On Being a Mormon at Yale Divinity School
By Elizabeth Pinborough
I strongly believe in sharing faith journeys. Listening forces us to confront the prismatic nature of another person's spiritual experience and accept that perhaps a multiplicity of paths lead to the same truth or to a different truth entirely. We become less judgmental of others as we learn the ways in which God has worked in their lives, sometimes inexplicably, but usually in ways that are similar to our own.
At Yale Divinity School, one can expect to be surrounded by a group of accomplished students who care deeply about faith and their individual denominations. The number of Mormons at the divinity school is roughly proportional to the number of Mormons in the wider U.S. population, which is not bad. But, that still means LDS are a minority, not to mention that they are theologically anomalous among other Christian faiths.
One needs to be able to talk about religion in terms other than the ones that most Mormons are used to talking. Devotional language, or a language of faith, is acceptable for the mainstream Christian denominations, but not many of these people understand the devotional language of Mormonism and are suspicious of Mormonism because of certain theological claims we make. You must be multilingual.
Is it challenging? Certainly. Faith and testimony are always in a state of flux, even if we maintain them with a degree of certainty. YDS was challenging to my testimony, although I perhaps might not have used that language to describe my beliefs until this year (it sounds odd, I know). That is in part because I grew up a skeptical believer, naturally questioning things and being open to a multiplicity of truths. I had read the Book of Mormon and felt that it was a good book. But what gave me a testimony of the book was the ways in which my life changed after reading it. The Spirit did not say to me, this is a true book. I felt the proof (or truth) was in the pudding (my life), and I did not dedicate myself to gaining more of a witness than that. What I forgot in this formulation of my spirituality and faith, was that spiritual nourishment does not last and must be a continual practice.