Saturday, September 15, 2012

Identity Crisis

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:


  1. I'm grateful I wasn't raised in such an environment and was free to follow God when I was ready.

  2. Very intriguing- I believe an unexamined, unquestioned faith isn't going to hold up to much. Blindly obedient group think is not usually a good thing.

  3. Brave. That was my first thought after reading this interview.

    I have had my own struggles with God or a lack thereof and I still have no idea whether he exists or not. I hope he does. I really do. But organized religion has bothered me for a long time precisely for the reasons mentioned. Talk is cheap. I prefer actions. I can believe in actions.

    Thank you for this.

  4. Sophia,

    I applaud your courage in questioning and traveling on your own personal journey to a deeper understanding of God. I applaud your courage in sharing that journey with others so that it may help them with their own struggles. I'm sure there are many who are in your position who will take heart from it.

    No matter what religion, if individuals are not encouraged to question and seek truth but instead taught only obedience then that situation turns into a system of indoctrination, not a system of spiritual awareness. That must be soul destroying in many ways.


  5. That must have been so hard for you Sophia when you broke away from the group. I'm glad the writing helped you work through it. And that's great that some people still in the Church know they have someone they can safely talk to. Good luck with your book.

  6. A great example of how writing helps you work through tough decisions and clarifies thinking. Thank you for posting about the book. Appreciated learning more about how she came to write it and her thoughts about Mormonism.

  7. Her story sounds very intriguing. I agree that it can be very difficult when you start questioning your religion; it makes you question other aspects of your life as well as your relationships with other people. It's tough, especially if other people still believe in the things that you are questioning. It's also hard to let go of a religion that you are invested in, because it's already affected you in many ways.

  8. I am very much intrigued and now very curious. I would like to read this. Thanks for sharing, Theresa and Sophia.

  9. Thanks for spotlighting such an interesting book.

  10. Hi Theresa,

    Mormon Diaries sound intriguing and interesting. I would also like to add this book to my TBR.

    Congratulations to Sophia!

  11. Writing is therapeutic.

    I purchased Sophia's book. I look forward to reading it.

  12. That's pretty hard hitting stuff. Will definitely check it out.

  13. This was an interesting interview to read as a branch of my family are Mormons.

  14. It's a fantastic book. I loved reading Stone's journey, and I was deeply moved by the outcome. It's gorgeously written. And for both the understanding and the encouragement described above, I highly recommend it! :o) <3

  15. Great interview. It's always interesting to gather differing perspectives, especially religious ones.

  16. Breaking away from any strong group is a difficult thing. Sounds like a fascinating read.

  17. My family is not religious, so I am fascinated to hear about the experiences and feelings of those for whom religion played a big role.