Mormon Stories - LDS

Zelph on the Shelf is one of the most successful YouTube channels in history dedicated to exploring Mormonism in thoughtful and entertaining ways.


Five years ago I sat down with Samantha Shelley and Tanner Gilliland to discuss their loss of faith as "Mormon Millennials." That episode was extremely well-received at the time, and was highly influential in the journey of tens of thousands of Mormons, including Tyler Glenn (lead singer of Neon Trees).

Today's episode with Tanner and Samantha will be in two parts:

Part 1: Samantha and Tanner discuss the evolution and impact of Zelph on the Shelf over the past 5 years.

Part 2 (My favorite part): Samantha and Tanner discuss how they have healed and grown over the past 5 years in many of the domains most salient to transitioning Mormons, including: creativity, community, identity, mental health, spirituality, sexuality, finding meaning/purpose in their lives, and in thoughts about death and the afterlife.

Part 3: We end this interview by discussing Tanner and Samantha's perspective on the recent Mormon apologetic content released by FAIRMormon, featuring controversial apologist Kwaku El.

I found Samantha and Tanner to be incredibly thoughtful and wise, and am confident that you will thoroughly enjoy this episode.

Direct download: MormonStories-1373-ZelphOnTheShelf.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:24pm MDT

Recently, the Mormon apologetic organization FAIRMormon has released several aggressive new videos via their YouTube Channel starring the actors Kwaku El, Cardon Ellis, and Brad Witbeck. These videos are intended to appeal to younger Latter-day saints, but also launch aggressive attacks against me (John Dehlin) and Jeremy Runnells (author of the CES Letter). The historical accuracy/honesty of these videos has also been called into question by many.

Today we interview Anthony D. Miller - a wise and thoughtful post-Mormon - about these latest events. Some of the topics we hope to cover are listed below. We would also welcome your questions/comments.

Topics for today:

  1. Motivations behind Mormon apologetics.
  2. Differences between Mormon apologetics and critical scholarship
  3. Contrast traditional apologetics and more progressive, nuanced apologetics
  4. Examples of people who have shifted from apologetics towards critical scholarship, and their explanations as to “the why.”
  5. Examples of people who engage with critical scholarship, but operate within Mormonism with a mostly a metaphorical paradigm with an apologetic bent.
  6. Contrast how GenZ, Millennials, GenX, and Baby Boomers engage with information.
  7. How GenZ at times experiences fragility, catastrophizing, call-out culture, and perception of violence in speech, and how these things affect engagement with apologetics and scholarship. (Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Coddling of the American Mind).
  8. Current spectrum of apologetics
  9. Approaches and methods for distribution
    1. Firesides and conferences
    2. Radical Orthodoxy proclamation, Deznat, etc.
    3. Adaptations to respond to social media, YouTube, TikTok
  10. What we might expect going forward
  11. Will this approach work? Will it backfire? Is it ethical?
Direct download: MormonStories-1372-AnthonyMillerApologetics.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:23am MDT

Recently I was super fortunate to sit down with reality tv stars Heather Gay and Dre Nord - who are both currently appearing on BravoTV's "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."  In this three-part series, we focus on Heather and Dre's life experiences within the context of Mormonism (and Utah Mormonism). 

Part 1 covers...

  • Heather and Dre's early years as devout Mormons.
  • Dre's marriage, divorce, and faith crisis as a Mormon in her early 20s.  This includes how Dre navigated her life as a divorced single ex-Mormon Utah Mom without a college degree.
  • Heather's experiences at BYU and serving an LDS mission in France.
  • Heather's somewhat challenging efforts to find a faithful Mormon husband (Billy Gay).
  • Dre shares how she almost lost her mother to death by suicide, in part due to pressures of "perfectionism" that many Mormon women experience.
  • Heather shares some of the reactions she has received from members of the Mormon and ex-Mormon communities, as well as from the Utah LGBTQ community, regarding her participation in the show.

Part 2 covers... 

  • Heather's marriage to Billy Gay III, which culminated in Heather becoming Relief Society President ended in divorce.
  • How Heather and Dre met, and how they were able to build a successful, multi-million dollar business together (Beauty Lab Laser) as divorced Mormon single women in Utah.
  • Dre shares the tragic story of losing her brother to suicide last year, and how she and Heather created a 501c3 non-profit called "Don't Leave" to help "break the stigma around mental health."

Part 3 covers...

  • Heather's struggle to accept the end of her "Eternal Marriage," which included years of denial.
  • Heather's life as a divorced single Mom, which included experimentation with things she never considered trying as a devout Mormon (e.g. alcohol).
  • How Heather's perspective on Mormonism changed once she became dear friends with two wonderful gay Mormon men.
  • Heather and Dre discuss their opinions about how harmful the LDS Church's doctrine around LGBTQ members is.
  • Heather and Dre also discuss the ways in which the LDS Church's "Proclamation on the Famly" harms not only LGBTQ members, but also Mormon women/girls and men/boys as well.
  • Heather discusses her current struggle to reconcile her longstanding orthodox Mormon beliefs as they conflict with her developing beliefs about life.

This is a heartwarming, epic, and inspiring story of resilience.  I was deeply moved by this vulnerability, wisdom, courage, and resilience of these inspiring women.

Please share any questions or comments you have for Heather and Dre below.

Direct download: MormonStories-1371-RHSLCPt3.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 5:14pm MDT