Shifting Gears

A few years ago, I started a blog that was designed to help people who had decided they no longer believed in Mormonism to navigate what for me had been a personal trip through hell. I made it clear from the outset that I wasn’t interested in convincing anyone to disbelieve in Mormonism; my blog was for those who already had decided they no longer believe.

I figured I had screwed things up so badly during my crisis of faith that maybe someone could learn from what I had done wrong. After all, someone like me who ends up in a psychiatric hospital after an attempted suicide is not exactly an expert on how to do things right.

I figured the blog was doing its job because I would get emails and comments from people who were in a lot of pain, and they said my blog helped. Ultimately, I killed the blog because my wife didn’t like it. It was about that time that I ventured back into apologetics discussions and debate.

But engaging in this kind of arguing and debate doesn’t do me any good, and my interactions with some people have unwittingly made me feel less positively about the LDS church. I know, I’ve given as good as I’ve received, and I take responsibility for that. I honestly don’t understand all the personal animus thrown around, but I guess I just generally like most people and prefer to deal with common ground.

But too often I am far more hostile and antagonistic than I should be, and it makes me feel worse about things. So I’ve decided to retire from my career as “unapologetic anti-Mormon” and go back to my original plan to help people who are in pain because of losing faith in Mormonism. Maybe I have something to offer. I don’t know.

One of my longtime stalkers once said that I was one of those people standing in shark-infested waters encouraging people to jump in: “Come on in, the water’s fine!” I guess I’d rather see myself as someone helping those who have already decided to jump in to avoid the rocks and the hazards. I don’t think there’s a right answer to loss of faith, but if there are wrong answers, I am an expert.

I’ll still write, but I’m putting away my debate trophy. (Note: it was a literal trophy, which I won in 1982 as the district champion for Lincoln-Douglas debate. I’m not speaking of some supposed debates I have “won” with Mormons.)

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4 Responses to Shifting Gears

  1. Jesse says:

    I’m sad to see you go, Runtu. I think your thoughtful, civil approach and your gift for written expression added much of value to the ongoing discussion on Mormonism.

    It seems you feel guilty for your opinions, that maybe you internalized criticism from the true believers. Am I wrong?

    Either way, your writing was helpful to me and by extension I assume it was helpful to many others. The fact is that the Mormon church is not what it claims to be; Joseph Smith did not see God in a grove of trees in New York and the Book of Mormon is not an authentic record of ancient Americans. And if one values truth then there is great value in pulling aside the curtain.

    I know that debate often seems like a lost cause. It makes the apologists retrench. But you used to be an apologist. The ones who defend most vociferously are the most uncomfortable with their faith. You have had an effect on them and on people who had never previously thought to question their religion. What was true when you and I were Mormon missionaries is true now that we advocate for the other side: not every contact results in conversion but every contact is a seed.

    My exit from religion was accompanied by some psychological and emotional trauma, but every step taking me out of the Church was lighter. I don’t feel any lingering resentment, but I do feel a need to explain; a need that I think is human, universal, and not directly related to my opinions on religion. I hope you don’t feel embarrassed by or self-conscious about the urge to share. I hope you reconsider your intention to discontinue your blog’s theme. But if you see it as a choice between providing debate and providing emotional support for the traumatized, I don’t understand but I wish you the best.

  2. Seth R. says:

    I think helping people sort out their pain is a good goal. So I’m all for it. But really, I don’t think you were one of the more negative ex-Mormons I encountered. So take that for whatever it’s worth coming from a habitual pro-Mormon Internet skirmisher.

  3. Tina says:

    You are a good writer. That is the criteria I look for in a blog. I don’t think a blog needs to have a grand purpose. Just a voice. If you find a thought provoking topic write about it. Don’t let the trolls get you down. Mormonism in any context will push hot buttons one way or another. We are all in our own personal journeys, looking at other people’s own personal journeys in or out of the faith – whether positive or negative, sometimes a bit of both. Trust that there is a silent readership that enjoys what you have to say!

  4. I have enjoyed your posts. I think you are honest, not unduly negative. I suggest you hit the spam button for comments from your stalkers.

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