Am I just slow on the uptake here? I went to Mormon Stories today and found to my surprise, that it had been retired.
This is a great loss in my opinion. I really don’t blame John for setting down the torch. I tried to do a podcast once and only made it through four of them before real life set in (read: I graduated).
John Dehlin really started something magnificent. It seems to me that he managed to talk, for a brief time, to a larger spectrum of Mormons than I think has ever been contacted by a single person. We know from reading his blog that he had everyone from TBMs to exMos participating. That wouldn’t be so amazing, except for the fact that he was getting kudos from all sides.
For example, at the time he started his endeavor, I was visiting a discussion board that was a meeting place for people who were finished with Mormonism. John showed up and supplied a link to a little movie he had made about the relationship of the Church with African Americans. The response was hugely supportive. Everyone on the board was amazed to see a practicing Mormon willing to delve into these things publicly.
I think John was very brave in what he did, even though what he did was very simple. He was willing to let people tell their stories. Though I sometimes thought he tried to squeeze an orthodox interpretation out of some of his subject’s stories, I still had to admit, he let the stories be told. And that was very significant because, to me, stories have much more power than principles do.
When one preaches a principle, one tries to cast the world in a mold. When one tells a story, one opens up a world of interpretation. Stories are pregnant. They give life. Principles (though we need them) only control.
Why does everyone love John? Because he listens.
In a way, John is one of the most subversive Mormons on record. And in a way, he is the most constructive. Simply because he let the stories flow.
At church, I don’t feel like I can tell my stories. They’re messy, they don’t submit to easy interpretation (at least, I won’t let them). If I told them, I feel like I would be judged and found wanting. I’d like Church to be more like Mormon Stories, where we can find out who our brothers and sisters are. Where we can watch each other be beautifully messy and complex.
Thanks John, for what you did. Let’s hope you’ve started a revolution.