The mission of this blog is to help increase understanding and empathy for individuals who have experienced a change of faith, to help and to validate the concerns of others, to support individuals as they work to navigate mixed faith relationships, and to help people to heal, find hope, and move forward towards healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives after a change of faith.
Welcome to my blog!
(This is about a 6 minute read.)
My name is Anthony Miller. I am an entrepreneur, financial planner, and educator, with deep interests in the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and communication, faith and spirituality, and a motivating sense of gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the lives of others.
I was born in Goshen, Indiana. My ancestors and extended family came from the Mennonite faith tradition.
My mother’s father was Nelson E. Kauffman, a bishop, pastor and leader of the (old) Mennonite Church. My mother’s mother was Christmas Carol Kauffman, a Mennonite author of inspirational Christian literature. Both of them have Wikipedia pages.
My father’s parents, Annas and Ursula Miller, were entrepreneurs. They were persons of deep faith and charitable service. Their businesses included Pine Manor and Miller Amish Country Poultry–now owned by my uncle, Galen Miller.
My father worked as an entrepreneur, and my mother worked as an educator, author, seamstress, and stay-at-home mom.
Whether by nature, by nurture, or both, I was ingrained with desires to make a difference in the lives of others, to teach, to write, to instigate and support charitable causes, to be an entrepreneur, and for matters of faith and spirituality.
After moving to the Phoenix area in Arizona, my parents converted from the Mennonite Faith to Mormonism when I was 3 years old. As a child, I was sealed along with my younger sister to our parents in the Mesa Temple.
I grew up in the LDS Church and was fully active during my lifetime–except for about a year or so of rebellion as an 18 year old after graduating high school and moving to Salt Lake City, Utah. I participated in a couple non-denominational Christian, week-long youth camps with Young Life during my high school years, and I did have many friends who were not LDS. However, growing up, the majority of my friends and relationships in Mesa, Arizona, were LDS.
I served a full-time LDS mission in Barcelona, Spain. The treasured spiritual experiences and relationships I developed during my mission proved to be foundational to the person I would become.
After my LDS mission, I continued my committed and zealous activity in the Church while I completed my college education, fell in love and was married to my dear wife in the SLC Temple. I thought I wanted to be a College Professor and teach Spanish literature. So, I completed an AA in Humanities, and a BA in Spanish. After realizing the financial implications of my wife seeking an MFA in Modern Dance to be a College Professor while I simultaneously completed a PhD in Spanish to also be a Professor in the Humanities, I chose to instead complete an MBA with an emphasis in Finance and Marketing.
Being an education nut, over the years that I developed my financial planning practice here in Billings, Montana, I completed a second graduate degree, an MS in Financial Services, along with 8 professional designations–including Certified Financial Planner®. I also taught as an Adjunct Finance Professor at Rocky Mountain College for 7 years.
My wife and I are empty-nesters, with two children. Our daughter is working towards a BFA in Ballet at Utah Valley University, and our son completed a BS and MS in Computer Science at Utah State University.
Beginning on April 29, 2016, I experienced a heart wrenching gift which began as an acute existential Faith Crisis, turned Faith Transition and Reconstruction, which I now refer to as my Faith Journey.
Before that evening, I was a completely all-in, active believing and practicing 49 year old Mormon, with self-proclaimed certainty of its truthfulness based upon my construct of what spiritual experiences meant, and that the Church and its leaders where exactly what they represented themselves to be. I was completely dedicated to the Church. Mormonism was a core part of my identity, community, relationships, and reputation. I had spent most of the prior 20 years serving in the Church as either the Adult Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Teacher, on the Stake High Council, as a High Priest Group Leader or Assistant, or as a Ward Mission Leader–including about 4 years as a Temple Ordinance Worker. The Church received the vast majority of all my charitable contributions. My future retirement plans were to serve multiple LDS Missions with my dear wife in our 60s and 70s.
As long as I could remember, I had been a black-and-white thinking, Benson/McConkie/Hinkley/Packer orthodox believing Mormon with complete trust in the integrity, the discernment, the divine appointment, and the authority of the Prophets and Apostles of the LDS Church.
On April 29, 2016, I stumbled across the LDS Church History Gospel Topics Essays; websites like Fairmormon, Mormonthink, and the CES Letter; and podcasts and videos like Mormon Stories. That weekend, the Essays and other information had the effect of crashing my metaphorical “shelves” where I previously “parked” concerns, doubts, problems, and ambiguities in faith. When my shelves crashed, I was left with everything laying on the ground in a pile of brokenness. God left the “corner of the room where I knew Him” when I recognized that my past treasured spiritual experiences had “witnessed” of partially or entirely inaccurate things, and I concluded that my past construct of what spiritual experiences meant was unreliable. I lost belief that the LDS Church or its leaders were what they represented themselves to be.
I spent the subsequent hours, days, weeks, and months trying to “put everything back into the box” again, and I consumed volumes of LDS Apologetic reconciliations of difficult historical topics as I tried to “make the Church true again.” However, the more I studied, the worse it got. Parallel to my studies of LDS Church History, I thought that maybe if I focused some of my studies on the historicity of the stories of the Old Testament, the historical Jesus, and the historical development of the New Testament that I might find a way to reconstruct faith and practice a version of it within my Tribe of Mormonism. But, I found Biblical studies and historicity even more problematic and likely non-literal than Mormon Church History.
Today, I find myself on the other side of what was a painful and difficult Faith Transition, with changed beliefs and a different construct of spirituality and God. While Mormonism will always be part of my Tribe and part of my identity, I am now a post-Mormon. My life has grown in purpose and meaning. My sense of worth and spiritual interconnectedness, compassion, and gratitude for my fellow human beings has been enhanced and magnified.
My dear wife continues to be an Active Believing Mormon. She serves as the 1st Councilor in the Stake Relief Society Presidency, and she is a Temple Ordinance Worker. I fully support her in her membership, activity, and service in the Church. She finds Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Divinity in her participation. I don’t need her to arrive at the same conclusions as I have about Mormonism.
My motivation for this blog is to help increase understanding and empathy for individuals who have experienced a change of faith, to help and to validate the concerns of others, to support individuals as they work to navigate mixed faith relationships, and to help people to heal, find hope, and move forward towards healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives after a change of faith.
This blog is born out of my ingrained desires to make a difference in the lives of others, to teach, to write, to instigate and support charitable causes, to take advantage of opportunities allowed me by being an entrepreneur, and to explore matters of faith and spirituality.
While at times I will share things that may come across to the reader as critical of the LDS Church and its leaders, please know that I have no intent or personal desire to crash anyone’s shelves, trigger faith crisis, or bring down the Church. I certainly did experience some of those feelings as I traversed the Anger and Depression Stages of Grief during the earlier parts of my Faith Transition, but I don’t feel that way anymore.
I believe that the best way forward is to do good, be good, and to love and support people in their individual faith journeys–as long as I am not supporting what I perceive as harms to others.