In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read that it is through ordinances that “the power of godliness is manifest” (D&C 84:20). There are many ways to read this scripture, various angles to take, and all of them are fruitful. In this two-part episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Samuel Brown and Brad Kramer first look at the “ritual” aspects of ordinances, the origins of and way that actions designed to take us out of the normal flow of life’s activities and consciousness and into something more purposeful and symbol-drenched can affect our ability to experience things in ways that many find empowering and enlightening (a form of “the power of godliness [being] manifest”). Whether speaking of secular or religious rituals, participation in them can and often does “work changes” in us. In the second part of the discussion the panel looks more closely, but also quite broadly, at the rituals we know as “ordinances,” which are far more clearly designed to invoke God, our highest aspirations, and closeness and intimacy with community, as well as to create, enhance, and preserve shared memory across time and space. Ordinances are powerful also because they are so embodied, so tied to the temporal sphere and limited human form yet strive to reach across and bridge the gap with future events and eternal realms. It’s a fascinating subject!
These episodes are the second of a three-part series Mormon Matters is doing on topics discussed in the book by Samuel Brown, First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple. The first discussion of themes in the book can be found in the Mormon Matters episode, “261: Faith and Repentance,” with Samuel Brown and Adam Miller.
We hope you will listen and then share below your thoughts on the episode and angles taken in the discussion, as well as your own experiences with and views on ordinances.
Link to Mormon Matters Amazon aStore (Shopping through this link will help support the Mormon Matters Podcast!)
Samuel Brown, First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple
Terrence W. Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain
I am so glad that you are here with this podcast Dan! I was very worried that you may have been choosing to be quiet with recent events. Thank you so much for all that you do! I LOVE your podcast. Thank you so much for being here to explain and to think critically about the deep doctrine of the church. It is a delight to have you here on the internet. 🙂 Thank you! 🙂
It’s a fascinating subject! but that is also all it is.
I enjoyed the podcast. Ritual studies, and in particular the efficacy of ritual, has been a particular interest of mine, ever since I found that such a thing exists. At the age of 8 I had a ‘rare’ initiation experience when I was confirmed and ‘given’ the gift of the Holy Ghost.
It was sweet. I know of 2 others that had this ‘rare’, that is – in the moment – , gift as well.
I wish the Church didn’t have the “love/hate” relationship with the Gifts of the Spirit that it does. I don’t know a solution to the issues that have made it so, though, so I guess it’s just the way it has to be. 🙁
I too was worried than Dan Wotherspoon was facing church discipline because it had been awhile since the last episode. Thank goodness!
Glad to have you back, Dan. Every time I checked the website the most recent episode listed was always ‘Gospel Burnout’! The longer it went, the more I wondered if it had caught up with you. Thanks for the perspective at the end of the second segment recommending the whole chapter in Sam’s book.
Thanks for your worries, all! I feel badly about not doing a better job of alerting you about reasons for the delay. I’ve tried not to clutter this blogsite up with announcements and things that other podcast blogs do, but in this case I probably should have (and just erased it afterward).
Anyway MM’s absence was caused by just garden variety holiday chaos that was followed by a super bug that ultimately rendered my voice unusable for about three weeks. It wasn’t burn out for me or any hints of pending church discipline. With most others who make up the key Mormon Matters audience, I’m saddened by the news of what’s happening with John Dehlin and what seems like continued befuddlement by LDS leaders over how to best meet the needs of those who are at those pivotal moments of their faith journey that call for re-evaluations and the creation of new (and deeper!) ways of being in the world, in one’s religion and other communities, and in their own skins! And their seeming to not recognize that MORE conversation is needed rather than less, MORE modeling of patience and trust in member’s spirituality and good natures rather than fearful reactions driven by concerns over contamination and thereby feeling the need to excommunicate and in other ways make “other” those who lead and participate in these dialogues. I feel the difficulties of these times, but I have also through prayer and fellowship also come to feel spiritually renewed and plan to keep on going! Thanks for hanging in there with me, with MM. May we all come to find new strength at this painful time.
I really enjoyed Samuel’s explication of his interpretation of the sacrament and its tie to his relationship with Christ. I remember another podcast that stated that once we try to dissect a ritual the meaning tends to evaporate. This is true with me. I find that the many rituals we have in the Church have greater meaning to me when i allow myself permission to ignore the detail and focus on my relationship with God.
As many, I have endured a trial of my faith across the past decade. Your and John D’s podcast have been very helpful in reconciling my beliefs and faith.
I always appreciate your thoughts Dan. Today I was thinking about the question raised by my fellow members: “When does tolerance go too far toward accepting unrighteousness?” when I realized the paradoxical nature of the situation.
Tolerance does not demand righteousness, but intolerance is unrighteousness.