Podcast: Help! Teaching in Gospel Settings with John Hilton III

John HiltonIn this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales visits with John Hilton III about teaching in church settings.

John has spent a good deal of his adult life working in religious education. He began his teaching career in the seminary and institute program and was hired by the BYU Department of Ancient Scripture after earning a PhD in education. He is also a popular speaker and author of several books for youth.

Hilton helped develop a “know, feel, and do” model for effective religious teaching. President Thomas S. Monson said that “the goal of gospel teaching is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of [learners]. … The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, then do something about living gospel principles.” Hilton’s method aims to accomplish these goals.

To have a successful class, whether it is Gospel Doctrine or Come Follow Me or Seminary, students should learn something new, feel something positive, and should be able to apply what they learn in their lives.

As a professional teacher, Hilton shares insights on what inspires and motivates students to learn and to be invested in the learning experience. He also gives practical suggestions on how to prepare lessons that are impactful.

Most gospel teachers do so on a volunteer basis, don’t have any formal training in education, and often struggle just to make it through a lesson while keeping the class’s attention. According to Hilton, creative teaching techniques can lead to a positive experience for both the student and the teacher.

Listen in as we discuss how mnemonic devices, reviews, creative teaching, group activities, personal interaction, and careful preparation can help us all become effective teachers.

A transcript of this podcast can be found at LDS Perspectives.

Podcast: Mormon Stories in Shorts

In December 2013, Scott Hales bought himself an iPad and a digital drawing software program. He was in the final stages of finishing his PhD dissertation and was ready to try his hand at a lighter medium.

Dusting off his dormant art-major-dropout skills, he started drawing comic strips about a self-proclaimed weird Mormon girl. Enid is fifteen and on a journey of self-discovery. She explores the area between doubt and belief while grappling with doctrine and church history she seeks to understand.

Her struggles are compounded by living in a non-traditional family. She finds herself in a parenting role during her teenage years when she most needs a nurturing support system. Her home life is anything but the ideal she hears about at church.

The comic started out as an experiment, but Scott soon realized he had discovered an effective tool for examining more closely the potholes in the road. It is Enid’s quirkiness that creates a safe space for readers. If Enid’s thoughts uncomfortably mirror the readers’ at times, the laughter can easily be attributed to her oddness. And so Hales deftly leads an expedition through the idiosyncrasies and the beauties of Mormon culture.

It’s tempting to label Hales’s work as satire, but the potential sting of his message is short-lived and meant to work as an antiseptic. By encouraging readers to laugh at Mormon peculiarities, Hales hopes to create an environment where thorny topics can be talked about in an open, honest, and faithful manner.

Particularly helpful is the launch pad he constructs for discussion of painful issues. He embraces faith crises, uncomfortable history, Mormon social mores, the nature of faith, as well as what he has called “disputed space.” Sharing these vignettes with family and friends may invite discussions that otherwise could go unexplored, unexamined, and unresolved.

The Garden of Enid shows Hales’s bravery to own the good, the bad, and the sublime in the Mormon story. Its success will hopefully encourage others to similarly create works that constructively help Mormons balance their relationship between God, community, and church.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast as she interviews Enid creator Scott Hales.

Podcast: Tough Questions about Mormon Polygamy with Brian and Laura Hales

Few aspects of Joseph Smith’s life have been scrutinized more in recent years than his personal practice of polygamy.

Some readers’ first exposure to Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy comes from reading sensational headlines. Exaggerations and assumptions fill internet discussions, podcasts, and newspaper articles, so it is hard to know where to go for accurate information.

The temptation by some authors to fill in historical gaps often results in distortions that stir up emotions and create tantalizing soundbites that, even if largely fictional, may generate unnecessary fear and confusion.

Polygamy is part of the collective Mormon past that many struggle to understand. Current members have no cultural or religious basis to situate plural marriage. Members in pioneer Nauvoo shared that same struggle. When Benjamin Johnson first heard of it, he recalled: “If a thunderbolt had fallen at my feet I could hardly have been more shocked or amazed.”

Early Mormon polygamy is a historical puzzle that can at best be awkwardly reconstructed from fragmentary recollections. But it is apparent from reminiscences that those who practiced it were convinced it represented a religious practice instituted by God.

Church Historian Matt Grow noted that the more complicated the history, the more nuanced conclusions should be. Mormon polygamy was undoubtedly complicated, warranting provisional conclusions.

In this interview, Daniel C. Peterson of the Interpreter Foundation interviews Brian and Laura Hales about the most common questions asked about Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.

Join us for this candid discussion about what can and cannot be known about Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.

This episode is a joint production of LDS Perspectives and the Interpreter Foundation.

Access a transcript of “Tough Questions about Polygamy” at the LDS Perspectives website.

Podcast: Susa Young Gates and the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

Lisa Olsen Tait claims that Susa Young Gates is the most important Mormon woman that most have never heard of.

Susa grew up in a time when cultural gender roles were changing and women’s opportunities were expanding in exponential ways. Susa took advantage of these opportunities and was active in civic and religious spheres as a writer, editor, educator, and LDS Church leader.  She also started both the Relief Society and Young Women’s magazines.

In the 1880s, she accompanied her husband Jacob on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. There she developed a deep and enduring friendship with Elder Joseph F. Smith.

It is perhaps because of her passion for genealogy work that the Prophet Joseph F. Smith shared with her a vision he had concerning the redemption of the dead. The doctrine was not new, but it was comforting to have it articulated in one place. Susa recorded the prophet’s dictation and the vision was first distributed in Church magazines.

Join Nick Galieti of LDS Perspectives Podcast as he discusses with women’s historian Lisa Olsen Tait the reception history of Doctrine and Covenants 138.

Glimpses into the Past: The Joseph Smith Papers’ Latest Offering

The Joseph Smith Paper’s publishes tomes that remind me of the volumes in the dog-eared Encyclopedia Britannica that held a special place of honor on my mother’s bookshelf.

Growing up I would occasionally pick out a volume on a rainy day and leaf through the pages to escape to an adventure in the jungle, marvel at the pyramids, or travel back in time to the Middle Ages.

I never read a volume front to back but would thumb through looking for something that caught my interest and imagination.

The Joseph Smith Papers volumes allow the reader to imagine themselves in the nineteenth century and a life familiar yet foreign.

Within its 694 pages, readers will get a closer look at a forgotten Kirtland. It is a time filled not only with joy, peace, revelation but also betrayal, panic, and loss.

The editors bemoan a scarcity of sources for the period between late 1837 and Joseph Smith’s emigration, but that only feeds one’s curiosity. What was happening in Kirtland? Why was it so quiet?

Something for the History Dabbler Continue reading