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  1. I listened to all three hours. Awesome! High Five to John D. for being open to hearing from those who are Ex-Ex-LDS.

    I’m a TBM, but feel as Joe does. There needs to be changes within the church so TBM don’t become alienated from those who choose to become an ExMo.

    At one time, I was an ExMo. I came back for the same reason Joe did, God reached out to me. He left the 99 and brought me back with power. That was on June 12, 1966.

    1. Teancum, I did not realize that you had returned. Perhaps you and Joe can make the change that is needed.

      This podcast is good…but my heart still is trying to understand the whole of Joe’s journey. I am an exmo that just wants everyone to be happy. I respect everyone and hope that someday that respect (with these kinds of podcasts) can be returned . Listening…answers..and exchange that is valued and observed. This could make TBMs better and postmormons more receptive.

  2. What a great spouse he has.

    Wish I had the luck.

    “… that she loved me no matter what… that our marriage was her first priority, and the church was a priority after that… and I came to believe her… and I believe that’s how marriages should be.”

    1. What a cramped and stunted way to see a fellow human being, and a shameful dismissal of this man’s value as a human being. Stop doing this, and the sooner the better.

  3. Loved, loved, loved this. Shame on the naysayer who says what he is doing is mental gymnastics and not real Mormonism. It is 100% what Mormonism is.

    Please consider interviewing more ex-mo’s who return.

  4. Loved, loved, loved this. Shame on the naysayer who says what he is doing is mental gymnastics and not real Mormonism. It is 100% what Mormonism is.

    Please consider interviewing more ex-mo’s who return

  5. Good and honest podcast. I’m happy for Joe. I can’t help feel a few lose ends, though, that I wish had been covered in the interview: Did his wife and kids resign? Or just stop attending church? Did any of them return? What is his wife’s reaction to him returning to full membership? Does he feel regret and grief at leaving, which led to his family leaving? Is his heart heavy for leading his family out?

      1. Cool! Excited to hear that there will be more to come! I know you’ve been looking to produce more episodes with believing members who stayed/returned!

        I would be very interested to hear more about Joe’s experiences and thoughts on Unitarianism and Buddhism. Would also be interested to know more about what non-LDS books he was reading during his time away, his opinion on them, and how they influenced his journey back to the Mormon church? Did Joe read Aquinas, Kant, Barth, Sarte, Ratzinger, the Dali Lama, or others? I guess I always love when Mormon Stories has book talk! 🙂

  6. I was born and raised in the church but left it 16 years ago due to historical and doctrinal problems with no regrets or desire to return.
    While I don’t understand how someone can assess the church’s significant historical and doctrinal problems and remain an active, believing member, I’m ultimately happy for Joe if he has truly found peace in his life. We should all be striving to find a level of peace and happiness like this.

  7. So much I disagree with in this interview. My experience has also been much different than his so I didn’t really connect with a lot of what he was saying. However, I’m happy for Joe. If this makes him happy that’s great. It seems he was really lost without the church and he feels peace back in it so I’m glad for him. It is similar to my friends/family who are still in the church – if it makes them happy, I’m happy for them. Congrats Joe.

  8. I am so so confused. I do not understand this. I am happy for Joe and I believe that he an experience that I can’t explain. I just don’t get why. My leaving has left me struggling with what I believe. My search is for truth. I don’t understand how God would tell him to go back to a church that isn’t true and why that doesn’t matter to Joe. The truth claims of the church have been proven false, what else matters?? Watching this has really provoked a lot of anxiety for me. I wish i hadnt watched it.

    1. Chris Pierce, wrote that the truth claims of the church have been proven false. I’ve been studying church history and doctrine for decades. Church history/doctrine is messier than what I was taught at church. But I have found nothing that “proves” the church is false, not even close to it. I’ve been through a faith crisis and know how that feels. I also know how it feels to have an experience like Joe’s.

      1. Teancum – If you have been studying church history and doctrine for decades then wouldn’t you agree that the Book of Abraham has been shown to be just about anything but what Joseph Smith/Others claimed it to be? That is just one example. If we are talking about objective truth and trying to “prove” mormonism “true” then the church falls flat. In other words, on the flip side, nothing I have found other than “good feelings” proves the church is true, not even close.

        1. Jacob – The Book of Abram is a work in progress as far as finding evidence to support its claims. Yes, there are problems. However, the evidence is mounting in its favor.

          I think it is best not to take space on John D’s site to provide info for you and others. If you would like to email me I will provide what I have that helped me deal with the problems with the Book of Abraham.

          teancum@protonmail.com

          1. Teancum – I appreciate your willingness to reach out to have a conversation outside of this forum. However, I get the sense we will see “evidence” differently. Your comment “Yes, there are problems. However, the evidence is mounting in its favor.” sounds like you are reaching. I’m not really interested in diving into BoA; I’ve been down that road with a BYU religion professor and came out with pretty underwhelming theories. I would not be surprised to find that the “evidence is mounting in its favor” you speak of is just another theory that relies heavily on faith.

            One thing that I have found that seems apparent is that Joseph Smith borrowed heavily from sources around him. I just see it as someone who is making meaning of life and religious views around him. I respect this as that is what I do myself. If people see Joseph Smith’s, other church leaders, etc remix of Christianity as something that works for them then great. If re-joining the church works for you then great. If there is a God, I just see no way one religion or belief is the only thing acceptable to that God.

  9. If a person is happy in the COJCOLDS, they should remain in it. If they are miserable, they should leave it. If the historical/doctrinal problems don’t bother you, good for you. Same is true for a Jehovah’s Witness or Seventh-day Adventist or Roman Catholic. If you are miserable in it, leave it. If you are miserable without it, go back to it. If your shelf breaks, use more shelves. Leaving it is not worth a divorce, or alienation from family. Just don’t study real Mormon history, don’t think about the contradictions and “five impossible things before breakfast” and you’ll be fine. Do you have to believe that a literal Whale shallowed Jonah, to be saved? Or, can you believe it is a parable, an inspired piece of fiction, like Forrest Gump, and Jesus will still save you??? Half of the Evangelicals told me “You must believer it is literal” and the other half said “You don’t need to believe it is literal”. Take inspiration from the Book of Mormon like you would Forrest Gump or Alice in Wonderland, but don’t try to take it too seriously.

  10. I appreciate the courage he had to come on and share his experience. I would venture to say that he is a minority within the exmo community. Near the end, it sounded like the real reason he went back was because he felt God told him to, not because of any truth claims. He is a nuanced believer to the point of not believing in any of the tenets of Mormonism.

  11. Hard to argue against a royal flush (heavenly intervention). I feel I’m probably in a somewhat similar situation to Joe’s brother. I watch the fatted calf celebrations and internalize a myriad of thoughts… I don’t know Joe’s brother, I’d imagine it’s difficult at times. As for me, I simply can’t unlearn what I know. Although my believing peers perceive me within their shared prism, I have to be “ok” with my decision to leave. The decision to leave is authentic to me, it’s where the aggregate of my learning has taken me. I’m certainly open to divine intervention to change my course, pretty much the blue print needed at this point (happy for Joe).

  12. I don’t think the Mormon church is any different from any other church. I don’t believe the Mormon church is the only true church either. If I wanted to go to a church, I could go to a catholic, Buddhist, Mormon church, etc. it would be all the same to me. So if I really wanted to belong to some church, I rather go back to Catholic Church since they have less rules and less consuming time activities.

    But, if the Mormon church happened to be only true church in the whole world, even if they proved it, I still wouldn’t go back to the Mormon church. Because it doesn’t do me any good to go back to a church that has a history of racism against blacks and poligamy/abuse of women, among other things. Even now in the present time, we still hear stories of bad Mormon leaders in high positions that abuse women sexually and are protected but the Mormon church leadership. And we hear so many stories of people who speak up and are excommunicated for telling the truth. So even if the church is true, their high leaders many times are not living by the principles they teach, and cover up for abuses. And for these reasons, this kind of true church would not do me any good to join. Not worth it to join this kind of church for me. I rather have no church or come up with my own church just like joe smith. I seriously doubt god would tell anyone to go back to this church. Cheerios,

  13. “Damn, if you want to believe in something then believe in it! Just because something ain’t true that’s no reason you can’t believe in it. Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in. Got that?”

    — Hub McCann (Robert Duvall), Secondhand Lions

  14. This one was such a mixed bag of emotions for me. I too have at times since leaving (in 2019) missed some of the emotions I experienced while attending and serving in church. I.e. my right brain has at times missed it, to allude to the episode. However, whenever those feelings come, I go through an inventory of where I am at intellectually (a left-brain exercise), and in trying to be 100% honest I just find too many showstopper issues (Book of Abraham, race & the priesthood including 1949 First Presidency letter, polygamy/polyandry/lying for the Lord, quotes on LGBTQ (“there are NO homosexual members of the church”), BoM problems (CES letter), temple weirdness (blood oaths, etc.), etc.) And when I go through those, I just can’t envision myself being able in good conscience to give a testimony of the leaders as actual prophets (both current and past leaders). When I follow that to its logical end (no temple recommend, no full participation, etc.), it becomes a non-starter for me. I don’t see a path for being able to partake in those good feelings (like when singing certain hymns, doing certain service, etc.) while at the same time being honest with myself vs. intentionally self-delusional. At this point, the only way I could see going back is if somehow I could say “it just doesn’t matter if it’s true, if I can feel it is mostly good, and I can bend the truth in temple recommend interview”, but that is SO not me.

  15. Don’t know Joe so can not comment on his experience. But as a general rule I discount all the emotion he was expressing. He obviously is an emotional person so sure Mormonism is going to be good for him. It is wall to wall emotion. I can’t go down that path anymore. It is too tiring to try and decipher God or religion in general through some thought or emotion that enters my head. When I walked away I left all that behind. I could never go back to that.

  16. As I’m listening to Joe’s second series of interviews, I’m contemplating that a struggle many ex-Mormons face is that persistent idea that feelings are how we determine truth. Many ex-Mormons embrace logic and reason and reject the LDS view of feelings, but they still embrace the popular secular perspective that feelings are how we determine truth — at least in some circumstances. This hit me when Joe started talking about love, falling in love, and the feelings he had while dating his wife. I’ve heard similar stories from so many ex-Mormon friends and family about love being a feeling. But, I’d challenge that “falling in love” is not “love.” It’s just infatuation.

    I remember having a conversation with my father-in-law about applying reason when determining the truthfulness of a religion and how feelings are an inaccurate barometer for something to be true. We were on the same page (he left the church years ago) until I said, “The same thing applies to love, good feelings doesn’t equal love” to which he replied “Well…love is different….” So many people in the LDS church and in secular society think love is determined by an undefinable happiness that people have when they’re together and a painful longing when they’re apart. It’s not surprising that this view is so prevalent, we’re taught it by our culture everywhere we turn. Michael Jackson sings about “how you make me feel.” Blue Swede sings about being “hooked on a feeling.” Even Beyonce tells us “your love’s got me looking so crazy right now.” But, even though there is an emotional aspect in our most intimate relationships, a critical review of using emotions as a barometer for love quickly reveals the deep flaws in that approach. If love is a feeling, then that means loving someone consists of an inward focus to discern what your feelings are telling you. It makes the question, “How do you make me feel?” really short hand for “How can you make me feel good?” or “How can you fill a hole in my heart?” Even though I hope that these thoughts are not at the forefront of a person’s mind, how can this emotional approach to love not boil down to an inward-facing conversation asking “How can I use you to make me feel like I want to feel?” What other outcome can come out of a feelings-based approach to love? If feelings are the barometer for determining love, then we’d have to continually turn ourselves inward in a selfish act to focus on “me getting mine.” The mindset that love is a feeling or emotion leaves us double checking and over analyzing our feelings. This is what drives so many people to go from relationship to relationship looking for that dramatic “high.” Deep down, this feelings-based approach to loves teaches us to use others for our pleasure and discard them when we’ve used them up. This common approach to love isn’t very loving at all. It’s selfishness.

    Joe mentioned how we use feelings to ascertain love as a defense for the role feelings played in his rejoining the LDS church. But, I’d reject that comparison because I think that real love is rational, logical, agape love. Although it isn’t talked about in Mormonism, agape is ironically the Greek word for love that Jesus uses in the Bible. Agape love means “to will the good of the other” or “to desire to help make someone the best version of themselves.” To agape love someone means that someone acknowledges that it’s not about themselves; it’s all about the other person. Instead of analyzing inner feelings, you turn yourself outward towards other people. Instead of that hedonistic “make me feel good,” the rallying cries becomes “let me serve you” and “I desire what’s best for you, let me help you become a better version of yourself.” It doesn’t matter how the other person responds to the agape love or how it makes you or them feel, that’s irrelevant. Agape love is a choice, a decision to make yourself the least important person in your life. Agape is an action word. When someone exhibits agape love, they can’t be static. If you really choose to “desire to help make someone the best version of themselves,” then you will personally help them through action, conversation, or even prayer. And, most importantly, with agape love, this action-based love is done without any expectation or obligation that love is given back. The lofty goal of agape love is to give love selflessly, to act in a totally selfless way. Agape love also has the added responsibility where the person giving love must actively seek to better understand what would help make someone the best version of themselves (e.g., the parents who let their children get away with murder because they want their children to like them are not expressing agape love). Those who strive to exhibit agape love need to seek rational truth so that they can have a better understanding about what’s right and wrong, moral and immoral. The more you challenge yourself to discern truth, the more you can effectively “will the good of the other” because you’ll be better equipped to understand what “the best version” of someone would look like and be able to have insights on how you can help them move closer to it. If more people viewed love in this way, then our marriages, relationships, and friendships would so different.

    I think that a lot of people listening to Joe will think that he has just been tricked into thinking feelings determine truth, but I’d propose that the whole world has been tricked into thinking that “feelings = truth” for just about everything, including love. In fact of all the LDS church’s truth claims that are challenged by truth and reason, I believe that the concept of agape love is the most damaging to the church (even though it is probably the least discussed). Certainly Joe and everyone else is on their own journey (I know that I have a long way to go!), I just wonder if we all need to go deeper into the ideas and consequences that reason, logic, and truth seeking have on every aspect of our lives.

    1. I agree that the “love” comparison to determining something is true through feelings is a huge miss. Love is just a word, and a rather vague concept in how it is generally used, to describe an emotional connection. In the case of love, one is not trying to use this “feeling” to determine the truth of their partner or of their existence. The only way the comparison fits at all is to realize that you can’t trust your internal emotional reactions/feeling of love to make good decisions just like you can’t trust your feelings about the church either. The magical feeling of love is the exact same thing I guess technically as the holy ghost confirmational feeling in that case. They are both emotional fabrications from within that can lead a person to do and believe ridiculous things.

      However, at the basis there is no comparison at all to be had, because the two serve completely different functions. One is not using the feeling of love to determine truth or if there is a God. One may follow that perception of being in love to go down a certain path in life, but that hardly makes that path a good idea just on the basis of feeling “in love” alone. That was a completely silly comparison that hurt Joe’s argument more than anything. People follow love down terrible paths all the time and people trust their feelings about the church at times to the detriment of relationships and opportunities.

  17. My first letter disappeared so I will just ask one question of all posters, here. If no one can neither prove nor disprove the Bible or it’s stories with proof outside the Bible, itself, how can any part of Mormonism be true? No Hebrew scripture predicts coming of Jesus.

  18. I think the reason people worry about if it is true or not is because it matters for salvation in particular if you as a being are in conflict with the doctrine of the church. If the church is true and the prophet is the actual mouthpiece for god then for example a gay person should submit, and “un-gay” themselves or live a lifestyle that is dangerous to them such as celibacy because God wants them to. The question is the doctrine of the church really the word of God matters in life and death situations. Love and loving each other can be done in any religion and in any non-religion. Having some truth is not the same as being the true church. There is truth everywhere. I think a nuance perspective where you don’t actually say it is not the one true church, but you give the impression you still think it is true is sort of ignoring the main question. Is following the prophet necessary for salvation? That is the question that needs answered before people who do not fit the doctrine as a matter of their creation should be willing to sacrifice all comfort, health and safety to follow the doctrine.

  19. I like so much the strength of Joe’s position being love… this IS the gospel of Christ which casts out all fear and insecurities. It is wholly, this approach——- which IS Christ! ❤️

    This is a big part of why there is so much fear and punishment with in the ranks of the church is people want Jesus through man representation. Man representing man’s interpretation through “traditions of man” will through alarming frequency through supposed “righteous Orthodoxy”. Shun the samaratian women at the well ( see the disciples reaction to Jesus’s conversation with the woman at the well). JESUS, however, not only spoke with her and manifested gifts of heaven / prophesy etc, he also spent the next few days with she and her “religiously frowned upon people”.

    Nephi and every righteous Jesus promoting person knew what they were talking about when they preach with powerful emphasis —-fidelity to Christ and “cursed is he who puts his trust in the arm of the flesh except their precepts be taught by the power of the Holy Ghost”

    Joe is being guided by the Holy Ghost through much of what he is sharing. I love it! He is an example of who Jesus was speaking to in 3 Nephi 11 towards the end of the chapter… Now his mission is to lay hold upon the Book of Mormon message of receiving true conversion to Christ as Jesus pleads with those who are spared to hear his message in this chp. Such is the power of the Book of Mormon. The blue print for having our own born again / actually RECEIVING the gift of the Holy Ghost and become actual saints through the atonement of Christ his sons and daughters / spiritual offspring / HEALING CONVERSION… when the Book of Mormon is used in such a manner the d&c 84 condemnation for treating it lightly will be lifted for that person… oh how the landscape of life / religion would change if we lived to be filled with love like the angel spoke to Nephi about in 1 Nephi 11! We would eventually receive the gift of the Baptism of fire and the baptism of Holy Ghost with its attendant gifts… our weak flesh would be elevated / redeemed to the level of the willing spirit with in / w eaknesses made strengths. And, instead of literally or figuratively cutting off ears with enmity filled anger, we too, like recently having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter—- Will say in one fashion or anther to the disenfranchised “silver and gold have I none but in the name of Jesus arise and walk (see and feel anew!) Much love for ALL the Mormon story affiliated beautiful people! Hope in Christ is so real…❤️🙏

  20. 3 Nephi 9 through 12 and the remainder of 3 Nephi, Christ’s words, are very instructive / illuminating Giving clarity to my above witness…

  21. So………In 2008 while having a rough patch in his life Joe had a spiritual experience telling him there was no God? And then ten years later he gets another spiritual experience say there is a God? This is a contradiction indeed! The only logical conclusion I can make, assuming I understood this correctly, is that what we view as spiritual experiences are certainly not a reliable way to determine truth. I’m sticking to studying evidence to determine that. As for Joe good luck on your journey. I hope you find peace and happiness.

  22. I see that the last comment here was over 3 months ago, so it may be too late to expect any response to my question but I’m going to give it a shot anyway.

    I enjoyed learning about Joe’s experiences, and I appreciate his emphasis on loving and caring about others. I share his attitude that each person should be accepted for who he/she is without reservation and that each person’s beliefs should be respected as valid for them regardless of how different they may be from our own.

    But here’s a problem I have. I believe that things are a certain way. I don’t know whether the way I see things is right, but I believe there is a right way, a truth, as to how things really are. While I don’t know for sure that what I believe is right, I do have faith and hope that what I believe is right. So, for example, I believe that one must accept Christ and do everything possible to love God and to love one’s neighbor in order to be saved from the pains of hell. This is not a trivial matter. Assuming there is such a thing as “hell”, I can’t see how one can be saved from hell by believing in Christ and others be saved from hell by not believing in Christ. So while I can accept others as they are and show respect for what they believe, how can I not be interested in converting them to a belief in Christ as their savior? If it is true that one must accept Christ and keep His commandments to avoid the pains of hell, how can I say I love others and do nothing to help them come to Christ? How can I be happy if someone I love rejects Christ?

    If Joe or John sees this late comment, I would be very appreciative of any response they are willing to give, or a response from anyone else for that matter.

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