Radical Politics and Liberal Mormon Spirituality


May 1, 2011 by Robert Poort

This month I would like to (re)introduce the remarkable web site by John-Charles Duffy: LiberalMormon.net, a site which facilitates progressive mormons with many concepts that are useful when dealing with a conservative social-political and religious environment. In his chapter “Faith, not Doubt” John-Charles writes:

At times Latter-day Saints whose faith is moving in a liberal direction describe themselves negatively—that is, in terms of what they are not. They may identify, for instance, as “doubters,” “skeptics,” or “heterodox.” These labels tell us that a person is not an orthodox believer, but they do not tell us what the person does believe.
By contrast, this website describes liberal Mormonism in positive terms. The scriptures urge us to “declare the things which [we] have heard, and verily believe, and know to be true” (D&C 80:4). In the face of dogmatism, it may be important to affirm the value of doubt and questioning. But spirituality requires more than doubt as its foundation. It requires faith, in the sense of conviction. At any given moment, a person will believe some things, not believe some things, and be undecided about some things. Being clear about what we believe is as important as deciding what not to believe or learning to live with uncertainties.
Liberal Mormons may no longer believe many of the things that conservative Mormons believe. Still, liberals trust—even know—that certain things are true: certain historical realities, certain bedrock values, certain hopes for the future. Liberal religion has been accused, with some justice, of lacking conviction. To inspire conviction, a liberal Mormon faith must be presented as faith, not merely as doubt. We must be prepared to testify to what we believe, whatever that may be, not merely to what we no longer believe.

In that light I’m (re)introducing LiberalMormon.net – perhaps as a gentle reminder that mormonism and radical politics are certainly about radical politics, but also about mormonism. On The Mormon Worker language sites that I recently started, I introduce LiberalMormon.net this month in a way that hopefully connects readers’ interest for liberal spirituality with radical politics. As there is no such thing as non-English independent mormon media, the languages sites of The Mormon Worker are uniquely positioned to fill that vacuum. Thus new readers will find there a blend of familiar mormon concepts – in their own language – and be introduced to liberal mormon spirituality as a basis for radical mormon politics. Because we just got started with these language sites and do not yet have a lot of readers, I posted some material also in English in order to give you an idea of what these language sites are all about. Have a look and enjoy the music, languages and cultures! And of course there’s always Google Translate if you really want to follow any specific content.

3 thoughts on “Radical Politics and Liberal Mormon Spirituality

  1. Ron Madson says:

    thank you for the link. I agree that we need to change our vocabulary so that our beliefs our couched in faith expressions. well said, and thank you very much for your efforts in launching the Mormon worker in other languages

  2. Robert Poort says:

    Thanks Ron,

    I was thinking of maintaining the language sites with a monthly entry untill native language speakers start participating, while monitoring and somewhat moderating in the background. Before folks are ready to storm the barricades, so to speak, many first need to become familiar with liberal mormon spirituality in order to be able to make the connection between mormonism and radical politics.

    The Mormon Worker has great potential as increasingly people are connected with local and world events through the Internet. As a grassroots organization The Mormon Worker is a breath of fresh air by providing an open media platform around issues that many Latter-day Saints care deeply about. As the blogroll in the column on the right shows, The Mormon Worker is also a great meeting place for progressive mormons at the grassroot level.

    Interesting how the English Mormon Worker talks about “mormonism and radical politics” while the foreign language sites use “mormonism, socialism, pacifism”. I sense that words like “socialism” and “pacifism” unfortunately have been made suspect in american politics and therefore “radical” somewhat takes off the pressure, perhaps also reminding us of our radical mormon beginnings. Of course, there’s also “mormonism and radical politics” on the right, of which we are all too aware off! Elsewhere in the world socialism and pacifism are respected and accepted terms, so they can be used effectively depending on local circumstances. Anyhow, radical politics, socialism, and pacifism can be mutually inclusive!

  3. Iamdavid says:

    here may be food for thought…ya know…with yer new stuff. Inform the humans whom may still be out there, that there is this thing called an eye for an eye. Then, whenever something dramatic happens in the good ol U.S.A. ( like a tornado, floods, what have you)people may start to realize, that the chosen one is here, things are about to ramp up, and when our government ramps up killing in other places, so it shall come down upon us. So, tell the people of this awesome thing called Karma, maybe get the word out, and we may all be sleeping in a better place…tonite. STOP KILLING AND THE KILLING WILL STOP…

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