Carrying Water on Both Shoulders: Maintaining a Dynamic Faith in Contemporary Mormonism

There is a tendency for Latter-day Saints to move to either the pole of faith or the pole of doubt—belief or unbelief—but the heart of any religion lies in the messy middle, that place characterized by paradox, ambiguity, and uncertainty. It can be experienced as a dangerous place, one involving risk, but in a way, risk is the only kingdom—or at least the one that provides the greatest opportunity for intellectual growth, cultural richness and spiritual evolution. Join us for an evening of stimulating exploration and dialogue about what it means to have a mature faith in a complex church and world.  –Bob Rees



Thursday, September 11, 2014, 7:30 pm


Home of Ed and Kristen Iversen
3582 Oak Rim Way Salt Lake City, UT 84109

If you can’t find parking near Ed and Kristen’s you can park a block away at the “park & ride” lot. See Google map pict below. Car pool if you can. It’s good for God’s green earth. Bringing a chair is recommended. 

We can thank Mark England for engaging with Bob Rees at this years Sunstone Symposium. Mark invited him to our last Faith Again and now he’s consented to spend some more time with us while in town this September. Last year I had listened to a podcast with Bob and was impressed. Now that I’ve read more of his essays and spoken with him I am even more moved to love and appreciate this good Latter-Day Saint.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.21.11 PMBerkeley Professor of Mormon Studies; Former Bishop; Former editor of Dialogue; Ally of gays and forever families; Ally of starving LDS children; Ally of mothers with AIDS; Ally of his beloved but imperfect church


Bob has taught at the University of Wisconsin, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he was also a Fulbright Professor of American Studies (1995-96). Currently he teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and at the University of California, Berkeley. He blogs on LGBT issues at www.nomorestrangers:LGBTMormonForum.

Bob’s views on homosexuality evolved rapidly in the 1980s when he was called as bishop of the Los Angeles Singles Ward. “I could no longer reconcile what I had been taught about homosexuality by my church and culture with my experience with those to whom I had been called to be a spiritual guide and pastor,” Bob later confessed. “What I discovered was that most if not all of these gay and lesbian Mormons had accepted the idea that they were terribly flawed in the eyes of their family, their church, their culture and God, and that unless they could find some way out of the labyrinth in which they found themselves, they had little hope of happiness in this world or the next.” Near the end of his term as bishop, Bob gave a major address in sacrament meeting titled “No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality.” Later published, this was the first in a number of important publications in which Bob challenged the LDS community to treat LGBT people with love and respect, to seek for greater understanding and compassion, and to “turn our hearts with greater love and acceptance toward all those whom we consider strangers.”

Bob is the author or co-author of a number of publications relating to LGBT issues, including “A Failure of Love,” in Michelle Beaver, The Gay-Mormon Decade: Changing a Church from Within (2013); “Forward” to Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones (2007); A Guide for Latter-day Saint Families Dealing with Homosexual Attraction (2002); The Persistence of Same-Sex Attraction in Latter-day Saints Who Undergo Counseling or Change Therapy (2004); “Requiem for a Gay Mormon” (2007); “’In a Dark Time the Eye Begins to See’: Personal Reflections on Homosexuality among the Mormons at the Beginning of a New Millennium,” (Dialogue 33:3 [Fall 2000]) (winner of the Lowell Bennion Award); No More Strangers and Foreigners: A Mormon Christian Response to Homosexuality (1998), trans. Into Spanish by Hugo Olaiz, “El Amor y la Imaginación Cristiana.”

More recently, Bob co-authored (with Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University) Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children—hailed by many as the best resource for LDS parents and leaders with LGBT children and young people in their families and congregations. In addition to his writings on LGBT people and the Church, Bob is well known in the LDS community for his explorations of other LDS-related issues, from the Book of Mormon to a broad array of subjects relating to Mormon culture and religion. The former editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Bob continues to make significant contributions to Mormon scholarship in such journals and presses as Dialogue, Sunstone , The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University Press, Signature Books, and other venues.

For the past twenty years Bob has been active in humanitarian and interfaith work. Currently he serves on the Advisory Board of S.A.F.E. (Save African Families Enterprise), a non-profit organization providing antiviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women in Zimbabwe. He is a founding member and Vice-President of the Liahona Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides nutrition and education to children in the developing world. Currently he serves on the Board of the Marin Interfaith Council and as the Ward Mission Leader in the San Rafael II Ward.

Bob’s essays and poetry are mindful and soulful. You will be grateful, enlightened, and lifted if you read them.

Forgiving The Church


Repairing the Church

Somewhere Near Palmyra

The Goodness of the Church


Bonus: Families Are Forever Screening: Friday, September 12

Youth & Families Film Screening & Discussion: 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM and 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM

University Guest House and Conference Center at Fort Douglas, 110 South Fort Douglas Boulevard, Salt Lake City, UT 84113

As part of Affirmation’s 2014 Conference, Bob and friends will present two special screenings and discussions of the Family Acceptance Project’s award winning family education film “Families Are Forever.” This is the moving documentary of an active Mormon family’s journey to accept and support their young gay son.

This event is open to the local community and to those attending the conference and is provided free of charge by the Family Acceptance Project.

“Families Are Forever” is one of a series of short documentary films produced by the Family Acceptance Project and guided by their groundbreaking research which shows that how families respond to their LGBT children affects their children’s health, mental health and well-being, including suicide and self-esteem. The Family Acceptance Project will provide copies of their research-based family education booklet for each family that attends. This publication—Supportive Families, Healthy Children—is the only “Best Practice” for suicide prevention for Mormons in the national Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention and was written by Caitlin Ryan and Bob Rees to help Mormon families to support their LGBT children in the context of LDS values and beliefs.

Watch the Trailer Here


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