Follow up on Doubt ing

Picking up few threads from the comments on Doubt:

  1. What happens when Doubt is a Thing?  Like, I can assume everyone means the same thing when I read or hear that word?  And so, I can write a dictionary definition of “it” (and of its itness)…List its attributes, and contrast with another thingified word, like Faith, create flow charts, and so on…Am I really getting at thing I haven’t really created?  And then…
  2. What happens when Doubt is not only a Thing, but an Agentive Thing?  Like, it comes upon me (like a spirit!), and yet is also something I “have,” similar to, say, a disease?
  3. Do prescriptions for socially imagined, discursively created Agent-Things really work?  If not (and they don’t), then what?  Can we doubt everything said about doubts, faith, and so on, from a position that is other than “because I really feel it is so”?  Can we speak more than this?
  4. Step back from what you think Doubt and Faith “really mean,” stop looking for the heart of the matter; pause for a minute reciting some voice on their meaning, their goodness and wickedness, and look at how these words partially create You.  What do you mean to say, for instance, “I have faith” and “I have doubts”?  And don’t give me another voice as your reply.  I want to hear the voice of the being represented by these Big Words, reflecting upon actual, recalled usage.
  5. Now, please comment on how You see yourself, given the above questions that steer the discussion on Doubt toward the discourses on doubts, and their effects…Please.


I am giving a FREE presentation at Utah Valley University in a few weeks, as part of an ongoing series of talks on Mormonism.  My talk will discuss Doubt.

What is it, anyway?  A state of mind?  Why then do we speak of it as something that comes upon us, that we fall into, that we have?  Or does doubt-as-mental-state reveal something about mind that is not like the ordinary sense of mind as something “in here,” and subject to me?

Why are there prescriptions given by authorities for alleviating it, for avoiding it, and so on?  How is it that one can do unto it, whatever it is?

Has doubt become essential to what is now called “faith,” so that I can “exercise faith” by participating in Mormon religion, despite having doubts?  Is this what a “mature” faith looks like?

If so, we can ask, “faith in what, exactly?”  Is Doubt here to stay, and so we ought to make a permanent habitation for it; or must we toss out traditions, histories, scriptures, rituals, and so on, which are now subject to doubting, in order to save The Church itself?

I probably won’t answer all these questions, and I’m not going to approach the topic of Doubt in a manner similar to discussions offered by any other Mormon.

I’m also soliciting honest reflections on doubt, provided by you guys.  I may use some or all of what you write in that talk, although no names will be attached to whatever you happen to write.  So, if you’d like to be subject potentially to anthropological analysis, please comment on Doubt below.