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...]

Hamblin’s Misreading

I should begin by noting that if anyone wants to intelligently comment on the latest issue of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, please read it first. It’s available here (I hope the MI will make the article under discussion available free some time soon).Bill Hamblin has posted a critique of an article by B. Park, which has generated quite a bit of discussion on Dan Peterson’s blog. I’m going to respond to Hamblin here on FPR because Hamblin has refused to post my comments on his blog in … [Read more...]

Our Dirty Hands

In 1973 Michael Walzer wrote an article entitled “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands.” In the article, Walzer argued that involvement in politics entails confronting difficult situations where values conflict. Adjudicating between values requires making compromises; and while most compromises can be understood in terms of mutual concessions interested parties make in order to further some common good, other situations are more extreme. These situations call for compromise in the sense o … [Read more...]

Principles for Dialogue and Mutual Edification

I recently concluded my 8th year as a blogger with FPR (or its earlier affiliate). In reflecting on the various debates and discussions I’ve seen or been involved in during this time, I started thinking about how these discussions modeled good and bad principles of dialogue. In a new year’s resolution of sorts, I’ve tried to identify a few principles of good dialogue. Here’s what I’ve come up with: … [Read more...]

On Feeling Betrayed by the Church

This is for all those who say things like “I can’t understand how [polygamy] is such a stunning revelation for any long-time members” or “the only way not to be introduced to polygamy as a member is to not pay any attention” or “People are going to need to be responsible for their own study and stop asking ‘why didn’t the Church teach me these things’.” Let me help you understand not how members of the Church might be "stunned," but why.  … [Read more...]

Religious Education for the Modern World

The situation regarding the new CES/Religious Education curriculum at BYU has got me thinking about the purpose of religious education at BYU (and throughout CES generally). The instructors and professors have the difficult task of ensuring that students acquire an understanding of Mormonism in a context of faith. One place where I think the current approach falls short is in preparing LDS students to think about (and live) our faith in a broader context. Students ought to understand what it … [Read more...]