Thomas mcconkie

A Conversation with Thomas Wirthlin McConkie by KUER (RadioWest / Doug Fabrizio)


Listen to the full episode with Thomas Wirthlin McConkie:


Thomas Wirthlin McConkie is a descendent of two highly influential Mormon leaders.  And yet, his close ties to the LDS Church didn’t insulate him from questioning his faith. He left the church as a teenager and found spiritual fulfillment in Zen Buddhism. After almost 20 years, he returned to Mormonism, and he wants to help others navigate their own faith crises. McConkie joins us Monday to discuss how the tools of developmental psychology can help guide us through faith transitions.

Thomas Wirthlin McConkie is the host of the Mindfulness + podcast, which is distributed by the LDS Church-owned KSL Newsradio. He’s the author of the book Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Development Map [Amazon]. For more details on his work, visit

Listen to the full episode with Thomas Wirthlin McConkie:




Read the comments below and read all comments here:

  • Wow, I love this guy. I’m a devout Mormon who grew up outside Utah. Now, living in Utah, I sometimes find Utah Mormon culture disappointing and even irritating. But the gospel of Christ that the church teaches transcends how people living near Salt Lake have interpreted it.

    I like the speaker’s perspective – talking about growth and interpretation. I really agree that Mormonism is on the cusp of wonderful growth and increased enlightenment and understanding. It is an exciting thing to watch, although growth is also often accompanied by interim pain.

    The Mormon church is largely just a school, whose purpose is to teach how to love God and to love our neighbors. But the gospel itself that the church teaches is much wider and deeper than the mere school.

  • I love this conversation. I am a member, grew up in an abusive orthadox LDS family, I never left the church but there has been a journey that I had to take. For me it was a relationship with peace and love that was given to me to help me in my spiritual path. I now am a parent, and I have chosen to raise my children and to focus on the truths that are mine. Love, peace and not fear. I think that is at the heart of my generation, being more open minded, knowing that the leaders are just human men. They will say and do things I don’t agree with, but also still sharing with my family my relationships that bring inner peace and love.

  • I want to meet this man. My coming back story is different yet similar.

  • I have never had an outright anger towards the church but there have been times when I get annoyed at the culture of exactness. I have a mental picture of the iron rod in Lehi’s dream and when the earthquakes come it shakes off the people who are grasping too tightly and are not strong enough to survive the shaking of the rod in the ground. In my mind 38 Special is singing “…just hold on loosely but don’t let go, if you cling too tightly you’re gonna lose control…”

    So I attend church to make myself a better person and become more aware of my blind spots and flaws. My only hope is that in heaven there is no church and that the order of eternity is the family. I view the church as scaffolding to construct a sound and solid building and when the building is complete, I hope the scaffolding falls away.

    As Thomas mentioned, religion is about finding your way. Archbishop Rowan Williams said that being human is learning how to ask critical questions of your own behavior and how to adjust them against a model of idealized truth about the purpose of humanity. We all act out of self-interest to one degree or another. We see the various balancing acts we engage in of selfishness and security versus finding our way to a life that manifests something, a life that does not just solve problems of survival and profit. The Mormon church is very permissive in allowing us the freedom to find our way while at the same time doing the temporal lifting of “solving problems of survival and profit”. The Archbishop goes on to say “Our job as human beings is to imagine ourselves – using all the raw materials that science, psychoanalysis, and economics provide us – in hope that the images we discover and shape will have resonance and harmony with the rhythms of what Christians and others call the will and purpose of the Almighty God.”

  • “The ability to delude oneself is a sign of developmental progress – it means we’re operating on a higher plane.”

    What the heck, this is the mindset that’s required to save mormonism????

    • What is the context of this? I don’t actually remember him saying this, but I would have to go back and also listen to the context.

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    Thanks Doug,
    really enjoyed this one. ‘lean– into the possibility’ this is faith. Everyone should go out and be renaissance.

    • Yeah! Everyone ‘lean — into the possibility’ that it’s okay to call someone on a mission and then secretly marry their pregnant wife.

  • Zen + Mormonism. I love that.

    Doug, perhaps you would ask the guest about that interesting mix. An early Mormon prophet said that all truth and goodness in any religion or philosophy also is encompassed by Mormonism. But we Mormons tend to emphasize mostly Protestant virtues and practices.

  • “Just like the cadavers along the Great Barrier Reef , I come to you beyond belief”

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    What advice would he give to gay people who are born into the Mormon Church…?

    • Hi, Jeff. I don’t presume to have advice for the LGBT community. Each individual is so different. What I am interested in is challenging the terms of the conversation we’ve set up and see if we can’t make more space for different worldviews that are increasingly compassionate and inclusive. That’s what development means to me. My sense is that our current treatment of the LGBT community is not sustainable and not nearly as embracing as it could yet become.

  • Why can’t cultural Mormons craft a way to make that work – just as many people make that cultural, but non-religious, status work in other religious cultures? It’s exasperating to watch you folks wrestle with issues of belief when most of the time you’re really wrestling with ties between family and friends. Losing faith doesn’t have to be a crisis.

    • “Losing faith doesn’t have to be a crisis.” I agree wholeheartedly, William. I believe that’s the premise of the whole conversation. I’m curious what Mormonism looks like when we take it beyond belief. And of course, “beyond belief” needs to compassionately embrace the whole spectrum of beliefs that do exist within the culture.

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