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