6 Tactics That Helped Me Have a Productive Conversation with Three Mormon Missionaries

mormon medium sizeThese six tactics not only helped me navigate a 90-minute debate with three Mormons when I didn’t know anything about Mormonism, they can also help you have better conversations with pro-choice people.

I’ve never really spoken with missionaries from the Church of Latter-Day Saints before. I haven’t avoided it, it’s just that for some reason they never went to our neighborhood. That’s why I was surprised the other day to hear the doorbell ring and to open my door to three LDS missionaries asking to pray for me.

You’re probably thinking that I got a big grin (at least on the inside) and immediately welcomed them in. I’m embarrassed to say that I politely declined on impulse. That might have partially been because the impression they gave was that they only wanted to pray for me, and since I believe they would be doing the equivalent of praying to a brick wall, it didn’t seem worth the trouble. But there was also a lazy part of me that just wanted to rest and for them to move on to the next house. I’ve been working 12 to 16-hour days lately and I finally had a Sunday afternoon off, and for a few moments I cared more about that than the three souls standing in front of me. I’m happy to report that once we sat down and got into real discussion, I very much enjoyed myself. I’m glad that they were pushy enough to get past the internal barriers I put up when I saw them.

I was a little nervous when they finished praying, because I have never really studied Mormonism. I know a little bit, but it’s one of those things I thought I would always get to later, “when the time was right.” Now here I was, feeling like I was going into a three versus one battle. Even worse, it was like they were a fully-armored team and I felt like I didn’t have any weapons!

Pro-life and pro-choice people often struggle to have productive conversations with each other. I think there are literally dozens of reasons for that, but one of them is that both sides understandably have an agenda they want to focus on instead of learning what the other person believes. Since I didn’t know very much about Mormonism, this was an opportunity for me to put my agenda to the side and go into “information gathering” mode.

Luckily, the discussion went a lot better than I feared it would, thanks to the six tactics in this list.

There is a fine craft of learning the way of love that means we keep finding truth without thinking that makes me better than others.

Jonalyn Fincher

Love says that it is good that you exist and in so far as I am able I will contribute to your happiness, your existence, your flourishing.

Jason Lepojärvi

6 Resources on Whether or Not Birth Control Pills Cause Abortions

birth control smallerHere are the six most helpful resources I know of for trying to assess whether birth control pills and/or Plan B definitely cause abortions or not.

The most common question I get emailed to me goes something like this:

I’m trying to figure out what contraception is morally acceptable to use and would appreciate any info you could send me on research about how hormonal contraception and Plan B prevent implantation. My understanding is that they thin the uterine lining. I’d specifically be interested in studies establishing a correlation between fertility and thickness controlling for all other factors. Or at least given my current understanding of how the drugs work.

Here’s my short answer:

invitation to tears small

Invitation to Tears (Soulation Press, 2014)

Jonalyn and Aubrie Hills just released their new book, Invitation to Tears, a fantastic little book on how to grieve properly.

Jonalyn once showed a family member a ring she had designed. It had taken upwards of a year and a bit of savings. As she held it out, the sapphire sparkling, this white gold begging for adoration, this family member was unimpressed. So she quickly slipped the ring on her finger and tried to change the subject.

Grief is like that precious, time-costly ring, an expensive undertaking that few will thoroughly appreciate. Grieving well is costly. Energy you could have spent on friends or family must be spared. You have hard work ahead to learn a new language…It’s no wonder Americans don’t have time for it. Grief is neither dependable nor efficient, but it will make us more human.

~ Excerpt from Invitation to Tears

I was fascinated by the section where Jonalyn and Aubrie describes some of there different ways people handle grief, the “Displacer,” the “Replacer,” the “Minimizer.” I’m what they call the “Postponer.”

The Postponer keeps grief at arm’s length, hoping to avoid the pain until it fades away. Grief is an unwelcome visitor, never invited past the front step. Postponers may be perceived as doing better than expected or quickly recovering from a loss.

~ Excerpt from Invitation to Tears

You didn’t think I had it all together, did you? No, this book was illuminating to my own soul as I explored how I handle loss. It’s a book I plan to re-read the next time I experience a loss, so that I can apply these principles to my own life.

Click here to read my interview with Jonalyn where I asked some questions about how her book can help pro-life advocates to grieve better when they and their friends experience loss, including abortion and miscarriage.

Interview with Jonalyn Fincher About Her New Book, “Invitation to Tears”

invitation to tears smallI just finished a wonderful new book on grief. This post includes a brief review as well as an interview with the author on how this book can help pro-life advocates in particular.

Followers of my work will recognize Jonalyn Fincher’s name. Dale and Jonalyn launched an organization called Soulation that I’ve greatly benefited from. Jonalyn interviewed me for her blog last year and we followed it up with a mock debate. Jonalyn is a dear friend and she’s doing fantastic work.

Jonalyn and Aubrie Hills just released their new book, Invitation to Tears, a fantastic little book on how to grieve properly.

Jonalyn once showed a family member a ring she had designed. It had taken upwards of a year and a bit of savings. As she held it out, the sapphire sparkling, this white gold begging for adoration, this family member was unimpressed. So she quickly slipped the ring on her finger and tried to change the subject.

Grief is like that precious, time-costly ring, an expensive undertaking that few will thoroughly appreciate. Grieving well is costly. Energy you could have spent on friends or family must be spared. You have hard work ahead to learn a new language…It’s no wonder Americans don’t have time for it. Grief is neither dependable nor efficient, but it will make us more human.

~ Excerpt from Invitation to Tears

What I’ve Been Up To

Not writing this blog obviously.

It’s been a whirlwind lately. Everybody says that there are a lot of administrative tasks involved in launching a non-profit, and they’re right. Thanks for being so gracious during this short season where I’m posting less frequently while I work to get our organization off the ground.

I know so many of you are praying for me during this transition, so I wanted to give you a quick update on what’s been going on lately.

Processing Speaking Requests

I’m excited to say that since launching Equal Rights Institute, I’ve been booked to speak in Arizona twice, Washington D.C. twice, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Virginia, Iowa, San Francisco and Canada! This is fantastic because we will quickly be getting our message out to thousands of pro-life advocates within the first few months of existing as an organization. We’re also pursuing several college campus training events at Biola and Notre Dame!

Right now I’m processing these requests myself and it’s pretty time-consuming with that number of events. I’m currently optimizing a repeatable system for this so that I can delegate most of that process to an assistant.

Non-Profit Management

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I put together our board and we’ve had two meetings already. I’ve rented an office, bought minimal supplies, and created our website. I’m networking with other ministry leaders in the area and I just finished reviewing a new pro-life book a friend of mine just finished.

Fundraising

I’m also raising personal support, like an overseas missionary does. It’s been such a blessing to meet with people and see how excited they get when I talk about our vision to use speaking, writing and campus outreach to bring practical dialogue tips, rigorous philosophy and relational apologetics to the pro-life movement!

Would you consider supporting my vision financially if you haven’t already? If every person that reads this blog regularly gave just $20 a month, we would be able to fund my salary as well as sponsor trainings for pro-life campus clubs that can’t fly us out to train them. We would also be able to hire more staff to get most of the administrative tasks off of my plate, allowing me to spend my time doing the things where I bring the most value.

If you want to support me, you can give by credit card using this secure donation page. If you prefer to give with a check or automatic bank withdrawals, you can download this form and mail it to me.

Thanks so much! I have a blog post going up next week on the topic of grief and how pro-life advocates can respond appropriately to friends who have lost a child, either naturally or through abortion.