Learning from Muslims

Several years ago a group of professors at BYU-Idaho designed an interdisciplinary course called “Global Hotspot: Pakistan at the Crossroad of Conflict.”

Students are asked to learn and analyze issues relating to Pakistan’s history, geography, culture, languages, and religions. But the real purpose of this course is to use Pakistan as a giant case study to help students develop skills and abilities that they can use in understanding people and countries that are quite different.

Those skills include–

  • Recognizing and overcoming stereotypes in their own thinking;
  • Understanding how factors such as history, geography, and religion influence countries and individuals;
  • Identifying and appreciating strengths and weaknesses in other cultures and nations, and
  • Understanding how the nations of the world are connected.

Professor Eaton notes that we all sometimes engage in sloppy analytical thinking by casually accepting stereotypes or the assumptions of others, and we should challenge these notions.

He also thinks that respecting others while holding firm to unique beliefs is a somewhat lost art but a necessary balancing act for members of the Church to engage in. We can respect other believers of God without sacrificing our beliefs.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast as she interviews Robert Eaton about understanding Pakistan and our own place in the world.

To access material mentioned in this episode, visit LDS Perspectives Podcast.

An Unexpected Revelation

In episode three of our Revelations in Context Series, host Nick Galieti of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Matthew McBride of the Church History Department about his essay entitled “The Vision.”

In 1832 Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon reported receiving a vision at the John Johnson home. Apparently while working on a revision of the New Testament, Joseph had just completed “translating” John 5:29 when the vision commenced.

The early nineteenth century culture was highly religious and most Christian sects believed that the Bible was all sufficient. For Joseph Smith to revise what was already considered to be complete was radical. What he and Sidney saw in vision was even more surprising.

The vision touched on matters dealing with one of the most contentious religious debates of the time: who is saved? Suprisingly, the revelation confirmed the least popular position.

Brigham Young, arguably one of Joseph’s most loyal supporters, struggled with this Universalist position for quite a time. Other members had difficulty accepting this paradigm shift as well.

Matthew McBride uses this historical backdrop to provide a powerful metaphor for modern-day members to use when dealing with doctrine that may be difficult to accept.

This is an episode you won’t want to miss.

Revelations in Context: D&C 134 – Of Governments and Laws

In November 2014, Smithsonian Magazine named Joseph Smith as the most influence American religious figure of all time.

This founder of the Mormon religion also ran for president of the United States during the last year of his life. Though he left a much smaller imprint on the political scene than the religious one, there is one document in our current canonized scripture that is dedicated to enumerating LDS beliefs regarding governments and laws.

Ironically, though Joseph Smith would refer to it during his lifetime, he didn’t actually author it.  What is now D&C 134 was written in 1835 by Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon and was accepted by common consent in a conference held in Smith’s absence. No leader then or now referred to it as direct revelation from God but rather a declaration of principles.

The document proved highly adaptable as it was used to protest and support the US government. It was also used in petitions to the US Congress for redress from Missouri persecutions.

As part of the Revelations in Context series, McBride shares his insights into this document and its reception and use by early Mormon Apostle Lyman Wight.

Spencer W. McBride believes that members will benefit from the study of the past. He maintains that “Mormons will better understand their own religion if they have a deeper understanding of American history, and Americans will better understand their past if they understand the smaller aspect of the Mormon world.”

Can We Talk?

A few weeks ago, I was getting a haircut and chatting with my stylist/therapist. She asked me what I was doing these days. I told her. She asked me if I was getting paid.

“Um, no,” I replied. “Then why are you doing it?” Crickets.

The question caused me to pause. In all honesty, I realized, the reason I started a podcast is the same reason I am involved in all of my non-profit projects: there is either a resource I want that is non-existent or a resource I can create that I wish I had had at one time in my life.

In this case, it is probably a mixture of both. I began my audio-listening habit about three years ago after replacing my full-time cubicle in a law office for part-time work from a computer at home. With extra time just floating around waiting to be harnessed, I combined remodeling my home with buffing up my religious education.

It was time. My children were looking to me for answers, and I didn’t even understand the questions. Over ten thousand hours of church participation had prepared me to bear my testimony but not to evaluate criticisms regarding foundational truth claims.

So I started studying, and as I studied I became more and more curious … in a good way. My appetite for “new” information grew as I began to slowly take items off of my proverbial shelf. This was actually starting to be fun.

I started in the land of Dehlin because that’s where the LDS scholars were sharing their goods. That turned south pretty quickly.

I listened to every episode the Maxwell Institute had to offer, meeting some phenomenal biblical scholars like Peter Enns and Amy-Jill Levine.

Soon I moved on to podcasts by non-LDS biblical scholars. Mark Goodacre’s NT Pod was fantastic, presenting bite-sized pieces of biblical insights.

Then last February, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a talk to CES employees encouraging them to seek out the best LDS scholarship available, which is what I had been trying to do for the last several years.

Guess what?

It sounds easier than it actually is unless you have unlimited time and an unlimited budget. (Two things, unfortunately, that I am sadly lacking.)

I knew there had to be a way to present the best LDS scholarship available in a time- and budget-friendly manner.

LDS Perspectives Podcast grew out of a desire to fill the void between the excellent devotional podcasts of the Mormon Channel and the “Doubtcasts” that proliferate the internet.

My team and I hope to offer a place for mainstream members to learn more context about history, seek more depth to doctrine, and gain more support with cultural challenges.

Each week one of our podcasters sits down with a respected LDS scholar, author, or educator and has a casual discussion about some aspect of LDS doctrine, history, or culture. We are just everyday Mormons, but we are sharing extraordinary conversations about our religion and our faith.

Whether you are just beginning your studies or are an expert, we hope you will enjoy listening to our conversations.

Browse our past episodes today, and check back tomorrow to catch our latest episode, “When Was Jesus Born?” with Jeffrey R. Chadwick.

Episode 1: The Historical Jesus – Thomas Wayment Sep 19, 2016

Episode 2: What is Grace? – Brad Wilcox Sep 28, 2016

Episode 3: LDS Artwork Revisited – Anthony Sweat Oct 4, 2016

Episode 4: Homosexuality and the Gospel – Ty Mansfield Oct 12, 2016

Episode 5: Book of Mormon Central – Neal Rappleye Oct 19, 2016

Episode 6: DNA Detective Work – Ugo Perego Oct 26, 2016

Episode 7: Pursue-Withdrawal Relationship Syndrome – Jonathan ShermanNov 2, 2016

Episode 8: What is Isaiah Doing in the Book of Mormon? – Joseph Spencer Nov 3, 2016

Episode 9: Joseph’s Seer Stones – Michael Hubbard MacKay Nov 15, 2016

Episode 10: Book of Mormon Scholarship, Theories, and Folklore – Brant A. Gardner Nov 23, 2016

Episode 11: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus – Eric Huntsman Nov 29, 2016

Episode 12: Revelations in Context – Matthew J. Grow Dec 1, 2016

 

 

Stop the Contention

fightingI’m one of the Gospel Doctrine teachers in my ward. It’s a calling l love, but am terrified of all at the same time. Teaching the gospel to adults is very hard, especially when I feel like I’m the least experienced in the room. But it’s good to feel inadequate sometimes. It pushes me to rely on the Lord a lot more to do my calling the right way.

This year’s course of study has been The Book of Mormon and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Over the last few weeks as we’ve wound our way thru the chapters in the Book of Alma and Helaman there are stark patterns that emerge that parallel our day. Some people call it “The Pride Cycle”, but basically it’s the story of the human condition since the beginning of time. People are good, they are blessed, then become prideful and wicked. They fall, and become enslaved – either to their own vice and are destroyed , or are literally taken away as slaves to be humbled. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes the cycle repeats itself several times in the course of a year.

Right before the Savior’s visit to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, this cycle becomes particularly vicious, with the people dividing themselves up into tribes and with the Gadianton Robbers bearing down on everyone they can. At the death of the Savior, the land is broken up, there is great destruction and the Nephite civilization is destroyed, with “the more righteous part” of the people being left to pick up the pieces and start over. Continue reading