Recapturing the Mormon Trail

Artists Josh Clare, John Burton, and Bryan Mark Taylor worked for years on a project called Saints at Devil’s Gate. It consists of landscapes capturing the Mormon Trail, the 1,300-mile route from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah, that mid-19th century pioneers traveled on their migration west.

The artists’ intention was to pair their paintings with excerpts from historical trail journals by Mormon immigrants, which would allow them to construct a singular persona that could stand for the whole of the pioneer experience.

The paintings record the mundane trail that accompanied the pioneers’ daily wanderings. Practical activities are detailed such as washing clothes, picking wildflowers, and playing music and dancing together in the evenings.

Beyond picturesque beauty, the paintings also explore a sense of the sublime and also sometimes the horrific.

LDS Church History Museum Curator Laura Allred Hurtado discusses with Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast how researching the history for the book that accompanies the exhibit expanded her understanding of the experience of those who traveled the Mormon trail. For many, it was a rite of passage and the experience of a lifetime.

Join us as we seek a more nuanced glimpse into what the Mormon trail meant to those who traversed it and discuss what we can learn from reading their experiences.

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