Episode 146: Tub Talk with John and Zilpha

54 comments on “Episode 146: Tub Talk with John and Zilpha”

  1. iamse7en Reply

    I was hoping for the last part to the George Miller discussion. This was lame.

    • Anonymous Reply

      You are really complaining about not getting something for free on your schedule? You’re a douche bag.

      • Randy Snyder Reply

        You sound like Jesus talking to Elder Price in his spooky Mormon hell dream.  Only Jesus used the word “dick.”  

        Man, I think I’m obsessed with that musical…

    • Jay Bryner Reply

      I really like the George Miller podcasts, but I feel very out of my depth, like I need to go to the library and check out a bunch of books or something.  I’m glad they were broken up a little, it gives me something to look forward to in the future at ME. 

    • cwald71 Reply

      Yeah, why is it that all the loudest boos always seem to come from the cheap seats?

      I enjoyed the podcast – especially the candid talk about your decision to not raise kids in the church.


  2. iamse7en Reply

    I was hoping for the last part to the George Miller discussion. This was lame.

  3. Hermes Reply

    John, you remind me of me.  I too remember looking for the good in the church and discovering that our “Mormon” good was just human good: it’s the bad stuff that’s really unique.  (This reminds me of something Tolstoy is supposed to have written: “Every happy family is happy in the same way, but an unhappy family is always uniquely miserable.”)  I agree that simple, wrong answers are not useful (ultimately) as tools for life: they are handy until you need to do something really hard and they fall apart on you.  Then you go to your local hardware dealer and he tells you to pray more fervently, like that is going to make your broken tools work.

    If I really believed that the church’s moral position was strong, I think it would be much easier to participate than it currently is.  My biggest problem with church, honestly, is not what we were doing 200 years ago (as over the top as some of that was) but what we are doing today.  200 years of bad experience have not taught us (the collective membership) the folly of telling lies (about ourselves, our history, and our knowledge of the human condition).  Wishing has not made the lies true.  Guilt-tripping has not made them true.  If sincerity could fix anything, we would be fixed.  Instead, we continue broken.  I had to move on from church (even though I still participate some) because it was not helping my psyche.  I had real questions, real problems, a real life (including kids who needed naps, even on Sundays).  Church had fake answers: books full of fake answers, meetings where we discussed fake answers ad nauseam, and people who looked at me funny every time I tried to push past the fakeness into something real.  Today, my best interaction with members of the church comes from the informal tete-a-tete, where real impressions of reality can be freely shared; correlated meetings provide absolutely nothing (except maybe a few things to laugh at later, if I am lucky).  Why even have a conversation where all parts have been scripted, especially when I know that the conclusions of that conversation don’t work for me?  When I was young, I liked church because I felt free to explore ideas there: I took them at their word when they said agency was sovereign.  (Of course I also took them at their word when they told me sex was evil, so evil that little boys and girls needed to talk privately to the bishop every time they got too close to it.)  Then, I grew up.  I realized that words like “freedom” don’t have any absolute, non-contextual meaning.  The church was selling me (for 10%) a kind of slavery disguised as freedom.  It broke my heart.  But it also set me free. Suddenly, I was not condemned to live out the rest of my life in that ward in Sandy, struggling to make the Romneys’ Mormon dream come true for me.  (I’ve got the prevaricating part down, I think, but the lucrative contracts keep going to other people: maybe my hair is too long.)  I could admit my real problems and take real measures to address them.  I could explore the human condition without any predetermined answers (the kind that provide comfort until you really need them: then they just make you hurt more, in my experience).  I still feel a connection to the Mormon community, including many active LDS whom I consider friends (not to mention my immediate family), but I cannot help but agree with you that church doctrine is harmful. When I am being optimistic, I like to hope that it causes as much good as bad, but when I am being pessimistic (or is that realistic?), I see it as a net loss for humanity.  We need to let go of the crap that doesn’t work.  We need to read the writing on the wall and admit that we (and our prophets) are imperfect, like all other people who have practiced (and founded) religions in the past.  Our mythology is not categorically better or worse than anyone else’s mythology.  It does not deserve any kind of special privilege.  If it hurts people unnecessarily, it should be ditched (no matter what it is: we need a paradigm for religion that doesn’t hold our ethics hostage to myth).

    Anyway, your anti-church rant really touched a nerve in me (as you can see).  Thanks for sharing. 

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      “correlated meetings provide absolutely nothing”

      Well said! 

      I’m going to suggest this topic for Thomas S. Monson’s next General Conference closing address. 
      It just might prove to be the most popular GC address ever – most certainly it would be the most talked about in recent history!


  4. Will D Reply

    I haven’t listened to this yet but conceptually this is quite terrifying. 

  5. Eric Reply

    I don’t know why John keeps insisting that it’s impossible to define what sex is.  It seems like he says it every other podcast now.  Sure, there are nuances to it.  But come on.  I think the definition of sex we learned in the 5th grade was a pretty good one.  It’s worked for me and everyone else I know. 

  6. Lurking Reply

    I really enjoyed the candid discussion with John and Zilpha.  I’m sure their perception of their church experience has changed over the podcasting years and knowing more about the influences that led to their current unbelief was very interesting.  I would like to hear another tub talk about the final evidences that led to their deconversion since they seemed to do a lot of in depth study leading to their exit.

  7. Wayne Reply

    Really enjoyed this discussion! Thank you John and Zipha!!!!

    Loved all your podcast but this one helped me get to know you better.

    Is this the 2nd podcast done in the nude?

  8. Tony Bartley Reply

    When I saw the title I wasn’t sure what to think and felt a bit dubious of the content.  Upon listening, however, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed the candid conversation.  So did you get your inspiration from Craig Bierko?  Anyway, a great discussion that I will listen to again.

  9. Kevin Reply

    Along with Episode 106, this was the best one yet. But I also like the ones where you keep your clothes on.

  10. Zilpha Reply

    Yes, second one in the nude. But, of course, this one doesn’t really have anything to do with sex, masturbation or modesty. Maybe next time. : )

  11. Goto10 Reply

    Maybe it was just a funny idea, but it seemed to me this episode was a statement about your level of intimacy with your audience.  (The tub, the talk of sexual intimacy among Mormons, the first-time discussion about the kids…)

    I envisioned a reality show about you, the podcast, and all these fascinating people who are coming into your lives.  This is probably the hottest time in history for the word Mormon.  Cash in.  Fight the burnout with a new twist.  If no network will buy it you can just get a struggling filmmaker (I understand there are a few out there) to make webisodes for Youtube – until you get picked up.  But before you do, change the name of your podcast to Mormon Expressions, since that’s what everybody else calls it.

  12. Hyjaxe Reply

    I just wanted to say thank you John, for adding a comment to my current situation (near the beginning of the podcast). I’m a bit happy to know that there is other people out there that can understand.

  13. Jay Bryner Reply

    This was a great podcast.  Thanks for posting it John and Zilpha.  

  14. Steve K Reply

    Holy shit!  You guys say it like it is in the tub. I vote for all future podcasts to be done from the tub.   I love that you guys aren’t starting a new pseudo religion and holding conferences and trying to play nice with the church like Mormon Stories.  I find that scary.  The Church will use them, and my guess is John has some connection to FAIR already…I think its the church’s experiment to quiet people in their anger and maybe keep a few.  Conspiracy theory yes, but my first ever, and I just never trust people who try to play both sides or who encourage others to live lives not true to themselves.  I still think its okay to call a hypocrite a hypocrite…and think what is best is to run not walk away from evil and hurtful people and organizations.  Good podcast.  

    • Anonymous Reply

      John D. is a friend of mine and I can assure you that he has no connection to FAIR. In my eyes John’s endeavor is simply to help people through a painful transition period. Which is an idea that I fully support.

      • SK Reply

        I guess I just have an issue with people who are willing to expose others to something they know is harmful including their own children.  When it is a Psych Major it confuses me what the real motivation is to stall people out during their natural journey and recovery from a cult, or work to make them believe it is healthy to live think its okay to not believe in something yet be a part of it. Just silly me.  I just don’t have friends like that…but maybe John is doing some very wonderful work while he holds conferences with the broken toys and sits with them in the cult chapels, and I’m just to dumb to get it.  I think the jury is out still on John Dehlin, just my guess, since when your PH,D you take oaths to do no harm yet what he does is in complete opposition to his professions approach to leaving religious cults. Its nothing personal towards John D or you.  It’s an opinion hope I can have one.  If not delete it. I lived like that for 42 years and don’t take it personal.

        • Hermes Reply

          “I just have an issue with people who are willing to expose others to something they know is harmful including their own children.”
          Life is harmful.  So responsible parents don’t have kids?  Sport can be harmful.  So responsible parents lock their kids in strait-jackets in the basement?  John Dehlin is just doing the best he can with the hand life dealt him (which happens to involve growing up a committed Mormon).  Sometimes, it’s a pretty crappy hand (like the majority of hands out there).  But I think he plays it pretty well.  

          • Richard of Norway

            That started out to be a pretty stupid, cliché-filled comment but your last two sentences turned it around. I generally like what you post so I hope this was just a hiccup.

          • Hermes

            I can be stupid too, always.  I like John Dehlin.  I think he is a stand-up guy.  I just wanted to stick up for him.

          • Hermes

            By “too” I meant “in addition to being smart (insightful, whatever good thing you want to say).”  I was not referring to you, Richard!

  15. Megan Reply

    I probably missed how this idea came about, but I think it’s hilarious – and the splooshing noises added a lovely ambiance!

    I thought it was interesting that you touched on raising kids outside the church. My husband and I left when our oldest was… (quick mental math) six, the other two were four and two, so essentially they were raised utterly outside the church – or any organized religion. I talked to a friend who was trying to leave and she was truly terrified at the thought of losing that rigid structure for child-rearing. She had totally absorbed that corrosive idea that without the church and its teachings all teenagers rebel, get pregnant, take drugs, end up alone in the gutter or in prison etc etc. It was so sad to see how little credit she gave herself and her instincts for what was best for her kids – and even more sad to see how little trust she had (in the abstract) in those same bright, wonderful children! Me? No fear at all, in fact I was relieved.

    The thing is, raising children outside of the gospel with its set of responses for every situation (worried? pray. Confused? pray. Afraid? Ummm… pray! Also, read the scriptures) is so much better because it allows for adaptation, change to a changing situation or to a child who doesn’t fit the perfect Mormon mold.

    My oldest? Self-raising child (for which we smugly congratulated ourselves until child 2 came along). She punished herself, felt guilty for her small mistakes, (without any prompting on my part – I don’t like guilt as a parenting tool) loved the world and felt the world loved her. My second? Her first word was ‘no!’ and her second was ‘MINE!!’ She was born tightly wound, proud, stubborn, and with a deep delight in pushing boundaries and finding out for herself why ‘don’t touch the hot stove’ is not a random rule but a practical guide to avoiding a painful experience! The ‘Mormon’ way would have, possibly, damaged the oldest by encouraging her both in her tendency towards feeling guilt and by also pandering to her innate smugness (fortunately she has a fantastic sense of humour which has mitigated both these things!). It would certainly have damaged the second by ranking her as a rebel who was listening to Satan.

    Without that structure we as parents had the responsibility, but really the opportunity, to adapt our parenting approach – sometimes on a daily basis – to give our kids what they needed at that particular moment. It also let the kids learn that adaptation is GOOD, that there isn’t a single right answer for all situations, that mistakes can be made, tidied up after, and learned from.

    Proof of the pudding – three kids raised outside the church, who went through a horrific life-stress at a terribly vulnerable time (aged 10, 12 and 14) and who are intelligent, ambitious, loving, ethical, generous… (no trust me, I’m their mum, I’m totally unbiased). I’m most proud of the fact that all three of them live, as much as possible, without fear. They see the world as a wonderful place and go out looking for new experiences and interesting people. They live in such a big universe – I have to think that the one they would have inherited from a strict TBM upbringing would have been so small and dry in comparison.

  16. Ubik1967 Reply

    Zilpha and John,

    Separating from the church can be a very lonely experiense. Conversations with existing friends and family members becomes even more shallow and uncomfortable. Letting us listen in on your tub conversation was a real pleasure. Although the relationship is one way only, it has great value to me.

    I love your honest dialog – its like a breath of fresh air.

    This is my favorite episode (except for the Zilpha’s interview where I fell in love with Zilpha and her beautiful voice for awhile 🙂 – and I have listened to them all.

    My wife and I have a bunch of kids and John’s comments on the consequences of raising them in the church hit home with me – timely and appreciated.

    I would enjoy hearing you expanding your thoughts beyond the world of mormonism. 

    – Thanks

  17. Ubik1967 Reply

    Zilpha and John,

    Separating from the church can be a very lonely experiense. Conversations with existing friends and family members becomes even more shallow and uncomfortable. Letting us listen in on your tub conversation was a real pleasure. Although the relationship is one way only, it has great value to me.

    I love your honest dialog – its like a breath of fresh air.

    This is my favorite episode (except for the Zilpha’s interview where I fell in love with Zilpha and her beautiful voice for awhile 🙂 – and I have listened to them all.

    My wife and I have a bunch of kids and John’s comments on the consequences of raising them in the church hit home with me – timely and appreciated.

    I would enjoy hearing you expanding your thoughts beyond the world of mormonism. 

    – Thanks

  18. Anonymous Reply

    Zilpha is hotter then I imagined. Her voice doesn’t conjure up images of a really hot chick.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Is that your idea of a compliment? Because you need to work on your skills a bit.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Lol. Sorry john. Didn’t mean anything by it. Both of you r really talented. Love the show and keep up the good work.!

        • SK Reply

          Dude what a dick comment to make both of them!  You lucky John doesn’t come kick your ignorant a$$.

  19. Jason Reply

    This was a fantastic podcast. Thanks for opening up to the ME community about some personal feelings and considerations as  you left the church.

  20. brandt Reply

    I found this to be a very refreshing diversion from the mind-blowingly heavy stuff in the George Miller podcasts (not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy those either).  I think that the candid dialogue, and being able to really get to know you as people is why I keep coming back and listening.

    It’s quite interesting to hear someone on the “other” side of the Mormon coin speak so candidly about why they’re out, and why they left.  Amazingly enough, the same passion that you both speak with concerning why you’re out is the way that I feel about staying in. 

    I think the most interesting thing to follow about Mormonism culturally is going to be the effect the internet and social media have had on Mormonism.  The church went from trying to stifle off all conferences and symposia to the internet allowing those types of things to flourish, from pro-LDS conferences to NOM meet-ups to ex-Mormon conferences, and everything in between.  I wonder if these types of groups are going to broaden the traditional view of Mormonism, or if it’s going to drive the mainstream church more conservative, more selective, and more orthodox.

    The water splashing at the end was a nice touch to ending the podcast.

    • Anonymous Reply

      The evolution of the church over the next few years will be one of the best shows on earth.

      I think, however, that there is a big difference between “allowing’ and not being able to stop. I think it is a case of the latter. It’s like saying the enlightenment was allowed. As the sharing of ideas increases the veil is getting thinner between reality and illusion. And the church lives on the other side of that veil.

      • brandt Reply

        You are correct, Re: Allowing vs. not being able to stop.  I think the church has realized that there’s nothing it can do, so why not utilize the mediums that are out there (FB, Youtube, Podcasts, etc).

        But give the church credit – whether by outside influences (the internet and the availability of information) or internal influences, the church is expanding it’s information.  I just saw a blog post today about the church historical archive starting to open up to online researchers (http://churchhistorycatalog.ld​s.org/).  It won’t appease everyone, but its a step in the right direction.

        • Sionpiensa Reply

          Is an illusion to see change or expect it, only change is the increase of orthodoxy. I agree with John, the Church is harmful to raise children.
          Church is using media in a control damage way. church has more money to put more podcast etc, but has no further content than what it has (unless major revelation comes-something unlikely to happen-), while in this side of the force (not the dark one) the topics related on why mormonism is what it is are difficult to end. 

  21. Effpxjvq Reply

    I turned it off once.  I was mistaken to think that the “tub” was metaphorical.  I just could not wrap my mind around the concept of recording a podcast in the tub.  It was distracting and even a little disconcerting.  I freely admit that I do not understand the idea behind recording a podcast in the tub.  I am not condemning you for it; I just do not understand it.  It seems so weird, odd.  I turned it off because my first reaction was one of disgust.  I wondered how low the podcast had sunk, no pun intended.
    I did come back, and I am really glad that I did.  This was a fantastic discussion, and easily illustrates why I love Mormon Expression.  Many times this podcast has left me understanding that there are others our there just like me who after spending most of my life as a diehard Latter-day Saint, ended up outside of the fire, with a great big hole in my heart to boot.John, I want to thank you and especially some of the panelists who have been there since the start for what you have done.  I hope this podcast lives on for many years to come.Please take this in the right spirit, but stick to doing what you do best.  Leave out the antics, like bathtubs and nudity, and just keep it real.  Not meant as a criticism, just a respectful request.  Mormon Expression is still my favorite podcast, and easily the most relatable.  Lately something seems to be a bit off.  Maybe it is time to circle the wagons and revisit the original ideals.
    Even so, John and Zilpha and all of the panelists, old and new, thank you.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Zilpha and I had planned to record a podcast and we were both tired. We were trying to decide to either go to the tub or record a podcast. We did both. It is sometimes hard to have a real conversation in studio with all of the mikes. This was an attempt to move away from that a bit. From the comments I would guess that it worked for some and didn’t work for others.

      As to the podcast being off, you would have to elaborate more. Sometimes that is just an effect of the season. We are always experimenting with new things to try to keep it fresh. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Also, most of the people who started the podcast have experienced changes in their life. So none of us are really the same people.

      But I would love to hear how you think things can be improved.

      • RJ Reply

        Just like the nudist podcast, my immediate reaction was to be put off for a second or so, but ended up respecting you two for your fearless attitude and complete openness. The message I get is, “this is us, take or leave it”. I think that is an important element of your success. To me this is the epitome of, “keeping it real”.

  22. Ozpoof Reply

    What you both said I agree with totally.

    Love the reference to breast implants given UT loves ’em big….. apparently.

  23. Fred W. Anson Reply

    Listened. Loved it.  

    Clever format and fascinating discussion. 
    If you guys lived in the OC you would be our new best friends. 

    (I’m assuming, of course, that you love Baseball and Museums as much as we do)


  24. Redsea Cortez Reply

    Thank you for all work you do
    I waiting every week for your podcast
    Love them and helping me and many more here in sweden

  25. Scottie Reply

    Last night, DW and I turned on the TV, which the kids left on Nick.  George Lopez was on, and there were 2 older ladies talking about sex.  My wife was mortified that they would actually say the word sex on Nick at Night.  I told her that maybe we weren’t doing the kids any favors by completely abolishing the word sex.  That maybe it’s healthy for them to hear it and not be so damned afraid of it.

    In a similar light, I love how you 2 aren’t afraid to express your sexuality.  It seems as though the Mormon paradigm wants to hide all traces that sex ever happens, and this was your own little way of letting the world know that taking a bath together is okay!  /Applaud!

  26. Anonymous Reply

    John, you are the first person that I have heard state the same view that I have on the Church’s Prop 8 position. I don’t agree with the Church’s stance on the issue either, but I do agree with their right to take the position and action that they did. Thanks for having the courage to say it (I know that you can still get bashed from both sides for taking that stance). I thought it was hilarious that Tom Hanks called the Church “Unamerican” for the position that they took on Prop 8. What is more American than excercising your right to take a stand on a ballot initiative? (Whether you are a Church or an individual.) I realize that many members and non-members felt divided loyalties over the issue, but they have as much right as the Church does to support or not support Prop 8, including devoting their time, talents, and means to their respective views.

  27. Anonymous Reply

    John and Zilpha, I share a lot of your same views on the current state of the LDS Church. I think this may be largely due to the fact that we both live in Utah County, hence the bleach-blonde, boob job, Bishop’s wife reference 🙂

    I’m a soon-to-be parent, fairly active in the Church, live in the UC, and I have been having a crisis of faith over the past few years. My current thoughts are that I am going to raise my children in the Church. I’ve thought about a lot of different options, but I’ve realized that, as a resident of Utah County and an ethnic Mormon, my child is going to be exposed to Mormonism no matter what. I think the institution itself can be a good foundation for a child (and a nuclear family) in many ways (despite its hang-ups). I just hope that I can be the kind of parent who can help my children recognize some of those hang-ups and encourage them to form their own opinions on what those hang-ups mean. I guess, in conclusion, I’m currently taking the ethnic approach to Mormonism (i.e., “it’s my tribe, so I’ll just grin and tolerate it . . .”).

    I think I heard you say on another podcast that you are your family attend a Universalist church. Just curious, have you found this to be an adequate replacement (from a familial standpoint) for the LDS Church? If not, what else have you done to “replace” the Church in your family life (if anything)? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  28. Anonymous Reply

    John and Zilpha, I would love to hear you both do a podcast on how you had to redefine your marriage after leaving the Church. I found that to be a very intersting topic.

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