On Maintaining Integrity in Difficult Circumstances

Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else; if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, as one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing t … [Read more...]

Authority is Our Sacred Cow, and It Must be Domesticated

I believe that there are members of our faith that would engage in acts of terrorism if asked by the leaders of our Church. For instance, in a discussion about two years ago on M*, one of the perma-bloggers said the following with regard to Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac: “Smallaxe, with the testimony I have of the living prophets, if President Monson were to call upon me to sacrifice one of my children, I would do so.”If someone is willing to sacrifice his own child at the request of … [Read more...]

Clarifying “How the CES Letter Works”

One purpose of my previous post was to highlight the way in which the intent we ascribe to others impacts our ability to trust them. If we believe that that someone is out to get us, we ought not trust them. On the other hand, if we believe that someone has our best interest in mind, we can trust him or her provided that other conditions are met (e.g., they are capable of carrying out the task for which they are trusted, etc.).In the case of the “Letter to a CES Director,” Jeremy Runnells att … [Read more...]

How the CES Letter Works

Since its publication in 2013, the “Letter to a CES Director” has gained lots of attention. I know people for whom it has been a contributing factor in their disaffection with the Church. In what follows, I will explore a few of my own thoughts as to how it works, and why it ought to be less successful, in creating disaffection. … [Read more...]

Doubt is Not Always a Choice

Doubt is not always a matter of choice. With regard to many LDSs who experience a crisis of faith, I would state the matter more strongly: Doubt is rarely a matter of choice. In this previous post I told a fictional story about Jack, who was born in the Church, loved the Church, but came to doubt the Church. For people such as Jack, keeping his faith in the Church would in many regards make his life easier. Transitioning out of the Church would entail painful personal and social consequences. … [Read more...]

On Doubt and Trust

Doubt can be thought of as a kind of questioning; and to question is to ask for reasons or an explanation for something one does not understand. One might wonder, for instance, what the Church does with its money. People do not always provide reasonable answers to questions; and how one processes an unreasonable answer will depend on a number of factors including one’s relationship with the individuals (or entities) one questions. If I trust the Church, for instance, I am much more likely to a … [Read more...]

Doubting Our Doubters

We have a problem with doubt. More specifically, we, LDSs, have a problem with how we conceptualize doubt and how we treat those who doubt. The short story is that we tend to employ an ambiguous notion of doubt and that we treat those with anything resembling doubt as insincere, as prideful, and as involved in sin. A prime example of this is the article entitled “When Doubts and Questions Arise” in the March 2015 Ensign.  … [Read more...]

How to Start a Culture War

Hold strong opinions about a few issues. The more people that care about the issues, the better. These opinions need not be informed opinions; conviction is the key. (Note, one issue is usually insufficient to start a culture war, but don’t choose too many because then you’ll dilute the message and make it difficult to recruit soldiers.) Use the frame of war to interpret all disagreements over these issues. This includes using some, but preferably all, of the following language: enemy, fight, b … [Read more...]


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