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.
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Terrence W. Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain