So what’s next?

You’ve probably come across information that has challenged your belief in Mormonism. Likely, you’ve read a website, book, or listened to a podcast or two (or forty) that lead you to conclude that the faith that was instilled in you from youth, the foundational claims that were taught in primary, seminary, institute, or while serving a mission, were sorely lacking in important (and controversial) details regarding Mormonism’s origin. And now you’re angry, depressed, or confused. You feel alone. You don’t know who you can talk to. You’re not sure what to do next.

You’re not alone.

Although it may feel like a “crisis,” I hesitate using that term. A crisis implies trouble or danger. What I hope is that you will see this as an opportunity to more fully examine the foundations of your faith. While there is no magic formula that can restore the faith you may have once had, I can assure you that doubt is a normal part of spiritual maturation, and that doubt does not have to come at the expense of maintaining a meaningful relationship with Mormonism, if you so choose. Choice is important, because that is ultimately what your relationship with Mormonism comes down to. You have a choice to make, but there’s no rush in making it. Are you going to remain engaged? If so, for what reasons? Conversely, are you going to disengage? If so, for what reasons? This is not a sprint to a finish line. There is no mandatory outcome. Think of this more as a journey, an exploration, or an adventure, if you prefer.

Be thankful.

Many coast through life without ever facing a challenge to their faith or worldview. They may seem fortunate to have avoided the pain and confusion that you are now facing. But others–poets, artists, philosophers–have wrestled deeply with faith and life’s purpose. Henry David Thoreau penned of his experiment at Walden, “I wished to live deliberately . . . to suck out all the marrow of life.” “And not,” he asserted, “when I came to die, discover that I had not truly lived.” The dark night of the soul as was described by Mother Theresa can be troubling, but having passed through it is to drink deeply of life in a way that few are afforded. Wherever your journey leads, be thankful. Though it may not seem like a gift now, doubt and uncertainty are perhaps necessary steps along the path towards greater enlightenment. When the brother of Jared was instructed by the Lord to craft vessels to carry his family across a treacherous and frightening ocean, his response was not to beg the Lord excuse him from the harrowing journey to come, but rather to be provided with a source of light as they were carried to their unknown destination. Ultimately, it is important to note, that source of light was his choosing.

The purpose of this site is to provide helpful resources to examine and engage in Mormonism more deeply. It is not exhaustive. This site will focus on faith-affirming or faith-neutral writings on topics related to Mormonism and belief. I take for granted that you have come across skeptical or critical information already, so those sources will not be directly discussed here; but I will say a few words about skeptical or critical information.

Many Mormons commonly refer to information that is skeptical of Mormon claims or critical of its origin stories as “anti-Mormon.” I exercise caution in using this term, particularly when considering similar terms such as “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Muslim” that are directed against all members of a particular religious, ethnic, or cultural group. While “anti-Mormonism” does exist, simply being skeptical of Mormon origin claims does not automatically equate to prejudice towards Mormons as individuals. Many researchers and writers who have examined Mormonism from a critical perspective continue to hold individual Mormons in high regards, despite their skepticism of the religion’s foundational claims. When the term “anti-Mormon” is applied, it is often done as a scare tactic to dissuade others from reading or seriously considering critical/skeptical literature. I prefer to look at such literature as simply one perspective or approach. There are valid arguments made within skeptical/critical literature that should be taken seriously. However, I would caution anyone from drawing final conclusions from such literature without first having weighed and considered literature from other perspectives. While this site is intended to provide resources that are either faith affirming or neutral, that does not imply that critical/skeptical literature is entirely without merit or value.

To place Mormonism in context devotionally, philosophically, and historically; to read widely and deeply, considering a variety of voices and perspectives, can be a rewarding experience. This site focuses on the following three approaches to writing:

  • Apologetic. Writing that uses scholarly tools such as history, archaeology, language, etc. in specialized fields such as Egyptology or Mesoamerican anthropology in order to defend the foundational claims of Mormonism or respond to critics.
  • Academic. A secular approach is the one most often employed within academic writing as part of a broader religious studies focus that examines religious groups within their cultural environment, analyzing factors that are important to broader academic interests such the history of race, gender, or political thought. By nature, secular writing avoids directly resolving questions related to faith, but understanding secular historical context is critical for gaining an appreciation of the social environment that Mormonism emerged from.
  • Pastoral. Writing that is often grounded more in theological and philosophical approaches to faith and religion. Rather than attempting to prove or disprove specific claims, pastoral writing often focuses on the larger meaning of life and questions surrounding faith and doubt.

You may find yourself drawn more to one approach over another. Likely, you will find some value in all three. Giving them distinct labels is simply an organizational tool, and not an implication that you should limit yourself to any particular one. As said above, the goal is to read widely and deeply from a variety of perspectives.

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