Mormon Stories Listeners,

I must begin by thanking all of you for an amazing  2010.   We started this year at episode #112, and after only 12 months are now up to #231.  And while the numbers are good… I feel even better about  the quality of the interviews that we were able to land (Joanna Brooks, Peter and Mary Danzig, Shawn McCraney, Richard Packham, Daymon Smith, Bruce Bastian, Mr. Diety, Tresa Edmunds, Lisa Butterworth, Ed Kimball, Richard Dutcher, Carol Lynn Pearson, Bill Bradshaw, all of my personal friends who came on the show like Jacquie and the Gallaghers, etc.)…the list goes on and on.  I am also super grateful for the help of friends like Natasha Parker, Dan Wotherspoon, Andrew Ainsworth, and the mysterious “Richard Allen”  for their podcast  support last year.   We literally could not have done it without them, or without you.

Looking into 2011, there is much to be excited about, and one major concern.  I’ll start w/ the concern first.

  • Financial Support: Back in the summer of 2010 I made a deal w/ the listeners.  If enough of you would sign up for monthly financial donations to Mormon Stories , I would promise to release a quality episode each week.  The way that I was able to make this happen as a super busy Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student was to turn down other paid assistantships and do Mormon Stories as my part time job while in school.  While the money in no way covers my family’s annual expenses, it does help us pay for things like health insurance, groceries, etc.  Well — the good news is that many of you signed up to help.  The bad news is that many of you have lost jobs or fallen on hard times — and I’ve received a number of cancellations over the past few months and donations have fallen substantially.  So as donations begin to drop — I need to ask those of you who listen to Mormon Stories but do not support us financially to please consider going up to https://mormonstories.org ( right corner) and either make a one time donation, or sign up for monthly donations.  Without this support, I will not be able to continue with Mormon Stories.  With it, we can continue to provide more cool things for Mormonism over the coming years.

What’s on tap for 2011 and beyond (with your support)?  I don’t have time to write about these ideas in detail, but I’ll summarize them here.  For the record, this is our new 40 year plan.  :)

  • More Mormon Stories Interviews: Based on your feedback, we have some fantastic interviews lined up for 2011.  I won’t ruin the surprise — but the future looks very, very bright for Mormon Stories interviews.
  • Mormon Matters Revamp: We have been working on a revamp of the very popular Mormon Matterswebsite.  There are 2 things we’re hoping to do w/ Mormon Matters:
    • Turn it into the “Huffington Post” of Mormon news and information.  Today, sites like “The Mormon Times” are the only places to get Mormon news and information in a centralized place.  We hope to re-purpose Mormon Matters into a “one stop shop” for Mormon news, including: Sports, Business, Politics, Entertainment, Advice Columns, etc.
    • Bring back the Mormon Matters Panel Podcast.  We feel like there is a need for a “This Week in Mormonism”-type podcast to discuss the latest news and information in Mormonism (think Mormonism plus “Meet the Press”…think weekly discussions about the latest antics of Mitt Romney, Harry Reid, Glenn Beck, David Archuleta, the Southpark guys, the Bloggernacle AND the DAMU, etc.), so we hope to bring that discussion panel format podcast back with a vengeance.
  • MormonPublicRadio: We feel like there is a strong need for additional Mormon-themed podcasts, and so we are looking to form an NPR-like network thereof.  Some of the podcasts we hope to help produce include:
    • A Mormon Women Podcast: A podcast dedicated to Mormon women’s issues.
    • A StayLDS Podcast: A podcast dedicated to helping struggling Mormons stay in the church, sponsored by https://staylds.com
    • An ExMormon Stories Podcast: A podcast dedicated to building understand for Mormons who have left the church
    • An LDS Homosexuality Podcast: A podcast dedicated to building greater understanding around the issues of Homosexuality within Mormonism
    • An LDS Apologist Podcast: For credible LDS apologetics.
    • A Mormon Entertainment Podcast: Focusing on Mormon music, film and entertainment
    • A “This Week in Mormonism” Podcast: See above.
  • A Global Community for “uncorrelated”Mormons: All over the world there are people who are struggling to navigate Mormonism “outside of the box,” so to speak…from liberal Mormons, to gay Mormons, to feminist Mormons, to single Mormons, to ex-Mormons, etc.  One thing we’ve realized is that if we can create an integrated, global community of “Mormons like us” — we can do all sorts of really exciting things as a community, including:
    • Local Meet-Ups: Helping to facilitate local or regional meet-ups for non-traditional Mormons who need additional support (support groups, book clubs, play groups, dinner dates, etc.)
    • “EFY’s” for Children of Liberal or Post-Mormons
    • A Liberal/Post-Mormon Dating Service for Single Mormons
    • Online Content: To support non-traditional or post-Mormon families in navigating alternative or post-Mormonism in a healthy way.
    • Annual Conferences: To bring Mormons of all types together to support and inspire each other, with presentations, workshops, retreats, etc.

This is the vision — and this is what we hope to accomplish over the coming years.  It’s a definitely a long-term vision….but we believe that with your support, we can totally make this happen.  More importantly, we feel like initiatives like this could really help bring a lot of joy, and lessen the pain, for people who are trying to more successfully navigate their non-traditional Mormon experience.

Thanks for your support, and please let us know if you’re interested in helping out.

 

30 Comments

  1. Anonymous January 28, 2011 at 4:19 am - Reply

    Sounds great! I am excited to see it roll out.

  2. Patrick Farnsworth January 28, 2011 at 4:30 am - Reply

    John thank you for all you have done and continue to do. Your podcast have been an important part of my religious identification. I will be doubling my monthly donations for 2011 and hope that others with the means will do the same. Your podcast has value and needs to be available to others as they struggle with their own religious identification.

  3. Buck Jeppson January 28, 2011 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Sounds great. I’m sure you’ll continue to get more support with such a far-reaching vision. Plenty of folks will be able to help out in their little corners of the Mormon Universe.

  4. Erico January 28, 2011 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Initiatives like those deserve a serious financial contribution. Count me in.

  5. Dblagent007 January 28, 2011 at 4:44 am - Reply

    “An LDS Apologist Podcast: For credible LDS apologetics.”
    That should take up all of an hour, maybe two at the most.

    • Garen January 28, 2011 at 6:34 am - Reply

      This was the one that really caught my eye as well. I simply have a hard time with the two words “credible” and “apologetics” in the same phrase. This would be one of the larger challenges that you would have to accomplish. Good luck with it.

  6. Jared January 28, 2011 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Can I be terrible and suggest that the Mormon Stories members who aren’t donating to the LDS Church any more could give some of that money to this project? ;)

  7. Andrew S January 28, 2011 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Very ambitious; very intriguing.

    Interestingly enough, this seems to fulfill many of the suggestions raised by commenter Brad Dennis in response to Dane Laverty’s recent post at Times and Seasons “The Bloggernacle in a New Decade.” The only major thing differences I can think of are 1) the sponsorship/funding issue and 2) this embraces the potentialities afforded by the internet rather than clinging to traditional media. I wasn’t quite sold on it then, but this looks very appealing…

  8. AdamF January 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    I LOVE the EFY idea… I would love to be able to send my kids to both types. Just regular EFY alone kinda scares me, but having both would be a nice balance!

  9. Steele8114 January 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Thanks John. It sounds great. Thank you for giving me a place to still be a Mormon. I am going to increase my monthly donation. Sincerely, Liz Draper Steele

  10. […] The Future of Mormon Stories and Mormon Matters […]

  11. Jared January 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    John, what inspiring vision and goals! I had a question for you. How do you (or would you) respond to the idea that you are seeking to form a different type of Mormon community, almost along the lines of a different sect? Granted, if you are, I am in it, but it seems to me this is something along the lines of Reform Judaism. I am curious to see how you would articulate your response.

    Let me be clear I agree with you that this is the most positive way for mainstream Mormonism to go, but the fact remains you are forming a new definition and community of Mormonism without any top-down reform. Now, I think this very fact is one of the greatest strengths of the project. I have never been so happy in my Mormonism as since I have discovered this project. But it does open you up to that critique of advocating your own brand of the religion.

  12. Geoff-A January 31, 2011 at 1:13 am - Reply

    Being from a more social democratic type country- have you applied to the Church for funding. You seem to be servicing a need that they, with their sanitized publications, are not. You would compliment their efforts.

  13. Bonita January 31, 2011 at 3:59 am - Reply

    John,
    Mormon Stories has been a godsend for me and my mental health. I couldn’t thank you enough. For me it would be a tragedy if I couldn’t look forward to a new podcast every week. I have doubled my monthly donation.

    The new ideas for the upcoming year sound fabulous. I’m looking forward to checking them out.

    Also, I was wondering if you could include a podcast regarding tithing? I couldn’t find a podcast specifically about tithing; where the money goes and how it is spent. Is there any legitimate verification on the matter?

    I love you, John.

    Thanks,
    Brumps

    • Jason January 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Try Podcasts #149-152 “Daymon Smith”. One of my favorites. It’s the closest thing(in my opinion) to what you’re looking for, until John goes deeper on this issue, which I’m sure he will.

  14. Lstevenkimball January 31, 2011 at 6:43 am - Reply

    To infinity and beyond.

  15. Porter Rockwell January 31, 2011 at 7:53 am - Reply

    John (and Dan and Natascha), thank you so much for your time and effort in producing such a great, high quality podcast. For the past couple of years I’m a struggling mormon. I’ve gone through a faith crisis and am trying to regain my footing.

    I feel so enriched for having my vision broadened, and my mind enlarged, by listening to all these thoughtful people share their stories and perspectives on such a vast array of topics. Looking back, I feel I was so narrow minded before, now life seem fuller, more colorful. It seems like a paradox, but through losing my faith I’ve found more peace and happiness (mixed with many obvious difficulties that accompany this path).

    You’re interviewing so many interesting individuals, I never knew there was such a great span of people with different experiences within mormonism. Interesting people wouldn’t be good on their own though without a good interviewer, kudos for making the interviews so exciting by always asking the right kind of questions!

    Thanks for everything! (I’ll start to donate now)

  16. Jason January 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Whoa! A “liberal EFY” for my kids!!!! Sign us up now!! I’ll echo Jared above that anyone enjoying Mormon Stories really should be donating. I barely find time to listen, let alone arrange, prepare for, and interview all these amazing people. John & co seem to read my mind in every interview! As I start to think of a question I would ask, and bang, there it is!! These podcasts are honestly priceless for me and I can only hope the token amounts I’ve donated have been helpful. Thanks.

  17. Georgewindes February 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    John, I went in and doubled my donation for 2011. I’m not sure how to cancel my 2010 donation however, which appears to be ongoing. I smile (as an old codger), when I see the name of TBM friends (or their offspring) listed as Mormon Stories Podcast enrollees. It gives me hope for an enlightened generation, listening to all sides of an issue, taking from the platter what is good…

  18. MacZeg February 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Maybe those of us who haven’t lost jobs can increase the amount we are giving. I just increased our small contribution.

  19. James Numark February 8, 2011 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Nehor “had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God … declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. … And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, … yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching.”

    Just saying…

    • Anonymous February 8, 2011 at 6:08 am - Reply

      James,

      I’m not ashamed to ask for some support. NPR and PBS take donations. So does the LDS Church, btw. So does the LDS Foundation. So do most charities. Are you opposed to all forms of charitable donations?

      Thx for stopping by.

  20. James February 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    John, I have donated several times in the past. Over a year ago you state your goal of setting up a non-profit for Mormon Stories and promised that there would be financial transparency, and that you would disclose what donation money is used for. I have not seen any sort of disclosures about how much money has been received or about what it has been spent on. I support your goals, but I’m not comfortable donating more money until I have a clearer picture about where the money is going and what it is being used for. Do you have any plans to disclose that information?

    • Anonymous February 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      James — Absolutely! I am working with an accountant now. I’ll get that
      out as soon as I can. Definitely by tax time.

      I’m a one-man show…so I don’t have staff to help me with this (yet). So
      thank you so much for your patience.

      John

  21. Rich jj February 17, 2011 at 12:26 am - Reply

    I’m excited for upcoming Mormon Matters panel discussions, they were some of my favorites back in the day (2007?).

    Just so you know, there is another This-Week-in-Mormonism-style podcast that’s been running for over a year now, called, not surprisingly, “This Week in Mormons”. It’s basically a couple of buddies bantering over a few news stories involving Mormons that crop up all the time. It does a good job, but is sometimes hampered with extended banter sessions, personal travelogues, and prattle about the Mormon Bachelorette online show. They are great about including controversial stories with the rest, but I’d love it to be more hard-hitting.

  22. ajw1978 February 27, 2011 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Sounds great.

  23. Jenni March 21, 2011 at 6:36 am - Reply

    So, I figure they are probably on your radar, but I’d love to hear an interview with some of the founders of WAVE http://www.ldswave.org

    :)

  24. Anon April 18, 2011 at 4:16 am - Reply

    Any word on the request for disclosure of the finances of the Mormmon Stories “charity”? I would love to donate to but like James I am also very uncomfortable donating to any organization not willing to show where the money goes.

    • Anonymous June 2, 2011 at 5:05 am - Reply

      Coming. My accountant promised me the final report by next week.

  25. Lauren June 2, 2011 at 3:07 am - Reply

    Just became a subscriber! Thank you for your great work.

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