Today we are excited to sit down with legend, John Larsen. After ending his wildly popular Mormon Expression podcast, having John in studio is an honor as we steep in his humor and knowledge. We hit on some of our favorite important topics like the “curse of Cain” while also bouncing around in the absurdity of Big Foot.

You will laugh, you might cry, but you will absolutely not be disappointed in this episode!

Content warning: PG-13 rating for profanity


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  1. Mike July 13, 2021 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Liked the calculator analogy. I’m an electrical engineer who designs electronic equipment for US defense applications. If my boss gave me a calculator that was right 99% of the time and told me that it was the best calculator he could give me, I would throw it out and tell him that pen and paper are now my calculator. It would take me 100 times longer to calculate and verify things, but my boss would tell me I made the right choice, and so would every other engineer in the world, believing and non-believing. The consequences of possibly ever being wrong, even 1% of the time, are too great a risk. Imagine a world in which everything was built with calculators that were right 99% of the time. Planes and cars would crash, buildings would collapse, satellites would collide, rocket ships would overshoot the moon into infinite space. If you understand how vital precision is to things like initial conditions and their consequences in real-world calculations, you know that this is no exaggeration. The modern world would be a chaotic mess.
    These consequences are infinitesimally small, though, compared with eternity. The prophet’s instructions have eternal consequences. If I am rejecting a tool that is only incorrect 1% of the time for temporal applications, why would I ever rely on a prophet who’s incorrect 1% of the time when the consequences are conceivably eternal?

    • John Dehlin July 13, 2021 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Mike – Today you win the Internet.

      Brilliant. THANK YOU!!!!

      John Dehlin

    • Jacob Anderson July 14, 2021 at 10:27 am - Reply

      Let me play Devil’s advocate here. If you have a calculator that is correct 99% of the time, and you do your calculations twice. It becomes correct 99.99% of the time, throw in a 3rd calculation for good measure and you are correct 99.9999% of the time. Frankly we have no tools in existence that are 100% accurate. There are ways to mitigate tools that are not perfect to reduce risk of failure. So goes the Mormon church it can be used as an efficient tool, but it’s vital that you understand the shortcomings.

      • David July 20, 2021 at 8:51 am - Reply

        Sure, but then every organized religion has the same utility, and the special sauce Mormonism claims to provide is exposed as invalid. That’s been the frustrating part of listening to the apologetic defense of prophets from the get go. It’s inconsistent, contradictory, and argued in bad faith.

  2. Louisa July 13, 2021 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, honest, enriching, passionate, and REAL!

  3. Mike July 13, 2021 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    God I miss hearing your voice more often John Larsen! Your rant on John’s imagined apologetics was a thing of beauty. Hearing you think through and talk through Mormon theology really is so enjoyable. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  4. Linda Gale July 13, 2021 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    David Patten was riding a mule in Tennessee when he encountered the huge, hairy Cain.

  5. An Ex-Mormon Who Always Preferred the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament July 13, 2021 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    I always enjoy listening to John Larsen. Thanks for bringing him on.

    In the spirit of attempting to do less harm (but at the risk of being obnoxious), I’m going to rant about an extremely minor point in this episode, only because this issue is so pervasive among ex-Mormons and grates so much on me.

    Christianity has always been saturated in anti-Jewish sentiment; it’s very much a part of the New Testament, which in many ways offers us a caricature of Jews. Another site in Christianity where you see this expressed is the very prominent, very popular idea, dating at least back to Marcion, that the god of the Old Testament (the Jewish god) is bad and mean and primitive where the god of the New Testament (the Christian god) is, in contrast, nice and touchy-feely and modern. (Many Christians don’t seem to have gotten the memo that Marcion lost the canon wars, and the god of the Old Testament is officially understood to be–well, their god!) Of course, god’s behavior in the Old Testament is notoriously problematic, and I’m not going to defend genocide or patriarchy or any number of other things; as a believer, I was tormented by these issues. I will argue, though, that the god of the Old Testament is far more complex and far less unequivocally demonic than Christians typically give him credit for–and that the god of the New Testament is as every bit as complex, and every bit as problematic. Let’s not read all of the most difficult parts of the Old Testament and compare them to all of the most beautiful parts of the New Testament. Most of us who were raised in Mormonism or another Christian tradition absorbed a lot of anti-Jewish sentiment without even recognizing it for what it was, but those of us who have left should ask ourselves whether it’s really necessary to make anti-Jewish ideas the cornerstone of our lack of belief as well. Let’s be honest about the fact that god is profoundly morally compromised in every single book of Mormon scripture.

  6. Jacob Anderson July 14, 2021 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Let me play Devil’s advocate here. If you have a calculator that is correct 99% of the time, and you do your calculations twice. It becomes correct 99.99% of the time, throw in a 3rd calculation for good measure and you are correct 99.9999% of the time. Frankly we have no tools in existence that are 100% accurate. There are ways to mitigate tools that are not perfect to reduce risk of failure. So goes the Mormon church it can be used as an efficient tool, but it’s vital that you understand the shortcomings.

  7. Russell July 14, 2021 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    While watching the TV series Lucifer, I kept saying to my non-member wife, “This show is so Mormon”…”Whoever created this Lucifer show has ties to Mormonism”. The show refers to God as the Devil’s father, references Mother in Heaven as the Devil’s mother, has Cain as a character who can’t die, has a good angel as God’s son and the Devil’s brother. So, I searched the internet and found the following:
    Len Wiseman is the executive producer/pilot director. Len was interviewed and said:
    “LEN WISEMAN: Really, the reason I wanted to do this was that it was so different from what I’d done before. I didn’t want to make it so much of a genre show. Even the character was far more grounded with very twisted, dark humor. It’s been so great. It’s really important for you to feel for Lucifer. Is it possible to show a very irreverent portrayal of Lucifer where you actually feel bad for the guy, and what would that be? Some people will embrace it. My family is Mormon. I’m not Mormon, but my family is, and my mom was like, “You’re doing a show called Lucifer?! But I will admit, he is handsome, so I’ll watch it.”
    Hey John, perhaps Len Wiseman would have an interesting Mormon Story to tell? Did he grow up Mormon? Leave the Church?

  8. Phil July 14, 2021 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Just FYI, since Jeff Bezos’ name was invoked during this podcast. Jeff Bezos bought and revitalized the Washington Post, there was no guarantee WAPO would survive without his support.

    Also, the means or production are available to the public, $3,760 per AMZN share currently. :)

  9. Cynthia Hooley July 14, 2021 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    The church leadership did invite the members to get vaccinated and I know of many members who were not planning on getting vaccinated who got vaccinated based on the church propaganda.

  10. Harlan Harrison July 14, 2021 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Your guest is giving an excellent presentation and you’re tittering in the background. Shame on you.

    • John Dehlin July 14, 2021 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      My bad.

      – John

    • Cynthia Hooley July 14, 2021 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      I believe it only portrays a relationship where there is comfort and trust. I actually loved the chilled fun environment 😊

    • Cynthia H July 14, 2021 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      I believe it only portrays a relationship where there is comfort and trust. I actually loved the chilled fun environment 😊

    • VFanRJ August 15, 2021 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Let’s chill out a bit. JD is simply enjoying how ridiculous the Cain story is.

  11. Matt Faull July 15, 2021 at 1:19 am - Reply

    As a donor, I have no issues with the decision to tie the history of the Mormon Church to modern relevance. Active Latter-day Saints pray that prayer every Sunday: “Please bless us that we may be able to take this lesson into our daily lives.”

    Congrats to all three of you in the episode for answering their prayer.

  12. JB July 15, 2021 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    I’ve consumed a whole lot of hours of this podcast. I have always found it to be comforting, funny, informative and a pleasure to listen. This episode was shrill, angry and somehow void of humanity. I did not enjoy this at all.

    • John Dehlin July 15, 2021 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      JB – We will not stop doing our regular type of content. I tried to give a warning at the beginning of this episode. Please always feel free to skip the episodes that have a warning, or if you don’t like John Larsen specifically. So sorry this one wasn’t for you.

      • JB July 15, 2021 at 5:51 pm - Reply

        I will probably still be listening. I think there is a lot of validity to your thoughts that at some point we have to stop wallowing in refuting the truth claims or critique of policy. I think this could be a crucial issue for Mormon Stories right about now.

        My “ah ha moment” was almost a year ago and it feels like about time to say to myself, ok so what next? I can’t believe how hard it is to move forward. But if the answer to that question for Mormon Stories is a path similar to the one John Larsen has taken, I will not likely join you on the journey. There’s just a lot of anger there and that isn’t what I need.

        Regardless, your content has been dare I say a blessing for me. My wife remains faithful and my children are grown so this process has been painfully lonely for me. There is nobody that I can talk to. But you have brought a lot of interesting people that speak to me – thank you.

        • Rex July 16, 2021 at 6:49 am - Reply

          Fortunately the podcast isn’t geared on your timeline of progression. You say it’s a blessing for you, and has been in your journey. There are the episodes that speak to truth claims with passion. We all need these episodes (I thought this one was fantastic) in our journey. Count yourself down the road with progress, however the vast number of people transitioning and yet to transition is a bigger number than those in your position, and need to hear the basics. Everyone needs a Michael Coe moment, a Robert Ritter moment, Christine Jeppesen Clark moment. Just because you’ve been there and seen that doesn’t mean the entirety of a podcast should shift and follow your need. I’ve followed this series practically since it started as I transitioned out of the church in 2005. I absolutely loved this episode and I’ve followed Larsen listening to every Mormon Expression episode multiple times. I learned a few new things with this episode and love Larsen’s perspective, and for me, my hope of hopes is that Larsen comes back with his old style as it brings peace to this heathen heart.

        • John Larsen July 16, 2021 at 4:06 pm - Reply

          Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

  13. Rex July 16, 2021 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Damnit John Larsen, you need to repent and come back to us. Best podcast Mr. Dehlin in long time. Loved the relaxed laughter amidst the topics discussed, with fresh perspective that only Larsen can give. Don’t stop doing these. As I mentioned in a comment above, the exmo’s yet to be born outnumber those in existence now, and need to hear these subjects over and over. Keep it up. Any chance of getting Peter Bleakley to sit down with you?

    • Melissa July 18, 2021 at 11:06 am - Reply

      Yes, Peter Bleakley, please!!!

  14. VFanRJ July 16, 2021 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Time with John Larsen is never wasted time. I wish he were my neighbor.

    Thanks so much JD for binging Larsen back on the show. So rich with meaningful discussion.

  15. Nancy July 17, 2021 at 2:54 am - Reply

    A few years ago I had to stop listening to your podcasts because I started falling asleep during them. But I thought this had John Larsen! I won’t fall asleep for him! Spoiler alert: I did. Sorry JL. I did go back after my nap and finish it. And I loved what JD said about life and purpose after Mormonism. Deconstruction is just the first step. Finding truth, meaning and real purpose is the hard part especially when that was given to you and you never learned those skills as a Mormon. Seven years out and I’m still on that journey. It’s a complicated journey. I imagine I’ll keep at it until the end.

    • John Dehlin July 17, 2021 at 4:42 am - Reply

      Nancy – What types of podcasts would keep you awake?

  16. wesmanlv July 18, 2021 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    I found this episode great to listen to – up to the being over apologetic for the politics -currently the trumpenstein movement is posing a huge risk to our society and they need to be called out for their bad behavior without apology. thank you john larsen for calling it as you see it.

  17. Mike July 21, 2021 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I would really like to hear this group go over the entire top 10 crazy mormon beliefs episode by episode.

  18. Phillip M. July 22, 2021 at 7:08 am - Reply

    Love to hear some John Larsen, but I’m pretty sure B.H. Roberts didn’t die in a rehab facility in California as a result of alcoholism. Does he have a source for this? Wikipedia says that he died as a result of diabetes, and I can’t find any sources of him struggling with alcohol. Source?

    • John Larsen August 4, 2021 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      You are right. That statement wasn’t correct. I will clear it up on my next visit. :)

  19. Gaylon July 26, 2021 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    I was put off by angry rants from both Johns, broadbrushing and generalizing political and environmental issues, on which I’d be at polar opposite views. However, the last 20 or so minutes soothed my soul with the heartfelt appeals for positive action. I actually totally agreed with most of the panel’s views and observations as it relates to Mormonism and the current state of things. And I was warmed by John Larsen’s obvious heart of gold that he revealed in those closing minutes – just a teddy bear underneath it all :).

  20. Timmy Tim August 7, 2021 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    I was disappointed to hear John D’s diatribe on how ex-mo’s should deal with believing family members. It revealed that his true agenda is to cram “informed consent” down everyone’s throats regardless of the cost or outcome.

    John D, you encouraged ex-mos to be friendly and patient so that believers will eventually “come around” and so your informed consent will be more palatable. Maybe you should bring them a plate of cookies while you’re at it. And offer to mow the lawn. I guess those missionary tactics die hard.

    Relationships should come first, John. Particularly familial relationships. Some people don’t want informed consent. And they don’t want that for their minor children. Let them manage their own lives. You provide a lot of good resources….if they want your info they can find it easily enough.

  21. Mike Larsen August 21, 2021 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Clearly John Larson is a man that wishes to ‘ speak plainly ‘ and doesn’t mince words . I find it refreshing . His passion and maybe even anger . I have not heard of him but will try to find his podcast and listen to his other viewpoints . He also can be very funny in his own way and I also cracked up , as JD did in the way Larson expresses himself .
    There are many areas of Mormonism that can cause consternation for many members and non-members , but the big 3 seem to be : B of M issues , racism and polygamy /polyandry . Perhaps the most painful for many is the racism as described in this particular podcast . It truly is a major ‘ pain-body ‘ as E Tolle teaches . It is hard to justify and even talk about and my LDS friends simply will not discuss it .
    I remember so well , my dear kind father trying to explain to his 19 year old son about to depart on his mission , why it was that blacks could not partake of the gospels blessings . They are ‘ cursed ‘ he explained . I was confused and frankly , just stunned and could not process the fairness of such a thing .. Made no sense to me then nor does it now . I inherently knew it was just flat out wrong . The younger generation now would accept it even less than we did then . We just didn’t talk about it , like an other ‘ dirty secret ‘ one couldn’t bring to the surface . Too painful .
    Thanks for this one JD. Entertaining and powerful . I agree with others comments ….bring John back for the rest of the top 10 !

  22. David the Bard August 25, 2021 at 12:48 am - Reply


    Near Roseburg Oregon. At night. We were all walking home from a movie. Walking on a two-land highway out in the forest. I noticed something was following us. My first thought “Bigfoot” but I convinced myself it was a deer or a bear. The thought of a bear, was scary. We walked across a bridge over a creek, and the “thing” walked across it, making huge splashes. That scared us. We kept walking, another half mile. A car passed us, going the other way, and started to HONK its horn frantically, for a long time, but did not come back. It kept going. We kept walking. Then, we heard tree branches snapping. Very THICK branches. When they snapped, it sounded like gun shots. We all looked over. I saw the shoulder, and LONG HAIRY arm come up and reach up to a thick branch. The hair was reddish-brown, MUCH too thick too be any man. LONG arm. Very hairy. Not a bear. As soon as the thing grabbed the huge branch, WE RAN. The thing SNAPPED the branch, and sounded like a gun-shot. It was trying to scare us, and IT WORKED!!! We RAN….for miles…back to Roseburg. All this was late at night, but the Moon was out, which is why I could see its hairy shoulder and LONG arm, and hand, reach out and SNAP that thick branch. True story. Summer, 1978.

  23. Timothy F. Sharp August 31, 2021 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Great episode, I really enjoyed the free flow, and back and forth of the discussion. Everyone made great points, and I learned a lot….I had no idea that the whole insanity of the Q conspiracy had its roots in Mormonism. Wow.
    By the bye, I upped my monthly contribution to bring J.L. onto the show as often as possible, and I look forward to digging into his podcast archives.
    A tip of the hat to everyone at Mormon Stories!

  24. J October 13, 2021 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I would like to see John Larsen hold Climate Change history and data to the same standard he holds Mormonism. Let’s do a Part 2 and see what he has to say!

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