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In this podcast episode, the three of us discuss our spiritual experiences (or lack thereof) and how we viewed them during our process of leaving the Church. We also talk about Tanner’s insecurities and have the usual British accent.

We also consider buying an ouija board.

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Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until he was excommunicated for adultery. During his disciplinary court, Elder Carrington tried to argue that he had only committed "a little folly in Israel!", but the current brethren couldn't be bothered to give him a break. Learn more about Elder Carrington here.
  • Swagavad Gita

    Get vulnerable lol.

    • Richard R. Lyman

      Channeling Brene Brown 😉

  • Swagavad Gita

    I think I relate. When I felt good I’d attribute that to God. When I felt bad I thought it was because of the buffetings of Satan. Religion co-opts what we have that is good.

  • Duke of Earl Grey

    During my time in the church, I can say I never experienced anything that I could have called a witness from the Spirit, even at the time. I felt good feelings on many occasions, but I never equated them with the Spirit, because I expected the Spirit to be something more and different from emotions I might feel in other circumstances. On my mission, under duress to have to bear testimony, I did my best to reach the conclusion that I had at least some kind of testimony. Fortunately for my peace of mind at that time, I was rarely pressed by investigators to give any details of my experiences, that is, no one really ever called me out on my bullshit. On those few occasions I had to give them more information, I usually did the whole “I knew it all along” talking point we’ve all heard from someone or other, and clung on to for dear eternal life.

    Eventually on the mission, I started having an experience I decided must be a manifestation of the Spirit. It would only happen as I was in the act of teaching or counseling, helping someone reach understanding of a gospel principle, where I would get choked up emotionally in a way I had never felt in any other context. I would also feel an increase in love for the other person, and I often cried a bit, too. While I didn’t consider that a sure witness or proof of the church, it was at least some buffer against my skepticism. It was something unique I could point to and say, “Yep, there’s your Spirit!”

    Fast forward about 5 years, as I was beginning my career as a tax auditor. (“Nerd!”) Back then I went on a lot of field audits, going to businesses, reviewing their records, and leaving them a report of our findings. Usually I went with another auditor (two by two!) and the whole thing was eerily reminiscent of missionary work. Lo and behold, when we’d get to the part of the audit where we show the company representatives the types of tax errors they’re having, and instruct them in how to become compliant, what should I feel welling up in my body? It was that same old choked-up, weepy feeling with an increase of love I had identified as the Spirit. “Now THAT’s very interesting.” I thought. And down fell a big part of my shelf…

  • Nancy

    I joined the church at age 15. During the discussions I was told to pray to get a testimony but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Many evangelical and agnostic friends tried to talk me out of believing in anything the missionaries told me. One day I was reading in Acts about the persecution of the apostles in the early Christian church. I got a very strong feeling I was being “persecuted” because I was getting too close to the truth! For decades I hung on to that feeling despite mounting evidence the church was not what the missionaries taught me it was. It wasn’t until my shelf utterly broke that I admitted to myself that people are persecuted for many reasons and that the LDS church certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on that. They are just as likely today to be the persecutors. ( think LGBT policies)

  • ZSH

    Tanner, you talked about one of your experiences in high school and I was reminded of my wife’s picture album from high school which contains a few photos of the two of you. Some of them are very interesting to say the least 😉

    Great podcast, keep it up guys 🙂

    • Richard R. Lyman

      I was young and I needed the money! 😉

      I actually think I know what pictures you’re talking about. Balloons?

      • ZSH

        Haha yep Balloons, I hope the money was worth it 😉

  • Jaasiel Rodriguez

    I’ve experienced psychosis. It’s a very difficult thing, and affects everything. A lot of people interpreted what I would say as profound. Now, in retrospect, it really helps me make sense of joseph smith and his cohorts.

    I actually feel somewhat bad for him, as I know what it is like to have a serious desire to be a holy man, and experience some crazy shit. I wouldn’t be surprised if he really did think he saw an angel telling him to get with these women.

    That’s not to say it wasn’t wrong, or that it was a legitimate supernatural experience, or that that was what actually happened. The whole fraud thing seems to be the answer.

  • I’ve enjoyed your podcasts. Keep them coming. I thought you got the name from Infant Matt Long’s “Zelph on the Shelf” parody of “Elf on the Shelf.” I like your story better. The Zelph incident is one of those bizarrely odd episodes in Mormonism that we all love so to Ponderize®, much as we do the now-famous King Follett meander. It hadn’t occurred to me how Zelph might kinda booger the whole mesoamerican approach to apologetics. Too bad there wasn’t some omnipotent/omniscient being on staff who could have planned the whole thing out a little better.

  • Sheppy Wong

    Just fyi this episode is not showing up in my podcast feed whereas the first three are.

  • Forrest Young

    The one spiritual experience that still sticks with me was during a biology class when I received an unshakeable witness of the truth of evolution. When I started questioning a couple years later I couldn’t figure out why my bosom burned for science but when I prayed about the Book of Mormon the answer was always “meh.”

  • Lane Sawyer

    Just noticed that you had a new episode! It’s not showing up on Stitcher (which is why I missed it). Could you look into that so I don’t have to miss another? 🙂

    Clicking around, it looks like your feed is broken. When I click the subscribe button it give me this feed, which pulls up a server error page: http://zelphontheshelf.com/feed/podcast/zelphontheshelfpodcast

  • Kimberley Pappas

    Do you guys have any more podcasts? If not please make more… They are sooo good!


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