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Radio Free Mormon: 122: Resolving Spiritual Experiences

RFM flew to Utah to give a special presentation at the St. George Post-Mormon Group on January 12, 2020.

This is the audio of that presentation, together with a lengthy and lively Q&A session afterward.

I had a blast!  Special thanks to everybody who showed up!


26 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 122: Resolving Spiritual Experiences”

  1. Wow! I must register my deep gratitude to you once again. Thank you for the quotation from Louis L’Amour. I have found much value in his books as well. My wife and I just finished The Gaurdians by John Grisham some great thoughts in there. A group of lawyers dedicated themselves to exonerating wrongfully imprisoned people. It’s important to get the correct evidence brought forward. It’s also important for a judge to not be so prejudiced that an honest and fair consideration will be given. Anyway, I see a similarity to what you are doing and a likening to us all. So thank you very much Oh yeah, I was thinking Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word would be a good closing song for one podcast recently and that’s what came up. The Way We Were also struck a chord, no lets say resonated. with me today. Long May You Run.

    1. You are a kindred spirit. Although, I would not recommend it to others at this point, I do not regret my time in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, formerly known as Mormon. It was an adventure and I learned a lot that has been beneficial. Definitely time to move on down the trail though.

      1. Dear Jack,

        I agree with your sentiments. I have also learned a lot through my experience in Mormonism that has stood me in good stead.

        Unfortunately, it is mostly the stuff the leaders didn’t want me to learn, though . . .


    2. Dear Jim,

      Thanks for the kind words. I will have to put that Grisham book on my ever-lengthening list of books to read!


  2. Excellent podcast as usual RFM. I am hoping you can assist me in locating the Brigham Young quote you mentioned in this episode, the one where he refers to scripture as containing the words of men, the devil, and a jackass? I’m paraphrasing of course. Rather than wade through the journal of discourses and potentially lose my soul I was hoping you could point me to it! All the best.

    1. “I have heard some make the broad assertion that every word within the lids of the Bible was the word of God. I have said to them, “You have never read the Bible, have you?” “O, yes, and I believe every word in it is the word of God.” Well, I believe that the Bible contains the word of God, and the words of good men and the words of bad men; the words of good angels and the words of bad angels and words of the devil; and also the words uttered by the ass when he rebuked the prophet in his madness.”

      –Journal of Discourses 13:175 (May 29, 1870)

  3. Some of your points resonated with me. Calculus builds on algebra. Now that I use calculus calculate things I previously used algebra for I don’t declare algebra false.

    I wonder, rfm, not that you have reached the torch of the statue of liberty would you recommend that people follow your same path?

    Would you be willing to go out with the missionaries and recruit people to join the church?

    1. I have not reached the torch, nor do I ever expect to in this life.

      I should be quite disappointed if I ever did, because that would mean there was nowhere left to go, nothing left to learn, no more space in which to grow.

      As to your last question about going out with the missionaries–Not on your life!


  4. I agree with what was said about having control over one’s personal interpretation of an experience. Part of being human is being able to have control over your own personal reality and allow others that same respect! In the book, Nonviolent Communication, it describes a situation of a meeting starting behind schedule. I may feel relieved it’s behind schedule, whereas someone else may feel anxious about the meeting being behind schedule. Both realities are real and valid to each individual, even though the event was the same. In healthy relationships, we dictate our own reality, and allow others to do the same. Something I’ve learned from my experiences.

  5. I cannot find others like me. I was raised mormon and I hated it. The doctrine caused me so much pain my whole life. temples, polygamy, prophets, patriarchy, priesthood. That is listed in the order of my growing distress as a mormon. 1983 is when I started hating being a mormon and a woman. I turned 20 that year. I had elevated emotion about other things in mormonism but never when praying or fasting about those 5 items listed above. I hung on because I didn’t know anything else and I live in Utah County and pressure from all sides has been enormous. RFM your last thought in your presentation describes my journey exactly….God wants winged horses. Once I could see through the fraud of mormonism I grew wings and flew away from what for me was the devastation of mormon doctrine. Mormonism stunted my growth as a woman and I lived in pain and tears and my story is sad until now. Are there no others like me? I find it so hard to believe that everyone finds women living in polygamy giving birth for ETERNITY a beautiful doctrine. I find the mormon god disgusting and have loved all things post mormon. P.S. I still live in the same ward as Joseph McKonkie’s widow and had to endure Joseph Fielding McKonkie’s weird doctrine he spouted every week and he knew it is a lie. He would make fun of others openly who believed anti mormon lies of peep stones and he trashed anyone who did not show proper respect to priesthood. I was on the receiving end of him a time or two. I wouldn’t bow to him or his DNA. OMG I’m so thrilled blowhards like him are false and it’s all a lie. Thank god it’s ALL a lie. Am I so alone as I think? Is there anybody out there who hated it but stayed true because you felt the burning in your bosom for some things? Anyone?

    1. I am one who probably stayed with Mormonism much longer than I would have otherwise as a result of the spiritual experiences in my youth.

  6. Can someone point me in the right direction for the paraphrased quote of Brigham Young. “The scriptures contain the word of God, devil, man, and jackass”

    1. “I have heard some make the broad assertion that every word within the lids of the Bible was the word of God. I have said to them, “You have never read the Bible, have you?” “O, yes, and I believe every word in it is the word of God.” Well, I believe that the Bible contains the word of God, and the words of good men and the words of bad men; the words of good angels and the words of bad angels and words of the devil; and also the words uttered by the ass when he rebuked the prophet in his madness.”

      –Journal of Discourses 13:175 (May 29, 1870)


      Guideline #1. Because we love the Lord, we always should speak about His holy house with reverence. We should not disclose or describe the special symbols associated with the covenants we receive in sacred temple ceremonies. Neither should we discuss the holy information that we specifically promise in the temple not to reveal.

      Guideline #2. The temple is the house of the Lord. Everything in the temple points us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. We may discuss the basic purposes of and the doctrine and principles associated with temple ordinances and covenants.

  7. RFM, fantastic. All of it. Thank you so much.

    was wondering about that oaks quote you referenced. That you know it is revelation when it contradicts what you believe. I have searched and haven’t found it. Would you be so kind as to pass the reference on?

    1. It was from a face to face Elder Oaks did with Elder Ballard a year or so ago. The one where Elder Ballard had a black binder containing the 1970 article by James Allen on the First Vision, I think.

      Bill and I did a podcast on it.

  8. Thanks for the great episode. Powerful, funny, profound, resonating! Can you please tell me the 2nephi scripture that you quoted. (The one that mormon seem to think applies to everyone else)


    1. That one was Alma 29:8.

      And I goofed on my off the cuff reference when I cited the passage, ” I glory in plainness, I glory in truth. I glory in my Jesus for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.”

      I cited it to 2 Nephi 33:9.

      It is actually 2 Nephi 33:6.

      Thanks for listening!

  9. RFM, thanks for sharing your presentation you did in St. George.

    One of the things that resonated with me in your presentation is where you mentioned Paul H. Dunn. I imagine there were many members like you who believed they felt the Spirit when hearing of his amazing stories. Personally, I don’t recall his stories (since I was just a youngster at the time), but I did have an experience relatively recently where I felt the Spirit as I read a faith-promoting that was not true.

    That story was from a talk by Elder Holland at a Mission President’s Seminar in 2017, and which you covered in episode 18 of your podcast titled “Make Way For Dodos”. When I read or heard this story, I felt the Spirit. But even more miraculously, I even felt the spirit when I reviewed the story again (even when I knew it was fake). If the Spirit is supposed to testify of truth, why did I feel the Spirit when the story was clearly false? I don’t know the answer, but it is disconcerting, to say the least. I would love to see some research about what the brain is doing when we are “feeling the Spirit” to get a better understanding of what’s going on. I wonder if my brain manufacture that Spirit-like feeling whenever I hear a faith-promoting story? Hopefully, science will help us eventually figure it out.

    You can read the faith-promoting story at the link below, or listen to episode 18 from RFM. Let me know if you feel the Spirit when you read or hear the story.

    1. It is interesting to me that Elder Holland’s missionary story is primarily just an elaborate exercise in coincidences constituting miracles.

      There is one coincidence piled upon another until the entire story gives the appearances of being miraculous.

      The only actually miraculous element is the Doberman pinschers (or Rottweilers) that turn around and go to sleep after encountering the missionaries at the gate.

      There is another funny element of the story that I tripped to only some time after the recording was over, which I will share here.

      The critical moment in the story is when the missionary has the conversation with the biker (who unbeknownst to him is his brother) and they both end up discovering that they share the same last name. (They both are surprised by this.)

      This leads them to discovering that they have the same parents. (They are both really surprised by this.)

      The funny part is that every missionary wears a name-tag showing their last name for all the world to see.

      So why is it, one might wonder, that the biker brother ends up being surprised that they share the same last name when the missionary’s name-tag has been staring him right in the face for the entire encounter?

  10. I loved the Santa Claus analogy. It’s also very applicable to my reasoning behind leaving the church. As I matured as child, I remember putting together the facts about Santa and realizing he was impossible. I wanted it to be true, because gosh, who wouldn’t? It was magical! My shelf broke with the church when I applied the same type of thinking. It was all just way too much to swallow, as much as I wanted it to be true. But boy did I hold on to it for a long time!

    1. I sometimes wonder if I would have stayed active so long in Mormonism had I not had the foundational spiritual experiences I had at the outset.

      Which is one of the numerous reasons I think many cultures have a trickster god in their pantheon.

  11. just watched a youtube video of michael caine reading the poem “if” by rudyard kipling…..and felt the spirit telling me it’s true

  12. Thank you so much RFM. You are a gifted speaker and a great story teller. I think you could be talking about anything and I would find it interesting. I have thought a lot about this topic myself and have related to so many things you have said, and have changed my mind several times about the way I interpret my spiritual experiences as a Mormon. I would like to write down the conclusion I have come to now.
    I have been studying Thomas Aquinas and he describes the human person as made up of 3 parts: the intellect, the will, and the emotions. He describes the proper functioning of a human is to first have a rightly informed intellect which then directs the will to guide the emotions. The easiest way to picture this is to imagine a chariot being pulled by powerful horses and in the chariot is one person wearing a blindfold holding the reigns and another person behind him who can see and is directing the driver. The one directing the driver is the intellect. The blindfolded person holding the reigns is the will, and the powerful horses are the emotions. Thomas Aquinas explains that many people have it the wrong way around and that they let their emotions completely dominate and dictate to the will and the intellect, instead of the rightly ordered intellect and will disciplining and and literally reigning in the powerful emotions which are very useful, but should not be running the show.
    We all came from a culture (Mormonism) that put so much stock in emotions. Our feelings were everything! If we had a good feeling or a strong emotional reaction, or were touched in any way, then that meant the church was true. But according to Thomas Aquinas, our feelings are the LEAST reliable way to know truth. Think of how much they are affected by our past and our own associations or even how much sleep we got last night!
    To me, Mormonism was like letting our horses (emotions) lead the intellect and will. Our feelings were meant to inform our intellect which is completely backwards. And when church leaders appeal to old spiritual experiences as a way of proving truth, it’s like saying, “Remember that time your horses ran really fast? You liked that, so come on back!”
    Just because something feels really insightful or amazing doesn’t mean that it’s right or true, especially if it particularly appeals to us. Maybe I am repeating myself but I think this is such an important point to get as a post Mormon. People leave the church but they still go around using their feelings as a barometer for truth and validity. Just because we have a strong emotional reaction for or against something, doesn’t mean that the Holy Ghost is testifying to us.
    So as a Mormon, I had many spiritual experiences that I interpreted as a proof of truth. And I was totally wrong. But I don’t have a hard time squaring that now because who says my feelings are accurate? Feelings don’t even have to accompany truth. In fact I think Mormons are a bit addicted to emotional binges, and it’s something we can tend to carry with us when we leave. You can feel a strong good feeling, but that does not prove truth.

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