 minutes ago, Duncan said:

did the Holy Ghost tell you that the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East rather than the US? would you mind sharing how the HG told you this information? or did you deduce this from your own rational thought and call it a testimony? People share "testimonies" all the time but is that actually a testimony or what? I'll be honest I don't care to hear about what someone learned from your recent neck surgery 🤢 or how you used to visit the Temple every week when you lived in XYZ and now you can't because you have can't find a sitter for your 15 cats now, where is the HG in any of this?

What are you getting at Duncan? A testimony here is used to describe someone's beliefs about doctrines, scripture, and teachings of the LDS Church. It's not necessarily what one would speak when one goes up to the stand to bear testimony on fast Sunday. Is this a weird concept or did I use the wrong language to describe it?

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1 minute ago, churchistrue said:

What are you getting at Duncan? A testimony here is used to describe someone's beliefs about doctrines, scripture, and teachings of the LDS Church. It's not necessarily what one would speak when one goes up to the stand to bear testimony on fast Sunday. Is this a weird concept or did I use the wrong language to describe it?

I want to know what is meant by "non traditional testimony? Did the Holy Ghost bear witness to XYZ that Jesus is the Christ or didn't he? it's like saying you are kind of a dentist, well, either you are or you aren't, you can't be kind of, licensed to practice or not (a student let's say) I don't want to hear about someone's beliefs about Church teachings and exclude the Holy Ghost. A testimony is what the HG bears witnesses to, not what you think about something, excluding the HG

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2 hours ago, churchistrue said:

After this exhaustive effort, he developed an empathy and understanding that is nearly unprecedented among the upper tier faithful LDS.

Amongst what group is it precedented?

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46 minutes ago, Duncan said:

I want to know what is meant by "non traditional testimony? Did the Holy Ghost bear witness to XYZ that Jesus is the Christ or didn't he? it's like saying you are kind of a dentist, well, either you are or you aren't, you can't be kind of, licensed to practice or not (a student let's say) I don't want to hear about someone's beliefs about Church teachings and exclude the Holy Ghost. A testimony is what the HG bears witnesses to, not what you think about something, excluding the HG

In the book, Ostler says most people he studied in this have "can have faith in ambiguity and hold nuanced beliefs."

I extrapolate that out and added the bit about "non traditional testimony". I define that as having beliefs similar to the following (every person is a bit different):

  • Belief in the LDS Church as a good and meaningful church and maybe even the most true church but not usually as God’s one, exclusively true church.
  • Belief that our scriptures are inspired and meaningful but lacking a belief in historicity of some scripture such as the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham
  • Belief that prophets have likely been wrong at times in church history, such as related to polygamy or the priesthood ban
  • Belief in God and Jesus Christ and afterlife, but maybe not aligning with all of the many and specific details on these doctrines
  • The Earth is very old, the human race has been around for 100,000+ years, and the Genesis creation story should be taken metaphorically

I think the people with these beliefs would say the formulation of this new modified testimony came in the same way the original one, through study, prayer, and the Holy Ghost.

 

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9 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Amongst what group is it precedented?

The people who went through faith crisis and never were able to restore an orthodox LDS testimony. 

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1 hour ago, Duncan said:

did the Holy Ghost tell you that the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East rather than the US? would you mind sharing how the HG told you this information? or did you deduce this from your own rational thought and call it a testimony?

According to Joseph Smith the Lord told him the restored version in Moses. I don't know if the HS was involved or not. Moses says that one of the heads of the rivers goes eastward of Assyria. No matter how you cut it, Assyria is not in the Americas, and the Americas has no river with a head eastward in/of Assyria. BY was simply incorrect about what he thought JS told him. BY was incorrect about other things in my belief as well. It is not a particular knock on him. He even sometimes contradicted himself. 

Quote

People share "testimonies" all the time but is that actually a testimony or what? I'll be honest I don't care to hear about what someone learned from your recent neck surgery 🤢 or how you used to visit the Temple every week when you lived in XYZ and now you can't because you have can't find a sitter for your 15 cats now, where is the HG in any of this?

Well, fortunately I have never had a neck surgery, but maybe someone did learn some important principle through such an ordeal. You don't believe we learn through life experiences? Maybe the person got a blessing and was relieved of all further pain. You don't think that is faith affirming?

I would perhaps share my testimony about the atonement which I learned after years of life experience, but you don't seem to be interested. This is an issue I have with the church. It is typically not interested in my story. The gospels use stories to teach principles. That I believe is also the way God teaches in the Old Testament, which I feel people often miss by reading the OT so literally. The story of Adam and Eve eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil applies to all of us - it is not some literal tree I could walk up to in the garden of Eden, and learn to become ashamed of my nudity by eating from. Where is the HG in that story? He is there trying to help us understand its relevance to us. I agree that some do not understand this, and get up in fast and testimony meeting and ramble on about their lives. But I think we are getting away from what I initially meant. 
Here is an example: In a SS lesson on dispensations the teacher said that Moses was the head of a dispensation and "restored the priesthood." I said "actually Moses didn't restore the priesthood. He received the priesthood from Jethro." His response was "If you believe that.....[I have some land to sell to you type thing but a little more demeaning]." The HS told me that, but it is also told us directly in D&C. I was correct. I said nothing wrong, but because I was perceived as challenging the teacher and the correlated curriculum, I was dismissed in a demeaning way. I didn't challenge the narrative about dispensations, but I personally believe Moses was not the head of a dispensation, and unless the presidency claims to have received the key of dispensations from Adam, they probably shouldn't be teaching on the subject.

I don't think it will do much good for me to list the various things I disagree with but some are pretty fundamental interpretation issues. I think the better point to bring up is one addressed by Ostler as quoted by churchistrue:

Quote

We can find ways to affirm the comments given in class that we think might be policed. If we are teachers, we can vocally affirm a comment as soon as it’s given. We can say, “I’m glad you brought that up. I can see how one could feel that.” Or, “That is a really interesting idea. I am going to think about it. Thank you for sharing.” Or, “I have never thought about it like that. I’m so glad we can look at things with different perspectives.” If we are students, we can simply turn and look at the person who is speaking and show our interest through a nod.

This type of response would have been much better than the one I received. My experience is that questions brought up by class members or different interpretations are treated as apostasy and therefore the questioner as an apostate. The Church used to treat anyone reading anti-materials as someone to ostracize because it challenged the narrative of the Church. But the narrative of the Church was just not complete. So naturally, in the internet age people began to feel the Church was hiding things. Rather than treating people with questions like they have some disease or avoiding speaking with them, what I am saying is that the Church needs to learn to listen. Can Satan creep in incorrect things? Certainly he can, but I think BY shows that even Church presidents can be incorrect. Rather than welcoming those with questioning minds, it seems to me this Church has become judgmental of them, and traditionally has responded with a knee-jerk reaction of ostracizing them. People are afraid of having their testimonies challenged. What? Is this Church scared of questions of investigators? It seems this Church wants converts to come with an open mind, and then close them once one converts and is baptized. We can do better than that, and I believe we are starting to do better. So I applaud Ostler and churchistrue.

Edited by RevTestament

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10 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

The people who went through faith crisis and never were able to restore an orthodox LDS testimony. 

They are filled with empathy and understanding? Maybe some, I doubt it is general.

I read the free preview. Decent, but nothing new that I saw. A bit of statistics on people leaving, a few case histories, and then a lot on the power listening can have which has always been true and could come out of the coursework of a therapist.

I am usually awful at listening unless I find the conversation very interesting or I am with someone whose brain is as jumpy and erratic as mine. My ADHD wants people talking to me to hurry up and talk faster. I often finish the sentences they are saying in my mind before they are done and then they try to provide clarifying statements that seem irrelevant and come out just as slow. I am just “Right, got it! Move on!”.

Every so often I get good at it though when someone I care about is suffering and for some reason people confide in and trust me. I think I am just open and talk about stuff casually and even humorously (my suicide humor is probably going too far admittedly) that most would hold back and people tend to react in kind maybe? I was teaching Gospel Doctrine once and shared a bit about my depression and its impact as a way of illustrating a point. I got two written notes and three emails thanking me for being brave enough to talk about it. Weirded me out a bit. Is it that hard to talk about struggles?

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20 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

The people who went through faith crisis and never were able to restore an orthodox LDS testimony. 

maybe they never had one to restore or doubted it ever happened, I often think you never lose a witness you just bury it with nonsense or just life gets in the way.

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8 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

According to Joseph Smith the Lord told him the restored version in Moses. I don't know if the HS was involved or not. Moses says that one of the heads of the rivers goes eastward of Assyria. No matter how you cut it, Assyria is not in the Americas, and the Americas has no river with a head eastward in/of Assyria. BY was simply incorrect about what he thought JS told him. BY was incorrect about other things in my belief as well. It is not a particular knock on him. He even sometimes contradicted himself. 

so, again you deduced this from your own thought process but you didn't say the Holy Ghost confirmed any of this. You do realize that rivers dry up and lakes also dry up?

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3 hours ago, churchistrue said:

Anyone read this?   https://gregkofford.com/products/bridges

I think it's fantastic. I rank it up with Mason's Planted as the best book available to understand the LDS faith crisis problem.

Here's my review of it if you want to see a bunch of quotes and get the gist of the book. 

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/david-ostler-bridges-review/

I loved this book. If you don't know the background, David Ostler is a former mission president who was called to be a service missionary to less active single adults in his stake. He met personally with hundreds of people that had left the church due to faith crisis issues. He decided to do what we all should do facing such a daunting challenge. Shut up and listen. He listened to their stories. He did an online survey. After this exhaustive effort, he developed an empathy and understanding that is nearly unprecedented among the upper tier faithful LDS. I hope everyone peripherally involved with the LDS faith crisis issue will read his book and promote it among their sphere of influence. The key idea from the book is that those who pass through faith crisis, ie the dark night of the soul, can be retained in the church if three conditions are met.

They feel like they can trust church leaders.
They feel like they belong.
They can find meaning in the church with a non-traditional testimony.

Two things:

(1) online surveys are completely irresponsible.

(2) retention at any cost is not cost effective.

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6 minutes ago, Duncan said:

so, again you deduced this from your own thought process but you didn't say the Holy Ghost confirmed any of this. You do realize that rivers dry up and lakes also dry up?

You don't seem to believe me when I say that I have a testimony about certain things, so I don't think there is a way to convince you. Does it help you believe me if I tell you that the Lord told me certain things rather than just it being a confirmation by the HS? (I'm sure it won't). Perhaps you should read Moses, and pray about it for yourself, rather than just accepting the word of BY's interpretation of what JS said. Have you done that? I am not speaking of some general confirmation that "the church is true." I have a testimony that this Church is the true restored representation of the gospel with the true priesthood, but that doesn't mean its leaders get every interpretation right. 

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23 minutes ago, Duncan said:

maybe they never had one to restore or doubted it ever happened, I often think you never lose a witness you just bury it with nonsense or just life gets in the way.

I think this is basically the point of the book in one sentence. That's the assumption for most believers. That was Ostler's assumption as well. But by listening to stories and through the data from the surveys, he changed to view faith crisis in a different way, rejecting that simple assumption. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Two things:

(1) online surveys are completely irresponsible.

(2) retention at any cost is not cost effective.

I'm afraid that will be a common response to his book. Thanks for your input, even if it's not what I want to hear.

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24 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

According to Joseph Smith the Lord told him the restored version in Moses. I don't know if the HS was involved or not. Moses says that one of the heads of the rivers goes eastward of Assyria. No matter how you cut it, Assyria is not in the Americas, and the Americas has no river with a head eastward in/of Assyria. ............

Why wouldn't Moses place the Garden of Eden in the Middle East?  Are you suggesting that Moses should have a perfect understanding of all things?  America as the original place is not in Moses' purview at all, and there is no reason why it would be.

24 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

............................................................................

This type of response would have been much better than the one I received. My experience is that questions brought up by class members or different interpretations are treated as apostasy and therefore the questioner as an apostate. The Church used to treat anyone reading anti-materials as someone to ostracize because it challenged the narrative of the Church.

Church manuals and general authorities taught no such thing.  Certainly an idiot here or there likely came up with that sort of shallow response, but I never heard it.

24 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

But the narrative of the Church was just not complete. So naturally, in the internet age people began to feel the Church was hiding things. Rather than treating people with questions like they have some disease or avoiding speaking with them, what I am saying is that the Church needs to learn to listen. Can Satan creep in incorrect things? Certainly he can, but I think BY shows that even Church presidents can be incorrect. Rather than welcoming those with questioning minds, it seems to me this Church has become judgmental of them, and traditionally has responded with a knee-jerk reaction of ostracizing them. People are afraid of having their testimonies challenged. What? Is this Church scared of questions of investigators? It seems this Church wants converts to come with an open mind, and then close them once one converts and is baptized. We can do better than that, and I believe we are starting to do better. So I applaud Ostler and churchistrue.

You're rambling here, Rev.  This is a fallible Church, led by fallible people.  Diverse POVs is a blessing.

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1 minute ago, churchistrue said:

I'm afraid that will be a common response to his book. Thanks for your input, even if it's not what I want to hear.

There is a reason why real scholars never use online surveys, and instead depend upon scientific sampling techniques.

There is a reason why coming to grips with the real reasons why people have problems is always superior to imaginary reasons:  Otherwise the diagnosis will be false.  And thus the therapy will not work (except for the inevitable placebo effect).

2 Tim 4:3 “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”

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So if I am understanding this correctly, there is church doctrine, principles, etc. but we can obtain our own testimony that goes against that? "The Family Proclamation says....but I believe..." 

Scary stuff. 

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14 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

I think this is basically the point of the book in one sentence. That's the assumption for most believers. That was Ostler's assumption as well. But by listening to stories and through the data from the surveys, he changed to view faith crisis in a different way, rejecting that simple assumption. 

 

Are you sure that's the assumption of "most believers" how do you know this? no offense to him or you but how can he extrapolate principles from online surveys and expect people to take it seriously? I can talk to 10 ex members of the Church and do 10 online surveys of 100 people and yet come away with a distorted image of the whole

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7 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Why wouldn't Moses place the Garden of Eden in the Middle East?  Are you suggesting that Moses should have a perfect understanding of all things?  America as the original place is not in Moses' purview at all, and there is no reason why it would be.

Except it is what the Lord told Moses. Does the Lord know what He was talking about? I know that I am harping on one of your pets here so forgive me.... ;) 

7 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Church manuals and general authorities taught no such thing.  Certainly an idiot here or there likely came up with that sort of shallow response, but I never heard it.

Notice I didn't say the Church taught it. I said "the Church" treated people that way. That is my own personal observation of bishops etc. So in fairness I cannot include Church GA leaders, but am speaking of my personal experience with the body of the Church which didn't know how to deal with it at the time. To its credit I think the Church has gotten better about it. Hey, I've read the anti stuff and am still active. I am just saying the Church can learn to respond in a better fashion. Do you agree that its response in general is better?

7 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You're rambling here, Rev.  This is a fallible Church, led by fallible people.  Diverse POVs is a blessing.

Thanks... I think... You are a positive voice in the right direction here. Yes, diverse POVs is how science has progressed. Diverse interpretations of scripture can also be a good thing where there is an improvement over prior interpretations. I just unabashedly say that the Church has been wrong about a number of things. I don't want to be treated like I have leprosy because I say that. It is not some road I have chosen because I like to be ostracized. It is not some road I am trying to lead people away from the Church on. It is a road that I believe the Church needs to learn to accept without the knee-jerk reaction, and without chasing people out of the Church for taking. That is all, but it is pretty big in my estimation.

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