I read a post at By Common Consent today that did a good job describing something I've been thinking about, but haven't taken the time to hash out. The whole post is good, but the part that allowed me to finally put a finger on this elusive feeling floating around me was pretty much summed up in about the first seven paragraphs (down to the end of the quote by Alexander Pope). Here's a taste: 

Faith crisis–often leading to faith transition–is a “thing” these days. Someone innocently does a google search, travels down some online rabbit hole, and soon discovers weird–sometimes really weird–stuff about the Mormon past. These substantive issues are troubling enough on their own, but pretty soon they cease to be the primary issue. Rather, the fact that the person was never taught about these things at Church becomes the dominant issue. The person feels as though she has been lied to all of her life. The image she has constructed in her mind of a church that never changes, where everything is perfect, where the prophet has afternoon tea with Jesus Christ himself every Thursday afternoon in the temple, comes crashing down around her shoulders, as she considers for the first time the very human institution that is the LDS Church. 
Those who have gone through an experience like this often toss around a brief list of issues as a sort of shorthand for the longer list of problems the person has encountered that has fractured her faith, often something like “multiple first vision accounts, polyandry, Book of Abraham, a stone in a hat, City Creek Mall.” Is there anything that can be done to help these people?
Admittedly, coming across some things that have happened in the history of Mormonism have been shocking and upsetting, but like I said in a previous post, none of those things have been deal breakers for my faith. The hardest thing for my membership in Mormonism has been a reconciliation of certain things while still dealing with the death of "the only true church." Since I've moved passed my hangup (mostly) with "the only true church," the "list" is far less detrimental. It exists, and it's a bummer of a reality that just about every history of anything is a little [or a lot] muddy. 
I'm trying to figure out how to come to my point without writing a novel - I guess it's something like this: I know several people, either in person, or via the internet, who have come across hard facts in Mormon history, and they have gone from being active, immersed in church-life, the whole nine-yards of Mormon to a total abandonment of Mormonism in a very short amount of time. I know this is because of the "it's true or it isn't true mentality." Part of their "true" broke off, and if one part falls, everything else does too. (Are Mormons reading this envisioning the "cornerstone" and "keystone" lessons we've had more times than we can count throughout the years the way that I am?) 
I don't fault anyone for this quick departure. I just feel like it's a diminished way to go through what ultimately can be a powerful transformative (albeit REALLY HARD) process. I guess there isn't really a lot of "going through" in just severing ties. I don't want this to read at all like I think anyone is handling it wrong because there is absolutely no right. I also think there's something valuable about knowing when to let go, I just think making that decision shouldn't be a knee-jerk reaction. 
To answer Kevin Barney's question (the author of the post), "Is there anything that can be done to help these people?" Yes. Very obviously it's find a way to incorporate the complete history of Mormonism in the curriculum we see as we grow up in the church. It lessens the blow - the feeling of having been lied to. And then we can have "real" conversations about it as adults in a faith community that actually feels like a community. I think it's important to see Mormonism in its time and place amid all that was going on societally. It makes it human. It makes it make sense - even if some of us wish "the only true church" would have come through various societal woes unscathed. 
I really like what Kevin Barney suggests later in his post (his main point, really), that we dive into Mormon scholarship, and make that the basis of our knowledge of Mormon history, rather than a brief snippet someone says in a post about something that turns out to be earth shattering for someone else - the thing that starts someone's list. To restate the Alexander Pope quote (assuming you read it for this to be a restatement), 
A little learning is a dangerous thing;  
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: 
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, 
And drinking largely sobers us again.
As I've been exploring when and why and how this journey of faith and doubt began for me, I think I've finally figured it out. I was 18, and it wasn't a huge explosion of "WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?!" It was relatively small, very personal, had nothing to do with church history, and ended up being the first straw on the camel's back. The same camel's back has a whole lot more straw, but it isn't broken yet. (And just for complete honesty, I still go back and forth sometimes about whether it was the event when I was 18, or something that happened when I was 16.)

This has been a long journey for me, with the REALLY HARD part starting about 5.5 year ago. I've also previously stated that my faith crisis isn't one of personal faith, but of my faith community. I had faith in the Mormon Church -in the way it is set up, in what the leaders had to say, in the "only true" part of it. When that pillar crumbled, largely due to a deepening understanding of the nature of God and in the role of Christ as exemplar, my belief system wasn't completely shot (again, all very personal - this deepening understanding could strengthen a pillar of faith in the Mormon church for someone else). So I think I'm about to make my real point -

I'm not exactly like the people in faith crisis/transition mode that were described in the Dialogue Diet post. I'm obviously in it for the long haul, or have tried my best to be. I rarely dive into blogs specifically about Mormonism (like the one that inspired this post - ironic, right?) as well as podcasts like Mormon Stories, so I'm missing out on being superficially exposed to "problematic issues in Mormonism's past." I don't think there's anything wrong with them, and I used to read them more often because there was comfort in common sentiments, but I often feel like it's information overload. I guess it's because I came to a point where I didn't like information being second hand - I would rather read something "scholarly" and experience my initial response than experience the emotional response of someone else. I don't have a running "list" at the heart of my struggle. I have the present day church. If "only true" is now out of the equation (not entirely - it still takes my breath away sometimes), which makes any "list" I could have far more forgivable (which makes it easier to stick around), then I have a whole slew of other churches/faith communities that are waiting to be explored. But I want to stay tethered. But there are times when I have no idea why I'm remaining tethered to Mormonism besides fear.

I don't trust the church. There are moments when things are said by leaders that enliven me, but many more things that disappoint me. I don't know how long I should keep waiting to feel a little bit comfortable again. Or how long I should continue in what has become an unhealthy relationship. I'm at a loss for how to turn it around. I'm at a loss for how to feel comfortable saying, "I'll give a little [trust] because I know you're something worth sticking it out for (the latter of which I'm not always certain)." I'm trying to remain vulnerable while protecting every vulnerability because of the way it hurts to be disappointed by something you love so much. My attempts at expanding my depth of knowledge so far (I've been implementing Kevin Barney's suggestion for quite a while - though not his specific sources), have done little to alleviate this internal tug o' war.

I'll leave you with a poem by Anne Sexton because I thought of it when trying to come up with a title for this post (which I still have not).

The Rowing Endeth

I’m mooring my rowboat
at the dock of the island called God.
This dock is made in the shape of a fish
and there are many boat moored
at many different docks.
“It’s okay,” I say to myself,
with blisters that broke and healed
and broke and healed–
saving themselves over and over.
And salt sticking to my face and arms like
a glue-skin pocked with grains of tapioca.
I empty myself from my wooden boat
and onto the flesh of The Island.

“On with it!” he says and thus
we squat on the rocks by the sea and play–can it
be true–a game of poker.
He calls me.
I win because I hold a royal straight flush.
He wins because He holds five aces.
A wild card had been announced
but I had not heard it
being in such a state of awe
when He took out the cards and dealt.
As he plunks down His five aces
and I sit grinning at my royal flush,
He starts to laugh,
the laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth
and into mine,
and such laughter that He doubles right over me
laughing a Rejoice-Chorus at our two triumphs.
Then I laugh, the fishy dock laughs
the sea laughs. The Island laughs.
The Absurd laughs.

Dearest dealer,
I with my royal straight flush,
love you so for your wild card,
that untamable, eternal, gut-driven ha-ha
and lucky love.


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