Walking One Another Home: Why I Continue to Stay

The landscape of Mormonism has changed dramatically since the first volume of Why I Stay was published. The horizon now looks and feels both urgent and complex, causing many who never before wondered—why they, or should they—stay in the church.

Time:

Friday, May 5, 2017, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

In spite of denials to the contrary, Mormonism is currently in the throes of a faith crisis. It is safe to say that many more Latter-day Saints than at any other time in the modern Church have left, are in the process of leaving or are contemplating leaving—or at least struggling with that question. While there has been no comprehensive scientific study of the Mormon faith crisis to date, informal studies, reports and signs suggest that it is both real and growing. Jana Riess’s new study, The Next Mormons gives important insights into where Mormonism is at present in terms of faith crisis issues.

This presentation is based on Bob’s forthcoming second volume of Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons. It includes material from some of the essays in that volume, including Bob’s personal essay, “Walking One Another Home.”

What about Bob?

Bob has taught at the University of Wisconsin, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he was also a Fulbright Professor of American Studies (1995-96). Currently he teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and at the University of California, Berkeley. He was recently appointed Director of Mormon Studies at GTU. Bob blogs on LGBT issues at www.nomorestrangers: LGBTMormonForum.

Bob is well known in the LDS community for his explorations of other LDS-related issues, from the Book of Mormon to a broad array of subjects relating to Mormon culture and religion. The former editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Bob continues to make significant contributions to Mormon scholarship in such journals and presses as Dialogue, Sunstone , The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University Press, Signature Books, and other venues.

Bob Rees is currently completing the second volume of Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons, a collection of poetry, a musical on the American Dream, and various articles and essays on Mormon religion and culture.

Bob is the author or co-author of a number of publications relating to LGBT issues, including: Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children, (co-authored with Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University);  “A Failure of Love,” in Michelle Beaver, The Gay-Mormon Decade: Changing a Church from Within (2013); “Forward” to Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones (2007); A Guide for Latter-day Saint Families Dealing with Homosexual Attraction (2002); The Persistence of Same-Sex Attraction in Latter-day Saints Who Undergo Counseling or Change Therapy (2004); “Requiem for a Gay Mormon” (2007); “’In a Dark Time the Eye Begins to See’: Personal Reflections on Homosexuality among the Mormons at the Beginning of a New Millennium,” (Dialogue 33:3 [Fall 2000]) (winner of the Lowell Bennion Award); No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality (1998), trans. Into Spanish by Hugo Olaiz, “El Amor y la Imaginación Cristiana.”

For the past twenty years Bob has been active in humanitarian and interfaith work. Currently he serves on the Advisory Board of S.A.F.E. (Save African Families Enterprise), a non-profit organization providing antiviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women in Zimbabwe. He is a founding member and Vice-President of the Liahona Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides nutrition and education to children in the developing world.

Worthwhile writings by Bob:

Bob’s essays and poetry are mindful and soulful. You will be grateful and enlightened by them.

Forgiving The Church
Repairing the Church
The Goodness of the Church
Heisenberg
Somewhere Near Palmyra
Some additional essays
A podcast interview

The Sin of Certainty

Peter Enns, theologian, biblical scholar, and writer, wrote a remarkable book in 2016 called “The Sin of Certainty.” Jeff Christensen, currently a Bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, will lead us in a discussion about the book and how being certain about certain things can lead us away from following Christ’s teachings.

Time:

Friday, April 7, 2017, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

When did being “right” with God come to mean believing the right things about God—believing the right doctrines, reading the Bible the right way, holding the right views? For many Christians, this idea is at the very center of their religious lives. And that’s the problem. Because this focus on being correct can actually distract us from faith and from God. What happens when the security of “knowing what you believe” gets disrupted—as it does sooner or later? What if once settled questions—like “What is God really like?”—suddenly become unsettled.

These are some of the questions that teacher and scholar Peter Enns addresses in The Sin of Certainty. And these are the questions that Jeff will help us explore.

About Jeff: 

Jeff Christensen lives in East Millcreek, UT with his wife Chris. They have five children. Their first grandchild will arrive in August. Jeff is the CEO of a 9 year old start-up called EntryPoint Networks, a tech company developing solutions to fix our country’s broken internet service provider system. Jeff has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah and a M.S. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from Purdue University.

Resources to explore:

Review of the Sin of Certainty by Jeff’s brother Doug Christensen for The Association of Mormon Letters

Some favorite quotes of Jeff’s from The Sin of Certainty

The Neal L Maxwell Institute interview with Peter Enns

Peter Enns on reading the Bible critically and religiously [MIPodcast]

Pete Enns: The Bible for Normal People podcasts

Raising Children Un-Fundamentalist with Peter Enns

Amazon: Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty

 

An evening of exploration with Gregory Prince

Greg Prince has a resume wide and deep. From the development of Mormon priesthood to exploring David O. McKay’s tenure as prophet and how the top tier of priesthood operates, to Leonard Arrington and the writing of Mormon history, to the challenges of Mormons and the LGBT community, Greg has researched many of the critical areas of our faith. On this evening your questions for Greg will drive the discussion.

Time:

SATURDAY, March 4, 2017, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

A rare and valuable opportunity to ask questions of one of the most well researched, thoughtful, and faithful scholars of the LDS Church. His professional background as a scientist and researcher makes him an exceptionally thorough analyst of difficult topics.

Please submit your questions ASAP via our email address at: ThinkAgain.FaithAgain@gmail.com

Heather Nan Photography -analyst 50th Anniversary

About Greg: 

Gregory A. Prince was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended what is now Dixie State University (St. George, UT) from 1965-67, served a mission to Brazil from 1967-69, and then attended UCLA for six years, earning doctorate degrees in dentistry and pathology. He moved to Maryland in 1975 to work at the National Institutes of Health, and over a four-decade career in biomedical research pioneered the prevention of RSV pneumonia in high-risk infants. He has published over 150 scientific papers, three books on Mormon history—Power From on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood (1995), David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (2005), and Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History (2016)—and over two-dozen articles, chapters and reviews in the field of Mormon Studies. His current project is a book with the working title, Mormons and Gays: A Turbulent Half-Century. He is the Interfaith Liaison in the Washington, DC Stake. He and his wife, JaLynn Rasmussen Prince, are the parents of three children, the youngest of whom (Madison) is autistic. JaLynn and Greg now spend their time heading the Madison House Autism Foundation (madisonhouseautism.org), through which they hope to address the national issues facing autistic adults and their families.

Resources to explore:

Interview Greg Prince

Greg Prince on New Mormonism

Gregory Prince—Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History

Where is Jesus in America and Can Zion Help Us Find Him?

Both liberals and conservatives claim Jesus and Christian values. How can this be?  And how can the Mormon idea of Zion reclaim the essence of Christ and his message?

Time:

Friday, February 3, 2017, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

What new wisdom about Jesus does this embattled space between white American liberals and conservative arouse in all of us? The fact is that even as we press Jesus into our political narratives He evades partisan appropriation on either side of the divide. The only government that Jesus served was the Kingdom of God and that Kingdom is utterly characterised by its motivation to rid the world of injustice, inequality and violence. We Mormons have called this Kingdom, ‘Zion’ – an idea that has become sadly more nostalgic than it motivates our faith. Yet, though we have failed the idea of Zion, around the world we still sing and ache for Zion.

What would Mormonism look like if we marked our religion with the imprint of the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed? What if we lived into a spiritual narrative that looked for the God in the wounds of the very least and we used that wisdom to build a Zion Kingdom that could fill the Earth? And what new posture of faith would we need to live out Jesus’ Kingdom of God teachings?

In this discussion we’ll reclaim Zion and mine our collective wisdom to find a path that gives us a reason for radical trust in God’s generosity to transform the world.

 Gina ColvinAbout Gina Colvin: 

Gina Colvin PhD, a Research Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand, and a student of theology at Laidlaw College is the host of A Thoughtful Faith Podcast and blogs at KiwiMormon. A discourse and cultural analyst by training Gina writes about the intersection of faith, religion and culture. Her forthcoming book with Joanna Brooks ‘Towards a Post-Colonial Mormonism: Consciousness, Resistance and Creativity” highlights the need for all Mormons to look beyond the discourses of White American colonial patriarchy that now characterise its fiercest and most divisive cultural expressions.

Resources to explore:

Youtube: The Heart of Christianity: Dr. Marcus Borg and Dr. Gary Ferngren

Doubt, Resolutions, and the Big Three Ideals

Jon Ogden, author of When Mormons Doubt, will speak about how the ancient framework of truth, beauty, and goodness can help us navigate religious doubts and set resolutions for a new year.

Time:

Friday, January 6, 2017, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

Come, hopefully having explored one of the resources that Jon has recommended, so that we can fruitfully discuss what’s in our hearts and minds in this safe space.  

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-2-59-39-pm

About Jon Ogden: 

Jon has a BA and an MA from Brigham Young University, where he studied methods of civil discourse. He is the author of When Mormons Doubt

Jon wrote When Mormons Doubt primarily because he knew his relationship with Mormonism was evolving, and wanted to find something firm to hold onto in the process and beyond. He was especially concerned about giving his kids something to hold onto. As Jon researched the ancient framework of truth, beauty, and goodness, he realized it worked well as a way to carve out common ground between Mormons and former Mormons alike.

“The one thing I kept thinking about as I wrote was that I wanted to write the book I wish I’d had 5 years ago when I faced a faith crisis.”

Resources to explore:

Mormon Matters podcast (feat. Jeralee Renshaw and Kim Puzey)
SLTribune Op-Ed: Belief in ‘Sad Heaven’ Hurts Relationships in Era of Mormon Doubt
Utah is divided by belief, but this ancient framework can help us close the gap

Light and Love from Above

img_7414

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
-John 1: 4-5

A Christmas Carol Gathering
Friday, December 2, 6:30 pm

At the Mostert-Ott Home
928 S Windsor St,  (850 E) SLC, UT 84105

Operatic Tenor and Cellist, Brian Stucki will grace us with Christmas Carols as well as leading us in song. Thanks to Zendina Mostert and James Ott for sharing Brian and their home with our Faith Again group. And Thanks to Brian for sharing his talents with us.  

Please bring a vegetarian savory or sweet hors d’oeuvres to share. 

RSVP at thinkagain.faithagain@gmail.com

While we are greatly blessed, many others are struggling. There are many worthy causes to give to and you likely have your favorites. Below are some of the remarkable organizations that we have had represented at our Faith Again and Think Again groups the past several years. 

Liahona Children’s Foundation

Interweave Solutions

Fahodie for Friends

New Light

LDS Earth Stewardship

Fern Foundation

FarBetween

 

We look forward to enjoying your love, light, and thoughts one last time this year. Blessings to you and yours.

Sing a New Song: New Hymns for new times

What do contemporary hymns sound like? What is their poetry about and how do writers weave their words with music? What is the process of creating a hymn? Come and find out. Meet, and sing with, some of the best hymn writers of our day.

Time:

Friday, November 4, 2016, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

A brief discussion about process with opportunity for questions. Then we will have the opportunity to sing some new songs with twelve folks from the Western Hymn Writers Workshop. 

img_6486-2smThe Western Hymn Writers Workshop:

A group of people who are passionate about hymn writing and seek collaboration and inspiration from writing and singing new songs together.

Addenum:
Below are the songs that WHWW leader, Fred Voros brought for us to explore and sing. Beautiful music created by beautiful people made for a truly beautiful evening. These songs can be used and shared for incidental and noncommercial use.

by-winters-morning-light

every-kindred-tongue-and-people

flesh-and-blood-and-bone

hymn-of-thanksgiving

I’ll-follow-the-lord-to-life

let-us-not-forget-our-mothers

like-the-sound-of-many-waters

not-for-ourselves-kerr-eastman

say-amen

the-name-of-the-lord

the-seasons-of-gods-mercy

the-spirit-of-god-like-a-fire

theres-a-wideness-in-gods-mercy
One of my verses was left off of this piece. Alan Eastman said he would add it to the beautiful music he composed. You can find all the original 12 verses here. Take notice of verse 11.

thou-gracious-god-whose-mercy-lends-eastman

The LGBT Policy One Year Out: Reflection and Discussion With Bob Rees

What do we do when a Church policy conflicts with our own sense of morality, our understanding of the gospel and the deepest feelings of our hearts? How do we negotiate the territory between obedience to authority and obedience to our own inner compass?

 

Time:

Friday, October 28, 2016, 7:30-9:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

In regard to the Church’s policy on LGBT parents and their children, a prominent Latter-day Saint leader said, “It is the first time a Church policy has conflicted with my own sense of morality.” Rumi said there should be no division between what our hearts love and how we act in the world. What do we do when a Church policy conflicts with our own sense of morality, our understanding of the gospel and the deepest feelings of our hearts? How do we negotiate the territory between obedience to authority and obedience to our own inner compass? These and other questions will form the basis of a discussion with Bob Rees on the Church’s LGBT policy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.21.11 PMBerkeley Professor of Mormon Studies; Former Bishop; Former editor of Dialogue; Ally of gays and forever families; Ally of starving LDS children; Ally of mothers with AIDS; Ally of his beloved but imperfect church.

Bob co-authored (with Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University) Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children—hailed by many as the best resource for LDS parents and leaders with LGBT children and young people in their families and congregations. In addition to his writings on LGBT people and the Church, Bob is well known in the LDS community for his explorations of other LDS-related issues, from the Book of Mormon to a broad array of subjects relating to Mormon culture and religion. The former editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Bob continues to make significant contributions to Mormon scholarship in such journals and presses as Dialogue, Sunstone , The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University Press, Signature Books, and other venues.

Bob Rees is currently completing the second volume of Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons, a collection of poetry, a musical on the American Dream, and various articles and essays on Mormon religion and culture. He recently returned from Haiti where he was helping set up a program for malnourished LDS children on behalf of the Liahona Children’s Foundation.

For the past twenty years Bob has been active in humanitarian and interfaith work. Currently he serves on the Advisory Board of S.A.F.E. (Save African Families Enterprise), a non-profit organization providing antiviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women in Zimbabwe. He is a founding member and Vice-President of the Liahona Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides nutrition and education to children in the developing world.

Bob has taught at the University of Wisconsin, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he was also a Fulbright Professor of American Studies (1995-96). Currently he teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and at the University of California, Berkeley. He blogs on LGBT issues at www.nomorestrangers: LGBTMormonForum.

Bob’s views on homosexuality evolved rapidly in the 1980s when he was called as bishop of the Los Angeles Singles Ward. “I could no longer reconcile what I had been taught about homosexuality by my church and culture with my experience with those to whom I had been called to be a spiritual guide and pastor,” Bob later confessed. “What I discovered was that most if not all of these gay and lesbian Mormons had accepted the idea that they were terribly flawed in the eyes of their family, their church, their culture and God, and that unless they could find some way out of the labyrinth in which they found themselves, they had little hope of happiness in this world or the next.” Near the end of his term as bishop, Bob gave a major address in sacrament meeting titled “No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality.” Later published, this was the first in a number of important publications in which Bob challenged the LDS community to treat LGBT people with love and respect, to seek for greater understanding and compassion, and to “turn our hearts with greater love and acceptance toward all those whom we consider strangers.”

Bob is the author or co-author of a number of publications relating to LGBT issues, including “A Failure of Love,” in Michelle Beaver, The Gay-Mormon Decade: Changing a Church from Within (2013); “Forward” to Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones (2007); A Guide for Latter-day Saint Families Dealing with Homosexual Attraction (2002); The Persistence of Same-Sex Attraction in Latter-day Saints Who Undergo Counseling or Change Therapy (2004); “Requiem for a Gay Mormon” (2007); “’In a Dark Time the Eye Begins to See’: Personal Reflections on Homosexuality among the Mormons at the Beginning of a New Millennium,” (Dialogue 33:3 [Fall 2000]) (winner of the Lowell Bennion Award); No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality (1998), trans. Into Spanish by Hugo Olaiz, “El Amor y la Imaginación Cristiana.”

Worthwhile writings by Bob:

Bob’s essays and poetry are mindful and soulful. You will be grateful and enlightened by them.

Forgiving The Church
Repairing the Church
The Goodness of the Church
Heisenberg
Somewhere Near Palmyra
Some additional essays
A podcast interview

 

Below is an iPhone recording of our evening with Bob Rees. Thanks to one of our members for sharing it.

 

 

Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt: Patrick Mason

How do Latter-day Saints maintain personal belief and commitment to the church community in the face of a seemingly inexhaustible series of internal and external challenges to faith?

Time: 

Friday, September 16, 2016, 7:30 pm
We encourage you to come 10 minutes early. The evening will be more productive and helpful with minimal interruptions.

Location: 

Home of Ed and Kristen Iversen
3582 Oak Rim Way Salt Lake City, UT 84109

Please park in the “park & ride” lot nearby. It’s only a block away. See Google map pict at bottom. Car pool if you can. 

B.A.C.: Bring A Chair

The discussion:

How do we deploy theological and institutional resources already within our grasp to foster reconciliation in a church membership seemingly hopelessly divided between the “orthodox” and “doubters”?  Some of the greatest challenges—but also most important lessons—appear while we work in the laboratory of love that we call the church.  Maintaining belief is essential, but Christ also calls upon us to live out our discipleship within the context of a flesh-and-blood community that makes demands of us and gives us assignments and opportunities to take a lively interest in other people.  Perhaps the most important thing we can do in the face of our current challenges is to make the church a more welcoming place for those who struggle, creating the conditions in which they can feel comfortable while they work through questions in the midst of the body of Christ rather than feeling excluded from it.  A more embracing Mormonism may thus be the most important factor in helping people more fully embrace Mormonism.

mason-headshot-smallAbout Patrick:

Patrick Mason is the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies and associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University, where he also serves as chair of the Religion Department. He is the author or editor of multiple books, including most recently Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt, published jointly by Deseret Book and the Maxwell Institute at BYU. He is the chair of the board of directors of the Dialogue Foundation, which publishes Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Read, listen, watch:

Planted
A Thoughtful Faith podcast with Patrick

 Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.59.18 PM

Did you hear the one about the Jew, Muslim, and Evangelical?

Dialoguing with Jews, Muslims, and Evangelicals in a Polarized Political Environment: Risks, Rewards, and Methods.

Time: 

Friday, August 5, 2016, 7:30 pm

Location: 

Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

Details of the discussion:

Shon has served as president of the University of Texas Interfaith Council and currently serves as Associate Chair of BYU’s Council of Interreligious Outreach, primarily focused on interfaith efforts with Jews and Muslims. He has recently begun and helps lead a bi-annual dialogue between Muslim and Jewish scholars. For many years he has also participated as part of the Mormon-Evangelical dialogue led by Robert Millet and Richard Mouw. He will share experiences he has had and insights he has gleaned during his years of interfaith engagement. Questions that will be discussed include: What are some of the goals of interfaith dialogue (and what are they not), particularly in the current, political climate of fear? Considering the polarized, political environment, what are some of the pitfalls and danger spots of dialoguing with Jews? with Muslims? with Evangelicals? What are fruitful topics of discussion with these groups? How can one become engaged in interfaith dialogue?

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 8.58.26 PMAbout Shon:

Shon Hopkin received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University, and his Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on medieval Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish literature. While in Austin he served as president of the University Interfaith Council, and currently serves as Associate Chair of the Council of Interreligious Outreach at Brigham Young University, where he is an Assistant Professor in Religious Education. He is faculty advisor for the Muslim Student Association as well as Students of the Ancient Near East. He has travelled extensively in the Middle East, including extended stays in Syria, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. In January 2016 he traveled to Singapore to give the keynote address as the Christian representative at an interfaith dialogue. In addition to his interfaith interests, Shon teaches courses at BYU on the Old Testament, Isaiah, the New Testament, the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon, and Ritual Theory. His research focuses on medieval Judaism, the impact of religious beliefs and practices, biblical studies, and ritual theory. He has written over thirty books and articles, and is currently working on a project assessing the impact of Western universities on Muslim students from the Middle East, comparing that impact between BYU, Oxford, and other universities.

Read, listen, watch:

Almost anything from the current presidential campaigns seems to fit! I’ve attached an article on Muslims at BYU, if any are interested in reading it.

2015.byu studies.muslims and mormons