This episode takes on the topic of healing, but foremost through the sharing of two healing journeys and the new world and sense of self that can open up when we find the courage to explore those messages and wounds that we pick up through life that distort our vision of reality, and especially our own sense of self worth. Too often, we choose to keep on functioning with certain stories of ourselves and others simply because they are known to us, they form the world we know that isn’t great but at least it’s predictable. Luckily God/Life/Love keeps serving up to us invitations to go inside and figure out what is hidden in the shadows so we might heal from negative experiences and integrate in healthy ways the lessons and perspectives these have given us. Sometimes it is great love that causes us to start exploring our patterns and views, but far more often it takes great suffering and finding ourselves at the end of our own resources to deal with it that forces us to confront what we’ve tried so hard to hide from ourselves and others. That’s really not what we went to hear, but it is pretty close to universally true.
In the discussion you are about to listen to, Carma Hyde and Shelly Wilkinson, two wonderful and brave women who have chosen to risk being vulnerable about their healing journeys, share sadnesses and messages and events in their past that have led them to seek and eventually find peace through going inward, facing shadows, and trusting that light and love would be with them all the way through. Both have now emerged as healers themselves, with one of them, Shelly, formally as a sought-out healer in the Salt Lake Valley. In addition to hearing their stories, we got to a more objective view, drawing from all our experiences to reflect on aspects of healing in general.
Please listen in! You’ll be glad you did!
Kajsa Berlin-Kaufusi is a wonderful example of someone whose spiritual connection has guided her and encouraged her even through her many spiritual wrestles. She has a varied and rich background, familial as well as scholarly, and, in addition to being a mom of three, she teaches Ancient Scripture courses at the BYU Salt Lake Center. I know you’ll very much enjoy getting to know her and learning about the various ways she has come to be able to bring together in such a neat way her faith and academic understandings, in addition to her multi-cultural and multi-religious experiences.
She is powerful, and our discussion throughout highlights again and again just how vital it is that we first and foremost ground ourselves in and remain connected with the Divine. I believe you will also find fascinating the way she approaches scripture in her college classrooms, as well as those times in which personal and institutional revelations don’t mesh. She is a great model for thoughtful, prayerful, soulful wrestling alongside a deep commitment to engagement with and service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I know you will be glad you listened in!
This episode follows up on the notion that we are experiencing a time of transition in today’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during which the outlines of one dominant way of being Mormon, thinking Mormon, living Mormon is losing sway, and another, a more experiential way, is slowly rising and establishing itself as here to stay. Two great conversationalists, active church members, and astute trend watchers, Susan Hinckley and Mark Crego, join LDF host Dan Wotherspoon in this episode to share reactions to the earlier podcast and its proposals. What did they hear from others about the episode and its proposal? What were their own reactions to it and how it was presented? If they have, how have they experienced the shift in their own wards or circles? What cautions do they have for those who feel called to be part of the emerging awareness and to model new ways of interacting at church and in other typically Mormon settings they find themselves in?
The episode is also full of broad themes that go beyond just the paradigm model, such as stepping into our own spiritual development, learning to experience God/Christ and speak of these in language that doesn’t move into “correlation speak,” as well as the call to be patient in trusting the slow work of God. Please listen in and comment below!
Teilhard de Chardin prayer shared at end of the episode (adapted from a longer piece by the Center for Action and Contemplation and its Living School):
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within us will be. Let us give God the benefit of believing that God’s hand is leading us, and let’s accept the anxiety of feeling ourselves in suspense and incomplete.
J. Bonner Ritchie, “The Institutional Church and the Individual,” Sunstone 25th Anniversary Issue, 1999
Episode with Jana Spangler, Jody England Hansen, and Dan Wotherspoon on the upcoming Latter-day Faith Retreat, 11-13 October 2019, Salt Lake City
Description and registration information for the retreat
This short(ish) episode contains the announcement of a change to the upcoming Latter-day Faith retreat to be held October 11th to 13th in Salt Lake City. Natasha Helfer Parker can no longer be part of that event, so Jana Spangler, Jody England Hansen, and LDF host Dan Wotherspoon have re-designed the retreat to focus more on spirituality, development, practices, faith journeys, and possible reframings of what we had previously experienced only in limited ways, and more. And though this episode was launched because of the changes to the upcoming event, the panelists all try to make what they share here relevant for those who might not even be able to consider coming to the retreat. What are some of the larger issues at play in LDS lives and faith journeys that serve as excellent jumping off points for our own spiritual reflections? Listen in to see what they say!
Link to write-up (and registration) regarding the retreat.
In this episode, Latter-day Faith host Dan Wotherspoon goes solo to talk about some of the dynamics he sees at play in today’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Specifically, he utilizes the language of paradigm shifts to try to make sense of this current period, arguing that what we see fits the pattern often found when an all-encompassing vision of “the way things are” (a very strong, well-articulated paradigm that a majority of people think, react, and think out of) begins to show its limits as it can no longer reach and satisfy the curiosity and priorities and values of people who have begun to operate from a different sensibility. Ideally, this is a natural process and does not have to fraught with conflict and the result can be the instantiation of a new paradigm that honors and builds on the strengths of the previous one even as it shows how much “more” can be discovered and explored via the new one.
What cracks are beginning to show themselves in today’s current LDS paradigm? What is happening to reassure members of the church that today’s paradigm can explain and still inspire, protect, and bring peace at this time. What things are signaling that the current reactions to the new needs are not at all satisfactory, and that the paradigm requires expansion if it is to accommodate new data, events, trends, discoveries, and enrichments? If someone is experiencing tension with the old paradigm but does not want to abandon it or the church it dominates, what can they do to assist in a smooth transition from the one to the other? What are some of the values and methodologies and blessings that lie at the core of the new paradigm?
This episode is intended as a beginning to a discussion and does not pretend to be polished and very well articulated. Observations, hunches, sensibilities, and hopefulness are its hallmark, and Dan invites you all to suggest, challenge, tweak, and in any way you’d like become an active voice in identifying the issues and assisting in making a stronger case for the needs revealing themselves in today’s church dynamics. Or, again, please fight back. Propose alternative visions that frame things differently. However you react, please don’t keep things to yourself!
Expanding on several previous Latter-day Faith episodes that centered on scripture or the concept of Zion, our discussion this week revolves around several elements in LDS scripture and early church teachings that shifts our thinking regarding these areas in wonderful ways. Guided by the brilliant Brittney Hartley, we explore how we need to create a better balance between the scriptural teachings about Zion being brought down “from above” as well as up “from beneath.” (D&C 84:100) The vast majority of teachings about creating Zion have been driven by church leaders and through top-down pronouncements, even to the point of talking about how Zion should be “administered”! Instead, Brittney asks what would it mean to take seriously gathering Zion from below?
You don’t want to miss this discussion! It is very frank about current failings, including really missing the point in how we understand 2 Nephi 29’s critique about “A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible,” but it is also full of optimism and very practical steps we might take to restore proper balance and become the kind of church needed today in this pivotal time of increasing disaffiliation among members, and especially among the rising generations.
For so many of us whose religious world views have begun to shift, and previous ways of viewing various elements of what we had been taking for granted start to become less stable, scripture is one of the components for which we can easily lose affection and appreciation. But rather than abandon our reading and study practices altogether, there are approaches to it that match well with what our journeys have prepared us be able to engage. One such method is the focus of this episode, an Ignatian spiritual practice/approach to scripture. (We’d already introduced another practice, lectio divina in Episode 014, but the Ignatian method is quite different from that.)
Our guide into this practice is Mark Crego, a regular guest on Latter-day Faith podcast as well as Mormon Matters. In this discussion with host Dan Wotherspoon, Mark briefly introduces us to Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, which came to be known as Jesuits and that is a recognized monastic order in Catholicism, one that places high value on education, scholarship, and science while at the same time nurturing deep self-reflection and enlivened spirituality. (The current pope, Francis, is the first Jesuit to receive that ordination.) Mark then takes us into a few more elements of the Jesuit worldview and what they hold as the highest goal of a human life, but his main focus in the Ignatian practice of imaginatively entering into scriptural stories (settings, persons, what and who else is there that the scripture isn’t mentioning) that can lead into insights and personal transformation that can gained through a practice of this type. In the course of the conversation, he and Dan briefly reflect on ways we might shift our understandings of the Adam and Eve story, and then Mark shares a powerful piece he wrote about his experiences and transformations of insight and how he came to understand himself differently as he practices this approach during Holy Week 2017. It is gorgeous, rich, emotional, discerning, and not to be missed. From it and a closing few minutes that re-introduce the various steps in the Ignatian method, you will be able to gain both a delicious taste of and some know-how about this practice and what it can yield.
Read Mark Crego’s writeup of his imaginative entering into the place of Jesus’s final instructions to his disciples (men and women included at the table) and Last Supper.
In this episode, Latter-day Faith host Dan Wotherspoon goes solo this time to talk about the aspect of “surrendering” or “yielding” or “allowing” the Divine to work in us. He asserts that if we allow the idea that God is all in all and in and through everything, including ourselves, and if we seek to abide in and be influenced by our spiritual center that exists “in” God and is God, we will be able to grow spiritually in ways our minds and plans and goals can’t even imagine, as experiencing deep abiding in God is far richer than these can ever touch. From there, he moves into aspects of surrender and yielding, and reveals through various LDS scripture how deeply embedded this practice is, this stance of allowing something more than what our dualistic minds and beliefs can change us in our very core.
If “ideas about” God or aspects of the universe as describe in religions language are increasingly feeling constrictive and impotent, let this episode and its focus on experiencing God sink in a bit. You’ll be intrigued and hopefully motivated to trust the deepest calls of your soul.
“One” by Birdtalker, video and lyrics
Latter-day Faith Retreat, October 11th to 13th
Change the Game
Life is so immeasurably vast,
that to conclude
you are limited
is only because
you are accessing
a minuscule, subjective twig
of infinite Reality.
There will come a time,
when you will not be bound
by this current body and brain,
and instantly you will
experience and remember
more of your eternal heritage
and ethereal nature.
Why wait for that time,
when it is available to you now
while you are still here?
The game changes
when you release
your current reference points.
Poem from Educare Unlearning Institute (daily emails)
This episode features an interview with the wonderful Kim McCall about the concept (and small instantiations) of Zion, and especially how it activates and animates his soul and spiritual life. Latter-day Faith host Dan Wotherspoon gets into sharing mode about it, as well. Kim’s recent reflections on Zion were prompted by his being asked this past year to give a sacrament meeting talk on the Second Coming, a topic Kim wasn’t at all enthusiastic to speak on. (Neither would many of us, we suspect!) But then, as he further queried his heart and mind, he found a way into the topic: Zion and how it animated so many early Latter-day Saints’ focus and efforts and unified extremely diverse people with genuine purpose and a sense of call to prepare a community to which Christ would feel comfortable returning. Kim shared his beautiful heart with his ward, at the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium this past week, and even more in this episode. The conversation here also explores what it means to have a “good will,” as well as how we can each catch the vision of Zion and go about implementing it in our portions of this world despite a world and mindsets that do not (yet?) hold much space for such things, and even work against them.
This is a terrific episode! Please jump in and then share your own vision of Zion and tales of bringing these ideals into your spheres of influence.
Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the various rituals and ordinances that take place in LDS temples are considered to be the highest expression of God’s love for us and the path of human ascension. And for many church members, especially the ones who have really leaned into temple ritual, it is. But for a significant number of others, most likely a majority of those who have participated, temple experiences baffle them or even become sources of deep internal conflict or discouragement, or they even play a role in their choosing to leave Mormonism, either through being less involved or even fully removing themselves from its membership records.
In this episode, my very good and wise friend Jody England Hansen and I acknowledge the experiences of participants all along this spectrum of reactions, but discuss the temple and ritual in general through the lenses of myth and ritual studies, symbolism and archetypal energies and truths, and our own experiences with the temple, including key moments from our own journeys with the temple that have led to our own shifts toward greater appreciation of what gifts lie within when we let go of certain preconceived notions and wrong-headed rhetoric about the nature of the endowment and other ordinances. A key feature in our journeys through life and in faith must be a willingness to allow our world views to expand as we accumulate more and more experience. What can seem like THE truth at one time in our development must be able to yield to the lessons found in all the complexities life will lead us into. And an absolute key in all of this shifting must involve embracing mythic truths and rich symbolic methods that teach us in ways that are impossible simply through what our minds alone can discover.
I think you will find the discussion herein to be challenging but also liberating, unusual in its frankness while also empowering. May it be so!
Dan Wotherspoon, “Why Ritual ‘Makes Sense,‘” Sunstone, Fall 2016
Charles Randall Paul, “The Sacred Secret Open to All: Ye Are Gods,” Sunstone, May 2009