“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Confidence never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.”
– Earl Gray Stevens

“I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.”
— Rufus Jones

“If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.”
— Joseph Campbell

“When doctrine collides with empathy, the collision shakes the soul.”
— Kendall Wilcox

1. What’s your story?

“Self-knowledge is like lost innocence; however unsettling you find it, it can never be unthought, or unknown… By unsettling our settled assumptions…the familiar turns strange, [and] we begin to reflect on our circumstance, and it’s never quite the same again… This is the tension that animates critical reflection, and political improvement, and maybe even the moral life as well.”
— Michael Sandel

“You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done…you are fierce with reality.”
—Florida Scott-Maxwell

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you think it is. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor-house.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“This is what fools people: a man is always a teller of tales, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him through them; and he tries to live his life as if he were telling a story.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
– Maya Angelou

2. What do you feel is your primary role in life?

“Love … is the honoring of others in a way that grants them the grace of their own autonomy and allows mutual discovery.”
— Anne Truitt

“If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
– Hillel the Elder

“What is the size of your soul? What is your soul’s ability to grow and expand, to stretch when life throws more contradictions your way? By “size” I mean the stature of [your] soul, the range and depth of [your] love, [your] capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature.”
– Bernard Loomer

3. What is your value system?

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
– Audre Lorde

“That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another…”
– Joseph Smith (History of the church, 5:134)

4. How do you make moral decisions?

“The Iron Rod Saint does not look for questions but for answers, and in the gospel — as he understands it — he finds or is confident that he can find the answer to every important question. The Liahona Saint, on the other hand, is preoccupied with questions and skeptical of answers; he finds in the gospel — as he understands it — answers to enough important questions so that he can function purposefully without answers to the rest.”
– Richard D. Poll (“What the Church Means to People Like Me”. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4 (2): 107–117.)

“It is man in the unity of his being who must come to terms with his fellowmen and, for that matter, with himself. Scientific knowledge of what human nature is and how it reacts to various given social situations will always be of service in refashioning human conduct. But ultimately the problems of human conduct and social relations are in a different category from the relations of physical nature. The ability to judge friend or foe with some degree of objectivity is, in the ultimate instance, a moral and not an intellectual achievement, since it requires the mitigation of fears and prejudices, envies and hatreds which represent defects, not of the mind, but of the total personality. Moreover, the ability to yield to the common good, to forego special advantages for a larger measure of social justice, to heal the breach between warring factions by forgiveness, or to acknowledge a common human predicament between disputants in a social situation, is the fruit of a social wisdom to which science makes only ancillary contributions. This type of wisdom involves the whole of man in the unity of his being.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr, “Faith And History A Comparison Of Christian And Modern Views Of History”

5. What is your spiritual orientation?

“Authentic spirituality wants to open us to truth – whatever truth may be, wherever truth may take us. Such a spirituality does not dictate where we must go, but trusts that any path walked with integrity will take us to a place of knowledge. Such a spirituality encourages us to welcome diversity and conflict, to tolerate ambiguity, and to embrace paradox.”
− Parker Palmer

“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion–its message becomes meaningless.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel

“If change and growth are not programmed into your spirituality, if there are not serious warnings about the blinding nature of fear and fanaticism, your religion will always end up worshiping the status quo…as if it were God.”
― Richard Rohr

“…true religion is a mode of connectedness with the hidden wholeness of life. And when we are connected, our actions are most likely to be responsive to the needs of the whole. Only when we lose our connection with one another do we need a code of conduct to tell us what we ought to do. When the world becomes fragmented, our organic responsiveness to one another is replaced by the inorganic “oughts.” Eventually these oughts become systems of abstract thought far removed from human needs – they become a creed to be defended rather than a relationship to be lived.”
— Parker Palmer

“What horror we manifest when we cloak ourselves in abstract morality.”
— Courtney Martin

“The strange opacity of certain empirical events, the dumb senselessness of intense or inexorable pain, and the enigmatic unaccountability of gross iniquity all raise the uncomfortable suspicion that perhaps the world, and hence man’s life in the world, has no genuine order at all- no empirical regularity, no emotional form, no moral coherence. And the religious response to this suspicion is in each case the same: the formulation, by means of symbols, of an image of such a genuine order of the world which will account for, and even celebrate, the perceived ambiguities, puzzles, and paradoxes in human experience. The effort is not to deny the undeniable- that there are unexplained events, that life hurts, or that rain falls upon the just – but to deny that there are inexplicable events, that life is unendurable, and that justice is a mirage.”
— Clifford Geertz

“To my mind, faith is like being in the sun. When you are in the sun, can you avoid creating a shadow? Can you shake that area of darkness that clings to you, always shaped like you, as if constantly to remind you of yourself? You can’t. This shadow is doubt. And it goes wherever you go as long as you stay in the sun. And who wouldn’t want to be in the sun?”
― Yann Martel, Beatrice and Virgil

“… A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; …”
— Joseph Smith Jr.

“Religious beliefs are truths for the believer rather than conjectures which are taken on trust because the evidence for them is not particularly strong… A religious picture loses its hold on a person’s life because a rival picture wins his allegiance. The picture of the Last Judgment may lose its hold on a person because he has been won over by a rival secular picture. The other picture is a rival, not because it shows that the original picture is a mistake, but because if it is operative in a person’s life, the very character of its claims excludes the religious picture…. A religious picture may be understood but lose its hold on a person’s life in other circumstances. A tragic event in a person’s life may make him unable to respond in a way the religious belief demands. Or a person may bring moral objections against the religious picture. In such circumstances the religious picture may be called senseless, but it is important to recognize that this has little in common with demonstrating the falsity of an empirical proposition.”
— DZ Phillips, “Death and Immortality”

“11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
15 And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.
16 And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.
17 And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.
18 To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.
19 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;
20 And to others it is given to have faith to heal.
21 And again, to some is given the working of miracles;
22 And to others it is given to prophesy;
23 And to others the discerning of spirits.
24 And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;
25 And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.
26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.”
— The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 46

6. What are your gender identity and sexual orientation?

“The question of choice comes up almost every time I present my research findings. It is certainly a reasonable inquiry – after all, we are accustomed to thinking about the capacity for change as a matter of control and influence. But when it comes to sexuality, it does not work this way. The experiences of the women I have followed over the past ten years consistently demonstrate that sexual fluidity does not mean that women simply choose to feel same-sex attractions, that they can undo same-sex attractions with enough time and effort, or that any single experience can seduce someone into a lifetime of same-sex sexuality. Rather, sexual fluidity appears to be constrained by a complex array of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, many of which we have yet to discover. Variability typically occurs only within a certain range, and it appears unrelated to any conscious attempts to control it… It would be impossible to identify the specific moment at which unorganized impulses become stabilized into regular tendencies, or to pinpoint which particular factor (a gene? a hormone? a book? a kiss?) played the pivotal role. We might be able to change some of the input – for example, we might decide not to associate with certain people, not to read certain material, or not to permit ourselves to think uncertain thoughts – but such crude modifications could not “unorganize” a pattern of experience that become organized through a long, untraceable chain of psychological, biological, and cultural processes. Even if we tried to tweak as many of these elements as possible, how would we know which were the right ones, especially given that the particular mix might be different from person to person?”
– “Sexual Fluidity” by Lisa Diamond

7. How and why do you make distinctions between your sexuality and your sexual behavior and between your gender identity and gender expression?

“What I found out over the years was that love trumps doctrine every time.”
—Vincent Harding

“You cannot grow in the integrative dance of action and contemplation without a strong tolerance for ambiguity, an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety, and a willingness to not know—and not even need to know. This ever widens and deepens your perspective. This is how you allow and encounter Mystery and move into the contemplative zone.”
— Richard Rohr

“A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume both the individual and the group.” (Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, pp. 35–36.)

“Human beings live in the tension between nature and spirit, between knowledge of our mortality and our intimations of transcendent meaning. Our highest hope and calling is to live responsibly in this tension.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr

8. Based on your responses to the previous seven questions, what do you feel is the healthiest and most sustainable way to live your life?

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world” 
― Parker J. Palmer

“We are not given wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.”
—Marcel Proust

General quotes about the value of personal inquiry and the work of reconciling spiritual and sexual orientations: 

“To alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.”
— Paulo Freire

“We need to know the current conclusions in order to get in on the conversation. But it is not our knowledge of conclusions that keeps us in the truth. It is our commitment to the conversation itself, our willingness to put forward our observations and interpretations for testing by the community and to return the favor to others. To be in the truth, we must know how to observe and reflect and speak and listen, with passion and with discipline, in the circle gathered around a given subject.”
— Parker Palmer

“How do you realize your complete potential as a human being when you’re constantly dealing with something that seems almost undefeatable?”
— Arnold Rampersad

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”
— W. E. B. Du Bois

“As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.”
— Pema Chödrön

“That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.”
— Joseph Smith Jr., History of the church, 5:134

“A more robust public engagement with our moral disagreements could provide a stronger, not a weaker, basis for mutual respect. Rather than avoid the moral and religious convictions that our fellow citizens bring to public life, we should attend to them more directly—sometimes by challenging and contesting them, sometimes by listening to and learning from them. There is no guarantee that public deliberation about hard moral questions will lead in any given situation to agreement—or even to appreciation for the moral and religious views of others. It’s always possible that learning more about a moral or religious doctrine will lead us to like it less. But we cannot know until we try. A politics of moral engagement is not only a more inspiring ideal than a politics of avoidance. It is also a more promising basis for a just society.”
— Michael Sandel

“Brothers and sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?”
— Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“I tell you this
to break your heart,

by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.”
—Mary Oliver

“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring; these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.”
— Parker J Palmer

“Could our minds and our hearts be big enough just to hang out in that space where we’re not entirely certain about who’s right and who’s wrong? Could we have no agenda when we walk into a room with another person, not know what to say, not make that person wrong or right? Could we see, hear, feel other people as they really are? It is powerful to practice this way, because we’ll find ourselves continually rushing around to try to feel secure again—to make ourselves or them either right or wrong. But true communication can happen only in that open space.”
– Pema Chodron

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive. I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few. I think our capacity for wholeheartedness can never be greater than our willingness to be broken-hearted. It means engaging with the world from a place of vulnerability and worthiness.”
– Brené Brown

“The highest form of love is the love that allows for intimacy without the annihilation of difference.”
― Parker J. Palmer

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
– James 1:8

“Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.”
— St. Augustine of Hippo

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”
— Parker J. Palmer

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
— Aristotle

“The unexamined life is not worth living, but the unlived life is not worth examining.”
― Tracy Thompson

“Authentic spirituality wants to open us to truth – whatever truth may be, wherever truth may take us. Such a spirituality does not dictate where we must go, but trusts that any path walked with integrity will take us to a place of knowledge. Such a spirituality encourages us to welcome diversity and conflict, to tolerate ambiguity, and to embrace paradox.”
— Parker Palmer

“I beg you… Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

“…I believe [in], what Thomas Merton calls “true self.” This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God’s own image– the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be…True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.”
― Parker J. Palmer

“When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time.”
— Rachel Naomi Remen

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 
— Henri Nouwen

“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”
— 2 Nephi 28:30, The Book of Mormon

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
― George Bernard Shaw, The Devil’s Disciple

“The genius of communication is the ability to be both totally honest and totally kind at the same time.” 
— John Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love

”In the midst of depression I once asked my spiritual director how I could be feeling such despair when not long before the depression hit I had been feeling so close to God? ‘Simple,’ she said. ‘The closer you get to the light, the closer you get to darkness.’ The deepest things in life come not singly but in paradoxical pairs, where the light and the dark intermingle.”
— Parker Palmer

“I knew it and I knew God knew it and I could not deny it.”
— Joseph Smith Jr.

“Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places. I learned about these qualities during my bouts with depression. In that deadly darkness, the faculties I had always depended on collapsed. My intellect was useless; my emotions were dead; my will was impotent; my ego was shattered. But from time to time, deep in the thickets of my inner wilderness, I could sense the presence of something that knew how to stay alive even when the rest of me wanted to die. That something was my tough and tenacious soul.” 
― Parker J. Palmer

“Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made agenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of ‘good ideas.’”
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“VULNERABILITY is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to be something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is one of the privileges and the prime conceits of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath. The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.”
– David Whyte



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