Dutcher's Departure
The Mormons: A Review

Guide for the Inquisitive Mormon

When I first began scouring the Internet, looking beyond the official LDS Church web site, FAIR, and FARMS (now the Maxwell Institute for Silver Hammer Research or some such thing) for information about Mormonism, I found many sites with gold mines of information. But I found it difficult to locate specific information on topics of interest to me. It was only through a lot of trial-and-error and random reading, searching, and clicking that I was able to find the information most useful and relevant to me. I kept wishing that there were one or a few sites with a wealth of easily accessible information on the issues most germane to someone in the early stages of questioning the foundational claims and assumptions of Mormonism. A couple years and many hours of on-line searching later, I have identified what I think are the best sites offering an unvarnished look at Mormonism. Some of these I have included in the left sidebar here at Equality Time.

I imagine this blog entry can serve as something of a guide to Mormon investigators just beginning to dip their toes into the waters of “uncorrelated” Mormon history, doctrine, policy, and culture. So, here are my suggestions for someone just starting down the road of discovering the truths that Boyd Packer finds “not useful” but which you might find enlightening indeed.

Sites Providing a General Overview of Issues

To get a good general overview of the most important issues relating to Mormon history and doctrine that are either overlooked or suppressed in the LDS Church’s correlated materials, your first stop should be a site called Twenty Truths About Mormonism created by Jim Day. Jim’s site contains a brief overview of 20 problematic issues regarding Mormonism, from the Book of Abraham to Polygamy to the Kinderhook Plates and more, along with links to additional resources on each topic. It’s a clean, uncluttered site that focuses on essential facts, and is presented in a detached, rational tone. No preaching or hyperbole here. Jim also includes apologetic responses for each category discussed.

Another site taking a similar approach but providing much more detailed information for each issue covered is a relative newcomer on the scene. For anyone wanting a deeper look at some of the most nettlesome issues concerning Mormon doctrine, history, and culture, I recommend a visit to a site called Mormon Think created by current members of the LDS Church who have a desire to let people know more about the Church than what can be found in the Church’s manuals or Sunday School classes. This site also has an easy-to-use interface and contains what I consider the best pages on Polygamy, Moroni’s Visit, the Book of Mormon Witnesses, the Translation of the Book of Mormon, and the many conflicts between Science and Mormonism. Each page contains numerous cites to additional information available online for each topic covered. The site is a work in progress, so check back often for updates. Pages on the temple and the Book of Mormon are coming soon, and if they are anything close to being as comprehensive and information-packed as the pages already written, they will be well worth your time to read.

One of my favorite sites is by Deconstructor, called Rethinking Mormonism. This site also contains good information on Mormon history, including a page analyzing the accuracy of the South Park episode on Mormonism, but covers additional topics not discussed at Mormon Think or the 20 Questions site, including an excellent section discussing Mormon teachings on human sexuality and a fascinating number of articles relating to Mormon temples. There is a lot more at the Deconstructor site, much of which is not commonly found elsewhere.

For essays on a wide variety of topics relating to Mormonism, I recommend that your next stop be Zarahemla City Limits, a site that has always had a treasure trove of information. It used to be that a seer stone was necessary to find all the gems buried here, but recently it has undergone a facelift, so you need not be blessed with the gift of seership to find what you are looking for anymore. For more information on hundreds of Mormon topics, go to the ZCL Encyclopedia, which now has an excellent search feature to help you find just the article you are looking for. It’s a work in progress, so check back often.

Discussing Your Newfound Knowledge

If you are like most people, once you have read even a portion of what is available on the  general overview sites I mention above, you will likely experience a range of emotions running the gamut from fear to vertigo, from anger and resentment to liberation and exhilaration, from sadness to joy. You probably will want someone to talk to, to vent, to question, from whom you can receive comfort and assurance and advice for how to proceed. Various online discussion forums are available for just this purpose. One that was extremely valuable to me in the initial stages of my re-examination of my faith was the New Order Mormon discussion board and web site. The New Order Mormon board is for people who question some or all of the LDS Church’s doctrinal claims. It provides support for people who want or need to remain connected with the LDS Church despite their disbelief. If you find yourself in that situation, I can’t think of a better place to go to talk over your issues, concerns, and questions.

Some who learn that the church is not all they were taught it was understandably become angry or frustrated and do not want to mince words in expressing their thoughts and feelings about the church. If that’s you, I suggest going to the Further Light and Knowledge board. You will find there many people who have gone down the path you are now walking. The FLAK board has intelligent, articulate, knowledgeable, reasonable, and fun people with divergent views and backgrounds who share something in common: a distaste for some or many aspects of Mormon doctrine, history, or culture. It is a safe board, meaning you won’t be confronted with true-believers bearing testimony. It’s a smaller board than the better known RfM discussion board hosted at exmormon.org. But I prefer the tone, the board interface, and the fact that every thread is archived at FLAK. You may also want to visit the discussion board hosted at postmormon.org or the one at mormondiscussions.com. The latter allows true-believing Mormons to post and antagonize doubters and dissenters. For those just beginning to question, such confrontations are rarely helpful, so unless you are the debating type, you might want to avoid that until you become better grounded.

For those who may feel a bit of trepidation about obtaining information from sites outside the dominion and control of the LDS Church and church apologists, some food for thought. You will notice that I have linked in this post to the official church site and the two most prominent apologetic sites. I also have links on m y left sidebar to the most popular blogs in the so-called Bloggernacle (the name for blogs written by faithful Mormons touching upon Mormon issues). I don’t discourage anyone from visiting those sites, listening to LDS church leaders, scholars, and defenders of the LDS faith. In contrast, the LDS church works very hard to discourage its members from obtaining information about the church from non-church sources. Teachers are told to teach only from the correlated church manuals and church leaders make disparaging comments about “alternate voices.” The Bloggernacle sites do not link to my blog or to other blogs written by unorthodox members, disaffected members, or ex-Mormons. The most popular blog aggregator site actually de-listed a Bloggernacle blog last summer for (gasp!) linking to a disaffected-Mormon discussion board in a post. The reason? The administrators of the blog aggregator did not want someone seeking information about Mormonism to stumble upon a site that wasn’t 100% faithful to the church party line. Ask yourself this: if in a debate, one side tries to limit access to the views of the other side, while the other side seeks to put up no such barriers, who is more likely to have the stronger argument? I believe truth can withstand scrutiny. I believe it can withstand debate and discussion and criticism. I believe that honest seekers of truth can best get at the truth by having full and open access to as much information as possible and by having access to arguments from a variety of viewpoints expressing a wide range of interpretations of the data. Certainly, if the church has the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then it has nothing to fear from its members honestly and openly investigating its truth claims thoroughly, using all the tools of scholarship and investigation available. Right?

Comments

Truthseeker

I think visiting several different sites covering similar topics provides the true 'truthseeker' an opportunity to establish what really are the facts and how others with varying degrees of faith interpret these facts.

It is easy for someone to be persuaded to view one side as 'correct' when that is all he knows. So please view a variety of sites from differing viewpoints to make an informed conclusion as to what is likely true in regard to Mormonism.

It is interesting to note that the so called 'anti-Mormon' sites will often link to the 'pro-Mormon' sites but the 'pro-Mormon' sites never link to the 'anti-Mormon' sites. Makes you wonder why one side isn't afraid of having people look at all the information and another side wants to carefully control what people see. I ask you who does it sound like is dealing most fairly with you?

Sister Mary Lisa

Right.

Kullervo

Excellent collection of information!

mel

Equality, thank you for sharing your research and recommendations. I've been lazy about becoming fully informed and part of the reason is not wanting to dig through all the rough material to find the gems. But I consider you to be the DeBeers of this industry.

If you have a similar collection on general christian/religion topics I hope you share it. This because falling away from Mormonism, for me, included dealing heavily with the non-denominational as well.

C.L. Hanson

Hey, don't forget to recommend "Outer Blogness" for Mormons who'd like to read about the everyday lives of everyday apostates. There's a particularly fun one over at Letters from a Broad... ;^)

I agree it seems like the exmo sites are more likely to link to the pro-LDS sites than the opposite, but to be fair, a non-trivial number of faithful LDS blogs do indeed link to my blog.

Equality

I agree that the dismo/exmo blogs are a next great step for people newly exploring and re-examining the Mormon faith. And I heartily recommend your blog. I was thinking of doing a rundown of my favorite blogs, but there are so many and I think it's such a matter of personal preference (and I couldn't think of how to do it without hurting someone's feelings). I think the sheer number of outer blogness blogs that are available now as pposd to just two years ago is astonishing. And I do think that these blogs serve a very important function--they put a human face on "bitter apostates." It is harder for the church to vilify and stereotype disaffected members when people can just hop on the Internet and interact with them. "Shunning" is not nearly as effective a tool of social control and manipulation in the Internet era.

Thanks for the correction. I did not realize there were so-called faithful blogs that would link to heretics and apostates.

C.L. Hanson

Thanks!!! I'm flattered that you like my blog!!! :D

As for the faithful blogs linking to apostate blogs, there are a bunch of examples. I think both "mind on fire" and "pilgrimgirl" are post-Mormon blogs, and they each have a bunch of incoming links from faithful blogs. Faithful blog "Hieing to Kolob" picked post-Mormon blog "The Fire Sermon" among her 5 "thinking blogger" award blogs. Dave of DMI links to a bunch of DAMU blogs (including yours). He was linking to me for a while, but deleted the link, and didn't put it back even though I asked hime to twice, grrrrr... Three faithful blogs with impeccable faithful credentials who link to me are fMh, Ethesis, and Bigelow's Rameumptum. Plus one time A Motley Vision included my novel site in their sideblog -- that really made my day when I saw that. :D Plus a few faithful blogs linked to the post-Mormon group blog "Main Street Plaza" when it first started.

So I guess the faithful providing links to post-Mormon blogs isn't that rare after all...

Equality

I guess that depends on how you define "rare." ;-)

crazy for ctr rings

Really great links. Thanks for the post.

Reformed_Egyptian

********
Ask yourself this: if in a debate, one side tries to limit access to the views of the other side, while the other side seeks to put up no such barriers, who is more likely to have the stronger argument? I believe truth can withstand scrutiny. I believe it can withstand debate and discussion and criticism. I believe that honest seekers of truth can best get at the truth by having full and open access to as much information as possible and by having access to arguments from a variety of viewpoints expressing a wide range of interpretations of the data. Certainly, if the church has the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then it has nothing to fear from its members honestly and openly investigating its truth claims thoroughly, using all the tools of scholarship and investigation available. Right?
***********

AMEN AND AMEN.
If there was room for the above to fit, it would be my 'signature' If I could cry with the voice of an angel to the inhabitants of the LDS world...this is what I'd be saying. Thanks for the wonderful links and website and for saying what so many feel and think, but can't put into words.


dpc

Equality said:

"Certainly, if the church has the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then it has nothing to fear from its members honestly and openly investigating its truth claims thoroughly, using all the tools of scholarship and investigation available. Right?"

Sure, that's a given. (although I dispute that the Mormon church has or claims to have the *whole* truth; nobody has that)

However, (and please correct me if I am wrong), the church discourages use of its facilities to disseminate information that is adverse to it. If you're arguing that Sunday School should be an open forum for debating historical issues, I counter that it is not an appropriate time nor place.

As far as the church limiting what Mormons can read or not read, I submit that I can click on any one of those links above, join any discussion board and become as learned in the ways of Mormonism as I like. Nobody can stop me from doing it. The church hierarchy can discourage it, but there is a big gap between discouraging and outright censorship. Plus I've found that both sides seem to overstate their case. Perhaps Sunday School could be devoted to lectures on epistemology, metaphysics and ethics instead of so-called gospel topics to help members better process the information that they receive. If I had a little clicker for every logical fallacy I see employed, I'd be clicking it all the time when I read some of the things that people write (or even when reviewing my own material).

Given the sheer amount of information available on the various topics, I'm not sure how anyone could arrive at a conclusion that the Mormon church is what it claims to be on examining the 'evidence' without a leap of faith into belief or disbelief. I doubt that anyone that reads this would claim that they have a complete and unified vision of the truth. DNA studies may be part of the picture, but the spiritual experiences are also part of the same picture. I don't think that you can dismiss either or give one priority over the other without some pretty compelling reason to do so. There are many gray patches, a lot of confusing facts and unclear motivations that muddy any investigation into the truth. It takes years to come to any decision and even then it's not clear (and never will be). What do you do in the meantime?

Jeremy

I consider myself be something of a NOM (not a post or ex), and I've spent a lot of time in both the pro and anti web worlds reading what everyone on both sides has to say. I'm no authority, but my experience is, I think, broad enough to be worth something.

I have to defend the church and the pro-mormon sites here for second. I've found that the ex/non/anti sites/literature often have an angry tone and that they commonly utilize logical fallacies, mistruths, and incomplete information. (I'm sure the pro-mormon sites are similarly guilty. I'm not letting them off the hook.) For that reason, I don't fault the pro-mormon sites and the church itself from discouraging people from reading it.

I think a lot of the non/ex/anti sites and literature are often susceptible to that sort of discussion because so many of them view themselves as serving a function of "enlightening" the unenlightened mormon masses of the world. Consequently, many feel it necessary to paint the facts in the worst possible light (to show those ignorant mormons what their church is really like). This isn't unlike what FAIR does -- they feel that their role is to explain a piece of history that the reader has already learned of somewhere else and thus need to paint the facts in the best possible light.

anyway, this is in no way a criticism of your site, I'm new to it, but quite like it actually. I'm just defending the decision of the institutional church and of many pro-mormon writers to discourage members from reading a lot of ex/non/anti materials. Those materials, even the most "enlightened" among us can agree, are often biased to a point of being dishonest.

Equality

Jeremy, Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I appreciate your point of view. One thing that I don't quite follow in your argument. Perhaps you can elucidate. Assuming you are correct that many ex-mo, non-mo, or even anti-mo sites display animus and/or bias toward the LDS church and present information in a manner unflattering toward the church, I am still not sure I understand why LDS leaders would so strongly warn members against visiting such sites. You seem to be one who has visited such sites, assessed the information presented, sought out other viewpoints, and formed your own opinion. So why shouldn't your fellow Latter-day Saints be able to do the same? To me, it is an insult to the intelligence of members of the church to think that they can't discern truth from falsehood, accurate information from biased hyperbole. The difference I see between me (and many other disaffected Mormon blogs and sites) and apologetic Mormon sites like FAIR is that I don't try to dissuade people from reading the apologetic arguments. I link to the LDS church website and to faithful LDS blogs. I encourage people to consider all the evidence, not just what they might read here or on the sites I recommend. In contrast, the LDS church wants its members to get their information about the church only from faithful sources, and preferably only from approved church sources. Why do you suppose that is, Jeremy?

Jeremy

I feel very much the same way you do, but, at the same time, I think I understand the rationale of the institutional church/pro-mo writers.

First, I feel like you do because, like you've said in other posts, I would generally prefer the church, in all of its interactions with me, to "teach correct principles and let [me] govern [myself]."

That being said, I understand and sympathize with the pro-mo world in trying to dissuade others from seeking out opposing views. It has everything to do with perspective and trust. Imagine you're the institutional church, or any pro-mo writer. You have a strong testimony and you genuinely believe that membership and activity in the church is necessary for salvation. With that perspective, you have every reason to do everything you can to keep your friends and fellow man in the church. You want them to be happy. You want them to be saved.

Now, I've been able to sort through the abundance of information on the web and elsewhere and form my own opinions about it, but many people aren't like me. I don't mean this in any sort of arrogant way, honestly, but I, like you, am a pretty educated, informed guy with a background in philosophy, logic, and law. That's a pretty good foundation for being able to mill through all of the information out there, make sense of it, ignore the fallacies, spot the good arguments, and form an opinion. That background isn't common though.

So, because that background or ability is uncommon, I think the pro-mo desire to "help" others toward salvation/happiness manifests itself in, essentially, paternalism. The pro-mo world has to treat the average member the same way parents and government treat children: as people who are not totally capable of facing a challenge and making the "right" decision.

I personally have no moral, philosophical, or theological problem with that sort of paternalism. If I'm convinced that a certain decision is "good" or "right" or, even more, "essential," I think it's wise to set up systems that gets people to make it (but I'm sort of a democrat too, so . . .). It's statutory rape laws. It's mandatory education. It's shielding my son from TV shows that glaorize bad behavior. Etc...

So, if I'm a pro-mo writer, I view the anti-mo literature as being full of fallacies and half truths, and as being presented in a manner designed to be especially persuasive. If I believe that the anti lit is flat wrong, that it will lead a person to eternal damnation, and that my readership might not be capable of discerning that, I'll dissuade my readership from engaging with it.

I recognize that that sort of paternalism isn't ideal, and I'd bet the institutional church recognizes that too. But I think it's reality that many many people are less educated, less thoughtful, and generally less capable of engaging serious difficult issues than the readers of this blog.

So, I think that difference in perspective might explain the difference in writers' willingness to cross-link to opposing views on the web and the church's desire to get people away from opposing views. If you're open minded to people being either "in" or "out" of the church, see either as a legitimate option, and think that people should just read it all and find their own way, then, sure, you have no motivation to avoid opposing view points. But if you genuinely believe that there is one correct path and that following another path leads to damnation and eternal sadness, then things are a bit different.

That might not have answered your question. But it was fun to think about on my day off.

-Domokun-

Jeremy, I think I understand what you are saying. In respect to children, and even most adolescents, I agree, in general. The problem comes when the church keeps treating all adults with that same paternalistic attitude. If there was a mechanism or a tradition of graduating into true adulthood within the church, then I could probably remain. But until there is that tradition, or until it is recognized that as an adult, I don't have to buy into every literal interpretation, there will always be a problem with people like me who have matured past the childish methods and teachings the church employs.

Questions

Jeremy, if I'm understanding you correctly, you're in effect saying that the Church is justified in taking the approach that "We know what's better for you than you do" and accordingly actively discourages its members from exploring all sides of any issue.

As Domokun points out, this might be an appropriate attitude when dealing with children or adolescents, but has no place when dealing with adults. In fact, I'll go further and say that this approach actually runs completely counter to the concept of Eternal Progression that it preaches from the pulpits. If it never allows its members to grow up, they are kept in a state of perpetual childhood, and they never in fact progress.

Well-intentioned, I will allow, but we all know where the path of good intentions leads...

jeremy

I understand that it might be inappropriate, and perhaps, not the right/best course of action. I'm only commenting on what I think the reality is. I think this is, in fact, the motivation of the institutional church. I think it is well intentioned, and I think it stems from a genuine belief that being "in" the church, even if uninformed, is better than being "out." With that perspective, I think it's natural to avoid contrary views and assume that those who want them will seek them out and find them on their own. No reason to encourage anyone to find it, and, really, ample reason to keep people away (because it might be persuasive to some, and we're talking from the perspective of "in" is better than "out"). A person only shares that belief if he shares the testimony of the church itself though.

As far as it being contrary to what's taught from the pulpit and contrary to the very concept of eternal progression, I'm not totally sure I agree though. I don't think the pulpit ever teaches that it is good to expose yourself to the bad in order to better understand the good. I don't think the concept of eternal progression includes anything similar either. I think the official doctrine would teach the exact opposite: It is best to "hold to the rod" no matter what. Live a life as free from sin as possible, etc... etc... Now, you and I may disagree with that concept, but I think it's a correct characterization of official doctrine. The concept of eternal progression doesn't, as far as I know, include any endorsement of "experimenting" with different paths.

The idea of "growing up" is really interesting, and actually something I've thought about before. I had a discussion with a friend a few months ago about how the church is going to have to, at some point not too far off, confront some of the more "academic" arguments against it (the arguments that most of us are familiar with, that are well known among those who read the Internet). With Internet use becoming so common, and with so much information about church history and doctrine becoming available to a mass of people who would otherwise never be exposed to it, it seems like it would be in the church's interest to come up with a "correlated" response. Something bishops could use when questioned by a ward member, recently exposed to some blog or whatever, walking into his office with his mouth wide open, his world turned upside down. The church could engage in the conversation at least (and control its response). I recognize that that's wishful thinking, but a guy can wish right?

Sister Mary Lisa

Jeremy, you write, "The pro-mo world has to treat the average member the same way parents and government treat children: as people who are not totally capable of facing a challenge and making the "right" decision." You basically support the paternalistic system the church has going on. My disagreement with such a system is that it leaves little room for members to strive to grow intellectually and think for themselves. The religion does not encourage members to grow. It promotes keeping them in a child-like, unquestioning state of mind.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself that we are indeed supposed to try to be like little children, innocent and pure, if we are to be worthy to live in God's presence again. After experiencing life as a Mormon woman, having to seek permission from men (bishops, stake presidents, husband) my whole life for every thing I did within the organization, well...I'm ready to shed that mindset and choose for myself too.

This can not be done without stepping away from the religion itself.

Questions

Jeremy said:

"Live a life as free from sin as possible....The concept of eternal progression doesn't, as far as I know, include any endorsement of "experimenting" with different paths."

Here, you're equating the basic search for Truth with sin and different paths. This is the mindset which the Church encourages which is just so fundamentally wrong, on so many levels.

The Scriptures teach us that the Truth is supposed to set us free. We grow as we learn more Truth. By trying to "shield" its members from information and Truth, by mis-representing its History (just take the simple example of how the Book of Mormon was translated), it is doing the exact opposite.

The Church, in my opinion, is in a no-win situation. It realizes that what it has taught for so many years, in terms of its history, is just not how things happened. The foundation is shakey, at best. It therefore has to try and prevent its members from discovering the actual facts, which will inevitably cause them to doubt, since they've been basically lied to (with good intentions, of course) for so many years.

But with accurate information becoming increasingly available, from sources that are more honest and objective, and not filled with hate and venom, this course will eventually fail. The recent change in the Intro to the Book of Mormon is an indication that this is already happening, and the Church will try to back-peddle, and rewrite its history, without every honestly or courageously acknowledging its past errors.

Again, equating the pursuit of Truth, wherever it might be found, with sin and straying from the Iron Rod, is just plain wrong, and counter to the concept of growth, that the Church teaches is essential to the Plan of Salvation.

fh451

Jeremy said: "I understand that it might be inappropriate, and perhaps, not the right/best course of action. I'm only commenting on what I think the reality is. I think this is, in fact, the motivation of the institutional church. I think it is well intentioned, and I think it stems from a genuine belief that being "in" the church, even if uninformed, is better than being "out.""

I think you are correct in that that is how the church (or more appropriately, people defending the church) sees it. Well intentioned as it may be, I think it is wrong; but I also think it is pretty much their only option if they want to maintain the maximum number of members. The fact is, of all the people who visit web sites or read material that presents the unpleasant and/or non-faith-promoting church history, a significant percentage of them will be convinced that the church is not what it claims and / or hiding its history. If you want to avoid that outcome, then you use whatever tools are at your disposal to prevent people from reaching that conclusion, including avoidance of any contrary arguments. IMO, that is a position of weakness. If one of your primary defenses is to hope that people don't view contrary information, then you have already lost the race.

fh451

jeremy

First, let me say I certainly didn't mean to equate the quest for truth with sin, though I can understand how my comment about "the iron rod" was understood that way. I apologize. I didn't mean it that way. Another of my comments more accurately reflects what I was trying to get at: "The concept of eternal progression doesn't * * * include any endorsement of "experimenting" with different paths." And by "different paths" I mean any path, virtuous or sinful.

My point was that the church's view of growth includes only "spiritual growth," and has no place for the type of "intellectual growth" (as one of you put it) that you're describing. Spiritual growth is achieved only by prayer, study of divinely inspired materials, and charitable service, etc... From the perspective of a true believer, the "true" history of the church is only marginally relevant (in that it does not necessarily mean the church is false), and it has the potential to decrease the prayer and study part. If the prayer and study part is what is essential for the church's version of "growth," and the intellectual learning (about stuff like the church's bad history) doesn't help anyone attain salvation (the only goal the believer is concerned about), I think their take on it makes sense.

In short, I think the key difference is perspective, and that difference in perspective is defined by the fact that the non-believer and the believer view the non-faith-promoting information differently. One views it as accurate and helpful (even essential), the other views it as inaccurate, at least in part, and unhelpful.

That's a lot of rambling. Sorry. I'm a little tired. But this is really fun and interesting.

Questions

Jeremy,

I really think you're putting yourself through a lot of mental gymnastics, in order to avoid seeing the obvious. This is the same approach as Boyd K. Packer's "not all truth it useful" which I find basically disingenuous, repugnant and antithetical to the pursuit of truth, which theoretically is an eternal, spiritual goal advocated in the scriptures.

D&C 93:24
And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

You're straining to see things in such a way as to avoid the obvious. If you're really going to be honest in your search for truth, this is eventually going to fail.

You seem like basically a good guy, but I really think you're pulling the wool over your own eyes, or allowing the Church and Packer's words to do so. Ultimately, you'll likely see this is misguided, and an impediment to genuine growth: intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

I wish you well in your journey.

Jeremy

Questions, I think you seem like "basically a good guy/gal" too (though I'm hesitant to say that lest it be understood as a backhanded insult (like "likable enough") -- I don't mean it that way, and I'm happy to assume you didn't either).

Questions

I like to think I'm a pretty decent guy, Jeremy, and certainly was sincere in my comments. And if you'd like to continue the conversation privately through email, I'm sure Eric can provide us with each other's addresses, and I would be happy to do this.

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