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

 

 

Evan McMullin: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?’

I would ask readers to watch this short clip of an exchange between Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Welch.  The occasion was McCarthy’s investigation of the US Army for supposed Communist ties. Mr. Welch was a lawyer for the Army.  He watched McCarthy destroy the reputations and livelihoods of dozens of people for no reason other than his own political grandstanding.  Many readers may have heard of “McCarthyism.”  In a nutshell it is this:  questioning the patriotism and loyalty of people to further your own political designs.

Evan McMullin, a Mormon presidential candidate, who garnered a large number of votes in the 2016 election, has proven himself a purveyor of McCarthyism.

First, watch this clip:

 

Here is what McMullin tweeted over the weekend:

“It must be clear that Donald Trump is not a loyal American and we should prepare for the next four years accordingly.”

I ask Evan McMullin:  have you no sense of decency, sir?  Do you really have the hubris to accuse the presidential elect of not being a loyal American?  Can you see how this is nothing more than McCarthyism, a cynical attempt to further your own political career by accusing somebody else of being disloyal?

Let me make this clear:  I have no problem with McMullin raising questions about Russia’s supposed involvement in the elections.  Personally, I think such claims are garbage, but McMullin has a right to raise concerns.  I also have no problem with him slamming Trump’s possible choice of Rex Tillerson as Sect of State.  I think Tillerson would be a great Sect of State, but McMullin is well within his rights to question that choice.

Where McMullin shows no decency is in his claim that Trump is “not a loyal American.”  Such a claim is simply ridiculous, and McMullin needs to be called out for his McCarthyism.

Remember, I was #neverMcMullin from the beginning.  The man is a warmonger and has no decency, at least when it comes to this issue.

 

I am liberated in the Gospel of Christ

Today, the Indianapolis West Stake received a new stake president. It is also the 200th anniversary of the statehood of Indiana, so the new stake president will lead us into the next century.

I was fortunate to know the previous stake president well, having served with him for about 6 years on the high council. I am amazed at the love and devotion this man (and his wife) have given to the stake over the past 9 years.

Recently, I rediscovered some old friends from the late 1980s while looking on Facebook. Over the years, she and her daughters became disaffected from the Church, and eventually left it. She told me that she felt “liberated” at leaving the Church.  For her, the Church had become too restrictive. I think she was tired from trying to earn her way into heaven, and so chose an easier path.

Sadly, many do not understand the gospel of Christ. We do not earn our way into heaven. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Unfortunately, previous statements from old LDS books suggest that grace doesn’t go much beyond resurrection, and obedience is the first law of heaven.  Happily, the recent teachings from the Brethren focus on grace, atonement, and the peace the gospel brings.

I know when I am properly focused on these things, the gospel is liberating for me. Not as the world offers freedom, but as God offers it. Not the peace the world offers, but the peace Christ gives.

I cannot explain to others the joy and peace I’ve felt serving in the temple.  To ponder upon the promises made in the initiatory, endowment and sealings.  There is great power and hope in those words.

And the things I’ve learned from my stake president over the past years are priceless. I have not found anything on earth that can match the wonders. Yes, being a Mormon can be challenging. It requires time and effort. It requires all of one’s heart and soul. But the spiritual rewards just cannot be compared.  All other things pale.  Fun times are passing, but the spiritual experiences I’ve had carry me through all the difficult times, with hope that I will be together with my loved ones in the Celestial Kingdom.

Book Review: “Let Your Hearts and Minds Expand” by Thomas F. Rogers

imagesReview of Let Your Hearts and Minds Expand by Thomas F. Rogers.

Part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship’s “Living Faith” series.

In his Foreword to this Book, Terryl L. Givens states he wants to “get out of the way and let you the reader get on with” reading the book rather than waste time with an introduction.  I feel much the same way:  Just read this book, and forget about this book review.

Continue reading

Review: Sully (film)

Promotional poster for Sully. For discussion of fair use of the image, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sully_xxlg.jpeg#mw-jump-to-licenseSully is Clint Eastwood’s September 2016 film about the pilot that landed an Airbus A320 passenger airplane in the Hudson River off Manhattan on the afternoon of January 15, 2009. Both engines of the plane failed after a flock of geese collided with the plane shortly after takeoff. All aboard survived. The surprising “success” of the response was primarily attributed to the calm reaction of Pilots Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully) and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles.

The core conflict in Sully involves the tension between the seemingly obvious success of the response to the engine failure and the second guessing that occurs during formal investigations of any event, which in this case was being performed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The film also portrays Captain Sully questioning his actions, with dream sequences showing alternate outcomes, such as the plane crashing in the heart of the business district of New York City. Had Captain Sully been found to have erred in landing the plane in the Hudson, his career as a pilot and aeronautic safety expert would have ended, resulting in personal ruination.

The movie is relatively short. As a movie-goer, I would not expect Tom Hanks to play a protagonist who was ultimately found to be a failure. Yet Clint Eastwood does heighten the conflict enough that the pain the main character experiences feels real while we watch the film.

Sully provides viewers a chance to experience the roller coaster ride of fear and despair with Captain Sully while knowing that at the end the ride will come to a safe and happy ending. Continue reading