About Runtu

Not much to tell. I’m now in my 50s, have way too many kids, and live in the Washington, DC, area. I write for a living, but unless you consider technical writing creative, this is the only creative writing I do. Recently, I published an article in The Human Prospect and a book chronicling my experiences as a Mormon missionary in Bolivia.


44 Responses to About Runtu

  1. zackc says:

    Runtu…please update my blog to be zackc.wordpress.com. I’ve stopped doing my Seer’s Stoned blog (sadly). If you want to that is. I mean alot of LDS stuff is over at that blog and it will stay up…whatever you wanna do. 🙂

  2. zackc says:

    Oh yeah…delete the above comment (and this one as well) if you want to.

  3. Hermana de bien estar says:

    Please post a photo of yourself as a missionary in Bolivia. I’m trying to remember your face but, it’s been so long ago.

    I’m really enjoying your stories. They bring back so many memories.

    Cheers, Alice (Harline) Davis

  4. jeff says:

    Thanks. You’re a gifted writer. Your respect for the the people connected with your mission is refreshing. I’ve been trying to make sense of my mission to Finland (1980-82) now that I’m not a believer, and your insights have helped me. Did your RM friend from Finland stay active. You were right about the seldom teaching or baptizing.

    • robinobishop says:

      The growth of the LDS Church is among the fastest of any denomination on the planet.
      In the last 50 years, membership has increased ten-fold.
      For the last 15 years, an average of 800 people have joined the LDS Church every day. As for Finland, in particular, the effort there is new now that the Gov. approves.

  5. Zeezrom says:

    I love your mission stories; and I plan to make my kids to read them before they go (if they go). Kicking back in the south of France in the early 90s, a year or so after Cumom, I didn’t experience the extreme poverty and health issues that you did in South America, but the emotional manipulation and guilt complex issues were much the same. It’s always disturbed me that the only mission stories TBM pre-missionaries generally get exposed to are devoid of any information about the physical and emotional dangers of missionary service.

    You would do a great service to the LDS community if you were to assemble these stories as an ebook, or even a dead-tree book, which I think would be a viable seller if you could connect with the right publisher. Potential missionaries, and their parents, would be much better prepared to deal with these issues (assuming they choose to go at all) were they to read your stories. The overall tone of your narrative is perfect for connecting with a thinking TBM audience–not strident; not “anti”; just telling it how it was.

    If you do publish these, I’d suggest leaving the temple entry out, or at least toning it down a little. A large number of TBMs who see specific temple ceremony details in print will shift immediately into “anti” mode and disregard the underlying message. This would be unfortunate–no matter what your personal feelings are about the LDS church, your message is important enough that I think its worth soft-pedaling the temple issue in order to reach a larger audience.

    Thanks again for writing these stories.

    Zeezrom on the NOM board

  6. runtu says:

    Yeah, I’ve gone back and forth about whether to explain the temple. I put it in because I felt like it explained a lot about why I felt such guilt and pressure after I went through it. It really isn’t entirely necessary, though. I’ll have to give it some thought.

  7. Dr. B. says:

    I added your blog to my site aggregator. Could you please help to attract new users to the Mormon Blogosphere aggregator?

    Copy and paste the following code into your HTML/JavaScript widget, then take out the # signs:



    Dr. B.

  8. Deb says:

    Hello, I liked your information about the seer stone. Is it the same stone that is in the Manti temple?

    Do you know of a timeline of all the activities Joseph engaged in throughout his life? I would love to see a complete one. I think if church members had one, (that was factual of course), it might help them to see things more clearly. When you are thinking of events that happened so long ago, it is easy to mix up the dates, giving him the benefit of the doubt that if anything unsavory happened, it all happened before the church really got moving, so to speak (except of course for polyandry).

    By the way, one argument that explains everything away that just drives me up the wall is, “That happened when he was acting as a man, not as a prophet”. If you’re a prophet shouldn’t you choose to let that role define you – if you are truly a prophet, I think it would.

  9. Chris says:

    Have you ever posted on NOM? If not you should as many would appreciate your contribution and support.


  10. Darwee says:


    Great writing! Great blog! I am trying to find a story (an allegory) about the boy in the cardboard box. I’m sure I’ve seen this on your site but I am unable to find it. What archive is this story in?

    Thank you,

  11. Karl Smith says:

    “Those who oppose and find fault will not find joy in their opposition. Those who criticize and seek to destroy the influence of the leaders of the Church will suffer the result of their wrong-doing.

    If you will follow the leadership of the Lord, and those whom the Lord sustains, you will not fall away into darkness, lose the light, transgress the laws of God, and forfeit your privileges that he is so anxious that all of us should enjoy.

    There is only one pathway of safety for me in this day and that is to follow those whom the Lord has appointed to lead. I may have my own ideas and opinions, I may set up my own judgment with reference to things, but I know that when my judgment conflicts with the teachings of those that the Lord has given to us to point the way, I should change my course. If I desire salvation I will follow the leaders that our Heavenly Father has given to us, as long as he sustains them.”

    George Albert Smith

  12. Mahonri says:

    Council of the Twelve: A group of high-level bureaucrats who hold meetings dressed in Masonic robes weekly and travel the world as “special witnesses of Jesus Christ”

    Runtu, you might edit this to reflect that the Apostles are not “witnesses to the NAME of Jesus Christ”, and have no requirement to have actually seen or talked with him. Kind of like being a witness to the name of Charles Manson or Marilyn Monroe?

  13. stylishhomeinorem says:

    John, thanks for your book, which I just learned about, and saw it was published in November. It interested me because I’ve been writing about my mission too. I think it’s in the air, and lots of people will start writing actually. I chuckled every time I came across something in your book that I’ve been writing about too (I’ve finished a first draft and hope to have it complete in a couple of months); even though I was in another place, there are so many universals it’s amazing. So maybe we need only one book. But the particulars everyone has are pretty good too. Anyway, best wishes.

  14. stylishhomeinorem says:

    Hi John, thanks for your book, which I just finished. I noticed it because I’ve just finished a draft of my own mission memoir, and I had to chuckle every time I read something in yours that I treated in mine too: there are clearly many universal themes: Maybe we need only one book! Well, all the particulars are interesting too. My first words are even similar: this book isn’t an exposé or an apology, it just tries to convey how it felt. I think a lot of people will start writing frankly, it’s sort of in the air. We’ll see. Thanks again, best, Craig H.

  15. stylishhomeinorem says:

    Sorry for the double post! The first one didn’t show up when I clicked Post Comment, and so I wrote another, but I’m the same guy, with the same dumb name that I can’t get rid of on Word Press! CH

  16. Rachel says:

    Hi John — I saw that you’re part of a couple of very interesting presentations for the upcoming Sunstone symposium. I’d like to interview you for City Weekly — could you send me an e-mail? Thanks, and sorry to contact you this way!

  17. sarah armstrong says:

    I have a brother-in-law who joined the Mormon Church, He lives in the now. Has been divorced several times and refutes the Christian of the Bible but finds himself still unfulfilled spiritually. Point get the beam out of your group’s eye before you deal with the splinters in the Bible-believer’s eye.

    • runtu says:

      I have no idea what you mean. Are you suggesting that I am defending Mormonism and attacking Christians?

  18. malkie says:

    Hi Runtu.
    If you still keep up with what’s happening in La Paz, you should check out page 6 of the Toronto edition of 24-hours:

  19. Mrs D says:

    I have a question about your writing about “Dr” Todd Coontz. Please email me privately.

  20. Press says:

    Hello John,
    I am a journalist (international media outlet) and I would like to talk about your book and your experience. Please email me privately. Thank you.

  21. Wayne says:

    Hello John,
    I am hoping you could take a few minutes to speak with me. I have some information that perhaps should be shared and was hoping you could steer me in the right direction. Please email me privately. Thank you

  22. danpearce781 says:

    Hey Runtu!

    Working to launch MormonDiaries.com, and wanted to invite you to drop by and see if being an ongoing contributor might be of interest to you. Pretty please… if it looks interesting to you at all.

    I want to create a really great multi-author ad-free blog with ex-mormons’ thoughts and observations about the Mormon church, kind of blog/journal style.

    Any interest?


  23. robinobishop says:

    No interest can be found here.

  24. John Draper says:

    Runtu, you just answered by query on postmormon looking for an ex-missionary to review my novel. I couldn’t figure out how to reply to your comment so I came here. I’m interested! Let’s talk! (P.S. — I love the idea that you’ve also written a book. You can commiserate!)

    • runtu says:

      My email is runnertx@hotmail.com. Drop me a line.

      • John Draper says:

        John, Just finished your book for the second time. I enjoyed it again. It gave me some ideas for some things to put in my book before send it you. One thing I noticed again was how only briefly alluded to some of the “controversies” surrounding Mormonism — e.g. Mark Hoffman. What was your thought about handling it that way Is there a second book in you? 🙂 My goal is to have my book to you on Monday

      • runtu says:

        I didn’t go into detail because I was trying to write the account as I experienced it in Bolivia. We had next to no information about the Hofmann affair other than knowing that it had affected a missionary’s family. So, if I had wanted to talk about it in depth, I would have had to do it as an older version of me commenting on the experience of the younger me. I had decided I wouldn’t do that anywhere in the book.

  25. D.S. says:

    I have kind of a random question that I was hoping you would know the answer to. For some background, today I read through a debate on Facebook that was sparked by a friend of mine who is still in the church publicizing his support for the Ordain Women movement. Those supporting the movement in the comments pointed frequently to the church’s lifting the ban on blacks holding the priesthood as an example of pressure working on church leaders. That change occurred before I was born, but I have heard many members who were alive at the time saying they were so happy when the change happened (such as Mitt Romney). My question is, do you know of any polls that were conducted before the ban was lifted concerning Mormons’ support for extending the priesthood to blacks? I ask because of the recent Pew poll that showed very little support in the church for extending the priesthood to women. But I wonder, if the brethren announced at the general conference next week that women would receive the priesthood, would most members turn around and express happiness at the decision, as happened after the change before?

    Anyway, I did a quick search on Google but couldn’t find anything, and I wondered if you had come across any such polls from the 70s.

  26. john draper says:

    A big reason the priesthood ban was lifted was that the prophet at the time, Spencer Kimball, was personally troubled by the issue. I don’t know if Monson cares about the plight of women, so we might have to wait for such a person to rise to prophet. That could take another 15 years. It will happen sooner or later, though

    • Kevin Pope says:

      “…rise as a prophet.” Man, are you full of shit. Spencer Kimball received a call from a very high-placed person in the IRS where he was told that the tax exempt status of the LDS church would be revoked if it continued with its racist ways.

      There is your revelation.

  27. I’ve run into your blog a couple of times recently…just have to give a shout out since I grew up in Southern California, studied @ BYU and served a mission in Bolivia…and now I’m an LDS blogger who is fascinated by things like the LDS theology of plural marriage, and who also sometimes raise my eyebrows at the creative historical interpretations and shenanigans of Meg Stout. We recently ran a series in defense of our deep and abiding theology of plural marriage and maintain a ongoing Polygamy topic page at The Wonder Women if you’re interested:
    Judging by your homepage photo…you were in the La Paz mission? I was in Cochabamba.

    • runtu says:

      Thanks for the link and kind words. I was in the Cochabamba mission, but in those days there was only one mission in Bolivia, headquartered in Cochabamba. So, I got to see La Paz, Tarija, Cochabamba, and El Beni.

  28. Delta Alpha Victor says:

    Hey, I have also run into your blog and also served in Bolivia from 2005 to 2007. I served in Santa Cruz and started my Mission in Trinidad. I have enjoyed your stories and see a lot of similarities to the mission I served.

    Awesome blog. Thanks!

  29. LUCILLE SHANE says:

    Runtu – I saw your request on Recovery from Mormonism for people to participate in your survey on being Mormon. You left out a very important category – those born into part member or “inactive” homes. Their perspective is WAY DIFFERENT than either TBMs or converts. I know because that is my situation. IMO, to have a book that truly explores perspectives in being Mormon, that category should be added to the survey.

    • runtu says:

      I’ve added some questions for people in your situation. Thank you for pointing out what should have been an obvious omission.

  30. Lisa Merson says:

    shame on you having people believe a faith in you, you are a very transparent person and I don’t know how you sleep comfortable at night, giving people false hope for giving money. The Lord doesn’t ask for this of us, shame on you, I will pray for you for a better opening and path in your life.

  31. Allison M says:

    As a result of a Google search for Ronald Jamon Eastland, I came upon your blog post from 2008 regarding missionaries who died while serving. You mentioned you didn’t know anything about Elder Eastland. He is the brother of a friend of mine…if you never learned more about him and are still wondering, let me know. I could put you in touch with his sister.

  32. John, I was in Bolivia much before you (1970-73) and heard of your book through friends at the NOVA Post-Mormon Group. Loved the book and posted about it in the La Misión Bolivia 1966 – 1977 Facebook group. Several more people read it and it started a pretty interesting discussion on that page. You may want to check out the page yourself. I understand you also live in No. Virginia. I’d love to meet up sometime if you’d ever be available to meet for coffee or lunch. I hope you can see my email address and please contact me if you’d be up for getting together sometime.

  33. I bought and have read your missionary memoir and enjoyed it a lot. I had a lot of the same experiences (from living in DT at BYU to knowing a lady named “Pochy,” one of my mission “mamitas”—although she was probably only about 10 years older than I), although I served my mission in Chile in 1979-80 and probably never saw poverty at the same level you did. (We probably didn’t experience illness or parasites like you did, either; I did get hepatitis despite all the gamma globulin.) One thing that struck me from your memoir was the notion of calling it a night—or a day, or a week—if I felt lousy or if things had devolved to our sitting in members’ houses doing nothing in particular. I thought, “I should have thought of that instead of feeling like I had to be out ‘working’ every night.” I’m interested to know what you think about the “MTC rape” case currently pending, expecially since you were in the MTC at about the same time as the plaintiff (McKenna Denson). By the way, I’m active (if not ardent) LDS, still, mostly because of my wife. The question whether or not the church is true is entirely meaningless to me, because on one hand, I can’t live my little any better by church standards, yet, on the other, I can’t leave due to what it would do to my marriage and family.

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