Podcast: A Heavenly Mother

Last summer Russell Stevenson sat down with Rachel Steenblik and Caitlin Connolly, two women who have studied the concept of a divine feminine–or Heavenly Mother.

Rachel was the primary researcher on a BYU Studies article that identified known references to a Heavenly Mother in the Mormon historical record. Caitlin was commission to paint Heavenly Mother by Deseret Book. 

Though it is assumed that we have a Heavenly Mother, she is rarely mentionioned in LDS Church discourse, with a preference to referring to Heavenly Father or Heavenly Parents. 

Steenblick notes that most members are aware of the reference to a Heavenly Mother by Eliza R. Snow in “O My Father.” However, her song was not the first reference. W. W. Phelps wrote two pieces–one a few months before the Prophet Joseph Smith’s death and one a few months after. And in the nineteenth-century Church, a Heavenly Mother was not unfrequently referenced. 

Three prophets of the twentieth century, Spencer W. Kimball, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Harold B. Lee, stated that women were created in Heavenly Mother’s image.

Contemporary Old Testament scholars see the divine feminine, or a Heavenly Mother, in scripture, though it is difficult for the lay person to identify those references.

Both women feel discussions of a divine feminine are important because they help to answer the question for women: “Where do I belong in the eternities?

The Church’s gospel topic essay “Mother in Heaven,” the BYU Studies article, and a new book published by Deseret Book can help encourage dialogue on this important topic.

Check out to the resources referenced in the podcast at LDS Perspectives

Podcast: The Power of Positive Self Talk

Growing up, Leta Greene never thought she would grow up to be a beauty consultant and motivational speaker. But she has overcome the scars of emotional and physical abuse and feelings of awkwardness and ugliness, excelling at life by choosing happiness.

Leta has developed a system of changing the way women perceive themselves through daily validation or “vanity prayers.” She has learned that nobody can give from an empty well. One of the most important things we need to nurture is our relationship with ourselves.

Through her experiences, she speaks to setting healthy boundaries to protect against emotional and physical abuse and listening to our inner compasses in our interactions. She advocates only allowing into our spheres of influence those we love, trust, and who take responsibility.

The way women perceive themselves is often the biggest “glass ceiling” they need to break in order to excel and achieve their dreams. Leta gives us some tools to begin thinking in new ways.

Days of Awe

Gale Boyd is a convert to the LDS Church. In 1983, she and her husband decided to move their family to Israel and explore their Jewish heritage.

She was unprepared for the culture shock she experienced as an American Jewish Mormon living in Jewish Zion. Not only was there the language barrier but also the differences in money, weights and measures, Sabbath observance, and even the year was counted differently.

As she became immersed in Israeli culture, she learned about Jewish Holy Days and their symbolism.

Her experiences led her to write Days of Awe with the purpose of sharing with Latter-day Saints the Christian symbolism found in the celebration of Jewish Holy Days.

The book contains a history of Old Testament feasts, their ancient and current patterns of observance, their prophetic symbolism, and their relevance to each of us as Latter-day Saints today.

She also clears up some misconceptions about the Jewish people, their scripture, the complexity of their religion, and their history.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast and Gale Boyd as they discuss Judaism, Holy Days, and the religious past, present, and future.

To access your free copy of Days of Awe, check out the links to resources at LDS Perspectives Podcast.

The Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

By June 1829 Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer had verbalized a desire to be the special three witnesses alluded to in the Book of Mormon.

D&C 17 records a revelation affirming their roles as witnesses and was given to Joseph Smith through a seer stone he apparently found while digging a well in 1822.

As witnesses, the three were very different. Martin Harris was zealous, impetuous, and even a bit eccentric. Oliver Cowdery was an intellectual. And David Whitmer was regarded as clear-thinking, down-to-earth, and honest.

David Whitmer was, perhaps, the strongest witness because he lived so long, never wavered in his testimony of the vision, and gave several newspaper interviews that give us additional details regarding the experience. David reported seeing several plates, the sword of Laban, the Liahona, and the Urim and Thummim.

Joseph Smith was understandably relieved to have others to testify of the existence of the plates. Larry Morris concludes that the experience of the Three Witnesses was both an empirical and spiritual experience.

Join Nick Galieti of LDS Perspectives Podcast as he interviews Larry Morris as part of the Revelations in Context podcast series.

What is LDS Doctrine?

Dr. Michael Goodman was part of the team tagged to write the institute cornerstone course The Eternal Family. He and his team developed 28 lessons using the 600-word “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” as a framework.

When deciding what to include, the writers needed to determine what was doctrine and what was individual interpretation.

Using definitions provided by LDS Church leaders, they were able to articulate clear criteria.

Doctrine is what the current prophets, seers, and revelators are teaching. They include eternal, essential truths necessary for our salvation and meet three criteria:

  1. Doctrine is eternal; it does not change through time.
  2. Doctrine is sustained by the united voice of the Council of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency.
  3. Doctrine is necessary for our salvation.

On LDS.org, the nine basic doctrines of the Church are listed and are now the current focus of the seminary Doctrinal Mastery program.

Dr. Goodman points out in his discussion with Laura Harris Hales of the LDS Perspectives Podcast that just because something isn’t doctrine, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t come from God. It simply means we can look at it in light of its non-doctrinal nature.

Visit LDS Perspectives to find links to resources including the Basic Doctrines listed on lds.org.