Claim #1: It is a hit piece, on Dehlin, not a review of Mormon Stories.

Well, one is entitled to one’s opinion. It is telling, though, that Rollo begins his review with mind-reading: “of Smith’s purpose in writing the Dubious Review: to destroy Dehlin’s reputation and whatever influence he has in the Mormon community.”

Such claims are, of course, unfalsifiable. And, I emphasize again, it is not a review of “Mormon Stories,” but of a few materials produced by Mormon Stories. (One reader complained that I didn’t interview the administration of Mormon Stories. If I was trying to do an intellectual history of Mormon Stories, I might have. But, I don’t interview the administration of Oxford University Press or Signature Books when I review one of their works; it’s not clear why the administration ought to matter here either.)

For the record, I did the review by first reading Dehlin’s Facebook feed.  Why?  Well, I was faced with the need to decide how to review a large volume of podcasts. So, I tried to adopt the stance of a “new reader” who was starting reading the feed. That’s how I chose the podcasts I did: they were popular (>10,000 downloads), Dehlin expressed his great pleasure about them, and they were about foundational issues: one doctrinal/theological (the Book of Mormon and its historicity) and the other moral/behavioral (law of chastity).

After reviewing these, I noted that claims made therein did not match many claims and attitudes expressed in the roughly two years of Facebook posts. So I had to (shudder) return and reread the feed, looking for that which I remembered seeing. Tedious, but revealing.

I then decided to get a bead on how Dehlin described himself to the public, so I did two podcasts that interviewed him. One was fairly friendly to the Church, and one was by frankly hostile hosts. I hoped this would give good balance—I think it did, but it was also revealing because of the different versions of things which different audiences received. (John Larsen also noted this tendency later in a cited section of my review.) As I later added a fifth section, I also looked at a survey which Mormon Stories had released.

For the record, I had one reader—a trial lawyer—read the whole thing and see if there was a way I could do the review without mentioning Dehlin’s name. He opined that I could not.

I can’t review MS without talking about Dehlin, since he’s the editorial voice.  But, a review of what Brodie says and does in conjunction with No Man Knows My History, is not a hit piece on Brodie. Rollo also here ignores the other non-Dehlin speakers that are discussed. I’d have liked to include more, but well, life is short.

If I were to announce on (say) Facebook that I was going to lie and smear John Dehlin, I think Rollo would (quite rightly) regard that as relevant to a review of a piece of work in which I announced that I had no intention of doing so.

There are many times when I could have said, “the speaker of Mormon Stories,” or “Mormon Stories says,” but sometimes it just doesn’t work stylistically. And, who are we kidding? We’d know what I’m talking about.

I do think it funny, though, that Rollo quoted me using Dehlin’s name repeatedly (bold-faced) as if this is some type of revelation. I do tend to mention the authors of works I review.

Besides, if my review is to be dismissed because of suspected malign motives, one could with equal evidence (and an equal inability to falsify the claim) reject Rollo’s on the same ground.

This is a distracting technique, essentially a form of ad hominem. Better to just treat the data.