Sunstone Podcast on Smash Notes

Sunstone Podcast podcast.

December 28, 2019

Turn a spotlight on all the newest thought and scholarship in Mormon studies. Hosted by John Larsen.



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Christian and LDS doctrine both teach about the resurrection of the dead. But how will that resurrection occur? Lincoln Cannon, Jordan Roberts, and Blaire Ostler have a theory that it will be accomplished through technological means. How does new technology and old scripture support their assertion? And what complexities does their theory pose? Listen to …

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LeiLoni Lee grew up as a Black person in a small, largely White Utah town. She loved her experience in the LDS Church until the day a “trusted adult” told her that her dark skin was the sign of a curse. Then, at age 12, she began to realize that she was Queer. Blaire Ostler …

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With the advent of COVID-19, physically going to church has taken on the aura of a life-and-death proposition. Jana Riess and Stephen Carter discuss how we may have reached a historic period where the way we worship changes forever. Listen to this episode here. 

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In her new book, “Mormonism and White Supremacy: American Religion and the Problem and Racial Innocence,” Joanna Brooks reveals uncomfortable truths about how White supremacist attitudes were built into the LDS Church—and how they still function today. Joanna Brooks and Mica McGriggs talk with Stephen Carter about how racism became part of the Church’s structure …

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Taylor Petrey, author of the new book “Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism” talks with Ben Park and Lindsay Hansen Park about the many ways LDS teachings on gender and sexuality have shifted since World War II. Listen to this episode here. 

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Every great book has a great backstory,” says the blurb on the back of “Writing Mormon History: Historians and Their Books” Editor Joseph Geisner and contributor Daniel Stone talk with Lindsay Hansen Park and Josh Allred about their journeys of writing books that have influenced our understanding of the Mormon past. Listen to this episode …

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LDS Churches have been closed for two months now, which means we can only talk about religion online. And often our attempts at discussion blow up in our virtual faces. This panel explores how to discuss religion constructively online. Panelists include Gina Colvin, Michael Austin, Blaire Ostler, and Stephen Carter. Listen to this episode here. 

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We live in unprecedented times, with unprecedented problems, that demand unprecedented solutions—solutions that only a prophetic people can provide. But what does being prophetic even mean? And when is a person being prophetic? What stops Mormons from being prophetic, and what can help them? This panel discussion includes Mica McGriggs, Daniel Carter, Lindsay Hansen Park, …

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The COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal life the world over. And things will likely be very different after the pandemic subsides. This panel discussion explores the kinds of changes the LDS Church might go through, including in its temple worship, and what theological possibilities the pandemic could spawn. Panelists include Blaire Ostler, Carl Youngblood, Michaelann …

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In this episode, Sunstone assembles a panel from across the belief spectrum to help us dig in to not only what happened at this most recent conference, but also what happens at General Conference … generally. Panelists include Lindsay Hansen Park, John Larsen, Blaire Ostler, Jaxon Washburn, and Stephen Carter. Join us for a vigorous …

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From Zion’s Camp to the Willie and Martin handcart companies, the LDS Church is great at retelling tragedies as triumphs. In this episode, Stephen Carter talks about how every group does the same thing, and how it can actually create even more tragedy. Listen to his episode here. 

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When it comes to religion and politics, it seems like everyone is talking in a different language. What if that’s a good thing? Stephen Carter reinterprets the story of the Tower of Babel to show how the “Babel Cycle” has spun out of control, and how harnessing it again could help heal the political and …

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As LDS wards look for ways to “have church” during social distancing, the question comes up: “Why in the world have we never ever streamed sacrament meetings?” In this episode, Stephen Carter answers that question with his own personal conspiracy theory, supported with dozens of rolls of toilet paper. Listen to this episode here. 

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George R. Compton believes that the eventual legalization of polygamy is inevitable, and the Utah legislature recently took a giant step in that direction by voting to stop prosecuting polygamy as a felony. In what ways would the legalization of polygamy be useful to current American culture? This episode presents Compton’s fascinating article as narrated …

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For more than a century, Mormonism has been married to the Republican Party, conservative political values being preached unapologetically from both the general and ward pulpit. But a rift seems to be occurring between the two, as evidenced by LDS senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee voting on opposite sides of the recent impeachment. In …

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Brittney Hartley sees a huge gap between the colorful world of Mormon academia and the average church member. In this episode, Jaxon Washburn talks with her about the book she published to fill that gap and how it can steer LDS Church members away from fundamentalist thinking. Listen to this episode here. 

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Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge believe that the LDS Church would be a better place if it were transparent about its finances and policies. Toward that end, they have established MormonLeaks which releases internal documents and recordings from the LDS Church. John Larsen interviews McKnight and Dodge about some of the surprising results of their …

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During his years of watching the ex-Mormon community, John Larsen has seen an interesting pattern. As they leave the LDS Church, ex-Mormons often accidentally deprive themselves of emotional and psychological benefits to which Mormonism doesn’t have exclusive claim. What are these benefits, and how can ex-Mormons reclaim them? Listen to this episode here. 

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Could returning to church actually be a sign of significant spiritual growth for post-Mormons? Or would they just be sucked back into the cultural ailments they were trying to escape in the first place? Stephen Carter argues that eventually returning to church is essential—but for reasons that would surprise both orthodox Mormons and post-Mormons. Listen …

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Are LDS borderlanders the only ones who can slow down, or even stop, the Pride Cycle as described in the Book of Mormon? Stephen Carter thinks so, because they’re the only ones who have been both inside and outside the “technology” of the LDS Church. With a few tips from Jesus, Stephen thinks borderlanders can …

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Imagine if the Book of Mormon were 116 pages longer. That’s what Don Bradley has been doing for the past 15 years as he has reconstructed what might have been in first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript that Martin Harris lost. Jaxon Washburn interviews Bradley about his methods and findings. Listen to …

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Although an advocate for LGBTQ equality, John Larsen doesn’t believe the LDS Church can bring that community into full fellowship without dismantling its doctrine. In this episode, he lays out his argument and then calls for responses to it, hoping that there is indeed room for LGBTQ equality in the LDS Church. Listen to this …

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The loss of the original 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript is often laid at the feet of Lucy Harris. But it’s possible—even likely—that she was innocent. Jaxon Washburn talks with Don Bradley about this traumatic incident in early Mormon history. Listen to this episode here.  

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What’s up with John Larsen, anyway? On some episodes, he’s very critical of the LDS Church; on others, he’s very supportive. In this episode, John presents the top ten most important things to know about his approach to Mormonism. Listen to this episode here.

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A whistleblower recently alleged to the IRS that the LDS Church has kept $100 billion of funds meant for charitable purposes. The Church maintains that it keeps funds in store for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In this episode, John Larsen analyzes what that statement could mean about the LDS version of the Second …

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Why has Charles Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol” been one of the most popular stories in the English language for almost 150 years? Stephen Carter thinks he found the answer—one that will completely change how you view the story—one that made Stephen into a reluctant “Christmas Carol’ convert. Listen to this episode here.

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Sunstone presents two perspectives on Santa. The neighbors won’t let their kids play with his kids in December. He’s not allowed to speak in church before Christmas. Why? Because L. Kay Gillespie (1) doesn’t believe in Santa, (2) isn’t quiet about it, and (3) thinks Santa should get the heck out of Christmas and get …

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What is the most important thing to do when someone starts talking with you about a religious concern? According to David B. Ostler, simply to listen. In his debut episode, new Sunstone Podcast co-host Jaxon Washburn talks with Ostler about his book “Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question.” Listen to this episode here.

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We like to think that our faith crisis came about because we followed the truth. But what if a faith crisis is actually produced by cultural cycles that have been grinding on for millennia? Stephen Carter discusses how anthropology and the sociology of knowledge turns the concept of a faith crisis on its head. Listen …

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His play “Borderlands” exacted a great cost from Eric Samuelsen, both personally and professionally. But it is also likely his greatest work. Stephen Carter and director Jerry Rapier discuss how the play came together and its potent effect on the LDS community. Listen to this episode here.

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Two BYU students go to Nevada to get civilly married for a weekend so they can see what sex is like. A bishop tries to fend off needy ward members long enough to have a romantic evening with his wife. An LDS mom starts work in a brothel to support her family. In what is …

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LDS culture is so relentlessly optimistic and family-friendly that we almost always overlook the profound horror at its theological roots. Fortunately, the horror movie “Saw” opens our eyes. After this episode, you’ll be calling it “the Plan of Saw-vation.” Listen to this episode here.

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Behind every great man stands a great woman … who stood up to him! The Bible often gives its female characters short shrift. But playwright Eric Samuelsen brings them vividly to life in his play “The Plan.” Stephen Carter and Melissa Leilani Larson discuss this astonishingly feminist piece of LDS theater. Listen to this episode …

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Mormonism suffered a great loss September when Eric Samuelsen passed away. But few people have actually heard of him, which is a shame, because he revolutionized LDS culture one iconoclastic play at a time. Stephen Carter and J. Scott Bronson discuss two of his award-winning plays.   Listen to this episode here.

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What’s more important? Having the truth, or understanding your opponent? In this first installment of the Forgotten Mormons series, Stephen Carter, Greg Clark, and Jon Ogden introduce Wayne C. Booth, the LDS rhetorician who would like to blow everything you know about constructive dialogue out of the water. Its implications—from political discourse to Sunday school …

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How do you grow spiritually? Do you move from being wrong to being right? Or from being right to being righter? Jaxon Washburn sees soul growth as expansion rather than as movement toward correctness. Jaxon will be a co-host for future episodes of the Sunstone Podcast. Come get a taste of his thinking, and learn …

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The concept of a faith crisis is a relatively new one, especially in LDS discourse. But Jeff Burton has been documenting cases of faith crises since the early 1980s. What has changed about the patterns of faith crises from then until now? Are there more people going through them, or are they just more willing …

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Rick Bennett has earned his place among LDS podcasters by hosting guests from across the belief spectrum, from Utah Lighthouse Ministry founder Sandra Tanner to official LDS Church historian Steven Snow. John Larsen talks with Rick about how in the world he does it. Listen to this episode here.  

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It’s not just the temple endowment ceremony that has deep roots in Freemasonry, you can find its lore in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, too. John Larsen and Clair Von Barrus take a deep dive into the parallels in this episode. Listen to this episode here. 

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Will all the promises of Christianity—immortality, god-like powers, etc.—actually be provided by science? Mormon theology has plenty of room for that idea! John Larsen talks with Blaire Ostler about the Mormon Transhumanist worldview. Listen to this episode here.

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Breaking news! Mormons and ex-Mormons could be having better sex! And they don’t even need Cosmopolitan’s hot tips! John Larsen and Natasha Helfer Parker dive into the Hows of enjoying sex, both in and out of the faith.   Listen to this episode here.

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When individuals leave the Church they are often overwhelmed with negative emotions. Based on his many years working with individuals in faith transition, John Larsen will discuss ways to move on from the pain and embrace more peace and joy. Listen to this episode here.

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Join John Larsen and Lindsay Hansen Park on a road trip to the Manti Pageant where you’ll learn about the history of the pageant, the attitudes behind it, and the reasons for its demise. Listen to this episode here.

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Sex can get complicated after Mormonism. Fortunately, John Larsen and Mary Fisher are here to give you some tips on how explore (or not) safely and ethically. Content Warning: This episode discusses sexual practices, STIs, and consent. Listen to this episode here.

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An Introduction to Oasis. Body, When people transition out of the LDS Church, they often look for a place to fill their need for community, and some of them end up in an Oasis group. John Larsen talks with some of the organizers of the Salt Lake City chapter. Listen to this episode here.

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Shelly was a Mormon mother of seven children before she realized that she was a lesbian. Now she and her partner Mary run the “Latter-day Lesbian” podcast. They came to Salt Lake City for the Pride Festival and stopped in the Sunstone studio to talk with John Larsen. Listen to this episode here.

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As the Sunstone Podcast hits its six-month mark, Lindsay Hansen Park and John Larsen discuss the podcast’s successes and difficulties and their vision for going forward. Listen to this episode here.

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When a child comes as as LGBTQIA+ what is a Mormon mother to do? John Larsen talks with some of the founding members of the Mama Dragons, a growing group of women who ferociously defend their queer children. Listen to this episode here.

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More than 20 years ago, Stephen Carter met Eugene England, starting a relationship that altered the course of his spiritual life. Now, Stephen is an award-winning author and editor in Mormon Studies, who attends both LDS and Unitarian Universalist congregations. In this episode John and Stephen talk about how Gene taught him the art of …

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For a long time, going into therapy has had a stigma attached to it in the LDS Church. In this episode, John Larsen and Jenny Marrow argue that that should change—both for Mormons and ex-Mormons. Listen to this episode here.

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At a session of the 2019 Sunstone Kirtland conference, John Larsen and Lindsay Hansen Park team up to tell (and elicit from the audience) their favorite stories from the the Kirtland Period. Hint: it was dangerous to stand beneath a temple window back then. The episode includes a poem from Tom Kimball, Mormonism’s resident Allen …

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John Larsen and Lindsay Hansen Park take the stand at the 2019 Sunstone Short Creek conference to talk about how various Mormon communities can better converse with one another. Listen to this episode here.    

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Mormons Building Bridges made national news headlines when they brought together 300 Mormons to march in the 2012 Salt Lake City Pride Parade. How did they get started and how has the organization grown since then? John Larsen interviews some of MBB’s leaders in this episode. Listen to this episode here.

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Gina Colvin and John Larsen are going on their faith journeys on different sides of the planet and in different cultures. What are the similarities? What are the differences? How are they trying to move from outrage to silence? Listen to this episode here.

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John Larsen and John Dehlin spent years publicly deconstructing the LDS Church. But now they’re wondering, what can they build “from the ashes?” What is their role in the post-Mormon community beyond the “addiction to anger” and toward doing the difficult work of community building? Listen to this episode here.

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In his new book “Confidence Amid Change: The Presidential Diaries of David O. Mckay, 1951-1970,” Harvard Heath presents an intimate portrait of one of the LDS Church’s most charismatic presidents. John Larsen interviews Heath about the lesser-known aspects of McKay’s life in this episode of the Sunstone Podcast.   Listen to this episode here.

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Navigating a mixed-faith marriage is never easy, but that’s what Kattie and Allan Mount do on their podcast “Marriage on a Tightrope.” What’s it like to work through such sensitive topics so publicly? How have they changed since they began? John Larsen interviews Kattie and Allan in this fascinating episode.   Listen to this episode …

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What is life during the first few weeks, months, and years after leaving the LDS Church? What are the perks and the pitfalls? Join John Larsen, Lettie Rockwell, Wendi Remley, and Steve Holbrook as they remember their own journeys (complete with mis-steps) and give tips on how to navigate a healthy transition out of Mormonism. …

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Join John Larsen as he reviews the changes in the last month in Mormonism with guests Blaire Ostler, Lindsay Hansen Park, and Amylin Peterson.   Listen to this episode here.

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Though LDS culture doesn’t currently embrace queerness, Blaire Ostler argues that LDS theology does. You’ll never see the creation story the same way after hearing this episode. Listen to this episode here.

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An introduction to Sunstone’s new Mormon History podcast. deep dive into the weirdest parts of Mormonism. There’s the Mormon history you do know … and the Mormon history you don’t. Join Lindsay Hansen Park (Year of Polygamy) and historian Bryan Buchanan as they dig into all aspects of Mormonism’s astonishing 200-year past—uncovering the little-known stories …

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Join John Larsen, Lindsay Hansen Park, Tim Coray, and Cristina Rosetti as they discuss the Mormon news updates from February 2019. Listen to this episode here. 

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In this special episode from Sunstone Phoenix, John Larsen debunks the myth that “you can leave the church but can’t leave it alone,” and suggests ways of rewriting this old script. Listen to this episode here.

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It’s not just the LDS Church that needs transparency. John Larsen interviews Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge of the Truth and Transparency Foundation about their work leaking corporate and organizational documents from various churches—and especially about their most recent LDS leak involving a high-profile Mormon filmmaker. Listen to this episode here.

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Join John Larsen as he interviews one of the most preeminent litigators in Utah Mark Pugsley about ponzi schemes and their frequency in Mormon communities. About this guest: Mark Pugsley’s practice is focused on investment disputes and financial fraud. He has handled securities cases for twenty five years, including civil lawsuits, FINRA arbitrations, IRS, CFTC …

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Join John as he introduces the Sunstone Firesides podcast with Lindsay Hansen Park and Cristina Rosetti. Listen to this episode by clicking here.

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Join Sunstone podcast host John Larsen for a lighthearted discussion with Lindsay Hansen Park and Cristina Rosetti, reviewing this month’s news in Mormonism.   Listen to this episode here.

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This is your brain on God. John Larsen interviews Neuroradiologist Jeff Anderson about his study of the religious brain. Jeffrey S. Anderson, MD, PhD directs the fMRI Neurosurgical Mapping Service and is Principal Investigator for the Utah Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory. Dr. Anderson’s lab studies brain networks using functional imaging techniques such as fMRI, diffusion tensor …

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Who is the man behind the Protect LDS Children movement that has garnered international attention, placing the spotlight on the risk of sexually explicitly interviews for Mormon youth? Join Sunstone podcast host John Larsen as he interviews Sam Young, the former LDS bishop seeking to put an end to these interviews. Listen to this episode …

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In January of 2019, Sunstone is launching a new family of podcasts, giving you a resource for unbiased information and thoughtful, accepting community. Donate to Sunstone now to help us launch, and subscribe here in January 2019. Listen to this episode here.

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