Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
127: Jacob Hess: Dialogues with a Conservative Friend

127: Jacob Hess: Dialogues with a Conservative Friend

“I can imagine some ways we’ll try to work with different feelings in this space together – but our request would (and should) never be that you stop feeling what you are feeling. On the contrary, I see this space Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 7.19.08 PMas radically inviting of all kinds of experience – much like a mindfulness retreat: “No matter what you feel, allowing things to be exactly as you find them. Without trying to force or fix or control them…”  Jacob Hess


These are difficult days in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The circulation of a policy that placed heavy restrictions upon gay and lesbian couples, parents and children has caused a massive cultural rift between conservative and progressive Mormons.    In this conversation Jacob Hess and I share a dialogue that is difficult for us both but ultimately rewarding as we try and work out the ideological conundrums that sit between us as we search for a respectful way forward.


  1. THIS is what I’ve been looking for! This is where the change comes. Jacob’s approach seems like it’s slow moving and not progressive enough, but it’s not just the best way to deal with conflict, but it’s the only way.

    I have so much to say on this, I might need to write my own blog post, but what Jacob had to say on this discussion he had with a friend who had opposing views who just lost his cat. It made me laugh out loud, but only because it was a perfect scenario of how change happens. When we discuss and connect, we come away changed.. and we find ourselves thinking about the PEOPLE and their pets who have passed away. It was a beautiful story and most will wonder how this has anything to do with the conflict because it seems off topic, but loving each other, listening to each other and approaching a discussion without anger is the only way we can progress.

    Thank you so much Gina and Jacob for creating such a beautiful dialogue. This is truly what I have been searching for.

  2. Pingback: Divorcing the Church: A Plea to My Brothers and Sisters Ready to Bolt… « Mindfully Mormon

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    1. Stephen Lowther

      I am a bit surprised at your comment, Eugene. I was imagining sitting there between Gina and Jacob, participating. I was delighted with the way Jacob was able to graciously and charismaticly claim his conservatism.

      I personally detected no hint Gina felt peevish with him. I did hear her passionately claim her perspective with a great deal of eloquence.

      It was a marvelous conversation.

    2. Mark

      I second that Eugene, I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool either.
      The dialogue, and ‘hanging out between positions’ followed by entrenchment in the conservative status quo is all fine and dandy as long as you close your eyes and heart to those that are suffering. Gina mentioned the key word in this podcast: privilege.

      And regarding being classified as a hate group by the SPLC: you don’t get called a hate group for having a conservative view. You get called a hate group for consistently disseminating misinformation about LGBT people or racial minorities. If we want a constructive dialogue or meeting of the minds, we have to at least agree upon the underlying facts and strongly oppose all the dehumanizing lies and retoric that get spewed by certain groups (including those at the World Congress of Families)

  4. Changed Soul

    I too have been struggling to find understanding in this policy especially in regards to the innocents. I came to realize it was never going to make sense in my mind and that I needed to start healing my soul. As I did this I realized I didn’t need to find understanding as much as I needed to find compassion And seek out those who truly needed it. I am deeply saddend by those wanting to leave and just as saddend by those willing to just cast them aside. If I were to go out among these people I would say befor you resign…Rest…come home and let’s work through this together and then make your decision. We need to be better with eachother?

  5. Allan West

    Gina, thanks for that last question. It boils down to… If you really want diversity in the church, what are you going to do to make it possible for all of us to stay?
    When he said that we must remember the good times and forget the pain… it clicked for me. This is exactly what abusive partners say!
    I find him to be a queer egg. Unlike most of the people one comes in cotact with who are hard on the outside but have a soft center…
    he has a soft outside but an unrelentingly hard center.
    He will say, “lets have a dialogue here…” and yet he will always discount his interlocutor.

  6. Spencer Lercher

    My first encounter with liberal Mormons was with Rolf Straubhaar who was my college roommate. I was delighted to listen to his podcast interview on this website. Ever since I met Rolf, I made an effort to listen and to read Liberal Mormon’s positions on various issues. My knee jerk reaction to the first handbook was support, but I changed my mind after listening to Liberal Mormons’ arguments on the issue. The anger and pain from Liberal Mormons is palpable. What specific ideological conundrums do people on this thread have in regards to this issue?

  7. Spencer Lercher

    I like this podcast. I was delighted when the podcast featured the Straubhaars. Rolf was my college roommate and he exposed me to Liberal Mormonism. I sought to listen to Liberal Mormons ever since to obtain a diverse perspective on various issues. I felt like Jacob struggled in defining his beliefs despite Gina’s clever questions from different angles. At first, out of a knee jerk reaction, i supported the handbook’s position on the children of gay parents, but I reversed my position after listening and reading Liberal Mormon’s arguments on the issue. Ultimately, I think Mormonism has become too bureaucratized. I would prefer the Church create better conditions for an open and honest discussion and leave it to each individual’ prayerful study on the matter. I do think it is important to discuss how we reconcile our base assumptions and paradigms. As a Mormon, I cannot support gay marriage on a theological level because exaltation depends on a man and a woman to be sealed and the commandment of multiplying and replenishing the earth. I believe this the major roadblock between supporters of gay marriage and people that oppose it. I am interested to read people’s rebuttals, questions and concerns on my position.

  8. Brent

    I enjoyed the dialogue. It seems Jacob enjoys it too, being comfortable with memories and mindful discussion while separating the pain of those feeling it on the front lines. I do love his openness and willingness to discuss. I can’t have such a conversation with my very conservative family. Even that would be progress to me. Thanks to both of you for your time and thoughtful discussion.

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