I recently received a random comment on my myspace from a non-mormon who saw a comment I made about a youtube video about Mormonism and was impressed with my ability to “balance intellect with (my) faith”.
I thanked him for the compliment and expressed my appreciation of intellectuals like him who form and express bold ideas and opinions while still being chill about it. Below is an excerpt from my response:
“It’s nice to find people, regardless of their faith, who consciously choose to build on common ground and shared values and goals, as well as take a mature and friendly approach toward having an open and intellectual conversation of philosophy and theology.
As there is a lack of intellectuals who actually take the time to study and understand their own beliefs, let alone the religions and beliefs of others (mormons included), fellow intellectuals should bridle their passions and enjoy a healthy exchange of views and ideas, instead of attacking one another.
As I’m sure you agree, one who is confident in their ability to make up their own mind and decide for themselves what is truth and what is error has no need to fear investigating and understanding what others believe. Fear to attend a meeting or read a book, is a good indicator that a person is insecure in their ability to not be manipulated, swayed, or mislead. This is another strength that should be celebrated among intellectuals.
While I watched a bit of it, I have yet to watch the entire PBS special on Mormonism. I did enjoy what I had the opportunity to view. It did seem as though it took a pretty good unbiased approach toward Mormonism… taking well thought out and clearly expressed views from multiple sources, mormon, historical, non-mormon, etc. I found it interesting to see the reaction among fellow Mormons, as to me, their comfort with such an approach and discussion of their religion serves as an indicator of the strength and confidence of their testimony.
A book I have started but yet to finish that I think you might enjoy is Richard Lyman Bushman’s “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling”. From my understanding, it is a fairly comprehensive intellectual review of the teachings and life of Joseph Smith Jr.”