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  1. John –

    Most interesting and brings some real understanding. I also waited outside the temple for all five children when they married. I knew my wife was inside with them, so maybe that made it easier. I do remember thinking of all those good non-Mormons who are continually denied the experience after counting on it for so many years as their daughter(especially the daughters) were being married.

    What continues to amaze me is an obviously logical thought that was given and backed by you also. It was “One dude could not take on twenty dudes. It just does not make sense.” And then still believing that One dude made the freaking universe. Oh – that’s possible? How can we square this?

  2. The mockery of the story of Ammon in the book of Mormon as a fiction of human impossibility, is simply wrong! First Class Swordsman in various countries have single handedly defeated entire garrisons on the field of battle. I’ve noted these instances in Japanese History where a lone samurai defeated over 40 – 60 men, Miyamoto Musashi case in point, and Baiken who preceded him, these are matters of public record and historical fact. I’ve practice Japanese swordsmanship for near 30 years and I assure you a sword can cut an arm clean off and the discription in the book of mormon of how it was done, ie when they raised their clubs is exactly how it would be executed. Warriors that specialise in a martial art like fencing are recorded as defeating far greater numbers of less well trained advarsaries, stories abound of this in various cultures and places in the world. The Battle of Stamford bridge where one skilled viking held off the entire Saxon Army 12th century, similiar situation with the battle of thermopylae where 300 spartans in a narrow valley almost defeated a army of 1million men and would of succeeded if the secret goat pass wasn’t divulged, etc allowing the army to get behind them. I do not view the story of Ammon as a God Miracle, there are lots of people that could still do that today, a samurai sword can not only cut an arm off… but tests of cadavers revealed a samurai sword could cut a body virtically in two from the top of the skull to the groin. American Pow’s cadavers were used to demonstrate the fact. Also Ammon’s use of the sling in killing people is also totally normative, still to this day shepards in the middle east are crack shots with slings, many have been found in archaeological digs with beautiful braiding. David killing Goliath with a sling is not a god miracle, neither was it for Ammon, a stone hurled by a sling creates enough extra compound force to go right through a car door, in competitions the stones themselves can go up to 500metres or more that is over half a klm. There are competitions in Israel to this day for the slings, a shepard sitting around all day had nothing better to do than practice…

    1. First slicing a person crown to groin sounds awesome and horrible.
      Ammon collecting a bushle of arms is a fantastic story [not historical] – is it possible. Sure as Kent states. So as Kent states the possible aspect of the story is not the best argument against it. The other point Shannon and John make is better I think. Is cutting arms off the best way for a spiritual person to win the hearts of man. Like the nephi story – really cutting his head off was the best option. Couldn’t have tied him up. Gagged him? Nephi zap shocked his brothers. Maybe ammon could have done that. Moving mountains is talked about a bunch – ammon could have caused a gap in the earth to open. Struck them dumb?

      Learning the david and goliath story better that david was the sharp end of the stick actually – changed so many things for me. It came up in a conversation where this member said nelson was guided by god and miracles in his surgeries. I replied stating the D+G story is miss told story. David was the sharp end of the stick. Highly skilled with his sling. Goliath was an over grown duns that couldn’t see well and had to be guided down the hill. Nelson was a highly skilled top of his field surgeon – thats not a miracle – I finished with Ive never held a scalpel – if I did the surgery on you and you lived or came out better – THAT is a miracle – not russell.

    2. Kent, honest question, I’m just trying to understand. So, such a sword can cut thru an arm in one motion, including cutting thru bone? It is like in a cartoon or would it require several strokes? Again, I’m not mocking, I don’t know. BoM makes it sound like Nephi cut off Laban’s head in one fell swoop and, of course, a well-executed decapitation with an axe works that way, but with a sword and the individual not being in the ideal position, I imagine it wouldn’t be so easy.

  3. Such a great interview. So sad how the church can hurt good honest people who has the integrate to follow truth. Shannon is my hero. Is it possible to post the letter Shannon wrote to her Bishop and Stake President.

  4. I’m going to be a pedant on the Ammon story, but only because I love history and material culture, so I just think factoids about it are fascinating.

    First off, the overall critique of the Ammon story is correct. My two cents has to do with swords, since I study Historical European Martial Arts and have a lot of exposure on their efficacy as a result. So the comment about swords not being able to chop off arms is inaccurate. They definitely can, and we have a lot of extant textual and artistic evidence of this in addition to experimental archeology that supports this. Cutting off forty arms in a row? The issue here probably (because nobody has tested this, so we can’t be sure) has more to do with the sword user’s fatigue, and subsequent loss of proper form and edge alignment then loss of edge integrity.

    This is of course supposing Ammon had an advanced high carbon steel sword, technology that would not be available until over a millennium after his death. Still, even some swords of the classical world would probably have been able to achieve this. However, since there is no steel from the period in the Americas, I’m going to go off on a tangent that apologist’s surely would: the macuahuitl. I don’t know if these existed during the BoM, but they are the “swords” the Aztecs used against the Spanish, so at least they’re new world. These “swords” are really just hard wood clubs with obsidian chunks inserted in the edge to form a blade. There is at least one account of a two handed variant decapitating a horse, so it’s chopping power is sufficient. However, because of the hard and brittle nature of obsidian, the edge of the weapon frequently breaks, and new obsidian chunks have to be inserted. Experimental archeology has found that these weapons are actually much better at tearing flesh than chopping through limbs. Such wounds could tear ligaments, incapacitating enemies without killing them outright. This fit the Mesoamerican style of war since the goal was to capture opponents so they could later be sacrificed.

    So armed with one of these, Ammon could’ve possibly maybe chopped off someone’s arm. But forty in a row? Impossible.

  5. John, love the homage to “Miami Vice”/Deseret Industries with the pink shirt and palm trees. As Troy Williams says: “fashion before the revolution”.

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  6. Well, that was 7 hours very well spent. Long drives thru the Uintahs and up to Cache Valley! We—DH and I—listened, didn’t watch.
    Shannon, that was awesome and I can’t wait to hear you discuss your thesis. I downloaded it last night and will start reading today.
    I shook my head and shouted “yep, felt that,” “yep, did that too,” “yep, I’ve said that.”
    Most impactful and emotional statement.: “He chose me!” Sobbing with you there. Kudos to Dave!
    On God’s most inefficient way to spread his (eternal) life-saving plan! I’ve said that for years too. Missionary work by 12 yr olds now—sorry, they look 12 to me. You want your children to get back to you and you set up the most inefficient system to accomplish your goal? I’ve been told that god can use the weak to do his work. Sure, but how is it working out so far?
    I’m 65, married at BYU in ‘74 at age 19 and 363 days! The pressure to marry and have kids right away was great. The shaming for not being pregnant asap was ever present. I identified with “if we put it off we’ll get “lesser” spirites.” Paraphrasing here. Although I gave birth 9 ½ months after marriage, it was not a planned pregnancy—we had wanted to wait but I wasn’t on the pill—and my first child was born with a severe, terribly painful skin condition which took his life four months later. I felt an enormous burden of responsibility for him being born that way, like it was my punishment for not having wanted him. The whole Plan of Salvation teaching really messed me up. “Poison!”
    I’m surprised that, in ‘95 you fell the same pressure, I thought those teachings were less prominent by then. But you were at Ricks and, well, Ricks/BYU-I is worse. My son started BYU-P in ‘94 but didn’t get married til 2005–after he left BYU.
    So much love and empathy for you as you were excluded from your daughter’s wedding! You described well the attitude of “friends” and family who bypassed you on their way to her sealing. The Church does take good people and makes them act badly. No empathy. Basically, “you could if you wanted to. Just believe, humble yourself.” The day the church announced that civil marriages were allowed in the U.S. and Canada without the one-year penalty—still under strict local leaders control though—I sobbed because I wouldn’t have to miss my 3 granddaughters’ weddings—and we went out to lunch and I ordered wine! I generally only drink wine or beer when I’m with family in Belgium. Doing so has helped rebuild birth-family connections.

    Much love to you, Shannon. You are a ROCK STAR! Your future is bright!

  7. What a wonderful story Shannon. Congratulations on finding your way out of Mormonism’s slurry into the fresh air of reality. Even though you won’t be spending the eternities making spirit children as a godess at least you are now free to do as you see fit with this existence; the only thing we can be sure of. My mother was a devoted lifelong member who divorced my father on the advice of her bishop when he lost his faith. She then married a devout Mormon man whose self righteous piety contributed to the chronic depression she suffered from for the rest of her life. I have no doubt her depression was due to many of the same reasons you outlined in your story but she was simply too afraid to question church teachings and practices. Your husband must be a very smart guy because he chose you, and hell, over the church. Then again, based on what I’ve learned about you over the last 6 hours of Mormon Stories, only a fool would have let you go so maybe he’s only as smart as me.

    Your discoveries about B.H. Roberts are fascinating. It sounds like that period truly was a crossroads in church history that could have made the church a much healthier institution today but, as per usual, the leaders took the wrong road. The church is literally steeped in secrecy cloaked as the sacred. It’s a very effective way to quash discussion. Like John stated much of what we are learning today has been dragged out into the open, kicking and screaming, by the information age. I hope you continue to pursue your work in this area and sharing it publically.

    I am a bit surprised that out of this 3+ hour interview, with so many chilling betrayals and heartwarming twists, a discussion about whether or not Ammon could have performed the feats ascribed to him is what sparks discussion in the comments. The bom is a whole cloth fiction. Ammon is a fictional character in that work so I suppose he could do anything the author said he did just like Harry Potter can do whatever Rowling say’s he can. But who cares?

  8. I just wanted to tell you what a great job you did in your interviews, both the first on BH Roberts and this episode!

    As someone who raised his kids in Kaysville before leaving the Church, I can totally relate to the extra dose of fear that was instilled in you regarding chastity, dating, etc. While I think the way you thought about these things as an LDS kid is common, high-percentage LDS areas like good ole “K-Town” have unique cultures that amplify things, and I recognized it all too well in your voice and description of how you were taught to think. It’s as-if Kaysville has its own calling card.

    To illustrate….

    My wife and I were both raised in the Church in the Pacific Northwest. When I took a job after grad school that took us to Kaysville, one of the first experiences we had in our Ward was to be asked to sit on a panel at a Youth Fireside with another couple, to answer questions about dating, morality, etc.

    One of the very first questions the kids asked was whether we thought it was ok to kiss before marriage. Now, growing up LDS in the PNW that was the silliest question I had ever heard. It sounded soo extreme compared to how I was raised LDS outside of Utah.

    To hear a bunch of teenagers worry about whether they should even kiss someone before they got married out of fear it would directly lead to sex, someone losing control, or that it was breaking the Law of Chastity was immediately brought back for me when I heard you describe your thinking as a youth.

    Not long after we moved there, my oldest started high school at Davis High and we started to learn about the “Virgin Lips Club,” which is an extreme form of purity pledge LDS kids take there, promising to never kiss before they get married, and wearing these commitments on their sleeves as a badge of honor.

    That’s just one example of many I could probably think of to describe the environment there in Kaysville, and I just want to validate you. As you know, your fear of dating, boys, etc. was all manufactured by the Church and exacerbated by the unique culture of the town in which you were raised. These small, homogeneous LDS towns are where intensified versions of Mormonism flourish.

  9. Dear Shannon, Thank you for sharing your story. I am also a woman who grew up following the LDS program for women’s happiness and was miserable. My story is very similar to yours, listening to you brought back so many feelings and memories. If you ever wish to speak with someone else who has come through the rabbit hole feel free to reach out.

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