Zelophehad’s Daughters

In a Friggin’ Candy Store!

Posted by Apame

Husband and I just got assigned to speak and the topic is….

::drumroll::

“Crises of Faith”

!!!

I feel like I’ve just been handed the most true-to-my-life speaking topic ever imagined!  And it’s on my last Sunday so I won’t have to be too worried about social capital and the torpedoing thereof.

I feel as if this could be an opportunity to do some real good–to be honest, but still respectful.  To let people out there know that it’s okay to raise an eyebrow every so often (or oftener).  To let people know that it’s a good thing to ask questions if something doesn’t feel right because isn’t that how this church started to begin with?  Aren’t questions the catalyst for truth-seeking and truth-finding?

So, if you had this (golden, beautiful, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime) topic, what would you choose to say?  What experiences would you like to share?  What facts do you think would help the questioning-kind of person (like so many of us in the Church who feel “broken”)?  What would be the one thing you’d hope to hear if you were in the audience?

19 Responses to “In a Friggin’ Candy Store!”

  1. 1.

    Awesome. AWESOME!

    As an audience member, I’d want to hear that crises of faith are normal, understandable, and not an indication of my worthiness or value as a person/member.

    So often when someone confesses a doubt, fear, or that they simply don’t “get” something in the church, gospel, or culture, the response is along the lines of “pray harder,” as if the questioner is somehow broken or a part is missing. Nothing could be less helpful. Questions should be treated as an opportunity to learn more, enhance knowledge, and search for truth, not as a moral failing.

    Our faith was founded by a man who didn’t “get” something and asked questions. The D&C is nothing less than a series of answers to specific questions. And Joseph Smith was just on in a long line of prophets and other inspired people who experienced moments of crippling fear and ignorance. Even prophets have crises of faith, surely we’re entitled to them too.

  2. 2.

    Wow.

    I would make it clear that if 400 people are in the meeting that day, there are 400 different levels of believe and understanding. I would make a point of emphasizing the principle and spirit of the the faith. I would want to to make people feel empowered to talk and question and wonder, to turn gospel doctrine class into a real class rather than a story-telling hour.

    Good luck. I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Will you post your entire talk(s) here?

  3. 3.

    I would want to hear about a faith crisis that you, the speaker, have personally had. It like examples, and I like personal narratives.

    Awesome topic, buy the way. One I have NEVER heard in Sacrament meeting!

  4. 4.

    Wow! I don’t think I have ever heard that topic spoken of in sacrament meeting.

    A few years ago I was the “Teachings of our Times” teacher in RS and I kept getting assigned these talks to teach that seemed to have a similar theme, testimony and adversity. It seemed so redundant and was getting harder to teach since each month seemed similar to the one before.

    Then, I had a huge trial dropped in my lap that rocked me to my core and I ended up spending the next year or two questioning EVERYTHING about my life. I could see what a tender mercy it was from the Lord that he had prepared me for this trial by assigning all those conference talks to study. The doctrines and principles were fresh in my mind and a great source of strength to me.

    One of those talks was “You Know Enough” by Elder Anderson. It taught me that doubt is okay and a normal part of this life. The Lord understands when we doubt.

    God bless your efforts to help others to not beat themselves up!

  5. 5.

    Sorry about the long reply, but I recently turned an assigned talk topic (Two Lines of Communication, Oct 2010 Gen Conf) partially into a similar theme. I think it’s important for people to understand that they should not abandon answers that they have previously received, just because they come across something they don’t understand. I know people who have stopped attending church meetings, for various reasons, but continue to pay tithing, because they know they receive blessings from paying tithing. On the other hand, I know too many people, who knew things and then came across something that they didn’t understand, became obsessed with the one thing they didn’t understand and abandoned everything else. Most of these people can’t talk about anything else when anything religious comes up.

    Though it is cliche, patiently accepting the Lord’s time is important. I shared a personal experience in my talk. I’ll try to keep it short. In high school, a close, non-religious friend asked, “if god is all-powerful, can he create a rock that even he cannot move?” I respond, “Sure, but He’s not that stupid.” Not a serious testimony issue, but the seemingly silly question lingered and I wanted an answer, so I prayed and pondered the question. For a little over 10 years, I wondered, prayed, and pondered the question. One day I am meditating and the situation is recalled to my mind, “if God is all-powerful, can He create a rock that even He cannot move?” And I receive an answer: “Yes, He created you.” Not only was God “not that stupid,” but in his infinite and eternal perspective, he created me, a rock that cannot be moved. With the maturity I’d like to think I gained in those 10 years, this made much more sense to me than it would have back in high school. And it profoundly changed my perspective of my own situation and more importantly, my perspective of and patience with all the other “rocks that God cannot be move.”

    Finally, I came across a great quote that may or may not be useful (I have not verified its authenticity, but I like it): Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish. — CS Lewis

    Good luck.

  6. 6.

    When someone brings up something that bothers them or that they don’t understand, a common response is “X isn’t essential to my salvation, so I don’t worry about that.” I would point out that X may not be a foundational principle of our faith, but it might still be very important or very troubling to someone, and the least we can do is to acknowledge that, even if we don’t have a good answer or explanation to offer.

  7. 7.

    A few years ago in GC Elder Packer gave a talk on how we can minister to one another and bear one another’s burdens. He said often the best approach is to take an example from a physician and simply ask: “Where does it hurt?” Once people learn they can speak freely about their spritual aches, we are better able to sustain one another.

  8. 8.

    Oh you are so lucky! We are new to our ward and were given the topic — for the whole month — of modern day revelation and prophets.

  9. 9.

    I would want to make sure the “non-doubters” understood that it’s okay for others to have doubts. One of the things that drives me the most crazy about experiencing a crisis of faith in the LDS church is the extent to which the “non-doubters” make those who doubt feel broken and unworthy, or how they so glibly dismiss others’ questions, or how they condescendingly remind those with questions of the party line answers (as if having been a practicing member for 35 years I still haven’t gotten my pretty little head wrapped around the party line answers and just need to hear/do them one more time).

    Anyway. I’d want to speak as much to those who don’t doubt but make those who do feel unwelcome as to those who do doubt.

  10. 10.

    In my experience, people respond really well to others talking authentically about hard things in life. When I was going through my crisis of faith, I bore my testimony about it. My message was “I’m having a crisis of faith. It really sucks, and I’m upset with God. Right now I’m trying to believe and have faith even though it’s really hard and I’m not sure how everything will turn out.” I had a lot of people express gratitude for my non-standard testimony. I think most people have had difficult experiences where the standard answers seemed lacking (even if they didn’t have a full out crisis of faith), and I think honest sharing about personal crises, including reminders of how you survive the difficult stuff in life is always good for everyone to hear.

  11. 11.

    .

    Not the same topic, but it was sort of my approach. People loved it. (link)

  12. 12.

    I also agree with many on this post, you should at least mention how having a crisis of faith is fine and that having one doesn’t make you “less than” those who’ve never had one.

    Also the C.S. Lewis Quote is actually Austin Farrer and was discussed in a Neal A Maxwell BYU studies paper. Here’s the link.

  13. 13.

    I’d use the teaching of Joseph Smith – The glory of God is intelligence. Whatever principles of intelligence we attain to in this life, will rise with us in the ressurection.

    We cant attain intelligence without asking questions. God most certainly wants us to ask questions – “Ask, and it shall be given”.

    Yes, some things we learn may cause us to have a crisis of faith – not just in the gospel but in anything we have learned – but we should not fear those doubts. We do not have to embrace them, but we can learn more as we come through them, no matter where we end up when we are through.

  14. 14.

    Throw in my ditto for the others who have mentioned that crises are normal and questions are appropriate. I have heard talks on this topic, but they usually focus on “preventing” a crisis of faith through scripture reading, church attendance, etc. Not helpful if you’re a Molly Mormon type who has crises anyway.

    By “last Sunday,” do you mean you’re moving? You really don’t anticipate consequences and can be totally brave? If that is really true, you might consider pointing out that leaders are fallible, and church doctrines change, and it is possible to sustain the church and its leaders while not believing every word they say. That is something I find comforting when experiencing a crisis of faith. You might give some examples, such as Elder Packer (oops) relaying some false doctrines in his conference talk about homosexuality and deleting them later so they wouldn’t be printed in the Ensign. Or church leaders teaching that Blacks were bad people in the preexistence and so they would be banned from the priesthood until the millennium.

  15. 15.

    As an audience member, I’d want to hear that crises of faith are normal, understandable, and not an indication of my worthiness or value as a person/member.

    So often when someone confesses a doubt, fear, or that they simply don’t “get” something in the church, gospel, or culture, the response is along the lines of “pray harder,” as if the questioner is somehow broken or a part is missing. Nothing could be less helpful. Questions should be treated as an opportunity to learn more, enhance knowledge, and search for truth, not as a moral failing.

    Our faith was founded by a man who didn’t “get” something and asked questions. ignorance. Even prophets have crises of faith, surely we’re entitled to them too.

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “Like” and Agree and Recommend and all that jazz.

  16. 16.

    I, personally, have had only one crisis of faith. It was when I was 16. I had gone to mass, as a good Catholic boy should.
    I was suffering from a massive hangover. I absorbed incense
    and listened to quite some number of bells. In short, a fairly typical Roman Catholic experience.
    In the midst of all this, I received a sudden revelation. It was as clear as the air over Pike’s Peak. The revelation was” This religion silliness is all just bullshit!” I walked out of the church and, aside from weddings, funerals and other ceremonies involving those not yet freed from the “Long Arm of Jeebus”, I have not been in a church since.

  17. 17.

    Faith is as much a decision as a state of being. Atheists have crises of atheism too, perhaps about as often as religous folk have their crises I would imagine.

    The key to it all is which side of the line you decide you are going to be on. That’s what generates the consistency, an element integral to reaping the rewards of either conclusion. Jesus teaching about the hot and cold water springs to mind

    Where doubt refers to indecision on the other hand it is a chilling paralysis that leaves the atheist frozen wondering if perhaps there might just be a knowable god and the religous person frozen wondering if those atheists might be right after all. The product of both is the same, inaction, fear, sadness, worry, anxiety and depression.

    To my mind this is the sort of doubt that we should be casting out. The doubt that stops you praying, participating, enjoying is to be avoided as much as possible, it’s just about as useful as worrying is.

    There is a vast chasm between being unable to reconcile all of your beliefs, which is normal and should be expected, and doubting, which is useless and should be avoided.

  18. 18.

    Thanks, Rhialto, for demonstrating number 1 of Kiskilili’s Troll Post.

    1. Whatever you do, DO NOT READ THE ORIGINAL POST. At most, skim it and then free associate on the basis of a few words you happened to catch sight of.

    I always like to get a good laugh out of my morning.

  19. 19.

    Amalthea,
    Always pleased to make life a little better for those who have enough sense of humor to appreciate a good sarcastic sally

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