How has your local Mormon Stories community helped you stay active in the LDS Church?

December 11, 2011
By

MS Friends,

A very dear friend (who happens to still value his membership in the LDS Church) is being threatened with a stake disciplinary council for holding a regional Mormon Stories conference, and for his involvement in his regional MS Facebook community. Consequently, we’re gathering testimonials from people who feel like their local Mormon Stories Facebook community and/or regional conferences have helped them stay active in the LDS Church.

If you have a quick “testimony” or story to share with this good brother’s stake president, please comment below.  Also, if you have time and are willing/able to cull this link for past testimonies shared that could be helpful here, please feel free to help out.  In a day or two we’ll compile them all and send them on to his stake president…hopefully in time to prevent an unfortunate decision for our friend.

To be clear — the goal here is to help this good brother and friend retain his membership.

Thanks in advance.

John and the Open Stories Foundation Board

(Note: For the record, Mormon Stores does not have an explicit goal of leading people in or out of the church, but instead to support people in their LDS-reltaed journeys/transitions, wherever they may end up. For more on Mormon Stories’ shared values statement, click here.)

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148 Responses to How has your local Mormon Stories community helped you stay active in the LDS Church?

  1. Jason
    December 13, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Hopefully this dear brothers Stake President will do his due diligence, and use his spiritual gifts to realize the true nature of MoSto’s.  Plenty has been said above, but I would just like to add, alas, the battle begins!

  2. Jake
    December 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Lots of inspiring stories here. However, if the Mormon leaders about to come down on this guy are anything like most of the ones I’ve known, hearing how Mormon Stories has helped doubting people stay in the church is not likely to impress them. If anything, they will be alarmed to learn how many seemingly devout members listen to this “subversive” podcast, and will be  even more dilligent in rooting out “closet apostates” before they can infect others. Yes, its not fair. Doubting or questioning should not be a crime. But that is the unfortunate reality of Mormonism, where total, unquestioning obedience is valued above all else. If you are famous or rich (like Carol Lynn Pearson or Greg Prince), the church may grant you a fairly long leash. But for the rest of us, its safer to keep our doubts to ourselves. Those who are willing to put their names out there, by organizing a MS conference for example, deserve a lot of credit, in that some of them will likely end up having to take the proverbial bullet. 

  3. Andy
    December 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I’m not sure why discussing issues pertaining to the church should be held in suspicion and lead to a church disiplinary hearing.  Some of us  are unable to agree blindly all the time with every church decision or action.  We are taught to study it out in our mind.  We can’t do that if we leave our mind at the door of the church. 

  4. Anonymous
    December 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I have served as a missionary, bishop, high councilman, and about every other calling in the church. When I was about 50 years old I was serving as a ward missionary and had the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia to teach and coordinate a master program. During that time I was challenged by my students to learn more about Islam and I challenged them to learn more about the LDS doctrine. What occurred was surprising to me, as I became much more open and began to question some of the basic doctrines of the Church. When I finally spoke to my priesthood leader (I was then an assistant to the HP group leader), he told me that I would have to be released. Subsequently, I was told not to hometeach via email and then begin about 5 years of inactivity. When I would attend I struggled to listen to doctrine that I questioned and felt outside the “family” of the church.

    My returning to the church coincided with my discovery of Mormon Stories. Listening to others struggles has allowed me to see others, who have the same heartaches as I. I was listening to one episode recently while I was riding my bicycle and was touched so much that I began to cry. I am aware that others such as Edward Kimball and Richard Bushman do not have a knowledge of what is true, but choose to believe. This has helped me in my life, as I desire a knowledge, but recognize that I also will make my choices in what I will believe.

    I would hope that an inspired leader would take the time to better understand the purpose and content of Mormon Stories. If his heart were open, he would see that there is much good that is accomplished by this effort.  Do we cast our brothers out because of unbelief and doubts or allow them to gain support by their affiliation to groups that can help?

  5. M. Tweedy
    December 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I was exposed to Mormon Stories only after I, a high priest with many years’ leadership experience, resigned my membership in the LDS church. Had I been involved with Mormon Stories before that time I might have been able to mitigate things through this valuable service on behalf of LDS members led by John Dehlin, a champion both for truth and for the LDS church. It’s high time that local LDS leaders realize that there are other good, solid outside resources in the hands of faithful LDS members that can be tapped to our mutual benefit. To react with disciplinary actions toward a member seeking these truths is a cheap shot at the messenger and displays naked fear of scrutiny. One should never forget the invaluable words of Thomas Paine, “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”

  6. Anthony Garrett
    December 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    My Mormonism and my membership in the church is something I just wouldn’t know how to do without. Over the last few years, it has been an often heartbreaking experience for me to have doubt creep into my life. It has been particularly challenging for me because I have done what I thought I was supposed to do as an upstanding member of the church. Not until I was well into adulthood had I ever heard that someone could answer all of the temple recommend questions honestly and still find reason to doubt aspects (or all) of their faith.

    I have come to a point of belief and participation in the church that is often paradoxical and questioning, but I love it. I love going to those three hours of meetings and raising my hand when I can share something that will help someone else. I love my small calling in my ward. I love trying to follow the example of Jesus Christ that the scriptures give, despite failing  at every turn.

    Several months ago I was at a point where I could have said I was a member of the church, I could have said I was a Mormon, or I could have said I wasn’t. It was a point where saying I was or wasn’t was the only line in my belief I was sure I still had. Mormon Stories and the larger community associated with it, namely the people and their sharing the ways they participate and believe, helped me to reclaim some of my own belief. I would be heartbroken to hear my church didn’t want someone who wanted to believe (if in their own way), who wanted to participate. It would be like I was being told I wasn’t wanted. I know there is a difference between the doctrine or policy of the church and the lives of the membership, but the church is its members. Saying it doesn’t want someone who wants to be there would mean the church doesn’t want itself.

  7. Scottholley
    December 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

    To whom it may concern, I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have served as missionary, Elders Quorum President, Young Men’s President, Seminary Teacher, and in the Stake Young Men’s Presidency.  I love the Church and what it has done for me.  And yet when a news article on Book of Mormon anthropology led to a journal article on DNA evidences led to a faith crisis in 2004, my life was turned upside down.  I couldn’t understand my new world and worse had no tools with which to help navigate this new world.  My most important relationships became strained and my emotional health suffered.  Earlier this year, when external issues cause my internal concerns to resurface with a vengeance, I found Mormon Stories.  Mormon Stories became my life raft – it provided me the tools to deal with my faith and my relations to family and community in a positive way.  Everyone involved in Mormon Stories, including members of my local support group, have shown that they are “willing to bear (my) burdens, that they may be light, yea and are willing to mourn with (me), yea and comfort those (such as me) who stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-9).  I urge you to not deprive Saints of this opportunity to serve and be served as we have covenanted to do.  Sincerely, Scott Holley

  8. Jiggs Casey
    December 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Dear Stake President,
     
    If you take disciplinary action against an active member of the church for associating with the Mormon Stories communities, you are confirming what many of us believe – that the leaders of the LDS church fear that which they cannot control.  This is a movement which is growing, and which is helping a lot of people sort through their crisis of faith.  Where many if not most who are struggling would have left the church in the past, they now have a place to go to sort out their doubts, questions, struggles, insecurities, discomfort with church history, etc.  And there are thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of active Mormons who are in this boat.  The Mormon Stories mantra is not “pray, pay and obey” or “shut up and color”  — it is “let’s talk about it together and support each other as we go along this path.”   At the risk of being hyperbolic, John Dehlin is a visionary, though he would surely dispute that label.  He has seen a demand and has filled it, where the Church has turned a blind eye.  It turns out that a lot of active Mormons have a need for something more — if the Church can’t provide it, other suppliers will rush in to fill the market demand.  I don’t see this as a threat to the LDS Church, but I can imagine why church leaders would.  It’s a completely new thing – far beyond the “study groups” that popped up some years ago that were squashed by the Brethren.  The Mormon Stories phenomonen will continue, because it is facilitated by the internet – something that wasn’t available during the study group era.  Information flows nowdays, and will continue to do so.  The spigot of freedom of thought has opened and can never be closed again.  The Church would do well to learn to adapt to and co-exist with the new reality.  I can’t see Mormon Stories hurting the Church, I really can’t, so why fight it?  See the good in the movement, and perhaps take some of the best practices of MS and institute them in the Church.  I know, as John Lennon sang, you may same I’m a dreamer … but I’m not the only one.
    MS is helping people stay in the Church (not me, but many other people!)  Look at it for the good it is doing.

  9. December 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I’m a currently-active, temple recommend holding, devoted member of the church.  I am a returned missionary and was married in the temple.  I have recently served in Relief Society presidencies and Primary presidencies in my ward, and am now the cub scout committee chair.  I believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and sustain the Brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators.  

    A couple years ago, I had a terrible crisis of faith where I wondered if what I had been taught my whole life was really true.  I learned about parts of church history that I had a very hard time reconciling.  If I didn’t have Mormon Stories to help me sort through my questions, I don’t know that I would be a member of the church today.  I have a personality that requires a place to fully explore, with other people, the questions that I have, in order to find peace.   Mormon Stories was a place where it was safe to ask hard questions and get (mostly) thoughtful answers (you’ll see there are all stripes here, and some are less than helpful/productive — as with any group of people).  Still, it was a gift from God and was one of two or three really positive associations that made it possible for me to retain and even strengthen my testimony.  

    I know that there are those who choose to leave the church after their affiliation with Mormon Stories (there are those who choose to leave the church after their affiliation with their local wards and branches, too).  But there are many of us who have been helped to stay faithful as a result of this community.  I would be absolutely devastated to hear that something that has helped me so much could be the source of a fellow brother being cast out of our fellowship.  

    Regards,
    Katie Langston

  10. Seb1079
    December 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I have been a true blue Mormon all of my life, defending my beliefs no matter what or who came my way. Only in the last year, did I realize that I didn’t have all of the truth behind the basic history of my church and it’s beginning, despite having always attended each class, and having read all the literature that I was expected to that was put forth by the church. One night, my husband was flipping through the tv stations, to pass a Southpark episode where they were making fun of Mormons and Joseph Smith. They depicted him with his face in his hat, while singing that that’s where the book of Mormon came from. I couldn’t believe the ignorance of these people. I started to mention how dumb these people must be to get their facts so screwed up, when I stopped myself and, with a sickening feeling, realized that I needed to make sure I wasn’t the uneducated one. I was shocked to find out that Southpark knew more about the translation of our scriptures than I did. I was angry. I felt deceived and duped by those in whom i was placing all my faith. I had given strict obedience to them, and rather than being trusted in return, I felt ass though I had been sheltered to the point of neglect and, dare I say, brainwashing.
    Real world, honest answers make me stronger, more unshakeable in my stance within the church. Until I found this sincere and truthful, while imperfect site (as we are all), I was beginning to feel that I would have to turn to blatantly anti- Mormon sites in order to possibly find an unbiased, untainted truth of the history of the church, while knowing that it wouldn’t be unbiased at all. I needed to hear the whole truth, wherever it came from. No watered down, rosy twists on the truth. Podcasts such as Carol Lynn Pearsons, the podcast on the Masons,Richard Bushman, Sister Bushman, Feminist Mormon housewives, Michael Quinn, Margaret Toscano, the Fowler stages of faith. . . All of these podcasts took me on a journey of a neccesary and positive restructuring of my faith in the Mormon church. Many of the podcasts turned major issues for me into non-issues (like the podcast on masonry), though I was still angry at the work I had to do to get to the bottom of things. Hearing Todd Compton discuss polygamy made me feel as though I weren’t crazy after all. Listening to Kenneth Wilcox share his thoughts on having empathy for homosexuals literally made me feel closer to God and Jesus’s example than I had in a long time of attending Sunday school. Just hearing other faithful people who were struggling and working through the same issues as me made me feel as if this was still my community. I was not a stranger looking in. I went from feeling that I had to leave the church immediately, full circle to where I can now enjoy again the positive things the church has to offer, and accept that nothing on this earth–including a religion–has to be perfect in order to be a good thing and a blessing to those whom it resonates with. In my opinion, the only danger lies in not knowing the full truth, and not being honest about those things that hurt us within our own belief system. In these times, it is sites like this and discussions like the ones that happen here, that will save the church from a crumbling membership as it’s members learn more and need safe places to be able to discuss their findings or concerns. It’s when you have to hide them that you cannot stay in a place. The material on this website has preserved so many aspects of my testimony, while growing it as well. I feel like I am closer to being the Mormon that I should have been in the first place . . . One who sees value in all religion, all people, all experiences, all journeys to truth. They are all equal to my own, and we all have something to add to each others journeys. Thank goodness we have a place to share them.
    I apologize for the length! But, thank you to all who invest their time and and risk their own religious standing to bring this to others. You are changing lives and people for the better. John, I could never thank you and your peers enough!

    • courtney
      June 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      thank you for this lengthy response. it has given me a lot of hope that MS will be able to help me.

  11. Jonah
    December 15, 2011 at 12:16 am

    A wise man said that “truth is unconcealment.”

    Mormon Stories is concerned primarily with this kind of unconcealment–with the bearing of souls–in pursuit of a more connected community where knowledge and support can be freely shared.

    I wish the Church would do this.  It would make the church a much healthier place–a place of less concealment, less delusion, more honesty, more openness, more love and acceptance, less heartache.  Accordingly, the question is not whether Mormon stories has helped a member remain active; the proper question to ask is how we within the church can become more like the Mormon Stories community; how we as a church can become less concealed, more open, and more available to each other.

    The old saying, “In like a lamb, out like a lion” applies here.  Christ would never advocate or condone our modern disciplinary councils and church courts for people who merely share their sincere beliefs. We have become narrow, judgmental and shrill–not as a people, but as a church.  The organization is sicker than its members.  We have not rid ourselves of the last vestiges of Christianity’s historical inquisition culture, but it’s time… Since Aquinas said that the disbeliever should be “cut off from this world by death,” we’ve come a long way.  We no longer torture apostates and disbelievers, we no longer impede reading and the advancement of learning, and burn witches at the stake. Great! Now, let’s rid ourselves of excommunication, church disciplinary councils, shaming, judgement, etc. for those who merely wish to doubt and question and talk sincerely and openly in an unconcealed way.

    Mormonism has become more concerned with the signs and symbols of community than with actual community.  Do we want brownies on our doorstep or an open heart and mind? A Mormon is properly defined as someone who will bake you brownies while contemplating the everlasting damnation of your soul.

    • Steve In Millcreek (SIM)
      July 19, 2012 at 1:14 am

      Jonah, while strong at times, I see your primary points and appreciate your thoughts and candor. My main defense for MoSto to exist and John’s friend, a MoSto Conference sponsor, is to add that MoSto is supplementary, not required for all. It exists to assist those that want/need it. MoSto topics and candor are not part of regular Sunday meetings, which fall upon all ears. John’s friend is discreet enough to focus his message on the MoSto audience, who seek it out, not his entire Ward/Stake/Church, who may not be inquiring on MoSto topics. MoSto Conferences and podcasts is (currently) the best forum for complex topics to be presented and discussed. If Church leaders elect to bring MoSto format into the mainstream Church, I think John (and you and me) will welcome it. Again, thanks for your comments.

  12. Paul Bohman
    December 15, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Mormon Stories is a welcoming community. In some ways, yes, it can lead a person out of the church because the community is evidence that there are warm, loving people who have already transitioned outside of the church who lead wonderfully fulfilling lives with great integrity. To those who have always assumed that leaving the church would be a total downfall into depravity, this can be a revelation: You mean these people still lead morally good lives? And they feel spiritually at peace? But how can that be? Wickedness never was happiness? Right?

    Discovering that leaving the church doesn’t necessarily mean descending into wickedness can be quite surprising to some.

    So, in that sense, Mormon Stories can have a “bad” effect on church members if the main goal is to keep them going to church and not go astray from that path.

    But having attended one of the conferences, I can vouch for the way in which attendees go out of their way to be respectful of other people’s faith journeys. The true believers in the room were a minority, if by true believers you mean people with no doubts or concerns whatsoever, but there were very many active members of the church there. It was a hodgepodge of beliefs and life stories, and it seemed to me that everyone felt safe, or at least mostly safe, in being honest about their beliefs, no matter where they fell on the spectrum. We were ready to check our judgmentalism at the door, and I think we all did a pretty good job of doing that.

    No one tried to strip believers of their testimonies.

    And no one tried to correct anyone else’s beliefs. In fact, I heard a few ideas that were really out there, in my opinion (not many, but a few), and people still listened with respect. It wasn’t the time or the place to correct someone’s beliefs. It was a time and a place to welcome new people into our lives.

  13. "Ernie"
    December 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I found MS on a recommendation from a good friend, whose brother was interviewed on a MS podcast on Atheism and Mormonism.  It was fascinating and helped me come to terms with my thoughts regarding the LDS Church and my worldview as a whole.  I must add that I am NOT an Atheist, but understanding other viewpoints to enlarge my own is at the heart of my personal growth and development.  Like many others have said already, MS is where we can find a true sense of community and openness for sincere thought and reason regarding the LDS Church and the incredible institution that it is.  Speaking of institutions, I found an incredible parallel between what is going on at PENN STATE and the LDS CHURCH.  The Dec 12, 2011 issue of TIME Magazine has an article entitled PENN STATE OF MIND that explores how the culture and institution of Penn State could allow such atrocities to occur with Mr. Sandusky.  Let me just suggest the article and these three quotes that are very applicable to our own LDS culture:  1) “Cultures define you, and you become blind to everything in front of your eyes.” 2) Selective perception is our bias toward ignoring information that is at odds with our worldview.” 3) “Subjective perception explains our tendancy to couple uncomfortable information with reaffirming facts in order to make ourselves feel better.”  If John Dehlin’s friend is reprimanded harshly or even loses his membership in the LDS church, while wanting to stay, I feel truly sorry that his local leadership is developing a PENN STATE OF MIND.  We are better than that.  I value my LDS church membership even though my present views and testimony may not be as simple and narrow as they once were.  MS helps me tremendously.

  14. Bc584
    December 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Mormon
    Stories has helped me to reconnect with my faith in a wonderful way. By
    listening to almost all of the podcasts over the last view years, I was able to
    look at tough issues pertaining to my religion from so many different
    viewpoints and to reconcile so many inner conflicts. Today, I am proud to be a
    Mormon and to be a part of this wonderful religion. I have served in many different
    capacities (bishop, high counselor, stake mission president, …), but have never
    been emotionally more attached to my church than now. It is so refreshing to approach
    any topic openly. Maybe, I feel a bit like Joseph F. Smith, who I believe said that
    if Joseph Smith made it back to our Heavenly Father in spite of his flaws,
    there is still hope for him. Isn’t that wonderful? I don’t want my church to be
    perfect, to have impeccable leaders, or to look back at a blameless history. I
    want it to struggle and to fall short at times, but never stop trying to make
    it better next time. It is so inspiring to be able to view my religion in such
    a way. If it wasn’t for Mormon Stories, I don’t know where I’d be today. Sunday
    is the best day of the week again. And it’s great to be a Mormon!

  15. Becky Edvalson
    December 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    There are Sundays when I feel like, “Why do I come here? I don’t fit in.” But I love so many things about Mormonism and it is my home. Mormon Stories and Mormon Matters provide the deeper spiritual outlet I need to stay active. For example, today I wanted to stop attending church, then I came home and listened to podcast of Joanna Brooks’ “Mormon Story” and I felt like there was someone else out there like me. Listening to her experiences helped me remember a lot of my special experiences in the Church. Resources like this are giving me and my husband a way to stay and raise our family Mormon. We are leaders in our branch, we’re returned missionaries, we are “ideal” Mormons, but we have questions and intellectual-spiritual needs not being met at Church. A lot of us who listen to Mormon Stories are sitting right next to you (those of you who wish these things didn’t exist) in the pew and on the stand. Taking things like this away will only lead to many of us walking away.

    • December 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Becky, the “why do I come here? I don’t belong” feeling happens to me with greater frequency. Thank you for your thoughts. Good to see kindred spirits and fellow travelers on this path.
      Jonah

  16. Eddie Mazariegos
    December 19, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    What’s the use?  The church needs to understand that Mormon Stories has nothing to do with our decision to leave the church.  It’s the church that causes us to leave.  I just don’t understand why the church can look at its racist past (take a look at Brigham Young’s statements about blacks) as well as the fraud that is the book of Mormon and they still find fault with Mormon Stories.  How do they do that?  I just don’t understand how the church can cast blame anywhere but internally at its own history and its own present. If we weren’t already having issues with the church, we would never have come here in the first place.

  17. Monte Wingle
    December 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Beginning three years ago, I have faced a crisis of faith that continues to this day. Church was my life and I based almost everything I did around it. My parents and all of my in-laws are strong true believing LDS. I don’t want to leave the church. When my faith was challenged, it was as if I had lost a parent and began the mourning process. There’s a lot of anger and resentment to be found on anti-Mormon sites. Since finding Mormon Stories, I have been able to find a small amount of peace as I attend Church and attempt to put my life back together. Thank you John and all that help with Mormon Stories.

    • December 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Best Wishes as you continue forward Monte. Thank you for your sentiments.

  18. phil
    December 27, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I am so thankful for MS. I would be miserable without the community of people that have shared their positive and negative experiences in and out of the LDS Church. I was struggling with choices the leadership of the church when I stumbled upon MS. Every aspect of my life was compromised because of the crisis of faith I was going through. MS gave me the strength to stay in the church and keep believing despite my doubt. 

    There’s no room for honest discussion of doubt in general conference and Sunday school. Doubt is a fact of life but GAs only talk about KNOWING. We’re always taught to say “I know the Church is true.” “Read the scriptures and pray more” is all we’re told to do if we can’t honestly say that. When I started listening MS I heard dozens of genuine testimonies of people earnestly seeking the truth. Just hearing that other people experience doubt and struggle and continue faithful in the church was inspiring and, unfortunately, a novel experience. 

    I feel that decades of church leadership have tried to “protect” us from hard-to-swallow historical facts and in this age of information members of the church are finding out that they’ve been lied to by church manuals over the years. MS provides an environment where people can discuss a diversity of spiritual journeys. I love MS and have found it to consistently promote my faith. 

    • December 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Phil, Thank you. Spot on.
      Jonah

  19. Jake B
    December 27, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I have been an active Mormon all my life.  I was president of every Aaronic Priesthood quorum. I was an Eagle Scout in my ward troop. I fulfilled an honorable mission, completed my degree at BYU, and married in the temple.  I have three children born under the covenant.  I even worked for the Church for a number of years.  I’ve held numerous callings in my ward over the years.

    And I don’t believe a word of the Mormon religion.  Not one word of it.  I’m an agnostic at best, and some days I find little reason to believe in God.  Other days, I believe in a God that is nowhere near the small, petty limited God of Mormonism.  I can’t believe in a God who is marking down every cup of coffee a person drinks, or keeping a tally of how often a faithful member goes to the temple.  The Mormon God is a bookkeeper, more or less, and I can’t believe in that as a Supreme Being.

    I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, and I’m sure Thomas Monson knows that he is just a man, and doesn’t speak to God like we expect a prophet would.  Gordon B. Hinckley more or less admitted as much about himself, in several interviews.  Monson has been less than inspiring during his tenure at the helm.  I don’t believe the Book of Mormon to be what the Church claims it is.  When read with even a semi-logical mind, the Book of Mormon is laughable, and there has never been any convincing archeological evidence for the events that purportedly happened in the Book of Mormon.    I believe the general authorities and local leaders are — for the most part — good men who mean well, but are certainly not any more inspired than Pastor Jones at the protestant church down the street.  The LDS Church is like all others — it is a man-made institution that is run by men.

    In my 30+ years of activity, I have tried and tried to receive a spiritual confirmation promised in Moroni 10:  that I would know the truth of all things, but specifically the truth of the Book of Mormon and the LDS church.  I have never received such a “burning in my bosom” or any other such manifestation.  After decades of trying, I have given up on this quest.  I can only surmise that the Mormon God does not want me to know the truth of His church, so I am left to make my own conclusions.

    You would think, with my belief patterns, that I would leave the church and never  come back, right?  Wrong.  I am active and go to Church every Sunday.  I support my wife in her desire to continue in activity in the Church.  I act as if everything were just fine.

    The only thing that stops me from going totally postal in this environment is support groups like Mormon Stories provides.  I have been able to sustain myself with the comradery of online friends I have met through Mormon Stories, New Order Mormons, Further Light and Knowledge, and other websites.  Now I have the Mormon Stories support community to rely on, and without it, I would certainly no longer be even remotely connected to the Church.

    I know there are many, many members of the Church just like me.  Maybe millions, who go along to get along, but don’t believe one word of it.  Or, who don’t believe parts of the doctrine.  Lots of Mormons are in that boat – but they go along because it’s a good place for families, it’s a good social support system, and Mormons are really good and likeable people.  Last but definitely not least, Mormonism is our heritage and culture.  It would be really strange to walk away from it, just because I think the religious doctrine is nonsense.  I guess I think of myself as a Mormon kind of the way Woody Allen considers himself a Jew.

    Cut off Mormon Stories (or whatever you aim to do) and you will cause many non-believing members to make a choice.  It might not end up a favorable one toward the Church.

    • December 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Amen. God Bless.

  20. Anonymous
    December 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I would like to know how this turned out. I know that listening to the podcasts and intermittently commenting on them (sometimes even reading the comments other give, although it tends to be frustrating) has helped me process and, especially, learn.

    I tend to want to ruminate this stuff, among others, and it’s difficult not having anyone to talk about that about. I know that I don’t know practically anyone else around me, who is ready to talk about the difficult issues and be a sounding board for me.

    P.S. I’d add that there is little if anything that I feel I cannot live with, it’s just that if there’s nobody to compare experiences with, it’s difficult to know how to take stuff that almost nobody seems to wish to talk about.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    December 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Mormon Stories has actually helped me cool off about some problem topics. I still take issue with these topics, but I now have a lot less anger toward the church because of the work done by Mormon Stories and its contributors. Were it not for MS, I’d be long gone by now.

    Putting a person through church “discipline” for supporting MS does not make sense. The local management needs to realize that this isn’t a game. They can truly hurt this individual and his family relationships if they proceed with this totally unnecessary course of action.

    I’m a Mormon Stories supporter. Maybe this is the start of a witch hunt. I’m not willing to put my family through the stress of a “disciplinary action” on me, so I’ll have to sign this anonymously.

    Consider the evidence and the human factors. Put self-righteousness aside and do the right thing.

    Anonymous Coward

  22. Zina Hemingway
    January 1, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I have been an active member of the church for the greater bulk of my life.  I have also had moments of questioning, of disillusionment, and outrage when I noticed abuses of power and authority.  I was introduced to Mormon Stories as a preventitive measure.  My family didn’t want me to discover some of the less than perfect pieces of church history, feel like I’d been lied to and jump off the deep end.

    If anything, it has strengthened my testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon and of the necessity and role of personal revelation.  At it’s most fundamental level, Mormon stories community aims to do what our Wards and Relief Societies are often failing at–showing that “Perfect Love” that our Saviour taught.  Part of showing that love, is being willing to acknowledge where people are, shoulder their burdens, and listen to their questions.  The principles of compassion and acceptance shouldn’t just apply to those who attend church meetings, but to all of God’s children, regardless of where they are in their spiritual progression.  Mormon stories makes that a reality for many people.  In many ways, it provides a space for healing, and allows for real spiritual and intellectual growth.  It is a vibrant beautiful thing.

  23. Anonymous
    January 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I cannot easily or adequately explain the positive effect Mormon Stories and John Dehlin has had on my marriage and on my family.  When my husband, a returned missionary and church leader, lost his testimony and desire for church activity, I felt like a grenade had gone off in our family.  I felt so torn between my love for my husband and my love for the church.  I felt like I was a failure, he was a failure, and the church was a failure because we had followed all the church directives for our entire lives and now suddenly we were a part member family with no common foundation to build on.  
      It was almost a shock to discover how little understanding or support was available from our ward.   It is so difficult to explain how you can both have a testimony and not have a testimony at the same time.  When I finally stumbled onto John Dehlin’s podcasts, I felt like I finally had a way to process what was going on with my family.  I realized that my Mormon black/white thinking was what was actually making me miserable.  John’s color spectrum analogy gave me a peace and acceptance that I had been lacking for years.Mormon Stories has made me less judgmental of both the church and my family members.  It has given me understanding that my husband, myself, and each of my children are on our own personal spiritual paths–not simply active or nonactive church members.  We aren’t failures if we aren’t the traditional LDS family we use to be.  I  can have a testimony and still struggle with aspects of the church AND I can allow others that same freedom. I credit  Mormon Stories with giving me  increased understanding which makes has made me a more loving wife, mother, and church member.  

    I pray for more conferences and communities that can be acceptable to the church.  I would feel totally lost without the church, but the cost is too high if it requires everyone to walk a spiritual path in lockstep.  

  24. E.D.
    January 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Many of us need to have a safe place to question because no one’s testimony is 100% (or 80%, 60% etc) in agreement.  

    Like one of the other commenters said, “I wish the cultural house we’ve built around the gospel would burn to the ground” and this site and other blogs are the electrical malfunction.

  25. Parkinsonk
    January 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    It doesn’t help meany more. The tone and perhaps the purpose is growing more and more negative. The podcast started as more of an inquiry and now tends to assume the only value in the church has moved assumptions are now that 

  26. Callkay1
    January 21, 2012 at 9:19 am

    There is always more to the story than “just” hosting a fb page or holding a conference. It’s about are you leading people to Christ or away. It’s ok to question as long as bringing others to a belief in the Savior and His living prophet remains the focus.

  27. reformer1
    March 5, 2012 at 5:46 am

    I obviously just read this and am probably too late to effect your friend’s
    situation but let me react like this:

    To future Stake Presidents or Church disciplinary councils:  Back Off!!
    Go spend your time doing something helpful for somebody.  Do not even
    think about taking any action against Mormon Stories or its followers.
    The time of heavy handed censorship is long past.  Believe it!

    I think there are thousands of conscientious Mormons who are right at the
    breaking point with their frustration with this overbearing, out of touch,
    disciplinarian whitewashed culture.  I know I am.  I am still an active member,
    giving these guys the benifit of the doubt.  But my patience is at an end!

    If you, in all your wisdom, find it necessary to bring disciplinary action
    against anyone involved in Mormon Stories, strickly for that involvment,
    I’m gone, and I’m not going quietly. You can bet on that.

    Have a good day.

  28. Karl
    April 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I am an active member in Western New York, currently serving as a Ward Historian.  I am a return missionary and my wife and I were married in the temple.  In recent years we were inactive for quite some time.  Quite frankly, church just wasn’t doing it for us anymore.  We had a number of concerns both historical and current, which I will not get into here, for which we weren’t finding satisfactory answers.  But the worst part was the feeling of loneliness that accompanied these concerns.  It seemed no-one at church understood us.  And to this day, I have not found anyone at my ward who really understands me, though we have supported eachother and my Dad as been pretty sympathetic.  
    The kind of information and support that Mormon Stories provides is exactly the kind of thing that my wife and I need to feel that there is still a place for us in Mormonism.  STAKE PRESIDENTS EVERYWHERE, don’t take this away from us.  You wouldn’t do it if you knew what it means to us.  If you make us choose between worshipping according to the dictates of our own conscience, including a devoted search for truth, AND our membership… well, what would you do if someone told you that you are not free to search for the truth, or to follow your conscience as the answers come?  What did Joseph Smith do when the ministers told him to ignore the answers to his prayerful search for truth?
    If someone wants to remain in the church, and they are supporting others who want to remain in the church, in a way that quite frankly the stakes and wards are not doing so well at, you should want to keep that person.  You should not want to threaten or alienate that person.   

  29. Laura
    April 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

    My husband and I left the church six months ago after a two and one-half year journey that began when our 18 year old son told us he was gay.  Since finding Mormon Stories, I have actually considered, for the FIRST TIME, that I might be able to return to church someday.  Not yet–but maybe someday after a few more wounds heal.  To hear that a man might lose his membership for seeking comfort from like-minded Mormons is exactly the type of thing that has pushed me away.  Mormon Stories has given me more hope on church questions than any other source I’ve studied for the past two and one-half years.  

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