I would love to hear more about you, RaNae. I'm sorry you feel "elderly people are less valued members"...my grandfather changed my life. Older people are our anchors in the storm - and provide the mentoring all the rest of us need! Please don't walk away...we need you!And A. Bingham - I want to interview you too!RaNae and A. Bingham, can you contact me at unthinkable.cc so I can ask you more?
Dear Jane - it's true I take issue with parts of Jana's worldview. But that's not why I wrote this (many dear friends of mine share Jana's worldview). Rather than another perspective in the conversation, however, Jana has clearly and explicitly presented her views critical of the Church as empirically-based, scientific, and factual (aka, *more*than just another view).When such a serious claim is made publicly, it seems fair that it be open to public scrutiny too. Would you disagree? It sounds like you agree with many of Jana's arguments - even to the point of seeing them, in your words as "just facts." It's precisely this language that I've pushed back on here. Thus, I would say it's not a fact that "women have no power" in the Church - nor is it a fact that "gay people face a hostile environment." Those are both arguments about which we should be able to disagree and explore different perspectives (at least that's *my* perspective!)But as is clear around us, that kind of open conversation is not happening. And that's why I'm trying to fight for this kind of open civic space where, yes, we can learn together how to grow in love and peace as a people (I agree there is so much more to learn there!). I believe that space to disagree is pre-requisite to getting there. Thanks for being open to sharing your concern.
I am a 5th generation faithful member. My conclusion of these reviews is that the author doesn't like the world view of Jana Riess, therefore her research conclusions are not valid.This polarization in the US and in the church -the idea that only your own "side" is right, and that the other "side" is so unproductive and pernicious.I've read Jana's work over the years and find her to be a very thoughtful and faithful member. She often points out things we as a church should consider. I have not read her book, but I will start with the assumption that her research is valid because of the obvious things I see with my own eyes in the church. Yes, many young people are faithful. But many are leaving (so many in my own family and in my area). Rather than discount the answers she offers, we should consider that she has a point. In my own family, the main reasons people left are because of gender inequality, the way gay people are treated in the church, inconsistencies in church history, and the judgmental attitudes in congregations.If we are honest, these are valid concerns. In our church, women have no power, and gay people face a hostile environment. Many important questions remain unanswered or even addressed. We seem to like to point out each other's supposed failures at living the gospel. These are just facts.Rather than condemn the research, we should take a look at what is happening, and what we can do to be more inclusive. The exclusion policy was wrong, and I'm glad it has been corrected. The recent temple changes were good, and from what I know came about because of surveys the church undertook to understand the issue. A very good and positive development.We can sustain the prophets, which I do, but still realize they can and will make mistakes. They are not infallible - (as President Oaks pointed out in the news conference after President Nelson was called.) We are a church that believes that many great and important things are yet to be revealed. Changes are inevitable. Until we know more about the thorny issues, we can do better as a people in recognizing our faults and making our congregations more inclusive.
I do find it rather sad and fascinating that those who decry "judgers," seem to have no compunctions about judging others themselves. The focus Reiss has on "all" of the judgement found within the church fails to acknowledge her own writings, which are rife with judgement. The internet peanut gallery, as it were, is one massive sea of judgment, and only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of those commenting on other's actions, behaviors, fashion choices, etc. are members of our faith. Could it be that judging others is a failing of humanity as a whole, and no more or no less prevellant in our church than in a as a whole? I know, ideally, it would be less so, but, well, are we not all sinners in need of grace?
Organized religious institutions were never meant to be the end but only the foundation and invitation to develop a personal relationship with God and fellowmen. See the religious institution for its good and overlook its faults. That is how God sees each of us so may we do likewise with others as well as expect others to view us the same way. Religion is simple not tortuous and contradictory. A personal and vital relationship with God is the key to success in this ever changing world. Anything else falls short of the measure of our creation. Religion only helps us find God who provides salvation.
RaNae, before you leave the church, will you try two things? Every day, pray sincerely and read the Book of Mormon. Do this for just one week. That’s all I ask. Thank you.
This “research” is pretty faulty from the start. I have read both parts of this article critique and all mentions of impropriety were cherry picked to support her own positions. She never accounts for personal choice. It was always someone else’s fault these people left the church.
Any kind of validation of these points collectively is dangerous
But the real story should be “why is the Church membership becoming mainstream by accepting the victim mentality that the world so easily accepts”
Equally concerning in the information provided is that, though she admits to getting some parts wrong, she doesn’t seem willing to change it.
No matter what faith you are, if you understand personal accountability, you will see her presentation of “The Next Mormons” as a faulty depiction of reality
It really comes down to whether or not a person not only accepts Jesus Christ as the God and Savior of this world, but also accepts the desirability and reality of His living prophets like Russell M Nelson, those authorized and thus truly inspired to represent to the world what the Lord would like for us at this time. Prophets are not chosen to reflect what the world wants but what the Lord wants. Jana should remember thus the counsel given in Jacob 4:10 to “seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.” through his living prophets.
Brilliant analysis Dr. Hess. I encourage you or some other enterprising social scientist to examine closely, "the other side of the story". Those individuals (such as myself), who, have, after years of professional indoctrination, have simply walked away from the prevailing worldview that espouses a distinctly progressive narrative of gender, sexuality, and generally deconstructionist approach to religion. Indeed secularists such as Camille Paglia, and, psychologist /Catholic Jordan Peterson and others are also calling out the hypocrisy of this bankrupt line of inquiry. I too, a born in the covenant PhD social scientist, cried foul, and after nearly 4 decades, walked away, and return to my original faith community. I currently rejoice in the promises and covenants available to all in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A. Bingham, PhD
I read your linked book about relationships. It was very interesting. I think part of the problem is that more and more people have some attribute that is on the list of true icebreakers that you mentioned. (I.e. an addiction, a disability that makes it very difficult to find employment...etc). In my opinion, society has done a crappy job of preparing people to be married in the first place. This is particularly true for kids from broken homes.
The first commandment given to all life, including man and animals, was to multiply and replenish the Earth. When we progress to the point where we start to populate our own Celestial homes, I wonder how the non-gender-conforming couples who were exalted will produce spirit children. Adopting orphans?
This reminds me of another author many years ago named Fawn Brodie, who the critics all quickly accepted as the best and highest source to expose and solve "the Mormon Problem" as she did her best to appear as an insider with facts no one else was privy to in her writing. It didn't take Hugh Nibley long to expose some of her errors, but many years went by until the critics read her book about one of the founding fathers (I think it was about Thomas Jefferson) and then they discovered she was no expert at all but more of a quack out doing a hatchet job. In this current book apparently the author is once again an acclaimed expert because for one thing she says the brethren are all white, aged men that just don't get it, a popular theme in the world of anti-LDS folks. Denigrating the Prophets is tantamount to apostasy and making that public and pushing such an agenda is dangerous ground upon which to walk if one wants to keep their membership in the Church. I was past 35 when I married so I am familiar with many struggles of singles and had many friends who married in their 30's as well. They have since been bishops, senior missionaries, high counselors, etc. besides having successful careers, families, and remaining true to the faith of their childhood and youth. There is no need to think those who have left the fold will have much positive to say as to why they did or what they think of the Church. That they are inactive pretty much says how they feel about things. And the "progressive agenda" will never be the norm in the Lord's Kingdom. It reminds me of the Children of Israel in the wilderness murmuring that it "would have been better to have died in Egypt." So no surprises, really.
The Church exists to help us become like God. It would appear that Jana wants the Church to become more like her.
I fail to understand why anyone would consider Jana Riess to be a credible expert on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I consider her, and her thought processes about the faith, to be similar to those of John Dehlen and Kate Kelly. At the very least she is a wolf in sheep's clothing like Peggy Fletcher Stack, who continuously writes snarky articles in the Salt Lake Tribune, hoping to generate page upon page of anti-Mormon comments. I would not read Jana's book if you paid me to do so. I'd rather spend my time reading something faith promoting!
You discuss the mindset that Jana took into her research and that colors her conclusions. It's very interesting to look at hers compared to mine. I'm a convert from Judaism. I've lived in various cultures here and around the world that are majority Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Moslem, Evangelical Christina, Buddhist, Hindu. The culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints compares very favorably to all of these other religious-majority cultures, as far as I can see -- in every category, from judgmentalism, the number of rules, etc. It would serve our hyper-critics to have the same kind of broad experience I have enjoyed.
I appreciate this critique of Riess's research. However, as a life long member who at my advanced stage of life, having been a single, divorced female, I certainly find credibility in Riess's writing. Further, now as a retired PhD professor and family therapist, i am appalled by the closed mindedness of the majority Republicans in the church. Politics certainly prevail from my point of view. I am on the fringes of leaving the church. I certainly am in the minority but I am also aware of my own behavior and I truly don't fit even though I've remained a relatively "good LDS" member. There's more to the story. I'm questioning the truth as I continue my research & studies of civilizations and mankind, religion. Many church members, especially older, don't appear to be critical thinkers. They remain steadfast to FOX news or simply are uninformed. I choose not to have visiting or home ministry. I can't trust folks who are not informed thinkers. While I've been very independent most of my life, it is sad and depressing to not have community. I continue as a music person in the church, but keep less active as elderly people are less valued members. Sometimes, it depends on the ward, one's age, family. Lots to unravel as we continue our evolutionary growth.
Very interesting, thank you. I am reminded of an article in a women’s magazine in the early 1980’s about HIV. It had a questionnaire at the end that they wanted readers to respond and submit. One question- Now after reading about the HIV virus, will you be changing your behavior? What a poorly written question! I would answer no to this and appear to be stupid. But my current behaviors were not putting me at risk! It’s all in how a question is asked.
There is interest and sadness to see surveys taken to help the church and the brethren adjust their rules, regulations, and doctrines to maintain membership. Perhaps they believe if the brethren see the survey, they will study it and determine ways to become more popular, so members will be strengthened and ex members will return.
Those who have worked, sought, and fought for their testimonies know this method is like the tail wagging the dog.
I think it is wholly appropriate to recognize that a tension exists within the church and in our personal beliefs and interpretation, however, in reviewing the outcomes of testing this tension within ourselves, we find a greater degree of growth if we give the same level of sincere effort and work to test those facets that lead to the greatest tension within our lives.In other words, one should not accept a narrative based on the experiences of others, but should test it for ourselves. Doing otherwise is an injustice to resolving the tension.that we have set for ourselves, and for lack of a better word, is "lazy".It takes work, effort, self introspection and yes, even calling upon our Heavenly Father or God for answers.This book appears to be a self-validation to the internal struggle being felt by the author towards the acceptance of a vehicle (and the leadership within) in place upon the earth by which Heavenly Father (or God) would choose to promote its interpretation of His direction and counsel.At some point there is "acceptance" and faith, with a worn and tested set of personal struggles and answers, or there is acceptance of an outside influence that we accept without the appropriate effort within ourselves.Yes, that sounds like a "my way or the highway" type of interpretation, but in reality it is a challenge to "come and see", test things out in your mind and life, and give communication with our Heavenly Father (or God) a chance.He WILL give an answer with our extension of sufficient humility and sincere effort - a test that should be acceptable to all who profess a faith in God - inside or outside the church.One must also be intellectually honest in accepting that no organization is filled with perfect people, and establishing the foundations of belief in God cannot rest solely upon those imperfect people, but should be built upon a divine and perfect source.
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