“You Lost Me,” Tension in the Church

Image result for satanic smurfsThis was an interesting article I recently read by an Evangelical-raised woman about the things that happened in her life where she felt a disconnect with what her church told her. The article was titled “How I Became a Heretic (or How the Evangelical, Conservative Church Lost Me). Some of her moments included:

  • When, at age 7, she was told the Smurfs were Satanic.
  • When, at age 14, she was told by a youth pastor that her body led men to sin, and she understood that what men said was more important than her own instincts or conscience.
  • When at 15 she saw that handing out tracts was more important than helping those in need.
  • When at 29, her friend came out as gay and said that he couldn’t stay in the church without killing himself because of the harmful messages, so he chose to live.
  • When she saw her church being taken over by the Republican Party and became an in-club for white, middle-class America.
  • When she saw that saying “Oh my God” was considered blasphemy, but spreading lies in God’s name was OK.
  • When the church said drinking wine was different in Jesus’ time.
  • When she watched others who struggled being cast off and marginalized so that her church could retain its comfort with how it interpreted scriptures. When she saw border-policing and isolationism becoming more important than people.
  • When she saw pastors saying “come as you are,” but really meaning that they hoped to change them into conforming clones or be cast out eventually.
  • When she was told to examine her life for sin after a miscarriage.
  • When she was told that women can “bring a message,” because only men can preach.
  • When she was told that at least her Vietnamese adopted baby was “not black.”
  • When she said what she genuinely believed and was punished and shunned for it.
  • When she saw the difference between Jesus abandoning the rules to reach out to marginalized people and the church telling her to monitor her skirt length and word choices.
  • When she saw that the emphasis on being polite and soft-spoken was just to make those in charge more comfortable.
  • When virginity was called her “most precious gift.” When she was told premarital sex would ruin her life and relationships forever, and they were wrong.
  • When she saw the church cast itself as a victim despite continually disenfranchising and abandoning those who were different, who were seeking God.

Image result for equal rights amendmentI can quite easily think of some of my own “you lost me” moments, and some of them would be similar to hers. A few have a more uniquely Mormon flavor to them.

  • When I was 10 and found out that the church was opposed to ERA after I had smugly convinced myself that whatever was right was what the church would do, so obviously that would include women being paid equally for equal work.
  • When I was a teenager, and my seminary teacher told me I couldn’t be a Mormon if I didn’t accept polygamy.
  • When I was listening to General Conference and a speaker said that the reason we use “thee” in prayer is to show respect for deity (and not because it’s the familiar form). I was, again, smugly thinking he would give the answer I knew in my linguistic-majoring brain was right. And he didn’t, instead making God a more distant, foreboding presence, not someone we could seek to know intimately.
  • When E. Ballard mocked the big bang theory in his Gen Conf talk, and the conference center chuckled in agreement.
  • November 5.
  • The doubling down on gender roles that don’t suit me. The sexism in the temple and in other teachings.

Those are just a couple of mine. And yet, and yet . . .

Image result for lds hugWhat I think the article really missed out on (perhaps the author doesn’t see it this way) is the inherent tension in belonging to a church. There’s a very powerful flip side, moments when the church “had me at hello”[1]. These are moments that still pull me back into my church community [2], every time I think of them. I can write this list all the live long day, too. There are many, many of these moments.

  • When a woman I’ve known for a decade came up to me out of the blue and thanked me for always keeping it real at church with my fresh comments.
  • When I saw how much the church improved the lives of some of the families I baptized on my mission.
  • When I heard that a wealthy family in the ward paid to have someone’s roof replaced when they were out of town because they knew this family really needed it. (Also, I suggested that this person be reassigned as my Home Teacher, but that didn’t happen. Rats.)
  • When my kids’ youth leaders just showed up for my kids’ school performances and to cheer them on. That still makes me misty-eyed.
  • When I needed a babysitter in PA for my high school reunion (after being out of state for 20 years and having no local relatives), and I just called up a random ward member from my youth who referred me to a woman I didn’t even know who agreed to do it. I’ve been (internet) friends with this random woman ever since.
  • When a guy in our ward gave his talk and it was more than 50% about tacos.
  • When my good friend whose politics are utterly wretched to me goes out of her way to chat with me about all sorts of things, including women’s rights and racism and church news, and she always keeps it real. [3]
  • When I think back on my own life choices and see how the church has steered me away from some of the biggest pitfalls to which I might have been prone.
  • Finding and participating in the bloggernacle and all of the interesting people I’ve met here.
  • When at 15, I was asked to lead the music in sacrament meeting and also asked to substitute teach my own Sunday School class. Being trusted and feeling needed at such a young age really made me feel good.

When I think about my two lists, I see some patterns. For one thing, my first list is often things originating with church leadership, far outside of my day-to-day interactions, although by no means exclusively. Local ward members can do and say some pretty awful things. But the things that pull me back in are almost always local, personal experiences. If you had asked me at age 19 which was better, the local ward or church headquarters, I would have without hesitation said church headquarters was better in that local people were often bigoted, ignorant, didn’t hold confidences, didn’t know what the heck they were talking about, gave boring lessons, were terrible parents, etc.

One lesson I have learned from being in this church is that when I find someone who says or does something awful or objectionable or ignorant or just plain wrong, when I’ve gone out of my way to befriend that person rather than cut them off, I have universally found there to be more good than bad, more things to love than to hate, more benefit to myself than drawback. Those awful things don’t usually go away. They are just balanced by the good. There is a tension. [4]

But the longer I have lived, and the more I have engaged with the church as an adult, the more I see that the beauty in Christian worship is the community of believers, that awful, yet somehow redeemed community. I would love to see the church handle this tension more gracefully. On a good day, it does. More often that’s a big part of the flawed community, an inability to embrace various viewpoints, to see past the obvious divide. Rather than getting to know more about someone, it’s so much easier to dismiss, marginalize, trump them with authority (scientific, church leadership, or scholarly). It’s still my first choice, obviously. But I know I must continue to do better, to be the change I want to see. The tension is a feature, not a bug.

  • What things are on your list that pull you back in?
  • How do you handle the tension of the awful and the redemptive in your own experience?


[1] Jerry Maguire quote.

[2] Allusion to the Godfather.

[3] She is sassy and fierce, and for some unfathomable reason has aligned herself with Satan politically; she can even agree with the Proclamation, albeit in an eye-rolling condescending way (like a head pat to men, the little dears, who apparently have to have certain things or they will take their ball and go home).

[4] Maybe that’s a lesson that should be applied to the politically divided country these days, but it’s nearly impossible to execute. It’s not easy stuff. I can’t understate how hateful and terrible some of the bad things are.


  1. Papa Smurf is the DEVIL!!!

  2. James Stone says:

    I find it interesting that there wasn’t a single spiritual experience that pulled the author back.

  3. Brother Sky says:

    James Stone: Which author? If you mean Angela C and not the author of the article she mentions, then I’d argue that all of the experiences she lists are spiritual experiences. I saw community, gratitude, honesty, love and patience manifested in that list. IMO, those are spiritual gifts, and being able to recognize and honor them is a spiritual gift/experience in itself.

  4. I find it interesting you don’t think those are spiritual experiences

  5. James Stone: consider yourself on my “You Lost Me” list. Officially. I suggest you examine why you find it necessary to criticize anyone else’s reasons for sticking with the church as not being “good enough,” as you imply. I have many more experiences than are on this list, including ones related to testimony. I don’t need to cast my pearls before you for dissection.

    You don’t know me. You don’t know my story.

  6. You must define spiritual experiences differently than I do.

  7. I don’t know if Smurfs are Satanic, but Papa Smurf is clearly a Communist.

  8. things that pull me back: Book of Mormon, my bedrock. patriarchal blessings. temple covenants. family history and related experiences. the way Relief Society comes together to put on a funeral for someone we don’t even know.

  9. Wait but why says:

    James Stone: Despite spending 31 years in the church, I’ve never had “a spiritual experience” according to your definition (and most Mormons’, I’d wager). Should I leave?

    Angela, very thought provoking post, as always.

  10. Th Other Brother Jones says:

    Helping hands

  11. Joseph Barnhurst says:

    What happened November 5?

  12. What things are on your list that pull you back in? I don’t have a ‘list’ but now I’m considering getting one.
    How do you handle the tension of the awful and the redemptive in your own experience? I was born into the LDS Church, I attended under protest mostly until I was 19, and I was inactive for 34 years after that, and reactivated at the ripe old age of 53. What “pulled me back in” was the community to which I moved. The previous community in which I lived was fracturing, new cultures were moving into the area, and the LDS worship there was getting pretty weak. I was married to a non-Mormon too. After my husband died and I moved away, I was fortunate to move to a community of caring, truly Christ-like in behavior (at church and at home) people. Sadly that hasn’t lasted, and I see the new community here becoming the same old cookie cutter worship that drove me away for so many years. The only thing that’s changed is how I look at things. Now I question my own motives for inactivity more than I do the people around me. Then I really blamed them a lot of the time. It’s how we individually embrace our faith and how we individually want our relationship with God and Christ to be that is important and may lead us to pull away or pull toward.

  13. As noted, the first author missed the “had me at hello” moments, the ones that Angela C happily fills in for herself. (Mine would sound very different, but are no less real for being different.) One result is that the first author “quit. Cold turkey.”
    In the oversimplifying way that we try to categorize people, I’d suggest a “mostly Lost Me” group, a “mostly Had Me” group, and a “two list” group. Being in the last of the three myself, I can add that two lists creates a tension that in my experience never lets up. Enough so that it is noticeable from the outside.

  14. I’ve never enjoyed one of your posts more than this one. Thank you.

  15. Angela C. – You are one of my hello’s.

    James Stone – My grandfather returned from 40 years of solid inactivity for the community. He was a widower. His lifelong hometeacher was a widower. Grandfather couldn’t drive. He could barely hear. He dawdled with a cane. But when he returned he was devout. He tithed. He passed out the bulletin. He participated as he could. I don’t think the injury in his heart from decades earlier had changed. He had been mistreated. He and his God would work out the details. He just needed shelter from life’s storm. Try reading 3 Nephi 18. Note all the references nee commandments to include everyone. Including unbelievers. The church isn’t all about spirituality. Hasn’t been for years.

  16. I think the Big Bang Theory mockery you’re referring to was from Elder Nelson rather than Elder Ballard. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/thanks-be-to-god?lang=eng

  17. James Stone says:

    Hi Angela C. I wasn’t criticizing your list or your reasons for staying. I was simply noting that there wasn’t an experience that dealt with feeling the Holy Ghost. It was simply an observation. Glad to hear that you’ve had many more experiences that didn’t make the list.

  18. James Stone: “Glad to hear that you’ve had many more experiences that didn’t make the list.” I said so in my post. As I said, “I can write this list all the live long day.” Both lists could have been longer. Much longer. But my response to you was defensive.

  19. @ James Stone – are you certain that the author did not find any of the reasons to be spiritual?

  20. ZoroastrianKurd says:

    Weirdly self-hating white people, I don’t get you.

  21. “What I think the article really missed out on (perhaps the author doesn’t see it this way) is the inherent tension in belonging to a church.”

    Not all churches are the same. If you are a liberal minded person who views the scriptures metaphorically, then there are many other churches that are a much better match than the Mormon church or an evangelical church. Consider the Unitarian Universalist church. There is not nearly the same type of baggage that a liberal metaphorical person has to put up with. The same goes for Neo-Buddhism. There is no tension that arises in the concept of the earth being older than 6,000 years. No one feels the need to come up with crazy explanations for why dinosaur bones are found all over the place. There is no homophobia. No need to feel like you have to justify polygamy. No crazy past doctrines that you have to dance around. No ancient American Jews seeing Jesus. No Book of Abraham. The question shouldn’t be just what pulls you back to the Mormon church, but why put up with all the baggage and the nonsense when there are so many better options out there? Is it the fear of overreaction, if not ostracism, from family and friends? Is it because that is where your community is and that is where you’re staying? And yet the Mormon church is on a constant campaign to bring people from other churches into its fold. What gives the rank-and-file Mormons the right to get overly offended if one of their own decides that a different church/religion is simply a better match for their personalities? Forget them.

  22. I love this. You made me think a little differently than I have before. I love acknowledging where things are icky, but also flipping the coin to the ‘had me at hello’ moments. I have never organized my thoughts that way. We need to have more conversations about the odd culture that we have in the church. Just because we are comfortable with the way things have always been (or seem to have been) does not mean that any of it is doctrinal in nature.

    Thank you for sharing!

  23. “When she saw that the emphasis on being polite and soft-spoken was just to make those in charge more comfortable.” I wish this wasn’t so familiar sounding to me, a middle-aged Mormon woman. We prize soft-spoken-ness above almost all else in women. Nevermind I am hard working, a good leader, charitable and loyal to the church.

  24. Joseph Barnhurst–the LGBT exclusion policy became publicly known on November 5, 2015.

  25. Angela, I love this! I made a similar list a long time ago (http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2007/03/whm-mothering-sunday/), but I think I should do it again. Maybe as an annual (at least) exercise.

  26. Papa Smurf is Nick Saban (who is Satan).

  27. Angela (and Kristine via that link),
    You made my Monday after a very rough Sunday. Thank you.

  28. What Pulls me back – So many things The sisters, Book of Mormon, a need to be a small change and to be a witness to a big change.
    Handling the tension – At the moment I’m thriving in the tension. My questions and angst have led me to seek truth and answers. I don’t always find them but the journey is exciting. I think I’m managing this because I believe in revelation and that gives me hope for the future of the church. I must admit though I sometimes worry that as an older woman I won’t be around to see much change and this hurts. I’d love to see it change for my children and grandchildren.

  29. nobody, really says:

    Pierre Culliford was a cartoonist who created the Smurfs. He went by the pen name “Peyo”, obviously short for Peyote. Peyote is a psychedelic mushroom. The Smurfs wear mushroom hats, live in little mushroom houses, and the entire series is the result of heavy drug use sustained over many, many years. Smurfette was created by Gargamel, and we know from Holy Scripture that only God can create life. Hence, the Smurfs are against God and deliberately trying to induce children to take drugs and kill their parents.

    (Summary of a high council talk given in the early 80s in Kimberly, Idaho. The same guy tried to tell us that the film “The Magnificent Seven” was evil because the soundtrack had been used in tobacco advertising.)

  30. Paul Ritchey says:

    Oh tension! I particularly like nobody, really’s smurf talk example, but these (and Angela C’s) are all really good (and vicariously painful for me).

    A question: At lease some theologians and some psychologists of which I’m aware speak of the possibility of a believer transcending the cognitive or visceral tension spoken of here, such that the believer would be utterly comfortable being wonderful friends with the people who make statements that create tensions like these (while simultaneously knowing how offensive/incorrect/dishonest the statements are). In particular, I have in mind Fowler’s stage 6 “universalizing” faith.

    Has anyone here caught glimpses of what such non-tension would be like? I can’t fathom it.

  31. Actually, “The Magnificent Seven” is evil because it’s a lousy western (in two senses of that word) remake of The Seven Samurai.

  32. I didn’t take Nelson as ridiculing the big bang at all. Yeah there’s a bit of a watchmaker fallacy in his comments, but basically he’s ridiculing the idea all of this was due to chance, which seems a fair criticism. I’m a pretty big believer in both evolution and the big bang / inflation. But I didn’t find anything particularly objectionable in Nelson’s comments.

  33. On my “You lost me list”: the one-two punch of the three most recently-called apostles essentially coming from Utah, and the Nov 5 policy. Still getting back on my feet from those, actually. (I had just made a kind of peace with the first issue when Nov 5 came along and sent me reeling.) As someone who grew up as a non-member in Utah and experienced much of the worst that the church and its members had to offer, it deeply hurts to be repeatedly shown that men from Utah seem to be the only people in the pool of potential leaders.

    But on the love list: I’m currently the executive secretary in my ward, and seeing the imperfect but faithful leaders do their best each week to serve our people in love and patience gives me a lot of hope. And yes, one of them is from Utah. :) Makes me think those newer apostles might not be so bad, but I’d still like to see some geographic diversity among the 12 in coming years.

  34. Clark, did you watch the video? After saying “big bang,” he stops and looks around, an amused smile on his face. He clearly meant to make fun of the idea, which is underscored in the next sentence, when he compares it to an explosion in a print shop.

    Like Angela said, that kind of anti-science view (while rare in my personal experience) is definitely a turn-off, and an unnecessary one at that. That Nelson doesn’t believe in the Big Bang doesn’t mean he isn’t an apostle, or that he’s a fallen apostle, of course. But it does put an unnecessary stumbling block in front of member who are otherwise comfortable both with the Big Bang and with God’s existence, and, like Angela said, those members—including me—need to have something to hold onto in spite of wrong statements and teachings.

  35. Flat-out wonderful, inspiring post, Angela. One of the best things I’ve read in a long time. Thank you.

  36. Paul Ritchey: The only way to become comfortable with people who say or do awful things is to continue to engage with them: to listen well, to ask questions, to speak honestly, to allow yourself to know more than the awful thing about them, and to allow them to know more about you than the disconnect. This is easier when the awful thing comes out after knowing them, as a surprising attitude you didn’t know they had. It requires more patience and effort when the first thing you know is the awful thing.

    One example I can think of is a family we knew. My son complained that her son had made homophobic slurs in class at church. That same day, the mom had taught RS, and I felt that she was fairly rigid, black & white in her thinking, and lacking in healthy questioning. (It was on obedience, and her examples were doozies–I’ll leave it to your imagination, and you’ll probably be spot on). I was really tempted to just call it quits and either not go to RS in future or just play Candy Crush and be mentally absent to cope (this was a few years ago). But instead, I told myself I needed to get to know her better, so I went up to her after the lesson and talked about where they were from and befriended them. We had them over for dinner, and they returned the favor. We became good friends.

    In time, we had more discussions about our differences of opinion, particularly on gay rights (the cake debate was heating up). I doubt I changed her mind, and I know she didn’t change mine, but she at least didn’t have a caricature of what the opposing viewpoint looked like. I humanized it for her, and she for me.

    I’m not saying this is Fowler 6 stuff, but it’s the only strategy I know that works for me in these situations. The temptation is always to cut ties. Self-righteousness feels so satisfying in the moment, but it makes us and everyone else smaller. It can’t be good for us.

  37. Perhaps “I see that the beauty in Christian worship is the community of believers” can be a decent translation/understanding of “Speaking to the church collectively and not individually”

  38. A few of the “Had me at hello moments” in my life:

    Discovering the writings of Eugene England.
    The time I received an answer to prayer that included correcting an IP address subnet mismatch.
    Hearing Pres. Hinckley announce the Perpetual Education Fund.
    The Book of Mormon.
    Being called at different times to home teach people who really needed help – a group of seven single divorced mothers, a paranoid schizophrenic, and an unbalanced conspiracy theorist with an addiction to Fox News and Breitbart. I couldn’t solve their big problems, but I could help with day to day realities that actually made a difference.
    Finding out that Family History could be about getting to know my ancestors personally, and not just about getting new names to take to the temple. I can’t begin to list all the family I hope will be waiting for me on the other side of the veil.
    The one time I got one key that unlocked a single verse in Isaiah from a talk.
    All the folks from my ward who showed up in the week before my daughter was to be married, and painted my fence, washed my windows, and a dozen other things that I couldn’t get to because we had been visiting my father in Utah who was dying.
    And the time that a good friend showed up at my doorstep, unannounced, to share with me a spiritual experience that he had, that he said he was prompted to come talk to me about.

    There is still a lot of tension, but with all the other negatives going on in the world these days, I prefer to try and dwell on the positives. As my wife puts it, we go to church each week to get our spiritual buckets filled, and we usually leave with them overflowing enough to get us through to the next week.

  39. Sorry if I sound self-righteous but to me it is about the Holy Ghost and the connection to God. I have never been accepted by the LDS Church community (single, childless, fat, middle-aged, work full time, liberal, democrat) and at this point, couldn’t care less. I can’t imagine making the sacrifices in time, money, effort and lifestyle if it was just about the community. There has to be more to it for me to stick around.

  40. Thank you very much for this post; I needed this today and loved every word of it.

    Right there with you on November 5, and getting to know people whose world view does not match mine. I’m slowly learning to be a better listener.

  41. Lily: Whatever keeps you engaged, I’m just glad you are.

  42. There is so much I love about this post, thank you! It made me realize I carry around a “you lost me” list around in my head but I had to think about my “you had me” list. I’m going to work on that.

    The church lost me:
    -Growing up with 2 brothers and being furious about the outings, opportunities, responsibilities, titles, funding, and encouragement they received just because they are boys
    -My bishop refusing to let me prepare for the temple because I wasn’t getting married
    -Finally getting to the temple and feeling disappointed and depressed by the ceremony language and my missing Mother
    -November 5 (I have never come so close to leaving)

    The church had me:
    -The Book of Mormon
    -The love, companionship, and examples of my best friend and youth leaders
    -Service opportunities
    -Little miracles
    -Meeting and marrying my husband. I would stay for no other reason than I love him and he needs me to be in the church with him. Honestly, without him I would have left – at least for a while – after November.

  43. On the other hand there’s a zen to the tension, isn’t there? – a kind of energy I personally find useful. To me, The Brethren are koan generators: the more outlandish/offensive the policy, the greater the amplification, proportionally as we love Jesus & The (One True) Church. We are all hideously imperfect, our beloved Brethren the ultimate examples, try as they might. O Hominidae! – forward!

  44. Clark Goble says:

    Sam, again, I don’t think he’s ridiculing the big bang so much as the idea the big bang is all there is.

  45. Clark and Sam: I don’t have a dog in the fight nor any information to add, but the big bang discussion is a useful illustration of the beauty of the OP.
    Because it doesn’t matter who’s right or what was said. If Angela C had a “Lost Me” reaction to comments about the big bang, then that’s real for her no matter what actually happened. In my experience, those reactions almost never go away. It almost never helps to say Don’t think that way. Or *I* don’t think that way. Or Here’s an explanation. Or It will work out in the eternities. Or any other form of apologetics (even the pastoral version, in my opinion).
    What does work, what does make a difference in lived religion, is a brighter flame of “Had Me” experiences.

  46. I guarantee that the majority of non-scientist conservatives in the church now believe that Elder Nelson’s comments regarding the Big Bang Theory in General Conference supports their already preexisting notion that the Big Bang never happened.

    It was a stupid comment, regardless of what Elder Nelson may or may not have meant by it.

  47. Tim, Your comment on the comment reminded me of a Laugh In sequence from the the 60s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qf6Sv3A9zs

    Christian, “almost never” is an important qualifier as to some forms of pastoral apologetics. Some have been helped by learning that there is another way to think about some things to which they had initial, instinctive “lost me” reactions. But that doesn’t seem to help for long in the absence of “a brighter flame of ‘Had Me’ experiences.”

  48. it's a series of tubes says:

    What does work, what does make a difference in lived religion, is a brighter flame of “Had Me” experiences.

    This, exactly. For myself, a single, solitary “had me” experience in connection with a priesthood blessing has been the foundation on which I weather all the “lost me” storms.

  49. Tim, I’m sure that’s true. And I’ve been critical of Elder Nelson making naive anti-evolution comments in the past. I just don’t think this is a particularly good example of that. The “no death before the fall” crowd is going to believe what they believe largely on the basis of numerous mid-20th century comments on the subject. Compared to those, this is extremely mild.

  50. JR says “almost never” is an important qualifier as to some forms of pastoral apologetics. Some have been helped . . .”

    Not as debate or challenge, especially because I think we are 99% in agreement, I did think about this before my last comment, and did a three-step in my mind:
    1. I will include an “almost” on principle, because I have yet to make an absolute statement that I was happy with two hours late.
    2. But I cannot think of a case where a “lost me” reaction had already occurred, where it got reversed after the fact. (Without playing psychologist to try to explain, I report this as a data point.)
    3. But I have seen pastoral apologetics help in an inoculation sense, preventing or softening the blow of what otherwise would have been a negative reaction. (But that takes off on another tangent and, well, not now . . . )

    And now to add a fourth point — inoculation takes several forms. I regret a call from my college age son when he asked “who is this McConkie people are citing as authority, for things that I don’t think are correct?” I wish I had done some inoculation instead of avoidance.

  51. Here is Nelson in 1988:

    “Many of these people have concluded that the universe began as a “big bang” that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it. To me, such theories are unbelievable! Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?”

    Here he is in 2012:

    “Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, “Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?” The likelihood is most remote.”

    Yes, he is ridiculing the Big Bang Theory. Clark Goble and others, stop trying to turn the LDS leaders into people that they aren’t.

  52. I don’t know that Elder Nelson’s ridiculous claims about the Big Bang are a “you lost me” moment for me, because I was already familiar with the ridiculous anti-science claims made by LDS leaders in the past who knew even less about science than Elder Nelson does (and yes, just because he was a heart surgeon does not mean that he knows anything about the physics behind the Big Bang theory or the biology behind evolution or any science outside of basic human anatomy and how the human heart works).

    But it’s another drop in my “the church can be anti-science” bucket, and it’s another drop in my “loss of respect for top leaders” bucket. The latter is especially full at this point in time.

  53. This post made my day. Thank you!

  54. Can BCC reach out to Elder Nelson to guest post on his scientific views as they relate to the gospel? He might be down; General Authorities are all about new means of communication like the Internet/blogs.

  55. Michael H: In light of Mark C.’s comment, no thanks. Having him triple down on a bad bet isn’t in anyone’s best interests. I am certain that his views are his own and not necessarily “official” or shared by all in the Q15. But it wasn’t a great moment. I agree with christiankimball (very strongly) that the only remedy is to have enough “had me” moments that their flame outshines the “lost me” moments. That’s not necessarily a pro & con calculus either. It’s much more qualitative than quantitative.

  56. I’m trans, so it doesn’t matter if anyone pulls me back in. The church doesn’t want me. Heavenly Father doesn’t want me.

    Towards the end, I prayed that he’d help me find someone else who felt as miserable as I did at church, so that we could help each other. Turns out I had to find that elsewhere.

  57. Angela, my writing may fail to convey that I say this without any disrespect to you, but here goes: For me, personally, it’s outside my comfort zone to swallow the unsavory statements, teachings, biases, or beliefs of General Authorities by telling myself that the person’s views are their own. Chief among the personal views among anyone in the Q15 holds is that it is divine will that he, above anyone else who remains outside the Quorum, is chosen as God’s mouthpiece (and not just key holder). I’m often reminded that Brigham Young’s racism or Boyd Packer’s homophobia were merely products of their time, but I can’t help but think that those men had contemporaries who knew and preached that racism was bad and that gays weren’t deviants. I mean, I can’t imagine God deciding to call Elder Nelson to his seership after having wringing his hands and saying, “Darn it! If only I could find someone who could listen to the Spirit AND believed in science!”

  58. I don’t even what to say to Jewelfox heartfelt comment. :(

  59. Jewelfox: Whether the church wants you or not, know that Heavenly Father does. And many of us here do also. Our community is much richer for your participation. I’m sorry for the pain.

  60. Just so the author realizes that when ward members “say some pretty awful things”, that to people on the other side of the argument, you are the person “saying some pretty awful things”. We each need to look to ourselves and realize our words are equally awful to people who think differently from us.

  61. Do you intend to reject comments based on disagreement with your assessment? Consider freeing my comment already on the thread.

  62. Paul Ritchey says:

    First, +1 Angela C. What a “had me” kind of testimony.

    Second, Michael H’s comment has we wondering about two potential sources for statements like Elder Nelson’s: (1) perhaps he is knowingly ignorant or incredulous of science out of something like spite or indifference, or (2) perhaps he simply, without realizing it, lacks an understanding of the relevant scientific principle at issue sufficient to be persuaded of its truth.

    Here, I have to think it’s the latter. Elder Nelson’s remarks are attacking a caricature of science that has been created by anti-science types (that (scientists believe) a meaningless explosion created a meaningless universe). From my limited, general educational knowledge of cosmology, the “Big Bang” is shorthand for a complicated, multidimensional, imperfectly-understood set of facts and ideas. It’s nothing at all like an explosion in a print shop.

    Elder Nelson is smart enough to have become an accomplished heart surgeon: he must also be smart enough to be persuaded of the plausibility of the “Big Bang,” if he were to give it some real attention. Personally, I’ll forgive him if he’s too busy running the Church to get seriously into particle physics. Ideally, he’d refrain from beating the straw man in the meantime, but you can’t win ’em all.

  63. i had a “lost me” moment (very minor) one time hearing someone give a hugely non-Christ centered talk. as the meeting ended and i was reveling in my smug judgement, a woman i home teach who was attending for the first time in years came to me in tears praising the talk and how it touch her. i was immediately humbled and brought back in ;-)

    to me, the experience speaks to how i manage the tension… remembering that it is not all about me, that i have huge beams that just happen to be different than those motes i may be judging, trying to remember to cut people slack on their path – just as i want slack in mine. i also try to keep in mind that my point of view may be wrong – though probably mathematically impossible ;-)

    lastly, i try to look at individuals beyond the words or actions that “lose me”. there is a couple that i know that have judgmental ideas about what is or isn’t apostasy – but i know they are constantly in the service of their fellow man and i revel in their Christianity because of it.

    elder nelson is a great example – one of my favorite quotes of his embraces science & religion as one truth, so if i’m lost by his mocking of the big bang (i wasn’t), i can be drawn back in by his broader teachings.

    “There is no conflict between science and religion. Conflict only arises from an incomplete knowledge of either science or religion, or both,”

  64. I have a strong feeling that we could make some great memes from some of the content in this article. I love the ending to this article though – great stuff!

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