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  1. What was frustrating is no mention of the influence of the other restoration churches of the era such as the Stone/Campbell movement. Sidney Rigdon and Parley Pratt were very much theological students of these movements and brought a lot of influence to the direction of Mormonism in the Kirtland era. Sidney was a Campbellite preacher who broke off with Campbell over his communal living experiment with the Isaac Morley family congregation. Campbell also preached about the 3 degrees of glory prior to the vision. Reformed Baptist minister Alexander Crawford taught the Melchezidek and Aaronical priesthoods divisions in 1827. Pratt was a reformed baptist who would have brought ideas in from Walter Scott, Walter Scott’s “Plan of salvation” with his simple Faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, gift of the holy ghost list in 1827. Also Scott taught about Adam living in a terrestrial realm prior to the fall. It wasn’t just all Masonry and New England cultural practices, but certainly the roots were there too.

    1. Thank you for mentioning Alexander Crawford! I have been researching these connections and I was a little shell shocked to find out that this whole idea of “priesthood” was basically pulled from Crawford’s then Campbell’s teachings on this via Sidney Rigdon.

    2. I was always taught that the latter day saints were the “crazy cousins” branch of the Restoration movement. I am always amazed at how little knowledge most Mormons have of Rigdon & Pratt And their contributions to the Development of the priesthood aspects & “Christian” portion of their theology.

  2. This was a great interview concerning her take on Mormon origins. I must admit to several deep sighs while listening to part 4 however.

    1. Me too. Was really going to buy the book til I listened to the last segment and realized that if any of her part-4- rationale is present in the book, I’ll be disappointed.

      1. Agreed. I’m impressed by her research about the Smith family. I’m happy she is comfortable with her beliefs. I have to question her logic on evolution. I was also looking for her book until that point. For me, evolution is a no brainer. I’ve never seen any evidence that will disprove evolution. The DNA evidence is pretty convincing. Due to the lack of DNA evidence and lack of archeological evidence, is the reason I’m no longer a Mormon. It doesn’t make sense.

    2. I thought part four totally discredited her. I was following her rational on Mormonism even though I thought the counterfeiting was a big stretch. But part four just made me roll my eyes and realize she was just another evangelical trying to discredit Mormonism in favor of her brand of christianity. Doubt I will ever bother with the book now.

    1. I have a hard time trusting the credibility of people who presume to speak from any standpoint other than “a human being.”

      In the exchange that follows, she cherry picks her opinions of the bible to suit her world view to match her socio-polital positions, offering no reasoned counterpoints for issues John raises (gays, slavery, women not speaking in church–but not the ridiculous issues of fibers and shellfish and other rot).

      Her articulated thought process is as circular as that of any apologist, and her final admission, “I’ve wanted to do apologetics,” says it all. Nobody has studied more than she has. Everyone who does not accept her interpretation of the bible is wrong, but without explanation.

  3. Not to detract from the main point of this series of podcasts, but the last part was very interesting to me. I’m always intrigued that so many ex-Mormons that retain faith become a unique type of evangelical/fundamentalist Christian. I suppose that even though the beliefs of Mormons and evangelical/fundamentalist Christians are radically different in almost every way (e.g., love, prayer, meaning of life, God, Jesus, saints, heaven, salvation, church, family, how to know truth), in the wide spectrum of Christian Catholic/Protestant beliefs, evangelical/fundamentalist Christians are probably the most like Mormons (which I guess makes sense since Mormons sort of “spun off” from these types of evangelical/fundamentalist Christians, or at least sort of share a common root). (Sorry, I know I’m overgeneralizing! I just realized that I’m writing a book here in the comments section and am trying to be more succinct, ha ha ha)

    My biggest gripe is that that “type” of ex-Mormons tend to look up to and over-rely on folks that they asses are “smart” and can sound like they’re just following someone the same way that Mormons might follow a Bishop that’s a “smart” lawyer. (Even though the definition and approach to what “smart” is varies) I also realize that Kathleen may not have represented her beliefs the best because of the draining Mormon Stories format (which I love!).

    I also noticed that the type of ex-Mormon that I’m discussing tend to rely on evangelical/fundamentalist beliefs that are rooted in the 19th century not early Christian beliefs (e.g., young earth creationism; view towards sin/hell, Church, repentance, biblical interpretation, personal relationship with God and relationship with other Christians and non-Christians). No wonder John and others likes Bart Ehrman, Bart tends to explore some fascinating nuance even though I think some of his work becomes too pop/niche/speculative for my tastes (that’s probably the curse of best-seller lists pushing for headlines more than anything else! ha ha ha).

    Excited that John is continuing the conversation though. Hopefully he can get a counter point to Bart that goes deep into history (that fascinates me!). My vote is Brant Pitre. The other day we were going to lend a couples friends a copy of Pitre’s book on the gospels, but then they both pulled it out of their backpacks and said they had run across it independently and were devoring it’s contents, small world! At least my family isn’t the only one getting shaken up by what Brant’s scholarship explores!

    Now back to your regularly scheduled Mormon Stories Podcast! 😉

  4. I listened to every minute of this podcast and that of Dusty Johns today. Interesting contrast about belief and action.

  5. I visit MS for a variety of reason, but I am primarily interested why a great guy like John D. (and other interviewee’s) don’t appear to have acquired a mature faith. I am interested in understanding why John and others who eventually leave Mormonism never obtained an answer to their prayers sufficient to ground and root their faith, so that when as Helaman put it, “the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down…”.

    I watched part 4 with interest as John and Kathleen engaged in an interesting exchange. John appeared to be frustrated with Kathleen’s belief in Christianity after leaving Mormonism. John’s experience is that when Mormons lose faith they usually enter into some form of agnosticism or atheism. Kathleen apparently doesn’t fit the mold that John has observed in others.

    From my point of view, developed over many years of listening to stories of lost faith–I have arrived at the conclusion that individual who have faith and don’t lose it when the going gets tough have something that those who do lose faith, don’t have. This “something” that is present in some and not in others needs to be studied, and understood.

    John has a degree in psychology. I don’t. But from what I do understand is that studies show that we are born with talents that are in our DNA. Could we have a Faith gene that explains why some among us have greater access to Heavenly Father than others?

    My experience is having many answers to prayer during my long life. I have studied all the historical and doctrinal problems and have never doubted the answers I have been given about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and modern prophets. Some of my answers to prayer go far beyond “feelings”. Feelings as we talk about them in the church are essential, but in my experience insufficient.

    1. It looks like youre making an assumption that people who leave the church didnt have enough faith, or a strong, mature testimony. This is an assumption and judgement on your part. When I first told my brother that Id had a faith crisis and no longer believed, his very first comment was, “you never did have a strong testimony.” I did have a very deep, strong testimony. I had most recently been serving as the relief society president and my family of 7 was always a stalwart, ward pillar, volunteering to help out with everything going on in the ward and we were all leaders and teachers. Most members just take anything said over the pulpit as fact, and all of the times weve heard people and leaders talk about apostates, it was in the context of apostates being less faithful, having a weak testimony, or that they are flawed in some way believers arent. This is such damaging rhetoric. Dont forget, people that leave the church just want to party, get high, and have multiple sex partners, right?

      I left the church because I found out about the history. The church lied to me while demanding that I be perfectly honest and obedient.

      I would encourage you to read or listen to The Four Agreements. Listen carefully to the words about making assumptions. If you REALLY want to study and have an open mind about people who leave, you need to ditch the programming and lied and harmful rhetoric you were programmed with. I do not appreciate people like my own brother, and people like you, who say that I didnt have enough faith. You have ZERO knowledge of that.

    2. I’m not sure that you realize that your comments come across both arrogant and offensive. I’ve experienced the greatest sorrows and challenges life has to offer, and there was at no time during those processes that I ever thought about faith, either the loss of it nor of a return to it. Also your comment about access to Heavenly Father, I mean I believe that you actually think that you have this gene and access, and that other’s don’t, which establishes you by your own psychology as being above others, or more insightful, or blessed, or whatever it is, you’re separate. Call this what you want but don’t call it modesty nor humility. I’m a fan of Christ’s teachings, just wish his fan club took it more to heart.

    3. You are right there is a faith gene, but I prefer to call it a gullibility gene. That is why the ancestors of those fooled by Joseph Smith still fall for every get rich MLM scheme today.

    4. I have made a similar observation but from the other side of the debate. One of the common threads I see among those who, like Kathleen, still hold-fast to faith even when the fallacy of their beliefs is staring them right in the eyes, is that they can’t accept the possibility that their spiritual experiences (ranging from the more ordinary, every-day manifestations that you might term “feelings” to the much more rare, heart and mind expanding-to-the-heavens variety) could be anything other than a genuine encounter with something “out there”.

      I have probably had thousands of the ordinary sort of spiritual promptings, plus several, and a variety of, the more extraordinary type. Interestingly though, these experiences have spoken both in favor of and against the truth claims of the church. So, how should I interpret them?

      Here’s how I do interpret them – these experiences are fundamentally an internal expression of how I – including all parts of my psyche – PERCEIVE something. I have, for example, had at least two experiences which would be best described in this way – as though the attention of every molecule in my body was arrested by some new piece of information and insight, and all with one accord spoke this perfect understanding – this church is NOT True. I don’t think I can adequately convey how powerful this experience was. Until you’ve had one like it, you are unlikely to realize just how often the different parts of you are not on the same page or are simply busy doing something else. These were events that prompt me to draw on the fabled power of planets coming into alignment as an analogy.

      But, does this mean my supposed insight was correct? This kind of experience is one that I would expect to hear someone relate in defense of their belief that the church is True. Who is right? My answer to that question is that because these experiences are merely an internal expression or product of our perceptions, they only tell us how we relate to them, or at least how some part of the greater whole that is ourselves does (a particular theory of mind is implied here, but I don’t have time to explain and defend it). It is, of course, well known that human perceptions can be dramatically unreliable. Perceptions felt through experiences like these are no exception. They are not reliable guides to what is true of the world outside our own biased, subjective, perceptions. To my mind, understanding my spiritual experiences in this way makes far more sense of every experience I’ve ever had, and everything I’ve ever learned, than anything the church teaches.

      Getting back to the point – what I believe sets me and others apart from those who I would put in Kathleen’s camp is our understanding that spiritual experiences are not sure guides to knowledge (and yes, she is relying on spiritual experiences of some kind. These are what she is referring to when she speaks of her certainty that there is a God, and her quest for the purpose of life. These are what convince her that that is even the right question to ask) which rests on our willingness to re-evaluate our first impressions and prior convictions when new information suggests that we should.

      A while back I wrote an answer to the Quora question, “What are misconceptions about INTJs?” (referring to a myers-briggs personality type). I believe that the points I make in that answer are relevant to this topic. Here’s the link (https://www.quora.com/What-are-misconceptions-about-INTJs/answer/Francis-Bezooyen?__filter__=&__nsrc__=2&__snid3__=3229891064).

      I’ll end by pointing out two things:

      1. The word “feelings” is a catch-all that people use to refer to a variety of internal, non-verbal, experiences. I suggest that you don’t assume that when a person uses that word that it cannot possibly refer to the kind of experience for which you consider the word to be inadequate. I, for example, use it for basically any process of mind that I can perceive but that requires some work to describe. This captures a huge variety of experiences, including ones that many people may not identify as occurring in the mind. This is at least partly a semantics issue.

      2. I have also wondered if there might be a genetic explanation for differences in peoples attenuation to and interpretation of spiritual experiences. But you’ll note that I discard the unsupported assumption which you make that it is a difference in attenuation to “God”, for, like Laplace, I have no need of that hypothesis – and nor does anyone else.

    5. I feel like I should clarify the main point I was trying to make in my earlier reply:

      The primary difference that I see between the two camps of people I was referring to is not so much in the kinds of experiences they have, but how they interpret them. This spills over into how they talk about them too, which is one reason that the believing camp has a harder time seeing their own experiences in those of the skeptical/unbelieving camp. For the former group, the sense of utter certainty is a critical part of the experience. The lack of certainty on the skeptic’s side is therefore interpreted as a certain sign that they have not had a genuine spiritual experience of the kind and power that the former camp believes they have had. But, the very nature of skepticism is such that the same experience does not produce the same reaction, therefore, you cannot tell exactly what the experience was judging only by a person’s reaction to it.

  6. Thank you Kathleen for your work, study, and effort to seek truth and share with others.

    Having not yet read your book on Mormonism and counterfeiting yet, I know now I definitely will!

    I found your reporting on Mormon Stories of your extensive research, discovery, and findings, also describing some of the people, culture, philosophy, and historical trail underpinning the foundational Mormon roots fascinating. I also appreciated learning about the religious and other sources, elements, and structure to Joseph Smith’s family and heritage, his friends and associates, and his purposes to his counterfeiting originations and religious practices, dogmas, efforts, all used in developing the Mormon belief model connected to faith , control, and exploitation of others extremely interesting. (Sorry for the long convoluted sentence!) I have for decades had a fascination with the role of early-American counterfeiting, cabals, and and conspiracies fascinating , where I don’t think most Americans really have much of a clue at how counterfeiting, duplicity, deceit, and conspiracy amalgamated historically in America to play such a significant a role and reason in the development and arrangement of the U.S. as a nation and society even today.

    Thank you also Kathleen for bridging the gaps and filling in more of the holes in my thought processes for me. You discussing two important topics, even expanding the insight on the association of Joseph Smith to his means to create wealth and expand his influence insightful. I also can appreciate the challenges you faced in trying to research two incredibly challenging subjects to get to the bottom of everything (Mormonism and counterfeiting). With so much yet to be uncovered, collected, and still be reported, you did a tremendous service to open new windows of light to things I seek to personally continue to further understand. I will be sure to buy and read your book!

  7. So in the HBO version of all this, I see Michael Caine as Hyrum Smith, Steve Martin as Joseph Smith. Opening scene is the two of them locked in Carthage jail reflecting over their life experiences. Which then flows into various flashbacks of their early life story.
    John Lithgow as John Smith at Dartmouth.
    Eliot Gould as Martin Harris.

  8. I enjoyed the first three hours, though I remain skeptical of a lot of the claims made by Melonakos. She gave me a lot to think about and look into. I look forward to reading the book and hearing responses from other historians on Mormon Stories.

    But wow, that fourth hour. I survived child abuse over several years at the hands of an evangelical who would spout exactly those types of apologetics, including the “I’m not the one saying you’re going to hell if you don’t do what I tell you is right; GOD says it”—that particularly apologetic is A++ as an abuse tool. Kept skipping ahead to see if she might say anything that wasn’t horrible, but it seemed to be getting worse and worse so I just deleted the episode and trashed it as quick as I could.

    The Dusty Johns episodes were a nice antidote. What a loving, good person he is.

  9. Conclusions from Parts 1,2 and 3:

    An example of man’s ability to use deception and religious thought and principles, with god on their side, to manipulate their fellow man. I too, thank you Kathleen, for your research and contributions to finding truth, but you don’t apply those same principles of truth finding to your new replacement for the meaning of life.

    The levels and variety of absurdity in “Leaps of Faith” are a wonder to behold. The “Leap” of a life without belief in god, to suicide, is a tragedy.

    Conclusion of Part 4:

    Felt like a “Bible Bash”….took me back to missionary days.

    Kathleen, stated early on, that she “had to find an answer”, to the meaning of life, or she was going “to commit suicide”. That is the big question, that has been asked for centuries….”to be or not to be”?…and the meaning of life. How can a person say on one hand that life is magnificent , wondrous, and beautiful, and then, not want to live it, unless there is a “meaning” with a god behind that meaning! Can’t a “Love of Life” along with courage, sustain us? There are countless inspiring men and women, such as Albert Camus, although a non-believer, wanted to live life “as if there was a god”, or as Abraham Lincoln, would say “when I do good, I feel good” and “when I do bad I feel bad”.

    How can you believe, comprehend, or even want to believe, in a “Loving Father” or “Loving God/Jesus” that will abandon you for eternity if you don’t say you love him, during this “blink of an eye” existence on earth! Pencils down! Test over! You will now be judged forever, on this 10 minute test. What loving father or mother wouldn’t want to do their utmost, to work things out later with a wayward child….especially when you have an eternity to do so!

  10. I’ve watched parst 1-3 but not 4 yet when I glanced at the comments.

    I’m fascinated and a bit disgusted at people’s reactions to part 4. Why are you getting your shorts in a knot over either her beliefs or John’s objections to them? The first three parts provide the data, the last one is commentary. If you don’t agree with the commentary, just don’t agree with it. Why does that have to color the first three parts of data?

    It’s a mature mind that can listen to someone and focus on the relevant and legitimate points and just ignore the points that aren’t so impressive or legitimate. You have to do that with all soueces of knowledge anyway. Nobody gets everything rights. None are going to have every point they make be perfect. You separate the wheat from the chaff, take the wheat with you, and ignore the chaff. I have to do that with everything I encounter, even those who I stringly agree with.

    John is right that this book is groundbreaking. To me, it appears to be the final puzzle piece that completes the big picture of where Mormonism came from. That’s what we should all be focusing on, not petty whining over her personal beliefs.

    So now I’m going to watch part 4 and see what all the fuss is about.

  11. Okay, I’m about halfway through part 4, and it’s painful to watch. I’m not going to watch anymore.

    It seems to me it should be labeled what John Dehlin believes, not what Kathleen Melonakos believes. In fact, I think it’s the worst segment I’ve ever seen on Mormon Stories. I compare how John treats her to how he treated Dusty who also remains a believer, and there’s no comparison. It feels to me like John’s bias is coming through and he’s almost bullying the poor woman because she dares to be so foolish as to choose traditional Christianity.

    I think part 4 should have been left out. It only detracts from what really matters here. Parts 1-3 are the important ones and what we should focus on and have conversations over. I strongly recommend people watch those and don’t even bother with 4 which offers absolutely nothing productive.

  12. I agree with the commenter above. Exmos who become atheists or agnostics are so quick to condemn Mormons for judging them. But then they turn around and blast others for believing in a higher power. Sad that John detracts from the gem of her book and research …..and feels the need to press his beliefs and not leave her to hers.

  13. I enjoyed the first three segments and planned on buying the book but not after listening to a Christian apologetic in part 4. I have listened to many apologists online and Christian ones are just like Mormon ones. Recently an internet provider was working on my equipment and we were talking on religion. I found that he talked just like Kathleen. He said he would bring me a book called “The Case For Christ”, which, he said, was absolute proof that Jesus was who he said he was and that the Bible was the word of God. Instead of reading the book, I looked at many of the reviews on Amazon. Upon reading some very well thought out rebuttals, I decided to not read the book. The book, written by a student of law used, as did Kathleen, authorities who were well trained in divinity schools. He also used pastors, and of course the Bible. I read some of the comments and one was by a lady who said that she had had an NDE and had walked and talked with Jesus so that was, in her opinion, an eye witness testimony. Well, from my readings I had found similar opinions of Hindus and some of their many gods, and Muslims with Muhammed. Once in a sacrament meeting a visiting member or our stake talked of an NDE where he had been in a bad truck wreck, had died and while dead had talked with Jesus. Does, that then mean, Kathleen, that Mormonism must be true? Eyewitness testimony!

    When one believes in the Bible and believes in what Jesus said in the Bible, you must be able to produce the original writings, otherwise you have no way of knowing what Jesus said. Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”, allowed me to use simple reasoning to determine that we can never know what Jesus said. And when someone says that they believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God–which Bible, the versions of which are many and different, or the thousands of manuscripts, most of which are different?

    And then there is the argument of “Look how many believe”? According to recent PEW Research, by 2100 there will be more Muslims than Christians. Does that mean, then, that Islam is true? And there are and have been many intelligent Muslims. And how does one know that his or her god is the only one and the rest are wrong? Actually the Abrahamic religions are the exclusivistic ones.

    And Kathleen seems to accept the intelligent design argument, that something with advanced design must have a designer. If that is true then who designed the designer? Who created god?

    When I learned the fallacies of Mormonism, I read a lot in libraries, but then began taking these lecture DVD courses as part of “The Great Courses”, taking lectures from Jews, agnostics, believers, professors at divinity schools. I took a course on Judaism, one on the history of the Darwinian movement, the Old Testament, the New Testament, how we got the New Testament. One professor had enough integrity to say, “I hope that someday we can find proof that King David existed.” The Bible was written by uneducated living in ancient times.

  14. The one question that John should have asked Kathleen and that any non-believer should ask a believer is this: If you had been born in Arabia, raised by good Muslim parents and teachers, and were presently living and working for a living in Arabia, would you be a Bible/Jesus believing Christian or a Muslim, and if you were to die prematurely, would you go to heaven or hell, according to Christian thinking?

    The biggest determiner of religion is geography.

  15. Melanokos was a fascinating person to listen to. As I listened to the first three episodes I appreciated her new perspective on early Mormonism, at times compelling, at times it was hmmmm, really? I sensed an undertone of her having had the goal post in mind before she started her work, i.e., early Mormon leadership were prolific counterfeiters and horse thieves. The data was accumulated and interpreted with that goalpost ever in sight, or so it felt. Nonetheless, I had to tip my hat at her fresh, new perspective on early Mormonism.
    Session #4, however, came as a jolt. Can this be the same person who seemingly took an objective, evidence-based look at J. Smith, but then tossed any attempt at critical thinking out the window when her own religious beliefs were examined. It’s plain, despite her claims to the contrary, that Melanokos has minimal to no understanding of the ‘hard sciences’ in archeology, genetics, human history, dating methods, etc.. Her comprehension and understanding of atheism is naive and uninformed, to say the least. While she has an encyclopedic memory or Mormon history, but she’s incapable of stepping back and looking at the failings of her own perspectives. I’ll save my money on this one.

  16. Part 4 was totally worth it. The difficulty and frustration expressed in grappling with that core question of Jesus of the bible.
    From his perspective nothing was ever fair, he had a true enemy, with appalling consequences and a train of captives and victims. A true darkness where the God gave a final answer, it will never be answered to anybody again.Only this true source and Will of creation could embody brokenness because in every instance where good was broken and to love failed did that Will suffer another blow. To then put it to a final end, the death “it is finished”, could the life start again in that new Will, ressurection and life giving Spirit.
    We are frustrated because we cant comprehend the deep guile of the enemy creature, part of creation, thats what irritates that creature most, to be reminded of that. All guile will draw us to worship some part of creature all over the earth, nothing fair ever.

  17. Hmmmmmmmm…
    My extremely and admittedly pedantic advice to Kathleen:
    1) Permanently swear off the use of pronouns for a while. I had a really hard time discerning between Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowedry when they were addressed as “he” in a sentence that referenced both. That same example was rife throughout the interview with virtually every pair of same gendered figures mentioned. Male and female.
    2) Please try to complete a larger majority of your sentences. At many times you started a sentence, stopped, and resumed another with a different point. Sometimes these points weren’t even connected completely. I realize this is a sign of a fast mind but it makes an interview or conversation EXTREMELY TEDIOUS.
    3) Don’t use what I call the “Fundamental Religious Fallacy” or more commonly referred to as the Circular Argument Fallacy, which in your case you attempted to disprove science with philosophy. Part 4 left me questioning your veracity and methods due to this.
    Thanks to John for being diligent in restating the interviewee’s sometimes disjointed statements and for trying to keep up a logical train of thought and flow.
    Also thanks to John for bringing up the fact that it is impossible to prove a negative.
    Despite my criticisms, the subject matter was engaging and thought provoking. Thank you for that..

    1. Literally I agree this was by far the most challenging interview I’ve ever listened to on MS! Considering her extensive degrees and education she needs a lesson in speaking with proper grammar, vocal clarity, enunciation, and speaking any full thought and sentence through! It was maddening. I could hardly bear listening to it. The information seems rather groundbreaking and interesting which is what held me to the excruciating interview. I would have expected so much more from someone like her with her background, but it was a serious struggle. Disappointingly, her final segment on her beliefs left her looking small minded and as non credible as any paid off Mormon apologist might be.

  18. I have finished this series and commented, but because of other comments regarding the Dusty Johns’ interview, I decided to watch that, not being interested in this subject much. I felt sorry for those who have suffered and have committed suicide, but these comments got me to go through the first Dusty video. As I neared the end of part one I though of Kathleen and her belief in homosexuality. So, Kathleen, If you can watch any of the Dusty Johns’ interview and still say that this man will burn in the eternal flames of the Christian hell, then I don’t see how you can call yourself a caring, loving human being.

    I currently live in a super religious mostly non-Mormon area where hate seems to be so prevalent, with Christians hating non-Christians and people who aren’t fundamentalist enough to fit the “true” mold! And they believe that hating homosexuals and democrats and most blacks and for sure Native Americans is God’s way of treating those who are different. The more I see this the more I remember my teachings on the Bible where Jesus said, “Slaves, obey your masters.” And, where the Old Testament commands people to “throw your little ones against the rock”, or where God tells Joshua to kill every man woman and child. You must have to rationalize a lot about a god that John rightfully calls “a jerk”. Kathleen, please watch the Dusty Johns’ interview!

  19. Very interesting start. I appreciated the approach and new perspectives pertaining to JS and early Mormonism. I was very engaged at first but found as Kathleen progressed that it started feeling more and more as a presentation with a specific goal, a specific message, than a laying out of facts for me to consider. John hit it on the head when he critiqued it as “wanting me to really believe your assumptions”. I mean I appreciate the information, and seriously, with what I know, I tend towards the information Kathleen laid out, however as time went by, I found my credulity being strained, and the tiny skepticism that I may have had towards the beginning increased exponentially throughout the, well, like someone said above, a very defined path to a defined conclusion.

    I for one am thrilled that John held Kathleen’s feet to the fire in section 4, as it brought it all (sections 1-3) into perspective. Just like the Book of Abraham “translation” put bearing on my consideration of Joseph’s “translation” of the BoM, Kathleen’s views on evolution, age of the earth, homosexuality, and others have bearing on how I consider her other work. When she used the tired, outdated apologetics considering evolution, and actually used the term “Darwinism”, she completely lost me. Evolution is as established science as any other science, in fact more so. The age of the earth and geology is also mostly agreed upon and only blemished by those with an agenda that is usually religious. When I heard her opinions on these subjects, and her comparing homosexuality to a pathology, well I’m done with anything that Kathleen has to present. She may bring things to the table that can be factual, but to me it doesn’t matter, her methodology is deeply flawed. If anyone knows John you know he isnt’ going to allow anyone to diminish our GLBTQ brothers and sisters, and I appreciated him being steadfast, as I could not and was practically yelling at my phone.

    John, it’s been not since New Name Noah that you’ve interviewed someone as sketchy as Kathleen, however I may take a look at some of the things she brought up, but it won’t be through her book, and really John, I’d be careful to praise it too much like you’ve done on FB. It’s certainly not on Grant Palmer’s level, and it’s far from being established. Goodness sakes, one of Kathleen’s main motivations for doing the project was Martha Beck’s book “Leaving the Saints”, and we all know what a piece of whack a doodle that was.

  20. Sorry, but I read the linked articles and another she wrote about before starting the first interview and could only get about half way through. Her assertions have no real connections to he conclusions. For example, one of her arguments in one of her papers was this: counterfeiting was common in Vermont at the time Joseph Smith Sr. lived there. Counterfeiters were would travel around so that they would not get caught. Joseph Smith Sr. worked for a time as a traveling salesman and traveled around like the counterfieters. Joseph Smith Sr. may have been a witness at a trial against a counterfeiter. (I say may because it is uncertain the the witness as “the” Joseph Smith Sr. associated with Mormonism) So the concludes that Joseph Smith Sr, was associated with the unnamed and unidentified counterfeiters that she alleges existed there at he time and turned states evidence to save him self from the law. Even if I accept the facts she presents it is equally plausible that he was a victim f receiving counterfeit script testifying about who had given it to him. It seems to me that any connection she is asserting is circumstantial, at best. The same goes for her asserting that Hyrum told Joseph about John Smith’s doctrines because he attended prep school at Dartmouth College where John Smith taught. The problem is that John Smith had passed away and was not lecturing at the time Hyrum was there. She then asserts that surely his lectures were around and somebody would have been teaching his lectures….There is no evidence that anyone taught John Smith’s lectures after his death. The main reason I doubt that anyone taught his lectures is that as he author acknowledges, the lectures were unfinished and in the possession of his widow. I would also presume that after John Smith’s death there was a new professor who would present his own lectures, at the time Hyrum attended the boarding school…
    Admittedly it does show that some of the theological ideas that were incorporated into the book of Mormon were not novel or unique and were likely discussed in area in which Joseph Smith grew up. But to anyone who is not a believer that is not news. Obviously he got his ideas from the community, the fact that someone else also wrote them down has already been demonstrated by looking at any number of other books that have been proposed as source material. What she adds, or rather the author who actually did the research adds is that this is another evidence that Joseph Smith Jr. was drawing on ideas that were already in existence in his community, interesting to a few, but not something that is going to break any shelves, so to speak.

  21. The final episode, unfortunately, shook my confidence in her research. Failure to understand the scientific process and reducing it to opinion was disturbing. The dismissal of evolution in particular bothered me. Evolution is collective body of human knowledge that is the foundation of modern biology. Without this knowledge, we cannot determine meaningful actions to preserve ecosystems, save species (our planet) or fight diseases.

    As a non Mormon who married a divorced Mormon, I have tried to reconcile what I observe as extraordinary competence of some Mormon individuals along with a willingness to “believe” something obviously wrong. We all have this inconsistency but it seems exaggerated with many Mormons I have met.

    Anyway, I love my “Mormon” and I continue to try and understand this unique and complex way of viewing the world around us.

  22. Enjoyed the presentation and I would like to purchase the book. I clicked on the link provided for it on this site that brought me to Amazon, and $19.95 is certainly an acceptable price;. However, $24.95 for shipping!! No thank you.

    All the same, and again, I (we) enjoyed the presentation.

    1. Mea culpa. I had my daughter’s address, who doesn’t live in the US, in the ‘ship to’ field’. When I changed that it was only about four bucks for shipping, so I ordered it.

  23. Facinating interview. Thank you John. My confidence in her findings was shaken by the 4th hour. Not because she is a believer, but because her reasons for belief (and indeed her belief) are so vacuous. “Because I’ve studied”? Really. That’s why you’re going to heaven and I’m not? Because I havent studied the scriptures hard enough or read her theologians? Where have I heard that one before? This and her ignorance of science despite reassuring us over and over again that she has studied hard.
    Here’s what I do know. No matter what any of my kids do with their lives, I would never ever cast them off forever and I certainly wouldnt torture them with hell fire forever. Sorry Ms. Melonakos, but if you’re right, you may end up wishing you were in hell, because you will be worshiping an evil and completely arbitrary diety. Might as well move to North Korea right now to kick things off.

  24. She lost me in part 4. Tell her to go back to school and study evolution. I’m also with John in thinking that the whole book does not point to counterfeiting. She has good ideas. Someone should take this and run with it–someone who knows what they’re doing.

  25. I thought you (John) were very disrespectful to this guest. Interrupting her, talking over her and finishing her sentences. This seemed to be more about “you time” and getting your thoughts and feelings out on the book and other things. I was also sad about how you “lightly” criticized her and the way she wrote the book and what she chose to spend time on in HER book. I don’t think she wrote the book with you in mind. Too bad she didn’t get much of a chance to tell us about it. Almost every time she tried, she was interrupted. Why did you decide she should be treated like this? I will be buying her book to hear what she has to say. I’m usually a fan of what you do. Not this time. I hope you apologize to her somehow.

  26. John, you have impacted my life deeply. You have helped me and my family not feel alone in our journey! We left the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) fundamentalist mormon group in March, 2017 and we have deeply appreciated your not leaving us out of the mormon mix of those that have had to go through a faith transition. I want to talk to you more. Please reach out if you would like to chat. This episode really brought together so many holes my family struggled with in mormon history. Thanks a bunch! By the way, my family situation is complicated and I would love to talk to you about that. Take care!

  27. Having read Bushman and Quinn etc multiple times, I have to say that this woman is not only very unqualified, but is spouting stuff that the likes of even Sandra Tanner would say is just bogus. It is all based on hearsay (someone told someone who allegedly told someone) and affidavits by people who went out of their way to discredit Smith. Hardly anything she talks about is even foot- or back-noted in Bushman or Quinn. Then – episode 4! – yeh, totally discredits her. She is basically a fundamentalist evangelical Christian who is grasping at straws to discredit the Church and replace peoples’ faith with an even more bizarre version of Christianity – because, its historical and cultural roots aside, the theology of Mormonism rings so much truer than that of Catholicism or Protestantism – as someone said, the doctrine tastes sweet – families forever, no eternal hell for anyone (D&C 19!!), hell as a rehabilitative state (not a literal eternal destination comprised of fire and brimstone), eternal progress, the eternal nature of mind/intelligence/spirit, God creating mankind to become like him (friends and family of God) not to become inferior serfs/slaves who to bow down and worship him forever in a cloudy heaven, a God who is person (not an unimaginable invisible mind) etc etc.

  28. I’ve only listened to the first two episodes but I’m not sure I can go on for another two. It’s an interesting subject but I’m having a very hard time following her. Even when John D. sets her up it’s 5 minutes of rambling but no answer: like what’s the link between Isaac Hales, Joseph Smith, and Josiah Stoal; or, what happened in 1826 concerning the Masons; or, the trial of JS in 1826 with no mention of Josiah Stoal? Lots of vague references to this is how it was done but very little connections to JS and family. A good. review of her book is here.

    http://associationmormonletters.org/blog/reviews/older-reviews/melonakos-secret-combinations-evidence-of-early-mormon-counterfeiting-1800-1847-reviewed-by-cheryl-l-bruno/

  29. I need to comment again after listening to episode 4. This time about John. I love your sincerity. I loved the questions he put to her. She (in my humblest opinion) sounds like a brainwashed evangelical anti-Mormon. She spouts off the same mantras and scriptures which she has been given by pastors. They all repeat this stiff like robots. When John was asking how we can “know” God lives, I thought immediately of 1. Corinthians chapter 2 (I think) which says we can not know spiritual things using conventional wisdom and learning, but only by the Spirit – the mind of Christ as opposed to the mind of man. Yet she, like all evangelicals, never brings that up. It’s all about studying evidence, listening to other people, Greek, Hebrew etc. That is a never-ending pursuit as John rightly points out. Is she is correct, why does Paul contradict her in Corinthians. What is the point of t he Holy Ghost, which her Bible says is the teacher of truth. When Christ asks Peter who he is, and Peters responds by saying he is the Christ, Christ responds that it is God who has revealed this to Peter, not man’s learning. Yet, she, like all evangelical anti-Mormons discounts any all impressions and feelings (no matter how deep, refined or transcendental) unless they correspond with their interpretations. I hate to say it – but history and culture all aside – Mormon theology answers these questions (and is more consistent with the Bible) than any evangelical church or christian denomination out there.

  30. John- the last segment was silly. This woman is a well meaning scholarly scatterbrain. Please have this conversation with someone coherent and above average. I’ve had some remarkable conversations with God believing individuals. But this last segment was a waste of time.

    For all her study she’s encased herself in a bubble of belief and abandoned critical thinking. Bless her heart she wasn’t even able to form and espouse the basic arguments used by people like Jordan Peterson when debating the idea of God and Christian belief.

    It felt to me like John was poking at an unprepared and out of touch old woman. I know John kept things touchy feels, as is his way, whisper voice, testimony pleading tones etc. -but c’mon.

    That said I’ve loved and found value in all of the episodes I’ve watched other than this one. And perhaps for those who’ve not yet thought deeply about these things and haven’t used google to view Christian, creationist etc arguments and debates, this may not seem like two blind fools arguing about what they supposedly “see”.

  31. I have always liked the fact that the Smiths were edgy gypsy types. There is no way they could have come up with the radical ideas they did without this edgy background.

    They also placed their homes on boarders so that they could escape the law by boarder laws.

    I love their works. I have spent 45 years and millions of $ trying to figure out two of their documents and still discovering amazing things.

    No greater fun than studying about Joseph

  32. Even before finishing Episode 1, I started to question her ability to think critically when was responding to the question concerning if Joseph Smith was a pious fraud, such as what Dan Vogel has suggested. She simply dismissed the case because Smith didn’t share her same Christian values and seemed to be unable to consider if Smith could have been acting within a separate set of beliefs. She’s not articulate and attempting to follow her trains of thoughts is difficult.

  33. While I am intrigued at the idea the Smiths were simply common criminals and frauds, I do question the conclusions and even her sources based on the interview. To be fair, I will read the book. Perhaps the dynamics of the interview obscured the true scholarship.

    As for part four, It was painful. Whenever I hear that “Christian” belief is superior “Mormon” belief (Sorry Prophet), I’m reminded of the arguments with my elementary school mates as to whether Spider-Man could beat The Hulk in a fight.

    1. Whilst I am horrified by her dismissal of evolution, I have a notion she was only reading selective opinions on evolution at Stanford (in her spare time) I have to admit that I have to agree with her view of the Smiths, and the early founders of the Mormon church, as being nothing but atheist scoundrels. I am a life long atheist myself so I don’t use that term as an insult. The notion that they are pious frauds absolutely astounds me. From an outsiders point of view who has casually observed exmormon web sites for the last 4 years you give these guys way too much latitude. I am particularly attracted to her view that they formulated the book of Mormon as a cabal, meeting together and concocting the ruse for years before it’s publication. Honestly who the hell believes in gold plates, even the rock in the hat explanation is made up nonsense. Why the hell would he sit with his head in bloody hat pretending to dictate it from a stone, it makes no sense whatsoever.

      Too me it is refreshing to hear , as John said, a “secular version” that completely denies any magical thinking on the part of the smiths. My only disappointment was I never heard any real evidence. The Golden Bible company being formed in 1827 was promising but what are her sources.

  34. It sounds like many people think that part 4 and her belief in Christianity discredited her research into Mormonism. I would like to submit that she could be right about the Mormonism and wrong about religion. Don’t let part 4 keep you from buying her book, it sounds like she’s done a lot of research that is groundbreaking.
    I believe in God but I was also disappointed in part 4. She kept saying that there was a lot of evidence for God and biblical Christianity but she didn’t provide much evidence.
    Most Mormons and ex-Mormons don’t know the evidence for Christianity because they don’t really know what Christianity is. They don’t realize how very different it is from Mormonism.
    Three books that provide the evidence systematically are “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist”, “The Reason for God”, and “Cold-Case Christianity.” The last one is by her friend the detective.

  35. I was trying to hang in there, but didn’t make it through Part 3. Too much reliance on hearsay. (How many times did she say, “The neighbors said…”) I would have stopped listening earlier because she had such difficulty coherently articulating her thesis, but John started to step in and offer summaries for her to confirm. Thank you, John, for doing that. However, I’m curious as to what led you to take this work seriously. It does sound like it’s largely based in speculation. But then you’ve read the book and I haven’t.

    I didn’t listen to Part 4. Sounds like it wouldn’t have changed my assessment.

    @ Bryan Palmer – Stephen Meyer is not a biologist, never has been, and has never conducted any biological research to support his hypothesis, which arises from his theology (also a hypothesis). When he starts doing the research – using the scientific method like everyone else – then he can claim to offer an alternative scientific view. Right now all he has is his conviction that his god did it. He’s perfectly within his rights to hold this opinion, but that doesn’t qualify it as the other side of a scientific debate.

    1. Regarding Stephen Meyer, most of us here were told for decades that we shouldn’t read certain things because it was anti-Mormon. It was only after we allowed ourselves to read or listen to the other side that we were able to make a truly informed decision. You’re basically saying Meyer is “anti” so ignore him. I’ve read two of his books and it’s all science, no theology. It could be bad science but it’s 100% science. It may indicated some sort of God but it isn’t based on God.

      1. Bryan, you’re making a false equivalency. Stephen C. Meyer is an advocate for intelligent design, which has zero to do with science. Intelligent Design is a theology or doctrine. There is nothing testable about it so it can’t be science.

      2. Writing books/papers about science is not doing science. Meyer has a hypothesis, but has never applied the scientific method to it, i.e., done the research in an attempt to falsify it. This is what tells me how much weight to give his perspective: Has he had the courage of his convictions and made a good faith effort to prove them false? He hasn’t.

        Re: not declaring that the alleged intelligence is his god: He can’t for legal reasons. See the SCOTUS opinions in Edwards v. Aguillard and Kitzmiller v. Dover. If he wants to get his ideas into public school curricula, he must per the Constitution keep his preferred god out of it. But to suggest that his motivation isn’t his religious beliefs is, in my estimation, either denial or ignorance of the history of his organization.

      1. Exactly, read the book, or at least a few chapters, then criticize. Attacking Stephen Meyer’s motives and intelligence (instead of his arguments) is how Mormon apologists attack Fawn Brodie and Grant Palmer.

  36. In part 4 Kathleen’s rejection of today’s substantial collection of validated science calls in to question her critical thinking abilities. Objections she raised were mind boggling:
    – Scientist change their mind all the time – this assertion totally mischaracterizes how science enlightens and grows. We build on our current library of validated hypotheses with new ones that add more detail or context. Although science based knowledge adds richness or insight previously undiscovered, to characterize this as scientists changing their mind is a dishonest interpretation.
    – No evidence of cross species evolution – sorry, but this simply isn’t true. In fact DNA has put this whole issue to rest. It’s indisputable that we share a rich DNA heritage with the animal kingdom, even 98% with our chimpanzee friends. Would aliens planted by god share so much DNA with the other animals here on earth? Animal testing in pharmaceutical labs is based on commonality who we share this earth with.
    – Where are the pre-human humans? In the museum. Check it out Kathleen, it’s fascinating. Older than Lucy, Ardipithecus ramidus provides amazing new clues to the library of existing finds. I’m aware of five identified of human evolution phases. Surely there are more. Science has provided a massive amount of evidence here to anyone who examines it.
    – The planet may be 6k years old – this is very hard to take seriously; sadly Kathleen would struggle with geology courses with such notions, not to mention biology.

    These kind of beliefs that Kathleen holds demonstrate a stronger than average tunnel vision where she likely only examines reaffirming evidence and ignores the rest regardless of how overwhelming it is. I now take Kathleen’s views with a grain and salt and won’t buy her book. More critical scholarship is needed.

  37. I’m with others here that thought I might be interested in her book until part 4 came along. For me, anyone who claims that atheism or agnosticism takes away the rationale for living a moral life is someone who hasn’t bothered to think very deeply about it. I also got tired of hearing her revert to her years of “study” to justify her own entirely arbitrary beliefs. This is proof positive that no amount of education can force anyone to think rationally. Oy vey!

  38. She had some interesting theories, but was difficult to listen to. There would need to be a lot of vetting and peer review by other reputable historians for me to subscribe to some of her theories.

    What hit me, though, in listening to this is that we really need a ‘REAL Comprehensive History of the Church’ akin to the JSPP, that takes all of these threads of thought, bits of evidence, and scattered connections and meticulously and accurately vets them and links them into a tapestry of the tale. It will never be complete, and it’s not even possible to know completely, but with patience and good evidence the story may be reasonably reconstructed. Right now we have a lot of research by independent authors but no centralization / synthesis of work.

    Another take-away was the need to look at the Smith family as a whole and their potentially more central roles in the unfolding of the genesis and doctrines of the Church. Everyone focuses on Joseph, when really it seems to be a family affair.

  39. Check out the Universal Model and then tell me the Bible is nothing but made up stories. John, your force feeding us your theology on evolution was such a waste of time. I could not listen to part 4. And, I’ve totally lost interest in your ideas. You have great guests, but when you have to start debating the science vs God topic, you really show how shallow your thinking is. Science is just as much full of fraud and misinformation as the Mormon church or any religion ever was, period! Don’t get me wrong, I do know the Mormon church was founded on many frauds. But, so has science. Go research Walter Veith and his story. He was one of the most renown evolutionists in the entire world receiving many awards from the British Crown for his teaching on evolution. He used to tear apart God believing students and trash their belief in God and ruin their belief in God. Now, he believes 100% in Jesus and easily tears apart what he used to believe. Amazing story to say the least. Stories like that and many others like “The Case for Christ.” Amazing scholars have proven Jesus is who he said he was. Science has proven nothing! Again, go read up on the Universal Model.

  40. I can only comment on what I heard and what I heard in parts 1 – 3 was not very impressive. In fact, it was downright hard to follow. If John hadn’t jumped in and summarized or re-stated most of Ms. Melonakos “points” (which I put in quotes because I’m not sure what many of them were), I’d have stopped listening very early on. Like many others, I was all set to buy this book, I had the amazon order page pulled up in another window as I listened. But as I listened, my cursor drifted further and further away from the order button. Ms. Melonakos unsold me with her inability to clearly articulate her thoughts. If she couldn’t do it orally, I doubt she could do it in writing.

    I never got to Part 4. I saw no point in doing so and based on the other comments, I’m glad I didn’t bother. Anyone who cavalierly dismisses natural selection is no critical thinker.

  41. The content is fascinating, which is shame because i couldn’t get through this interview. All of her constant starts and stops and inability to complete her train of thought was extremely frustrating and hard to follow. John jumped in and helped piece things together, and that was very helpful. I’m not great at public speaking either, and I’d probably have a hard time being interviewed and clam up too. Maybe I’ll just buy her book. I’d love to learn all about this.

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