Now, I hope you won't take offense to this, but I am not exactly in agreement with the anti-polygamy sentiment advanced by your source. I'm not going to argue that polygamy is, or was, fair to women, because it certainly isn't. I'm also not going to argue that it was practiced perfectly by the Church, because it certainly wasn't. But the notion that Joseph was a lecherous figurehead who abused his authority to coerce women into marriage on pain of death or damnation is, in my opinion, nonsense.
Everything she says is correct.
I hate to be disagreeable, but I'm one minute into this video and this Haleigh Evert has already mischaracterized Church policy on posthumous sealing as, essentially, a continuation of polygamy. Since women are now sealed, after death, to all of their husbands just as men are sealed to all of their wives, it should be emphatically clear that whatever happens in the next life, it is not simply an eternity of polygamy, and nobody knows for certain how God is going to work things out. It seems to me that fact ought to be the subject of much more serious attention than it is. Posthumously sealing women to their husbands means a simplistic understanding of eternal polygamy is wrong, full stop.
Like, follow the laws of the land, except they didn’t?
It's true that polygamy wasn't legal at the time, and the Church faced quite a bit of legal trouble for it. Ultimately, legal pressure was one of the key components leading to its cessation. But as for its instigation, as Evert asks, "Why would God give a commandment that was illegal?" I think we'll simply have to agree to disagree here. From my perspective, it makes little sense to argue that polygamy was a mistake because it was illegal, as though the laws and social mores of frontier America ought to have bound God from acting. Joseph believed he had a host of scriptural and theological reasons that made the restoration and practice of plural marriage absolutely essential--even if that meant civil disobedience. It seems rather short-sighted to me to argue, with a rigidly Kantian emphasis on categorical honesty, that the Church cannot or should not have been commanded to do something illegal. In the first place, the Book of Mormon explicitly makes allowance for the provisional authorization of polygamy, should God will it. Does that commandment conflict with the expectation that we believe in being subject to the laws of the land? Yes. But God also commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and to lie to the Egyptians about Sarai being his wife. He also instructed Nephi to kill Laban. All this even though the scriptures say that the liar shall be thrust down to hell and that those who live by the sword die by the sword.
What God commands of us does not always easily and immediately square with our notions of justice or fairness, as Nephi and Abraham both experienced very painfully. Often, in difficult or uncertain circumstances, we are forced to choose between two difficult choices rather than a binary good-versus-evil dichotomy. And sometimes God's commandments are hard precisely because they are contradictory to what has come before. Can you imagine having a son born to you at Abraham's age, by whom you are promised fatherhood of nations and peoples, only to then be commanded to sacrifice this only son to God?
Now, one can certainly raise concerns with the theological reasoning outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 132, or with God's issuing of seemingly immoral commands elsewhere in scripture, but to argue against the revelation based merely on the fact that it was against the laws of the time, and that God wouldn't do such a thing, seems shortsighted and dogmatic to me, perhaps even fundamentalist. God does, in fact, sometimes issue commandments that seem confusing, demanding, unclear, or even unfair. That doesn't mean that we should be all be antigovernmental anarchists waiting for subversive orders to radio out from Salt Lake, but it does mean we should be prepared for God to test us in ways that may require us to do things we don't fully understand. This is a thoroughly well-developed concept in both biblical and uniquely Latter-day Saint tradition, so Evert's cynical, sarcastic riffing on what the Church has to say about the sacrifices made by men and women in the early Church does not sit well with me. I'm less than a quarter in thus far, and you'll have to forgive me if I admit that I am not impressed.
Evert, again: "[Oliver Cowdery's excommunication] becomes a pattern in the Church. If you say something against the Prophet, you get excommunicated."
As summaries go, this is glib and oversimplified to the point of being, in my view, a misrepresentation of history and of Church practice. To delicately describe Oliver Cowdery's differences with Joseph Smith and his split from the Church as merely "saying something against the Prophet" is a gross oversimplification of the conflict that drove Oliver out of the Church and led Joseph to excommunicate him, as if Joseph was a thin-skinned tyrant who couldn't brook any criticism. I would also argue that it's critically important to note, in this particular instance, that Oliver was eventually rebaptized and rejoined the body of the Church shortly before his death, which suggests that whatever his disagreements with Joseph were, they were not irreconcilable. It is true that he believed the Fanny Alger sealing to be an affair rather than a proper marriage, and that was one of the major reasons he disagreed with Joseph, but Evert's presentation here leaves a lot to be desired. Furthermore, Oliver's view of the sealing as a "dirty, nasty, filthy" affair, rather than a genuine sealing, is far from unanimous among other commentators. Even hostile and dubiously reliable sources such as William McClellin and Ann Eliza Young refer to the event as a sealing. Joseph himself emphatically denied that he ever committed adultery--which is true, if we take Fanny Alger to be a plural wife rather than a mistress. Evert is free to disagree and draw her own conclusions, but it seems to me that she is merely appealing to the authority of the Joseph Smith Papers without actually providing a balanced review of all the available evidence. She also conspicuously doesn't support her argument that easy and frequent excommunication for minor disagreement is a historical pattern in the Church, instead simply asserting that it is the case.
Evert then follows up with the Gospel Topics Essay's commentary on John C Bennett's "spiritual wifery" as if it ought to be some sort of smoking gun for Joseph's hypocrisy. Her implication is that it makes no sense for Bennett and his ilk to be excommunicated while "nobody said anything about what Joseph Smith was doing." Frankly, I didn't see much of an argument actually connecting the two. Your source seems to me to be merely asserting, by implication, that the two are the same and that Joseph is a hypocrite sheltered from consequences by his position as the prophet, but I don't think that argument is on very firm footing historically. In any case, the audience is left to fill in the blanks as to why Joseph, clearly guilty, gets off scot-free while others do not.
Contra Evert, I argue that the more likely reason nobody said anything about what Joseph Smith was doing is because he wasn't practicing spiritual wifery in the first place, and because the people who were actually involved saw distinct differences between Bennett's behavior and Joseph's. Frankly, at this point in the video you could be completely forgiven for agreeing with Evert on this point, because her presentation of Joseph's practice of polygamy thus far is so lopsided and one-dimensional that you have no reason to believe there's any meaningful difference between the two at all. She almost presents the essay as suggesting that others were excommunicated merely for following Joseph's example. This may make for good storytelling, particularly for her non-Latter-day Saint audience, but it's not good history.
To be blunt, this deep skepticism and hostile attitude colors Evert's presentation so thoroughly that it's difficult for me to agree with her assessment of polygamy in nearly any respect. Evert seems to be more interested in polemics and portraying the Church as making a bad-faith effort to hide the sordid truth than in providing any kind of balanced, if skeptical, look at the history. She presents the early secrecy about polygamy as a conspiratorial boogeyman which conveniently, as she has it, leaves little to no paper trail for us to follow. When one considers the fact that polygamy was, in fact, illegal (as was just noted minutes prior!), and the Church faced a considerable amount of legal trouble for it, it doesn't seem particularly alarming that the Church would go to some lengths to avoid leaving behind detailed names, dates, records, and other evidence of its practice. You can't have your cake and eat it too, but Evert critiques the Church for not leaving behind accessible and detailed historical documentation of a practice she simultaneously critiques for being wrong because it's against the law and subject to prosecution.
I would argue, furthermore, that notions of exoteric (public) and esoteric (hidden) doctrines and practices, which are well-rooted in ancient religious thought, are a much better framework for understanding the secrecy surrounding the still-developing principles of celestial marriage. You may be more acquainted with this concept under the Apostle Paul's more colloquial turn of phrase "milk before meat." Ancient Christianity had a keen interest in so-called esoteric doctrines, which were not intended for the general public, but were limited to an inner circle of initiates who had undergone certain rites. The full scope of esoteric religion and its influence in the development of ancient Christian sects is quite far afield from this answer, but the parallels to the introduction of celestial marriage (and in our day, to the temple liturgy) should be obvious. Joseph tried to teach the principle to trusted associates on many occasions and was often discouraged by the natural difficulty he had in getting others to accept it. As time went on, that circle widened as its practice in the Church became more widespread. This was not a secretive, dirty practice kept exclusive to the highest echelons of leadership; it was an important religious principle that the Church attempted to disseminate in the best way it thought safe and prudent.
That, to me, makes for a more interesting explanation. The fact that Church leadership was deliberately less than forthcoming about early polygamy doesn't intrinsically say anything about guilt or whether or not they were deliberately covering up seedy or scandalous behavior, but to hear Evert tell it, we all know the real reason there's no paper trail. This isn't really an argument as much as it is a prejudiced smear. This is not the tone of someone interested in discussing rational alternatives, and as before, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of presentation.
Moving on. We then reach the somewhat infamous sealing of Helen Mar Kimball, who was 14 years old at the time her father proposed she be sealed to the Prophet. I must admit to some vehement disagreement here. To describe Joseph's ministrations to Helen Mar Kimball as a "threat," and her acquiescence to his proposal as "prostitution," as Evert does, is, in my view, a nakedly self-serving eisegesis which tells us much more about Evert than it does Kimball. Kimball, who remarried after Joseph's death, went on to write articulately and prolifically in defense of the system of marriage to which she had been introduced. I won't deny that the circumstances were strange. Yes, 14 is a young age. Yes, she undoubtedly felt pressure to agree to the marriage, given that the Prophet said that great spiritual blessings would come from it. I think there is more than enough room, as a believing Latter-day Saint, to acknowledge that it's strange, uncomfortable, even wrong to our modern sensibilities. But to recast what was ultimately a voluntary, if difficult, decision as a threat Joseph used to cajole soteriological prostitution from his would-be wives is so blindingly presentist, and so glib about the progressive development of the doctrine of celestial marriage, that I find it rather embarrassingly naïve. Evert's description of Helen Mar Kimball's life as "horrifying" and "desperate," as she argues that Helen clung to the marriage covenant in order to "purchase eternal reward" by prostituting herself, doesn't tell me much about Helen, but it tell me a lot about Evert's deeply cynical, faithless worldview--not least of all when she says that the church "hold[s] eternal families over our heads." I don't find sort this faithlessness compelling or convincing. I find it extraordinarily sad. I can think of no communicant Latter-day Saint who would describe fidelity to their covenants as a transaction by which they hope to sell their body and soul in exchange for buying spiritual reward, as if God is a cosmic accountant trafficking in human souls. If you want my perfectly honest opinion, Evert's grossly commercialized interpretation, if it can be called that, is deeply offensive to me, and I think it speaks volumes to her own warped and empty understanding of how covenants relate us to God. This is not history. This is projection. Helen surely suffered, as many did under polygamy, but to read her life experience and come away with the impression that she was desperate for spiritual rewards promised to her and that Joseph's horrifying behavior deliberately preyed on that desperation says far more about Haleigh Evert than it does about Helen Mar Kimball. Nothing in the historical record indicates that she was desperate or spiritually avaricious, that she viewed Joseph as having threatened her spiritually or physically, or that she viewed polygamy as analogous to prostituting herself. This is simply irresponsible eisegesis, and it is a woefully inadequate framework for historically engaging with the faith of women who truly, sincerely believed they were doing the right thing.
Not content to stop with one woman's convictions of celestial marriage, Evert then mentions and summarily dismisses the affirmations of the rest of those women involved in polygamy with a dismissively glib wave of the hand: "Well, yeah, if you're threatened..." [of course you would testify that it's right, she implies].
This is utter nonsense. However strange it may be by modern standards, and even if we were to grant under weight of presentism that it was the wrong decision, no amount of tortured eisegesis will transform Joseph's sealing to Helen Mar Kimball into a threat of damnation or crass spiritual prostitution which compelled her to act out of fear or self-preservation. Evert furnishes no specific evidence that the women who testified of these experiences were, in fact, threatened, preferring instead to move on to polyandry and other sensational topics. I would hazard a guess that she does so because the evidence that they were physically or spiritually threatened, and thus compelled to testify of polygamy on pain of death or damnation as she implies, doesn't exist. The historical record indicates that Joseph allowed the women he approached to consider and ponder his proposal and even to reject him if they so chose, whereupon the matter was dropped. There are several proposals we only know about because the women who turned him down later related the details--stories one and all lacking in grotesque, domineering threats to life, limb, and spirit. To vaguely and broadly discount the lived experience of the people involved--of course the women said it was true because they were being threatened--this is not history. This is mind-reading, par excellence, in the Fawn Brodie tradition. Because Evert finds polygamy repulsive, immoral, and wrong, she, like many other critics of polygamy and of the Church more generally, have to dismiss the firsthand experiences of the women who didn't find it repulsive and wrong as simply deceived or deluded. Or they must otherwise write them off as Joseph's terrified captives, who secretly, furtively knew but were powerless to admit that polygamy was really wrong the whole time while the men, presumably, ran the show taking all the wives they pleased. This is grossly ignorant of the actual stumbling block that polygamy was for men and women in the early Church. Resistance and doubt came from more than just the women--and once it was practiced, spiritual witnesses came from more than just the men. Furthermore, the women Joseph approached often did react quite negatively and viscerally to the notion of polygamy, quite like you and I might. These were not spineless followers who simply accepted what Joseph said because he said so, even though they believed him to be a prophet. The casual idea that people simply played along because they uncritically believed anything Joseph said, or that they consented because he was a tyrant who threatened them with damnation, death, and hellfire, is completely at odds with the accounts given by the people involved.
To give just one example of Evert's conspicuous passing over of the historical record in favor of projecting her own conclusions about polygamy onto the sources, here's how Lucy Walker related Joseph's proposal to her and the process by which she became convinced of the divinity of polygamous practice:
In the year 1842, President Joseph Smith sought an interview with me, and said: “I have a message for you. I have been commanded of God to take another wife, and you are the woman.” My astonishment knew no bounds. This announcement was indeed a thunderbolt to me. He asked me if I believed him to be a prophet of God. “Most assuredly I do,” I replied. He fully explained to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage. He said this principle was again to be restored for the benefit of the human family, that it would prove an everlasting blessing to my father’s house, and form a chain that could never be broken, worlds without end. “What have you to say?” he asked. “Nothing.” How could I speak, or what could I say? He said, “If you will pray sincerely for light and understanding in relation thereto, you shall receive a testimony of the correctness of this principle. I thought I prayed sincerely, but was so unwilling to consider the matter favorably that I fear I did not ask in faith for light. Gross darkness instead of light took possession of my mind. I was tempted and tortured beyond endurance until life was not desirable. Oh that the grave would kindly receive me, that I might find rest on the bosom of my dear mother. Why should I be chosen from among thy daughters, Father, I am only a child in years and experience, no mother to counsel [she died in January, 1842]; no father near to tell me what to do in this trying hour [he was on a mission to a warmer climate to help his health]. Oh, let this bitter cup pass. And thus I prayed in the agony of my soul.
The Prophet discerned my sorrow. He saw how unhappy I was, and sought an opportunity of again speaking to me on this subject, and said: “Although I cannot, under existing circumstances, acknowledge you as my wife, the time is near when we will go beyond the Rocky Mountains and then you will be acknowledged and honored as my wife.”5 He also said, “This principle will yet be believed in and practiced by the righteous. I have no flattering words to offer. It is a command of God to you. I will give you until tomorrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you.”
This aroused every drop of Scotch in my veins. For a few moments I stood fearless before him, and looked him in the eye. I felt at this moment that I was called to place myself upon the altar a living sacrifice–perhaps to brook the world in disgrace and incur the displeasure and contempt of my youthful companions; all my dreams of happiness blown to the four winds. This was too much, for as yet no shadow had crossed my path, aside from the death of my dear mother. The future to me had been one bright, cloudless day. I had been speechless, but at last found utterance and said: “Although you are a prophet of God you could not induce me to take a step of so great importance, unless I knew that God approved my course. I would rather die. I have tried to pray but received no comfort, no light,” and emphatically forbid him speaking again to me on this subject. Every feeling of my soul revolted against it. Said I, “The same God who has sent this message is the Being I have worshipped from my early childhood and He must manifest His will to me.” He walked across the room, returned and stood before me with the most beautiful expression of countenance, and said: “God Almighty bless you. You shall have a manifestation of the will of God concerning you; a testimony that you can never deny. I will tell you what it shall be. It shall be that joy and peace that you never knew.”
Oh, how earnestly I prayed for these words to be fulfilled. It was near dawn after another sleepless night when my room was lighted up by a heavenly influence. To me it was, in comparison, like the brilliant sun bursting through the darkest cloud. The words of the Prophet were indeed fulfilled. My soul was filled with a calm, sweet peace that “I never knew.” Supreme happiness took possession of me, and I received a powerful and irresistible testimony of the truth of plural marriage, which has been like an anchor to the soul through all the trials of life. I felt that I must go out into the morning air and give vent to the joy and gratitude that filled my soul. As I descended the stairs, President Smith opened the door below, took me by the hand and said: “Thank God, you have the testimony. I too have prayed.” He led me to a chair, placed his hands upon my head, and blessed me with every blessing my heart could possibly desire.
The first day of May, 1843, I consented to become the Prophet’s wife, and was sealed to him for time and all eternity, at his own house by Elder William Clayton.
Now, not every woman related an experience like this one. I offer this not to minimize the fact that the mortal practice of polygamy was unfair, difficult, and painful--as it assuredly was. You and any other readers are perfectly free to disagree with Lucy Walker, or Helen Kimball. You are also free to conclude that they, along with Church leaders, were mistaken with respect to the inspiration of polygamy. I offer this not to prove (if it can be proven at all) that polygamy was, in fact, divinely inspired, and I begrudge no one their personal interpretations of such a difficult and complex historical issue. But to describe experiences such as Lucy Walker's or Helen Mar Kimball's as born of Joseph's malicious coercion or threat, as Evert does, is simply detached from reality. To put it mildly, I have serious reservations about the fact that, seeking answers to make sense of polygamy, you are taking your cues from an antagonistic, self-described ex-Mormon who, at every turn, sees ill in Joseph's motivations, dismisses explanations in the Gospel Topics Essays and the scriptures as so much ad hoc apologia, and, by and large, seems to assume what she's setting out to prove. If early polygamy was secretive and undocumented, well, all the more convenient for Joseph Smith; what other reason could there be? There are other reasons, of course. But you aren't going to get a serious look at them from her.
I don't want to spend any more time dissecting your source; I would only repeat myself. Let's move on to your question proper.
How do you make sense of all this?
Polygamy is difficult, sensitive, and full of unresolved questions. I won't deny that. I can't give you a definitive reason for why Joseph was sealed to more than 30 women, or exactly why he chose the ones he did. I can't tell you how many Emma did or did not know about, or what Joseph and Emma's relationship was like because of it, because nobody alive knows what Joseph said to Emma about it all.
I happen to think that the doctrine of celestial marriage (encompassing plural marriage, eternal marriage, and exaltation) developed progressively, and that the dynastic sealings in Church history were a product of an incomplete understanding of how families were to be tied together. Evert scoffs at that idea as unthinking "worship" of Joseph Smith; I think that's a reflection of a poor understanding of how the doctrine developed over time. By and large, women consented because Joseph told them they would benefit spiritually from a close tie to the Prophet, not because they uncritically, unthinkingly worshiped him or were cajoled into being sealed against their will. The most plausible explanation to me is that neither Joseph nor anyone else at the time had a complete, developed understanding of the monogamous parent-to-child sealings which we perform today, and that he was attempting to provide a new and essential ordinance to as many faithful women as possible with the knowledge that he had--even though "celestial marriage," as he understood it, ultimately looks considerably different than it does to us in the 21st century.
There are other answers that have been offered to common questions: why did Joseph get sealed to already-married women, for instance? Well, at least some of the married women Joseph was sealed to did not have believing husbands, and so they viewed a sealing to the Prophet as their best hope at receiving the new ordinance. Their husbands, who didn't believe in any such thing as eternally binding marriages in the next life or Joseph's prophetic authority, generally didn't have pressing objections.
In the end, though, I'm not able to answer every possible question; we just don't have the information to answer every possible question of what Joseph said or did and why he said or did those things. But fundamentally, I am convinced of Joseph Smith's sincerity, integrity, and character. Furthermore, I find it compelling that, as even Evert notes, many of his wives testified of deep and profound spiritual experiences, and that even after Joseph's death (to say nothing of his life), there were virtually no complaints about adultery, polyandry, cuckolding, or of any other scandals one might expect if the Prophet of the Restoration had so casually been gallivanting about with women he shouldn't have. This isn't the only possible position to take on polygamy, of course; not every scholar agrees with respect to the question of polyandry, or precisely when such-and-such marriage happened. Polygamy is sparsely documented and full of historical gaps. But I trust that Joseph, and other Church leaders, were genuinely doing the best they could to live an extraordinarily difficult commandment which they did not fully understand, and I shouldn't expect to perfectly understand, in hindsight, everything that made sense to the people who lived in those moments in the nineteenth century. Ultimately, it makes no difference to me whether or not they managed to fulfill the commandment perfectly. The only person I expect perfection of is God. But I am convinced that they were good, honest, and sincere people who really believed they were doing as God commanded them to. To be perfectly blunt, the source you've provided has no interest in helping you reach any other conclusion than that of Joseph being a lecherous, hypocritical fraud.
And, “have faith” and “everything will be sorted out” isn’t a good answer.
Typically, I would agree with you. In this particular instance, I'd like to point out one more time that any way you slice it, the answer is not as simple as asserting that polygamy is celestial and eternal. At the time of writing, the Church allows men and women to be posthumously sealed to all of their spouses in life. Unfortunate as it may be, we simply don't know how God will work that out. If I had an easy, reassuring answer for you, I would give it. But I have confidence and trust that God will respect the wishes and desires of everyone involved, and that nobody will be trapped in a sealing to which they do not consent. I certainly do not expect that all men will be allowed a plurality of wives simply for wishing it, or that any plural wives will be held captive and unhappy in a polygamous sealing for eternity.
These are all from church publications and scripture.
Indeed. Good, intelligent, and reasonable people can read the same sources and come to wildly different conclusions, however. Personally, I'm familiar with everything you've brought up in this question, and none of it is inimical to my faith. Bias and interpretation run deeper than which sources we use. Bias also impacts how we interpret information and which information we categorize as reliable and persuasive as we form individual frameworks of understanding. Strictly speaking, there's no such thing as an unbiased source, nor are there facts that speak for themselves in a vacuum devoid of all meaning. Our biases and beliefs inescapably impact how we weigh the impact of facts, quotations, and sources. I don't believe the Church's history as told by its publications and scripture bears much, if any, resemblance to the interpretation offered here by Haleigh Evert; but I fundamentally believe in the claims of the Restoration, and she does not.
I don't anticipate that all of the other writers will agree with me, but for my part, I think the source you've shared for us to listen to is tragically and deeply misguided. I don't know precisely what perspective you're looking for, nor where you currently feel you are in relation to the Church. But as you've mentioned trying to make more sense of things, I would strongly recommend balancing your research with more faithful perspectives, such as Brian Hales, whose work I linked to above, and whose research in the area of polygamy has been monumentally thorough. There's probably no living Latter-day Saint scholar more acquainted with the history of polygamy than Hales. Goldie Rose has also provided a number of helpful links to more faithful perspectives. I'm not suggesting, and I don't think Goldie is suggesting, that you read and uncritically accept what they have to say without consideration solely because they're aligned with the Church. But responsible historiography involves carefully weighing the reliability of sources and competing perspectives to draw one's own conclusions about what probably happened, and Haleigh Evert's history is, in my judgment, considerably more polemical and presentist than it is historical. I believe a faithful understanding of an inspired practice of polygamy is possible, even though there are inescapable gaps in the historical record, and scholars aren't unanimous on how to fill those gaps.
The hypocrisy is so insane to me. Do people just not know this? Do they choose to ignore it? Help me understand without just saying “people are imperfect.” It’s not ok for a prophet to coerce someone to marry them by threatening their own death. That’s not agency. It’s creepy and wrong.
I would suggest that your understanding of the polygamy issue is fundamentally flawed. I don't believe that Joseph ever willfully coerced anyone into marrying him, and there simply is no credible evidence that he ever threatened anyone with their own death if they refused. You are getting information from a deeply biased and unsympathetic source.
Lest I be misunderstood, I'm not suggesting that you only read "church-approved" material, or that everything outside of the "church publication" bubble is an anti-Mormon lie with no basis in reality. But in this case, I think you have been deeply misled by someone whose presentation of the history leaves little to no room for a faithful perspective, and I strongly urge you to consider seeking what faithful scholarship has to say on these questions. Church members are certainly imperfect and they do make mistakes, but your source is attributing to them motivations, thoughts, and actions which I believe go far beyond the historical record.
I hope you find some answers here. I've been quite critical of your linked source, but I hope you know that I've no hard feelings toward either you or Haleigh Evert, and that I'm rooting for you. There's nothing fun, comfortable, or enjoyable about being uncertain and troubled in questions of faith and doubt, and whatever conclusions you eventually draw on these and other hard questions, I hope you're able to find peace, comfort, and happiness.