Updated: 4 June 13
Mormon Pioneers circa 1847
Conquering their 'crisis in faith'
A thoughtful friend, former Mormon bishop and now a visiting professor at the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California at Berkeley, sent the following letter a few days ago:
A group of friends and I are attempting to understand what is commonly referred to as the “faith crisis” in relation to the Mormon church. We have designed the following survey to help us gather personal narratives of people who have experienced or are currently experiencing a faith crisis.
As the survey notes, all responses are anonymous and no personally identifiable information will be captured in this survey. Simply put, we are looking for personal stories of people who have experienced or are experiencing a crisis of their Mormon faith.
If you know anyone who fits this category, we would appreciate your forwarding this message and link to them.
· While we encourage you to express yourself in whatever manner you see fit, please consider addressing: 1) The type of faith you had prior to your loss-of-faith (e.g., fully active, semi-active, non-active). 2) The reason or reasons for your loss-of-faith. 3) How you felt and what you experienced as a result of your loss-of-faith. 4) How others (family, friends, ecclesiastical leaders) have responded to your faith crisis. 5) How you would describe your current belief/relationship with the
. 6) What might have prevented your faith crisis in the first place, and 7) what, if anything, might help rebuild your faith? LDS Church
Since I identify with this category and value my Mormon friend's initiative, I submitted something like the following:
Mine was not a crisis of faith; it was a crisis of trust in the Mormon ecclesiastical system in Salt Lake City, which 'crisis' began in San Diego in January 1965.
When I was excommunicated (for the second time) in June 1992, it confirmed to my sorrow that many general ecclesiastical authorities of the Mormon Church are still primarily concerned with preserving power to control the minds, hearts and behavior of those pledging allegiance to the system. Simply put: institutional conscience trumps individual conscience, despite public claims to the contrary. It illustrated for me the truth of a personal dream I had had (just before meeting with the local stake president) warning me of "a law bent" and promising "understanding", which launched my challenge of the institution's (i.e., that stake president's) 'understanding' of the 'law'. That reaction (vs response) in August 1965 led to my first excommunication in April 1966.
Which 'law bent'? The primacy of individual conscience.
Despite this indictment, I believe the LDS (Mormon) Church is important internationally as a powerful, though not always wise, political force and Mormonism as an idea is a powerful, though not always just, awakening psycho-social voice. My current relationship with the institution is cool, since I am unwelcome to speak in their meetings, especially Fast and Testimony meetings.PS. It has taken me a very long time to tell the behavioral difference between "reaction" and "response" or being responsive rather than reactionary. It takes the wisdom of age to tell the difference, yes? I think so.
The single, even simple, thing that could repair my trust would be a welcoming invitation from the local bishop to make a presentation before him and the ward council on the subject of dreams and dream work. (I'm working on this these days, along the lines of last year's Lenten Retreat for the local Evangelical Lutheran Church.) Should that simple (miraculous!) invitation ever happen, it would make me happy indeed! And, should it extend to the stake president and high council, so much the better.