Mormon Stories - LDS

Join us today on Mormon Stories Podcast as we interview Mike Rinder - former top-level Scientology Executive. Mike was raised a Scientologist, knew L. Ron Hubbard personally, and became David Miscavige's "right hand man" as he lead Scientology's "Office of Special Affairs" (OSA). The OSA handled media and public relations, legal and government relations, and dealing with the "enemies of Scientology."

Mike appeared in the Scientology documentary "Going Clear," as well as in the documentary TV Series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath." He currently co-hosts a podcast with Leah Remini called "Scientology: Fair Game."

Direct download: MormonStories-1401-MikeRinder.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:24pm MDT

Hey Mormon Stories Listeners - I need your help!!!! This Friday (9am mountain time) I will be interviewing Mike Rinder - a former high-level leader of the Church of Scientology. I only have an hour with Mike, so I want to spend at least a few minutes of the hour comparing the Mormon church with the Church of Scientology.

To be clear - I have studied Scientology enough to know that it is deeply problematic....from literally kidnapping/imprisoning members, to having members physically beaten, to militantly suing members, etc. In short, I know that Scientology is a brutal, inhumane, super-harmful cult. Consequently, I am also fully aware that any comparison between the Mormon church and the Church of Scientology is deeply fraught. But hear me out.

I once read in Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" that sometimes the less immediately lethal viruses are often the most harmful viruses overall, primarily BECAUSE they are less deadly than their counterparts. In other words, if a virus is so deadly that it immediately kills its hosts, it has a tougher time spreading, and ultimately harms fewer organisms. Conversely, if a virus doesn't kill its host, but makes its hosts sick enough for a long enough time, the virus can spread much more successfully to a much larger population, and do more harm overall to many more people . Get it?

And so this is where I would like your feedback...and it's only an intellectual exercise. Here is the question:

If the variables we are measuring include:
1) Total human hours extracted from members without fully informed consent (total hours wasted under false pretenses, in a sense),
2) Total abuse/pain/suffering inflicted on humans under false pretenses, and
3) Total $$$ amount fraudulently extracted from its members over the lifetime of the church....again, under false pretenses and without informed consent....

...could an argument be made that the Mormon church, in aggregate, causes more overall harm than the Church of Scientology...in part BECAUSE it is somewhat less severe overall?

Also, what arguments/points am I missing?

Please make your best case below (one way or the other), and I will do my best to incorporate your input into my discussion with Mike Rinder on Friday.

Also, if you have any questions for Mike, please share them below and I will try my best to incorporate them.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!

John Dehlin

P.S. Please know that I KNOW that the Mormon Church does a TON of good in the world (particularly for its members). Believe me....I see that, and I believe that. I am talking about the harm that the Mormon Church causes IN SPITE of all the good it does as well.

Direct download: Scientology_vs._Mormonism_-EDITED.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:04pm MDT

Join us as we talk with cult expert Steven Hassan about how to help a loved one who believes in and follows the QAnon conspiracy cult. Questions we will address include:

  • What is QAnon?
  • Does QAnon qualify as a harmful cult?
  • How is QAnon harming people, families, and our nation?
  • How can you help a loved one who believes in and follows AQnon, or any other destructive cult?

Dr. Steven Hassan's Reddit AMA (Q&A) at QAnonCasualties entitled "How to Help People Involved in QAnon" can be found here.

Steven's main web site is: Freedom of Mind.

Books Mentioned in Today's Episode:

Cult Documentaries Mentioned in Today's Episode:

Direct download: MormonStories-1400-HassanQAnon.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 4:47pm MDT

Is it possible to stay active in the LDS Church in 2021 after....

....learning all of the problematic history... ....becoming an ally for LGBTQ Mormons... ...becoming a feminist... ...becoming an "intellectual Mormon"... and after losing one's orthodox faith?

More importantly, why would anyone WANT to?

In Part 1 of my two-part interview with dear friend and faith transitions coach Jana Spangler, Jana told us the story of her Mormon faith journey, which includes:

  • Battling with perfectionism as an LDS teen and young adult.
  • Feeling broken and inadequate as a single Mormon woman attending the University Utah, struggling to meet the church's standards of "worthiness."
  • Being threatened with an LDS Disciplinary Council be a well-meaning Mormon bishop, and how that actually HELPED turn Jana's life around at the time.
  • Finding and marrying Rob - who "checked all the Mormon boxes" at the time.
  • Batting with infertility.
  • Experiencing self-doubt and depression as a Mormon Mom.
  • How Jana's passion for self-improvement and retreats/workshops led to a Mormon faith crisis.
  • Jana's shifting views of Christ's atonement, which include absolute, unconditional love.
  • Jana's courage to share her testimony struggles with her Holladay, Utah ward and stake.
  • How untraditional Mormon podcast hosts, authors, and organizations (such as Bill Reel, Gina Colvin, Dan Wotherspoon, John Dehlin, Thomas Wirthlin McConkie, Sunstone, etc.), along with a supportive husband and understanding church leaders, helped Jana find a way to stay ACTIVE in the LDS Church.
  • What factors led Jana to decide to stay active in the LDS Church...for now.

In Part 2, Jana provides a more detailed framework for how others can find a way to remain active in the LDS Church if they so desire, inspired by the works of Richard Rohr and James Fowler (among others).

Direct download: MormonStories-1399-JanaSpangler2.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:46am MDT

Is it possible to stay active in the LDS Church in 2021 after....

....learning all of the problematic history... ....becoming an ally for LGBTQ Mormons... ...becoming a feminist... ...becoming an "intellectual Mormon"... and after losing one's orthodox faith?

More importantly, why would anyone WANT to?

In Part 1 of my two-part interview with dear friend and faith transitions coach Jana Spangler, Jana tells us the story of her Mormon faith journey, which includes:

  • Battling with perfectionism as an LDS teen and young adult.
  • Feeling broken and inadequate as a single Mormon woman attending the University Utah, struggling to meet the church's standards of "worthiness."
  • Being threatened with an LDS Disciplinary Council be a well-meaning Mormon bishop, and how that actually HELPED turn Jana's life around at the time.
  • Finding and marrying Rob - who "checked all the Mormon boxes" at the time.
  • Batting with infertility.
  • Experiencing self-doubt and depression as a Mormon Mom.
  • How Jana's passion for self-improvement and retreats/workshops led to a Mormon faith crisis.
  • Jana's shifting views of Christ's atonement, which include absolute, unconditional love.
  • Jana's courage to share her testimony struggles with her Holladay, Utah ward and stake.
  • How untraditional Mormon podcast hosts, authors, and organizations (such as Bill Reel, Gina Colvin, Dan Wotherspoon, John Dehlin, Thomas Wirthlin McConkie, Sunstone, etc.), along with a supportive husband and understanding church leaders, helped Jana find a way to stay ACTIVE in the LDS Church.
  • What factors led Jana to decide to stay active in the LDS Church...for now.

In Part 2, Jana provides a more detailed framework for how others can find a way to remain active in the LDS Church if they so desire, inspired by the works of Richard Rohr and James Fowler (among others).

Direct download: MormonStories-1398-JanaSpangler1.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:53pm MDT

Recently, BYU Egyptologist John Gee published an article via the online Mormon apologetic website "The Interpreter" - attacking the scholarship of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, specifically Volume 4 of "The Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations." The article is entitled: "Fantasy and Reality in the Translation of the Book of Abraham."

Gee's main attack targets are recently retired BYU professor Brian Hauglid and current LDS church employee Robin Jensen.

- Why would a BYU professor be attacking the work of the Joseph Smith Papers project - both of which are owned and controlled by the LDS Church?

- What issues are at stake in this battle between old style and new style Mormon apologists?

Join me and Radio Free Mormon on Friday at 11:15am Utah time as we discuss the history and details of this "civil war" within the world of Mormon apologetics.

Direct download: MormonStories-1397-Civil_War.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 3:12pm MDT

Please join me as I interview Dr. William L. Davis about his book "Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon."

In this interdisciplinary work, William L. Davis examines Joseph Smith's 1829 creation of the Book of Mormon, the foundational text of the Latter Day Saint movement. Positioning the text within the history of early American oratorical techniques, sermon culture, educational practices, and the passion for self-improvement, Davis elucidates both the fascinating cultural contexts for the creation of the Book of Mormon and the central role of oral culture in early nineteenth-century America.

Drawing on performance studies, religious studies, literary culture, and the history of early American education, Davis analyzes Smith’s process of oral composition. How did he produce a history spanning a period of 1,000 years, filled with hundreds of distinct characters and episodes, all cohesively tied together in an overarching narrative? Eyewitnesses claimed that Smith never looked at notes, manuscripts, or books—he simply spoke the words of this American religious epic into existence. Judging the truth of this process is not Davis's interest. Rather, he reveals a kaleidoscope of practices and styles that converged around Smith's creation, with an emphasis on the evangelical preaching styles popularized by the renowned George Whitefield and John Wesley.

William L. Davis, an independent scholar, holds a Ph.D. in theater and performance and has published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought; John Bunyan Studies: A Journal of Reformation and Nonconformist Culture; Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies; Style; Text and Performance Quarterly; and Textual Cultures.

Dr. William L. Davis’ book, “Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon” can be purchased in the following ways:

University of North Carolina Press

Amazon

Direct download: MormonStories-1396-William_L._Davis.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 11:47am MDT

For those who really care about Mormon Stories Podcast, and particularly for those who donate, please provide feedback when you can.

Thanks!

John

Direct download: MormonStories-1395-UMFeedback.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 4:14pm MDT

Please join me as Neon Trees front man Tyler Glenn and award-winning pianist and composer Paul Cardall return to Mormon Stories Podcast to premiere a new music video: "I Know It Hurts", from Paul Cardall's memoir-style album "The Broken Miracle." We would welcome your questions for Tyler and Paul during this live Q&A.
 
“I Know It Hurts” was co-written by Cardall and Glenn after they met several years ago at the famed LOVELOUD Festival, where they were both performing. Glenn is co-founder of the festival, alongside Imagine Dragon’s Dan Reynolds.
 
“Before writing this song, Tyler and I discussed at length the challenges we all feel that result from trauma,” Cardall explains. “In my case, though my heart transplant was a beautifully orchestrated miracle, it was still the grand finale to a lot of years of medical trauma. It triggered anxiety and depression. For everyone who is suffering, not necessarily physically, but because they are different or feel like an outsider, I want to say to them, ‘I know it hurts.’ This song acknowledges that you are not alone. This song validates our feelings in a way that says, ‘keep going, keep fighting, we understand.’”
 
Glenn adds,
 
“I wanted the lyric and performance of this song to convey a sense of understanding how it feels to get through a trauma or heartache. So much of life for many is the search for a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth. This song feels more like an acknowledgement of that, and I hope it brings a feeling of being seen and comforted. I hope those in pain from whatever it may be, feel a sense of validation.”
 
The video, directed by Rob Norbutt, is in stark black and white, the simplicity of which amplifies the power of the message:
 
You’ve been floating out in space
You just wanted to believe
There were tears upon your face
And your body felt no ease
Dear God is there not more
Cuz it’s cold on the church floor
 
Cardall’s new album is more than a colorful collection of 19 emotionally-charged songs. The Broken Miracle is a musical memoir, a personal manifesto that celebrates a life filled with nearly unfathomable tragedy and heady triumph. An enthusiastic collaborator, Cardall welcomes an all-star cast of creative partners on The Broken Miracle. The title track was penned with Christian music veteran Matt Hammitt and Carter Forge, and is sung by Hammitt. “Broken Machine” features singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata’s vocals on the tune Cardall co-wrote with Yamagata and Trevor Price. In addition to Glenn, the project also includes appearances by Ty Herndon, J. Daniel, and Akelee; while pop star David Archuleta sings the power-ballad “My Heart Beats for You.” His collaboration with Thompson Square on “All I See is Snow” was declared “ the Christmas song of the pandemic.”
 
Cardall’s evolution as an artist continues with the release of The Broken Miracle, a title inspired by his true-to-life story of being born with a congenital heart defect, which nearly took his life numerous times. Cardall received a heart transplant 10 years ago and continues to thrive as a father, husband, and artist. The Broken Miracle will also be released as a biographical fiction novel written by J.D. Netto. The book will be released February 2.
Direct download: MormonStories-1394-GlennCardall.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 5:25pm MDT

Join us for a review of Fiona and Terryl Givens' new book: "All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between."

According to Amazon: "In this book, Fiona and Terryl Givens trace the roots of our religious vocabulary, explore how a flawed inheritance compounds the wounds and challenges of a life devoted to discipleship, and suggest ways of reformulating our language in more healthy ways all in the hope that, as B. H. Roberts urged, we may all cooperate in the works of the Spirit to find a truer expression of a gospel restored." Panelists include Jana Spangler, Anthony D. Miller, and Brittney Hartley.

Direct download: MormonStories-1392-AllThingsNew.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 8:50am MDT

After being raised by an orthodox Mormon mother and a "redneck, somewhat Jack Mormon Pioneer stock dad," Gretchen Day decided that she was going to be an "all in" Mormon mother.  After getting engaged at age 19 (as a BYU Freshman), Gretchen went on to get married in the LDS temple, and to fulfill many of the stereotypes of a Utah County Ultra-Orthodox Mormon mother, including:

  • Having 8 children.
  • Homeschooling her children using Book of Mormon-based curriculum.
  • Raising her children with little to no media.
  • Imposing strict "modesty" guidelines on her children (mostly her daughters).
  • Doing at least one underwater home birth.
  • Pursuing strict dietary practices ("perfect eating) such as restricting sugar, eating only raw, vegan foods, etc.

Over time, Gretchen's ultra-orthodox Mormon dream began to crumble in several different ways:

  • She began to experience serious depression.
  • She started making serious life decisions based on "spiritual experiences" based on feelings -- that may not have been very healthy for her (in hindsight).
  • Some of her children started to lose their testimonies of the church.
  • She had a son who became seriously depressed and ultimately suicidal, based in part on inhumane "worthiness" interviews conducted by well-intentioned bishops, mission, and stake presidents - who were/are operating within an abusive system.  This included feeling pressure to lie about his faith crisis to his home ward and BYU bishop, in order to keep his place at BYU and to stay in good standing with the church.
  • She began learning about factual Mormon church history (e.g., polygamy, Book of Mormon problems), which became deeply triggering for her.

As Gretchen's faith began to crumble, she started to feel trapped within the Utah County Mormon bubble.

  • Should she lie to her son about her faith journey, as he was preparing to leave on his mission, or should she be honest with him and risk spoiling his experience?
  • Was she trapped in a "Mormon mafia" of sorts, with no escape?
  • Should she "come out" to fellow ward members and leadership, and risk social ostracization?
  • Or should she quietly "fade away" from church activity to avoid any conflict?

In Gretchen's case, she decided to leave the church in a very vocal fashion.  This has included:

If you are seeking a powerful, inspiring story of one ultra-orthodox Utah county Mother's journey out of Mormonism, this is it.  If you enjoyed the interviews of folks like Donna Showalter, Leah Young, you will deeply treasure this interview (but only after it breaks your heart).

Direct download: MormonStories-1392-GretchenDay.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:09pm MDT

Gregory Barnes is a Mormon filmmaker and artist raised in Oak Park, Illinois. He studied film at BYU and served a Mormon mission in Argentina. Raised a faithful Mormon, Gregory was influenced by the comedic absurdity of exiting that Jell-O-obsessed desert religion.

Gregory currently is a Master’s Student at TISCH at NYU where he made his most recent short film The Touch of the Master’s Hand -- a dark comedy about a Mormon missionary who confesses an unusual pornography addiction to his mission president. The film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

Gregory's work has been featured by NPR, Playboy, and Pitchfork.

Clip from movie: https://letterboxd.com/festiville/story/exclusive-clip-greg-barnes-mormon-masturbation/?fbclid=IwAR1wLkfTSrP06TpCoMac0ccOdq_uKWvikcPE_ODomZ8gACJCBfwz-h939rI

https://fpg.festival.sundance.org/film-info/5fd1639604818b0ec7648fa7?fbclid=IwAR0_XlPZxkvM_JkWJbl3NrZV7EHJIdr5b-cZLmDzUAqWQlbBB0krBYjOTKo

https://www.gregorybarnes.com 

Direct download: MormonStories-1391-TouchOfTheMastersHand.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 8:50am MDT

After losing your orthodox Mormon faith, have you given up on the possibility of any sort of belief in and/or association with "God" or "Jesus"? More importantly, are you seeking to fill some of the existential and/or spiritual holes left over after your faith crisis?

Today I sit down with John Hamer, Community of Christ Seventy and pastor of the Community of Christ Toronto Congregation to talk about why he thinks theists especially, but also some atheists have adopted a counterproductive position about the idea of "God." We'll also discuss why he thinks this is even a relevant conversation to have in the 21st century. Didn't rational people hash this all out in the Enlightenment? John Hamer believes that the majority of Christians including many intellectual leaders of the movement took a wrong turn centuries ago and with negative consequences for the whole path of Western civilization today. He proposes going back and exploring an alternative path, including opening up the term "God" as a variable in need of undefinition and reexamination. What, if anything, might this accomplish?

Tune in and pose your own questions and objections.

Direct download: MormonStories-1390-UndefiningGod.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:50am MDT

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