5 Questions After 5 Years – From A Longtime ‘Nacle Wannabe

Guest - August 6, 2009

Submitted by John Dehlin

Most of you won’t know me. I used to blog/podcast back in the day, but was never really part of the official Bloggernacle community (as defined by those invested in the term). I was (and am) a ‘Nacle Wannabe. :)

A big thanks to Rusty for the invitation to write. He’s always been really cool to me. Same w/ Ronan, JNS, SV, ECS, Kaimi, KH, BIV, DKL, Kiskilili, Hamer, Danithew, Ann, Aaron Brown — and a few other mainstream ‘nacle friends I’m forgetting right now. I’ll never forget the kindness of those who reached out to me in my tougher times — even during the times when I was being an a@$, which were legion.

One or two of you may know that I’m starting a PhD program this Fall in Clinical/Counseling Psychology. Upon reflection, my interest in psychology sprung out of my somewhat embarrassing, quasi-entrance into the bloggernacle back in 2004/2005. What a disaster. :)

When I started Mormon Stories, I felt this sincere, deep-seeded, almost overwhelming concern for those I considered to be marginalized within Mormonism. I spent a few years, at an almost frenetic pace, trying to create web sites and podcasts to reach out to those struggling. Gays. Feminists. Intellectuals. Doubters. The mentally ill. Even the disaffected. Godaddy probably considered me a premier client.

After a few years of reaching out to anyone and everyone I could — it began to feel like I was holding an umbrella during a tsunami. So much pain out there, it seemed. So little support. I was also struggling through my own crisis of faith at the time — and this clearly distorted my perception. Thankfully, I found the sunlight again — and could not be more happy with my activity in the church. I feel incredibly blessed.

But even though I’ve largely hung up my cyber-sneakers, I continue to be contacted by ~3 people a week — suffering in some significant way within the church.

• A gay BYU student in the closet….scared to come out for fear of being kicked out of school.
• An acting bishop who has lost his faith only 2 years into his 5 year term. Unsure how to proceed.
• A missionary, in the field, who doesn’t know how to continue his mission now that he’s discovered the discrepancy between his church education, and the actual historical record.
• A wife who is beside herself at her husband’s recent disaffection from the church…mourning the loss of her eternal family.
• A divorced dad who has lost access (for the most part) to his own children over church-related faith issues.
• A white collar professional secretly addicted to porn.

An average of 3 a week for almost 5 years now. Over 1,000 people personally counseled (in one way or another). And counting.

I used to blame the church for all this pain — but not any more. In my experience — most of this pain is born more out of the human condition than it is anyone’s fault (per se). Life is just tough. There is significant joy and pain both inside and outside of Mormonism. Each of us must pick our pain package…so to speak. And it’s pretty much always a mixed bag — church or no church. I’ve found that I’m much, much happier within the church — but that’s just me. I know others that claim to be much happier since leaving…and I applaud anyone for finding increased joy amidst the pain of this life.

Still — my heart has not stopped feeling for the struggling within Mormonism. I continually puzzle at how hard it is for some folks to constructively work through their pain (myself included). I don’t minimize the complexity of the issues. I just wish that healing was somehow easier within this particular body of Christ…which I happen to love immensely.

As I think about the role the Bloggernacle has played in all of this — I am convinced that overall, it has been a tremendously positive force for good within Mormonism. In reality, my small efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to what you all have been able to do collectively. There are so many thoughtful, yet faithful members of the ‘Nacle (Kevin Barney, Margaret Young, DMI Dave, Angela Clayton, Brian Johnston, FMHLisa, etc.) that provide healthy examples of how to know all of the tough stuff — and yet believe. Just providing a place for the discussion of tough issues can be a godsend to so many who are suffering in silence. Sometime knowing you are not alone is 80% of the battle. So kudos to all of you for opening up the conversation, providing places to share, and most of all — for providing a crucial “community of support within a community of support”. Even if unintentional.

As I close, here are 5 questions I leave for all of us…myself included:
1) What can we, within the Mormon internet writ large, do to better support those in pain? I know we are doing a lot. But can we do more?
2) How can we extend the reach of the Mormon Internet — to make more and more people feel welcome and not excluded (without diluting the wonderful community you/we have built)?
3) What can we do to better augment the written word with the human touch, and with the physical eyes of understanding that only face-to-face interactions allow? Could an annual bloggernacle conference, or even more audio/visual resources (such as podcasts, videocasts, interviews, etc.) supplement the incredible text-based communities that are clearly flourishing?
4) How might we aggregate the “best of the Bloggernacle” into a centralized resource that provides more directed support to those in need?
5) Most importantly, how do we support positive growth in the institutional church in ways that do not simultaneously weaken this incredible force for good in the world?

These are my 5 questions for the Bloggernacle, and for myself, as I reflect upon the past 5 years, and look ahead to graduate school. I hope to develop some solutions to these problems with some of you in the years ahead. Even if only as an outsider. Regardless, thanks to all of you for blessing my life in innumerable ways.

45 Comments »

  1. Well, I’d comment on a few of your questions, but since you call me out in your first paragraph, I don’t suppose you really care to hear anything I might say. Maybe if I admitted to a torrid affair with my bishop’s wife while spiking the Primary children’s milk supply and spitting in the sacrament cups you’d be more interested.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — August 6, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

  2. No answers at all, just sincere appreciation for this post and everything else of yours I’ve read and heard.

    Comment by marta — August 6, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  3. And Ardis, please do write that up for us.

    Comment by marta — August 6, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

  4. Whoa, Ardis.

    John, I don’t have any answers right now but I like the questions. I’m glad you’re here and grateful for what you’ve done and are doing. You have unquestionably helped many people tremendously, me included.

    Comment by MCQ — August 6, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  5. Thanks John for all you have done.
    As a fundamentalist I must express appreciation for the Anne Wilde interviews. That really helped a lot of mainstream Church members get past the stereotypes of our communities.

    It does indeed seem that the chasm between conservative TBM’s and liberal New Order types is widening. To respond to your questions as to how things could be improved…
    -even more tolerance
    -even more patience
    -even more long-suffering
    …for those who see things differently.

    Comment by Bruce Johns — August 6, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  6. John, I don’t know how anyone else defines Bloggernacle, but you’ve always been part of mine.

    These are thoughtful questions. The blogging community has really supported me through some pain, and I hope I can give back.

    ♥ you, John!

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — August 6, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

  7. Ardis!

    I actually wasn’t calling you out in the first paragraph….I don’t even know you (e.g. haven’t read anything you’ve written that I remember anyway)….but I have heard a ton of good things. I would be totally interested in anything you have to say (based on your reputation alone).

    And for the record — I didn’t mean anything bad by that first comment. It was pointing to Steve’s comment — not yours…and it was not a dig on Steve even. I was just trying to provide context around the issue of some folks being considered “in” vs. “out” of the ‘Nacle. I’ve always felt out of it….but I respect why people feel some ownership of the community. I really do. And I do take responsibility for my part in the separation. As I mentioned in my essay — I have often acted like an a$% (in times past, anyway).

    Anyway — I’m sorry if that came across wrong. The intent of the whole post was to: 1) compliment those in the ‘nacle, and 2) ask what we can do to help more people.

    BIV! I will always love you!!!! HUGE hugs to you.

    Marta/MCQ. Thanks!

    Bruce — Anne is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. A wonderful person. Knowing her has been an amazing gift in my life. I hope to meet you as well someday!!!!!

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 6, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  8. Thanks for this. You say that you’ve “largely hung up [your] cyber-sneakers.” May I ask why? Too busy? Burned out? Or have you found the Bloggernacle to be of limited long-term value?

    I’m not trying to be impertinent – I really want to know.

    Comment by Hunter — August 6, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  9. 1) What can we, within the Mormon internet writ large, do to better support those in pain? I know we are doing a lot. But can we do more?

    I think we spend too much time on our own selfish interests, and not enough time thinking about how to present things in a way that is accessible to a normal person. I think a lot of people are uncertain who is “On the Lord’s Side” and so shy away from blogs due to labels like “Liberal”, “Feminist” etc. While some feel pain because they also use these labels, others feel pain and do not use these. On top of that, there is a lot of Faith demoting Crap that goes around that not everyone is comfortable with.

    2) How can we extend the reach of the Mormon Internet — to make more and more people feel welcome and not excluded (without diluting the wonderful community you/we have built)?

    You invite people who aren’t part of the community to participate. It’s a balance though, because I would not recomened the naccle to everyone for the answer #1.

    3) What can we do to better augment the written word with the human touch, and with the physical eyes of understanding that only face-to-face interactions allow? Could an annual bloggernacle conference, or even more audio/visual resources (such as podcasts, videocasts, interviews, etc.) supplement the incredible text-based communities that are clearly flourishing?

    I think this requires a level of effort and evangalism that is not in the interest of the typical navel-gazing blogger.

    4) How might we aggregate the “best of the Bloggernacle” into a centralized resource that provides more directed support to those in need?

    Google.

    5) Most importantly, how do we support positive growth in the institutional church in ways that do not simultaneously weaken this incredible force for good in the world?

    uh, can you rephrase the question? Is this force for Good the Bloggernaccle? What Sort of Growth in the Church. Isn’t a force for Good going to support Growth in the Church?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 7, 2009 @ 5:45 am

  10. John, Not sure if you remember me from the gathering at Rusty’s a few years back. I was amazed that – even at a party – you spent the entire time talking with a guy about his crisis of faith. You truly have a gift with patience and Christ-like empathy. Good luck on your PhD work.

    Also, you should add yourself to the list of people who know the tough stuff – and yet remain. We need to hold on to people like you.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — August 7, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  11. 1) What can we, within the Mormon internet writ large, do to better support those in pain? I know we are doing a lot. But can we do more?

    I don’t think the problem is necessarily the Mormon internet. It’s the Mormon offline. If church were BCC or MMatters (or most of the other sites), I’d have no reservations against going every week (wouldn’t make me believe more, but still). But as such, I recognize (and lament) that the church experience, for many wards, is going to be much different than the online experience. I don’t know how to change this, unless the online community is seen as mainstream/acceptable/orthodox enough to be accepted in the chapel. Unfortunately, since we can’t even figure out who even fits in the Bloggernacle, this’ll be a tough task!

    2) How can we extend the reach of the Mormon Internet — to make more and more people feel welcome and not excluded (without diluting the wonderful community you/we have built)?

    I don’t think the problem is people feeling excluded. More, it’s that there has to be a good fit. Fortunately, we have a breadth of sites on the ‘Nacle so if one site doesn’t float one’s boat, there’s another. We can (and should) be willing to refer to the other sites on the B’Nacle, instead of continentally drifting away from each other over time.

    3) What can we do to better augment the written word with the human touch, and with the physical eyes of understanding that only face-to-face interactions allow? Could an annual bloggernacle conference, or even more audio/visual resources (such as podcasts, videocasts, interviews, etc.) supplement the incredible text-based communities that are clearly flourishing?

    I probably shouldn’t answer this, seeing as I’m a shut-in loner :3.

    4) How might we aggregate the “best of the Bloggernacle” into a centralized resource that provides more directed support to those in need?

    This is controversial, but what if posts were tagged and indexed by category or whatever and could be voted by quality, informativeness, helpfulness? I mean, we already have tags, but they are a bit unwieldy on most blogs and differ when you go from blog to blog. But what if we could begin archiving by subject and allow voting to determine the best? This could be a more effective aggregate method than going purely by date of posting.

    5) Most importantly, how do we support positive growth in the institutional church in ways that do not simultaneously weaken this incredible force for good in the world?

    See answer 1. I don’t know.

    Comment by Andrew S. — August 7, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  12. After talking to John on the phone a few times, and hearing what he had to say (in addition to what he was publishing in the ‘Nacle) – it became clear to me that there are a lot of LDS people out there who are perplexed, confused, irritated, etc. about a lot of different issues.

    I was intrigued by two of John’s examples in this post – the gay BYU student who doesn’t know what to do and the bishop who is experiencing personal doubt/confusion after two years of service. There are a lot of other kinds of examples. This isn’t something I typically encounter or think about much – but John has a way of finding these people – or they have a way of finding him.

    I think John is onto something with his personal approach and unique database of experience/knowledge – and maybe he’s going to help the Church figure out practical means to approach real problems.

    I suspect these problems are the kinds of things that most people try to ignore. Most of us do not make it a personal mission to try and deal with them. John Dehlin is different that way. My personal opinion is that he’s being constructive and genuine – though I know some others feel differently.

    John, good luck in your studies. I think you are going to do great things.

    Comment by danithew — August 8, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  13. I used to blame the church for all this pain — but not any more. In my experience — most of this pain is born more out of the human condition than it is anyone’s fault (per se). Life is just tough. There is significant joy and pain both inside and outside of Mormonism.

    That is an important insight, and one I wish was easier for some people to understand, especially those who are compulsive or slightly OCD about their pain.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 8, 2009 @ 7:09 am

  14. Where’s the PhD at?

    Comment by Ben — August 8, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  15. I don’t understand your 5th question. Can you would elaborate?

    I hope those who have the greatest influence on the future of the Bloggernacle will be more welcoming to the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

    Without the power of the Holy Ghost that can be made manifest through these principles the Bloggernacle could evolve into an offshoot of cyber-church(es) having no affiliation with Salt lake.

    Comment by Jared — August 8, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

  16. I think the core answer I have found is to love people for who they ARE, not just for whom we want them to be and/or become. I think the cousin to that idea is to worry less about winning and more about understanding (that there are no strictly intellectual discussions, since everything is emotional to someone) – which really is just a subset of the core principle.

    Finally, I think we need to realize that we know less than 0.000000000000000001% of the details that affect and make up our eternal existence – so the person arguing with us about something, in the aggregate, probably is right as much as we are. That also, in the end, is tied directly into the core principle of unconditional love and acceptance.

    Summary:

    We need to understand Jesus’ life well enough to model it in our interactions – one characteristic at a time, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year until we become perfect (complete, whole, fully developed) even as he is. It has to be an intentional effort, since it won’t happen naturally.

    Comment by Ray — August 8, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  17. Jared, with respect, I hope not.

    The first principles and ordinances of the gospel get plenty of time at church. That’s as it should be. But if we are going to talk about those things here too, then the reason for my participation in the nacle will cease to exist. See, we need a place where we can talk about everything but faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the holy ghost. This is that place.

    It’s not going to evolve into any church. It isn’t a church and it never will be a church. What it is, and I hope always will be, is a place where members of The One True Church of Jesus Christ can come and talk about the things we never get to talk about at church. Is that really so hard to understand?

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2009 @ 1:10 am

  18. MCQ, your comment reminded me of Square Two. “Square One is the gospel. We already cover this enough. But what about square two — the public?”

    of course, I bet the square-two’ers would probably align more closely with Jared.

    Comment by Andrew S. — August 9, 2009 @ 1:39 am

  19. MCQ–

    I agree completely that the ‘nacle should be a place where members can talk about many things that wouldn’t, and shouldn’t be discussed at church.

    My point is simply this: those who are changed by the gospel (first principles)have the companionship of the Holy Ghost—at some level.

    The Holy Ghost is not something one puts on and off, as one would an article of clothing.

    Because the HG becomes part of the them, at some level, it will show through in their thoughts, attitudes, faithfulness–their writings.

    So when I say I hope the Bloggernacle will be more welcoming to the first principles and ordinances of the gospel—I’m not suggesting the ‘nacle become and extension of Sunday School. I’m suggesting that those who write and comment in the ‘nacle, and who are also committed to the gospel—won’t feel it necessary to disrobe from the Spirit.

    There are some in the’nacle who are “bilingual”, meaning they are fluent in the language of the Spirit and can communicate effectively on ‘nacle subjects.

    Comment by Jared — August 9, 2009 @ 6:56 am

  20. Andrew,

    I know one of the square two folks and I am familiar with a number of others. They may be a bit conservative, but they are also thoughtful and bright intellectuals (plus, Bushman’s essay in the most recent edi.tions shows an interest is diverse political perspectives).

    I say this to point out that they in no way “align” with Jared.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 9, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  21. Jared, I hope you didn’t mean what it sounds like you are saying. Most of us here in the nacle are faithful members and have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We don’t disrobe from that gift when we participate in the nacle. How would one even do that? I don’t think anyone should feel it necessary to do that in order to participate, and I don’t think there is any such thing as two separate languages (nacleish and spirit-talk?). Saying things like that is just divisive. We are all here as ourselves, our whole selves, hopefully using the spirit as a guide as in every other aspect of our lives.

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  22. if you read Jared’s blog, it is quite clear that he means it as it sounds. Apparently some of the fruits of the Spirit are anger and bitterness.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 9, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  23. Yeah, Chris, I know, but one can hope.

    Comment by MCQ — August 9, 2009 @ 11:10 am

  24. re 20:

    Oh, Chris H, I may disagree with Jared (frequently), but that was mean! I feel collaterally damaged.

    I think, regardless of everything else, that their conservativeness (relating to scripture and orthodoxy, not necessarily to politics) is what makes them align more with Jared. Jared, it seems to me, dislikes the “Sunstoneyness” of some sites in the ‘Nacle. So when Square Two says, “We are not another Sunstone” that’s what makes me think they would align more. They call out for apologists, not Sunstoners. Etc.,

    Comment by Andrew S. — August 9, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  25. MCQ and Chris H.–

    It appears I’m being ganged up on with ‘nacle style put downs.

    I view myself as an observer, and yes, I’m concerned about the level of spirituality in the ‘nacle. Yes, I think there is “nacleish”.

    Concern doesn’t equal anger and bitterness.

    I also think there are many wonderful church members in the ‘nacle that are speaking nacleish, the two of you just spoke it to me.

    The scripture over flow with warnings directed to church members about what I am saying. Is the source of our scriptures “anger and bitterness”? I hope that’s not what your saying. :D

    Comment by Jared — August 9, 2009 @ 11:57 am

  26. Jared,,

    I cannot speak for mcq, but that was an east coast smack down and not a ‘nacle put down.

    Concern? The tone that you convey is one of contempt and wrath. On my mission, I found that love was a more effective means of preaching repentance. Obviously, as Andrew pointed out, I too have not been showing much charity. Maybe we both need to pray for charity. There are also lots of scriptures about that, too.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 9, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

  27. Chris H.–

    No contempt and wrath here.

    I don’t think charity should be defined as not speaking your mind on important issues.

    I may disagree with you on this, or that. But that doesn’t mean I’m harboring contempt and wrath towards you.

    Yes, I agree praying for charity is a good course to follow. I do all the time, and after forty years I’m getting through.

    Comment by Jared — August 9, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  28. I guess I will chime in since I happen to be bullet point number 4. I do not assume that I am the only distraught wife to contact John, just one of the more recent ones. DH and I credit John with saving our marriage and our church membership. We love him and consider him to be part of our family.

    His only request of us…..pay it forward! That is what we are trying to do.

    To John’s detractors, I would ask you to consider the fact that almost every disaffected member has a family of one kind or another. If I believed that my only options were my family or my church, I would not have chosen the church. It would have been devastating, but I would have packed up my children and followed my husband. If that scenario gets repeated enough times, the church will be missing alot of wonderful people. Thank goodness we were able to find another way.

    So, thanks John! And thanks in advance to anyone out there who might soften their feelings toward people like us. Thanks in advance for being more tolerant, more understanding and less judgemental. Thanks in advance for sitting by me in the temple because I always go alone. Thanks in advance for being our friends, even though we seem different. Thanks in advance for trying to do what Jesus would do, if we lived in His ward boundaries. Which, by they way, we do. We ALL do.

    Comment by pinkpatent — August 11, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  29. Hunter (8),

    So sorry for the delay in responding.

    I stopped Mormon Stories for a bunch of reasons….

    – I was getting contacted by so many people. I wanted to help them all, but trying to help everyone was starting to put a real strain on my family and work situation. I didn’t know how to say “No” basically. And I kinda felt like retiring the podcast would help to slow down the spigot, so to speak. It really has…which I’m ambivalent about. I’m no longer drowning (which is nice), but I want to help everyone I/we can. So I’m thinking w/ my PhD of ways to scale the support I/we try to provide.

    – I really tried to be neutral in the podcast….I tried to be as fair with Bushman as I was with Palmer. At some point I went through my own crisis of faith, and needed to pause the podcast while I figured things out (I was starting to lose my objectivity…if I ever had it). Now I’m back, fully active in the church, but I don’t feel like resuming the podcast (at least in its old form) would be constructive and faith-promoting, which I want to be. I’m squarely pro-faith (I always have been, actually), but I don’t know how to consistently be simultaneously super-interesting AND faith promoting. I am toying w/ the idea of doing a series of interviews on thoughtful believers (kind of a “Why/how I stay series) — so if any of you all are interested in collaborating on that, please let me know.

    – I still help run http://staylds.com and http://mormonmatters.org (behind the scenes) which does take away some of my free time.

    – I stopped blogging partly because (with limited time) I prefer the face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice interactions to the written ones. Sometimes when people hide behind pseudonyms, it feels like discourse can become so coarse. So with limited time, I focus on more direct, personal interactions — where people need/want direct counseling or support. That said — I think bloggers are doing a very important work.

    I do plan on blogging again, just around psychology/mental health issues within Mormonism. I’m thinking about doing it through http://ldspsychology.com

    Thanks for asking!

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  30. Matt W (9),

    When I said “force for good in the world” I meant the church. My question is: how do we encourage conversations that do not simultaneously weaken commitment to the church?

    That’s what I mean.

    I have been around the ‘Nacle and the DAMU enough to realize that not all LDS-centered conversations strengthen faith and commitment to the church. I’m only interested now in supporting the ones that do. I want the church to be strong, and grow in marvelous ways.

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 9:50 am

  31. CJ Douglass (10),

    Thanks, CJ. I need to get back to NYC soon. That was a blast.

    Thanks for your kind words. My friends who run StayLDS (Hawkgrrrl, Valeol, Ray, Orsen) are the real saints. They are so amazing to me.

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 9:58 am

  32. Andrew S. (11),

    I think taggings and ratings is a great idea — but it’s super hard/tricky to achieve critical mass. We tried this with http://www.sustaind.org , but I think it fell kinda flat.

    The only way I see it happening will be if we can come up with a technology solution (like a browser plug-in) that doesn’t require buy-in and adoption from each individual site. Even then, getting the critical mass of the ‘nacle do adopt would be super hard, if not impossible.

    Maybe someday the MA folks ( http://ldsblogs.com ) will form a consortium or something to persuade folks to gather the “best of” the Nacle and create a consolidated index, or a printed book or something.

    I just really think there’s amazing stuff written in the ‘Nacle that should be centrally indexed/published. Too much good stuff gets lost in the WordPress archive, IMHO.

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 10:09 am

  33. Danithew (12),

    I really enjoyed our interactions back in the day. You are a good man.

    Let’s keep in touch, eh? Thanks so much for your kindness.

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  34. Ben (14),

    I’m getting a degree in Combined Clinical/Counseling Psychology at Utah State University in Logan, Utah (where I’ve lived for the past 5 years). It’s a 6 year program. Wish me luck!!! I’ll need it.

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  35. Jared (15),

    I’ve been thinking a lot about your point, and I think I totally agree.

    So much of blogging is textual — and it’s sometimes really hard for textual, heady conversations to be spiritual.

    More and more I see the faith/spiritual realm as being somewhat separate from the intellectual realm (vs. trying to munge them together) — and I do think that the traditional ‘nacle tends to skew intellectual (though as Kaimi and Kristine have mentioned elsewhere, there’s some wonderful spiritual stuff in the ‘nacle as well).

    http://www.ldsaliveinchrist.com/2009/08/another-bloggernacle-stories-of-lost-faith/

    Anyway — I’d love to collaborate w/ you (or others) on this, if you are interested. I’d love to see more faith/spirit somehow layered onto what we’re all trying to do.

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  36. John, thanks for taking the time to explain your involvement levels, and also your insights as to the relative value of the bloggernacle.

    And good luck as you start into your new program at Utah State. I absolutely loved school from kindergarten through law school, but the thought of “going back” makes me want curl up in a corner and reach for my blankey. So, I admire you (and anyone else) for starting a new degree. All the best!

    Comment by Hunter — August 11, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  37. Thanks, Hunter. I’m nervous, but excited.

    I’m banking on enjoying the practice of Psychotherapy once I’m done.

    Wish me luck!

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 11, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  38. #35 John–

    I’m interested. I would be interesting to see what might come of it. The need is there.

    Comment by Jared — August 11, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  39. #35 John–

    I’m interested, too!

    Comment by Silus Grok — August 12, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  40. Fabulous news, John! Your new project sounds wonderful and I look forward to listening in.

    If it means anything, you can claim me as another formerly someone lost and disaffected member brought back into the fold through your efforts. In a joyous turn of events, my husband was recently baptized into the church. If I had not resolved my issues, neither of us would be experiencing the quiet peacefulness of the spirit in our lives.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Jana H — August 12, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  41. Jared/Silus,

    Feel free to ping me at mormonstories@gmail.com

    Jana — Thanks so much for writing. I’m very happy for you and your husband. I hope we can meet someday soon. Come visit in Logan!

    Comment by John Dehlin — August 13, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  42. I didn’t know you were a wanna be. You’re my hero, John.

    Comment by annegb — August 16, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  43. PS, I’d be interested if you admitted to having a torrid affair with your bishop, Ardis. I’m sure others would be, as well.

    Comment by annegb — August 16, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  44. Actually, I rhink we’d all be interested if any of us admitted to having a torrid affair with our bishop.

    Comment by annegb — August 16, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

  45. Extremely late to the party, but here are my thoughts on the 5 questions:
    “1) What can we, within the Mormon internet writ large, do to better support those in pain? I know we are doing a lot. But can we do more?” I think we have to 1) be welcoming of everyone. The tent of Mormonism may have some boundaries, but let’s seek to enlarge it, especially on line where dialogue is possible. 2) we have to talk about the painful issues that can’t be talked about elsewhere and help people find ways to deal with their pain constructively.

    “4) How might we aggregate the “best of the Bloggernacle” into a centralized resource that provides more directed support to those in need?” Some content really does deserve to be aggregated somewhere permanent and made easily searchable. Not sure how/where, but I totally agree.

    “5) Most importantly, how do we support positive growth in the institutional church in ways that do not simultaneously weaken this incredible force for good in the world?” I’m not sure quite how the b’nacle and the institutional church work together. I think the b’nacle should be what it is, and if the institutional church wants grass roots input – here it is.

    Comment by hawkgrrrl — August 20, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

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