Episode 38: Stages of Faith Part 2: The Fifth Stage and What it Means

Brian, Logan and John Dehlin join John Larsen in a further discussion about the Fowler Stages of Faith focusing on stage 5. Listen to Episode 25 for the introduction to the Fowler Stages of Faith.

Chaim Potok’s: The Choosen

Episode 38

75 comments on “Episode 38: Stages of Faith Part 2: The Fifth Stage and What it Means”

  1. badseed Reply

    This was a great podcast…the kind I want my my Stage 3 wife to listen to. I am still working through my anger and disillusionment but am migrating towards a more open view of Mormonism and of belief in general. This podcast covers a number of interesting thoughts and issues related to that process. It’s a ‘must listen to’ for all Mormons IMO.

    Good to hear from John Dehlin. again. I am constantly befuddled by his continued desire to bridge the gap between mainstream Church and the disaffected. It is a thankless job at best and personally I find continued interaction with the Church still somewhat irritating. But I guess it’s good that someone is doing it.

    The idea of wrestling the sole ownership of the term Mormon away from the ‘vocal minority’ is an interesting idea. That may be difficult because I suspect that there are more in the Church that think like the ‘vocal minority’ than John D thinks but then again I could be wrong. I actually hope I am.

    Good job guys.

  2. badseed Reply

    This was a great podcast…the kind I want my my Stage 3 wife to listen to. I am still working through my anger and disillusionment but am migrating towards a more open view of Mormonism and of belief in general. This podcast covers a number of interesting thoughts and issues related to that process. It’s a ‘must listen to’ for all Mormons IMO.

    Good to hear from John Dehlin. again. I am constantly befuddled by his continued desire to bridge the gap between mainstream Church and the disaffected. It is a thankless job at best and personally I find continued interaction with the Church still somewhat irritating. But I guess it’s good that someone is doing it.

    The idea of wrestling the sole ownership of the term Mormon away from the ‘vocal minority’ is an interesting idea. That may be difficult because I suspect that there are more in the Church that think like the ‘vocal minority’ than John D thinks but then again I could be wrong. I actually hope I am.

    Good job guys.

  3. Ella Menno Reply

    Thanks so much, guys! I was really wondering what stage 5 looked like since stage 4 is really painful sometimes and I don’t think I could go back to stage 3 as a mormon again. I can also see that there are more stage 5-ers out there than I realized. I really liked the closing challenge to do something that will last. Any suggestions for those of us sitting out here just posting on message boards? Again, thanks a million and keep up the good work.

  4. Ella Menno Reply

    Thanks so much, guys! I was really wondering what stage 5 looked like since stage 4 is really painful sometimes and I don’t think I could go back to stage 3 as a mormon again. I can also see that there are more stage 5-ers out there than I realized. I really liked the closing challenge to do something that will last. Any suggestions for those of us sitting out here just posting on message boards? Again, thanks a million and keep up the good work.

  5. Digital Mayhem Reply

    Thank you again guys this was a empowering podcast; it particularly was beneficial by giving me some tools and examples in moving past my positions (stage 3 and 4) to my interests (stage 5 and 6). I have found much strength in the character of those who are able to move beyond stagnant, painful, and very real positions to empowered, positive, and very real interests.

    Thanks again John and panelists (great to hear from John D again).

  6. Digital Mayhem Reply

    Thank you again guys this was a empowering podcast; it particularly was beneficial by giving me some tools and examples in moving past my positions (stage 3 and 4) to my interests (stage 5 and 6). I have found much strength in the character of those who are able to move beyond stagnant, painful, and very real positions to empowered, positive, and very real interests.

    Thanks again John and panelists (great to hear from John D again).

  7. Brian Reply

    This really turned out nice. It was a great conversation.

    “Any suggestions for those of us sitting out here just posting on message boards?”

    Dive in and be a part of the solution. I truly believe that we receive back as a reflection what we express outward into the world around us, to the people we come in contact with.

    Are you different now? Find a way to look back with charity and love at your life up to this day. Bridge the gap inside and you can help bridge the gap outside with others who might be more traditional. We are still sisters and brothers. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we have.

  8. Brian Reply

    This really turned out nice. It was a great conversation.

    “Any suggestions for those of us sitting out here just posting on message boards?”

    Dive in and be a part of the solution. I truly believe that we receive back as a reflection what we express outward into the world around us, to the people we come in contact with.

    Are you different now? Find a way to look back with charity and love at your life up to this day. Bridge the gap inside and you can help bridge the gap outside with others who might be more traditional. We are still sisters and brothers. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we have.

  9. James Reply

    Brilliant!!!

    The only thing I disagree with is Mr Dehlin needs to do his Maffs!! The activity rate I think is closer to a 70/30 split.

  10. James Reply

    Brilliant!!!

    The only thing I disagree with is Mr Dehlin needs to do his Maffs!! The activity rate I think is closer to a 70/30 split.

  11. Lifelongguy Reply

    Awesome stuff, and entirely enjoyable to hear John Dehlin back on the cyber waves.

  12. Lifelongguy Reply

    Awesome stuff, and entirely enjoyable to hear John Dehlin back on the cyber waves.

  13. Lea Reply

    That was a really great discussion.

    I hope that the Church can move past the black and white thinking and be more inclusive of members like me. When that happens, I have no problem with going back. As it is, I feel that the Church has had a net negative influence on my life and I don’t want that to happen to my children. I don’t want to have to de-program them every time we come home from church. So, for now, I am staying out.

    Thanks, John Dehlin, for giving me further insipration to keep writing on my novel about Mormonism. I was going to tell a bit about the plot, but I don’t want to give away my idea!

  14. Lea Reply

    That was a really great discussion.

    I hope that the Church can move past the black and white thinking and be more inclusive of members like me. When that happens, I have no problem with going back. As it is, I feel that the Church has had a net negative influence on my life and I don’t want that to happen to my children. I don’t want to have to de-program them every time we come home from church. So, for now, I am staying out.

    Thanks, John Dehlin, for giving me further insipration to keep writing on my novel about Mormonism. I was going to tell a bit about the plot, but I don’t want to give away my idea!

  15. Katie L. Reply

    I also really enjoyed the discussion.

    Here’s a question I’ve been working through lately. I have a 3-year-old, and I’m wondering how necessary is it for children to pass through the standard stages? Developmentally, is it possible to help them avoid some of the hard-line, literalistic interpretations of Mormonism? Or will they be damaged if either…

    a)–the narratives they hear at home and the narratives they hear at church are different; or

    b)–they are discouraged from the standard, orthodox approach?

  16. Katie L. Reply

    I also really enjoyed the discussion.

    Here’s a question I’ve been working through lately. I have a 3-year-old, and I’m wondering how necessary is it for children to pass through the standard stages? Developmentally, is it possible to help them avoid some of the hard-line, literalistic interpretations of Mormonism? Or will they be damaged if either…

    a)–the narratives they hear at home and the narratives they hear at church are different; or

    b)–they are discouraged from the standard, orthodox approach?

  17. Aaron Reply

    Great discussion. Thanks for the podcast.

    Although I enjoyed they hypothetical discussion on how those in stage 4 and 5 can find a way to co-exist or cooperate with the church, I just can’t see how its going to happen in my lifetime. How can a person in stages 4-5 thrive in any way with an organization run by those deeply rooted in stage 3 thinking? The only way to cope seems to be for them to find solace on message boards and the netheregions of the internet… not in the pews of the church. The church has been run by extreme black and white thinkers since the beginning. What is going to change that? Even if, as John and others said, we try to take back “Mormonism” and what that means through podcasts, books, other media, etc., if those in charge never change, then Mormonism remains the same. For the most part Mormonism is and always has been a kind of extremist, black and white, true and false way of thinking – from Joseph Smith to Boyd K Packer.

    I really hope I’m wrong. For what its worth, even if we are never able to change Mormonism, podcasts like Mormon Expression and Mormon Stories are invaluable to those like me who are trying to work through this.

  18. Aaron Reply

    Great discussion. Thanks for the podcast.

    Although I enjoyed they hypothetical discussion on how those in stage 4 and 5 can find a way to co-exist or cooperate with the church, I just can’t see how its going to happen in my lifetime. How can a person in stages 4-5 thrive in any way with an organization run by those deeply rooted in stage 3 thinking? The only way to cope seems to be for them to find solace on message boards and the netheregions of the internet… not in the pews of the church. The church has been run by extreme black and white thinkers since the beginning. What is going to change that? Even if, as John and others said, we try to take back “Mormonism” and what that means through podcasts, books, other media, etc., if those in charge never change, then Mormonism remains the same. For the most part Mormonism is and always has been a kind of extremist, black and white, true and false way of thinking – from Joseph Smith to Boyd K Packer.

    I really hope I’m wrong. For what its worth, even if we are never able to change Mormonism, podcasts like Mormon Expression and Mormon Stories are invaluable to those like me who are trying to work through this.

  19. John Dehlin Reply

    Thanks to all of your for your kind words.

    Katie,

    Your question is a really good one…and it’s something that I hope to cover in depth as I bring back the Mormon Stories podcast.

    http://mormonstories.org

    See the front page for my new approach/thinking. Dealing w/ non-traditional faith, mixed-faith marriages and raising children in an unorthodox home are all central to what I hope to explore over the coming year.

    And a BIG thanks to the ME guys for all they do. I heart ME.

    Please stay tuned for that if you can.

  20. John Dehlin Reply

    Thanks to all of your for your kind words.

    Katie,

    Your question is a really good one…and it’s something that I hope to cover in depth as I bring back the Mormon Stories podcast.

    http://mormonstories.org

    See the front page for my new approach/thinking. Dealing w/ non-traditional faith, mixed-faith marriages and raising children in an unorthodox home are all central to what I hope to explore over the coming year.

    And a BIG thanks to the ME guys for all they do. I heart ME.

    Please stay tuned for that if you can.

  21. Pingback: For those who are in the LDS faith struggle | Mormon Stories Podcast

  22. Richard Reply

    This was a really great podcast and gave me a better understanding of stage 5 and I realized that I am starting to fall into this stage more and more.

    I really liked John D. comments on how big the Mormon family really is (Post-Mormons, FLDS, RLDS, LDS, etc.)

    Great Job!

  23. Richard Reply

    This was a really great podcast and gave me a better understanding of stage 5 and I realized that I am starting to fall into this stage more and more.

    I really liked John D. comments on how big the Mormon family really is (Post-Mormons, FLDS, RLDS, LDS, etc.)

    Great Job!

  24. JackUK Reply

    Mormom Expression just gets better and better. Thanks for giving me so much to think about. I’m all for a bigger, more expansive view of Mormonism, there should be room and tolerance for all of us under the Mormon umbrella. I think the brethren at SLC feel handcuffed to the official history but I’m confident things will move on eventually and get healthier. Projects like ME actually make me more optimistic about the future developments of the LDS Church and the Restoration movement overall. Thanks to all of you who took part in this. ME is a really worthwhile project that helps me keep perspective on things.

    Hey John L, it would be great to hear a podcast that included some one from the CoC if you could get some one to take part.

    John D. Great to hear your voice again. Your Mormon Stories kept me sane during my conflict with the Church.I’m still active and the conflict isn’t quite over yet. I still listen to MS often. I haven’t been able to switch my belief off and I feel a connection to the Saviour at Church despite the crazy history of the Restoration.(The Nauvoo Expositor episodes on ME were outstanding; just what the hell was going on in that place in the 1840’s?).

    I think the return of Mormon Stories is great news for all of us, good luck with the new direction…
    Thats enough I’m off to read RSR again.

  25. JackUK Reply

    Mormom Expression just gets better and better. Thanks for giving me so much to think about. I’m all for a bigger, more expansive view of Mormonism, there should be room and tolerance for all of us under the Mormon umbrella. I think the brethren at SLC feel handcuffed to the official history but I’m confident things will move on eventually and get healthier. Projects like ME actually make me more optimistic about the future developments of the LDS Church and the Restoration movement overall. Thanks to all of you who took part in this. ME is a really worthwhile project that helps me keep perspective on things.

    Hey John L, it would be great to hear a podcast that included some one from the CoC if you could get some one to take part.

    John D. Great to hear your voice again. Your Mormon Stories kept me sane during my conflict with the Church.I’m still active and the conflict isn’t quite over yet. I still listen to MS often. I haven’t been able to switch my belief off and I feel a connection to the Saviour at Church despite the crazy history of the Restoration.(The Nauvoo Expositor episodes on ME were outstanding; just what the hell was going on in that place in the 1840’s?).

    I think the return of Mormon Stories is great news for all of us, good luck with the new direction…
    Thats enough I’m off to read RSR again.

  26. Brian Johnston Reply

    RE: Katie’s question on our children and stage development.

    I’ll take a stab at trying to answer. I can’t say that my answer is right, and I am no expert on child development. Fowler stage theory is based on psychological development theory and not theology, so in that regard I would think a young child’s brain just isn’t going to really get the depth of a nuanced faith and paradox. I would guess that has to do with physiological brain chemistry and maturation as well as a psychology the evolves from enough years of practical experience dealing with the world.

    I personally observe that my own children wanted “stories” when they are young and often have a hard time telling the difference between reality and fantasy. Our youngest is 7 years old. I am not a huge fan of pushing the Santa Claus myth too far, and he still asked me a couple times if Santa Clause was real this past x-mas. I would tell him a nuanced answer. He sat there and I could see the gears spinning and grinding in his head as he pondered what I said. I had to finally tell him no, Santa was not real (again, for probably the 6th or 7th time). There was another example recently when he was watching a new kids action drama about kid agents who fight aliens. He came to us and said he was having a hard time because he thought the alien monsters on the TV were real and was a little worried.

    Kids just don’t process information and stories like adults. Not even teenagers are full developed mentally. They don’t just make bad judgments at times, they often really can’t handle complex thought like adults when it comes to actions with serious consequences.

    The real question is how do we as parents give them the stories without feeling dishonest. That’s the million dollar question. I’m not sure there is a single best answer.

    Dr. Fowler makes a point in his book that children don’t totally escape the mythological stories of their culture even if their parents raise them as atheist with nuanced instruction. He also points out that adults he studied that were not exposed as much to myth and story (perhaps their parents wanted to be too honest) did not have the vocabulary and story experience to be able to describe and think about their own faith. Our words allow us to think – sort of in the “1984” George Orwell kind of notion. So giving our children a faith culture helps them in the future to make decisions with the vocabulary and with a reservoir of thought-experience to explore faith and examine if for them self as adults. They may not keep the same faith content (same Church), but it gives them better language and experience to decide what works for them. It gives them something to compare and contrast against I think.

  27. Brian Johnston Reply

    RE: Katie’s question on our children and stage development.

    I’ll take a stab at trying to answer. I can’t say that my answer is right, and I am no expert on child development. Fowler stage theory is based on psychological development theory and not theology, so in that regard I would think a young child’s brain just isn’t going to really get the depth of a nuanced faith and paradox. I would guess that has to do with physiological brain chemistry and maturation as well as a psychology the evolves from enough years of practical experience dealing with the world.

    I personally observe that my own children wanted “stories” when they are young and often have a hard time telling the difference between reality and fantasy. Our youngest is 7 years old. I am not a huge fan of pushing the Santa Claus myth too far, and he still asked me a couple times if Santa Clause was real this past x-mas. I would tell him a nuanced answer. He sat there and I could see the gears spinning and grinding in his head as he pondered what I said. I had to finally tell him no, Santa was not real (again, for probably the 6th or 7th time). There was another example recently when he was watching a new kids action drama about kid agents who fight aliens. He came to us and said he was having a hard time because he thought the alien monsters on the TV were real and was a little worried.

    Kids just don’t process information and stories like adults. Not even teenagers are full developed mentally. They don’t just make bad judgments at times, they often really can’t handle complex thought like adults when it comes to actions with serious consequences.

    The real question is how do we as parents give them the stories without feeling dishonest. That’s the million dollar question. I’m not sure there is a single best answer.

    Dr. Fowler makes a point in his book that children don’t totally escape the mythological stories of their culture even if their parents raise them as atheist with nuanced instruction. He also points out that adults he studied that were not exposed as much to myth and story (perhaps their parents wanted to be too honest) did not have the vocabulary and story experience to be able to describe and think about their own faith. Our words allow us to think – sort of in the “1984” George Orwell kind of notion. So giving our children a faith culture helps them in the future to make decisions with the vocabulary and with a reservoir of thought-experience to explore faith and examine if for them self as adults. They may not keep the same faith content (same Church), but it gives them better language and experience to decide what works for them. It gives them something to compare and contrast against I think.

  28. john b Reply

    Wow. Honestly, I’ve been listening to this podcast from the beginning, have donated, and am a huge fan. I could so feel the progressive thought developing as the podcast moved on. I was riding the wave of your creativity and real desire to build better relations with the greater Mormon Church.

    I have never heard John D speak, or read what he has to say, but after this, I’ve gone and subscribed to his podcast. I think that taking back the term mormon, and expanding its meaning is epic. That was just powerful. I was totally motivated and inspired by the hypothetical reaching out described here. Making it a reality feels inevitable, but a long, long road. Remember, 100 years, all new people…

    Thank you so much.

  29. john b Reply

    Wow. Honestly, I’ve been listening to this podcast from the beginning, have donated, and am a huge fan. I could so feel the progressive thought developing as the podcast moved on. I was riding the wave of your creativity and real desire to build better relations with the greater Mormon Church.

    I have never heard John D speak, or read what he has to say, but after this, I’ve gone and subscribed to his podcast. I think that taking back the term mormon, and expanding its meaning is epic. That was just powerful. I was totally motivated and inspired by the hypothetical reaching out described here. Making it a reality feels inevitable, but a long, long road. Remember, 100 years, all new people…

    Thank you so much.

  30. Chris Justice Reply

    I really appreciate the podcast. I do have a question for John Dehlin. Did I understand you correctly that basically you would say the General Authorities may come accross more dogmatic than they really are? That in real life they would be a lot more understanding of someone who lacks faith in fundamental Mormonism? I find my self in this situation. From what I read and hear, for the most part, they seem to point out that those who lack faith have the problem. And that lack of faith problem is solved by doing more things the church requires you to do. You mentioned you had some personal experience with this issue. I don’t expect you to share that, but any other reference material would be of great help tp me.
    Also, a big thanks to all those who participate on this podcast. I enjoy the discussion and the different perspectives.

  31. Chris Justice Reply

    I really appreciate the podcast. I do have a question for John Dehlin. Did I understand you correctly that basically you would say the General Authorities may come accross more dogmatic than they really are? That in real life they would be a lot more understanding of someone who lacks faith in fundamental Mormonism? I find my self in this situation. From what I read and hear, for the most part, they seem to point out that those who lack faith have the problem. And that lack of faith problem is solved by doing more things the church requires you to do. You mentioned you had some personal experience with this issue. I don’t expect you to share that, but any other reference material would be of great help tp me.
    Also, a big thanks to all those who participate on this podcast. I enjoy the discussion and the different perspectives.

  32. Swearing Elder Reply

    This podcast has been germinating in my brain for the past week. I think I may listen to it again. On the one hand, I want complete and total separation from the LDS Church, which I consider to be built on a stack of lies.

    On the other hand, I know this is totally impossible. My wife, my family, and many of my friends are LDS. I have Mormonism in my DNA, having grown up in the church and having my LDS pioneer ancestors looking over my shoulders.

    Given this nearly unbreakable relationship with Mormonism, I see that I need to create my own relationship with Mormonism. This session was really excellent for helping me think through that…

  33. Swearing Elder Reply

    This podcast has been germinating in my brain for the past week. I think I may listen to it again. On the one hand, I want complete and total separation from the LDS Church, which I consider to be built on a stack of lies.

    On the other hand, I know this is totally impossible. My wife, my family, and many of my friends are LDS. I have Mormonism in my DNA, having grown up in the church and having my LDS pioneer ancestors looking over my shoulders.

    Given this nearly unbreakable relationship with Mormonism, I see that I need to create my own relationship with Mormonism. This session was really excellent for helping me think through that…

  34. John Dehlin Reply

    Chris Justice,

    I was able to spend 1.5 hours w/ a GA a few months ago (you’d definitely recognize his name — that’s all I’ll say here). By the end of the lunch, I was AMAZED by his empathy, candor and knowledge about the tough issues we all face as struggling LDS.

    And I left w/ the clear impression (not from anything specific that he told me…but instead by the candor he was willing to share with me in private) that the way they feel that they have to speak in public (at General Conference, for example) is much more “by the book” and rigid than they are able to speak privately, 1-on-1 with folks.

    I think this is just the reality of leading a large organization.

    Part of me wishes that everyone could see that side of these leaders (not just me). The other part of me realizes that this probably wouldn’t be good for the membership overall (and definitely not for the organization). Just like w/ children (forgive the analogy) — you don’t treat a 5 year old the same way you would treat an 18 year old. That’s just the reality of the situation. That’s why Jesus taught largely in parables, I think.

  35. John Dehlin Reply

    Chris Justice,

    I was able to spend 1.5 hours w/ a GA a few months ago (you’d definitely recognize his name — that’s all I’ll say here). By the end of the lunch, I was AMAZED by his empathy, candor and knowledge about the tough issues we all face as struggling LDS.

    And I left w/ the clear impression (not from anything specific that he told me…but instead by the candor he was willing to share with me in private) that the way they feel that they have to speak in public (at General Conference, for example) is much more “by the book” and rigid than they are able to speak privately, 1-on-1 with folks.

    I think this is just the reality of leading a large organization.

    Part of me wishes that everyone could see that side of these leaders (not just me). The other part of me realizes that this probably wouldn’t be good for the membership overall (and definitely not for the organization). Just like w/ children (forgive the analogy) — you don’t treat a 5 year old the same way you would treat an 18 year old. That’s just the reality of the situation. That’s why Jesus taught largely in parables, I think.

  36. Clay Painter Reply

    Good discussion!

    I struggle with knowing how to make a difference. I am over the anger, the black and white thinking, and the idea that things have to be a certain way. I am a secularist, an atheist, and maybe a deist if you forced me into that category.

    The problem is that I am not sure if the world needs another podcast, support board, etc. etc.

    I would like to be an activist in a compassionate and productive manner but I am left in a quandary about where my niche is.

    “Get active”, is just not productive advice at times. Where do we get active? How do we reach people? How do we wrestle the church for the “Mormon” label.

    I don’t expect you to answer these, but these are questions that we must all struggle with until we find a productive avenue.

  37. Clay Painter Reply

    Good discussion!

    I struggle with knowing how to make a difference. I am over the anger, the black and white thinking, and the idea that things have to be a certain way. I am a secularist, an atheist, and maybe a deist if you forced me into that category.

    The problem is that I am not sure if the world needs another podcast, support board, etc. etc.

    I would like to be an activist in a compassionate and productive manner but I am left in a quandary about where my niche is.

    “Get active”, is just not productive advice at times. Where do we get active? How do we reach people? How do we wrestle the church for the “Mormon” label.

    I don’t expect you to answer these, but these are questions that we must all struggle with until we find a productive avenue.

  38. Heber13 Reply

    I also enjoyed the podcast, and left some comments to Brian on StayLDS.com forum. That has also been a good venue for people to open up with issues and feelings that some of us go through, and get support for it.

    I just struggle now knowing how to reconcile the church teaching out of stage 3 thinking because it is practical to move the church forward (black and white, follow commandments as interpreted by the church leaders or be damned, etc) and then hearing the GAs are more empathetic than we may think.

    If they really understood what struggling members go through, isn’t there a better solution than just keep teaching the Santa Claus version and when people figure out there is a different reality, they are on their own to try to stay in the church and feel they are wrong.

    Without ruining the Santa Claus story for those who benefit from that, can’t you still teach the spirit of the law for others?

  39. NightAvatar Reply

    Very good podcast.

    I have to agree with Heber13’s comment (above mine).

    I think the main problem I have with John’s suggestion in this podcast, is it seems he is taking for granted that Mormonism is a force for good in the world, and something people should embrace whether true or not. (Yeah, I know, not everybody. But still…)

    While there is certainly a lot of good done, there are also far too many harmful practices to ignore for many people.

    Personally, I think it is more important to educate people to the true face of Mormonism, and show both the good and the bad that is caused from membership in the church. Then let people decide for themselves.

    I would guess that only those living in a very strong Mormon environment (Utah, Idaho, perhaps other places) would even benefit from considering living the lie of membership while not believing.

    I would like to hear a Podcast that discusses the affects these lies (fake history) and polarization (one true church, Satan controls the minds of those who leave the church, etc) has on people. In my case, and certainly others, it causes much strain in family relations – especially between me and my TBM wife! She has nearly left me several times over the last couple years (since I revealed my lack of belief). And aside from not believing, I live my life exactly as a Mormon (in morals, ethics, health practices, etc).

  40. NightAvatar Reply

    Very good podcast.

    I have to agree with Heber13’s comment (above mine).

    I think the main problem I have with John’s suggestion in this podcast, is it seems he is taking for granted that Mormonism is a force for good in the world, and something people should embrace whether true or not. (Yeah, I know, not everybody. But still…)

    While there is certainly a lot of good done, there are also far too many harmful practices to ignore for many people.

    Personally, I think it is more important to educate people to the true face of Mormonism, and show both the good and the bad that is caused from membership in the church. Then let people decide for themselves.

    I would guess that only those living in a very strong Mormon environment (Utah, Idaho, perhaps other places) would even benefit from considering living the lie of membership while not believing.

    I would like to hear a Podcast that discusses the affects these lies (fake history) and polarization (one true church, Satan controls the minds of those who leave the church, etc) has on people. In my case, and certainly others, it causes much strain in family relations – especially between me and my TBM wife! She has nearly left me several times over the last couple years (since I revealed my lack of belief). And aside from not believing, I live my life exactly as a Mormon (in morals, ethics, health practices, etc).

  41. NightAvatar Reply

    (continued..)

    I think it is clear that in so many ways, religion poisons the minds of children and has a major affect in the way they view the world when they grow up. Mormonism in particular has so many adverse sides to it (marriage in temple, priesthood holder, worthiness, tithing, judge-mentality, closed-mindedness) that I wonder if the good things it teaches (community, love, goals, charity) are worth it? Especially if one can find those things through a secular channel?

  42. NightAvatar Reply

    (continued..)

    I think it is clear that in so many ways, religion poisons the minds of children and has a major affect in the way they view the world when they grow up. Mormonism in particular has so many adverse sides to it (marriage in temple, priesthood holder, worthiness, tithing, judge-mentality, closed-mindedness) that I wonder if the good things it teaches (community, love, goals, charity) are worth it? Especially if one can find those things through a secular channel?

  43. Brian Johnston Reply

    NightAvatar,

    Can someone find all those community and moral values in a purely secular channel? We can come up with any name we want for it, but in the end, anything that replaces all those good goals loops right back around to looking like a religion and a church again. It ends up doing all those good things, and ends up building up its own baggage. That’s my conclusion.

  44. Brian Johnston Reply

    NightAvatar,

    Can someone find all those community and moral values in a purely secular channel? We can come up with any name we want for it, but in the end, anything that replaces all those good goals loops right back around to looking like a religion and a church again. It ends up doing all those good things, and ends up building up its own baggage. That’s my conclusion.

  45. NightAvatar Reply

    Brian,

    it sounds to me like you live in Utah or a place where the Church is really strong. I wonder how much effort you have put into seeking out a secular organization that offers those things without looking anything like a religion at all. I could name several but since I am based in Europe most likely the ones I am familiar with will not exist where you live. What about 4H or even the Scouting organization? What about Waldorf schools? What about the Red Cross or other such charitable organization, even Free masonry (which requires a belief in god but not One Specific version). In my experience, there are several better choices out there for gaining a sense of love, service and community without having to throw in fairy stories and teach the harmful things the church does.

  46. NightAvatar Reply

    Brian,

    it sounds to me like you live in Utah or a place where the Church is really strong. I wonder how much effort you have put into seeking out a secular organization that offers those things without looking anything like a religion at all. I could name several but since I am based in Europe most likely the ones I am familiar with will not exist where you live. What about 4H or even the Scouting organization? What about Waldorf schools? What about the Red Cross or other such charitable organization, even Free masonry (which requires a belief in god but not One Specific version). In my experience, there are several better choices out there for gaining a sense of love, service and community without having to throw in fairy stories and teach the harmful things the church does.

  47. NightAvatar Reply

    One question I raise in regards to staying in the church when you don’t believe in its claims is: doesn’t that give it even more power? Do we really want the church to continue growing and increasing its influence?
    It seems to me that some of you have not really considered the ill affects the Church has on so many people.
    Maybe that should be the topic of another Podcast?
    I could gladly share first hand experiences from several members in my own Ward.

  48. NightAvatar Reply

    One question I raise in regards to staying in the church when you don’t believe in its claims is: doesn’t that give it even more power? Do we really want the church to continue growing and increasing its influence?
    It seems to me that some of you have not really considered the ill affects the Church has on so many people.
    Maybe that should be the topic of another Podcast?
    I could gladly share first hand experiences from several members in my own Ward.

  49. Brian Johnston Reply

    I lived in Utah for one year while attending BYU when I was 18 years old (in 1988), and I didn’t really fit in very good there at the time. That was my one and only life experience in a high-density, Mormon cultural environment.

    Growing up, I lived in the wonderful, multi-cultural environments of Detroit, Chicago and Washington D.C. where Mormons are a small minority. I served a mission in Germany where I had great experiences meeting people from all over the world, especially from the Middle East and Africa. After that, I served 4 years in the U.S. Army as a Korean Linguist, including a 1 year tour with the 2nd Infantry Division north of Seoul along the border.

    In addition to all that, I have spent some periods of my adult life as an inactive Church member. I can’t really claim a sheltered life as my excuse for my views and for liking the LDS Church 🙂

    When I say that social organizations that teach morals and community values all end up looking like churches to me, I refer to a broad view with characteristics like these:

    1. They are founded by a charismatic leader or leaders that want to shape society based on their ideal visions. This is generally accompanied by some type of mythological view that informs members of important meaning and purpose for living life (aka “fairy stories” as you put it).

    2. They have a hierarchical authority structure that work actively to reinforce the ideals, morals and purposes of the organization.

    3. They recruit new members into their organizations, and have the desire to spread their ideals throughout society.

    4. They have creeds, bylaws, oaths, rules and other such indoctrination tools to reinforce good and moral behavior in the members of their organization.

    5. Members sacrifice their time and resources to build and maintan the organization.

    You gave me some examples of possible “secular” organizations that avoid the traps of religion, but I say they end up being very much the same, often with the same flaws and problems.

    Scouting? To me, that is the church of the outdoors and nature. It teaches morals through the religion of camping and pioneering skills.

    4-H? It’s the church of country life. It teaches morals and community values through the religion of agrarian culture.

    Red Cross? It’s the church of relieving physical suffering. I don’t really know that the Red Cross has a program of teaching moral values, but it does provide opportunities to volunteer in one’s community.

    Free Masonry? Come on … Yeah, I know about Free Masons, but that is really splitting hairs if you want to claim it isn’t a church/religion.

    Lastly, Yes. I do want the LDS Church to continue to grow and increase its influence even though I am not a literal believer in all its truth claims. I really do.

    I have considered the “ill effects” the Church has on some people. I talk to people almost every single day about that topic. I listen to their stories day in and day out. That is what motivates me to try and make a difference, to make the world and the Church a better place.

    Isn’t that comment really a round about way of saying that you feel like the Church has harmed you, you in particular (not all the other “so many people” out there)? I am going to make a leap and guess that you feel protective of all those others out there because you feel hurt. That is a reality, and it does happen. We don’t in fact always live up to the ideals we talk about. Life is like that, often falling short of our expectations.

  50. Brian Johnston Reply

    I lived in Utah for one year while attending BYU when I was 18 years old (in 1988), and I didn’t really fit in very good there at the time. That was my one and only life experience in a high-density, Mormon cultural environment.

    Growing up, I lived in the wonderful, multi-cultural environments of Detroit, Chicago and Washington D.C. where Mormons are a small minority. I served a mission in Germany where I had great experiences meeting people from all over the world, especially from the Middle East and Africa. After that, I served 4 years in the U.S. Army as a Korean Linguist, including a 1 year tour with the 2nd Infantry Division north of Seoul along the border.

    In addition to all that, I have spent some periods of my adult life as an inactive Church member. I can’t really claim a sheltered life as my excuse for my views and for liking the LDS Church 🙂

    When I say that social organizations that teach morals and community values all end up looking like churches to me, I refer to a broad view with characteristics like these:

    1. They are founded by a charismatic leader or leaders that want to shape society based on their ideal visions. This is generally accompanied by some type of mythological view that informs members of important meaning and purpose for living life (aka “fairy stories” as you put it).

    2. They have a hierarchical authority structure that work actively to reinforce the ideals, morals and purposes of the organization.

    3. They recruit new members into their organizations, and have the desire to spread their ideals throughout society.

    4. They have creeds, bylaws, oaths, rules and other such indoctrination tools to reinforce good and moral behavior in the members of their organization.

    5. Members sacrifice their time and resources to build and maintan the organization.

    You gave me some examples of possible “secular” organizations that avoid the traps of religion, but I say they end up being very much the same, often with the same flaws and problems.

    Scouting? To me, that is the church of the outdoors and nature. It teaches morals through the religion of camping and pioneering skills.

    4-H? It’s the church of country life. It teaches morals and community values through the religion of agrarian culture.

    Red Cross? It’s the church of relieving physical suffering. I don’t really know that the Red Cross has a program of teaching moral values, but it does provide opportunities to volunteer in one’s community.

    Free Masonry? Come on … Yeah, I know about Free Masons, but that is really splitting hairs if you want to claim it isn’t a church/religion.

    Lastly, Yes. I do want the LDS Church to continue to grow and increase its influence even though I am not a literal believer in all its truth claims. I really do.

    I have considered the “ill effects” the Church has on some people. I talk to people almost every single day about that topic. I listen to their stories day in and day out. That is what motivates me to try and make a difference, to make the world and the Church a better place.

    Isn’t that comment really a round about way of saying that you feel like the Church has harmed you, you in particular (not all the other “so many people” out there)? I am going to make a leap and guess that you feel protective of all those others out there because you feel hurt. That is a reality, and it does happen. We don’t in fact always live up to the ideals we talk about. Life is like that, often falling short of our expectations.

  51. NightAvatar Reply

    Bryan,

    I wasn’t insinuating you were sheltered but rather that you seemed to lack any motivation to seek out a secular alternative. I guessed that this might be because you live in a place where the church is strong. That is all.

    I don’t know much about the organizations I mentioned, other than Free-Masonry and Waldorf Schools. I mention them because I thought they might be familiar to Americans. We have quite different organizations over here which I must assume most people have never heard of. (IOGT? Juba? etc)

    You seem very determined to place all organizations into a box like religion. I don’t see how any of the organizations I mentioned could fit into your 5-point definition, but you really seem to want them to. A charismatic leader? Trying to shape society? Aren’t they just trying to help? Do they really have some type of mythological view? I am unaware of any.

    According to your 5 points, any large business would qualify as a religion as well – as much as any secular or humanitarian organization. All the points would apply, except for perhaps the mytholigical view, which of course doesn’t apply to any secular oganization either.

    I have no doubt that you and others who care do indeed make the Church a better place. There are many like you who espouse the good traits of love, compassion and charity, which I can clearly see in your posts.

    I think the question here is if secular or humanitarian organizations espouse harmful elements, on the same scale as religious organizations.

    Would you agree that aspects of the church are harmful? If so, I think a discussion (podcast?) of the potential harms in the church (or any dogmatic religion/organization) are acceptible or outweighed by the good. And if the good found in (and done by) the church is possible to find elsewhere, without the harmful elements.

    I can understand your assumption that I have been “harmed” by the church and therefore presume others have been. However, this is NOT the case at all. I have seen too many first hand accounts of HARM (I wish CAPS could emphasize how much) done to families in my own Ward – mine included, yes, but more to my children and TBM wife than myself. Just to go to my nearest neighbors, I can list two (the two member families living closest to me) who the church’s teachings have torn apart. Because of church doctrine and teachings, these families are now divided where they once were together. And children have been seperated from their loving, perfect examples of good fathers. Both these fathers are so much better than I am in that department. I can only wish I had their qualities! And yet their LDS wives (who converted to Mormonism after the marriage) have left them because they will not convert.

    I could go into more specifics and other examples but I would rather leave that for a podcast, if there ever is one on the topic.

    I wish the church were as good and harmless as you seem to want us to think it is. But the facts do not support that. Yes, some people’s lives are enriched. But how many families or lives are destroyed?

    How much good must come from an organization to excuse or ignore the bad it causes?

  52. NightAvatar Reply

    Bryan,

    I wasn’t insinuating you were sheltered but rather that you seemed to lack any motivation to seek out a secular alternative. I guessed that this might be because you live in a place where the church is strong. That is all.

    I don’t know much about the organizations I mentioned, other than Free-Masonry and Waldorf Schools. I mention them because I thought they might be familiar to Americans. We have quite different organizations over here which I must assume most people have never heard of. (IOGT? Juba? etc)

    You seem very determined to place all organizations into a box like religion. I don’t see how any of the organizations I mentioned could fit into your 5-point definition, but you really seem to want them to. A charismatic leader? Trying to shape society? Aren’t they just trying to help? Do they really have some type of mythological view? I am unaware of any.

    According to your 5 points, any large business would qualify as a religion as well – as much as any secular or humanitarian organization. All the points would apply, except for perhaps the mytholigical view, which of course doesn’t apply to any secular oganization either.

    I have no doubt that you and others who care do indeed make the Church a better place. There are many like you who espouse the good traits of love, compassion and charity, which I can clearly see in your posts.

    I think the question here is if secular or humanitarian organizations espouse harmful elements, on the same scale as religious organizations.

    Would you agree that aspects of the church are harmful? If so, I think a discussion (podcast?) of the potential harms in the church (or any dogmatic religion/organization) are acceptible or outweighed by the good. And if the good found in (and done by) the church is possible to find elsewhere, without the harmful elements.

    I can understand your assumption that I have been “harmed” by the church and therefore presume others have been. However, this is NOT the case at all. I have seen too many first hand accounts of HARM (I wish CAPS could emphasize how much) done to families in my own Ward – mine included, yes, but more to my children and TBM wife than myself. Just to go to my nearest neighbors, I can list two (the two member families living closest to me) who the church’s teachings have torn apart. Because of church doctrine and teachings, these families are now divided where they once were together. And children have been seperated from their loving, perfect examples of good fathers. Both these fathers are so much better than I am in that department. I can only wish I had their qualities! And yet their LDS wives (who converted to Mormonism after the marriage) have left them because they will not convert.

    I could go into more specifics and other examples but I would rather leave that for a podcast, if there ever is one on the topic.

    I wish the church were as good and harmless as you seem to want us to think it is. But the facts do not support that. Yes, some people’s lives are enriched. But how many families or lives are destroyed?

    How much good must come from an organization to excuse or ignore the bad it causes?

  53. Brian Johnston Reply

    It breaks my heart to hear stories of people’s lives like that. It is a tragedy. If someone has a good and functional marriage, and abandons their spouse only because they won’t convert, then I would feel fairly safe judging that they don’t understand the LDS Gospel, not at all.

    I don’t deny that situations like that could happen (and do happen). What can I say though? I personally haven’t seen that behavior as the norm or even common within the Church. I’ve lived in a lot of different areas and wards throughout my life (most outside of Utah, except as noted above). Not to diminish the cruel tragedy you described. To the people affected, theirs is the only situation that matters really. But I haven’t personally met anyone yet that has made a decision like that. I have never heard a leader teach that in any ward — to abandon a non-believing spouse on the grounds of faith alone. On the contrary, I’ll quote the 11th Article of Faith (which is about as close to a creedal statement as our Church comes):

    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    My last ward was made up of over 70% part-member families (mine included, my wife left the Church but we are still married). Nobody in my 6 years there was divorcing their spouses over Church membership or suggesting that was a prudent path to consider.

    “I wish the church were as good and harmless as you seem to want us to think it is. But the facts do not support that. Yes, some people’s lives are enriched. But how many families or lives are destroyed?”

    I don’t know the answer to that question NightAvatar. Do you have some information about it? Are most families in the LDS Church destroyed and broken up? Is it 95%? Is it a 2/3rds majority? Is it 25%? A few families here and there might manage to find a few crumbs of personal enrichment, I guess…

    I would like to propose a different approach. When we see injustice like you describe, instead of allowing blame and responsibility to be passed to a non-person like the concept of an organization or church, how about we keep it where it belongs — with the people doing the injury and harm.

    You mentioned two wives that split their families up over an issue of faith, causing harm and heartache (could be husbands too, but I’m just bringing this back to your specific examples). I think it somehow attempts to excuse them for poor judgment and behavior by saying the Church made them do it. This is far too extreme an example, but Nazi guards from concentration camps used the same defenses at their trials after WWII — “I was only following orders” (even though they knew it was wrong to do). It isn’t a good excuse, even if their local leaders encouraged it.

    “How much good must come from an organization to excuse or ignore the bad it causes?”

    ZERO! This is where we agree. There is no amount of good a person or organization can do that excuses or gives permission to harm and injure an other.

    I think our conclusions about what to do are different. I want to change the organization I belong to and make it better (and the world better). I could be wrong in reading your ideas, but you seem to suggest that eliminating religion would make the world a better place. It might. It has never happened in all of human history, so it’s hard to say for sure. I decided to fix what I have.

  54. Brian Johnston Reply

    It breaks my heart to hear stories of people’s lives like that. It is a tragedy. If someone has a good and functional marriage, and abandons their spouse only because they won’t convert, then I would feel fairly safe judging that they don’t understand the LDS Gospel, not at all.

    I don’t deny that situations like that could happen (and do happen). What can I say though? I personally haven’t seen that behavior as the norm or even common within the Church. I’ve lived in a lot of different areas and wards throughout my life (most outside of Utah, except as noted above). Not to diminish the cruel tragedy you described. To the people affected, theirs is the only situation that matters really. But I haven’t personally met anyone yet that has made a decision like that. I have never heard a leader teach that in any ward — to abandon a non-believing spouse on the grounds of faith alone. On the contrary, I’ll quote the 11th Article of Faith (which is about as close to a creedal statement as our Church comes):

    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    My last ward was made up of over 70% part-member families (mine included, my wife left the Church but we are still married). Nobody in my 6 years there was divorcing their spouses over Church membership or suggesting that was a prudent path to consider.

    “I wish the church were as good and harmless as you seem to want us to think it is. But the facts do not support that. Yes, some people’s lives are enriched. But how many families or lives are destroyed?”

    I don’t know the answer to that question NightAvatar. Do you have some information about it? Are most families in the LDS Church destroyed and broken up? Is it 95%? Is it a 2/3rds majority? Is it 25%? A few families here and there might manage to find a few crumbs of personal enrichment, I guess…

    I would like to propose a different approach. When we see injustice like you describe, instead of allowing blame and responsibility to be passed to a non-person like the concept of an organization or church, how about we keep it where it belongs — with the people doing the injury and harm.

    You mentioned two wives that split their families up over an issue of faith, causing harm and heartache (could be husbands too, but I’m just bringing this back to your specific examples). I think it somehow attempts to excuse them for poor judgment and behavior by saying the Church made them do it. This is far too extreme an example, but Nazi guards from concentration camps used the same defenses at their trials after WWII — “I was only following orders” (even though they knew it was wrong to do). It isn’t a good excuse, even if their local leaders encouraged it.

    “How much good must come from an organization to excuse or ignore the bad it causes?”

    ZERO! This is where we agree. There is no amount of good a person or organization can do that excuses or gives permission to harm and injure an other.

    I think our conclusions about what to do are different. I want to change the organization I belong to and make it better (and the world better). I could be wrong in reading your ideas, but you seem to suggest that eliminating religion would make the world a better place. It might. It has never happened in all of human history, so it’s hard to say for sure. I decided to fix what I have.

  55. NightAvatar Reply

    You’re right I suggest that eliminating religion (at least any dogmatic religion) would make the world a better place. That is my conviction.

    You say “It has never happened in all of human history” but the same could be said of witchcraft. It is still alive and well in many countries and cultures. Yet it is on a downward trend, on it’s way out (I hope!).

    I don’t pretend to suggest eliminating religion entirely is possible in the near future – maybe it never will happen. But I suggest that to make that possible, people need to not support organizations with dogma, teachings or practices they do not believe in or agree with.

    On a positive note: I have to commend you for staying with your wife! 🙂

    Not to diminish the awesomeness of your charity, I think it is easier for men to do that within the Church’s teachings because (1) Men are priesthood holders, (2) Men will have several wives in heaven anyway, so one not believing is not a big crisis and won’t prevent admittance, (3) Men are the Patriarchs of the home (they “rule” the house).

    You are a good man. I can tell. You are really awesome. (I mean it!)

    But if the church is not true, and if it causes people pain and suffering (please don’t use the pathetic cop-out so many members do: “It’s the people that err, not the church!”) then please tell us all why on Earth we should support it, promote it, and help it to grow by remaining on the lists and even attending and serving it?

    The only answer I can see is that you either don’t agree that it causes harm (which you have pretty much stated in your last comment), or you don’t see an alternative and equally productive way for you to spend your time. Or maybe you really think it teaches good morals that can’t be found any place without the dogma and bad side effects.

    The reason those two women I mentioned (and countless others) leave their husbands is because the church teaches every Sunday that Priesthood is important, making babies is important, attending the temple is important, raising your kids in the church is important, service in the church is important, and especially: The Abrahamic Covenant. Temple marriage, sealing the family: An Eternal Family!

    “I have a family here on Earth. They are so dear to me. I hope that we can be together for e-ter-ni-ty.” Every week in Primary! Don’t you think that conflicts a bit with the 11th article of faith?

    You don’t see how this might weigh on the sub-conscience of women whose husbands have left the church or will never join it?

    It’s one thing to have an official statement on a subject, but when things you do and teach in the real world conflict with the sentiment, it becomes irrelevant. A nice thought, but not really applicable in the family scenario. After all, Jesus preached quite clearly that leaving your family and loved ones for his sake would bring you great joy and blessings in the afterlife.

    Anyways, I will stop hammering you with my views on the subject. I think we’ve both stated quite clearly where we stand. We agree on many things but disagree on the issue of blame and possibly on how much harm is caused. I place some of it on the church. It is the root of the whole problem. If those teachings and practices continue, I don’t see how it can be avoided that more people will get hurt.

    And I’ve only touched on ONE of several issues where I see harm from the church’s teachings. I could easily name at least three or four more areas than marriage.

    Basically, if it all were true it would be excusable, acceptable, even right. But if the church is not what it claims (which I know it isn’t) then why support it?

  56. NightAvatar Reply

    You’re right I suggest that eliminating religion (at least any dogmatic religion) would make the world a better place. That is my conviction.

    You say “It has never happened in all of human history” but the same could be said of witchcraft. It is still alive and well in many countries and cultures. Yet it is on a downward trend, on it’s way out (I hope!).

    I don’t pretend to suggest eliminating religion entirely is possible in the near future – maybe it never will happen. But I suggest that to make that possible, people need to not support organizations with dogma, teachings or practices they do not believe in or agree with.

    On a positive note: I have to commend you for staying with your wife! 🙂

    Not to diminish the awesomeness of your charity, I think it is easier for men to do that within the Church’s teachings because (1) Men are priesthood holders, (2) Men will have several wives in heaven anyway, so one not believing is not a big crisis and won’t prevent admittance, (3) Men are the Patriarchs of the home (they “rule” the house).

    You are a good man. I can tell. You are really awesome. (I mean it!)

    But if the church is not true, and if it causes people pain and suffering (please don’t use the pathetic cop-out so many members do: “It’s the people that err, not the church!”) then please tell us all why on Earth we should support it, promote it, and help it to grow by remaining on the lists and even attending and serving it?

    The only answer I can see is that you either don’t agree that it causes harm (which you have pretty much stated in your last comment), or you don’t see an alternative and equally productive way for you to spend your time. Or maybe you really think it teaches good morals that can’t be found any place without the dogma and bad side effects.

    The reason those two women I mentioned (and countless others) leave their husbands is because the church teaches every Sunday that Priesthood is important, making babies is important, attending the temple is important, raising your kids in the church is important, service in the church is important, and especially: The Abrahamic Covenant. Temple marriage, sealing the family: An Eternal Family!

    “I have a family here on Earth. They are so dear to me. I hope that we can be together for e-ter-ni-ty.” Every week in Primary! Don’t you think that conflicts a bit with the 11th article of faith?

    You don’t see how this might weigh on the sub-conscience of women whose husbands have left the church or will never join it?

    It’s one thing to have an official statement on a subject, but when things you do and teach in the real world conflict with the sentiment, it becomes irrelevant. A nice thought, but not really applicable in the family scenario. After all, Jesus preached quite clearly that leaving your family and loved ones for his sake would bring you great joy and blessings in the afterlife.

    Anyways, I will stop hammering you with my views on the subject. I think we’ve both stated quite clearly where we stand. We agree on many things but disagree on the issue of blame and possibly on how much harm is caused. I place some of it on the church. It is the root of the whole problem. If those teachings and practices continue, I don’t see how it can be avoided that more people will get hurt.

    And I’ve only touched on ONE of several issues where I see harm from the church’s teachings. I could easily name at least three or four more areas than marriage.

    Basically, if it all were true it would be excusable, acceptable, even right. But if the church is not what it claims (which I know it isn’t) then why support it?

  57. NightAvatar Reply

    Sorry, one more thing: You said “I decided to fix what I have.”

    My response would be, you are not in a position to fix it. The fix must come from MUCH higher up in the organization. You can fix it for a few people. Your family, a few loved ones. But will you make a difference to people outside your small circle of influence? When you are gone, will the church still contain the dogma? The exclusive claims of truth? Will the doctrine or teachings (even the ones harmful to some people) change?

    Maybe they will. I could be wrong. I just don’t see it. I prefer to be an example by not supporting something I don’t believe in. By not giving credence and support to the notion that morality comes from god and that people without religion can’t learn good morals.

    I think the reason I am so against your suggestion of remaining in the church, is that I think it validates the false notion that we need religion to learn good morals. That without a church and dogma and even god – mankind is lost!

    I do not believe that – quite the opposite in fact. And thus it is hard for me to approve of your (noble, for certain!) methods.

  58. NightAvatar Reply

    Sorry, one more thing: You said “I decided to fix what I have.”

    My response would be, you are not in a position to fix it. The fix must come from MUCH higher up in the organization. You can fix it for a few people. Your family, a few loved ones. But will you make a difference to people outside your small circle of influence? When you are gone, will the church still contain the dogma? The exclusive claims of truth? Will the doctrine or teachings (even the ones harmful to some people) change?

    Maybe they will. I could be wrong. I just don’t see it. I prefer to be an example by not supporting something I don’t believe in. By not giving credence and support to the notion that morality comes from god and that people without religion can’t learn good morals.

    I think the reason I am so against your suggestion of remaining in the church, is that I think it validates the false notion that we need religion to learn good morals. That without a church and dogma and even god – mankind is lost!

    I do not believe that – quite the opposite in fact. And thus it is hard for me to approve of your (noble, for certain!) methods.

  59. Brian Johnston Reply

    I respect your convictions and your integrity NightAvatar. We just disagree on some things. That’s fine.

    I totally support and applaud you if you give your time and energy encouraging people to find goodness and morality in positive secular organizations. I hope you are successful and do that. There are almost 7 billion people on the planet, and there’s lots of room for improvement, no matter how it happens. Seriously.

    If someone doesn’t believe there is any (enough) truth in the LDS Church, and if they believe the Church is a force for evil and it harms people, THEN I don’t recommend they stay in the Church and participate either. That would be dishonest and pointless. I don’t think being a member does anything magical. What is happening inside people is more important to me.

    You are right. I do not hold a position of organizational power and authority within the LDS Church. I can not fix problems from the top down. Honestly, I am not really interested in that approach.

    I influence the people in my life. I can influence my friends and family. I can influence my neighbors. I can influence people in my local ward and stake. If that is worthless, so be it. But I have to try. That’s how God made me.

  60. Brian Johnston Reply

    I respect your convictions and your integrity NightAvatar. We just disagree on some things. That’s fine.

    I totally support and applaud you if you give your time and energy encouraging people to find goodness and morality in positive secular organizations. I hope you are successful and do that. There are almost 7 billion people on the planet, and there’s lots of room for improvement, no matter how it happens. Seriously.

    If someone doesn’t believe there is any (enough) truth in the LDS Church, and if they believe the Church is a force for evil and it harms people, THEN I don’t recommend they stay in the Church and participate either. That would be dishonest and pointless. I don’t think being a member does anything magical. What is happening inside people is more important to me.

    You are right. I do not hold a position of organizational power and authority within the LDS Church. I can not fix problems from the top down. Honestly, I am not really interested in that approach.

    I influence the people in my life. I can influence my friends and family. I can influence my neighbors. I can influence people in my local ward and stake. If that is worthless, so be it. But I have to try. That’s how God made me.

  61. Mister IT Reply

    Simply put: Best podcast thus far!

    Really awesome job guys. And John Dehlin, IMHO this was your finest hour to date.

    I would only add that the role of reconciler (the discussion that closed this podcast) must patiently accommodate and tolerate a number of stances that we disagree with in order to be truly effective.

    This is what Francis Schaeffer called, “Peaceful Cobelligerence” meaning that we must ally ourselves with those who will agree to a common cause in one area even though we are at odds – maybe even adversaries – in other areas.

    The example that Schaeffer used was how Protestants and Catholics first united over the Abortion issue back in the 1970’s and have continued to do so since. Maybe that’s not the best example but I think that you get the general idea.

    I say this because as a Theist, I have found that many, if not most, Atheist ExMormons are so belligerent toward any form of Theism that they can quickly become adversarial and attack you if in the course of pursuing the common goal of challenging the LdS Church to change you stay true to your own Theistic core values. And, BTW, if you’re a NeverMo as I am, it’s even worse than it is for Theist ExMormons.

    It’s almost as if by the virtue of the fact that you adhere to Theism and you never were a Mormon you TOO are the enemy and must be stopped – and stopped NOW!

    For example, I would point to some of the “biting” comments that were made on the Aaron Shafovaloff interview (Episode 21 http://mormonexpression.com/?p=285) as examples. I would also point to the experiences that Theists – including myself – have had on ExMormon boards.

    To this point, and to get practical, some personalities that John Dehlin mentioned who I feel do a GREAT job of “Peaceful Cobelligerence” are Peter-Mary (on the PostMormon board), Richard Packham, Jan Shipps, Chris Smith, and John Hamer.

    Some of the others that John mentioned . . . not so much (and I’m speaking from first hand personal experience). And, BTW, I would suggest John Dehlin as a good model of those who do “Peaceful Cobelligerence” well.

    So, finally, and in conclusion, I would propose that if we can all “bury the hatchet” in areas where we disagree – such as in the “Atheist v. Theist” arena – maybe, just maybe, we can work together to really bring some positive change to the LdS Church in the coming years.

    Unless I’m mistaken THAT is a goal that we ALL can agree to – at least that’s MY goal.

    I offer this as a humble suggestion and nothing more.

  62. Mister IT Reply

    Simply put: Best podcast thus far!

    Really awesome job guys. And John Dehlin, IMHO this was your finest hour to date.

    I would only add that the role of reconciler (the discussion that closed this podcast) must patiently accommodate and tolerate a number of stances that we disagree with in order to be truly effective.

    This is what Francis Schaeffer called, “Peaceful Cobelligerence” meaning that we must ally ourselves with those who will agree to a common cause in one area even though we are at odds – maybe even adversaries – in other areas.

    The example that Schaeffer used was how Protestants and Catholics first united over the Abortion issue back in the 1970’s and have continued to do so since. Maybe that’s not the best example but I think that you get the general idea.

    I say this because as a Theist, I have found that many, if not most, Atheist ExMormons are so belligerent toward any form of Theism that they can quickly become adversarial and attack you if in the course of pursuing the common goal of challenging the LdS Church to change you stay true to your own Theistic core values. And, BTW, if you’re a NeverMo as I am, it’s even worse than it is for Theist ExMormons.

    It’s almost as if by the virtue of the fact that you adhere to Theism and you never were a Mormon you TOO are the enemy and must be stopped – and stopped NOW!

    For example, I would point to some of the “biting” comments that were made on the Aaron Shafovaloff interview (Episode 21 http://mormonexpression.com/?p=285) as examples. I would also point to the experiences that Theists – including myself – have had on ExMormon boards.

    To this point, and to get practical, some personalities that John Dehlin mentioned who I feel do a GREAT job of “Peaceful Cobelligerence” are Peter-Mary (on the PostMormon board), Richard Packham, Jan Shipps, Chris Smith, and John Hamer.

    Some of the others that John mentioned . . . not so much (and I’m speaking from first hand personal experience). And, BTW, I would suggest John Dehlin as a good model of those who do “Peaceful Cobelligerence” well.

    So, finally, and in conclusion, I would propose that if we can all “bury the hatchet” in areas where we disagree – such as in the “Atheist v. Theist” arena – maybe, just maybe, we can work together to really bring some positive change to the LdS Church in the coming years.

    Unless I’m mistaken THAT is a goal that we ALL can agree to – at least that’s MY goal.

    I offer this as a humble suggestion and nothing more.

  63. Fred W. Anson Reply

    For the record, Evangelicals aren’t the only ones who consider the LdS Church a Cult – however, when they use the term they really mean “Doctrinal Cult” in most cases. Well this is instructive when considering a particular Mind Control Cult group it can also mud the waters since it eventually comes down to whose doctrine can beat whose doctrine up the most. And secularists could care less.  

    Never-the-less atheist Cult Experts with no religious agenda whatsoever have identified the LdS Church as a Mind Control Cult based on social science criteria alone. This includes Steven Hassan, Rick Ross, Flo Conway, Jim Siegelman, Luna Flesher and others.  Personally, this is the method that I prefer even though I am an Evangelical since it raises the dialog above the level of “Oh yeah? Well your interpretation of this passage is just wrong!”  

    It makes my fellow Evangelicals look at me a little funny but that’s OK, they don’t have to live my life, only I can do that.

  64. jennwestfall Reply

    Flip! I am so glad you talked about the missionary tactics as sales tactics. I was involved when a friend of mine took the missionary lessons and I was appalled at what I felt were high pressure sales tactics. At the time I just put those feelings on a shelf, but I have never heard anyone else say that they are *just* salesmen. Thank you for sharing that!

  65. Pingback: Stages of Faith | Reflections

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