Your Questions for John Larsen

John Dehlin Mormon Stories 43 Comments

John-Top-bar-2On January 21st at 6pm in Salt Lake City we will be hosting a live interview and celebration of John Larsen (former host of Mormon Expression Podcast, and current president of the White Fields Educational Foundation).  Please post your questions for John here, and please RSVP to attend the interview/celebration here.  We hope that many of you will join us to celebrate John’s many wonderful contributions to Mormonism.

Comments 43

  1. Does John Larsen have any regrets about not being more inclusive with his panel? What is the point of having a group of people who are mic’d and yet non-participants? It’s not like these people were not talented voices as many of them have gone on to have success in the very same arena so someone was willing to listen to them, if not John Larsen. John seems so uninterested in the collaborative effort, when anyone else was speaking on Mormon Expression you can hear the wheels in clicking in John’s head (how can I get this back on my topic?) is he aware of his narcissism?

    1. I admit that Rick’s comment sounds pretty harsh, but having been a listener of Mormon Expression since the beginning, I have to honestly say that there is a lot of relevance and precedent to the question.

      That said, I have to say that I really respect a lot of John L.’s positions. I totally agree with his admission that communities are nearly impossible to create, and especially sustain, in the ex-Mormon world. It’s just tough to create a community based on a negative (e.g., anger and hurt towards an organization like the Church).

      I also appreciated John’s podcast about the things that he likes/respects about the Church. To say that 100% of our experience in the Church was all bad is probably a stretch for 99% of us (at least today), and it was cool to hear John express some of his good experiences in the Church (even if most of them have been stripped away through correlation).

    2. I’ve heard this said about John and mormon expressions- although I enjoy listening to others opinions and do, on other podcasts, the reason I loved listening to mormon expression WAS to hear Johns opinion. Always loved his way of thinking and how he said it. My question is why do people seem to need to criticize in such an unintelligent way?!

  2. 1. Why did you get divorced as soon as you resigned from the church?

    2. I agree with the previous poster – “Rick”. John L. monopolizes his podcasts and doesn’t allow his guest panel to speak for the most part. It’s obvious he prefers the sound of his own voice. So why have guest speakers at all???

  3. I’m curious if John has had any direct communication from the church aside from his local wards.

    Regarding some of the complaints, there are several episodes I’ve listened to 4 or 5 times, and most of them twice. But those where John hasn’t been the host, I haven’t bothered returning to.

    1. I also was usually disappointed to find an episode that John wasn’t in, himself, with one exception. The “Mantle is Far Greater than the Intellect” episode is tremendous. I’ve listened that one episode probably 4-5 times…and it is a two-parter. Love that episode.

  4. Alright, one more. I’m going to go ahead and ask some low-brow questions:

    Does being recognized in public have any benefits? Do you get free drinks? Free meals?

    Do you ever want to go back to that guy that was a jerk to you in high school and say, “what’s up muthaf*&@$er, I have 40,000 downloads per week!”?

    Have you ever brought up the podcast at work, and been like, “That’s great that you’re 100% on those TPS reports, but I have 40,000 f%#$@ing downloads per week! Eat it!”

  5. I was completely blown-away by the recent podcast about building a transoceanic vessel. The breadth and scope of the knowledge John had during that podcast REALLY impressed me. How much time and effort did you put into research for that single podcast, and how does that compare to the amount of energy you invest in preparing for all of your podcasts? Do any of the panelists you include do comparable research and preparation prior to a podcast?

    I really admire the work of the White Fields Educational Foundation. Can you share any success stories of people who have been counseled through its services? Are there any resources of the foundation that are available to people outside of Utah?

  6. John,

    I think it’s great that you’re doing an interview on Mormon Stories. I’ve wanted to see something like this happen for some time now. I’ve listened to Mormon Expression for about a year and have enjoyed the different perspectives it offers. Thanks for your hard work and effort. I look forward to seeing what the newly appointed host does with the program. My question can be answered by either of the Johns:

    It’s obvious that you two are very different in how you approach Mormonism and religion in general. My question is, what is the single biggest difference and the single biggest commonality between you two? Is there more in common than not?

  7. John,
    I’ve listened to many of your podcasts and have been impressed with the amount of time that must have been spent preparing for various topics. It seems to me Mormon Expressions has been a replacement to the Church for you. It has given you an outlet and community to which you have been very well accepted. As you look back, was it a positive or negative impact on your personal life? What do you wish you could do over again? Do you believe you will ever be able to fully escape the dissonance of leaving behind the beliefs you once thought so precious? I have come to appreciate the absolute horror one endures when making such earth shattering changes and how important it is to not judge anyone. I appreciate your willingness to share your story in such a public setting and hope as you move on with your life you can do so knowing that whatever personal cost you have endured you have helped many feel that they are not alone in their own struggles.

  8. I have listed to a couple of Larson’s podcasts. My view, interesting, but his language is rated xxx. Even though I am something of a potty mouth myself at times, I think that Larson’s overly frequent foul mouth detracts from the conversation.

    1. John’s very gifted and entertaining however the continual “f” word in the later podcasts detracted me from the message.

      1. Rather amused by this comment. Do you know why ‘bad’ words are bad? It’s because they were used by the lower classed. Think about it. You use words that use the exact same thing without thinking, without concern. It’s the word that matters – not the topic. So honestly, when you’re getting fretted about language you’re being quite classist. You’re just saying that you don’t like the word that the lower classes used to refer to the same things that we all talk about anyway.

        And, to be honest, you might be grateful! Medieval swear words were all about god and his body parts which was – at the time – way more blasphemous. So really… by 14th century standards, John is super polite.

        Seriously. Language is for communication. Let’s communicate as directly as we can.

  9. In one of Larsen’s podcasts, he said Dehlin was the greatest (or biggest?, or most effective?, I can’t recall) apostate ever in the Church. I think it was intended as a compliment, and I generally agree. Does Larsen still hold this view? I’d like to hear this discussion.

  10. Are you guys going to talk about your big falling out since the joint podcast you did? I am assuming that you guys made up and Dehlin no longer has Larsen on time out.

  11. I have two questions for John:

    1. I find myself to be largely agnostic in my general, day-to-day life. However, I’ve noticed that in those rare instances when I am faced with the prospect of some potential life tragedy or life-altering event (e.g., the potential illness of a child, potential job loss, the threat of divorce from my own wife, etc.), I sometimes find myself pleading to a God that I largely ignore and lack a belief in when my life is going well. I realize that this is akin to “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” but I’ve heard similar stories from others who are agnostic/atheist–at least those who are honest. My question is when John has similar life experiences, does he ever have even the temptation to call out to God in prayer? Seek a priesthood blessing? (e.g, during his divorce, dark moments, change of jobs, etc.)

    2. I want to respect John L.’s privacy in regard to the reasons behind his divorce from Zilpha, but I’m curious to know one question: if he never started the Mormon Expression Podcast, does he think that he would still be married to Zilpha today? In other words, did he feel that the celebrity (for both he and Zilpha), the interactions (and maybe even star-struck nature of those interactions) with so many people, and even the tempatation toward narcissism that such celebrity brings, etc., may have been the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in their marriage?

    1. Hi Bill – i find it interesting that you says in the instances when you are face with tragedy you find yourself pleading with God…. I lost my husband last year to a very sudden and unexpected death [no i love you or goodbyes] and although I did believe prior to his death, through the hardest time of my life, i lost all belief in anything. I certainly didn’t turn to him/her/it and I decided if they exist, then they are a total dick and I don’t want to talk to them anyway.

  12. More questions:

    1. Mormon Expression seemed to go through multiple phases. To me, the first phase was kind of trying to find an identity/working with different line-ups, the second phase was kind of a pretty relaxed, humorous/satirical, group discussion on Mormon topics (which I loved), and the latter phase seemed to get a little more serious/soap-boxy for me–while still maintaining some humor/satire. This latter phase seemed to coincide with John’s anger towards the damage that the Church does in people’s lives (which is understandable), but it also kind of took away from the fun, lighter podcasts in the middle phase. My question is: what was John’s favorite time of the podcast? Was it the beginning stages of the podcast, the middle run, or the end (maybe even after his divorce when he came back)?

    2. What’s the story with Lindsay Hansen Park? She seemed to rise to the forefront of Mormon Expression overnight and, from all appearances, seemed to be John’s go-to, right hand wo-man. They even did a Voices episode together (which seemed weird to me). Just curious as to what the origin story/ background was in their apparently close relationship. Also, it seems like she kind of disappeared from the podcast pretty quickly. Just wondering what her status with White Fields is now.

  13. I loved your previous interviews of one-another and would like to see that again to the extent with which you’re comfortable. I’m also curious which were Larsen’s favorite Mormon Expression episodes and why. Which garnered the most unexpected responses?

  14. I have been a big fan of Mormon Expression for awhile now, and want to first say thanks to John Larsen for his persistence and passion. Mormon Expression has been, and continues to be, a great outlet and source of hope and humor in my post-mormon world. My question is this:

    Did losing your belief in a God (and the supernatural) precede, and influence, your disbelief in the Church? Or did you stop believing in God because you realized the church wasn’t true?

    Thanks!

  15. Dehlin is trying to poach Larsen’s listeners ($), cause Larsen if finally about to give it a rest and sink into his alcoholism for good. Is that right?

  16. Why did your language become so progressively vulgar? How did you go from having a few minor swear words being bleeped out to the constant stream of non-bleeped f words on your later podcasts?

  17. Why did you start the Mormon Expression podcast? What did you hope to get out of it personally? Have the benefits outweighed the costs? What has been most rewarding about spearheading this project? Is there a certain amount of narcissism (not to say that this is a primary motivator) that drives a person to want to talk week after week into a microphone?

    Did your audience dwindle as a result of the divorce episode? The level of listener engagement (as measured purely in terms of the number of comments per episode) has declined substantially since the release of this episode. Do you think that many in your audience have at some point looked to you as a role model? If so, is this fair? Is it possible to have a podcast like Mormon Expression (or Mormon Stories for that matter) that is not driven largely by the personality of the host (not that this is necessarily a bad thing)?

    It seems like John Dehlin and John Larsen have had similar goals for a while now, with regards to helping struggling individuals and couples navigate faith and identity crises / transitions in healthy ways. Why haven’t John and John teamed up, or have they?

  18. 1 – how do you think you’ll be remembered for the work you’ve done?
    2 – what’s something we don’t know about yoit desires in the podcasts that would be good to know and do you feel you’ve achieved what you set out to do?
    3 – is there anyway that you feel you’ve been misunderstood?
    4 – what things would you have done differently?
    5 – are you happier?

  19. John it will be great to hear how you two dance together as the ex-people of paradox.
    John Larson, on your Mormon Expression site you have deleted comments, why?
    Seems you champion free speech but choose to curtail the speech of others.
    I have noticed of recent, on Mormon Stories, the same selectivity is in evidence.
    Since the entry of Mr. Patterson, it seems there is a new veil over the comment department.
    I have admired the courage of you both but this is not the way of liberty or open dialogue.

    For a gentile like me, it’s futile to pray, but, I’m wishing you both the very best in your new azimuth and lifes’ choices.
    I wold like for you both to turn down the censorship dials.
    Please

    Or you can state up front that comment will be filtered of the public good.
    Thank you, Ephima

  20. What made you decide to develop the Mormon Expression podcast? What is your greatest accomplishment that has come as a result of the podcast? Has hosting the podcast been worth the cost? Would you do it again?

    How did the divorce episode affect the audience base of the podcast? It seems like the activity level in the comments sections of the subsequent episodes dwindled substantially following the release of this episode. Did the number of listeners also drop off significantly?

    Do you feel like your audience has ever viewed you as a role model? If so, is this fair? To what extent is it possible to put together a successful critical podcast on “Mormonism” that is not driven largely by the personality of the host?

    It seems like John Dehlin and John Larsen have had similar goals for a while now, with regards to helping struggling individuals and couples navigate faith and identity crises / transitions in healthy ways. Why haven’t John and John teamed up, or have they?

  21. With all the strange little happenings John has accumulated over the years about church history has he kept a list of the primary sources and has he published a list of them anywhere?

    What does he think of the psychology, not the person, of people like Brian Hales, who can say one thing of Joseph, like he was not an adulterer and then turn around and say that Joseph most likely had sex with women other than his wife without Emma knowing about it (and with the scripture that says he is supposed to ask his wife first for permission before damning her to hell is she doesn’t comply). And, more importantly, what does this knowledge say of the psychology of us who reject Joseph and the church, in other words, how fallible are we all?

    What does John believe about truth. Does he accept some philosophers opinions that truth, if it exists, can never be arrived at?

  22. I’d love to hear John Larsen help John Dehlin prep for the upcoming and absurd “court of love” bullsh** by pretending to be that a**hole of a stake president. Larsen might help by suggesting some colorful and imaginative invective-laced replies, too.

  23. Question 1: what is the biggest challenge in your life now?

    Q2: do you ever feel like Joseph Smith in that some people will always speak good of you and some will speak evil of you?

    Comment: I myself am great for the podcast specially when it was in the early stages. But as mentioned by others here, like Rick, you grew to become a narcissist and you did not care what your panel had to say. But I guess that is a flaw you may care little about. Well, wish you the best.

  24. I have loved both Mormon Stories and Mormon Expression since I discovered them both in autumn of 2010 or so. I’m sad that John Larsen is retiring, but given the prodigious amount of research he put into his podcasts, it’s understandable. Thank you for your efforts.

  25. Question

    What do you think will be the long term effects if the LDS Church continues to…
    1) excommunicate outspoken “big tent”-advocate members?
    2) publish controversial topics in white-washed essays to internet-savvy members?
    3) become increasingly(!) U.S./Utah-conservative while having MAINLY non-U.S. members – living in diversified (sometimes very liberal) cultures?
    4) be trapped in an imaginary world, controlled by great-grandpas?

    Looking forward to an EPIC episode!

  26. What changes must the LDS Church make to become a (from your view) healthy entity for members to stay active and invested in.

  27. In a mixed marriage (one active Mormon and one not):
    1) does one spouse have the ability to prevent children from being baptized?
    2) if you were in that situation, would you refuse to allow the children to be baptized?
    3) what would be the benefits/downfalls of having the children not be baptized (i.e. non-believing husband doesn’t have to explain why he is not doing the ordinance, doesn’t have to kowtow to local leaders to perform ordinances, no confusion as to why spouse is not active in church, kids are forced to think about why they don’t belong to church/consider if they want to when they are 18, kids feel like they have choices to make when they are 18 instead of just following the mission/BYU path, no interviews allowed/necessary for non-member children, etc.
    4) are there other benefits/considerations not mentioned above?

    Thanks for you consideration of this issue since it doesn’t apply to your children since you and Zilpha are both non-believing and haven’t baptized your child, and don’t have children attending church. I have seen many discussions about whether a man will be allowed to baptize his child, but this seems to just give more power to the church instead of just making a stand that they can wait until they are 18 to make that choice.

    Another important question – how would you explain the decision to extended family in a way that will reduce conflict as much as possible, but also prevent extended discussion/argument for the children to be baptized?

    Look forward to hearing the interview. Jeff

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