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Mormon Stories Podcast, John Dehlin
Mormon Matters Podcast, Dan Wotherspoon
Mormon Mental Health Podcast, Natasha Helfer Parker
Thank you for reposting mormon stories. I am enjoying listening to the podcasts.
Glad to see this information and discusion available again.
I never did like to see good, relevant information shackled, suppressed, or unavailable. After all, “the nature of God is intelligence”, right? 🙂
check out mormon temples and other church buildings then tell me why people have no water and starvation is permitted. sinners
I have just listened to a few of your pod casts but have thoroughly enjoyed them. I was sad to hear that you had stopped making them. I am very glad that you have them still available here. Is there a complete index and detailed description of what is on each podcast?
I would really like you to keep these going if at all possible.
You can find it all here:
And thanks for the kind words!
I’ll bring Mormon Stories back when I can afford it. 🙂
Is it true?
I watched your vid on youtube and was EXTREMELY impressed at the time and effort you put into understand the reasons why many people leave the Mormon church. I am also VERY happy with the “Christ-like” way you suggest people treat former Mormons. I cannot in good conscious rejoin the Mormon church, but I am happy and full of love to see that understanding and love are being taught.
I first want to thank you for this excellent podcast series. I feel the spirit and am comforted each time I listed to and better understand many of these contreversial topics that can impede ones faith.
You are doing a great work and have brought great hope and peace to my families life.
Good bless you and thank you.
Would you please be kind enough to email me your story. I would very much appreciate this.
Please send me via email your story.
Thank you very much.
Love your podcast. I feel inspired by your guests and proud to belong to a church with such intelligent, honest and thoughtful members. Keep up the good work. This is a podcast well worth supporting.
Listening to your podcast, especially “Why People Leave the Church” really did help me tremendously, John. Thank You for having the courage to speak out.
I look forward to listening to more of your talks, I’m sure they will be give me a sense of ‘new hope.’
Thank you John, for your dedication to this work. I thoroughly enjoyed your mission story podcast. I was in the Guatemala/El Salvador Mission in 1968-1970. We were challenged to baptize 30 new members per companionship per month. My companions and I routinely baptized people who had not attended a service, who understood almost nothing about the church and who stopped attending when “their missionaries” were transferred. The numbers game was brutal! Trips to the ruins, (or other “paseos”) along with special recognition in the mission magazine (the Avante) were the rewards promised for high “bapper” numbers. Tremendous pressure was applied to missionaries who wanted to move more slowly and thoroughly prepare their investigators for baptism. I once baptized a man who had just celebrated his marriage, which we had arranged, by drinking some beer. We had planned to baptize him and his wife that same afternoon. When I explained to the Zone leader that the baptism would have to wait, he interviewed the man and assured me we should continue with our plans. I will forever regret that I did not stand up to the Zone leader and refuse to perform the baptism of this man who was reeking of alcohol as we were in the font.
Thank you. I just finished your 5 part interview with Richard Bushman. It was completely fascinating.
I echo the sentiment. We need more places to have these types of conversations. To sit in church week after week feeling like an apostate is miserable, and brings anger. Being Mormon will always be part of who I am. I really do not want to hate that part of me, but it is difficult when I feel so much pent up in side.
When you ready let’s do a podcast on Mormon transracial adoption and hot topic currently. Welcome back John!
Love the podcasts. They give great insight and information. Was listening to episode 1 of mormon matters talking about the pbs broadcast about mormons.
Never had the chance to watch these when they first aired. Thanks to the podcasts it opens my mind and points me toward a solid direction. Especially when one is seeking that direction. Keep up the awesome work!
I had a friend leave the church to follow a “so-called” prophet Chris Nelmelka- you may or may not have heard of him- he maintains certain mormon beliefs but claims the modern church is apostate and has translated “the sealed portion” of the Book of Mormon. I don’t know if this follows your recipe for your show but it would be interesting to hear his story.
Glad to have new podcasts. By far my favorite podcast!!!
Please don’t stop!
I am so excited to hear your podcast with Shawn McCraney. I heard he left the church years ago and have always wanted to see him again and talk to him and get perspective on his current views. I have always admired him. I have always thought highly of him and am so excited to hear him speak again. The last time was when I was when he taught me in Sunday School and I miss him very much.
I have just listened to all three sessions of Jacque’s story (123 -125). What a beautiful Christ like attitude she has shown towards her husband, and she has expressed that attitude so simply and poignantly to help others who may be in a similar situation – and from both sides of the situation.
After over two thirds of our lives as faithful and totally committed latter-day saints, my husband and quite accidentally came across historical information about the church that we had never known. As a result of what we learnt, followed by mainly negative attitudes from those to whom we appealed for help, we have in all senses ‘left’ the church. It has been a distressing and traumatic experience, akin to a bereavement process.
I would also like to express that we have not lost our faith in God and Jesus Christ and continue to love the members of the LDS church, most of whom felt like family members. Thank you John Dehlin, for providing a forum for those in our situation to hear stories like Jacque’s and to be given a chance to express ours.
I enjoyed your interview with Brengt Washburn. He is a real genuine guy and very funny also. His description and testimony of The Book of Mormon being “beautiful” is always the way I have felt about the book. I also love the fact that his family has loved and supported him in his life.
Thanks for the interview.
Loving your Podcast! I’m wandering if there is any works in the future for a poscast on the Word of Wisdom. I just listened to the one on blacks and it is interesting to me that the “doctrine” is now being named “folklore”. I would love to hear others perspective on the Word of Wisdom. Seems to me if we can take the words of the leaders in the past and call it folklore then I wander how much “folklore” has gone into the Word of Wisdom. Seems in our society today two of the least things to worry about in your diet as a Word of Wisdom would be coffee and tea. We know the Saints did not practice this teaching as we do today so is there place to call this philosophy “folklore” as well?
I have only recently discovered your website, and viewed the interview with Edward Kimball – it was SOLID GOLD by the way – and I just wanted to say thank you for the very important work you’ve been doing in this vein – as a believer and a bio that matches yours basically – I am completely unsatisfied (as I am sure Nephi would support) with the status quo and ‘all is well in Zion’ complaceny, what I’ll call ‘insititional pharise-ism’ and cultural and folkloric nonsense all of which comprise a greater threat to the success of the church than all the perceived threats to the church and ‘family’ than are routinely cited as evils in current orthodox thought.
I applaud your work and hope you can continue it – I’ll be making a donation and spreading the word about your sight. Incidentally you may already be familiar with this very important work but in case not, the book by Thomas Alexander called Mormonism in Transition has been one of the pivotal books (along with many by L. Arrington – from whom I grew up about 2 blocks away) which have been key in broadening and clarifying my understanding of some of the warts and all history of the church. Check it out. Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Thanks so much for your efforts with these podcast I have been listening and enjoying everyone of them from the beginning. Keep up the good work, its great to know there are other voices out there that are willing to be heard.
Just listened to the Greg Kearney interview on Mormons and Free Masonry. Even though I had read the paper on FAIR, this is a personal explanation which adds clarity to the written format. A great interview and fits another piece into the puzzle of the mind and motives of Joseph Smith.
I recently started listening to your podcasts and I just wanted to thank you for puting them out there. I’m not Mormon and don’t plan to be, but I am always interested in learning about different points of view, and your shows are done remarkably well. They have been the most fair and interesting source of info I’ve found, and I just want you to know that your approach of being honest about the flaws and being accepting of everybody makes the biggest impact of all, even on us non-believers. The world is a better place with open minded people like you in it, thank you again.
I’ve listened to many of the podcasts here and like what you have done and feel its a very good thing. As a lifelong Mormon who left after finding the truth I’ve given strong consideration to what I have conscrued to be your approach to remaining Mormon because of the loses involved. I may not totally or even partially understand your story or what life your living but from what I have heard it sounds like you know the church is not what it claims to be yet have chosen to remain. I’m not judging that but I am interested in understanding how you process the concept of leadership, example, and responsibility as a person whom it seems like is going along to get a long. I absolutely don’t blame you and again may not have the whole story but it seems like one of those situations that require us to stand for something? Any insight you can provide on your thoughts about what example that is to others, and if you have worked through what that says about your personal example and leadership and commitment to truth I would really appreciate it. I have looked for a way to stay, yet for me its always come down to what is the right thing to do and what message am I sending others by doing so. I see it as supporting lies, polygamy, and so on today as well as supporting building billion dollar malls while people are starving. Thank you and again I appreciate your work and honesty, I just truly want to understand how sticking in with something we know is not what it claims to be is moral or virtue, if I can find some way to get past that of course I would likely stay as its been my life.
I just wanted to not only say hello but to thank you for what you are doing.
I left the Church about…I guess it has been 4 years now, wow! time flies. I had been aware of your podcast for quite sometime, but only recently began listening to it. I am an artist who normally listens to Npr podcasts and books on tape while working, and since I’ve started listening to Mormon Stories it has been the only thing I’ve listened to. I am normally so excited when new episodes of This American Life comes out, but have been so addicted to MoSto I haven’t even listened to the past couple new episodes!
While your podcast may not have done anything to change my belief in the Church and after the first year or so of leaving, I haven’t really had any negative feelings towards the Church, it has gone a long way in warming my feelings towards Mormonism(in the broad, cultural way you define it). When I listen to your podcast (and while reading a few liberal mormon blogs), I frequently find myself thinking, ‘If these people were more characteristic of Mormons, I probably would have never left. Not that I would have maintained a belief, but would have been able to appreciate the aspects I love about Mormonism enough to maintain fellowship’. I guess what I am saying, and you already seem aware of this, is that you are doing something very positive for the Church and it’s image.
I began with the newer podcasts and have recently been going back to the earlier ones and can really tell you have improved as an interviewer. Not that the early interviews were bad in anyway, but now they are better. As you mentioned, you no longer have an agenda in what you are doing and I think that shines through favorably.
I do want to make one…suggestion? (maybe the word suggestion seems stronger than what I wish to say.) While you do seem to have come more to this approach, I feel it would be helpful it if showed itself more. What I am speaking of is your commitment towards helping people stay in the Church. While I feel this is a noble endeavor, I think you should give greater emphasis, both in your podcast, writings and council to individuals(not that I really know what you say to individuals, but my guesses based on what you say publicly), to the positive aspects of leaving Mormonism. While in the Church, I spent at least two years trying to reconcile my believes and one as a fully active non-believer. All I had known was Mormonism and it did add happiness to my life. Whenever I would lessen my activity in the Church I found myself becoming less happy and concluded that if I left entirely I would be fully unhappy. In addition, at that time I only had one friend who did entirely leave the Church and he fell into a deep depression for about 5 years. I didn’t believe in the Church yet didn’t leave partly out of love for the faith, but mostly out of fear about what would happen to my life and who I would become. Something I don’t believe is a good motivation.
Eventually I learned about the Baha’i faith and had such an overwhelming spiritual experience while reading their literature, I was able to have the strength and confidence to leave Mormonism and become a Baha’i. (I am no longer a Baha’i, though I fully agree with it philosophically, as you can imagine, I have a difficult time accepted their metaphysical claims).
I liken our relationship with the Church to an abuse romantic relationships.( I hesitate to use that term, because for many people the Church is NOT abusive, but I think it works as an analogy) While we may recognize the relationship may not be good for us, the idea of being without it is more difficult . We may leave that relationship, go back out of longing. Only if we are able to get enough time and space away, or find another person to fill that void can we have the courage to leave it entirely. (the Baha’i faith filled that role of rebound relationship for me).
I guess what I am saying is that while in the Church it is hard to imagine how happy we might be outside of it. We may know we get some happy things from it, but until we fully distance ourselves from the Church for a time, we aren’t able to really know if staying out is a good fit for us. For me, I look back at all time I spent trying so hard to stay in the Church or reconcile my beliefs with some regret. I am so much happier and even more spiritual now in ways I couldn’t have then imagined, (although not initially) and wish I could have gotten to this place earlier. Of course, perhaps if I had left more abruptly, the transition would have been less smooth.
I guess my wish is is that for those people who disbelieve the Church but want to stay in, you be more acknowledging of the fact that maybe they only wish to stay in because they haven’t experienced the joy can come from being away from it, and that if they had they would prefer that. For some people leaving the Church will ultimately be the more healthy and happy option and for some of the people you council to stay in, it may be like encouraging them to stay with their abuser when they could be much happier elsewhere.
I don’t want to be presumptuous and try and tell you I know better than you, and maybe I am misunderstanding your approach or maybe you already do what i suggest. I have great respect for you and what you do, however, this issue is something I find myself often thinking of when listening to your podcasts and videos.
Also, might I make a suggestion on a podcast topic I think many people would be interested in? The Church office building (and being employed by the Church generally). The troubles and difficulties of working in the Church office building seems to be a recurring mention of your podcasts, but never something explored in depth, I, and probably many others, would be fascinated by learning more of the details and exploring why this may be. I feel this topic has many deeper implications. For example If the Lds way of doing things is meant to be so ideal, why in an office where it is as thoroughly Lds as can be, is it often such a negative experience for people? How to devout members who have experienced this reconcile it? Is the Lds approach to business and work perhaps unhealthy?
Again, i want to thank you for what you are doing and tell you how admirable of a person you seem to be, especially in how you approach complex topics and interact with people.
While the phrase you use WRT when one spouse “loses their testimony” is indeed the language that Mormons use, I don’t think it is a fair or useful assessment. “Losing one’s testimony” is in fact just a euphemism for “apostasy.”
In Mormon culture, that phrase is spoken with the same gravitas as a pronouncement of terminal cancer. The word “apostasy” is not really a good description either.
Coming from the Greek, apo-stasis, meaning “falling away from standing,” it carries a negative sense of carelessness, neglect or indifference.
You don’t “lose your testimony” like you lose your wallet or your keys. In all cases I know of where a rift of faith developed in a Mormon marriage, the process was far from one of neglect or indifference. The spouse who “falls away” usually does so through a very intensive period of reading and study, as you have well pointed out.
I don’t have any answers about what else we could call it, but please call it something else besides “losing your testimony.”
One of my sons, with a Masters Degree in Mathematics and a Phd
in Economics from Columbia, was firmly convinced he could prove
the L.D.S. church is true via math/science. Of course he finally had
to admit one can’t prove ‘faith’ with numbers.
Your claim to rational thinking, i.e. science, seems to be suppressed
by the apparent delusions captured at an early age…..
John, Thanks so much for these podcasts. I thoroughly enjoy the thoughtful interviews and the insights which relate to my own life. I listen so often it’s hard to get any work done!
Is it just me? I don’t see any comments under Richard Packham’s interview. It said that John D. was going to explain the removal of part three in the comments, but it says comments closed and I don’t see ANY comments.
I am sure waiting to hear FAIR on your show as “they promised” (Ref: Grant Palmer interview).
They have attacked him on many personal levels yet have failed to address his points like good lawyers. Honest intelligent people attack the message not the individual, are there no honest intelligent people at FAIR. Its been months?
While watching ABC News tonight I listened to your comments about the direction the Church is taking in the media. I have to say, I was shocked by your comments and your objection to the direction of the Church leaders in the media. As you know, our former Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, was a strong proponent of the media and journalism. He went to great lengths to shed a positive light on the Church during many interviews. I know that our current Prophet, President Monson, is doing much of the same. These messages have his approval. The fact is, they want the world to know that we’re normal everyday people. I can’t tell you how many times my wife has heard the comment from her friends and other non-members that “You’re not like other Mormons that I’ve known.” And let me assure you, she is faithful and devout about her membership in the Church. We were both taken back by your comments that “The mom is supposed to stay home and take care of the kids.” While the Prophets of old have placed the responsibility upon the husband – the Priesthood hold – to provide for the family, they have not forbidden woman from working. You should stop worrying about “the Church you grew up with” and start following the Prophet, his Apostles, and your local Church leaders. Your’e merely validating how the world views us – as freaks – rather than a pecurliar people. We’re the family next door with unruley children, or the high tech software developer with a cool house, or the skydiver, or world traveler, or the corporate mom. We are all of these things, which is what the ad campaign is attempting to tell the world – the real story of the Mormons and our daily life. Whether your’e trying to drive traffic to your website or outright go against the Prophet and the Church, you have just proved to point of so many who oppose the Church and think we’re “strange.” You really should relfect on your decision and quickly repent and follow the bretheren – “in this there is safety and peace.”
I just got done listening to the You Tube Video – Why Mormons Leave the Church? It’s mentioned that there are reasonable explanations for all the discrepancies between what is taught in the church and what actually is. I was wondering what some of those reasonable explanation are. Thanks for your help.
It is with sincere gratitude that I write this note of appreciation to you for making this interview possible. As brief as I could discipline myself to be, my story is pretty much this:-
I was raised in a third world country under the influence of parents that belong to the Muslim faith but were not avid church goers – mostly only under its identity & influences. Migrating to the US at 18, and 12 months later during a difficult period in one’s young life, I was under the erroneous idea there was no quality to the life I had lived so far (certain traumas)… therefore ending it was the way to go. Having come to that conclusion but not truly believing I could be that worthless, for the 1st time in my life I knelt down to pray to this Jesus I had heard about periodically growing up, crying out to Him to come to my aide….within minutes of that prayer I hesitantly answered the door to 2 young missionaries… who brought me to a place that literally ‘saved’ my mortal life….something that continued thru church activity = a mission, gospel doctrine teacher for many years & relief society president.
But see John, despite falling in love with many aspects of church life… the social support, sacred worship outlets, opportunities to rise above your own limits thru service..etc.. etc…. there were a number of things I just could not get past that increasingly bothered me but had no proper answers to & therefore was settled into the subconscious. Questions on the true nature of Grace vs too much emphasis on LDS works….bothered by the minimizing of His atonement by LDS doctrine vs the actual volume of its meaning from New Testament teachings. Another one being….so much more focus on Joseph on the forefront..way more than the focus on Jesus. It always bothered me too that as earnest as my heart could get to accomplish ‘the works’ required by this doctrine…I constantly came up short on my own effort! I saw this on a consistent basis in many many others as well & felt a knawing deep within me that it all wasn’t adding up to be enough. After 18 years of activity, due to a series of events I gradually wounded up non active starting about 7 years ago….having never reached a definite conclusion…but my heart never left a belief in a Savior in Jesus Christ.
Fast forward to this past year, when circumstances put me in a pretty isolated timeframe at home where in order to preserve my everyday sanity, I made a conscious decision to utilize this insulated time to fine-tune my relationship with the Almighty & to seek a relationship as deep as I can get with the Godhead trio… and did this by focusing on the New Testament as my starting point. And this truly is where I began to feel the dots were connecting in a way & level that I never experienced thru LDS doctrine. The Grace that I learned of was the one that I truly believe gave our Savior his full credit…not minimizing His finished work to just the gift of resurrection. I learned that it is by His Grace only that saves us & as Paul say…not by our works ‘lest we have reason to boast’….& so on & on.
Now, as you can imagine, having arrived at this point most definitely threw me off … for while I definitely feel some of the strongholds of certain LDS doctrine has been loosed, I was at a loss because I find myself with new questions on the evangelical side of Christianity. Still deeply searching for the Lord to reveal Himself fully to me I saw yours among the other ones addressing the Mormon connection & was thrilled! This interview with Shawn McCraney was so very revealing because I could absolutely relate to his ‘Grace’ experience of a Savior so loved in our hearts …that I wept…1st with sheer relief at common ground! And 2nd…at the shared agreement of the powerful gift of Grace…which is the Savior Himself …and because of the rebirth of His nature in me…I do good works, not the other way around! So thank you John, with all my heart!! Your decision to provide this avenue of media has definitely assisted my journey & desire for a deeper worship & sonship of our most Beloved Jesus Christ, our Abba Father in Heaven & the Holy Spirit….thank you indeed John. I do apologize for taking up so much space.
May God continue to bless you in this work that is a reflection of your desire as well to peaceably promote His true Nature & Being!
Mrs Yasmin Kuba.
Hello John Dehlin:
There is one story that you are leaving out on the issue of Blacks in the Church that needs to be addressed in your podcast! You have touched some good issues, including that of a marriage between a believing and nonbelieving member. However, the issue that is very important in the Mormon world is that Mormon leaders taught that interracial marriage was wrong and did everthing to discourage it (even after 1978). They have never come forward to correct this issue or admit that they were wrong. As a result, many interracial couples who marry (black and white) face several challenges due to the folklore perpetuated by members. some talk of discrimination and mistreatment in church congregations. Could you please address this issue by finding an interracial couple that have compelling stories to share.
Hello John Dehlin:
As you know, BYU is a predominantly white campus. I personally attended BYU as a black student and there were only about 150 students last year, on a campus with 33,000 students.
Many students talk of racism and bigotry that they expereince from whites on BYU campus. The challenges extend to interracial dating and marriage. Could you please address this issue in your podcast by holding a pannel with willing black students at BYU. Even a panel with former students would be much better. KBYU did a similar panel a few years ago but refused to air the panel’s interviews after it found out that black students expressed having been treated horribly by whites (in many cases) on BYU campus.
Regarding your “secular hat” theory of religion that you proposed to Dr. Bradshaw in the final episode of his interview. You or your listeners may be interested in the following three complementary books. I choose these on the basis of them being among the most recent, readable, comprehensive, and inclusive of the work of the major scientists involved in the respective fields of cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and social psychology.
Consider three books
1. Minds and God: The Cognitive Foundation of Religion by Todd Tremlin (Central Michigan Univeristy, Dept of Religion)
2. In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence by John Teehan (Hofstra University, Dept of Religion)
3. Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious by Timothy D. Wilson (University of Virginia, Dept of Psychology)
If you are interested in pushing the secular model foil a bit further – but still empirical science based – consider
4. The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel Wegner (Harvard, Dept of Psychology
A short alternative to Minds and Gods, written by a prominent researcher in the field is
5. Why Would Anyone Believe in God? By Justin Barrett (Oxford, UK – Center for Anthropology and the Mind)
Barrett is a believing Christian and ends his short book with some reflections on the relationship between science and religion.
I discovered your podcast (three days ago) and have already been intrigued, amused, inspired, bewildered, and brought to tears. I will be a new supporter by 9 am tomorrow morning.
Thanks for your good work,
What concerns me greatly is that we as LDS members need to be promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and helping others to either gain or retain and strengthen their testimonies of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and to help other come unto Christ. Sharing so much negativity about the church does not help the cause of Christ.
I would like to respond to a comment/question made by a young woman at the end of Episode 12 Blake Ostler’s response to that. I think this exchange gets to the heart of what your main project is. I hope other listeners/readers can benefit from further reflection on this exchange and from my response, whether the latter provokes agreement or disagreement. My “heartfelt” message is left for the end. Perhaps my perspective will broaden your understanding of disaffected members.
This exchange occurred at the 1 hour, 33 minutes, and 20 second mark. I begin with a transcript of the exchange.
YOUNG WOMAN: I’ll be quick and concise because I actually do have a question . . . and this is based on what Blake said. Two things – the first regarding those who have felt betrayed by the church and the second regarding using your heart also as you seek things out. I was brought up to find truth only with my heart as a child and a young teenager. And so as I got older and started using my mind and started to think more about my faith, I didn’t so much feel betrayed by the church as betrayed by my own heart – by myself. And so, I am in the process of trying to learn how to trust feelings, my heart – things like that – in finding faith. Again, so my question would be if any of you have experienced that – if you have felt betrayed by your own feelings and how you dealt with that.
BLAKE OSTLER: Well the issue you raise is at the very heart of Mormonism. And the answer is, yes, I think the primary question that we all face is, “Can we trust our heart?” There are times when our head will lead us astray. I told an example yesterday, I’ll tell it here very quickly. I was going into a school function, and a girl came down and sat by me, and I did something really strange. I turned to her without thinking and I said, “This is going to sound strange to you but I have a message, God wants you to stop thinking about suicide.” And her jaw dropped and her eyes got big and she said, “How did you know?” And I told her very honestly, “I had no clue how I knew [chuckles]” – because I didn’t. If I had thought about it – if I had stopped to think about it I wouldn’t have done it. So first, head can get in the way of simply acting and knowing.
Second, I’m simply going to tell you that we use our head most of the time not for reasoning but for rationalization. That is, most of our reasoning comes in justification for the decisions we’ve already made and the life we already live. Almost all of it is, as a matter of fact. Cognitive science demonstrates that’s how we actually use our reasoning. Third, our scriptures are unanimous that we must study it out both heart and mind. And its only when we have an integrity of the two that we really know anything. And so, if your mind is screaming one thing and your heart is screaming another, there’s more work to be done. And that would be the final observation I say.
Here is what I have to say:
With regard to the young woman’s comment: Her insight was the most insightful of the evening – and perhaps the most profound that I have heard concerning the nature of crises of faith on Mormon Stories. I leave it to others to reflect on this. I will only suggest that the anger many express at the Church is largely an expression of a deeper crisis of self that lies beneath the surface.
With regard to Blake Ostler’s response: I found it to be a sad obfuscation of the issue – made so by its apparent sincerity and glib confidence. I offer the following in support of this claim.
1. First, Blake plays fast and loose with cognitive science to serve his faith position. What is this “heart” he is talking about? Blake’s juxtaposition of this unspecified spiritual organ with the modern scientific understanding of the brain is sloppy and unwarranted. Emotions are a form of unconscious cognition carried out by our brains. Only a small portion of emotions percolates into our conscious awareness (read Antonio Damasio). Intuitions are the product of extremely complex unconscious brain processing acting on perceptions, which are also processed unconsciously (read Timothy D. Wilson). Ostler is bastardizing cognitive science to rationalize his beliefs – which should not surprise us given his acknowledgement of everybody’s propensity to do this.
2. Second, Blake’s further juxtaposition of a personal anecdote of “revelation” with this backdrop of science borders on oxymoronic, especially since cognitive science offers overwhelming evidence of natural mechanisms for both intuitions and motivations to act. It is evident to me that Blake is either ignorant or is biased in his selective application of cognitive science. Let me suggest that along with his propensity to rationalize he also shares every other systemic brain-based frailty of the human mind, including confirmation bias and confabulation (read Michael Gazzaniga)
3. Third, note how at the beginning Blake explicitly mentions that, “our head can lead us astray.” He never suggests that our hearts can also lead us astray – which is the precise issue the young woman raised. I do not think he would consciously deny this fact, but his entire response is biased against it. Indeed, the word-count of his “pro-heart” anecdote speaks to this and leads to a church-biased heart interpretation of the “more work to be done” when the heart and head are shouting at each other.
Please forgive me for jumping on Blake so strongly but I feel this young woman’s insight deserves this check and deserves the honor of grateful acknowledgment. I think she is right to question her “heart.” We should all courageously step back and reflect on this – that we are no more immune from errors of the “heart” than any other person of any other faith feeling their deepest values challenged by facts. The “heart” may indeed be showing us that it’s the Church (via its advocates) that is “messing with our heads.”
Intelligent people should acknowledge the robust empirical truths about human psychology and not simply latch on to little morsels that serve our presuppositions. We trust science to develop real vaccines based on the empirical facts about viruses and our modern theory of the immune system (which is based on natural selection). We would do well to embrace the robust empirical truths of cognitive science and psychology.
In other words, it is not a matter of “heads” and “hearts” screaming at each other. Rather, it is a matter of cognitive dissonance – a single brain battling with itself (read Joshua Greene’s fMRI imaging studies of brains working through moral dilemmas). This outworn dualist idea – if taken in any way other than a loose metaphor – leads to no more practical insight or solutions for human suffering than the ancient Greek’s four humors theory.
To conclude, I would tell this woman that she is on to something – That it took me much longer than she to realize this – that my anger at the church was really a projection of my self-doubt and shame – and that I admire her wisdom.
I would also add that my personal breakthrough came when I simply cleared my “metaphysical decks” and abandoned what I finally acknowledged was an oppressive burden of racism, sexism, polygamy, blood oaths, biblical literalism, etc. Not having to reconcile all this excess baggage set me free to discover and integrated self. I was left to experience the world and my mortal existence with awe and wonder – with less personal anxiety and more easily filled with love.
I found that this life does not need something more (or after) to make it meaningful. The fact that my thoughts and feelings are the product of electrochemical signals crisscrossing my brain does not diminish that one bit. Indeed, it is the “nothing buttery” of it all that makes it so wonderful and precious
And this view of life doesn’t need a steady stream lessons, talks, ordinances, covenants, blessings, and prayers to bolster and sustain. Neither does it need prophets, apostles, priesthoods, temples, scriptures, or promises of celestial kingdoms.
And yet it also leaves me open to listen and examine and test and revise – and not count out the possibility of surprises.
Thanks for the forum,
Are you aware that the video link or podcast to your interview with author Shawn McCraney does not work? You can only get 2 out of the three links to dl the movie clips
I have been listening to your incredible work. It is amazing and very enlightening. However, I kind of feel like your Mormon Stories topics are somewhat more “Americanized”! I mean your stories are focusing more on how Americans or people living in America experience Mormonism. I think we need to begin seeing more topics that reflect Mormonism as an international church. I’m making this suggestion mostly because the Mormon church is now an international religion with more members living outside the United States that in the United States. Is there any chance that you could interview international “experts” or scholars as well? Here are examples of topics:
1. In Africa, thousands of black Africans are joining Mormonism without ever being told about an important issue of blacks and the priesthood, that basically pertains to them. American missionaries serving in Africa do everything to hide this topic from these non-suspecting Africans. How do Africans later react once they discover that they were basically “duped”? Also, how do American return missionaries who have been doing the “duping” work feel once they return home. Do they feel guilty for being “deceitful” or committing sins of omission, or do they feel confident that they were simply doing the Lord’s errand?
2. The Mormon church has denounced polygamy. However, missionaries serving in Africa and other parts of the world encounter polygamous families that would want to join the Mormon Church, but they are prohibited from joining. Can we get some light on this topic?
3. What factors make people that live outside America leave the Mormon Church? The church simply gives vague explanations such as illiteracy, poverty, lack of faith, weak local leadership, etc. I think there could be other strong reasons that need to be navigated.
4. What practices in the LDS Church might be “normal” in Americans but are very “strange” when replicated outside America. For example, confessing sins to your bishop in America might be normal and acceptable because the bishop is generally bound to keep secrets. However, the culture of gossip outside America might make such disclosure almost impossible. Paying 10% of your income might be normal to Americans. How do poor individuals in poor countries respond to this issue? Tea is a staple food in other countries. However, the Mormon church teaches that it is “evil” to drink tea. How do countries react to this practice? Mormonism continues to teach in its literature by prohibiting interracial marriages. How do societies that readily accept interracial marriages such as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Brazil, etc. receive this doctrine?
5. The First Presidency and Council of 12 Apostles is composed of White European Males. However , other races combined are larger than the white race in the Mormon Church. How do other races view this practice of “white male” domination or simply “white supremacy”?
Please find some experts to shed some light on these topics,
Why do we call it “loosing” our testimony? I am no longer affiliated with the church, but I don’t feel like i’ve lost anything. I feel like I’ve gained more than I’ve lost. Intelligence, open mindedness, spirituality even. Just a thought.
Thanks for all you do! Really appreciate your stuff.
Will you have a yearly conference concerning how to bring up little children in the church to follow some of the teachings that we pick and choose to be true?
My beliefs are similar to yours. I would like to become active again in the Church. My own children are grown and some are very loyal to all the teachings of the Church and would cringe at my beliefs. They may not let me be in the lives of their children (my grandchildren) if they are privy to my beliefs.
Thank you, Mary
Yes. I’d be happy to have an annual conference like that. Please let me
know more about your interests/needs via email when you have a minute.
While I’ve loved many of your podcasts, I’ve been yearning for more interviews with people who have had a crisis of faith and have worked through it and emerged stronger in their faith in the LDS church (though certainly their faith has transformed) as a result of their struggling. I feel like you’ve highlighted so many people who have turned away from LDS faith, which is nice for those who can relate to that. But can you throw some bones to those of us who would love to lean on the hope that life can be better, brighter, faith-filled and Christ-centered WITHIN the LDS context, after a crisis of Faith???
Noelle (loyal listener from day 1)
Coming soon! The biggest problem is that these people are often hard to get
to come on the show!
After viewing so many of your videos and listening to your podcasts, this has made me want to write a book. A nonfictional novel on the September Six. I know that it is a controversial topic, but it is a story I think needs to be heard more publicly.
What can you tell me about the writings of Vernal Holley (1924-2000)?
Saw the article on Mormon Stories in Sunday’s Tribune, June 12th, and thought you may be interested in looking at our http://www.bridgingjordan.org website. Bridging Jordan is a Bible based mentoring and discipleship support group.
Dear John:I love your website and video clip ” why people leave the Morman Church.”I am a fairly new member of 10 months. I know in my heart there are some things very wrong with the LDS Doctrine and it almost caused me to resign. Your site and info has helped me stay for now.One of my issues which I do not see addressed on your site is all the witness testimony alleging that Sidney Rigdon stole a manuscript entitled Manuscript Found from Soloman Spaulding or from Patterson Publishing. And that he conspired with Joseph Smith and Oliver Coudrey to turn it into the majority of ” The Book of Morman .”Im sure you are aware of this issue. Can you please address it for me?Thank you so much for what you are doing to bring the truth to light.Sincerely Richard B.
I am finding a strong connection between Masons and the Morman Temple rituals. I find it surprising more people do not talk about this. There is a little bit on your site but do you have any additional comments?
John – I appreciate what you are doing here with Mormon Stories. I’ve been going through a bit of “historicity” trial of faith myself, and these podcasts have been very helpful for me in sorting out what Mormonism means to me. As well, I might add what my heritage means to me. I’ve also found several other stories mind-opening — I hadn’t heard the “whole” story of blacks in the priesthood, for instance. Thank you.
I personally like to find out facts and as much real believable information as I can. I don’t care for the sales job of staying LDS however. My searches and podcast listening is based on getting an expanded view on as many topics as possible. Thanks for sharing your findings with the world. Do you have any stories on revelation and in particular on the phenominon that revolve around church patriarchs? The realm of scripture istelf has an element of belief that seems to produce a self fulfilliing prophecy because the game plan has been set and presented to follow.
thanks for this site and all your hard work. I did’nt know there are so many people that are going though some of the feelings abouth the church that i am. thanks again
I have been a Mormon for more than thirty years and I find on there that one takes a portion of a story and then twists it with thier own version. Saying that we believe that Joseph Smith did more then Jesus Christ is wrong not to mention so many other things in these videos. You twist the stories so much that if another was to do what you have done here but with the bible they would have Jesus dying after a party and dying from a gunshot wound. To those that alter the stories to decive for their own benifit or due to hate will seal upon themselves a punishment. Thou shall not bare false witness. That is from the bible and it is a commandment. I challange you to go to our Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and find out for yourself that what is said on here is not true. They have only take a parcile and twisted it to something untrue. Anyone on here that says it is true and that they are a mormon is also untrue. Any true Mormon knows the truths and knows these stories forwards and backwards in their true form. THOU SHALT NOT BARE FALSE WITNESS. I says these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.
Hi, I found the podcast/ppt of “Why Mormon’s Leave…” while reading comments on the SLT Dec 15 2011 story on Gender differences in those who leave. I have been following a lot different sites since the Warren Jeffs raid brought the FLDS to my attention which of course meant I had to learn more about the LDS than I previous knew (vaguely aware, had tried to read the Book of Mormon multiple times as it is the last major faith book left for me to read and have always been repelled within the first several verses). Following the FLDS has, to my chagrin, made me very close to being a Mormon hater, primarily because I have seen no evidence that the LDS church has wanted to deal with it’s original sin of introducing the pernicious doctrine onto this continent….Essentially I have been searching for someone(s) who are still “believers” but who can acknowledge the faults…. nearly everybody else I bump on blogs accuses those following and agitating against polygamy as haters, or bigots (if they are pro-FLDS), or shrug their shoulders and say it was different then (when the LDS practiced polygamy) because there were fewer men (not true), but mostly nobody wants to care about this issue if they have an attachment to the church…
So….thank you – you have helped me shed a small amount of my own burden of knowing myself becoming more and more fully prejudiced, which is a “sin” of my own that I am uncomfortable with.
Again thank you.
John you just saved me man, god bless you for being so down to earth, people that tried to be perfect, drove me away, ive been just where a person goes when they leave. sad, lonely, world falling apart. i was just about ready to cut the ties for good. if not in this lifetime, i’ll shake your hand later. thanks pal. one thing left though…..how do i explane all this to my fiance now? im not as wise as you my friend hhaha
I have never had a mormon connection. Someone recommended we watch #314 and it is almost exactly what we went through with our independent fundamental baptist background. I was a seminary graduate and teacher and started going through all the doubts. My wife stayed at home until finances demanded she work. We had a very patriarchal family. We have now welcomed our gay friends fully into our lives, we have found God is bigger than our Baptist box.
Thank you for the video. Family relationships are strained, former church friends are gone but we have found joy and life.
No More Sitting on the Fence, Carter is an example to us Mormons of Faith, Action and Courage.
I’ve just been recently deeply inspired by Jimmy Carter’s statements about why he is leaving his Church after 60 years.
“The question for Carter — and for others who find themselves at odds with leadership — is, when a group you’re deeply involved in starts to move away from your own core beliefs, do you stay and try to change from within or, at some point, do you have to look for the exit?
Carter did give the former a shot — in recent years publicly criticizing and distancing himself from church leadership, while staying involved with his church. Now, he’s seeing if absence might do what presence did not.”
He said ”
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The truth is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.
I think the tone and balance is perfect. I have never experienced the interviews as negative. Don’t change a thing.
I just came across a video clip titled “It Gets Better with Mormon Family and Friends.”
I’d like to thank all of you there for putting out such a soul-touching message for us, for letting us know we are not alone, for affirming the all-embracing, unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
In the clip, a father, who found his gay son attempting suicide one day, said that “I love you, even though I don’t know you.” When I heard this, it was as if my Savior touched my shoulder and whispered love and comfort into my heart.
You are in my prayers. Please know that your message truly saves lives – and brings people to the light of the Savior’s love.
Much love and thanks
I’m from Taiwan and my membership in church for 43yrs.
I love this true church of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to know
so many difference in understanding the same gospel.
I just watched your 5 hour podcasts with Benji Schwimmer and want to say THANK YOU BOTH for a wonderful, enlightening, inspiring, honest, truthful sojurn with Benji and his journey.
God speed, Benji, to your full and total happiness in THIS lifetime. You are an inspiration to anyone who has eyes to see, ears to listen, and a heart that can be open to any/all possibilites.
This old grandma loved you on SYTYCD and I love you even more after watching you tell your story. Bless you, young man, as you go about your service of blessing others.
Love well, dance often, and enjoy your journey.
I am a 33year convert member. Recently a friend introduced me to your podcasts. I am not a historian and have always stuck to the church history accounts and to the scriptures. I am a very big picture sort although and am aware of the closed outlook the church presents as Gods will. It is my will to get to the bottom of things as quickley as possible as time is moving along for me and it seems that the scholars have researched in many places and know a lot more than I . Can you short story things maybe a pros and cons list of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon origin and the truthfulness of the First Vision . Is it on a rock or sand ? I can take it form there.Best Stuart
I see a lot of focus being placed on the foundational issues involving Joseph Smith. To me it is equally troubling when I look at the way the Church walked away from the Journals of Discourses. The reason the Church doesn’t recognize the Journals is because they contain embarrassing and Blasphemous Doctrine. In order to become popular with the world they had to put these Doctrines down. To say they were false would mean that the men who taught the Doctrines weren’t actually Prophets and Apostles. So the only way out for the Church was to claim that the Journals contained errors due to the primitive printing process. I have yet to find any evidence to support that claim. I have however found a mountain of evidence to support their accuracy. When the Journals were published, the Prophets and Apostles who’s sermons are contained in the Journals of Discourses were still alive. You will not find one statement from any of those individuals regarding accuracy problems. Furthermore Prophets and Apostles continued to regard them as scripture and Doctrine for almost 100 years. The Church has the audacity to now claim that the Doctrines taught in them were just opinion, even though they were taught from the pulpit by Prophets who clearly said they were Doctrines recieved from the Lord. This is a major problem for me. The other problem is that they make these statements through official press releases that do not bear the signatures of the first Presidency. How does that overide what a past Prophet taught? This is the same thing they are trying to do with the History of the Church. The new scriptures have had all the references to Church History removed from D&C. They are quietly trying to move away from B. H. Roberts History of the Church. They have endorsed this History since 1902, but now they find that it contains errors and they want to move away from it. I have been pushing my local leadership to please show me what those errors are. They cannot do it. The truth is even in its highly sanitized condition, the History of the Church still contains stuff they want to move away from and cover up. If you look at D&C on your scripture app or at Lds.org you can see that the references to the history of the Church are gone. They did this in the early part of 2013 yet most members including my Bishop are not even aware of the change. It is a cowardly way of dealing with the issues that are present in Church History.
I was relieved to hear that you are not taking down your website. My husband and I have, after 34 and 40 years, left the church. We live in a predominately lds community, not far from you. We are seeing a huge decline in attendance in our former ward. I am motivated to reach out and talk to these “ex-mormons” but it seems to be taboo to talk about. I would love an open armed approach to those that have left and can be accepted I to this new way of thinking/living. I have compared it to having someone die in your family. We need places like this website to sort through our feelings and to see that we are not so different in our feelings of how to deal with this “loss”. We love your matter of fact approach and would love to be part of your podcasts.
I’m really enjoying the podcasts and I have a question. Has it ever been discussed to have the podcasts typed to read them? Would you need volunteers to take on something like that?
Just wondering because I enjoy reading more than listening.
Thanks again for all your hard work.
I’m listening to older podcasts through my podcast app and episode 350, pt1 of the interview with Benji Schwimmer is only 32 seconds long. I’ve tried reloading the feed and it keeps coming up as this tiny blurb instead of the full length. Help please!
I wish I could be at the candlelight vigil in Logan and so do many others. We have lit some virtual candles for you here. Feel free to share this link.
I would really appreciate something on young people (18-25) leaving the church. It’s been hard still living at or near home and having well meaning family members discourage my leaving, on the basis that I haven’t had the chance to get a testimony, or that I misunderstand my feelings and am acting on a whim.
I am so glad I found this podcast! I have been so lost and confused and alone. I didn’t know that anyone shared the same questions and struggles that I have. I have finally been able to let go of feelings of anger and betrayal, and focus on a newfound faith as I search for truth and light.
How do I subscribe? The latest decision regarding seem-sex marriages and their children has virtually cemented my decision to resign from the church. Looking for a place of faith to hang my hat. Just can’t find one. Please pray for me.
p.s. finishing my Doctor of Education degree shortly. That compounds this transistory experience.
Would love to hear an interview with the attorney who is processing hundreds of resignations from the church, Mark Naugle.
Please add mormonstories to google play podcasts. Go here to do it: https://play.google.com/music/podcasts/publish?u=0#
You may get an email to add it, because I accidentally tried to do it not realizing it has to be the author or owner.
Hi John, Im glad I found your site. I have read bushmans book within the last few months. I wonder if you have ever tried to get him on so you could talk to him about his thoughts? Im sure he is in an unsafe spot and feeling much heat but he knows a lot of truths about history that could make a difference to many lives whom are on the fence to go one way or the other?
These Missionary Stories are heartbreaking. They are in such opposition to what we (church members) are led to believe missions & missionaries are like…. Perfect!? Lol.
I was a “perfect Mormon”, no coke, no playing cards, Eagle Scout, Seminary Graduatd.. Etc etc etc. I got sent home from my mission in Guatemala 3 weeks early. Yes, I said 3 weeks…. For being “disrespectful” to preisthood leadership. It really boiled down to a brand new military style mission president choosing to set a precedent & make an example of me.
To top it off…. My family didn’t even show up to the airport.
Does anyone know what it’s like to be gone for 2 years (23 1/2 months), to have nobody care or show up to the airport when you get home because they are ashamed you didn’t earn a “gold star”.
This church teaches bigotry & white male dominance.
It’s either submit with blinders on and tail between your legs, or you are not allowed to be part of the community. Cast out. Rejected.
Saludos,que bien sobre el tema saben soy un ex mormon pido de ser posible tener la informacion en español aca en Ecuador es nesesario tenerla por su atencion y tiempo gracias remite Vicente
Thank you for all you are doing! As a Native American “Lamanite”, I grew up with so much skin color shame. Especially once I married my husband. I literally stayed out of the sun to try to feel… good enough… get lighter. My whole family is deeply involved in the church, just this year my husband and I left. Your Lamanite podcasts have meant so much. I would love to see current Lamanite recovery stories. I was/ am desperate to hear stories from others who understand my pain. Loss of heritage (dancing and culture based on evil forefathers), turning away from my Grandma (never mo), and non-Mormon Native relatives, and especially skin shame. No matter how much I have searched it is hard to find stories of those who get it. Thank you! Keep up the good work. 🙂
Hi John. Idea for a podcast. How about a feature on where are they now? Most of the podcasts are transitioning stories. It would be interesting to see where some of these people have landed, whether they ultimately returned and whether they have found happiness outside the church.
I had my own faith transition 3 years ago, when the curtain was pulled back and I saw the LDS church as false, not the “one true church” it presents itself to be. So much church history, and the BoM itself, is not real. I was 57. I had spent my entire life as a happy Mormon, raised our 4 children in the church. When I told my husband he was shocked, amazed at what I was saying because I had always been so faithful and believing. But he listened and read and we both are on the same page. Your Mormon Stories helped.
Many times over the past 3 years I have been going to send you money, but can’t. The reason why I can’t is because I’m still politically conservative and I hear you and many of your guests talking so disrespectfully about my conservatism. My views are based on what I believe is fact about the best way for this country to operate. I won’t go into my views except to say there are places where I’m not conservative: LGBT, women rights, probably others when I think more about it. I still need to buy Tyler Glenn’s latest album. It made me cry to hear his songs and the pain he feels.
Not sure even why I’m saying this, not sure what I want you to do. You have your own value system; that’s your right to speak to that on your own program. But when you are disrespectful to my values politically, I can’t support you. And from reading the comments, it seems as if most people agree with you (maybe a case of the opposite voice not wanting to speak out and be bullied in comments?)
It’s the same with FMH. I listen to Year of Polygamy (fantastic podcasts, she is amazing with her research and presentation) a little and am almost ready to donate, and then Lindsay goes off on a rant about conservative values I hold that she is on the opposite side. And that’s ok, but I’m not going to send money to support things I disagree with.
Mostly I admire you and what you have created.
Appreciate many of your episodes. I think that you and listeners realize something is not quite right in Mormonism. I feel that often your show fails to take the violation of agency and failure to observe common consent as a large source of dissatisfaction among members. It’s not that the church espouses one viewpoint over another that is the problem. It’s that church headquarters does it without the consent of the members. They feel that their voices aren’t heard and that they are not active participants in church. Many general authorities have recently expressed their opinion that sustaining of church officers is not really a vote but just a gesture of good will. These attitudes represent unrighteousness dominion. It’s no wonder that members of a church that espouses free agency are leaving. The Book of Mormon says we should trust no man to be our teacher unless he’s a man of God. Simply put our voices do matter.
James – Check out my recent interview with Sam Young. He talk extensively about the law of common consent.
Thanks you for your podcast “Mormon Stories” I just started listening to it and started from episode one and am now on episode 25 with Ann. It has been great to listen to people’s experiences in and out of the church. I don’t have many people in my life that I feel comfortable discussing issues I have with the church. This has given me a way to move forward with my issues I’m processing. Thank you.
Great work, John and Co.! Your podcast has been extremely comforting in my transition. I’d love to hear a conversation specifically regarding church member reactivation efforts. A very close friend of mine, who has been inactive for years, get a call from her stake president for a meeting. She was asked to take a calling to wash baptismal clothes once a month and that the Spirit directed them to give her this calling…. This feels a bit funny. I had a similar experience a few years back and thought it might be a good discussion topic if it’s something others would enjoy.
Keep up the good work!
I was a readaholic of LDS doctrine and history for 35 years. I finally realized why other LDS scholars dropped their membership. I always thought that the red flags from reading had a logical answer that I’d eventually find. I did. The Church/doctrine wasn’t true. Dah!!! Mormonism is an experience. All religion is.
2 books I would add to the list here on this site would be: THE WIDOW’S SON: THE ESOTERIC HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH br Kerry Boren still a favorite of mine. AND: THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL LIVES written by anonymous and a friend of mine. He was a high councilman when writing it. It deals in living multiple lifes on earth as a mortal as taught by Joseph Smith.
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