Running this blog for the past year or so has been interesting to say the least. It has brought me a lot of joy – and pain – and I have grown in many different ways. Through this experience I have also been lucky to meet some amazingly intelligent and articulate people that I now like to call friends. It has been a wild ride!
I have found a great deal of joy in learning new things and expanding and stretching my beliefs, but sometimes that stretching is painful. And sometimes pain comes from letting go of certain beliefs. But I think the greatest pain, unfortunately, comes from friends who view me as unfaithful, damaging, or heading toward apostasy because of my questions or posts. I have had friends “unfriend” me on facebook, warn me of falling away, and call me to some kind of repentance. Now, I don’t mind a good discussion at all, but there is a difference between discussions and personal attacks. I’m not saying this to get sympathy points, but these are just some of the things that my brothers and I have come up against while running this blog.
I have been asked many times why I question. Why do I kick against the pricks? Why do I rock the boat? Is my blog anti-Mormon? Why don’t I defend the Church better or at all? Why do I choose to run this blog? Although it is very public, I write to better articulate my own struggles and thoughts and beliefs. For each post I publish I have to meticulously write out each argument backed with hours of research. Often a post requires two or more months of researching, writing, thinking, re-writing, and more re-writing (not to mention the hours my editor/wife donates to this project). But it truly helps me work out my faith and beliefs.
If we don’t ask questions, we don’t get answers, plain and simple. My memory might be a little foggy, but I remember something about a 14-year-old boy who read some scripture in James about lacking wisdom and asking questions. Anyone recall that kid? Joe something?? And there is another scripture, something about knocking and getting an answer. Throughout our history and throughout our scriptures we have invitations to ask, to knock, to search. We teach our children songs about it (Search, Ponder and Pray!). We also have countless people in our Mormon history who have asked, knocked, and searched. So why do I ask? Well, because the invitation is there. Asking questions is in our Mormon tradition and our Mormon DNA. It would just be strange not to seek truth after so many examples and invitations in the scriptures. Can you imagine a scripture that said, “Ssshhh, says the Lord of hosts, don’t worry about those things.” Just doesn’t seem right, does it? Wise words from my good friend Jared Anderson: Challenge the scriptures and let them challenge you. In all honesty, sometimes instead of finding answers I find more questions. But through the search I sure learn a whole lot about Mormonism and about myself. “Dude, it’s about the journey man” (said in your best hippy voice).
Another important reason I search and push the envelope is because I have children. I want to be able to thoughtfully and honestly answer any questions my children have. If I don’t have the answers, I want to help them in their personal searches. I want them to be able to feel comfortable asking me questions. Have you ever thought of how you would answer your child if he asked about polygamy? (Just a heads up, polygamy wasn’t the result of a shortage of men on the pioneer trail.) I want my kids to ask questions. I want them to seek truth and find truth wherever it may lie. That to me is pure Mormonism.
One of the many rewards that comes from running the blog is being able to connect with other people. I’m always very surprised when I find out who reads our blog and am even more surprised when they like it! I love knowing that I have friends who share the same questions and struggles. Sometimes people hesitate to voice their questions and concerns because they are afraid of being shunned or minimalized. Because of our blog, people are more willing to confide in me; I have become approachable to friends who are struggling or have questions. And I have reconnected with a lot of old friends because of the blog and it warms my heart. I am very, very thankful for that. You are okay in my book if you have questions or doubts – let’s hash it out together. It is always nice to have the support of friends on this journey.
“…Friendship is the grand fundamental principle of Mormonism, to revolutionize and civilize the world – pour forth love…” Joseph Smith 23 July 1843 (Sunday Afternoon) in Andrew Ehat and Lyndon Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, pg. 234
I hope our readers find things of value on this blog. And it is definitely not required to agree with everything that is put forth. Sometimes when our belief traditions are challenged it can get a little uncomfortable. If you ever feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Is the discomfort causing more questions? Is it because what is being conveyed is untrue? It is important to challenge ideas when you have strong feelings and opinions yourself. By doing so, we can learn from and understand each other.
I will end with the words of someone who is held in high regard in our little world of Mormonism: “Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please.” The first reader who correctly guesses the author of this quote in the comments below (without using Google) gets a cool RationalFaiths sticker. Good luck!