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  1. I read Dr. Miller’s book last night, and really enjoyed his insight into the dogmatic Mormon processing we endured as children of the 1980s. I realized I was glad that, as a girl, I had not endured the psychological battering young men receive while they are growing up in the church. I was just aghast at how badly missionaries were treated in the Sweden mission where Dr. Miller went as a young man. That treatment was nothing short of cruel and unchristlike. Dr. Miller and I fell out of the church at the same period in time, pre-Internet, so I doubly relate to the chain of events that affected his own growing out of the church. I appreciate Dr. Miller’s openness on his process and where it has brought him in life. Thank you, John Dehln, for hosting Dr. Miller on Morkon Stories.

  2. Wise and valuable words from a fellow traveler. I also made friends outside the church during my faith transition. I had a toolbox full of mormon tools with which to deal with life’s joys and challenges, but I realized that the old tools would bring me misery outside mormon culture. I slowly replaced my mormon tools with new tools acquired via inspiration from noMo friends, therapy, online forums, mormonstories, and more. I don’t know how Dr. Miller’s internal compass survived the church’s gps (doctrine, dogma, and social pressures), but I’m glad that it did so he can lend us a hand up and out. I’m looking forward to reading the book and learning more about his mission.

  3. Excellent podcast –

    Mr. Dehlin, I’m Aura. I’m From Colombia. I Served a mission and Married in the Santiago, Chile Temple. Does it sound familiar? Well, I could not make it to your podcast celebration. But I’m thankful for all your hard work and for saving me from ruining a whole and generation. Thanks to you, I’m facing a Faith crisis…… not really. I just want to thank you for opening my eyes, my mind and for helping me to see things as they really are. May God bless you and your family for all you have done.

  4. I feel envious of Scott’s precocious awareness, even at the tender age of 8 when he confounded his bishop with intelligent questions during his baptism interview. Incredible maturity for a young kid!

    My baptism at age 8 was also delayed, but for a different reason.

    Shortly before my family and I were to drive me to the baptismal service (San Bernardino Stake), my toddler brother had ingeniously poured sand into the car’s gas tank. The car would not start, so my parents told me I’d have to wait until the next month to be baptized.

    I changed back into my play clothes and ran back over to our neighbor girl’s house where I had been playing earlier before it was time to go home, change clothes and get ready for my baptism.

    As I was running back over to her house, when I got within earshot, I shouted out with glee, “Good news, Renee! I don’t have to be baptized!”

    A few decades later, I recalled this experience with a sense of pride. Apparently my b.i.c. brainwashing had not sunk in very deep by age 8.

    I still need to send my little brother a thank you card for the sand in the gas tank.

    I went on to become a hook, line and sinker TBM (Duty to God, Eagle Scout, BYU scholarship, mission to Argentina South, SLC temple wedding, etc.) until age 30 … when I took my life back (at least the TBM part).

    Scott, I am in awe that you figured it out while still on your mission. You gave yourself a great jumpstart on Life by breaking free at a relatively young age. You have helped lots of people, as opposed to spending your energy supporting a Mind Control Cult.

  5. I read the book last night and this morning. A real electronic turn-pager. Amusing, frightening, and enlightening.

    I never had the chance to go on a mission. I was the only active member of my family, and family circumstances forced me into the military immediately after high school. This book helped convince me that I did not miss anything. I spent my military days in Okinawa, Thailand, Myrtle Beach, and Key West. I had a much, much, better time. Then I got out and had the G.I. Bill to assist in undergraduate work, and later an LEAA grant to help with my masters. No mission by I did have the same number of baptisms as Dr. Miller. My half brother, and I regret it to this day.

  6. Hi John,
    I just purchased the book and I’m interested in participating on the panel. How can I register or sign up to participate?

    thanks!

  7. Thank you Dr. Scott for sharing your experiences and insights. Among them I found several points of connection – parents who didn’t let religion mediate our relationships, moving “beyond” Mormonism in the late 80s, spending many years attending to other life matters until the Internet (at least for me) scratched a latent itch to reflect on my Mormon experiences as a young man.

    And also differences, though perhaps on the surface only. My parents were Episcopalians when I decided to pursue the allegedly more proactive Mormon god at 19. I couldn’t bring myself to go on a mission – I couldn’t tolerate feeling obligated to proclaim as true what I merely hoped was true, either for the sake of belonging, or to meet expectations, or as some convoluted means of knowing that truth.

    Interestingly, no Mormon elder of the Providence Rhode Island ward in 1980 was willing tell me explicitly that the Lord expected me to go. I’ve never experienced overt religious social pressure. But I did earnestly seek to know what His expectations were through prayer and devoted local service – until it dawned on me that such expectations likely did not exist.

    Along the way I also wasn’t too hard on myself. While I still accepted Gods’ existence, I didn’t let the Church’s manufactured sins turn me against myself. I knew what it meant to be a decent person and how to get back on track when I screwed up. I had that established before encountering Mormonism.

    I met and married my still-devout LDS wife during the 7-year interval of my active membership. She took my move beyond theism in stride. I, in turn, never found it particularly difficult to honor her “utility-based faith” (Dr. Dave Christian’s helpful framing) – especially since she has never conflated my devotion to her with devotion to a god qua institution. I don’t see her as particularly Mormon – and she doesn’t see me as particularly atheist, though we both meet the respective criteria.

    Dr. Scott, I also appreciated in your conversation several points of affirmation, such as not identifying myself as “post-Mormon,” which would create a greater distance between me and many people I still love. The concept of “moving beyond” without leaving behind captures my experiences of these last 30 years – both with regard to my official affiliation with Mormonism and in partnership with my wife, from our the vestiges of our childhood, into parenthood, then adulthood, and now discovering grand-parenthood … day-by-day, toughing it out when necessary. I also effected my move beyond Mormonism by engaging a new life vision. I left a corporate engineering career to become a boarding school teacher, which instantly provided a new community of close colleagues and friends who knew next to nothing of Mormonism, and who also shared and supported many of my goals and values. I can attest to the soundness of that advice.

    I’m glad my wife and I, in our owns ways, refrained from eating the celestial “marshmallow” the LDS Church tempted us with for the sake of what we could offer each other in this life. I’ve found that if you check your impulses and keep redirect your energies to being a decent person, all that supernatural fluff loses its appeal. We’ve got a decent shot at 30 more years together with family and friends. That feels existentially sufficient for me – I’m not greedy.

    Thanks,

    Eric

  8. Love it, love it, love it. Dr. Scott Miller, brilliant, entertaining. His research is precious.

    I want to say this to listners: If you don’t read or listen to anything else, you must go to 1.00 hour into the podcast and listen to the end. In fact, you should listen to it several times. I kid you not, it is worth more than a whole semester of college.

    The conclusions of his research–revolutionary.

    Along this same line of thought, Dr. Miller, if you were wanting to develop a super successful community or group, could you use these same selection ideas and tools for selecting members and leaders?

    Your insight applied to the church, gets me thinking as to what is wrong with the church–the lack of positive emotional enagement. Members, especially smart creative people, are just NOT ENGAGE–not with the boring lessons, the censorship, the lack of dialogue, the
    the dogma, the mythical occult origins. The only engagement that keeps members going is the friendship they find there. And also, unfortunately, members are driven by the repetitious, reason-defying mind control–that the hierarchy is in charge of your existence now and what your existence will be in the hereafter.

    Super valuable podcast!

    Thanks John and Scott.

    Love you all.

  9. I read the book last week and found it hard to put down as I always wanted to know what happened next. I believe this should be made into a movie. It should be made into a movie not to mock the church or missionaries, but because it such a great story of life, coming to self-realization, and has characters, settings, etc., that would all make it a positive movie and give much to people think about. I will write a review on Amazon soon.

  10. Great Interview!

    I Just read the book Scott Miller’s book. I enjoyed the book very much not just because it was a great story , but because I was in Sweden Gothenburg Mission during the same time period that Dr. Miller was. I liked how he connected with the Swedish people. There is a parallel to what fedoras (derby for me) were then to what white shirts are now in the church. The hats are like the leaders interpretation obedience or faith. Dr. Miller left the mission field with a healthy out look on life. The mission experience left me depressed and broken. Not the best two years. The worst 7 or 8 months.

  11. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get a whole lot from this interview. John asked a lot of really good questions, but it seemed like Scott was, at the very least, somewhat dismissive of the questions (and maybe even slightly condescending). It seems like he’s been out of Mormonism for so long that he really couldn’t relate or provide insight into some of the hardest issues and feelings associated with leaving or “moving on” from Mormonism. That or he is just wired differently and really didn’t feel a lot of the common feelings or issues that those that have left share. Nothing against Dr. Miller personally, but it just sounded like his experiences in leaving were a lifetime ago in his mind. I appreciate John and Dr. Miller for taking the time though. I also appreciated the quote (and laughed out loud) about Dr. Miller’s first marriage: “I was so lonely and would love to start having sex, and the truth is, my marriage didn’t solve either of those problems.” Ha ha. Oh, the naïve idealism of a young returned missionary (having been one myself).

    1. ^^^^^I couldn’t agree more with this comment. I too felt Scott was so far removed from Mormonism that he didn’t really give any insightful viewpoints about his transition out. I feel the other major topic that could have been explored was his transition out of a traditional marriage. It would be interesting to find out if his views on marriage had any influence on his transition out of Mormonism.

    2. Hi Bob. Thanks for taking the time to listen and leave a comment. My departure was, as you note, a long time ago–it was really pretty completed while I was serving a mission. In the last chapter of the book, I talk about what happened after I returned home. Basically, I went to enough Church to finish at BYU without coming to the attention of the Standards Department. In the interview, I talk about three steps to take in order to move on. Surrounding myself with non-Mormons was perhaps the most important part for me. When people are caught in the minutia, whether regarding doctrinal issues, family ties, or otherwise, I can hear the pain. Personally, I don’t believe you can be delivered from that pain by discussing it with other sufferers. IMHO, that will leave you stuck. You need to get out and away. I am, as I stated in the interview, amazed by what life has to offer.

    3. Interesting, I had the opposite reaction. I thought Scott’s advice about moving toward a vision (rather than just away from Mormonism) and getting out of the bubble of Mormons/post-Mormons was pretty insightful and potentially helpful. I have a tendency to spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the church, and commiserating online with others who do as well, which I’ve realized may have the effect of keeping me from moving “beyond” Mormonism. I’m ready to try to get past that stage. To each their own philosophy/process/journey/timing, though.

    4. I’m a little late to the party. Just finally listened to this conversation. I also had exactly the opposite response to Dr. Miller’s comments. I don’t think he sounded condescending at all. Rather, he sounded like someone who has moved far, far beyond the Mormon experience and now looks back, a bit bemused and perhaps befuddled, as though that was someone else’s life. It would probably not be hard for John to interview a mental health professional who could argue that dogmatic religion is not a net positive for human beings. In this case, we get a mental health professional who has had exactly the kind of experience many of us still grapple with. Big thumbs up to that. I think John was asking some of the same questions he asks most of his guests. In this case, many of those questions no longer have any validity. Dr. Miller, you must have been empowered by and had great faith in the love of your parents to make the break right after returning from a mission. Far too many remain on the fringes of the church because they have no faith in their families to react thoughtfully.

      1. David:

        Thanks so much for your note and observations. I have moved on, a long while ago. I also firmly believe that you cannot live in a “refugee camp.” Hanging out with the disaffected must be temporary, if there’s any hope of a life beyond childhood. As for my family, they were loving. HOWEVER, I decided that I was moving on NO MATTER what they did. Fearing family reaction, and being unwilling to make the ultimate sacrifice, for me meant, staying connected. As it was, they didn’t sever contact. And if they had, I figured that would be their loss. Interested in your thoughts.

  12. I am curious about the term “correlation” and what John Dehlin was talking about when he mentioned Bruce R McConkie and the irreparable damage it did. This is the first I’ve heard of the term, and research into the topic has been unfruitful. Can anyone expound on the topic, or point me in the direction of good sources?

  13. Scott, I just finished reading your book tonight and thank you for your insights and willingness to share. I couldn’t put your book down. It was a good read. I relate to many of your questions and your desire to be more accepting, kind, and serve the people on your mission. I had much the same reactions and questions on my mission as you did. It appears we were in the mission field at the same time.

    Interestingly, Mike Lambert is a neighbor of mine. He was unintentionally influential for giving myself permission to begin the process of asking questions of my own faith. Short story: During my budding faith crisis 25 years ago, after our priesthood meeting, a handful of neighbors were casually debating the scene of Jesus angrily over tuning the table in the temple. I was using the experience to justify my own retribution and anger. Mike said calmly and politely, “Well, if Jesus really got upset, I believe he learned anger didn’t work for him and he no longer feels the need to get upset.” I learned how immature I really was and how much more wiser he was. I always enjoyed his perspective and how he approached faith, unlike anyone I had encountered at that time.

    1. Thanks for the reply Kimo. I feel very fortunate to have meet Michael. We’ve remained friends and colleagues for nearly 35 years now. Grateful also that you read the book and appreciate your kind words. Take care!

  14. I read Scott’s book riveted to each page, re-living my own mission experience with all too familiar pangs of “feeling homesick, pushed around, bored, bullied, beaten down, deprived, ignored, forgotten, judged, (and) condemned.” Scott’s emotionally captivating book will enlighten those unaware of a troubling side of a being a Mormon missionary and give validation to those missionaries who experienced an abusive mission culture. I enjoyed Scott’s candid and explicit language and his real world view of a distorted and archaic way of proselytizing. I laughed, I cried…..I related. Thank you Scott Miller!

    1. Thanks for your note and comments Monty. The most rewarding part of writing this book is connecting with people like you, sharing our experiences, and knowing we are not alone. Best wishes, Scott

  15. I read the book and found it to be quite enjoyable. I had similar mission experiences in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, but not as adverse, and my good experiences far outweighed my bad ones. It is unfortunate that corporate style competitiveness and totalitarian control trumped basic Christian principles. It appears that the trend among missionaries now is away from such competitiveness. I wonder what the outcome would have been had the missionaries insisted that the assistants, president, and zone leaders respect the 4th Amendment rights to be free of unreasonable searches by not searching luggage and apartments.

  16. Is the LDS Church not concerned about feedback? Well…

    In 1990, when the Temple endowment ritual was overhauled, didn’t they conduct a survey first to find out what temple goers felt after going through it?

    What about the subtle change in the BoM introduction about Lamanites being the principal ancestors of the native American Indians? Wasn’t that a reaction from what DNA science said about the origins of these people?

    And then there’s the so-called gospel essays…

    So when they exhort their faithful to “doubt their doubts” isn’t that a reaction to the loud feedback noise of members leaving in droves?

    There is feedback, the LDS authorities hear them, and they react… Sometimes fumbling along as they go…

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