May 18, 2009

Before You Go...

Taking an intermission from our Love Is Not Blind series, I wanted to share something else with you all.

When I first started to get involved around the Bloggernacle, there was a whole new "world" that I had to discover. Not living in Utah and only being a casual follower of Utah news, I didn't know who the September Six were, I had never heard of Sunstone Magazine, and I sure as heck had never heard of John Dehlin (pictured right).

Since I know a lot of those who stumble across my blog and others like it are still new to blogging and perhaps unaware of some of the best that the Bloggernacle has to offer, I wanted to do a post highlighting a few of John Dehlin's pieces that I've found to be extremely helpful.

Although I've never met John personally, my impression of him is one of a thoughtful, caring, open, honest, very intelligent person with tremendous integrity to say the things he does with conviction, yet humility. I especially admire his courage to put a name and face to the highly personal thoughts and experiences he shares with the listener. That takes guts. (I still haven't shown more than half my face. :) He has helped find many Mormons like me a reason to stay, as well as showing empathy and understanding for those who feel that they need to leave. Whether one decides to stay or leave the LDS Church, I wish that everyone who has ever seriously thought about it would listen to his podcasts.

John has been kind enough to grant me permission to link to his work for those of you who will find it of interest.

This telecast, called Why People Leave The LDS Church And What We Can Do About It, is very helpful because:
  • To those who are contemplating leaving the Church -- or even those who already have and are feeling pressured or ostracized by family and friends -- it will either help you find a reason to stay, or help those in your life understand why you feel compelled to leave. Every bishop and stake president in the Church should see this telecast, in my opinion. If you feel that your family doesn't "get it," do whatever you can to get them to watch it. It will help them understand the spiritual transformation you have gone through and -- most importantly -- it will help them to understand what you really need from them. You may also wish to share it with your own bishop or stake leaders.
  • It also does an excellent job of summarizing the journey and transformation that we go through after we've studied the Church more in-depth and are feeling disillusioned, angry, and alone. I once told my mother how after finding out the things that I've found out, I will never be able to look at the Church or Joseph Smith or prophets -- or anything for that matter -- in the same way that I did before. I asked her to watch the telecast. She did, and she said she now understood exactly what I meant.
John shares the story of his life as a Mormon in a three-part podcast series called My Story. I recommend listening to all three parts, which can be found in his podcast archive at Mormon Stories. But if there's one that I wish that everyone would listen to, it's Part 3, "What I Do And Don't Believe And Why I Remain A Mormon." I guarantee that any of you who struggle with some of Mormonism's toughest issues will see yourself in this podcast. If you haven't personally struggled with these issues, then both of these links will really help you understand how some of us "see" things.

Lastly, this essay, entitled How To Stay, is also very helpful, and touches on a lot of what John discusses in the above podcast.

I think my favourite part of the Why People Leave The LDS Church podcast is when he explains what happens to those who have discovered the troubling details of Mormonism. He says:

"Once this happens to you...
  • You never look at Joseph Smith the same way again
  • You never look at scripture the same way again
  • You never look at the church the same way again
  • You never think of "authority" the same way again
  • Your concept of God and Jesus and "the one true church" can change dramatically"
Many of you probably recognize these points as something that you yourself have been through. I think that this is true even in the case of those who remain active in the Church. Making a rash decision to leave the Church can, in some cases, be just as foolish as making a rash decision to enter into it. It's certainly possible to weather the storm and stay, but even if you do so, it's never the same.

Spiritually speaking, the things that were once rocks of your stability are never the same. Suddenly, everything is thrown into question. Everything.

Naturally, as you then begin to re-evaluate things, you start to redefine what they mean to you. And sometimes the change can be dramatic, as John says.

I look forward to hearing any of your thoughts or comments related to what I've shared in this post. I'll leave you with a quote from Part 3 of My Story that really resonated with me:

"I believe that many of the perversions, evils, sadness, and depression in this world stem from people having to hide and cover-up their innermost feelings and thoughts for fear of what people externally are going to think or feel or judge them about. I feel that's unhealthy and wrong."

-John Dehlin

12 comments:

Clean Cut said...

Great "shout-out" to some great information. I happened upon John Dehlin's "Why people leave and what we can do about it" presentation after I had already undergone my own paradigm shift concerning Joseph Smith after reading Rough Stone Rolling. I remember thinking that it was excellent and I also remember thinking it should be recommended; I still feel the same way. So kudos to you for doing just that.

Clean Cut said...

Part of me recognizes that while some people still hold to an extremely unhealthy idealistic view, I try to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that a vast number (if not majority) of Saints already hold to a more healthy, realistic view of prophets, the Church, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I'm just recognizing what I always should have.

Some feel made at the Church, feeling that it's the Church's fault for "covering" things up. I've never really felt that way. I suppose I place more blame on myself for not knowing the full story than with the Church as an institution.

While my paradigm shift was real, and for a time it was even a bit of a faith struggle, I don't think I ever felt that I lost all "rocks of stability" or that the whole floor had been pulled out from under me. I just threw out the wrong and held to that which was right all along, and tried to adjust my paradigm accordingly.

I remember some of these "facts" seemed to be such a big deal to me then--even disturbing. Now it's really not that big a deal to me. I've come so simply accept the facts and how they fit into the whole, but always coming from a faithful perspective. While I surly see things differently now, I wouldn't trade my new perspective for the world.

I was able to assimilate that knowledge and I feel so much stronger and healthier for it now, that I almost forget sometimes that I haven't always felt this way. I do have a more critical eye than before, but I feel just as much joy (if not more so) in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then separately in the fascinating (and sometimes perplexing) history of the Church.

Mormon Heretic said...

Boy, John Dehlin seems to be popular around our parts of the bloggernacle today! I will say I had the pleasure of meeting John at Sunstone last year. He is a very nice person. Of course, I heartily endorse his work as well.

Allie said...

I don't think I've really been able to resolve my issues, but I've come to a point where it doesn't matter. I know what I know, and I will just have to live with dissonance over the things that just don't make sense.

I hate feeling like I have to hide anything. My bishop is great, and he's never made me feel that way, but I still feel like I have to be careful what I say when talking with friends. I also don't want to cause anyone to go through the struggles I went through- if they get there themselves, I'll help them any way I can, but I don't want to push someone before they're ready to deal with some dissonance.

Sunflower said...

John Dehlin is one of my heroes. I'm so glad he decided recently to post all of his work online again. He really cares about those of us struggling through the "discovery" process and through his podcasts it's like having a personal mentor holding your hand and walking you through the struggle. It's great you've honored him with your post today. I'd love to have him record a "part IV" to his story to talk about his journey in spirituality the last few years.

SimplyMe said...

Having been introduced to his words, I'm a big fan of John Dehlin. I am glad that you've shared him on your blog, FD. I've visited all the links that you shared and he truly is doing a great service for people. So are you by giving him space on your blog. I have been away from the church for several years now and he is really helping me to understand, and hopefully to eventually reach reconciliation with the church and things of the temple. John Dehlin's writings and interviews seem to fit under the umbrella of reconciliation, which is a key word for me these days. Christ's mission as taught by the Mormon church was to bring about reconciliation between God and persons. I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon you all b/c I think that, specifically you and John, are following in the footsteps of Jesus in doing what you are doing; to help bring reconciliation to others who struggle within the church. Thank you.

Kate said...

I really appreciated this post, because it does resonate with what I have been going through lately. I have been a member of the LDS church for almost 10 years now, and have finally started venturing into the "scary" world of LDS history. It has really rocked my world. I had a suspicion that it would, which is why I've held off on it so long.

I've found that while my entire concept of "following the prophet" and the church being "perfect" or the "only true church" have been shattered, my testimony in the Book of Mormon and the physical restoration of the Gospel have actually been strengthed. While I know that I will probably never look at the church again the way I once did, I also know that these things have led me to place more emphasis on Christ, and less on Joseph Smith. Which can only be a good thing!

The Faithful Dissident said...

"I remember some of these "facts" seemed to be such a big deal to me then--even disturbing. Now it's really not that big a deal to me. I've come so simply accept the facts and how they fit into the whole, but always coming from a faithful perspective. While I surely see things differently now, I wouldn't trade my new perspective for the world."That's a great attitude, Clean Cut. I'm still not quite at the stage where it's not a big deal to me anymore, but I'm getting there. And people like Dehlin, Bushman, Darius Gray, etc, are helping me to reconcile it all. Perhaps I will be more like Allie and never really feel that these issues have been "resolved," but that eventually it won't really matter.

SimplyMe, "reconciliation" is really important. Not just in our minds, but with our fellow Church members. And everyone needs to do their part.

"While I know that I will probably never look at the church again the way I once did, I also know that these things have led me to place more emphasis on Christ, and less on Joseph Smith. Which can only be a good thing!"Very true, Kate. I've also thought more about God and Jesus since going through a period of feeling turned off to prophets, etc. Perhaps a positive biproduct of such a struggle is a greater personal relationship with God. I'm still in the stage where I'm wondering what it is they really want from me, but it's something I think about a lot.

Matthew Buckley said...

"Although I've never met John personally, my impression of him is one of a thoughtful, caring, open, honest, very intelligent person with tremendous integrity to say the things he does with conviction, yet humility."

I have met John Dehlin, and have had the pleasure of working with him. He is all these things and more.

Hal LaPray said...

John Dehlin is one of my biggest Mormon Heros. And I had the great pleasure of driving 2+ hours for the chance of having dinner with him. He is just as cool in person as on-line.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I think John Dehlin has some very useful advice. Much it of it I found useful. Some of it, admittedly, made me uncomfortable for reasons I don't really want to go into right now, but he certainly has some very practical, compassionate advice, much of which I found relevant to my own situation.

Hye Sung said...

You totally commented me April 12th... and I had no idea. If I had known the famous Faithful Dissident commented me... I would of said something.

Thank you! hahah.