Discussion to promote open conversations about doubts

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Students and faculty gathered together to discuss the role of doubt in the pursuit of spiritual truth Wednesday afternoon.

The Department of Fine Arts and Communications hosted a meeting entitled “Asking Questions that are Framed by Faith.” Rodger Sorensen, an associate dean of the college, led the discussion.

Students and faculty, most of whom are in the CFAC, were each given iClickers and asked to respond to questions regarding their faith. This was followed by a lengthy discussion on how BYU’s social and cultural environment promotes or hinders spiritual seeking.

Sorensen proposed many questions to the group in an attempt to create a comfortable forum for discussion.

“In what context or in what places can you think that there might be tensions or struggles between your faith and your discipline?” Sorensen asked.

Actors and actresses said they might be asked to portray someone living contrary to the gospel. A public relations major expressed his desire to be honest in his profession because he will be asked to “spin” seemingly bad situations.

The idea for this meeting was framed around one of BYU’s aims of education. “Students need not ignore difficult or important questions. Rather, they should frame their questions in prayerful, faithful ways.”

Students and faculty were asked if they would like to be able to discuss their doubts and concerns without fear of repercussions. Out of the 58 respondents, 44 said they would.

Attendants were also asked if they felt confident that they would stay active in the Church after leaving BYU. Eighty-two percent of the respondents said that they felt very strongly that they would. The remaining responded as less than completely sure.

Tim Threlfall, a professor specializing in music, dance and theater, said that an airing of what everyone’s struggles are with the Church would not be the best way to handle overcoming personal doubts.

“Is there a way in which conversations can be more open, that they can be more free, so they can ultimately be … faith promoting in the end?” Threlfall asked. “Obviously that’s our end goal, and if you think that’s not our end goal … it’s going to be. That’s the outcome we’re looking for, to help strengthen you.”

Ted Bushman, a senior studying music dance theater, said it would be  helpful if students knew that their professors wanted to help them to work through their doubts and questions. He said there would be great value in professors letting their students know that they are there to help them with individual concerns.

“In my experience, dealing with doubt and questions about the gospel and being able to discuss things very openly is a very individual thing,” Bushman said. “It’s very useful, especially if it’s one on one.”

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