A Thoughtful Faith - Mormon / LDS (general)

Whatever your position on LDS Studies, it can't be said that the Mormonism is boring.  Socially, historically, culturally, politically and theologically its a gold mine of intrigue and interest.  Nevermore so than on the topic of sex.

Taylor G. Petrey’s history of sexuality and gender in modern Mormonism is a rollicking and delightfully thorough documentation of the LDS modern teachings on gender, sexual difference, and marriage.  He joins me at ATF podcast to discuss his latest book, 'Tabernacles of Clay.'

Direct download: Taylor_Petrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34pm MDT

When Mormon divorce happens acrimoniously it's never a better time to observe the LDS church's position on the wellbeing of women and children.   

The wife of a physician and the mother of four children Leslie felt that she was fulfilling 'the measure of her creation' until she found herself fleeing from abuse.   However, the involvement of church leaders, that Mormon divorce often requires, complicated financial, legal, relationship and spiritual matters again and again.

Les Butterfield joins me to discuss the pastoral care (or the inadequacy of it) when her own marriage was in free fall. 


 

Direct download: Les_Butterfield.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm MDT

Cat McFedries joins me to talk about youth spiritual and religious formation and how some radical pastoring that she received as a young person might have put her off the church, but it didn't put her off the person of Jesus.  

This disconnect between the heart of the gospel, which is on the streets,  and the fears of the church as it sits on the pews needs to change according to Cat. Until then the church will be a thing of growing irrelevance to today's young people.

Direct download: Cat_McFedries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:39pm MDT

In the wake of Joanna Brook's book that starkly presented a case for Mormon white supremacy, Samoan Mormon, Tasi Young, BYU alumna and die-hard Cougars fan wrote to the Salt Lake Tribune asking for the name of BYU to be changed sparking an important conversation among the Mormon Polynesian community.

What has been the effect of Mormon White Supremacy on Polynesians?

Two Afakasi (half-castes), (Tasi a Samoan and Gina who is  Maori) ponder and critique what it means to be Polynesian/Pasifika in a white supremacist church.

Direct download: Tasi_Young_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58pm MDT

In the basic beliefs of Community of Christ The Book of Mormon is understood as follows:
 

We affirm the Bible as the foundational scripture for the church. In addition, Community of Christ uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants—not to replace the witness of the Bible or improve on it, but because they confirm its message that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. When responsibly interpreted and faithfully applied, scripture provides divine guidance and inspired insight for our discipleship. 
 

That might be so, but its not quite that straightforward in practice, as my guest Elray Henrickson has elsewhere written:

"Community of Christ has had a complicated relationship with the Book of Mormon. Although we believe it to be scripture, we can no longer say we are big fans."


Community of Christ peace and non-violence activist, Norwegian Elray Henrickson,  joins me from Belgium where he lives with his husband, Anton.  Elray attends the Graceland University seminary and has been working on repurposing and rethinking the Book of Mormon for a post-literal context. 

Direct download: Elray_Henrickson_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03pm MDT

Professor Rick Phillips hails from Utah and has an impressive Mormon pedigree.  He was raised under the sacred canopy of LDS belief and faith.  And it was a good life, one that Rick remains nostalgic about to this day. 

But, his aspirations to be a seminary teacher didn't last as more and more questions and conundrums took the place of the orthodoxy he was born into.

Prof. Rick Phillips joins me to discuss his subtle evolution from a profoundly vested believer of Mormonism to a deeply interested non-believer.

Direct download: Rick_Phillips.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:42pm MDT

Exponent II Editor, Margaret Olsen Hemming says of the Exponent guest edition of Dialogue, "

 

In this issue, we asked women to write about claiming power. We hoped that writers would think creatively about the idea of power, including traditional forms of authority in an organizational hierarchy but also going beyond this sometimes-limiting definition. We wanted women to examine their engagement of power within their families, wards, workplaces, and selves."

 

Artist Michelle Franzoni, Mormon scholar Nancy Ross and Margaret Olsen Hemming join me to discuss this historic issue of Dialogue:  A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Direct download: Exponent_Interview_Auphonic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15pm MDT

The question as to whether or not Mormonism is a cult is a contentious one, but despite your definitions, one thing is for certain, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a high demand faith and as such the exercise of agency and decision making is a charged issue.

Wherever you are in relation to the LDS Church, it is useful to understand the science of belief and how we can indeed cultivate healthy cognitive responses to life's most vexing questions, so that (as Luna argues), 'we can relieve ourselves of: 

 "feelings of depression, guilt, shame, exhaustion, phobias, magical thinking, passive-aggressive behaviour, and hidden familial abuse.'"
 


 

Direct download: Luna_Corbden_Cogdis_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:08pm MDT

Liberation theologian James Cone has said:

“It is ironic that America, with its history of injustice to the poor, especially the black man and the Indian, prides itself on being a Christian nation.”

So, what sense does a profoundly faithful black Christian woman make of America still mired in its many racial sins?   What can be said about a nation who remains at odds with itself in its resistance to the spiritual healing that it so desperately needs?

In this very personal conversation,  The Rev. Dr Fatimah Salleh mourns with me the brokenness that is her nation and her church.

Direct download: America_is_broken.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:24pm MDT

Is the USA a democracy, a nascent theocracy, or a mobocracy?  Perhaps it's all of those things and all at the same time.  

The Nauvoo experience gives us a strong sense of the unsettled ideological, economic and religious arguments that remain unresolved in the United States.  Powder Keg is what the United States feels like in 2020, and after reading Kingdom of Nauvo that covers a short period of American religious history between 1839-1846, this book brings some of these centuries-old quandaries about America into perspective.

Faith and violence are twinned in this remarkable telling of a doomed social and theocratic experiment to find a religious utopia under the leadership of the Joseph Smith.  

Plodding and boring this story is not.  
 

Direct download: Ben_Park.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:28pm MDT

In this much-needed volume, that follows the evolution of LDS Church thought about race,  from its earliest beginnings to its contemporary constructions, Professor Brooks seeks to account for a religious tradition that has never made a definitive departure, nor offered an explanation or an apology for why being racist is not a matter for Mormon censure while advocating for the increased authority of women or the safety of children is?

In Mormonism and White Supremacy: American Religion and the Problem of Racial Innocence Brooks offers a vital racial critique of the faith of her ancestors and her birth. 

Direct download: Joanna_Brooks_Racism_Te_Mutunga.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43pm MDT

Professor of Law, Annick Masselot and I reflect on the many gender inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has made apparent.  

With research foci on equality and anti-discrimination law, gender equality, pregnancy and maternity rights, and work-life balance, Annick argues that world leaders are well-positioned to create new economic and social arrangements that are fairer and more humane particularly for women.

 

 

 

Direct download: Annick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:03pm MDT

One of the great American phenomena is the enmeshment of religion and politics.   That relationship is never more present than in the Book of Mormon belt where being Republican is a matter of faithfulness.  From Southern Alberta down to Arizona being Mormon means listening to Fox news like its a sermon;  supporting the NRA like its a mission and loving the Constitution like its scripture.  

For Steve Otteson, this was the ideological food that he grew up with.   A Mormon boy of pioneer stock who was raised simultaneously without much space between the politics of his region and the religion of his ancestors.   

And then one day it all came crashing down;  both his political and religious certainties.

Direct download: Otteson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36pm MDT

Great, great-great-grandson of Joseph and Emma Smith, Lachlan Mackay, is a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles in Community of Christ.  

A native of Independence, Missouri, Lach argues that context is absolutely critical when doing church history. Unbundling theology from history offers these disciplines the integrity they both need and deserve. 

This has been important to Lach both professionally and personally as someone who sits in a faith tradition founded by a great-grandparent who continues to be one of America's most controversial religious figures.

Direct download: Lach_MacKay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm MDT

John Hamer, the Pastor of Centre Place in Toronto,  joins me to talk about how digital technology has radically changed his congregation. 

The Toronto community has had a long and continuous presence in Canada since the very early days of the Restoration. 

Now, from a congregation of dwindling numbers, the pastorate team have transformed Centre Place into a community without borders which, during the COVID-19 pandemic,  has welcomed nearly 1000 weekly participants from 26 different nations.

Direct download: Hamer_Centreplace_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:42pm MDT

The Navajo Nation has approximately 356,000 people living on the reservation and from the Navajo Times on Monday 27 April 2020 we read:

 “As of Monday evening, there are 1,769 positive COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation, more than one per cent of the residents on the reservation...The total number of deaths remains at 59.”

For comparison, New Zealand has a population of 5 million and has had 1472 cases and 19 deaths.  

Something is clearly amiss and to discuss the urgent situation on the Navajo Nation, Jo Overton (Lakota) joins me.

Direct download: overton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:45am MDT

In this episode, my guests Nancy Ross from St George and Brittany Mangleson from Saratoga Springs discuss the Utah response to Covid-19 including some of the philosophical, ideological and religious issues with which this disease intersects.

Direct download: Ross_Mangleson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm MDT

What happens to Easter when a member of the LDS Church Alumni Association can no longer believe in one of Christianity’s greatest stories? What happens when there's too much religious hurt caused by an emphasis on literalism and religious authority that made about 150 too many supernatural claims that became tests of fellowship? Could Easter ever offer hope again?

This episode is for those who find themselves in this sometimes lonely corner of the Christian world where there's still faith even when literal belief in Christianity's more persistent supernatural claims are no longer.

Direct download: Resurrection_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm MDT

Dr Joanne LaFleur is Associate Professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Utah. Joanne has taken an interest in questions that lie at the intersection of science and morality.  In this state of lockdown, there are surprisingly many things to see as science, public health, politics, economics, morality and philosophy generate many new questions for all of us.  Whose lives are worth saving?  How is life-saving to be done?  Does this moment expose the flaws in our economic systems?  Does Covid-19 bring us into conversation about alternative ways of understanding the structures we depend upon for human survival?

Not, all of these questions will be answered in this conversation, but I hope Joanne’s reflections on this moment as a scientist and an epidemiologist and as a regular person who is entering into the question with refreshing honesty and humility, will give us permission to wonder anew this thing we call life.

Direct download: LaFleur_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17pm MDT

Rome stands out because of its Christian history and now, even churches have shut down leaving Rome almost empty of the crowds who for centuries have arrived daily to make their pilgrimage to the eternal city.

To discuss Italy's lockdown, its cultural impact and the comfort hope he’s found in online Community of Christ ministry, Michael Wright joins me from the Eternal City.

Direct download: Michael_in_Italy_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36pm MDT

Duke Divinity School graduate and Baptist Pastor,  Rev. Dr Fatimah Salleh and Exponent II Chief Editor, Margaret Olsen Hemming team up to give the Book of Mormon a Social Justice Reading.  The Book of Mormon for the Least of These is the result.

Refreshingly, and without making any origin or belief claims,  Fatimah and Margaret offer a new perspective on the Book of Mormon arguing that there are yet spiritually useful things to pay attention to that goes beyond our squabbling about whether or not the book is what the church says it is.

As Marcus Borg argued, "believing something to be true has nothing to do with whether it is true.”

Direct download: Final_Fatimah_and_Margaret.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:08pm MDT

One of the most important issues confronting those who have left fundamentalist faith traditions is what to do about their faith life.

In this episode, I discuss deconstruction and reconstruction from a personal perspective for those who are curious about how others proceed across the bridge of what once was a reconstructed spiritual life. 

Of course, one's faith reconstruction will be done on one's own terms and in one's own way, but it might be useful to hear another’s story!

Direct download: Deconstruction_and_Reconstruction.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:33pm MDT

"When Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), the term “lay-up” did not simply speak of having possessions, but of your possessions having you. “Lay up” could be better translated “hoard” or “stockpile.” - Greg Laurie

Theologically what are we to make of a church that religiously taxes its adherents, demands their labour for a lay clergy and then banks its money only to watch it accrue? 

Is it justifiable?

Most actively participating and paying Mormons won’t question it.  They’ll call it good stewardship and an indication of the care with which the LDS Church Corporations treat its donor revenue.    For others, including my guest, former Salt Lake City tax attorney Mark Barnes, there are more than legal reasons to question the LDS church’s outsized fortune.    

Direct download: Mark_Barnes_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:30pm MDT

Let's be fair.  Neither Joseph nor Brigham could be considered as good men in their care, affection, fidelity and love for their wives.  To the contrary, they were want to swap them, share them, manipulate them, ignore them, betray them and abandon them.   We might make much of Joseph's affection for Emma, but he broke her heart over and over again.

These were two men for whom the idea of a good husband had entirely eluded them.  And there was a terrible price to pay for all of the women who had to endure what could only be considered a despicable mischief.  

Joe Geisner joins me to discuss wives, sex, priesthood, power in Joseph's inner circle.

Direct download: Joe_Geisner_Part_Two__GB.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm MDT

Maxine Hanks and I have a conversation about Christmastide. Christmastide runs from 25 December until early January.  More particularly we discuss the delicious idea of incorporating Mary  as more than just incidental to our celebrations. According to Maxine Christmas is Mary’s holy time.  Mary symbolizes so much more than the vessel through which the Christ child emerged into the world.  Mary is prophetic, priestly and queenly.


But getting to that reading of Mary requires a deeper way of engaging scripture so we begin with a conversation about hermeneutics and suggestions for deepening our reading of the Christmas story. And with another year to prepare perhaps this will help enrich our forthcoming Christmas celebrations.

Direct download: Maxine_Mary_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33pm MDT

Generation Y and Zeds are vexing for the traditional  church.  Author of ‘Losing Our Religion’ Christel Manning argues that Millennial and Gen Zed Nones (those born in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s)

“hold a wide variety of worldviews, ranging from deeply religious to highly secular, and transmit them in diverse ways. What ties them all together is a commitment to spiritual choice—a belief in the moral equivalence of religions and secular worldviews and in the individual’s right to choose—and it is that choice they seek to pass on to their children.”

In sociological speak, instead of having their identities ascribed or handed down and inherited, Gen Y’s and Zeds value elective identities and that includes religious and spiritual identities.

Dutch religious studies teacher and theologian Frank Brouwer joins me to discuss this fascinating question of how the young in Western Europe are responding to the deeper questions of life, how they understand the church and how, most interestingly, they are building their own spiritual literacy, on their own terms.

Direct download: Franka__Brouwer_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20pm MDT

On the 17th December, the Washington Post published an article about a former employee of Ensign Peak Advisors, (a not for profit corporation constituted under the direction of of the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  The article tells of the whistleblower's complaint to the IRS alleging that Ensign Peak has failed to meet its charitable giving obligations.  According to the complaint, not one charitable distribution from the $100billion dollars that purportedly sits with Ensign Peak has been made during its 22 years of operation, which it is obligated to do as a supporting organisation with tax-exempt status.

Professor Sam Brunson, a tax law specialist at Loyola University, joins me in order to make sense of what the complaint to the IRS is all about and if and how it might be resolved.

Direct download: Sam_Brunson_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:44am MDT

David’s book 'The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion:  The Mormons' is not your usual snipe at faith that Atheists can bore you with.   His history of the Mormons is straight-shooting without being unfeeling; it's efficient without cutting too many corners, and it leaves one feeling both impressed and rightly appalled at the faith that gave us the 'Family’s Can Be Together Forever' and a disciplinary culture that would make God blush.

David Fitzgerald and I are unlikely conversations partners; me a theologian and spiritual formation enthusiast and he an avowed atheist. But, it’s one that seems to work well because we both have an appreciation for the absurd.  And Mormonism is brimming with absurdities. 

Mormon history, as it turns out,  makes its people and its past seriously interesting.

Direct download: David_Fitzgerald_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:04pm MDT

Jana Johnson Spangler, a recent graduate from Richard Rohr's 'Living School',  joins me to discuss the spiritual formation and potential richness of the place between the sometimes intractable institution, and the soul's organic growth.

We address the questions:  How do we manage and trust our growth when there is little in the way of a  healthy institutional response to our spiritual change?  How can we find our own faithful path through our faith crisis?

Direct download: Jana_JS_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:15pm MDT

Brigham Young's status in the early LDS Movement needs to be understood in order to tackle the hard question of what gave him the right to claim the presidency,  particularly in light of the fact that it is now well known that the transfiguration of Brigham was a myth.   

Joe Geisner joins me to discuss Brigham's 'right' to succeed Joseph?

Direct download: Geisner_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36pm MDT

Bringing a philosophical eye to Mormonism helped author Brittany Hartley to appreciate the beauty and potential of Mormon thought as she came into her own questions about her ongoing affiliation. 

Unfortunately, Mormon thought kept alive by generations of curious Mormon intellectuals, can’t quite compete with the heft of Mormon authoritarianism.   When push comes to shove, the church’s direction is often decided by edict rather than drawing on the traditions own philosophical and theological resources.

Where one stands in relation to this tension between the Big ‘C’ Church’s bent toward authoritarianism, and the small ‘c’ church’s concern for keeping the Mormon theological conversation expanding and emerging is where the heart of faith crisis lies.  

Brittney’s book ‘Mormon Philosophy Simplified’ is a philosophically accessible treatise that excavates the best of what Mormonism continues to offer while not being naive that most of it will ever make it to the pulpit or to the Ensign. 


Direct download: Brittany_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02pm MDT

Cristina Rosetti is a Roman Catholic woman and scholar who is interested in Mormon Fundamentalism.

She joins me to discuss her own religious and spiritual path.  Oddly her inquiry into Mormon Fundamentalism comes out of an interest in how certainty shapes and creates religious identities.   Her scholarship in Mormonism was initially a way of helping her understand the relationship between faith and doubt, certainty and uncertainty

But, her questions of faith drew her into the world Mormon Fundamentalism and the way in which Mormonism has unfolded as highly schismatic and overly concerned with truth claims and authority.







Direct download: Cristina_Rossetti_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm MDT

In order to really understand the LDS Church, one absolutely needs to understand Mormon history.  There are few periods in Mormon history that are darker and more defining than the Mormon Reformation. 

In order to really understand the LDS Church, one absolutely needs to understand Mormon history.  There are few periods in Mormon history that are darker and more defining than the Mormon Reformation. 

Lindsay Hansen Park characterizes this period of Mormon history as best understood by imagining what you’d get if you introduced the wild, wild West to an Old Testament God. She further argues that the LDS Church today continues to be shaped by the unresolved violence that took place during that murderous time.

Direct download: Lindsay_Park_-_141119_5.14_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm MDT

Over the last couple of years, Michael Wright has discovered his spiritual self anew in the LDS Restoration tradition.  A descendant of Mormon pioneers he spent years trying to make himself straight in the LDS Church so he could be everything that was expected of him.   But, despite his efforts, nothing worked and his religious and spiritual life went on hold.

Then he discovered Community of Christ, (not an offshoot but a Restoration cousin of the Utah Mormons) a Christian church that offers full inclusion to LGBTQ people and women.

Now, the newly baptized Michael participates fully in the spiritual and missional life of Community of Christ from his home in Rome, Italy.   He has discovered, God and Jesus Christ and the Spiritual life as a gay man married to the love of his life, Antonio.

Direct download: Michael_Wright_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm MDT

For most people, General Conference is a pleasant ritual.  

But General Conference over the years has become less straightforward, particularly for women. Sara Hughes-Zabawa a licensed mental health worker, and Carrie Salisbury, a board member and moderator at Exponent II share their reflections on the General Conference fall out.

Direct download: General_Conference_2019_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:51pm MDT

What kind of claim does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have to the proposition that they are a faithful continuation of the church Joseph established?  What kind of character was Brigham Young anyway?  What did he really want with a church and a people?  

Dr David Mason is the author of Brigham Young: Sovereign in America and he joins me to discuss the man who made the Mormons.

Direct download: David_Mason_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm MDT

The perennial question is where, how and what do we teach our children about sex and sexuality? What is appropriate, and what isn't? Additionally, those who have come from orthodox faith traditions are often on the back foot and at a loss as to how to re-think sex let alone teach their children about sex and sexuality.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is life span sexuality programme that caught my attention after being mentioned in 'Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free' by Linda Kay Klein. The premise of OWL is that the more informed we are, the better positioned we are to make holistic, healthy decisions about our sexuality.

OWL is based on four key values: Self-worth (everyone has worth); Sexual Health; Responsibility; Justice and Inclusivity.

Dr Melanie Davis is the OWL Program Manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association and joins me to discuss OWL a lifespan sexuality program that takes nothing for granted.

Direct download: Melanie_Davis_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30pm MDT

Those who grew up in the Restoration tradition will be familiar with the songs of Zion;   That place where God and community meet. 

But, despite his original intentions Joseph Smith was corrupted by his 'Kingdom' ego.  Kirtland and Nauvoo failed as intentional communities, and Utah has not been faithful to the promise and hope of Zion either.

So, can Zion ever be realized?

Andrew Bolton, former apostle of Community of Christ certainly likes to think so.

Direct download: Andrew_Bolton_2_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm MDT

Nick Literski discusses the many and varied ways that he has found a vibrant spiritual life after leaving active involvement as a family man in this LDS Church.   It has surprised and delighted him that having a deep and rewarding spirituality did not depend on him denying his sexuality.   

Nick and I talk early faith needs; fundamentalism; faith changes and renewal.

Direct download: Nick_Literski_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10pm MDT

After Debra Brown Gordy discovered that her husband, a BYU Professor, was gay her world fell apart.   They tried to keep the marriage together but it wasn't to be.   

After the divorce, Debra went back to graduate school and conducted research about the experience of women in relationships with gay men. She joins me to discuss her personal experience being married to a gay man;  the results of her research and the reconstruction of the lives of women divorced from gay men.

Direct download: Debra_Brown_Gordy_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23pm MDT

How can our service to the dying be improved?  What pastoral practices are helpful in order to help our loved ones or those to whom we’ve been called to minister pass away in peace.

Sue Bergin, a hospice chaplain and spiritual carer, with more than 10 years of experience in Salt Lake City and Utah County, joins me to offer helpful suggestions for ministering to the dying.

Direct download: Sue_Bergin_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:33pm MDT

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University.   He’s of French and Greek parentage and without a religious upbringing arrived out of curiosity at the door of Christian anarchism and ended up writing his PhD thesis on the topic.

Alex’s book, 'Christian anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel' brings some of the most important thinkers together in one volume.  Alex's book highlights the underlying revolutionary intention of the gospels that gets so lost in the business, ideologies, and the financial exchanges of the church.  

Alex joins me to discuss the radical character of the Jesus Way that has shaped Christian Anarchist thinking

Direct download: Alex_C_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:23pm MDT

Dr Matt Frizzell (former Dean of the Graceland University Seminary) and I get deep and animated about theology.


Theological conversations by their very nature are porous, expansive and self-reflexive.   Theology is all about breathing in the mystery and letting the mystery discover the words that have always pulled at our souls.  Theology is profoundly intimate and deeply transformative, wonderfully elusive, and ever-changing.   

But, it's ideal to be trained in theology, as our robust discussion reveals!

 

Direct download: Matt_Frizzell_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33pm MDT

Brenda Nicholson joins me to discuss the social life of women in the FLDS church where she grew up under Rulon and Warren Jeffs.   She’s since left the sect and fiercely argues that there is no way, that polygamy benefits anyone. 

Women, she argues are dehumanized in a system that was designed, as Section 132 intends, for the glory of men. More recently Brenda has made some interesting connections between Hulu’s Gilead in the Handmaids Tale and the social hierarchy in the FLDS community.

Direct download: Brenda_Nicholson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10pm MDT

David Ostler is a former LDS Bishop, a Stake President and a Mission President.  David has been kept awake at night by questions of what good pastoral care or ministry to those who question and doubt might look like.

But, rather than guess (as is often the case), he went to both those in faith crisis and to those in leadership and he collected data.  From that data his book ‘Bridges; Ministering to those who Question’ emerged, and the results are fascinating.


This episode is co-hosted with Nathan McCluskey.

Direct download: David_Ostler_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:56pm MDT

Gina Colvin, host of A Thoughtful Faith Podcast offers a reflection on her personal spiritual and religious journey and how a vibrant spiritual life is invariably filled with interesting twists and turns; some quite surprising! 

Direct download: For_New_Beginnings_final2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm MDT

In this Reconstructing Death series, I talk with a range of LDS spiritual, palliative and health care professionals whose work is with those at the threshold of death.  Each of them explores their evolving understandings of dying and death as a result of both their professional work and their personal faith development.

Dr Kathleen Moncrieff:  Family and community physician:  Calgary

Dr Kathleen Moncrieff completed medical school, her family medicine residency, and her master’s degree in medical education at the University of Calgary and she currently works in community-based family medicine.  Kathleen talks about assisted dying in light of Canada’s new laws.  She discusses how religious and cultural pluralism has shaped her approach to the dying and their families.

 

Direct download: Kathleen_M_Produced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13am MDT

In this Reconstructing Death series, I talk with a range of LDS spiritual, palliative and health care professionals whose work is with those at the threshold of death.  Each of them explores their evolving understandings of dying and death as a result of both their professional work and their personal faith development.

Dr Julia Durrant:  Neurocritical care attending physician:  Oregon

Dr Julia Durrant is an attending physician in neurocritical care at a university hospital in Oregon.  Julia has attended hundreds of deaths and she talks wisely about the point at which religion, faith and science intersect which has caused her to strongly believe that God is not orchestrating anyone’s death. 

Direct download: Julia_Durrant_Produced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:08am MDT

In this Reconstructing Death series, I talk with a range of LDS spiritual, palliative and health care professionals whose work is with those at the threshold of death.  Each of them explores their evolving understandings of dying and death as a result of both their professional work and their personal faith development.

Anni Lehti-Nieminen:  Oncology Nurse:  Finland

Anni Lehti-Nieminen is a registered nurse who works in outpatient palliative care at a university hospital in Tampere in Finland.   Anni talks about dying, death and grief in Finland including how LDS funerals can sometimes be in competition with Finnish customs and needs.


Direct download: Anni_LN_Produced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:59am MDT

In this Reconstructing Death series, I talk with a range of LDS spiritual, palliative and health care professionals whose work is with those at the threshold of death.  Each of them explores their evolving understandings of dying and death as a result of both their professional work and their personal faith development.

Dr Ryan Williams:  Internal Medicine Physician: Idaho

Dr Ryan Williams is a  Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician.  He served for 4 years in the US Air Force and he went on to specialize in Hospital, Skilled Nursing and Hospice Care. He has been practicing in the Boise Idaho area for 10 years.  Ryan discusses how his maturing faith has gifted him with more uncertain views of death and dying but have improved his capacity to respond to his patients with more openness.

Direct download: Ryan_Williams_Produced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:55am MDT

In this Reconstructing Death series, I talk with a range of LDS spiritual, palliative and health care professionals whose work is with those at the threshold of death.  Each of them explores their evolving understandings of dying and death as a result of both their professional work and their personal faith development.

Ana Nelson Shaw: Spiritual Care Co-ordinator

Ana Nelson Shaw lives in Butte Montana where she works coordinating spiritual care and volunteer services for hospice patients including making spiritual care visits.  Ana talks about creating environments of kindness and compassion for those at nearing death.


Direct download: Ana_Nelson_Shaw_Produced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47am MDT

Dr Taylor Petrey and I talk about the Bible, its wonders, its frustrations and its possibilities.  And we discuss openly and honestly the widely felt frustration that Sunday School classes are not always welcoming of the skills of Biblical interpretation. While the curriculum is not always sound as it could be.

Direct download: Petrey_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm MDT

Lesley Butterfield is a registered nurse and survivor advocate who works with victims of abuse. 

She’s passionate about increasing literacy about abuse and trauma in particular for women survivors of spiritual and ecclesiastical abuse in the Church. 

Lesley has certifications and training in Trauma-Informed Care, Community Advocacy, Faith and Spiritual Development, Familial Mental Health, Domestic Abuse, and Resiliency.

We discuss the role that women play in the revictimization of female trauma victims in the Church and the lack of protection and safety for women who find themselves in abusive situations.

Direct download: Lesley_Butterfield_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48pm MDT

Community of Christ is a worldwide church, and though small in numbers maintain a consistent effort to  “proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.”  Their vision is a ‘table’ with everyone invited and participating and belonging regardless of gender, race, or sexuality.

One of their first progressive actions was to ordain women which they did so in 1984.  Today five of the council of twelve positions in Community of Christ are held by women.   At the 2019 world conference, Catherine Mambwe from Zambia was the first African woman to be ordained an apostle.

So, what does spiritual formation look like for a woman in Community of Christ?

Janné Grover is a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the lead missionary quorum of Community of Christ. She is assigned to the Central USA Mission Field. She is also director of Formation Ministries.

Her previous employment includes disciple formation ministries specialist for Community of Christ and is a musician by training and vocation.

Apostle, Janne joins me to discuss spiritual formation and what it means for a woman to be in senior ecclesiastical leadership in a progressive worldwide church.  

Direct download: Janne_Grover_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53pm MDT

Church College of New Zealand, which was opened in 1958, had a short life by education standards.  For 52 years it served the mostly Māori Mormon LDS community.  But, in a swirl of confusion, it was finally closed in 2009 and demolished.

The school's motto was 'Build Now For Eternity' which motivated many Māori Mormons to contribute money, material resources and years of labour for the building of the school.  Today, despite promises to develop the land and reinvigorate the community of Temple View, few of the promised improvements which were offered to replace a much-beloved school have been realised.

Peter Witehira,  former Chair of the Temple View Heritage Committee, and Rā Puriri join me to discuss the beginning and end of Church College of New Zealand.

(Music by St Joseph's Maori Girls' College)

Direct download: CCNZ_2_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:34pm MDT

In 2019 Professor Peter Lineham was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to religious history and the community.  And that honour is well deserved. 

Few, if any scholars in the field of religious history in New Zealand have the sweeping knowledge and intimate understanding of religion in Aotearoa. He’s written about Māori prophets to Catholic missionaries to LDS History over the period of his distinguished career. 

Peter's fluency and his impressive breadth of understanding of Mormon history highlight the issues arising out of an American church who are in a complex relationship with New Zealand Māori.

Direct download: Lineham_Final_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm MDT

In this episode, we look at child abuse from the perspective of prevention.  My guest is Gwen Knight, the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah.


According to Prevent Child abuse Utah, its mission is to forge and guide a community commitment to prevent child abuse in all of its forms.

In Utah one in five children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, suggesting the issue of child abuse in the Beehive state is epidemic.

Gwen joins me for a very pragmatic discussion about what child abuse is in all of its forms and varieties,  what to notice, and how to respond when you suspect it.

Direct download: Gwen_Knight_Protect_Children_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:18pm MDT

Anthony Miller lives in Billings Montana.  He grew up Mormon  He did all the things required of good Mormon boys and he thought he knew where his life was heading.  But a dramatic and sudden period of faith deconstruction had him reconsidering everything about his religious life.

Mormon leave-takers don’t usually manage the God and church conversation without some nervousness but Anthony wanted to understand his inner journey well and despite his resignation, he has remained open and curious about spirituality and spiritual formation inside and outside of the LDS Church.   And, Anthony has found gracious and wise ways of accommodating his still adherent wife’s journey in the LDS faith.

Anthony joins me to talk about gracious LDS leave-taking, deconstruction and spiritual reconstruction.

Direct download: anthony_Miller_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:59pm MDT

At the beginning of May 2019 two mothers of children who were sexually abused by convicted pedophile, Michael Jensen, appeared back in their former ward in Martinsburg, West Virginia to warn the congregation that the children there are not safe.

This is a community, they argued, that circled their wagons around the perpetrator and their leaders.  This is a community that made sinners out of those who pointed out the sin.  This is a community that never apologized for their role in creating a climate that turned a church against the victims and their families.

Alice Koivu and Kelly Plante join me to talk about their journey back (as uninvited guests with a message) to the LDS Church pulpit.



Direct download: West_Virginia_Mothers_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am MDT

Lucy Cammock talks passionately and with clarity about the subtle side of sexual abuse trauma that trailed her (a sexual abuse survivor) through her life.  

"I'm never done with the trauma", she argues. 

And while that may sound hopeless to some, for Lucy, what was more harmful was any idea that at some predetermined stage it will all be over. 

Lucy discusses the ideas that she has worked through as a woman and a mother as she works to get into a healthy relationship with her childhood sexual abuse.




Direct download: Lucy_Cammock_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:01pm MDT

Section 132 was Joseph Smith's revelation that provided the theological justification that allowed select men of the early LDS restoration to have sex with more than one authorized partner.

For The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, section 132 and the doctrines that have emerged from it inform gender inequality, the continued practice of post-mortem polygyny, male priesthood and more importantly it lays out the doctrine of the New and Everlasting Covenant which is central to the ordinances of the LDS temple.

It's absolutely essential that those of us in the LDS restoration movement understand Section 132 in order to make sense of Mormon History and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's contemporary theological challenges.


In that spirit I read Section 132 in plain English.

Direct download: Section_132_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33pm MDT

Tim Kosnoff, victims' advocate and attorney, returns to the podcast to discuss the growing wave of sexual abuse allegations being made against the Boys Scouts and the long-standing relationship between the BSA and the LDS Church.

Direct download: Kosnoff_2_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm MDT

The Rev. Rob McKay began his religious formation in the LDS Church.  When he returned home from his mission he affiliated with a Pentecostal church in Auckland, New Zealand.  He then became Anglican and was ordained a priest in Tikanga Māori.  Recently he converted to Islam.

Despite these movements, he honours each tradition for what they offered him in his spiritual formation.  Though his journey hasn't been straightforward he is without regret.

In light of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, Rob's ability to deeply appreciate and understand these sometimes adversarial traditions might just be what our New Zealand religious community needs.

Rob McKay and I have a delightful conversation about the many unexpected places to which God calls us home.  

Direct download: Rob_McKay_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19pm MDT

When the crime documentary 'Abducted in Plain Sight' was released on Netflix, Jan Broberg (the woman at the centre of this seemingly bizarre story of multiple kidnappings, an alien mission and sexual assault while a child) was full of regret and worry.   Her parents, Maryann and Bob Broberg, were publicly mocked and vilified for what seemed to be their complicity with the abuser Robert Berchtold.

But a 90-minute crime documentary cannot hope to capture the complexity and nuance of a story that has spanned several decades.  This was a story, not just about the violation of a child, but about the manipulation and grooming of a whole family.

The Broberg women sit down with me in order to set the record straight about their beloved parents.  Their only motivation in telling this sometimes excruciating story is to have families, churches and communities speak up courageously about the banality of grooming and sexual abuse among our own.

Direct download: Broberg_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:10pm MDT

Sara Hughes-Zabawa joins me for the final episode of the Fowler's Stages of Faith series.   

In this episode we discuss the failings of Fowler's stages. We also talk about how we can notice or engage  stage 6 without falling into the trap of imagining that a universalizing faith is the terrain of the political and religious luminaries alone..

Direct download: Sarah_HZ_Stage_6_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm MDT

Jana Riess discusses her study 'The Next Mormons' and how the changing worldviews of Millennials will impact the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints.

From 'The Next Mormons':

"American Millennials--the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s--have been leaving organized religion in unprecedented numbers. For a long time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was an exception: nearly three-quarters of people who grew up Mormon stayed that way into adulthood. In The Next Mormons, Jana Riess demonstrates that things are starting to change."

Direct download: Jana_Reiss_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36pm MDT

Joanna Brooks and Kalani Tonga join me to discuss their book of women's blessings and poetry, 'We Hold Your Name' (2019)

From the jacket:

"A collection of blessings and poetry written by Mormon women responding to the announcement of Gina Colvin's disciplinary council. This work of love features the voices of established authors like Carol Lynn Pearson and Joanna Brooks, as well as first time poets, and renowned visual artists. It is designed to lend comfort and courage to those who feel unwanted by their religious community, and was written specifically for those facing excommunication from the Mormon Church."

Direct download: Joanna_and_Kalani_Book_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm MDT

Richard James is a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the lead missionary quorum of Community of Christ. He is assigned to the Eurasia Mission Field.

Richard was born in Swansea, South Wales.

In the spirit of LDS Restoration ecumenism Richard joins me to discuss how Community of Christ has developed as a vital expression of the Restoration.

Direct download: Richard_James_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:03pm MDT

The Psalms are unique in scripture.  The Psalms strip away all decorum and show the fragility and wildness of the human condition.   The Psalms tell us that God invites our disappointment, our anger and our confusion.  The Psalms tell us that sometimes, there's no polite way of talking to God and that God is fine with that!

Katie Langston, LDS Church returned missionary and now a Lutheran seminarian joins me to discuss her spiritual journeying and her developing prayer practice through the Psalms.

Direct download: Katie_Langston_Pslams_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09am MDT

The Rev. Tyler Doherty, Priest in charge at St. Marks Cathedral Church in downtown Salt Lake City and parishioner Cody Hatch.

Tyler and Cody join me in this ecumenical/interfaith conversation to talk about what the Episcopal Church has to offer a community that is home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Direct download: SLC_St_Marks_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40am MDT

John Hamer comes from a family who has long been a part of the Latter-day Saint movement.  Once a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today, John pastors a bustling downtown Toronto Community of Christ congregation. 

We explore John's personal journey of how he reconstructed his faith, found community and rediscovered the Divine.

Direct download: John_Hamer_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:42pm MDT

Craig Vernon has represented clients in several high profile church and clergy perpetrated sexual abuse cases including cases involving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Litigating cases against the LDS Church shows them to be formidable adversaries who are motivated to win at all costs - after all - they are defending the Kingdom of God.

But, what puzzles Craig, like so many other others, is where is the pastoral care for the victims of LDS church and clergy related sexual abuse?  

Why is the defence of the institution more important that care of the abused?

And, why do the LDS Church's public statements about their zero-tolerance for sexual abuse not square with how they handle sexual abuse cases involving their own members?

Direct download: Craig_Vernon_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:50pm MDT

We shouldn't be more worried about Faith Crisis than we are about our response to it.  A poor response to faith crisis can cause spiritual havoc and immense emotional damage.

From our LDS cousins (who have had their own institutional journey of deconstruction and reconstruction in the LDS Restoration movement) Community of Christ Spiritual Formation specialist Katie Harmon-McClaughlin discusses the important work of reconstruction and spiritual formation after a faith and belief deconstruction.

Katie discusses  Community of Christ's pastoral approach that supports the process of questioning rather than makes a sin of doubt.  This is essential listening particularly for those in the LDS Tradition who are looking for a pastoral response that doesn't make doubt a reason for exclusion or an issue of worthiness.

 

Direct download: katie_Harmon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36pm MDT

David Hayward is popularly known by his cartoons, his blog, and his books as The NakedPastor.

He started his ministry as a seminarian, an ordained minister and a pastor. But when David began to experience his own faith changes, complicating his relationship with the church, he walked away from full-time ministry and began his work as a 'graffiti artist on the walls of religion.'  

And for many years he his drawn his way through his own difficult relationship with the church that he both loves and laments.

Direct download: Naked_Pastor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:35pm MDT

When Maxine Hanks returned to the LDS Church after being excommunicated with the September 6 in 1993, she returned to the LDS Church having taken a spiritual formation pathway in the Gnostic tradition.  One of her great passions upon her return to Mormonism has been to surface the LDS Church's own spiritual formation pathway.

In this discussion, we consider the Liturgical Calendar, so important to the sacramental traditions.  We consider what the 'church year' from Advent to Pentecost, can offer us in helping us live more intuitively into the story of Jesus Christ and thus more kindly attend to our personal spiritual journeys.

Direct download: Maxine_Hanks_Epiphany_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:25pm MDT

Join Sarah Hughes-Zabawa in this guided meditation to accompany our discussion about Fowler's Stage Five.

Direct download: Stage_Five.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:54pm MDT

Sara Hughes-Zabawa and I discuss a spirituality that pays attention to both the church's tendency to spiritually wound and spiritually enliven. We discuss Fowler's Stage Five in the context of spiritual practice and suggest those moves that we can make to support our living with a complex spirituality that refuses the easy binaries and judgements of either/or and right/wrong.

Direct download: Sarah_Stage_Five_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:51pm MDT

Royleane Otteson joins me to discuss how to be a faithful witness to another's spiritual journey.  Using the Advent reading of Elizabeth and Zechariah as a story of community witness,  we unpack what friendship means to those of us who have embarked on our own journeys of spiritual seeking.

Direct download: Advent_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:31pm MDT

Without any effort to contextualize or indigenize the LDS Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Māori are often asked to accept ways of being that get imported from Utah.  This 'Utah' worldview is too often presented to LDS Māori as the way Jesus Christ would do things and is called the 'Gospel Culture.'   

But the effect of the 'Gospel Culture' is to alienate Māori from those ways of being that support Māori well-being.   This lack of interest in Māori ways of being Mormon bears all of the hallmarks of religious and spiritual colonization.


Dr. Byron Rangiwai, Dr. Nepia Mahuika and TeRata Hikairo discuss LDS Church practices, policies and discipline through the lens of Tikanga Māori.  

Direct download: Maori_CD_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:45pm MDT

Advent marks the beginning of the Church year, and Jody England Hansen and Melissa Beh join me to discuss the Way of Love as part of our Advent Study series.

This week we found ourselves discussing the feminine journey of the Way of Love and that defining moment when two surprised and expectant mothers (Mary and Elizabeth) meet to affirm each other's journey with blessing.

Direct download: Advent_2_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48pm MDT

Lawyer Tim Kosnoff, recently remarked that he thought that churches largely were harmless.  That was until he uncovered a system of cover-ups, and he witnessed first hand the immoral and callous lengths that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go to deny the rights of sexual abuse victims to seek justice.

Tom and Juliette were an ordinary family in Michael Jensen's Mormon community when they were asked to provide a home for him.

What they didn't know was that they were harbouring a paedophile with prior convictions and numerous criminal allegations of sexual assault and abuse against him.  What surprised and horrified them was that their church leaders had known of his abuses for years and they said nothing.

With Tim Kosnoff at their side, they took the LDS Church on in court and what they experienced was shocking and life-changing.

Direct download: Juliette_Tom_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm MDT

In the United Kingdom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a registered Charity overseen by the Charity Commission.  This means it is must provide a public benefit and it needs to be transparent.

But the LDS Church in the UK is anything but transparent and rather than present the accounts to its membership for discussion it observes the mandatory public reporting regulations but doesn't tell all interested parties of its availability.  And there's good reason because a decent look at the accounts reveals a concerted effort to carry on its activities in the United Kingdom as if it were a US corporation sole with no public accountability.

In this discussion, Chris Mace joins me once again to dive into the public record to see what the latest figures and sums reveal about the LDS Church's financial operations in the United Kingdom.

Direct download: Chris_Mace_Update_UK_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm MDT

A few years ago, Nancy Ross and Jessica Finnigan set about trying to find out something about the relationship that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have with their temple garments.   Around 4,500 Mormons responded to their question "What do your garments mean to you?"

Out of the survey data emerged some very strong themes, and to discuss their research Nancy Ross and Jessica Finnigan join me for a very interesting discussion about Mormon underwear.

Direct download: Ross_Finnigan_Temple_Garments_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:23pm MDT

Mark Pugsley is a lawyer in Salt Lake City Utah who specialises in recovering money lost by investors due to bad advice or misconduct.
He has represented victims of investment fraud and unsuitable investment recommendations in civil litigation, whistleblower cases, and receivership (clawback) cases for over twenty years.  

Mark reports that Affinity Fraud is a big problem in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community and he’s repeatedly called on leaders of the LDS Church to be more proactive in warning church members that they need to carefully evaluate investment opportunities on their merits, regardless of who is pitching them.

Direct download: Mark_Pugsley_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34pm MDT

Sara Hughes-Zabawa offers a guided meditation to accompany our journeys into Stage Four:  The Individuative-Reflective stage of faith.

Direct download: Stage_Four.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm MDT

Sara Hughes-Zabawa returns to discuss one of the most emotionally and spiritually challenging stages in Fowler's Stages of Faith;  the development of an Individuative-Reflective Faith.   In high demand or fundamentalist faith traditions Stage Four is poorly understood and often poorly responded to by families,  hurch friends and leadership.

Sarah calls for the celebration and normalisation of the individuative-reflective stage of faith and for more openness and acceptance of its necessity in everyone's spiritual becoming.

Direct download: sarahughes-zabawa_Stage_Four_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:27pm MDT

As my interview with spiritual trauma therapy specialist Kathleen Shannon will indicate, a definition for religious abuse is difficult to nail it down.  But according to Caswell and Swindle (2018) religious abuse occurs within three categories. 

  1. Abuse perpetrated by religious leaders.
  2. Abuse perpetrated by a religious group.
  3. Abuse with a religious or spiritual component.

There is a good amount of literature about religious and spiritual abuse and what comes up, again and again, is that firstly, religious abuse is ubiquitous in conservative and fundamentalist faith traditions.  And secondly, religious abuse has a profound effect on personal well being and mental health.

In this interview, Kathleen and I will be talking about the dominant forms of religious abuse which are:

  1. Power-posturing and authoritarianism
  2. Double Talk and hypocrisy.
  3. Lifestyle rigidity and a preoccupation with performance.
  4. Top-down communication and the control of doubt and dissent.
  5. Image control and the pressure to keep everything looking sweet.
  6. The tendency to think that everyone has to wrong but your group.
  7. Legalism.
  8. The extra religious tax on women.

What’s interesting in this interview is that as two people who come from two different backgrounds we soon realise that we have a great deal in common.  Which begs many questions about what is going on society that Christianity that denominations have been captured by a form of church that has great potential to cause harm.

 

 

Direct download: kathleen_shannon_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm MDT

Jan Tyler has been an active campaigner for women's rights since the early 1970's.

Her first job was at Weber State University as the Women's Dean.  It was there that she met the incoming President, Joseph Bishop.  He became so problematic that she eventually hired a lawyer and took out a discrimination case against him.

She was later employed by BYU where she went head to head with Dallin Oaks (the then president) over women's rights.   She took three top Utah State administrators to court over sex discrimination.  And as the head of the coordinating committee for the Utah International Women's Year convention in 1975, she stood for women's rights against a 13,000 strong Mormon contingent who were hell-bent on disrupting the proceedings.  

Jan went on to champion the cause of women and Mormon women in one of the most patriarchal and conservative states in the USA. 

Her story is one of plucky and determined resolve to support women's rights in the face of institutions, culture and even her own faith tradition.

 

Direct download: Jan_Tyler_V2_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm MDT

Sam Young was recently excommunicated from the LDS Church.  His sin was 'advocating' for a change of policy to prevent Church Leaders from asking children sexually explicit questions.  He had collected the testimonies of hundreds of abuse victims,  but this was not enough to prevent his ousting.   Sam's Disciplinary Council and Stake President were more disturbed by his challenging the Church leaders than they were by the hundreds of instances of abuse he presented to them.

In this interview, we explore the spiritual journey that brought Sam to a reckoning with the church to which he has given his life.

Direct download: Sam_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52am MDT

LDS sacrament meetings are decidedly low church but without the possibility of any variation or innovation - anywhere in the world.  And it's been that way for decades.

Bradley Burgess a convert to the LDS Church from South Africa, is a graduate of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. A professional organist and church musician, Bradley currently serves as the full-time Associate Director of Music and Worship Arts at a large North Carolina Methodist Church. He joins me to discuss his hope for an ecumenical model of LDS worship that draws on the best of other Christian traditions.

Direct download: Burgess_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:58am MDT

It comes as no surprise that the Roman Catholic Church is suffering a crisis of credibility over its handling of cases of church-related and clergy perpetrated sexual abuse.

Dr. Rocio Figueroa was involved in uncovering cases of serial sexual abuse in Sodalico, a conservative Roman Catholic society in Lima, Peru by its founder Fernando Figari, its vicar Herman Doig and other senior leaders of the movement.  In doing so she encountered institutional cover-ups and denials that caused her own dark night of the soul.

Drawing on the research relating to sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church Rocio joins me to discuss the conditions that enable sexual abuse in religious contexts.

Rocio specializes in issues related to women's studies, and reciprocity between men and women. In the Holy See she was responsible for the Women’s section in the Pontifical Council of Laity (specifically creating networks between the different international Catholic associations which promote the dignity and value of women).

 

Direct download: Rocio_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:57pm MDT

Few institutions are more equipped to peek in on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with more understanding, sympathy and even critique than the Community of Christ.  They too have been dealing the same history with which the Mormons have been struggling.   But they are a generation or two ahead of the Mormons, suffering the natural convolutions and troubles that come from any institutional reckoning.  As a result, they know what it means to pay the price for, and then to enjoy the spiritual liberation that comes from squaring up to your tradition's past sins.

Andrew Bolton, a former apostle of the Community of Christ, joins me to discuss ‘the problem of Nauvoo.'

Direct download: andrew_bolton_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm MDT

Tom Mikota has designed special effects on such blockbuster movies as Avatar, King Kong, Tintin etc.  But it wasn't until he was shoulder tapped to work on the 360 degree Joseph Smith film on Temple Square that things began to occur to him.  After a lifetime of faithful service, he was introduced to the contradictory first vision accounts that he was employed to represent as an employee of the church.

In this interview, we walk through Tom's faith crisis and we confront the question, 'Can I continue in the church without the trappings and social markers of orthodoxy?'

Direct download: Tom_Mikota_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10pm MDT

Tim Kosnoff is a US attorney who has spent the last two decades representing victims of sexual abuse.   His introduction to the  LDS Church and their lawyers was when he represented Jeremiah Scott who was sexually abused by a serial paedophile Frank Curtis.  His work, in this case, appears in Lisa Davis' legal thriller, 'The Sins of Brother Curtis.' 

This case has lead to a practice in which he has come to represent over 150 Mormon sexual abuse victims bringing him face to face with the Mormon law machine time and time again.  

Tim joins me to discuss his experiences as a representative and advocate for sexual abuse victims against the LDS Church. 

Direct download: Kosnoff_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44pm MDT

While Mormons claim Joseph Smith as the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is still very much Brigham Young's church.  Brigham's leadership was formative in shaping the LDS movements as it is today.   The husband of 55 wives Brigham's influence was more than organisational.  He was also responsible for establishing a patriarchal structure and suite of doctrines and practices that affirmed that loyalty to the highest priesthood office in the church was the church's primary orthodoxy, and the feminine role was to honour that priesthood.

So, what of those who directly inherited Brigham's legacy.  What of his female posterity?

Great, great, great granddaughters of Brigham, Kristen Jensen and Crystal Chamberlain along with the great great great granddaughter of Zina Huntington (one of Brigham's wives) join me to discuss what it means to have inherited Brigham's legacy along with the wounds of their grandmothers.  

Direct download: Granddaughters_of_Brigham_Young.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:58pm MDT

Duane Jennings is the author of the two-volume series "Stumbling Blocks and Stepping-Stones."

In this conversation, we consider (notwithstanding current LDS policy) an LDS queer theology through the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of scripture, reason, tradition, and experience.

 

Direct download: Duane_Jennings_Absolute_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33pm MDT

In 1990 the Pace Memorandum reported the findings of General Authority Glenn Pace in which alleged victims described ritual abuse.  This was followed by a Utah State Legislature investigation in which hundreds of alleged victims were interviewed.   These testimonies were later dismissed as 'false memories.'

Yet, research indicates that the undermining of these testimonies was not best professional practice for the mental health community.  Tara Workman-Tulley is a Provo based therapist who specializes in complex trauma.  Many of her clients continue to report childhood experiences of ritual abuse that have uncanny similarities.

Tara joins me to discuss sexual abuse and sex trafficking in Mormon communities. 

Direct download: Tara_Tulley_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am MDT

Benjamin Knoll and Cami-Jo Bollin discuss their new book, 'She Preached the Word:  Women's Ordination in Modern America.'

Their study uses novel survey data that reveals a surprising relationship between political orientation and an acceptance of women's ordination.   This, of course,  raises one of America's most pressing questions: How strongly are America's religious sensibilities shaped by their much polarized US political scene?

Direct download: Ben_Knowles_Cami-Jo_Bolin_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37pm MDT

A meditation to accompany our thinking and feeling into how we once or are currently living in Fowler's Stage Three: Synthetic-Conventional Faith.

Direct download: Sarah_ZH_Stage_3_Meditation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50pm MDT

Sarah Hughes-Zabawa rejoins me to discuss Fowler's Stages of Faith:  The Synthetic-Conventional Stage.

Stage Three is usually entered into during adolescence.   It's that stage in which we imagine that our views represent an accurate and faithful totality of truth.   This stage also sees us looking at institutions as the bearers of that truth, and we reward those institutions with our agreement and consent to their authority.  During this stage, we come to believe that there are goals to accomplish and in meeting those goals we'll please God and receive blessings.  But, as we'll discuss, stage three also has its complications.

Direct download: Sara_Hughes-Zabawa__Stage_Four_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38pm MDT