Making blog public again.

I don’t know if anyone is really a “follower” of this blog anymore but I felt the need to put it back up online.

For anyone who stumbles on this blog, here’s the history of the blog in a nutshell:

I grew up in the Mormon church as a product of multiple generations of Mormons on both sides. However, after serving a mission and marrying in the temple, I began to discover other religions in a deeper and more open way than I ever had before. I wanted to learn about other religions on their own terms. Orthodoxy had always been with me, and as I learned and grew, it came to me more and more. Finally, by 2012 I was actively comparing and contrasting Mormonism and Orthodoxy in my mind, with the purpose of discovering which church I should be in.

I created this blog to explore questions and invite discussion. Unfortunately, when my father found out about the blog he contacted someone from FAIR (an LDS apologetics organization) to visit and try to discuss things with me. My parents do not understand my faith journey and did not take it well. I, in turn, did not take the intrusion into my blog well and it soured me on the whole experience. In any case, by that point my mind was basically made up. I decided to make this blog private and keep it from the world. Arguing on the internet was taking an emotional toll on me. Trying to decide what church is true is already stressful, and I was reading and studying for hours every day. The added stress of dealing with surrogates from my parents was much worse.

In 2014 I became a catechumen in the Orthodox church, and in 2015 I was baptized. You can read more about my actual conversion here. One month later, I took an academic and personal journey to Istanbul to see the Hagia Sophia. Everything fell into place for me. Then, in 2016, my wife and three children joined me in the Orthodox church.

I am truly happy, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Joining the Orthodox church was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Some last notes.

  1. I may or may not currently endorse any position I have taken in this blog. The point of the blog was to explore ideas.
  2. I am generally anonymous on this blog, though my identity is not such much “secret” as it is not that important.
  3. I am keeping the blog in place for historical and informational purposes. I will probably not respond to or comment on any post from now on. Please do not expect anything additional from me beyond what I have posted.

Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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Theme change(s).

Hey, loyal readers (and visitors), you may be noticing that I’ve been goofing around with the theme of this blog over the last few days.  I might continue to do so over the next few days.  I hope I’m not irritating everyone by doing so – I’m just incredibly picky.  Also, I don’t like dark themes very much, so I decided to axe the old one I had.  Sorry.

Facebook Page

I’ve decided to create a Facebook Page for “Mormons Discovering Eastern Orthodoxy” that will basically just be a collection of links to blog posts, articles, and other information for anyone interested in the two religions (and I’ll even publish some Catholic and other posts if they are relevant).  This way, if you want to keep track of this blog, you can subscribe to that one in your Facebook and have links delivered straight to you.

The link is also at the top of my sidebar, as you can now see.

If anyone else wants their blog listed, please send a message to the page and I’ll consider making you an admin.  We will have to agree on a set of ground rules, but I’ll make it simple for you.

Thanks for following and “liking,” everyone.

Poll Results

Back in June, I posted a poll asking my regular (and semi-regular, and anyone else) readers what best describes their religious affiliation.  I sort of regret some of the wording of the options, but as a graduate student in psychology I’ve been trained in poll construction and know too much for my own good.  However, I wanted to report the results because I find them interesting.   Mostly, I should have constructed the poll so people could answer more than one thing, though I’m not sure how much difference that would have made.

10 people answered the poll.  That’s not so bad, considering this is an anonymous blog that very few people (even my friends and family) know about.  The thing that stuck out to me was that I seem to have more diversity than I thought.  Here are the categories, plus the number of people in each category.

Ex-LDS:  3

Questioning LDS:  2

Faithful LDS:  1

Faithful Eastern Orthodox (never LDS):  1

Former LDS, now faithful Eastern Orthodox:  1

Protestant:  1

Other:  1  (this person indicated that they are an Eastern Catholic, which is one of a group of Eastern Churches who are in communion with the Roman Catholic church)

None of my readers indicated that they were:  Questioning Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Non-Christian Religion, Nonbeliever (Atheist/Agnostic), or Other.

Poll: What best describes you?

This is something I’ve been wondering, since I now have a few people who visit this blog regularly. What is the religious affiliation of the people who visit and subscribe to this blog?

I would like my blog to attract anyone on the spectrum from believing Latter-day Saint to believing Eastern Orthodox (and anyone who has gone from one to the other). However, I must admit that my tone in most posts is critical of Mormonism, such that I may have scared off most Mormons from reading this blog. It seems that the only faithful Mormons who visit come to argue some point or another and then leave. I would like to make this website more welcoming to both sides, however. Suggestions are welcome.

Now, without further ado, please fill out this survey!

Comparative Religion

seraphimThanks to a comment left today by another blogger, I’ve been made aware of another blog that is quite similar to this one.  It is called Comparative Religion: Discerning between Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism).  That blogger, Seraphim, seems to be quite interested in the differences, similarities, and most of all the truth of those three religions.  Kind of reminds me of me!

He has a quite similar faith journey to me, though it seems that in the past, he has favored Roman Catholicism over Eastern Orthodoxy, and his blog has reflected that.  He seems to be interested in the same philosophy as me as well – questions about the origin of the universe, the nature of God, and Apostolic Succession.  A member of the LDS church, he is open-minded and thoughtful.  The thing I like most about his blog is that he is not angry, bitter, or reactive in his writings.  So much of the “Disaffected Mormon Underground” (DAMU) is so bitter that I think it clouds their judgment.  Lots of blogs there simply take cheap shots at General Authorities or the much-hated Mormon Culture.  But is that how you discover truth?  I think not.

In any case, I would love to have some greater collaboration, guest posting, and cross posting from Seraphim.  I really dig his style.

Links of Interest

I have noticed that many Orthodox message boards, forums, and blogs online are kind of angry and scary.  It seems that some of them are very closed-off to inquirers and have strong censorship policies that make me afraid to participate.  There is also a strong hostility toward Western liberalism.  Now I do not consider myself a liberal, and I recognize that the Western liberal-conservative dichotomy doesn’t exactly map onto the East very well, but I do believe that what we in the United States call liberals should have a place at Jesus’ table like everyone else.

This has caused me to want to create a blog portal of more scholarly, moderate Orthodox blogs to create some kind of a community where there would be more open discussions and less fear of social reprisal.  It would be modeled after the wonderful LDSBlogs.org community (a.k.a. the Mormon Archipelago), which is strongly tied to the folks at By Common Consent, my favorite of all LDS blogs.

However, I do not have the technical know-how to create or sustain such a project.  As such, I have tried the next best thing – I’ve added a del.icio.us widget to my sidebar to the right, and will simply place links to Orthodox blog posts that I find interesting from time to time.  Feel free to click the links!  I will try to use it judiciously and only post links that I think are top-quality.

Civility

Religious debates online tend to be some of the most rancorous and bitter I’ve seen.  It seems especially fierce between atheists and theists, but this does not diminish how awful some of the discussions I’ve seen were between Christian denominations or religions, including Roman Catholic vs. Orthodox vs. LDS vs. Protestant vs. Muslim vs. Buddhist, etc.  This, to me, is unacceptable.

I am actually a graduate student in experimental psychology, and so I know why these types of discussions get so bitter.  When people feel like their most fundamental grip on reality, truth, and error is possibly flawed or being attacked, they act like cornered wolves.  Quite a bit of one’s personal social identity is wrapped up in one’s religion.  Religion gives meaning and purpose to people’s lives, and it serves a buffer against existential anxiety caused by an understanding of one’s own mortality.  As such, it is very difficult to have calm, polite, and respectful discussions about religion.  Yet, this is absolutely what I expect on this blog. Continue reading