Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

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document
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Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by document » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:49 am

I mentioned that I saw the "alarming truth" article shared on Facebook for the first time yesterday. I've seen it a few times since even then (it looks like it is now hitting the believing circle in my area), and I've been curious to look through comments. I'm surprised at how many have had a crisis of faith and come out on the other side. In the few that actually described their crisis of faith, it sounded quite different than those that I've read of other ex-Mormons, NOMs, or even myself.

What is often described by the believer as a "crisis of faith", is most often described in the ex-Mormon community as a moment of cognitive dissonance. It reminded me much of my first grapple with a small foible in Mormonism, which was the word "adieu". It really is trivial and can very well be explained away convincingly. I felt scared when it was first brought up and sought an answer. Thankfully, it was an easy answer and the cognitive dissonance went away. It didn't go on the shelf, because even if the book of Mormon were true, this wouldn't be a problem to me.

I also saw it described at the first real building of a shelf and placing items up there. I went through that as well, when I first learned about polyandry. I justified it through the angel with the sword and we'll find out after we die. I struggled for a few weeks with it, but ultimately decided it wasn't pertinent to my salvation and moved on. My shelf was built and it went up. It was difficult at the time, but after that point, when someone brought it up, I could say to myself, "I've already researched that, it's fine".

Nobody described the crucible of discovery that is the crisis of faith I went through. Where my study of faithful sources went through the roof. Where I begged God daily to make the church true, to give me that nugget of knowledge to help me through this. Where I watched my marriage struggle as my believing wife couldn't understand what I was going through and it made me struggle in silence. Where I read the scriptures for quite literally an hour a day trying to find answers. Where I clung to every single good piece of news that I possibly could. Where my entire world was falling to pieces and I couldn't sit through church without every single piece of cognitive dissonance coming at me from a thousand directions. Where there were moments I wished I were dead, because that would have been easier than dealing with this.

Crisis is defined as "a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger". The moments in my life of cognitive dissonance or shelf building were far from a crisis, they were concerning and hard, but not intense. They weren't life changing.

Perhaps by lessening the word "crisis" it gives an opportunity to dismiss what we feel when we say it.

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Hagoth
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by Hagoth » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:27 am

document wrote:What is often described by the believer as a "crisis of faith", is most often described in the ex-Mormon community as a moment of cognitive dissonance.
This is a very interesting observation. For an exmormon or disaffected Mormon cognitive dissonance is the beginning of a journey. but for believers who claim to have emerged victorious from a crisis of faith cognitive dissonance might be better understood as their turning back point.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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LaMachina
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by LaMachina » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:06 pm

Very interesting distinction that most don't seem to delve into very deeply.

I can relate to your shelf building experience (as I think ALL mormons probably can). At what point does that spill over into full blown crisis? It seems to me it is the moment one begins to question their faith's theory of living versus just aspects of their theology or history. All faiths will admit to a degree that there are troubling things us mere mortals cannot comprehend or struggle to understand yet all faiths I know of encourage you to stay the course, stay in the boat, endure to the end, this is the best place for you. Once you start to say "yeah, I'm not so sure" or "your theory of living might be dangerously damaging" seems to be when you face a real crisis of am I in or not. That was the fork in the road, at least for me. It's where the real struggle began. Lots of mormons will be put off by things but it's another step to question how one will live their life.

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MoPag
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by MoPag » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:01 pm

LaMachina wrote: Once you start to say "yeah, I'm not so sure" or "your theory of living might be dangerously damaging" seems to be when you face a real crisis of am I in or not. That was the fork in the road, at least for me. It's where the real struggle began. Lots of mormons will be put off by things but it's another step to question how one will live their life.
So much this!!! At least for me. I could shelve so much of the history stuff, Just like Document said: "we'll find out after we die." But when I realized the beliefs were truly harmful to the life I was living; that was the turning point.
...walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men’s lies...--Ezra Pound

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Zadok
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by Zadok » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:10 pm

As I have said on other occasions, allowing the church to frame this as a crisis of faith places the blame on you, implying that something is wrong with your faith-engine, and that you are broken. This is not correct. You are not broken, all you did was discover that the men and organization you trusted have consistently, willfully, and knowingly lied to you in order to get your allegiance and money. You discover it's a fraud, and somehow it's your fault for looking?
If I'm a bird, why can't I fly?

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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by Corsair » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:57 am

Zadok wrote:As I have said on other occasions, allowing the church to frame this as a crisis of faith places the blame on you, implying that something is wrong with your faith-engine, and that you are broken.
I had the diabolically fun experience of having a TBM friend once try to commiserate with me on how I was "suffering through a faith crisis". I was able to reply that on the contrary, I was entirely enjoying the experience. I'm waiting for this to "not end well" because he is in the bishopric and it might get back to me.

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Linked
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by Linked » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:18 am

I think a mormon crisis of faith occurs when you go from "The Church is true." to "Is the Church true?"*

It's not a very clear definition, but that was when my shelf broke. Somewhere inside I felt the evidence pointing to the church not being true, but I continued to hold to my "Church is True" mindset. The moment I was able to let myself wonder "Is the Church true?" my shelf broke and my faith crisis began. None of the other moments building up were crisis level events, just something to chew on. Like, the apocalypse would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, or how difficult it must be to be mormon and realize you are gay and that if my kids are gay I will do everything I can to accept them and not hurt them, or how faith looks a lot like priming yourself for confirmation bias.

My crisis was pretty short, I had already studied what I needed to for convincing, I just had to ask the question. Then there was the fall out, which were other crises, but not of faith...
Zadok wrote:As I have said on other occasions, allowing the church to frame this as a crisis of faith places the blame on you, implying that something is wrong with your faith-engine, and that you are broken. This is not correct. You are not broken, all you did was discover that the men and organization you trusted have consistently, willfully, and knowingly lied to you in order to get your allegiance and money. You discover it's a fraud, and somehow it's your fault for looking?
I don't mind the term crisis of faith, I don't see the negative connotation. You do have a crisis and it is related to your faith (or church). But that is my definition, I suppose the church and TBMs may have a different definition.

*Someone on NOM 1.0 mentioned this, I would give them credit, but I don't remember who it was...
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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wtfluff
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by wtfluff » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:30 am

I don't like the term "Crisis of Faith".

As others have mentioned, it was more of a "Discovery of Truth".

If there was any sort of crisis, it would be more of an existential crisis, in that I had dedicated large parts of 40+ years to a fraud, and made literally every major decision of those 40+ years based on a fraud.

I also don't view blind faith as a virtue. There's nothing wrong with giving up on something that that is not a virtue. No "crisis" whatsoever.

YMMV.
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

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Hagoth
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by Hagoth » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:33 pm

wtfluff wrote:I don't like the term "Crisis of Faith".

As others have mentioned, it was more of a "Discovery of Truth".
The one that really annoys me is "Shaken Faith Syndrome," as if it's a symptom of mental illness to accepts empirical fact over questionable doctrine. It's more like the syndromes that plagued Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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MerrieMiss
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Re: Defining a "Crisis of Faith"

Post by MerrieMiss » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:48 pm

Within the term “crisis of faith,” I take the word “faith” to mean belief system, whether religious, spiritual, political, cultural, philosophical, whatever. The crisis comes when a person confronts whether that belief system is valid or not. It can last a long time or a shorter time, depending upon the person.

For myself, the crisis lasted a couple years. For a couple of years I was in turmoil. I was depressed, anxious, had OCD, and a host of other issues all relating to the fact that my life was turning upside down because I found my belief system wasn’t what I thought it was. It may have lasted this long because it wasn’t just the church: I had a change of social, political, familial, religious beliefs. It may also be because I’ve been aware of my own cognitive dissonance since I was a child and I really thought it would just pass. I didn't realize that by looking at the problem squarely in the face, I had to make a decision to make the crisis go away.

The crisis is over. I wish I could remember why or when it ended, but for me, it slowly faded away until I realized one day that I was better. I wasn’t in crisis any more. I’m in transition. I haven’t landed anywhere yet. I see myself more on a journey and I don’t know how long that journey is or where it will take me, but it definitely is not a crisis. TBMs may still think it is a crisis because it is a crisis to them, but I am not in crisis.
Linked wrote: I don't mind the term crisis of faith, I don't see the negative connotation. You do have a crisis and it is related to your faith (or church). But that is my definition, I suppose the church and TBMs may have a different definition.
I agree with Linked.

What I find rather irritating about term is that there are some people who claim to have had a crisis of faith, but I seriously doubt that they have. I know that sounds harsh and I don't mean it to be. A person's experiences are their own and I don't want to judge something I don't know anything about. It isn’t that I expect all people to have the same experience as I do, but I would expect that anyone who suffers a “crisis” is suffering. Really suffering. And to have someone tell me that they had a crisis of faith, but prayed and god made it better, is somewhat insulting and I question that they understand what a crisis is at all.

I also expect that following a crisis, one must move forward. One either goes to a new place of being, or even if someone suffering a crisis returns, they are a changed person. I don’t see how one can suffer a crisis of belief and be the same as they were before. I suppose it is possible, but then I am going to guess that that person didn’t use the opportunity to grow very much.

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