495-496: Fiona and Terryl Givens and “The Crucible of Doubt” – Parts 1 and 2

Crucible of Doubt
In their latest book, The Crucible of Doubt, published by Deseret Book, Fiona and Terryl Givens tackle perhaps their most daunting — and important — subject to date: doubt in the context of Mormon faith.

  • In Part 1, we interview a Mormon Stories listener and contributor, James Patterson, about his struggles with doubt and how the book helped him.
  • In Part 2, Terryl and Fiona take us through the book as we discuss the elements of Mormonism that cause some of the biggest doubts and how to approach them with new paradigms.

Time last night didn’t allow for a Part 3 (the a Q&A with your questions), but Terryl and Fiona expressed a willingness to do a Part 3, based on popular demand…so please let us know if you are interested.  And thanks for tuning in!!!!


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  1. Yes, please do Part 3 – There were some great questions for them and that was the part I was most looking forward to!

  2. The Givens’s have in recent years become something of the “poster children” (“poster parents”?) of Big Tent Mormonism proponents. But in the midst of a possible retrenchment and boundary maintenance by local leadership across the Church (possibly spurred in part by top leadership’s reactions to OW and Kate Kelly, though there’s no real way to be sure) it is important to me to know more about how they respond to those of us caught in these issues on the ground between the Big Tent and the boundaries. Part of what made their “Crucible of Doubt” notable among us Internet Mormons was that they responded to audience questions. Let’s have more of the dialog between us and them. Please have a Q&A session with the many difficult and interesting questions given in the announcement post.

    1. Tom Doggett, I love your term “Big Tent Mormonism”!! Right on. Is that your invention? The Mormonism I identify with is well beyond–far beyond–that “Big Tent” and int the land of the Internet. Thanks for a well focused image!

      1. I understand “Big Tent Mormonism” to refer to the Salt Lake City corporate version of the Faith. It is far smaller and less inclusive than “Mormonism” in general. Besides, to me the term also suggests a circus.

        1. Big Tent Mormonism is quite the opposite of the Salt Lake City corporate version of the Faith.

          Big Tent Mormonism is a version that allows everyone to remain involved, even if at the edges of the tent. The Corporate Version is Small tent Mormonism with no tolerance for differences in faith, opinion, gender, sexuality or even dress sense. The corporate version is better described as Stepford Mormonism where everyone is pushed into the same mold, even if it destroys them.

          1. David Macfarlane

            I have no expectation that the tent will expand. In my experience, one of the tenets of the church that keeps so many members enthralled is the exclusivity–the idea that they belong to the “one true church.” It feeds a human need to feel special and different. Of course, just about anyone who’s taken Sociology 101 can list the negative repercussions of telling people they are special and different, i.e., they start to believe it and pity or condescend to or just dislike those outside the tribe.

            Mormon culture does not tolerate open derision or making fun of others, so some human impulses manifest in more acceptable ways, like individual Mormons saying they “feel sorry” for those from other cultures and faiths. As an active Utah Mormon many years ago, it took me a long time and living outside the state to see these kinds of statements as soft-peddled pity and condescension.

            The church may have painted itself into a corner. How can it remain true to founding principles and creation myths in the face of a) gobs of factual information calling many of those creation stories into question, and b) a rapidly diversifying population, both in the U.S. and abroad, that does not see itself in Mormonism?

  3. A problem with an interview like this is “Who are the Givens?” Or for that matter, all of the rest the people you’re interviewing. None of them represent the “official” doctrine of the Church…they’re all spouting their opinions which can be taken with a grain of salt since underneath all of whatever they say is some disclaimer suggesting that “we’re giving our opinion and don’t represent the official position of the Church.”
    Truth be told, whenever any of the leadership gives a response that isn’t scripted, they screw up which is why we’re hearing from the PR department that way the leaders can hide behind them.
    So the question that follows, if the prophet and his counsellors and the apostles represent the Church and are divinely inspired and directed by Christ and we’re not supposed to criticize them according to Oakes, why aren’t we hearing from them directly? Why are we hearing from any of the people you’re interviewing at all? Why isn’t there a General Authority who can speak authoritatively to handle the concerns to the members? And if it’s true, why a history of deceit and half truths? If you claim to be the “true Church on the face of the earth” why do they act the way they do?

    1. Unknown Authority

      I agree with you Bob. A GA or Official Rep SHOULD be interviewed. I would VERY interested to hear what they have to say.

    2. Why is this problem? The Givens are intelligent and are giving good perspectives on how they interpret their years of study. Why does it have to come from an official source to be true? Why does it have to be official to be accepted?

      People criticize the church saying there members don’t have to think. Now when members have a real chance to think people say, “we need an official response.” Why can’t we just think without there being an official response? We have thousands of pages of official material to work with, why does everything have to answered for us?

      The Church is there to bring people unto Christ, that is their job. They are not there to answer every possible question. That is why God gave us brains. Hence, why the Givens are such a great resource, they are an unofficial material that we can just think about.

    3. Mormon Stories is about giving all different types of Mormons a chance to tell their stories. It’s about more than that, but going back to the very first episode, that has been the core objective.

      The Givens’ have written several books and are notable for their scholarship, views, and faithfulness to Mormonism despite grappling with hard questions.

      I too would like to hear from an official church representative, but my sense is that the church is understandably reluctant to put a representative on the spot answering questions in a less-than-fully-correlated (so to speak) forum. They also tend to be extremely busy people, church leaders.

      I heard one representative from the office of public affairs on RadioWest, and I think she got grilled, especially over the issue of womens’ ordination. The interviewer was Dan Wotherspoon (?) I think, but I could be mistaken. He asked some very good questions, like “where does it say that womens’ ordination is contrary to doctrine, e.g. in the D&C,” but she was understandably very evasive and eventually frustrated, and probably reluctant to return.

      Point being, it’s very difficult to get a church leader or representative on the mic who is simultaneously comfortable with being there AND answering interesting questions.

      The Givens don’t represent the church, but they *do* represent a point of view that is both faithful to the church and yet also willing to answer (very thoughtfully I might add, not that I always agree with them) difficult or interesting questions, and they do it in a graceful and respectful way, not evasively or abrasively They are easy, fun, yet thought-provoking interview subjects, which is hard to find in the official church.

      1. Correction, it was actually Doug Fabrizio interviewing Ally Isom, Senior Manager of Public Affairs with the LDS Church, not Dan Wotherspoon. The interview is here: https://www.mormonmomma.com/index.php/2014/latter-day-saints-and-excommunication-kuer-radiowest-podcast-transcript/

        …again, Doug’s questions were good, but I can see why it would be difficult to get a representative of the church to sit down for an interview, especially in an “uncorrelated” forum like Mormon Stories.

        1. Unknown Authority

          Mr. Geller,

          You are right. An official LDS authority probably wouldn’t be interviewed. I remember the interview you are referring to, and the PR woman WAS frustrated with his questions. The interviewer wasn’t insulting, just asking good questions, but the PR lady didn’t really have any good answers. She was an embarrassment to the church. I think one of Bro. Dehlins best interviews was with Edward Kimball. All of those involved–interviewer, interviewee, persons spoken about were dealt with with dignity and respect. Very uplifting. Salutes to all–thanx to J. Dehlin.

        2. It was Doug Fabrizio interviewing Ally Isom and I’m not sure why it is that we shouldn’t expect interviews with the top dogs of the LDS Church who claim to be the “Lord’s chosen” acting with “his Priesthood and authority” to be able to handle hardball questions beyond the comfort of giving a prepared correlated talk to a body of fellow Mormons. Saying that the apostles are too busy is nonsense. That they’re always to busy sounds like avoidance. Little wonder why. Hinckley pretty mch botched that interview with Larry King. And hearing from them delivering only prepared, correlated comments and not ever having to defend the faith leads me to believe that Mormonism can’t withstand any real scrutiny. If they can’t defend their faith and beliefs in a hearty and spirited manner, then why should they be given any quarter at all? If they expect the members to be honest and they’re our “leaders” shouldn’t their character be impeccable? That they hide behind the PR department and need groups like FAIR to defend their faith and so called LDS scholars to represent them is telling isn’t it? To me it’s all window dressing without any real foundation. If the Church truth claims and history can’t stand up to scrutiny and debate, it deserves to be toppled. It’s far time for the members to expect and demand accountability from it’s leaders.

    4. Hi Bob,

      In fact it is just fine that no authorities are speaking here. Here we hear from people with related thoughts and ideas, and we recognise ourselves in their experiences. This is very refreshing after hearing the official statements which are provided continually in the church.

      The funny thing is that I find myself swaying from one side to the other and back and so forth.

      So, after having heard a lot of talking about doubts about the Book of Mormon, I thought by myself: ‘But I have had wonderful positive spiritual experiences with this book, I cherish these !’ And so I was open again to hear positive information about the Book of Mormon and happened to have found a speech on FAIR about the relation between BOM and Popul Vuh. Have to listen again, since my english is not good enough to understand all at once, but it was nice to hear how someone worked out his thoughts related to the BOM and place it in a broader view, while he believed in it’s truth.

      I was amazed about myself: I was able to listen to positive information again ! Without being satisfied first on the negative info I would have never found room within me to be able to open up for a positive talk.

      Thing is: or one ignores and runs away from the questions in it’s mind and only accept truth from authorities and stay ‘safely’ close to the leaders, but miss the chances to grow with insight through struggle. Or one faces the questions, take them seriously as a part of it’s own and deal with them. Than this is a wonderful place to work it out and give things a place, and extremely important to know: One is not alone ! That makes this place such a place of comfort.

      And slowly working through all these questions, feelings, dissappointed expectations and to hear how others deal with it I found myself swaying to the other side: ‘Hey, but what do the TBM have to say about it ?’. Suddenly there was curiosity and room in me to find out !

      That’s why it is so silly that the church doesn’t want places like these. Infact to make an healthy environment they should create places like these themselves ! Not to control, but to have freedom of speech and thoughts be encouraged and problems be worked out. So, when you have listened to one of the stories of the many podcasts, you might feel you want some more official statement information. Feel free to go to the LDS.org and search for the information there and let it still your hunger. And feel free to share your experience of growth here, so, we all can rejoice in it !

      That is how it goes, one question araises another question, it’s a dance of thought and mind, feelings of the heart and yearning for light. And after a while you feel fullfilled and more happy because you have a clearer idea of how to make your choices and live true to yourself. And once living true to yourself there is room for your truth and sincerity, that gives you energy to help built the church or choice otherwise, built the world around you.

      Now is the question: is the church open and inclusive enough to gather all these true living people in their church ?

      I remember I was an active member in the 70’s and it was not hidden at all that some people said they doubted the truth of the Book of Mormon or The Vision of Joseph Smith. I was amazed about it, that they could stay in a church without having themselves a testimony or faith. But they were there ! Every sunday ! And raising their kids in the church, feeling they were safe.

      I wish the church could be that place for all of us again !

      Loved part 1 ! Gotta go listen to part 2 before part 3 arrives ! :o)

      Adrie de Jong, The Netherlands

      1. Adrie I’m from Canada and I have family members who served in the Canadian army during WW2 who helped liberate Holland. In my home town of Ottawa, there are miles of tulips which were donated to Canada after the war for Canada’s part in liberating Holland from the Nazis.

        To this day, Holland recognizes the courage and personal sacrifices it took those young Canadian soldiers who participated in that horrific time in history.

        Can we say that of our leaders in the LDS Church? Do we see any courage or character from those who claim to hold “The Priesthood” as they show up with their expensive suits, coiffed hair and makeup telling the same stories over and over?

        I’d be interested in hearing from a “general authority” because they’d be off script and then maybe we’d really know what was going on in the Church. Maybe we would get to experience some real honesty instead of the same dog and pony show we experience every conference.

        In my mind, they’re not leaders… they’re administrators who simply do more of the same. The talks given at conference are more of the same. They’re so far removed from real life and real people it’s frustrating.

        1. Hi Bob,

          WOW ! This is so special: Your family were in Holland to liberate us in WW2 !!!!! I have been raised with a great grateful attitude toward Canada and the US for liberating us ! My mom was a small kid when she celebrated The Day of Freedom, not being able to put in words how happy she was and see all the soldiers that had brought freedom !!!!!! WOW !!!!! I’ve been born and raised in Scheveningen, near The Hague. Every year I follow the memorials on tv and still these soldiers come to our country to celebrate our freedom with us. Did your family come to these memorials, too ? Please, accept my great respect and gratitude for all your family has done for us !!!!!

          LOL ! I completely misinterpret your message ! I thought you were a TBM who wanted to hear the corraleted stuff also from this podcast ! LOL ! Reading your answer explained I was wrong ! You want them to be more openly involved and also countabillity ! I’m afraid the age of these men are such that they are not able to run around everywhere. Now I understand what you mean I agree with you: Also Joseph Smith would say they should go out into the world and preach ! Which could also mean: talk in these podcasts and enjoying answering questions from John, no matter how tough they might be ! It surely would make the church more lively ! :o) I geuss the age is not that way to make it possible !

          I have been wondering: the last years, during the financial crisis, I heard the US borrowed a lot of money from countries in the east. I wondered if the church borrowed their money from that area, too ! In Holland we have a proverb: ‘You speak the same thing, as the one who puts your food on the table.’. You keep the same ideas high as the one who brings in the money. If the church had to borrow money from the east, they probably had to deal with moslims and moslim expectations. When I look at how women have been pushed backwards the last decades, even blaming them for sexual arrousel by men, because of a shown uncovered shoulder, I see too many simmularities with moslim attitudes toward women. If they have borrowed money from Moslims, and moslim influences are found in our church, the church of Jesus Christ is now a branche of the moslim culture. Pretty much far away from what Joseph Smith stood for ! And it might raise a frown above Jesus Christ’s eyes: being back in the middle east, but with a completely different coat on !

          The church-leaders do have to put some things straight.
          Let go of their office attitude and behaviour.
          Put away patriarchy and start following Jesus Christ again.
          Get rid of borrowed money whom givers demands too much on how to behave and rule the church and
          Be open about miss-steps.

          Yes, we will be angry !
          Yes, we will loudly cry !
          But most of all:
          we will look at what has happened, where help is needed and many hands can make the burden light.

          For instance: if the church is tied because of having borrowed money from wrong places, can’t we create activities we sell our homely creative and baked stuff and bring the money together to buy back our church, by getting rid of this borrowed money ?

          Offcourse we can yell and cry about wrong things going on, but much better is it to learn about it and to solve the problem so we can start anew ! We don’t need sensational gossip-stuff, we want sensational solved problems ! And having it done together we are more than ever tight and bound to the church we want to built up ! I would even love paying tithe again, lol !

          We have been looking for the Shepherd to come and find us, but maybe our Shepherd is in problems now and we as a flock have to come together to lend a hand / give some wool.

          I have this idea about the leaders being in problems, some things have gotten out of hand and is not simply turned around and solved. But the leaders have to be open, show a clear financial account and together we could set up goals and activities to raise money to get rid of the dirty borrowed money, to get a clean list again and put from then on our efforts in putting Jesus Christ on top of the church again and that tithe and other money surely will be used the way Jesus would love to see. If this goes together with Ordaining Women the Priesthood, fresh new people will flow into the organisation and help put straight and correct what has gone wrong and help put it on a road ahead to make things work as Jesus would have wanted us too !

          In the meantime leaders won’t have to hide from us anymore and speak openly about what went wrong and lessons learned and we all could get a great chance to practise forgiveness.

          That things go wrong is not nice, but to let wrong things continue is terrible. I’m outside of the church, but in my heart have never been away from it. I love this church so much, and I believe that is where our concerns, hurt, worries and anger comes from: we want to see it work well ! If our leaders got lost, and even Joseph Smith had his faults, we are still human beings and help each other.

          Wow, didn’t know I was going to write this long epistle, thank you for triggering, Bob !

          I agree with you: the leaders should talk freely on these podcasts, too, without correlated well prepared speeches, but from the heart, from the human insight and free, openly, nothing to hide. How lovely would their testimony of Jesus Christ sound !

          But I’m afraid they got problems, and like Adam and Eve hiding themselves in the beautiful Garden of Eden, they hide on top of this beautiful church. They have to come out, show the the dirty environment, so we can work on it and make it work again, so flowers and fruitfull trees will grow again after the weeds and mess have been cleaned up from this barren land.

          My question is now:
          Are we able to join hands together ?
          The leaders, the TBM and we on the edge or outside the church ?

          I believe our love is big enough !

          ‘I’d be interested in hearing from a “general authority” because they’d be off script and then maybe we’d really know what was going on in the Church. Maybe we would get to experience some real honesty…’

          I would love that, too, Bob ! :o)

          Adrie de Jong, The Netherlands

    1. Mike,
      Yes, “love, love, love”….a timeless concept that was a big part of the music of the 60’s (when I was in high school)….The Beatles…”all you need is love”. “Message of Love” (Jimi Hendrix), not to mention Jimi’s quote “When the power of love, overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”. You will have to get out some of your parents records! I thought it might be fun to share some other sources of the “message of love” besides the scriptures….you know…anything virtuous, lovely, etc….we seek after those things.

        1. Hello Adrie, from the Netherlands!

          First off, I sure did enjoy your country’s soccer team, during the last World Cup.

          Thanks for the link…excellent principles discussed.

          Enjoyed all of your comments to others also.

  4. Seasickyetstilldocked

    It seems the Givens are lovely people. I can’t help but think that their version of Mormonism has contributed to making them the nice people they are today. I take nothing away from the good that Mormonism or the Church can do in the lives of members. However, I think that the Givens are conveniently forgetting about the other “elephant in the room”. That elephant being the one true church paradigm. I find the changes in expectations and the new proposed framings in each chapter of this book to tie down nicely if they are talking about the LDS church as just another church or way up the mountain. Instead, what they seem to be inferring but not specifically addressing is how each of their chapters support the Mormon Church being the one true church on the face of the earth. Frankly, I don’t find any of their rationalizations holding up beyond a couple of follow up questions. Because the one true church paradigm is paramount in the church today, I believe their not addressing how their ideas still support this belief borders on disingenuous.

    I totally support their efforts to reframe Mormonism into a healthier paradigm for those who stay. However, the one true church paradigm is THE most important driver in the church today. The story of the first vision, Book of Mormon, priesthood restoration etc. are what directly give the Church the audacity to put themselves forth as the only true church on the earth. Somebody needs to call them out on how what they are saying still ties down to supporting belief in the one true church. Until they directly take on reframing the one true church paradigm, their efforts to make the Church a healthier place will fall short.

    I can’t totally blame them for doing this because I highly doubt Deseret Book would support any effort on their part to lower the one true church expectation. One may gain great comfort in their words but those same words are of little help when you are running up against the one true church paradigm every sunday, in every class, in every program and interview, during the week…….well basically 24/7.

    It is my belief, after almost 10 years of reading and thinking about this stuff and trying to make the church better, that the one true church paradigm is at the core of what is causing damage all across the church. I hope someday insiders like the Givens will have the courage to take their intellectual talents and dismantle this very poisonous paradigm.

    1. Seasickyetstilldocked – I felt like the Givens directly addressed the “one true church” question in the interview. Not sure what else you wanted them to say? That the church is false? What were you hoping for? Sincerely curious.

      1. Seasickyetstilldocked


        Thanks for pointing that out. Please let me know the time of that part of the podcast and I will listen again and then give a more fair commentary.

      2. They addressed it John again only in a wide, vague sense that as been agreed to since Joseph Smith said “having a form of Godliness”. Nobody is arguing weather other churches have truth. The Givens know this and it is my opinion they are obfuscating the question. What we claim through the revealed word through Joseph is the “only true and living church upon the face of the earth”. This claim has been verified and supported by modern prophets and apostles who have taught that it is the “fulness of the Gospel and doctrines and teachings” that make it living. It is the priesthood that administers the saving ordinances making our Mormon baptism, or being born of the water and spirit as required by God Himself to be saved, the only valid baptism recognized by God, and our church the only true and living.

        The Givens did not directly answer this question but only indirectly, and in my opinion dishonestly approached the question. Let me rephrase the question. The end goal for our Mormon understanding of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life, and happiness of man. Presumably this includes man reaching his full potential, which in our parlance means being sealed under the New and Everlasting covenant, and participating in the saving ordinances only administered by the LDS church, reaching the highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom. Terryl, Fiona, according to Mormon teachings, is it only through the Mormon church that man can reach our highest potentials and reach the heavens where God dwells? Will membership in other churches while good and honorable, only relegate these adherents to second class spheres and separation from the Father? Short answer please.

      3. I have found a scriptural support for the notion that the Church, by itself, isn’t the one and only true church on the face of the earth. First Nephi 14:10 says: “And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” Now, if I understand correctly, LDS doctrine wouldn’t limit the church of the devil to one entity, but would include any organization which has as its goal the destruction of Zion. It is a collective effort led by the devil but not limited to one specific earthly institution.

        If we take that logic and extend it to the church of the Lamb of God, then our church, to the extent that it seeks to establish Zion, is part of a collective effort by many organizations under the direction of Jesus Christ.

        Doctrine and Covenants Section 1:17-18 reads “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

        18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—”

        Note the word “others” in verse 18. We assume that those others are members of the Church, but what if they’re not? What if they are other people inspired by heaven to do the Lord’s work in other organizations?

        Later in that Section verse 30 reads “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—”

        Collectively and not individually? I think it is plausible that the revelation here is referring to the church of the Lamb of God, the collective of efforts seeking to establish Zion, just as the church of the devil is a collective of efforts to prevent and destroy Zion. It is the church of the Lamb of God that is the only true church of the face of the earth and is not limited to the Mormon church.

    2. Seasickyetstilldocked,

      Excellent comments and insight. You sound quite grounded, rather than seasick. Oh, the struggle to make sense of it all! At minimum, I try to at least live the 13th Article of Faith…about Love of Life, seeking the wonders of this life, developing talents, trying to live “pure religion”/”correct principles” and enjoying my life with a wonderful wife and family.

      1. Terryl dealt with this issue pretty well in his first round with John way back when.

        And I really liked the interview with Edward Kimball – (Spencer’s son) who framed it something like, “I believe the LDS Church is the truest church on the face of the earth, but some folks are better off being Catholics.”

        1. D. Kim Croft,

          I agree with both you “Unknown Authority” reguarding Edward Kimkball. That interview was good. I also liked it when he said he felt comfortable in the LDS church and it answered all of his questions. If something/someplace doesn’t, seek out what / where it does. I wouold like to ask Bro. Dehlin something. Is it written / prophesied that one day the only meeting available for LDS members to actually attend will be sacrament to receive the sacrament as well as hear some talks, but that all other study be one eaches own? I have heard this. Do you or anyone know if it is true? Thanx.

  5. Q&A parts are ALWAYS more interesting to me! YES, Part 3!

    As for Bob’s comment, “Mormonism” is not the corporation, dear sir. IT’S THE PEOPLE (like those you seem to dismiss above) who have been touched by the story of an uneducated, passionate, seeking, controversial and charismatic young man in the early 1800s. I am one of those people. Are you?

  6. Seasickyetstilldocked

    In some ways, I almost think the church is using the Givens. The church gets to have their cake and eat it too. They get to use the Givens to lower all of the expectations regarding scripture and prophets, which in turn even further lowers the expectations upon the leadership of the church, while the church still does not having to give away the authority they claim to have over not only their members, but the entire planet. Once again, someone other than the Brethren get to do the heavy lifting while the top 15 do nothing but continue to reap the authoritarian benefits that come with running the one and only true church on the face of the earth. It is amazing really. Imagine being the people who are regarded as a literal prophets, seers and revelators with the keys, authority and approval (never lead the church astray) of non other than Jesus Christ himself to run His church on earth and then have wonderfully intelligent and kind people like the Givens create rationalizations and explanations that lower membership expectations upon you and your history/doctrine to the point to where you really never have to do or say anything prophetic. And it does not even end there. Not only are the expectations upon church leadership redefined to the point to where you can’t really hold them accountable for being what they demand you say they are but you also wind up taking all the responsibility (as well as guilt) for maintaining this paradigm yourself. In the end, the church never actually has to do anything to earn or maintain their status as the one true church upon the face of the earth while requiring absolute and constant obedience to their paradigm from their members. All the church ever has to do is to simply exist.

    What I really hope happens one day is that the Church pisses off people like the Givens. Frankly, I don’t think the church deserves them.

    Of course, the real tragedy happens at the ward level. The book the Crucible of Doubt may give comfort to members who want to believe but it falls well short of empowering those same members in their relationship with the authority of the one true church. At the end of the day, you are still not in charge of your own life let alone your religious life. I know a lot of people who don’t really believe but wind up still behaving in their life like they totally believe. They still pay tithing, still donate their kids lives to the church even while they are unhappy with their church situation. The Givens book may be giving people like this permission to empower themselves regarding how they can personally rationalize the problems of history and doctrine (and of course, remain faithful) but that member still lives under the same authority and with no additional permissions. They still don’t have choice when it comes to how they behave or what they say publicly.

    The people that I see who actually create a healthy relationship with the church are the ones who use this crucible of doubt to FULLY empower themselves in their relationship with the church. They not only pick and choose how they interpret scripture and science but they also give themselves permission to totally control how they practice their Mormonism. These members live under their own authority and not under the authority of the church. These people may go to church less and their kids may not get their eagle or young womanhood in excellence award but they are way less conflicted and guilt ridden. Infact, many times their relationships with the Saviour becomes more personal and deeper because the authoritarian middle man has been cut out.

    1. Seasickyetdstilldocked,

      Once again, superb points! I hope the top leaders will eventually either read or be made aware of these messages. As an “active member”, and family man, I have to keep most of my feelings about the “truths” of the church silent. I identify closely, with your last paragraph. It doesn’t bother me to consider that all religion is man-made, and question, and continue to search for truth, or at least reject that which is not true, and in the mean time embrace good principles and follow the admonition of Paul (13th Article of Faith).

      1. Seasickyetstilldocked

        E.E.T. I am right there with you…..or was for several years. I remember when I began to create more NOM paradigms regarding the truth claims of the Church while still going to church with my family every Sunday. I’ll give an example. The Givens talk about how all of our modern day prophets are fallible and human and how it is really up to us to interpret what they are saying by the Holy Ghost and then decide whether or not it is revelation, scripture or counsel for our day. Sounds great!

        Except, this is only great within the vacuum of my own mind. In reality, this rationalization does not travel within the paradigm of the one true church. In reality, this belief did me no good when I have to live with my family within a church system that not only does not validate this kind of new framing of prophets but punishes members who try to validate this kind of belief within the ward. Really, at no point when I was going to church could I get away with saying, in any class or meeting, that while the Prophet may say xyz, that the Holy Ghost has told me that this is not actually doctrine but rather purely his opinion as man. That statement would work if I was going to a church that was just another church but no, the stakes are much higher with the LDS church. I can’t make that statement in the LDS church because since the LDS church is the one true church, it means that I don’t have the keys or authority and consequently the right to disagree with the Brethren. Keys are real. Authority is real. The Prophet can’t lead the church astray. While fallible, they can’t be wrong when it comes to the church. These are absolutes. Absolutes exist in the Church whether the Givens want to address them or not. It’s not that I can’t be right with my new framings of the church, it’s more that at the ward level, I am always wrong because the church can’t be wrong.

        The advice in this wonderful book by the Givens can certainly be adopted by the member but there is no way the member can get these new interpretations and framings, indeed the kinds of beliefs that are keeping them in the church……I mean there is no way those new beliefs are going to get validated at the ward level. No way. How healthy is it to go to a place every Sunday where you can’t be honest and your point of view can never be validated? It’s not healthy. I know, I did it for years.

        1. Well said seasick, it looks like I am just beginning to find this to be case. It sounds like you’ve gone through this years back, but I am still finding my way as NOM.

        2. Yes, I thought that bringing up heroic examples of faithful members being pushed to the margins or to the outside by standing up to church attitudes and teachings, (as even John acknowledged and seemed to put skin in the question) regarding the questioning of what could be fallible positions on LGBT/Gay Marriage, historicity of scripture, past practices and teachings, as rather loose talk by the Givens. It’s easy to call those who do what John is doing as brave and certainly it is, however the reality is that there are lives, careers, reputations and societal standings at risk, as those who question our “fallible leaders” are sometimes pushed all the way out, then pushed out of homes and family, jobs and careers. That’s the reality. You should have probed past the liberal rhetoric John and nailed this question down. If the church is eager to push the “fallible leader” angle of yesteryear, it ought be ready to expect “fallible leaders” logic present today, connecting the logic of members standing up in Gospel Doctrines class and denouncing any calls of support to ban gay marriage and the historicity of the Book of Mormon and fabrication of the Book of Abraham without repercussion.

          That’s la la land I know. Major disconnect here.

        3. seesickyetstilldocked,

          Joseph said in Article of Faith #2., that man will be punished for his own sins not Adam’s transgression. You have EVERY right to question and determine your own path of righteousness. We are free agents unto God. You’re allowed to question anyone / anything in the church regardless of some paradigm (spelling?)I’m a TBM I think it’s called, and I ask the Lord if what has been said really is true. Who cares of the ward members validate anything, as long as you know the truth. Like Hamlet said “To thine own self be true”. Sounds like you are.

        4. Seasickandstilldocked,
          Thanks so much for your reply and message. Sometimes a person just needs to step back and get away for awhile, as you continue on with life…where feeling and beliefs are aligned in harmony. For some things in life, it gets to a point, where one may feel, as John Lennon, sang in a song, “I just had to let it go”.

  7. Hi John, speaking of part 3, is there also going to be a part 3 of Brent Metcalf’s like you previously mentioned?

    1. James Patterson

      Part 3 is definitely coming, George. It would have been out sooner if not for some technical glitches with the recording. Sorry for the delay!

        1. Unknown Authority

          Unknown Authority

          J. Patterson / J. Dehlin,

          Please answer, What is part 3 of B. Metcalf going to be about? If there’s no response, then I will note that my question isn’t important, so I won’t ever trouble you again.

  8. With all due respect Terryl, how can you possibly say that the church’s statements are direct and honest? Have you actually read the statements? What is direct about “we disavow theories of the past…” (paraphrased)? Or have you read the racist statements from JSJ to SWK? When I was taught repentance, it required godly sorrow and a pleading for forgiveness. How can I possibly look my african american sons in the face and equivocate on the issue of race relations like the church leadership does? Here’s an invitation for you, read THE MORAL LANDSCAPE by Sam Harris. Our lives can mean something without having to bend to a broken philosophy….You lost me John…not nearly enough direct challenges.

  9. I think that it’s wonderful that the Givens’ will agree to answer questions about those having a crisis of faith.

    I think that this begs the question: “Where are the Brethren in these matters?” Why do they send apologists to address these questions? Though the Givens do a good job, why is this left to them? They are only offering their opinion. Why don’t the brethren have an honest and open discussion about these matters? Why did the Brethren send Ally Isom (LDS Public Affairs officer) to answer and not answer questions about women and the priesthood? Christ didn’t run away from difficult questions or hide behind a PR department. He met the curious and the detractors head-on and used truth to show that he was the Christ.

    I wish the brethren would start to believe in the divinity of their own callings and demonstrate that faith. They seem to be in equal need of renewing their faith, just like the rank and file membership, myself included.

    1. My thoughts exactly, heck I was even expecting Mr. Otterson with Doug Fabrizio, but Ally? I didn’t even know who she was other than she’d only been at it for 6 months or so. I mean, seriously?

  10. Would love to know whether Stake President Bryan King is listening to John and Fiona and Terryl and James discuss the Givens’ new book published by DESERET BOOK which is owned & operated by the LDS CHURCH. Does this podcast sound like heresy to you, President King, or has the paradigm just shifted?

  11. The Givens appear to be sincere and kindly people with the best of intentions. I agree that there must be room in an accepting community for those who question and comfort for those who doubt. But it must be done without anyone covering homely facts in ermine cloaks. For the Crucible of Doubt can not produce celestial gold from leaden truth no matter how hot the fire of faith.

  12. Deborah Aronson

    Fiona, thank you for stating clearly that there is pain in leaving a tradition like Catholicism, with it’s deep spirituality, history (including all the muck), theology always up for debate and update (no matter what they say…).

    After 40 years of spiritual seeking post Mormon mission, many detours, much theological education (yes! Theology!), I was attracted to the podcast on a long, long drive home from a Mormon family reunion last summer.

    I have been listening since then and watching what has been happening in the church since that time. With a bit of horror actually, and I am ready, after today, to let go again. Before I do, let me say just this bit about my take away.

    1. The Mormon Church is a newborn baby. Much of Christendom, (what is left of it…) understands the content of what the book says. Time, brutal honesty (is isn’t the 12th century anymore)and paid theologically oriented clergy could help with the maturation process. There are rich, bright traditions of prayer, action, silence, reading and study which lead to less literal EVERYTHING.

    2. The immaturity I speak of is demonstrated by members STILL taking everything so literally, holding human beings to small concepts, giving away the joy and work of the spiritual journey and making it small, black and white, full of rules and obedience for obedience sake.

    3. These issues are not small and they can’t be covered up by quick, lithe by well written lines. We need to grow UP and realize spiritual maturity is a big job.

    4. This is a tragedy to me. But, it isn’t my fight, anymore. Each of us has to find our way. The journey isn’t easy and it constantly changes. Yes, it changes as you go and it is full of peace, wonder, laughter and lightness.

    Thanks so much,

  13. I love these two! I miss these type of podcasts. I feel like it has been years since there was a good, uplifting Mormon Stories.

    1. With all due respect, I didn’t find this podcast uplifting. Instead I found it to be more of the same… confusing and now scholarly misdirection. I was left with more questions and a deeper sense of uncertainty.

      It causes me to wonder. What are the Givens trying to accomplish with their book? Rather than address the specific concerns of the doubter, they’re suggesting that we “reframe our questions”, reconsider our perspectives until the Church’s message makes sense.

      It goes right along with Uchtdorf, with all his looks and charm suggesting that members doubt their doubts before they doubt their faith.

      Most of us that have been questioning things have been doing cartwheels trying to give the Church and it’s sordid history every possible consideration but our integrity and sense of “cognitive dissonance” has about left us brain dead and emotionally numb. I hardly think that this is the peace Christ was referring to.

      First you have an Elder Marlin Jensen who claims that people are leaving the Church in record numbers that hasn’t been seen since the early days of the Church. Yet, Terryl suggests that’s there’s no real way of knowing. How about we start with the actual number of those sending in their letters of resignation? How about the Church start showing some actual transparency? Even with the activity rates the Church can rely on why not stop pretending there’s 15,000,000 members? Given the Church’s propensity to keep records about almost everything, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a “best guess”.

      When an organization receives the kind of money the Church gets, as Sandra Tanner said, saying “we spent the money the way we said we would” is hardly an honest financial report. And when you’re talking about that kind of money, knowing the Church’s history, they don’t report the facts because we know they’ve got something to hide.

      Given the Church deliberately bought the Hoffman forgeries, not with the intent to display it but for purpose of hiding it, we know that it’s likely that anything the Church is allowing anyone to see has been carefully gone through by staff to make sure anything that doesn’t support their claims has likely been removed. Why else would they tell leaders not to keep journals? John, you interview Grant Palmer who said as a young institute or seminary teacher he was invited to the Church where he got to see the original peep stone Joseph used to translate the Book of Mormon. I just went through the visitor’s center last week and didn’t see it on display. I wonder why?

      Terryl talks about the love, and the focus of the Church on family. Help me to make sense of this pretense given I’ve been forced to miss out on 3 of my children’s weddings so far after 28 years of incredible, devoted service while other members who hardly know my children and who haven’t spent a single dime to raise them are considered “worthy” to attend and me, as an incredibly loving and devoted father wasn’t?

      Why do they not tell you in the missionary discussions about the exclusion of your non-LDS family members attending family weddings until after you’re in the Church?

      I kept thinking of the words of Sir Walter Scott, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” The Church has almost 185 years of deception and dodging the truth and is it any wonder, now they’re doing everything they can to explain away their deceptions.

      For those of us who question and doubt, how can we trust the leaders of the Church when we know full well that were it not for the internet and the availability of information, the Church would have continued in it’s deception.

      Instead of being the leader in terms of civil rights, the Church was the last to change it’s policies regarding race and now disavows any racist comments made by any of the previous prophets.

      Instead of being the leader in terms of equal rights for women, or gay issues, the Church has been the last to acknowledge these rights. Now when Martin Luther King day shows up, or Nelson Mandela dies, why the Church now embraces these men after an entire history of not doing so.

      As for gay rights, I can still hear in my mind the tv interview of Elder Ballard arrogantly saying that “we know what the Lord wants” after the Prop 8 campaign. I wonder what he’s saying now?

      So the Givens write yet another book…published by Deseret Book which is owned by the Church. They were hired and their book has gone through the “approval process” to make sure it reflects current LDS views. In light of the fact that we don’t hear from any of those who are suppose to be “leading the Church”, are we to assume the Givens are accurately representing the new teachings of the Church? Is it now ok to challenge the teachers who present a white washed history that’s presented in every SS and PH class around the world because the Givens say it’s our responsibility to do so?

      What a dramatic change eh?

      If the Church is now in alliance with the Catholic Church, or any of the other churches in traditional Christianity, why the need to send out any missionaries at all?

      Like you said John, a real issue is when a believe decides to make any effort to learn more about the Church and it’s history.

      From your very first podcast, and learning the deceptive ways the missionaries was going about getting people to join the Church, and the leaders said and did nothing to correct it.

      People with the truth have no need to lie John.

      As kids we used to say, “Liar-liar, pants on fire…tongues as long as a telephone wire”.

      In my mind, people who misrepresent the facts on so many issues can’t be trusted.

      What a hell of a conundrum, eh John?

      My brain and heart have about had all it can take from being around or involved with the LDS Church.

      1. Bob,

        Thank you for your honest passion, and real efforts and fairness in trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense. Your words are important, as are so many other feelings expressed…thanks to the Givens, and this whole group, where we can “come and reason together”. As I’ve stated earlier, I hope these pleas and prayers, are seen and read by our top leaders, and if there is a God, I know he would be listening.

        Perhaps, this is part of the revelation process…maybe God wants us to try and reason together, do some thinking on our own and help each other make things better…”eternal progression”, is going on in this life too, isn’t it?.

        I like to think, that even as my own father (who passed on years ago) appreciated some of my insights and opinions, that the leaders do also. They have families, and children with concerns and challenges, just like us.

        To John Dehlin, thank you for creating, what I consider to be one of the best resources for an honest “read” of the feelings of many of the “best and brightest” in and out of the church.

        Back to Bob’s message. Here is just one example of one of those tough issues that go beyond the plain and simple parts of the gospel. In your eighth paragraph, you told us about missing out on three of your children’s weddings. This, is in my view, is a doctrinal practice that will eventually change. Unfortunately, like polygamy, and “Blacks and the Priesthood”, it will come far too late, after so many years of unnecessary suffering within family relations. The irony of our “families forever”, and yet in this life, families can’t be together for something as special as a wedding. We are taught, to trust our feelings and the “spirit”. Well, I can say “without a shadow of a doubt”, that I have the same feeling about this practice, that I had about “Blacks and the Priesthood”, back when I was in high school….it simply feels so wrong. The excuse …well, the Temple wedding is “too sacred”, does not ring true…that card is played too much. As far as I can tell the most sacred activity in the church is the Sacrament…the ordinance that puts the big picture into focus. This most sacred moment, can be experienced by all family and friends.

        I know of no other event in our lives that can bring a family together in love and joy, more than a family wedding. The temple is full of “symbols”, that are suppose to teach us something. How about this for a symbol…a symbol of families together forever: A Temple Wedding, where you are surrounded by your entire family and extended family, including the children without recommends and older family members that are not yet perfect. Ponder that.

        Thanks again all of you….we just have to keep trying, and reasoning together, and share our own inspiration. Be humble, and yet bold….”Bold as Love” (some of you may know where that lyric came from…if you don’t know, then you can find out on your own…I’m not going to give you the answer).

        1. Recommends for the temple to end for other family members to go to a wedding–I wish? But in a couple of weeks– at least here in Utah, we will need a recommend to go to church to watch the re-dedication of the Ogden temple-people will be turned away from a meeting in their chapel–sad! That day I will be attending another faith for a chance to try and find God again?

    2. Here’s a link to something I discovered this morning that isn’t addressed in all of the interviews here on Mormon Stories…or in the presentation at visitors square… or in the Book of Mormon…or in any of the books by any of any LDS author including Fiona and Terryl Givens.

      Just as access to the internet has given people more information about Mormonism than is beyond the control of the “General Authorities”, here’s a link to the geographic growth of Islam in the world that the Givens haven’t considered.

      The birthrate of Islam is so dramatically far above that of any of the Caucasian cultures, in fact higher than other group in the world, the sheer numbers are swallowing up most all of Europe, Canada and the United States. You want a shot of reality? Check it out for yourselves.


      Now tell me how relevant any thing any of the Mormon prophets have to say about anything is?

      They’re straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic.

      Like the video suggests. Wake up people.

      1. Not sure what you mean here. A couple options to choose from:
        1. “Watch out, here come the big bad Muslims. They’re taking over the world. Oh Noes!”
        2. “The number of people in the this world that are Mormon is so minute and growing smaller day-by-day” (please let this be the right answer)

        Please clarify your meaning as your comment comes across as stereotyping our Muslim neighbors and friends. I’m not sure why the Givens would approach this topic.

        1. I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t finished watching the entire video where it talks about spreading the word of Christianity. My apologies for that.

          Still I think it’s worth recognizing the overwhelming growth of the Islam faith in the world particularly as it pertains to the LDS Church and it’s truth claims.

          As for “big bad Muslims”, that’s something you interjected here but of course the Givens wouldn’t talk about this subject. It wouldn’t occur to them to even think about it, nor would the Church consider mentioning it either.

          I used to live in Southern California and in the city I lived in was 95% anglo/white when I moved there. Twenty five years later it was 85% Asian. Most all of the signs were in Chinese or Korean and English. The conversations in the City were now about where to put the Buddhist Temple. The market of course changed to multiple aisles of Asian foods. With a voting block that large, they voted to have it their way. While in previous generations, people who immigrated here to the US had a desire to learn the language and culture, this is not the case any more. In many instances they bring their culture, their politics, and grievances here too with no interest at all to blend into this culture.

          I don’t know how many Muslim “neighbors and friends” you’re talking about in your area, but be assured that when they’re owning and running your neighborhood and community you may feel differently.

          In some respects I wonder if this is the similar experience of those in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois who got fed up with the Mormons who came into their communities with their “take over the world” attitude and group buying power.

          And I’m in agreement with your part 2. Here the Church is pretending that they’re growing in leaps and bounds, temples “dotting the globe” and missionaries reaping the harvest when the facts present a much different reality. The Muslims are the fastest growing faith in the world…not the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, or even the Catholics.

          Given the direction the world population is headed with real statistics, how relevant is anything any Christian church leader says about the viability of their faith, especially one that claims to be the “true Church”?

  14. Oh dear me, yes to TREE.

    Inspirational Crucible of doubt,
    or Mormon Tautology which is it?
    For the sake of argument let’s call it The Persistence of Doubt,
    a state that is not factored into the Mormon Mind –– or is it?
    Could it be that mormons know they are fooling themselves, a form of willful bamboozlement. Are Terryl and Fiona among the Priests and Priestesses of Mormon Conjecture using dog whistles to gather the devout and tone deaf alike. The rhetoric used is a gushing, fountainous, lacy brew aligned to the principles of hypnosis. And we are swayed by the gush of verbiage designed to teach us to Dance With The People Of Paradox.
    Mormons are hanging by their own imaginings, fallout from the Great Awakenings and American Exceptionalism. Terryl and Fiona are sages –– mediums for channeling all manner of misdirection in our contemporary milieu

    Spiritual Authenticity:
    If there were to be a 3rd session, a more grounded approach might serve the aspirational and inspirational aspects of the People of Paradox. The complexity of the state of our planet today eclipses Terryl and Fiona’s world view. Perhaps this could be confronted in the next session of
    “The Crucible of Doubt”


    John, you were spectacular yet restrained. thanks to James Patterson for context and Fiona / Terryl for content.

  15. It would be nice if one could stand up and give a true testimony professing hope or belief rather than knowledge. The problem is if one does that, they would be I denied as a nontraditional believer. Members and leaders would no longer true you. Interviews would be more probing and many members would not true you. In the current climate this is true.

  16. It would be nice if one could stand up and give a true testimony professing hope or belief rather than knowledge. The problem is if one does that, they would be identified as a nontraditional believer. Members and leaders would no longer trust you. Interviews would be more probing. In the current climate this is true.

  17. I can see why people are eager for part 3. It seems like part 1 and 2, although filled with many words, seemed to have little of anything specific to say. It was pretty language, fortune cookie philosophy, but like a fog, seemed to hoover just slightly above and at times cover the issues we’d love to have heard articulated by this nice couple. There were a couple of times I got excited when a specific issue was about to be addressed, but alas, the flowery platitudes of guarded speech came swooping in to disappoint, as I had to rewind a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything, which I never did despite a universalisitic ribbon of squishy…I don’t even know what to call it. It’s like the Givens’ use language like the LDS church uses the Givens’, as a distraction to avoid the truths that lurk beneath the wisps.

    Terryl, Fiona, it seems to me that you are using language to softly tease the Mormon church out of embarrassing pastures of the 19th century American restorationist religion and into the more comfortable fields of gentle protestantism, which in turn is steering itself towards even more liberal fields where one doesn’t even need to accept the death and resurrection of Jesus to be counted with the believers. All fine and good but you know, what you’re morphing into already exists, something that may philosophically resemble your last universalistic chapter plus more, and that is the beauty of simple humanism. Humanism does all you’re talking about without the divine or supernatural, which is important because as soon as you insert the divine or supernatural, you march straight away from your goals, and into the separations of spiritual preference and interpretation and worse, the less integrous wagers of Pascal. I’d rather ye be hot or cold.

    The one thing that did catch my attention rather quickly was Terryl’s unfortunate blurb about science and reason. I’m sure he’d take it back if he could for it is a comment beneath his intelligence. When the Christians launched its many Crusades it was done under the flag of the Cross, under Christianity. Today militant Islam crusades under the Crescent and Moon. The Swastika has ancient roots as an equilateral cross and used as a symbol among the ancient Celts, Indians and Greeks. The Swastika was adopted by the Nazi Party of Germany as a symbol of the aryan race and associated with antisemitism, as its use today by white nationalists is ongoing. This is the flag, along with the yearning for Lebensraum to accomodate the 1000 year Reich, that Hitler marched under. Stalin and others marched under the flag of the Hammer and Sickle, representing industrial labourers of the proleteriat, and the peasantry respectively. Both Stalin and Pol-Pot were fanatical for the totalitarian state, and disavowed religion not to promote Atheism for its own sake, but to eliminate religion as competition to themselves as leaders and devotion to the State (many visitors to North Korea today have remarked that despite the ban on religion in that country, North Korea is the most religious country on earth with its endless praising and worship of the “Dear Leader”). What you meant to say Terryl is that strict Ideology is what kills millions of people. Ideology of which both religion and totalitarianism/nationalism/political-purism are twin siblings. Sure, you can use science to further any human endeavor, good or bad. Science invented both the sword and the plow. To say that Hitler and Stalin murdered in the name of science and reason was a rather fatuous statement. It isn’t amusing now, nor was it amusing when Monson used “So called science” to push rather inane comments about doubt, nor was Russell Nelson’s “big bang and the explosion in the printing shop producing a dictionary”. Ya’ll talked about people in a faith crisis being angry? The only thing that makes me grouchy are statements like this. Statements that water down and obfuscate, statements that come from two well meaning people whose opinion are for the itchy ears of those who are hanging on to anything, just anything.

    1. Rude Dog–I agree with you! I used to enjoy the two of them and today I do not. The words were shallow and apologetic and it has caused me more doubt in the Church and more angst to get out. John I felt like you were hero worshiping them– there were times you could have asked questions for the non believing member and still done it to not offend those who think you have been more negative? I don’t know? I am tired and warn out and have had enough of this thing–like ordinances–and people answer for god saying he can’t just do it simply??? Lies have happened and truths hidden–who do I believe??? God for me is dead, if I have to believe like I have for the last 44 years?? Good day all!!

    2. Rude Dog, Teryl’s screed laying the worst evils of history at the feet of “unfettered reason” really made me angry as well. Is he really going to try to claim that it was reason that led Hitler to think that his race was superior and that Jews and other minorities deserved extermination? And his line justifying the use of your gut instincts as truth was terrible, too. He said that we know child abuse is wrong because we intuit it, not because of reason. While in a trivial sense, that does describe how many people come by their morals, it’s absolutely false that reason is not used to determine morality, and the idea that our instincts should be more trusted than our reason is extremely dangerous. We know child abuse is wrong because we see the suffering it causes in its victims. Yes, we intuit that it is wrong, but there is plenty of empirical evidence to back up that intuition. On the other hand, there are all sorts of things that our intuitions tell us that turn out to be wrong, things that come from traditions or our culture or just the fact that our brains take all sorts of shortcuts that can be useful in many cases but mislead us in others. Intuition is what told many slave owners that black people were less human and worthy of subjugation. Intuition is what many people rely on when they think that gay sex is gross and that same sex couples can only be inferior parents to children. In certain cultures, intuition made it obvious that the weather was controlled by vengeful gods that needed to be appeased by sacrifice. Reason and science are the best tools we have to figure out whether our intuitions match actual reality.

      1. Well said. One doesn’t need God nor religion to tell right from wrong. If you can’t tell tight from wrong, you lack empathy, not religion. Terryl assumes we non-believers lack this empathy, like somehow in our struggle we somehow throw love, wonder and awe out the window with God.

        When I finally put the concept of God aside, my appreciation for life, my everyday, and the well being of my fellow creatures became razor sharp. I think it’s the religious that are on thin ice with its attitudes of endearing or ignoring suffering thinking it will be remedied in the life to come. That The Lord will clean up our planet, make peace between the factions, dry every tear…..in the next life. This to me is the empty cup.

    3. Rude Dog,
      Thank you for putting words to my sweet/sour frustration listening to the Givenes. When I wasn’t attempting comprehension I had the warm comfortable freeling of drifting into a nap while listening to GC but I’m still looking for the substance.

  18. To. John, James, Terrell, and Fiona,
    Wonderful interview!
    Given the churches statement/explanation on race (that past prophets teachings about race were wrong) how can we trust they are right about traditional marriage? Or, right about anything? Like James, I remember a mission steeped in obedience rhetoric, coming home to a get married quick counsel, leading to a have a large family goal with children trailing along behind.. So many years of paying tithing on a formula based on what was taught by leaders whose voice was the same as God. So many decisions about life given to prophetic pronouncements because I wanted to be obedient to God. And now after the churches “race” article to find out that all of it might have just been the opinion of a man?!!!

    I don’t see a way out of this. A “true church” in my way of thinking is a religion that teaches truth as god would teach it if he were here. Prophets were supposed to be the instrument by which this was done, the watchman on the towers to give us the guidance we needed to protect ourselves from false teachings. Now, who is to say that ten years from now, another written statement from the church will support gay marriage? We don’t,know! And that leaves us with a church just like any other church, a church of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. As for me, I am waiting for the further light and knowledge of a real handshaking messengers from God….if such exists.

    John or James, or Terrell or Fiona, how do you get out of that box without gutting Mormonism of its one real and important claim: THIS IS Gods church. The only organization guided by him and not man.

  19. In case anyone wanted the text from the George MacDonald quote, “Whatever energies I may or may not have, I know one thing for certain, that I could not devote them to anything else I should think entirely worth doing. Indeed nothing else seems interesting enough–nothing to repay the labour, but the telling of my fellow-men about the one man who is the truth, and to know whom is the life. Even if there be no hereafter, I would live my time believing in a grand thing that ought to be true if it is not. No facts can take the place of truths, and if these be not truths, then is the loftiest part of our nature a waste. Let me hold by the better than the actual, and fall into nothingness off the same precipice with Jesus and John and Paul and a thousand more, who were lovely in their lives, and with their death make even the nothingness into which they have passed like the garden of the Lord. I will go further, and say, I would rather die for evermore believing as Jesus believed, than live for evermore believing as those that deny him.”

    1. Yeah, with that quote, Fiona lost me. If you are more concerned with what you want than what is real, then there doesn’t seem to be much point in discussing reality. We can still discuss what is good and why, but if you are determined to persist in believing in something even if you are shown that it is not true, then delving further into why it’s true or why not seems rather pointless.

  20. The Givens seem to be delightful people seeking to give shape to those who desire to believe. As they state, belief is a choice. Yet choosing to believe does not make truth. Belief in things not seen, yet not true is not faith, but delusion. I feel the Givens provide a wonderful framework for living more comfortably in a state of delusion. I feel this has a place among those who suffer greater pain from evident truth than from delusion. For those of us wired for evidence, it provides little consolation.

    1. John A,

      You made some good points. I do want to comment on your last sentence of the importance of evidence. I agree that evidence is important for discovering most truths. As Christopher Hitchens stated, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. There are however, some things people (including myself) “choose” to believe that don’t require evidence or self deception. The essence of “pure religion” is in most ways the same as humanism. Love, charity, giving service to our fellow man, developing talents, education, discovering the wonders of life…all pointed to in the 13th Article of Faith.

      1. E.E.T., I can agree that not all things believed in require evidence. That was a rather shallow claim on my part. I too believe in lots of things I have little evidence for. I guess I hope for those things, but I’m not sure if that’s faith or delusion until I am presented with new information or knowledge that either confirms or denies it. Then, if both sides are presented, which do I give more credence to except that which I choose to. I feel like I’ve been presented with greater evidence against many of my former beliefs in gospel ideas. Yet, I suppose I could contort my perspective enough to discount and disqualify the evidence if it hurts more to lose those beliefs than to embrace a new reality. I think I did that for years until, as many describe, the shelf broke.

        1. John A,

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply and clarification. Even though your shelf may have finally broken, perhaps there are a few good books on that shelf that can be salvaged…in other words, the good memories and experiences you had along the way with other fine people, along with the good principles you may have learned. We are all “works in progress”, and the new adventures are exciting. All the best in your own adventures ahead!

    2. Actually, I don’t even agree with them that belief is a choice. At least, not in the vast majority of cases. When I was a believer, I couldn’t have chosen not to believe. All the information I had been presented with and the ways I had been taught to view that information led me to believe that the teachings of the LDS church were literally true. Trying to choose nonbelief at that point just wouldn’t have made any sense.

      But when I was presented with additional information, and other ways of processing the previous information I had, it then made much more sense to me that the LDS church, like all the other ones I am familiar with, is a human made institution with no divine cause. At this point I could no more choose to believe that Joseph Smith was a literal prophet than I could choose to believe that Santa Clause actually flies around the whole world in a sleigh giving presents to kids. (I usually try to avoid the religion/Santa comparisons, but since James used a Santa story himself on this podcast as a metaphor for how the leaders treat members, I figure I was justified.)

      The only time I can see belief as a choice is if someone has truly thinks that there is nearly equal evidence for both belief and disbelief. But even then, one doesn’t choose to have the evidence stack up that way. Without some outside factor, even Teryl Givens couldn’t choose to become either a completely literal orthodox believer or a wholly atheistic naturalist. He may be convinced one way or another by further argument or study, but it’s not a choice the way we can choose to have cereal or pancakes for breakfast.

  21. I used to enjoy the two of them and today I do not. The words were shallow and apologetic and it has caused me more doubt in the Church and more angst to get out. John I felt like you were hero worshiping them– there were times you could have asked questions for the non believing member and still done it to not offend those who think you have been more negative? I don’t know? I am tired and warn out and have had enough of this thing–like ordinances–and people answer for god saying he can’t just do it simply??? Lies have happened and truths hidden–who do I believe??? God for me is dead, if I have to believe like I have for the last 44 years?? Good day all!!

  22. All I can say is these interviews were AMAZING! Absolute potent therapy for my aching and struggling heart. Thank you to everyone who helped produce this podcast. I hope to hear more from the Givens and I will purchase their book.

  23. Fiona Givens described Joseph Smith’s view of his prophetic mantle as being corroborative with other men. I am assuming she puts forward that viewpoint because the historical record reflects that he changed his versions of revelations as church practices evolved.

    But the story of Hiram Page and Page’s use of his own seer stone to receive revelation calls into question Smith’s willingness to collaborate in receiving revelation with others. LDS D&C Section 28 indicates that Smith alone was authorized to receive revelation.

    Any thoughts?

  24. A person has no choice but to believe the way he or she believes. This belief is formed from knowledge the person has, past experiences in life, and the emotions the person is experiencing at the time.

    Therefore it is dishonest for someone to choose to believe if actually he or she does not believe.

    1. Could be so. Do you think a person might choose to filter the experiences they have or craft a particular perspective in order to support a more palatable option? As I’ve become more comfortable being a “nonbeliever” I find it easier to view from this perspective, but question how much I’m filtering to support my new beliefs.

  25. I relate to James’ experience of removing everything you thought you knew, and re-building, and saying, “What do I know?” And feeling like you can say with absolute certainty that there’s a divine presence / intelligence / essence of LOVE. I’ve had numerous “crises of faith,” starting small, getting resolved, then a bigger one entering in, getting resolved, and then a bigger one, etc., over more than 20 years. Each time, you think you’re finally certain, and then realize you aren’t. Of course, now, I’ve finally reached a point of not looking for permanent certainty anymore, realizing that that’s one of our fallacies (this culture of certainty). It’s hard to operate in a culture of certainty when you don’t think that way anymore. I do believe in learning things, line upon line — forever. I’m still in the Church, among other reasons, because LOVE, PEACE and CLARITY, for me, seem to be inseparably connected with Christ. And certain aspects of the Restoration and Book of Mormon are very enlightening and profound to me in this regard. I see much truth, beauty and potential in the Church, but also much falsehood, ugliness and destructiveness. I read “Letter to a Doubter” only about a month ago, and I liked it, but felt more like it played an affirming role about some realizations I had already come to, and it was appreciated, but I didn’t feel like it shed light on some of the weightier matters that I deal with sometimes. I will listen to part 2, and perhaps read the book, but I don’t expect either to be extremely enlightening, though likely enjoyable and appreciated. The Givens certainly seem like lovely people I’d love to associate with. Thank you ALL. You should definitely do part 3.

  26. Thanks again John!

    I came to the conclusion myself, several years ago, that faith is a choice. Therefore, I don’t judge or condemn others if, using the same set of facts, they make a different choice than myself. Some will have a desire to maintain ties and activity within the church, others will choose to sever those ties.

    I appreciate the Givens sharing how they piece together their faith journey–much to ponder, contemplate and explore there. Thanks too, for James sharing his experiences and struggles with these very difficult issues.

    What about anger? Sometimes I wonder why so much anger and what that means, as opposed to apathy and not caring about the church. What factors into individual’s continued anger? is it unhealthy? is it productive or unproductive?

  27. It is great that the Givens have figured out a way to help us all with our doubt by lowering our expectations of religion, allowing revisions to revelation, and looking at scriptures from new points of view. It is just too bad that no one who actually runs the church is telling us this stuff. Who are the Givens? Prophets? Revelators? Seers? No,… they are scholars, thinkers, intelligent human beings. Good for them that they got it to work. But we aren’t encouraged to look toward scholars, thinkers, and intelligent human beings for our spiritual guidance. If God wants us to stay in this Church, and if what the Givens are saying is the way to make it happen, I’d like to think that the Q15 would eventually be getting the message.

  28. David Macfarlane

    I’ve only listened to James thus far, but I do appreciate his participation as the preface for Team Givens. A few things jump out as I listen to James’s experience:

    1) The walls started to close in around me as he described the mission and post-mission efforts to make sure even the most minute detail was pleasing to God. I sometimes think Mormonism promotes an OCD God that is more concerned with little, rote behaviors than love, empathy and kindness. For the naturally anxious, this tendency in the church exacerbates mental instability, in my opinion.

    2) Per James’s experience regarding forbidden literature, how is anyone to deal with an organization that labels documented fact as anti-Mormon and then instructs members not to read it? It’s just so patronizing and manipulative and disingenuous. I sometimes feel physically ill that I allowed myself to be messed with in this way.

    3) I was close to stunned when the conversation included Fiona and she recalled a ward in Utah where almost all the men raised their hands to indicate having had a faith crisis. Is this the church’s Protestant Reformation? What has happened? I grew up in a rural Utah ward, and all the men ever did was stand up to say how they “knew” the church was true. I don’t know the experience she describes.

    Thanks so much, James, for telling your story. Even though you don’t know me, I feel so much love and respect and empathy for you and your struggles. It takes remarkable honesty, curiosity and self-awareness to share.

  29. Two notes:

    First, you can’t ask “Would you like them to answer the questions you asked?” Of course listeners want their questions answered! I think that goes without saying.

    Second, I was profoundly saddened to see the Givens crossing what the Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer has called ‘the line of despair.’ In Schaeffer’s analysis, modern man (dating back to Kirkegaard) have increasingly abandoned a unified view of the material world and metaphysics. That sounds all very impressive, but basically it’s reflected in this: the Givens are giving up on an objective, literal reading of the BOM, opting for metaphorical, personal readings instead. The shift is significant because it signals an abandonment of a belief in absolute truth, the law of noncontradiction, A and not -A. The problem, as Schaeffer explains is once you go down that path, it’s a slippery slope. There is nowhere to stop in principle after you go down that road — yoga, homosexualty, polygamy, beastiality, ‘intergenerational love’. More importantly, God, truth, and the gospel itself is redefined and eventually abandoned.

    1. I agree. The Givens have given up on an objective, literal reading of the BOM. Well, they had to because an objective, literal reading of the BOM leads to the realization that mormonism is not built on truth.

      The Givens are just looking for a way to hang on and allow the mormon church to have some meaning. As someone eloquently posted above, a lot of flowery words nicely pronounced, but no meat. To me, the Givens have confessed the mormon church isn’t true and are clinging on by saying its a nice community of people and the scriptures aren’t true but they’re good.

    2. “The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.” Michael Coe, the Charles J. MacCurdy professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University

      Exactly what do you do with this Charles? If acknowledging this kind of truth signals “an abandonment of a belief in absolute truth” I would submit that your concept of “absolute truth” needs serious revision – because it has nothing to do with truth!

      1. P,

        I agree with Professor Coe on the complete lack of physical evidence for the Book of Mormon–in Mesoamerica. John Sorenson notwithstanding, there isn’t a shred of evidence for so-called Book of Mormon anomalies such as steel and horses showing up in Mesoamerica.

        The United States of America is another matter. The Adena and Hopewell cultures based in what would one day become the United States preceded all Native American cultures and offer dozens of correlations with the Book of Mormon. It’s a pity so many folks anguish over the lack of physical evidence for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica to the point of parting ways with the Church. There may be valid reasons to do so but this is not one of them.

        Exploring those connections has strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. For insight into this alternate history of the Book of Mormon that is full of documented physical correlations, check out Rod Meldrum’s and Wayne May’s work: https://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/index.php

        John, either of these guys if not both would be terrific interviews for the podcast. You’ve interviewed Sorenson, the chief proponent of a theory that thousands of people have found damaging to faith–consider chatting with the folks that propose a theory that has nourished the faith of thousands. A number of the General Authorities are familiar with the work of Meldrum and May and are even quietly supportive.

  30. One Given, two Givens.

    One Givens, two Givenses.

    It’s GIVENSES.

    Keeping up with the Joneses; keeping up with the Givenses.

    If a name ends in “s”, the plural (more than one) is formed by adding -es. Not by adding an apostrophe, which is possessive.

    It’s not hard, people!

    1. Thank goodness we got that cleared up. Now we can resume worrying about less important problems, like losing faith and doubting God.

  31. James Patterson

    A plea for some moderation in tone:

    Spirited debate about the issues surrounding the podcast is fair. Belittling others’ beliefs is not.

    Please keep in mind #4 of the Mormon Stories Shared Values Statements:

    “We acknowledge and honor different spiritual paths and modes of religious or non-religious truth-seeking. We respect the convictions of those who subscribe to ideas and beliefs that differ from our own.”

    1. Yours was an important part of this interview, James. In sharing your story and your practical enthusiasm for the Givens’ book you were an Everyman-Everywoman for us. Good luck on your search for spiritual meaning.

  32. I finished part 2 now. I was hesitant at some points in the dialogue, i.e., when they said that the Church has been perfectly honest and forthright with the new essays, etc. It got better towards the end, and by the end, I felt like overall, they more than made up for it. I could be completely at peace, happy and motivated to serve with all of my heart if we operated in a paradigm more like this. I, too, have found this type of paradigm in the process of working through my faith, doubts and questions. They hit on some of the most important issues: fallibility of scripture and prophets (letting the Spirit guide); God’s love and inspiration towards all people and cultures; not putting the institution above conscience, etc. etc. etc. I loved when Fiona spoke about the invisible Church because I have come to believe in that very much. I was very uplifted by what Fiona said at the end. It all comes back down to Jesus Christ, for me, too, and she articulated many of the unique and beautiful things Mormonism has to offer. What’s frustrating is that the Church, at the top (and hence throughout), doesn’t seem to validate this paradigm or perspective (in fact it seems to contradict it), and it’s not really moving in this direction. They seem to have substituted men for God in many instances, and seem afraid to embrace change and turn more completely to God. On the discussion about Joseph Fielding Smith (and JS), I, like so many, am happy to have charity and empathy towards the leaders and sustain them as fallible men called of God, doing their best. But that’s not really what’s demanded of me. I’m asked to sustain (obey) them as Prophets, Seers and Revelators in all instances. We say they’re mortal, but seem to only apply it in personal matters, not when they’re speaking for the Church (except when it comes back to bite; then they can use their humanity as a scapegoat). I don’t believe God truly wants men to live in such an authoritarian and hierarchical society. After all, what’s Zion? I do believe in revelation . . . but true, pure revelation quickens and awakens; it operates by the principles of D & C 121 (no need to force people to accept it). I believe we all have access to it, and so I believe in greater equality among us in this regard (Numbers 11 & 12). We’re all in this together. I wish the Church weren’t so intent on protecting their special place and power in the world-view, and recognize that we’re just one essential, beautiful piece of God’s tapestry, and that if we open up and embrace our brothers and sisters, and what God has given them, instead of trying to assimilate them, we’ll know God and JOY. Thank you, ALL, again!

  33. John—To me, many concepts provided by the Givens in this broadcast seem pretty much outside the Mormon box. (Fallibility of leaders, etc. Imagine Elder Packer or Oaks listening to this broadcast and not freaking out!) My wife and I find it ironic that you are being called on the carpet for providing an outlet for honest discussion, yet the Givens have this book published by Deseret Book! It’s sort of like how everyday members are being called in for worthiness interviews because they support OW or the LGBT community and their issues, yet Carol Lynn Pearson, who supports the same issues traverses Mormonism freely without consequences. It’s truly is a strange Mormon universe.

  34. “The Crucible”
    “The Crucible of Doubt”
    I can’t help but reflect on Arthur Miller’s fabulous play “The Crucible” a profound investigation into the workings of doubt, doubters and doubted.
    I can’t help but think that Terryl and Theona were actors in a play that was scripted by the same spirit of suspicion, doubt and fear of the unknown –– a passion play of sorts.
    Seems they are channeling the same content given the immediate crisis at hand.
    But we are armed with better tools for investigation than dunkings and hangings, yet the tumult of confusion is bridled and ridden by the confidence of some and distanced by the restraint of others seeking for a sign –– but there is none.
    For the Church, it’s not manichean evil climbing the walls but the internet ramming the doors.
    Sooner is better when disclosing the sore linen of the people of paradox.

    A revisit to Arthur Miller’s Crucible would stand the faithful and apostate in good stead. The DVD us absolutely riveting better than any Mormon Movie you’ve seen.
    and yes it is faith promoting

  35. If I hear or read the word ‘paradigm’ again, or at least too many more times, I’m going to have one hell of a paradigmatic shift.

  36. James,

    It is interesting to me how upset you were about the reading of The Proclamation to the Family as scripture in Primary. It is signed by the brethren. At the same time, a lesser document written and added to the website about race and the priesthood (approved by the brethren without signatures) caused your shelf to collapse. Would you put these essays at the same level as scripture, the same level as the Proclamation to the Family, or below both?

    1. Dave,

      The proclamation on the family bugs me, too. Despite the widespread fondness for and focus on the proclamation at all levels of the Church, the proclamation on the family is a carefully-crafted position paper, not a revelation. Were it a revelation shouldn’t we’d expect to see something like, “thus saith the Lord” attached to it somewhere? For an institution that asserts families are at the heart of the mortal experience, the proclamation is oddly quiet or quietly dismissive of the million, perhaps billions of human beings who are not married and/or are LGBT.

  37. It’s late, but after listening to most of Part II of this program, I just have to get this thought off of my chest. I think the only thing that would bring me back into the church is if, as an institution, it did what I grew up hearing from the church I should always be doing, and that is REPENT. I would like to see an influential apostle, like, say, Elder Oaks, stand before the members in general conference and official lyrics apologize for all the strictly faith-promoting history which the church has been teaching for years and years. And I’d like the apology to be given without qualification or rationalization. And I’d like him to acknowledge how the church has benefited by choosing to only share their sanitized version of events. And I don’t want him to just throw the church’s historical department under the bus. I want him to admit that the policy of dishonesty went all the way up to the president. Then, once this “confession” has been given, the church just has to let the chips fall where they may, and hope for the best. I’m sure such a confession will cause possibly great harm to the church’s tithing revenues, but, speaking for myself, they would quite possibly regain my loyalty. But I know they will never issue a public apology.

    1. Nathan! I’m sure your comment speaks to many formerly committed members, who have become seriously disillusioned. You give credit to your name! Allow me to share a poem written to Pres. DAVID O. McKay during a time of personal spiritual crisis. It is marked “To President McKay–Urgent”

      “Nathan’s Cry:

      Must there be strife
      Before the truth is known?
      That which came before
      Would clear the eye for Light.

      But who believes?
      And who can share?
      Why can this one not speak?

      The song burns bright
      Inside my breast—-

      Yet locked inside by blindness….

      26 September 1965”

      In 2005 this hand-written poem was found in Pres. McKay’s personal papers by one of the Church archivists, who graciously scanned it and sent it to me in an email. That Pres. McKay had kept this particular poem, above all the other stuff that I’d sent to him in those days, moved me a great deal to learn about it.

      Thanks for caring enough to present a practical way to come clean to those Brethren who I’m confident are feeling a bit trapped by their Soviet-like attitude of managing history.

      1. Eugene, thank you for your kind words. I am certainly not totally deserving of them. Also, thank you for looking past my typos. The spell check function does not always behave as intended, particularly late at night while typing with my thumbs on an iPad.

        I need to think about your poem some more to make sure I’m gleaning from it all that you intend.

        On this subject, I remember a conversation I once had with my father, who is similarly disaffected from the church. He said, “Do you know what the number one requirement is for a man to become an apostle?” I said, “Charisma?” My father said, “No.” I guessed again, “A testimony of Christ?” My father said, “They would like us to believe that, but there is another requirement that is much more important. Finally I said, Well then what???” My father saiid, “Utter and total loyalty to the Church, and a commitment to protect its interests at all costs. The parable of the ‘one and the ninety nine is a myth in the Church.” This is obviously a very dark depiction, but I think it explains a lot about why the Church behaves in the way that it does. Above every other consideration, the GAs’ utmost concern is the perpetuation of the institution…totally unfettered honesty about its history be damned!

        1. Delighted to receive your thoughtful response, Nathan! There is much more to the poem from today’s perspective than I realized when it was first composed, which I’ve since learned is not unusual for budding poets. The inspiration for this poem came in a letter 5 months earlier from an old mentor, a legendary faculty member at Rick’s College (now BYU of Idaho). I was a new PhD in the nuclear business at the time and we had developed a lively correspondence since summer 1959, when I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley. In May 1965 my friend wrote:

          “Dear Israel:

          “…I have a novel brewing in the back of my skull. The hero is a 19th Century Romanticist, is a 20th Century chemist, an Israelite of the first water, and an adventurer in ideas. I’m not sure, but I think his name will be NATHAN, a man not quite sure of his identity but very sure of his entity. He will be far greater than he knows but greater in a very different way from the way he thinks he knows. He will seem to stumble on his destiny and will flounder around in it till everyone else will see he is right in the thick of it before he catches on. The account of my Nathan will be heavy with irony. It will be no accident that Russians will roam in and out of the novel as though they had a right to, but they will add up in the end. From time to time he will follow simply and faithfully and directly the sudden promptings, the kind unattended by sudden illuminations, and every time he does his instrumentality will be felt by others with extraordinary power. My big problem with this novel is in staying out of his life: I will be so fascinated with him, so taken up by his charming idiosyncrasies, so involved in both his blind and knowledgeable pursuits, so eager to identify myself with him, that my own life may disturb the necessary detached control with the ripple of autobiography. If I can stay out of the thing my hero will be seen standing there, acting, contemplating, introspecting, retrospecting, resolving, concluding, deciding, suffering, rejoicing, declaiming, questioning, asserting, negating, affirming, and living like few heroes created by the imagination have ever done. I will not dedicate this particular novel to you….”

          Nathan, my friend had been struggling with having been recently excommunicated by Hugh B. Brown, then a member of the First Presidency, who had been my friend’s old missionary companion when they were young men before WWII. It was a traumatizing experience for both these now old friends. You may understand this better when I tell you that my former professor friend was gay. When I wrote my poem to DAVID (Pres. McKay), I had my friend’s letter in mind along with other overpowering spiritual events that I had been experiencing since his letter.

          Note: please feel free to contact me at enkovalenko@gmail.com

        2. About your father’s answer to his question to you re “the number one requirement…for a man to become an apostle…” After your several guesses, he said: “Utter and total loyalty to the Church, and a commitment to protect its interests at all costs…”

          To me that is the very definition of idolatry.

          Bless your dad for nailing it and expressing it so precisely and simply.

  38. Loved these interviews. I only really have one disagreement with the Givens.

    I agree that certainty can be a problem, but I don’t believe it is the opposite of faith AT ALL, and I think that if we wish to engage religion in any meaningful discussion we have to look at certainty as a helpful and necessary element of the religious setting.

    How many people have actually studied what certainty is, and what its source or wellspring is? Have the Givens read Dr. Robert Burton’s book “On Being Certain: Believing you are right even when you’re not”?

    Again, I’m not saying certainty is wonderful in every case or even in 99% of the case. I’m just saying it has a place in a religious framework and should not be summarily dismissed.

  39. Love the interviews and the Givens. Great minds and wonderful people. But I ask the same question again and again. If the church is only persons with unsure inspiration and no further presence of God other than doing the best we can with what we have; what in the world was restored? We can read hundreds of years of history of the church as established by the apostles in Antioch, Greece, Asia, as doing the best they can with what they have. What is the difference and what is the restoration?

  40. This is exactly what I need. Thank you! I am a life – long member, believer in my late 40’s, and never thought I’d find myself in a faith crisis. It’s awful. I am anxiously looking forward to a Part 3. Thank you! Thank you!

  41. Very thoughtful and insightful. With all the respect and admiration I can muster from my heart, I still sense the need to not let go of the idea of God and of a spiritual journey to Him that is not evidence based but rather hope based. It seems to be a reworking perhaps “turning of the kaleidoscope” as was mentioned, of the notion that somehow it is still true despite so much evidence that might make one wonder if it is. In my humble opinion, seems to still be a subtle undertone of apologetics. In other words, “I must create a scenario to fit my belief because I refuse to let go.”

  42. First of all, I would love a part 3. I loved Terryl Givens interview previously and I loved this one. I just put in my purchase for the book and am waiting anxiously for its arrival.

    I was also thinking as I was listening, how closely some of the thoughts in this interview overlaps with Adam Miller’s thoughts in “Letters to a Young Mormon”.

    I really wish there was more cross referencing among faithful Mormon scholars, who were coming to many of the same conclusions.

    The idea of Joseph Smith coming back to his previous revelations and refining him is beautiful and echos Adam Miller’s chapter on scripture and how we should continue the work of re-translation.

    These thoughts and beautiful, expansive, poetic. I honestly can’t get enough of them.

  43. Scott,

    In certain cases, it seems acceptable for Joseph Smith, to clarify previous revelations and “refine” them. In other instances, some changes expand far beyond refinement. You also express a desire for the idea of “how we should continue the work of re-translation”. Could you clarify what you mean by that?

    For example, do you believe that if there are versus in the Book of Mormon (“the most correct book”…)that are incorrect historically, socially, and scientifically, that we should modify those scriptures?

    In regards to the “Corner-stone of our religion”, the Book of Mormon, came forth to “convince the Jew and Gentile”. The more we have to rework, re-translate, re-explain, these scriptures or revelations, the less “convincing” they become, based on the original claim. Why wouldn’t something so important be correct the first go? The Ten Commandments of done quite well, with their simple clarity.

    1. Scott,

      This is not another question for you. I just forgot to add a couple other thoughts. Perhaps you are a younger member of the church, based on your interest in “Letters to a Young Mormon”. You also referenced other “faithful Mormon scholars”, and your appreciation for “beautiful, expansive, poetic” thought.

      Don’t forget to go to other sources besides Mormon scholars, for “beautiful, expansive, poetic” inspiration, as recommended in the 13th Article of Faith. For example, one of the great inspirational books, Les Miserable, by Victor Hugo, is a remarkable novel with inspired messages. The author himself referred to his novel, as a “religious work”.

      All the best to you!

      1. And I agree that there are plenty of other sources and although not scripture technically, they are pretty close. I read widely and love and learn from a variety of books. Article of Faith 13 is wonderful council.

  44. E.E.T.

    I’m not a younger Mormon, but Adam Miller’s book still resonates. Here’s what he said about translation to clarify:

    “Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. And then he retranslated the bible. And then he revealed the Book of Abraham. Then Joseph went back and started again. He never stopped working on his translation of the bible. Brigham Young even seemed to suggest that, if Joseph were still alive, he might try a fresh translation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph always expected more revelations, and ‘translation’ was one vital name for the hard work of receiving them. For Joseph, translation was less a chore to be done than a way, day by day, of holding life open for God’s word. Translating scripture is a way of renewing life. In translation we lend our lives— our minds, our ears , our mouths— to the local resurrection of old texts, dead words, and lost voices. We put down our stories and take up theirs. And as we give voice to them, they, for a time, rejoin us in the land of the living.”


    “You and I must translate these books again. Word by word, line by line, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, God wants the whole thing translated once more, and this time he wants it translated into your native tongue, inflected by your native concerns, and written in your native flesh. To be a Mormon is to do once more, on your own small scale, the same kind of work that Joseph did.”

    Miller, Adam S. (2014-01-22). Letters to a Young Mormon (Kindle Locations 293-295). Neal A. Maxwell Institute. Kindle Edition.

    1. Scott,

      Thank you for your reply and clarification. Adam Miller’s ideas and interpretations of translation/revelation. It certainly does seem that this approach and reasoning, has been applied by the majority of Christianity, and the Bible. All the different churches and “interpretations of man”….enough to make one’s head spin. The same holds true with different interpretations of the Koran. This is just one aspect of religion that makes so many struggle, and feel that it is man made..

      1. E.E.T.

        I guess the point that Givens makes (and one that I found so empowering), is that my spiritual journey is mine. It is up to me to re-interpret the scriptures into my own language and in my own paradigms to guide me forward toward more truth, and toward a life closer to Gods. This is my work and no one else’s.

        I think one of the points of the institutional church is to support that effort by providing community and an organizational structure. But the important work is done by me, internally.

        Givens also explains in the podcast (and I agree) the importance of ordination and priesthood authority to bind and connect us to Christ and to our familial relationships. That is essential.

        But to really explain the entire truth, 100% accurately up-front, the first time, is just too much to ask any one person (or scripture, or institution) to do. Plus it removes the work we must do on our own.

        I find that concept empowering personally. And I find the diversity of religious thought beautiful – I can find truth everywhere. I can learn from almost everyone.

  45. Thank you for this! More Givens, please! I devour any podcast with both or either of the Givens and have listened to theirs more than once, taken notes, and journaled the many thoughts and impressions their work brings to mind.

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