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Latter-day Peace Studies presents: Come, Follow Me
87 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
Episode 61: D&C 84
Shiloh and Ben talk about the many ascension themes on priesthood found in Section 84 and compare these themes to Section 76. Whether discussing priesthood, the kingdoms of glory, the Beatitudes, or temple ordinances, the theme of ascension plays a prominent and central role in scripture and in our religious experiences. But what is this “ascension” talking about? Is it only or mostly metaphysical? That certainly seems to be the way that we discuss these themes when they appear. However, what could be gained and seen if we look at these themes in terms of epistemology? What if, metaphysically speaking, we were always already worthy and that repentance and our construct of “worthiness” was a matter of our perception and worldview? What if our construct and idea of “sin” was far more epistemic than metaphysic? What would that look like? Would it necessarily tail-spin our theology into hopeless relativity or “eat drink and be merry” hedonism? Does the way we perceive reality have more to do with our behavior than what reality is itself?
69 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
Episode 60: D&C 81-83
Ben and Shiloh talk about the love, mercy, and compassion of God in our weakness. How often do we find ourselves believing that disappointment, pain, struggle, or sadness are because of our sin and wickedness and that if we were just more righteous then we would be happy, joyful, and always feel like rejoicing? How often in our weakness, self-accusation, and trauma do we imagine a God that is various shades of disappointed in us or that is disinterested in our pain and struggles because we deserve the consequences for our actions? What if pain, struggling, sadness, etc., were not merely the consequences of sin and wickedness, and what if the idea of a disappointed and apathetic God was not God’s nature at all? What would change in our behavior if we knew that we were always already completely, fully, and unconditionally loved by God and that what was needed was merely for us to recognize, believe, and experience this love uniquely in our own lives? What if we don’t have to bind God down to bless us, but what if God is naturally and hyper-actively vigilant in creating that which is good in our lives at all times and places? What if we didn’t have to use covenants to hold God’s feet to the fire to bless us in ways that God wouldn’t bless us otherwise, but what if covenants were merely modalities (read: ways and means) by which we can overcome our own fear, distrust, and unbelief in God’s already hyper-active work in our own lives?
92 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
Episode 59 - D&C 77-80
Shiloh and Ben discuss revelation. What is it? How did Joseph report receiving it? What is it like in our own lives? How we view revelation also influences how we view and experience the scriptures. It has been said that the scriptures are always true, and sometimes the scriptures are even historical. What does this mean? Is the truthfulness of scripture primarily held in their historical literalness, or is there a way to view scripture that makes them even more true for reasons beyond whether the stories literally happened as they are told? How scripture is made is a history in itself as we learn discussing the history of the “United Order/Firm.”
116 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
Episode 58: D&C 76
Ben and Christopher undertake a discussion of section 76, known as “The Vision”. The content and implications of this section can be intimidating. D&C 76 delves into the narrative of life after death and the concept of the degrees of glory. They discuss various ways we can understand and contextualize this doctrine. Is this a strictly metaphysical reality that we will experience after death? Or is there something to be said for an eternal-now epistemic experience as it relates to varying degrees of glory? What does this vision tell us about the nature of salvation and our destiny as children of a supremely loving God?
79 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
Episode 57: D&C 71-75
Shiloh and Ben open up a discussion about the scriptural-based idea of “shame” and what it means to “speak our trauma.” The Lord commands the early Saints to “confound your enemies” privately and publicly, and through our faithfulness our enemies’ shame will be demonstrated and “made manifest” (D&C 71:7). There are many things to unpack from this verse alone in how the Lord posits “enemies” and “shame,” but is this verse as simple as it sounds? There are many assumptions that we make in our interpretations that are unwittingly culturally informed. Through modern scholarship, we can see another way that we do this in how we approach the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Was Joseph’s “translation” an actual translation? Did Joseph borrow from modern sources? Was it a combination of both?
73 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Episode 56: D&C 67-70
Ben and Shiloh discuss how God pours through the pages of modern revelation even while sometimes awkwardly through the voice of those who receive and dictate the revelation. During this time in Church history, Joseph Smith and others had been compiling the revelations together to print them in the Book of Commandments. As the time approached to write the preface for the Book of Commandments, there was some disagreement among the early leaders of the Church as to who should write it. A few brethren did not like the language Joseph used. These brethren were then challenged to write a preface and revelation of their own that they thought surpassed Joseph. It didn’t go well, and Joseph’s preface stood (see our first podcast of the year—Episode 32—for more insights into the subtle intricacies of Section 1: The Preface and in what it means for the Book of Commandments). While much of Joseph’s own vernacular, idioms, and popular phrases entered into much of the early revelations, and while we see much in the Doctrine and Covenants (as well as scripture in general) of how the Lord spoke directly to the needs of the early Saints in their own time and understanding (which is quite different than our own), it is up to us to glean and interpret what God’s meaning is for us today through these scriptures by the companionship and voice of the Holy Spirit.
73 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
Episode 55: D&C 64-66
Shiloh and Ben have a discussion concerning the assumptions underlying the principle of forgiveness. What is forgiveness? What assumptions does the false-self make that forgiveness releases us from in manifesting and recognizing the true-self? At least in part, forgiveness is the giving over and releasing of the feelings of anger, resentment, or judgment caused by trauma that we perceive has been inflicted upon us by another. But what does this say to God’s forgiveness? Do we inflict trauma upon God? Or is God’s forgiveness something else entirely? If it is something else entirely, then is there something for us to learn and to expand in how we perceive and utilize forgiveness in our own lives? We often think that we have offended God and that God forgives us for this offense, but to think that God is offended in the same way that we are and forgives for the same reasons that we do causes many complications. Yet, underlying the way we generally speak of God is an implicit perception of an angry, wrathful, and vengeful God that comes against us for our sins, and that we satiate God’s wrath and destruction (e.g., “the burning” as talked about in D&C 64:24) through our obedience that qualifies us for His love. Is this really, however, the best way to understand these scriptures? Is this really what God is trying to communicate with these verses?
87 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Episode 54: D&C 63
Ben and Shiloh open up a discussion on Section 63. The early Saints “in these infant days of the Church” sought for the word and direction of God for every particular thing. They sought for temporal answers for how to build Zion and the Lord responds with spiritual direction.
55 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Episode 53: D&C 60 - 62
Shiloh joins with guest co-host Christopher Hurtado to discuss and question the nature of God. Is God as wrathful, vengeful, and angry as the scriptures say that God is? Why is God angry with and ready to destroy people in one area for one type of sin but seemingly more lax or merciful with others committing far more grievous errors? We know that we are only responsible for the truth and commandments that we know, but does this really explain the complexities of a God that is still so seemingly inconsistent? Is there room in these scriptures for us to learn to see God differently? Is there enough space for us to consider that perhaps God’s wrath, vengeance, and anger have more to do with our own perception(s) about God than it actually has to do with God’s true and eternal nature? Is God as transactional and as quid pro quo as scripture often makes God seem, or is God’s transactional nature more about a projection of the way that we already view ourselves? What do our views of God tell us about ourselves? Rather than seeing and experiencing a purely transactional God, what if we see and experience a universally transformational and unconditionally loving God that is not wrathful, vengeful, and angry in the way that we generally attribute to God in scripture, then what does that say about how we also are learning to see ourselves?
94 minutes | May 26, 2021
Episode 52: D&C 58 - 59
Guest co-host Christopher Hurtado fills in for Ben and talks with Shiloh about meaning and identity. It is prior to and through suffering and sacrifice narratives—”For after much tribulation”—that we create meaning of traumatic experiences that form the strongest aspects of our identities. In August of 1831, the early Saints were still learning what their new identity was and what it means to belong to “Church of Christ” (the formal name of the church that we know today—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—wasn’t revealed until 1838). God reveals the first foundational principles of the Saints’ relationship with secular government, and it varies from known axioms of political philosophy. From D&C 58 we learn that the Saints were to be “subject to the powers that be” not out of any civic obligation or matter social utility but because God had commanded. This conversation has an old and deep intellectual history in Augustine’s City of God and City of Man distinctions that would later be addressed by Aquinas and Luther/Calvin. What does it mean that “God is offended”? Can God really be “offended” as we experience offense? Elder Bednar has said that being offended is a choice, so does God choose to be offended or is there something of about D&C 59:21 that calls for greater clarification?
116 minutes | May 18, 2021
Episode 51: D&C 51 - 57
Christopher Hurtado joins Ben again this time in a discussion of D&C sections 51-57. The Saints of New York were commanded to move to Ohio and settle on the land of Leman Copley. Leman promised to consecrate the land to the church but later returned to the Shakers and revoked his promise. The Saints were commanded to leave rather than contend for the land. What identities of ours are tied to membership in the church? How do those identities affect our relationships with others? How does this relate to the principle of consecration as the early saints experienced it versus how we may experience it now? What role do ordinances play in our religious experience? How can we develop individually and uniquely in our relationship with God while maintaining the order of the collective modes provided by the church? When the Lord commands the Saints to go to Missouri and settle on the border, what might this mean for the cause of Zion and the purpose of the restoration?
114 minutes | May 14, 2021
Episode 50: D&C 49-50
Guest co-host Christopher Hurtado joins Ben in a discussion of D&C Sections 49 and 50. Ben and Christopher discuss how our view of the Doctrine and Covenants as scripture can be informed by historical context and why it is helpful to do so. Leman Copley left the “United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing”, otherwise known as the Shakers, to join with the Saints. What was it about the beliefs of the Shakers that warranted a special revelation? What is the role of marriage in our faith and how does our conception of Adam and Eve inform our overall view of our relationship with God? Christopher comments on the eating of meat and how we might view equality as God intends us to. We can look to other religious traditions for truth. How might new “scripture” come about and how can we be open to receive it? The preaching of the gospel can only be done when accompanied by the Spirit of Truth, otherwise it is not of God.
83 minutes | May 5, 2021
Episode 49: D&C 46-48
Shiloh and Ben continue their discussion on how these new revelations in the early days of the Church established the new Latter-day Saint identity. These revelations gave function and form to the lived religious experience of these early Saints who lived on the frontier. Whereas the Saints could already find passages of scripture concerning the gifts of the Spirit in the Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, the Lord brings these back to the minds and memories of the Saints. At least in part, the Saints are reminded of these gifts to focus their minds and hearts onto God. They are reminded to not seek for signs (because there is nothing transformational about a sign), but to “always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that re given unto the church” (D&C 46:10). The “restoration” of the gospel is also a “repentance” process insomuch that God is restoring–as he has always done–the knowledge of himself. God consistently asks us to see him differently, to see ourselves differently, and to see each other the way that he sees us. To train the mind and heart away from the things of the world (where our ideas of God are typically created) and onto the things of God (that run counter the worldly ideas of God), he pleads with us ask of him and talk with him liberally, to walk in holiness of heart, to walk uprightly, to consider our salvation, and to give thanks (D&C 46:7). In short, God asks us to focus on the good for our own sake, and he has provided us many means to do this thing for our own benefit and joy.
84 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
Episode 48: D&C 45
Ben and Shiloh talk about the goodness and universal love of God. Although we often read and think that Christ is our advocate “to” the Father (as if the Father is the punisher and is either undecided or his hands are tied against us, and Christ is trying to change his mind), the scriptures are consistent that Christ is our advocate “with” the Father. Satan (meaning “adversary” and “accuser” — as if in a type of courtroom setting as the prosecuting attorney) stands against us to tell us that we are unworthy, unclean, and unforgiven from our sins. The choice is ours to whom we look to, listen to, and believe: Christ (and the Father) or Satan. If reasoning is what we need, Christ promises us that he will reason with us. Christ will manifest himself coming “in the clouds of heaven,” and he will come “clothed with power and great glory.” How many times have we, like the ancient Israelites and the Jaredites, followed the promptings from a God into the “wilderness” of our lives that we didn’t fully understand, comprehend, or grasp (like trying to mold or form a cloud)? When we think of God coming in his “glory,” do we think in terms of how it is described in Alma: “full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people, and to answer their prayers” (Alma 9:26)?
100 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
Episode 47: D&C 41-44
Shiloh and Ben talk about the growing pains of the early Church. Imagine while you’re reading the D&C through this time that the revelations you’re reading are all that these men knew about what this new church is, how it is organized, what its purposes are, and what its goals are. We often forget to contextualize these early church leaders in their proper space of experience. We have the vantage point of knowing when, where, and how their story unfolded, but as they were living these moments they lived having hope for a future that was completely undefined. The “restoration” was completely undefined, and even Joseph was consistently learning, step-by-step, what that meant. Once the Saints were in Ohio by the first of 1831, there appeared moments where new regulations needed to be set. In Section 42, we can gain some understanding of what pressures Joseph was up against against as commandments to not kill, steal, lie, or commit adultery were repeated twice. In all of their doings, they were all learning to see God in a new and wondrous way from what they had ever known, and we continually see how “restoration” and “repentance” are so closely related and often synonymous with each other.
94 minutes | Apr 14, 2021
Episode 46: D&C 37 - 40
Ben and Shiloh discuss the context of the early Saints being called to “the Ohio” in December of 1830. Barely 9 months old, the Lord commanded Joseph and the fledgling church to leave its home in New York and relocate to Kirtland. With so many farms going on the market and so quickly, the members knew that they would take severe losses on their farms — which many did. Some refused to go. Yet the Lord promised those who went that a “land of promise” had been “prepared” for them where “I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (D&C 38:18). In retrospect, “greater riches” and “a land flowing with milk and honey” likely had at least a double meaning to the mind of the Lord than what the Saints imagined. But why not just spell it out plainly for the Saints? Was it their own unfaithfulness that failed to produce the “riches” or the flowing “milk and honey”? The Lord knew the beginning from the end, so how does this language convince them and give them the fortitude to act and have faith? The text helps us resolve some of these questions and causes us to ask others in this week’s episode.
92 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Episode 45: D&C 30-36
Shiloh and Ben discuss these revelations given to specific men in the first year of the Church’s existence in the latter-days. There are noticeable patterns in each revelation that we can use to understand a general sense and sentiment that these men were having at this time. Many of these men are called on missions to “the Lamanites” (the Native Americans in Missouri), to bring them the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the Book of Mormon. The Lord consistently says that “the field is white already to harvest,” thus showing that God had already been engaged in His own work–tilling, fertilizing, planting, irrigating, etc.–the fields long, long before these men were invited to join in the harvest. We are invited to join the Lord in His own work.
87 minutes | Mar 24, 2021
Episode 44: D&C 29
Ben and Shiloh explore the theme the millenarianism in the early church. Apocalyptic language and literature are highly symbolic and rarely, if ever, to be taken literally. Prior to the imagery of apocalypticism, the Lord gracious informs us that He is our “advocate with the Father” (D&C 29:5, emphasis added), thereby informing us their common intentions, goals, and purpose for our benefit. Jesus Christ will come in his “power and great glory,” and we pause to reflect again on Alma 9:24 that offers evidence to what that “glory” entails: grace, equity, truth, patience, mercy, long-suffering, and quick to hear the cries of his people. Are the images of destruction really as we have deemed? Or is there room for us to see God and His purposes differently (i.e., repent) in the last days? Maybe God is eventually as violent as we have always thought He is… But, then again… Maybe not.
80 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Episode 43: D&C 27-28
Shiloh and Ben talk about the early days just after the Church was organized. There were many new nuances and things to consider in building the Church and moving it forward, and with each new experience there were new inquiries asked of God in how to deal with these things. It is of interest that God tells us that it is not important what we use for the sacrament, only so long as we “do it with an eye single to [His] glory — remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27:2). However, then the Lord spends the next two verses talking about what kind of wine to use and not use for the sacrament. Could it be that there is something more to this story? Could there be another meaning that the Lord is communicating? Is there a comparison to be made here to Christ’s New Testament command to not put “new wine” into “old bottles”? The restored gospel of Christ is about bringing new experiences to an old world. How are we experiencing the restored gospel of peace in our own lives today?
91 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
Episode 42: D&C 23-26
Ben and Shiloh discuss multiple sections that were given soon after the organization of the Church in 1830. There is a strong emphasis that the Lord gives throughout the Doctrine and Covenants that this is His work and that He invites us to be involved in His work. There is another prevalent theme throughout the text of Joseph and his companions seeking assurance of their place and good standing before God, and the reassurance is always forthcoming. It is like that for all of us at many times in our own lives. We seek divine assurance that our path, our pain, and our joy are seen by the God that gave us life. There are many times that this assurance seems delayed or withheld, but God is always there — even and especially when we feel alone or abandoned. This is not always easy to reason or conceive how a loving God would allow us to feel alone when He is right there with us, but there is a certain beauty in our learning process. The Lord is always there supporting us through all things.
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