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Radio Free Mormon: 049: A Whale of A Tale

Today, boy do we have a “Whale Of A Tale” for you.  First RFM starts us off by explaining how Paul H Dunn of the seventy set a high bar for false faith promoting stories in the Church.  Then Radio Free Mormon runs you through the past false faith promoting stories that have come through Mormonism in recent years.  And he finishes by laying out the most recent example in Radio Free Mormon fashion, Elder Larry Y. Wilson’s Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide      Where good ole’ Ensign Blair saves the day.



25 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 049: A Whale of A Tale”

  1. Thank you I soaked up those Brother Dunn stories over and over again hoping to gain spiritual strength like his.. I have also listened to Brother Matthew Crowley tapes over and over. Do you know if his stories, on the tape Miracles, are true?

    1. I listened to those stories by Matthew Cowley on audio tape, as well.

      I have no idea whether they are true.

      There are fewer details to corroborate because his stories have to do with the Maori people in New Zealand, I believe. This involves a tribe of people less available for comment or fact-checking.

      His stories would also have happened toward the beginning of the 20th century, so good luck on having any resources to check against his stories in order to verify!

      Thanks for listening!

  2. Love this podcast. One of the speakers used Elder Wilson talk as part of his talk. I spent 20 years in the US Navy Reserves though I never was at sea and I called BS on this story for many of the same reasons before even listening to this podcast. At least Elder Wilson didn’t claim this happened to him.

    1. No, Elder Wilson did not claim this story happened to him, so this puts him more in the category of Jeffrey Holland than Paul Dunn.

      But really, before you go trotting a story out for prime time consumption in General Conference, one would expect at least a little bit of due diligence in corroborating the story.

      Otherwise you can end up with egg on your face.

      I have information now that Elder Wilson has been made aware of this podcast and the problems with Ensign Blair’s story. Elder Wilson’s response appears to be that it is Ensign Blair’s story and that there are no problems with it; but if there are problems, those are Ensign Blair’s fault and not Elder Wilson’s!

      1. As I said below, predictable and classic CYA! Footnote 6 conspicuously stands out as proof of Wilson’s carefully-planned CYA. In Wilson’s mind, that footnote completely absolves him.

        Elder Holland wasn’t as wise.

        Your intel, RFM, confirms Wilson’s intent to CYA. Plausible deniability! Lol. Just point the finger at the old man; hang him out to dry!

        Wilson, however, cannot escape at the very least being branded as a lazy fact checker, though to be honest, a ghost writer probably wrote the talk.

        So the ghost writer was lazy.

        Elder Wilson’s shortsightedness has bought him the reputation of being bereft of the spirit of discernment, as earned by the high-up GA’s taken in by counterfeiter Mark Hofmann.

        This track record means he has impressed the leadership and will be fast tracked to the Q of the 12!

  3. RFM,

    Good catch. Thank you. And thanks for the research you undertook by interviewing Navy personnel who could easily see the glaring problems with the story as shared by Elder Wilson. Wonder if Elder Wilson will issue a retraction through The Church News as Elder Holland did last year. Not holding my breath. But I would be quite embarrassed if I were him, in view of this podcast.

    Unlike Elder Holland, Elder Wilson did a better job of CYA-ing himself by quite nicely passing the buck to Brother Blair. From Footnote 6 of the General Conference talk: “Experience shared with the permission of Frank Blair. Brother Blair, now 89 years old, was present in the Conference Center for this address.” By passing the buck, the brunt of the embarrassment falls on Brother Blair. Were the “Paul H. Dunn” embellishments conjured up by Brother Blair, and if not him, who?

    But has the entire buck passed to Brother Blair? Is Elder Wilson merely the innocent victim of the deception? Or is Elder Wilson using whatever he can get his hands on, however weak in substance and dated, to further a Church agenda which is to desperately prop up the fast-crumbling facade of the Spirit actually working in the Church.

    Regarding Frank Blair’s story, I assume there is SOME truth to it.

    Maybe Ensign Blair was part of the engineering group. My guess is he had to be. I doubt the captain would have risked his career and the ship and all souls on board by following the “hunch” of a non engineer on that ship. Maybe Blair and others opposed the ship’s top engineer and truly felt the good engine shouldn’t be run so hard. That type of disagreement may have actually happened during the typhoon, with the captain siding with the camp that favored slowing the speed down. That may have been the sum total of the story right there, with everything else made up (“seeing” the screws (props) in the black of night (even though there was no line of sight to even see them in broad daylight), going out on the deck in the midst of life-destroying, 45-foot waves crashing against the ship, having a lifeline tied to him, the captain disobeying Navy protocol leaving the bridge to seek out Ensign Blair down below, Ensign Blair going to bed at the very time his life and the lives of the crew (and ship!) were in imminent danger).

    The story, as told, leads to some nasty implications.

    1) Elder Blair flat out lied on the several points you point out. His character is now impugned, just like Paul H. Dunn’s. He’s a liar, but the GA preserved his reputation!!
    2) Why would Br. Blair lie? Seems to be seeking personal glory, the way the story is told. Self-glorification oozes from the account.
    3) At the very least, what does this say of Elder Wilson’s power of discernment? The irony! Brother Blair’s story has deceit woven through it, and yet Elder Wilson, an esteemed GA presumably with great gifts of the Spirit and discernment, is deceived, as he prepares and delivers a talk on the Holy Spirit!

    Does Brother Blair’s story even merit inclusion as a truly remarkable example of being guided by the Holy Spirit? There are too many unknowns in the story. Like I said, maybe there was a major argument in the engineering dept about what speed to run the motor. We just don’t know enough. And who knows, perhaps the engine would have quit running anyway at the time it did. The other engines had problems, so why not that one?

    There are much better stories one could tell. Think of the myriad scripture stories: Christ telling the Samaritan woman about her multiple husbands, Christ’s many prophecies, Ammon knowing to go to Middoni by the power of the Spirit, Joseph being told his name would be spoken of for good and evil throughout the world.

    One of the greatest miracle stories (if that’s what the intent of Elder Wilson was) is that of the BoM coming into existence, in English. The work of translation was a miracle.

    RFM, you mention again Joseph Smith in the same breath of Paul H. Dunn, Elder Holland’s fiction, and Brother Blair’s story, but the difference, my respected friend, is that the BoM is proof of Joseph’s testimony that God worked a great work through Joseph.

    Proof. Meaning, it is PROOF. It PROVES Joseph wasn’t lying or telling stories.

    For decades, it’s not been debunked though weak, puerile arguments have been put forth notwithstanding.

    Imagine if all the key players in Elder Holland’s Hell’s Angels story corroborated the main story line of his story. Then that WOULD be a marvelous faith-promoting story of God’s hand at work in our lives.

    The BoM does stand as a sure witness of the work of God in the latter days. It didn’t just, poof, appear into existence, but there are witnesses (3 and 8) of where the translation came from.

    Reuben Clark said, “If we have the truth no harm can come from investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”

    I like your podcasts because, for the most part, you provide a great service by “harming” the falsehoods uttered today by the Church. Mormons should welcome your investigation, because the BoM and Joseph’s testimony, being TRUE, cannot be harmed by investigation. And I’m happy that you’re exposing the untruths. Thank you.


    1. I appreciate your listenership and your comments, Underdog!

      I do not mean to offend you in any way. You are correct that Joseph Smith was involved in the production of the Book of Mormon, which is quite a remarkable feat, I agree.

      But his production of the Book of Mormon does not prove that what Joseph Smith claimed about anything else is true; it simply proves Joseph Smith was involved in the production of the Book of Mormon.

      Thanks again for listening!

      1. RFM, I agree with you.

        The BoM being the keystone of our religion means, logically and strictly speaking, that only the doctrine in the book is true, and if there’s a “sealed” or otherwise hidden message in it to us gentile saints, that is true; and it would behoove us gentile saints to not treat it lightly, but to unlock the hidden treasure within its pages, else be found to be numbered as those under condemnation.

        So now I think I have a better understanding of where you are coming from. You have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but you are very careful as to what you label is true based on the book being true. Is that correct?

    1. You have hit on why it is I think many disaffected LDS choose not to affiliate with another religion.

      Once a study of LDS Church History demonstrates how quickly miracle stories with no basis in truth can accrete around a religious figure, it is a short trip to the candy shop to realize the same thing not only about Joseph Smith, but about Jesus Christ, as well.

      It does not mean that none of those miracle stories are true, but it does mean that we have to be very careful about accepting such stories merely because they are told by a church leader or other source considered authoritative.

  4. You guys are crazy. Blair saw the propellers in “vision” ! lol! I get flak all the time from family because I believe God is a Laissez-Faire God…… This story proves it!

    1. This story illustrates why it is I see the LDS God as theologically devolving over time.

      I sometimes refer to it as the Incredible, Shrinking God of Mormonism.

  5. Now why didn’t my ears twitch (I mean Holy Ghost warn me) when I heard that story on General Conference. Perhaps because I assigned it a default minimum value.

    The purpose of story was to help remind you to follow your inspiration as directed by the Holy Ghost.

    But is the Holy Ghost total net sum value equal to zero. Our we not to let inspiration guide?

    1. It is interesting, isn’t it, that even if we accept the story as true on its face, it really doesn’t amount to much of a miracle, does it?

  6. RFM, great podcast as usual. One point of detail (since you are a detail man), I listened to the Mormon Stories interview with Lynn Packer. As I recall, it seemed like he got pressure from other church leaders not to pursue his Paul Dunn investigation, but not from his uncle. Or am I remembering wrong?

    1. Good point, FF.

      This is the main reason I said I wasn’t going to go into a lot of detail on the Paul H. Dunn story, because otherwise it would have swallowed up the whole podcast.

      You are correct that officially, there was an intermediary who spoke directly with Lynn Packer. There is some evidence, though not conclusive, that it was Lynn’s uncle, Boyd K. Packer, who was behind the threats.

      And given the fact it was Boyd K. Packer who was behind the scenes pulling the levers on the church discipline of (at least) one of the September Six four years after this, it does not seem improbable he would have done the same in this instance.

      I didn’t want to get bogged down in who said what in this particular podcast, but it is a fair point you raise.

      Thanks for listening!

  7. This was a big part of me leaving the church some years ago. I investigated my favourite talk tapes: “17 points of the True Church”, “God is the Gardener”, etc. and they were all fake. IIRC the guy in “17 points” had to stop lecturing when it was revealed that his whole story was made up. And Hugh B Brown was never in the situation he claimed in the Navy, the one that was the center of his story. (That was a big deal because Brown was supposed to be one of the “good” general authorities.) There are other examples, but those are the ones that stick out. Every single faith promoting story, without exception, turned out to be either highly exaggerated or simply fake.

  8. These are good points, Chris.

    You know, to be fair, I have experienced some remarkable things in my life that I have difficulty attributing exclusively to naturalistic events.

    But time and time again, it seems the stories told by General Authorities frequently end up being made up out of whole cloth.

    I would really think that, after the problem last summer when Elder Holland had to come out a month after telling his story about the missionary finding his older biker brother in California and admit it wasn’t true; that subsequent GAs would have been scrupulous to fact-check their stories to make sure the same kind of egg didn’t end up their faces, as well.

    Apparently Elder Wilson didn’t get the memo.

    1. I know what you mean about being seen to attack something where yet there is value. In my own case I think we need religion more than ever, mostly for the reasons outlined by Noah Harari and Nicholas Taleb. (The current rate of change means the potential for disaster is greater than ever: from climate change, AI, inequality etc.) So I am pro religion for secular reasons. And since religion is by nature small c conservative, I have to some extent be pro Mormon as that is my heritage: better to fix it than tear it down. But fixing it means doing what true prophets have always done, denouncing what is bad and urging a return to truth.

  9. You might have cited Lynn Packer’s book for interested listeners: LYING FOR THE LORD: THE PAUL H. DUNN STORIES (Amazon Print Edition, 2015)

    Lynn Packer makes clear that his uncle, Boyd K., was less than fond of Dunn and didn’t threaten Lynn Packer’s employment. That was done both by KSL and BYU– both employed him. He persisted and was terminated. He couldn’t get any news outlet in Utah to carry his story. He sold his research to the Arizona Republic which broke the story and, only then, did all the Utah media jump on it.

    1. Thanks for the reference, Norm.

      I did not know Lynn had actually written a book about the subject. I am going to have to order it and give it a read.

      Sounds interesting!


  10. You gotta admit, Dunn was a HELL of a good story teller. Much better than the boring-as-Hades Book of Mormon b.s. or most “talks” you here in Church (or don’t here…most Mormons aren’t listening anyway).

  11. Heard another WWII story today in church. A mother who prayed for her son’s safety who was in the pacific theater, was saved by a strap she made when his ship sunk. Monson told the story, The Prayer of Faith, April 1978. Not as many details. I wonder if it can be similarly debunked.

  12. I believe Mormonism is false. I am an ex-Mormon. Yet, before my mission call, my mother, who is NOT Mormon (never was), said “What if they send you to Morgan Hill where your brother is?” I had a half-brother in Morgan Hill California. I laughed at her and said, “Oh Mom, I could be sent to Japan or Germany, anywhere!” Weeks later I got my mission call: California San Jose Mission. When I got there, after the MTC, the Mission President (who had NO IDEA I had a half-brother in Morgan Hill), sent me to Morgan Hill. TRUE STORY. No, I did NOT convert my half-brother to Mromonism. My mission eventually led me OUT of the LDS Church, although it would take another four years after I returned home. YEs…true story.

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