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John Dehlin And Faith Reconstruction

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wonder if he sabotaged his for lack of a better word movement? guess it remains to be seen

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I wish John Dehlin and his family nothing but the best. I think he has a great heart, even if I haven't always agreed with his approach or less-than-orthodox ways. But it's hard to argue that he's fostered a great dialogue of all things Mormon, even with aspects that might be uncomfortable to discuss, but needed to be. It looks like he is catching a lot of flack for his decision to become fully active in the Church. Kind of sad, but not unexpected.

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Here is what John said on another board:

John here. For the record....drugs/alcohol have never been a temptation for me. Still haven't tried them even once. I do have alcoholism in my family, and I never want to get close to it...but it (the change) wasn't about that.

Also, for the record, I wasn't doing any of the weed smoking/wife swapping stuff...and that stuff was isolated (relatively rare)...but it was common enough in association with MS events/communities that I became uncomfortable with the associations/trajectories....and fearful that I was failing at what I was trying to provide for folks (more happiness/peace vs. less, stronger families vs. weaker families, etc.).

Ultimately I just realized that I wasn't strong enough to build up and lead a new social organization...at least in ways that really improved peoples' lives. The direction it was headed did not feel healthy to me. Too many divorces. Too much sadness/recklessness for my taste. It felt to me like all I was doing was leading people to unhappy places...including myself. That's why I pulled back.

The last thing that people need is another cult leader...and I was not interested in playing that role either. If people are tired of my constant changing....I'm happy about that. I don't want to be a role model, and I don't want people to see me that way. WIth Mormon Stories I've just been trying to advance open/healthy dialogue about Mormon issues.....and in spite of all my weaknesses....I feel like I have been successful on that front...if nothing else.

It is good to have John back in the fold. I think that he did the right thing. The mormonstories chapters were being hijacked by a fringe wing. Unfortunately, this happens with people who have good intentions---create something meant to help struggling members. It is also something that I warned about on a different thread about a different kind of movement. Such movements can be easily hijacked.

Edited by why me

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It is difficult for people to understand that salvation is primarily a personal venture between an individual and God. There is great benefit in finding others to worship with and to express our feelings about God. However, secular organizations are poor substitutes for the Church of Jesus Christ. Organizations can mislead and can cause pain. The most depressing thing is when the Church, which is the fount of truth in one's life, has also become the fount of pain and disappointment.

Some of our brothers and sisters are in pain and the Church bears a heavy burden for much of that pain. Oh, how I wish that leaders were extraordinary in everything they did and that they were perfectly lead by God in every word and every deed. Unfortunately, they are human and make mistakes; they are just sinners as we are, but they are engaged in God's work.

It would be a far healthier approach to admit error and take responsibility for that error and then move on rather than to act as if no error was ever made. In doing so, our very human leaders make real their own humanity and that of their predecessors and unite us in a life of repentance and a desire to weed out the bad and retain the good in all that we do. We are each on a path that leads to Exaltation and the Church needs the same type of repentance that each of us requires.

I admire John's current actions and hope that he can find peace, joy, and service in the Church. I hope each of those in pain will find healing and the desire to always follow Jesus Christ in all they do.

Edited by Storm Rider

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It is difficult for people to understand that salvation if primarily a personal venture between the individual and God. There is great benefit in finding others to worship with and express our feelings about God. However, organizations can be poor substitutes for the Church of Jesus Christ.

This can be true but in the case of John, I think that it has to do with the people who eventually became attracted to MormonStories. In the beginning, the podcasts were informative and very good. His podcasts were a benefit for many members. His blacks and the priesthood podcast, the Bushman interview about Joseph Smith and others were wonderful. But somewhere along the way, the podcasts changed and with the change, other people became attracted to them and began to form chapters that were not necessarily filled with the values John would want them to have. And his name was connected to these chapters and societies. And this was his problem.

But in the beginning he helped many members.

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His account of his meeting with an Apostle is fascinating, and inspiring.

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His account of his meeting with an Apostle is fascinating, and inspiring.

Where is that part in the podcast?....nevermind found it

Edited by BlueDreams

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His account of his meeting with an Apostle is fascinating, and inspiring.

I think that this was his Alma the younger moment. Not that he was alma the younger but he needed this experience to see the church differently again. He saw genuine love and understanding. And he experienced sincerity. All very important for reconversion.

What is more interesting is the obvious. The controversy over john and the maxwell institute can now be seen more clearly. Our friends were not wrong about the bad influence of MormonStories and its chapters. But since John was on his way back, the criticism needed to be squashed.

That's my take on it.

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I think it is possible to be a skeptic, a seeker, a prober, a questioner, a doubter, and be a faithful Latter-day Saint (or member of almost any other faith community). Doubt and skepticism, in my mind, are as much gifts of God as faith and belief. In marriage it is said that most times it is better to be "good" than to be "right." I think the same is true of religion. It is better to be authentic than to toe the party line. I have always been a huge fan of John because I believe he authentically represents what I think is the best of Mormonism--a commitment to seeking truth and goodness wherever and however found. (And I think just as highly of those of my brothers and sisters who commitment to truth and good have led them on other faith or nonfaith paths.) FTW, John.

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But since John was on his way back, the criticism needed to be squashed.

The criticism of him or his criticism of others?

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"WIth Mormon Stories I've just been trying to advance open/healthy dialogue about Mormon issues.....and in spite of all my weaknesses....I feel like I have been successful on that front...if nothing else."

These words by John Dehlin that were quoted in a post above, I see as crucial for the insight they give into Dehlin's desire for his Mormon Stories initiative, and for the potential benefits for individuals.

I know a number of LDS folk who have found help from such "open/healthy dialogue". Whether presently LDS or ex-mo, it's helped folk to have a more positive and hopeful attitude toward the LDS church.

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Mormon Stories was a great help in getting me through a faith crisis and keeping me in the church. I know others with similar feelings.

But I also know that the Mormon Stories group in my area of the country seemed to become much more of an ex-Mormon gathering. I was sad to see that as the local group seemed to gain a negative and (mostly) undeserved reputation of being only about disaffection from the Church.

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The criticism of him or his criticism of others?

Maybe both. But certainly of him if it were known that he was contemplating coming back by the General Authority. The piece would have been counter productive and in the Internet world, long lasting.

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But I also know that the Mormon Stories group in my area of the country seemed to become much more of an ex-Mormon gathering. I was sad to see that as the local group seemed to gain a negative and (mostly) undeserved reputation of being only about disaffection from the Church.

And this is how it was hijacked. It was unfortunate but it is difficult to keep out people who do not share the values. This will be the same for any mormon related group that attempts to expand outwardly and attempts to be critical of the lds church even moderately. It can be taken over by people who have outright hatred for the lds church.

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Count me skeptical.

Not that he doesn't feel sincere at the moment, but John Dehlin has been nothing if not unstable and unsteady over the years ---- one who begins projects and just as quickly switches gears in other directions (e.g., complaining and instigating in his brief tenure on the FAIR list and the early MADB, insisting he wants to help people stay solidly in the Church --- then the observable aftermath, sudden employment and educational adventures that would frighten most people ---- then pulling off the gas, downright hostile attacks ---- the paranoid online "defense" and PR campaign against a FAIR paper and Dan Peterson that still has never been published, etc.).

If a recent "man-to-man" with an apostle is indeed behind his latest itteration, well, no surprise there. I think he was dangerously close to a point of no return, and needed a swift about face. Time (and actions) will tell if it sticks, or is just the most recent twist and turn.

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Count me skeptical.

Not that he doesn't feel sincere at the moment, but John Dehlin has been nothing if not unstable and unsteady over the years ---- one who begins projects and just as quickly switches gears in other directions (e.g., complaining and instigating in his brief tenure on the FAIR list and the early MADB, insisting he wants to help people stay solidly in the Church --- then the observable aftermath, sudden employment and educational adventures that would frighten most people ---- then pulling off the gas, downright hostile attacks ---- the paranoid online "defense" and PR campaign against a FAIR paper and Dan Peterson that still has never been published, etc.).

If a recent "man-to-man" with an apostle is indeed behind his latest itteration, well, no surprise there. I think he was dangerously close to a point of no return, and needed a swift about face. Time (and actions) will tell if it sticks, or is just the most recent twist and turn.

He explains how his feelings changed. Much like my experience, at first I felt distrust, especially after listening to the podcasts he mentions, like Palmer's and Compton's. And how it was better to listen the more positive ones, like Givens for instance. I see exactly what he saw. I was disappointed in a Mormonstories conference I went to last summer. It seemed more of them were on their way out of the church vs. trying to stay in. He was angry at first....like most that have lived as faithful, diligent members...always paying tithing, doing their home teaching/visiting teaching, fulfilling callings, TR holders, believing everything to be as we are taught in church. Then to see the hidden stuff makes you angry and sad and it's tough. Especially if you think the church is all false, then you're really angry and venture to see what else there is out there, and when you don't like anything else you give up (not me) and become agnostic or athiest. It's a downward spiral. Some of us make it out of the spiral and some don't. Staylds was the lifeline for me, and then this board. I appreciate John and his trying to support so many, and understand how his faith in the church fluctuates! Edited by Tacenda

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I listened to all parts of the podcast and liked it. However, I feel that John Dehlin is a deeply conflicted and confused man who sways back and forth into activity, out of activity, back and forth, half in, half out. He needs to take a stand and be true to it. His poor wife and kids! I hope this is his final decision.

We all know that you don't have to be a Mormon to be a moral human being, but for Dehlin this seems to be where he needs to be to stay strong. At least he recognizes this and has done what he feels is right for his family.

He's trying to become worthy so he can baptize his son (who turned 8 almost a year ago IIRC). That's admirable and he meets weekly with his Bishop or Stake President.

Dehlin is obviously one that could not be in the world and not partake of the worldly temptations. He considered leaving his wife and children and that scared him (and rightly so). I do feel it's unfair to blame the Mormon Stories community though as even Dehlin says these occurrences (drugs, drinking, immorality) were "rare".

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I feel ript off...John talks about all those people who after leaving the church get divorced, participate in drugs and engage in wild sex parties and other so-called sins...and end up miserable.

Gee...I've left the church, I'm extremely happy, I've never been to a party where random sex was available, I've never taken drugs and I'm still married to the same woman I was alledgedly married to for time and all eternity... who it also happens is still activly involved with the church. This isn't how things are supposed to happen

Why is my non-believer life so wonderful, filled with so much happiness and joy and blessed with a wonderful family and children who crazy as it may seem love and appreciate me.

There is something diffenatley wrong....

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I feel ript off...John talks about all those people who after leaving the church get divorced, participate in drugs and engage in wild sex parties and other so-called sins...and end up miserable.

Gee...I've left the church, I'm extremely happy, I've never been to a party where random sex was available, I've never taken drugs and I'm still married to the same woman I was alledgedly married to for time and all eternity... who it also happens is still activly involved with the church. This isn't how things are supposed to happen

Why is my non-believer life so wonderful, filled with so much happiness and joy and blessed with a wonderful family and children who crazy as it may seem love and appreciate me.

There is something diffenatley wrong....

it's like the bit that Seinfeld does when you're watching a commercial on Stevie the TV and drinking a soda that they are advertising and on said TV and they are playing volleyball on the beach, laughing, everyone is having a good time and you're sitting there drinking it and thinking, hhmmmmm maybe I should have poured it into a glass with ice cubes in it! like what am I doing wrong here!!

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I feel ript off...John talks about all those people who after leaving the church get divorced, participate in drugs and engage in wild sex parties and other so-called sins...and end up miserable.

He was very much describing himself and he ought to clarify this.

He's the one who was tempted to participate with the "rare" usage of drugs he came across or getting excited when he saw two women kissing (his words).

He is also the one who contemplated divorce and leaving his kids.

He should make this clear instead of giving the impression that this is rampant within the Mormon Stories community. All that he found going on outside of the church takes place in the church too.

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He was very much describing himself and he ought to clarify this.

He wasn't solely describing himself....a quote from the conversation on the podcast by him:

But I have seen a heavy dose of what I consider to be very reckless behavior in the post-Mormon world. In at least 4 or 5 cities I saw it close up. Wife swapping. Open marriages. Drug use. Adultery. Divorce. Sadness. Anger. I’m only being honest. You maybe didn’t see it, and I am not tal all trying to say that these things were common w/ most conference and community participants. But they were common/frequent enough to scare the crap out of me.

Overall, for what it's worth...it by no means sounded like this was the only path to go down. As mentioned by paxton, people can end up just fine outside the faith. But it is a potential path to end up with all of these probs above as well. And I think realizing that was the problem for the schema that he held. (I also think that his current schema is also a problem...but I'll mention that later).

With luv,

BD

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He wasn't solely describing himself....a quote from the conversation on the podcast by him:

Quote

But I have seen a heavy dose of what I consider to be very reckless behavior in the post-Mormon world. In at least 4 or 5 cities I saw it close up. Wife swapping. Open marriages. Drug use. Adultery. Divorce. Sadness. Anger. I’m only being honest. You maybe didn’t see it, and I am not tal all trying to say that these things were common w/ most conference and community participants. But they were common/frequent enough to scare the crap out of me.

That's not a quote from his podcast (maybe you got it elsewhere?). He later stated it was "rare".

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That's not a quote from his podcast (maybe you got it elsewhere?). He later stated it was "rare".

Not the actual podcast...the conversation that was occurring underneath the podcast provided in the link. There are a number of comments made by him scattered throughout in response to concerns or comments by those who posted their thoughts about the podcast. But they're still a direct quote from him. Sorry for the confusion. That sentiment is also what I got. It wasn't just him that was tempted by it....it was that it was present in others in a group he thought was to grow positive and good things...and it wasn't. In some respects and with certain people there were good things. But it seemed that just enough wasn't going well (and not just that, but really bad in some instances) that it was too much for him.

From what I can tell from my very limited info, he'd gotten bitter/disillusioned about the church and left. He assumed that he couldn't be leading/influencing people away from the church without facilitating a means to have some positive replacement for the hole left in their lives. (This part is my inference from reading some comments and listening to the podcast) --> I think he assumed he could make something better than the church. He'd have probably worded it as having all the good things about it and having inspiration and whatnot without what he saw as bad/problematic about the church. When he didn't. When there was some pretty obvious and disturbing and unhealthy issues occurring and worsening in others' lives as well as his own it scared him bad. He probably re-evaluated his own thoughts about the church and, though having a number of continuing discrepancies, also noted that there were definitely some real and good benefits that come from it....not just for him but in general as well. In short, he went back to something he knows can relatively consistently bring good to people's lives.

With luv,

BD

Edited by BlueDreams

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When there was some pretty obvious and disturbing and unhealthy issues occurring and worsening in others' lives as well as his own it scared him bad.

Let's be honest. I think it's obvious that one big thing that "scared him bad" was the very real possibility of formal Church discipline. I've wondered for some time why that hasn't happened yet, and there were pieces moving towards such an outcome.

We need to sit back and let John Dehlin be John Dehlin before we get excited or angry. As another poster pointed out, he has never demonstrated being able to stay with a new passion or position for long. Let's wait and see what happens when he gets bored with the "TBM routine" after a while.

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