LDS History, Faith, and Culture

A collection of RadioWest conversations about LDS history, faith, and culture.

Seer Stones

Aug 11, 2015

Tuesday, we’re talking about seer stones, the instruments Mormons believe Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon. Last week, the LDS Church published a photo of one stone, likening it to Biblical objects that helped people “communicate spiritually.” Historians Matthew Bowman and Benjamin Park join us to explain how these types of objects were used in early 19th century America (it wasn’t just the Mormons). We’ll also ask what role these stones played in the development of Mormonism and what they tell us about the idea of revelation.

As a lifelong servant of the LDS church, apostle Boyd K. Packer was admired for being a bold speaker, a dedicated teacher, and a protector of conservative doctrine. However, his outspoken condemnation of feminists, LGBT people, and intellectuals, among other actions, brought him plenty of scorn and controversy. His passing late last week leaves a glaring hole in the church’s upper administration. Tuesday, we’re taking stock of Packer’s life and legacy and asking how his impact will continue to be felt.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thursday, Doug is joined by Mormon scholars Richard Bushman and Gregory Prince for a conversation about the Presidency of the LDS Church. President Thomas S. Monson is 87 years old, and there are unconfirmed rumors that he may be suffering from some form of dementia. There have been similar issues with past Presidents, and with an average age of 80 for the highest offices, it's likely to continue. We’ll talk about what this means for the Church, its members, and for the leaders themselves.

There have always been questions about the role of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah politics. Many say the Church’s influence is indirect, but former state lawmaker Carl Wimmer is questioning whether Church lobbyists on Capitol Hill go too far. Last month, he wrote that he was bullied when his stance on immigration diverged from his then Church’s position. Monday, we’re asking Wimmer and others how lawmakers decide whether to vote with their politics or with their faith.

  Monday, we’re focusing on one of the most talked about bills of the 2015 legislative session: the LGBT anti-discrimination bill. Republican Representative Brad Dee called it the “Utah solution.” It was crafted with careful negotiation between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LGBT community, and clarified exemptions for religious organizations. We’ll talk about the role the Church played in getting it passed and what the legislation does or doesn’t do for LGBT people and people of faith.

Tuesday, Doug is joined by John Dehlin, whose popular podcast Mormon Stories focuses on “exploring, celebrating, and challenging Mormon culture in constructive ways.” It’s a mission that’s put him at odds with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Sunday, they held a disciplinary council to decide whether he will be excommunicated. Dehlin has received a letter with their decision and joins us to reveal what it says. We'll also discuss what it means for his life and his work going forward.

Last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made headlines by announcing its support of LGBT anti-discrimination laws. But leaders also expressed deep concern over religious liberty and called for laws to protect churches and individuals when acting “in accordance with their beliefs.” Wednesday, we’re gathering legal experts to answer questions at the heart of the Church’s statement: Is religious freedom at risk? Is there a conflict between anti-discrimination and religious liberty? And finally, is there a place for compromise?

TLC

 

The TLC network aired a controversial reality show Sunday night featuring three LDS Utah couples in mixed-orientation marriages. That's when the husband or wife is attracted to members of the same sex but wants to be in a heterosexual relationship. While some critics say gay people in mixed-orientation marriages are denying their true identity to be accepted by their faith, people in the relationships say they're living the lifestyle of their choice. We'll hear from both sides on Monday.

Women at Church

Jan 7, 2015

Wednesday, our guest is blogger and columnist Neylan McBaine. As Mormon feminists made headlines in a quest to gain access to the all-male priesthood, media including RadioWest turned to McBaine as a voice for moderate and faithful LDS women. Now, she’s written a book that explores ways to improve the role of women while respecting the structure of the Church. As one blogger put it, it’s left McBaine “taking crap from all sides.” We’ll ask how she answers critics who say change is unnecessary and those who argue her ideas don’t go far enough.

It may not be breaking news that LDS church founder Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. And yet, many were shocked when the church released an essay last month acknowledging the ages, number, and marital status of Smith’s wives, including a 14-year-old girl. Thursday, we’re examining how Mormons have reacted to the essay. We'll examine how common conception of Smith's plural marriages contrasts with reality, and we'll ask whether Smith's actions compromise the infallibility of the church's prophets.

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