LDS Perspectives #49: Mormon Education with Casey Paul Griffiths


Schooling and Being Schooled in Religious Education with Casey Paul Griffeths, interviewed by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen

Casey Paul Griffiths is an expert on LDS Church education and its globalization efforts.

The formal foundation of education in the Mormon Church began in 1888 when the church board of education was established. Around this time, the United States initiated a free schools program. Wilford Woodruff, president of the church at that time, became very concerned that the federal education system was exclusively secular. Starting in the 1890s, he instructed every stake to launch their own academy. In the early 1900s the academy system was discarded for the more affordable seminary model. But this led to a whole new problem — training religious instructors in a lay church. By the 1930s the the existence of professional theological scholars created tensions the church is still grappling with.

Stephanie Dibb Sorensen (in her inaugural LDS Perspectives interview) talks with Griffiths about what this first generation of scholars faced when they came back to Utah to teach after studying in the liberal classrooms of the University of Chicago, as well as how the Church’s Pathways program is continuing this legacy of uniting secular and religious education.

Stephanie Dibb Sorensen is a mother to three and teaches Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She blogs about finding faith in motherhood at her blog, Diapers and Divinity, and is the author of Covenant Motherhood.

LDS Perspectives #48: Ardis Parshall, Dime Novels, Churchill, and LDS Women

The Mormon Image in Literature with Ardeth Parshall

Ardis Parshall is one of the most prolific LDS historians. Her blog, Keepapitchinin, has been running for over ten years now and includes over 6,000 posts, almost all written by Ardis.

Ardis has teamed with Michael Austin to republish literature related to Mormonism that is rare, fragile, and soon could be lost. Dime Novel Mormons, their current offering, presents four novellas featuring Mormons as villains.

The way Mormons were portrayed in dime novels was remarkably consistent. The authors played on common stereotypes and themes such as Danites, polygamy, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. As we read these novels, we can better understand what was happening in the minds of those meeting Mormon missionaries for the first time, or the fears Mormon families had as they sent loved ones to serve missions in a world filled with such distorted fiction. The outrage associated with one such Anti-Mormon novel was so great that English citizens called for a removal of all Mormon missionaries. This prompted Winston Churchill to look into Mormon activities, luckily only to confirm actual Mormons were good and sweet.

Laura Harris Hales also talks with Ardis about her forthcoming book, She Shall be an Ensign. In this eagerly anticipated work, Ardis provides us the history of the Church through the eyes of the women who participated.

LDS Perspectives #47: Recreating the Book of Mormon World – Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin

Tyler GriffinTaylor Halverson

Episode 47: Recreating the Book of Mormon World – Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin Aug 2, 2017

Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin are co-founders and co-directors of the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group.

This group recently released the Virtual New Testament App and are currently working on a Book of Mormon geography app.

Nick Galieti talks with Tyler Griffin and Taylor Halverson about the usefulness of mapping Book of Mormon geography. Their efforts are aimed at situating the Book of Mormon within the text, rather than within America.  They hope that their app will help readers gain a respect for how geography plays a role in motivating characters in the Book of Mormon to make certain decisions.

LDS Perspectives – Summer Podcasts

If you’re like us, you really enjoyed listening to the LDS Perspectives podcasts Laura Hales was cross posting here at Millennial Star. With summer upon us, Laura’s been focused on other things. And she probably expects most of us will have subscribed directly to LDS Perspectives by now.

In case you hadn’t yet subscribed, here are links to the episodes that have come out since mid-June. The thumbnails here are adapted from the LDS Perspectives summaries.

Episode 41: The Word of Wisdom – Jed Woodworth Jun 21, 2017

Historical context helps to shed light on the extent to which the Temperance Movement may have been an influence on Joseph Smith and the Saints at the time the Word of Wisdom was written. Nick Galieti and Jed Woodworth delve into what is often  referred to as the “Lord’s Law of Health.”

Episode 42: The Divine Council – Stephen Smoot Jun 28, 2017

Join Laura Harris Hales as she and Stephen Smoot discuss the divine council’s role in the religions of the ancient Near East and what references to the divine council in the LDS canon could mean for Latter-day Saint theology.

Episode 43: Discussing the Priesthood Ban with Members of the Genesis Group Jul 5, 2017

The Genesis Group was started in 1971 to address needs of the growing number of Black members at a time when the priesthood was witheld from some. The blessings of the priesthood were made available to all in 1978 under Church President Spencer W. Kimball. Yet the need for a specific ministry assisting Black members has persisted.

Nick Galieti talks with the current Genesis Group presidency and their wives about their lived experience with race and the LDS Church.

Episode 44: Mystery Solved: Who Wrote the Lectures on Faith? – Noel Reynolds Jul 12, 2017

In 1835 the Doctrine and Covenants incorporated seven theological lectures from the Kirtland School. The lectures remained in the Doctrine and Covenants until the 1921 edition.

It was common knowledge in the 19th century that the lectures were written by Sidney Rigdon, but by the mid-twentieth century many came to believe the Prophet Joseph Smith had penned them. Noel Reynold discusses new historical evidence that proves Sidney Rigdon was the author of the Lectures on Faith.

Episode 45: Misunderstanding the Bible – Benjamin Spackman Jul 19, 2017

Historical accuracy is actually a modern concept. Biblical writers often fashioned history to teach a higher purpose. If some of the historical details were fudged, then that was regarded as acceptable if done to make a point.

Laura Harris Hales talks with scholar Ben Spackman about the different genres of literature found in the Bible.

Episode 46: The Delicate Art of Critical Judgment with George Handley Jul 26, 2017

Handley suggests criticism, compassion, and charity must work together to create a quality intellectual and spiritual life.

Critical judgment allows us to analyze a situation deliberately and calmly. But it is compassion and charity for those within the church that helps people who struggle make the decision to stay within the LDS faith.

A Picture of the Sun

This is a guest post by Nick Galieti, a podcaster for LDS Perspectives and Book of Mormon Central. Nick Galieti was recipient of the 2015 John Taylor: Defender of the Faith Award by FairMormon, is author of the books Tree of Sacrament, and The Exaltation Equation, and has directed and produced the documentaries Picturing Joseph, and Murder of the Mormon Prophet.

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Readers, Editors, and Reporters have different expectations of “the news.” Typically, readers claim to want the truth of events; Editors want what sells the news and ensure that what is presented is compelling; and reporters want to influence the world with stories that can impact change. While this characterization may be oversimplified, the various views of the role and function of “news” does depend on the filter by those who consume, promote, or produce it. This can be problematic as the medium that some suppose should be an unbiased or dispassionate reporting of events, is used as leverage to promote narratives, agendas, or simply to sell the news for revenues sake. In this regard, all news is “fake” in that no one can receive absolute objectivity, even if it is presented.

The song, “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” by Chris Cornell played on the radio, and a lyric stood out and gave me pause. The original lyric is “take a picture of the sun and it won’t help you to see the light.” After hearing this lyric my mind connected to a recent news story about a 12-year old Mormon Girl who came out as gay in a Sunday Meeting but was stopped and told to sit down by a local church leader. Much has been written, comments on social media have flared, and every source seems to have the “truth” or is reporting “honestly” or “accurately” while contradicting or giving different information than the next. Continue reading