Monthly Archives: September 2011

Best of FAIR 11: “Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience

Posted on by

 

In this episode of Best of FAIR, Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., observes: “In my experience, neither critics nor apologists for the Church do much to convince me whether or not to believe. Debates, analysis, and scientific evidence may alternately undermine or support my beliefs, but belief itself is a choice I wrestle God for, somewhere in a dark swampland of my inner landscape, where not only God’s credibility but my own are at stake.

….

“I have noticed that many of the people I have known who have left the Church did not do so because they believed too little, but because they believed too much. In their excessive idealism, they have held Church leaders or God to expectations which were inevitably disappointed, and they have felt betrayed. They have not believed God when He told them that ours is a lonely, dreary world where we will surely die, and they have chosen instead to believe another version of reality, one which claims that they can be protected from being molested, disappointed, or made afraid. They have been angry at God or other Church leaders for not keeping promises which God has not, in fact, made. I note with interest that of all the names for the Savior in holy writ, He is never called the Preventer. Agency is the plan, and this means that all of us, including Church leaders, learn by our mistakes and are subject to misinformation, blindness, hubris, and error. The old joke is too often true: In the Catholic church everyone says the pope is infallible but nobody believes it; and in the Mormon church everybody says the prophet is fallible but nobody believes it.

“When Christ asks the question of His remaining disciples, ‘will ye also go away?’ it seems to be in recognition that they may be feeling betrayed or disillusioned by His words and requirements, as others were. Their response is not brimming with irrational enthusiasm. They seem to say, somewhat wistfully, as if recognizing that perhaps leaving would be an easier choice, ‘to whom, Lord, shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.’ We do not leave because we are blind to the challenges or brainwashed into commitment, but because we will have more cognitive dissonance, more to explain to ourselves, if we leave. We have found here things that we hold dear, that support and enrich our lives. We, like the reluctant disciples of old, have found here words of eternal life, which is to say that we have found knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. These relationships, these pearls of great price, are worth the sacrifices and the disappointments and the askance looks of our friends who wonder what we could be thinking.”

Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., was a psychologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan for 20 years before moving to Montreal, Quebec for a three-year mission. She has served as president of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists, has authored numerous professional articles in both psychology and business, and has done consulting and training for such corporations as Marriott, Johnson & Johnson, University of Michigan, General Electric, and United Way. Dr. Ulrich is founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth in Alpine, Utah, providing seminar-retreats for LDS members seeking personal and spiritual growth and development. She and her husband have three children.

Dr. Ulrich is the author of the book Weakness is Not a Sin. The full text of Dr. Ulrich’s talk can be found at Fairlds.org.

FAIR Issues 24: The cure for an intellectual apostasy

Posted on by

“The cure for an intellectual apostasy is enlarging both one’s spiritual and intellectual knowledge.” One important thing to know is the way in which God works through prophets. “[T]he Lord doesn’t typically drop revelation into the minds of prophets. More often than not, the Lord grants revelation according to petitions for help or understanding.” Some examples of this are given in this article.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FAIR Bookstore.

Tell your friends about the Mormon FAIR-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon FAIR-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

“FAIR Conversations,” Episode 11: Claudia Bushman

Posted on by

In this episode of “FAIR Conversations,” historian Claudia Bushman joins host Blair Hodges. Bushman, who specializes in Latter-day Saint women’s history, holds degrees from Wellesley College, Brigham Young University and Boston University. Most recently she served as an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University where her husband historian Richard Bushman was chair of the Mormon Studies program. Bushman’s 2006 FAIR Conference address, “The Lives of Mormon Women” is available in audio here, video here, and text here.

This episode begins with a few biographical details about Bushman’s education and early experiences as a Mormon. Bushman shares her interesting perspectives on feminism, women, and the priesthood. We also discuss her recent publication Pansy’s History: The Autobiography of Margaret E. P. Gordon, 1866-1966.

Above all, Bushman emphasizes the unique utility of oral history. She reads a few excerpts from the Claremont Graduate University’s on-going “Mormon Women’s Oral History Project,” and gives a few tips for listeners who want to gather oral histories from their own family members.

 

Above: Blair Hodges, Claudia Bushman, Richard Bushman

Questions or comments about this episode can be sent to podcast@fairlds.org. Or, join the conversation in the comments here at fairblog.org.

Runtime:

82:41

Download:

To download, right click the “Download” link above and select “Save link as…”
You can also download the episode or subscribe to all episodes of the FAIR Podcast in iTunes here.

Support FAIR:

FAIR relies on contributions from readers and listeners. To help support FAIR, make a donation today.

FAIR Issues 23: “Reformed Egyptian” an evidence for Book of Mormon

Posted on by

Did Joseph Smith make up the idea of “reformed Egyptian?” Would devout Israelites have written in the language of pagans such as the Egyptians? Do modern archeological discoveries provide parallels for such a concept? If the Nephites spoke Hebrew, why is there no evidence for the Hebrew Language in Ancient America?

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FAIR Bookstore.

Tell your friends about the Mormon FAIR-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon FAIR-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

Best of FAIR 10: On Being An Apologist: Imperatives, Predicaments, Perils, and Blessings.

Posted on by

Robert White discusses his experience as a church leader and as an apologist. He explains why apologetics is important and cautions against some pitfalls of apologetics. As C.S. Lewis said, “nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. Because no doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended. . . . That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments … from Christian apologetics [in]to Christ himself.  That is also why we need one another’s continual help – oremus pro invincem (let us pray for one another).”

He shares his thoughts on the idea of inoculating the saints against anti-Mormon arguments. In providing an inoculation, can we be sure we know what disease, or argument, each individual will be exposed to? Is it possible that we may do more harm than good in administering the wrong inoculation? He contrasted inoculations with transfusions. The Gospel Principles manual is designed “not [to] inoculate but transfuse into the lives of the Latter-day Saints the fundamental faith in the fundamental gospel restored through the Prophet.” If people know the Church is true, then they will be strengthened against the attacks of anti-Mormon arguments when encountered.

The full text of this address can be found here.

Robert B. White, Q.C., served a mission in Eastern Canada after which he returned to Edmonton and received degrees in finance (with distinction) and law (with distinction and the Silver Medal) at the University of Alberta. He is a senior partner and litigation practice group leader in a large, multi-national law firm with offices across Canada and in Japan. Robert works exclusively in trials and appeals and loves the law. He is listed in each of the three published, peer reviewed “Best Lawyers in Canada” lists. He was hired as an adjunct professor in law while in my third year of law school, and while practicing he taught for 18 years. He has written four law books, all published by Canada Law Book, with a second edition of one under way. Robert has served in many Church positions, including bishop, stake president, and area seventy. He is married to Lonni. They have six children and twenty grandchildren.