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  1. Just giving this podcast a listen for the first time and looking forward to hear what you have to say. Just wanted to offer a correction… Thomas’s middle name is Wirthlin (it is listed here as Fielding). Thanks for sharing your story!

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  2. Thanks for this podcast–definitely some worthwhile things to consider. I’m still in–barely. I don’t subject myself to more than sacrament meeting. Sometimes even that meeting is hard–but I look at it like going to the gym–exercising patience and tolerance muscles. I wonder if there is somewhat of an “art” to expressing/challenging certain viewpoints so that it can be recieved–or at least “tolerated.” I think probably one has to cultivate a loving and charitable heart toward those who won’t agree such that we reveal sincerity and thoughtfulness. Of course, some people will recieve any alternative viewpoints as harshly critical and evil.

    I, too, am less optimistic about the church developing a broader tent. I see even some of the younger ones coming up the ranks–such as Bednar–as rigid and dogmatic.

    Thanks again to Gina, Tom, Dan and John!

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      Hi Maddy,

      I am glad you found some good things in this discussion! There are definitely approaches to commenting in class that I have found to work pretty successfully. The number one key, I think, is to frame whatever you are about to say in terms of “My experience with this topic is …” and then to simply share. It’s ideal if you can at first speak positively about an aspect before offering the critique or question that signals your disagreement/struggle. At times, including a couple of weeks ago in priesthood meeting, I will sometimes say, “I don’t think what I’m about to offer is controversial, but I want you to know the spirit in which I offer it is constructive.” Then go for it. In the case when I did this recently, the lesson was on reaching out and trying to bring people back to the fold (but really was heavy in emphasis on bringing them back to church). After my pre-amble, I shared how we must realize that coming to church meeting isn’t an unambiguous good. That sometimes for those not here, church meetings are as much the problem as anything else, especially the expressions of certainty and the kind of rituals in classes of asking questions and only wanting pristine, faithful answers. Then went on for a minute or so about how it was so triggering for me for many years, etc. My comment was received well, and often is the case when a fresh take comes in, it triggers others. In this case a fellow and his experiences of being inactive for years. And then off and on through the rest of the lesson, the teacher or another would say something like, “Again, as Brother Wotherspoon/Dan (or the other fellow) was saying earlier…” and then make their next point. (It’s funny that sometimes their restatement was a bit off, but still it is a positive that they are/were processing….

      Now, often when you risk (and this will happen a lot at first, I predict), several will begin to offer you “fixes” (either in class, but even more often in the hall or via a call or visit). It ultimately is endearing and can be seen as an expression of their love (concern = love), but it isn’t easy to be patient as they share how they overcame this or that, or their brother or sister did, etc., or “this talk by so and so really helps me.” Ideally, it is best if we are ready for that, and especially ready with some kind of positive statement about our being in the wrestles we are in, that even though it’s tough, we know it’s important for us to work through in deeper ways our relationship with God/the church/these questions. That we feel the Spirit with us and its encouragement, etc.

      These are my two cents at this point, anyway. I wish you well in your journey and whatever engagement you enter into!

  3. Dan,

    I appreciate that John Dehlin was attempting to apologize for/correct/fix previous sentiments that those that are left are either delusional or are stuck and biding their time. He seemed to settle on the viewpoint (and the panel seemed to concur) that it might be acceptable to stay because you are either trying to be an agent for change, trying to advocate for someone, trying to support a casualty of Church teachings, or simply so that orthodoxy has less of a hold on entire congregations. To me, that seems like the answer that unorthodox members seem to feel is acceptable to appease those who challenge their motivation.

    I wanted to hear something like, “I find God in Mormonism” or, “I feel connected and have spiritual experiences while going to Church and that’s why I stay.” I know you were all being interview by John but it appears the intended audience was more to people like me who are hanging by a thread but are still pulled towards Mormonism for some reason.

    Some of us joined/have stayed with the Church to satisfy very real needs in our lives and, although literal belief may be non-existent and the romantic version of history and current leadership may cause us anger or pain, the Church still have many of the tools that strike right chords. For as much as I would like to stay in the Church to be an advocate or to help effectuate change, that’s not the reason I joined and it isn’t enough of a reason for me to stay.

    The struggle, which was touched on in the questions, was how to enjoy the spiritual and communal benefits that I may love and need in my life while recognizing the pain and suffering caused by fundamentalism. I appreciate your comments and they do help bring hope and excitement of change.

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      Adam, you know me, and you know that I definitely stay for my own reasons, my own sense of call, and for all the ways I grow spiritually within the tradition. I’m sorry that didn’t come out as clearly in this setting as I think/hope it does in most Mormon Matters episodes.

      I do find God all the time in Mormonism. I see God working in the lives of people in my ward and all around me. I certainly experience God/Spirit in my own journey, which is Mormon-tinged big time. Ultimately we meet God in private, but our communities and social situations can definitely assist in putting us onto the the scent of God, the river with its fountainhead. And even when these (for reasons of fundamentalism or other things you mention) same things depress us or challenge us, in that we have great opportunities to go inside again and once more find the living stream.

      1. It does in almost everything you do Dan. You almost single handedly keep me and others engaged in Mormonism. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Great discussion.

        I could listen to you riff for as long as you’ll talk.

  4. Bill Reel was missing on this Forum… would have been nice. It might even be nice to have his blog fall also under the Open Stories Forum. Has this been considered?

    As a Catholic Convert, Catholic’s go to Church for God not for Church. Whether God is there or not, we go there to meet God and God goes there to meet us. It is a commandment that he has given and we whether we like it or not obey.

    Mormons come a across as arrogant to me when they say, I no longer go to Church. Because I’m above it. We are all part of it, for better or worse… of course our objective is to make it better.

    That said I hope we make a better place by all of us staying. Nevertheless, I recognize and validate the choice.

  5. Thank you for this conversation! I’ve listened to the podcast, chewed on it, shared it with a couple beloveds, and then watched the video today to see these beautiful people in action for the first time ever. I’ve listened to them for years now and so appreciate all these voices. Just, thank you!

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      Still happening, and same dates: Friday evening Aug 26th through Sunday evening the 28th. We hope to have the venue settled within a week and able to announce that, have registration system up and going, plus provide additional details.

      Thanks for your interest! We are definitely working to finalize this stuff and make an announcement!

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