“That’s not how the Church Presents Itself”: An Irreverent Response

The Church is largely to blame for the faith crisis among segments of the Mormon community. It promoted a black and white worldview where Truth is self-evident, and it supported this view with “faith-promoting” narratives that ignored the messy facts of history. One of the fruits of this approach is having this very mentality reflected back on the Church—when joining the Church is an existential choice, leaving it can likewise be existential. Disillusionment with the Church oddly does not neces … [Read more...]

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Taylor Petrey is Tenured: What does This Mean for LDS Scholars of Religion?

We’ve been running our Tips on Applying Series for nearly a decade. We heard from Taylor Petrey back in 2010 when he offered some advice on securing an academic position in religious studies. Taylor has recently received tenure, which is a big deal not only for him, but for all Latter-day Saints involved in the study of religion. He graciously agreed to talk to us about his work and how he earned tenure.  … [Read more...]

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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...]

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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...]

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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...]

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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...]

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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...]

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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...]

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