500: To Be Released

October 21, 2014
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Episode 500 is in the works, and will be released as soon as John can finish it.   In the meantime, we’re going to be releasing some of the other great content we’ve been working on. Enjoy!

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499b: Brent Metcalfe — Mormon Apologetics and Approaching Life After Mormonism

September 25, 2014
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metcalfe

And now, the final installment of our epic* interview with Brent Metcalfe! In today’s episode, we’ll talk to Brent about his interactions and run-ins with prominent Mormon apologists like Daniel Peterson, Lou Midgley and others. We’ll also talk about the recent history of BYU’s Maxwell Institute and what he sees in its future and in the future of Mormon apologetics overall. We’ll also talk in depth with Brent about how he has been able to construct a healthy and happy life outside of Mormonism. And be sure not to miss the exciting announcement from Brent toward the end of the…

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499: Brent Metcalfe and the Book of Abraham

September 19, 2014
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In Part 5 of our interview with Brent Metcalfe, one of the foremost Mormon scholars, we explore the history surrounding Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham (one of the primary scriptural texts for the LDS Church). We also talk about the concept of translation, Joseph Smith’s views on his “translations,” the traditional apologetic responses concerning the Book of Abraham (Hugh Nibley, John Gee, and Kerry Muhlestein), as well as the LDS Church’s recent essay on the Book of Abraham. Stay tuned for the sixth and final episode of our series with Brent Metcalfe.  Coming soon!  In it, we’ll talk to…

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497-498: Brent Metcalfe — After the Hofmann bombings, Brent’s excommunication, and examining the Book of Mormon

September 13, 2014
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497-498: Brent Metcalfe — After the Hofmann bombings, Brent’s excommunication, and examining the Book of Mormon

In the highly anticipated follow up to our first interview, Brent Metcalfe continues his story. In Part 3, Brent discusses the aftermath of the Hofmann murders, including the trial and Hofmann’s eventual plea deal. He also discusses the events leading up to, and including, his excommunication. In Part 4, Brent examines some of the issues surrounding traditional approaches to the Book of Mormon. A special thanks to Brent, who was feeling significantly under the weather during our interview, for sticking it out to deliver what amounts to one of the more fascinating Mormon Stories interviews.

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495-496: Fiona and Terryl Givens and “The Crucible of Doubt” – Parts 1 and 2

August 28, 2014
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Crucible of Doubt

In their latest book, The Crucible of Doubt, published by Deseret Book, Fiona and Terryl Givens tackle perhaps their most daunting — and important — subject to date: doubt in the context of Mormon faith. In Part 1, we interview a Mormon Stories listener and contributor, James Patterson, about his struggles with doubt and how the book helped him. In Part 2, Terryl and Fiona take us through the book as we discuss the elements of Mormonism that cause some of the biggest doubts and how to approach them with new paradigms. Time last night didn’t allow for a Part…

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Resources for Married Couples

August 27, 2014
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Some resources for married Mormons or former Mormons.  Topics are relevant for unorthodox LDS couples, mixed-faith couples, and post-Mormon couples: Screencasts: Top 5 Myths and Truths about Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church http://mormonstories.org/top-5-myths-and-truths-about-why-committed-mormons-leave-the-church/ Podcasts: Navigating a Mormon Faith Transition (an overview) http://www.mormontransitions.org/2012/04/05/001-navigating-a-mormon-faith-transition/ 182-185: Navigating a Marriage When One Loses Their LDS Testimony http://mormonstories.org/182-185-navigating-a-marriage-when-one-loses-their-lds-testimony/ 143-146: Raising Children in a Non-Traditional LDS Home http://mormonstories.org/143-146-raising-children-in-a-non-traditional-lds-home/ 123-125: What to do when your husband loses his LDS testimony — Jacque Parts 1-3 http://mormonstories.org/123-125-what-to-do-when-your-husband-loses-his-lds-testimony-jacque-parts-1-3/ 157-159: How to Improve Your Marriage After One of You Loses Their Testimony http://mormonstories.org/157-159-how-to-improve-your-marriage-after-an-lds-crisis-of-faith/ 330: Raising Children in a Mixed-Faith Mormon Home…

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A Thank You to Our Workshop Scholarship Donors

August 27, 2014
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To those of you who graciously supported the scholarship recipient program for our August “Marriage and Faith Transition Workshop” — I wanted to let you know that we were able to fund (by my best count) 12 couples scholarships because of your donations.  Margi, Natasha, and I cannot thank you enough for your generosity.  Below are a few “thank you notes” to you, from some of our scholarship recipients. Participant #1: “To those who helped my wife and I attend this meeting thank you very much. My wife and I have struggled for many years with our concerns for a mixed faith…

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An update on my discussions with Stake President Bryan King (8/23/2014)

August 23, 2014
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It appears as though our discussions with stake president Bryan King have abated for the time being, so I wanted to provide a quick update (for those who keep asking). After sending me this initial letter asking that I resign my church membership or face a disciplinary council, my wife Margi and I met with President King and his first counselor for the first time on 6/29/2014 (at our request).  President King framed this original meeting as an opportunity for him to listen, and so we spent most of our time together with me sharing my beliefs, doubts, and concerns about the church, its…

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493-494: Brent Metcalfe – Early Years, Mark Hofmann, the Salamander Letter, and the Bombings

August 20, 2014
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493-494: Brent Metcalfe – Early Years, Mark Hofmann, the Salamander Letter, and the Bombings

Few people had more of a front-row seat than Brent Metcalfe to the goings-on surrounding Mark Hofmann, the “Salamander Letter,” and the tragic events of October 1985 — what would be dubbed as the “Mormon Murders.” As a personal friend and research assistant for both Steve Christensen and Mark Hofmann, Brent Metcalfe watched the whole episode unfold right before his eyes. In Part 1, Brent talks about his early days in the Church and his time working for Church security. He also talks about his early forays into Mormon studies. In Part 2, Brent describes working for and with Steve…

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Questions for Kirk Caudle

August 18, 2014
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Questions for Kirk Caudle

Later this week I’ll have the privilege of guest hosting Mormon Stories. I’ll be talking to Kirk Caudle, Mormon studies scholar and host of the Mormon Book Review Podcast. Until this summer, Kirk was also an adjunct professor of religion at BYU-Idaho. After a series of run-ins with school administrators regarding his teaching, Caudle resigned not only from his position with the school, but also from the Church. I’ll be talking to Kirk about his Mormon studies work, the formation of his testimony of the Book of Mormon, his time at BYU-Idaho and the reasons behind his resignation. Please post…

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A Fascinating Look Into How the LDS Church Conducts Marketing Research Around Progressive Issues

August 13, 2014
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LDSSURVEY1

I received these screen shots today from a supportive listener. To me, it’s a fascinating look into how the LDS Church currently conducts marketing research (to its members) around progressive issues such as its disciplining of high-profile members, and the ordination of women.                    

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491-492: Mara and Danny Kofoed — A Blog About Love

August 13, 2014
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mara danny kofoed

Since 2011, Mara and Danny Kofoed have been blogging about their positive approaches to life, even in the face of sometimes heartbreaking circumstances such as infidelity, divorce, and infertility.  A Blog About Love stands as a the Kofoed’s testimony to the human spirit’s ability to transcend despair and difficulty, and to view life for the positive, uplifting, and even loving experience that it can be. In this two-part series, Mara and Danny talk about their lives in Mormonism, their failed first marriages, meeting each other, starting the blog, their experiences dealing with infertility — and how they keep a loving attitude through it…

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Questions for Brent Metcalfe

August 11, 2014
By
metcalfe

I am very excited to announce that I will soon be interviewing Brent Metcalfe.  Brent is a fascinating interview for Mormon Stories for many reasons, including: He knew forger and bomber Mark Hofmann personally. He worked directly for Steven Christensen (son of Mr. Mac), one of Mark Hofmann’s victims. He went on to author/edit New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, which examined in-depth the historicity claims of the Book of Mormon. Brent was ultimately excommunicated for editing/authoring this book. Brent has become one of the foremost scholars in understanding the Book of Abraham. Brent is generally a giant…

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488-490: Neil Ransom and Kate Kelly – After Kate’s Excommunication

July 26, 2014
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In this three-part series we interview Neil Ransom (Kate Kelly’s husband, and Ph.D. candidate in anthropology) and we speak with Kate about her excommunication and the aftermath. Some of the fascinating tidbits we explore: Neil’s early years growing up in Africa How Neil’s mission, along with his attending BYU-Idaho, actually turned him into a progressive Mormon How Kate and Neil met (their love story), and what Neil loves most about Kate What Neil is researching for his Ph.D. (hint….it’s super cool) Has Neil experienced a faith crisis? Who “wears the pants” in Kate/Neil’s marriage…also what are the traits of a “real man” according…

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487: An Outsider’s View of Joseph Smith — Alex Beam’s “American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church”

July 15, 2014
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AlexBeam

In this episode we interview Alex Beam: author of “American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church.” Alex provides an extremely insightful and compelling “outsider’s view” of Joseph Smith’s final years in Nauvoo, along with his murder and legacy.

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483-486: Christine Jeppsen Clark, Daughter of General Authority Malcolm Jeppsen

July 7, 2014
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Christine Jeppsen Clark is a mother of six, a former Mormon Tabernacle Choir member, a Ph.D. graduate student focusing on dementia, and a dear personal friend.  She is also the daughter of the late Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen — former LDS General Authority, personal physician and best friend to Elder Boyd K. Packer, and a GA who was directly involved in the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi (one of the September Six).  In this multi-part episode with Christine we discuss: What it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s in Salt Lake City as a very orthodox, devout member…

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Are you guilty of “speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed”?

June 27, 2014
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A few years ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks was quoted as saying: “It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.” I have worked very hard in my work with Mormon Stories to not criticize LDS church leaders.  That said, I believe that it is generally unhealthy for organizations to shield themselves from constructive, well-intended criticism.  I, myself, am extremely sensitive to criticism — so I am not necessarily a model in this regard…but I still believe that constructive criticism is very healthy….and I actively seek it from people who I do not believe wish me harm.…

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Are there any quotes from LDS Church leaders which either support or inspire you?

June 27, 2014
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“I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent–if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression… This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence or any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity…

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Do you desire to be a martyr?

June 27, 2014
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 No.  This experience has been simply awful for me and for my family.  I would not wish this experience on anyone.

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Why did you go to the media with your story?

June 27, 2014
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In the letter I received from my stake president (Dr. Bryan King), he wrote the following: “You should also be aware that if you choose to have your name removed from Church records, I feel it is important to make an appropriate announcement to the adults in the stake that you have chosen this option.” We also knew that a stake-level disciplinary council would involve at least 15 men, and could not reliably be kept confidential.  After discussing this situation with my wife, we decided that this situation was not going to allow us to leave the church quietly and discreetly (if that were…

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Do you have any regrets?

June 27, 2014
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Yes.  I regret the extent to which my wife, kids, and extended family have suffered (at times) as a result of my work with Mormon Stories. I also wish I had more time to read and prepare for my podcast interviews (over the years). Fortunately, my Ph.D. is almost finished.  

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Are you in any way involved with the “Strangers in Zion” web site?

June 27, 2014
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No, am not involved in the Strangers in Zion web site.  I am friends with Micah Nickolaisen (one of its founders), and Micah did call me before initiating this project to get my opinion.  I told Micah that I did not want to use my current situation to encourage people to do anything that would not be in their best interest.  Consequently, I do not desire to encourage anyone to either stay in or leave the church.  Instead, I want people to do what is best for them.  I will admit that I believe that people requesting disciplinary councils may lead to greater awareness, dialogue, and ultimately…

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If you are asked to take down Mormon Stories as a condition for your continued membership, will you comply?

June 27, 2014
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No.  I am open to feedback from church leaders regarding tone and accuracy of information, but I believe very strongly that our inability as Mormons to openly discuss difficult issues is our biggest problem/weakness as a people.  Consequently, I do not plan on self-censorship, but will listen to feedback from church leadership with an open mind.

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Do you want people to resign from the church, or to request disciplinary action, in support of you and Kate Kelly?

June 27, 2014
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No.  I want people to do whatever is best for them in their lives.

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What will you do if you are excommunicated?

June 27, 2014
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My current plan is to complete my Ph.D. in clinical/counseling psychology, and to spend the next 30 years helping people who struggle with the conflict between religion and mental health.  I plan to continue Mormon Stories Podcast (as long as I am financially able to do so), and I hope to create/lead more projects in the coming years to help people navigate the nexus of religion and mental health.

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Are you worried that publishing your beliefs/doubts/concerns will lead to your excommunication?

June 27, 2014
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On the contrary.  I am sincerely interested in finding out if the LDS Church wants people like me to remain in the church. Consequently, I want all of my/our cards to be on the table during this process, and I am hopeful that my stake president will be open, honest, and explicit about why he takes whatever action he takes against me (if action is to be taken).  If the church is willing to accept me as I am, I will stay.  If the church takes formal action to excommunicate me, I will leave.  It’s that simple.

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Do you believe that this action against you has been orchestrated from above?

June 27, 2014
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Yes and no.  I am certain that local church leadership (including my former Elder’s Quorum President and a close friend of his) have complained numerous times about me to my bishop, and that there are genuine concerns on the local level regarding my activity with Mormon Stories, along with my advocacy for LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and Ordain Women.  That said, I have also been informed of training activities led by Elder L. Whitney Clayton that have been conducted in my stake, Kate Kelly’s stake, Denver Snuffer’s stake, and elsewhere — wherein local church leaders have possibly influenced the decision to initiate…

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Is it true that you had never met or spoken with your stake president prior to receive your letter announcing a pending disciplinary council?

June 27, 2014
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Yes.  This was very odd for all of us to receive a letter from my stake president (whom I had never met) that basically said, “I invite you to resign from the church, otherwise we will be initiating a disciplinary council.” However, in his defense, it is my understanding now that my stake president (Dr. Bryan King) interpreted the letter we wrote to our bishop as suggesting that I did not want him to reach out to me.  I take him at his word. I will say that our clear intent in sending the above email was to tell the bishop and other ward members…

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Did you ask to be excommunicated?

June 27, 2014
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Not at all.  In the ten years we have lived here in Logan I have been investigated on at least three different occasions for concerns surrounding my online activities, research, and advocacy.  In the past my wife and I have participated in these investigations voluntarily, and in good faith — always to be vindicated in the end.  In one instance, my Elder’s quorum president/home teacher was secretly assigned by our bishop to investigate my internet activities, and to report this information to the bishop while simultaneously serving as our home teacher.  This investigatory activity continued for months before I was finally informed of the assignment (on…

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Are you trying to lead people out of the church?

June 27, 2014
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My original motivation for creating Mormon Stories was to help people stay within the church after a crisis of faith.  In addition, I have personally initiated several projects with the same goal, including StayLDS.com, MormonMatters.org, and AThoughtfulFaith.org — and I continue to support these projects.  I have been told by literally thousands of people over the years that these projects have been instrumental in helping them stay active members of the church.  In several Mormon Stories episodes I have also consistently interviewed people with the explicit intent of helping people stay in the church.  Over the years, however, I have learned that for…

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Do you believe that excommunication will affect your status with God?

June 27, 2014
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No.

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