This week’s excommunication from the LDS Church of John Dehlin, and its making fresher the memory of Kate Kelly’s excommunication last summer as well as other actions taken against persons of conscience who have found themselves in tension with the church, is taking a great emotional and spiritual toll on many of us. We are sad, angry, disappointed, frightened, thrown into turmoil with family members and friends who react differently than we do, and we can’t help but wonder if we have the fortitude to keep fighting on, to keep witnessing for truths we’ve come to feel deeply. Many may be feeling that this is the “last straw” or are otherwise despairing that Mormonism will likely never become better able to welcome open-hearted discussions of difficult historical, social, and doctrinal issues. How can we go forward?
On the evening of the news that John Dehlin was excommunicated, Natasha Helfer Parker, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Joanna Brooks, Dan Wotherspoon, and Brian Dillman got together via Skype audio chat to discuss various ways they personally cope with the kinds of distress such things cause, perspectives that help heal them in times of difficulty. Their sharing is this podcast episode, which is being co-released by Mormon Matters, Rational Faiths podcast, and Mormon Mental Health podcast. How might we experience and understand our anger in healthy ways? How do we not let our emotions get the better of us and block out wider perspectives that likely would serve us better for the long haul? Can historical and sociological frameworks help us see these recent events in greater context, help us understand ways to more forward rather than repeat negative cycles? Are there larger spiritual or existential framings that can help us make peace with the tensions life and the many things we care about seem to constantly call upon us to bear?
In a section led by Joanna Brooks, she refers to and describes this chart:
To listen to or read more about Parker Palmer, the “tragic gap,” and finding courage to live with courage and renewal:
“The Inner Life of Rebellion,” Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin interview, On Being podcast, 8 January 2015
Parker J. Palmer, “The BrokenOpen Heart Living with Faith and Hope in the Tragic Gap,” Weavings XXIV, no. 2, 2009
“If Only We Would Listen: Parker J. Palmer on What We Could Learn about Politics, Faith, and Each Other,” interview by Alicia Von Stamwitz, Sun magazine, November 2012
Two great Parker Palmer books:
Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Hyperion, 1999
Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, Jossey-Bass, 2004
Please listen and then share your thoughts in the comments section below!