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Bill Hamblin

Greg Smith'S Review Of Dehlin'S "Mormon Stories" Is Now Available

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All of these discussions have brought me thinking about the subject in a little bit of a different light. There is a problem when people start having doubts about the gospel. A problem in that they do not always really know who to turn to with their problems and doubts. Really, most bishops and other local leaders have not the training and psychological understanding to deal with such problems, especially on a large scale. And if anyone looks at the list of inactive members in just about any ward or branch, the scale will appear to be pretty large.

A person with serious doubts needs to have someone he or she can turn to to help get over those rough spots. All, maybe most, are not anti-mormon or even wanting to apostatize, but at the same time, they are hurt and confused at some of the things they learn. If there is no one on the local level, the internest provides ready access to many people who are willing to help them, and maybe help them out of the church. People like John Dehlin (no criticism intended here at all) are filling a vacuum that seems to exist in all too many places. They provide a non-judgemental venue for someone to be able to publicly vent their feelings. People with doubts feel safe with people like John because he is not going to demean them in any way. And there is a potential problem in that, a problem that because a person with doubts about his or her faith is really not equipped to help someone else with their doubts. But those with doubts need someone. And they will seek a friendly voice.

That voice needs to be available in the community and family where the doubter lives and goes to church. A friendly, kind voice. They do not need to be labelled as apostates. I think that John's bishop and stake president must have been doing a good job of keeping the lines of communication open and not burning bridges for him (John) to feel comfortable enough to want to return to full activity. I don't know if John has renewed his faith or not. That is not my judgement in any case.

I posted this once before in a reply to one of teancums posts, but I want to repeat it. When the shepherd found out that he had a lost sheep, he did not waste any breath talking about that sheep, how unsheeplike he had been, etc. he just went after his lost sheep. We need to help that shepherd because he has a lot more than one.

Glenn

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It really was a very good post. Well said.

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Yes, I agree with that. I guess it has to do with how I interpret "validating someone's feelings". Allow me to put it in context with an example relative to this thread...

Say someone comes to you and says... "Hey, I grew up in the church and never knew about Joseph Smith's polyandry. The church has hidden this from me and I feel completely betrayed."

I think one could respond and validate their feelings by saying: "Yeah, I think if I felt like the church leadership had intentionally hid important information from me after years of dedicating my life to the faith, I'd feel betrayed too."

That's the validating part, right?

But then you quickly move to something along the lines of: "Let's talk about why you feel like they hid it from you and why you feel it's important to your testimony."

And from there you work toward correcting mis-perceptions so that you can lead them away from the feelings of betrayal.

I believe there is validity to what you say here. (How's that for validating? Did I do it OK? ;) )

It gets tiresome, though, when strugglers shut you out once you try to move past the validating part. Maybe I've been quoting it too much lately, but the line from the Simon & Garfunkel tune applies here: "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

Going back to my earlier post about validating doubts vs. resolving questions, I guess I would have to say that validation of feelings is necessary to open a line of communication, but not much is accomplished unless we are able to move beyond that to the resolution of questions.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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stemelbow, on 28 February 2013 - 04:08 PM, said:

Like what? When he said something about how he observed in these groups of people drugs and partner sharing? I don't see why people took such offense to his observations. Or, are you talking about something else? I've only seen him attack folks like DCP (a pathetic person, in his view, and a pathological deceiver).

A Mayan Elephant responded:

really man? you need an answer to that? you answered it. my biggest beefs with dehlin are these: the dude is tone-deaf when it comes to the use of the word 'anti-mormon.' deaf. how the hell, after all these years, is he so completely dense on the use of the word, is beyond my comprehension. the second huge issue i have with dehlin, is his stereotyping of exmormons as wanton dangerous sinners. that said, i agree with some of his critics that it serves him well to cast a bad light on the exmormon community and individuals.

I'm not sure what you mean by the term "anti-mormon" so I wont' comment.

What I'm asking is where did he stereotype exmormons as "wanton dangerous sinners"? i see he made an observation of what he saw with some people--but no one can take that to mean he is stereotyping ex mormons. He honestly reported what he witnessed, nothing more. It seems like you aer accusing him of doing something that he demands he does the opposite. He is trying to help the exmormon and middle way mormon community. At least that's what he's saying. You say, "no way, he's being mean to the exmormons".

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Yes, I agree with that. I guess it has to do with how I interpret "validating someone's feelings". Allow me to put it in context with an example relative to this thread...

Say someone comes to you and says... "Hey, I grew up in the church and never knew about Joseph Smith's polyandry. The church has hidden this from me and I feel completely betrayed."

I think one could respond and validate their feelings by saying: "Yeah, I think if I felt like the church leadership had intentionally hid important information from me after years of dedicating my life to the faith, I'd feel betrayed too."

That's the validating part, right?

But then you quickly move to something along the lines of: "Let's talk about why you feel like they hid it from you and why you feel it's important to your testimony."

And from there you work toward correcting mis-perceptions so that you can lead them away from the feelings of betrayal.

Words have meaning and when we start changing that meaning to suit ourselves we lose the ability to communicate effectively. Empathy is a better word and does not have the connotation of sanctioning.

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Words have meaning and when we start changing that meaning to suit ourselves we lose the ability to communicate effectively. Empathy is a better word and does not have the connotation of sanctioning.

I very much agree that the word empathy is much better at communicating what is being described here than validation.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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