Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
225: Finding a Faithful Leadership Response to Faith Crisis: Richard Tenney & Ganesh Cherian

225: Finding a Faithful Leadership Response to Faith Crisis: Richard Tenney & Ganesh Cherian

Credit: Mark Freeth @Flickr

Two former Bishops, who have both experienced a faith crisis, respond to the question:  ‘How can LDS leaders behave more sensitively and with more wisdom to those experiencing a faith crisis?’


  1. Happy Hubby

    Gina, Richard, and Ganesh – Thanks so much for taking the time for this podcast. Although each of you echoed many of my own sentements, you gave me things to think about that feel at this moment that they will be helpful on my journey. Good luck to each of you on your journeys.

  2. Robert

    Magnificent podcast. Great point of views of these two bishops. It seems that both did a great job serving their respective communities. What a terrible lost of talent to the church.

  3. Maureen

    Thank you for this discussion.
    Could you post the take away points you summarized at the conclusion
    And also Rich’s points about polygamy.
    The church is at a crossroad.
    So much emphasis on missionary work but to me we need to heal from within first.
    So many fabulous points to ponder.
    God loves diversity.
    So much to think about.
    Thank you

    1. Gina Colvin

      Hey Maureen,

      These are the takeaways:

      1. Celebrate faith growth because its pregnant with community possibility.
      2. Embrace radical honesty
      3. Allow for the fresh winds of the spirit and be open to revelation.
      4. Stop saying ‘I know’ because its possible that you don’t know.
      5. Invite the controversy and let truth speak.
      6. Be humble and recognise your ego is vested in the status quo.
      7. Face your limitations as a leader particularly if you haven’t had a faith crisis yourself.

    2. Richard Tenney

      Here are some of my thoughts re: polygamy:

      If, as we are told, the litmus test for whether a principle or practice is true, is of God, is judging it by its fruits, then what are the fruits of polygamy, either anciently or in the latter-days? Does it offer anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, that it should be sought after (much less restored)?

      And as you attempt to answer that (not with anecdotal examples of some brave, remarkable women who managed to make the best of a bad situation — there were several), tell me why this is a righteous, eternal principle, to be joyously practiced in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, it needs to be something other than “We don’t know why, but trust us, it must be good for us! It must be worth Emma Smith’s broken heart, and the broken hearts of countless women who have endured and suffered – and continue to endure and suffer – its abuses, and who dread an eternity of it. It must be worth the continuing legacy of child rape, ritual sexual abuse, neglect, poverty, jealousy, and gross inequality that sprang from its loins. It must be worth the suffering, the persecution, breaking the law, lying about, covering up, denying publicly. It must be worth the smear and taint on the Church’s reputation that endures to this day – it must be worth all of that, if the Lord himself threatened to undermine the very principle on which the War in Heaven was waged – the principle of Agency, by coercing Joseph with an Angel and a Flaming Sword if he refused to bring it back – it must!”

      So far, nothing. I’ve not been able to find any reasonable answers to my questions regarding this topic – one we cannot easily dismiss or brush aside – for it lies at the foundation of, and endures today in our very Temple ceremony, in our sealing practices. It is the ongoing justification for inequality between the sexes. It lies at the heart of the troublesome message conveyed to our women: “Femaleness is less than maleness. Veil your face, while you covenant to give yourself to your husband, while he makes no such covenant to give himself to you.”

      D&C 132: 61-66, sends a pretty clear and troublesome message: Men are to be gods, and women – multiple women – are to be the vessels that eternally bear the offspring for their god-husbands. Begging the question – how is this all that different from the Jihadist who straps a bomb to his chest, and walks into a crowded marketplace, confident in his knowledge – He KNOWS – beyond a shadow of a doubt!– that this is god’s will for him? He knows that 40 virgins will be given to him – to give him eternal pleasure in the hereafter?

      Rebuking reasonable questions with “I KNOW!” testimony is extremely unhelpful. It’s a passive-aggressive way of saying “I’m right, and you’re wrong”. It’s a tacit admission that you have closed off your mind on the subject, have nothing more to learn, are uninterested in examining anything (however compelling or reasonable) to the contrary, and therefore the discussion is now over and done with. In effect, you are saying, “I know that polygamy is a righteous, eternal principle. But instead of addressing the details of your legitimate concerns about it’s troublesome, secretive and unlawful re-emergence into the 19th century, I’m just going to punt past all of that cruft with a simple and triumphant “I know!” and be done with it.”

        1. Julie Higgins

          I dislike this so much Richard and Gina! I have read very little that is posted on “A Thoughtful Faith”. “Thoughtful”? “Faithful”? This is militant. I can scarcely believe you are fashioning yourselves as thoughtful and faithful. Good grief, what do you mean by saying how can those who believe in polygamist eternal marriages be all that different from a JIHADIST who straps a BOMB to his chest to go into a crowded place to murder innocent people? Seriously. They both have a belief in polygamy? But one chooses to go after it by mass murder?

          In our day both men and women can be sealed to more than one spouse. Just not concurrently.

          Around half of Americans will re-marry at some point in their lives.

          For my brother-in-law’s mother it no longer has to be a “Sophie’s Choice” situation. Her first husband, with whom she had 3 children, died young. She re-married and had a child with her second husband. A just and merciful God will allow those separate family units to be sealed together (which they all were, several years ago). How could it be otherwise? There is nothing unvirtuous about this. Or unlovely or unpraiseworthy. They all love each other. Time will not be as we know it now. Eternity is eternity. I would think we could entertain the thought that eons of time could be spent with one spouse and children we have with them. And we will not run out of time to spend with another spouse with or without offspring from them. This type of remarriage situation could happen to you or someone very close to you. Or maybe already has. You’re ignoring far too many people from all nations of the earth who have had more than one spouse and children from these unions. Women can be sealed to more than one man. It’s been going on in the temples for years. Children from these marriages can be sealed to them. It is already being done. This is a loving and merciful way for these family units to be together throughout the eternities.

  4. James T. Kirk

    This was one of my favorites. Bravo! Nice to have an uplifting discussion like this once in a while. It’s a beautiful thing to find hope and joy and improvement in the nuttiness of your own tribe, because that’s where your people are. Most organizations in this world are excessive in their homogeneity and self-worship, I applaud your efforts in widening the discussion and helping us to raise our head and look at the other side of the fence, maybe even bound over there and chew on the grass a bit.

  5. Staci Gould

    This was the most hopeful take on the future if the church that I have heard. So many beautiful points were made that resonated with me. I am taking a break from the church and my bishop emailed soon after and asked what he could have done better. I told him that my concerns were not on a local level, there was nothing for him to do or have done. Now, I am inclined to send him this podcast as it gives a beautiful message about what the person in a faith crisis experiences and ways bishops can approach such sensitive topics. Thank you, thank you!

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