Over the course of its run, Mormon Matters has received emails from non-LDS persons who have become regular listeners to the podcast, as well as participants in online LDS “Bloggernacle” groups and other discussions about Mormonism. This episode features four of them—three in person, Bridget McGregor, Karrie Higgins, and Les Gripkey, and one who sent in her story, Bryony Leech—who share why they engage to the strong degrees they do with Mormonism. They each also weigh in with views of what Mormon ideas or aspects are most appealing to them, where Mormonism is strongest or should step forward even more, as well as areas where it frustrates or should consider its way of interacting with the world. Each of the panelists’ stories is fascinating, as are the insights and perspectives they offer as friendly outsiders.
Among the topics getting good attention are LDS emphases on the family and ideas such as baptism and temple work for the dead, community structures, including the influence of the way Salt Lake City is structured on one’s experiences, Mark Hofmann, the Ordain Women movement and how change comes about within Mormonism, LDS history and how it is presented, and the fears that many Latter-day Saints have about authentic sharing of their experiences (too often falling back on the “LDS script”).
After listening, please share your experiences and reactions below!
Les Gripkey, “Among the Mormons: My Journey as a Liahona Christian,” Sunstone, December 2007. (The website given in Les’s bio in the article is not longer in use.)
Karrie is an amazing myth-seer!
Absolutely! So excited to keep chatting with her, and I can’t wait to see what comes from this amazing journey she is on.
Thank you to Bridget, Karrie & Les. It’s so inspiring to hear outside prospective. It’s not routine handcart related groupthink. It sometimes takes years for eyes to see, and ears to open up and hear. (36 for me ). Your comments have been helpful and meaningful. Truth is beautiful wherever you find it. Dan thank you for these podcasts and the amazing people you seem to attract as friends!
Pinching myself every day over the people I have met in this exciting ride. Glad you’re enjoying the podcast, Cam! Thanks for listening and sharing your reactions. Best!
This was wonderful! I loved hearing each of their stories and almost felt shameful because each of the guests seem to get more out of Mormonism on the outside than I do on the inside! What’s the secret, Bridget McGregor, Karrie Higgins, and Les Gripkey?
In some ways, it is easier outside of the tradition looking in because there is some distance and less baggage! But when it comes to my own tradition, I tend to get less upset about what happens in my own community when I see that it happens in other communities too. I ‘blame’ my tradition less and am able to see the structural or underlying human failings instead of being angry with the specifics of the religion. This isn’t to say that I don’t have problems with Orthodoxy, Mormonism, or any of the other traditions I have engaged with over the years (I still get angry and have a lot of issues!), but it helps to put things in perspective 🙂
Perhaps with the freedom that comes from being outside a tradition, it can be easier to see the spark of the search and/or discovery. To seek to experience what happens when you look for example to where Jesus pointed (re: loving, prayer, etc.) instead of going round and round the revolving door of what we should believe about that pointing.
One of the first posts regarding this podcast (perhaps on Facebook?) asked for Eastern Orthodox podcast resources. This brought to mind some Orthodox things that struck me, one of which pertains to David’s question (at least in my mind). In the book, “A Different Christianity: Early Christian Esotericism & Modern Thought,” Robin Amis writes, “….Christianity possesses and always has possessed an inner tradition: not a system, but what might be called a discipline.” And, “All the major religions of the world possess a complete tradition of inner knowledge (or a version of the one tradition), although it has only reached a small percentge of the most able individuals within that faith.”
Perhaps in mainstream LDS circles, the focus on believing and obedience gets in the way of really looking at, and experimenting with, how Joseph Smith interacted with God, and actually hinders the possibility of discovering (in Lowell Bennion’s words) “our own sacred grove.”
Thank you for another great podcast and for reading my contribution Dan, it was such an engaging, I’m sorry I couldn’t participate in person. It was fascinating to hear Karrie, Bridget and Les’ stories and insights, there was so much that I could relate to here.
I loved Les’ section where he talks about ‘thoughtful faith’ and his experiences at the Sunstone talk about God speaking through a tradition, or giving key messages, regardless of how he feels about theological or historical problems. I think that that is a really wonderful approach. Karrie also gave a great moment where she describes the beauty of what can be seen by some as more controversial Mormon practices, such as Baptism for the dead, and I can certainly relate to her there.
I agree that Mormonism can come across as a little defensive and also get frustrated that it can be hard to get to the bottom of what Mormons really do believe, both theologically and in the history of the church and the people. I agree with Bridget that embracing the messiness that can be found if you scratch beneath the PR front, for me, would be preferable. I wonder if the release of the Joseph Smith Papers can help overcome some of this? I agree with Karrie that actually addressing these questions and not sweeping them under the carpet is really important, but I also feel that admitting to not knowing an answer or viewing things in a more symbolic, metaphysical or mythological way also has value. I loved Les’ was of looking at Joseph Smith.
I am also going to take away from this podcast what Bridget reminded us about the history of persecution in the LDS community and Karrie’s advice about really thinking of the things behind a reaction- as someone engaging with Mormons from outside the faith I think that is an aspect that all too easily gets forgotten.
Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and unique perspectives. This podcast is beautiful. Dan, thank you times infinity for what you do. I am very sorry for the loss of your friend.
Dan, what a beautiful tribute to your friend who has passed on, thank you for sharing a piece of her special spirit with us. May God be with her friends and family as you all mourn her parting.
What an beautiful group! I really enjoyed the discussion.
Excellent, I’ve been waiting for a discussion like this! Glad I’m not the only non-mormon fascinated by all of this.
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