Theresa Milstein: Identity Crisis

From: Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts
http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/2012/09/identity-crisis.html
September 15, 2012 at 07:40AM

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When Sophia L. Stone asked me to interview her about
her crisis of faith, I was curious about what she had to say. I had my own
questioning of religion.
  When I
was younger, I converted from Catholicism to Judaism.
 But my decision didn’t impact my
relationships with family members, friends, or writers.
  I knew that Ms. Stone’s experience was
more contentious.
 




Here’s a review of the book:
Brought up in a religious
home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following
church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school,
marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying
home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace,
love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her
family apart. “This book is an incredibly honest portrayal of one person’s
struggle to find God.” ~Pastor John Bradford




How do you build relationships
with people who think you are broken?
Oh, man, I wish I knew. Honestly,
it depends on how important their Mormonism is to their identity. Those who are
capable of accepting my brokenness without trying to fix it are much easier to have
relationships with than those who work extra hard to fix me.

How has writing about your
struggles helped you?
There’s a saying that writing is
cheaper than therapy, and I can attest to that. There’s no time limit on how
long I can type away on my keyboard when I’m having a bad day. I don’t have to
worry about the paper judging me. Plus, it’s helped me to put things in
perspective. 
How did your falling away from
Mormonism affect your view of the religion?
Hmm, well, when I believed in
Mormonism with my whole heart, I rationalized away any issues I had by saying
members were human and made mistakes. I believed The Church was as close to
being a perfect institution as anyone was likely to find. God had made it. He
had ordered it. Who was I to question what He had formed?
Now I see all kinds of problems
with the institution. Not with the hearts of members or leaders (who I believe
are honest people acting on faith) but rather with group think. It shuts down a
lot of voices that threaten the status quo. There’s not much tolerance for free
speech where church policy and doctrine are concerned. Speaking against the
leadership is taboo, and there are lots of unwritten rules about not exposing
the flaws of the organization to the outside world. It’s a lot like a
dysfunctional family that way. Loyalty to the church trumps personal
spirituality.  
What kinds of reactions have you had from your
Mormon author friends?
This has been similar to my
family response—lots of condemnation, lots of avoidance, lots of judgment, and
lots of gratitude. Yes, I know, it seems odd that I’d hear gratitude from LDS
author friends who are faithful in the church. But apparently there are people
who struggle in silence, unable to tell a soul how they feel without losing those
most dear to them. That’s the reason the Disaffected Mormon Underground (DAMU)
exists. It fills a palpable need.





Who should read your book?
Anyone who wants to better
understand how religions indoctrinate children, how they can unite and separate
families, how they can bring peace and turmoil at the same time. Anyone who
wants a more personal understanding of how it feels to grow up in a legalistic
religion that values trust and obedience more highly than free thought, or
anyone who wants to understand Mormonism.
Please don’t misread that to mean
my book is factually perfect. It’s not. It is based on my experience, and
everyone’s reality is different. But I stand by my claim that people who leave
Mormonism are often in an isolating place. It’s hard for an orthodox believer
to understand why anyone would leave. It’s hard for those who’ve never been in
a fundamentalist religion to understand why leaving one is such a big deal. To
both these groups, I’d say, “Please read this!” Understanding is vital.


The book
is available as both an ebook and paperback:

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