Most faiths have an explanation about what happened before we were born. Mormonism has a beautiful one. It centers around two approaches to our experience on Earth: Satan proposed an outcome where we could live with perfect certainty, knowing we would return, but that option came with an unappealing partner: no choices. God proposed another plan where we would be given the gift of agency, the gift of choice, but it required not knowing the end result. It required embracing uncertainty.
We call this “keeping our First Estate.” The First Estate, in this model, is where we were and what…
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
— Walt Whitman
The space between an experience and the way that experience is shared could fill the…
Much has been written over the last 10 years about the history of the church and the questions that circulate its founding. From the common topics of Joseph Smith, polygamy, and the Book of Mormon to more thematic issues around gender and race. This has caused many to leave the church and many others to lose the enthusiasm that comes with surety. This has been well explored. We’ll leave these topics to those that do it best and have been doing it the longest.
What is less explored, and is the exclusive focus of this Institute, is the value in…
It’s all around us. It was happening to others until our friend left the church or our sibling left or our parents left, then it was happening to us. We stayed. We knew we were strong enough to stay. We handled the news well at first, but the questions didn’t stay at bay and now we can’t go to church the way we used to.
We can’t know how many have left or how many plan to or ultimately will. We hope to stay. We hope to find meaning in the years or decades we have spent in the church…
Models for Mormons looking to find meaning in a faith they're questioning