Today we tackle the Elder and Sister Renlund Devotional from January 13th 2019. We dissect the Renlunds two parables and their commentary about doubts and those who have them. Along the way we tackle their comparing the Church to a Dilapidated Dinghy as well as their concept of Church Wack-A-Mole. This is a three part series and we hope you enjoy!!!
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12 Replies to “Radio Free Mormon: 064: The Renlunds, A Dilapidated Dinghy, and Church Wack-A-Mole Part 1”
LDS Church is more like a pretend ship built on dry land. If you figure it out you just walk away. All around it there are people living a settled life on the ground, in normal houses. The passengers are kept away from any portholes or open decks.
The sea is a myth.
Your comment about how much better your family is now reflects my own experience. My family is exponentially better now. As soon I quit following my local leaders and the church in general my life shot up in every way. Now that I am completely out it has improved more. As a matter of fact I have never felt more stable, emotionally and spiritually and financially and everything. I had not realized how much I lived my life in fear as a mormon. My experience seems to be different from others as I have never been sad one moment that it is all false. I sing praise every day Joseph Smith was and is a fraud. Thank God.
It is sad to me that the LDS / Brighamite church has changed things that Joseph Smith restored.
I talk of changes of Word and Wisdom and the Holy Ghost/Spirit some in this article.
Having joined Mormonism in the 1970s like you RFM I well remember other talks and lessons with the theme from Bruce McKonkies caravan talk. I think the purpose was to make us feel insignificant and disposable. And to feel lucky to be in this caravan no matter what. The actual entitled person in reality is not the rank and file member but is the institution and its leaders who feel entitled to our time, money and unquestionable loyalty without any real gratitude from the institution.
At around 29 minutes in, you say you are done with the analogy. I was hoping there was another part. Please continue the updated RFM analogy. The captain tells the boys and girls to pay no attention to the water coming in and not to listen to anyone else that is telling them there is water coming in. The captain then “catches” a boy telling someone else about the water coming in. Note he is not destroying a boat, but trying to help and raise awareness. The captain has no patience and he throws the boy overboard. He then proceeds to tell the other boys and girls that the boy was secretly trying to sink the boat and that he threw him out of the boat as an act of love for him, in hopes he sees his wrongdoing and comes back to the boat one day.
On the Renlund dinghy and wack-a-mole talk: As an older church member, born and bred, and also an active but truth seeking and in many peoples eyes a bit fringe member I found the Renlund talk the worst, most offensive talk I have ever heard.
I had delayed listening to it, and had listened to the Corbridge talk before going back to this one. The Renlund talk knocked the Corbridge one out of bottom place.
In the Corbridge talk I, the truth seeker/doubter, was told that I was an antagonist and put in the same sin category as pornography. The Renlund talk has me now being a “snake oil salesman, mocker, indolent, double minded child, captive by the devil, evil, of the devil, lazy, unworthily partaking of the sacrament, perpetual doubter, and spiritually bankrupt.” Wow! I am going to hell!
As one who with an open mind who has (truly) read every JS paper produced by the church, listened to hundreds of different speakers and points of view from both apologists and truth seekers, I am not so much offended as bemused by this talk. And, I don’t know any other way to say this, but the talk was seriously ignorant and arrogant. Are these talks vetted?
The fishing boat “parable”, in my opinion, and I think you and Bill did a great job with this, highlighted the internal challenges in the church rather than to discredit the doubter.
Having had experience with boats and fishing, I know that there are things that every fisherman is very aware of:
1. Your boat is always in the best repair possible. You never know when you are going to hit rough seas and need your boat to be in top condition to keep you from getting injured and getting your home alive. Even more important when your boat is in shark infested waters!
2. You never let go of the tiller – there is always control over the engine and rudder. If you let go of the tiller what happens? The boat goes in circles.
3. Deaf fishermen always have hearing aids. In the darkness hearing becomes critical. Having come in to port after dark across dangerous bars I know, as all good fisherman do, that your ability to hear is essential. You must pick up on any change of wind, wave direction, waves crashing…
4. Flies, rotting fish, stale water and crackers. Not on my boat or any true fisherman’s boat. Things that may make you ill have no place. Food is always fresh, cleanliness is paramount. Slippery decks cause injury and death.
It is a great parable but in a far different way than how the Renlunds’ interpreted it. There is certainly a message here but it is totally opposite to what they are delivering, and it is arguably a truer message. The boat has sadly been allowed to get into a state of disrepair, it has sometimes been allowed to go in circles or wander off course. The good food is not longer healthy but is indeed stale to the point where it could make you ill. The decks need washing as they have become slippery and dangerous.
The boat desperately needs to be drydocked for a few days, the barnacles need to be scrubbed off (de-fouled), the dents need to be filled, the paint needs to be rubbed down – in this case back to bare wood – reprimed and repainted, the decks need to be scrubbed and cleaned, the food and water needs to be restocked, the motor which appears to blow a lot of smoke needs to reconditioned, the fisherman needs new boots – clothes – hearing aid. The fisherman must know that with a boat in this state no-one is going to want to come on board, and even worse he probably is not going to catch any fish (if the boat is in this condition what are his nets and lines like?)
Ask a fisherman “how often do you clean your boat?” they will answer – “every time it is used”.
The good fisherman knows that they must put their boat into drydock at least every second season, that equipment must be in good repair – otherwise you risk drowning and death.
This is great little parable, but it teaches a lesson opposite to that told by the Renlunds.
And on a final note: Roger Federer just slipped from 2 to number 6 on the world men’s tennis rankings.
RFM, when I first listened to this podcast, I remember Elder renlund saying that those to doubt or leave the church are lazy, immature, ungrateful, Petty, and just plain ridiculous. I was wanting to find the exact quote, but I could not find it when I re-read The Talk. I also really listen to the podcast and your commentary of the talk and cannot find this exact quote. I am sure that he said these words. I remember him saying them because I had to stop the podcast to write it down, it shocked me that much. Am I misremembering? Did I hear this somewhere else?
Maybe another thing this parable is showing then, is that we are not ‘real fishermen.” We are only the hired hands- volunteers even, who are just trying really hard to do the work for the ONE TRUE Fisherman. We fall short.- WAY SHORT! But we love him, and we are trying our best, and He is not far from us and although He might let us drift a little now and then,( because he is allowing us to learn) He wont let us drift over a waterfall., and he will make sure that we dont drift out of the path that will bring us home.
We dont need to trust man, but we CAN trust God, and trust that he has got this, and has a beautiful way of using imperfect men and women to bring beauty and goodness to the world, and to bring us home to Him. Look for and hang on to everything that is good.
And then the fog lifts…
Holy shit! There are boats everywhere! There are yachts, sailboats, parasailing boats, fishing boats, the coast guard, etc. We don’t have to stay in the ‘sad Mormon boat’. Get out of the boat and enjoy your life!
Your parable versions were lovely, I thought it was very interesting because when I heard this previously and discussed it with someone I came up with a different version where you grew up being taught that if you’re in trouble you can rely on the coast guard to help you get back to shore, but you need to be careful and look for certain signs that show it’s the real deal, and not just a pirate or slave ship that’s going to take you somewhere worse – that’s been a problem in the area that you need to look out for. You’re warned some of your friends have been fooled by these guys before and it’s dangerous. (In this analogy I would say those include other religions where they say they are the only true religion and never to expose yourself to outside information, that others are evil etc, all the way up through cults.)
So one day you’re in trouble and you get picked up by a boat that says it’s the coast guard. But you start to notice signs that look a whole lot like those shifty human trafficking vessels you were warned about, or even just signs that don’t seem to be consistent with what you were always told that a real coast guard vessel would have. You didn’t have overblown expectations just because you’re a spoiled brat who only wants the best, you have those expectations because you were literally flat out told that those things were what you absolutely should expect and those things are part of how you could tell that you were safe.
You hope that the boat that picked you up is the real coast guard somehow but it seems unlikely based on the evidence you’ve seen from other ships that you were shown as examples of ones that are dangerous and should be avoided. You hope that at least this ship and Captain have good intentions and are well meaning but somehow misled to misrepresent themselves in order to make people feel more safe, all out of good intentions. But you have to consider, for your own safety; whether it’s actually perhaps a ship that is misrepresenting itself with bad intentions. You are scared that you and maybe even your family has been tricked.
I didn’t spend long putting together this comment on my cell phone so hopefully it makes sense. Mentioned it because I almost didn’t even make it through the recording played at the beginning from the renlunds. But I’m glad I stuck it out!
I am glad you stuck it out, too!
That is a very interesting take on the Renlunds’ parable, I must say!
Thanks for sharing it with me.
And thanks for listening!
Thank you both so much for your excellent analysis of the Renlunds’ boat talk. This is the second time I have watched (suffered through?) the Parable of the Dented Dinghy. Your careful and thoughtful analysis of this – and many other presentations – is helping to improve my critical thinking skills. I am very appreciative! (I am also running out of descriptive adjectives for these sorts of talks and presentations. One can only use the word cultish so many times before it becomes trite.) A particular not-so-little something jumped out at me during Sister Renlund’s monologue on the topic of faith. She speaks confidently and authoritatively, but I wonder if she is ever fact-checked? I suspect she doesn’t understand the concept of faith as well as she asserts. She states: “Faith comes by righteousness.” Perhaps the JST contains this misinformation, but the KJV (and other translations) is quite clear that it is the opposite: Righteousness comes by faith (Gen. 15:6, Romans 3:22, among several others). In other words, it’s faith first, then righteousness, not the other way round. I believe this is an important distinction to make. The LDS church is a high-demand, works-based religion, and therefore behavior (i.e., righteousness) is supreme. The manner in which a person acts, looks, behaves, etc., appears to be a goal superior to the goal of actual faith. This hyper-focus on behavior must certainly be a source of depression for many. I wonder if this was simply a slip (Freudian, perhaps) by Sister Renlund? Or is “faith comes by righteousness” actually found in the LDS canon?