Mormon Matters - (Dan Wotherspoon ARCHIVE)

Mormon Matters - (Dan Wotherspoon ARCHIVE)

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Mormon Matters was a weekly podcast that explored Mormon current events, pop culture, politics and spirituality. Dan retired from Mormon Matters Podcast in 2019 and now hosts a podcast called "Latter-day Faith" that can be found here: http://podcast.latterdayfaith.org/

mormonstories@gmail.com


    • Mar 27, 2019 LATEST EPISODE
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    • 555 EPISODES


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    Latest episodes from Mormon Matters - (Dan Wotherspoon ARCHIVE)

    543: A Celebration of Dan Wotherspoon and Mormon Matters, Part 3

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 27, 2019 40:57

    This three-part episode consists of a recording of a live event held Sunday evening, March 24, 2019 in Salt Lake City. It is an interview of Mormon Matters' longtime host, Dan Wotherspoon, about his eight years helming this podcast, and to formally announce his stepping down from the show and alerting all who are interested about what's next in his life. Sponsored by Mormon Stories, Mormon Matters, and the Waters of Mormon Facebook group, John Dehlin interviewed Dan, and others asked questions and shared various thoughts about the show and Dan and his new plans. It was a wonderful evening, with about seventy in attendance, and many more who watched a livestream, and we hope you'll enjoy this recording of a celebration and closure to this era of the Mormon Matters podcast. Parts 1 and 2 constitute the bulk of the interview, in which John asks Dan to share a bit about his life story and spiritual journey, various reflections on Mormon Matters, and about ways he holds various Mormon and Christian truth claims and ideas about God and the elements of a transformative life path in which we become more and more in alignment with God and/or the universe, and in that way, experience deep and abiding joy in our relationships and greater effectiveness within what we are being called to. Part 3 features the announcements of Dan's new podcast and other projects, as well as interactions with several audience members.  We hope you will enjoy this final trip with Dan as Mormon Matters host, and will continue to come to Mormon Matters for its 500+ episode back catalog, with their discussions of many and diverse aspects of Latter-day Saint life, thought, and events of note!

    542: A Celebration of Dan Wotherspoon and Mormon Matters, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 27, 2019 79:15

    This three-part episode consists of a recording of a live event held Sunday evening, March 24, 2019 in Salt Lake City. It is an interview of Mormon Matters' longtime host, Dan Wotherspoon, about his eight years helming this podcast, and to formally announce his stepping down from the show and alerting all who are interested about what's next in his life. Sponsored by Mormon Stories, Mormon Matters, and the Waters of Mormon Facebook group, John Dehlin interviewed Dan, and others asked questions and shared various thoughts about the show and Dan and his new plans. It was a wonderful evening, with about seventy in attendance, and many more who watched a livestream, and we hope you'll enjoy this recording of a celebration and closure to this era of the Mormon Matters podcast. Parts 1 and 2 constitute the bulk of the interview, in which John asks Dan to share a bit about his life story and spiritual journey, various reflections on Mormon Matters, and about ways he holds various Mormon and Christian truth claims and ideas about God and the elements of a transformative life path in which we become more and more in alignment with God and/or the universe, and in that way, experience deep and abiding joy in our relationships and effectiveness in what we are being called to. Part 3 features the announcements of Dan's new podcast and other projects, as well as interactions with several audience members.  We hope you will enjoy this final trip with Dan as Mormon Matters host, and will continue to come to Mormon Matters for its 500+ episode back catalog, with their discussions of many and diverse aspects of Latter-day Saint life, thought, and events of note!

    541: Celebrating Dan Wotherspoon and Mormon Matters, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 27, 2019 58:52

    This three-part episode consists of a recording of a live event held Sunday evening, March 24, 2019 in Salt Lake City. It is an interview of Mormon Matters' longtime host, Dan Wotherspoon, about his eight years helming this podcast, and to formally announce his stepping down from the show and alerting all who are interested about what's next in his life. Sponsored by Mormon Stories, Mormon Matters, and the Waters of Mormon Facebook group, John Dehlin interviewed Dan, and others asked questions and shared various thoughts about the show and Dan and his new plans. It was a wonderful evening, with about seventy in attendance, and many more who watched a livestream, and we hope you'll enjoy this recording of a celebration and closure to this era of the Mormon Matters podcast. Parts 1 and 2 constitute the bulk of the interview, in which John asks Dan to share a bit about his life story and spiritual journey, various reflections on Mormon Matters, and about ways he holds various Mormon and Christian truth claims and ideas about God and the elements of a transformative life path in which we become more and more in alignment with God and/or the universe, and in that way, experience deep and abiding joy in our relationships and what we are being called to. Part 3 features the announcements of Dan's new podcast and other projects, as well as interactions with several audience members.  We hope you will enjoy this final trip with Dan as Mormon Matters host, and will continue to come to Mormon Matters for its 500+ episode back catalog, with their discussions of many and diverse aspects of Latter-day Saint life, thought, and events of note!

    540: Millennial Mormons—Beliefs, Practices, and Authority Structures

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 21, 2019 76:39


    In the brilliant and fascinating new book, The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church, Jana Riess, with collaboration from Benjamin Knoll shares results from a huge, representative, survey they designed and administered that compares Millennial Mormons with two other generations—Boomers/Silent Generation and Generation X in ten major areas. In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon focuses the conversation on three of these: beliefs (in God and various LDS claims and directives), practices (from church attendance, to prayer, scripture reading, and more), and how members of each generation decides what sources are most authoritative in their lives. The book also covers LDS missionary experiences, rites of passage such as baptism and other ordinances, as well as experiences with the Temple; Singleness within the church; gender-related topics; Mormonism and race; LGBT inclusion; and social and political views. Another chapter looks at Millennials who are former Mormons.  We are excited to have Jana and Ben join us for a fascinating discussion of the chosen themes and a bit more. They are engaging, thoughtful, incredibly informed. Plus you can learn more about the book, including where you might purchase it, as well as the website that features additional materials, synopses, the survey itself, and regular updates.


    539: Moving Beyond Toxic "Outrage"

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2019 58:49

    This episode was conceived as a supplement to the previous one, the two-parter 537–538: Being "Good and Mad" within Mormonism,  featuring Kristine Haglund. It certainly serves well as that but ended up being more of a full episode than originally envisioned. In particular, the topic is the potent emotion of “outrage” and it’s very strong role in driving much of social media, that then fosters thinking and speaking habits that can cripple our ability to engage with others in ways that might truly be transformative and work for the good of the changes we want to see instantiated.  Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon invited his friend and former colleague, John Hatch, to come on the show to read a short essay about outrage that he wrote about five years ago and presented at a Sunstone symposium session focused on moving beyond “black and white thinking.” He reads that piece here, and then the conversation that followed went into explorations that led to additional dives into other related ideas. It’s a terrific essay, accompanied by discussion of some of its themes that we hope you will also find interesting and worthwhile!

    538: Being "Good and Mad" Within Mormonism, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 13, 2019 63:46


    In this two-part episode, a conversation between Kristine Haglund and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, Kristine shares insights and distillations from various sources and her own thinking about "anger" and ways to understand and better utilize its energy, especially within Mormonism. In her presentation, she picks up the term, "Good and Mad" from Rebecca Traister's recent book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger, and applies it as an aspirational ideal within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Ways we might learn to be both angry (and harness its power) and good (operate within acceptable discourse and behavioral standards). Whereas there is no setting in today's very top-down hierarchal structure in which anger can be well-received, regardless of our sex, we can, however, learn how to effectively channel our strong senses of "This is not right" or "No God I can ever believe in would countenance this sort of behavior (or teaching)" into forms that can lead to interpersonal as well as organizational changes. This is a terrific listen containing many powerful insights. Part 1 offers a wide framing of the topic, and Part 2 introduces and discusses Kristine's ten different principles for helping us better comprehend our own and others' anger, and to then make sure its energies don't go to waste as easily as they often do in this day of social media and its unfortunate stock-in-trade: outrage, and then outrage about what's the proper amount of outrage, ad infinitum. Kristine originally presented some of the ideas within this episode at the Utah Valley University Mormon Studies Conference, "Women of Mormondom," held March 7–8, 2019. Audio/video of the conference's sessions is forthcoming very soon.


    537: Being "Good and Mad" Within Mormonism, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 13, 2019 49:46


    In this two-part episode, a conversation between Kristine Haglund and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, Kristine shares insights and distillations from various sources and her own thinking about "anger" and ways to understand and better utilize its energy, especially within Mormonism. In her presentation, she picks up the term, "Good and Mad" from Rebecca Traister's recent book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger, and applies it as an aspirational ideal within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Ways we might learn to be both angry (and harness its power) and good (operate within acceptable discourse and behavioral standards). Whereas there is no setting in today's very top-down hierarchal structure in which anger can be well-received, regardless of our sex, we can, however, learn how to effectively channel our strong senses of "This is not right" or "No God I can ever believe in would countenance this sort of behavior (or teaching)" into forms that can lead to interpersonal as well as organizational changes. This is a terrific listen containing many powerful insights. Part 1 offers a wide framing of the topic, and Part 2 introduces and discusses Kristine's ten different principles for helping us better comprehend our own and others' anger, and to then make sure its energies don't go to waste as easily as they often do in this day of social media and its unfortunate stock-in-trade: outrage, and then outrage about what's the proper amount of outrage, ad infinitum. Kristine originally presented some of the ideas within this episode at the Utah Valley University Mormon Studies Conference, "Women of Mormondom," held March 7–8, 2019. Audio/video of the conference's sessions is forthcoming very soon.


    536: God, Evil, Faith

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 19, 2019 94:19

    The classic theological puzzle known as the “problem of evil” arises when we assert the existence of an all-powerful God who is also perfectly loving, while also asserting the presence of genuine evil in the world. As David Hume puts the case: “Either God would remove evil out of this world, and cannot; or He can, and will not; or, He has not the power nor will; or, lastly He has both the power and will. If He has the will, and not the power, this shows weakness, which is contrary to the nature of God. If He has the power, and not the will it is malignity, and this is no less contrary to His nature. If He is neither able nor willing, He is both impotent and malignant, and consequently cannot be God. If he is both willing and able (which alone is consonant to the nature of God), whence comes evil, or why does he not prevent it?” Very often, as in Hume’s framing above, the focus of efforts to approach the “problem” is on God. Can God? Should God? Is God? Why does/doesn't God? In a departure from this, in this episode the panelists place greater attention on those who are currently, or who have, suffered great evil, and how traditional approaches so often fail them. In many cases, one of the costs of great suffering, especially when it does not arise as a natural consequence of something we did, is the loss of faith in God altogether. More atheists are created by the fact of genuine, massive, and seemingly unfair distribution of great suffering than any other trigger. Clearly, in such cases, an “omni-everything” concept of God fails as a being or power that is able to comfort those who suffer. In a new book, God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils, Christian and open-relational theologian Thomas Jay Oord directly faces the effects on individual faith that arise from evil. Through his posing and discussing five theological claims about God's loving nature in relation to evil, many Christians, and we sense Latter-day Saints would as well, have at last found new hope and the kind of comfort and peace that only an explicit faith in God can bring. Brittney Hartley and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon join Tom in discussing the ideas of his book, while contributing as they arise various places where Mormon thought is in close alignment with his theses. In the final section, they also discuss one large disconnect between Tom’s and wider Christianity’s view of God and that of Latter-day Saints: the question of whether God is embodied or not. It leads to a fascinating exchange, even as it primes the pump for many more explorations. We are grateful to Tom as an open-hearted, brilliant, and friendly conversation partner. Here’s to more episodes to come! Please listen in! Share! And be mindful that we’d also love your comments and ideas to become part of the ongoing conversations at mormonmatters.org!

    535: “The Covenant Path”: Reflections and Extensions, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 7, 2019 55:06

    No term to date has been more associated with the leadership tenure of President Russell M. Nelson than “Covenant Path.” It’s become ubiquitous in his and many other church leader messages, and it now also rolls easily off the tongues in LDS stakes, wards, and other conversations. It’s an intriguing term, yet to date, it seems to Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and his friend and fellow close church watcher Mark Crego that it hasn’t been explored as widely and deeply as it might. Right now, in its current usage, comes across primarily a goal to be accomplished—"make and keep covenants, and if you stray, return to the covenant path"—with a promised reward at the end: eternal life (with all its inherent meanings when understood in full Latter-day Saint context). In that sort of presentation, walking the covenant path feels very “transactional.” Do this, receive that. To Dan and Mark, however, the idea of both “covenant(s)” and “path(s)” are very rich concepts, and in this two-part episode they share what they consider to be larger and more ennobling visions of what this simple phrase might mean were we as Godwrestlers and faith journeyers to keep revisiting this term and allow its symbolism and sensibilities to grow along with us as we continue to walk our spiritual paths. Among other things, this episode covers: What are Mormonism’s seven primary covenants that make up the “covenant path”? What is their relationship to each of us individually and our relationship with God, however we define that term, but also (and perhaps even more importantly) as members of a religious or community? What roles do symbols and ritual markers of covenanting play in human lives, and can we allow our understanding of such things to become ever expanding and empowering? As LDS rhetoric about the covenant path is still in its infancy, how might each of us learn to understand it and teach of its richness with far more power than we currently do and see/hear from those around us? Please listen in! We’d also love your comments and ideas to become part of the ongoing conversations at mormonmatters.org! Please share!

    534: “The Covenant Path”: Reflections and Extensions, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 7, 2019 48:27

    No term to date has been more associated with the leadership tenure of President Russell M. Nelson than “Covenant Path.” It’s become ubiquitous in his and many other church leader messages, and it now also rolls easily off the tongues in LDS stakes, wards, and other conversations. It’s an intriguing term, yet to date, it seems to Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and his friend and fellow close church watcher Mark Crego that it hasn’t been explored as widely and deeply as it might. Right now, in its current usage, comes across primarily a goal to be accomplished—"make and keep covenants, and if you stray, return to the covenant path"—with a promised reward at the end: eternal life (with all its inherent meanings when understood in full Latter-day Saint context). In that sort of presentation, walking the covenant path feels very “transactional.” Do this, receive that. To Dan and Mark, however, the idea of both “covenant(s)” and “path(s)” are very rich concepts, and in this two-part episode they share what they consider to be larger and more ennobling visions of what this simple phrase might mean were we as Godwrestlers and faith journeyers to keep revisiting this term and allow its symbolism and sensibilities to grow along with us as we continue to walk our spiritual paths. Among other things, this episode covers: What are Mormonism’s seven primary covenants that make up the “covenant path”? What is their relationship to each of us individually and our relationship with God, however we define that term, but also (and perhaps even more importantly) as members of a religious or community? What roles do symbols and ritual markers of covenanting play in human lives, and can we allow our understanding of such things to become ever expanding and empowering? As LDS rhetoric about the covenant path is still in its infancy, how might each of us learn to understand it and teach of its richness with far more power than we currently do and see/hear from those around us? Please listen in! We’d also love your comments and ideas to become part of the ongoing conversations at mormonmatters.org! Please share!

    533: What Is the “Good News” Jesus Taught?—Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2019 56:53


    As they begin to experience shifts of faith, many Latter-day Saints and others within the Christian tradition come to think of Jesus Christ differently than what they did when they were younger, and for most who undergo these shifts, the transition from one understanding to another is fraught with a great deal of angst. It takes time to "unlearn" traditional stories and to formulate new ones based upon our own experiences and encounters with Jesus over and against what we had "received" from others. It's confusing. It feels transgressive as we come to gain new sensibilities from those we see in our communities. But, even with this wrestling and searching and the disorientation of the period in which we are changing, it is vital that we take it on. Jesus and his teachings really come alive when not seen primarily through institutional lenses that often emphasize actions and beliefs that are geared toward conveying how much we "need" them in order to be saved. In this two-part episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon has brought together separate recordings he made with nine different friends over a ten-day period in which they shared their journeys and the fresh views they have gained, or are now moving toward, in response to the following question: "What do you believe is the "good news" of the gospel as taught by Jesus of Nazareth?" What they shared is wonderful! Some played with similar themes ("kingdom of God within us" or "losing one's life in order to find it") but each with their own unique emphases and flavoring unique to them. We think you will very much enjoy what you find here! In Episode 532 (Part 1), you'll hear from Susan Hinckley, Barbara Roberts, Tom Roberts, Scott Turley, and JoDee Baird. In Episode 533 (Part 2), those sharing are Thomas McConkie, Cynthia Winward, Matt Jones, Jana Spangler, and Dan Wotherspoon.


    532: What Is the Good News Jesus Taught?—Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2019 55:42


    As they begin to experience shifts of faith, many Latter-day Saints and others within the Christian tradition come to think of Jesus Christ differently than what they did when they were younger, and for most who undergo these shifts, the transition from one understanding to another is fraught with a great deal of angst. It takes time to "unlearn" traditional stories and to formulate new ones based upon our own experiences and encounters with Jesus over and against what we had "received" from others. It's confusing. It feels transgressive as we come to gain new sensibilities from those we see in our communities. But, even with this wrestling and searching and the disorientation of the period in which we are changing, it is vital that we take it on. Jesus and his teachings really come alive when not seen primarily through institutional lenses that often emphasize actions and beliefs that are geared toward conveying how much we "need" them in order to be saved. In this two-part episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon has brought together separate recordings he made with nine different friends over a ten-day period in which they shared their journeys and the fresh views they have gained, or are now moving toward, in response to the following question: "What do you believe is the "good news" of the gospel as taught by Jesus of Nazareth?" What they shared is wonderful! Some played with similar themes ("kingdom of God within us" or "losing one's life in order to find it") but each with their own unique emphases and flavoring unique to them. We think you will very much enjoy what you find here! In Episode 532 (Part 1), you'll hear from Susan Hinckley, Barbara Roberts, Tom Roberts, Scott Turley, and JoDee Baird. In Episode 533 (Part 2), those sharing are Thomas McConkie, Cynthia Winward, Matt Jones, Jana Spangler, and Dan Wotherspoon.


    531: Talking New Testament Translation and Its Ramifications with Thomas Wayment

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 14, 2019 87:39

    As Latter-day Saints begin to dig into the New Testament as part of this year's scripture study, a terrific new resource, a translation from the Greek with wonderful notes, has arrived on the scene. The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints (A Study Bible) by Thomas A. Wayment, published by the Religious Studies Center at BYU in cooperation with Deseret Book, can stimulate discussions among Latter-day Saints about the authorship and dating of each part of the New Testament, the context in which each was written, textual issues at play that lead some passages we are used to seeing in the King James Version to be dropped while opening up others to broader meanings than we typically speak about in church, and much more—all of it quite relevant in our own Christian lives and how we interact with Jesus's core messages and his calls for us to follow. This episode is an interview with Thom Wayment about his new translation as well as the entire project of figuring out how best to present it in book form. Within the conversation, Thom and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon discuss a wide range of things, but most often with a focus on "what difference could this make in how we understand our own faith?" Who wrote the Gospels? Which of the Pauline epistles are not written by Paul? What aspects of Paul's writings and teachings influenced the Gospel writers who all created their texts after Paul had died? The Jesus of history is significantly different from the Christ of Paul, so what does teasing that apart open for us and how we approach Jesus's teachings and our own reading of the New Testament? In what ways are we asking certain texts, or even just particular verses, to do a lot of work for us (be foundational) in the LDS tradition that skew our understandings of the early Christian movement and developing church? In what ways does approaching our reading with more information about the texts' origins lead us, should we let them, to a more enlivened faith, a more energetic interaction with what it was about Jesus and his life and messaging that led so many people to give their lives (at times, literally, their own life) to spreading its influence? There is a freshness to our Bible studies that this book can bring if we will truly dive into the scholarship presented along with a plain English translation (none of this "thee, thy, thou, thine" stuff, or archaic phrasings, folks!) that also includes a much clearer picture of the role of women in the early church. This is a book and study year that we hope will  be quite transformational.

    530: Impressions and Reflections on Changes to LDS Temple Ceremonies

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2019 96:35

    This is a quick turnaround podcast episode both recorded and released on the day after LDS temples around the world implemented and offered to patrons a new version of the endowment ceremony, as well as changes to the scripts of both the sealing and women's initiatory ordinances. We do not go into great specific detail about the changes within the conversation presented here other than to reflect upon the greater equality now experienced between men and women within the rituals, as well as a offering a few references to other changes. What this episode DOES include, however, are wonderful reflections by three brilliant and powerful spiritual seekers—Jody England Hansen, Julie de Azevedo Hanks, and Mark Crego—about their experiences from either participating yesterday in the temple since the changes were implements and/or their having collected a great deal of reactions to them from Latter-day Saints.They also join with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in helping frame what the temple ritual is and is not, the power of symbolic/mythic/ritual engagement in spiritual journeys, why changes to temple and other rituals are often made and why it is vital that they are. In these reflections, they each also share a bit about their own journeys to come to understand sacred texts—scripture, ritual scripts and practices, etc.—in new and far more profound ways than how they had earlier in their lives. We may have this episode together quickly, but the insights and their power are anything but rushed and easily forgotten. Please listen in! You will not regret it! 

    529: A Mystical Approach to the Christmas Story

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2018 76:15

    This episode suggests layers of depth to the Christian Nativity story and the insights it has for our own individual spiritual paths. It features meditation teacher and yogi Phil McLemore in conversation with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon about how many of the elements in the birth of Christ narrative can serve as models and teachers for our own birthing of Christ within us, our learning how to nurture and allow the development of the divinity that is our core (but is most often forgotten). When we begin to understand that certain events portrayed in scripture are not historical, we often choose to dismiss them. This isn’t a good move, because in so doing we are throwing away chances to deepen our understanding of God and the journey we are being called to take, saying no to chances to gain insights about our true selves that can bring us great peace and reveal deep, deep significance to our lives. In short, as this conversation suggests, God is actually delighted when the literal understanding of the story no longer “does it” for us. Coming to this crossroad suggests that we are ready to go deeper, to begin to see more like mystics do, to have these stories become even more profoundly meaningful to us. Listen in for new insights about how the things that happened in Mary are models for all of us, and how we must learn to identify with her. You’ll learn more about intercourse with God that still preserves virginity (again, we aren’t talking literal/physical things here). Why was it wonderful that there was “no room at the inn” and Jesus was instead born in a cave? Can we learn how to not just read the story, but instead become the story? It is a story that depicts the universal path to a full realization of our divine nature as human beings, just set within the particularity of Christianity. It’s quite exciting! Start listening now!

    528: (Encore) A Christmas Primer: Exploring the Nativity in Scripture, Legend, History, and Hearts--Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2018 75:44


    This is an encore presentation of a December 2011 Mormon Matters podcast episode examining the Christmas story as it traditionally gets told—looking closely at what the scriptures actually say and do not say about the birth of Jesus and all the pieces of this familiar story. For instance, how do the Matthew and Luke accounts differ—even irreconcilably? What are possible motives behind the Gospel writers’ decisions to shape the stories the way they did? What about Jesus’s place of birth and the reason the family was in Bethlehem (if they were)? Was there a great tax and registration? What about “no room at the inn,” the manger, the star, the magi, the story of Herod killing all male infants under two years old? How did Christmas come to be held on December 25th? In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Kristine Haglund, Jared Anderson, and Zina Petersen explore all these questions plus lead a fascinating tour into other parts of the Christmas story. Why are only five women mentioned in the Gospels’ presentations of Jesus’s lineage—and why are the ones listed all women with “questionable” sexual pasts? What are the Twelve Days of Christmas? What is the “Immaculate Conception” and how does it affect theology about Mary and ideas about the Eucharist and other religious devotions? How has pagan history and ideas folded into the history of “Christmas” (not Jesus’s birth but the celebration of it)? The panel discusses solstices and equinoxes, the meshing of calendaring systems, the link between carnivals and holy days, shepherds’ presents to the Christ child, and even a longstanding tradition of “ghost story” tie-ins with Christmas that Charles Dickens resurrected. Why was there a period of time in which Christmas was illegal? The panelists also talk about Christmas music and other aesthetic elements that make this season so compelling for many people. Part of that discussion answers how and why the host and panelists and many other Christians throughout history, knowing all that they know about what likely is and is not factual about traditional accounts, still celebrate Christmas and zestfully sing carols alongside those for whom the stories are less complicated. How can those who understand that we are during this time dealing primarily in mythos rather than history (not only with the Christian story but also something like Santa Claus) still experience this season as spiritually enriching? This is a two-part episode to be savored again!


    527: (Encore) A Christmas Primer: Exploring the Nativity in Scripture, Legend, History, and Hearts--Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2018 80:24


    This is an encore presentation of a December 2011 Mormon Matters podcast episode examining the Christmas story as it traditionally gets told—looking closely at what the scriptures actually say and do not say about the birth of Jesus and all the pieces of this familiar story. For instance, how do the Matthew and Luke accounts differ—even irreconcilably? What are possible motives behind the Gospel writers’ decisions to shape the stories the way they did? What about Jesus’s place of birth and the reason the family was in Bethlehem (if they were)? Was there a great tax and registration? What about “no room at the inn,” the manger, the star, the magi, the story of Herod killing all male infants under two years old? How did Christmas come to be held on December 25th? In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Kristine Haglund, Jared Anderson, and Zina Petersen explore all these questions plus lead a fascinating tour into other parts of the Christmas story. Why are only five women mentioned in the Gospels’ presentations of Jesus’s lineage—and why are the ones listed all women with “questionable” sexual pasts? What are the Twelve Days of Christmas? What is the “Immaculate Conception” and how does it affect theology about Mary and ideas about the Eucharist and other religious devotions? How has pagan history and ideas folded into the history of “Christmas” (not Jesus’s birth but the celebration of it)? The panel discusses solstices and equinoxes, the meshing of calendaring systems, the link between carnivals and holy days, shepherds’ presents to the Christ child, and even a longstanding tradition of “ghost story” tie-ins with Christmas that Charles Dickens resurrected. Why was there a period of time in which Christmas was illegal? The panelists also talk about Christmas music and other aesthetic elements that make this season so compelling for many people. Part of that discussion answers how and why the host and panelists and many other Christians throughout history, knowing all that they know about what likely is and is not factual about traditional accounts, still celebrate Christmas and zestfully sing carols alongside those for whom the stories are less complicated. How can those who understand that we are during this time dealing primarily in mythos rather than history (not only with the Christian story but also something like Santa Claus) still experience this season as spiritually enriching? This is a two-part episode to be savored again!


    526: My Journey to Reigniting My Christmas Fire

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2018 43:21

    In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon shares his experiences with the Christmas Nativity stories as presented in the New Testament, moving from literal belief through many years of confusion, to an eventual re-embrace of them even if parts (or all) of what is depicted therein are not historical. He traces the role of Christmas hymns about the Nativity (and NOT the "seasonal carols") in helping him feel again the call of Spirit after years of deliberately ignoring it, his coming in graduate school and after many years of wrestle to understand the scriptures and these stories in new ways that have allowed (even encouraged) him to once more enjoy all the gifts awaiting in the spiritual elements of Christmas embedded in the New Testament tales.  Please enjoy this episode, and also be sure to download and listen to the encore presentations of the two-part Christmas Primer episode also released on the same day. May your Christmas season be full of joy, laughter, love, and peace!  

    525: Table Manners: In What Manner Might We Engage with Others During this Holiday Season?

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2018 14:17

    This episode, "Table Manners" is a short reflection by Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon about ways we might interact with others this holiday season. "What manner of persons should we be? Even as They are" (3 Nephi 27:27, pronouns universalized). Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! May all your holidays (holy-days) be wonderful and bright!

    524: The Enneagram for Mormons, Part 4

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2018 62:23


    The Enneagram is a powerful tool for coming to know ourselves and others. Emerging in the mid-twentieth century and refined during the ensuing years, interest in it as a tool for aiding in one's spiritual growth, understanding ourselves and others, helping to build workplace and other kinds of teams that work well together, and shedding light on the dynamics between spouses, partners, family members, and friends has steadily—and for good reasons!—increased.  In this four-part podcast episode, panelists Jana Riess and Jana Spangler, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon share about the Enneagram itself and their experiences with it, but focus most of their attention (beginning in Part 2) on its specific applications to Mormonism, especially the ease or struggles to "fit in" or be rewarded/recognized/valued that typically arise as various personality types and the spiritual development of its members meet up with the church's truth claims, practices, institutional aspects, and Mormon culture. In Part 4, the attention shifts to understanding the particularities of the types of spiritual work that would support each personality type as they journey toward wholenss. Each of us have a "shadow" that, beginning in childhood, was constructed to help us cope with a world that wasn't ideal in every way. Throughout our lives, and generally only when we are "forced" to confront the pain and subtle or very toxic messages we underwent and/or intuited, do we begin to notice and begin to confront these hidden aspects of ourselves. In this process, either undertaken by oneself or through partnership with a trusted therapist of spiritual director, we get in touch with these things that are keeping us back, that cause us to repeat certain patterns over and over even though we know they aren't serving us well, and, most of all, that hide ourselves from ourselves—our perfect, whole, and beloved and loving soul. It is through this "soul/shadow work" that we heal and see and feel, so much more than ever before, the joy and peace that is our birthright.  We wouldn't put out a four-hour podcast if it weren't as fascinating and terrific a conversation that the panelists and Dan had, nor if we didn't feel the Enneagram were a wonderful tool and set of lenses through which we can better understand ourselves, our church leaders, our congregants (if leaders will listen in here), and, especially, the faith challenges (many specific to aspects of Mormonism) we and others face. Please listen in! As you get started, the prospect of a four-hour listen (over several segments of time, of course!) won't seem nearly so daunting! 


    523: The Enneagram for Mormons, Part 3

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2018 59:02


    The Enneagram is a powerful tool for coming to know ourselves and others. Emerging in the mid-twentieth century and refined during the ensuing years, interest in it as a tool for aiding in one's spiritual growth, understanding ourselves and others, helping to build workplace and other kinds of teams that work well together, and shedding light on the dynamics between spouses, partners, family members, and friends has steadily—and for good reasons!—increased.  In this four-part podcast episode, panelists Jana Riess and Jana Spangler, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon share about the Enneagram itself and their experiences with it, but focus most of their attention (beginning in Part 2) on its specific applications to Mormonism, especially the ease or struggles to "fit in" or be rewarded/recognized/valued that typically arise as various personality types and the spiritual development of its members meet up with the church's truth claims, practices, institutional aspects, and Mormon culture. In Part 4, the attention shifts to understanding the particularities of the types of spiritual work that would support each personality type as they journey toward wholenss. Each of us have a "shadow" that, beginning in childhood, was constructed to help us cope with a world that wasn't ideal in every way. Throughout our lives, and generally only when we are "forced" to confront the pain and subtle or very toxic messages we underwent and/or intuited, do we begin to notice and begin to confront these hidden aspects of ourselves. In this process, either undertaken by oneself or through partnership with a trusted therapist of spiritual director, we get in touch with these things that are keeping us back, that cause us to repeat certain patterns over and over even though we know they aren't serving us well, and, most of all, that hide ourselves from ourselves—our perfect, whole, and beloved and loving soul. It is through this "soul/shadow work" that we heal and see and feel, so much more than ever before, the joy and peace that is our birthright.  We wouldn't put out a four-hour podcast if it weren't as fascinating and terrific a conversation that the panelists and Dan had, nor if we didn't feel the Enneagram were a wonderful tool and set of lenses through which we can better understand ourselves, our church leaders, our congregants (if leaders will listen in here), and, especially, the faith challenges (many specific to aspects of Mormonism) we and others face. Please listen in! As you get started, the prospect of a four-hour listen (over several segments of time, of course!) won't seem nearly so daunting! 


    522: The Enneagram for Mormons, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2018 61:32


    The Enneagram is a powerful tool for coming to know ourselves and others. Emerging in the mid-twentieth century and refined during the ensuing years, interest in it as a tool for aiding in one's spiritual growth, understanding ourselves and others, helping to build workplace and other kinds of teams that work well together, and shedding light on the dynamics between spouses, partners, family members, and friends has steadily—and for good reasons!—increased.  In this four-part podcast episode, panelists Jana Riess and Jana Spangler, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon share about the Enneagram itself and their experiences with it, but focus most of their attention (beginning in Part 2) on its specific applications to Mormonism, especially the ease or struggles to "fit in" or be rewarded/recognized/valued that typically arise as various personality types and the spiritual development of its members meet up with the church's truth claims, practices, institutional aspects, and Mormon culture. In Part 4, the attention shifts to understanding the particularities of the types of spiritual work that would support each personality type as they journey toward wholenss. Each of us have a "shadow" that, beginning in childhood, was constructed to help us cope with a world that wasn't ideal in every way. Throughout our lives, and generally only when we are "forced" to confront the pain and subtle or very toxic messages we underwent and/or intuited, do we begin to notice and begin to confront these hidden aspects of ourselves. In this process, either undertaken by oneself or through partnership with a trusted therapist of spiritual director, we get in touch with these things that are keeping us back, that cause us to repeat certain patterns over and over even though we know they aren't serving us well, and, most of all, that hide ourselves from ourselves—our perfect, whole, and beloved and loving soul. It is through this "soul/shadow work" that we heal and see and feel, so much more than ever before, the joy and peace that is our birthright.  We wouldn't put out a four-hour podcast if it weren't as fascinating and terrific a conversation that the panelists and Dan had, nor if we didn't feel the Enneagram were a wonderful tool and set of lenses through which we can better understand ourselves, our church leaders, our congregants (if leaders will listen in here), and, especially, the faith challenges (many specific to aspects of Mormonism) we and others face. Please listen in! As you get started, the prospect of a four-hour listen (over several segments of time, of course!) won't seem nearly so daunting! 


    521: The Enneagram for Mormons , Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2018 50:29


    The Enneagram is a powerful tool for coming to know ourselves and others. Emerging in the mid-twentieth century and refined during the ensuing years, interest in it as a tool for aiding in one's spiritual growth, understanding ourselves and others, helping to build workplace and other kinds of teams that work well together, and shedding light on the dynamics between spouses, partners, family members, and friends has steadily—and for good reasons!—increased.  In this four-part podcast episode, panelists Jana Riess and Jana Spangler, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon share about the Enneagram itself and their experiences with it, but focus most of their attention (beginning in Part 2) on its specific applications to Mormonism, especially the ease or struggles to "fit in" or be rewarded/recognized/valued that typically arise as various personality types and the spiritual development of its members meet up with the church's truth claims, practices, institutional aspects, and Mormon culture. In Part 4, the attention shifts to understanding the particularities of the types of spiritual work that would support each personality type as they journey toward wholenss. Each of us have a "shadow" that, beginning in childhood, was constructed to help us cope with a world that wasn't ideal in every way. Throughout our lives, and generally only when we are "forced" to confront the pain and subtle or very toxic messages we underwent and/or intuited, do we begin to notice and begin to confront these hidden aspects of ourselves. In this process, either undertaken by oneself or through partnership with a trusted therapist of spiritual director, we get in touch with these things that are keeping us back, that cause us to repeat certain patterns over and over even though we know they aren't serving us well, and, most of all, that hide ourselves from ourselves—our perfect, whole, and beloved and loving soul. It is through this "soul/shadow work" that we heal and see and feel, so much more than ever before, the joy and peace that is our birthright.  We wouldn't put out a four-hour podcast if it weren't as fascinating and terrific a conversation that the panelists and Dan had, nor if we didn't feel the Enneagram were a wonderful tool and set of lenses through which we can better understand ourselves, our church leaders, our congregants (if leaders will listen in here), and, especially, the faith challenges (many specific to aspects of Mormonism) we and others face. Please listen in! As you get started, the prospect of a four-hour listen (over several segments of time, of course!) won't seem nearly so daunting! 


    520: (Encore) The Living Nature of Mormon Covenants, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2018 47:46

    This is an encore presentation of an important and still very relevant two-part episode first released on 24 April 2017. Covenanting is a huge feature of Mormon theology and group life. Beginning at age eight with baptism, and extending through the LDS temple endowment and sealing rites, Latter-day Saints are encouraged to make many covenants with God. Sunday services build into the sacrament ritual the chance to “renew” all the covenants one has made. For many Mormons, making and renewing these covenants are among the most sacred events of their lives, inspiring them to try to live up to the ideals for living and learning, and the promises, of each covenant. For other Latter-day Saints, especially those whose faith has shifted in the years following the moments they made covenants, the burden of having covenanted to do something that they are no longer as certain about, or perhaps even now reject, can be crushing. Some feel regret that the “Mormon track” has members make covenants at very young ages, prior to entering typical developmental stages when complexity enters one’s worldview: “If only I’d known what I know now, I would have chosen differently.” Others feel they were under-prepared for the specific covenants they made in the temple, and how when they reached that stage of the endowment they went ahead with making them partly because of family and loved ones who were present and expecting that of them. Mormonism teaches that when things are done through proper priesthood authority, “what is bound on earth is bound in heaven.” How, then, should someone whose journey is taking them into great complexity regarding Mormonism relate to such weighty covenants? In this episode, Charles Randall Paul, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, and Joseph Stanford, join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a wonderful and intense query into covenanting within Mormonism and whether or not the nature of covenants, or God, has an expectation of personal growth and change that would naturally affect our views and understandings of promises we have made previously. They also discuss what exactly are we “bound” to with regard to our covenants, and several other important aspects of this topic. The panel shares their own experiences and thoughts about their covenanting pasts and their relationships with these covenants now. At every step, they seek to present and celebrate their best thinking and ideas about we humans as covenanters that don’t rely upon our having a static relationship with God and an “etched in stone at the time one covenanted” understanding of this important element of the spiritual life.

    519: (Encore) The Living Nature of Mormon Covenants, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2018 55:58

    This is an encore presentation of an important and still very relevant two-part episode first released on 24 April 2017. Covenanting is a huge feature of Mormon theology and group life. Beginning at age eight with baptism, and extending through the LDS temple endowment and sealing rites, Latter-day Saints are encouraged to make many covenants with God. Sunday services build into the sacrament ritual the chance to “renew” all the covenants one has made. For many Mormons, making and renewing these covenants are among the most sacred events of their lives, inspiring them to try to live up to the ideals for living and learning, and the promises, of each covenant. For other Latter-day Saints, especially those whose faith has shifted in the years following the moments they made covenants, the burden of having covenanted to do something that they are no longer as certain about, or perhaps even now reject, can be crushing. Some feel regret that the “Mormon track” has members make covenants at very young ages, prior to entering typical developmental stages when complexity enters one’s worldview: “If only I’d known what I know now, I would have chosen differently.” Others feel they were under-prepared for the specific covenants they made in the temple, and how when they reached that stage of the endowment they went ahead with making them partly because of family and loved ones who were present and expecting that of them. Mormonism teaches that when things are done through proper priesthood authority, “what is bound on earth is bound in heaven.” How, then, should someone whose journey is taking them into great complexity regarding Mormonism relate to such weighty covenants? In this episode, Charles Randall Paul, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, and Joseph Stanford, join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a wonderful and intense query into covenanting within Mormonism and whether or not the nature of covenants, or God, has an expectation of personal growth and change that would naturally affect our views and understandings of promises we have made previously. They also discuss what exactly are we “bound” to with regard to our covenants, and several other important aspects of this topic. The panel shares their own experiences and thoughts about their covenanting pasts and their relationships with these covenants now. At every step, they seek to present and celebrate their best thinking and ideas about we humans as covenanters that don’t rely upon our having a static relationship with God and an “etched in stone at the time one covenanted” understanding of this important element of the spiritual life.

    518: Looking at Joseph Smith through Fresh Eyes

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2018 101:54


      This episode features two wonderful and creative thinkers and religious souls whose lives have been deeply influenced by Joseph Smith. But here is the kicker: neither are Latter-day Saints. Jane Barnes and Rob Lauer view Joseph through eyes we don't often (if ever) encounter within institutional Mormonism. Perhaps very few outside some who knew him personally were attracted by what most fascinates and enlivens them. Jane was the primary writer and researcher for the 2007 PBS/Frontline and Helen Whitney produced documentary film, The Mormons. During her time working on the film, and even earlier, she came to appreciate Joseph as a dynamic, creative, prophetic figure, and she even had a "conversion" experience in which she understood him as a key figure in her awakening to her own spirituality. Ultimately, her experiences led her to write a much-celebrated memoir, Falling in Love with Joseph Smith: My Search for the Real Prophet (Tarcher/Penguin, 2012). Rob encountered Joseph Smith in his teens, and connected deeply with him in a way that led him to join the church. As he encountered the disconnect between how he saw and encountered Joseph versus how the church and its culture had tamed him and bleached out of him most of the color and life that he had been attracted to, he left Mormonism. He re-joined for a while, even co-directing the Hill Cumorah pageant for seven years, before he felt Joseph's teachings led him out of the church again—but not because he didn't embrace them any longer but because they empowered him to see his being gay as an essential part of his deep spiritual identity, while also seeing that the church wasn't capable of sustaining him as a gay man. To this day, however, he still says his is a religion "of" Joseph Smith (meaning he believes his key and empowering insights about humans, gods, and life's highest call). Interestingly, both Jane and Rob encountered Joseph Smith first through Fawn Brodie's book, No One Knows My History, which is generally thought by members as anti-Mormon. For them, however, they found a powerful figure on a unique journey, with gifts and creativity, that became a catalyst for their own spiritual walks. Notice as you listen to this episode how taking a fresh look at Joseph from outside the "boxes" we in the church so often put him in and want to limit him to can allow us to see him in much more vibrant detail. As writers and artists (novelist/filmmaker and playwright/television producer/newspaper editor), they see Joseph as bold and imaginative as well as good and kind, but also as broken and full of contradictions, many of them that are very unappealing. Still, they see him as a "prophet" in the larger sense of the word rather than the limited view we in the church have cultivated as we have  idealized the term, turned the title into a "president" of an institution, and shied away from representing him in all his humanness. It's this very humanness that leads them to love and appreciate him in ways that feel, at least to me, to be much more powerful than the level of encounter of most Latter-day Saints.


    517: Becoming Powerful: Dr. LaShawn Williams on Her Faith Journey and Path to Spiritual Confidence , Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2018 54:48

    Dr. LaShawn Williams (EdD., LCSW, MPA) is on the faculty at Utah Valley University, where she teaches students studying social work. LaShawn was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and faced many challenges associated with being a black child and then black woman in a predominantly white church community (in the United States) from the 1980s to the present day. In this episode she freely and forthrightly shares about these sorts of challenges as they played out in her life and that of her family. But most of all, the conversation involves how these challenges (and a wonderfully supportive parents) led to her developing a fierce sense of her own right to question things and use her voice to speak up for things that so many of us fail to even notice, let alone think about. She also shares how so much of this power and confidence emerged from a deep spiritual life and connection with God and Jesus Christ—one that was often severely tried but never severed. As a result of this confidence, she and six other black women formed the Black LDS Legacy Committee, which earlier this year began to put on events that brought forward the history and firm roots of black people in Mormonism right from the beginning on through now. And it was through the Committee's determination to tell these stories that the Church itself embraced their ideas in such strength that they became one of the driving forces behind what became the "Be One" event that occurred in the Conference Center on June 1, 2018, acknowledging and celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the 1978 revelation that officially restored to black persons what LaShawn and many others already knew, that all are equal before God, and they should be recognized as such by access to the temple and its covenants and blessings, as well as priesthood power and leadership. It is terrific that in this episode we have a chance to hear pieces of that story—and about what she and the rest of the members of the committee are planning to do next. In the final section of this two-part episode, LaShawn and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon discuss spiritual work, inner work, Godwrestling, and how and why we are all called by God/Life to re-examine everything and come to better grasp who we are as divine beings who, as is natural, allowed our veiled understanding of this deep truth become clouded by life's ups and downs and various messaging to the contrary that we let influence us and further bury this sense of our noble birthright. The focus, of course, is on ways we can and the importance of going into these difficult spaces, into our woundedness, into the roots of why we often refuse to believe that we are infinitely worthy. It's a terrific segment, as is this whole interview. We know you'll enjoy listening!

    516: Becoming Powerful: Dr. LaShawn Williams on Her Faith Journey and Path to Spiritual Confidence , Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2018 55:15

    Dr. LaShawn Williams (EdD., LCSW, MPA) is on the faculty at Utah Valley University, where she teaches students studying social work. LaShawn was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and faced many challenges associated with being a black child and then black woman in a predominantly white church community (in the United States) from the 1980s to the present day. In this episode she freely and forthrightly shares about these sorts of challenges as they played out in her life and that of her family. But most of all, the conversation involves how these challenges (and a wonderfully supportive parents) led to her developing a fierce sense of her own right to question things and use her voice to speak up for things that so many of us fail to even notice, let alone think about. She also shares how so much of this power and confidence emerged from a deep spiritual life and connection with God and Jesus Christ—one that was often severely tried but never severed. As a result of this confidence, she and six other black women formed the Black LDS Legacy Committee, which earlier this year began to put on events that brought forward the history and firm roots of black people in Mormonism right from the beginning on through now. And it was through the Committee's determination to tell these stories that the Church itself embraced their ideas in such strength that they became one of the driving forces behind what became the "Be One" event that occurred in the Conference Center on June 1, 2018, acknowledging and celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the 1978 revelation that officially restored to black persons what LaShawn and many others already knew, that all are equal before God, and they should be recognized as such by access to the temple and its covenants and blessings, as well as priesthood power and leadership. It is terrific that in this episode we have a chance to hear pieces of that story—and about what she and the rest of the members of the committee are planning to do next. In the final section of this two-part episode, LaShawn and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon discuss spiritual work, inner work, Godwrestling, and how and why we are all called by God/Life to re-examine everything and come to better grasp who we are as divine beings who, as is natural, allowed our veiled understanding of this deep truth become clouded by life's ups and downs and various messaging to the contrary that we let influence us and further bury this sense of our noble birthright. The focus, of course, is on ways we can and the importance of going into these difficult spaces, into our woundedness, into the roots of why we often refuse to believe that we are infinitely worthy. It's a terrific segment, as is this whole interview. Please listen!

    515: Thoughts on the October 2108 General Conference, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2018 74:18

    The October 2018 General Conference has just concluded, but certainly not the discussion of it! Not for many, many months in our wards, stakes, and various gatherings of Mormons, and not here on Mormon Matters podcast (though we promise it won't be for "months and months")! It was a fascinating conference with quite a few different dynamics at play, and so we gathered the next evening three wonderful and brilliant church and conference watcher—Jenne Alderks, Scott Turley, and Sara Lake—to share their immediate, raw, unprocessed but very powerful takes on what they noticed and how they experienced it. What followed was a remarkably energetic, passionate, moving—as well as fun (even a slight bit snarky at times conversation). Along with Mormon Matters host, Dan Wotherspoon, each shared from her or his compassionate and empathetic heart and soul, offering gratitude and praise where they felt it was deserved (and the cases were many), and sorrow, frustration, confusion, and genuine exasperation, sorrow, and hurt over some teachings or leader choices that called for it. The discussion begins with reactions to, and wondering how the newly announced two-hour block of meetings will play out in the lives of Latter-day Saints. It then turns to key talks and features of the conference. Part 1 addresses a few talks, though some of the same ones continue to be discussed in the second part, but it primarily features an extended conversation about the General Women's Session and its messaging, both wonderful and hurtful, not to mention confusing in its mixed signaling. Part 2 features discussions of the panelists other highlights or lowlights, and is careful to be aware of those who are listening who might not have followed conference at all and are coming to this episode for their first exposure to what went on and how many our reacting to it. Dan closes this section by offering a few comments that remained on his list but were unspoken during the main recording session. We believe that anyone who listens to this episode will be captivated by the fun the panelists had together even while they were raising deeply heartfelt issues and experiences. Please tune in! You are also invited to contribute to the conversations in the Comments section for this episode at MormonMatters.org. Thank you!

    514: Thoughts on the October 2108 General Conference

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2018 99:06

    The October 2018 General Conference has just concluded, but certainly not the discussion of it! Not for many, many months in our wards, stakes, and various gatherings of Mormons, and not here on Mormon Matters podcast (though we promise it won't be for "months and months")! It was a fascinating conference with quite a few different dynamics at play, and so we gathered the next evening three wonderful and brilliant church and conference watcher—Jenne Alderks, Scott Turley, and Sara Lake—to share their immediate, raw, unprocessed but very powerful takes on what they noticed and how they experienced it. What followed was a remarkably energetic, passionate, moving—as well as fun (even a slight bit snarky at times conversation). Along with Mormon Matters host, Dan Wotherspoon, each shared from her or his compassionate and empathetic heart and soul, offering gratitude and praise where they felt it was deserved (and the cases were many), and sorrow, frustration, confusion, and genuine exasperation, sorrow, and hurt over some teachings or leader choices that called for it. The discussion begins with reactions to, and wondering how the newly announced two-hour block of meetings will play out in the lives of Latter-day Saints. It then turns to key talks and features of the conference. Part 1 addresses a few talks, though some of the same ones continue to be discussed in the second part, but it primarily features an extended conversation about the General Women's Session and its messaging, both wonderful and hurtful, not to mention confusing in its mixed signaling. Part 2 features discussions of the panelists other highlights or lowlights, and is careful to be aware of those who are listening who might not have followed conference at all and are coming to this episode for their first exposure to what went on and how many our reacting to it. Dan closes this section by offering a few comments that remained on his list but were unspoken during the main recording session. We believe that anyone who listens to this episode will be captivated by the fun the panelists had together even while they were raising deeply heartfelt issues and experiences. Please tune in! You are also invited to contribute to the conversations in the Comments section for this episode at MormonMatters.org. Thank you!

    513: Wrestling with the Obedience vs Conscience Dilemma, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2018 69:33


    We've all heard statements such as, "Obedience is the first law of heaven." We've also been charged to seek our own light and revelation on any teaching or directive presented before the whole church. What happens when the second injunction challenges the first? If we in good "conscience" (what many Latter-day Saints call the Light of Christ) cannot assent to what's put forward (and this can include in our local church settings, as well), how shall we approach this dilemma? It seems that wrestles with this particular pairing of injunctions—obedience and conscience—arise around general conference time, so this is a timely podcast. For this discussion, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by the wonderful and thoughtful Jana Riess, Caleb Jones, and Eric Huntsman. Each of them share terrific ideas about how they frame and clarify in their own minds and hearts as the horns of this dilemma arise in their own lives. They dive into the origins of and wider issues surrounding "obedience," and much more! The conversation is absolutely terrific! Please listen and then share your responses at the Mormon Matters podcast website!


    512: Wrestling with the Obedience vs Conscience Dilemma, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2018 56:09


    We've all heard statements such as, "Obedience is the first law of heaven." We've also been charged to seek our own light and revelation on any teaching or directive presented before the whole church. What happens when the second challenges the first? If we in good "conscience" (what many Latter-day Saints call the Light of Christ) cannot assent to what's put forward (and this can include in our local church settings, as well), how shall we approach this dilemma? It seems that wrestles with this particular pairing of injunctions—obedience and conscience—arise around general conference time, so this is a timely podcast. For this discussion, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by the wonderful and thoughtful Jana Riess, Caleb Jones, and Eric Huntsman. Each of them share terrific ideas about how they frame and clarify in their own minds and hearts as the horns of this dilemma arise in their own lives. They dive into the origins of and wider issues surrounding "obedience," and much more! The conversation is absolutely terrific! Please listen and then share your responses at the Mormon Matters podcast website!


    511: Upcoming General Conference--Rumors, Hopes, Worries, and Preparing Ourselves for Whatever Unfolds, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2018 64:24

    In just over a week after the release of this podcast episode, millions of Latter-day Saints from around the world will gather in person or other ways to hear messages from Mormonism's highest leadership councils. No one knows in advance what messages will be presented, what each male of female leader will have been inspired to prepare for the membership, but it has become a favorite pastime of many to speculate, and especially when leaders have given certain hints about possible changes in the near horizon. Such is the case here again. In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by two other close conference watcher, Susan Hinckley and James Cottrell to discuss what we are hearing (and in that arena they focus primarily upon remarks given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland three weeks ago in Draper, Utah, which contain several provocative statements), what we hope might happen, worry might happen, but most importantly how these three prepare themselves in advance to be able to receive whatever unfolds with an open and compassionate heart, and to be thoughtful and careful as they weigh the messages and policy or program changes that get announced. The discussion is terrific. Please listen, enjoy, and allow yourselves to breath deeply and put yourself in as good a frame of mind as you can. Please listen and enjoy!   

    510: The Upcoming General Conference: Rumors, Hopes, Worries and Preparing Ourselves For Whatever Unfolds, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2018 68:05

    In just over a week after the release of this podcast episode, millions of Latter-day Saints from around the world will gather in person or other ways to hear messages from Mormonism's highest leadership councils. No one knows in advance what messages will be presented, what each male of female leader will have been inspired to prepare for the membership, but it has become a favorite pastime of many to speculate, and especially when leaders have given certain hints about possible changes in the near horizon. Such is the case here again. In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by two other close conference watchers, Susan Hinckley and James Cottrell to discuss what we are hearing (and in that arena they focus primarily upon remarks given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland three weeks ago in Draper, Utah, which contain several provocative statements), what we hope might happen, worry might happen, but most importantly how these three prepare themselves in advance to be able to receive whatever unfolds with an open and compassionate heart, and to be thoughtful and careful as they weigh the messages and policy or program changes that get announced. The discussion is terrific. Please listen, enjoy, and allow yourselves to breath deeply and put yourself in as good a frame of mind as you can.

    509: The LDS Church's New Official History Volume, Saints: The Standard of Truth, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2018 64:09


    Just two weeks ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the first volume of its long-awaited history of the church series, Saints: The Standard of Truth. Written in the form of an engaging narrative, this book covers events in church history beginning in 1815 and concluding in 1846 as the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo and headed to Iowa to prepare to embark the next year on their westward migration. The book includes like nothing before in official church history many stories about women—of their heroism, brilliant minds, and spiritual depth—who contributed mightily to the establishment and survival of the early church. It introduces many stories of immigrants and black Latter-day Saints, and their faith and successes in helping build and shape the Restoration. This new official church history volume is also especially notable for how it includes many details (often viewed as difficult and faith-dampening) about persons and events that are likely unknown to most Latter-day Saints. These include: an unprecedented-in-church-curricula amount of forthright attention to Joseph Smith's involvement in treasure seeking, an expanded First Vision depiction that is woven together and harmonized from Joseph's four first-hand accounts of what he experienced in the grove; a story of the translation of the Book of Mormon that includes his use of a seer stone and a hat in bringing it forth; the failures of the Kirtland Safety Society and Zion's Camp (referred to in the volume as the Camp of Israel); Joseph's own personal engagement in polygamous marriages; the Saints' own sometimes aggressive behavior that fueled escalations of violence against them; questionable decisions regarding calling certain individuals to high positions within the church, as well as choosing to destroy the press that printed the Nauvoo Expositor, which led quite directly to Joseph's and Hyrum's martyrdom. We are thrilled and blessed to have the voices and perspectives of brilliant panelists in this two-part episode. They are the wonderful Megan Burnside, David E. MacKay, Brittney Hartley, and Cristina Rosetti. In Part 1 (Episode 508), they focus on the project itself and the approach to its history the church has chosen to take, their sense of the project's contributions along with areas in which it falls short, and their takes on what seem to be the church's primary goals in creating this series and how successful they think they will be met through an effort such as this. In Part 2 (Episode 509), they focus in on specific stories in the volumes and the choices that were made regarding what to leave in, what to leave out, why the church might have chosen to emphasize the reading of historical documents the way they did, over and against other options (some fairly well known but passed over here in favor of others). In every instance and comment, the tremendous intellects and good, good hearts of each panelist shine brightly.  Please listen and enjoy!


    508: The LDS Church's New Official History Volume, Saints: The Standard of Truth, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2018 71:46


    Just two weeks ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the first volume of its long-awaited history of the church series, Saints: The Standard of Truth. Written in the form of an engaging narrative, this book covers events in church history beginning in 1815 and concluding in 1846 as the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo and headed to Iowa to prepare to embark the next year on their westward migration. The book includes like nothing before in official church history many stories about women—of their heroism, brilliant minds, and spiritual depth—who contributed mightily to the establishment and survival of the early church. It introduces many stories of immigrants and black Latter-day Saints, and their faith and successes in helping build and shape the Restoration. This new official church history volume is also especially notable for how it includes many details (often viewed as difficult and faith-dampening) about persons and events that are likely unknown to most Latter-day Saints. These include: an unprecedented-in-church-curricula amount of forthright attention to Joseph Smith's involvement in treasure seeking, an expanded First Vision depiction that is woven together and harmonized from Joseph's four first-hand accounts of what he experienced in the grove; a story of the translation of the Book of Mormon that includes his use of a seer stone and a hat in bringing it forth; the failures of the Kirtland Safety Society and Zion's Camp (referred to in the volume as the Camp of Israel); Joseph's own personal engagement in polygamous marriages; the Saints' own sometimes aggressive behavior that fueled escalations of violence against them; questionable decisions regarding calling certain individuals to high positions within the church, as well as choosing to destroy the press that printed the Nauvoo Expositor, which led quite directly to Joseph's and Hyrum's martyrdom. We are thrilled and blessed to have the voices and perspectives of brilliant panelists in this two-part episode. They are the wonderful Megan Burnside, David E. MacKay, Brittney Hartley, and Cristina Rosetti. In Part 1 (Episode 508), they focus on the project itself and the approach to its history the church has chosen to take, their sense of the project's contributions along with areas in which it falls short, and their takes on what seem to be the church's primary goals in creating this series and how successful they think they will be met through an effort such as this. In Part 2 (Episode 509), they focus in on specific stories in the volumes and the choices that were made regarding what to leave in, what to leave out, why the church might have chosen to emphasize the reading of historical documents the way they did, over and against other options (some fairly well known but passed over here in favor of others). In every instance and comment, the tremendous intellects and good, good hearts of each panelist shine brightly.  Please listen and enjoy!  


    507: What Do Latter-day Saints Consider Authoritative?: Wrestling with Scripture, Prophetic Utterance, Personal Conscience, and an Expanding and Changing Canon, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2018 63:51


    At this moment, with the 2018 October General Conference just weeks away, many Latter-day Saints are—consciously and unconsciously—going through in their minds and hearts how they view and feel about teachings from the church's top leaders. What is their authoritative status? Are they to be considered on par with (or even superior and more authoritative than) the teachings found within the Standard Works? And what about our own personal revelation on particular subjects? How does that fit into the mix with scripture and statements and teachings from LDS general authorities? Do we leave aside our own sense of what God has led us to believe and simply shape our worldviews according to the leaders' teachings because they  can't/won't lead us astray? Or do we wrestle and seek a way to honor all these sources of authority? This episode discusses these and other dilemmas related to what makes something "canonical" (in some way)—for the church as a whole, and/or for each of us personally. In addition to the upcoming general conference, this conversation was prompted by a set of studies and essays that have been recently compiled together and published in a new volume: The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism & Sacred Texts (Greg Kofford Books). In the episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and the book's three editors, Blair Van Dyke, Brian D. Birch, and Boyd J. Peterson share about the above, and other book topics. They go into those mentioned above, as well as the authoritative status of women's writings, the nature of the shifts the church's views on electronic publishing have undergone (are we seeing online versions of the scriptures and other teachings shared via the web as equal in status of the same things in print?), and also the authoritative status of official "Proclamations" the church has issued in the past, and recently, with a particular focus on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." To what degree are various Latter-day Saints incorporating this proclamation into their own "personal canon"?  Dan and the editors also briefly introduce other subjects taken on in the volume, such as the best way to approach reading scriptures, the place and role of the Golden Plates in LDS consciousness and conversation, how the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price wound their way into canonical status, as well as the very character of each of the teachings within these books and what tasks or roles they perform in Mormon hearts and minds. They also overview a few particulars of most of the book's other topics, including how one non-Mormon scholar of religion approaches LDS truth claims, especially those contained in discussions surrounding the Golden Plates: their finding, taking possession of, translating, and being revealed to chosen witnesses, and proposes a third way that falls between full belief in all the events as reported and the conclusion many land on: that Joseph Smith is fraud and deliberate deceiver. And finally, what about patriarchal blessings? How do Mormons view them and their role in their personal lives? Where do these reverenced spiritual creations fit in the idea of the Mormon (or personal) "canon" ? The episode grounds itself in the book and its coming together, but The Expanded Canon is used primarily as a springboard for getting into the profound issues and the wrestles they generate for both the institutional church and its members. We think you will really enjoy what transpires in this two-part episode, and that you will come away with many things worth chewing on in your own church- and self-examinations.


    506: What Do Latter-day Saints Consider Authoritative?: Wrestling with Scripture, Prophetic Utterance, Personal Conscience, and an Expanding and Changing Canon, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2018 69:04


    At this moment, with the 2018 October General Conference just weeks away, many Latter-day Saints are—consciously and unconsciously—going through in their minds and hearts how they view and feel about teachings from the church's top leaders. What is their authoritative status? Are they to be considered on par with (or even superior and more authoritative than) the teachings found within the Standard Works? And what about our own personal revelation on particular subjects? How does that fit into the mix with scripture and statements and teachings from LDS general authorities? Do we leave aside our own sense of what God has led us to believe and simply shape our worldviews according to the leaders' teachings because they  can't/won't lead us astray? Or do we wrestle and seek a way to honor all these sources of authority? This episode discusses these and other dilemmas related to what makes something "canonical" (in some way)—for the church as a whole, and/or for each of us personally. In addition to the upcoming general conference, this conversation was prompted by a set of studies and essays that have been recently compiled together and published in a new volume: The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism & Sacred Texts (Greg Kofford Books). In the episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and the book's three editors, Blair Van Dyke, Brian D. Birch, and Boyd J. Peterson share about the above, and other book topics. They go into those mentioned above, as well as the authoritative status of women's writings, the nature of the shifts the church's views on electronic publishing have undergone (are we seeing online versions of the scriptures and other teachings shared via the web as equal in status of the same things in print?), and also the authoritative status of official "Proclamations" the church has issued in the past, and recently, with a particular focus on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." To what degree are various Latter-day Saints incorporating this proclamation into their own "personal canon"?  Dan and the editors also briefly introduce other subjects taken on in the volume, such as the best way to approach reading scriptures, the place and role of the Golden Plates in LDS consciousness and conversation, how the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price wound their way into canonical status, as well as the very character of each of the teachings within these books and what tasks or roles they perform in Mormon hearts and minds. They also overview a few particulars of most of the book's other topics, including how one non-Mormon scholar of religion approaches LDS truth claims, especially those contained in discussions surrounding the Golden Plates: their finding, taking possession of, translating, and being revealed to chosen witnesses, and proposes a third way that falls between full belief in all the events as reported and the conclusion many land on: that Joseph Smith is fraud and deliberate deceiver. And finally, what about patriarchal blessings? How do Mormons view them and their role in their personal lives? Where do these reverenced spiritual creations fit in the idea of the Mormon (or personal) "canon" ? The episode speaks of the book and tells of its coming together, but it is used primarily as a springboard for getting into these quite profound issues and the wrestles they generate for both the institutional church and its members. We think you will really enjoy what transpires in this two-part episode, and will come away with many things worth chewing on in your own church- and self-examinations.


    505: The Heart and Depth of Father Tom Roberts: How the Things He Sees, Studies, and Shares Might Prove a Great Boon for Many Latter-day Saints

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 5, 2018 85:45

    No one who has appeared before on Mormon Matters has a more interesting, diverse, and ecumenical religious journey than Father Tom Roberts—one that also includes Mormonism from his very early years on through today. Father Tom has been on the show several times in the past, but in this episode we query in greater depth than previously about his faith walk, and we also zero in far more directly on his main study, writing, and teaching emphases: theosis/divinization and the enthronement passages within the Hebrew Bible and New Testament that are so often not not even noticed, let alone understood at all, by Christians and Latter-day Saints, as well as (what he has most recently released in a short book) divorce and remarriage from a Middle Eastern Biblical approach. It's a study that in some instances very clearly shows how so many in Christendom have completely missed the meaning of such difficult passages as "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery" (Matthew 5:31–32). The clarifications Tom offers on these matters is much, much needed! A big question framing the podcast is also how might a better understanding of the topics touched on herein mitigate some of the deep malaise many Latter-day Saints are feeling because of the primary ways that the correlated church has chosen to present the scriptures, as well as its own most profound teachings, in such a flat and quite lifeless way. We believe you'll be intrigued by much that Father Tom shares in this interview, and we hope that some will feel drawn to contact Tom to possibly collaborate with him on projects and dialogues and in study settings. The rewards could be many.

    504: Reflecting on Major Themes in 500-plus Mormon Matters Episodes, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2018 57:40


    Earlier this month, Mormon Matters released its 500th episode. In this two-part podcast, host Dan Wotherspoon speaks about the show's evolution, but mostly he re-introduces some of the major themes and angles of approach to Mormonism and personal faith journeys--ideas, analogies, and framings that have come up fairly regularly in the show's history, either directly or in passing as its panel discussions centered on specific topics. We hope long-time listeners as well as those less familiar with the podcast and its basic sensibilities will find it fun to re-immerse in topics such as the importance of answering the call to explore one's faith more deeply, to begin the quests of what Joseph Campbell has labeled the "hero's journey," to examine the different types of truth in play within human lives and how asking religion or spirituality questions solely from another field and its methodologies will never yield fully satisfying answers. To revisit Father David Steindl-Rast's analogy of how religions begin and take their shape by comparing their starts to the eruption of a volcano and what transpires over time following the bursts. In another section, Dan concentrates on various ways to approach scripture that might enliven them for us once more, should our current ways of reading and encountering the material in them have begun to wax cold--and he then suggests how these same approaches might also revive the way we look at and the gifts we receive through our prayer lives, temple attendance, and so forth. He then takes on questions and issues so many of us face as we as individuals interact with institutions. How do we honor both our wants and needs as well as those of the Church? What can we learn from realizing the reality of these different types of goals and how this de-fangs in some way the negativity that can be generated as they end up, as so often they do, at cross-purposes? How can we protect ourselves from being swallowed up by the institution and losing our connection with God and the primacy of our own journey and growth? We hope you'll enjoy this trip down memory lane, and its refreshers about important themes and sensibilities that often play out within Mormon Matters discussions!


    503: Reflecting on Major Themes in 500-plus Mormon Matters Episodes

, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2018 51:51


    Earlier this month, Mormon Matters released its 500th episode. In this two-part podcast, host Dan Wotherspoon speaks about the show's evolution, but mostly he re-introduces some of the major themes and angles of approach to Mormonism and personal faith journeys--ideas, analogies, and framings that have come up fairly regularly in the show's history, either directly or in passing as its panel discussions centered on specific topics. We hope long-time listeners as well as those less familiar with the podcast and its basic sensibilities will find it fun to re-immerse in topics such as the importance of answering the call to explore one's faith more deeply, to begin the quests of what Joseph Campbell has labeled the "hero's journey," to examine the different types of truth in play within human lives and how asking religion or spirituality questions solely from another field and its methodologies will never yield fully satisfying answers. To revisit Father David Steindl-Rast's analogy of how religions begin and take their shape by comparing their starts to the eruption of a volcano and what transpires over time following the bursts. In another section, Dan concentrates on various ways to approach scripture that might enliven them for us once more, should our current ways of reading and encountering the material in them have begun to wax cold--and he then suggests how these same approaches might also revive the way we look at and the gifts we receive through our prayer lives, temple attendance, and so forth. He then takes on questions and issues so many of us face as we as individuals interact with institutions. How do we honor both our wants and needs as well as those of the Church? What can we learn from realizing the reality of these different types of goals and how this de-fangs in some way the negativity that can be generated as they end up, as so often they do, at cross-purposes? How can we protect ourselves from being swallowed up by the institution and losing our connection with God and the primacy of our own journey and growth? We hope you'll enjoy this trip down memory lane, and its refreshers about important themes and sensibilities that often play out within Mormon Matters discussions!


    502: The New Push to Use the Church's Official Name: An "Impression" Becomes an "Official Statement"— but What about "Implementation"?

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 23, 2018 88:32

    On 16 August 2018, the Newsroom website for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an official statement that set off a significant discussion that, by all indications including additional commentary on the Newsroom site that came later, will be ongoing for quite a while. The statement begins with the following words from President Russell M. Nelson: "The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will." The quotation continues and the statement reiterates that more information about implementation of this directive is forthcoming. Accompanying the statement, the Newsroom piece links to an updated style guide for how to reference the church (asking journalists and its own employees and members to follow this, as well) that encourages the use of the church's full name whenever possible and choosing something other than "Mormon" or "Mormonism" to refer to individual church members or the religious tradition as a whole. It also asks all to eschew the use of the acronym "LDS." Another bulleted item that has generated a good deal of reaction reads: ". . . when describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term 'the restored gospel of Jesus Christ' is accurate and preferred." In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by two experienced and articulate church watchers—Mark Crego and Taylor Petrey—to discuss these matters, including their own reactions as well as those of others with whom they've been speaking with in person or at church or whose thoughts they have encountered online. The conversation also takes us into early Christian history to try to discern the way the earliest followers of Jesus referred to themselves, how important it was to them to have a name, and if so, by their name choice if they were inclined to emphasize being a follower of Jesus, or was it more reflective of their coming to live in a new way that focused on practices centered on loving and forgiving others, sharing resources, assisting those in need, and so forth? It then takes the elements of that dive and relates them to the present moment of the new statement and emphasis. Beyond that, the panelists wonder about how the leaders and members might implement what is being asked, guess about possible reactions by journalists and members and leaders of other Christian churches (Will they go along with it? Will they be offended by the preferred designations?), as also discuss the provocative claim in the bulleted point about including the "culture and lifestyle" unique to the church in what they should refer to with the term, "the restored gospel of Jesus Christ." Finally, they discuss the form in which this official statement came forth, an announcement emphasizing that this initiative is based on an impression received by President Nelson rather than putting it in terms of it having been an injunction that emerged from the full processes that typically involve careful vetting by and unanimity among the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Even if you've already begun to formulate your own thoughts about this new push to emphasize the church's full name and de-emphasize monikers that have been around for a long time, you'll be surprised by much that's here in this episode, as it goes into topic areas that are not yet being fully explored in depth. Let the conversations continue! 

    501: Centering in God: Experiences and Insights from the Living School for Action and Contemplation

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2018 96:25


    This episode features reflections on a wonderful experience the two panelists and I shared this past week in Albuquerque, NM. All three of us—Jana Spangler, JoDee Baird, and I, Dan Wotherspoon—attended the August 2018 symposium of The Living School, which is sponsored and operated by the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) that Richard Rohr, a Fransiscan monk and highly regarded author, speaker, and seminar leader, founded in 1987. The Living School is a two-year “underground seminary”   in which students immerse themselves in the history and practices of the world’s great contemplative traditions, primarily Christianity, but with much crossover with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and others. The instruction and experiences students have are not only for their own benefit, however. Both the CAC’s and Living School’s name include “action” along with “contemplation.” Students emerge with a greater depth of experience with God/Source/Animating Force of all life, and from that wellspring they work in the world in ways that try to alleviate suffering of all types—whatever they discern as the focus and work they are being called to do. Besides Richard Rohr, two other incredible teachers and practitioners of contemplation of many types, Cynthia Bourgeault and James Finley, make up the School’s “core faculty.” The rhythm of being a student in the Living School involves attending the August symposium three times, a one-week “intensive” with Richard in the winter or spring of the next year, and committing to studying each month various assigned texts and presentations of the teachings of the world’s greatest mystics and teachers, and then processing in a small group that meets online the ideas and insights that have been striking us most deeply. We on this show certainly share quite a few specifics about the Living School itself, as we know that some listeners might want to consider applying to it at some future date (in fact, the application process for an August 2019 start is currently open), but even if that doesn’t seem like something feasible for someone, we try to keep our conversation broad enough to be interesting to anyone who feels drawn to deepening their connection with God/Source, their community, and the wider world, especially in action and solidarity with those who are suffering. I believe you’ll really enjoy listening!


    500: Making It Safe Again for Open Proselytizing of Our Deeply Held Values and Beliefs: Charles Randall Paul and His Very Practical Conflict Engagement Theories

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 7, 2018 99:45

    This episode celebrates a new book by Charles Randall Paul, Converting the Saints: A Study of Religious Rivalry in America (Greg Kofford Books), but even more so the ways of he thinks about how we should engage all conflicts over ideas for which there are no clear ways of measuring value or correctness. His direct study in this book examines three different sets of Protestant missionaries in the early twentieth century who came to Utah to convert them to "true Christianity," as well as the different approaches and strategies they employed. These historical examples are placed in very rich context--not only historical and religious but also theoretical. In Paul's hands, the case of Mormon/Protestant attempts at persuasive engagement in Utah illustrate fundamental keys to understanding conflict between values and ideals in many, many situations: certainly political and economic, but also in more directly personal interactions between spouses and partners, wider families, and religious communities themselves. Basically, any situation in which conflicts over deeply important issues that are ultimately unresolvable arise.  In this discussion with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, Randy (as Dan calls him because of their nearly thirty year friendship) offers terrific insights about interpersonal and group dynamics that truly make real, practical sense, shares a bit about the case studies this book shares about, and then offers a glimpse into his ideas for, what Richard Bushman says is "a compelling course of action for transforming harsh conflict to peaceful contestation." Hint: Randy's proposals call for our more fully owning our own truths and then engaging in attempts to persuade others that ours in the truest view or the best way to approach important questions and problems--and allowing others to openly and vulnerably share theirs with us. These engagements, however, are dangerous as we just may realize areas in our sureties that deserve for us to take another look at, or even that we might become fully convinced by the others and possibly begin to align ourselves with their communities and causes. In short, Randy is calling for far more open-hearted, fully-owned, vulnerable and receptive engagement by "missionaries"--whether religious in nature, or political, economic, philosophical, or something else. He encourages all of us to be willing to come to the arena, agree to follow certain conventions, internalize key attitudes toward the nature of the contestation we are getting involved in, and to then go for it even as we understand that what might unfold there (or "in" us) is unpredictable.   Randy is energetic and engaging, and his insights fresh and very much needed at this time within the United States and rest of the world, as well as within Mormonism as it stands at this crossroads with how to engage intra-religiously and interpersonally with Saints who see things differently than many in leadership (or at least in terms of what they feel able to say publicly) and the majority of those in the pews. This episode is a must listen! Be prepared, though, as you might possibly become changed in some fundamental views and the way you approach engagement with others!

    499: Faith Journeying with Matt Jones — Rambunctious Youth to LDS Bishop and Wise Soul

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2018 108:49


    Just two weeks ago, Matt Jones was released as an LDS bishop. How he came to be someone who might be called to that position includes a fun and twisting story. Beginning as somewhat of a precocious youth (an "idiot" in Matt's telling about this period, along with examples!), he didn't take Mormonism too seriously. But with goodly parents who knew how to guide without crushing his fun-loving nature, he eventually made it to a mission, which he loved, marriage to the wonderful Kristie Jones (whom everyone loves!), schooling, and then a successful business career. But soon enough, life brought forth stresses and disappointments, and certain nagging church questions he had as a missionary and genuinely thoughtful began to take center stage a bit more. He details some of these in this interview, but also shares an extremely powerful spiritual experience that left him unable to ever deny (or forget) that there is a powerful God who knows him intimately. You'll never guess what led to it! It's wonderful. As the conversation continues, we learn about where he "was" in his faith journey when the call came for him to serve as the bishop of the Bothell Ward in Bothell, Washington, and how he approached his service there. (Hint: He was an amazing bishop who urged ward members to focus on the right things: love, kindness, trust, faith, God's desire to be in relationship with us, etc. rather than meeting troubles primarily through our minds or with fears about being judged harshly.) Toward the end of the conversation, Matt shares about another wonderful spiritual experience he had just recently. All in all, this is a great, fun (and, at times, funny) and rich conversation with a truly delightful person. We know you'll enjoy spending time with Matt Jones in your ears! And we bet he'll find a way into your heart, as well. 


    498: Mormon Difference Makers

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 25, 2018 79:14

    This episode arrives on the heels of the release of a marvelous short video, “Do Better, which features LGBT+ Latter-day Saints and allies sharing reflections and experiences from their Mormon upbringing and interactions with its culture. The video originated in the mind of heart of Lisa Scott, who, with assistance from a network of friends and volunteers, brought it forth into the world. It is already gathering many views and is being shared widely. The video is a vehicle for positive change in Mormon thinking and culture.  Richard Ostler was recently released after serving as a bishop of a Utah Young Single Adult ward. Within his calling, Richard came to know and truly listen to the faith and goodness of young LGBT+ adults, including their intense pain and suffering arising in to some degree from Mormon teachings and cultural attitudes. He has now founded the organization “Listen, Learn, & Love,” which in its online presence serves as a resource for LGBT+ Mormons, and Richard also speaks frequently at events by invitation or via his own initiative.  More than just the focus on Lisa’s video, Richard’s outreach, and LGBT+ issues, this episode also tries to encourage all of us to each find “our” passion--that thing (issue, insight, need) that our life has somehow been calling us to engage with, and to then act on that in whatever way we feel inspired to do. So many times we in Mormonism feel as if we need “permission” from a Church leader before acting purely from our own initiative. Our hope in this discussion is to emphasize and help empower every one of us to never be afraid to do good in the world, to act to open hearts and minds, and assist with difficult situations or circumstances ourselves. It can take any of many forms. Let’s do some good!

    497: (Encore) Mormonism As a "Religion"--Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 18, 2018 81:00

    This is an encore presentation of a two-part Mormon Matters episode first recorded in March 2015.  Of course, we all know that Mormonism is a "religion." But do we always think about it through the lenses of such a big and diverse category? Among those who are born into and/or otherwise live and experience the world primarily through the lenses of Mormonism, most often their focus is on our tradition's “truth claims” as well as the pathway it lays out for “salvation.” And for them, the LDS Church is most often defined in terms of the prophetically guided institution that sets forth its beliefs and practices, and authorizes participation in its sacred ordinances. But like every other religion, Mormonism is more than just these things. It is a key element in identity formation; it articulates core spiritual and ethical values and suggests, either formally or through Mormon cultural influences, how its members should think and act about key matters of the day. In general, it is the primary contributor to a worldview that provides its adherents a sense of orientation and direction in what can often feel like an overwhelmingly chaotic world. In this two-part episode, religion scholars Laurie Maffly-Kipp and Doe Daughtrey, and classics scholar Margaret Toscano, join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon to discuss “religion” in a way that opens our eyes to these larger categories (myth, ritual, scripture, ecclesiastical structure, etc.) and the ways that religions influence lives, and to then discusses elements of Mormonism that these broad topic areas help illustrate in particularity. What can we learn and realize about Mormonism when it is seen through comparative lenses? How typical is Mormonism among other traditions in its historical and current-day wrestling with social and cultural issues such as gender, sexuality, race, scripture and sacred texts, women, and authority structures? Can we move from the "truth box" into brighter, richer, more transformative territory? And much more!

    496: (Encore) Mormonism As a "Religion"--Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 18, 2018 74:37

    This is an encore presentation of a two-part Mormon Matters episode first recorded in March 2015.  Of course, we all know that Mormonism is a "religion." But do we always think about it through the lenses of such a big and diverse category? Among those who are born into and/or otherwise live and experience the world primarily through the lenses of Mormonism, most often their focus is on our tradition's “truth claims” as well as the pathway it lays out for “salvation.” And for them, the LDS Church is most often defined in terms of the prophetically guided institution that sets forth its beliefs and practices, and authorizes participation in its sacred ordinances. But like every other religion, Mormonism is more than just these things. It is a key element in identity formation; it articulates core spiritual and ethical values and suggests, either formally or through Mormon cultural influences, how its members should think and act about key matters of the day. In general, it is the primary contributor to a worldview that provides its adherents a sense of orientation and direction in what can often feel like an overwhelmingly chaotic world. In this two-part episode, religion scholars Laurie Maffly-Kipp and Doe Daughtrey, and classics scholar Margaret Toscano, join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon to discuss “religion” in a way that opens our eyes to these larger categories (myth, ritual, scripture, ecclesiastical structure, etc.) and the ways that religions influence lives, and to then discusses elements of Mormonism that these broad topic areas help illustrate in particularity. What can we learn and realize about Mormonism when it is seen through comparative lenses? How typical is Mormonism among other traditions in its historical and current-day wrestling with social and cultural issues such as gender, sexuality, race, scripture and sacred texts, women, and authority structures? Can we move from the "truth box" into brighter, richer, more transformative territory? And much more!

    495: “What Do We Do with All This?”: Sunstone and Today’s Uncorrelated Mormon Discussions, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2018 50:23

    Most Mormon Matters listeners are, as consumers of LDS-related websites, blogs, podcasts, Reddits, Facebook groups, and other social media platforms, enmeshed in the world of “uncorrelated Mormonism.” Whatever is happening in any part of the Mormon world, most of us have ready access, not only to the news but also a great number of comments—many of them hastily made and most without attempts to present a balanced viewpoint. On any given day, we have at our disposal in these uncorrelated spaces (as well as in official church platforms) more information and opinions than anyone might possibly consume with any chance at enjoying the richness of the various items in the feast, which leaves us with the exasperated question, voiced by Stephen Carter in this podcast, “What do we do with all this?” This episode centers on one of Mormonism’s most important clearinghouses for highlighting, amplifying, and steering us to good discussions of things related to the Restoration that began with Joseph Smith: Sunstone. In its magazine and symposiums, Sunstone brings together the voices of people from all over the Mormon spectrum to share “their” story, to offer chances for all of us to truly “meet” each other and to digest more slowly and with a much better signal-to-noise ratio things happening within wider Mormonism. There is certainly much content about the organization and its upcoming Salt Lake Sunstone symposium (July 25-28) in this discussion with Sunstone’s executive director Lindsay Hansen Park and publications director Stephen Carter, but it also features much broader reflections on the story and changes in emphases of Mormonism’s nearly 200-year history of discussions, especially in its uncorrelated sector. How have the questions changed through the years? What tasks were more important during other periods of Mormon history than what seems to be needed now? Through listening to these thoughtful, articulate leaders in Mormon discussions, we are given explicit permission to locate ourselves “as ourselves,” as our own “threads in the Mormon tapestry” (the symposium’s theme this year). Lindsay and Stephen offer 10,000-foot views of Mormon discussions taking place “at the margins,” as well as share very personally about their attempts to find and be themselves in today’s wider Restoration world. And, yes, you’ll also hear specifics about what is coming soon to the Sunstone symposium and that will be available for you to read or listen to shortly after the event ends. If you are overwhelmed by all that is going on within the uncorrelated Mormon spaces you engage with, let Sunstone be an oasis for you—a place to stop, rest, and sample in slower, more personal ways, the ideas and writings of many who are wrestling, just like you, with “What do I do with” all this information?

    494: “What Do We Do with All This?”: Sunstone and Today’s Uncorrelated Mormon Discussions, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2018 64:19

    Most Mormon Matters listeners are, as consumers of LDS-related websites, blogs, podcasts, Reddits, Facebook groups, and other social media platforms, enmeshed in the world of “uncorrelated Mormonism.” Whatever is happening in any part of the Mormon world, most of us have ready access, not only to the news but also a great number of comments—many of them hastily made and most without attempts to present a balanced viewpoint. On any given day, we have at our disposal in these uncorrelated spaces (as well as in official church platforms) more information and opinions than anyone might possibly consume with any chance at enjoying the richness of the various items in the feast, which leaves us with the exasperated question, voiced by Stephen Carter in this podcast, “What do we do with all this?” This episode centers on one of Mormonism’s most important clearinghouses for highlighting, amplifying, and steering us to good discussions of things related to the Restoration that began with Joseph Smith: Sunstone. In its magazine and symposiums, Sunstone brings together the voices of people from all over the Mormon spectrum to share “their” story, to offer chances for all of us to truly “meet” each other and to digest more slowly and with a much better signal-to-noise ratio things happening within wider Mormonism. There is certainly much content about the organization and its upcoming Salt Lake Sunstone symposium (July 25-28) in this discussion with Sunstone’s executive director Lindsay Hansen Park and publications director Stephen Carter, but it also features much broader reflections on the story and changes in emphases of Mormonism’s nearly 200-year history of discussions, especially in its uncorrelated sector. How have the questions changed through the years? What tasks were more important during other periods of Mormon history than what seems to be needed now? Through listening to these thoughtful, articulate leaders in Mormon discussions, we are given explicit permission to locate ourselves “as ourselves,” as our own “threads in the Mormon tapestry” (the symposium’s theme this year). Lindsay and Stephen offer 10,000-foot views of Mormon discussions taking place “at the margins,” as well as share very personally about their attempts to find and be themselves in today’s wider Restoration world. And, yes, you’ll also hear specifics about what is coming soon to the Sunstone symposium and that will be available for you to read or listen to shortly after the event ends. If you are overwhelmed by all that is going on within the uncorrelated Mormon spaces you engage with, let Sunstone be an oasis for you—a place to stop, rest, and sample in slower, more personal ways, the ideas and writings of many who are wrestling, just like you, with “What do I do with” all this information?

    493: Women's Ordination and Congregational Leadership: Exploring New Research, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2018 49:13

    On July 2nd, a terrific new book was released by Oxford University Press: She Preached the Word: Women's Ordination in Modern America. Co-authored by Benjamin R. Knoll and Cammie Jo Bolin, it shares and analyzes the findings from new surveys, along with qualitative interviews, about how people in the U.S. and within specific congregations and traditions view women's ordination, and especially about women being the primary leader (pastor, rabbi, priest, etc.) within a congregation. The results are interesting, and in some cases very surprising. And though the book reports on social science studies and can't admonish, advise, or cheerlead for any particular stance or leadership structure, most Mormon Matters listeners, we believe, will be quite encouraged by the results. This episode features the book's authors, Ben and Cammie Jo, in conversation with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, in a far-ranging discussion of the book, its origins, findings, and analyses. It speaks of many, many factors that influenced the data, ranging from views of scripture, political leanings, economic status, race, gender, education, and much more. One factor ends up standing above all others in influencing views. Please listen and find out what it is! And even though Mormonism is only mentioned a few times within the pages of the book, and only a small number of Latter-day Saints were interviewed, with each finding shared herein, Mormon listeners should be able to draw parallels and divergences with what is discussed, with either outcome becoming an impetus for more thinking and imagining. Part 2 of the discussion (Episode 493), focuses primarily on Mormonism and various aspects of its views of priesthood and leadership, along with its culture that is both conservative but also able to pivot and move quite effectively whenever a new direction is decided upon. These in dialogue with certain findings and social scientific theories yield rich veins for continued discussion.

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