Blog Archives

281: LDS Film: Present, Future, Roles, Tensions

May 26, 2015
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281: LDS Film: Present, Future, Roles, Tensions

This episode features a fantastic conversation on film and the many roles it plays in human lives and communities, especially religious ones. Along the way it wrestles with the tensions that are always present in films for niche audiences, especially when filmmakers try to tell compelling stories while at the same time hoping to make money, which often means making many decisions based upon their sense of what their target audience expects (and, in so doing, sometimes lessening a story’s potential impact). How does this environment of tension between art and commerce hinder (or help) foster great storytelling and a…

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279–280: Mutual Respect: Creating Healthy Relationships When Loved Ones Choose a Different Faith Path

May 12, 2015
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279–280: Mutual Respect: Creating Healthy Relationships When Loved Ones Choose a Different Faith Path

For more than a decade, Chelsea Shields Strayer and her parents, Eric and Heidi Shields, have held very difficult but ultimately fruitful conversations regarding her struggles within Mormonism, which eventually led her to no longer believe its teachings or choose to continue to engage as an active member. Their journey together during this time has been painful, but their relationship has ultimately grown stronger and continues to unfold in rich ways. How have they managed this feat? What has this journey felt like to each of them? What mistakes have they have made along the way? What are the key…

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278: Encountering Other Traditions, Part 2: Roman Catholicism

April 29, 2015
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278: Encountering Other Traditions, Part 2: Roman Catholicism

This episode is the second installment in the Mormon Matters “Encountering Other Traditions” series that explores the fruits that come from bringing Mormonism into dialogue with other faiths. The focus of this conversation is an exploration of Mormon and Catholic connections as well as differences, and the ways that intimacy with the other tradition can enhance one’s own understanding and spiritual life. Panelists Fiona Givens and Mark de St. Aubin, two cradle Catholics who converted to Mormonism while they were young adults, along with Mathew Schmalz, a Catholic scholar of religions with a strong interest in Mormonism, are wonderful guides.…

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277: Does Powerful Faith Require Scriptural Literalism?

April 22, 2015
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277: Does Powerful Faith Require Scriptural Literalism?

In speaking at the April 2015 General Conference about the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland boldly stated that “the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death–in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter–without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it” (“Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet”; lds.org; italics in original). In…

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276: Being Heard in Today’s Church

April 8, 2015
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276: Being Heard in Today’s Church

At the April 2015 General Conference, several church members took the unusual step of voicing opposition during the sustaining of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Frustrated with the lack of dialogue between the church’s top leaders and those with questions about church doctrines, or who hope to help leaders see the negative effects of certain teachings, practices, or types of rhetoric, members of “Any Opposed” felt that being vocal about their dissatisfaction–even at the risk of disruption of a well-known and sacred ritual–was worth the negative pushback they would receive. Surely much went on within the hearts…

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274–275: Beyond Belief and Unbelief

March 31, 2015
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274–275: Beyond Belief and Unbelief

We bring our faith crises to word most often through expressions about our no longer “believing” this or that teaching. We’ve been confronted with evidence that challenges a truth claim or leads us to no longer unquestionably follow leaders or our current life scripts, and we naturally concentrate our attention on those claims that are now called into question. For complex reasons, some of us seem to have higher tolerances for uncertainty than others, while for others of us this questioning of previously held notions quickly turns to active “disbelief” and even outright rejection of our faith tradition: “If it’s…

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273: The Passion (Final Week of Jesus’s Life)

March 25, 2015
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273: The Passion (Final Week of Jesus’s Life)

On 29 March 2015, the Christian world will celebrate Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem for what turned out to be the final few days of his life. This final week, especially his suffering in Gethsemane, betrayal, and crucifixion, are also widely known as “The Passion,” and commemorations of these and other events of this seven-day period (ending with his resurrection on Easter Sunday) take place during Holy Week. The things that occurred during this final week have special significance for Christians, and they are among the few events in Jesus’s life that are mentioned in each of the…

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272: Paul’s Theology of Grace

March 16, 2015
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272: Paul’s Theology of Grace

The Apostle Paul’s theology can be difficult to grasp–and, in a few ways, especially so for Mormons. Some challenges arise from Latter-day Saints’ primary use of the King James Translation of the Bible, which has often very beautiful language but also contains archaic expressions that sometimes confuse English readers and obscure key connections between ideas. Another factor has been Mormonism’s attempts to differentiate itself from mainline and evangelical Christianity, which has caused it to de-emphasize Paul’s writings since they are so pivotal in shaping the understandings in these other traditions. One huge cost of this shying away from things that…

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271: Speaking with Loved Ones about Faith Differences

March 10, 2015
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271: Speaking with Loved Ones about Faith Differences

In this episode, co-released with Mormon Stories, Wendy Williams Montgomery, John Dehlin, and Dan Wotherspoon speak about the difficult dynamics at play in discussing with loved ones, whether family, friends, or ward members, about differences in faith positions after one party or another has shifted. In contrast with the types of challenges presented to people by “outsiders” to their faith, a change in stance and the new worldview presented by those who were once in sync with you (or at least perceived to be in sync) can be far more devastating. Their shifts often feel very personal, a rejection of…

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270: “Yes, and . . .”: Activism and Renewal in a Tragic World

February 26, 2015
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270: “Yes, and . . .”: Activism and Renewal in a Tragic World

We all recognize that there is a significant distance between the “real” world we live in and the “ideal” one we’d love to see instantiated. Parker Palmer calls this space between real and ideal the “tragic gap.” He uses “tragic” to denote the inevitability of this distance and to acknowledge that even the greatest person living the best kind of life will never live to see her or his ideals fully realized. “Tragic” implies those things that are inescapable conditions of life. In Mormon theology, even God lives in the tragic gap. God can call and urge and try to…

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269: The Effects of Excommunication on All of Us: Healing Perspectives

February 11, 2015
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269: The Effects of Excommunication on All of Us: Healing Perspectives

This week’s excommunication from the LDS Church of John Dehlin, and its making fresher the memory of Kate Kelly’s excommunication last summer as well as other actions taken against persons of conscience who have found themselves in tension with the church, is taking a great emotional and spiritual toll on many of us. We are sad, angry, disappointed, frightened, thrown into turmoil with family members and friends who react differently than we do, and we can’t help but wonder if we have the fortitude to keep fighting on, to keep witnessing for truths we’ve come to feel deeply. Many may…

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267–268: The Gospels

February 10, 2015
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267–268: The Gospels

In this two-part Mormon Matters episode, Taylor Petrey and Eric Huntsman join host Dan Wotherspoon to help ground the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the political, geographic, linguistic, and religious contexts of their times. What do we know (and not know!) about the authors of these texts, when they wrote, and their intended audiences? How are their gospels organized? Which covers which parts of the story? How are they similar and dissimilar in their portrayals of the texts’ central character, Jesus, known most often now by the term Christ (messiah), as well as regarding various other story…

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265–266: Mormonism as a “Religion”

February 3, 2015
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265–266: Mormonism as a “Religion”

Of course 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 its “truth claims” as well as the pathway it lays out for “salvation—” And for them Mormonism and the LDS Church are mostly defined in terms of their community and the institution that sets forth its beliefs and practices, including administering its sacred ordinances. But like every other religion, Mormonism is more…

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263–264: Ordinances

January 29, 2015
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263–264: Ordinances

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read that it is through ordinances that “the power of godliness is manifest” (D&C 84:20). There are many ways to read this scripture, various angles to take, and all of them are fruitful. In this two-part episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Samuel Brown and Brad Kramer first look at the “ritual” aspects of ordinances, the origins of and way that actions designed to take us out of the normal flow of life’s activities and consciousness and into something more purposeful and symbol-drenched can affect our ability to experience things in ways…

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262: Gospel Burn-Out

December 17, 2014
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262: Gospel Burn-Out

Ever feel worn down, your spiritual life lagging, feeling like all you are doing is going through the motions, and church engagement is feeling more like “gospel grind” than blessing? When we find ourselves in one of these moments–perhaps days, months, years!–what might we do to recover a little of that energy and sense of joy we remember? In this episode, Jana Riess and Mark De St. Aubin join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of insights into the phenomenon of “gospel burn-out,” various framings for acknowledging it and making our way through the doldrums and into deeper…

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261: Faith and Repentance

December 8, 2014
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261: Faith and Repentance

Because they come up so often in gospel lessons and are indeed the “first principles” of the gospel (Article of Faith 4), we might think that a 90-minute podcast on faith and repentance would be redundant and boring. Not so when talked about by Sam Brown and Adam Miller! Mixing personal stories with scripture and wonderful insights from their study and writing, Brown and Miller challenge the over-emphasis on faith as belief and repentance as being primarily about seeking forgiveness that we often encounter in Sunday discourse, and open these principles to fresh angles, examining them especially in light of…

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260: Introversion and the Mormon Experience

December 3, 2014
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No two individuals are exactly alike, and no schema can fully capture our particular essence or personality. Yet it is sometimes helpful to speak about different temperaments or “personality types.” One of the largest personality type groupings distinguishes between “extroverts” and “introverts,” with certain studies recognizing between 30 and 50 percent of people as introverts. Society at large, and Mormonism in particular, seems to have a bias toward extroversion–fitting more easily those persons with larger, perhaps more recognizably adventurous personalities, often seeming more at home in large group social situations. For this reason, we often find more extroverts than introverts…

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259: A Reason for the Hope That Is In Me

November 19, 2014
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259: A Reason for the Hope That Is In Me

In 1 Peter, we are encouraged as Christians to always be ready to give voice to “a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). This past weekend, I was given an opportunity to do just that when I shared reflections from my spiritual journey as part of the Sunstone Northwest Symposium. I feel strange releasing a Mormon Matters episode that isn’t a panel discussion (so please forgive me and know that we’ll be back to our regular type of programming again next week!), but I have chosen to do it because in…

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258: Question 7

November 12, 2014
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258: Question 7

In the LDS temple recommend interview, Question 7 reads: “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” This question came into public consciousness this past week when, in the wake of the midterm elections, an LDS bishop from southern California celebrated on his blog the rise of a new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, which also meant the demotion of LDS senator Harry Reid from his position as majority leader. In his exultation, this bishop…

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257: Negotiating Adult Faith within a Developing Institution

November 3, 2014
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257: Negotiating Adult Faith within a Developing Institution

Just as many theorists understand individual human maturation through developmental stages, a great deal of literature suggests that institutions (churches, corporations, governments) as well as other all other groups, cultures, and societies, also undergo similar processes. In this episode, guest host Katie Langston and panelists Dan Wotherspoon, Marybeth Raynes, and Brad Kramer discuss ideas about socio-cultural evolution at large, but ground it always in lived Mormon experience. As Mormonism has developed so have expectations for church members, but there is always a “lag” of sorts between the changes individuals are called by societal and cultural forces to make and the pace of change an institution is…

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