No one's "pretending everything is fine" Amber. There is so much to be done! That depends on having an honest, discerning conversation about things as they are, however. I'm simply arguing here some significant limitations to Jana leading the way, in that regard - and pointing out ways her overly accusing analysis might fuel the very problem she is (genuinely, I think) concerned about.There ARE ways to discuss all the challenges she describes without so much suspicion, accusation, and fault-finding - and in ways that build faith. Let's do THAT!Special thanks to these three individuals who remind us in their comments what is most important when it comes to knowing the truth:James Done: The majority of us will instead have to rely on the eternal principle written by the Great Moroni in the last part of his record, preserved for us in the Book of Mormon. Those with a sincere heart and real intent, having faith in Jesus Christ, can have the truth of all things revealed to us by asking and then acting. I will continue living my life in such a manner and encourage any others seeking truth to do the same. It works.Pattie Skousen: I do question, but I take it to the Lord and I feel the Holy Ghost whisper to me that what is happening is what He wants.Chris: In my experience I think finding truth in this life is greatly helped by the Holy Ghosts assistance's. Without that help and experience at finding truth your ability to evaluate it is greatly hindered.
My wife and I are serving as CES missionaries at a noted Ivy League university (aka rampant secularism). The millennials attending our institute classes (over half of the YSAs) certainly don't fit the Reiss descriptions. They have totally impressed us with the strength of their testimonies and conversion. Yes, they have questions/doubts, but we haven't seen any more of that than we remember going through at the same stage of our lives.
As a convert to the Church during the 1960's and a member of the "Vietnam Generation" I have gone through and watched other people go through all of the same conflicts that Sister Reiss claims to be unique to Millennials. It may be that the culture in California caused these questions to come up earlier than in Cincinnati, but most people do end up asking the same questions of life and of themselves. They also end up taking pretty much the same courses to resolve those questions. Many of the people I knew in my early years in the Church are good and faithful members today. Many others have left the Church. Some of the people I taught during my mission are loyal members. Others left the Church even before I returned home. It comes down to testimony. Those who take the time and put in the effort to develop one are unshakable. Those who don't bother or who make a half hearted effort are then forced to struggle with faith for the rest of their time in the Church and are likely to end up on the outside.
Shouldn't the study also compare these results with generational differences that exist completely independent of the Church? For example, if you ask people who have no connection with the Church what there attitude is about "conforming," you may likely see similar generational differences. It would also be difficult to determine what views people from an older generation held when they were younger. It may be that if you asked Baby Boomer a few generations ago about their attitude about "conforming" how would that compare with people of that age now?
Thank you so very much for this analysis, Dr. Hess. I have long been bothered by Reiss' writings & interpretations of our mutual faith. I first read her "Mormons for Dummies," thinking it might be a good pass along for curious friends, but instead of finding faithful explantations & descriptions of our doctrine & practices (even if they needed to be laced with the humor inherent in the a Dummies series, which I have always appreciated), I found things that sounded more like a "jack" Mormon's view, "Sure, they tell us to do X, but most of us do Y & just pretend about the other stuff." Really disturbing, and nothing I wanted to pass along as a good, if humorous, look at my faith.
After the November 2015 handbook controversy, I yet again stumbled upon her writings, where she was calling for a sort of "war" on the church for a policy with which she vehemently disagreed.
Every time since, it has been the same. Progressive beliefs first, faith & church much later. Having recently heard her on the Leading Saints podcast discussing the publication of her work, I felt it was no different, for very much the reasons laid out in this article: the lense through which all is seen is "progressivism," not faith. The explainations, the questions, are grievance based. She feels oppression & disenfranchisement are adequate descriptives because they describe her feelings.
I feel she is writing her own narrative, not taking into account the other possible, counter narratives. Bias r'us.
P.S.- TopCat- you're funny! Lol
I agree with Penny....just another Korihor in a very long list of them preaching a biased agenda of secularism, sad but true.
"Large data sets have also been long appreciated among scientists as introducing even greater risk for confirmation bias." Can you provide a reference for this? So you are saying that less data is good? Large data sets help to eliminate outliers or at least make them average out. Jana Reiss conducted a survey. Surveys are inherently representative of those surveyed. We can't conclude anything about them except they represent the way the respondents responded at the time they were surveyed. Can the wording of the question affect the response? Of course. She's just reporting what the responses were to the questions asked. I am not sure what your article is arguing? All data collection and the conclusions following are impure. It's merely an attempt to explain observed phenomena. The comments stating that we all just need to pray and read the scriptures more is akin to saying that if we were all more "churchy" then we'd be churchier people and churchier people are the best!!!
While it is quite possible this new earth shaking report was a not so disguised attack on the LDS Church, I really think the unintended victims might actually turn out to be (gasp) the "Millenniums" themselves. I admit, I am so old I don't know much about them. What I learned about them here is that they walk away from contracts, prefer disobedience and non conformity over the opposites (which is really odd because if everyone was a non conformist they would be conformists), they hate old people (most prophets are old), are hyper aware of race and gender to the point it is a crime to have one. All this is much ado about nothing, yet another case of " I can't leave the Church alone now that I have left it" derangement syndrome. 5% more or less Mormons in the world, makes no difference.to the outcome.
The korihor's of this world are alive and well. It doesn't seem that she did any analysis of the Savior and His atonement. That true testimony is grounded in Him. Her work is based on a worldly outlook. Too bad she and the News Tribune will fail.
Like a child from a 6th Generation Wealthy family, the "old" latter day saints vs the "new latter day saints" show us that those who have lost faith or never gained it were some who rode off other people's testimonies and never fully adopted or adapted to practices that are meant to provide a solid foundation and lasting conversion. A 6th generation wealthy man for example would never see the value of saving a lost soul (a less active person) because that person should already "know" they should be at church. I have heard it so many times that those Born in the Covenant do not understand the problems and social ills that go on today. They do not know the protection they have received as a result of being Born in the Covenant just as a wealthy person does not understand that they must generate some cash flow themselves no matter how small. The bank is just not going to do it for you no matter how big your savings account is, living off that interest can turn out to be a disaster rather than a blessing.
I think Jana is providing a great service in helping all of us to better understand this new so called generation 'the millenniums'. Likewise Jacob is exposing many of the flaws in her interpretation of those findings. As one who lived and experienced the 'nonconformist generation' I can tell you that many, if not most, of our generation can not relate to them in this new Information Age that has formulated their entire life. I suppose human behavior has not really changed much since the days of Adam but they are living in a paradigm shift that perhaps equals the invitation of the Guttenberg press. Will they change Spiritually as we know it? I doubt it. But they may well change Religious practices as we know it. We need to meet them where they are, open our hearts and understand them better. They are our children.
While I find your thoughtful analysis very interesting, what I appreciate most is your modeling for us of fair and constructive engagement with viewpoints that can seem unfair and threatening. It is a modern adaptation of the way the Savior dealt with many who challenged him, and a good example for us to follow. Well done.
I found Jana's conclusions very interesting but out of sync with what I am seeing. I volunteer at an LDS temple and we have seen a HUGE increase in youth and young adult attendance in the last 5 years. Huge increase and they are coming by themselves without leaders or parents. Many millennials may be disenfranchised, but large numbers are finding a deeper meaning in their relationships with the Savior by praying daily and searching the scriptures so that they can be lead by the spirit. Interestingly, every "once was a Mormon" I have spoken with, has admitted to me that they did not pray and they did not read their scriptures to seek the spirit. Very telling. Don't blame it on the church. The Lord is very specific about communication.
I appreciate the depth of thought you have taken in evaluating this study. There is so much manipulation of data and the phrasing used to obtain it, most people accept the results as truth. In my experience I think finding truth in this life is greatly helped by the Holy Ghosts assistances. Without that help and experience at finding truth your ability to evaluate it is greatly hindered
I wonder if this woman is any relation to the wife of Thomas B Marsh?
I wonder what kind of statistics would have resulted from a survey similar to the one cited had it been given to the populace during the time preceding the "Great Flood" when Noah was the prophet of the dispensation?
I once became acquainted with an individual who helped produce the 2002 exposé. Initially, I was excited about her seeming interest in the gospel and naively trusted her to be sincerely. Let’s just say she turned out not to be so much as she was fishing for inside perspective which was later turned to a negative purpose.I am now very guarded about sharing my deepest feelings about the gospel. Once bitten, twice shy.
We aren't really losing that many, its just that those who leave do so very vocally. Actually, it is other denominations that are losing members rapidly according to this non-LDS web site:
I serve weekly in one of the local LDS Temples and I must say that regardless of what the this film, social media or any "study" may lead you to believe, our Temple sessions and other service opportunities found in the Temple are packed to overflowing with Millenials every day. It's really quite wonderful to see and experience the devotion and committment they seem to have for the beautiful experience, peace and blessings found by attending the Temple regularly!
I feel that those millenials leaving the church, are in fact a very small minority even though the media seems to want to present it otherwise.
Thank you for your in depth analysis. I am one of those "baby boomers" and I do question, but I take it to the Lord and I feel the Holy Ghost whisper to me that what is happening is what He wants. What vendetta does Jana Riess have against the church? Is she against all religions or just against ours? She must get some joy or popularity from her "discovery." What is her motive?
It has been said from prophets that some will try to persuade us to follow them and not the prophet.
Jana Reiss may be unaware of, or paid no attention to, the very wise advice on the evaluation of a religion given by the late Krister Stendhal, Lutheran Bishop of Sweden and formerly Dean of the Harvard University Divinity School. Stendhal said that the best, most accurate sources about a given religion are the faithful, believing leaders and members of that religion, with the living prophet as the most important source.There is every reason to believe as well that the most important, accurate and not particularly happy reviewer of this book, if He were still living in mortality, would be the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Following his "Bread of Life" discourse (John 6) many did indeed leave him then as is also true today. When he asked his apostles if they would join these deserters, Peter said, as educated, intelligent, faithful members today would say also, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
The book presents uncomfortable truths. Simply closing your eyes to them or disliking them doesnt make them untrue. How about instead of burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is fine, we acknowledge the problems and do something about it?
You must remember that the Salt Lake Tribune was established specifically to tear down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that remains its mission. Anything they write about The Church must be viewed in that light.
Excellent! Thanks for this very thorough discussion of criticism. I look forward to part two.
Thank you, Doctor Hess. Yours is a textbook approach, probably shared with all new graduate students, when considering interpretations of a large and complex study of human behavior. I wish we were all able to approach life's questions with these points in mind. The majority of us will instead have to rely on the eternal principle written by the Great Moroni in the last part of his record, preserved for us in the Book of Mormon. Those with a sincere heart and real intent, having faith in Jesus Christ, can have the truth of all things revealed to us by asking and then acting. I will continue living my life in such a manner and encourage any others seeking truth to do the same. It works.
Thank you for this article. As baby boomer who grew up in Reiss's home ward in Cincinnati, I can say that virtually all of the questions, concerns, and issues Millennials are portrayed as having with the Church now, we had then. After all, we were not sheep. We were the "nonconformist generation, the people whose mottos were "Don't trust anyone over 30" and "Question Authority." The difference therefore between us and these "next Mormons" is that we have been addressing these questions, concerns, and issues for a long time and have either found answers within the Church or have not and have left it long ago. As a result, I find this study reflecting more on the ages of the people involved rather than the Age in which they live, and I am optimistic that Millennials will be thoughtful, faithful, purposeful, individually committed members of the Church just as many of us "old folks" have tried to be.
Merchants of doubt take half truths and make truth. Intellectuals can’t get through the complexities without explaining or justifying their biased beliefs.
Well done, great work on this, I had similar thoughts, so thank you for so concisely appraising this, looking forward to your Part II.I also wonder if Jana's research was international, what percentage US respondents compared to rest of the world. Something I've noticed on our travels and meeting LDS overseas are their nuanced interpretations of gospel covenant living. I listened to Terryl Givens in London once suggest UK LDS are "living in the past with 1970's Bruce R McKonkie - devote 'Mormon Doctrin'e perspectives"... comparable to 'Saints' and their views elsewhere in the world.
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