I’m Writing a Book to Help Latter-day Saints Build Faith by Cultivating a Faithful Mind

You may have noticed that things have been quiet here on my blog for a long time. The reason I have been blogging less is that for the last two years I have been writing a book.

Mormons write a lot of books. But my hope is that this book will be different than other Mormon books you might have read– both in style and substance.

The purpose of my book is to help members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints build faith in Jesus Christ, the Church He restored through Joseph Smith, and the living prophets and apostles he has authorized to lead and direct it today. And while there are many LDS books with the same purpose, I hope to introduce new concepts and ideas that are not found in any other of the popular or scholarly books on Mormonism.

The human mind is an amazing thing. Our ability to reason and analyze is powerful. But our intellectual capacities can also lead us into mental traps and logical loops that interfere with our belief in the gospel. My hope is that my book will introduce readers to new ideas and concepts that can help them cultivate a faithful mind and avoid mental traps that undermine their faith.

The book includes some ideas that I have written about here on my blog over the last decade. But when started adapting these ideas from my blog posts into book format, I discovered that there were a lot of underlying concepts that inform my blog posts but that I have never explained. And I felt that it would be important for the book to lay out these ideas with greater context and in more detail.

I have some friends who are amazing writers and who can spin out spools of insightful, coherent prose like spinning gold out of straw over night. But I am a slow writer. I puzzle and struggle over every sentence and paragraph. And it takes a lot of mental and emotional energy for me to express my ideas in writing.

So, I have dedicated whatever time and energy I have for writing to working on my book manuscript. That means that even when I would like to blog about current events, or my observations about various topics, I have chosen instead to work on my book.

So far, I have written 9 chapters with over 39,000 words– which, including footnotes, comes out to over 170 double-spaced 8.5 x 11 pages. The final manuscript will probably be at least twice that number. So I’m about half way done.

In the last 10 months I have been scheduling time daily to work on it, so even though it has taken me 2 years to get to where I am, I hope to finish the second half faster than that.

Once the manuscript is complete, I would like to get it published through a traditional publisher. But if that proves too difficult, I may consider self-publishing.

If you would like to be informed about the progress of this project, or if you are interested in possibly reading pre-publication excerpts, if you are involved in book publishing and may be interested in evaluating it for possible publication, or if you are simply interested in purchasing or reviewing the book when it is available, please subscribe to receive email notifications about progress and publication at this link:

Book Notifications Subscription Form

I will also try to post periodic updates here on the blog.

Thank you so much for your interest and support.

J. Max Wilson


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The Flip Side of the Coin – Mormon Youth Bishop Interviews & Abuse

Recently critics and dissidents have been clamoring for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to abolish the common practice of having lay bishops hold private interviews with youth in which they ask them questions about sexual morality and the Law of Chastity.

Many of these critics are concerned about the propriety of having a bishop talk about sexual issues with young men and women alone as well as the potential for abuse. And they point to legitimately tragic anecdotes from people who feel that the practice had a negative effect on them as youth. Some even claim that it facilitated abuse by a bishop.

Earlier this year, the church announced that it would update its policies to optionally allow youth to have a parent attend the interview with them. The church provided bishops with standardized questions to be asked. And parents and youth were also to be given information about the kinds of questions and topics that would be included in the interview beforehand.

But the changes do not seem to have appeased the critics, who will not be satisfied until they have pressured the church to abolish the interviews completely and with them any enforcement of the Law of Chastity.

I just wanted to raise a point in support of the interviews that I have not seen made elsewhere, and that I hope the critics will seriously consider:

What about youth who are being sexually abused by their own parent? Continue reading

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Category: lds
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Thoughts After a Week Without News and Social Media

A week without any social media, news media, or blogs, has been enlightening. I deleted all the social media apps from my phone and closed all of my pinned browser tabs to social media sites.

During the first few days I found myself absentmindedly unlocking my phone and trying to open social media programs only to realize what I was doing because they weren’t there anymore. I hadn’t recognized how habitual they had become until they weren’t there. It was almost like an automatic reflex. By the end of the week the urge was mostly gone, but not completely.

I realized that I needed to be more deliberate about when I use social media and when I don’t. I have reinstalled some social media applications on my phone. But I have chosen to disable all notification messages and indicators for them. We’ll see how it goes.

The second thing I realized was that by cutting out social media and news media, my everyday life was far more peaceful. I could enjoy the people and events happening immediately around me at home, at work, in my neighborhood, and at church. Continue reading

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Techno-Social Despotism in China vs Decentralized Credentials, Reputation, and Trust

What they are doing in China using technology to modify and mold social behavior is both ingenious and amazing, but also terrifying. This article from Wired is long, but worth the read:


Basically, companies and the government in China are developing a technology-driven “Social Credit Score” that they can use together with concepts of gamification to socially engineer the views and behaviors of people on a massive scale. In some ways it is kind of like Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984, but instead of fear and oppression, it uses social, economic, and psychological incentives to create a more subtle and manipulative despotism.

I think it is likely that, as the article suggests, this kind of centralized reputation based social engineering will eventually come to the United States.

Meanwhile, individuals in Utah and elsewhere are currently working on technology that could revolutionize identity, reputation, and trust using open source software called Sovrin that uses an ingenious combination of cryptography and a public ledger technology similar to the blockchain used by bitcoin. Continue reading

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Category: technology
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Virtue Signalling, Moral Fatigue, Outrage Addiction, and Favorite Sins

This isn’t aimed at anyone in particular and it isn’t meant as an attack on those of you who have expressed sincere outrage online about past or current events. It’s just something that I have been thinking and worrying about lately.

In a world of billions of people, there are far more atrocious things happening at any given moment than the human mind can possibly comprehend and deal with.  At the same time, we are very bad at evaluating proportion, cost, and cause and effect.

We tend to choose to be outraged about certain atrocities while ignoring many, many others. Often our outrage is directed and manipulated by news, propaganda, or circumstances. Every few weeks, or even every few days, there is a new trending topic about which everyone must be outraged and about which everyone must comment publicly through social media. Continue reading

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Category: thoughts
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