My daughter was exposed to a lot of anti-Mormon material in her childhood. In fact, somebody read her the entire temple ceremony from an anti-perspective before she even hit her teens. She stayed LDS, because she was living with me, but told her seminary teacher that she didn’t think she could bear her testimony because didn’t have one. The many things she had heard were deeply disturbing. He asked that she bear her testimony anyway. She did, and found herself overwhelmed with a sense of love and comfort.
That was the beginning of an ever-deepening testimony.
I have been reading Richard Bushman’s _An Author’s Diary_. In it, he counsels someone who is struggling with the more difficult issues in Joseph Smith’s life to ponder well and ask “Is there anything admirable, heroic or miraculous [in Joseph's life]?” He continues: “While you [ponder], you must be living right. You can’t be breaking the commandments yourself and expect to get a clear view of Joseph’s life. Guilt clouds the mind.”
I like the idea of being informed and faithful, but I would certainly choose “faithful” over “informed.” I wonder if as we present sanitized views of Joseph, Emma, and much of the early church history, we might be setting some of our youth up for disappointment. Surely many will discover the stains on our history. How do we fortify them so that they are able to face hard issues and not be undone by them? Many on the blogs have talked about innoculating our youth with small doses of the hard history. I think the most important part of such innoculation would be to teach faithful searching. Should such a thing even be included in our manuals? Taught in seminary? We have lessons on “steadying the ark”, and the D&C manual does indeed repeat the idea that the Lord will not allow his leaders to lead us astray. Should there also be something on how we approach the discovery of uncomfortable information? Do any of you have specific methods for dealing with the hard stuff? Have you ever taught a lesson on it?