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  1. For John Delhin: it is a bit disingenuous to remove the 3rd segment of the interview, but to allow comments on same to remain.

    Paul Belfiglio writes of Richard Packham:

    “You will have your day in the sun and then eventually fade away into oblivion, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to grow and flourish.”

    I’m going to be extraordinarily kind here Paul, and simply label that as a childish, borish, and inane use of verbiage to reinforce your own faith.

    If one’s faith can’t stand on its own two feet without demeaning one’s intelligence, then it is not faith at all that is being exhibited.

  2. JB Arsenault,

    I would like to remove them — but I am trying to walk the tightrope of honoring the wishes of both Mr. Hunter and Mr. Packham. It is not very fun. I assure you.

    At the end of the day, it is the Hunter family who have expressed the desire to keep these comments online.

  3. I listened to the podcast and enjoyed it quite a bit. Personally I thought that the things said would be helpful for explaining to believers the issues many who leave have.

    I since have become aware of the dust up over Richard’s remarks about Jane Ann’s death and while I feel for the family, I can’t understand why they think that Richard is not entitled to express his own views of the events. He was speaking of the death of his sister and has every right to do so. He admitted himself a number of times that his views were his own and perhaps colored by his own bias.

    Obviously the Hunter’s view of the events are different. I can understand the need they feel to keep their grief private— however everyone deals with things different. They do not own every opinion regarding Jan Ann’s death. Richard is family too and has something to say even if it doesn’t fit in to their faithful LDS world view.

    So why can’t they just post their objections to the comments made in the podcast rather than trying to censor them. Only in an open discussion can any of the issues in split families be resolved. And ironically, the hubbub resulting from this podcast only illustrates the serious gulf left to bridge between believers and those who have left.

    All that said, I realize that this is John’s podcast and he has the final say in what gets aired. I also realize that I don’t have all the info he has from the family. I wouldn’t want John’s job.

    I do hope however that those who seemed to categorically reject Richard’s comments will at least consider what he said and see that his statements genuinely reflect how he feels (or at least they seem to). I know as LDS we are trained to defend and be loyal first— but I would suggest that something can be learned by opening yourself up, if only a little, to ideas that oppose those you currently hold.

  4. Thank you, John and Richard for the interview! It is unfortunate that names of individuals not interviewed were included, but John, I feel that you have handled the fallout as well as anyone could. May peace be with the friends and family of the departed.

    I hope that the discussion of this interview can now move on to the other important points that were raised. I mean we all (Mormons and ex-Mormons all along the continuum) should have some common ground. We all want to ease suffering and prevent avoidable pain. It is helpful to reflect on how we might be contributing to the problem. We might find that we can love better. People are important, family and friends are important, no matter what they believe. Their feelings matter. Our feelings matter. We can’t end all suffering. And sometimes we inflict pain on ourselves by what we believe. But, some interpersonal pain involving Mormonism is unnecessary and avoidable. The first step is to stop and ask, “Is it me? Am I, through my words and actions, and misguided zealotry, hurting my family, my friends, my neighbor?”

  5. The gulf between mormons and ex-mormons will always exist as long as the LDS church claims that they are the “only true and living church” on the face of the earth. It is that simple. Some mormons are able to put aside this LDS church statement and truly be tolerant and accepting of other faiths as a viable way to God- but many will always feel that they are being disloyal to God and “His” church by doing so.
    This chasm will always be there in my opinion because the LDS church will never back off this “one and only” belief because the entire church is based on it.

  6. Paul Belfiglio, clearly you ignorant about why people leave the church. I am sick and tired of people like you who refuse to listen to and try to understand the reasons people express for why they left, and instead, like so many Mormons like you, you ignore what’s said and default to the convenient excuse that, “They can’t hack the rigors and ‘rules’ and sometimes even doctrines of an institutional church, especially a lay ministry one, and so they look for reasons to leave.” Delude yourself and think whatever you want, but I want no part of your delusion. I left the church because I found that the Church’s moral and ethical standard is lower than my own. Given that, I can’t think of any reason why I should be part of an organization like that. Can you?

  7. I empathize for the families on this board. Our family also suffered a terrible loss, in hindsight half of the family thinks that Church contributed and exaserbated the problem. You would get very different accounts from different members of the family and I dont think we can agree to disagree. For the most part if any exmos speak the fragile relationship that is left will be severed. I am sorry for your pain, the loss and the drama. It is pain I wish on no one. If it was any consolation this podcast and the comments have helped me see that I am not alone. Differing beliefs and a suicide = a family completed divided. Perhaps there is no hope but at least I am not alone and not crazy for just giving up and making peace with my life minus some family.

  8. John, I feel for you in the middle of this situation.
    I listened to all 4 parts of the podcast (before part 3 was removed) and as I listened I wondered if Richard’s extended family might be upset by episode 3 – evidently they were. Suicide is a very sensitive subject and, for what it’s worth, I didn’t feel that Ted and his family came out of Richard’s account badly. It was clear to me that Richard was speaking from his own particular perspective, I believe he said as much himself. As an adult and an individual with some understanding of the effects of my brother’s (attempted) suicide on my family, it is clear to me that there are always 2 sides to every story and that interpretation of events can differ tremendously between family members. I am sure that most listeners to your interview can appreciate this and do not judge any of the family members involved because they recognise that people who weren’t there are in no position to make judgements.
    Love and thoughts to Ted and his family following the loss of their wife/mother and also to Richard following the death of his sister.

  9. I must respond to some incorrect implications (and some outright false statements) in some of the comments.

    For those who knew my sister and her family, and who say that they knew them as a devoted and loving couple, and that he treated her with devotion and admiration and support, I can testify that indeed that was the impression that anyone who knew them would have. He loved and admired her deeply. But I can also testify to the reality behind the public image. And that is based on many conversations that I and my wife had with my sister, often by telephone, that no one else can know of. Of course her husband never knew about them, nor her children. She would call only when he could not overhear the conversation. When I would call her, the conversations were extremely brief if he could overhear. We heard about the reality behind the facade, and the reasons for her depression, alcoholism and desire to escape.

    It is based on things she said in those private conversations that are the basis for my statements about her feelings of being smothered, dominated, depressed, and unworthy. As with many families, outward appearances are not always an accurate indication of what goes on behind the scenes.

    I find it quite telling that in all the comments condemning me for discussing what I felt to be contributing factors to her decades-long depression, alcoholism, suicide attempts, and final leave-taking, no one else has even ventured to offer any explanation for why a seemingly happy, loved, devout and devoted Mormon woman would be suffering such things for so long, ending in her final successful attempt to escape from whatever was tormenting her. No one has ventured to deal with that crucial question, except in the most superficial way.

    In being willing to talk in the interview about my sister, I was not seeking to cast stones, to besmirch her memory, to dredge up useless and painful memories, or to cause embarrassment or discomfort to her immediate family, but to place the tragedy into a larger picture and in some way produce some benefit for others. Because she was (and is) not the only Mormon woman in that life-threatening situation. When I first told her story publicly on an Internet discussion board which I frequent, immediately after learning about her death, I received several hundred messages of condolences, even from people I did not know. I also was thanked privately by several Mormon women who had read the story and who told me that it was a “wake-up call” for them. They could recognize themselves and their situations in what I had described. And, because of how it ended for my sister, they realized that they must do something to change their own situation, to avoid her fate.

    I am told that psychiatrists in Utah see the situation so often in Mormon women that it has a clinical name: the “Mother in Zion Syndrome.”

    In that small way, I felt that some good had been salvaged, making her death not a total loss. And I believe that was John’s motives in asking me to talk about her.

    It is unfortunate that her husband and sons are distressed by my telling what I know about my sister. They are clearly unaware of the relationship that she and I had. They do not exclusively “own” her life, or her death. ALL of us who loved and knew her suffered a loss. They lost a wife, a mother. I lost my dear sister, and my grief is as real and as valid as theirs. And I have as much right to tell my story as do they. I choose, however, not to coat the truth with pleasant deceptions and write a “faith-promoting” version.

    Two minor corrections of statements made by one of her sons:

    He said that his sister and I had “chosen to distance themselves from the family.” Nothing could be further from the truth, either with respect to me or to my niece. Yes, we left the Mormon church. But it is only in the minds of the Mormons that leaving the church is equal to leaving the family. It is rather some of the Mormon family members who have chosen to exclude us, to isolate us, for no other reason than our no longer believing. My niece has begged and pleaded with her father and her brothers to accept her on an equal footing, but they cannot seem to find it in their Christian hearts to love an apostate.

    And I was accused of being so ignorant of their family that I did not know how many children there were. Yes, I misspoke and said “five” when the actual number is “four.” It was a slip of the tongue, made when I wasn’t really thinking about her children. I do know them, I know their names, the order of their birth, and the names of their spouses. I would be willing to bet that my critic would be unable to say instantly how many children I have, let alone name them and name their spouses. It’s the problem of the extended Mormon family – not easy to keep at the tip of one’s tongue how many kids there are in all the big families. So I can be completely discounted for a slip of the tongue. I probably know more about his mother’s secret thoughts (the crucial issue) than he does.

  10. I am going to turn comments off now (for the 2nd time).

    And I am going to end with a plea for both sides to allow me to delete all comments….and minimize the extent to which people’s names are used on the Internet in ways that they don’t feel good about…and to let this family rift begin to heal where possible. There’s still time to keep this story, and this battle, from spreading.

    Again, I am very, very sorry that this interview — which was made with the hope of bringing families together — has actually increased the chasm in yours. This was never the intent. I still don’t know how to make it right.

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