THUR, MAR 3, 2022 | 7:30-9:00 pm MST
Explore why some choose to remain involved in a Church, even when it conflicts at times with their own moral compass. This will be framed within the philosophical concept of eudaimonia, or “the good life.”
GATHERING VIA ZOOM
Thanks to Jana Spangler for continuing to host us via Zoom. Below is some helpful info for being part of a Zoom convo. Also below is the Zoom link. This is an open group. You are welcome to invite and share with others. If you are not on my email list then either join at the bottom of this site’s home page or text or call me at 801-695-5036.
Thoughtful religious belief is hard, and it can become much harder when religious organizations emphasize obedience and loyalty over free expression, inclusion, and acceptance. Over the past few years, many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have left the Church as its positions on women’s and LGBTQ have become more at odds with their own understanding of inclusion and compassion. Past and current racism within the church also causes angst. Others struggle with the strong support of church leaders for COVID vaccinations. Many who remain wonder how much longer we can remain in an organization whose pronouncements on moral issues sometimes seem so at odds with our own moral lights.
In this session, we will discuss the reasons that one might want to remain part of a religious organization in spite of serious disagreements on important issues. A key to this discussion will be an examination of the role of religion in the phenomenon that Aristotle called eudaimonia, which has been translated variously as “happiness,” “flourishing,” “living well,” or “the good life.” Research suggests that religion can contribute to human flourishing in unique ways. Humans seem hardwired to believe in transcendence, or in forces larger than themselves that give structure and meaning to the universe. And human communities can only develop into complex societies when people understand the imperative of altruistic behavior and reciprocity. These two principles—transcendence and reciprocity—are found in nearly every human religion. In Christianity, they take the form of the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind . . . [and] thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Michael Austin received his BA and MA in English from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has taught English and World Literature and composition at several different universities, and he is currently the Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana. He has written and published widely on Mormon literature and Mormon scriptures, including Rereading Job (Kofford, 2014) and Buried Treasures: Reading the Book of Mormon Again for the First Time (BCC Press, 2020), both of which won the Association for Mormon Letters Award for Religious Nonfiction. Much of the research presented in this discussion comes from his first book, Useful Fictions: Evolution, Anxiety, and the Origins of Literature (University of Nebraska Press, 2010), which argues that imaginative literature developed in all human societies because the utility of narratives does not depend on their accuracy or truth value.
Photo taken under the apple tree at Isaac Newton’s house near Grantham, England
EXPLORE BEFORE WE MEET:
- The Mormon Church and the Language of My Faith, Michael Austin, Dialogue
Austin-Language of My Faith
- Click on the Zoom link above.
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