John Hamer in Mormon Podcasts

I’m continuing to update this post, originally posted by in 2013, to have a convenient place to list the various podcasts in which I’ve participated.  Over the years, the list has grown to include a vast number of shows and a wide array of topics within the field of Restoration history, culture, and theology. If you’re interested in listening to me talk about a host of issues for hours on end, you’ve come to the right place.

podcasting


Mormon Stories

Mormon Stories Episode 116: “John Hamer (Part 1) The Succession Crisis of 1844 and the Beginnings of the RLDS Church”. January 24, 2010. John Dehlin and John Hamer talk about the succession crisis from the RLDS perspective, including the early history of the Reorganization.

Mormon Stories Episode 117: “John Hamer (Part 2) From RLDS to Community of Christ”. January 27, 2010. John Dehlin and John Hamer continue their discussion about the history of the Reorganization and its modern transformation into Community of Christ.

Mormons Stories Episodes 422–423: “John Hamer on Returning to Mormonism through the Community of Christ”. June 14, 2013.  In a 2-part series, John Hamer tells his own “Mormon Story” to John Dehlin.

Mormon Stories Episodes 426–429: “A Visual History of the Community of Christ (RLDS)”. July 9, 2013. John Dehlin and John Hamer engage in a 4-part YouTube video series on Community of Christ history, including dozens of original maps and charts, along with historic images.

Mormons Stories Episode 503: “Discussing the New LDS.org Polygamy Essays (Part 1)”. October 23, 2014.  John Hamer joins John Dehlin, Jay Nelson-Seawright and Lindsay Hansen Park to discuss the LDS Church’s essay about polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo.

Mormon Stories Episodes 526–527: “John Hamer on Community of Christ as a Church Home for Transitioning Mormons”. March 19, 2015. John Dehlin and John Hamer engage in a 4-part YouTube video series that discusses the differences between Community of Christ and the LDS Church in the 21st Century, examining the case for Community of Christ as a spiritual home for Latter-day Seekers.

Mormon Stories Episodes 586–587: ” Responding to the LDS Church’s Clarification on its Same-Gender Marriage and Children Policies”. November 13, 2015. John Dehlin is joined by John Hamer, Debra Jensen, James Ord, and Daniel Parkinson to respond to the LDS Church’s “clarifications” of its policies on marriage equality and children of LGBT people in committed relationships.

Mormon Stories Episodes 612-613: “Reviewing 2015 with J. Nelson Seawright, John Hamer, Jamie Hanis-Handy, and Marisa Calderwood”. January 12, 2016. John Dehlin assembled a panel to discuss the events of Mormonism in 2015, including the November 2015 LDS policy change naming same-sex married individuals as mandatory apostates, and preventing their children from membership in the church.


Gay Mormon Stories

Gay Mormon Stories Episode 43: “John Hamer talks more about being gay and his journey as a gay man in the Community of Christ”. July 8, 2013.  In a follow-up to Mormon Stories Episode 423, Daniel Parkinson talks to John Hamer about how being gay has informed his path in the Restoration.


Mormon Stories Sunday School

Engaging Gospel Doctrine Episode 40: “This Generation Shall Have My Word through You (D&C and Church History Lesson 13)”. March 22, 2013. Jared Anderson lays out information for LDS Sunday School, including a discussion on the nature of the scriptures composed by Joseph Smith with panelists Jessica Duckett Finnigan, Ben Bernards, and John Hamer.

Engaging Gospel Doctrine Episode 62: “Brigham Young and the Succession (D&C and Church History Lesson 33)”. August 28, 2013. Devery S. Anderson lays out information for LDS Sunday School, including a discussion on the Succession Crisis and Brigham Young, with panelists Konden Smith, Cami Alex Thurman Ashby, and John Hamer.

Engaging Gospel Doctrine Episode 71: “Continuing Revelation through Prophets (D&C and Church History Lesson 42). November 2, 2013. Jared Anderson discusses the topic for LDS Sunday School, followed by a panel discussion with regulars Brent, Amy, and Patrick. John Hamer joins in to bring a Community of Christ perspective.

Excavating Scripture Episode 39: “Deeper Introduction to the Doctrine & Covenants, Text and Context (Part 1)”. March 19, 2013.  Hosts Laura and Brian discuss the history of the early D&C along with the LDS, Community of Christ, and other variants with John Hamer.


Project Zion Podcast

Project Zion Episode 3: Redefining Faith. September 29, 2015. Host Seth Bryant joins John Hamer and Miles Fuller in an exploration of how believers can navigate Restoration faith apart from institutional definitions and culture. This means something more than just “cafeteria Mormonism”—which might fall within the ruts of traditional definitions, even if involvement is selective. Instead, we’ll examine the ways in which frustrated members of the Restoration, and those who have moved beyond faith, can redefine terms and claim new forms of interaction that—despite the unorthodox journey—are deeply rooted in tradition, community, and identity.

Project Zion Episode 8: Supporting LGBTQ Individuals in the Wake of the LDS Church’s New Policy. November 10, 2015. Katie Langston interviews Seth Anderson, Michael Ferguson, and John Hamer on what it’s like to grow up gay and Mormon, how Community of Christ has evolved as a denomination to support full inclusion of LGBTQ individuals in North America, and what all of us can do to support our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are most harmed by the LDS Church’s exclusionary new policy targeting the children of same-sex couples.

Project Zion Episode 40: Problem of Evil — Suffering with John Hamer. August 16, 2016. Josh Mangelson sits down with John Hamer after the 2016 Sunstone Symposium to revisit the topic of the problem of evil-suffering, following up on a previous Project Zion Podcast with Tony and Charmaine Chvala-Smith on Community of Christ understandings of the Problem of Evil.


Feminist Mormon Housewives

FMH Podcast Episode 36: “An Elect Lady, the Story of Emma Smith (Part 1)”. February 15, 2013. Lindsay Hansen Park talks to John Hamer about Emma Hale Smith Bidamon.

FMH Podcast Episode 37: “Meet Emma Hale Smith Bidamon (Part 2)”. February 16, 2013. Lindsay Hansen Park and John Hamer continue their discussion about Emma and her life.

FMH Podcast Episode 42: “The Succession Crisis and LDS Priesthood”. March 4, 2013. Kaimipono Wenger hosts a discussion on the 1844 Succession Crisis with panelists Ben Park, John Hamer, and Danielle Mooney.

FMH Podcast Episode 94: “Polygamy Controversies: Joseph Fought Polygamy?”. April 24, 2015. Lindsay Hansen Park and John Hamer discuss the actual historical evidence that counteracts the faith claims made by Richard and Pamela Price in their book, “Joseph Fought Polygamy”.

FMH Podcast Episode 95: “Dueling Cousins: How Two Smith Cousins Shaped Modern Polygamy”. May 19, 2015. John Hamer and Don Bradley join Lindsay Hansen Park to talk about Joseph Smith III and Joseph F. Smith, first cousins who were adamant opponents on the issue of Mormon polygamy.


Mormon Expression

Mormon Expression Episode 36: “Mormon Schismatic Groups”. January 5, 2010. John Larsen and Tom talk to Newell Bringhurst and John Hamer, co-editors of Scattering of the Saints: Schism within Mormonism, to discuss the various branches of the Latter Day Saint movement.

Mormon Expression Episode 58: “The Doctrinal Differences in the Community of Christ”. May 25, 2010.  John Larsen, John Hamer, and David Howlett discuss differences in doctrines and practices between the LDS Church and Community of Christ.

Mormon Expression Episode 92: “The Kirtland Temple”. November 9, 2010.  John Larsen, John Hamer, and Barbara Walden (former site director of the temple) discuss the history of Kirtland Temple.

Mormon Expression Episode 192: “Myths Concerning the Community of Christ”.  March 19, 2012. John Larsen and John Hamer discuss popular Mormon myths about Community of Christ.


Infants on Thrones

Who Wrote the Book of Mormon? (Part 1).  September 30, 2013. Hosts Glenn and Randy interview John Hamer about the authorship of the Book of Mormon, outlining the evidence for Joseph Smith as the author and why the Spaulding Theory can be discounted.

Nauvoo Polygamy Smackdown.  October 23, 2014. John Hamer joins hosts Glenn, Jake, Matt, and Randy to discuss the Mormon Church’s recent LDS.org essay “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo.”  Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

King Follett Revisited.  November 18, 2014. John Hamer joins hosts Glenn, Chelsea Shields Strayer, and Jake Frost to discuss the theology of Joseph Smith’s famous King Follett Discourse. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

The Problem Makers.  December 7, 2014. Hosts Glenn, Randy, Alison are joined by Mike Bohn and John Hamer to discuss Mormon doctrine and the difference between doctrine and theology, including the difference between the Mormon concept of afterlife and godhood and the concept of God and afterlife in the broader Christian tradition. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

The Christmas Jesus and Stuff.  December 21, 2014. John Hamer joins hosts Glenn, Bob, and Alison to discuss the question of the historical Jesus, the origin of the Christmas stories, and how progressive religion differs from fundamentalism. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

Excommunication the Musical.  December 21, 2014. Glenn, Jake, Matt, and John Hamer give a dramatic reading of the transcript of John Dehlin’s disciplinary hearing, prior to his excommunication from the LDS Church. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

Saturday’s Warrior Smackdown.  March 29, 2015. John Hamer joins the cast of Infants on Thrones, joining Glenn, Matt, and Randy to perform a sing-along smackdown of the campy 1970s Mormon musical, “Saturday’s Warrior”. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

John Hamer PPI.  May 26, 2015. Randy and Glenn interview John Hamer about his Mormon childhood, leaving the Mormon church, and present-day metaphysical explorations. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

Church House Rock: Priesthood Power.  June 10, 2015. Glenn and John reminisce about School House Rock and sing a song that parodies the ideas that priesthood in the Restoration includes exclusive keys of authority and physical magic to the tune of “Elbow Room.” Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

De-Romancing The Stone.  August 11, 2015. In order to fill out the complete story of Joseph the Seer and his recently unveiled seer-stone, John, Glenn, Matt, Randy, and Jake dip into the rich historical record and read witness accounts of Joseph’s contemporaries, in a documentary minisode that “De-Romances the Stone.”

Disney Songs for Alienated Mormon Kids.  November 9, 2015. In response to news of the LDS Church’s new policy of denying baby blessings, baptism, and priesthood ordination to the children of gay parents, John and the Infants have produced a satirical singalong to Disney favorites. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

The Historical Easter. March 27th, 2016. It’s Easter. And that means it is time for John, Randy, Heather and Glenn to talk about Easter. And Easter customs. And the historical Jesus. And death. And chocolate. And The Life of Brian. And a bunch of other stuff, too. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

Priesthood Power and the Magic Worldview. June 26th, 2016. John Hamer teaches Glenn, Randy, and Jake a thing or two about the LDS priesthood. And its origins. And its authority. And its power. And the magical-ness of the Mormon Worldview. And it is funny. And informative. And will tickle your ears, warm your hearts, and engorge your brains. Do not seek the treasure (we thought you was a toad). Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

Apocalypse.  October 9, 2016. Randy, John, and Heather welcome siblings Jimmy and Ben to talk about the End of the World and to laugh and giggle.  A lot.  It’s a smart, funny discussion that will have you hoarding wheat, powdered milk, and liquor in no time.  Enjoy. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.

The Definitive Meaning of Life. Period.  November 27, 2016. John and his brother Ben Hamer join Randy & Jimmy Snyder Heather Craw to discuss The Meaning of Life: both the Monty Python movie and the actual meaning of life. Caution: This program’s intended audience is adult ExMormons and may contain NSFW language.


Mormon Expositor

Mormon Expositor Episode 54: Who are James J. Strang and the Strangites?  November 6, 2013. Hosts Clay Painter and Brandt Malone talk to John Hamer about the 1844 succession crisis, why and how James J. Strang emerged as a serious rival to Brigham Young and the history of the Strangite Church since Strang’s martyrdom.


Sunstone

Sunstone Symposium 2013 Session 111: “Neither Protestant nor LDS; Community of Christ’s Unique Understanding of Scripture”. August 1, 2013. In a presentation at the Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City, John Hamer discusses the ways in which the Community of Christ conception of scripture differs from both the LDS and Protestant conceptions.


Radio West

James Strang’s Brief Kingdom. February 19, 2014.  Doug Fabrizio of National Public Radio and KUER interviewed John Hamer about the history of James Strang and the Strangite Mormon Kingdom on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.


Back Story with the American History Guys

A Strangite Time. March 20, 2015.  As part of their exploration of the history of American islands for NPR, the American History Guys interview John Hamer about Beaver Island and James Strang’s kingdom in Lake Michigan.


Interesting Canadian Mormons

Interesting Canadian Mormons Episode 12a: John Hamer and Community of Christ (Part 1) and 12b (Part 2). August 3, 2014.  Host Sampson Nordquist interviews John Hamer about misimpressions Mormons may have about Community of Christ.


Naked Mormonism

Naked Mormonism Episode 43: Schism Grenade with John Hamer. November 1, 2016. Beginning with the transition time from Kirtland to Far West in 1837-38 host Bryce Blankenagel and John Hamer have a wide ranging discussion that includes major moments of schism in Mormon history.


Rational Faiths Episodes 22, 30, and 39: “Diverse Mormons at Sunstone”: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 2014.  Brian Kissell interviewed John Hamer and 33 other individuals at the 2014 Sunstone Symposium to create an audio mosaic of the diversity of thought present.

Rational Faiths Episode 32: “Scriptures What Are They Good For?”  November 9, 2014.  John Hamer joins host Brian Dillman along with Mormon scripture scholars Colby Townsend and Joseph Spencer to discuss the purpose of scriptures in the Restoration context.

Rational Faiths Episode 40: “Seek ye out of the best [podcasts]”: Charity 101 January 3, 2015.  John Hamer joins host Brian Dillman along with Lori Burkman and Paul Barker to talk about charity and ways to maximize giving.


Mormon Matters

Mormon Matters Episode 1: “An Introduction, PBS’s ‘The Mormons’, and an Ensign Article”. June 7, 2007. In this initial podcast, John Dehlin introduces Mormon Matters and discusses the PBS documentary “The Mormons” with panelists Julianne Hatton, J. Nelson-Seawright, Ann Porter, and John Hamer.

Mormon Matters Episode 3: “The Mountain Meadows Massacre”. June 25, 2007.  At the 150th anniversary, John Dehlin recalls the history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre with panelists John Hamer, J. Nelson-Seawright, and Ann Porter.

Mormon Matters Episode 6: “LDS Church Finances and the ‘Approaching Mormon History’ Press Release”. July 14, 2007.  John Dehlin discusses whether the LDS Church should be required to reveal its finances with panelists Ann Porter, John Hamer, Paul M., and Blake Ostler.

Mormon Matters Episode 9: “Big Love and Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy (Part 1)”. August 7, 2007. John Dehlin talks about fundamentalist Mormonism and its depiction on the HBO series “Big Love” with panelists John Hamer, Ann Porter, and Tim Grover.  The discussion was continued in Episode 10 (Part 2).

Mormon Matters Episode 13: “Our Discussion on Inoculating the Saints (Part 1)”. August 29, 2007. John Dehlin reviews a Sunstone presentation on the idea of teaching Mormons uncomfortable truths (rather than white-washing history) in order to “inoculate” them against later faith crises with panelists David King Landrith, Blake Ostler, and John Hamer. The discussion continued in Episode 14 (Part 2).

Mormon Matters Episode 14: “Inoculating the Saints — Listener Feedback”. September 9, 2007. Eric Soderlund (who blogs as “Equality”) and “Mayan Elephant” join the conversation on inoculation with John Dehlin, Ann Porter, and John Hamer.

Mormon Matters Episode 17: “Book of Mormon, Introduction, Lamanites and Native Americans”. November 9, 2007. John Dehlin talks about the LDS Church’s change in the wording to the introduction of the Book of Mormon and the implications for literalist interpretation that Native Americans are Lamanites with panelists Ronan James Head and John Hamer.

Mormon Matters Episode 18: “Same-Sex Marriage and Mormonism”. November 16, 2007. J. Nelson-Seawright discusses the controversial topic of marriage equality and Mormonism with John Hamer, David King Landrith, and Rosalynde Welch.

Mormon Matters Episode 19: “An Analysis of Mitt Romney’s ‘Faith in America’ Speech (Part 1)”. December 7, 2007. John Dehlin discusses Mitt Romney’s speech on his Mormonism with panelists John Fowles, John Hamer, Tom Grover, and Russell Walker. The discussion continued in Episode 20 (Part 2).

Mormon Matters Episode 209: “New LDS Statement on the Book of Mormon.” January 6, 2014. Host Dan Wotherspoon is joined by panelists Katie Langston, John Hamer, and John-Charles Duffy in a discussion about the LDS Church’s new statement on the Book of Mormon “translation” process.

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A Mormon’s Survival Guide

CommunityOfChristLogo

This blog entry is specifically for my friends who are LDS and may be contemplating attending Community of Christ. I hope this also is able to bring a new perspective to my friends in Community of Christ, so that they may become better at reaching out to our LDS friends and truly making them feel welcomed at the table. I hope that both communities can use these tips and hopes that we can come together in “community” of Christ.

Survival Tip One: Don’t Trust Everything on the Internet.

My journey with Community Christ started with the internet. I had been vaguely aware of Community of Christ growing up, but I had heard lots of rumors. Rumors such as: “they no longer believe in the Book of Mormon, they believe Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet, and they no longer believe in the restoration.” There are many other things I’ve heard said, but these are the main falsehoods that are spread about Community of Christ. As you search the internet, you will find some Community of Christ members who may back up these claims, but keep in mind they only speak for themselves. The church’s official webpage acknowledges the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and The Restoration. All of them are seen as very important parts to the development of Community of Christ. There are countless of people who believe in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and The Restoration just as strongly as LDS members, but there are those who don’t. This at first can be very confusing to us who share an LDS background. It’s hard for us to understand how this can possibly work and at times it can be frustrating to Community of Christ members on both sides, but remember Community of Christ affirms the Worth of All People and all our welcome at the table. If you have an LDS background and you have a strong testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration don’t be afraid to share that with others. There are plenty of Community of Christ members who feel just as strongly about it as you.

Survival Tip Two: Open Yourself to Receive God’s Message

When I first started attending my local CofC congregation I was listening for someone to reference the Book of Mormon. Week after week passed and I heard nothing. Then one Sunday someone spoke from 3rd Nephi and I was like “finally!” Looking back on it, I missed a lot of important messages because I was fixated on wanting a book referenced. Remember that Community of Christ does affirm the Bible as the scriptural foundation of the church. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants serve as additional witnesses of Christ’s love and mercy, so don’t be surprised if the Book of Mormon is not mentioned the Sunday you attend or if you attend for awhile and don’t hear it. Be patient and allow yourself to receive God’s message. Remember scripture is not to be worshiped.

Survival Tip Three: Introduce Yourself

When you attend the LDS church for the first time everyone wants to talk to you and they want to know what they can do for you and if they can share with you the “gospel.” The Community of Christ does not proselytize, so it may be likely that no one will pressure you to sit down, so they can share the “gospel” with you. Don’t take this the wrong way. They’re just not that interested in converting you. However, you may want to speak to someone about the church in further detail especially the church in your local area. There are a few things you can do. Some congregations have slips that you can fill out with your information you can do that and wait for someone to contact you, or you can introduce yourself to the “pastor” or a person presiding. Tell them you want to know more, and they will share with you. So, don’t be shy and don’t wait for someone to actively pursue you. Pursue them first!

Survival Tip Four: Jesus Must Be Your Foundation

John 14:6 clearly states: “I’m the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the foundation. While there are many things and mediums in which we can communicate with God we must acknowledge that ultimately he is what he says he is. Joseph Smith when asked about his religion said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth.” (Elders’ Journal, July 1838, p. 44) We make things so difficult. Tip Four is simply have Jesus as your foundation.

Survival Tip Five: What would Joseph Smith Do?

By this time you probably have a lot of questions and you probably have been dealing with the questions “What Should I Do?” “Where should I Go?” “What is right for my family?” etc. Remember you’re not alone with these questions and great men and women have struggled with the questions for centuries. When Joseph Smith was faced with these same questions, he turned to James 1:5-6 “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting…” As we know Joseph went into the grove and he prayed. He had an experience that changed his life and forever changed the lives of those who would know him as prophet. Final Survival Tip: Pray.

A Blessing for Life?

Recently, I was reading an article about the life and death of the presiding patriarch in the LDS church Eldred G. Smith. He was quite an amazing individual and during his life it’s believed that he performed over 20,000 blessings for individuals. Quite an amazing thing. I’m sure that all 20,000 blessings were unique and specifically for the individual receiving it.

When I was a teenager roughly around the age of fifteen I prepared for my Patriarchal Blessing (Evangelist Blessing) in the LDS denomination. I had only met my Patriarch maybe twice. He was not a member of my particular ward (congregation). The blessing he gave me too this day still holds meaning. I often pull out the hard copy and read it from time to time. Occasionally, I read things that were not evident to me 10 years ago or even a year ago. This man who I barely knew shared with me things that only God himself knew. The blessing stands as one of the most significant events of my life.

About eight months ago I pulled out my patriarchal blessing and began reading it. Some of the promises that were given to me at age fifteen seems to have come to past, however, there were other aspects of it that did not seem to hold the same meaning as they once did. Andrew at the age of fifteen was a very different person than Andrew of twenty-seven years of age.

Over the last twelve years I had been married, had two beautiful children, graduated from college, and at this time of reflection I was going through one of the most significant events of my life. My relationship with Christ was changing and I was about to join another faith. I was discussing with my friend of how the blessing of my youth seemed to be a little dated and seemed to speak to a different person.My friend told me “why don’t you get it re-done?” This was something that I was a little skeptical of doing at first. Though I felt my blessing was for a young teenage boy; it still held promises that are dear to me and I believe they’re promises to be fulfilled later in life. My friend explained to me that the Evangelist Blessing would not be replacing my Patriarchal Blessing it would just be another opportunity to hear what message God has for me.

I decided I was to accept this invitation and prepare for my Evangelist Blessing. I met my Evangelist for the first time in a loud and noisy Chinese restaurant. It was extremely informal and it was nothing like my first meeting with the LDS Patriarch of my youth. Roger told me of his life and his experiences and I shared with him mine. I really didn’t know Roger. Roger is part of my congregation, but prior to our meeting I had only known Roger through his sermons. I was a little apprehensive about this meeting. My fear was that my understanding of the blessing was different than his. Roger had grown up in the Community of Christ where I had my experiences in the LDS church, but during our meeting I realized we had a lot in common. Our theologies were similar and our stories were similar. Meeting after meeting I began to trust Roger and not only did I see him as this man who was going to be used as a tool of God. I saw Roger as my friend.

Despite all this positive feeling; I was having a hard time of letting the spirit work with me. I really was fixated on how this was going to work in relation to my Patriarchal blessing. I also was fixated on what message might Roger share with me. I thought about what I wanted to hear.

I stumbled across a video made by Bryce Veazey entitled “Journey of a Blessing” the video touched upon many of the same things I was struggling with in my preparation. I was struggling with what I wanted the blessing to reveal to me instead of clearing my mind, so that God can reveal to me what I needed revealed. I decided to do as Bryce did clear my mind and await to hear the message that was intended for me.

At the end of my blessing I felt an overwhelming sense of peace come over me. I was joyful and I knew that God loved me. I had just received a sacrament that came from God. It is unique and in my case it meshes very well with my previous Patriarchal Blessing. Roger was someone who I barely knew prior to the blessing, but during the experience he shared with me a sacrament that will stay with me for the rest of my life and through the power of God he knew me better than I knew myself.

If you have never received an Evangelist Blessing I encourage you to do so. You do not have to be a member of Community of Christ (I was not a confirmed member at the time). If you have received one in the past and it doesn’t quite speak to you in the same way that it used too consider getting another one. If the one you received means everything to you and you have no need to get a new one or an update. I encourage you to read it often.

This sacrament is such a blessing that those of us in the Latter Day Saint tradition are able to partake of. Please feel free to write about your experiences below or share any thoughts that come to mind.

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Evolving Temple Practices: Early Church and Today

As the first temple of the Restoration (and the only one completed in the lifetime of founder Joseph Smith Jr.), Kirtland Temple holds a special position for everyone in the Latter Day Saint movement.  Although owned by Community of Christ, the temple is a pilgrimage destination open to members of all the different churches and every one else interested in history and historic sacred spaces.

The majority of visitors to Kirtland are members of the LDS Church (who make up an overwhelming numerical majority in the overall movement), but many of these visitors find that Kirtland Temple doesn’t match their expectations of what a Mormon temple ought to be.  Where are the rooms for sealings and endowments?  Did the Community of Christ folks remove the baptismal font?

As I noted with the evolution of priesthood ideas and offices in the early church period, early Mormonism was a rapidly evolving movement.  Latter Day Saint ideas of temples changed significantly between the Kirtland and Nauvoo periods and the LDS Church and Community of Christ have retained and emphasized different parts of the shared heritage.   I think this idea can be illustrated in admittedly simplified form with the diagrams attached to this post.

Temples_LDS
Temples_CoC

Kirtland Temple was built in response to revelation and dedicated as a “house of prayer,” “a house of learning,” and “a house of order” (Community of Christ D&C 85, LDS D&C 88).  Although everything was more complex in practice, in concept the temple’s three levels were set aside for these purposes.  Assembly worship in large congregations were held in the inner court on the main floor.  The upper court of the second floor was set aside for education, for example training of missionaries called to spread the gospel.  Finally, the attic level functioned as church headquarters with offices for church leaders.

The same interior layout of Kirtland Temple with one court above the other (taking up the lion’s share of space) was replicated in the original Nauvoo Temple*, but because of the temple’s increased scale, headquarters offices were able to be moved to a mezzanine level between the two courts.  However, Nauvoo included new spaces and new functions that did not exist at the time Kirtland temple was built.  A font was included in the basement for the performance of baptisms for the dead and the attic floor had rooms for the endowment and sealing ceremonies.

When Brigham Young’s followers built the four pioneer temples in Utah, Nauvoo was their clear model.  The assembly hall was retained but the secondary hall for education was left out of the plan.  As the Nauvoo-era ordinances became the critical temple function in the Utah church more space was devoted to these practices. (Although the LDS Church has a separate headquarters building from the Salt Lake City Temple, church leaders have special rooms within the temple, which I’ve indicated with the diagram.)  With a few exceptions (like the Washington DC Temple), subsequent Mormon temples are devoted exclusively to Nauvo0-era ordinances.  For this reason, Mormons in Ohio familiar with (for example) the Columbus Ohio Temple will find little in Kirtland to meet their expectations.

Community of Christ, by contrast, has emphasized the other aspects of the temple experience of the early church.  The Temple in Independence ignores Nauvoo developments and takes Kirtland as its direct model, setting aside an inner court for special public assembly worship, and space for education (library/archives, temple school, conferences, training) and space for the offices of church headquarters.  Beyond the Kirtland precedent, in response to 20th century revelation, the Independence Temple has the added function of being dedicated to peace and the promotion of peace and justice.

As with so many things, both churches are drawing from the same shared heritage, even if the end results today look very different.

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* The new Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedicated by the LDS Church in 2002 does not replicate the original structure’s interior.  The original temple’s upper court was omitted and the lower court assembly hall is smaller than the original.

Forever Mormon

In life, we often have things that define us. People are often defined by events, education, and contributions given to society. We are defined by the people we keep and the associations we make or have been apart.

I grew up in Iowa and in my opinion Iowa is much like the rest of the midwest in that it’s very average. It’s not bad, but it’s not stellar either. For the most part, people in Iowa have the same amount of education, income, and their faith’s are pretty close to one another. Most Iowans are either Catholic, Lutheran or Methodist. My faith was very unique I was a Mormon.

Growing up “Mormon” in a place like Iowa brings a lot of questions. Questions ranging from “Do we have electricity?” to “Do you drink Coke?” I have always been met with curiosity and amazement from those who find out that I’m a Mormon.

In the last ten years America’s awareness of Mormonism has been heightened. This is in large part to South Park, Sister Wives, Glenn Beck, and Mitt Romney. I used to get questions about electricity and now I’m getting questions like “how many wives do I have?” and “why do we hate homosexuals?” These perceptions are not only damaging to the larger LDS church, but I believe it’s damaging to all who are part of the restoration heritage.

Recently, I have undergone a transition in my life. I no longer attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and now I attend Community of Christ. Although, the place where I worship has changed, I still see myself as a “Mormon.” I’ve always defined Mormon as one who believes in The Book of Mormon as scripture and is associated with a restoration heritage. Many of my Community of Christ friends do not see themselves as “Mormons” they see themselves as either Latter Day Saints or simply Christians.

Should we in Community of Christ, who are comfortable with the name, still refer to ourselves as “Mormons”? I believe we should continue to refer to ourselves as Mormons. Mormons should not be defined by the church in Salt Lake, Sister Wives, or Mitt Romney. I believe that we have an obligation to share with others what a “liberal” Mormon might mean. We may be surprised with the reaction we get. What an opportunity that we have to show that we are “Mormons” who believe women can have priesthood, accept homosexuals, and at the same time love the restoration as much as our LDS cousins. Mormonism is what attracted me to Community of Christ and although I’m very much a Christian, I cannot deny that I’m at heart by my definition a “Mormon” and will forever be.

Sticks and Stones and … Compliments?

Several years ago when my congregation attempted to join the local ministerial alliance (in a town right next door to Independence, Missouri), I was met by a coalition of fundamentalist and evangelical pastors intent on keeping out the (then) RLDS Church. Their reasoning ranged from claims we were “non-Christian” all the way to “not Christian enough” and, finally, to “it would just open the door for Mormons to want to join.”

As it turned out, they only wanted to talk about Joseph Smith. Apparently, our faith movement’s founder represented all that anybody needs to know about contemporary Latter Day Saint groups.

To shorten a long and rather nasty story, I’ll just skip to the part where representatives from United Methodist, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, and Roman Catholic Churches prevailed. A Methodist pastor put it this way: “Nobody asked me to prove I was ‘Christian enough’ to join, so why should we start now?”

Eventually most of the fundamentalists/evangelicals bolted from the alliance when an LDS representative was admitted a few years later. They formed their own group, which over time has dwindled in size and influence.

I mention this episode as a way to ask, “Do we expect to be misunderstood or misrepresented?” Is this a natural outgrowth of religious discrimination and persecution experienced by our forebears in the almost two centuries of our faith movement’s existence? Although nobody’s getting tarred and feathered these days (at least here in North America, as far as I’m aware), has suspicion become our default setting?

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Holy Tentles of the Restoration

Community of Christ produces a special edition of the Hymns of the Saints hymnal, to commemorate the dedication of the temple.  It’s bound in blue, rather than red, and has a large picture of the Temple in Independence within the first few pages.

I’m telling you this to relate a story involving my three-year-old daughter, Ella.  Never willing to go to the nursery, but preferring to make mayhem during the service, Miss Ella was flipping through the hymnal last Sunday during the sermon.  Seeing the picture of the temple, she turned to me and said, “Daddy, that’s the tentle.  I want to go back.”

I’ve taken Ella and her older brother Lincoln to many temples: Kirtland, Nauvoo, Salt Lake, and Independence.  And I’ve tried to teach them, at their level, that these are places where the Saints have sought to encounter God and a message of purpose of peace.  Someday, I hope that they, too, will be able to rejoice in the temples throughout the Restoration as efforts by the Saints to capture a glimpse of what existence is and should be about.  I hope that they will especially find the temples of Community of Christ meaningful to their lives and cosmosviews.

In any event, last Sunday I wasn’t sure what the speaker was saying at the moment that Ella pointed to the picture of the Temple, but I was struck that my daughter was paying attention to my efforts to share with her something that has come to mean a great deal to me; but more importantly, struck that perhaps she had caught the power of that holy place, and that it had become something important in her life, too.  It is this type of identity development which will be crucial in our effectiveness, as Community of Christ members, to pass on to the rising generation the message of peace and Zion that the Temple symbolizes.  God’s efforts will not be frustrated, but ours likely will be if this sort of passing of the torch doesn’t take place.