337: The Next Mormons

Jana RiessStandout Mormon author, scholar, and commentator Jana Riess is working on her next book, which will focus on Mormonism’s “Millennial” generation (those now between ages 18 and 35) and their spirituality, religiosity, views and attitudes toward aligning with institutions, and much, much more. It will be titled The Next Mormons. In service of that project, she is actively interviewing many, many people, and has just this week launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a massive, representative national survey of four generations of Mormons, seeking to find key areas of difference that can help illuminate what is occurring among the generation of Latter-day Saints just entering serious adulthood. This episode shares Jana’s vision for the importance of these interviews and studies and the information they will yield, but Jana and co-panelists David Campbell and Derrick Clements, along with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, talk about several themes and trends we are now beginning to see come forward among Millennials. The discussions are fascinating, ranging from Millennial “seeking” to attitudes towards marriage and family, as well as experiences in church settings such as temples, sacrament and other meetings, singles and mid-singles wards, etc. It is enough to definitely wet our whistle and become even more thirsty for more information to come forth, especially through Jana’s capable, enjoyable, wonderful head, heart, and hands.

Please listen to the conversation, visit the Kickstarter (it only runs through Friday, July 29th), and join in the dialogue below!

The Next Mormons Kickstarter Campaign



336: The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy

Ghost of Eternal Polygamy coverIn this episode, author Carol Lynn Pearson joins Mormon Matters host, Dan Wotherspoon, for a one-on-one conversation about her new and extremely powerful book, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men. In it, Carol Lynn embraces two roles: the first, the position that many have ascribed to her of “wise-woman elder”; the second, “storyteller,” which role no one has ever filled better. From the gifts associated with these titles and her own huge heart and great power drawn from her love of her Mormon people, including its founder who instigated the practice and doctrine of plural marriage, she presents the most compelling portrait to date of the dramatic, heartbreaking, confusing, and emotionally devastating effects of polygamy’s continued haunting presence in today’s Mormonism, a Mormonism that ostensibly ended the practice of plural marriage more than a century ago. Through wonderful confluences of her own stories, the stories of women and men in early Mormonism, as well as stories drawn from thousands of responses she received from people who participated in a survey asking about their understandings of polygamy in past-, present-, and future-day Mormonism, along with terrific research and gathering of wonderful insights from Mormon and non-Mormon teachers and scholars, a compelling picture emerges that strongly suggests it is time to admit the practice is, and has always been, a terrible mistake—one that produces pain and heartache and leads to distancing from God and our highest selves. It is certainly not God’s own form of marriage, nor the Divine’s desires for us. In beautiful and loving ways, Carol Lynn shares reasons for seeing this conclusion about polygamy as an error of Brother Joseph’s as the most forgiving and healing stance toward it we can take, and one that she believes Joseph himself would agree with and encourage us to work to bring it to an end.

Even amidst the many difficult topics and stories the book engages, Carol Lynn retains a positive outlook and reasons for imagining a hopeful, post-polygamous future. She does not leave us with a full de-construction without offering a new vision: moving from “Patriarchy to Partnership,” which, itself, is already a reality she and leaders she works alongside have already begun to know and embody. It is nearly impossible by book’s end for us to not want to join together with great energy in a wonderful (even worldwide, beyond Mormonism) healing adventure.

Please listen to this conversation, which includes Carol Lynn reading many incredible passages from the book, and then add your thoughts, questions, and experiences in the comments section below!



Carol Lynn Pearson, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men (Walnut Creek, CA: Pivot Point Books, 2016)

335: Hope

HopeIn commenting about Hope, Patrick Mason writes: “The three great Christian virtues are faith, hope, and charity. The first and the third receive significant attention, but hope—like many middle children—sometimes gets lost in the shuffle” (Planted, 123). Mason is right. How often do we examine this important virtue/quality/gift/fruit? In this episode, Patrick Mason, Brian Hauglid, Bridget Jack Jeffries, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon try to remedy this neglect, diving into various facets of Hope: what it is, how it is gained and allowed to flourish, and its various guises within religious as well as secular systems of thought. The panel also examines specifics of Christian Hope—including its sense that for believers, in the end they know Christ and justice and mercy and all virtues will emerge triumphant—and in what ways this sensibility can serve both wonderful motivations to action and, at times, personal complacency. Jeffries also helps Latter-day Saints come to better understand differences and complements between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity on this as well as a few other theological subjects. Each panelist also shares about personal trials in their lives and where their sense of hope finds its firmest footing.

Please listen to this terrific discussion, and then join in through the commenting system below!


Patrick Q. Mason, Planted: Faith and Belonging in an Age of Doubt (Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, 2015)

334: Growing and Living a Fully Engaged Mormon Life

Once someone has begun to explore ideas and have experiences that are not outlined explicitly within the typical Mormon curriculum, it is often very difficult to find footing again within our own spirits, as well as among LDS family, friends, and communities. If one chooses to push through these difficult transition periods, however, many have found that wide and expansive aspects of Mormonism begin to unfold again, and that Mormonism can be a wonderful home once more for continued spiritual development. They find perspectives or learn from various experiences new ways to engage fully with nearly everyone they have always loved and lived their lives in orbit with, even if these others no longer are following similar adventurous paths, nor anymore really understand them and all they have and are going through.

This episode is a recording (with video also available) of a live event that took place on June 15th, 2016, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by Mormon Stories podcast as part of its live events series, this evening’s program was a conversation with several members of the church who have once more found peace within their Mormon journeys and who are engaging it and living their lives with energy and hopefulness within the tradition even while still fully aware of its many difficulties and challenges. The panelists are: Gina Colvin (Host of the A Thoughtful Faith podcast), Thomas Wirthlin McConkie (Author of Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis), and me, Dan Wotherspoon (Host of the Mormon Matters podcast). The convener and host for the evening is John Dehlin (Host of the Mormon Stories podcast). John’s guidance for the conversations was terrific and led to some wonderful discussions, sharing of insights, fun (and perhaps slightly “blue”) moments of genuine humor, and an overall fantastic evening. The close of the session also featured powerful and heartfelt emotions and questions from audience members.

Please listen (or watch!) and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

Here is the video of this event:


Thomas Wirthlin McConkie, Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map (2015)

Mormon Matters Back to Full Functionality!

MM logoI am really pleased to announce the Mormon Matters website (and other features) have returned to full functionality following nearly a month of hell as we (along with all but one of the Open Stories Foundation websites were hacked and affected by malware). I am incredibly grateful to the hard work of John Dehlin and others he worked with in increasing our security protocols, updating the ways we loaded content to iTunes as well as to this site, etc.–though everything from your viewpoint here at Mormon Matters site should now work the same as before.

Two quick notes:

1. For those who subscribe to Mormon Matters and download episodes from iTunes or other podcast servicing systems, I am hearing that some of you need to now re-subscribe. We are so sorry for this inconvenience!

2. In rebuilding the site, we had to used cached content that necessitated our having to re-launch our most recent episode, 333: Mormonism and Future Generations (originally launched 2 June 2016). So it now shows a different release date.

Thank you for the many queries and worries and good wishes these past weeks from so many of you! It is so gratifying that you enjoy and value the conversations we host here at Mormon Matters.

333: Mormonism and Future Generations

Future MormonIn a wonderful new book, Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology, Adam Miller sets his spirit and intellect loose on the important task of helping clear away debris and then suggesting some possible new framings for Mormonism that might appeal to coming generations. As he writes in the Introduction, “Every generation must live its own lives and think its own thoughts and receive its own revelations. And, if Mormonism continues to matter, it will because they, rather than leaving, were willing to be Mormon all over again. Like our grandparents, like our parents, and like us, they will have to rethink the whole tradition, from top to bottom, right from the beginning, and make it their own in order to embody Christ anew in this passing world. To the degree that we can help, our job is to model that work in love and then offer them the tools, the raw materials, and the room to do it themselves.”

In this episode, Adam MillerRosalynde Welch, and Jim McLachlan join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of Future Mormon and various themes in Adam’s thinking. What common question asked and heard in Mormonism seems too thin to lead us to “load-bearing” answers that might serve us well in the midst of “white knuckle” prayers? Is “truth” static, sitting in God’s mind or heart like a vault waiting to be opened and shared, or is the ideal approach to truth something more dynamic, something that calls on us each, in our lives, to “make” an idea or movement true, to see how far a truth can carry us? Are there more powerful ways to think of “grace” beyond its role in the Atonement and questions about our salvation? Have we in Mormonism skipped over some elements that the apostle Paul might claim are essential, “Christianity 101” kinds of things—and how can these animate our lives in fresh and powerful ways? The discussion moves fast, and at times perhaps might seem a bit too “insider-ish” (as the four panelists talk about things in a book most listeners will not have read), but those moments quickly pass and this is an immensely enjoyable conversation.

Please help continue the conversation by sharing your thoughts and questions below!


Adam S. Miller, Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2016)

Adam S. Miller, Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan: An Urgent Paraphrase of Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2015)

Adam S. Miller, Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2012)