91: Cleanflix and What Its Story Reveals about Mormon Culture

April 17, 2012
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91: Cleanflix and What Its Story Reveals about Mormon Culture

The documentary film Cleanflix tells the story of the dramatic rise and fall of businesses (based primarily in Utah) that rented and sold versions of Hollywood movies in which they had edited out bad language, nudity, sex scenes, gore, graphic violence, and anything else that they considered not a match for community standards. In telling the story from its origins to the court case that declared the practices as in violation of copyright agreements to the continuing saga of stores that refused to shut down even after the businesses were declared illegal, the film highlights deeply embedded attitudes in Mormon…

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89–90: Latter-day Saint “Mid-Singles” Experience

April 10, 2012
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89–90: Latter-day Saint “Mid-Singles” Experience

The LDS Church recently restructured its “singles” wards, effectively shutting them off to unmarried people who are 31 years old or above. In many ways, this move formalized even more than previously the “limbo” of sorts that unmarried but still quite young Mormons find themselves in with relation to their church. Do they best fit or will they be most edified in “family” wards or huge “mid-singles” wards that weekly draw as large a crowd as a typical stake conference? Are they to be seen and celebrated as the highly accomplished, dynamic, active creators of meaningful lives that most of…

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87–88: Pacific Island Mormon Identities

April 5, 2012
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87–88: Pacific Island Mormon Identities

This two-part episode features a fascinating, dynamic, and soaring discussion that takes us into the experiences, cultures, and elements of the worldviews of Latter-day Saints from Pacific Island nations. We learn pieces of the history of two of these nations as it relates to the LDS Church taking hold there, what elements resonate with those who are from the “islands of the sea” (D&C 1:1; 2 Nephi 29:11), and the ways that Mormonism integrates into the daily lives of, especially, Maori and Tongan Saints–including places where Polynesian culture does not allow white Mormon practices and ways of seeing to penetrate,…

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85–86: “Middle Way” Mormonism

April 1, 2012
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85–86: “Middle Way” Mormonism

For many Mormons, their faith and relationship to the LDS Church has forever changed from what they were growing up. And this is how it should be. We’re all called to growth and to assuming responsibility for our own life choices, including the most compelling vision of what existence is all about, how we want to live, with whom do we want to associate, what it is that brings us (or promises us, we sense if we keep going) the greatest joy. In the faith and spirituality arena, religions all contain visions of what it means to be a fully…

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Matters of the Heart 2: On “Masturbatory Rage”: A Theatrical Call to Repentance

March 23, 2012
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Matters of the Heart 2: On “Masturbatory Rage”: A Theatrical Call to Repentance

ON “MASTURBATORY RAGE”: A THEATRICAL CALL TO REPENTANCE  By Allan Davis In this episode of Matters of the Heart, Allan Davis shares a short meditation about a call to repentance related to his transitioning relationship to Mormonism that he received last fall while attending the theatrical performance of a play called Church. A great listen for all who are undergoing the process of re-evaluating their own religious identity and stance related to their childhood faith and religious community. And everyone must, of course, listen to find out what the author means by “masturbatory rage”!

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83-84: Creating Spaces for Non-Traditional Latter-day Saints

March 20, 2012
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83-84: Creating Spaces for Non-Traditional Latter-day Saints

This episode explores both the difficulties of creating more comfortable spaces for unorthodox Mormons in wards, stakes, and families, as well as the benefits. What are some of the tensions that arise in LDS communities when engaging those who hold less-literal beliefs or embody idiosyncratic approaches to spirituality, religion, and community norms? What are some positive ways the community or family can welcome and honor those persons? How might these Latter-day Saints assist in their own positive and joyful integration? What are the benefits of having persons from many points on the spectrum be fully integrated in a community? In…

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81-82: Mormonism and Transhumanism

March 13, 2012
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81-82: Mormonism and Transhumanism

Technological advancements in recent decades have drastically altered human experience, with computing power and many other technologies growing at exponential rates. Our lives will continue to change, and most likely in ways that are presently incomprehensible. “Transhumanism” is a relatively new movement that is carefully considering this immanent future, paying particular concern to how humanity will be changed—for already, and certainly in a more thoroughgoing way than ever before, it is poised to be a primary actor in its own evolution. How can we increase the likelihood that this future will better than the present, that we as transforming, evolving…

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79-80: How Can We Truly Confront Racism within Mormon Thought and Culture?

March 9, 2012
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79-80: How Can We Truly Confront Racism within Mormon Thought and Culture?

A recent Washington Post article that discussed the origins and history of Mormonism’s racialized teachings and policies has caused quite a stir, launching important conversations. The article’s most controversial element was the inclusion of comments from BYU religion professor Randy Bott in which he denied that the former LDS ban on black persons holding the priesthood or participating in temple ordinances was racist, as God’s actions were for their benefit. They weren’t ready. Through these restrictions, God was acting as a loving parent, keeping them from having to live at a higher level than they were capable of doing. Church…

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77-78: Recognizing “the Spirit”

March 7, 2012
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77-78: Recognizing “the Spirit”

Most of us were raised with the idea that even amidst all of life’s confusion, if we live in a certain way and follow clear steps to put ourselves in the right frame of mind and heart, we have the right and ability to know for certain God’s will and wisdom for us through communication via the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit. For many of us, however, as we grow older and encounter various findings in science and psychology about biological and sociological biases, or as we experience disappointments and other types of complexities, our confidence in this simple formula for recognizing…

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Matters of Perspective 1: “Godwrestling–Physicality, Conflict, and Redemption in Mormon Doctrine”

March 2, 2012
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Matters of Perspective 1: “Godwrestling–Physicality, Conflict, and Redemption in Mormon Doctrine”

“GODWRESTLING–PHYSICALITY, CONFLICT, AND REDEMPTION IN MORMON DOCTRINE” By Rick Jepson In this inaugural episode of “Matters of Perspective,” Rick Jepson reads his November 2005 Sunstone article, “Godwrestling: Physicality, Conflict, and Redemption in Mormon Doctrine,” which explores through many different angles the transformative power of struggle, both physical and spiritual. It contains one of the most complete discussions in all of Mormon writing of the Genesis story of Jacob’s wrestle with the angel, and links Jacob’s transformation from this intense battle with physical ordeals in the lives of other prophets, especially Joseph Smith, as well as Jesus’s struggle to complete the…

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Matters of the Heart 1: The Elder Daughter

March 1, 2012
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Matters of the Heart 1: The Elder Daughter

THE ELDER DAUGHTER by Kelly Quinn In this inaugural episode of Matters of the Heart, Kelly Quinn shares her essay, “The Elder Daughter,” which she wrote after listening to Mormon Matters Episode 51 (“The Dynamics of Guilt and Shame”) that contained a different angle on the Parable of the Prodigal Son than is typically given voice to in LDS discourse. As many biblical scholars suggest, this parable might better be referred to as the Parable of the Two Lost Sons. In this essay, Quinn discusses her own embodiment of many of the same qualities of that parable’s elder brother and…

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75–76: Communicating About the Temple

February 22, 2012
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75–76: Communicating About the Temple

Mormon temple practices have come under renewed scrutiny recently as it has come to public attention that Mitt Romney’s father-in-law, a known non-religious person, had recently had temple ordinances performed on his behalf, and, in an even more emotionally charged case, that the names of the parents of well-known concentration camp survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal had been submitted for having baptism and other temple ordinances performed for them vicariously. (After recording this episode, we have learned that famous concentration camp victim, Anne Frank, has also just had temple work performed on her behalf in the LDS temple in…

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74: Writing Mormon Lives

February 14, 2012
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74: Writing Mormon Lives

Phyllis Barber and Joanna Brooks are two of Mormonism’s bravest voices, writers of memoirs in which they offer us privileged glimpses of their inner lives, their comings of age in all the kinds of awkwardness that entails, including learning how to inhabit their bodies and sexuality in healthy ways, tensions between the path indicated by LDS narratives and the various other possibilities suggested by other stories that surround them, struggles with theological ideas and legacies that are especially difficult for women, their searches for place in and peace with the tradition and people into which they were born and “cultured.”…

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73: “And the Survey Says…!”: Reflections on Mormon Disaffection, Marlin Jensen’s Remarks, Recent Articles on Mormonism’s Challenge in Better Facing Its History

February 8, 2012
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73: “And the Survey Says…!”: Reflections on Mormon Disaffection, Marlin Jensen’s Remarks, Recent Articles on Mormonism’s Challenge in Better Facing Its History

This episode is an attempt to aid in processing the current moment in which various Mormon-watching communities are beginning to digest the preliminary results that have recently been released from the Open Stories Foundation survey about why Mormons leave the church, which comes on the heels of remarks made in December at Utah State University by LDS Church Historian Elder Marlin Jensen and reported on in numerous recent news stories in which he reflects on the current disaffection crisis and the Church’s plans to help address it. What does the survey suggest? How might the LDS Church move ahead more…

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72: Effecting Change in the Church

January 31, 2012
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72: Effecting Change in the Church

This episode features panelists who all are deeply involved with theLDSChurch, yet from their position of involvement in, and love and affection for, the church and those they worship and serve with, each of them acts as an agent for change. As one of the panelists, Carol Lynn Pearson, suggests in the podcast, don’t we all want to be a blessing to those we love? But while the idea of bringing about “change” being a way of “blessing” others flows easily from Carol Lynn and the other panelists, these two don’t equate this way for many Latter-day Saints who, like…

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71: Make Love AND War!: Maintaining Positive Relationships During Faith Transitions—A Spiritual Framing

January 26, 2012
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71: Make Love AND War!: Maintaining Positive Relationships During Faith Transitions—A Spiritual Framing

This is an expanded version of the talk Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon gave at the Houston Region Mormon Stories Support Community conference held 20-21 January 2012. Using the biblical accounts of Jacob and the angel, and Jacob and Esau, as key texts, and organized around the central image of a “wrestling match” being simultaneously a fight but also an embrace, along with the idea of the close ties between making love and making war, the talk is geared toward providing ways of thinking about faith crises in positive ways–as integral parts of the larger human developmental journey–and then allowing…

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70: Is the World Getting Worse?

January 17, 2012
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70: Is the World Getting Worse?

We hear them all the time, statements about the world “going to hell in a hand basket,” sighs and longings for “the good old days,” warnings of rampant moral decay and declarations to all who want to follow God that they are living in “enemy territory.” For those prone to depression and anxiety, such framings of the world and today’s moral and spiritual state exacerbate their struggles. For children, these notions feed fears and cause some to wonder if this world is really worth engaging. There are also dozens of other subtle ways that these kinds of assessments can act…

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69: Patriarchal Blessings

January 10, 2012
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69: Patriarchal Blessings

One of Mormonism’s unique features is the patriarchal blessing in which LDS church members–generally mid-teens or older, though there is no official age limit–are given the chance to have hands laid upon their heads by an experienced and humble priesthood leader who has been set apart as a “patriarch” and to receive from him words of wisdom, inspiration, encouragement, guidance, and in many cases, prophetic-type pronouncements about possibilities for their lives, with some of these statements quite specific or unique. Most Latter-day Saints consider their patriarchal blessings wonderful treasures in their lives, and as containing words (as panelist Richard Bushman…

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67–68: The Happiness Puzzle

January 3, 2012
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67–68: The Happiness Puzzle

What seems like something very simple to answer–”What is happiness?” or even, “What makes me happy?”–turns out to be anything but easy. How much do our expectations or pre-conceived ideas about what will make us happy come into play? How does the number of choices we have affect satisfaction with our lives? How much of our happiness level reflects what we experience in the moments of our lives versus how we reflect upon our experiences–the stories we tell about them? How much do our relationships with family, loved ones, and people we enjoy being around contribute to our feelings of…

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66: Spiritual Secrets of Addiction Recovery

December 28, 2011
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66: Spiritual Secrets of Addiction Recovery

As the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous discovered, something profound can happen when addicts invite God or a power higher than themselves into their lives and efforts at recovery. Through understanding addiction as a symptom of spiritual “dis-ease” and addressing recovery as an attempt to restore a healthy balance between one’s own ego and desires to run things versus the will and wisdom of God or the universe, AA and its Big Book and Twelve-Step offspring programs have saved countless lives. What are the spiritual principles at work in addiction recovery? Do addicts at their wits’ and wills’ ends discover secrets…

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65: LDS Views on Christ’s Second Coming and the End Times

December 20, 2011
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65: LDS Views on Christ’s Second Coming and the End Times

Elder Boyd K. Packer’s October 2011 General Conference encouragement to youth to not fear that because of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ they will not have a chance to have a full life, including having children and grandchildren, is the latest in what seems to be a trend among LDS leaders to de-emphasize the kind of apocalyptic thinking that was prevalent among Mormons even just a few decades ago. Yet class discussions during recent lessons in the priesthood and Relief Society manuals on the signs of the Second Coming, what will happen upon Christ’s return, the Millennium, and the…

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64: Mormons and Prayer

December 13, 2011
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64: Mormons and Prayer

Mormons pray . . . a lot!  Latter-day Saints are encouraged to have daily (twice or more) personal prayer, family prayer including children (in addition to parents praying together), prayers before meals, prayers for safety, and even other injunctions to “pray without ceasing.” Mormon meetings and classes all open and close with prayer, and Mormons offer scripted prayers when blessing the emblems of the sacrament, when baptizing, and performing certain temple ordinances, and they offer blessings and other types of prayers in language that isn’t scripted but that must include certain elements. LDS rhetoric also often prescribes certain language forms…

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63: Oh Say, What Is Truth?

December 7, 2011
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63: Oh Say, What Is Truth?

We Mormons have heard it countless times: “I know the Church is true?” But what does  this mean? Heck, even more basic, what does “true” mean? In this podcast, host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Joanna Brooks, Dennis Potter, and Rhett Tenney take a deep dive into these questions. Explorations include overviews of major philosophical approaches, especially those most relevant to thinking about religious beliefs and practices, the shifts in thinking that in the past century have revolutionized thought about the nature of truth, including strong recognition of the way we all inhabit discourses that shape our views of truth and…

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62: A Christmas Primer: Exploring the Nativity in Scripture, Legend, History, and Hearts

November 29, 2011
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62: A Christmas Primer: Exploring the Nativity in Scripture, Legend, History, and Hearts

This podcast episode examines the Christmas story as it traditionally gets told—but what do the scriptures actually say and not say about the birth of Christ and all the pieces of this familiar story? How do the Matthew and Luke accounts differ—even irreconcilably? What motives are behind the Gospel writers’ decisions to shape the stories the way they do? What about the 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…

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61: Mormon Views on Satan and the Origins of Evil

November 22, 2011
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61: Mormon Views on Satan and the Origins of Evil

Most religions, cultures, and philosophies contain stories or theories about human evil and its origins. Some, including Mormonism, place a major portion of the blame for moral evil on a fallen angel, Lucifer, and his followers, who after being ousted from heaven become devils whose only desire is to thwart God’s plans and make loathsome humans as miserable as possible. What many Latter-day Saints don’t realize is how much their version of the war in heaven and the role of Lucifer, who becomes known as Satan, differs from that of wider Christianity, Islam, and the hints of the story found…

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60: Matters of Integrity

November 15, 2011
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60: Matters of Integrity

Latter-day Saints who experience a faith crisis are thrust into unfamiliar and difficult territory, where they are forced to face many issues, including the decision to remain actively engaged with Mormonism, to step away for a while in an effort to regain their bearings and perhaps live into new perspectives or find fresh ways to engage the church, or to sever ties altogether. At the heart of many of these difficult decisions is a strong desire on the part of the person in crisis to live a life of integrity, to act in harmony with their ideals, highest values, and…

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59: Mormon Messages about Priesthood, Fatherhood, Patriarchy, and More

November 8, 2011
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59: Mormon Messages about Priesthood, Fatherhood, Patriarchy, and More

In August, Mormon Matters hosted an important and fascinating discussion about messages Mormon women hear about their divine roles as mothers. What messages do Mormon men hear? Are they equally challenged to consider fatherhood their most important role, or do priesthood duties and responsibilities take first priority? Have messages about men’s roles evolved over the past several decades? In what ways does Mormonism support the institutions of power and attitudes about gender difference and roles of patriarchal societies? Why isn’t there as robust a discussion within Mormonism geared toward teasing apart cultural constructs from gospel truths as we see in…

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58: Obedience and Agency

November 1, 2011
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58: Obedience and Agency

Mormonism teaches the importance of being obedient to God and God’s will while at the same time emphasizing the bedrock fact of our individual agency. The gospel ideal is that we fully and knowingly submit our will to that of God, and in this way be obedient while still acting entirely out of our own agency. Of course, life is much messier than this, and the ideal hides from us a bit. How can we truly know God’s will and when we’re hearing God’s voice and not our own? Because of difficulties like this, one of the most common ways…

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57: LDS Young Single Adult Experiences Revisited

October 25, 2011
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57: LDS Young Single Adult Experiences Revisited

Mormon Matters episode 31 featured a panel discussion about the LDS Church’s struggle to meet the needs of many of its young single adults and some of the possible reasons why. Episode 33 then highlighted in a more personal way through first-hand accounts from two people in this group some of the tensions they face as singles in Mormon culture as well as in their own spiritual journeys. This episode revisits the LDS young single adult experience with new panelists—Kayela Seegmiller, Derrick Clements, and Megan Sanborn Jones—who each experience the gospel and both the blessings and the tensions of being…

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56: Mormonism and Wealth

October 18, 2011
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56: Mormonism and Wealth

The recent Occupy Wall Street movement and its ongoing spread, along with the cover essay in the October 2011 issue of Harper’s that draws what the author of that piece sees as a direct link between Mormonism’s economic ideals and its rise in influence in society at large, and certain factions of the Republican Party in particular, provide excellent springboards for a great discussion about LDS views about wealth, prosperity, business principles, economic systems, cultural attitudes that sometimes suggest a connection between righteousness and personal prosperity, and much more. And that’s what this podcast episode contains. In dialogue with each…

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55: Cult Claims and the Media

October 11, 2011
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55: Cult Claims and the Media

This week’s Mormon Matters episode discusses two stories from the past week: (1) The dust-up over and media slam-down of remarks made by Texas mega-church pastor and Governor Rick Perry supporter Robert Jeffress that Mormonism is a cult—does this episode represent a real shift in the tenor of the “Mormon Moment”?; and (2) the news that the LDS Church has recently sent out a survey that aims to understand how its members interact with today’s social media and view particular blogs, bloggers, and reporters—including two of this episode’s panel members, Joanna Brooks and McKay Coppins. The episode’s third panelist, Morris…

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