24 June 2014

When Your Religion Disappoints You


The recent news about some excommunications in the Mormon church has occupied my heart and mind for the last many days. I am heart sick at the news. I love people who have opinions and share them. I love people who are willing to be true to themselves. I love people who are truth seekers and have questions. I love people who are leaders and gather people together for meaningful conversation. I love diversity (even when I don't agree with someone, there is always something to learn!) I'm very sad that two prominent individuals (Kate & John) as well as many others who fit this description have now been banned or have excommunication hearings scheduled, even though they still desire to worship and serve with the community. I personally would love to sit next to these two individuals at church and hear their perspectives and experiences. I'm sad there is not a place for them.

I know that many may disagree with how I feel. But today, instead of discussing who is right or wrong, I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss healing. Has your religion ever disappointed you? Have you ever disagreed strongly with people in your own religion so much that it's brought about anger or annoyance inside you? Have you healed or is the pain ongoing? What does that healing process look like for you? 

148 comments:

  1. As a Mormon, I feel very unsettled right now and I'm not sure how to process all I'm feeling. While I don't necessarily share the viewpoints of the people in your post, I also feel a sense of sadness about what is going on within my church. I am tremendously disappointed in some of the comments and posts I'm seeing flying around Facebook and the internet. At the core of it all I feel genuine love and empathy for the people involved; I imagine this is such a painful and shocking time for them. Furthermore, I'm so saddened by the lines being drawn in the sand by supporters and non-supporters. I have personally read Kate Kelly's words over and over and she is the first to say she loves her religion, loves being a Mormon. That said, some of the animosity and vitriol coming from those who feel she was wronged and aimed at the Mormon church upsets me.
    As always, your response is one of compassion and kindness and I guess I wish there was more of that from everyone. Sometimes in the heat of civil discourse or social movements, we forget that we're all actual people with actual feelings, beliefs, and souls and that not a one of us is immune from the repercussions of all this anger.

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    1. Thanks Amanda!

      I also do not share many of their viewpoints. Some things I disagree quite strongly about. And yet, I still love an honest discussion. I do believe, that despite whatever weaknesses either of the two may have demonstrated in their efforts, I do believe that they desire honest and sincere discussion. I can respect their differing opinions, I can learn from them (as I have).

      I have greatly benefitted by some of John Dehlin's mormon stories podcasts...he's had some guests on there that have taught me some of the most amazing things. Though I don't share all of his opinions or many of his faith struggles, I believe he has an honest desire to help people that do struggle. I know people he has helped!

      And as for Kate - though I may not agree with her on some things, the questions she asks are important! An honest seeker of truth will be enriched by her understanding and arguments, even if they ultimately don't agree with her.

      There is no need to get defensive. I've learned that I should not be afraid of truth. I should not be afraid of someone challenging my assumptions, or the things that I hold dear. It is the challenge that allows you to either dig deeper and understand if what you hold true really is up to the challenge, or it forces to you accept that what you believe needs modification in order to come into line with greater truth than you previously understood.

      This is the process for all truth seeking.

      I loved this quote that I heard from the show Cosmos - taken from Ibn al-Haytham. He said "Finding Truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough, as seekers of the truth, you will be wise to withhold judgement, and not simply put your trust in the writings of the ancients. You must question and critically examine those writings from every side. You must submit only to argument and experiment, and not to the sayings of any person, for every human being is vulnerable to all kinds of imperfection. As seekers of the truth, we must also suspect and question our own ideas as we perform our investigations, to avoid falling into prejudice or careless thinking. Take this course, and truth will be revealed to you.”

      I have learned to embrace the process of questioning. I honor even those I disagree with, because they help me in my quest for truth. I would choose to worship with these two, and others who are threatened. Some of the very difficult questions they ask have led me to seek out and understand and learn things that I greatly treasure.

      We should have nothing to fear, if truth is our ultimate aim. If truth is not our ultimate aim, then fear comes into play. Fear of losing control, of not having power over the narrative. And from fear springs all the rest of the things that plague all of us as human beings, and even the institutions that we love.

      Though a fictional character....Yoda says it well. "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

      We MUST, as individuals and as institutions, learn to cast aside that fear in favor of love. If we cannot do so, it won't matter who is right or wrong, the result will invariably be disastrous, and will cause a great deal of suffering for people on all sides.

      Let us welcome openly any who truly seek after truth and greater understanding...even when they disagree with us.

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    2. Danny, of everything I've ever read on this blog, this comment is the most amazing. And that's saying something.

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    3. I was raised in a very conservative, Christian religion that did not allow questioning or gray areas (not Mormonism, FYI, but it doesn't really matter). I struggled against it for years and eventually left the church - largely for reasons based on the church's treatment of women and homosexuality. For years, I felt so much resentment and anger towards any religion - especially any Christian sect. For me, healing has come through people like you. People who hold their religion dear, but still choose to be open, loving and welcoming. THIS attitude is what healing requires!

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    4. Caitlyn - thank you so much for this comment. I'm happy you've been able to find a path that is true to you. I think that is what we all need to do - and I'm just thrilled that you've been able to find some healing.

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    5. Danny, thank you so much for that comment. I joined the church at age 18, 15 years ago. I love the gospel with all my heart. Like you, I disagree with some of Kate's ideas (I don't know much about John), but she has helped me strengthen my testimony by asking hard questions of myself and seeking out the answers. What you said about not being afraid of truth resonated so strongly with me. I know it took a lot of courage for you and Mara to post this, and I admire you and thank you for it.

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  2. I'm catholic and we are fairly constantly in the news for our latest scandal and although I hate what many of the priests have done (the pedophilia) I still love and believe in the catholic faith. I also believe that for all of the bad priests there are many more truly good priests.

    I've found that it is very hard to be religious in the modern world especially when you are young. Not a single one of my friends actively participates in a church (it isn't a priority) so when I make it a point to go to mass they don't understand why. Because of this people very rarely talk about the good a church does and focus solely on the bad. Something that I pray will change.

    Hope all is well and I didn't blather on to much.
    -Katie

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    1. Not blathering at all :).

      I think you are right about the difficultly of religion in the modern world. I have a post I've been working on for a while that we might publish this week. I think it offers one of the keys for navigating these kinds of moments (at least it has offered a key for me, perhaps it will help others as well no matter what faith or lack of faith they have.)

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    2. Katie - I LOVE what you said. I agree that even amidst scandal or disappointments, religions still offer so much good. They offer healing for so many people, they offer community & friendship, they offer an opportunity to serve others, they offer a structure for how to progress as a person, how to be a good person, etc. I really do feel that being a part of a church does offer so many benefits to your life. But it also takes a thick skin at times and it takes an open mind. Because institutions and human beings are not without weakness. Though I still think it's worth it to participate - as the beautiful & good parts really can enrich your life.

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  3. My husband and I have been talking a lot about this, and it makes us sad as well that honest questions seem to be taboo. Where would we be today of Joseph Smith never asked the question? I recently watched an amazing TED talk about how faith and doubt go hand in hand. I think the speaker really hit home the fact that faith is not the opposite of doubt. The opposite of doubt is absolute certainty and when we are absolutely certain about something we create an environment of violence because there is no listening or empathy or compassion. I think that's where we could be headed as a church (at least in the States) if we're not careful. There is such a fine line in saying "I KNOW this Church is true" and being unwilling to entertain any other idea, possibility, or honest question. The truth is the Gospel as we know it is only what God has chosen to reveal to us. Our knowledge is still so limited. Anyway, I think this talk is definitely worth a watch. http://www.ted.com/talks/lesley_hazleton_the_doubt_essential_to_faith

    I'm curious - do the members in your area talk much about this? What do they say?

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    1. This sounds great, I hope to listen to it tonight.

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    2. Joelle, I posted a bit of this later but this is directly to your comment: that She wasn’t excommunicated for asking questions. (Read the letter she received directly from her Bishop informing her of her excommunication) Our entire religion is built on Joseph Smith asking a hard question. However, when Elder Oakes' talk last conference addressed her question, she refused to accept it. Where she went wrong is demanding that the church change. . She went from asking a question, to demanding the church change and convincing other members that she knows more than the Prophet of God. Sometimes God’s answer is no. We won’t always understand everything perfectly in this life, and I think that’s how God intends it. What helps me the most is to remember that Christ leads this church, and he won’t allow his leaders to lead us astray. Even though it’s hard, sometimes it’s a leap of faith. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

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    3. I understand that, and I actually wasn't really thinking about this particular situation but more expressing a general frustration that I've been feeling. In truth I disagree with the actions that she took but have no problem with her having an opinion. I do however feel that while we say the culture of questioning that we praise Joseph Smith for is alive in well, in my experience I don't think it is. Non-members are applauded for their bravery in questioning their beliefs and then finding the truth in the Gospel, but I personally don't feel like my questions are always welcome in Church meetings. I've been shut down or waved off before. Sometimes I feel it has to do with my age (I'm under 30). In private conversations people are more willing to be open about their true feelings but I don't see that in Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine. Now I serve in the Young Women and try very hard to be honest about how I don't have it all figured out yet and that it's ok to be unsure but to always be searching. That's why it's so important to stay close to the Spirit.

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    4. Joelle - I wonder if that is because there is great fear for simply saying "I don't know". I wonder if a lot of people want to have every answer and look as though they 'prepared enough' for the lesson. I routinely say I don't know when teaching, but, like you, realize that's a minority.

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    5. Joelle, thank you. I resonated with your original comment. Also, I know every single Mormon has their own unique experiences, but I can say that in my own experiences with church culture, it is rather taboo to ask hard questions in church. This saddens me. I know people who have tried to say things in Sunday school that maybe are of a questioning nature or they perhaps have a unique perspective to share - and even in Brooklyn, where the culture is pretty open, people often report that they were shaking after sharing their remark because doing something like that typically just isn't the norm. Perhaps recently, in the internet age where there is so much information, people are getting braver while commenting or questioning in church.

      Also, to answer Joelle's question - in Brooklyn, people quite regularly discussed church issues. We really did have quite an open minded community there. Here in Ecuador, we haven't socialized as much yet with the church community and we haven't heard much chatter about anything.

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  4. Honestly? I hate that she has stolen, in a sense, what it means to be a Mormon feminist. I am one and because I do not share her objectives and goals, I fear the climate for discussion on equality in the culture will cease. And that is what has me heartsick.

    Instead, I plan on continuing MY changes from within and helping the dialog away from OW as much as I can. And certainly, will pray that she finds her way. Because we need strong, righteous women. So very much.

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    1. Oh. And? I really hate that people honestly believe this has all happened due to honest dialog and asking questions. It paints the situation in untruth that will do damage.

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    2. I can understand where you're coming from. There have been other presentations of a feminist argument that I thought much more effective than Kate's, and might be more conducive to deeper and more meaningful solutions.

      That being said, I still respect that there are as many opinions as there are people.

      As for the healing aspect of your comment - "continuing MY changes from within" - I do think that is what is important. I think sometimes the best stuff that happens in any church has little to do with what you'll read about in the newspapers or hear from a press room.....it is those who take it upon themselves to lift up those who are around them, to serve where they are, to make a difference with the people immediately around them, in quiet ways that most will probably never hear about.

      Mara and I were reminded of that this sunday, as we carried on a discussion with two women after I taught in Sunday school. Some of the questions I had raised resonated deeply with them, and they wanted to talk more about the individual healing that happens. It was a beautiful moment.

      I think we each need to learn how to stop identifying ourselves so much with a side of the argument, or an organization, and we need to do a better job of the inner healing that each soul is only capable of carrying out for themselves, but when it has been carried out, they can be that much more effective at helping others through the same process.

      For me, healing truly is and will be found in service and love to our fellow brothers and sisters, whether we agree with them or not, whether they are part of our particular faith group or not.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, and thanks for discussing how you intend to pursue healing.

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    3. I feel labels, in general, hurt more than help. I am more than a sum of my labels and which I choose to show at any given moment is only a partial picture. I'm a wife, mother of an only, democrat, Mormon, feminist, writer, journalist, activist, political junkie, lover of cheesecake, introvert, slightly anti-social...but even that? Is such a small part of the whole. I completely agree that being truly kind and charitable to all, above all else, is what it's all about. I've been studying about shame and mindfulness and living wholly a lot lately. And some of the best examples don't associate with any sort of label. I've found that interesting.

      But then, I also wonder if we get trapped in these ideals and these cultures we make for ourselves and we do less than we could because of them. "I didn't help because they didn't ask. Or they looked like they would abuse the help. Or they would ______". We are scared to truly dig deep and be the best versions of ourselves for so many reasons, but is it mostly because we are frightened about how this reflects on our labels?

      I have enormous compassion to those who are hurting through this, right now. I found myself along their line many times and ultimately decided association wasn't for me, for many reasons. But even with all of this said, I've had moments where I didn't want to look "too compassionate" for fear. And that is as wrong as anything in this. God is still compassionate for his children who are hurting. And that is the greatest example there is of being mindful and not shaming anyone who is on a different point in their progression.

      (huh...apparently I had more to say than I thought!)

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    4. I'm glad you had a lot to share. I think your insights on the matter reflect the kind of struggle many people have.

      And I too have noticed the same thing regarding all of my studies. It seems the key to healing and to love is to quit defining ourselves and others by labels at all. That's a very simple phrase, but extremely complicated to do. But the work to do so must begin at some time. Better to start now, better to stop defining myself and others in a way that increases "separateness and otherness".

      I have a post I've been working on for sometime along these lines, and hope to put it up in the next week or so.

      Thanks again for sharing your reflections as you struggle to understand how to proceed, how to be compassionate, how to make personal and congregational progress.

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  5. I am Methodist and the United Methodist Church in the U.S. has suffered similar public controversy this past year as several clergy men and women have stood church trial and even been defrocked by the church authorities for performing gay and lesbian marriages or professing they are homosexual themselves, both of which are against church law as it currently stands. Now there is even talk of schism, which I find incredibly painful to contemplate. In these moments, I grieve for all the people involved, but I mostly grieve for the injury these controversies do to the public witness of the Church universal. In an age where religion and faith in God is more and more frequently dismissed as an antiquated fantasy, I worry about the damage we do to our image as believers when we cannot even agree to disagree. I think, as stated above, the best any of us can do is focus on our personal witness and seek to understand before we are understood. That is my fervent prayer, at the least.

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    1. Amanda - thank you for this! And I couldn't agree with you more - that we need to focus on our own personal witness. My life transformed when I started my own spiritual path in my own personal way. My path often doesn't look like others' paths - or even look like those in my own church community. And my connection to God didn't come to me in the ways recommended by my church. But it doesn't matter - because I own it. I'm responsible for my own spirituality no matter what happens in life or in institutions. And that is hugely empowering.

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  6. Absolutely shocked by this post. Though you are open and willing to engage in conversation, the conversation is absurd. Equality for all humans. I thought this blog was about love...I was absolutely wrong.

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    1. Help me understand. I really am interested. By what you wrote, I don't quite know how this post made you determine this blog is not about love.

      I do hope you will enlighten me. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding, or perhaps what we've said somehow truly offended you. I hope not, and I look forward to hearing from you again so that I can understand.

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    2. Staci, I'm inclined to agree.

      Love all - and I don't think love draws lines and boundaries. It seems whilst Mara and Danny would love the two mentioned, and of that I have no doubt, it does concern me that love isn't equality, or even close.

      Personally, within my faith (Anglicanism) there's a small resolute community, my church and others, that are at opposition to the diocese on things such as gays. I don't think any Christian faith is 100% rock solid 'cause it says in the bible' - so much of what is in the bible, that I am reading cover to cover, is no longer true, and utterly barbaric. The parts that outline women's roles (or gays) come from times of slavery and utter brutality, the season of warm (Spring incidentally). I continue to read and KNOW we can't literally take it all on, and we don't (if anyone does, the Orthodox Jewish are the best examples I know of with bible literalism). I think the US, who came from civil war, on slavery and rights of blacks, thinks that 'cause the bible says ' ie 'it's what God wants' are greatly mislead, just as those who opposed the abolition of slavery.

      I think the faith communities shouldn't be a club they can 'boot people out of'. People can become Christians (and I assume Mormans), but I don't think there is any place for a human to play judge and jury on who can be in their faith grouping. You can set position descriptions, and people who don't meet those, sure, they aren't right for a job. But I believe deep in my heart that faith isn't about being 'accepted' or 'rejected' by the 'bosses', and Mormanism seems to demonstrate this.

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    3. Sarah, if I understand you correctly, than I think you'd find there is much we agree upon. Mara and I are advocating for less of the "Judge and Jury" mentality, and less of the need to be accepted or rejected by universally fallible human beings.

      It is because I identify strongly with the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount that describe just what kind of love we really should be able to have and develop for other human beings that these kind of actions make me sad. It's been about 20 years since the church has seen this kind of action taken against scholars or people who publicly disagree with a stated church position. That was a sad time for many back in those days, but many were beginning to think those days were behind us. That this kind of disciplinary action has reared its head again against those who think differently is concerning to many, myself included.

      It does not resonate with how I've come to understand God. I respect that others feel differently. I don't wish to argue with them, nor to prove my points. One oft repeated statement in our church is "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." I truly believe that. And it grieves me that people get asked to leave that worship differently.

      Perhaps it looks as though we said something different than that, or perhaps I've not properly understood yours or Staci's objection to the post, and you understood perfectly what I've said and still disagree strongly.

      Either way, I truly appreciate you sharing what you did. I love that you are engaged in discovering what it means to truly love your fellow man as yourself. I seek to do the same.

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    4. Danny,

      Thank you for your reply to Staci and SarahN. I can't presume to speak for either of them, but I too was troubled by this post and wanted to explain it from my perspective at least.

      Let me start by saying a I have a lot of respect for the message you and Mara are putting out on this blog. I am a deeply spiritual humanist (who has participated in a number of communities of faith) and I find great value in your writing. I found it very heartening when you said that you valued people with opinions, welcomed diversity, and wished there were a place for Kate and John. <3 That speaks to the love that this blog is founded upon.

      But then later you stated that you strongly disagreed with many of their views. I guess that made me want to ask you to clarify... what do you disagree with? I wouldn't dream of putting words in your mouth, but my guess was that meant you don't believe women should have access to the priesthood and that gay men and women should not be embraced by the church.

      It's wonderful that you welcome Kate and John's questions and thoughts about this, and feel enriched by dialogue with those whose views differ from your own. There's your love coming through. But as SarahN pointed out, it seems that love is not the same thing as equality for you. That made me wonder... what exactly do you mean by love? Perhaps this is just my personal perspective, and I'm sure many readers will disagree with me, but I find exclusion based on gender or sexual orientation (or any other aspects of humanity) to be hateful and destructive, not loving.

      I know you said that you don't wish to see Kate and John excommunicated and that you welcome their voices. But some of your comments hint that perhaps you feel their actions and movements -- in support of women and gay people being free to participate equally and fully in their chosen faith -- should not come to fruition. Again, I realize I may be making incorrect assumptions here based on your comments.

      I realize you've asked your readers not to ponder who is right and who is wrong here, and to focus the discussion on healing. But I think you've created a situation where your own followers need some healing, too. We need to understand where you are coming from. Please tell us more about what you mean by love, and why that love would exclude women from the priesthood and gay people from participating with authenticity in their church. If I've misunderstood you, I apologize. I'm just seeking clarity here and wanting to find the love again.

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    5. Hi there Staci/Sarah/Noelle– sorry for not chiming in sooner. We’ve been out and about all day.

      But, I just have to say – thanks for the discussion –and… I agree with your sentiments!! I’m all for equality!!

      I wish we could all sit down and chat as so much gets miscommunicated in sound bytes. But I’m still grateful for this space where we can at least share with each other as best we can.

      Regarding gays in the Mormon church, I absolutely wish they had access to the FULL experience at church and in the temple– with a partner. Currently their participation is very limited, which is heart breaking to me.

      Regarding gender in the church – I feel we desperately need more equality!! I used to be one of those women who always felt equal in the church. But recently I had some personal experiences when I least expected them and it opened my eyes big to the fact that the roles of women and men are very far from being equal. It was not a fun experience – at all. (And I also felt bad for not being able to fully understand what other women were talking about until I experienced it myself.) And yet the structure is set up for that type of thing to easily happen. While there are women leaders in the church – their ideas, inspiration, revelation, and the entire women’s organization are subject to the men at every level of the church. I just think things could be organized better than that to prevent those painful gender imbalances from happening.

      But equality is also tricky to me personally. The thing is, the Mormon church has an incredibly robust women’s society. They have their own female leadership within it. And for one hour of church, the women and the men meet separately in their separate organizations. Some may feel that equality would mean everyone meet together and has the same leaders. I personally LOVE the women’s organization! I would love to see it continue. But I would love to see the leadership there able to govern themselves and truly lead the women instead of being directed by the men. (Currently this governing is subject to whomever the male Bishop is at the time.) I would also love to see more female leaders join with the men to serve together in large callings presiding over the church at every level and speaking to the masses at events. It would just be amazing to hear from and learn from more of the amazing women within the church. Currently the visible female leadership is very small.

      And as for Priesthood, I’ve actually always felt funny about having the Priesthood because to me, a priest is a man. So I prefer Priestesshood. And currently the doctrine is set up for every woman and man to receive the Priesthood in the temple (in the endowment), so I personally don’t see why women wouldn’t just have the it outside the temple, too. I love that women in the early church used to be ordained to perform an ordinance with mothers about to give birth. I love that women used to perform healing ordinances for the sick. What a beautiful thing it would be to reinstitute some of these traditions and allow women to also exercise some of that ministering, perhaps accessing some power from our Heavenly Mother. So again, equality is tricky. Because I love many of the differences between men and women – I love that we have both a Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father. And it seems to me that we could all minister, administer and lead in their honor as equivalents.

      Of course this would all take some jumbling to the Mormon doctrine. But not too much, actually, in a lot of cases.

      It will be interesting to see how the church evolves over time. I am not holding my breath as changes traditionally take a long, long time in institutions like the Mormon church. But recently they’ve made a few baby step changes. Every little bit matters.

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    6. Mara,
      I love this response. I feel similarly. My oldest just turned twelve and was ordained to the Priesthood. It's had such a positive impact in his life. I can tell it's a special space for him, where he feels connected to other boys and men. I don't want to take that away from him. But I have daughters, and I worry about raising them in a world where they are treated equally, everywhere but on Sunday. It's complicated! I like your vision of a stronger, more autonomous Relief Society.

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    7. This whole conversation is so so off track. If a person truly understood the temple and the gospel and even how church disciplinary works this would not be so upsetting to everyone. First... Church disciplinary isn't the bishop or stake president excommunicating the member... If you truly knew how it worked you know that it's 100% the Lords decision given through revelation to the bishop or stake president. This whole excommunication deal is not a matter of culture at all. And if you know the story of alma the younger in the Book of Mormon you understand that leading others away from the church doctrine and what it teaches us a huge no no.

      Also.... I don't want to get too much into this but the comment of wishing gays could have full access to our church including temples is soooooo disappointing to hear from someone that I thought had a pretty good head on their shoulders. I have really enjoyed this blog and think you have quite a bit of good to say but that was so disappointing to hear from someone who has a big voice in this blogging world.

      Hoping for the church to change is quite a thing to say.... If you listened to conference they clearly stated that God does not change his laws according to current "trends" in the world. And if he does decide that we are ready for something it will be on HIS time. Not some lady's who decided she wanted the priesthood. I just find the whole thing ridiculous. And sad that members of the church are being so blind as to what the solid truths are.

      I know you didn't want this to be a whole argument over what happened.... But you opened up a big can of worms with this one. I really normally enjoy this blog and advice it gives but this was way too much. And very disappointing.

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    8. Morgan, thank you for speaking truth! It is so sad that so many people are wanting the church to change to the views of the world. I agree with what you said about people who are gay. If you truly understand the plan of salvation (the entire purpose of us coming to earth), the you understand that two people of the same gender can never be married in the temple. It completely defeats God's eternal plan for his children. I don't have anything but love for people who are gay, but that doesn't mean that they should participate in temple marriage. We need to love them, but that doesn't mean that we accept their actions as correct. A great blog on this (and the Ordain women movement) is http://www.gregtrimble.com/quit-acting-like-christ-was-accepting-of-everyone-and-everything/ . Yes we are commanded to love everyone as Christ did, but Christ didn't approve of sin. You love the sinner and hate the sin. It's hard to find the line of where that is, but it's possible.

      Another great read is this: http://middleagedmormonman.com/home/2014/06/the-sound-of-prophecy-being-fulfilled.html . It talks about how this was prophesied in the BoM. Issues are happening that are diving church members and families. I firmly believe that we're in the final days and that the Lord is separating the wheat from the tares. What I know is this: even if you don't understand everything right now, stay on the side of the Lord. As long as you are faithful and obedient to him and his commandments, even if you have doubts, you will be blessed. We already know that the Lord is going to win this battle, it's been predetermined. Why would you ever want to play for the other team?

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    9. For what it's worth, I don't hold the same view that Mara does on gays and the temple. I share a belief that Mormon doctrine says there is something truly eternal about families, and that it is in the joining of male and female that all powers of creation and stewardship come together. It is certainly more nuanced than that, there is so much we don't understand or comprehend, and I look forward to all that we will learn, in this life and the next.

      But, I'm glad Mara feels comfortable speaking up for what is important to her.

      I have thought a considerable amount about the subject, and I think there is much that we don't understand about homosexuality or God's opinion of it. I don't think it is as cut and dry as some people make it. My close experience with some dear friends who are gay has been very instructive to me, and I've learned to withhold judgement.

      Also, though I support the church's right to define it's doctrine and uphold its standards on marriage, I don't think that my religious beliefs have the right to restrict another person from worshipping who, what, how, and where they may. On the political side of things, I am a little more libertarian, and support legal rights of homosexual couples (even the church has started doing that to some degree).

      I kind of wish the church would get out of the civil marriage business altogether, and simply offer ONLY their sealing/religious marriage and require you to get your civil marriage from the government (this is how it is done in many parts of the world where this is the law). Let the government handle the legal side of relationship contracts, and let the church handle the religious sacraments.

      Though Mara and I feel differently about the issue, we still get along quite perfectly about it. I realize to some more conservative people, she may sound too permissive with the church doctrine. For her, it has been more important to err on the side of Love and let God take care of the rest. I also realize there are some who will think that my views are bigoted in some way and exclusionary.

      For either person who would judge us so, I would ask your patience. You've only heard soundbites of what is a very sensitive manner. Were it possible, I would love to chat with people personally, and have all the time in the world to hear each other's hearts on the matter. Some things cannot simply be reduced to blog posts or comments.

      I will say this....Carol Lynn Pearsons' "Circle the Wagons" was one of the most important books I've read on the subject of homosexuality and the LDS church. It opened my eyes to how my previous rhetoric was harmful to people who deserved my sympathy, compassion, love, support, etc. It broke in pieces many of the things I had once thought about homosexuality, and I wept as I read one heartbreaking story after another (and some that were very uplifting), and I became determined to move with greater compassion for my fellow brothers and sisters who are gay.

      I'm leaving out much of my thoughts on this. I'm sure it will be criticized in some way. In which case, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I hope you will have forgiveness and compassion upon me. I am ever seeking how to love better, how to reach out better. I do not claim to understand all things, I am ALWAYS open to being persuaded. As the founder of the religion we are discussing said:

      ‘If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven.....If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude of sins.’

      I truly hope that we can all cast that cloak of charity over each other. And mean it. Be compassionate about differences. Do not let them divide you. Do not let them cause you to cast out someone who in reality needs your love, support, and help.

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    10. So great, Danny. You guys do an amazing job at talking about a very personal, sensitive subject.

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  7. It's not my religion that disappoints me, it's people. It's expected and ok because I recognize my reflection from this glass house of mine. The thought prevailing in my mind right now is that I believe deep in my heart that the loving God I know cares infinitely more about how we treat each other than whether we are on one side or the other of this social agenda. That is the true test of our discipleship.

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    1. Anon - you make a great point. I agree about the difference between religion on people, and Mara and I discussed changing things a little in the wording....but doing so would have made for a longer post and we were trying to keep this one brief.

      And yes, Love One Another is truly the great commandment. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Here's some hope from another denomination. Frank Schaefer was "defrocked" of his ordination in the United Methodist Church this past December because he lived out his call to the Gospel by marrying his gay son. Just today, his appeal case was won and his clergy credentials were returned to him. God is still speaking....even in the midst of disappointment.

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    1. "God is still speaking....even in the midst of disappointment. " The uphill battle of my life! Thanks for the reminder!

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    2. Certainly Frank Schaefer had every right to follow his own conscience and desires by marrying his son, but the Methodist Church also has the right to defrock him for doing so. Forcing any organization, religious or otherwise, to accept principles against its conscience or fundamental principles is a slippery slope. We should see this for what it is-- a loss of freedom. Frank has the freedom to start a new congregation based on his ideals and require anyone who joins to agree to certain standards, but this ruling has just taken the Methodist Church's freedom to practice one of its fundamental standards. I'm all for everyone living the life they choose, but not for forcing anyone else to do the same.

      As part of the larger discussion here, I recently read an article about retention among the different religions. Judaism and Mormonism are the highest because of a couple practices: religious observance in the home, and a freedom to explore and question. To embrace Mormonism is to embrace a never-ending search for truth and enlightenment.

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  9. Interesting post. I think that if your religion disappoints you then you have to consider why. Are you disappointed because your line of thinking is not in line with God's way of thinking or is it that whatever/whomever has offended is wrong? I find that when I get upset about something doctrine based I have to reevaluate why I think the way I do and consider if what I believe or feel is truly in line with what God has taught.

    In a religion that believes God speaks directly to His leaders one would have to accept counsel from his or her leaders as counsel from God. Sometimes that is a hard pill to swallow. Especially when we don't know all the details.

    Healing then I think comes from studying and understanding true doctrine. If we seek truth humbly, we can be healed by it. I believe that is one aspect of the Atonement.

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    1. I think you made some good points and things worth considering no matter what church someone belongs to....but I especially identify with your last paragraph. This has been true for me, I'm glad it has been true for you as well.

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  10. Conversation among equals who are truly open to one another's different voices and beliefs is a beautiful thing and a good start. But offering to listen without offering any possibility of change is nothing more than lip service.

    Sure, the Church (of any denomination) has rules. Nations have rules, too. And sometimes those rules are wrong. Making important changes that acknowledge the innate rights of human beings -- freeing slaves, giving women the vote, passing marriage equality laws -- is part of our social evolution. Sometimes institutions have to change (or fall) to allow for this evolution.

    People used to cite the Bible in defense of slavery.

    Those of you posting here who are saying the Church (whether the Mormon Church or the Methodist Church) has a right to deprive individuals of their civil rights because God (the Clergy) said so, are perhaps forgetting this.

    And back to the idea of patting the Church on the back for encouraging intellectual inquiry... I really don't see what the point is, when there's zero possibility of that inquiry going anywhere. It's play-acting. It's patronizing and demeaning to those who are brave enough to ask the tough questions. So what if the Church of Latter Day Saints encourages women to think for themselves... as long as they don't say anything that calls doctrine into question? Why does the Church get congratulated for that?

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    1. I liked your comment a lot. Many say, "if you don't like the rules - leave. go start another church." Ha. Certainly groups have the power to institute their own rules and people can leave if they don't like them. But it doesn't mean all the rules are humane or the right thing to do. Thank you!

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    2. So, as a member of the LDS religion which believes that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and gives direct revelation to the Prophet, are you saying that God's rules aren't the right thing to do?

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    3. Hi Anon - sorry for the delay in my response. I guess it's hard for me to say that in all things, Jesus Christ is the head of the church. I know that is a very sensitive issue and a major, major belief of many Mormons. But to me, I don't think that God would control any leader or person in that way. Each person is human and has all the free agency in the world to do what they would like. And many leaders have done some terrible, terrible things in the history of the Mormon church and even currently, leaders often do some terrible things. I forgive them for that. They are all humans and I believe that current and past leaders are most likely making decisions as best they can, based on their own life experiences. But I do not believe that Jesus Christ is actually telling them what to do in all cases. I believe they are doing their best to align with Christ's teachings, but they are not always perfect at doing that, as history has taught us. Though, of course, they often DO align with those teachings completely and it is such a beautiful thing. I'm so thankful for all of their efforts.

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  11. While I don’t have the same struggles as anyone in the Ordain Women Movement, I definitely sympathize. It’s a sad day when anyone is excommunicated. One thing everyone needs to remember is that excommunication is a merciful thing. If someone is actively going against their covenants, it is merciful to release them from those covenants. Christ will judge one much less harshly if they are not bound by covenants they’ve made than someone who still has those covenants. We also need to remember that she’s not being excommunicated for asking questions. Our entire religion is built on Joseph Smith asking a hard question. However, when Elder Oakes’ talk last conference addressed her question, she refused to accept it. Where she went wrong is demanding that the church change. She went from asking a question, to demanding the church change and convincing other members that she knows more than the Prophet of God. Sometimes God’s answer is no. We won’t always understand everything perfectly in this life, and I think that’s how God intends it. What helps me the most is to remember that Christ leads this church, and he won’t allow his leaders to lead us astray. Even though it’s hard, sometimes it’s a leap of faith. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Even if you don’t understand everything now, and even though it’s hard, it’s faith in the Lord and his direction through living prophets that will bring healing. The church needs everyone, and they’re not trying to exclude anyone. Our church wouldn’t be what it is today if everyone was the same. Everyone has a unique viewpoint and perspective, and everyone is incredibly loved by our Heavenly Father. Ask questions, but do it the way the Lord has outlined. Read your scriptures, read conference talks, fast, pray, and counsel with your local leaders. The Lord will not leave you comfortless. My prayers are with you and with anyone else who is struggling at this time.


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    1. I agree. First and foremost, it's a sad day when somebody...anybody is excommunicated, regardless of their opinions/questions. I'm glad you explained what excommunication really is - releasing one of the covenants they have made. By so doing, healing can actually begin because we know God's sole purpose is to bring His children back to live with Him.

      I don't know anyone who hasn't gone through a trial of faith, evaluating the very beliefs that have made them the people they are today...myself included. I thought at one point it was my religion that had disappointed me, but it wasn't the religion, it was the culture. I had to learn to separate the commandments of God, His teachings and participating in the ordinances from the behavior of the members. I am nowhere near perfect and am sure have offended others in my congregation. So I learned to be kinder, more forgiving and loving because that's exactly what I hope people give me. I think what many people are discussing here are the harsh words that are being tossed around from all sides. Once again, that's the culture, it isn't the LDS Church. We need to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort because that's what the Savior has asked of us...it is what He would do. God loves everyone the same, but is bound by justice. Thankfully, he provided a Savior to aid in the healing process.

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    2. Hi Mer - I know this wasn't a question in your comment, but I thought it was worth clarifying that when I say religion, I mean the institution itself (the structure, the LDS church, policies, culture.) Though I may have used that word wrongly. On the other hand, I consider the Gospel - the actual teachings of Christ - to be different than the institution. And I feel lucky to say that the Gospel teachings - once I learned how beautiful they were - have never failed me. I know the way I see it might be confusing to some. I know many see the Gospel and the church as the same thing.

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  12. What I know is this: Christ is the head of this church. I have absolute faith in Him and his chosen Apostles if His Church. I know I disappoint Christ sometimes, but He NEVER disappoints me. He knows everything, and we barely have a glimpse of His knowledge. Our goal in this life is to become like God. It's silly that as humans we think we know how to do that better than God himself.

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    1. Though I certainly appreciate your faith and what you've shared, we've truly tried not to make it about what is right or wrong in this case. I happen to believe people on both sides of this issue acted in the best way they knew how. Both sides are going to be flawed in their approach. And both sides are going to have reflections of the Divine in their actions.

      I'd rather not argue about who was right or who was wrong, and instead focus on the fact that many people are hurting (on both sides), and ask again the question "What do you do to heal when your religion itself, or the people in it, disappoint you?"

      It will be a fact of life that religions and the people who lead will disappoint. Whether because someone acted wrongly, or because the person who is disappointed is unable to accept what is right.

      I'm not as interested in stating who is right or wrong (though there certainly is place for that...it's just that often it results in all sorts of defensiveness and arguing...just look at facebook). There are people of all faiths that read this blog, and there are people who feel very differently on a whole range of issues.

      So the question remains, if a person in your faith offends you, if a position your religion takes disappoints you, if an action that is correct is carried out in a manner that reduces its potential power to actually help....what do you do to heal? What helps you reach a place of compassion for all involved on all sides of an issue? What helps you live up to that great commandment to love God and love your neighbor?

      How will you encourage healthy dialogue, how will you be a bridge builder if someone else is insistent on tearing them down?

      How will you love even those who just might offend you or with whom you disagree, whether it be leaders or fellow parishioners?

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    2. I think who's right or wrong is a very important aspect of the discussion. If you believe that the church is led by Jesus Christ and the Prophet speaks for him, than what the Prophet or the Apostles says is Jesus Christ's will. Once you realize that, then you can begin to heal. If you believe that the church is run by men, who are obviously fallible, than yes, they can be wrong. But if Christ is leading this church, he is right. And Christ's Atonement is the only way to achieve true healing, from anything in this life. Once you apply the Atonement and try to understand Christ's will, then you will heal from what you're struggling with. I think we also need to remember that no one is saying not to love Kate or anyone who believes as she does. It's important to love everyone, no matter what they believe; but you can show love and compassion for someone while not supporting their actions.

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    3. Anon - I see that you're trying to talk about doctrinal issues, and though I respect that you feel the way you do, we're trying to have a conversation about healing in general. We have way more readers who are not mormon than who are, and I'd love it if comments focused on something that applies to all, and the process people go through when someone at their church, or in a position of leadership, or the church itself seems to cause pain. If possible, I think it would be best to leave discussions of Mormon Doctrine aspects to other blogs that cater to that.

      Thanks nonetheless for expressing how you approach it doctrinally.

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  13. Thank you Anonymous 9:38pm- I completely agree with your comment. I have had so many feelings during this whole thing- mostly I just feel somewhat sad. Sad that both sides here suffer and sad because I see how good Satan is at what he does- stirring up the hearts of people. The horrible and rude things people say both in and out of the LDS church, both on Kelly's side or on the side of those who processed her excommunication. I am sad for Kate Kelly- I truly am, but I also feel very sad for her leaders who made this decision. How they have been put in the public eye and criticized for their decision. I am sad when people say things like 'their religion has disappointed them' especially when it's within the church I believe to be the one true church. The church I believe to be led by God! Not men, not politics- but God himself. Where are people's faith in Him and in His promise to never lead the church astray? I am sure that this decision to excommunicate Kelly was not an easy one to make. I guarantee that those men who made the decision spent hours praying over what to do. I don't think they made this decision on a whim. I believe that they humbly and sincerely sot the Lords will in this. They made this decision with heavy hearts and with a pure desire to follow prompting from the spirit. It is sad to me that Kelly has made such a public scene of all of this and by doing so she mocks the very power she so earnestly desires to have. Sometimes the Lord says no. I choose to have faith in Heavenly Father's plan, and faith in those leaders He calls to handle these situations. I have peace in my religion because I know it is guided by God himself.

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    1. Beautifully written Meagan, thank you.

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  14. I struggle with this, in that I feel like the question has been answered over and over again and if it does not satisfy the person asking, than that is the crux of what we call a "crisis of faith". Can you continue to participate happily in the religion and table these temporal questions and concerns? If you cannot, it comes to a place where you should maybe look for a religion that does fulfill those desires of your heart. I love dialogue, questioning, philosophizing...but at some point it seems to be apparent that an agenda is afoot and then I question this new social construct that we have developed at every level of our society - demanding that the world fit our paradigm rather than figuring where in the world our paradigm may fit. Or heaven help us - standing in the fearful place that we call faith - the place where temporal and eternal understanding ebb and flow, a place of disquiet, unease. I stood there (and still do on many issues) and decided I was comfortable with the feeling - and if I had not been able to stand in that place...I would have moved on, probably to Buddhism ;)

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  15. For myself, I find the times I am disappointed most are when others, or even myself, are not living out the teachings of scripture. When instead of loving God and then loving our neighbors, we are self-focused which leads to all kinds of harm to ourselves and others. This is when bad things happen. It is a toxic way to live and does so much damage. It is only as we forget ourselves, we can focus on what is truly important-loving the way God prescribes. Because we are human, we won't do this perfectly, so there will always be disappointment. As a Protestant Christian, man or woman's failings (including my own), make me even more aware of and thankful for a perfect Savior who, through a life of humble sacrifice, has made a way for imperfect people to be united with God. So for me, yeah, people fail us, religious people fail us, but God never will. There is a lot of comfort there.

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    1. "So for me, yeah, people fail us, religious people fail us, but God never will. There is a lot of comfort there."

      Yes! This has been a source of healing for me as well. Learning to concern myself less with needing a person or an institution to fit a certain mold of "proper behavior"...whatever that might be, and instead learning how to put that trust in God. Doing so is exactly what allows me to move beyond whatever differences that exist, and into the state of Love that brings with it a totally different type of power, and is far preferred to worrying about protecting my position, my institution, my beliefs, or whatever else.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing.

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  16. Hello, Danny and Mara. Thank you for being so open in this post and sharing it with us. It takes a lot of courage to do that and I'm grateful because it's given me a great deal to think about.

    I have always been fascinated by the Mormon church (mostly because of its ties to American history-- I'm a history major in college). I am, however, a believing and practicing Catholic. As a teenager I found a lot of things wrong with my Church, and thought that its flaws were too great... it was going down the wrong path. The pedophilia issues are disgusting and a real detriment to the Church's image. I've felt anger towards Catholics like my own father and grandfather, who let their faith cloud their everyday decisions and attitudes toward different people. Leaders of youth at my home parish sometimes said very inflammatory, inappropriate things that hurt my friends, in turn hurting me. Though I continued to go through the motions, it wasn't until about a year or so ago that I began to feel hope and acceptance for the flaws in my Church, and I found inner healing to smooth away the marks anger had left on me. No religion is perfect-- I think nearly everyone can agree on that. But the incredible amounts of love and respect I have seen from members of the Catholic faith continue to astound me. I really believe God has been trying to show me that love is the way, not hate or resentment. One of the most wonderful things about my Church is how inclusive it is. All churches and cathedrals are open to everyone. I enjoy spending time at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, near where I live. Going in during the day is such a wonderful experience because I see so much variety inside. There are Catholics praying, tourists admiring the marble and stained glass, priests and deacons busily maintaining the space, and homeless people stopping by to get some relief from the hot sun. Nobody is questioned or checked to see if they're "good enough" because we are all good enough in the eyes of God. The cathedral means different things to different people, and I like that.

    It's almost a cliche for Catholics to say at this point... but I LOVE POPE FRANCIS. The College of Cardinals really were directed by God when they chose him to be the new spiritual leader of the Church. He is just so... good. He's a good man. He loves people unconditionally, works so hard for peace and conflict resolution, and respects all, regardless of their faith choices. That is inspiring to me. I was fortunate enough to attend Mass with the Pope in St. Peter's Square last fall when I studied abroad. Looking around at the thousands of people standing there with me brought me to tears. We came from different parts of the world (the people on one side of me were from Brazil, the other side from Germany), speak different languages, and have different life experiences... but we prayed the rosary in Latin, a common spiritual language. And when Pope Francis came outside, we all beamed with the same smiles. I could go on and on, but I digress. My point is that I've felt love, great love, from Catholics and from being Catholic. I sympathize with those who are wronged by their faith, who are told they are no longer good enough. I pray that someday all people will find a faith home that is welcoming and inclusive to ALL, thus better enabling them to find God even in dark times.

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    1. Laura, that was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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    2. Thanks so much for sharing that perspective, like Mer I'm very glad you did. And though it was no surprise that hope, acceptance, and love were a powerful factor in the process you underwent to feel peace and joy with something you still see as flawed....I appreciate you describing exactly how that kind of realization dawned on you and the change it brought.

      This is a kind of healing I think many can relate to, and I'm glad you put words and examples to it! Thanks for that openness!

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    3. Laura, loved every word. Thank you for your post. And despite their flaws, thank you to all the religions of the world for providing beautiful experiences. I, too, have had many, many heartfelt experiences - more than I can count. I'm so grateful for that. Also, I LOVE POPE FRANCIS, TOO!! What a wonderful man he is.

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  17. From what I have read and understood about Kate's case is that there are no problems with her having questions, questions are good. The problem is more how she is asking these questions. She is bringing so much negative attention to the church, think of the harm she has caused in that aspect.

    Questions are good, but not in this manner. What she is doing is contrary to our job of sharing and spreading the Gospel. She is hindering the work not hastening it, on what I believe to be a non issue, at least for most people who are LDS.

    I believe in equality, I am a femininst by nature but I think asking that women hold the priesthood is not a matter of equality. We just have different jobs. Can a man ask to make babies in their bodies, and then actually make them? No. It's just not a thing, men don't create life in their non existent wombs. Just like women holding the priesthood. It's just not a thing. It doesn't even need to be a thing that attention is brought to where it otherwise wouldn't have been. Without women we could not have the priesthood just like without men, women could not make babies in their wombs.

    She also has repeatedly chosen to ignore many requests from leaders of the LDS church to change the way she is doing things.

    It's not sad to me that she is being excommunicated, she is openly fighting against the pure doctrine that our church is founded on. She should have walked away if she disliked something that is fundamentally what our church is all about. What is sad is that she has led so many people to believe negative non-issues about the Church that will most likely prohibit them from joining the church and finding the joy and peace that comes from the teachings of the Gospel. She is preventing many people from even giving it a chance.

    I think when you set up a protest, with women from all around the world, against your own church during a very spiritually rich time (conference--the priesthood session), you should perhaps ask why you are in that religion, instead of asking the religion to change for you.Maybe she should have asked herself: " Why am I in this religion if I want to change it the very foundation it is made on?"

    She isn't asking that we change the way we teach primary, or the fact that one organization gets to earn more money for their activities than another. She is asking that the FUNDAMENTALS of the gospel be changed, not only is she asking that she is doing it VERY publicly.

    I am glad that the Church stood up and said enough is enough. They did try to get her to change many times before the excommunication, She just didn't want to try a different avenue. We all know that our church is build on faith in His plan and His way. She was not exercising that in the least.

    If people are curious women are as important to the priesthood and men are in the LDS church. We just hold different roles:
    https://www.lds.org/topics/priesthood/women?lang=eng

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    1. Motherhood for women and priesthood for men are not equivalents. The only thing equal to motherhood is fatherhood and no one should continue to perpetuate that idea as it's simply not true.

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    2. Anonymous @ 7:33 AM Try reading this article, it's very enlightening. http://www.jefferywestover.com/13-lies-from-ordainwomen-org/

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    3. Well done and thanks.

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    4. I'm anonymous from 7:33 am. I'm not sure what me reading Jeffrey westover's article has to do with my comment. I may have misunderstood what the anonymous was trying to explain but it seemed to me she was equating priesthood to motherhood in paragraph 3 and that simply isn't true. That's a very damaging and hurtful theory to continue. I want to also be clear that many of us who feel hurt deeply over Kate Kelly's excommunication don't agree with everything and we don't have to in order to share her grief. I will forever be grateful for men and women in and out of the church who challenge us to think for ourselves, learn, grow, and when we hear new council ( or perhaps old council), to ask God for our own answers. I thank John Dehlin and Kate Kelly as well as others. I think the dialogue that Kate and other feminists have started is crucial and can't be ignored. Again, I don't agree with everything that Kate stood for but I'm glad to know I'm not alone in some of my critiques of the church.

      I appreciate Danny and Mara's words on this topic. There is one of Danny's comments earlier that is so full of love that I'm going to have to copy it down. Although I think these issues are far from over, I do think that's it's time for me to heal and I'm thankful for the positive comments and ideas. Danny, your comment about letting go of fear and being open to new ideas is powerful. This kind of life that you and Mara lead without fear and with so much love and without judgment is calling to me. For years and years I have sought freedom from things that hold me back but didn't know how to get it and I feel quite certain that this is now the answer.

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    5. Thank you, Anon 7:33. You're right -- "mother" and "father" are the appropriate analogies. Priesthood is something else altogether. I've seen it written that men cannot be mothers because they don't have wombs, and in the same way women cannot be priests... because they don't have a... (what? a soul? a calling? permission?). That's faulty logic. And, there are women clergy in many other faiths, and it enriches everybody.

      The idea that biology is destiny is very destructive, as is the notion that women have separate but equal roles in the church. This is akin to the Jim Crow South, where black people were given "separate but equal" entrances, drinking fountains, schools, buses.

      Unfortunately, while many of us see this as a no-brainer civil rights issue (we need to change the hearts and minds of fallible human beings), those who believe in a top-down church governance (the infallible word of God) will not be able to see it that way. Sadly, that makes it difficult to have a conversation about this.

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    6. Thanks, everyone! What I would give to have an evening chat with all of you. Great discussion. And I also think that Priesthood and motherhood are not equivalents.

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    7. And for whatever reason, many women cannot conceive. To forget this is to forget women were put on earth for more than bearing children, and to forget that Christ recognized all kinds as equally deserving of fuffilling lives. To deny women an intellectual and spiritual leadership role based on a false biological premise is not only a logic based problem, it is not loving or compassionate; it is a form of punishment for being a woman who cannot conceive, for being an "aberration".

      Mara & Danny, I appreciate your openness. I hope convention is never a good enough reason to deny all humans equality. Unfortunately hierarchically structured systems are designed to maintain inequality (the implication within the word hierarchical, as you see).

      When I am disappointed, I find solace in doubt, in the form of an old children's game. Telephone. Words and the original intent can only be elusive with every degree of separation. Who is to say god doesn't speak to and through Kate? Are we willing to make that judgment and then discover we are wrong? And why does anyone need a singular truth? Humans are complex, and if we are a reflection of a higher power, then so is s/he.

      As for LDS getting bad publicity from her public questioning, Jesus survived worse.

      As for me, I grew up in and around multiple religions, none of which I practice today. I do value spirituality and am intrigued by Japanese culture and a Japanese's ability to hold all multiple religions in one heart and mind. I do not value the practice of excluding/including a person based on any criteria, especially difference of opinion, faith, etc.

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    8. Motherhood may not truly be analogous to priesthood, but the comparison does bring up some important things to consider. That is, men do not selfishly hold the priesthood or try to keep it from women. It's just that our Creator designed different tasks for each of us.

      Would any woman begrudge her husband if, somehow, God saw fit to have him grow and deliver their baby from his own body? I don't think so. I think a woman would say, "Wow, that's weird. But okay. It's hard, you know. But let's do it." The baby belongs to both of them. A woman would not say no to it or try to prohibit it.

      And neither do men keep the priesthood from women. The blessings belong to the both of them!

      God has not ordained women to bear the priesthood. God has not ordained men to bear children. But either sex would probably be overjoyed to share the responsibilities, I'm sure!

      So in that way, I respect that analogy.

      Also, in response to the original question: What do you do about the disappointment, etc.? What do you do? You DECIDE. You humble yourself and decide what's more important to you. Do you accept that God's law will not always make sense to you and trust to obey it anyway? Or do you make your own resolutions and create your own type of law? You decide if you want the safety and peace.

      Many people have talked about the importance of questioning. I think questioning is good. When you find yourself at the crossroads of faith and disbelief, however, I think that questioning has its limits. How many of you have received your own, personal response about issues like women and the priesthood? Few, if any, I assume. That's because the answer has already been given. Just repeating the question does not give you the answer you desire. God has not told the answer to me, but He has told me through my leaders. There is nothing wrong with trusting that.

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    9. Other religious groups ordain women, so I'm not sure that God has unequivocally answered this question.

      I find solace in the idea that there all-knowing is not a human privilege, and that is why we have so many religions and so many ways of choosing to believe. I'm fine with being uncertain. It tempers me from becoming arrogant and judgmental, and uncertainty allows me to value the scientific method in hand with all other ways of attempting to understand.

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  18. I think its a slippery slope to say on your popular blog that you disagree with leaders of our church who are speaking for God.

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    1. I don't think that's what Danny and Mara are trying to bring out--nowhere in their post or comments have they said they disagree. They are expressing their feelings of sadness for the negativity that has pervaded both sides of this particular event; on the contrary, my understanding is that Danny has made it extremely clear that these kinds of events happen throughout our lives and take many different forms, and has also made his feelings about love, God, and the importance of exercising faith in God during difficulties such as these extremely clear. This is a conversation that needs to happen in a forum that is thoughtful, inclusive, and loving--facebook and other social media venues have just too much of the "I'm right, you're wrong" going on, which only leads to more pain and anger--not good for anyone.

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    2. Thanks Nora, you've expressed quite well how I feel about the matter, I have nothing to add but gratitude for understanding me and Mara so well and giving us the benefit of the doubt on our intentions.

      And anon - I hope you don't read criticism of you into my thanks to Nora. I appreciate your opinion and what you tried to share. But in this case Nora has perhaps done a better job of understanding intent and elaborating on the complexities we're hoping to address.

      Most likely the fault on misunderstanding intent is not yours, but perhaps something about the way that we wrote what we did.

      Religion is such a sensitive discussion, and a lot of times defensiveness and fear can rear its head when it is not necessary. I speak as one who falls guilty of this very trap often, but I'm seeking to do so less and less. To understand what I've done to move on from that, please see my reply to the first comment.

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    3. The tone of your post is sadness that she was excommunicated, am I right? The post is titled "when your religion disappoints you". That to me is a slippery slope, I'm saying it out of nothing but love. Because once you get close enough to the edge you can't stop your self from sliding. You would be bringing other people with you too, because you have a very popular and lovely blog that I truly enjoy and many others do too.
      I'm not sure what you mean by defensiveness and fear. I just believe in the power of satan as much as I believe in anything else. Im just saying be careful because you hold a lot of sway.

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    4. Hi Anon - When I think of slippery slope I guess I think of someone falling and slipping and not being able to stand up. I assume you mean falling spiritually in this case. Thank you for worrying about me, but it turns out that spiritually I am doing awesome and feel very grateful that I can say I am standing on two strong feet! :) I live my spiritual practice every single day and it is such a part of my life. I am constantly in tune with who I want to be and what I want to exude. And I am constantly trying to re-align with God and his vibration and love as I face the difficult situations of life. I have made this such a constant practice that even on days when I am not on my A-game, it doesn't take me too long to get back to where I want to be. You may have a different version of what it means to be spiritually strong and that's ok. I expect every person to have a different view on this - in fact, I celebrate it! I love hearing about how other people live and I love it that we are all so, so very unique.

      Also, I don't ever just assume that our leaders have talked with God. And even if they did, I would still prefer to own my own connection with God and the truths that resonate with me (instead of relying on that of another.) I also feel that God would prefer it that way, too. It feels so much more true and authentic and honest for me to live that way. And it has made me a happy Mormon participating in so many of the good things that a church offers. And it has opened the gates to my own spiritual oneness with God - without any other person or institution in the middle. I wrote another comment about this further, below. As you can see by reading this, Mormons come with viewpoints in all shapes and sizes! And I personally love celebrating that instead of wanting everyone to feel the same. Though the church does draw a line in the sand on some things - and it will be up to everyone to be true to themselves in those situations. But I would hesitate to call out anyone on being on a slippery slope for being true to themselves. I would say that it's quite the opposite.

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  19. Religion & what I do believe & what to believe is something I question a lot. I actually wrote a blog post about it the other day.

    I can't say religion disappoints me, but I will say I have a ton of questions I would like to ask God.

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  20. In Acts 17, the people of Berea were called noble for questioning the teachings of the apostle Paul, who had a B line to God btw (this guy penned a lot of New Testament scripture ;). They were commended for taking what they were told and comparing it against scripture daily. Besides, if a religion is true it will hold up to scrutiny, don't you think? As a Protestant Christian, I find it helpful to know people's objections, both inside and outside the church. But to be fair, our church is structured differently where we view scripture, the bible, as God's final word and authority. Even a leader's authority rests or falls on whether or not their teaching is biblical.

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    1. So interesting you bring up Paul! He was a wonderful missionary, a true disciple. But before that he was an enemy. I love the scriptures because they teach us over and over again that our leaders are just you and me. Flawed even with a direct line to God. Sometimes it doesn't feel like enough but I am grateful for their sacrifices.

      On a side note I read this, this week and thought it was so true:
      'Catholics say the pope is infallible, but don't believe it.
      Mormons say the prophet is fallible, but don't believe it.'

      I like the new pope as well. I think he is a great example. And I'm not catholic.

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    2. +1 for the new pope as well. As I've read about him and his message and seen the way he acts in his capacity as a leader, he truly is a great servant. What a beautiful example of discipleship and love for all people of all faiths.

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    3. I wholeheartedly agree Julianna! I am so thankful to have great, yet flawed, people to look up to. It gives me great hope, considering I have plenty of my own flaws :).

      I am also thankful to Danny and Mara for trying to help us know how to work through hurt and resentment when flawed people or institutions (in this case religious) let us down. Because sooner or later it will happen.

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  21. This is the best discussion I've seen on this topic all week. Thank you for asking questions that move toward healing instead of fueling the fire. What is done, is done. Now it's time to move forward the best we can. I hope we can all do so with more love, understanding, and compassion (for others and ourselves).

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    1. Well said, Traci. I totally agree. Thanks, Danny and Mara.

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    2. So glad you feel that way Traci. That certainly was our intent. Though it would seem that some fire gets stirred no matter what. That was certainly not our intent.

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  22. How do you heal? I think one of the first steps is recognizing that God's in control. I believe the first step to healing is to have faith in God and his plan. The healing process is basically the primary answers: pray, read your scriptures, fast, read conference talks, attend church, etc. To fully heal you must apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life. It won't be easy, and most of the time it won't happen quickly, no mater what you're struggling with. But healing won't come from doubting church leaders or discussing those doubts on the internet. As President Uchtdorf said, "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." ( https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng ) If you have doubts and disappointment, humble yourself and talk to the Lord. The Lord has infinite love for each of us, and he'll answer us if we humble ourselves and ask sincerely in faith. Once we've done that, true healing can happen.

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  23. Many years ago I recall seeing an interview on Oprah from a man I believe it was Gavin DeBecker. He was a security and safety expert. In this one part he showed a video where he had gone to moms with young children and asked them how they had prepared their children basically for "stranger danger". They all felt confident that their children would not walk off the playground with a stranger. Then he would go up to the child nicely dressed and kind with a picture of a cute puppy. He would tell the child that his puppy is missing and would they help find him. Child after child would take his hand and walk away with him. His message - evil doesn't always look evil. Satan knows most humans would run from evil if it was easy to distinguish it physically. I am not saying this woman is evil but she has been deceived. This is not about diversity of thought. I have found that welcome within the religion. She moved from diversity of opinion to openly advocating against doctrine.

    As I read about this I think of Sidney Rigdon - a man who had glorious things happen to him yet at some point he began to believe that he knew better. The Lord's way is not the world's way. We are either led by a prophet of God or we are nothing. Any other outcome to this - that would have been when my religion disappointed me.

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  24. When I feel caught up in the stories and voices it is such a comfort to go to the scriptures and books on my faith. The words of Christ, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Edersheim), Jesus the Christ (Talmage) and Hugh Nibley essays.

    When I am frustrated with people at church, I like to reflect on people who have made a positive difference for me within it. It's also nice to reach out to mentors and friends who let you talk/process things. If you have them, use them.

    Reading Kate Kelly's excommunication letter gave me a real boost, believe it or not. Perhaps she feels it's an inaccurate representation - so I'm interested to see her response. That being said, I think the letter is very thorough and reasoned and open for appeal/communication.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I think these are great ways to process through healing. I too find comfort in turing back to the message itself and seeing the beauty of the Gospel. I seek wisdom from scripture, and from authors I've come to love and look up to for their ability to describe that process of faith.

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  25. So are you saying Danny that you disagree with Kate being excommunicated? And if you do, can you still say that you support the Church leadership in the same sentence? I guess what I am asking is how can you say you don't support what the Church has done and still say you support the Church? Do you feel that the leaders of this Church are called of God? I am not trying to stir up any trouble--seriously--I just have always been so curious as to how people can say they have a testimony but then they oppose the Church--and that is honestly what I am so confused about with Kate--if she isn't happy with the church doctrine then why is she wanting to stay in it? And there is a BIG difference between not being happy with say, where the Father and Sons outing is this year, and wanting to change fundamental doctrines of our religion. There is also a HUGE difference in questioning Church doctrine and starting MOVEMENT to CHANGE the doctrine--she is literally opposing the Church in an extremely aggressive manner and still asking to stay in it. I just have a hard tine understanding how you cannot be empathetic and understanding to the leaders of the Church who have really tried to work with Kate and help her in any way they can, but unfortunately have come to the conclusion that this needed to be done because of her open opposition and fighting against the church. I really am just curious about this more than anything else...not trying to fight I promise. I would to hear your response to my questions. I am hoping that you will listen and respond just as well to me as you have to others:)

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    1. I will respond, but only briefly. Though I understand why people have felt the need to defend this doctrinally, I've tried to keep the discussion off of doctrine in this blog and more on the aspect of healing.

      I do believe there is a right and wrong, but I also believe that it isn't black and white. I haven't expressed much of my doctrinal opinions at all, simply that I am sad. It is not just Kate or John, there are others who don't sympathize with either of them, but who are being brought to court for their ideas. They aren't even as vocal as the two who've made the news.

      So while you think this is about Kate, whom I've expressed I disagree with, I'm actually talking about the sudden increase in discouraging thought and expression through councils - of which Kate and John are the most visible examples.

      Personally, I think there is a big difference between Apostasy and Heresy. Heresy is simply believing unorthodox things, and my guess is we're all heretics to some degree. I know people personally who are being called up for just having the wrong beliefs, even though they aren't very vocal about them or have blogs discussing them. That to me is sad. It seems to stem from fear (though since I don't know personally those bringing the charges I cannot say). Anything that stems from fear, instead of love, brings trouble in my opinion.

      Over the years, I've had many different leaders. Some who led by fear, and others by love. I have always grown more under those who lead by love, and I have seen what a positive impact they have on those who struggle.

      I'm interested in discussing healing on this particular post, and not doctrine. I have my opinions on doctrine, I've kept them to myself. I'll save those for when I'm on a specifically mormon blog.

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    2. If you are going to bring up a topic on your blog that is about doctrinal issues of your religion, I would think you would have enough courage to state those beliefs without shame or fear. You talk about fear, but it sounds to me like you are afraid of offending people by stating your beliefs. I am sorry if you are because we should always be a witness of Christ, "In all times, in all things, and in ALL places." I would encourage you to get past whatever is holding you back from being true and honest about your beliefs. I think you might be surprised that people will support you in whatever your beliefs are--no one will accuse you of trying to force your views on them. I am not trying to force my beliefs on you, I would just like to honestly know what yours are. I think other readers would love to know as well. Take a stand man, don't straddle that fence!:)

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    3. I don't see this as straddling a fence. It looks a lot like bringing up the topic of healing when your religion disappoints you. Talk of healing and love sounds a lot like being a witness of Christ to me.

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  26. I am heartbroken about this, but trying to keep a patient perspective. The two questions that I think I take away from it are: 1) Why would we as an institution ever ask anyone not to worship with us? Especially someone who is desiring and willing to serve and to pray and to be among us, even if she disagrees (vocally) with some of the structural components of the church?


    2) (And perhaps more importantly) If I were in this situation, what would I be willing to give up in order to keep my baptismal and temple covenants and the link to my family forever?

    I know that I, and most people in the church, make sacrifices in order to follow God and be able to make and keep covenants that I have decided are more important than whatever I am sacrificing in order to make those promises. So, the question is always is it worth the sacrifice?

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    1. Birdie,
      One thing that's important to remember is that she isn't being told to not worship with us. Her Bishop encouraged her to continue attending meetings and read her scriptures. The difference is that because of how much she has fought and campaigned against the church, it's doctrine, and leaders, she is no longer eligible for the full blessings that come with membership. She is encouraged to repent and return to full fellowship and membership. She has been excommunicated because of her actions, but that doesn't mean that she isn't welcome at church or any less loved than anyone else.

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  27. With all my heart, I support the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormon religion, and its leaders who hold the priesthood of God. Every good thing in my life has come from this church and the priesthood. I have gained tremendous knowledge and light from asking God my questions, studying His word, listening to His answers, and acting on those answers.

    This speech ("Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence") have been life-changing for me:

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2000/03/cast-not-away-therefore-your-confidence?lang=eng

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  28. I think it's important to acknowledge that while this may be a painful thing for Kate, and for the Mormon church (both in different ways) that good things have come out of it. I think because of Kate's questioning, Mormon women all around the world have had to search and find out exactly how they feel about the situation- A lot of women I know, have come to understand much more about the priesthood, and have come to understand that they actually have access to a lot more priesthood power than they may have ever before known. I think this is something that was maybe lying dormant in women in the church for many years. Kate Kelly has played a large role in this awareness, and I believe that while the church does not honor ALL of her wishes, that we can be grateful for what she has offered to the church in this way. There are always fruits behind labors.

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    1. I think you've said something very important that has been meaningful as well for me. And that is, in any discussion of any kind, I appreciate those who voice strong and reasoned arguments against my understanding. It helps me learn. It makes me think of things I hadn't before, it pushes me deeper into real truth.

      Sometimes I change my opinions as a result, other times I don't but understand better why I feel the way that I do.

      I appreciate dialogue. And it is the discussion itself that to me is often part of the healing process. Verbalizing things, discovering what really matters to you, working through struggles and doubts and pain, with those who are supportive and understanding, is one of the best ways to find healing.

      But such discussions must be carried on without fear.

      Thanks for sharing how you expect that ultimately good can come out of any situation. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

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  29. I was raised Mormon in a very active Mormon family in Sandy, Utah. I stopped going to church when I was 18, and since then, the church as continued to disappoint me for the last 14 years. Whether it is asking for monetary donations for a political campaign or continuing to harass me after I ask the local home teachers to leave me alone. The first time I was angry at the church was when I read "The Miracle of Forgiveness" by Spencer W. Kimball. This book was recommended to me by my bishop when I was 17-years-old, and it stated that masturbation was a sign of homosexuality and that women should not work, because they are a "distraction" to men. After reading it, I truly gained my own testimony that the church does not align with my truth. I know that my family would love it if I were an active member, but luckily, they love me regardless of my religious views. It was painful for me to understand that I would never return to the church, but that time is past. I am healed, and am so happy that I have disassociated myself from it. I hope that Kate and John will find the same peace that I have found.

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    1. Allison - thank you for sharing this. I am thrilled to hear that you've been able to find some healing and happiness! That is no small feat.

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  30. I'm really sad to live in a world where people still do not believe that men and women should be able to hold the same positions, or be treated as equals.

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  31. I find healing in prayer, meditation, personal revelation, and good, long conversations with dear friends with similar beliefs. In my heart I know Kate's excommunication to be unfair and unjust, and as I've prayed and pondered this resistance in my soul, I have felt nothing but comfort from our Heavenly Parents. I believe this to be a stepping stone to something greater, to bigger questions and greater understanding. Growth and change are difficult, chaotic, and many times painful processes, but they lead to transformation and wholeness. Will this lead to women being ordained? Probably not, but I pray Kate's excommunication and John's disciplinary counsel, whatever the outcome, will (at the very least) lead to greater transparency in the processes of the church, acknowledgment of the pain and isolation that can sometimes be found in Mormonism, and safe places to voice our experiences and share our faith without fear of discipline or dismissal. I also find healing in understanding that Mormonism doesn't support or preach infallibility of our leaders. My experience has shown my leaders to be men who try their best to be good and just, but they also possess their own life experiences, generational prejudices, and personal histories that obviously play a part in the way they view the world and lead, the same way my mortal experiences shape and influence my decisions and how I practice my faith. I find peace in knowing that whenever I have brought hard questions or doubts to my Heavenly Parents, I have been met with nothing but acceptance and love, never reprimand or punishment. That is enough for me.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you wrote. There's so much good and truth in what you said. Thank you

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    2. Rachel, this was one of my favorite comments. Thank you so much. I, too, agree that so much good can come from this. SO many people are right now having to reassess what they believe and think about it a little deeper, which I think is wonderful. And so many are likely - for the first time - exposed to conversations at this level regarding gays in the church, women in the church, and simply people who don't agree with a lot that goes on. I mean, I don't recall any church wide discussion happening quite like this before. As painful as it is for a lot of people, it's wonderful to have so much exposure to each other and all of our uniqueness. It's wonderful for some to have this kind of exposure for the first time. I think the onslaught of conversation taking place shows how badly this discussion needed to happen. I hope all this new awareness can lead to more compassion and understanding for all. I know in my life, awareness (no matter how much it ruffles my feathers in the beginning) is always the birth place of a later shift towards more compassion, love, and understanding.

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  32. I consider myself to be pretty liberal in my beliefs but this whole movement has rubbed me the wrong way. While I absolutely respect that people's beliefs may differ from mine (especially in the church) and I honestly welcome discussion, she has acted like the martyr in this whole thing. The church doesn't excommunicate people for having questions or doubts.

    But she has gone beyond that. Kate Kelly had a disciplinary council because “of her activities relating to Ordain Women, for openly, repeatedly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the Church and its leaders after having been counseled not to do so, for continuing to teach as doctrine information that is not doctrine after having been counseled regarding the doctrine of the priesthood, and for leading others to do the same.”

    I was honestly shocked the Church didn't take a stand before now. I don't wish her any ill-will but it's obvious her belief system is not aligned and she has taken countless people with her. I wish them well in finding their own path outside of the Church if they truly don't believe it is lead by an inspired prophet of God.

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  33. For me healing comes when I realize that I am not a part of anything perfect and to expect to be is not healthy. My marriage is not perfect. My kids are not perfect. My friends are not perfect. My organized religion, too, is not perfect. When I look at approaching my faith in the same way I would approach my disappointment or frustration in marriage I begin the healing process. In marriage when disagreements arise, I work hard to understand and listen to my husband, I value his perspective and his thoughts and I promise that I will let him be his own person. Most importantly, we don't resolve everything immediately and we don't expect to. We realize there will be more bumps in the road and we accept that we will learn together and grow together in time. This doesn't mean we may ever see eye to eye about an experience or a topic, but we don't force the other into our views or into perfection. This is how I feel about my religion. Is organized religion perfect? No. (I separate organized religion here from God, obviously.) Is my religion perfect? No. However, I will not leave my church because I demand it's perfection. I will not leave my husband because I demand his perfection. I am a being capable of growth, learning and forgiveness in all of my relationships in this life, including my relationship with my church. This is how I begin my healing with difficult, maybe disappointing, aspects in my life: I listen, I try, I pray, I forgive, I learn, I move forward with hope.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I've been so distraught the last couple of days because of my own insecurities in understanding. I've always had doubts on many things but as a seeker of truth, I study much, pray, listen, consider, evaluate until something clicks. And you just spoke to my heart and helped me remember that nothing and no one (save God) is perfect. I shouldn't idolize anything or anyone and I need to remember that. Having a somewhat weak testimony I've looked up to many members and bloggers for spiritual strength. Hearing so many different opinions this past week have me confused and really questioning my beliefs. I do not blame anybody for this as Danny said in earlier comments we should be seeking our own truths and use this opportunity to evaluate our beliefs. However, I can see why insistently challenging things and openly talking about this can affect someone's understanding or faith. I feel fortunate to have found comfort in Danny's earlier words (and this anon comment) but really do feel for others like me, with weaker testimonies, being confused due to this conversation happening in familiar outlets. And maybe that is why this public questioning is somewhat not that great, maybe. Maybe there are many others like me who are earnestly hoping to define their thoughts and beliefs and conversations like this harm more than help. Again, not justifying as I now get that I am responsible for my own light and knowledge, but I feel for many. Wow! that was long for a first time comment, thank you so much again to you, Danny and Mara for helping :)

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    2. Anon - you nailed it! You might as well have read the other post ive been working on for a few weeks....love love love what you shared!

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  34. A long comment. Sorry!

    When my church disappoints me, I've found it oddly helpful, even comforting, to put things into numbers.

    Like everyone in my religion, I've been taught that God works through imperfect people, though until I was an adult, this was hard for me to really grasp. I considered church leaders, from the local level on up, as nearly perfect, and the top leaders of the church I considered pretty darn perfectly perfect. But I learned that it was not fair, kind, or compassionate to think of them as perfect, because no one can live up to that, and they were bound to fail me when it turned out they were indeed actually human.

    So through my twenties and thirties, I've experimented with thinking about my church leaders in terms of percentages. Are they 80% prophet and 20% imperfect human? Are they 50/50? 60/40?

    At this point, my personal understanding is that they are 99.9% regular imperfect humans with a sprinkling of prophet on top (or in the case of local leaders, a sprinkling of inspiration).

    I know they are good men, called of God, doing their best to lead and guide my church, and I sustain them every way I can. But I know they can't help but make decisions through the lens of their imperfect humanness. Knowing this enables me to expect that they'll make mistakes as often as any other human does. Which is often (at least in my case!).

    For me, remembering that everyone in my religion is human, and that even the leaders are required to pray and ponder and study things out like everybody else, sets me on the road to healing. I can then use my prayers to ask God to keep the minds of my leaders open, and to send the right people to my leaders, so that they can be accurately educated on whatever situation is facing the church, and make the best possible decisions.

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    1. Gabrielle - Yes, yes, YES!!! I love what you wrote...it's exactly how I feel, too. I grew up believing the popular Mormon phrase that “leaders could never lead us astray.” But I started to realize it was a disservice to a leader (and the church itself) to hold them on a pedestal - and to believe that they could do no wrong. That is so much pressure! I feel that the church is ran by loving human beings who are trying their best to align with God and his light and vibration and love, though just like any other human being, it is difficult to maintain that vibration at all times. And that’s ok. I now don’t expect anyone to do that and it has been so freeing and has allowed for much more compassion for everyone during this shared human experience. And I’m so thankful that our dear Apostle Uchtdorf so compassionately pointed out to the masses that leaders are, indeed, prone to mistakes. What a wonderful thing for an apostle to point out so clearly and boldly! To me, understanding the humanness in us all is the KEY to healing. It leads to less confusion, more compassion, and quicker forgiveness.

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  35. I have had disagreements with people in my religion and just in life in general. I used to get pretty upset when someone would disagree with me of so something differently than I thought was correct. I was very protective of my opinions. I felt like I had put in a lot of time and work to form them. When I met my husband I was introduced to a much better way of thinking. He has this wonderful ability to have his own opinions and to harbor no ill will toward those with differing opinions or beliefs. He welcomes discussions with everyone and is always able to "keep his cool" while discussing. I have been able to learn from his example. While I am not perfect at this, I am definitely better than I used to be. I have come to understand that people who have different beliefs and opinions than me are not bad people. They are just different. I have had some disagreements with the recent issues within the LDS church. I have taken these feelings and beliefs I had and prayed and really meditated and pondered. I have found my answers and my beliefs have been strengthened because of it. So I agree with the comment about how whether or not Kate Kelly is right or wrong she has caused many people to ask some serious questions that have helped them in their journey. Mine have brought me closer because I feel like they have brought me closer to the Truth. So thanks for this blog post and for all the comments posted with love. This has been the best discussion I've seen thus far on this topic. Thank goodness for agency and our ability to ask questions and receive answers.

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    1. Your hubby sounds like a pretty cool dude. I try to be the same as him...I think I often succeed, but I guess you'll have to ask Mara about that.

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  36. I was raised in the Catholic Church. My mother converted to Catholicism when she married my father. As a little girl, we had a priest we all loved. He visited our house and the homes of our friends and fellow parishioners, he knew our names, cared about our families, etc. After he retired, a new priest came into our parish. He was very strange and distant. In the years during which he was our priest, my father began a lengthy affair. The affair stretched through much of my childhood and ultimately ended my parents' marriage when I was 18 and finishing high school. When my mother sought the counsel of our priest as she decided she had to file for divorce from my father, he counseled her by saying, If you seek a divorce, you will not be welcomed back into my church. My mother was bereft and didn't know what to do as she had not planned to leave the church. As if to add insult to injury, the priest said that he felt for years something was going on with my dad. My mother said, But you never reached out to him? My mother left that meeting and never returned to the church. I didn't either. Years later, this same priest was found dead in a hotel room of an apparent suicide. It turns out he had many demons of his own--which likely led to the unkind way he treated my mother when she needed him most. This was a very pivotal point in my own spiritual life. I've never thought of organized religion or Catholicism the same way again.

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    1. Emily, thank you so much for sharing. So much heartbreak, and yet so much light and hope in what you spoke. Thank you!

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  37. Oh! Thank you, Thank you Mara and Danny.

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  38. I've often found when I am disappointed that the information I had was only a small part of the whole story. In the situations where I was later fortunate to see or hear the whole story I have often been filled with compassion. My goal now is to trust that there usually is more than I can see, and although the disappointment is real, I can nurture compassion, even for those who have disappointed me.

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    1. Jane, this has been my experience as well, and I'm so glad that you articulated it so well.

      The willingness to understand that there is another side is the very beginning of compassion.

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  39. My Religion has not disappointed me. I am actually quite grateful for them not bowing to the pressures put on by the public. Both of them have been asked to be private in their request and chosen not to. That is their CHOICE. They made that choice. The Church has made their choice as well. Our church is run on earth by man but the head of our church is our Heavenly Father. If he gives an answer, it should be respected. Clearly they are not respecting our Heavenly Father by not respecting the answer they have been given. They are not respecting the blessings the priesthood and the blessings that come to people from the priesthood. THAT is what makes me sad.

    This is a blog post that I absolutely LOVED!
    http://thestyleofbeing.blogspot.ca/2014/06/mormonism-feminism-and-being-snarky.html

    This is my most very favourite part of the whole blog post. What I have been wanting to put into words but have not been able to.
    "You see, I believe that priesthood responsibilities teach men to develop and use skills that women are already darn good at. It's an equalizing force, not a divisive one. They need this role to become more like God. We need it to...what? Demonstrate our organizational and empathetical superiority?"

    We ARE different then men. But we are most definitely equal. We just have different responsibilities in our equality.

    Jocelyn Miller (I just cannot remember my password to my account but I am more than happy to sign my name to this)

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    1. Thanks Jocelyn, and thanks for being proud to attach your name to your comment. I appreciate your sincerity and enthusiasm.

      I agree that people can be different and be equal. I feel much of the problem with this whole thing is that we don't fully understand how to actually talk about priesthood. I've been studying the matter in more detail than you care to imagine for the last 4 or 5 years, and I've learned some truly wonderful things that teach me there is greater equality in the priesthood than most understand. And the reason we don't understand we don't talk about it in a way that allows us to go much further than a surface level. Perhaps some day I'll do a guest post on some Mormon doctrine themed blog and share what I've learned, and link to it here.

      As for the quote you shared, my problem with it is to me it seems to contribute to the "surface level" understanding problem I discussed above. Saying men need the priesthood to develop things women already have makes it seem as though the priesthood is like training wheels for otherwise incapable men.

      I know that's not what you're saying, nor what you believe...but I think we need to go much deeper than that. Discipleship alone should be enough to encourage men and women to become more like God. The teachings of Jesus in the sermon on the mount, should be enough to show a man what kind of human being he should become, how he should treat others, and minister to those in need in sincerity.

      I would hope that if I belonged to a church that did not have a doctrine regarding priesthood, that I would still feel just as compelled to develop traits of Godliness. I know many outside of our faith for whom that is exactly the case. The call to discipleship and to "follow Him" is enough for them.

      Regardless of how I feel about that quote, I again thank you for sharing, and for your enthusiasm.

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    2. I really feel that the Priesthood is there to help better our Men. So many men will tell you how if it was not for the Priesthood and the duties and responsibilities that come with the priesthood, they would not be the man that they are. They are forced to step up.

      I have the most amazing 12 year old son. He comes with a lot of issues. The biggest of issues is his temperament. At age 11, he was the surliest little man. Not kind, not willing to listen, not willing to be obedient. The list went on and on. When he turned 12, we talked about the duties of a Priesthood holder. He got it but not until we started studying "Duty to God." I homeschooled him this year and one of the joys of homeschooling is I got to pick what we did for religion. Studying scriptures and Duty to God was where out religion courses were studied from.The true change in him came as he began to understand his duty to God AS a Priesthood holder. I had talked to him about the way he was treating others for years with no change. The true change came in him as he truly began to understand he has a duty in the way he acts and treats others as a Priesthood holder. It does not matter if he is a Deacon, a Bishop, a Stake President or the Prophet. He has a duty and responsibility. And in that duty, it matters how you act and how you treat others. How can one be prepared to use the Priesthood they have been blessed with if they are not acting in a manner that will invite the spirit? The best side effect of this all? I finally have a husband who treats me with respect and has realized THRU MY SON that the way he was acting and treating me is not appropriate. Finally. So yes, I have seen Men realize that they as Priesthood leaders need to step up and become better people.

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  40. http://middleagedmormonman.com/home/2014/06/finding-simple-truths-amid-chaos.html

    If your interested in a bishops point of view...hes got an uncanny way of getting to the heart of the matter pretty quick. Highly recommend his blog for lots of reasons! Thanks for posting this as a topic for a safe place/discussion. I know there are lots of thoughts around this...thus my reason for sharing MMM's blog.

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  41. I really enjoy your blog. I think you try to base your ideals on love and Christ-like values. On healing, if nothing else this whole situation has made me reflect on my beliefs and what I believe is true about religion and being a woman. I recently read a talk by a "Mormon feminist", I will link, that I really loved because she explains how women and men have equal but different roles. I am ok with that and some people are not. She says we do not need to be the exact same to be equal to God. I wish more people believed that. I have been married 10 years to an amazing man and I feel that I have grown so much because my husband and I are different. I know that not everyone has this situation but many do and so they have the same perspective on how great marriage can be . We need opposition in all things to truly open our eyes and change our hearts. I know that God loves each of us perfectly and that means even though I am not a man, and do not have the preisthood, I still have access through my faith and prayers to Gods power. On the flip side, I believe if God wanted my husband to bare a child He has the power to make that happen.
    Also the people that run churches aren't prefect and make mistakes, but I don't go to church because of the them, I go because of how I feel when I do things to connect to my Heavenly parents.
    So many great comments to reflect on.

    My cousin always says "don't be so opened minded that your brain falls out".

    Sorry for the choppy thoughts, phone keyboards make it hard to comment sometimes.

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  42. I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh, I am trying to defend individuals, so here I go. I would like to point out something no one has, yet. The church spokesman, as well as a few here, have stated that it is okay to question, but where Kate Kelly stepped out of line was in her demanding. Here, Danny and Mara have slightly questioned. And yet look at many of the responses here. According to some of you Mara and Danny are on a slippery slope with Satan’s hands in their lives. These comments seem like (unintentional) emotional bullying. When people step outside of the mainstream LDS church path, they experience an emotional whipping from other members of the church to help put them put them back in line. They think they are doing it out of love and concern, but it is based on fear. They are afraid for their spiritual future. I learned from Danny that fear is not love. All it does is make people hesitant to share their feelings, hence, in the LDS church it is socially not okay to question. Do you see this?
    My mom is a big worrier, especially when it comes to safety. She sees it as her way of showing love to me. But I don’t feel love from her worrying at all. In fact, the opposite. It makes me not want to tell her about stuff. People can smell fear, just as animals can, and it does not strengthen relationships and make people feel comfortable to open up. People need to feel like the person loves them, and their opinion of them will be unchanged no matter what they disclose, in order to really feel loved.
    As I’ve struggled over difficult church history questions, I asked this question. “God are you trying to trick us?” I could not see how He allowed such crazy things to happen (and it is much crazier than I ever knew until recently) and still expect people to have faith. I’m going to go out on a limb by saying this, but the thought crossed my mind that God allowed for there to be some really good reasons for people to doubt, things for people to question, things for people to leave the church over, so that they would leave. It’s been prophesied the noble and elect will leave. Maybe this is so that He can see how we feel about them and treat them. It is really a test of our hearts. Do we see them the same way? Do we wonder what sins people have committed that make them leave the church? Do we assume things about them, that they aren’t faithfully reading their scriptures, that they must have been offended? Do we fear for them and worry about their salvation? Or do we see them with love, with opinions of them unchanged no matter their choices? Do we try to understand them, to help them? (Fearing for someone is not helping, I promise). I know this sounds far out, but remember the first time Christ came He took everyone by surprise as they were expecting a military leader. Maybe this time He’ll take us by surprise again, whereas we thought it was most important to stand strong and not be fence sitters, etc., he wants to see who genuinely developed charity, even for the doubter/questioner/apostate.
    I had a crisis of faith (am doing much better spiritually now), but thinking of the social consequences of leaving (and even of sharing about my crisis) made me realize why people call the church a cult (that, and people told not to read anything not faith promoting). I am not saying it is, not at all. I love the church and know that it does such good things, but I believe this emotional bullying we don’t even realize we are doing to others is not okay. It needs to stop. People should be able to voice concerns without people gasping, without people worrying about them. I am just barely finding myself strong enough to open up to others about my crisis of faith that is largely resolved. But in the midst of it, I felt so alone. But I’m accepting that stigma, as I want to help change the current trend of members suffering. That is exactly what John Dehlin was trying to do, ironically.

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    1. Erin, this was one of my most favorite comments. Thank you SO much for taking the time to write this out. Thank you for being bold and pointing out some of the emotional bullying and emotional whipping that takes place when someone feels differently than another or chooses another path - and it seems to so easily come out when the differences involve religion. I have seen this hundreds of times over the last couple of weeks as this online discussion has been taking place. And I agree with you - that so many seem to do it out of what they think is love or taking a stand for righteousness or truth. But so many comments seem to cross the line and smell more like fear, shaming, chastising, bullying, manipulation, and an attempt to protect one's ego. This is sad to me and I am trying to have compassion for those that do it. And in reality, we all do it at times. None of us are immune to our egos. And we all have such unique backgrounds, upbringings, and understandings of the our religion so those unique egos are often on the line. So I can see why it is so easy to not exude love in the way we communicate. Having said that, perhaps this can be a learning experience for us all. Perhaps we can all see our own words in black and white and consider if we need to cultivate some more love and true respect for those we are communicating with, even if they say something that is so contrary to what we believe.

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    2. There are times though when you are communicating out of love and respect and the other person does not see it that way. And there are times when you have to say what is right is right. And you can say it as loving and kind as you possibly can but the other person will not hear it that way if they don't want to. You have mentioned on this blog and I believe its true that you cannot control other people and you cannot control their reactions and choices so while I completely agree that we need to communicate with love and respect we also can't be silent because of fear. We can't be afraid to take a stand- afraid of how everyone is going to take it. Again, I think Christ is the perfect example of this. He loved everyone but he was not loved by everyone because of the things He taught, but He still taught them. So, I think if we are trying to be like Him, we do love everyone but we need to state the truth with love and respect but without apology or fear. We are living in a world where truth has become relative to so many and so sometimes people feel like its emotional bullying for someone to say, "No, this is the truth" but its not- its just the truth whether its popular or not, or whether its what someone wants to hear or not. I think it is just as damaging to stay silent out of fear as it is to speak out of fear. -KD

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    3. My point was, KD, that Mara and Danny are not allowed to question without being corrected, in whatever way you want to call it. I personally think the correcting is not helping them at all. People need to ask themselves what they think is going to come of their "truth speaking." Is it that Mara and Danny don't know the mainstream of the church? Is it that they forgot what the brethren have said? Or do they see that the church has made mistakes in the past (i.e. saying interracial marriages are an abomination and one will forfeit the celestial kingdom, for example, but there are many examples), and the church very well could be making mistakes right now. The church says it is okay to question, but members don't let each other. It is okay, and by calling out the "truth" on someone is not going to change them. It may make people feel like they are doing their duty, but I can't think of what else will come of it.

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    4. Erin, I wasn't actually referring to any "correcting" comments made to Mara and Danny but was just following up on Mara's reply. And I'm also not talking about "calling out the truth" on someone to try to change them because you think its your duty and you feel better about yourself. I am talking about conversations with people you care about motivated by love when you are open and vulnerable and sharing what you believe in the best way you know how (hopefully guided by the Spirit) and they take it as "bullying/judgemental/self righteous/etc" I think fear and ego can go both ways. Staying silent because of fear and your ego is just as unhealthy as when you speak from that place and that is all I was trying to say with my reply. -KD

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    5. KD, I know people who do this have the very best intentions. I'm sorry if I made it seem otherwise. What I am saying is that I didn't realize until I was on the other side of the fence, is that it is not helpful. If someone is mildly struggling, baring your testimony and telling them to put things on the shelf can be helpful. If they are really, really struggling it is not helpful, and this is why: they know stuff you probably don't know (and they know that you don't know). They know that they didn't know this stuff before, and before they knew it, it was no problem to just believe, trust the prophet, etc. I had a rock solid - I mean SOLID testimony before my crisis of faith. I remember my aunt expressing concern over polygamy, even comparing Joseph Smith to Warren Jeffs, and I shushed her, saying it was a "slippery slope" to say things like that, and baring my testimony. She is such a faithful person, relief society president currently. Guess what? She never said anything to me about it again. Does that mean I helped her? No, it means she has either taken these concerns to someone else, or just lives with them in her heart, which is actually a very painful thing to do. I had the best intentions. But until I was on the other side (a good 2 or 3 years later) I had no idea it was actually MY comments that were inappropriate for the situation. I guess it's kind of like learning the etiquette of someone in a different culture. Until you have been there - to the degree of crisis that they have been, I don't think it's possible to know. A friend of mine expressed her testimony struggling a couple years ago. So I bore mine. During my faith crisis, I called her up and said, "I am so sorry, I didn't even let you talk. Tell me about what is concerning you." And forever more I will be like this to people who struggle. I will never ever worry about them, warn them of the dangers of their thoughts, and probably not even bare my testimony, unless the situation calls for it, or they ask. I will listen to them.

      I think the best way to heal from something like this Danny and Mara, is to find a friend who will listen to you. Just listen. My sister has provided that for me, and it's been awesome. I only found 4 people to discuss things with, and we all found each other "underground" as the stigma for this type of thing is so large people keep the suffering to themselves. Three of the 4 were also struggling. Very helpful, still, to be able to discuss, but having that person who knows the issues in the church, and is still faithful and is willing to listen to you is invaluable.

      I know you may feel like you don't want to be "afraid" of sharing what you know to be true, but I would like to compare it to not telling someone who is overweight that eating that cake will make it worse. I could say, "I don't want to be afraid of telling them that, so I'll do it." Or I could just not do it because it's not a helpful thing to do. I almost feel bad saying that analogy, because it is so obvious to everyone that that is a rude thing to do. But I think it is equally unhelpful, just not as obviously unhelpful if you haven't been there, to tell someone who is questioning, to not question, and they are on a slippery slope.

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    6. Erin, I can totally see from the vein of this post how you could infer that my comments are about when someone is questioning or having a faith crisis, but they actually are not. I'm talking about when someone you love is using heroine or when someone you love is drinking and driving, or when someone you love is cheating on their spouse. There are some things that are black and white and I have personally had to have the courage to say (again, hopefully with the spirit in a way that touches their hearts) that what they are doing is wrong. Period. I have also been in a situation where I was completely alone with someone who when they found out I was Mormon became very aggressive to me and I was literally afraid for my safety but still needed to say, "Yes, this is what I believe." And trust me, it is not fun, but maybe you do know. Maybe you have had those experiences and you know that fear of how they are going to take it could easily keep you silent. That is what I am referring to when I say there are times you need to say something and you shouldn't let fear stop you. And I believe that in those moments we are keeping our covenants by standing as a witness, not because of our ego or trying to spiritually whiplash someone back in line. We live in a world where being PC is valued more than truth and I was just trying to make the point that there are times when we have to stand as a witness even when its not PC and you are afraid. And that is why I referred to the Savior as the example. What He said was not PC at that time at all and but He still said it and I believe there are times He calls on us to do the same.
      I have also had my own questions and will continue to have them, I'm sure, and am grateful to people who listened and respected my questions. I, in turn, have been privileged to listen to others and have tried to follow the Spirit in my communication with them. And something that I learned from doing that is that when I only try to say what the Spirit wants me to say I am very quiet.
      I hope you can see where I'm coming from and we can all learn from each others experiences- KD

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    7. Erin, I REALLY appreciate all that you have elaborated on. This has been my experience as well. I think I already wrote this above, but I learned during my divorce just how subtle our manipulations can be, manipulations that we call love.

      My ex-wife was having a faith crisis, and though I didn't use the words that others have used here, I said things that had a similar spirit to them. I thought I was helping, I thought I was standing up for what needed to be stood up for. I thought I was doing every ounce of it out of love.

      And though I don't want to toot my own horn (in fact I freely admit I made many mistakes in that whole process), I was back then a very loving and kind person. And yet, what I called love ended up being shaming. I couldn't see it at the time I was doing it. I was certain I was behaving in the correct way. It matched the cultural attitude I have indeed seen here in this comment thread at times and on Facebook.

      My unintentional shaming was one part of the many pressures that came upon my ex-wife until it reached a tipping point...and it was a point of no return. Actually, that's not entirely true, I truly believed there was a way to return, and I began working on my half of it as hard as I could. But she'd done things she just couldn't forgive herself for, and in that sense it was a point of no return. Massive oversimplification of what happened...and there is of course another side to the story.

      For my part, when she'd told me what she'd done, I realized just how much she'd been struggling. Which in retrospect it became clear she wasn't sharing with me in part because of my unintentional shaming and her already pre-existing self-worth problems that had little to do with me, but were compounded because I wasn't listening, I was telling, I wasn't enabling agency, I was controlling in ever so slight ways that most wouldn't have noticed...including myself...and almost all would have said "what's wrong with that? Sounds perfectly normal to me."

      With the awareness of how much pain she was in, that I'd previously not understood, also came the clear knowledge of what I'd been doing to contribute to it. And I more or less vowed that night that I would avoid those previous behaviors like the plague.

      The result was not a saved marriage...but it was a peaceful divorce. We became closer friends in that year than we'd been EVER. There was more trust, more understanding, more openness, than any other time in our marriage. She was still doing things that made pursuing a marriage impossible. But instead of using words of judgment and warning, I use words of confidence and empowerment. As a result, whereas before she did not share with me just how much pain had accumulated, I became her closest confidant. And we were able to finally work on healing.

      Truly, it was infinitely more important at that time that I love her, instead of correct her.

      In that sense, I think Erin speaks volumes of wisdom that 6 years ago I couldn't have understood.

      I have not personally felt bullied by people, I know they think I must need help. (I have never in my life been more confident of my relationship with or knowledge of God, but hold not ill-will for those who assume otherwise for some reason). I have seen a number of comments that I truly hope no one who is currently suffering and struggling reads, because as Erin said, it only shuts them in tighter.

      This blog is called A Blog About Love, precisely because what most people call love is actually dysfunction. It needs to be elaborated on. And Erin has done a wonderful job of expressing what Mara and I both have learned and what we try to express in every important post we write. Truly, we are better able to help another soul when we listen to them without judgment, and without the ever present need to correct them in their thinking, or somehow suggest they just need to try harder or pray more or whatever else people say.

      Erin, THANK YOU!

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  43. Hmmm. This blog and the comments were kindly worded, but disappointing to me. I'm still wondering what I do when a blog disappoints me.

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    1. Perhaps it will be for you the same as it is for me as I mentioned above...I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to even those I disagree with. I've come to understand that I can never truly know where someone else is coming from, as I have not lived their life or learned their lessons, nor have they necessarily lived or learned mine.

      What begins initially as disappointment eventually turns to respect and compassion, mercy and charity, and perhaps the thought comes to me in all scincerity "forgive them for they know not what they do", and for that matter "forgive me, for perhaps I know not what I do."

      And thus I return to the heart of the gospel message, on which all the law and the prophets hang...love!

      Personally, I have great love for all who have commented. I mean that. I truly love this community, and I truly love that they care enough to correct me if they feel I err. This blog is not a one way communication where you only learn from us, but we too learn and receive love and light and joy from each of you in the stories and perspective you share.

      I hope you realize as well, just how misleading sound bites can be. I extend this same thing to the church, and to the two being discussed right now. Most often, the full truth of a matter is rarely discovered early, an take great patience and struggle and wrestling with things that seem contrary. But seeking to prove those (or test those ) contraries is the process by which truth is finally revealed.

      I love this journey we are all on. And I truly do hope charity, and not judgment, will be the predominant feature in all of our hearts as we hear each other out through difficult and sensitive topics (I include myself and Mara in the invitation to head that call)

      Thank you, and all others, who have disagreed, or even been disappointed.

      With love, Danny

      Sorry for any typos, done from a phone that has a delay between when I type and when it appears.

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  44. Yeah, I'm a benefit of the doubt type person too.

    You might enjoy these two articles-
    http://www.millennialstar.org/the-mormon-intellectuals-trojan-horses/
    And
    http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2014/06/one-does-not-simply-lose-ones-testimony-a-heartfelt-plea/3601/

    Both are written by LDS intellectuals who were excommunicated and then returned to the Church. Interesting ideas.
    (I'm more stereotypical Mormon than intellectual progressive- so please forgive me if sharing these references is perceived as spiritual bullying.)

    The more people we really get to know, the more people we love. The more we love them, the more we understand God's love for them. I believe that we know God is merciful because our own hearts overflow with mercy.

    I feel that my heart is like yours. I love and I bask in mercy. But, I do not believe that love erases right and wrong, truth or deception. We can expose deception without fear, and seek truth and learning without condemning those who are still seeking.

    I suppose what disappointed me about this space was that it seemed to me to be a public space to express disappointment with the Church or churches in general, but a place where support of Church leaders was discouraged as making this an "issue of right and wrong." Personally, I love and sustain both the Church and the gospel.

    I hovered between life and death for the past year. I was so surprised that even as I hit my rock bottom place, faith was STILL a choice. I didn't "know", I chose. I wasn't just naturally faithful and optimistic-- I chose it. I chose to focus on the hand of God in my life not the suffering crap I was enduring. And, as I chose to look for the miracles- I was blessed to see them. As I chose to believe, my belief was solidified.

    Faith is a choice, and choosing faith not doubts or fear, gives you power. Faith and gratitude heal while doubt and criticism keeps you down. I know this. Not because I'm afraid, because I am alive. Faith literally healed me, choosing Faith can heal us all.

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    1. Thanks Jen, I look forward to reading the articles you mentioned. I do not consider what you've written as spiritual bullying. And even if it was, I've got a pretty thick skin and wouldn't be very offended by it anyway.

      I think most of the discussion regarding spiritual bullying centers not so much on commenters on this blog, but what I've seen in general on facebook and other blogs and forums discussing the matter. There certainly have been a few comments here where I've been surprised by what seemed to be pretty strong judgment and assumptions about me or Mara. However, I also understand that to many of those who posted such things, they may think that we are judging them.

      I believe most every comment comes from a sincere place of trying to express what is important to the individual, and is truly motivated by what they think will help another individual.

      But, I learned during my first marriage and the year of separation and divorce, just how easily what I thought was love and concern and help, was really shaming, manipulation, and judgment. I am much more sensitive to it now, I recognize it in myself much earlier, and though I am far from perfect at stopping myself from such states of being (which I believe not only hurtful to myself, but especially damaging to whomever I thought I was trying to help), I am hardly the same man I was and do not so easily fall into that pattern.

      As I said, I do not read into your words spiritual bullying.

      And, for what it's worth, I wouldn't call myself an intellectual progressive mormon either (not that I'm assuming you were calling me one.) I recognize you've heard in these comment sections tiny soundbites of our views regarding one single aspect or current event. It doesn't paint a very good picture of where I stand, nor what my feelings are on a whole range of issues.

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    2. Continued.....

      Not that it matters, but you would find my a strong advocate for the value and truthfulness of scripture. In my 4 years on the High Council in Brooklyn, I managed to probably spend about 1/2 of my time quoting scripture in my 3rd Sunday talks. A few of my talks were composed almost entirely of scripture. I love searching them, and believe them to be of great value. They are a deep and abiding part of my faith.

      I have spent the last 4 years deeply studying the Temple, Church History, and the Words of Joseph Smith as they've been made available through the Joseph Smith Papers project. I have spent countless hours studying and reading these things. In some ways, I has made me realize there are some things we knew how to talk about better in the early days of the church, than we know how to talk about now. Correlation has many benefits in helping establish a safe pattern to follow for the fledgeling churches in developing parts of the world, but has the unfortunate side effect of causing us to forget some beautiful things that used to be taught with great frequency. The church's general lack of understanding about Joseph's "Lectures on Faith", which used to be the "Doctrine" portion of Doctrine and Covenants is a good example.

      I have a great love for the Gospel, but my studies have also shown me that I should distinguish between the Gospel and the Church. They are not always synonymous.

      Where you might find me differing from what I see in general mormon thought, is I place a higher emphasis on scriptures and canonized doctrine than I do on what was said most recently in conference. It has only been in the last 40 years or so, since correlation began, that we started placing such a huge emphasis on trusting so deeply every word that has come from those currently serving as leaders in the church. Prior to that, based on all my studies, there was a greater deference to scripture, and saying that all current statements must be compared against that standard, and if it didn't match it and the spirit didn't confirm it, not only were you not obligated to accept a leader's teaching, but you'd be wise to disregard it. It wasn't until Wilford Woodruff that you had the idea that a prophet couldn't lead you astray. Joseph and Brigham explicitly taught that a prophet could indeed lead you astray, which is why it was necessary for every individual to take the Holy Spirit as their guide, and take charge of their own salvation and connection with God, and not lean upon any man or men for such knowledge. That has been my approach as well.

      That doesn't mean I don't value the words of those who serve in those positions. I still enjoy conference, I listen to learn truths from those who have spent their lives in service. But I recognize it as my duty as well to be distinguishing, and to prove their words against scripture, and against what has been revealed to me.

      If I had to sum it all up, I would go back to what I said earlier....I think the Church and the Gospel are two different things. The church can occasionally be influenced by culture and go in good and bad directions as a result....the Gospel however is unchangingly true. I believe the church tries desperately to be a strong advocate for the message of the Gospel, and very often succeeds. But it doesn't always. And I'm okay with that. I do not criticize, because I know that despite my devotion to learning and understanding the Gospel, I also don't always live in conformity to, nor understand perfectly its application.

      But I will forever be seeking after light and knowledge, and my God.

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    3. Oh, and by the way....this I LOVED:

      "I hovered between life and death for the past year. I was so surprised that even as I hit my rock bottom place, faith was STILL a choice. I didn't "know", I chose. I wasn't just naturally faithful and optimistic-- I chose it. I chose to focus on the hand of God in my life not the suffering crap I was enduring. And, as I chose to look for the miracles- I was blessed to see them. As I chose to believe, my belief was solidified.

      Faith is a choice, and choosing faith not doubts or fear, gives you power. Faith and gratitude heal while doubt and criticism keeps you down. I know this. Not because I'm afraid, because I am alive. Faith literally healed me, choosing Faith can heal us all."

      My experience exactly!!!

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    4. My apologies for making it seem like I was discouraging support of leaders by shutting down the issue of right or wrong. It was not my intent. What I was trying to avoid was what I've seen occurring all over facebook and blogs, and it ends up being a battle of who's testimony is stronger. My goal was to create a space that focused on the healing side of things, in part because I know people who are deeply hurt in this moment for whom hearing a testimony won't be the answer to their troubles or pain. But understanding how to move on from disappointment will.

      It's kind of like a statement I heard from a wonderful stake president. Regarding those who were suffering and in need he stated something to the effect of "oftentimes it is important that we meet someone's physical needs before we will ever be able to meet their spiritual needs." The correlation here is that for those who feel wounded at this current news, they will need to first feel as though there truly is a place for them here in the church, as Pres. Uchtdorf said recently, before any amount of testimony will be of comfort or guidance to them.

      It may not make sense in the way that I explained, but I spent 4 years ministering in Brooklyn to people who seemed to struggle more with the history of the church than anywhere else I've ever lived. I learned they need to be heard, with all their questions and concerns, without being judged in the least. They needed to not hear that if they'd just pray about it more, their questions would be resolved. Though that works for many, for some the difference they see between the correlated/approved version of our history, and the one contained even in faithful LDS writers books (like Richard Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling), is such that they feel they can no longer trust any of our claims.

      This took a very different tactic, a lot of patience, and a deep knowledge of the history behind their concerns. Many were surprised when I was one of the first leaders to acknowledge their concerns as genuine, and to declare that I myself had studied the matter. I knew the history well enough to be able to admit where we most likely had done wrong, and was comfortable admitting as such. Once they felt understood, it was easier to then explain how I had resolved the matter, or point out some thing that they might not have known.

      Point being....I was trying to avoid the temptation for sound-bite testimonies as a way to resolve the concerns of those who struggle. It often just pushes the one who struggles even further away. I don't mean to disparage those testimonies...I believe them to be sincere and genuine and heartfelt. But I know that this is how those who struggle often perceive them.

      If my methods or reasons seem strange, know that it comes from those 4 years of helping strengthen faith surrounding doubts that I never encountered in Utah or Brazil, and only passingly heard in my 5 years in Boston. It comes from understanding sensitivities for those who struggle. It comes from the occasional need to leave the 99 to help the one. Short statements of testimony often strengthen those who are in the 99 or at least hanging closely on the fringes, but often push the 1 further away.

      The pain is real. Dear friends of mine are grieving. I hoped to make this a safe place for them to discuss healing. Any effect that had on discouraging others who's faith remains strong was unintended.

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    5. Danny, for me personally I perceive words like "Satan has a hand in your life," to be spiritual bullying. I actually think the term "spiritual whipping" (which I made up) applies to any comment used to get another to stop expressing concern. It could even be the gasp people make if you ask a tough question in Sunday School. They are spiritually whipping you back into line. It's not okay to ask that. (Which is actually very hard to understand how it's okay that it happened, but it's not okay to ask or talk about it). I know the term bullying is so harsh and no one would want to think they are doing such. The harsher comments I see as bullying, and but whipping back into place can be even from such small things people say.

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    6. I would like to clarify this by saying I know the bullying and whipping is unintentional. Even a gasp, is only a reaction. How can it be intentional? Nevertheless, it stems from a culture of people who are taught to fear questioning and dissent. We are taught to be bold with our testimonies. I would like to say that this culture of fearing information/questioning/dissenting is not the gospel. It is an unfortunate aspect in the church. The reason it feels like bullying to some of us (wish I were Danny with thick skin ;) ) is because struggling in the church is very heart wrenching. I felt like God had his hands wrapped around my heart for several months, squeezing out every drop of ego and certainty I had. It was so spiritually painful, it was physically painful as well. I say God was squeezing it out because I always felt God was with me, that he wanted me to go through this. So to take a person in this kind of condition and say things that make them feel like they are doing something wrong in their quest for truth, or this is in some way their fault, and they could change it by just doing x, y, z, is only increasing the pain.

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  45. One of the questions that is asked when renewing a recommend, or getting a temple recommend for the first time is do you affiliate or agree with any groups that are contrary to the beliefs of the church? Hello...Kate Kelly started a movement! While I feel bad for her, I'm not disappointed in our religion, or God. It's so sad how so many of our dear sisters are drifting away because of this movement. So terribly sad. I pray for Kate and anyone who decides to go against the church & its teachings, & who stands behind this unnecessary movement. Ordain women?? Sorry, but when someone starts a movement they are totally going against the church, and God. We are definitely living in the last days and I pray for those who are so far from the gospel and don't have a firm testimony of it. Those that are a part of this movement who claim to have a 'testimony' and love for the church truly don't understand, or have a strength in their testimony. I hope they pray their hearts out and when they go to church they will find it in their hearts to change as they renew their covenants. REALLY, REALLY
    think about this, and pray.

    That is my thought on this news that's getting old, and I hope y'all are doing great!

    xxx

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  46. Danny I really appreciated a deeper explanation of what you were trying to do with this blog post--it makes a lot of sense and I totally understand the need for empathy and kindness as everyone takes this journey through their own personal relationship with the Savior. What a wonderful experience that must have been to served Christ in that unique way in Brooklyn!
    I just wanted to add this simple statement from my own understanding. My dear husband was called to be a Bishop at a young age and we were both rather surprised at the calling. The greatest thing that I learned during that experience is how much the leadership of this Church is led by the Spirit. My husband, though a very imperfect man, was given direction and guidance in a way that was amazing to me. He would call someone to a calling and it would seem perhaps that it was an odd decision, and then later something would happen that would make it totally clear as to why that person was needed in that position. He would feel the need to reach to out to people at certain times and then we would see why. Many things happened that showed us how God truly works through His anointed leaders to bless His people. After my husband was released, this was no longer the case. He felt a real change because God now has other work for him to do.
    So I guess I just wanted to point out this experience. We are pretty normal people who are extremely imperfect. I do not Know Kate Kelly's Bishop or any of her local leaders. I am sure that they are very imperfect men. But I do not believe that those men were the ones making the decision for her to be excommunicated. I believe that God revealed His will to those extremely imperfect men and that they were obedient to His will. And I believe that God will continue to do this using His servants on the earth until His Son Jesus Christ comes again. And because of that, I am not disappointed in my religion in this case.

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    1. love this, thank you!!!

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  47. Claire, I am not personally much of a feminist, but I feel it is okay to sympathize with Kate at this time, and that doing so is not advocating transgression.

    Article of Faith 11: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    I see us honoring this AofF with people who are not members of our faith decently well (though could be better), but if it is toward members of our own faith who are worshiping differently (ex. being a left-wing Mormon, having unconventional ideas, etc.) we don't allow them this privilege of worshiping how they may. We say they are doing it wrong, being disobedient, etc. It is very stigmatizing to be born into this church and to become anything except the norm, whether it is unconventional views, doubting, or apostatizing, none of these scenarios lead to members letting each other worship how where, or what they may. Sure, no one is holding a gun to anyone's head, but the stigmas are more controlling and manipulating than I think most people realize.

    If this If the church feels the need to distance itself from Kate, so be it, but I think Kate, those who stand with Kate, and those who express sympathy for the situation, should be able to do so without judgment.

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    1. Erin - just wanted to say that I loved, LOVED your comment so much and it should be shouted from the rooftops. I love the quote "Live and let live." Such wise, wise words. And how unbelievably amazing it is that we see that sentiment in our own articles of faith. But sadly, it I can be hard for many to put that into practice. Perhaps this time can be a great learning experience for all of us. I have all the hope in the world that it can be - and that this entire discussion and experience can lead to shifts in people's views of others and lead to more love, understanding, and compassion for those who feel differently than them.

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  48. Maybe a better title for this post would've been "When I choose to be disappointed by my religion" since the premise of your blog is about taking responsibility for your actions and feelings instead of blaming others. I too love diversity and people who have questions and opinions and share them. Kate Kelly asked her questions, she just didn't like the answers she got and when she pressed in open rebellion there were consequences. Of course, Kate and John are still welcome to participate and worship in the Church, but it will be limited now based on their choices. They are also welcome to return to full fellowship by taking the necessary steps to do so. Being true to ourselves is about learning to submit our will to God.

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    1. Yes. You nailed it. This blog is about taking responsibility. That's why the post was about healing and what to do when things happen that you don't like. There is not a single person alive that will never have disappointments. But it's good to know how to heal when disappointments happen.

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  49. I have slowly come to understand that the first step of healing is to take a deeper look at oneself. If I am disappointed by something or someone then I try to understand myself to determine the root cause of my disappointment. If I don't do that then I eventually begin to justify, blame, etc. to make me feel better about my negative attitude towards something/someone. So I agree with Kari Rich above that disappointment is a choice, not an inevitable result of something that has happened. Our reaction to issues such as Kate Kelly's excommunication reflects our attitudes and deep-held beliefs about our religion. If we desire a religion that can be changed by popular pressure from its adherents then disappointment will come when our personal wishes are not satisfied. I strongly believe that we did not construct the straight and narrow path and we cannot change its course or widen its boundaries. As King Benjamin (a Book of Mormon prophet) taught, we stand in the wretched position of the beggar and, as the common phrase goes, “beggars cannot be choosers.”

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    1. Claire Roach, Mara is choosing to focus on the healing from disapointment, and although one certainly can choose to not be disapointed, it doesn't mean the other party is not in the wrong, even if it is the LDS church. It has been pointed out a few times in this discussion that the brethren have been blatantly wrong many times. And yet so many people are flying over that fact, covering their eyes to it, not acknowleging prophet fallibility. If they have been wrong, they MAY be wrong now. I know the black and white thinking is taught widely, but anyone who takes a look at history has to come to terms with this fact. Please, someone, respond to that fact with something more than, "We just need to trust. The brethren always speak for God." Because they don't... and they have admitted that they have been very wrong. Again, I am not a feminist, but the fact that someone has trouble with something the church says, does not necessarily mean that individual is wrong. Prophet fallibility, people, is not taught widely, but is a fact.

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