Therapy for Spiritual Death, Part 2 [Mindfulness]

Jon Kabat-Zinn Photo Credit: CBS News
mainguymeditatingIn my original post about how the latest psychotherapy applies to spiritual death, I talked about tolerating distress by distracting oneself from the immediate pain and soothing oneself to be able to tolerate the distress.

But if “therapy” is merely numbing oneself to distress, then one might as well use one’s drug of choice to cope with life.

However that is emphatically not what Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is about. The “dialectic” in DBT comes from the contradiction between two very different things, namely accepting yourself and reality the way it is while changing behaviors that create suffering for yourself and others.

The second skill required to effectively relieve suffering is mindfulness. 1  Mindfulness is living in the present, with full awareness of one’s emotions, thoughts, and options, with complete control over one’s resources and ability to response. When one is mindful, one can choose to act in whatever manner will be most effective at changing the situation for the better.

Mindfulness applies to many situations. In this series, I am discussing mindfulness from the perspective of spiritual death, the separation that occurs when an individual becomes separated from God. Since only those who mourn this separation would have incentive to overcome such a separation, the examples in this post focus on those who feel that current circumstances are forcing them to abandon a cherished belief. Continue reading


  1. In searching for an image for this post, I tumbled across the transcript for Anderson Cooper’s December 2014 segment on mindfulness, which was rebroadcast on September 6, 2015, available online at, retrieved September 9, 2015.

A caution about Julie Rowe’s book

Please read this story.

To summarize:

Julie Rowe’s book “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” has been added to a list of “spurious materials in circulation” that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is warning its seminary and institute instructors not to use.

“Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her book is not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them,” the warning reads. “The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.”

In the book, Rowe writes of her near-death experience in 2004, complete with visions she claims to have had of the history of the world and the chaotic events of the last days.

A Church spokesman said the following:

Church spokesman Doug Andersen released a follow-up statement to 2News Thursday about the warning to seminary and institute instructors.

“The internal memo does not constitute an official Church statement but serves as a routine reminder to teachers from Seminaries and Institutes of Religion of their responsibility to teach from the scriptures and church leaders,” Andersen said. “People who read her books should recognize that they are personal accounts and do not necessarily reflect church doctrine.”

Sister Rowe responded:

“I agree that the curriculum for LDS church classes should only come from sources recognized by the LDS Church as being authoritative. My story is not intended to be authoritative nor to create any church doctrine. It is simply part of my personal journey that I have chosen to share in hopes that it can help people to prepare for the times we live in by increasing their faith in Christ and by looking to our prophet and church leaders for guidance.”

My take:

As Sister Rowe said, people should look to the prophet and other church leaders for guidance. Regarding apocalyptic events, the prophets have repeatedly warned us to have food and water storage and to be prepared for emergencies. But, most importantly, the prophets have warned us to create Zion in our own homes by reading the scriptures, having family prayer and family home evening, among other things. Members who are looking for guidance from people other than the prophets and other church leaders are likely to be disappointed.


 “Two men went up onto the Bloggernacle to post, one a Progressive and the other a person with conservative views. The Progressive stood and was posting thus:: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other Mormons: sexist, homophobic, racist, or even like this person with conservative views. and don’t you dare say I’m not a good Mormon, since I fast (sometimes) and I pay tithes of all that I get (based on my idiosyncratic definition of tithing).’  But the person with conservative views just posted silly rewrites of NT parables and then moved on with life.

Book Review: Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam

Many years ago, the son of a good friend was preparing for a mission. He was offered a scholarship to a major university, and so decided to attend for a year before leaving on his mission. By the end of the year, he was no longer an active, believing member. His parents raised him believing in a 6000 year old earth, with a Creation that occurred over a very short period of time.  After several science classes that included biology and evolution, he was forced to choose between the incontrovertible evidence of science and the claims made by church leaders and his parents on the age of the earth.  Such is a great danger to many of our kids today, and so various scholars and others are seeking methods to be able to resolve the conflict, and hopefully save some of our people.

Recently, my friend Ben Spackman recommended a book by Protestant Bible scholar Peter Enns, entitled: “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins”.

It is an interesting book, with the following chapters:

  1. Genesis and the Challenges of the 19th Century: Science, Biblical Criticism, and Biblical Archaeology
  2. When Was Genesis Written?
  3. Stories of Origins from Israel’s Neighbors
  4. Israel and Primordial Time
  5. Paul’s Adam and the Old Testament
  6. Paul as an Ancient Interpreter of the Old Testament
  7. Paul’s Adam

Continue reading

Therapy for Spiritual Death, Part 1 [DBT, Tolerating Distress]

Never_despairAs I consider the methods used to treat those at risk of physical death due to self-injury, it seems that many of these same therapies can be useful to those wishing to escape spiritual “death.”

There are two kinds of spiritual death. One is when an individual becomes overwhelmed to the point that they “allow despair to overcome [their] spirit.” In this first case, the sufferor wishes to overcome their pain.

The second form of spiritual death is when an individual has allowed their love for God to diminish to the point that they no longer believe in that which was precious to them (or their ancestors) in the past. In this second case, the afflicted person may not even wish to overcome their alienation, seeing themselves instead as having overcome the superstitions of the past. 1

The four therapeutic skill sets used to treat those in emotional pain are:

  • Learning to tolerate distress
  • Learning to regulate emotions
  • Learning to live in the present (versus obsessing about the past or angsting about the future), and
  • Learning to be effective in interpersonal interactions.

Whether concerned with our own possible spiritual death or attempting to cope with the spiritual death of a loved one, these same skills can help us as we move forward. Continue reading


  1. In this I am influenced by Notre Dame’s recent National Study of Youth and Religion, indicating a majority of those who leave their youthful faith tradition for unbelief are raised in homes where the parents are casual in their belief, homes where the young people themselves report that they have not had significant spiritual experiences. This is also influenced by the Pew Research findings that Mormons who leave their faith tradition are unusually likely to abandon religious belief entirely.