Mormon Stories Listeners,

A small situation has arisen and I’d love to gather a few letters from folks who feel like Mormon Stories has helped them find a way to remain active in the church when they otherwise might not have.

If you are able to help, please either email me at mormonstories@gmail.com or post your story here.

Thanks so much, and sorry to be a burden.

69 Comments

  1. Michael Lee March 20, 2007 at 9:21 am

    On behalf of John Dehlin and to whom it may concern:

    I would like to take a moment and express my gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for John’s tireless efforts with regards to his MormonStories podcast and blog. After coming to a more expansive understanding of real LDS history I felt that there could be no possible way for me to remain active in this institution. John’s enlightening, thought-provoking and honest episodes and interviews have given me hope that I may one day find a place in my religious community – even as a non-believer.

    For those who doubt the good that John is doing here please remember that orthodox LDS doctrine and history cannot be accepted at face value by many sincere individuals and must be scrutinized. Whatever the long-term effects of this investigation into our faith, Brother Dehlin has provided a beacon of hope in an otherwise desolate landscape of fringe Mormonism. There is no one correct answer to life’s crucial questions and John realizes this and does his utmost to provide meaningful dialogue for those of us who accept that life is full of many colors, hues and shades. In short, he has given us community where there was none in conventional Mormonism and allowed many of us to stick with the church – warts and all.

    Thank you for your time.

  2. Chris March 20, 2007 at 9:32 am

    [To Whom it May Concern],

    I’ve been a member of the Church for 11 years. I was baptized against the wishes of my family when I was 16. I’ve been married in the temple and active in the Church for nearly all of my time as a member, holding numerous callings. I was raised in a few different Protestant denominations, namely Methodist and Southern Baptist, and by the time I was in my early teens, there were many unanswered questions for me. So I went searching. I found that the LDS Church provided many of the answers for which I was looking.

    I’ve always been a student of history, and in recent years, religious history. The history of our church is fascinating to me. I caught the church history bug, and as I had with my family history before, I dove in head first. As soon as I started studying LDS history, I realized that many of the things I’d been taught and stories I’ve heard in church may not have been entirely accurate, or at the very least, alternate perspectives existed. I read books from a wide spectrum of sources including church publications, other church-sanctioned sources such as FARMS, apologetic sources such as FAIR, and of course, independent scholarly research. One thing I didn’t do was read the so called “anti-Mormon” books and websites, because I knew these would do nothing to help my testimony.

    What I found was alarming. After about 8 months of reading, I came to the conclusion that many, if not most, of the history we’re taught as lay members through correlated material is white-washed and the whole story is seldom told. In many instances, very important history is simply left out because it is not deemed as faith promoting. Such issues as polygamy, polyandry, origins of the Book of Mormon, the various “translations” that Joseph Smith wrote during his life, the numerous accounts of Joseph’s first vision, the restoration of the Priesthood, the denial of the Priesthood to those of African descent, and many of the teachings found in the Journal of Discourses troubled me deeply. Over the course of my studies, I slowly witnessed the complete erosion of my testimony, and worse yet, I felt deceived and I felt alone.

    This was a dark time in my life and it’s still far from over. But through the help of a member of your ward, I am still a member of the Church and I plan on staying. I found John Dehlin’s podcast and website about this time last year. Perhaps the best thing about finding John is that it let me know that there were other people out there like me, they were talking about these issues, and they weren’t leaving the Church. People like me need a forum. John has opened up a door for me to meet like-minded people and discuss these issues, how to reconcile them, and most importantly, how to stay in the Church. If you listen to John’s podcast, his efforts are aimed at people who already know the issues, already had damage done to their testimony, and have already thought of leaving the Church. He helps these members stay and find a comfortable place in the Church. His calling is to help people stay in the Church and he works tirelessly at doing so.

    The bottom line is I no longer have a traditional testimony of the Church or the gospel. Does that mean, for me, the Church is no longer true? Well, I guess, yes. But it doesn’t matter. That’s not why I stay and it’s not what I focus on anymore. I stay because I am a better person for being a member. I stay because my family attends and it provides a moral structure in which to raise our children. I stay because many of my friends and neighbors are LDS. I stay because after 11 years, I am not merely a member, the LDS church is part of my culture. But most of all, I stay because I still believe the Church is inherently good. People like me need to have a place in the Church, and John is helping us to create one for ourselves.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Gardner

  3. Equality March 20, 2007 at 10:36 am

    To whom it may concern:

    I have been an avid listener of John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories podcasts for over a year now. I found them at a time when I was re-evaluating my testimony and my relationship with the LDS Church. At one point in 2006, I had actually written a letter of resignation. Listening to John’s podcasts helped bring me back from the brink of resignation, as he spoke of his personal spiritual journey and talked about the things he loves about the LDS Church. One of the things that has led me to question whether I can continue membership in the church is the institution’s treatment of scholars, academics, and people with somewhat unorthodox views. The church’s excommunication of scholars in 1992 was serously misguided. I have said that if the LDS church takes disciplinary action against John for doing no more than letting Mormons of all varieties tell their personal stories, I would resign my membership. I sincerely hope that church leaders recognize the good that John is doing and the impact he is having in keeping people connected with the church who otherwise might have left upon discovering information about church history and doctrine they hitherto had not been exposed to.

  4. Bro. L March 20, 2007 at 10:42 am

    [To Whom it May Concern]:

    I am writing to share with you a few thoughts regarding my personal experience with John Dehlin and his website, Mormonstories.org. First, perhaps a few notes about me are appropriate, so that you might have a better understanding of my background. Born in Logan, Utah, I was raised by “goodly parents”, both of whom are of pioneer heritage. I served an honorable mission in Texas, after which I completed an undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University followed by a law degree from one of the Ivy League schools. Today, my father is a Bishop, while I serve faithfully as a member of the High Council in my stake. My dear wife and I are blessed with two precious children; our family is fully active in the Church.

    I suppose my fascination with Church history began at Brigham Young University. The BYU Library’s Special Collection is filled with sources from the Church’s founding leaders, and I would spend hours in the library, devouring anything I could get my hands on. I also spent as much time pouring over the scriptures and immersed myself in my religion classes. I found that a peculiar paradox developed during my studies: The more I studied our history, the more questions and doubts were raised in my mind, but the more I studied our doctrines, from our teachings on the Atonement to Temple Marriage, the stronger my faith grew in Christ and His Gospel.

    However, shortly after law school, I found myself in the midst of a crisis of faith. My testimony of the Savior and His Restored Gospel was as strong as ever, but I just found myself wrestling, and struggling with an overwhelming amount of our founding history. I began to feel alienated from my fellow saints because their faith was so absolute, whereas mine was struggling to reconcile itself with a host of historical issues that my studies had raised. I was relieved to find an internet community of saints posting on various websites, working through these same issues, most with the goal of staying in the faith. The online discussions are often enlivening in that they reveal how other members have intellectually reconciled some of the same concerns I harbor. Perhaps more importantly, being in contact with other active saints who are empathetic to my personal questions has helped me to feel like I am still part of the community of saints, despite my uncertainties, and has given me real-life examples of spiritual faith in the face of logical doubt, a tension many of us face to some degree.

    Brother Dehlin’s website, in particular, has done much towards helping me through my personal crisis of faith. His podcasts provide interview after interview with exemplary saints who are dealing, as best they can, with these tough issues that have raised doubts in the minds of many. Above all, I have been blessed by Brother Dehlin’s repeated plea that one need not turn away from the Church simply because he or she carries reservations regarding some of the Church’s history or past teachings. This plea has reminded me that my faith in the Savior and His Restored Gospel teachings are what matter most, empowering me to continue to serve the Lord, despite my open doubts which might remain unresolved during this lifetime.

    I believe there are thousands of saints like myself; strong members who show up every Sunday, but shoulder a silent burden of conflict as their intellectual curiosity begins to raise questions that are not always congruous with their faith. I would never feel comfortable, nor appropriate, in raising my concerns in Sunday School because, as part of the Church leadership, I understand that the purpose of Church is to build faith, not reconcile our history. This is why forums, like Brother Dehlin’s website, are all the more vital to saints, like myself, who are in desperate need of a community outside of our formal meetings, where we can candidly voice our questions and concerns and work through them side-by-side with fellow believers who are in the process of making the same journey of faith. In other words, I believe that Brother Dehlin’s website community, and others like it, are doing as much to uphold and build my faith in God as the community of saints that I break bread with each Sabbath Day; the difference being, that each community addresses different aspects of my spiritual needs as I try my best to be a worthy disciple of Christ.

    Best regards,

    Bro. L

  5. Brett Williams March 20, 2007 at 10:48 am

    To whom it may concern on behalf of John Dehlin

    As a multi-generational member of the LDS church, I was raised by good parents in a good place, immersed in LDS culture. I’m a historian by temperament and desire, thus my degree in that field is a natural extension of my personality. The cognitive dissonance I experienced in the consideration of LDS history was and is a major theme in my life. I have raged against the LDS church and I love the LDS church. LDS history and the official approach to it disturbs me, but I have come to my own conclusions and my own approach it.

    John Dehlin has been an integral part of my decision to stay within the Church. Both through his podcast, involvement on the forums he sponsors and through personal correspondence he has provided me insight and the tools I have used to maintain my affiliation with the LDS church even though I have gone through experiences that many people have left over.

    My ‘testimony’ is as non-traditional as John Dehlin’s. Indeed, my family has a history of doing such things. A great uncle, Sven Bourquist was excommunicated from the LDS church a total of 5 times for ‘Unchristianlike Conduct’. He simply got re-baptized at every opportunity. Like a long list of people who I have encountered on the internet amount the Mormon blogs and forums, I and others like me are just too stubborn and care too much to quit.

    John has been a friend, an inspiration and a voice of rationality in the all-too emotional religious discussion that goes on in forums like this. I need you to understand how important and well-loved John is by so many of us. It would be a mistake to consider him a ‘leader’ in a hierarchical sense, but he is a fellow traveler with those of us who question and he has produced a body of work that speaks our language and allows us to honestly choose how we will relate to the LDS church.

    If personal contact is desired, John can provide you with my email address, I’d be more than willing to talk on-line or by phone about how his podcasts and blog have aided me and my family in our approach to the LDS church.

    Sincerely
    Brett Williams
    Canada

  6. AwakeInLehi March 20, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    To: Whom it may concern… With regard to John Dehlin & MormonStories.org

    I will echo many of the comments left by other listerners, but this is my story.. John Dehlin through his efforts has “saved my life”..
    I am lifelong member of the church, I was born in the covenant to parents who taught me many wonderful things about life and love and God. My heritage goes back to Nauvoo and England-to-SLC. I have honorably served in leadership positions my entire life. I loved my mission, the 10 years I spent as YM president was awesome-fun. I was married in the Temple shortly after returning home, I now have four daughters and a loving understanding wife who supports me in all of my efforts to find actual honest truth. For 18+ years I have kept historical doctrinal issues on my internal shelf. Well Bishop—My shelf finally broke, as yours will one day, and you will have to deal with the massive amount of doctrinal soup you have been feed your entire life within the church. Some questions do not have answers.. the one question I have researching more than any other lately “WHY DOES THE DETAILED STUDY OF CHURCH HISTORY ALWAYS DESTROY SIMPLE FAITH” a few years back I was for lack of a better term an “LDS apologist” I was in a quest to help my best friend find his way back from apostasy. His BS meter went off the chart when he learned about the historical factual events of treasure digging and seer stones. He trashed his faith and within three months he was a divorced father of 5 children.. In my search for a rebuttal to just that one series of events. I have accumulated nearly fifty other events that are more damming to the foundational and continuing story of the restoration of the “one and only true church theory”. I can believe in miracles, I love the old testament stories. In fact I am hoping for a miracle today that will answer my questions, and restore my faith in an intuition I have given many thousands of hours of service, and approaching the 6 figure mark in tithes and offerings. I no longer believe in the mormon church, have recently graduated to a struggle with the belief in any God – let alone any Christian God. I have loads of emotions mainly anger. But, I still have hope. – John through mormonstories.org and personal emails has helped me in many ways, I am still looking for good in the Church, I still attend, my wife and children still believe. Please Bishop –or- Stake President the next time you give a temple recommend interview and ask “if you are honest in your dealings with your fellow man” imagine the next time you initiate a fast & testimony meeting starting it out “I am so grateful I have a testimony that Joseph Smith placed a rock in a hat and dictated the Book Of Mormon to his scribes, I am eternally grateful that Joseph Smith provided a Christ-like example to all of us when he married 33 women without Emma’s knowledge, 8 or which were 16, 12 of them were married to other men at the time he married them..

    cognitive dissonance is kicking in for you now, so I will close. ~
    John is one of the most sincere, honest person I have ever encountered.. He is doing good things..please consider all aspects before final decision

  7. Thomas March 20, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    To whom it may concern:

    I have read some of John Dehlin’s Internet writings and I believe him to be a gentleman, a loyal Latter-day Saint, and an honest seeker of truth.

    Growing up Mormon in Orange County, California, and attending a very liberal law school, I had the opportunity to defend the Church to crusading evangelical Christians and sneering secularists alike. I can tell a foe of the Church from a friend. Mr. Dehlin is plainly a friend.

    I believe and am sure that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contains the fulness of the Savior’s gospel, despite that I am not one of those who has been given to know by the Holy Spirit that the Church is true. (See D&C 46:11 et seq.) Nothing I have read of Mr. Dehlin’s writings has the slightest tendency to diminish that conviction. He does not create stumbling-blocks to faith. The stumbling-blocks are there all on their own; Mr. Dehlin shines a light on them and helps those of us who are determined to stay with the faith of our fathers, come hell or high water, to find our way over or around them.

    Although some people may prefer that the Church’s “dirty laundry” not be aired, facts, as they say, are stubborn things, and tend to come out. If Mr. Dehlin, and others, did not plainly and expressly address the actual facts, a person who encounters them for the first time, and perceives a distance between what he learned in Semininary and well-documented reality, may conclude that his only alternatives are apostasy or willful ignorance. Mr. Dehlin is a vital proof that those are not the only choices.

    The Church is worthy of our love, like Pericles’ Athens, for what it really is. It does not need concealing makeup to be worthy of our reverence.

    Very truly yours,
    Thomas

  8. Julie I. March 20, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I would like John Delhin to know how much I appreciate his help. About 2 years ago when I was trying to write a Relief Society lesson on marriage I stumbled on some information about Joseph Smith marrying other mens wives. I was physically sick and did not understand this at all. I then began researching church history and with all of the information I learned I was angry, shocked, disappointed and was planning on leaving the church. I was in the process of writing a letter to all of my LDS family members explaining what I have learned and how I no longer believe. I had committed my life to the church, and for me personally, I just could not believe the ‘same way’ anymore (knowing what I now know). I studied the church just the same as I would any other topic that I have researched in College. I mostly stayed away from anti-mormon literature and focused on the facts which for me, were very uncomfortable and I lost my faith in the LDS church.
    Initially, I felt like I would have to leave the church…there was no other option for me and my family. I was hurt, depressed and saw no reason to go to church anymore. However,I had a problem. I did not feel comfortable going to church anymore, but I had a sense of loss about leaving and felt uncomfortable about that too. However, I had finally decided that I was going to look into other churches when I read about the ‘middle way’ and watched a podcast by John Delhin explaining the reasons to stay in the church despite my feelings of disbelief. He made it clear that there is a lot of good in the church and that I can still be an active member despite my lack of belief.
    With the abundance of uncomfortable information about the church online and in books, there are going to be more and more people just like me. People who find out these things, feel hurt, lose their belief and want to get out and get out fast!! John has helped me realize this is not the only option, and that there are many other people like me out there. There are reasons to stay involved and I would really like to do this because I don’t want to disappoint my family and I know my children still get a lot of good from the church even though I have lost my belief.
    Thanks John!

  9. Adcama March 20, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    To whom it may concern:

    I’m writing to share with you my story, my thoughts and my support for John Dehlin, his web sites and others like him who have the courage to promote dialogue, understanding and a forum for those of us who have serious questions regarding LDS history and the way that history has been handled by the church. There should be no mistake that John, and others like him, encourage continued participation within the LDS community despite doubts, concerns and inconsistencies perceived by otherwise faithful church members.

    First, let me try to share with you the paradigm of people like me who have come to value John’s work with mormonstories. Perhaps the best way to describe my/our situation is to compare our relationship(s) with the church to a marital relationship. The purpose of this example is to try and contextualize the positions and feelings many of us have as the result of our being active in the faith, intensely trying to understand our doctrine and finding inconsistencies with many things we once took for granted.

    The marriage comparison starts like this. Let’s assume for a minute that I dated and married the most beautiful woman in the world (not too far from the truth). She’s everything I ever wanted…beautiful, talented and it’s my belief that she’s my soul mate (similar to my feelings toward the church for the first 30 years of my life).

    Our marriage is awesome. We’ve been married for several years. Like every marriage, there are things that pop up that we have to work through, but overall, things are great.

    Since I didn’t know her when she was a kid, teenager and even before my mission, I rely on her version of her history. My understanding of her history is based solely on what she tells me. She says she always believed in the church. She tells me that she does not drink, leading me to believe she never did. She tells me that I was the first guy she kissed that really meant anything, leading me to believe I was the first guy she ever kissed. She talks about how she loved seminary, loved church growing up and could never understand why some people use drugs. She talks about how dumb it was for people to pair off together in high school, leading me to believe she never had a boyfriend. I have no reason to doubt her. After all, she’s the perfect wife. And any relationship is built upon trust – she’s done nothing to compromise that.

    As time goes on and we’re moving some old boxes around in the basement, I happen to notice her college picture album. As I flip through, I see her having fun and living the life she’d told me about. Then, as I flip the page, I see a picture of her kissing some other guy! Looking deeper in those boxes, I uncover some love letters that are a little more intimate than I’m comfortable with. I do a little more looking and discover a photo of her at a frat party with what appears to be an alcoholic beverage in her hand. Other inconsistencies and troubling facts begin popping up – seemingly from everywhere. Her history seems to be different than what I’ve always been told.

    I immediately start asking questions. I’m disturbed by this (not necessarily by the fact that my wife had a boyfriend, drank in college, etc., but that she’d told me, or led me to believe something different). I’m looking for explanations. When I confront her with the evidence, she challenges me saying that I’m looking for a reason to destroy our marriage and that this is really less about her past than about my ability to trust her. I start asking her family and other people I trust to tell me the truth. They acknowledge that my wife did ‘kinda’ have a history, but that really didn’t mean anything. After all, I felt a tremendous love and bond to her, right?

    After a while and with some reluctance, she accepts others’ depictions of her history (or I get to the bottom of it one way or another). She claims she didn’t mislead me, but she can’t deny that she had a bit of a history – a history that seems to contradict what I’d always been led to believe.

    Then, she asserts that this whole ordeal was really my fault for misunderstanding her. The information, she claims, was out there if I would have just studied it out for myself. It wasn’t her responsibility to publish, talk about or disclose information that would potentially harm my perception of her and subsequently our relationship. After all, all that stuff happened in the past and she does not do that anymore (which seems to be true). She says she was trying not to hurt me and that she just didn’t want to harm our relationship. She says she did all of this because she truly cared about me. She argues that she wasn’t inaccurate or untruthful, just a little bit incomplete – leaving out the gory details and information that wasn’t necessarily helpful. Again, she says she did this with my best interests in mind.

    I think that’s the position people like me find themselves in. For the first 30 years of my church life, I felt like I’d met and married the most perfect religion in the world. Then, in my case as the result of diligent study of church history for a Sunday School class, I began to move boxes where I found information that gave me pause. Information that was at least inconsistent. Information, I felt, had been hidden and concealed by the church – probably because someone didn’t want me to get hurt.

    This is where John’s work comes in. After discovering, through extensive study and research, what I think are most of all of these relevant facts, becoming angry and disenfranchised and preparing to resign my membership, I found John’s sites. I can’t describe how refreshing it was to discover that there are MANY other people in the same frame of mind I was in.

    To be able to discuss these issues in a context of staying in the church is a unique and awesome accomplishment. In my opinion, leaders of the church owe Brother Dehlin a handshake and “thank you” for providing a forum that is otherwise unavailable for people like me, people who may very well have left as a result of our respective crisis of faith. The web is replete with disenfranchised members who have been through the same process I’ve described, but found nothing but more reasons to leave. I wonder if I would have joined such ranks had John kept quiet, “toed the line”, or simply left the church himself.

    Until now, I sincerely hoped that the church’s lack of interest in challenging openness, candor, discovery and the quest for truth among followers of the faith (i.e. taking issue with members who promote sites like mormonstories) signaled a new attitude among church leadership – namely that we’re not afraid of our history and that the church is really isn’t hiding anything. I’d hoped that the lack of church interest in these sites meant that the church is as honest and open with our history (and actions relative to that history) as the church encourages individual members to be with our personal lives. Suppressing facts, refusing to be completely open and silencing those who wonder (especially when those who wonder try to help others who wonder) sends a chilling message – one that is inconsistent with our Primary message – the one that began with a boy who only received answers after openly asking questions. Surely, as is evidenced by the response given to Joseph Smith, the Savior does not condemn those who ask questions, even openly ask questions, about religion – especially when those asking the questions are trying to have them answered within the walls of the LDS church.

    I think it’s important to note that troubling facts are more easily dealt with when they are discussed openly. In the marriage example, a person would likely not have a problem with their spouse’s ‘wild’ history if their spouse had been open about it in the beginning. The serious marital problems arise only after it is learned that the complete history was concealed. This should give church leaders a great deal to think about on the topic of keeping certain things quiet or taking issue with sites like mormonstories.

    Finally, if the church would like more control over the content of such sites, perhaps an open forum should be spearheaded by the church. I see nothing at mormonstories that open, honest and faithful members of the church shouldn’t be able to discuss on lds.org. I’m sure there are hundreds of people who could help with such an effort.

    Sincerely,
    Adcama

  10. Tom Haws March 20, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I also will take a moment to express my appreciation for the stabilizing influence John Delhin’s work has been on my relationship with the LDS Church.

    For some time I have struggled to find an appropriate working relationship with the church now that I have begun to see things differently than before. Seeing “that which [is] good among them I [am] desirous that they should not be destroyed” (Mosiah 9:1). I have been strengthened as I have visited John’s mormonstories.org web site and heard others refer to him as a stabilizing example. While I am not an iPod/MP3 fellow, John’s presence has been a factor for me in my continuing full activity in the LDS church.

    I continue a fully active member in good standing.

  11. mc March 20, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    John is doing great service to his fellow Saints who are finding difficulty believing the literal claims of the church. He is a proponent of staying in the church and his website is a vehicle that, on occasion, surpasses the efficacy of prayer and scripture study. Without his influence for patience and consolation some members will resign without having thoroughly given the church a chance to be a valuable part of their lives.

    mc

  12. Bro C. March 20, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    With little variation, I could have written number 4 above. (I attended undergrad and law school on the east coast; have three kids; and, actively serve in a different church leadership position) I am in complete agreement with the sentiments expressed by Bro L.

    I am curious, however, to know more about the “small situation” you cryptically refer to. Best of luck and hopefully these messages will help resolve it.

  13. Hellmut March 20, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    I am sure that bishops, stake presidents, in short the judges in Zion, are guided by the best intentions. Proverbs preserve the wisdom of our ancestors: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately, good intentions do not give us much leverage when we are concerned about doing the right thing.

    When Gideon struck down the idol of Baal, the village elders demanded that his father turn Gideon over for punishment. Wisely, his father replied that a true god need not rely on the wrath of mortals but will take care of herself (Baal was a female idol).

    So it is in our religion. We love the Church so much that we feel we must defend it. But when we censor people in any way, it is only testimony of our own doubts, fears, and anxieties.

    Truth can bear free speech. When authorities interfere with speech then their actions bear testimony of their doubts.

    A child psychologist once advised me with respect to children: “The more you try to be in control, the less you are.” That is true of any form of leadership. The more we try to be in control, the less we are.

    At some, level, Joseph Smith understood that. He tried to teach correct principles and let the people govern themselves.

    Surely, there is a place for Mormon Stories in Mormon culture. When leaders respond to their personal insecurity by trying to shut down speech, they have to understand that their best intentions will come to naught. Revealing their fears for everyone to see, such leaders will repell thousands from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    If that is not your intention then you need to act accordingly. Put your faith in God. He will take care of the truth. You need not fear John Dehlin when God is on your side.

    Demonstrate your faith and do the right thing because good intentions are not good enough.

  14. Ashley March 20, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    John’s podcasts and web presence have been an important part of my own position in the LDS church. His work has helped me see the good that is present in the church, and has inspired me to continue to look for the positive.

    I currently hold a calling as choir accompanist, which I find a lot of joy in. Knowing that there are other non-traditional believers such as those John has interviewed is one reason I haven’t resigned. I deeply appreciate Mormon Stories.

  15. John Dehlin March 20, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I want to thank all of you (so far) for your kind letters — both here, and those sent directly to me.

    I don’t want to talk about the details of the situation to avoid escalating this into a bigger issue than it needs to be (I’m in no hurry to become the next Buckley Jeppson or Jeff Nielson, though I admire them both), but sufficeth to say that I’ve been asked to discuss my site/podcast w/ a church leader, due to concern expressed by another church leader in a different part of the country. I have no reason to believe that any attempt will be made to silence open, honest discussion — so we really shouldn’t jump to those conclusions. For all I know, they are maybe seeing if I can help in some regard.

    I sincerely hope and expect that this all blows over very quickly. I am confident that it will. Many of your letters will be very helpful in this regard.

    Thanks again.

    P.S. If I’ve helped or harmed your faith or commitment to the church, I’d love to hear your stories. If you’ve left the church, and my podcasts/blogs had little effect in this regard, your stories might be a bit less helpful for this purpose (for what it’s worth). :)

  16. Mayan Elephant March 20, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    hey john,

    giv’em hell.

  17. Equality March 20, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    John, re: your PS in #15,

    wouldn’t it be helpful for the folks you are dealing with to know that the dismos/exmos who comment here at Mormon Stories do NOT attribute their leaving the church to anything they have found on your site? That they left for other reasons, having found information from other sources?

    I wonder if someone were to say they left the church because of President Hinckley’s comments on 60 Minutes and Larry King, would President Hinckley’s Bishop call him in for a talking-to? Just a thought.

  18. John Dehlin March 20, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Equality,

    Fair points. I hope you’re right, but sometimes people aren’t totally fair/rational. Sometimes guilt by association happens — fair or not.

    Still…we’ll see what happens. I’m hopeful it will all fizzle, or be constructive.

  19. HP March 20, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    John,

    I have listened to several podcasts and haven’t found anything at all that promotes the agenda of those opposed to the church. People will believe what they want to believe. Good luck.

  20. […] John Dehlin just posted this message: Mormon Stories Listeners, […]

  21. Hellmut March 20, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    You are probably right, HP. That would be sad though.

  22. Russell March 20, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    To whom it may concern-
    Actually, I am delighted and encouraged that a church leader is taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with John Dehlin.

    Upon meeting and speaking with John, he will quickly learn that John is one of the most humble, sincere, and dedicated people in the Church.

    The amount of time, money, and love that John puts into helping struggling sisters and brothers find meaningful ways to remain involved and engaged in the Mormon experience has been an inspiration to me.

    John’s efforts are a pearl of great price. My testimony has developed and matured over the years and my intereactions with John and the wonderful people I have met through him have reminded me of the beauty and variety that is Mormonism. And he is a constant reminder that I DO belong.

    Upon meeting and speaking with John, this church leader will quickly learn what I learned the first time I met John face-to-face. By the end of our conversation (and a breakfsat buffet)I learned that I have a new friend.

  23. Kat Williams March 20, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Dear John Dehlin and To Whom It May Concern:

    Mormon Stories, both in its blog and podcast forms have had immeasurable positive impact on my faith and how I define myself as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. John Dehlin’s vision for Mormon Stories is unique because he seeks to promote different aspects of the Church and share different people’s life experiences in an atmosphere of genuine interest and understanding in order to create a larger and more connected Mormon community. One could say that John is “building bridges” in this community one story at a time. While others ask rhetorical questions, pass judgment, or present a slanted world/church view, Mormon Stories is an unbiased haven of learning, sharing, and spiritual awareness.

    It is precisely this environment that attracted my husband and I to Mormon Stories and we have been faithful listeners and readers ever since. I am also fully convinced that Mormon Stories has been an integral part of my husband’s and my decision to remain in the church and to raise our daughter LDS. As historians by trade, we are often disturbed by the “official” interpretation of church history and current events which many a time do not seem to fully and honestly interpret happenings of the past and present. We are delighted with Mormon Stories because it doesn’t gloss over events and issues in the church but also remains always rooted in a spirit of seeking faith and understanding. Because we feel we can consider both faith and fact freely through Mormon Stories, it has helped us address hard questions in our spiritual lives and increase our testimony of the church and who we are in it. The church might not know it, but John Dehlin and Mormon Stories are a hidden gem. They have brought light to oft dark places. Please do not consider Mormon Stories as a threat to the LDS church, in fact it is just the opposite.

    Sincerely,

    Kat Williams

    (This was also sent to the Mormon Stories email address)

  24. Paula March 20, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Chieko Okazaki said, “If both of us think alike, then one of us is extraneous.” She was emphasizing the need for there to be room in the church for many different kinds of people. John is a good example of our need for that. John allows many different kinds of mormons to tell their stories, and the questions he asks of them are insightful, kind and respectful. He’s not sarcastic, or mean, but does ask interesting questions. Speaking for myself, this kind of questioning is very refreshing. There are many issues in the church which are interesting, troubling, or unclear to some of us, and for me, open discussion of them is much more helpful than trying to sweep them back under the rug.

  25. John Dehlin March 20, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Quick update — for this specific situation, I need to keep the comments focused on the request/goal (as stated in the original post). I’m gonna go back and remove a couple that don’t quite fit, but please don’t take that the wrong way. I’m just trying to keep things neat and clean and focused for the situation at hand.

    Additional letters/comments would be wonderful — but please try to keep them focused to the request on the original post. I’d also gladly welcome stuff sent directly to me: mormonstories@gmail.com

    Thanks to all of you! Again — I’m very confident that this will be much ado about nothing when all is said and done. I just wanted/needed some stories to help provide context for my conversation.

    You’ve all be an great help.

  26. Graham W. March 20, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    To whom it may concern re John Dehlin and the Mormon Stories website

    The Mormon Stories website has definately strengthened my faith and helped me remain active and committed as a member of the Church. In particular, the interviews that featured Richard Bushman, Greg Kearney (and Grant Palmer too) helped give me a renewed respect and love for the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    I don’t know where else I could find a community that allows me to engage with the tough issues of our history and our past doctrines in such an open and honest manner. I always find the podcasts uplifting and enlightening; I find my faith and testimony enhanced by hearing the stories of other latter-day saints who are trying to make sense of the world we find ourselves in, even though they may draw different conclusions about than I have.

    I listen carefully and try to see what I can learn from others that may help me in my own journey and I feel the podcasts like those with Ann, the New Order Mormon and the other lady, Anne Wilde who practised polygamy, have helped me develop understanding of those who have chosen different paths in the Restoration. I have not heard anything yet that has caused me to doubt the truth of the Prophet Joseph’s experience or the authority of the brethren who lead the Church today. Without a doubt, our history is a deeper, richer and more complex story than the articles in the Ensign could ever fully convey and the Church has its own good reasons for presenting its history and doctrine in the format it does. The responsibility for searching and studying further beyond the boundaries of the correlated material, and the conclusions that I draw from that study are mine. I feel that Mormon Stories has been a great resource in helping me maintain a balanced and thoughtful approach to engagement with LDS history, doctrine and culture and in helping motivate me to attend and participate.

    I am grateful that the site is there and hope it continues to develop through the years.

  27. Brother Less Active March 20, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    “If there is anything viruous, praiseworthy, or of good report, we seek after these things.”

    The Mormon Stories web page, blog, and podcasts are such a breath of fresh air to me. I have struggled with my faith for several years. Mormon Stories is one of the few connections I have to my childhood faith. It has led me to keep the discussion of faith alive, and even helped me to see many positive aspects of the church. It is a positive, yet honest approach to the tensions that we experience in our faith.

    Frankly, I think the church is going to be in a world of hurt unless it starts taking a more open approach to church history, social issues, and becomes less rigid/judgmental. These issues need to be discussed openly. Mormon Stories is providing a critical forum for people who are finding easy access to information and have begun questioning their faith. I can only hope that the church will encourage what John Dehlin is doing for the Mormon community.

    I have experience John’s work as being pro-church. I am not sure if church leaders unerstand how many people need these discussions, and who want to find a mature faith in the way John Dehlin has. I know I would like to get to this point in my own faith development. For now I am an open-minded skeptic, with enough curiosity to allow my faith to rekindle; and Mormon Stories is supporting that journey.

    John Dehlin, please continue what you are doing.

    Sincerely,
    a returned missionary, liberal democrat, Utah-County-Residing Mormon

  28. Mike Kessler March 20, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    John, your podcasts have given me more respect for the LDS Church than anything I’d ever known before. Yes, my husband is LDS, but Mormon Stories is story after story of real people struggling in the desert and reaching for Zion with every breath in them, much like the Mormon pioneers 150 years ago. The stories aren’t always pretty, but they are also never, ever pablum, and I get suspicious when someone tries to feed me pablum. You’ve cured me of any doubt I had in the humanity of Mormons because I have heard their stories and I feel like they are not strangers. I know they, like you, are friends of mine.

  29. Bored in Vernal March 20, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    To whom it may concern on behalf of John Dehlin

    I am a convert to the Church of 28 years. I consider mine a traditional testimony of the Church and I have served a mission, married in the temple, remained active and served in a variety of callings in many different wards. After 28 years of intensive study on gospel subjects I find the traditional Church meetings, though uplifting and comforting, unable to meet my deep spiritual and intellectual longings. An arena such as John Dehlin has provided has enabled me and others like me to study the gospel in more depth and connect with scholars who have grappled with many issues. I feel that John’s site does nothing but promote continued faith in the Church for those who are active as well as those who struggle with faith issues.

    In addition, I wish to make you aware of John’s constant availability to those who become discouraged about their membership in the Church. He has met with many people electronically and in person to encourage and uplift them. He has spent much time and spiritual energy in a wonderful ministry. I commend him to all.

  30. Eric Carlson March 20, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    One of the most difficult things that happens when a person starts questioning their faith in the LDS church is the potential effect it has on their family. I am very grateful for Bro. Dehlin and his site because it has helped me relate my feelings to my family and to work through some very difficult circumstances. It would be wonderful if the church would adopt some official channel such as this forum for individuals like myself who find themselves in these difficult situations. It would be a wonderful expression of love from the leaders to the members.

  31. fox March 20, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I have found John Dehlin’s blog site to be informative and thought-provoking.

    Hard questions about the Church have flooded the Internet. It is nice to have Dehlin as a voice of moderation to take-on those hard questions. Otherwise, extreme anti-Mormon voices will dominate.

    Dehlin is an extremely talented interviewer. His podcasts will have lasting historical value.

    I do not fully understand Dehlin’s agenda or motivation. However, I do believe that his blog site provides an opportunity for individuals struggling with LDS history or doctrine to work out some of their problems.

    Truth cannot be promoted by constraining speech and sanitizing thoughts. Some LDS individuals must deal with the tough questions. This web site is an important contribution to that purpose.

  32. Rose March 20, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    If it were not for John Dehlin and the mormonstories.org website I would have completely left the church and sent in my letter of resignation.

    I’m a grandmother, 5th generation Mormon who grew up very close to the church (attended BYU, married in the temple, held every position a woman in the church could hold).

    About a year ago I began a intensive study of church history. The more I studied, the more shocked and alarmed I became and I eventually had a personal crisis of faith and decided to leave the church. It was a lonely time for me because I felt no one undertsood my need for answers.

    It was during this time I found mormonstories.org. I sent an email to John and told him I had decided to leave the church and he immediately answered me and told me to go slow and not make any decision that I may regret.

    I continued to visit mormonstories.org everyday and felt complete relief that other people also experienced a lapse in their childhood faith but found a positive influence here. This website fills an intellectual and honesty void that the church chooses to ignore.

    John is an incredible support for those of us who are on the brink of leaving the faith.
    Thank you John Dehlin for giving me hope, courage and strength to stay connected to the church even though my testimony is much different than it once was.

  33. Mary V March 20, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    If it were not for John Dehlin and the mormonstories.org website I would have completely left the church and sent in my letter of resignation.

    I’m a grandmother, 5th generation Mormon who grew up very close to the church (attended BYU, married in the temple, raised my children in the church, held every position a woman in the church could hold).

    About a year ago I began a intensive study of church history. The more I studied, the more shocked and alarmed I became and I eventually had a personal crisis of faith and decided to leave the church. It was a lonely time for me because I felt no one undertsood my need for answers.

    It was during this time I found mormonstories.org. I sent an email to John and told him I had decided to leave the church and he immediately answered me and told me to “go slow and not make any decision that I may regret”.

    I continued to visit mormonstories.org everyday and found positive answers and intellectual honesty that filled an empty place in my soul.

    John is an incredible support for those of us who are on the brink of leaving the faith.
    Thank you John Dehlin for giving me hope, courage and strength to stay connected to the church even though my testimony is much different today than it once was.

  34. Tom Grover March 21, 2007 at 12:25 am

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I am writing this to you in behalf of one of the greatest men I know, John Dehlin. John is a gentleman, a scholar, a loyal Latter-day Saint, and I am grateful to say a true friend.

    I am a 6th generation Mormon, a returned missionary, college graduate, married in the temple. I love the LDS Church. But, as many have noted here, there are difficult issues in our rich, wonderful history that can be more than an individual can bare by themselves. In addition, it’s hard to find an outlet that is truly openly inquisitive without an overt agenda. John has provided such a rare medium.

    John’s podcasts have allowed me to realize that doubt is a necessary component of faith- that paradox is often an inherent dimension of doctrine and history, and that to grapple with these is a normal part of the faith journey. The internet is full of people with agenda’s for and against Mormonism that use selective information and deceit to advance their positions. At times, it’s an information overload that can make your head spin. I love Mormon Stories because it allows me to explore these issues while maintaining my faith in the Restored Gospel, Jesus and the Prophet Joseph!

    John Dehlin is engaged in a scholarly work that will be cherished and heralded for generations to come. As you can see from the well written responses from other Saints, his efforts have affirmed faith that might have otherwise been lost. This can only be good.

    I have shared Mormon Stories with many friends and family who were silently languishing in solitude with these issues of faith.

    I am proud to call John Dehlin a friend. I personally stand behind John and his scholarly, faith affirming work at Mormon Stories with my own name and reputation.

    Thomas R. Grover
    Logan, Utah

  35. Mike March 21, 2007 at 12:31 am

    I have had an inescapable desire the last 2 years to really know my faith, as oppossed to the steady diet of gospel principles I have received for 30 years including 2 years, of which I focused solidly on teaching others the same.

    I can say that I do now, and always have believed what I have been taught and have a testimony of, it’s just that I frankly have wanted to know everything there is to know about the church, as long as it’s the truth.

    The thing about someone like John is that he not only has had similar desires, but he is ultimately interested, I believe, in being an ‘internal’ missionary. A retention missionary, because if it wasn’t for his podcast and blog and a couple very thoughtful personal emails, I don’t know what I would think about what I have learned on my own accord, though my own readings, from books available through Deseret Book, or through the Journal of Discourses.

    John or someone like him should never have to be the fall guy for members of the church honestly seeking the truth about what they are giving their lives to and raising their children in and so forth.

    I would hope that someone who is truly honest with themselves, and not just a reactionary would see what i see.

    A good man, giving all he can for the betterment of his people.

  36. Anne Hutchinson March 21, 2007 at 2:26 am

    To Whom it May Concern,

    I am writing in support of John Dehlin and his “Mormon Stories” series. I first ‘met’ John on a blog populated by a variety of Mormons with questions. I was impressed with John’s goals that included fostering dialogue and providing a forum for people to share their unique stories in a ‘safe space’. Over the past year or two, I have followed the development of “Mormon Stories” and have listened to most of the podcasts. I have found them to be balanced and thought-provoking.

    “Mormon Stories” has been valuable for me as I travel on my personal faith journey. My husband, an LDS convert of a few years, has seen John’s Powerpoint handout titled, “Why People Leave the LDS Church and What We Can Do About It” and said that John had many good points. My husband did not ‘go inactive’ by my listening to MS podcasts or by reading that there are ‘meatier’ complexities to the LDS Church. He is now aware that others converse about these issues and also fully participate in church. He is able to be a moderate voice in our local ward as he fulfills his callings.

    John’s work supports those of us who have questions and seek perspectives that are often left out of correlated lessons and publications. I am grateful that John has been willing and able to continue producing these thought-provoking podcasts.

  37. M March 21, 2007 at 7:15 am

    I left the Church several years ago, convinced that Mormons were unintelligent and lacking in critical thinking skills. I could not fathom why anyone would raise their children in this religion, knowing all the problems. Mormon Stories helped me realize that things are not so black and white. More importantly, it showed me that there are legitimate reasons for remaining in the faith.

  38. Bro C. March 21, 2007 at 8:31 am

    John,

    Have you been advised which podcast(s) has raised the concern(s)?

    Btw, I listened to part 4 of your Bushman podcast, for the second time, on my way to work this morning. Great work and keep it up.

    Bro. C

  39. why me March 21, 2007 at 10:11 am

    I can echo many of the previous posters in their warmth and praise for MormonStories. I too, have found them very helpful in my search for truth and his podcasts have also been very helpful in my awareness of many things lds. I have also discovered that the lds community have unique insights into lds history and culture. John provides a wonderful service to the lds community at large.

    And although I have no idea what his request is all about, I can say that if this has something to do with disfellowshipment or excommunication, and if John receives church discipline, many people are going to be mightily upset, including me. John’s podcast and site promotes faith in the lds church and does not harm such faith.

  40. Jake D. March 21, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Like many other commenters here I too am a multi-generational Mormon. On both family sides I can trace myself back to early pioneer stock. Some relatives were the earliest members of the church.

    Like many others my love for my religion fueled my desire to learn and know more. Initially for me my troubles were with the Book of Mormon and its historicity. My quest for answers led me to FARMS, FAIR, SHIELDS and other apologetic resources on the net and in print. Rather than ease my troubles my list of problems increased by multiples. It was a spiritually heartbreaking time for me. I made it through the other side still a Mormon but with a dramatically different view of my religions history but also an improved world view.

    However, I feel like the exception rather than the rule. My peer group were successful professionals like scientists, doctors, lawyers. We attended the best universities in the world. Most when encountering difficult LDS history, or anachronisms quickly left the church. Often with angry troubled feelings.

    Mormon Stories offers a middle ground to respectfully examine the faith we share and is a refreshing break from the attacking bitterness that seems to permeate LDS apologetics. I think many of my friends would have chosen a middle ground rather than resign if they had a way to thoughtfully consider the problems of their faith.

    Jake D.

    Salt Lake City, UT

  41. KAL March 21, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Mr. Dehlin et. al.

    I am writing to you as a non-mormon….a potential convert of an inactive LDS spouse. I have investigated the church several times before. I was relatively well versed in church history before meeting my husband, so never really considered converting, as my husband has been inactive for all the time (and considerable time before) our marriage.

    Recently I have begun considering converting again. I have dilligently prayed, researched, pondered, and prayed some more. Much of my research has been on the internet, I have come across many websites ranging from the most anti- of anti-mormon websites. I have also had the good fortune to come across John’s website. His thoughtful research and well thought out statements have given me a great deal of comfort and confidence that I can join a church that will embrace me.

    In summary, even for someone who is questioning the LDS church from a completely different angle, Mr. Dehlin’s site is a wonderful addition. In short, he is a missionary.

    Sincerely,
    KAL

  42. Wayne March 22, 2007 at 8:55 am

    John,
    I have been and continue to be “active” member of the LDS church. Over the past few years, through study and discussion, I have encountered issues relating to church history, doctrines, and policies which caused me some concern.

    Were it not for the thoughtful, sensitive, and balanced information provided by the mormonstories podcasts and blog I worry that my faith and involvement with the LDS church would have been affected.

    Thank you for your concern for the members of this community and for your time and efforts with these initiatives.

    Wayne

  43. Prairie Chuck March 22, 2007 at 10:07 am

    To Whom It May Concern–

    I am 5th generation Mormon, return missionary and married in the temple to a return missionary. Shortly after our marriage, my husband began questioning the validity of the church. He left the church during our 4th year of marriage.

    For almost 20 years I have struggled to keep my faith and raise our children in the faith while keeping a healthy and happy marriage with my husband. For most of that time I received no support from church members. In fact, most members, most leaders, were detrimental to my goals and undermined my marriage. Had I listened to them, I would not be married right now. For years I have been desperate to find understanding from other members, acceptance of my husband and marriage, refuge from the storm of criticisms. But I found none of this in the church.

    I finally came to a point where I had to choose between my marriage and the church. I knew enough of the warts in church history and flaws in church doctrine to make leaving seem the easiest, most reasonable decisions.

    Then I found John Dehlin’s website and there found the encouragement, understanding and strength to continue my balancing act. His blogs and podcasts help me stay active in the church while supporting and loving a non-believing husband. In his podcasts and blogs I have found the language the Third Way–a belief in all that good about the church and a better understanding (acceptance) what isn’t.

    John has done an incredible service for believers, part-believers and non-believers alike. He has built a bridge for all of us to find common ground and mutual understanding.

  44. maturin March 24, 2007 at 9:25 am

    John, If my comments are not helpful, please feel free to delete them.

    I am a 53 year-old life time member having grown up in the east in a very devout family. I am a High Priest, returned missionary, married in the temple, and have served in various prieasthood leadership positions in my wards and stakes.

    Just a few years ago, I, like many others, sought through prayer, study, and reflection a deeper understanding of my faith and my Mormon heritage, As I did so, I was confronted with many surprises and challenges to my traditional and strong testimony; points of history and doctrine, practices and positions, and things I felt I should have known or been told, or at least been able to discuss and understand. I became very angry; not at individuals, but with the institution of the church. There were many times I wished that I could cut all of my ties to the church. For many reasons, that was not practical, kind, or loving, so I remained.

    Mormon Stories has helpled me immensely and has allowed me to be in touch with many who have traveled or are still traveling a similar path. It has helped me balance my perspectives on the church and has comforted me time and time again in my own personal struggle. I may still leave the church someday, but if I do, it will be a decision that has been more thoroughly informed by reasoned, caring, forgiving, and genuinely loving advice from this Mormon Stories community that John has created. That can’t be a bad thing.

    While I appreciate how Mormon Stories does not fit in the correlated context of the church, in my opinion, the loss of this forum for free but respectful and thoughtful discussion and learning will cause much more harm to the church and to those wanting to stay active and connected to Mormonism, then will occur by just leaving it and John alone.

    Sincerely,
    Wayne Perry
    Bel Air, Maryland

  45. Justin March 24, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    To John and whom it may concern:

    In some respects, I owe my life to John. In a way, he is like a savior to me.

    At the time I stumbled upon his podcasts and blogs, I was walking the “valley of the shadow of death.” After learning many facts about the historicity and origins of the LDS church, I was without God in my life. It was a scary road to travel. Indeed, it was difficult to find someone to turn to, including my own LDS church leaders. I felt like Jesus during his Atonement, where God’s presence was withdrawn. The emptiness and pain are difficult to describe with words.

    I spoke with many people about my situation from many different backgrounds. I was getting nowhere, and I was getting deeper in the depths of despair; I even contemplated ending my life.

    Thankfully, God lead me to John’s podcasts and information. It was then that I began to heal. I listened to podcasts and found great spiritual medicine that helped me to heal. I praise God for this. The most important moment was the podcast learning about Fowler’s Stages of Faith. This helped me so much to learn to have faith in God again.

    Today, I have returned to activity in the LDS church. I take the best of Mormonism and implement into my life. I now seek to follow Jesus and His two great commandments. I am learning to love my Mormon tradition again. Its better now, its okay. God loves me now, and my self hatred is over.

    I have a calling now in teaching primary, I love my boys. I can not believe that one year ago I was preparing to resign from Mormonism.

    This is God’s calling for John. I believe he is helping many people in a magnificent way. I will stand with him and help him in this Divine office.

    Thank you John, and John’s family too for their sacrifices in making MormonStories exist.

    May God’s Peace and Love be upon you….

    Justin

  46. bbdj March 24, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    To Whom it May Concern:

    Several weeks ago I discovered Mormon Stories podcasts. I first listened to the one on Mormons and Masonry, then the Richard Bushman interviews (I was reading his book already). Testimonies such as these are the last strings that keep me holding on to a faith that is severely tried by my previous discoveries about half truths and falsehoods promoted in the mainstream of Mormonism. To hear intelligent men and women give intelligent testimonies encourages me to not give up, even in the face of near overwhelming evidence that the modern church is a verifiable fabrication.

    John Dehlin does more than the Church can for members like myself who feel they cannot turn to biased local leaders.

  47. Tatiana March 25, 2007 at 11:37 am

    To Whom it May Concern:

    I came to the church as a convert, six years ago. Because I came as an adult, my testimony wasn’t shaken by finding out about church history, as was that of many people who grew up in the church. However, John Dehlin’s work does strengthen my testimony of the institutional church very much. His own story is quite inspiring to me, because a wrong was corrected. All the stories on his site reflect what I think of as a much more mature and truthful view of our faith, of the church, and of how God works in people’s lives, than we typically get in Sunday School or from the Ensign. People are imperfect, but with God’s guidance we struggle toward the light.

    The tendency of church leadership to stress conformity and to want to squash the sincere voices of ordinary saints is the thing that most threatens my membership in the church now. True searchings, true stories, these things affirm my faith in the institutional church, though my faith in the restored gospel has never wavered. Please don’t act to try to suppress John’s work in any way. He’s doing God’s work.

    Please don’t oppose John’s work. On the contrary, you should do everything you can to celebrate it and aid him in his calling. Perhaps some budget could be forthcoming, or at the least, make publicly clear your approval of what he does. We absolutely can’t afford to turn away the best and brightest people from among us. John’s site is an oasis for these.

    Thank you for your attention and understanding,

    Anne Kate Ard

  48. […] very generous and supportive letters I received last week (both as comments to the post, and in private) in response to my call for help […]

  49. Jamie Trwth March 26, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    John,

    I am a Black Mormon living in XXXX, XX. I started listening to your podcast before I was ever a member. I was baptized in September of 2006. I listened to every episode and I was sad to know that you were retiring your podcast. I was excited to know that you decided to come back. Even after all the things I heard on your podcast I became a member. And even after your other podcasts I remain a member. I owe allot of the credit to you. I also listen to anti-mormon podcast. I would not call your cast an anti-mormon cast. I listen to those other casts like I listen to Dr. Laura . . . sifting thru the junk to find the gem of truth. Your podcast is all Gem no Junk. I would not have the strength nor the Courage to do what you are doing. I don’t have the strength be I am great full for the fact that you do.

    I am the only member in my extended family. My wife is a member from age 8. My older son was baptized when I was. I baptized my 18 year old daughter just this month and I plan to baptize my younger son when he turns 8.

    It would have been easy for me to not become a member. My wife never pressured me. We are full tithe payers, in just 6 months I have been advanced in the priesthood, and in Sept 2007 we will be married in the temple.

    I thank you for being someone who would stick his neck out and tell what needs to be told.

    Jamie Trwth

  50. CT March 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I am a regular on John’s websites and also listen to his podcasts. These discussions have helped me come to terms with my own beliefs and how to reconcile them with remaining active in the LDS Church.

  51. jordanandmeg March 31, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Yes.

    Interesting. It’s not so much, John, that you’ve helped me to cope with disbelief as much as you’ve helped me focus on what to believe. Nothing matters more than forgiveness and repentence. Everything else is ….. peripheral.

    The initial shedding of my older views was difficult but worth it. I love the church more than ever now, for I think I see it more realistically.

    I see the gospel and the world a little more clearly, and it meant much to have a friend like you there with me.

  52. Darin April 10, 2007 at 3:38 am

    Fellow Journeyers,

    The following is my mormon story.

    I was born of pioneer stock to good parents in an LDS family. Throughout my childhood and teenage years I had an unshakable faith in the truthfulness of the LDS church.

    Early in my adult life I had some unresolved personnal conflicts which left me feeling inadequate and unworthy to serve a mission or live up to the expectations of my family, bishop and other ward members. Also at this time I had questions about the book of Abraham, blacks and the preisthood, polygamy and other common well-known mormon issues. I accepted that there was an answer for each of my questions and that the church was true.

    A few years ago in my early twenties, I fell in love with a girl who was a young divorcee at 23. She was a devout LDS church member from a prominent LDS family and had been married in the temple at the age of twenty-one to a man who was also a member from a very prominent LDS family.

    Her story broke my heart. After a few months of courtship I came to find out that her husband had been unfaithful in their marraige and had abused her physically as well as emotionally.

    She was troubled by the fact that in the proceedings leading up to their divorce and thereafter her husband went unpunished by the church for his marrital infidelity.

    Equally troubling to her was that despite the cheating and physical abuse perpetrated by her husband, the church would not grant her a cancellation of sealing. Instead she was given by her bishop reasons for the sealing being null and void due to reasons of unworthiness (not on her part). Though it caused her much anguish, she was able to accept this answer- but I wasn’t.

    They were and are still sealed. This point was driven home to me when at a week long family reunion in a beautiful retreat, her relatives requested her ex-husband’s date of birth for geneological purposes. The fact that the geneological ties were still intact caused much anguish for both of us. This would eventually turn to bitterness on my part as I found out more about the origins of the temple ceremony. Showing little empathy, the church was unwilling to allay my friend’s mental anguish by granting to her a cancellation of sealing.

    Just prior to investigating the temple ceremony, my desire to know if their sealing was binding ultimately planted the seeds of an insatiable desire to understand all things of the religion of my birth, a religion which up untill that time with some conflict, I had accepted as true.

    Our relationship ended during the time of my newfound obsession with all things mormon. It was also at this time that I completely lost belief in The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith as a Prophet and all foundational claims.

    In my journey I have read The Book of Mormon, and numerous publications by LDS, former-LDS, and non-LDS authors and historians. I am a regular visitor to websites such as FAIR, FARMS, and Mormon Stories.

    All of my investigating of the church has left me with fewer and fewer reasons to believe in its foundational claims.

    While listening to general authorities, I am inspired by messeges of faith, love, dilegence, devotion and kindness.

    I am alienated by claims laid to exclusiveness of godliness. I am also alienated when general authorities bear testimony to the literal truthfulness of church history as it is correlated and in LDS unique canon.

    I am enraged when I hear mormon authorities deny tenets of their religion which have not officailly been refuted by the church and were clearly taught by former prophets.

    I feel there is still much good in the church – despite all of my qualms with it. John’s podcasts have opened my eyes to see that there are many thoughtful people who are not ignorant and are well-informed and far more intelligent than I who choose to stay. I also feel connected to a community that I feel I can associate with.

    I cannot say enough about Mormon Stories. I love to listen while working in my yard or driving in my car. John always asks the perfect questions and provides great insight. And the guest’s are top-notch! -in case you haven’t noticed. When I listen, I often feel a desire to become active. – That feeling usually lasts until I attend church or listen to conference:)

    Mormonism is my heritage and maybe even my legacy, provided there is a place for me.

    John, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for inspiring me and helping me along the way.

  53. Stan Barker April 15, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Many years ago, I was taught by a critic of the Church that anecdotal stories don’t really mean a lot. Most of what I have seen here are anecdotal stories claiming abuse by various Church leaders. Yet, I firmly believe, as a member who was baptized at the age of 8 and am now 61 that there are far, far more stories that are exactly the opposite. I was personally abused by a Church leader, but so what? Does that somehow make the Church untrue? Of course not. Such a notion is silly on the face of it. But what about all of the “doctrines?” I have been an ardent student of LDS History and doctrines my entire adult life. I have a very large library which includes documents that I keep secure. I have read extensively, including a tremendous amount of literature critical of the Church. Only once, in 60 years has there even been the slightest doubt in my mind. And it took me about 10 minutes of research and thinking to resolve it. Oh, no doubt, I am “deluded” and “ignorant” in the minds of many of you. Yet, many of my closest friends tend to think of me exactly opposite from that point of view. The bottom line is that while I suspect I have read virtually everything that the folks here have read, or at least am somewhat familiar with most items (remember, I have a large anti-library as well as LDS library) and I have no qualms with the truth claims of the LDS Church. In fact, I do as the scriptures tell me to, I prayed and have received a very clear confirmation from the Holy Spirit, time and again, that the LDS Church is the only true Church of Jesus Christ on the face of the earth. You can argue and whine all you want, you can’t change that. Frankly, I can’t see that John’s site has any benefit whatsoever, inspite of the many stories and claims here. I can cite story after story of people who have visited shields-research.org and have found solace and answers there. And I don’t have to ask them to expose all of the negativity found here.

    If John is in trouble, how does obtaining “testimonials” solve what he is in trouble for? If things he has on his blog are critical of the Church, and certainly there have been instances of that, then why shouldn’t he be in trouble. Membership in the LDS Church is not like being in a club. You either accept the truth claims and uphold your promise to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, blessing the lives of those around you, or you take the “other” path. There really is no fence sitting as many of you would like to do. BUT, rather than just walk away because things are not like you want them to be, perhaps it is time to get on your knees even more and obtain a testimony by the Holy Spirit instead of man’s WEAK understandings.

    Ok, I’ve diatribed enough and I’m sure I’ll hear about it. So be it. My testimony is not founded on the works of man, but on the works of God.

    If this is taken as a rebuke to you, you can either lump it or humble yourselves before God and Angels. Frankly, I’m so sick of hearing the whining… and by the way, I am more than familiar with cases of abuse by Church leaders. I hope that at least some of you will accept my invitation to go before the Lord in humility and obtain a true testimony and return will your heart fully towards God and his Church.

    Stan Barker

  54. ann April 15, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Mr. Barker, it is not for you to decide who is and who is not permitted to participate in fellowship among the latter day saints, and what their level of faithfulness “should” be. That decision is mine mine mine mine mine (and my bishop’s, or stake president’s if it should ever come to that).

    You don’t like the fence sitters? The whiners? The people who complain about problems? Tough. That’s your problem, not mine. Deal with it. It is not my responsibility to accomodate my beliefs to your comfort level.

    I am a member of this church in full fellowship. My butt is in a pew every Sunday, except when I’m leading the music. I don’t believe “all is well in Zion,” and I don’t feel the need to pretend I do. And I’m not going ANYWHERE.

    If you don’t like it, then YOU can leave. OK?

  55. Mayan Elephant April 15, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Stan,

    Your website there is a crackup. Looks like you fancy yourself a disciple of DCP. Thats fine and all, you can worship how you see fit.

    Your hope for ‘trouble’ to come to John or anyone else is sickening. Your claim that there is no benefit whatsoever in this site is comical. Especially, as you claim to have a library of information, and yet, you consider there to be no benefit to any information found on here.

    Are you Gramps?

  56. Hueffenhardt April 15, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Stan,

    Many if not most of the people who eventually have problems with the truth claims of the Church, have had the “witness of the Spirit”TM experience many, many times through humble prayer and otherwise. Yet, many come to realize that the “Spirit” is not reliable in identifying what is true.

    In my case the Spirit told me that the Book of Abraham is just what it claims to be, a translation of ancient papyri that Abraham wrote by his own hand. The Book of Abraham is nothing of the sort. The Spirit does not reliably identify what is true.

  57. Stan Barker April 15, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Well, the responses are pretty much what I expected. It amazes me that people who call themselves intelligent and want to put everyone and everything down about the Church, can’t even read plain English and if they do, they have an extreme propensity to misintrepret what they read… for example, that I “hope for trouble to come on John.” I never said that I hoped for such a thing. I merely suggested that you get what you pay for. The rest of the rants against me are seen as just plain silly. As to Mayan Elephant, making statements such as you did about our web site are just so much nonsense. All you have to do Mayan Elephant, is to show where we have erred on our web site. Like so many others who have written to me and made such statements, I challenge you to demonstrate to comedy in our site. And yes, I think Dr. Peterson is a wonderful man. I have met him, I have talked to him on a number of occasions. That he is seen by the likes of you as someone bad says far more about you than of him. I really feel sorry for the pain that some of you feel, but this isn’t the solution.

    As the the Book of Abraham issue, I’d strongly suggest that you read Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, from cover to cover, and then explain to one and all how Joseph Smith got so many things right that have only in the last few years have come to light. That’s another issue I get very tired of hearing from the critics. They pick on certain things, but ignore the rest of the truth about the issue. Truth that makes it clear that they are in the wrong.

    And one more item… to Mayan Elephant again. Calling me “Gramps” accomplishes what? Does it make you feel superior? Are you into name calling? What cheap school-yard behavior. It is nothing more than baby talk.

    Have at it. I’ve had my say.

    Stan Barker

  58. ann April 15, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    It’s a shame that people who have nothing but critical misleading things to say about Mormon Stories and the work that it does can’t just leave it be. They find nothing virtuous, lovely or of good report here, yet they just can’t leave it alone.

  59. ann April 15, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    “There really is no fence sitting as many of you would like to do. ”

    Says who? You?

  60. Mayan Elephant April 15, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Hey, the Gramps thing was a little light humor. lighten up francis. It was a simple comment to point out that you and Gramps think alike.

    Daniel may be a nice guy. Who said he wasnt? Patterning your apologies after his, or using him as a source is fine, go for it.

    “If things he has on his blog are critical of the Church, and certainly there have been instances of that, then why shouldn’t he be in trouble. ”

    I will not apologize for taking the above to mean, that you approve of any trouble that would come his way.

    Stan, it wouldnt matter if everything Joseph did was right. Truly, it wouldnt. Its the current experience that matters most. And sharing the bench with folks that judge others that are different and consider them unfit to be in the benches is one of many things that makes the current church miserable.

    I promise to spend more time on your site. I love the sinners list you have. That is pure comedy.

  61. Hueffenhardt April 15, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    The parallels between the Book of Abraham and the Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham are not that impressive when one reviews what the Bible and Josephus had to say about Abraham. Joseph had access to Josephus. Now not every detail of the Abraham story that Joseph came up with is in Josephus and the Bible, but those details can be reasonable extrapolated from the parts of the stories that are there. Furthermore, Joseph got a lot wrong. The “Traditions” suggest that people were going to try to put Abraham to death by fire, but the BoA has him almost sacrificed by a knife on an altar.

    What’s more? There are numerous anachronisms, and the astronomy lesson appears to be plagiarized from Thomas Dick. These problems are much more difficult to explain than a couple of parallels with the Traditions of the Life of Abraham that are not that earth-shattering anyway. Only Osler’s Expansion theory can accommodate these problems, but none of this addresses the real issue.

    The Spirit told me and many others that the BoA is the translation of ancient papyrus written by the hand of Abraham. It isn’t; I don’t care how many parallels you point out. The cool thing is that this is replicable. Give me any Bishop in the Church that is not familiar with the BoA problems. I’ll invite them to ask God specifically through fasting and prayer if the Book of Abraham is a translation of ancient papyri that were written by the hand of Abraham. I bet you, they will get that confirmation and will bear passionate testimony of it and swear they know it as surely as they know anything. Ask them if they might be mistaken. Ask them if maybe the Spirit did not really mean what they think it told them. They will say that they are sure that they understand what the Spirit is telling them. Then, I will show them all the mounds of evidence that show the BoA is not what the Spirit told them it was.

  62. John Dehlin April 15, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Stan,

    I’m just curious. Where do you feel as though I’ve been critical of the church? Can you point me to a few places? I’ve actually tried to avoid this.

    Thanks for commenting. We may see things differently, but I appreciate your willingness to engage, and the balance you bring to the comments.

    John

  63. Clay April 16, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Stan, you said:
    “I have read extensively, including a tremendous amount of literature critical of the Church. Only once, in 60 years has there even been the slightest doubt in my mind. And it took me about 10 minutes of research and thinking to resolve it.”

    Isn’t the gospel of mankind’s eternal salvation worth more time and energy than 10 minutes? Don’t you think a devout Buddhist or Muslim or Evangelical Christian feels just as strongly about what they believe in? Many people believing things quite contrary to LDS doctrine claim with similar conviction and sincerity to have the same kinds of powerful spiritual confirmation that they are correct. At the very least, this introduces the natural human response to wonder if your own experience is as absolute and as condemning of others as you think. At the very least it should make the deliberation and pondering of what is true and what is right a little more important than 10 minutes.

    If you are angered by other people progressing through life on different paths, feeling genuine trial and pain trying to find truth and right and thus perhaps venting their frustration on what you consider sacred… perhaps you could treat it a little more sacred yourself. If you have the right to be offended by someone like me finding that all is not well in Zion, I have the right to be offended by you making light of the seriousness of deciding what is true on an individual basis.

    Also, do you really think you are doing missionary work, leading souls to Christ, when you come out and say “repent or get out” to people who are struggling but are not gone? Seriously?

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ann. The gospel is mine, for me. No one has the right to decide anything for me. Even a bishop or stake pres. cannot change my relationship directly with God.

  64. Stan Barker April 23, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    I wasn’t going to respond any further simply due to lack of time and interest in engaging this further. No matter how one says something, there will always be someone to come along and totally misinterpret what you have said. So, I’m only going to comment on a couple of things (sorry John, I’m not going to go back through mountains of stuff to find examples of what I was talking about — let’s just say that I have seen material that I wasn’t at all pleased with.

    1. The Book of Abraham stuff mentioned by Hueffenhardt: I find it incredible that you so easily dismiss the parallels in Traditions. I really have to wonder if you have even read the book. I have, cover to cover. Where is your proof that JS read Josephus? He may have had access, whatever that means, by that doesn’t mean he read it. And the parallels go way beyond “a couple of parallels.” Moreover, your suggestions of plagarism is a typical cheap attempt to try to disuade people from critical thinking. You can neither prove it allegation, nor can you demonstrate access. This is one of those cards that critics love to play: plagerism. If one is to follow all of the suggested things JS is to have plagerized, he must have been one of the most well read men in the world. It is cheap and stupid.

    2. 10 minutes of research: Oh my, what an incredible misreading of facts. Ok, so let’s clarify what I said and meant. I said, “I have read extensively, including a tremendous amount of literature critical of the Church.” Does this come across as only spending 10 minutes of reseearch? I strongly suggest you drop your prejudices and go back and reread what I said and do your very best to try to understand what I meant. It really isn’t that hard. I even pointed out that I resolved it. Ok, let’s be clearer. I found very quickly that the thing I was concered about was something presented by Jerald and Sandra Tanner and I quickly discovered that they had presented it deceptively. When I considered the original source (which I had) and reread it from the original source, the problem evaporated. It’s that simple.

    3. You said, “If you are angered by other people progressing through life on different paths….” Where did I say that I was angered by such a thing. You are reading something into my comments that simply isn’t there. I actually was quite clear on what upset me. Based on your prior misreading, I hardly see the need to comment on this further. Your last paragraph is self-serving and doesn’t really demonstrate anything that any thinking person doesn’t already know. And I certainly never suggested such a thing. So, certainly you had the right to pontificate on how you felt, but it had nothing to do with what I said.

  65. Stan Barker April 23, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    BTW, the last time I even looked at this blog was April 15 (prior to tonight). I really don’t see the point in responding to anything else and likely won’t be replying to anything else, since I rarely now even look at the blog.

    I wish all of you the best and hope you find what you are looking for. I hope you are looking for truth and not for excuses.

  66. Hueffenhardt April 24, 2007 at 7:39 am

    In reply to #64, Stan says he isn’t going to read this thread again, but lest anyone think that I cannot back up my words, I have composed a response on my blog here: https://tinyurl.com/yuwjqw . I am not putting the text of my response here because it is off topic.

  67. […] To get a sense for how Mormon Stories has tried to help fellow Mormons, click here. […]

  68. […] John’s purpose is to validate concerns and to encourage them to stay.   He wants to give them a reason to find reconciliation within the organization of the church, a reason to stay.  He has achieved a great deal of success in this goal and is convinced that people have stayed in the church (at least in part)because of his podcasts.  He shares some of their testimonials here:  https://mormonstories.org/?p=242 […]

  69. […] John’s purpose is to validate concerns and to encourage them to stay.   He wants to give them a reason to find reconciliation within the organization of the church, a reason to stay.  He has achieved a great deal of success in this goal and is convinced that people have stayed in the church (at least in part)because of his podcasts.  He shares some of their testimonials here:  https://mormonstories.org/?p=242 […]

Comments are closed.