How Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Can Help Us Bridge Our Faith Divides
I’ve seen both sides.
I am friends with mothers in Relief Society cry about children who left the church. And I’m friends with their adult children who wrestle with their Mormon faith, decide they can no longer stay, and experience distance from their family.
I’ve spoken with struggling church members who feel isolated in their doubts, afraid of the judgments that come when they speak honestly with fellow members about their personal faith journey. And I’ve spoken with orthodox members who feel threatened and worried by those who air their doubts.
Sometimes, our faith experiences can divide us and on either side of the rift is pain.
I just finished reading a book that I think can reconcile relationships between orthodox Mormons, struggling Mormons, and former Mormons:
The author, Jon Ogden,* shares a way of cultivating and connecting over shared values. He says:
“This view can work for orthodox, unorthodox, and former Mormons alike. It’s centered in the pursuit of three universal ideals: truth, beauty, and goodness” (5)
The book breaks down each (truth, beauty, and goodness), showing how a balanced combination can lead to richer relationships and a quality life—and how dogged pursuit of one alone can leave us disadvantaged.
“The pursuit of truth without beauty makes us cynical…
The pursuit of truth without goodness makes us lonely…
The pursuit of beauty without truth makes us gullible…
The pursuit of beauty without goodness…” and so on. (7-8)
This book could connect people. If you’ve left the church, you could share the book with an orthodox family member to help them relate. If you’re worried about a doubting friend, you could share the book as an acknowledgment of common values.
Better yet, read it yourself (particularly if you’re currently skeptical or disoriented in your LDS church life). It may help you feel less anxiety and more ownership over your own faith experience.
- If you’d like to hear the author speak more about these ideas before reading, listen to this interview with Gina Colvin on A Thoughtful Faith.
We do not need to have the experiences of rejection, misunderstanding, judgment, isolation that can accompany differences in belief or experience. We can bridge the unnecessary rifts between us with goodness, beauty, and truth.
*Full disclosure: I know Jon Ogden personally. But he did not request that I review his book—and as I’m writing, he doesn’t even know I read it. He has impressed me as someone thoughtful and articulate, and those gifts come out in this book.
**(Added bonus during U.S. election time: You know that friend whose politics you just can’t stand? They’re conservative/liberal/libertarian and they just don’t get it. This book briefly touches on the different priorities of each ideology in trying to bring about goodness. You may never agree fully with your friend, but some of these points may help you build a bridge to understanding. See pp. 66-76, 97-100.)