Episode 180: John Dehlin

82 comments on “Episode 180: John Dehlin”

  1. Richard of Norway Reply

    6′ 6″ ?!?! That’s pretty damn impressive.

    I love John Dehlin and this was a great podcast. I just wonder if this should have been a Voices episode? Nonetheless, great to hear from the horses mouth. He does a lot of good and gets a lot of flack for it. I wish him nothing but the best!

    FWIW (not much) add my name for a vote to remove the prayers and testimonies from MS events. I would love to attend but that stuff would just plain piss me off. Well, at least the prayers. Keep testimonies in if you change the name from “bearing testimony” to just plain “sharing”. Again, just my opinion.

    PS. I love singing hymns. My favorite hymn is HIGH ON A MOUNTAIN TOP. 🙂

    • Jared Anderson Reply

      I can’t remember the terminology decided on for the sharing of stories; but I don’t think it has been called “testimonies” beyond the first conference or two as I understand. What “pisses you off” about praying Richard? It seems pretty widespread human impulse, and I see benefit to encouraging those who associate with Mormonism to pray in the way that seems most genuine and meaningful to them. It has been wonderful to hear all the jazzed up hymns at the conferences. 🙂 

      • Richard of Norway Reply

        What “pisses me off” is not praying in general, but praying to some pretend god that nobody at the conference agrees about. Praying to “Heavenly Father and/or Mother” ? What’s that all about? Praying at religious conferences (where everybody basically agrees on who/what they are praying to) is one thing, but including prayer at a “party” conference is imo just silly.

        Can anybody explain the point of this to me?

        If God is as Dehlin confessed to believe in this podcast, then it sounds more like an entity than a being with gender. Why would we pretend to assign gender to him/her/it and pray to it as “father” or “mother” or both? It just seems completely ridiculous to me.

        Of course, if it were a conference for a religion that purported belief in such a being, that would be totally fine. It’s just that I understood these conferences to be something that would appeal to what we “disaffected” (or “liberal”) Mormons have in common. Prayer is most certainly not one of them.

        • Hermes Reply

          I suspect what really pisses Richard off is just human nature, reacting with bared teeth to an unexpected presence (or in this case, absence).  We often get angry over change.  Prayer reminds some of us of all that is wrong with the world (all the unexpected change, including some personal trauma).  For others, it is just a few words.  Personally, I don’t mind prayers.

      • Anonymous Reply

        For me, any kind of public prayer is the opposite of meaningful. I am actually not against prayer and I think it is valuable for an individual. But only if it is a personal experience. I think public prayer is always done as a ostentatious display.

        I would gently admonish my MS friends to drop the practice. Or at least, seriously ask themselves why they are doing it. Surely it is not to invoke the favor of the gods. 😉

        • Anonymous Reply

          Hey John, I understand your view on public prayers, (even if I do not agree with it). But I do not see any consistency, especially when you tell everyone on your podcasts that you love singing LDS hymns (in public). Singing some of these same hymns can also be considered ostentatious as well by some, especially, the hymns that place Joseph Smith on a gold pedestal next to Jesus Christ. Just like bad prayers and testimonies, there are also bad hymns. There is nothing wrong with public prayers or testimonies originated from contrite, honest and humble peolpe. They should not be penalized from being shared with others, just because of the fear of listening to some bad ones once in a while.
          The problem begins when these same prayers and testimonies are used to move an agenda or ideas with the intention of hurting or misguiding people. If the message is good in general, regardless of who they are praying to, what’s the big deal of doing in public? Not everyone prays the same way, Mormons do in Utah!

          Cheers!  

          • Richard of Norway

            I won’t pretend to speak for John but since he and I feel the same way about this issue I will respond for myself.

            For some of us, Hymns are just songs. Nothing more. The music, or melody can be fun to sing! Take the music away and few of us would be interested in chanting the words of the hymns by themself. I enjoy songs about Santa Claus and Frosty but I don’t believe in those guys either. However, I would find it absurd to offer supplication to Santa Claus, and wouldn’t attend a conference where prayer to Santa was any part of it – especially if sincere! 😉

            As for placing JS next to JC in a hymn, to me they’re the same (since I don’t believe in or worship either of them) so I have no problem with that either. Neither John nor I ever said we would gladly sing any hymn, no matter the topic. But certain hymns are fun and harmless. We like singing those.

            The problem begins when these same prayers and testimonies are used to move an agenda or ideas with the intention of hurting or misguiding people.

            That may be a problem for you but that is not the problem we are concerned about.

            If the message is good in general, regardless of who they are praying to, what’s the big deal of doing in public?

            The big deal is doing it in public during a conference where worship offends some of the participants. Prayer is a form of worship, and has little purpose (to some of us) other than supplication to, or asking blessings from, the god(s). It sets the tone and pace for the conference. Some may want to attend a conference where people pray to imaginary figures (like Jesus, Thor or Santa Claus), but I have no interest in that, no matter how “sincere” or kind-hearted the participants are. I get plenty of that from other places (including my own home).

            It’s fine that you don’t agree. Pray all you want in public. Just don’t be surprised when a lot of people that would otherwise be interested in attending, won’t attend a conference where worship towards any form of supreme being (imaginary or otherwise) is involved.

            Why is this so hard for some people to understand???

            How about some of you who defend this practice try to actually answer the question of WHY you think prayer is necessary at these conferences? What does it bring to the conference? How is the conference improved by it? What would be lost by removing it?

            If you don’t mind excluding a chunk of your potential audience, by all means keep it up! It’s your choice. We are simply asking you to consider why you do it.

            Cheers! 🙂

      • Chino_Blanco Reply

        My sense is that public prayer in mixed company is divisive and something that conference and event organizers ought not encourage.  Riffing on hymns sounds like fun but isn’t an apt comparison to prayer.  Or are you suggesting that you’d enjoy listening to an exmo/atheist like me offering up some “jazzed up” benediction at one of your shindigs?  Of course, I would never agree to do that because making people uncomfortable for no good reason strikes me as sophomoric and self-marginalizing.

        Anyway, there are plenty of “widespread human impulses” that are only appropriately expressed in specific contexts.      

    • Guest Reply

      I think if you can’t find it in you to accept prayers at the conferences than you shouldn’t attend. While everyone is invited the goal is for people of all stages of Mormonism to come together, and that requires compromise and the ability to reach out to others who may or may not be where you are.

      • Richard of Norway Reply

        Don’t worry. I won’t be attending any conferences as long as prayer or any form of pretend “worship” is part of the agenda.

        By chance, could you explain why prayer is part of the conference in the first place? (I know JD attempted to explain in the podcast but I didn’t get it.)

        With prayer etc on the agenda it just seems like a competing religion to me.

        • Guest Reply

          My point is that I don’t need to explain it to you and make you ok with it – not everything is going to be about you and your view at these conferences – I suppose we could reduce everything to the lowest common denominator but I think it’s better for us all to suffer a little discomfort on behalf of someone else there so that we truly have a big tent.

          • Richard of Norway

            So… What you’re saying is that a significant number of people there would miss having public prayers in the meetings? WTF? What ever. I dare you to take a poll about it. The question would have to be something like “Would you miss having an opening/closing prayer in MS events? If so, would the absence of prayer offend you and/or prevent you from attending or enjoying the event?”

            Some of you MS peeps seem totally hung up on being exactly like Mormons but wearing an intellectual hat. I call it hypocritical, but to each his/her own. I don’t need superficial prayers to imaginary gods in order to have a good time at a conference.

            At least we have Larson and his team to keep the rest of us occupied with some secular fun.

          • Richard of Norway

            I don’t need to explain it to you and make you ok with it – not everything is going to be about you and your view at these conferences

            I can’t believe you had the audacity and arrogance to post something like that to a fragile person struggling on the level that I am. Please don’t ever post to me again, you heartless guttersnipe.

          • Megan von Ackermann

            Guttersnipe is such an underused insult. I just made my first resolution of the year – I’m going to call someone a guttersnipe before the week is out.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Here is my take on the prayer issue. I have limited time and many things competing for my time. I generally don’t bother attending anything that begins with a prayer. It says so much about their world view that it allows me to quickly prioritize my time.

        Sorry John D. (and I have told him this before) but as long as MS events have prayers I simply won’t attend. That doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t attend. There are probably many who need this. Bully for them. But it is not for me.

        • Jared Anderson Reply

          So you would really eschew a multi-hour event if it includes 4 minutes of prayers? What about seeing prayer as meditation? Would you avoid a meeting if there is 2 minutes of group silence for introspection? 

    • Anonymous Reply

      It wasn’t a voices episode because it was more about John’s vision for MS than it was about the man himself.

      • Richard of Norway Reply

        I guess that makes sense. You guys did a great job! I really enjoyed this and sympathize even more with what all of you (ME & MS teams) do. I may not like every aspect of every thing but I fully endorse Dehlin and support the Open Stories vision. Here’s to MormonPalooza 2012!

  2. Jason Reply

    I’ve always loved the Graphics you guys do.  This was a great conversation.  I’ve met John several times and he is a wonderful person, full of integrity, honesty, openness, and compassion.  I sometimes wonder where the Open Stories Foundation is going though, and I liked the way John L. pressed John D. on its purpose, and the reality of it.  I found it interesting John D. saying that it may die out in a generation or two.  I think that is what keeps the church going.  The story, the belief, the heritage, the “knowledge” and “testimony” that is passed down.  I’m not sure how the OSF can match that. John D. made a great point that the “we” are in the majority of baptized Mormons, but if we shelter our kids from all the crap in Mormonism, there wont be any anger, there wont be any journey, and the culture and heritage (good and bad) that we all share, will dissipate.  Does this make any sense?  It’s like 4:30 in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. Anyway, sure do love all you guys do John & Zilpha.  Oh, and which Scotch do you prefer?

  3. Hermes Reply

    Meaning is contextual rather than absolute.  There is no meaning without context.  Believers in monotheist religion call the meaning in every context God.  Other people call it something else (if they refer to it deliberately at all).  As long as there is life, there will be contexts that have meaning.

    So we are all believers.

  4. Odell Campbell Reply

    I am an Ex-Mormon who is
    critical of John Dehlin”s approach. I would add that I have no hatred for
    him in anyway.

    I am critical because I
    believe he misleads people into believing that a person can be an “uncorrelated”
    Mormon and remain a member in good standing (or accepted) by LDS church
    leadership and family by rejecting current LDS doctrinal and historical
    foundational claims.

    I think it is harmful to
    represent to people that they can reject the “First Vision” story, priesthood
    restoration, temple endowment teachings, tithing, prophetic leadership, etc,
    and still remain a member in good standing.

    The experience I have seen
    is that once a member no longer believes such teachings, she or he is disciplined
    by the LDS church.

    Further, I see John Dehlin
    advocating a grass roots approaching in carving out a place for non-believers
    within in the LDS church.  The LDS Church leadership will never allow this to
    happen. It is a top down authoritative institution which wants to control
    Mormonism in every way and sees people like Dehlin and his group out of their
    control and direction, and thus a danger.

    Dehlin, but misleading
    people in such a way, exposes them to continual harm and danger.  He would be doing them a real favor by
    telling them that they don’t they have a right to define Mormonism and still be
    a member of the LDS Church. 

    I believe that energy would
    be better used to teach people that it is okay to leave and that leaving the LDS Church is not the end of the world.  Yes, leaving the LDS Church has many negative consequences many
    of them caused by how the LDS Church teaches its members to treat
    apostates.  But in the end, peace comes
    from belonging in a group where you feel accepted and safe.

    I
    A greater good would come when LDS Church members knew so many good apostates that the stigma of leaving would go away.

     am appalled when Dehlin
    goes to a remote location at the invitation of one of his group hosts a
    conference, then seems surprised that said person’s membership is in jeopardy. 

    I have come to see Dehlin
    as an enabler telling people that its okay to remain Mormon, instead of leaving
    an abusive institution. 

    • Hermes Reply

      When overzealous LDS bully people, the fault lies with the bullies, not the bullied.  Blame the COB.

      Some of us victims confront the bully.  Some of us are better off leaving him alone.  The choice is personal.  We each set our own terms for confrontation or avoidance.  If John wants to confront the institutional church with its own tactics, that is his right: no one is forcing other people to follow him, to join him, to be interviewed by him, or to affiliate him in any way at all.  Caveat emptor (or in this case, auditor).

      Maybe you think I would be better off coming entirely clean to all my TBM family and friends, refusing to have anything to do with the church.  On the large scale, you could be right: the more of us leave altogether, the more of our acquaintances will stop and wonder.  But what is good on the large scale is not always good on the small scale.  I am not willing to sacrifice my relationship with LDS friends and family here and now for projected (imaginary) social benefits for other apostates all over the world.  Also, I actually believe that I derive some personal benefit from participating in the church.  (I have a calling with the local bishop’s storehouse.  It is not ideal, but it lets me do something I can believe in, at least a little bit, and it gives me a point of contact with family and friends that I otherwise would not have.  They listen to me as a human being because they see me caring and participating in their church community in ways that they find meaningful.  I do it for them, and for me, because I love them.  If I cut them off on principle, because it is the “right” thing to do, then they will have all the more reason to do the same to me.)

      I think every person is responsible for his or her own life, in or out of Mormonism.  Inevitably, our control is imperfect: for starters, we don’t get to decide where we are born or who raises us.  But at some point, we have to own our own decisions and be prepared to live with them.  If we are disgruntled Mormons, we have to decide on our own rather to stay (and to what extent) or to leave.  Some are actually better off staying.  I have met them.  I do not think that they are victims.  In a cosmic sense, you could see them as victims–like Jews rounded up by the Nazis or inheritors of some debilitating physical defect.  But the defining aspect of victimhood, in my mind, is not what you do, but how you do it.  If you go to the gas chambers like Victor Frankl, then you are not a victim.  If you endure deafness, dumbness, and blindness like Helen Keller, then you are not a victim.  If you endure LDS Mormonism (definitely a lesser evil in this triumvirate) like John Dehlin, then you are not a victim.  Do whatever you feel is best for yourself, and prepare to embrace the consequences (whatever they are): don’t be a victim. 

      At this point, I have made enough overtures to the LDS community that my relationships are pretty safe: if the church decides to crack down on me, the people I care about will know that I did all I could for them (and for the church), and I will walk away better for having hung on longer.  My marriage is intact.  My family is on-board with me as an upstanding apostate: they talk to me seriously about my views; we have meaningful conversations instead of shouting matches.  My LDS friends know that I value them as people even if we don’t agree about everything (including all things religious).  Things might not look so rosy if I had broken with the church abruptly back in the day (as part of me wanted to).  I have found wisdom in John’s approach.  For me, the Big Tent has been a blessing.    

      • Odell Reply

        Hermes:

        First of all, I respect your choices, even if I don’t agree with them.  My comments were about Dehlin advocating a less than honest approach.

        I suspect that you remain in a closet regarding your true opinions and beliefs with your family and neighbors. 

        Because I took a different path than the one advocated by Dehlin, I can use my own name here, Odell Campbell.

        I have empowered myself by cutting off the influence of the LDS Church in my life. Dehlin, in my opinion, teaches as less than honest approach which either prolongs the pain of leaving or positions people for the pain of realizing that the so-called “non-correlated” Mormon is an enemy to the Mormon Church and as such is subject to church discipline.

        • Rick Reply

          I love this discussion, Hermes AND Odell…there are points you both make that I can relate to.  To preface my comments, I am a  BIC, RM, temple-married (now divorced to first wife), former bishopric and high councilor.  I had my faith crisis about 15 years ago, but formally resigned two years ago after watching the documentary “8:The Mormon Proposition,” and decided I wanted my name off the list (as much as I could) of that institution.  Today I consider myself ignostic and a naturalist.

          Having said that, I will say that I LOVE what both Johns are doing.  They are meeting needs of different personality types, and people at different stages of their spiritual journey.  I certainly have no statistics to back this up, but I would venture to say that John Dehlin’s work has resulted in more people leaving the church than John Larsen’s.  I don’t see that as something to cheer about (well, maybe a little…), but instead, view it as a reality that a friendly, respectful approach to the church and an open-tent concept allows certain members the ability to have a place in their doubting, faith-crisis time that is accepting, and allows a soft place to land. 

          That is also not to say that J. Larsen’s approach is wrong — far from it!  I resonate much more with his work, and can actually listen to most of his podcasts, etc, than I can Dehlin’s.  I just think the reality is that the church has taught its members that people that are angry are not to be given the same credence as those that sound nice and friendly.  And let’s be honest, many of us ARE angry!  Dehlin’s approach is akin to “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” and I think that applies particularly to the “must have smile on your face” mormons.

          I also think that faith narratives and mythologies are helpful to many people.  Yes, I will confess to a belief that the more educated tend to be less religious, and I think there is reason for that, but we have millennia of superstitious stories to correct.  That is hard to do when part of most of those stories include the belief that opposing teachings are of the devil — not an easy pill to swallow for staunch, traditionally faithful generations of families.

          It comes down to that good ole “line upon line” precept that actually seems to make sense in the opposing direction as much as the one we grew up with, and I think John Dehlin is doing that well, whether he knows it or not!  

        • Spotify John Reply

          Odell, MS is John D. interviewing people – not him preaching his ideology. And, curiously, all of the so called “uncorrelated” types who apparently live a nuanced approach to Mormonism are still un-disciplined.

    • DuzTruthMatter Reply

      Odell:    I feel that what you have stated in your post is exactly what I was feeling like when I responded to the Marxist professor interview over on MS.  I may not have stated it so delicately as you over there and as a result, I was excommunicated from the “Church of John Dehlin of latter-Day Intellectuals”.  I am a black and white thinker on religion because I was taught to be from as far back as I can remember by the mormon church.

      Having said all that, I respect what John D. is doing.  I listen to all of his podcasts, except some of the psycho-social/psycho-sexual ones.  The main thing that caused me to be disillusioned with the mormon church is that I like to see all sides of issues and I didn’t like a lot of things I saw on the “other” side.  I still like to see all sides of issues and I see John D’s podcasts as a vehicle for that.

      I, like you, could never take his approach to staying in the church with a disbelief in many of the major doctrines.  I do, however, fully support John D’s right to take whatever approach he feels “called” to do and hope he continues with Mormon Stories for the educational and entertainment value they provide.

    • James Woods Reply

      On the contrary, I think John is very open and honest about the possible repercussions of revealing your faith crisis to others, especially church leaders. And anyone who’s been a church member for any length of time knows that unfaithful views are completely unwelcome in church settings.

      • Odell Campbell Reply

        I disagree.  Why else would he implore people to write pro-church messages only on his website when one of his hosts gets threatened with church discipline.

        There is NO BIG TENT in the LDS Church.  Making people think so is harmful.

        • James Woods Reply

          I’d be very surprised if any action was actually taken in the case you’re referring to. And I’m guessing that the person in question would disagree with your opinion of John Dehlin. In fact, I’d be interested if you could find a single person who felt deceived by John Dehlin into revealing their uncorrelated Mormonism in compromising circumstances.

          I’d suggest reading the “Be Careful What You Tell Others” section of John’s article in the link below:

          http://staylds.com/docs/HowToStay.html 

          Honestly, once they take away your calling and temple recommend, there isn’t much else they can do. Certainly, the September Six incident didn’t turn out very well for the church, and I think you’d be hard pressed to come up with a single case of someone in the recent past being excommunicated simply for unbelief. 

          Of course the church is afraid of uncorrelated Mormonism, but John and others operate very effectively outside the auspices of the church. Sure the church may eventually take a heavy-handed approach to try to shield currently believing members from the influence of so-called “Big Tent Mormonism”, but at this point it would do them no good in terms of tithing revenue, and I believe that’s the reason they’ve mostly turned a blind eye towards John’s work thus far. The fact is, John has many allies both inside and outside of the church, and taking action against him would likely take a heavy toll. Obviously, the church is first and foremost a self-interested organization.

          • Jean Bodie

            Lyndon Lamborn for one. He did much less than John D when he was called in for his ‘hearing’. He took in a tape recorder and wrote the book Standing for Something More.

          • James Woods

            Lyndon Lamborn was excommunicated for refusing to keep quiet about his views in church, not simply for unbelief.

        • Karen Fifield Reply

          The purpose in calling an event “big tent Mormonism” was in the subtitle “We love you, we accept you, we claim you.”  I think there is room for every stage of faith, or lack of faith.  This tent can fit everyone that WANTS to be there.

          • Anonymous

            But I think the point he is making is that the tent can grow, but it can’t stay in the LDS Church the more it grows, because the leadership wouldn’t allow it.

  5. Will D Reply

    Yeah the approach to the MS meetings just seems confused to me, bearing testimony, singing hymns, praying.  But nothing but respect for JD himself and what he’s been through and how he responds to it.  He really puts others first and tries to be as helpful as possible.  I just wonder with how his views have evolved over the years what the future of the MS meetings and communities will be say 10 years from now.   

    • Jared Anderson Reply

      I agree it will be fascinating to see where Open Stories is in 10 years. It will also be interesting to see where religion in general is in 10 years! We are at a watershed moment of change I think.

    • Karen Fifield Reply

      I really think you can’t know until you go….  I felt better at a MS conference that I did in all my years in the church.  It wasn’t what I would call the ‘spirit’  😉  but an amazing feeling of belonging.  For someone who has just lost their identity as a mormon, family, faith, and eternal salvation according to Mormon Doctrine, feeling like you belong to something this inspiring is like air.

      • Rick Robison Reply

        I WOULD call that the “spirit,” Karen.  I think mormons have done a great job of defining what the spirit is to them…but frankly, I think it is often a powerful feeling of being accepted and okay as I am.  That’s what you found there, it seems.

  6. Anonymous Reply

    Only an hour?  I recommend you do what the “On Being” podcast does; release both an edited and full interview.

    • Alan Reply

      I agree.  It’s hard to do a guest like John Dehlin justice in one hour.  I realize you may have had constraints, but too much to cover imo.

      • mark smith Reply

        I would in general disagree.  The hour long format is much more listener friendly.  You can always revisit a similar topic later.  But 5 hour marathon length podcast can really generate topic burnout.

      • Anonymous Reply

        The interview ended because I had nothing else to ask on the topic. What things do you think we missed?

  7. Anonymous Reply

    Nice interview/discussion to all of you.  To Dehlin – I enjoyed “getting to know” you and your views better.  As someone who has cringed in discomfort during opening prayers and songs during broadcasted MS events, I appreciated the time you spent explaining your reasoning.  I feel that you do a good job at reaching out to many, but I also feel like extremes always get marginalized at some level.  True believers will always be uncomfortable in an environment like MS, and atheists, like myself, will not appreciate opening prayers and “hold on to Jesus” musical numbers.

    Be well, Dehlin, and may you continue to reach out to those who need it.

  8. Alan Reply

    I know he said he doesn’t have time to read responses, but I wanted to mention a couple of things about John’s “Why People Leave” presentation.  It was my wife who first located it online, while I was still TBM, ca. 2007.  I’m sorry to say that I rebuffed her invitations to watch it with her, and I was quite defensive generally when she would bring up things.  

    The presentation was very affirming for her and helped her understand that she wasn’t going crazy, which was particularly helpful since her husband was not exactly with her at that point. Now, she’s at the point where I usually ask if she wants to listen to ME or MS podcasts with me.  Generally speaking, she’s sort of past that transitional period and has mainly moved on, whereas I’m still sorting stuff out, although we’re definitely both out now. 

  9. Andrew S Reply

    I listened to this podcast on my way to Houston (something I really should’ve started doing a long time ago: podcasts make long drives very manageable) and enjoyed it a ton. I vacillate between the position John Larsen had earlier in the episode (about not really understanding what ex/post/former/whatever Mormons have in common when you take all the [various] things that bother us) and another position of just thinking it would be really fun to have a Mormon social gathering (Mormonpalooza) with people who understand how weird it is growing up Mormon. 

  10. Elder Vader Reply

    I just want to express gratitude for what it is you guys do.  These podcasts have been a huge help for me, both to sort out the landscape I’ve been treading my whole life, and also to help me know that I’m not going crazy.  When I first stumbled on my faith crisis, I wanted to do something like track down all the various important people (church history buffs, and the various personalities) and John Dehlin had already been doing it for a few years.  Thank you thank you thank you.  

    And Mormon Expression.  Such a well done podcast.  Good sound quality.  Entertaining.  Not afraid to come out swinging when the topic warrants it.  I’ve been party to some of the board discussions that may have spawned this particular conversation.  I just want to say that you guys are doing great.  Thanks.  

  11. James Reply

    I believe Mormon Stories has reached people that no earlier Mormon outsider community would have been able to reach. As a believer, my first online exposure to ‘uncorrelated’ Mormonism was RFM, and I had no problem dismissing it as sputtering, angry hatred. It reinforced my view that all ex-Mormons were pissed off, could see nothing good in the church or its members, and more-or-less had an axe to grind. Though I have transitioned to atheism, I still think the angry, over-the-top portion of ex-Mormonism does more harm than good in reinforcing faithful Mormon’s extremely negative views of those who leave the church, and even helps contribute to the prejudice felt from TBM family members when someone decides to distance themselves from the church. 
    Unfortunately, it remains the case that many who reveal their faith crises to family and friends have to work to dispel the fear that they have become raging apostates hell-bent on destroying the ‘work of God.’  In my personal experience, most people who leave the church actually have a much more moderate view (basically that the church works for some people and for others it does not), but for so long the angry vocal minority completely drowned them out online. To this day, RFM (and now CARM, heaven forbid) are the only non-Mormon sites that show up on the first page of a Google search of the word “mormon”, and I look forward to a day when the likes of Mormon Expressions, Mormon Think, and Mormon Stories are able to break into the ranks of the most trafficked Mormon-themed sites. God knows I wish I had been exposed earlier than I was.

    Mormon Stories and its success are living proof of the efficacy of the more tempered approach to Mormon issues.

  12. Anonymous Reply

    I really enjoyed this. I’ve admired John for some time, believing his personality and views align with mine. But, lately I’ve been perplexed with how he endorses, and almost gushes over, people that are steeped in disillusionment, and that argue illogically to stay there. I understand his attitude and position more now.

  13. sophshepherd Reply

    This exmormon has seen the charge that John Dehlin is “a wolf in sheeps clothing” by TBM friends and family and I’ve witnessed my fellow exmos charge him with ridiculous fiery allegations to the contrary. I completely have first hand experience with knowing the necessity of his work. I have experienced what John Dehlins goal is to the letter. I would not have ever entertained anything that was not LDS. His podcasts gave me the information I was seeking that was safe. While that eventually led me out of the church it wasn’t his podcasts that nudged me out at all! I had to stand for my own beliefs at the end of the day. I love Mormon Stories and will forever support its existence!   

  14. Anonymous Reply

    Thanks for coming clean, John.  It helps explain the awkward comments and questions in your own interviews.

  15. Rick Robison Reply

    My 2 cents on the prayer issue…I understand the hesitation and discomfort of a public prayer to an exmo/NOM,whateverMo. The very process involves a humbling (humiliating?) posture of recognizing a superior being — the kneeling, head-bowing, closed eyes…and to some, it represents a controlling, punishing, guilt-inducing organization — something “we” are trying to get away from. So I sympathize with the “no prayer” position.

    But I also understand that the MoSto folks are (typically) in a “no-man’s land” place — one that is tender and sensitive to emotions that are hurtful, and generally confusing. There are certain rituals they have grown up with that represent a comfortable, trusted place…and that involves a prayer. It’s like a TBM going to a church where most attendees are dressed in jeans and teeshirts…it doesn’t feel “sacred” to them. It’s just part of their cultural norms that feel comfortable.

    For a while after I graduated from the church, I insisted that we not have blessings on the food at my house. By damn, it was MY house, and we were going to live MY lifestyle there. I dug my heels in, and that was the way it was.

    Years later, and becoming comfortable in my ignosticism, I’ve changed. Whenever I have a few Mormons over, and I know they would prefer to have a blessing, I ask if they would like to pray…and they usually do, even if to bless that nice wine I’m about to imbibe with the meal — to “nourish and strengthen my body!” Why not?! It really means nothing to me, and it shows respect for them.

    So I guess I look at the MoSto gatherings this way — if it allows some to come and strecth their hearts and minds to new possibilities, and it gives them support, I am fine to give them a minute of my time for them to say words that help them feel warm and fuzzy.

    Hell, I’ll even say AMEN at the end too!

    • Anonymous Reply

      I don’t understand why anyone, including those who favor prayer as a practice, would want to have group prayers at a MS conference.  Mormons (of any variety) don’t expect, seek or initiate prayers in any and all gatherings they attend.  Many would be uncomfortable having a prayer in certain contexts.  Even as a believer, I was at times uncomfortable with group prayers that didn’t seem to belong in the context.

      Setting aside those who would rather not have a prayer in such a setting (which I would assume includes many among both the atheist and believer camps), you must then address the issue of prayer form.  The Mormon form of prayer has a very particular pattern and tone.  Many would balk or shy away from other forms, while the standard Mormon form is potentially offending to others for not referencing a Mother in Heaven, etc.

      Which brings me to the question: Would anyone really be upset or uncomfortable by the absence of a prayer?  And if so, would they outnumber those who would be upset or uncomfortable with a prayer?  If the idea is to create a big tent, then my estimation is that the biggest MS tent will be one with no group prayers at conferences.  It’s unlikely to upset believers, and won’t by definition exclude non-believers. We can and should be building community and support that is not by default excluding a major portion of the “uncorrelated” Mormon crowd.  While not everyone from any sub-segment will feel excluded or included based on the existence or absence of the practice, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to larger impact on the rest.

      • Rick Robison Reply

        I like that, Gale3.  I think it makes sense, that since this seems to be a hot button for many, to simply ask them.  You may be right, and they’ll just vote it down.  But at least then, “they” are the ones that have determined what works for them, not any “in charge.”  That alone puts everybody on an equal playing field…and that’s an important step away from traditional Mormon hierarchy!. 

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      I don’t mind prayer for individuals, as a family, or even prayer in small groups. We had the missionaries over for Christmas dinner and I asked one of them to bless the food (which we normally don’t do). When they returned for New Years dinner, I did the same thing. That is fine.

      But prayer at a conference like this.. Well, John Larson said it best:

      For me, any kind of public prayer is the opposite of meaningful. I am actually not against prayer and I think it is valuable for an individual. But only if it is a personal experience. I think public prayer is always done as a ostentatious display.

      I would gently admonish my MS friends to drop the practice. Or at least, seriously ask themselves why they are doing it. Surely it is not to invoke the favor of the gods. 😉

      So the question to ask is why do it at all? Sounded to me like the only reason was “because some transitioning Mormons find it familiar”… Which is not really a valid reason for offending (presumably) half the crowd. Is it? What is gained? Does it outweigh the loss? I can’t imagine so, but would gladly accept any evidence to the contrary.

  16. Oz Poof Reply

    John (Dehlin), please don’t restrict participation at your meetings. White males who are not part of the church leadership just did what they were told too. I’m a gay white male. If I were at a meeting I would be closeted and banned from certain participation. Treat people as individuals please.

  17. Jacob Brown Reply

    I really don’t understand the problem people have with prayers at MS conferences. I’m a post-Mormon atheist. What’s the big deal? I guess growing up in the South I am used to people praying all around me all the time. Heck, my kids pray at every meal that daddy will come back to church. I guess you just get over it after a while. 🙂

    John Dehlin is amazing and I really appreciate the work he does.

    • Chino_Blanco Reply

      I really don’t understand why it’s so hard to comprehend that we’re a self-selected crowd here.  We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t currently/formerly take religion somewhat seriously.  Go figure that we roll our eyes at superficial displays of religiosity.  Maybe instead of suggesting that folks just “get over it” maybe you could acknowledge that, yeah, for those of us who take/took religion seriously,  “religiosity” is a poor substitute.

  18. Anonymous Reply

    John Dehlin,
    You make an old man proud. I consider you my brother. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I (we) have ended up where I (we) needed to be.”

    Shalom.

  19. Anonymous Reply

    After reading the link recommended by James Woods, (the 33 page treatise on how to stay in the Mormon Church) I was amazed that anyone would advocate that people should tip-toe around in the church to maintain a relationship with an organization that had such a malevolent reputation with “shaky” members.   I think this sort of advice, if followed, would tend to push a “lost soul” to the brink of insanity.
     
    From what I have read on this page and in others like it, I am of the opinion that there is enough common ground in the disaffected Mormon community that some unity in a belief system would be possible.  My suggestion then is instead of spending so much time, effort, clandestine sneakiness, and ultimate heartbreak, why don’t you guys start your own church.
     
    I would ask that you get new members by attraction rather than promotion, that way you will end up with real believers and not those who fall for a good sales pitch or are there because Mom and Dad are members.  I might even be tempted to give organized religion another shot, although like Groucho, I’ve always been a little suspicious of any group that would have me as a member.  

    • James Woods Reply

      Sadly, many people have to choose between “tip-toeing around” or losing their marriages and families. I think the long-term StayLds approach is mostly geared toward those who feel they have no other choice. It’s important to realize that not everyone’s situation and background is the same as our own, and thus we shouldn’t expect their path to be either.

  20. Toby Mack Reply

    why can’t I fast-forward these episodes?????? I accidently navigated off this page and now have to listen to the entire half hour I already have? W.T.F?

    • Chino_Blanco Reply

      There’s always the download option.  Not my ballgame, so this ain’t me playin’ ump, but comments like this crack me up.  Shades of “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy…”  Seriously, show some respect.  These kids bust ass to entertain and inform us and they deserve better than your whinging.

  21. Anonymous Reply

    Dehlin claims to be Temple worthy? He fails the first question: Do you believe in God the father ….etc and he fails the ‘supporting the brethren’ part, and doesn’t believe in Satan?

    No way that he is a Temple worthy person who just doesn’t pay tithing.

  22. Jared Anderson Reply

    John D, what you shared about staying on the inside to help others made me think of this beautiful text, The Infinite Compassion of the Bodhisattva: 

    A Bodhisattva resolves: I take upon myself the burden of all suffering. I am resolved to do so, I will endure it. I do not turn or run away, do not tremble, am not terrified, nor afraid, do not turn back or despond. And why? At all costs I must bear the burdens of all beings. In that I do not follow my own inclinations. I have made the vow to save all beings. All beings I must set free. The whole world of living beings I must rescue, from the terrors of birth, of old age, of sickness, of death and rebirth, of all kinds of moral offence, of all states of woe, of the whole cycle of birth-and-death, of the jungle of false views, of the loss of wholesome dharmas, of the concomitants of ignorance, from all these terrors I must rescue all beings. . . . I walk so that the kingdom of unsurpassed cognition is built up for all beings. My endeavours do not merely aim at my own deliverance. For with the help of the boat of the thought of all-knowledge, I must rescue all these beings from the stream of Samsara, which is so difficult to cross, I must pull them back from the great precipice, I must free them from all calamities, I must ferry them across the stream of Samsara. I myself must grapple with the whole mass of suffering of all beings. To the limit of my endurance I will experience in all the states of woe, found in any world system, all the abodes of suffering. And I must not cheat all beings out of my store of merit, I am resolved to abide in each single state of woe for numberless aeons; and so I will help all beings to freedom, in all the states of woe that may be found in any world system whatsoever.And why? Because it is surely better that I alone should be in pain than that all these beings should fall into the states of woe. There I must give myself away as a pawn through which the whole world is redeemed from the terrors of the hells, of animal birth, of the world of Yama, and with this my own body I must experience, for the sake of all beings, the whole mass of all painful feelings. And on behalf of all beings I give surety for all beings, and in doing so I speak truthfully, am trustworthy, and do not go back on my word. I must not abandon all beings.And why? There has arisen in me the will to win all-knowledge, with all beings for its object, that is to say, for the purpose of setting free the entire world of beings. And I have not set out for the supreme enlightenment from a desire for delights, not because I hope to experience the delights of the five-sense qualities, or because I wish to indulge in the pleasures of the senses. And I do not pursue the course of a Bodhisattva in order to achieve the array of delights that can be found in the various worlds of sense-desire.And why? Truly no delights are all these delights of the world. All this indulging in the pleasures of the senses belongs to the sphere of Mara.

  23. Jared Anderson Reply

    And as for what we have all in common, I think that connection to Mormon heritage and a desire for good living is enough. I think there is great potential in focusing on the good living aspect. And having fun and parties. 🙂

  24. Anonymous Reply

    I’m a little late on this discussion, but I listened to this podcast immediately after it came out. Yes, I do have an opinion on the whole prayer thing. First, I was hoping that someone here could tell me how many people actually like praying at these events? I mean, to me, the only people that would actually pray and mean it would probably be the ones that are being directly iconoclastic towards their previous experience in Mormonism. I guess there are people that are coming out that would love to go directly against the grain and think they’re proving something, but as far as I’m concerned, praying in this manner is just an attempt at therapy and is fleeting. The rest are just faking it to be nice. But yes, you can also count me among the people that will NOT be coming to any event with prayer. I had to pray so much on my mission when I didn’t believe and/or mean it that it simply repulses me now. It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure many people here can relate. Get rid of that and I’ll be cool though. Oh, and thanks for this podcast. I’ve been helped more than I can express from you guys and I started out with John Dehlin. One major point that I’ve realized, and this has been expressed by others, is that I do also feel like Mormon Stories has gotten soft and is pussyfooting around a lot. Whether this is to cater to more guests or to avoid discipline, I don’t know, but I liked the earlier podcasts better. I do still love Mormon Stories though. The only podcasts that I just simply CANNOT stand are the Mormon Matters ones. !!!!! I know what he’s trying to do, but I feel like it’s not as honest as a result of directly trying to cater to the demographic that wasn’t included as an audience through Mormon Expressions or Mormon Stories. As a result, I actually think that Dan is lying just to make his own podcasts in a new arena. I’m sorry, I just wanted to throw that out there into the ether of the internet. You can take it or leave it. I don’t know if I’ll have the balls to post that on his site. I don’t go there anymore though. At the same time, he was stunningly brilliant with the Understanding Atheism series. I must have listened to those episodes at least 10 times each. Work is boring and Randy is my all-time favorite person to listen to. So yeah, just a heads up. Thanks, donation coming!

  25. Kevin McBride Reply

    I enjoyed the podcast. Larsen, you and Zilpha do an awesome job (I’m a big fan on Zilpha’s wonderful comments…she does great…props to Zilpha).

    I disagree with comments that are made that a person can’t stay in the church even if they don’t believe all things, nor do I think people who work to stay despite doubts they wrestle with are fake, dishonest, or do it because they have no other choice.

    On the contrary, it is a huge choice to stay and try to make the efforts. And there are no single reasons for why different people do it…but it makes sense to me that if some find benefits, it’s worth the costs, even though it’s not easy or always enjoyable.

    I am not dishonest for getting up in the morning and going to work, even though I sometimes dislike work or find it stressful. I do it despite those things because I want a paycheck, and it is worth it for that reason.

    Same with my desire to stay in the church, I want the benefits and am willing to work for it. I also totally understand if some others don’t get enough benefit out of it and walk away. It comes down to what we want and are willing to work for what we want.

    Perhaps some day in the future I will learn it won’t work, as it seems John D has stopped hoping for that in his life, but I honestly don’t feel that way yet, so I choose to keep working at staying.

    I’m also with Larsen on the public prayer thing. It also seems uncomfortable to me to claim “Open” Mormonism, and then close it to white straight males, although I can understand why they try to do that, but I don’t agree with that approach.

  26. Anonymous Reply

     I
    just would like to say that I love John D. for the awesome podcasts he has
    managed to produce through these years, I have met him in one of the MS
    Conferences and I have to say that it is tough to walk on thin ice and
    especially please everyone on all sides of the Mormon spectrum.

    I also find childish when grown up
    men/ women find themselves “pissed off” about attending a MS
    conference just because there will be prayers or testimonies. The beauty of
    these conferences to “me” is the simple fact that I am able to meet with
    other Mormons/ ex-Mormons and still share respect, love and understanding for
    each other’s journeys and experiences, so if someone wants to share a prayer or
    testimony, what’s the big deal? What I really care, just as Jared Anderson
    mentioned before, is not only the 2 minutes that it takes to listen to a
    prayer, (… and I think I can handle that, even if I may not agree with it),
    but to cast all the good away that comes from attending these wonderful
    conferences and feeling part of this big Mormon tent, I say it again, for me,
    it is just plain silly! My only piece of advice here is that, if you cannot
    control your “anger” towards anything Mormon related, maybe this
    should be a good sign that you should not attend any MS Conferences. I chose to
    go and I love it! Many others both from inside and outside The Church feel the
    same.

    Otherwise,
    just change the name of Mormon Expression to “I don’t believe in ANYTHING
    Expression Podcast, or “Atheism Expression”, or even better … how
    about “PISSED OFF” Expression Podcast! Bingo! Just because you pray or share
    testimonies, it does not make you a supporter or believer in the LDS church! I
    see a lot of anger out there, some “very justifiable”, but one thing I
    cannot handle, it is the idea of stripping everything culturally Mormon from
    what John D. is doing. If you chose to do so, then please, remove the name
    Mormon from your podcasts and maybe adopt one of the names mentioned above
    and just let John D. be John D.

    I also would like to thank John L. and Zilpha
    for many wonderful podcasts and especially for their honesty and objectivity when
    interviewing their guests.

    Cheers!

    I
    just would like to say that I love John D. for the awesome podcasts he has
    managed to produce through these years, I have met him in one of the MS
    Conferences and I have to say that it is tough to walk on thin ice and
    especially please everyone on all sides of the Mormon spectrum.

    I also find childish when grown up
    men/ women find themselves “pissed off” about attending a MS
    conference just because there will be prayers or testimonies. The beauty of
    these conferences to “me” is the simple fact that I am able to meet with
    other Mormons/ ex-Mormons and still share respect, love and understanding for
    each other’s journeys and experiences, so if someone wants to share a prayer or
    testimony, what’s the big deal? What I really care, just as Jared Anderson
    mentioned before, is not only the 2 minutes that it takes to listen to a
    prayer, (… and I think I can handle that, even if I may not agree with it),
    but to cast all the good away that comes from attending these wonderful
    conferences and feeling part of this big Mormon tent, I say it again, for me,
    it is just plain silly! My only piece of advice here is that, if you cannot
    control your “anger” towards anything Mormon related, maybe this
    should be a good sign that you should not attend any MS Conferences. I chose to
    go and I love it! Many others both from inside and outside The Church feel the
    same.

    Otherwise,
    just change the name of Mormon Expression to “I don’t believe in ANYTHING
    Expression Podcast, or “Atheism Expression”, or even better … how
    about “PISSED OFF” Expression Podcast! Bingo!
    Just because you pray or share
    testimonies, it does not make you a supporter or believer in the LDS church! I
    see a lot of anger out there, some “very justifiable”, but one thing I
    cannot handle, it is the idea of stripping everything culturally Mormon from
    what John D. is doing. If you chose to do so, then please, remove the name
    Mormon from your podcasts and maybe adopt one of the names mentioned above
    and just let John D. be John D.

    I also would like to thank John L. and Zilpha
    for many wonderful podcasts and especially for their honesty and objectivity when
    interviewing their guests.

    Cheers!

     

     

     I
    just would like to say that I love John D. for the awesome podcasts he has
    managed to produce through these years, I have met him in one of the MS
    Conferences and I have to say that it is tough to walk on thin ice and
    especially please everyone on all sides of the Mormon spectrum.

    I also find childish when grown up
    men/ women find themselves “pissed off” about attending a MS
    conference just because there will be prayers or testimonies. The beauty of
    these conferences to “me” is the simple fact that I am able to meet with
    other Mormons/ ex-Mormons and still share respect, love and understanding for
    each other’s journeys and experiences, so if someone wants to share a prayer or
    testimony, what’s the big deal? What I really care, just as Jared Anderson
    mentioned before, is not only the 2 minutes that it takes to listen to a
    prayer, (… and I think I can handle that, even if I may not agree with it),
    but to cast all the good away that comes from attending these wonderful
    conferences and feeling part of this big Mormon tent, I say it again, for me,
    it is just plain silly! My only piece of advice here is that, if you cannot
    control your “anger” towards anything Mormon related, maybe this
    should be a good sign that you should not attend any MS Conferences. I chose to
    go and I love it! Many others both from inside and outside The Church feel the
    same.

    Otherwise,
    just change the name of Mormon Expression to “I don’t believe in ANYTHING
    Expression Podcast, or “Atheism Expression”, or even better … how
    about “PISSED OFF” Expression Podcast! Bingo! Just because you pray or share
    testimonies, it does not make you a supporter or believer in the LDS church! I
    see a lot of anger out there, some “very justifiable”, but one thing I
    cannot handle, it is the idea of stripping everything culturally Mormon from
    what John D. is doing. If you chose to do so, then please, remove the name
    Mormon from your podcasts and maybe adopt one of the names mentioned above
    and just let John D. be John D.

    I also would like to thank John L. and Zilpha
    for many wonderful podcasts and especially for their honesty and objectivity when
    interviewing their guests.

    Cheers!

    I
    just would like to say that I love John D. for the awesome podcasts he has
    managed to produce through these years, I have met him in one of the MS
    Conferences and I have to say that it is tough to walk on thin ice and
    especially please everyone on all sides of the Mormon spectrum.

    I also find childish when grown up
    men/ women find themselves “pissed off” about attending a MS
    conference just because there will be prayers or testimonies. The beauty of
    these conferences to “me” is the simple fact that I am able to meet with
    other Mormons/ ex-Mormons and still share respect, love and understanding for
    each other’s journeys and experiences, so if someone wants to share a prayer or
    testimony, what’s the big deal? What I really care, just as Jared Anderson
    mentioned before, is not only the 2 minutes that it takes to listen to a
    prayer, (… and I think I can handle that, even if I may not agree with it),
    but to cast all the good away that comes from attending these wonderful
    conferences and feeling part of this big Mormon tent, I say it again, for me,
    it is just plain silly! My only piece of advice here is that, if you cannot
    control your “anger” towards anything Mormon related, maybe this
    should be a good sign that you should not attend any MS Conferences. I chose to
    go and I love it! Many others both from inside and outside The Church feel the
    same.

    Otherwise,
    just change the name of Mormon Expression to “I don’t believe in ANYTHING
    Expression Podcast, or “Atheism Expression”, or even better … how
    about “PISSED OFF” Expression Podcast! Bingo!
    Just because you pray or share
    testimonies, it does not make you a supporter or believer in the LDS church! I
    see a lot of anger out there, some “very justifiable”, but one thing I
    cannot handle, it is the idea of stripping everything culturally Mormon from
    what John D. is doing. If you chose to do so, then please, remove the name
    Mormon from your podcasts and maybe adopt one of the names mentioned above
    and just let John D. be John D.

    I also would like to thank John L. and Zilpha
    for many wonderful podcasts and especially for their honesty and objectivity when
    interviewing their guests.

    Cheers!

     

     

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      one thing I cannot handle, it is the idea of stripping everything culturally Mormon from what John D. is doing. If you chose to do so, then please, remove the name Mormon from your podcasts and maybe adopt one of the names mentioned above and just let John D. be John D. 

      So, removing prayer from the conferences is “stripping everything culturally Mormon from what John D is doing”???

      There’s a LOT more to Mormonism than prayer, buddy. How about you let John and Zilpha call Mormon Expression what they want? Mormon Expression is a perfect name. John and Zilpha aren’t “pissed off” any more than you are. And they seldom talk about Atheism or what ever else you were suggesting. This is a podcast about Mormonism. Mormon Expression is a perfect name.

      John D and MS can be exactly who they want and do what they want. They can choose to ignore the suggestions given here, or listen to them. These are, after all, only suggestions. Apparently you don’t care for them, but others might find the suggestions useful. Do what you like.

      Cheers,
      Rich

  27. Anonymous Reply

    Hey guys, sorry for the quadruple post! No repetition intended, … just rushing a bit and running out of time!

    Cheers!

  28. Anonymous Reply

    “John and Zilpha aren’t “pissed off” any more than you are”

    First of all, I never said that! I admire both of them. The anger here comes from YOU! … and I was addressing your “Pissed off” little attitute, since you “pretended” to be responding for John L. I am just amazed on how narrow minded you are, first to speak on John L.’s behalf, …  and he does not need you to do that by the way, and second, your anger is just plain silly! I am just laughing at your selfish, childish and disrespectul behavior.

    That’s all! 

    Have a wonderful day! … if you can actually have one. … Well at least try!

    Cheers!

  29. Anonymous Reply

    Regarding public opening prayers at Mormon Stories support community meetings:

    For me the imposition of public prayer is the subtle form of misappropriation it asserts.

    In effect, it says that the group’s common values and goals need validation by a not-commonly held (outside) supernatural authority.

    This is offensive to secularists because they constantly contend with the deeply ingrained, often unconscious, bigoted religious attitude that a person cannot be moral without God, including themselves.
     
    It seems that religious people can be as blind to this prejudice as many whites are blind to the implicit racism that still pervades American society.

    Still, rituals are effective for affirming and focusing a group’s shared values, purposes, and identity.  And indeed, rituals, if they are living open forms, can do much to negotiate and develop increasingly inclusive values.  

    So why not keep the Mormon Stories support group rituals planted in the COMMON GROUND of living, breathing earthy humanity. 

    Collectively they should be clever enough top adapt or invent ritual forms that don’t require a metaphysical scaffolding.  After all, they’re intent is not to replace the Church.

    Catholic and Episcopal services have these short “intermissions” during which people are invited to turn to their neighbors and “pass the peace.”  I know some find this awkward – but it is a moment where the whole Priest-dictated metaphysical stuff gets set aside and people connect with each other directly.  That seems to be a good form to emulate and expand.

  30. Anonymous Reply

    There is a voice in numbers. Your dialogue of a combined annual gathering of like minds could take your movements to a broader  level.  Your effot in conscious awareness is commendable.  Thank you for taking a stand and letting the chips fall where they may for the emotional stability of humanity.  Thank God for the teachings of a Christ real or unreal.  His concepts make us enjoy a love and peace we may not have found without him.  Keep touching peoples lives with universal concepts that reach the heart and ring truth to the souls of many who have been damaged by false concepts.

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