Podcast #15: Of One Heart and One Mind Fireside

On March 8, Russell Stevenson, along with Blacks in the Scriptures and Northstar, sponsored a special event devoted to discussing how the LGBT/SSA/transgender and African-American communities have endeavored to uphold their faith in the face of systemic marginalization.  Participants included Nick Gregory, an active transgender Latter-day Saint, Rod Olson, an active gay Mormon living in Los Angeles, and Marvin Perkins, an African-American Latter-day Saint man and producer of Blacks in the Scriptures. You will also hear stunning musical performances from Catherine Papworth, Rashida Jordan, and Cherie Call.

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Podcast #14: Transcending Death: Dr. Samuel M. Brown on Mormon Death Theology

In this podcast, I sit down with Dr. Samuel M. Brown, a medical doctor at the Intermountain Medical Center and a brilliant historian of death theology in Mormonism, focusing particularly on his book, In Heaven as it is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death. We discuss the distinctive contributions Mormonism made to Christianity’s understanding of death and Mormonism’s conceptualization of the Saints as a bonded “enduring community” whose friendship and ties could overcome death. Whether you’re cleaning the kitchen, taking an evening run, working the shop, or making the commute, stop by and listen to the Dr. Brown talk about how Mormonism grapples with the Terrible Questions that haunt us all.

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Podcast #13: An Interview with J.B. Haws

For generations, Mormons have navigated the tumultuous waters of public opinion. Whether defending themselves against charges of racism or making charming advertisements about the importance of family, Mormons have sought to be conscious about how the outside world sees them. Russell Stevenson sits down with Dr. J.B. Haws, an assistant professor of religion at Brigham Young University, to discuss his award-winning book, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: 50 Years of Public Opinion. They discuss the civil rights movement in Utah, the blowback from Mormon opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, and Mormon efforts to dodge attacks even as they hoped to disseminate a message of Jesus Christ for all who would listen. Haws’ story gives us the Mormon need for flexibility, negotiation, and principle in an age when the public eye is always watching. Stay tuned!

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Podcast #12: Women of Faith–An Interview with Church Historian Brittany Chapman

In this timely interview, Russell Stevenson discusses the newest volume of the Deseret Book-published series, Women of Faith.  As an edited volume of short biographies about LDS women from the nineteenth-century, this book provides readers a fast-paced tour what Mormon women experienced, whether in territorial Utah or New Zealand.  Brittany Chapman discusses how Mormon women viewed love, priesthood, and faith in a time when they could not be taken for granted.

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Podcast #11: Joseph Smith and Polygamy: An Interview with Brian Hales

In this important episode, Russell Stevenson sits down with historian Brian Hales, author of the three-volume series, Joseph Smith and Polygamy We talk about the concept of “dynastic marriage,” sexuality in Joseph Smith’s plural marriages, and the Women Who Told Joseph Smith “No.” Hales offers his own feelings and concerns about polygamy and helps Saints navigate their way through the confusing–and ambiguous–documentary trail. Listen in!

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Podcast #10: An Interview with Alex Beam, Author of American Crucifixion

In this special Mormon History Guy/Rational Faiths joint podcast, Russell Stevenson interviews Alex Beam, the non-Latter-day Saint author of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church. We discuss polygamy, Joseph Smith’s strength of character, and distinctions between traditional Mormon narratives about Joseph Smith and Alex Beam’s interpretation. Come listen in!

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Podcast #9: Ordain Women in Mormon History-An Interview with Chelsea Shields Strayer

In this exciting episode, Russell Stevenson interviews Chelsea Shields Strayer, a member of Ordain Women’s Executive Board. We discuss the history of the Ordain Women movement in the broader context of Mormon history and explore the contours of the relationship between Ordain Women and the institutional Church. The discussion that arises is rich, provocative, and illuminative–a journey into the heart of what makes Ordain Women such an important movement for 21st-century Mormons, men and women alike. Stay tuned!

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Podcast #8: An Interview with Robert Millet

Dr. Robert Millet, a longstanding and widely-respected scholar of the Latter-day Saint tradition, joins us this podcast to discuss his new book, Restored and Restoring: The Unfolding Drama of the Restoration. We discuss efforts to build bridges between the evangelical and Mormon communities, the idea of a “big Church,” and the role of historically verifiable truth in defining one’s relationship to the Church. As a leading voice in promoting dialogue with other religious traditions, Millet’s voice and perspective has few equals. Join us now.

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Podcast #7: The First Vision

It is the foundational event of Mormonism–or at least that is what it became. Beginning in 1832, Joseph Smith began to publicly talk about a visionary experience he had in a grove of trees nearby his home in upstate New York. However, what he told audiences differed from year-to-year in what feels to be substantial detail. Is this evidence of rank fraud? Or, as his supporters say, does it indicate the natural human tendency to emphasize/omit details of a story based on one’s audience or perhaps his own changing understanding of the importance of certain theological principles. Brittany Nielson and I speak with LDS Church Historian Dr. Stephen Harper about his book, Joseph Smith’s First Vision: A Guide to the Historical Accounts Harper currently works on the Joseph Smith Papers Project production team for the LDS Church.

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Podcast #6: Mormonism and the Single Saint

In this podcast–recorded live at the Salt Lake City Public Library–Russell Stevenson hosts a panel discussion in which he along with three single Latter-day Saints (Ryan Fleming, Kylee Shields, and Lisa Benson) discuss not only the history of Mormon single identity but also struggles and benefits of being a single Latter-day Saint today. Given the marriage-centered Mormon narrative–both historically and theologically–single Saints invite Mormons to revise that narrative.  We field questions from a live audience and address how single LDS can best relate to their married Mormon family members and acquaintances. Listen in for more!

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