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!!!
Widstoe Talk on Doubt – chapter 7
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3 Replies to “Radio Free Mormon: 066: The Renlunds, A Dilapidated Dinghy, and Church Wack-A-Mole Part 3”
This three part series has been one of the best so far. Especially part 2 where Bill so accurately described the pain of the doubters. Thanks for the hard work you two have put into this one.
I congratulate you, sir, on a razor sharp wit and ability to illuminate and expose the deeply problematic and torturous mental states of church leaders. In episode 42 you relate the reasons why you remain anonymous and this struck a chord with me.
My wife and I evolved out of orthodoxy (Orwell says that orthodoxy is unconsciousness) about two years ago and for all intents and purposes we don’t consider ourselves Mormon. Though we have stopped going to church we must don the vestments of orthodoxy around her family because her grandfather is in the Q12 (I will say that he is in the subcategory of one of the top two apostles as far as seniority is concerned). At times it does feel like we exist behind enemy lines. We have tested the waters by making slightly unorthodox statements and have met with an almost unbelievable backlash (it’s as if her family were being attacked by a bear and they were running for their lives).
Simply knowing that someone else is in our boat (not the Renlund’s dilapidated dinghy) is a source of comfort.
I enjoyed this series overall. You deconstruction of the metaphors used was brilliant. Especially the contrast between the NT story of Peter being called outside of the boat and the advice to not leave the boat.
RFM and Bill, your commentary was generally quite insightful, especially in deconstructing the language, presuppositions, and metaphors in the presentation. Thank you for taking time to deconstruct this presentation. I am praying that as a culture, the LDS church becomes a healthier place for people who are at the fringes, including the LGBT+ and those who have serious questions and doubt. May we all show more compassion and love to all.
With respect, I am not sure that either of you have careers in psychoanalysis (which is not in high demand anyway).
I have a couple of quick comments.
1. Sister Renlund’s career was in law. She is a lawyer by training and is incredibly articulate (I believe she was a managing partner in her firm before she stepped down). I have sat through a small meeting where she and her husband spoke while not on a teleprompter and her talk was easily more stirring and powerfully delivered than her husband. I think that is relevant in light of how she used language and presupposition in her line of questioning and metaphor. I don’t say this as a criticism, simply to point out that she has been trained and certainly did what she was doing consciously and intentionally.
2. I think you may have been a bit hard on Elder Renlund’s dad. I speak German and have a number of friends from Europe. Understatement and directness are simply part of many Germanic cultures, including the Swedes. For example, an expert when asked if he knows something about his field of study might say something like this: “Well, I am not completely ignorant of the subject.”
Once while speaking with a German colleague, she paid me a complement by saying, “For an American, you actually might know something.” This was both sent and received as a compliment on my competence, which was obvious in this context.
While his dad is not German, but Swedish, he most certainly has been influenced by similar cultural influences. The type of comment his dad made was likely a modest complement and was likely taken as such.
3. I have met Elder Renlund twice. Certain family members know him well. He is incredibly intelligent (he was a CV surgeon and professor of medicine). He is also an avid reader. I do not believe it to be an exaggeration that he has read all of the Joseph Smith Papers. I take him at his word with this claim. Whether or not he is aware of every implication of the 1832 First Vision account, I do not know. Belief casts a powerful spell and can blind the best among us.