Dear Bishop and Stake President…


imageFor those Voting Opposed In LDS General, Stake & Ward Conferences

Policies, major decisions, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints, are MANDATED to be presented for a vote at conferences.  Today, this law is not being followed.  As a result, I have decided to vote in disapproval (opposed) to the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.  They are solely responsible, both for the church policies and for the mismanagement of not putting crucial matters up for a vote.

If you are disposed to vote disapproval, I recommend an email communication be sent to your local leaders informing them of your vote.  This should be sent around the time of the conference in question.  Personally, I think it’s best to vote with our HAND during the conference and then to send the email.  However, sending the letter without attending the session, is a perfectly fine and honorable choice.

I also recommend that you sign the Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove.

Email Examples

Following are examples of e-mail communications that can be sent to your local leaders.  Feel free to use for ideas, templates or outright copying.

Simple

Dear Bishop_____ & President_______,

At General Conference today, I voted opposed when the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles were presented.  I’m not necessarily opposed to these men serving in their respective callings.  However, they have introduced polices of which I  firmly disapprove.

I would be happy to discuss details of my concerns with you.

Please register my disapproving vote through whatever channel the church uses with respect to the law of common consent.

The church does much good.  I believe it can be much better.  Jesus has commanded the church leaders to ask for my opinion 4 times a year.  I have prayed, searched and pondered . . .  a lot!!  For many reasons, I believe and feel that it’s important to my Savior that I give a true and honest opinion when asked.

Thank you for your unselfish service to the Lord and the members in our area.  I know that you spend countless hours in your calling.

All My Best to You and Your Family,

Detailed

Dear Bishop_____ & President_______,

At General Conference today, I voted opposed when the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles were presented.  I’m not necessarily opposed to these men serving in their respective callings.  However, they have introduced polices of which firmly I disapprove.

In the recent past, a new policy was announced regarding children of married same-sex couples.  I disapprove of excluding these children from the blessings of the gospel.  Inside my heart, here’s how I’m feeling.  The policy damages families, traditional and non.  Families have been driven out of the church, both traditional and non.  Our gay children have been hurt.   There are now reports that the message this policy sends is so hurtful that suicides have resulted.  Jesus said that we will be judged on how we treat “the least of these.”  Punishing “the least of these” is wrong.  We are denying baby blessings, baptism, the Holy Ghost, the priesthood, and the temple to the “the least of these.”  That doesn’t square with the teachings and example of the Savior.  I don’t believe this is what Jesus would want done in His church.

I would be happy to discuss details of my concerns with you further, if you’d like.

Please register my disapproving vote through whatever channel the church uses with respect to the law of common consent.

Our church does much good.  I believe it can be much better.  Jesus has commanded the church leaders to ask for my opinion 4 times a year.  I have prayed, searched and pondered . . .  a lot!!  For many reasons, I believe and feel that it’s important to my Savior that I give a true and honest opinion when asked.

Thank you for your unselfish service to the Lord and the members in our area.  I know that you spend countless hours in your calling.

All My Best to You and Your Family,

Here’s The Letter I Sent

I didn’t go into detail of the policies I disapprove of, as we have already discussed them at length:

Hi _____ & ______,

Just wanted to let you know that I voted in disapproval during conference this weekend.

I am not actually opposed to the first presidency or the apostles. Since they are not putting up major policies for common consent, my opposition to those polices is expressed when sustaining those who control the process.

My two issues are common consent and the exclusion policy for children of gay couples.

I loved many of the messages at this conference. It’s the best that I can recall. President Monson may be frail, but what a powerful communication he delivered!

I haven’t made a tally, but it seemed like concern over people leaving the church was a common thread. I would prefer that this wasn’t happening. But, it gave me super validation for the path that I’m on.

The work I’m doing can be and frequently is misunderstood. Sharp criticism from both active members and those who have left the church. My entire objective is to help both those in and out.

To those in and are questioning or about to leave?  We explore options of finding ways to stay. The problem here is that most people that I talk to have already made the decision to leave. Somehow, we need to find a forum where members can discuss before they’ve already reached their conclusions.

To those who have left?  Well, here’s the problem.  We are creating an army or enemies. Enemies who know and exploit our many, and uneccessary, weaknesses. Those who have left should be our friends, not our enemies. They seek validation, connection, and healing. These are good people.

Today, there are 12.5 million inactive and former members. Our 5 million active members are vastly outnumbered. 70% of Mormons are either resigned or inactive. And…we keep creating more disaffected, disappointed and disillusioned people for the other side. Not to mention the anger that often accompanies faith transitions.

Yet, I have now witnessed these good, formerly active members respond to love, friendship and understanding. A few weeks ago, a Relief Society president and High Priest group secretary came to the Talkeria. They were looking for suggestions on how they could reach out to those who are questioning or have left. Wow! Also in attendance were 4 resigned or about to resign members. One of the “about to resigns” had been his ward’s HP group leader as recently as last March. Hidden history, doctrine, and current policies pushed him, his wife and his 4 children out. What an amazing discussion we had!!! Our “enemies” helping local leaders of the church in which they no longer believe.

Things have got to change. Our leaders in SLC know it. They are working on it. They’re in a really tough spot. Things actually boil down to what is being done in the trenches. I’m digging trenches as fast as I can.

Thanks for all that both of you are doing in service of the Savior and especially for my friends.

All My Best, Sam

Other Resources

The Only True Hope for the Only True Church

Jesus Pleads His Case for Common Consent

Do We Love Jesus Enough to…

A Resister for Disapproval (Opposition)

LDS Website on Common Consent

Final Note

I know this takes great courage.  Every step of the way can be scary.  Raising your hand alone, all by yourself?  I know it’s scary.  I’ve now done it at each conference level this year.  Big fat butterflies every time.

Sending an email to the stake president…yeah that can be real scary.  But, how scared do you think the gay children are who are still hiding in the pews?

Putting your name on a public register of disapproval…scary?   You bet.  It scared me, too, when I hit the submit button two days ago.

There are many in our midst who are at risk and cannot speak up.  We are standing up, voting out, putting our name on the line for those who cannot fight for themselves.

“May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus.  May we ever chose the harder right.”  And that’s just what we are doing here.  Standing up for the marginalized, for the “least of these,” IS a noble and just cause.

Godspeed. Godspeed.  Godspeed.

 

 

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Nude Sailing

imageChildhood Sailing

As a boy, my dad taught me to sail.  I loved it.  We sailed often.  When I married and started raising a family, our first recreational purchase was a 16′ catamaran.  My children will recall many, many exciting memories of sailing through the surf in the Gulf of Mexico.  With crashing waves and strong wind, catamaran sailing is more thrilling & exhilarating than the most extreme roller coaster.  I still have a 19′ Nacra sitting in the garage.

At the not so advanced age of 63, my days at sea are no longer frequent.  But…..with whispers of nude sailing, my windy, watery sport may be winging its way to new life.

Hearing Restored With Nudity

A few days ago, I was outfitted with hearing aids for the first time.  My doctor is an attractive woman, somewhere in her thirties. She applied the miniature devices to my ears.  A round disc shaped object was hung from my neck.  I was seated in front of another and larger disc.  Wires were strung from both these devices, connecting them to a computer.  Testing, programming and fine tuning began.  The doctor: “Sally sells sea shells on the sea shore. How did that sound?” And so it went.

Between adjustments and repeated tests, we small talked.  Until….she said something about sailing.  Rarely, do you run into a fellow sailor.  Once she knew of our mutual hobby, the fitting stopped and she began regaling me of her maritime adventures. They had begun at age 9 on the Chesapeake Bay.  She recounted her sailing history; the lessons, the boats, the storms, the fun, the excitement.  Right up to this past weekend.

Then this: “Last week I was in a NUDE sailing competition with my daughter.” I had been listening with great interest.  Now my attention was riveted.  NUDE SAILING?  What the heck!  She said it so casually that it wasn’t appropriate to drop my jaw.  But, mentally, my jaw dropped completely open.  NUDE SAILING?  A BARE NAKED COMPETITION?

Suddenly, visions were dancing in my head. Not of sugar plums, something else instead.  Naked on a small sailboat?  With others all about?  How do you do that?  What does it look like?  Pulling the rudder, trimming the sails, holding the sheets.  Bending and twisting in the waves and the wind.  Sunscreen?  Tan lines?  Coed?  What??  NUDE SAILING???  And, a competition, to boot?

But, wait, maybe the new devices weren’t working well.  Maybe I just misheard.  Could it have been crude, or prude, or lewd?  Wait a minute.  Now, I’m just thinking of things that might be connected with NUDE.

Not missing a beat, she kept talking.  Then, my thoughts went back 30 years.  My dad, my 3 brothers and I rented a large sailboat in the Caribbean.  For 7 days we sailed from one island to the next.  The little French isle of St. Bart’s held an eye-popping surprise.  We anchored in a small uninhabited cove.  Beautiful water, beach, vegetation.  Another boat pulled into the same protected harbor.  Maybe 50 yards away.

Before long, everybody on our boat had detected something intriguing about their boat. We were clad in swimsuits. They were clad in none. Necked they were.  I didn’t want to stare, with my dad and brothers there.  But….I wanted to stare….just like my dad and brothers, who were there.  So, we all stole furtive glances until sunset.

Finally, my curiosity couldn’t be contained. Timidly, I queried, “The hearing aids might need more adjustment.  I’m sure this can’t be right, but did you say NUDE sailing?”

Her response was a mischievous giggle.  Uh…oh….what now?  I’m just getting hearing aids, right?  I hope?

Chuckling, she replied, “I did say nude sailing. But, that’s N…O…O…D.  It stands for National Offshore One-Design.” We got a good laugh out of the misunderstanding. Now, we both knew that my hearing was crystal clear.

New, but Not NUDE, Couple in the Hood

A few years ago, my wife and I sponsored a get-together for National Night Out.  We distributed flyers, set out chairs & tables, ice cream & treats. Two men walked up our driveway and politely introduced themselves.  They had recently moved into the neighborhood and hadn’t met many neighbors, yet.  They were a delightful COUPLE. That’s right. They were a gay couple. The first one that I’d ever met. And….they had 2 adopted children. Within a few short months they had moved away.

This encounter got me thinking about the Mormon church’s stance on gay people. Would accommodations ever be made to allow room for them in our religion?  My wife and I discussed it.  I don’t know why I spent time considering the issue.  I just did.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that somehow changes would have to be made.  Somehow gay couples would have to be included.  Because….there are children involved!  Jesus made a point to point out that he loves all children. Without the parents, these children would likely remain unreachable.  Children are treasured much more by the Savior than any policy.

Little did I know that the church would soon move in the polar opposite direction.

The New, and NUDE, November Policy

November 2015 held a shocking surprise. A church wide policy was announced.  Gay couples, who have the audacity to engage in legal and lawful marriage, would be declared apostate.  Children of gay parents were to be stripped of their right to baby blessings, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and temple attendance.

A friend of mine is married to the love of her life.  Two women with five children between them.  Their darling family of 7 were active believing members.  In faith, this couple had managed to cope with the church’s stance on being gay.  How much faith does THAT require?  I can only imagine the difficulty.  Never-the-less, their righteous desire was to see their children raised in the church.

November changed all that.  The edict from Salt Lake City crushed their faith. This precious family of 7 no longer attends.  A few days ago, the bishop contacted my friend to schedule their disciplinary council.  Insult added to injury.

This new policy has been dressed up as a pronouncement of love & protection for the little ones with gay parents.  But, when all the rhetoric is stripped away, it’s a just a NAKED program of rejection, exclusion and stigma.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus gently counseled that the pathway to heaven was traveled by reaching out to the “least of these.”  Two thousand years later, we have resorted to casting them out.

Interview with an Apostle

image

First, A Parley with an Apostate

Last week, I was in Utah and had an extended chat with an apostate. Terrible word. He’s also been excommunicated. Another terrible word. In a couple of weeks I’ll provide a link to our conversation. For the time being, he’ll remain anonymous.

Until the past 2 years, I really didn’t know any apostates or excommunicants.  I find them to be wonderful people.  Intelligent & thoughtful, open & understanding. Plus, they’re kind and loving.  Who would a thunk it?

While in Utah, by happenstance, I ran into an apostle.  He’ll also remain anonymous. A reliable record of our conversation is recounted below

The Apostolic Interview

Apostle:  It’s very nice to meet you.

Sam:  I’m honored and a little nervous to meet you, sir.

Apostle:  Before we start, I’d like to ask you a question. Sam, how do you think I look?

Sam:  You look great….except….for….. . . . Well, there’s a booger hanging from your nose.

Apostle:  (Pointing to his nose) Do you mean this big, fat, green booger?

Sam:  Um…y..y..y..yes?

Apostle:  Don’t worry about it. It was sent from God.

Sam:  What does that mean?

Apostle:  It’s a booger filled with love.

Sam:  This isn’t making any sense.

Apostle:  This beautiful juicy booger is filled with love for gay people and all of their children.

Sam:  Well, it kind of upsets my stomach when I look at it.

Apostle:  I’m sorry about that. Everybody else has told me that my booger of love is really handsome.

Sam:  You’re joking, right?  Who, in the world, would tell you that they like your booger?

Apostle:  I visited your stake conference last April.  One thousand and one members were at the meeting.  I asked the congregation to tell me how I looked.  One thousand people raised their hands in approval of my appearance.  Only one person didn’t like my booger.

Sam:  That was me!

Apostle:  Here’s what I want you to do, my dear friend, Sam.  Go read the scriptures and then pray….about my big, fat, green booger. Before long, you will know that it is delicious to the taste and very desirable.

Sam:  I’m not going to pray about your booger. I already know that it’s disgusting.

Apostle:  Now, now, Sam.  When you get home I want you to go talk with your stake president.

Sam:  Ok.

**Note: This morning I asked my adult daughter, “Suppose you were meeting with one of your clients, someone in upper management.  If they had a booger would you tell them?” She replied, “Nope.  I’d only tell someone really close, like my sisters or a best friend.”

Moral of the story:  when our friends have a booger, we point it out.  If we don’t, what kind of friend are we?   The booger is the policy of excommunicating gay couples and excluding their children.  It was announced in November 2015.

Mr. Cubit’s Shocking Gay Interview

Anonimity

Mr. Cubit

I met Mr. Cubit about 2 years ago.  It was around the time that my church questions started to coalesce.  He has witnessed my entire journey and has been a great support.  In fact, he has been very influential in the path I’ve chosen.  For the time being, he’s asked me to maintain his anonymity.  After reading this, I think you’ll understand his quest to remain obscure.

The Gay Interview

Sam:  Could you describe your current status within the LDS church?

Mr. Cubit:  I’m an active, believing, heterosexual member.  My life has revolved around the church my entire life.  It’s a wonderful organization.  But, it is not perfect.  Changes should and will be made.

Sam:   You are aware that I strongly disapprove of the church’s exclusionary policy toward children of gay parents.  But, you recently told me something that takes LGBT concerns to a new level.  I was a bit shocked with what you had to say.  Can you elaborate here?

Mr. Cubit:  I’ll just blurt it out.  GAY SEX IS NOT A SIN.  Heterosexual sex is not a sin within marriage.  Neither is gay sex.

Sam:  How did you come to that conclusion?

Mr. Cubit:  The apostles recently disavowed and condemned our past racist beliefs, doctrine and policies.  This is a courageous game changer.  We are finally admitting that prophets can and do get important matters wrong.  This condemnation covers official practices that spanned over 125 years and during the tenure of most presidents of the latter-day church.  The apostles explain that there is no known revelation that implemented the discrimination towards blacks of African decent.  They speculate that church leaders simply fell victim to the prevailing culture of the time.  In other words, it wasn’t God who implemented racism, it was the leadership. 

Sam:  What does that have to do with gay sex?

Mr Cubit:  For a long, long time, we have had a homophobic society.  Just as God is not racist, he is not homophobic.  Rather, I believe that we, as a church, as well as our leadership, have simply fallen victim to the the culture of our time. 

Sam:  How can you possibly say that?

Book of Mormon

Mr. Cubit:  First, I love our LDS scriptures.  The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel.  Yet, not one homophobic peep.  It’s a book of scripture that was prepared for our day.  An ancient document preserved to direct us in the last dispensation.  Homosexuality is a major issue in the modern era.  Yet, no mention whatsoever.  This book is the Keystone of our religion.  How can we make anti-gay sex a keystone of our doctrine if the Keystone containing the fullness doesn’t condemn it?

What’s more, we have the Doctrine and Covenants.  This is actual modern day revelation from God.  It supports our Keystone.  Just like the Book of Mormon, nary a mention of this supposedly horrendous sin.  God warns of wine, tobacco, and to use meat sparingly.  But, where is the warning of the “far worse” sin of homosexuality.  It’s completely absent.

There is a pattern here, comparable to race and the priesthood.  There was no formal or canonized revelation to exclude blacks.  There is no formal or canonized revelation to exclude homosexuals.  It simply reflects societal views.  God is not racist or homophobic.  He created blacks, black.  He created homosexuals, homosexual.  

Sam:  OK.  What about the bible?

Mr. Cubit:  The Book of Mormon and Doctrine of Covenants witness of Jesus Christ.  They also witness of his teachings.  Here’s what Jesus had to say about homosexuals and gay sex:  NOTHING.  No warning, no condemnation, no exclusion.  For me, that’s one of those powerful confirmations that our LDS scriptures come from God.

Sam:  Aren’t there biblical references that condemn gay sex?

Mr Cubit:  This topic could be a whole interview, by itself.  I’ll try to be short.  The bible does not address sexual orientation or same-sex marriage.  We believe in the bible “as far as it’s translated correctly.”  Many believe these passages are incorrectly interpreted or poorly translated.  Mormons are very selective on what we literally take from the bible.  For example, Paul says that women should not speak in church.  Long hair for men is unnatural.  This revered apostle seemed to sanction slavery, instructing slaves to obey their masters with deep respect.  And, the Old Testament…tons of weird and immoral laws and practices. 

Sam:  The church’s position is that “same sex attraction” is not a sin.  Acting on it is.  Gay people are instructed to refrain from romantic relations for their entire life.

Mr Cubit:  I’m going to use some harsh words here.  There is no way that I could look a gay man in the eyes and say, “The most fulfilling & joyous aspect of my life is a lifelong, romantic & intimate relationship with a person whom I deeply love.  Now, listen up, my homosexual friend, you can never have this.  If you do, you are doomed to hell.”  I find this doctrine arrogant & insensitive, hypocritical and harmful.  There are reports of suicides among our gay youth.  How could there not be, when we offer such a hopeless and damning message.

Sam:  Have you ever brought this up at church or with the leaders?

Mr. Cubit:  No.

Sam:  Why not?

Mr. Cubit:  I value my membership.  Sharing this opinion could result in excommunication.

Sam:  That sounds highly unlikely.

Mr. Cubit:  Not long ago, a couple posted their objection to the teachings about polygamy in D&C 132.  Their stake president demanded that they take down the post.  They refused.  Church discipline was threatened.  They are now disaffected.

Sam:  That’s hard to believe.  So, you have never talked with anybody about this before?

Mr. Cubit:  I’ve talked to 4 members.  But, I have to be super careful.  Discuss with the wrong person…judgment, gossip and possible reports to my bishop.  Here is what these 4 told me.  1) Active, former bishop, not you, Sam.  He said it’s not a sin.  Huge surprise.  2)  Gay friend who left the church after November’s policy…not a sin.  Not a surprise.  3) Semi-active, believing member…not a sin, but doesn’t like to think about it.  A surprise.  4) Active, semi-believing member…of course it’s a sin.  #4 reacted so strongly and judgmentally, that I’m really gun-shy to discuss…unless I know it’s totally safe. 

Sam:  #3 said he doesn’t like to think about it.  How do you feel about that?

Mr. Cubit:  Last year I asked my stake president about a particular sexual practice.  I wanted to know if it was sinful within marriage.  He spoke with wisdom. “I don’t ask any questions about what happens in the bedroom.  That’s between the couple.”  Wow!  I feel the same way about a married gay couple.  I don’t want to know about their bedroom.  Nor, do I want to share with anyone what goes on in mine.

Sam:  Do you think the church will ever change it’s doctrine about homosexuality?

Mr. Cubit:  They will be forced to.  Society is changing all around them.  The pace of change is quickening.  Eventually, corrections will be made to mirror the culture.  Today, we don’t tolerate racism.  Tomorrow, the rising generation will not tolerate homophobia.  Thank heavens.

Sam:  Anything else you would like to share?

Mr. Cubit:  At a recent stake conference, a general authority seventy, said this to LGBT members: “We love you, we understand you, we respect you, we need you. You bring a richer sense of understanding and spirit. Please stay with us.”  

That’s a step in the right direction.  I’d add.  “If you can’t stay with us, I can totally understand.  God loves you just the way you are.  He is going to reverse the current policies and doctrine, but it may take awhile.  In the meantime, I love you whether you leave or stay, remain single or marry.  I support and love you either way.  And so does God!

Sam:  Thanks for being honest and open.  And…thanks for trusting me enough to share what could elicit strong judgmental thinking towards you.

The Mormon Talkeria

3D colourful people talking

Two Traveling Talkerias:  #29 & #30

Coming this weekend to a city near you.  Well…maybe.  At least, if Phoenix and Las Vegas are cities near you.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Phoenix:  Saturday, Sept 9, 3:00pm.  At…..a private residence.  If you would like to come, send me an email or PM me or make a comment on this blog and I’ll share the address with you.  It’s in Scottsdale near the intersection of Shea & 142nd

Las Vegas:  Sunday, Sept 10, 1:00pm.  At…The Macayo Mexican Restaurant, 1741 E Charleston Blvd, 8245 W Sahara, Las Vegas, Nevada 89104.

Talkeria #28.  Wow, it’s been 1 1/2 months since the last Talkeria.  Twelve were in attendance.  About half were first timers.  The stories…the heartache…the light that were shared that night created wonderful bonds of  empathetic friendship that will not be forgotten.

Talkeria #28

Sorry about the late notice in announcing TOMORROW’s talkeria.  Thursday, July 20, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford., TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria #27 had 6 attendees.  Two were first timers.  I loved the discussion.  Especially love the people.  I’d really like to list each person’s name and write how amazing each one is.  Of course, that would violate a core value of our get togethers.   The conversations aren’t secret…they’re sacred.

The two newbies are both active in the church.  Love the church.  Have no intentions of leaving.  Good for them.  They received complete support and understanding for their chosen path.  The other four are at various stages away from the church.  They received complete support and understanding from those still in the church.  In this kind of environment, there is such love and connection between all; active & inactive, believer & non, atheists & god-fearing.  It is so beautiful.

#27 The Daugher Talkeria

That’s right…one of my TBM daughters plans to attend.  She’s terrific.  Non-judgmental.  She gets where I’m at and what I’m doing.  You’ll really like here.  The Talkeria will convene Thursday, June 15, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX. For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria #26 was held two weeks ago.  Tears well up as I think of the amazing people who were there.  Four first time Talkerites.  A young couple with their 2 super well behaved children.  A prior acquaintance who I hadn’t seen for several years.  One year ago he was in a bishopric.  Another man who I became FB friends with only a few months ago.  Also, recently serving in a bishopric.  Such lovely people.  The church is truly losing it’s best and brightest.

Recently, the Talkeria has taken a new direction. Click HERE to read about it.

We talk about ANY Mormon issues you’d like to discuss. Especially, those you are afraid to bring up at church. Here are some of the reasons people have come to the Talkeria.

You want to share the story of your faith crisis/journey/transition.
LDS history and doctrine are troubling you, family members or friends.
You have left the church, but still have Mormon issues to discuss.
You have a child who is doubting or has left the church.
You have a parent, sibling or friend who is doubting or has left the church.
Your faith has changed, and you are having difficulty interacting with family or friends
.
Your faith has changed and are having difficulty navigating a mixed faith marriage.
The faith of your spouse has changed.
You are LGBT, in or out of the closet.
You have an LGBT child, sibling or friend.
You have left the church, but still want to maintain contact with Mormons.

Talkeria #Twenty Six

Thursday, June 1, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Five people attended Talkeria #25.  Five fabulous people.  Three veterans.  Two fledgling visitors.  One was an amazing woman.  Asked why she came, she responded, “To be with other people who have left the church, but can’t leave it alone.  Until recently I felt so alone.”  Over the past 2 years she has been attempting go get her temple sealing cancelled.  It’s been a demeaning, cruel and grueling process.  The wringer that the church puts women through, and only women, is misogynous and MUST be changed.

The other newbie flew all the way from North Carolina, just to attend the Talkeria.  That’s right.  He lives in North Carolina.  Flew to Houston in the afternoon.  Rented a car.  Spent the night in a hotel and flew back home the next day.  Obviously, he felt a great need to talk about what he’s facing with his faith transition.  And talk he did.  It was cathartic for him.  Frankly, it was cathartic for all of us.

Talkeria #25–Turning in a New Direction

Thursday, May 18, 2017, 7:00pm. Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  Click HERE for more details.

Talkeria #24–Voting Opposed

Simply amazing.  Held in SLC, Saturday evening, April 1.  Earlier that day I along with 2 friends voted opposed in the Conference Center.

Eighteen people attended.  Lasted 5 hours.  I need to make sure the time doesn’t get out of control.  Wonderful people.  Tender and heart rending stories.  Great friendships established.

Talkeria #23–Trailblazing!

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

A very special visitor is coming.  Click HERE for more details about my honored guest.

Talkeria Twenty-Two

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria Twenty-One.  Back to Houston.

Thursday, January 19, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX. For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Sincerity in Sin City.  Oh boy, was last week’s Talkeria amazing.   4 1/2 hours of discussion.  How in the world did we manage to talk that long?  The meeting in Las Vegas was held in a private residence.  After about 3 1/2 hours, I tried to wrap it up.  The homeowner said, “Just 15 more minutes.”  Another hour transpired.  Of course, the conversation was poignant and passionate.  Here’s the  juicy part……Sorry, talk in the Talkeria stays in the Talkeria.

For all those who came out, all I can say is..THANK YOU.

#20:  Traveling Talkeria–Las Vegas

Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  Private Residence in Las Vegas, NV.  Please private message or e-mail me for the address.  If you are new to the Talkeria concept, see all the details by scrolling down to “Original Post.”

Last Sunday’s Talkeria in Salt Lake City was totally terrific.  Eighteen attendees.  Six still active and want to continue so.  Two resigned.  One gay man.  One transgender youth.  One pink haired woman.  One amazing hostess.  And…..my MOM.  That right there made it worthwhile for me.

Eighteen new friends as a result of sharing and discussing personal journeys.  I’ve come to recognize the recounting of these journeys as sacred stories.  Of course, all the narratives were interesting, touching and insightful.  There were 2 that I was stunned by…in a good way.  I plan to write a short blog about them both.  Thanks to all who came.  It’s an honor to be counted as your friend and you as mine.

#19:  Traveling Talkeria—Salt Lake City

Sunday, January 8, 2017, 2:00.  Location:  Private residence.   Please private message or e-mail me for the address.  If you are new to the Talkeria concept, see all the details by scrolling down to “Original Post.”

Embarking on a new adventure.  Several friends have expressed a desire to have a Talkeria near them.  OK.  Here goes nothin!  I’ve decided that in the course of business travel, I’ll attempt to schedule something.  First up….the world headquarters of Mormondom…Salt Lake City.

BTW, last Thursday’s Talkeria was amazing. Twelve people came. One non-member and her Mormon wife. One resigned. Five active members in various stages of faith, 4 not-active faith transitioned members. Poignant. Fascinating. Four shed tears during the course of their story. All of us FULLY supported the others in the faith choices they have made or are in the process of struggling through. We parted with a hearty hug of friendship, forged in the crucible of trust and openness.

Talkeria Eighteen….the 1st of 2017

Thursday, January 5, 2017, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

The Tannenbaum Talkeria was terrific.  Nine of us gathered to share an intimate dinner at delightful and delicious Fung’s Kitchen.  The food was great, but the real highlights were the conversations and personal stories.  Five of the attendees were first timers.  This gathering had a somewhat a different flavor in that 8 of us are still active members.  Amazing and open were the narratives that were shared.  Some shocking.  Some heart rending.  Some topics never discussed before.

#17—O Tannenbaum Talkeria

Special Christmas Talkeria.  Dec 21, 2016.  For details, click HERE.

Talkeria Sixteen

Thursday, December 8, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX. For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Sorry about the month long hiatus.  But, the Talkeria hasn’t stopped.  It’s just gone underground this past month.  Several ‘individual’ Talkerias were held at lunch or in people’s homes.  Some trying to stay in the church.  Others who are in the process of leaving.  I’m finding that when we open up our deepest concerns to one another, something magical happens.  A spiritual connection is established.  A bond of love is established.  Of course, this beautiful bridge is only built if judgement is totally absent.

Some Personal News.  I’ve decided to give up my temple recommend. No one is asking that I relinquish it.  I’m worthy to keep it.  But, here’s the problem I’m trying to resolve.  Over the past 2 years, it has been super difficult to get any attention to the concern of people leaving the church.  None.  It’s been very weird.  So counterintuitive.  One of the distractions has been my temple recommend.  Members continue to criticize and complain that I have one.  In their view, the sin of voting opposed in conference is of such magnitude that my temple privileges should be yanked.  OK, I cry uncle.  Now, can we just focus on the painful faith struggles that our friends are enduring in excruciating silence.

I have made the sacred temple covenant to live the law of sacrifice.  It basically says that I will sacrifice everything to sustain the kingdom of God.  Elder McConkie said that includes my good name, reputation, and honor.  This past year, I’ve definitely put my good name on the sacrificial altar.  To many of my friends, it’s been trashed.  At this point, I’m willing to sacrifice my temple privileges in the attempt to draw attention to the cause of sustaining the kingdom of God.  What we are doing is not sustainable for so many of our friends, family and children.  It’s time to do something different.  If not, the steady bleed of church members will start to gush.  In England, the activity rate is now 22% and declining.  The same trend is emerging in the U.S.  Are we going to wait until it’s ‘English’ bad before taking any action?

No temple recommend to distract.  So, let’s act.

Talkeria Fifteen

Sunday Nov. 6, 2016, 3:00pm, 8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

To accommodate more people’s schedule,  I’m alternating between Thursday and Sunday. If you have a hard time finding the location, send a PM on FB.

Last week a sad, fascinating, and hopeful discussion with a strong woman who drove across state lines to attend the Talkeria.  She inspired and heartened me.  Thank you, my friend.

Talkeria Fourteen

Thursday, Oct 27, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

We’ve taken a 2 week hiatus due to travel.  The last 2 Talkerias were held on Sunday.  At this point, I plan to alternate.  So, this time it will be moved back to Thursday.

Over the intervening weeks, lots of great discussions being had, over the phone, by e-mail and in person.  If you want to talk about anything Mormon, feel free to come.  Groups are usually small.  I’m hearing about lots of family issues related to faith transitions.

Talkeria Thirteen

Sunday Oct. 9, 2016, 3:00pm, 8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  New time & place–my business office.  Hopefully, this new day and time will be more convenient for many.  If you have a hard time locating it, send a PM on FB.

Last week another amazing discussion was had.  At this point, over 30 different individuals have come to talk about Mormon issues.  From Mormon atheists to current Relief Society presidents, and all the way in between. No Mormon topic is forbidden.

For more details of what the Mormon Talkeria is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria Twelve

Sunday Oct. 2, 2016, 2:30, 8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  We’ve moved the time and place, this week.  This is my business office.  Hopefully, this new day and time will be more convenient for many.  If you have a hard time locating it, send a PM on FB.

Today’s GC has been very exciting.  Many reports of opposing votes, including one at the conference center.  My wife and I voted together at home, seated side by side, in front of my laptop.  More on all this later.

For more details of what the Mormon Talkeria is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria Eleven

September 22, 2016, 7:00pm.

James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Last week, four intrepid souls shared intimate concerns and issues.  One atheist, one questioning, one transitioned, on traditional believing.  No judgmentalism interferred. We shared problems, concerns, compassion, wisdom.  When all was said and done one Talkeria attendee had this to say, “We both really enjoyed the evening. This is one of the first times we’ve been able to discuss our situation openly with others. It was very therapeutic.”

Talkeria Times Ten

September 15, 2016, 7:00pm.  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Shocking that 2 1/2 months of Talkeria have already transpired.  With the release of the Mormon Stories podcast, there has been a ton of activity.

Talkeria Time #9

September 8, 2016,7:00pm.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Last Thursay was like Christmas in September.   I gained a new perspective on my favorite holiday.  It’s going to make a difference on the next Dec. 25th.  This week I have a topic submitted by someone out of state.  This person is struggling in the church and is looking for input.  His wife has no idea that he has doubts.  Of course, he can’t discuss anything at church.  So, loniness and isolation has set in.

Talkeria Tonight #8

September 1, 2016, 7:00pm.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Last Thursday was amazing.  7 people attended.  One from Utah, here on business.

Whether you are angry or at peace, at the start of your journey or years into it, whether you don’t have the courage to speak yet or are bursting to speak out, this is a safe space to talk.  Whether an active member (like me), inactive, resigned, or never been Mormon, you are welcome.

Talkeria #7

Next meeting, August 25, 2016, 7:00pm.   James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  If you have any questions or problems regarding Mormon issues, please come.  Whether you are angry or at peace, at the start of your journey or years along it, whether you don’t have the courage to speak yet or are bursting to speak out, this is a safe space to talk.

Twenty-two different people have now attended our little Talkeria.  People from all across the spectrum:

Non-memeber & members: inactive, active non-believing, active believing, resigned, left to go to other churches, left to become atheist.  Current RS Pres, HPGL, Ward mission leader, several former bishops.

P.S. I buy the hot dogs!!!

Talkeria #6

Next meeting, August 18, 2016.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas

What an amazing discussion in #5.  An active RS president & her husband, in the HP leadership joined us.  They sincerely wanted to know how to interact with those who have doubts without offending or pushing away.  The 5 other attendees had great feedback for them.

Total run down:

  • One in-active
  • One non-member spouse.
  • One resigned
  • One recently left
  • One active, transitioned faith
  • One active R.S. Pres
  • One active HP group leadership

Talkeria #5

Will be held Aug 4, 2016.  Same time.  Same place.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.

Last week, amazing and amazingly frank  discussion.  There were four attendees.  A pretty perfect number.  Two new.  Two veterans.  Here is the run down.

  • One active, traditional believing member
  • One active, with very nuanced belief
  • One active, non-believer.  Has YM calling.  Major concern:  authenticity
  • One ex-member.  Left church 20 years ago.  Major concern:  how to discuss church with adult children who are still active.

At this point, 16 different people have joined in the Talkeria discussions.

Talkeria #4

July 28, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.

14 people have now attended.  Many more have wanted to come.  Today, I received a heartfelt message from a very good friend.  I cried through most of it.  For the past 3 to 4 years, he has been wrestling with faith issues.  As many experience, it has been done in silence and loneliness.  His wife is aware of his struggles.  But, he doesn’t have the confidence to discuss with his parents, siblings or members of his ward.  He has witnessed all the judgmentalism so commonly leveled at those with doubts and questions.  Unfortunately, he lives far from Houston.  I wish he could visit in on our Talkeria.

If you are anywhere near my home town, & need to talk about Mormon issues, feel free to join us. -All My Best to ya’ll.

Talkeria #2

July  7, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.

Talkeria One was terrific.  Eight wonderful souls showed up.  Much needed talk ensued.

Original Post

Six weeks ago, I started this blog.  At the time I had no idea if anybody would be interested.  I was willing to write, even if I were to be the only reader.  To my pleasant surprise, as of this moment 11,765 views have been registered from 63 countries around the globe.  Thanks for reading.  I hope you have enjoyed, learned, or experienced new thoughts.  It’s certainly been a learning experience for me.  Your comments have been especially meaningful.

Tomorrow Night, Thursday, June 30, 2016, something new is in the offing.  It will be called The Mormon Talkeria.  YOU….are invited.  7:00pm at James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  Of course, I know most of you can’t make it.   There might only be 3 of us in attendance, me, myself and Irene.  I’ll be sitting there from 7 to 9, in my gray hair and black, long sleeve shirt.  Oh, yeah, I’ll have pants on, too.  This is not a one time affair.  I plan to be there talking at the Talkeria for the next several Thursdays that I’m in town.

Gut-Wrench in the Closet

Over the past 2 years, I have undergone a gut-wrenching faith transition.  I am still a faithful member of the LDS church.  However, I look at the world much differently.  I say gut-wrenching because my journey has been accompanied by a good bit of anguish, pain, anger, disappointment and loneliness.  Navigation has been difficult for me…..and my family.

For the first 7 months, I thought that I was completely alone in searching out new truths.  Little did I know that there were, and are, many treading the same path.  But, that was not initially evident.  There was a part the LDS culture that I was naively unaware of.  Much of the history and doctrine of the Mormondom is forbidden to discuss at church.  Asking certain questions in public or in private yields judgment but no answers.

The suppression of honest discussion causes a number of unintended consequences.  I have personally experienced several.   I have also witnessed the difficult experience of others.  1 1/2 years ago, I started suggesting to my local ecclesiastical leaders that there was a need to find a way to discuss troubling issues.  As the months have passed, I have watched as more and more friends and family walk away from the church that they had once been so committed to.  All of them had basically grappled in private with their gut-wrenching faith transition.

So, absent any other venue for open & in-person discussion, I’m starting a Talkeria.  A casual sit-down to kindly and respectfully talk.

TopicsTalkeria Topics

If you find yourself in any of these situations, let’s talkeria.
  • LDS history and doctrine are troubling you, family members or friends.
  • You have a child who is doubting or has left the church.
  • You have a parent, sibling or friend who is doubting or has left the church.
  • Your faith has changed, and you are having difficulty interacting with family or friends
  • Your faith has changed and are having difficulty in your marriage.
  • The faith of your spouse has changed and you are having difficulty in you marriage.
  • You are gay, in or out of the closet.
  • You have a gay child, sibling or friend.

Mormon Talkeria

The Mormon Talkeria is meant for both believing Mormons, ex-Mormons and anybody in-between.  Whatever path a person choses or has chosen,  judgment has no place here. Discussions are not intended to try to sway  anyone to leave, stay or come back to church. Rather, this will be a place of support for the journey each has chosen.

I am not an expert at anything.  I’m certainly not a professional counselor.  That’s not the purpose of The Talkeria.  It’s simply a venue for talking face-to-face and friend-to-friend.

Recently, I was called in for Jury Duty.  Four hours at the courthouse.  Rounds of questioning by the prosecuting and defense attorneys.  Finally, the actually jurors were selected.  The judge turned to those of us who didn’t make the cut and said, “Thank you for your service.  Being a part of the jury selection process is very important to our system of justice.  We have found that the best way to discover the truth is through a jury.”  I was kind of blown away.  Twelve ordinary, untrained men and women from all walks of live, are the best way to determine truth.  Whatever The Mormon Talkeria turns into, it will just be ordinary, untrained men and women trying to ferret out the best course to take at this time in their life.

For the next few weeks, I plan on being at JCI every Thursday.  Me, myself, and anyone else.

Not in Houston?

Well, that’s pretty much 99.9% of everybody reading this.  But, if you would like to be a part of the discussion, feel free to send an issue my/our way.  We’ll chew on it at our little Talkeria and share whatever wisdom might pop out.