LDS Perspectives Podcast: Jed Woodworth, “The Word of Wisdom.”

Listen on the LDS Perspectives website, or on the direct link.

Jed Woodworth works in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is also the author of the Revelations in Context essay on Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants entitled, “The Word of Wisdom.”

In the early 1830s, the Temperance Movement was in full swing in the United States. Chapters of temperance societies had an undeniable influence on the discourse of the day. The story of the coming forth of the revelation recorded as Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants has sometimes failed to take into account how the movement may have been an influence on Joseph Smith and the Saints.

Much like other prophetic revelations, the catalyst for this revelation seems to have come from multiple circumstances. Historical context helps to shed light on the extent to which the Temperance Movement may have been an influence and what that means.

In this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, host Nick Galieti and Jed Woodworth delve into what is often referred to as the “Lord’s Law of Health.”

Check out the resources referenced in the podcast at LDS Perspectives

LDS Perspectives Podcast: John Hilton, III on teaching in Church settings

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In this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales visits with John Hilton III about teaching in church settings.

John has spent a good deal of his adult life working in religious education. He began his teaching career in the seminary and institute program and was hired by the BYU Department of Ancient Scripture after earning a PhD in education. He is also a popular speaker and author of several books for youth.

Hilton helped develop a “know, feel, and do” model for effective religious teaching. President Thomas S. Monson said that “the goal of gospel teaching is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of [learners]. … The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, then do something about living gospel principles.” Hilton’s method aims to accomplish these goals.

To have a successful class, whether it is Gospel Doctrine or Come Follow Me or Seminary, students should learn something new, feel something positive, and should be able to apply what they learn in their lives.

As a professional teacher, Hilton shares insights on what inspires and motivates students to learn and to be invested in the learning experience. He also gives practical suggestions on how to prepare lessons that are impactful.

Most gospel teachers do so on a volunteer basis, don’t have any formal training in education, and often struggle just to make it through a lesson while keeping the class’s attention. According to Hilton, creative teaching techniques can lead to a positive experience for both the student and the teacher.

Listen in as Laura Harris Hales and John Hilton discuss how mnemonic devices, reviews, creative teaching, group activities, personal interaction, and careful preparation can help us all become effective teachers.

Check out the resources referenced in the podcast and a transcript of Help! Teaching in Gospel Settings with John Hilton III at LDS Perspectives

LDS Perspectives Podcast: Robert L. Millet “Mere Christians?”

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Robert L. Millet was the Abraham O. Smoot Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and has spent years engaging in interfaith dialogue with scholars of many religious traditions.

He has often been asked the core question: “Are Mormon’s Christian?” His answer is echoed in a recent Gospel Topics essay on LDS.org resolutely declaring, “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians.”

The early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have been considered peculiar, but they were rarely accused of not being Christian.

The current argument against Mormonism’s Christianity is based on three observations:

1) Latter-day Saints do not accept the creeds, confessions, and formulations of post-New Testament Christianity.

2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not descend through the historical line of traditional Christianity. That is, the LDS Church did not break off of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant traditions.

3) Latter-day Saints do not believe in a closed canon.

In this LDS Perspectives Podcast, host Nick Galieti asks Robert Millet to clarify distinctions of doctrine, to suggest how members of the LDS Church can use the “Are Mormon’s Christian?” Gospel Topics essay, and to comment on why members of the LDS Church should embrace what is both unique about LDS theology and what they share with other Christian faiths.

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

LDS Perspectives Podcast: Scott Hales, “Mormon Stories in Shorts”

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In December 2013, Scott Hales bought himself an iPad and a digital drawing software program. He was in the final stages of finishing his PhD dissertation and was ready to try his hand at a lighter medium.

Dusting off his dormant art-major-dropout skills, he started drawing comic strips about a self-proclaimed weird Mormon girl. Enid is fifteen and on a journey of self-discovery. She explores the area between doubt and belief while grappling with doctrine and church history she seeks to understand.

Her struggles are compounded by living in a non-traditional family. She finds herself in a parenting role during her teenage years when she most needs a nurturing support system. Her home life is anything but the ideal she hears about at church.

The comic started out as an experiment, but Scott soon realized he had discovered an effective tool for examining more closely the potholes in the road. It is Enid’s quirkiness that creates a safe space for readers. If Enid’s thoughts uncomfortably mirror the readers’ at times, the laughter can easily be attributed to her oddness. And so Hales deftly leads an expedition through the idiosyncrasies and the beauties of Mormon culture.

It’s tempting to label Hales’s work as satire, but the potential sting of his message is short-lived and meant to work as an antiseptic. By encouraging readers to laugh at Mormon peculiarities, Hales hopes to create an environment where thorny topics can be talked about in an open, honest, and faithful manner.

Particularly helpful is the launch pad he constructs for discussion of painful issues. He embraces faith crises, uncomfortable history, Mormon social mores, the nature of faith, as well as what he has called “disputed space.” Sharing these vignettes with family and friends may invite discussions that otherwise could go unexplored, unexamined, and unresolved.

The Garden of Enid shows Hales’s bravery to own the good, the bad, and the sublime in the Mormon story. Its success will hopefully encourage others to similarly create works that constructively help Mormons balance their relationship between God, community, and church.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast as she interviews Enid creator Scott Hales. 

LDS Perspectives Podcast: “Tough Questions about Mormon Polygamy,” with Brian and Laura Hales

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Few aspects of Joseph Smith’s life have been scrutinized more in recent years than his personal practice of polygamy.

Some readers’ first exposure to Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy comes from reading sensational headlines. Exaggerations and assumptions fill internet discussions, podcasts, and newspaper articles, so it is hard to know where to go for accurate information.

The temptation by some authors to fill in historical gaps often results in distortions that stir up emotions and create tantalizing soundbites that, even if largely fictional, may generate unnecessary fear and confusion.

Polygamy is part of the collective Mormon past that many struggle to understand. Current members have no cultural or religious basis to situate plural marriage. Members in pioneer Nauvoo shared that same struggle. When Benjamin Johnson first heard of it, he recalled: “If a thunderbolt had fallen at my feet I could hardly have been more shocked or amazed.”

Early Mormon polygamy is a historical puzzle that can at best be awkwardly reconstructed from fragmentary recollections. But it is apparent from reminiscences that those who practiced it were convinced it represented a religious practice instituted by God.

Church Historian Matt Grow noted that the more complicated the history, the more nuanced conclusions should be. Mormon polygamy was undoubtedly complicated, warranting provisional conclusions. In this interview, Daniel C. Peterson of the Interpreter Foundation interviews Brian and Laura Hales about the most common questions asked about Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.

Join us for this candid discussion about what can and cannot be known about Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy. This episode is a joint production of LDS Perspectives and the Interpreter Foundation. Access a transcript of “Tough Questions about Polygamy” at the LDS Perspectives website.