Celebrating John Dehlin

Stephen WellingtonMormon 21 Comments

John DehlinCall it what you will….call it brown-nosing in the UK & kissin butt in the US…but I felt extremely frustrated this week trying to follow in John’s shoes and it helped me to realize what an awesome guy he is and the things he might have gotten through to get Mormon Stories to us. I was glad to see him voted as the unsung hero of mormon blogging this year.

Trying to hook up an interview this week with an interesting Mormon I got this reply in my email:

After looking at your website I think it is inappropriate to give you an interview.

I felt like asking the person…”Which website?? , was it my particular posts about my mission and THE BIG M, my disenchantment with church and state, my pregnant man post or was it Mormon Stories/Mormon Matters in general?” I felt frustrated and somewhat offended because it made me feel less moral for asking questions and coming up with answers that satisfy me. Yet there was nothing I could really say in reply so I wished the person well and left it at that.

It was about an hour after this reply that I thought to myself….”I wonder if John ever had to put up with this.” And I know for a fact he has…and with more challenging situations.

Dave Grohl said that his song “My Hero” was written to celebrate regular men and women who do day to day things that make them stand out. The chorus goes “There goes my hero…he’s ordinary.” The humanity that John has brought through Mormon Stories and Mormon Matters has paradoxically emphasised the ordinary people in Mormonism who do extraordinary things. His screencast about unsung Mormon heroes and his podcast with Darius Gray and Margaret Young about Jane Manning and Elijah Able comes to mind.

I also found this definition which I thought was fitting for my feelings about how John has helped me to stay in the church through his efforts with Mormon Stories:

a hero is a champion: someone who fights for a cause

Combining this definition with the Foo Fighters song I think John Dehlin has brought something more honest, more open and more human to the Mormon experience. He has done it in a way that makes everyone that interacts with him feel as though they are valued and that they have something worthwhile saying. I also like the way he has been so open about his feelings about church doctrine and history and yet is completely dedicated to the church. He helped to guide me down a path that, whilst difficult to tread, was the only option left for me rather then leaving the church altogether. I still go to the temple, I still have a testimony of the church and of Jesus Christ, but I have managed now to live in a world where I have learned to transcend the Mormon polemic.

I think John’s decision to focus on his family and his work is a wise one when the cognitive dissonance that comes from taking the “middle path” through mormonism can be all consuming.
John Dehlin and Family

John is not even dead and I am already writing a blog that sounds more like an obituary. πŸ™‚ God Bless you John Dehlin…thank you again for being a friend and helping me to keep an eternal perspective.

Comments 21

  1. Stephen,

    This is very nice and I think appropriate. John provided a valuable service to our community with Mormon Stories and this blog. From my perspective they are the two classiest place on the internet for a Mormon.

    If you want to contact me privately I have a few suggestion for interviews with Mormon Stories.

  2. I agree. I’ve so enjoyed the Mormon Stories podcasts, and I admire the balance John Dehlin has brought to the community of Mormons of all kinds.

  3. I’ve been thinking about that refusal to be interviewed since I read this post this morning. I’m still trying to get my head around that. I think there is a real purpose in bringing together people who are at various points on the scale with regard to the church. I would like to think we can all be edified and enlightened in so doing. I think there is an opposing viewpoint in the church that would have us not “sup with sinners” or only have strong, active LDS associations. Perhaps not quite as strongly stated as that, but just a tendency. There is definitely a difference between spirituality and religion, and many who are of other faiths or who are no longer LDS still have something to contribute spiritually to us as a community. I’m just thrilled that we can keep a dialog going. But the “other” faction I mention is also of the ideology of white-washing our journals and only telling what is edifying. They have a point, but I can’t really identify with people who never have a question or who never consider alternate viewpoints. I’m glad to know of my ancestors’ mistakes and struggles and that they were made of flesh and blood. How can I turn my heart to a statue or an icon? Well, I’ve gone far afield here, but just some thoughts.

  4. Stephen,

    Send me an email who it was you were trying to interview. I want to see if I can get an interview with them or if I’d be rejected too. πŸ˜› (Just kidding.)

    But seriously, let’s not portray this anonymous person as not wanting an interview because they are against open communication or “bringing together people who are at veraious points on the scale.”

    There are a lot of reasons why a Mormon might feel uncomfortable giving an interview here. I would be for some purposes — and I blog here! πŸ˜› So I think we need to cut this person some slack and not read the worst into it.

    Indeed, it even could just be a misunderstanding.

    Context matters!

  5. I totally agree hawkgrrrl…and as I get older I come to respect people more for being open and honest. Thanks for your comments.

    “If you think someone is perfect you dont know them well enough.”

  6. Amen and amen. I have come to think of John D as the patron saint of the Bloggernacle. I was lucky enough to run into Mormon Stories in its very early days (i.e., John’s posting of his letters to Dallin Oaks). Turns out he and I served in the same mission and missed each other by only a couple of months. We have a lot in common — I was one of the poor souls left to find/clean up after all those kiddie baps he talks about, and I served in the same hellhole where his mission ended(Uspantan). I can’t tell you the number of people I have turned on to his podcasts, including my mom (my personal favorite — Greg Kearney’s discussion of Masonry). The best part is, he’s just as friendly in person. Thanks, John.

  7. John Dehlin is definitely my kind of guy. I know of several friends that have found Mormon Stories independent of me. I just had dinner tonight with a friend and he mentioned that Mormon Stories has had a very postitive imact on his faith journey.

  8. Bruce – fair enough. Casting stones from my pseudonum is kinda hypocritical. Yes, it is true. My parents did not name me hawkgrrrl. I am not married to Hawkman. I have no Hawk-kids.

  9. Amen. Thank you John for all that you have done. You have done more to help struggling Mormons than you will probably ever know. I was sad to see you hand over the reins, although I approve of your putting your family first. May God bless you and your family for your efforts.

  10. It takes a man of integrity to stand on the side of regular people. This is why I like John Dehlin.

    I put him in the same category as Chomsky/Martin Luther King Jr. in his unrelentless championing for truth and for supporting and giving a voice to the poor in spirit by honestly pursuing authority for legitimate answers.

    And I like him because he remains grounded through it all… I just hope he doesnt get up to those orgies that MLK was infamous for. πŸ˜‰

  11. John is the reason several people either remain in church, trying to find the the middle way, or have found a way to continue outside the church without bitterness (or at the very least, less anger/frustration).

    The reason for John’s success is because he has the very rare and unique ability to empathize wholly. That, combined with his consistent humility, respect for others, and demeanor which puts everyone at ease, is what makes him exceptional.

    He has has been a healer inside and outside the church in a way that few could be.

  12. John you ARE a great guy!

    With all you know about the falsehoods of Mormonism I hope you will build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ someday. With a personal relationship to Christ all of the questionable theology, problems with religiosity, weird LDS prophet’s teachings, etc., instantly melt away.

    If you are out there listening John… Ask Jesus into your heart, the one and only omnipresent, eternal, all powerful God. I believe in my heart that you know Jesus is the answer.

    I love you John. I’ve prayed for you multiple times. I sent you an email once, but you never responded.

    God bless you and your family… GO AGGIES!

  13. Joe P – In the spirit of John Dehlin :), I will thank you for your concern and love. On top of that, I can never fault people of other faiths trying to do missionary work, as I did/do myself.

    While I agree there have been “falsehoods” taught in the church, it is inconsistent or at least naive to assume that there are no falsehoods in other religions. We all have plenty of them.

  14. AdamF. I do appreciate you understanding my motives are not hateful, but loving. I try to witness Jesus Christ to Mormons whenever possible. Some are offended, some (like you) are more receptive.

    I want to let you know… One thing is perfect. Jesus Christ. Why put your faith and worship toward any particular church? All churches are imperfect, all men are fallen, all earthly denominations will have problems. But, when you have a personal relationship with Christ you realize he is ALL that matters. He is perfect!

    God bless you…

  15. “One thing is perfect. Jesus Christ… all earthly denominations will have problems…”

    On these things we can certainly agree!

    I appreciate your kindness and sincerity.

  16. Pingback: John Dehlin- Humanist « darwinian remiix

  17. John Dehlin and Joe P…I think you are both inspirational. Now that you know the falsehoods of Mormonism and Christianity I hope that you will except Muhammad as God’s last and final prophet and come to worship Allah, the one and only God.

    God is perfect and judges righteously…

    As-Salāmu `Alaykum

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