Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt

December | 2015

Table of Contents


"An entirely honest and entirely affirming treatment of the challenges facing LDS believers. Mason brings a historian’s training and sophistication together with a disciple’s compassion and sensitivity to bear on an urgent topic. The result is a provocative and inspiring framework for faith."

Fiona and Terryl Givens, authors of The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith

"Patrick Mason has carefully listened to the diverse community of Latter-day Saints. He has heard the love and the faith as well as the bewilderment and the pain. This book is his moving response. His deeply intelligent call to mutual understanding and his compelling invitation to faith and fellowship have had a transformative effect on me."

David Holland, Associate Professor of North American Religious History, Harvard Divinity School

"Before reading this book, I anticipated a masterful discussion about how to intellectually and spiritually navigate the messier moments in church history. To my delight, Patrick Mason not only met my expectations; he exceeded them. This insightful, personable, and thought-provoking book places the complexities of faith and doubt within the context of discipleship. It reminds us of the importance of establishing and maintaining a Christlike community, despite—and because of—the many struggles we face. Planted is a must-read."

Rachel Cope, Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University

"Patrick Mason is a brilliant historian who has thought hard about the tough questions of faith and doubt. Now he has written about those questions with humor, refreshing candor, and genuine empathy. Readers all along the 'belief spectrum,' so to speak, will be surprised to find how movingly this book speaks to them. That’s a tribute to the inclusive spirit that pervades Planted and will inspire everyone who picks up the book."

J.B. Haws, author of The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception

"Every Latter-day Saint knows someone who grapples with faith, is dismayed at facts or rumors concerning the church’s history and policies, or feels bereft of a comfortable place in Mormon culture. Such people may chafe at the stigma of doubt, persuaded that no one understands their concerns. Patrick Mason shows he does understand. His book offers a safe space where legitimate questions are honored and where provisional answers will engage many an open mind and heart. Mental integrity and spiritual sanity, in a Mormon context, may look something like this."

Philip Barlow, Leonard J. Arrington Professor of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University and coeditor of the Oxford Handbook of Mormonism

"In an age where the Internet has made all things present, confronting questions about church history and theology is the new norm. How we respond to those who doubt is, according to Mason, our generation’s test of true discipleship. He provides compassionate, wise, and reassuring advice for both those confronting doubt and those who minister to them. To find peace in the church one must find Christ there, for only there can we find fertile soil to plant our faith."

Boyd Peterson, Program coordinator for Mormon Studies at Utah Valley University and editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

"A remarkable and unmatched resource for preserving faith and restoring empathy in a secular world. For Latter-day Saints who experience pressing doubts, isolation, or even disaffection, Planted is a healing balm that liberates people to engage with difficult, legitimate questions about LDS history and theology. And for those who live with more certainty, this book teaches how to empathize with others in their faith transitions. Patrick Mason’s narrative is humble and nurturing, never dismissive or condescending. He reminds us that the very difficult process of creating communities where doubt, faith, and differences coexist is an important means of developing Christlike character."

Andrea G. Radke-Moss, Author of Bright Epoch: Women and Coeducation in the American West

"In this honest, compassionate, and personal exploration of Latter-day Saint history, beliefs, and practices, Patrick Mason reaches out to those who might feel ‘switched off’ from the bright light of faith that once animated their spiritual life, and those who sometimes feel ‘squeezed out’ from their faith community because they might not fit the mold. Mason walks with his readers through nettlesome aspects of Mormon history without dismissing or downplaying difficulties. His approach is at once candid and pastoral—a welcome method that sheds warm light into dark corners. Planted articulates a vision of a capacious church that offers ample space for the marginalized and disenchanted to not merely stay, but to find joy in doing so. Ultimately, Mason believes in Zion—its ideals, and its redemptive vision anchored in Christ. He offers compelling reasons for others to find belief and belonging, too. Mormons of all stripes should read this book and savor its messages."

W. Paul Reeve, author of Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness

"A triumph! Patrick Mason has crafted a singular book that will speak to many Latter-day Saints, from the most confident church members to any who struggle with questions. With compassion toward those who feel to leave the fold, Mason exemplifies great competence in the church’s rich history, showing why faithful study is a requirement, not an elective, for contemporary members. Planted provides compelling reasons—intellectual, as well as those couched deep in the heart—to foster one’s faith in the latter-day gospel."

Blair G. Van Dyke, LDS Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, author of Holy Lands: A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Near East

"This deeply informed and meditative treatment of ‘belief in an age of doubt’ can truly help those experiencing a loss of faith. Patrick Mason envisions the LDS tradition as a return to ‘sacred cosmos’ in a ‘secular age.’ He situates current loss of belief within a larger historical shift from inheritance to agency—from being ‘held by religion’ to learning how to ‘hold on to religion.’ In this context, doubt is not a problem but a healthy process in a life where ‘faith and doubt are constant traveling companions.’ Mason's insights resonated in my mind, soul, and heart, like a spiritual communion of light, intelligence, and truth, married with wisdom, comfort and bonding. He is both scholar and brother."

Maxine Hanks, Theologian and independent scholar of women’s studies in religion

"In Planted, Patrick Mason successfully navigates the often challenging shoals between faith and reason that many Latter-day Saints encounter in this generation. He deftly combines historical accuracy, intellectual honesty, and genuine personal faith. While he provides useful strategies for dealing with major issues regarding the history of the church and its place in modern society, his greatest contribution is helping us distinguish between the host of secondary issues and focusing on what is truly, salvifically important: being firmly planted in the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ."

Eric D. Huntsman, Professor of Ancient Scripture, coordinator of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Brigham Young University


In the spirit of Eugene England or Chieko Okazaki, Planted teaches empathy and the gift of mourning with those that mourn. It is a must-read for the faithful and doubting alike.

Blogger "Cruelest Month" , Exponent II blog, November 23, 2015

"It’s been difficult and painful for me just to show up [to Church]. But how does it change things if I focus on staying planted in Christ, and not letting one of the damaged branches get in the way? It. Changes. Everything...[This book] is basically a pattern on how to faithfully have difficult discussions—how to be faithful and true and also validate the questions and the difficult places others find themselves in. These issues are common and are touching all of our communities. Will we allow them to push us apart, or will we literally act out the atonement and come together (at-one) in love?"

Kristine A, Wheat and Tares blog, January 6, 2016

"Planted’s greatest strength in my view is the consistent coincidence of Mason’s clear trust in the divine origins and purpose of the church and his persistent recognition of its profound weaknesses."

James Egan, Peculiar People blog, January 6, 2016

"The bulk of Planted is aimed at troubled or doubting Mormons who need a broader, more productive framework in which to ponder and resolve (or simply ponder and tolerate) difficult issues. But there are also passages aimed at faithful Mormons who likewise need a broader view of life in the Church—to tolerate more diversity than has previously been the rule and to handle doubt or disaffection by friends or family without going passive-aggressively ballistic. Remember the subtitle: 'belief and belonging.' Mason helps any reader get a deeper sense of belief and belonging, regardless of where she is on the spectrum."

Dave Banack, Times & Seasons blog, May 12, 2016

"Significantly, the publication of Planted shows a continued interest from Deseret Book, as well as scholars, to reach out to members who may find themselves marginalized due to their sincere questions and doubts. I recommend Planted for those who need an empathetic voice and those who want to develop an empathetic voice for others."

Brian Whitney, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

"Here, Patrick offers us not so much a set of answers to difficult issues as he does a strategy, a method, an approach, for being people of faith, for being a religious community, in the modern world. He encourages us, he teaches us, he may even be admonishing us, to make room for doubt, for faith struggle, in our families and churches."

Brad J. Tharpe, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

Publication Information

Publication Date: 2015

ISBN 13: 978-1-62972-181-1

Size: 6 x 9

Binding: Paperback, ePub

Price: $15.99

Series: Living Faith

Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Deseret Book

Patrick Q. Mason

Patrick Q. Mason is the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is author of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (Oxford University Press, 2011), which examined anti-Mormon prejudice against 19th century LDS missionaries. He is a nationally recognized authority on Mormonism with regular appearances in media outlets including the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesWashington PostChicago Tribune, ABC News, National Public Radio, and PBS.

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