This two-part episode uses the recent Japanese earthquakes and tsunamis as a springboard for a robust discussion of nature, and especially natural disasters. Often we hear claims that the upheaval and suffering caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, tornados, famine, and the like are “God’s will,” that God is sending a message through these events. And certainly there is certainly scriptural precedent for that view, and even modern prophetic utterance. But are there other, more nuanced and perhaps more ennobling ways to frame natural disasters within a theistic worldview? And if there are ways of seeing these upheavals that can lead to increased faith or broadened and deepened spirituality or love for God and the world, are any of these healthy approaches hinted at or embedded in particular Mormon views and practices?
We know you’ll enjoy this dynamic discussion (so good we had to double our normal podcast length!) between Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists George Handley, Duane Jeffery, and Joanna Brooks. We encourage you to also visit and contribute to this episode’s blog discussion.
Nice Fractal. There is some order in chaos as any mathematician will tell you.
After listening to this podcast a couple of things come to mind. Sometimes we judge natural “disasters” as bad. It is written, “Judge not, that you be not judged”. Shakespeare said it well when it comes to life’s situations “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Wise people have said, “This too shall pass”. If you believe in a all-knowing, all-powerful, creator God then one is logically forced to believe that God is behind and in all of these “disasters”. Is all human death bad? Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one is willing to die. 😉
Listening the second part of the podcast, I resent the characterization that “Tea Party” members don’t believe in global warning and disappointed that no one spoke out against that generalization. That is like saying that all Mormons believe that the world is only 6000 years old. These kind of generalizations are not helpful nor scientific.
Glenn, I think all of us on the panel are committed to being fair to all positions, so if some gross characterization of the Tea Party was said and passed without comment, I’m sure it was unintentional. Such oversights are part of the nature of verbal discussion. And I also think everyone would agree that groups are all made up of individuals with a wide range of beliefs so every characterization of a group and its positions implies that one knows there will be outliers. But again, it would be almost impossible in conversation to avoid at least some generalizations.
So as to the accuracy of the generalization about Tea Party and global warming goes, I was interested to find the following in the Wiki write up on the Tea Party (and trust that I am aware of problems with Wiki citations even as I copy and past this):
The 2010 midterm elections demonstrated considerable skepticism within the Tea Party movement with respect to the dangers and the reality of global warming. A New York Times/CBS News Poll during the election revealed that only a small percentage of Tea Party supporters considered global warming a serious problem, much less than the portion of the general public that does. Opposition is particularly strong to Cap and Trade with Tea Party supporters vilifying Democratic office holders who supported efforts to mitigate climate change by emissions trading which would encourage use of fuels which emitted less carbon dioxide. An example is the movement’s support of California Proposition 23, which would suspend AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The proposition failed to pass, with less than 40% voting in favor.
Characterizing the Tea Party with any position other than “Let’s take back the freedoms that Government has taken” has a lot of “hair” on it, as is mentioned in the Wiki piece 48% of all people surveyed identified themselves as sympathetic with the Tea Party. I am one of them as I am of the libertarian bent. Every libertarian might not think that global warming is as serious as taught by Mr. Gore, but most would support a mechanism that would allow for some sanctions on those who pollute on their neighbor with some form of pollution tax/vouchers or whatever. If pollution is the cause then this might be the potential solution. Another grand, expensive government program to solve this problem will result in the same results of many large scale government programs. Fraud, abuse, misuse, and massive expenses and not serving those who it was set up to help. Look at US education, defense, welfare, health care, social security, and medicare programs. Not great examples of government’s best work.
As far as order in chaos goes you might want to check out some IFS fractals I have found:
Thanks though to the panel members and to you for hosting this podcast.
When we describe less tolerant ways of interpreting nature as an easer way to understand things and a more tolerant less specific theology as more difficult it is a judgement of those that are unlike yourself. We all have a prescription to Acom’s Razer. At the time of Galileo it was the simplest explanation for those in power to say the Bible was literal in the idea that the Sun stopped than to accept Galileo’s explanation. Today there are few that this is true for. It is far simple for us to fit into our brain that Galileo was right,and the the Biblical account was speaking to the understanding of it’s authors. If it is easier to to dismiss scientific understanding and embrace the more literal interpretation we will. As an individual of faith gains scientific understanding the embrace of the literal becomes more and more difficult, and we may find a more simple explanation to say we do not understand the mind of God. For some it is the most simple explanation to say there is no God. None of these individuals are choosing a more difficult interpretation. We all choose what is most simple for us.
Good stuff, and I agree. Your point reminds me of one of the insights I mostly picked up from William James about it being our nature when confronted with something that forces us to reconsider older positions to still choose an option that will disrupt our old worldview the least, that will leave the most of our old understanding in tact. Here is that quote, from his book Pragmatism:
“The individual has a stock of old opinions already, but he meets a new experience that puts them to a strain. Somebody contradicts them; or in a reflective moment he discovers that they contradict each other; or he hears of facts with which they are incompatible; or desires arise in him which they cease to satisfy. The result is an inward trouble to which his mind till then had been a stranger, and from which he seeks to escape by modifying his previous mass of opinions…until at last some new idea comes up which he can graft upon the ancient stock with a minimum of disturbance of the latter….
The new idea is then adopted as the true one. It preserves the older stock of truths with a minimum of modification, stretching them enough to make them admit the novelty, but conceiving them in ways as familiar as the case leaves possible. [A radical] explanation, violating all our preconceptions, would never pass as a true account of a novelty. We should scratch around industriously till we found something less eccentric. The most violent revolutions in an individual’s beliefs leave most of his old order standing.”
Thanks to Dan Wotherspoon and panelists George Handley, Duane Jeffery, and Joanna Brooks. I really enjoyed this.
So much for all your discussion on whether LDS doctrine holds that natural disasters are sent from God. It would seem that LDS doctrine does hold the view that natural events either directly sent or are used by God to bring about the apocalypse. Elder Holland made that clear in his conference talk yesterday. Check it out, at about 13:30 into the talk he empathically states with emphasis, “One way or another God will make His voice heard… And after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, thunderings, lightenings, and tempests and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds…(oblivious reference to Japan tsunami)
He is quoting DC 88: 88-90. I dont know how else you can interpret this other than that LDS doctrine is that the forces of nature are part of God testimony. I remember after Katrina when the church was asked whether the hurricane was from God, the church stated No. But with Holland’s statement and a reading of DC 88, I don’t see how else LDS doctrine can interpreted.
As I mention below, I don’t know if Elder Holland really wants to make a strong connection between each specific act of nature and God’s direct testimony and intention, but even if he wants to make that claim, does his teaching it make it unquestionably “LDS doctrine”? Asking you sincerely. While we should take apostolic statements as chances for reflection and examination, do we always have to agree to be in alignment with God and the church? Is every apostle’s view official LDS doctrine?
Thank you for the reply. I actually agree with you more than you think. Perhaps I was using a little hyperbole in saying it is LDS doctrine. So I am speaking for how most of the membership will view his statement. When an apostle with the statue of Elder Holland who is adored by the membership of the church makes such a bold statement on the heals of the Japanese disaster it is going to be taken pretty seriously by the membership. So even if its not official doctrine in the form of a First Presidency pronouncement, it nonetheless becomes such in the mind of most members, especially when you realize he is quoting DC 88. Guess Im just saying that in light of your pod cast, I think Elder Holland’s talk made it clear that the leadership and members would see us in the last days (even that this is the generation the savior comes again) and view natural disasters such as in Japan as proof that the 2nd coming is in sight. As for myself, even though I am very active and even teach gospel doctrine I am not a scriptural literalist and am agnostic on the 2nd coming.
Jesus’ own apostles down to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young etc., they all believed the 2nd coming would happen in their day. We believe it will happen in our day. I just wonder what will happen when the 2nd coming doesn’t happen in our day. (maybe I should say if it doesn’t, but based on last 2000 yrs. I don’t think it going to now either). How long can we keep saying we are in the “Last Days”? The early LDS church was able to get past it not happening in their day, but Im not so sure this generation or the next will be able to get past it not happening. Isn’t this the final final last days? I mean we have Elder Holland preaching it from the pulpit and glen beck preaching apocalypticism across the airwaves. If it doesn’t happen in the next 50 years there has got to be some serious cognitive dissonance happening even among the elect.
Thanks for your thoughts.
We can only guess as to Elder Holland’s reasons for his General Conference comments. But perhaps he understands – either implicitly or explicitly – that nothing knits an in-group together like “thunderings, lightnings, and tempests” when they befall foreigners (except, perhaps, persecution). It felt exploitative – which is not inconsistent with Holland’s sincerity. As you mentioned this approach has a long history. You’d think it would have lost its power by now. I sure hope it’s on its last legs – but fear it isn’t.
As an aside, we expected such rhetoric from Jerry Falwell (may he rest in peace) and, more recently, Pat (the Haiti “curse”) Robertson Robertson’s silence on the Japan tsunami may indicate he has been shamed out of this. Notwithstanding his greater ambiguity, has the torch been passed to Jeffrey Holland?
Great thoughts, JT. Thanks!
Any sense in you that the method to the madness might be akin to a “skillful means” sort of thing that Buddhism has–the idea that you share something for the effect it has (in Buddhism’s case in leading someone more toward enlightenment) rather than its actual factual standing–rather than just rallying the troops (binding the in-group, as you say)? Somehow the skillful means idea, at least to the degree I can imagine it applying, often helps me feel less upset over what seem to be hardline claims. If I can take them as reminders or invitations to focus anew of issues I may have not thought about for a while, it takes the edge off for me, and sometimes even leads to fresh insights (truly making them skillful means at least for me).
On the other hand, I do also think General Conference is often an exercise in bolstering the base, so your thought that he might be deliberately trying to increase group cohesion with this sort of rhetoric has merit. But even that idea of shoring up the main group of saints helps take the edge off for me. I know I’m an outlier and I have made peace with that as well as have tried to embrace the call to really explore what I believe, not because of its tie to any authority but because it has its own truth power regardless of source. Because my own needs are being met through this dance of mine in the borderlands, I can’t really claim it’s a bad thing for church leaders to use the conference pulpit to deliberately try to rally the center. I always hope and pray their remarks won’t contribute to further alienation of folks who are on the journey to real ownership of their positions, but for me, I can’t say if I were at the pulpit of the conference center that I might not also aim more at the middle. Make any sense?
As far as “skillful means,” I worry about means tarnishing ends. I’ve come to notice the predominantly institutional ends behind Mormon leaders’ means – particularly those that seem to contract its moral circle. My understanding and capacity for love leads me to “bet” on no apocalypse. I prefer to work toward humans living in peace for many millennia to come.
I think I understand the idea of reformulating an Apostle’s (or scripture’s) literal (even intended) message to fit one’s personal needs and values, especially if this embraces a humanistic moral philosophy (such a Jesus’ at its radical best). This may be what motivates your “dancing on the borderlands” of Mormonism. Perhaps the centrifugal force of your “dancing” can pull some rank-and-file members toward a more expansive faith – at least as much as the centripetal force of their tradition binds you to them.
I couldn’t “dance” on the borderlands of Mormonism. I formally took my leave. However, I continue to “dance” with faithful members, including my immediate and extended family. My departure was gradual and unobtrusive. Sharing my disaffection always felt self-serving and potentially a Solomon-like choice. These feelings outweighed the loneliness and ache of holding inside what my head and heart found troubling. That our marriage and family remain intact these 24 years was worth my reserve. My wife’s generous tolerance, acceptance, and sacrifices deserve the greater credit.
So I drive our youngest daughter to early morning seminary and only recently began writing occasional podcast comments. With regard to the latter, my “means” is to write honestly and plainly in a forum no one is obliged to engage. As to my ends … well, we all need to express our heart-felt values and seek affirmation (if only by a single “like” click). As I just said, with regard to Mormon matters, I forwent this for decades.
But I also hope to provide my own centrifugal tension – be it just one small apostate voice crying out from just beyond the Mormon borderlands.
Thanks for sharing more about your thoughts and journey. Wonderful to hear how you’re navigating these waters. And, wow, you are incredibly articulate! If you ever feel like writing up something for publication, please contact me if you’d like a conversation partner in helping shape it or place it.
Again, appreciate your joining in here. I’m grateful to hear your perspectives and hope you will definitely keep writing “occasional podcast comments” (and more!).
Thanks for contributing this extra stuff to the discussion, Kia! Agree with you about Elder Holland’s clout with many church members and that this is how they might take his statements. Even as I made my response to you, I wondered if your statement about “LDS doctrine” might have that thinking behind it. Thanks for clarifying. And I also appreciate your agnosticism about the second coming. I have been a self-confessed wonderer myself. Whenever the subject comes up, I try to contribute some of the perspectives you mention, combined with a really cool approach to thinking about the second coming as it being more important that we “look for” Christ in other people than Christ actually coming again–that we are watching for him all around us. It was a perspective I was first introduced years ago in a Dialogue essay called “Watching,” by Stanley Benfell. (Pretty sure it’s the Fall 1993 issue and would be downloadable for free from the Dialogue website.)
Anyway, thanks again for the great conversation!
I believe that one of the reasons the Japanese have dealt so well with the recent various disasters is that the central teaching of Buddhism is, (when a high ranking leader was asked to distill into one sentence what Buddhism is, said:) “Change happens.” At the burning by lightning of a 1,100 year old (United nations world heritage, Japanese national treasure) temple building, the priest there was heard to say, “That which has form, will eventually lose it, so it is with our temple.” For some Japanese, they have learned that a home is not made of building materials, it is made of that non physical essence that gives joy to a family relationship. We as mormons could learn a thing or two from our Buddhist brethren.
That is how Elder Holland’s comment struck me as well. He is far too intelligent and savvy not to realize how even an oblique reference to earthquakes and tempests would reference a calamity that is still so fresh.
I heard Elder Holland’s talk as well. For me, I can hear with appreciation a testimony that comes out of earthquakes, thunderings, and so fort in a similar way to how George Handley talked in the podcast about any event from nature–whether huge ones like the earthquake and tsunami or small ones like the onset of cancer–being a call for us to look toward God, to reexamine our hearts and lives and sort through what is most important, repent (as we are always in need of doing), etc. I agree that it seems Elder Holland in choosing this passage was deliberately trying to connect God’s voice to the recent events in Japan, but I don’t think we are forced to imagine it meaning more than in the way I propose above–after all, don’t ALL things testify of God? Why earthquakes, floods, and the like more so than other things that occur in life as a result of natural processes? I’d love to write him and see if he really means more than using what happens as additional reminders to turn to God. I wonder if he really would say that scripture he quoted indicates his belief that God pushes a button for every type of weather, every disease.
I truly appreciate your take on this and the overall positive vibe of the podcast. Your optimism is a gift I need right now as I recognize that I’m up to my neck in Fowler’s “ticked off” stage (3, 4?). That being said, I’m still puzzled why Elder Holland would choose a passage that had any chance to be misinterpreted in a hurtful way. Could be I’m just waiting in line to be offended =)
Thanks for your note and willingness to express your perplexity over Elder Holland’s use of this scripture. As I said above, I’m not sure what he might have been thinking, either, especially now that I’ve looked much more closely at the passage in context in the D&C and find it indeed in the middle of a section on signs of and warnings about the end times (appreciate Kia giving us the reference to the passage and noting that it was about the apocalypse). Is he really trying to say the most recent Japan earthquakes and tsunamis are definitely a part of the wrapping-up scenes of the earth in comparison to other earthquakes and events of human history up to this point that aren’t? Is he suggesting we are seeing an increase in the number of such events and is therefore seeing the Japanese events as a “sign of the times.” Or is he simply comfortable reminding us that these are the latter days and we should take every opportunity to stay focused and watchful, and not really trying to force an interpretation on these particular upheavals as different than all others (that DO tend to get people thinking, don’t they–hence always a good thing to consider God as part of our reflections)? I really don’t know. (And I’m sure there are many other options than the three I mention above.)
Even if he really meant this to be interpreted in the most extreme way, thus hurting your heart and squelching your optimism, I hope you will hang in there. Genuine spiritual growth means we’re all to move from being in a parent-child relationship with God and into full partnership as represented by the bridegroom-bride relationship. (Sidenote: Phil McLemore’s Mormon Stories podcast talks about this very well, and also adds other stages and metaphors for the journey. Plus, I’m doing a pre-edit on an article of his right now for a coming Sunstone magazine that will be fantastic and includes more on this.) It’s not easy learning how to disagree with while still fully honoring those to whom we look to as important leaders and guides (remember this process with your own parents–vital but not at all easy). I personally think Elder Holland would welcome a vigorous discussion of various ways of interpreting natural disasters, this particular passage of scripture and its applicability here, trends he is seeing, concerns he is manifesting in making the choice to use this passage, etc. I hear you and feel similar confusions, and I’d love to hear more from him. Until then, I am at least holding onto the idea that there IS “more” to be heard, thought, expressed than just drawing the direct line we are wondering if he indeed meant to draw.
Dan, thank you for taking the time for this thoughtful response. I LOVED Phil’s Mormon Stories podcast largely because his world view doesn’t come from a fear-based paradigm, this or course being in stark contrast to a lot of what we hear from our leaders. Anywho… I look forward to more from the relaunch of Mormon Matters.
Loved the comment about Phil’s takes not coming out of fear. Great way of phrasing it!
Glad you’re enjoying the relaunched MM! Thanks for contributing to this good discussion!
Is God’s providence any more or less present in a soft rainfall than it is in a tsunami? I do not think God is the variable. There are times when I think a phenomenon the magnitude of a deadly tsunami is about the only measure that can excite my numb skin. But I’ve also marveled and ached at the sublime quality of a blanketing snow. At my best I’ve experienced a slowly developing faith such as Elder Bednar compared to the rising sun. I think of it as burning ice. Magnificently inexplicable. Every day holds the potential for each instance along with infinit others. But periodically, I am only capable of experiencing the more outwardly dramatic examples of God’s reality.
One aspect that I loved was the idea of God being in the suffering. For me this is where I see God’s activity. He is in the suffering of every living thing (earth included). I am not sure how he relates to natural disasters but I do feel that he is in the suffering. For me this is the power and complexity of God. This is an aspect of Mormonism that I do appreciate.
I’m totally with you, Adam.
It’s likely you are, but perhaps others aren’t, aware of Eugene England’s powerful essay, “The Weeping God of Mormonism.” It doesn’t focus particularly on natural disasters but conveys England’s appreciation for the LDS understanding of God that is, as you say, “in” the suffering of all of us and every existent. If interested, here is a link to a pdf of that essay:
I find the idea of a God being with us (or sharing) in our suffering appealing to my hopes and fears. But am I justified in projecting this character onto God given His prophets’ portrayal?
I find the idea of a God of lawful consistency appealing. But is this view justified in the face of the deep contingencies forced by quantum indeterminacy and non-linear dynamics that dominate the evolution of the cosmos and life?
To get to the heart of this “Mormon matter” we must at least confront 3 Nephi:
Chapter 8, verse 14: And many a great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shaken … and the inhabitants thereof were slain…
Chapter 8, verse 25: “O that we had repented before this great and terrible day… then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared.”
This scripture forges a retributive link between a crucified deity and the horrible maiming and destruction of innocents an ocean away with barely a third hand connection to the events. The timing and language (eg. “slain) leaves little ambiguity. According to Mormon scripture Jesus intervenes in the world to crush, burn, and drown women and children. What apologetics dare justify this?
If the Book of Mormon purports real events (see verse 1) then accepting it becomes both a rational and a moral choice. On the rational side, it means choosing to believe in the grossly implausible. On the moral side it means accepting a construal of God that is reprehensible. Accepting the implausible in service of the reprehensible is inexcusable.
I understand the affect my harshness may invoke – a fight or flight response. “No,” you say, “I’m not immoral – that is not me and (therefore) that is not my God!”
INDEED, IT IS NOT YOU. And it’s not me either. Rather, it’s just the big mess handed to us through no fault of our own, or of our leaders, or of our parents, or of their parents … going back 180 years. It’s just a mess of pottage that we, in our collective neediness, accept for lack of a better alternative.
If this particular Book of Mormon event is real it still leaves the reader the option to accept the information of the earthquake or whatever event caused it as real and then judge the author’s conclusion that God inflicted it due to sin as incorrect doctrine.
Read the next chapter.
Wow, point taken. Game set and match.
“I find the idea of a God being with us (or sharing) in our suffering appealing to my hopes and fears. But am I justified in projecting this character onto God given His prophets’ portrayal?”
“INDEED, IT IS NOT YOU. And it’s not me either. Rather, it’s just the big mess handed to us through no fault of our own, or of our leaders, or of our parents, or of their parents … going back 180 years. It’s just a mess of pottage that we, in our collective neediness, accept for lack of a better alternative.”
JT, yes, well said. Comparing what scripture, Prophets, and leaders over time have conveyed about the nature of God, has left me with an impression of a schizophrenic Being. I’m being drawn toward more Eastern philosphy as I yearn simply for peace in the face of all these contradictions.
Perhaps this construal of god makes perfect sense from the perspective of it being created in man’s image to serve his very practical needs. More specifically, it’s a god-as-multitask-cultural-tool generated by an intelligent social species.
Social cooperation is adaptive and mechanisms that support it would be culturally selected at the group level. To sustain in-group cooperation in the face of individual-bias, immediate kin-bias, and and out-group competition, circumscribed sharing must be rewarded, group allegiance tested, cheaters punished, defection discouraged, and competing group members given diminished moral standing. Gods provide leverage in achieving all of these ends, particularly since humans, like many other social species. have an innate disposition toward hierarchical social structures (think alpha-male).
John Teehan of Hofstra University wrote an accessible introduction to this avenue of the study of religion entitled: In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence.
I should add that his avenue complements the study of religious experience from the cognitive science paradigm. This explains why gods (or other supernatural beings) are “sticky” on the individual psychological level. A good introduction to the research in this field is Minds and God: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion by Todd Tremlin.
Thanks JT for your knowledgeable insights…indeed all those dots do connect.
This was suppose to be a reply not a new thread comment
I enjoyed the conversation. I haven’t heard much in the way of blending ecology and Mormon theology. That is an interesting integration that I have heard other faith traditions jump into.
I would like to make a broad comment about the Mormon Matters podcasts since the relaunch. (That’s when I started listening.) To be blunt, I find them to be a lot like Sunday school except that the view points are more liberal. Especially in this podcast, it seemed to me that the panelist had a strong desire to establish a consensus and develop conclusions that they agreed on. It’s like Mormon Matters is a healthy and safe place for liberal Mormons to be themselves.
Is this what Mormon Matters is about? Or is Mormon Matters about embracing the richness and diversity of the Mormonism? Don’t we need TBMs, Iron Rod Saints, creationists, scriptural literalists, Fieldingites, and McConkieites to round out the discussion? Maybe we just can’t find people like this that are willing to get involved. However, John Larsen’s Mormon Expression podcasts frequently have a guest named “Mike” that is brave, respectful, and honorable enough to balance out their anti-Mormon (just kidding!) discussions. He comes up with excellent explanations for things that I should have thought of (but couldn’t) on my own.
And, even if we can’t get a “Mike” to join in, I think at least the discussion mediator could play the part to make sure Mormon Matters doesn’t just become a one-sided discussion where all the liberal Mormons just pat each other on the back. I have always admired John Dehlin’s courage to dive into controversy and really draw out what the conflicts are.
I hope my viewpoint is helpful and not personally targeting anyone.
I see where you’re coming from, but I’d disagree. These panelists were chosen not b/c they were liberal, but because they are prominent LDS scholars known for their work on biology, environmentalism, and Mormonism. I almost didn’t listen until I saw who was on the show and was impressed. So even if it doesn’t create the fireworks you’d like, ultimately I would rather hear from people who are the most “expert” or well-thought on the topic, not looking for a “token” figure to capture each possible viewpoint. And weren’t George and Duayne disagreeing a lot throughout the podcast?
That being said, I could see how a more “devil’s-advocate” moderator could be helpful. But that has a tendency to rehash the same common ground and themes over and over again.
I understand a little bit better how things work behind the scenes. Just listened to Mormon Stories podcasts 186-187. It is hard to put together this stuff, and there really isn’t a such thing as a balanced presentation. That’s probably a fallacy anyway as John Larsen says.
It did seem like one panelist (Duane?) wasn’t comfortable speaking his mind. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the composition of the panel however.
Keep up the good work guys!
Thanks for the good discussion about possible ways to reshape the podcast. I’ll certainly work on finding more diverse guests whenever I can and think a particular topic really calls for it.
All in all, I guess my take is that the podcast is not trying to follow journalistic standards. I don’t feel beholden to the idea that the show has a super wide variety of perspectives represented simply in the interest of balance. I’m looking for people for the panels who I know are interesting, well-spoken, and who have said in conversation with me or written to where I’ve come across them provocative things on the subject at hand, and then my goal is to dive deeper into those stories and topics. All the better when I know in advance that they see things differently from each other, but my sense is the key audience for this podcast does not need or really want a conservative voice on the panel (whether TBMs, McConkieites, creationists, etc.) simply for the sake of having them on the panel since they likely hear those voices and lines of thinking all the time in church settings or in their families. I’m very aware of those conservative voices and the brands of Mormonism that I feel try to shut down inquiry and exploration, and at some point in the podcasts, I always lead the discussions to ways of constructively engaging them in an effort to help open Mormonism back up to its wide and roomy theology and the diversity of people and temperaments it used to embrace so much more, but my sense is it would simply not serve the bulk of the MM audience’s interests to have someone representing these voices on the show itself. If that makes MM a podcast for progressives, so be it. I won’t apologize for putting in all the time involved in creating the show and then trying to have it become the discussions “I” would most want to have. I don’t agree with you (Jacob in an earlier note and “N.” below in a more recent response) that it’s shaping up as a one-sided discussion in which liberals simply pat themselves on the back, but I appreciate being alerted to the fact that it is seeming that way to at least a few of you, and I will try not to let it become that.
I hope you’ll keep listening and contributing to the discussions!
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Just listened to this yesterday and thought it was a great discussion. Thanks to all the panelists.
That is a great essay by Eugene England. One of my favorites.
I think if there’s a message from God in natural disasters, it is that we can not create a completely predictable environment for ourselves. Nature/God always finds a way to upset our plans so that we realize our dependence on things we have no control over.
Absolutely! Wonderful insight that we hear often in eastern thought but not nearly as much as we should in Mormonism. Thanks, Velska!
Too late. That’s the raison d’etre of this podcast (said as someone who’s listened to every one of them from the *very* first one until now). It’s right on the sleeve, as it were.
Too late. That’s the raison d’etre of this podcast (said as someone who’s listened to every one of them from the *very* first one until now). It’s right on the sleeve, as it were.
I have recently posted a blog called Millennium 2009 in which I talked about having a “premention”, a message about “water”. I discovered it during the tornados and then it rained for a week. Imagine if it had rained 40 days and 40 nights. Scary. I’d like to talk to a Morman prophet or seer for I am worried. Is God in every rainstorm, every earthquake…. I never used to think so. But now I wonder.
I didn’t know there was such a nice, vibrant community of liberal-thinking mormons. I just found this podcast and I’m trying to catch up. This episode spoke to me like little else has. I loved it. Thanks so much for the insightful discussion.
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