Note from Tim Chaves of Faith Matters: this conversation between Faith Matters founder Bill Turnbull and Thomas McConkie is truly remarkable. It has life-changing implications and encapsulates a view of the gospel that is at once expansive and personal, mature and childlike, mystical and pragmatic. While it is lengthy, I had no desire for it to end. I hope Faith Matters readers and listeners find a place to absorb it, even if in small chunks. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Thomas Wirthlin McConkie was raised in the most conventional of Latter-day Saint families. He grew up a McConkie in Salt Lake City—grandson of Oscar McConkie and grandnephew of Elder Bruce R. McConkie. His grandfather on his mother’s side was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.
But Thomas’s path was destined to be anything but conventional. He found the faith he grew up in to be brittle, and in his teens he broke from the church and, to a large degree, from his family. This launched a very difficult but also very rewarding odyssey across continents and through faith traditions. Spiritually adrift, he embraced eastern spiritual practices, particularly mindfulness meditation, which nourished him spiritually and mentally.
Professionally, he became fascinated with a branch of developmental psychology called “adult development,” which identifies and informs stages of development we human beings tend to move through during our adult lives. He immersed himself in this rich framework and teaches and coaches in the field today.
A few years back, Thomas felt called to return to his Latter-day Saint faith and community, even returning to Salt Lake City. He brings to his native faith a rich a set of practices and perspectives that may at first seem an odd fit with a conventional understanding of the restored gospel. But they are as much a part of him now as the conventional gospel culture in which he was raised.
In this series of seven conversations, Faith Matters’ Bill Turnbull talks with Thomas about his remarkable personal story. In the process, they explore
- How meditation and mindful awareness can fundamentally change the quality of our lives
- How developmental stages manifest and can be nurtured throughout our adult lives
- How these stages can also manifest in the church as it evolves
- How to continually recreate and refresh our faith in order to avoid getting “stuck”
- How “faith crisis” can lead either to alienation from or to deeper engagement with our faith
Thomas teaches courses on mindfulness and adult development through his Lower Lights organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, where you can learn more about integrating some of these insights and practices. He has also created a great podcast on these twin themes called Mindfulness+. He’s the author of the highly-recommended book “Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map.”
Listen to Bill’s conversation with Thomas on Apple Podcasts (don’t forget to subscribe!) here:
Or, listen right here on our website: