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  1. Clay,

    This podcast sounds like a great topic with great insights. Thanks for pointing it out to us. I once had a bishop Bohn who was a BYU instructor, but I confess I’ve forgotten his first name (maybe I never even knew his first name). So my curiosity is piqued for that reason as well.

    I love this topic because I share the view that there is a great chasm between Mormon culture on the one hand, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the other hand. And when we critique the former, we can often be misperceived as attacking the latter, when in actuality we’re trying to get the culture to match the Gospel.

  2. Post
  3. # Assume responsibility for our feelings and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ instead of reacting to other members’ well-meaning, false notions and cultural doctrines.
    # Focus upon changing ourselves so that we reflect the gospel in our words and deeds, rather than becoming cynical about the shortcomings of others. In reality, we can only change ourselves, not others. The best we could do is influence others.
    # Bonus (added by Toby Pingree): Don’t take offense where none is intended.

    Very well said.

  4. To some extent, our organization’s structure facilitates false cultural doctrines. Every week in sacrament meeting someone gets up and expresses opionion on whatever topic they are assigned – how principle x,y or z should be applied according to their own experience and understanding.

    As an aside, it would be cool to see a follow up post (top ten list, perhaps) on the most prevelant false cultural doctrines being perpetrated in the church. My most recent top pick would be what I see as the overly broad application of President Hinckley’s statement that “it’s either true or false” (since he said it, perhaps it is actually doctrine – not false doctrine). Lately, I’ve been pulling my hair out because several prominent, sacrament meeting speaking members are applying this black/white dichotomy to EVERYTHING related to the church….the bishop is true or false, the primary program is true or false, brother Jackson’s nose hair is true or false.

    Besides being an annoyance to me, this black and white perspective seems to lead our culture to black and white thinking in other, ahem, more touchy areas….Joseph Smith was perfect or he was a philandering scoundrel, the BOM is literally a history or it is a complete fraud and baseless fabrication, you’re either an active member or anti-mormon anti-christ. I don’t think it’s too healthy……and man, if there is no middle ground on JS, the BOM, etc., and I’m required to look at “it” (whatever “it” is) from an absoute binary perspective….I’m gonna start having a lot more free time on Sundays.

  5. Great post! The most recent example of this that I’ve observed has to do with the expectations our culture places on young men becoming missionaries. In our area a young man has been working to go on his mission. He is nearly 21 now and still at home receiving lots of urging from well meaning members.

    It turns out the church doesn’t want him to go because of the medication he is taking and not being stable in his moods. None of the members saw this in him. Recently he and his family let the members know what he is dealing with and as you would expect the members are understanding and showing forth great kindness. I hope its enough for this young man.

    The exception to the “rule” is always difficult to deal with. It’s important to understand that the Lord deals with us, His children, based on His plan for us. Not unlike what many parents eventually conclude with their own children–one size does not fit all.

    We’re all different in some area or another. The longer I live the more apparent this is becoming. The Lord’s kingdom has much variety in it.

  6. adcama,

    “My most recent top pick would be what I see as the overly broad application of President Hinckley’s statement that “it’s either true or false” (since he said it, perhaps it is actually doctrine – not false doctrine)”

    You are so right. It is the tendency for many church members, leaders as well, to take an isolated quote like that which was very specific about the claims of the church and apply in the absurd fashion that you stated. It is because many church members like short and sweet phrases or couplets that boil everything down to the most simplistic idea. This is true because many members just want to deal with things at that level.

    And, Because, after all, everything has its opposites…….

  7. I would really like to hear this entire talk, but the link appears to be broken (404). The Sunstone site also is broken when I try to download the original from there as well. Any chance this can be fixed for those of us who would like to listen to the entire talk? A link to a transcript even would make me happy.


  8. I am Dave’s brother and am Dr. Robert F. Bohn’s 4th son. His famous talk on ‘Unsaid Sermons’ honestly should be read by everyone in the Church. It is deeply insightful and impacts my life constantly. In fact, ironically, I listened to this talk and several other on tape (after I searched and searched for a cassette tape player) a couple of days ago. Our Dad has ‘4 Talks Live On Cassettes’ published by Covenant Recordings Inc. in 1982. One of the 4 talks is his ‘Unsaid Sermons’ talk. I’m not sure where you can get copies nowadays. The talks were recorded at Education Week so I’m sure BYU has archives of it somewhere. He was a dynamic speaker with unusually keen insights into Gospel perspectives. Let us know whether or not any of you can find the transcripts. His untimely stroke and passing at a relatively young age (63) two years ago has caused many to want to find everything he has said and written. Feel free to ask any of us for more information.
    Hope this information helps!

    -Mike Bohn

  9. Good point Jared. I think that some progress has been made with how the exceptions are viewed.

    I was not able to listen to the whole podcast but really liked what I heard. A couple of weeks ago we had our “Tithing and Fast Offering” sacrament with talks replete with stories of people choosing not pay the bills in favor of paying tithing. I don’t like these stories anymore. They give people false hope and unrealistic expectations and set people up for disappointment when what they expect does not come to pass.

    My first mission President used to say that those who were faithful as missionaries would have great success and a happy life afterwards. Unfortunately this is just not the case. Divorce, unemployment, death, family troubles, and other troubles have been the lot of the “faithful” and the “unfaithful” alike.

  10. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it allowed me to find the correct link to listen to the talk!

    The link in the “Audio MP3” and “Download” links associated with Clay’s post should be:


    (there’s a single typo in the original). I’ll post my thought’s on Clay’s post after I have had a chance to listen to the original talk.

  11. Great post. It speaks to much that has been on my mind lately when I find my personal philosophy and sense of individualism clashing with some of the more culturally dogmatic church members who seem to think that not conforming with the “LDS culture” (whatever that is supposed to mean) amounts to apostasy-lite.

    One of the best talks I ever heard was called “Stress Reduction for Mormons” by Dr. John C. Turpin, an LDS psychologist. He said that our spiritual well-being depends largely upon being able to distinguish between three types of teachings in the church: gospel teachings (the eternal, unchanging truths taught in the scriptures and by the prophets when they are speaking as such); church teachings (which are largely procedural and may change from time to time as conditions change); and member teachings (everything else). Unless a church member gives me chapter and verse on what he or she says, and unless it comes directly from the scriptures or the prophet speaking authoritatively as the prophet in its unaltered form, I generally write it off as the person’s opinion and not binding.

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