Over the past few months, I’ve developed a friendship with several members of the LDS “Bloggernacle”–including a young couple known as “Serenity Valley” and “Roasted Tomatoes”. This wife/husband pair live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and run a blog called, “Latter-Day Saint Liberation Front“.

Serenity and RT are interesting and inspirational for many reasons…one of which being the spiritual journeys that each of them traveled on their way towards being sealed in the LDS Temple (RT being a former athiest turned LDS missionary, and Serenity having left the church to become an Episcopalian, only to return later).

In part 1 of this 2 part series, we learn about their early years within the LDS church, and their journeys away from, and back to, faith.

In part 2 of this interview, we continue our conversation with “Serenity Valley” and “Roasted Tomatoes”–a young LDS couple living in the San Francisco Bay area, and creators of the LDS Blog “Latter-Day Saint Liberation Front“.

In this episode, Serenity and RT discuss her ultimate return to Mormonism, the impact it has had on their marriage and family, and conclude with a very candid and somewhat courageous discussion of their testimonies–some of which can safely be considered “non-mainstream” or alternative within the LDS paradigm.

Part 1:

Part 2:



  1. Bradley Ross November 18, 2005 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Serenity Valley and Jay Roasted Tomatoes have touched my heart. I was riveted to my computer as I listened to Serenity talking about her childhood and later conversion. I figured out a way to work SV’s story about her dad’s Priesthood experience with his bishop (12:50-13:52) into my lesson for the young men on Sunday. I’m so overwhelmed with the faith of these two people and how they have come through their trials. I can’t wait for the second installment. Please don’t keep us waiting long!

  2. J. Stapley November 19, 2005 at 10:32 am - Reply


  3. RoastedTomatoes November 20, 2005 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Bradley and J., thanks to both of you for your kind words! We did this interview with John because we thought that Serenity’s conversion story, in particular, was powerful and important (at least it is to me). So I’m glad to hear that it’s meant something to other people, as well!

  4. Abner Doon November 20, 2005 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks for another very interesting podcast! This episode in particular shows the power of John’s idea to just let people tell their stories. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest.

    RT and SV’s saga apparently ends well for the church, but my question is, what if the story didn’t end this way? What if someone “gets” what the church is supposed to be teaching about Christ, and they still don’t hear a peep from God? At what point is a person allowed to say, bag it, I’m not going to waste the rest of my life on a wild goose chase for an “answer” that may never materialize?

  5. RoastedTomatoes November 21, 2005 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Abner, I do understand that people have different experiences with respect to the church, God, and the whole package. If my experience had been like I infer yours to have been — no real experience of the divine, despite my best efforts — then I would draw the conclusion that Mormonism isn’t the place that I was meant to be. If that’s the conclusion that you’ve drawn, I have to respect that. (Just because Mormonism seems to be right for me doesn’t imply that it’s right for you.)

  6. Abner Doon November 21, 2005 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    RT, fair enough, but how are we supposed to argue if you’re going to be so darn reasonable? :)

    Seriously, I could bring up lots of other issues in Mormonism, and they do matter to a lesser or greater extent, but this one thing is probably the #1 reason I’m a disaffected Mormon (or an apostate, or whatever you prefer). The promises supposedly made by God failed. There’s nothing worse than a God who fails (just ask Metallica).

    I sought, but I didn’t find. I asked for bread, and I got a stone (well, even that would have been something. To be more accurate, I got nothing.) I cried to God in my closet, my fields, with family, with friends. As far as I can tell, he didn’t hear a word. I read the Book of Mormon numerous times, pondered its message, sincerely asked God, and all I’ve ever had in response was deafening silence. And in case you’re wondering, I did ask whether the BoM was “true” as well as whether it was “not true.” Didn’t help :)

    Geez, I even started praying in different ways. To Jesus, to Allah, to generic God, in tortured Elizebethan English, in modern English, in Spanish. I read the Bible in several different translations. Say, I’ve even attended the Episcopal church.

    Nowadays I don’t mind the silence – I don’t expect anything anymore – but it was frustrating and painful to carry on a one-way conversation for so long. Apparently my God gene is recessive.

  7. BR November 23, 2005 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Well I’ve gotta say that this wasn’t my favourite of your podcasts. I guess I just have such high expectations of your work given the previous podcasts.

    When you’re so used to eating steaks it’s hard to digest a hamburger. It was a conversion story like so many others I’ve heard. Too bland.

    Hmmm. Just looked at my comments and figured you might want something more constructive…. sorry.

  8. zelph November 27, 2005 at 9:38 am - Reply

    I agree with Abner. I just left the church last week after 32 years. How much of your life do have to dedicate to have it finally click. It is very hard to go to church and try and fit in like you believe when you have serious doubts. It was a very big surprise when my wife and I told our bishop (since we both had callings and were very active) but we could just not go on any longer trying to fit in.

    I have spend 1/3 my life in the church and it is time to move on. Maybe God wants me somewhere else.

  9. Latter-day Saint Liberation Front January 3, 2006 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    […] To begin this series, I will offer a discussion of my spiritual life and hopes after my crisis of Mormon faith. Serenity Valley has already discussed this topic at some length in a Mormon Stories podcast with John Dehlin. In a few days, we will continue the series by posting an essay on the same topic by Ann, who originally suggested this series and who was instrumental in organizing it. Then, we’ll just see how things go from there! […]

  10. LDSLF: I Shun Shunning April 29, 2006 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    […] In practice, I know from many experiences–first-, second-, and third-hand–that people who lose faith and leave the church are often shunned.  Some people divorce their spouses, giving no motive other than change in religious belief.  Family members refuse to attend weddings, cut people off from family gatherings, and even cease communications altogether with “apostates” who were once near and dear to them.  In our much less intimate online relationships, do we ever replicate this painful pattern?  I worry that we do. I find these behaviors hurtful and un-Christian.  I feel that God’s chosen path for some of us involves journeys through other faith traditions; my wife’s spiritual story is one clear example.  In some cases, those journeys may possibly last a lifetime.  In rare instances, the faith tradition that God calls people to explore may be that of atheism, as in DKL’s life story.  Who am I to judge whether any good, well-intentioned person is on the right religious track in his or her own life?  As the saying goes, God works in mysterious ways. […]

  11. chrisac80 May 1, 2006 at 5:52 am - Reply

    Dear Zelph, dear John,
    Glad you made it.
    You surely will have a hard time adjusting to a new life without the church,
    but I think its quite worthwhile it.
    Enjoy your new freedoms .
    (wear the underwear you and your wife want, not the corporate identity prisonwear)

    Your name reminds me of a question to John:
    Do we actually have the bones of Zelph, the infamous Nephite Warrior?
    If so, what are the DNA results? Is he of hebrew origin?
    If so, that would be a great hint that the church is actually true.
    I suppose that Joseph and his fellows gave the brave warrior a suitable burial.
    Well, anyway,
    I wish you, Zelph, all strength necessary to
    get over the tough period of change.

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