Episode 218: The Ex-Mormons Come to Dinner

14 comments on “Episode 218: The Ex-Mormons Come to Dinner”

  1. Richard of Norway Reply

    Excellent discussion. Lots to think about. Wish I could have joined in. You guys did a great job!

    One thing I want to correct (which some of you tried to do) is Cody’s (?) false notion that clinical depression is something that anybody should be able to fix by themselves. That is regular depression, not clinical. I was recently diagnosed with clinical depression and my psychiatrist explained it to me this way: Consider it a disease, like cancer or diabetes, or a serious allergy (one that might kill you if not treated).

    A lot of the things we (who are diagnosed with clinical depression) do, are not us, they are the disease. When I lie awake at night and can’t sleep because of all the negative thoughts in my head, and I consider how everybody around me would be much better off if I were dead – that is not a rational mind speaking, it is the disease. When I am at work and start shaking during a meeting and feeling like I might scream, and the only way to avoid punching somebody is to leave the room immediately – that is not me, it is the disease.

    The very best way to “cure” the disease (or put it at bay) is through proper treatment, which often includes medication and counseling.

    Sure, after I have this under control, and feel like my life is completely MINE and not the disease, then I may be able to gradually stop taking the medication and stop the counseling. But this could take years and will almost certainly take months.

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

      I agree Richard, completely.

      I can sort of speak to this from the other side. I had every last reason in my life to be depressed – major loss, and an enormous stress that went on for years – but I wasn’t depressed. I was terribly sad, I was often horribly burdened, but I knew what the symptoms of clinical depression are and I did not have that particular disease. If depression is a choice then I should have had it, because I sure as hell wasn’t choosing to be happy.

      I think it’s really, really important to speak up about things like depression, illnesses that don’t come with a set of external symptoms that people can see and understand. They are very real, they have very powerful physical and emotional effects, and they are not the fault of the person with the disease.

      Since going through a profound experience like leaving Mormonism can, if someone already has the physiological tendencies, trigger clinical depression, empathy and a willingness to listen and understand are really vital in our community.

      I’m sure Cody was not intending to be judgmental, but using language like ‘choice’ and talking about depression as though it were something to believe or disbelieve in (which is rather like saying you don’t believe in cancer) is not only unhelpful but can be very hurtful.

    • sonya_d Reply

      Thank you for commenting on this, Richard, and sharing your experience with depression. I think some of this idea that depression is a choice and can be cured on one’s own is part of that American western stoicism and is also very prevalent in the Mormon church, but is not particularly useful to a lot of people. Research has shown that therapy can be just as helpful as medication, and sometimes both together are necessary. But telling other people to just get over it is not very helpful, and diminishes others’ experiences who have tried to overcome it on their own and failed.

  2. ChicagoOG Reply

    Welcome back! Mormon Expression NEEDS to exist. I am now a sustaining member….and happy to cough up some tithing! I needed the ME fix this am and was overjoyed at seeing the posted podcast. I found myself throwing up during the interview with Mr. Diety and D.Wotherspoon on Mormon Stories awhile back – I realized how much I missed the snark that goes on here. Thanks to John and Zilpha and all of the contributing staff that makes this happen. I announced last week to my bishop that I needed to be released and would be sending my letter of resignation. I thought that I would feel glum and morose…but I did not…I told my wife that I wanted to do heel clicks up and down the parking lot. I have served in some major leadership callings over the years and have a lot of friends in the church. I have also known for over 11 years that the church is not true. Christoper Hitchens (may he rest in peace) gave me the inspiration to transcend this religion…..to show the people that you continue to be a “good person” and live productive, compassionate, moral lives….he said it is, “living above and beyond the beliefs which bind you”. I am no longer a slave. Hitchens and the other horseman have shaped my thinking as I have left the faith and continue move on. I agree with the comment on science…it is awesome and awe inspiring. Many thanks once again for coming back. I love the dialogue…thank you.

  3. John Brennan Reply

    All right, no more sucking at John’s teet. I’ve been listening since 2009 – the very beginning, and the thread of sanity Mormon Expression provided over these last few years has been invaluable to me. I live in Oregon, so I haven’t been able to participate in any get-togethers, but I was on an episode of pesquisas mormonas a while back. I support your mission, and have just made a donation – hey, it’s the end of the year, tax time’s a comin’!

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

      Pay it forward if you want to by being part of the online community as well! Not all of us are in Utah, so it’s great to see people joining in, adding their voices, and being there for each other.

  4. David Clark Reply


    I’m very curious about why you have chosen to start a new community, rather than try and funnel ex-Mormons into pre-existing communities. Given your goals of providing some sort of ethical and social support roles, it seems that a Unitarian-Universalist congregation would fit the bill for the most part. Why not just avoid the struggle of forming a new community, when it seems you can get most of what you want by supporting an existing community.

    Please don’t take this as criticism, I’m not trying to talk you out of it, I genuinely want to know. I’m not Unitarian-Universalist, don’t live in Utah, and I’m not your target audience. I don’t have horse in this race. Again, not a critique, just a question.

    • Kris Fielding Reply

      It was touched on a bit in the podcast about the UU church and how it still smacks of religion and blind obedience to some people. Not to speak for John, but I have tried them and overall it’s okay but it seems silly, in my opinion, to have these chants and rites but no one really believe in it. Also, I didn’t like their politics so I don’t feel like I would fit in. I think that Mormon culture and the church experience creates a certain feeling so other churches just don’t have the same draw to ex-Mormons. My family doesn’t attend any church right now, but if there was a Living Community near us we would definitely be there. I think it appeals to many ex-Mos to mirror that LDS social experience without all the baggage.

    • Jean Bodie Reply

      David, when you have lost trust in an organization it is really hard to trust another. I know who I can trust – nobody; not even myself at times.
      Joining another church that has some organization to it usually means trusting again. I can be led on my own terms and listening to peoples’ opinions on podcasts is very non-committal and helps me sift through the emotions as they ebb and flow.
      If I lived in Utah, I would be at the events created by this secular community of people who get those things about me, because I love them and love being with them. They help me to feel normal and not like damaged goods that need to be fixed.
      John and Zilpha; not just John, this is a joint effort between the genders, know what the online people need and want because they are on the boards reading them.
      Does this help to answer your question?

  5. Heather_ME Reply

    I’m going to have to be the voice of dissent here.

    My life was definitely messed up by Mormonism. If I hadn’t been wrapped up in religious turmoil in my early adult years, I would be in a much different place in life.

    But, I could have been born into an abusive home. I could have been born with a mental or physical handicap. I could have been born into Islam. I could have been brutally sexually abused for most of my youth. There are a million things that affect the lives of every single person on this planet. Just because we happened to be born into a weird culture with an absurd mythology doesn’t mean we’re some special category of victim. Life is life. It’s full of junk. Everyone has their particular wheelbarrow full. Mormonism just so happens to be a part of what is in our wheelbarrows. If we weren’t “dealing” with being ex-Mormon, we’d be dealing with something else.

    Also, I think a little perspective is enormously helpful. Compared to a child born into the slums of India, my life is cake. So it behooves me to “count my many blessings” and not focus on the rather insignificant bad things that have happened in my life, Mormonism included.

  6. Tim Grover Reply

    Nothing to do with the podcast, it was great, but I’ve been listening to some back episodes and I really miss Tom! Could someone who knows Tom let him know that he’s missed and that I hopes he’s doing well?

  7. numbersnumbers Reply

    Happy to contribute! First time I’ve ever donated to a web venture such as this, but am more than happy to do so. Should have started a long time ago, but I’ve repented.

    I think Mormon Expression may have lost a good deal of listenership and influence after the regular shows stopped. Not sure what the plans are on that front, but I can certainly understand the commitment that is required to keep this thing going.

  8. Pingback: The Mo Hub | Episode 218: The Ex-Mormons Come to Dinner

  9. Travis Humphrey Reply

    “Reconstruct painstakingly every moral.” John, I totally related to this comment. Leaving the church, I went into a binge of reading ethics and philosophy. I really felt the weight of personal responsibility; the intense need to take ownership of why I believe and treat others the way I do. It was as if my previous reason for everything was ‘because I’m a mormon and that’s what mormons do.’ But now it has been much more about a more substantive reason for my behavior. It has also required an incredible amount of discussion with others who believe differently, incldnig active mormons. For me, there is a higher degree of personal intentionality to life post-mormon. Thanks for the podcast. I am now a donating member.

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