Faith Matters offers an expansive view of the Restored Gospel, thoughtful exploration of big and sometimes thorny questions, and a platform that encourages deeper engagement with our faith and our world.We focus on the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) tradition, but believe we have much to learn from other traditions and fully embrace those of other beliefs.
158. The Other Side Academy: "Zion with F-Bombs" — Joseph Grenny at Restore
37:18This week we’re sharing with you one of the most popular presentations from our Restore gathering that happened last October — a talk by Joseph Grenny called “The Other Side.”As a young father, Joseph was determined to have the perfect family. All of kids would be active, go on missions, go to BYU and be stalwart. But that dream was shattered when two of his sons got involved in drugs and crime. Eventually, one son overdosed and almost lost his life. As a result of that grief and helplessness, Joseph began a spiritual journey that transformed his understanding of God, the atonement and the path to peace. He eventually felt called to put these principles into action by creating a school for former felons seeking to transform their lives. Called The Other Side Academy, it is a remarkable organization and community located in downtown Salt Lake City that provides miraculous and life-changing hope and healing. This was an absolute highlight for us at Restore and we’re so happy to share it with you. If you’d like to see Joseph’s presentation visually which is probably what we’d recommend since his slides are so compelling, you can head to the Faith Matters website or YouTube channel. Joseph Grenny is a New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including the leadership and communication classic Crucial Conversations. He is a co-founder of Unitus Labs, an international nonprofit that has helped over 15 million of the world’s poorest to move toward self-reliance. And in 2015 he and his colleagues started The Other Side Academy, a 2 and a half year school for those with long histories of crime, addiction and homelessness.
157. Using Your Gifts for Good — A Conversation with Liz Shropshire
39:05For this week’s episode, we’re bringing you a story that we really think will uplift and inspire you. Our guest was Liz Shropshire, the founder of Peace Through Music.In our interview with her, Liz tells the story of how she got started teaching music to children in Kosovo who had been affected by the war and ethnic cleansing that took place there in the 1990s. She knew just two things: she could teach music, and she wanted to help: so she got on a plane and made her way to a refugee camp where she began teaching her first group of kids. There was no way Liz could foresee the broad and deep impact that this inspired work would eventually have — and she’ll share some of that with you today.Liz had tons of great insights to share, but one of the most memorable was that the environments in which children grow up can give them dramatically different worldviews. Liz has found that when a child grows up in war and without meaningful work or learning, the message they learn implicitly is that nothing matters. But by giving children ways to volunteer and serve, they can become leaders in their communities and begin to see that they can make a real difference for people.Liz also shared insights on how each of us can find our own unique ways to lift and serve in the world, and her advice boils down to something simple: just get to work, and trust that God will step in if we’re heading in the wrong direction.We want to send Liz a special thank you for coming on and sharing her inspiring story. If you’d like to contribute or help in some other way, check out Liz’s organization's website at https://www.peacethroughmusicinternational.org
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156. Friendship in Faith — A Conversation with Andrew Teal
32:49Several years ago, Matthew Holland, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s son, was on a sabbatical at Oxford University. One day, he passed by a door that said “Chaplain.” Intrigued, he decided to knock. Thus began a remarkable relationship with Andrew Teal, an Anglican priest and lecturer in theology at Pembroke College, Oxford. Since then, Andrew has developed a close friendship with Elder Holland, attended General Conference, given a BYU devotional address and is currently partnering with BYU to establish a center for faith and reconciliation at Oxford.In this episode, Zach Davis spoke with Andrew about his ongoing journey of friendship with the Latter-day Saint community, how we can build truly meaningful relationships with those who are different than us, and why, for Andrew, God’s infinite love for us remains inconceivable. Andrew Teal is a chaplain, fellow and lecturer in theology at Pembroke College, Oxford University. He writes and teaches in many areas, including Historical & Systematic Theology, Early Christianity, and the arts. He is the author of many publications, including the 2013 book, The God-Man: Athanasius in Early Christianity.
155. A Year of War and Miracles — Svitlana Miller and Nancy Cadjan
57:40** To help, head to https://www.toukrainewithlove.org **It’s been exactly a year since the world received the shocking news that Russian troops had invaded Ukraine, and exactly a year since the lives of millions of Ukrainian people changed forever.As news of troop movements, cities under siege, refugee crises and all kinds of geopolitical saber-rattling has come to those of us outside Ukraine, many of us have gone through varying stages of shock, dismay, and fear. But what have been harder to come by than news are stories: the stories of families whose lives have been upended, of women and men who have displayed true heroism, and of the bright light of miracles, big and small, shining through the darkness of war.And today, we’re bringing you a few of those stories, starting with the story of Svitlana Miller and her remarkable organization, To Ukraine With Love. This is an organization we’ve gotten to know over the past several months and have been astounded at the sheer effectiveness of the work they’re doing: providing immediate needs like food, sleeping bags, and generators — even building homes for people displaced by the war. We’ve been stunned by the impact of each dollar they’ve raised, all of which goes 100% to direct aid in Ukraine, not to wages for team members or any other expense.Svitlana Miller is a native Ukrainian who founded To Ukraine With Love once she saw the immediate the needs of her friends, family, and country. She had been running an international education agency from the United States since 2009, and with her team and contacts in Ukraine, Svitlana was able to mobilize aid in a remarkably short amount of time.Svitlana was joined in this conversation by her team member Nancy Cadjan, who has over a decade of experience working with the Global 500 C-Suite and the heads of HR in the biggest organizations in the world. She lived in Russia in the 1990s and has been connected to Eastern Europe for the past 30 years and immediately jumped in to help with both feet when this crisis began.We were honored to have these two on, because they’ve been instrumental in helping us be more connected to Ukraine. Through them, we’ve met families whose homes have been literally destroyed in a moment by direct missile hits, and we’ve been able to learn from and connect with on-the-ground heroes who have changed everything about their work and lives to help relieve suffering.We really believe that these two, and this organization, are remarkable in the work that they’re doing and the impact they’re having. If you listen to this episode, and feel moved to help, you too can be a part of their direct relief efforts, getting food on tables and roofs over heads. You can find out how to help or get in touch at toukrainewithlove.org.
154. Every Needful Thing — Melissa Inouye and Kate Holbrook
51:40Today, you’re going to hear a really special episode. It’s a conversation with Melissa Inouye and Kate Holbrook that took place last summer, not long before Kate’s passing in August 2022. We spoke with Kate and Melissa about an amazing new book that they co-edited called Every Needful Thing: Essays on the Life of the Mind and the Heart.In their book, Kate and Melissa gathered so many remarkable Latter-day Saint women who are true leaders in their fields, including academics, psychology, medicine, law, and many more. These women also represent countries around the world; it’s a truly diverse book and gives wonderful insight into how broad the definition of “Latter-day Saint” can be.Kate and Melissa talked through so many important questions with us, including how we can belong exactly as we are and how we may have more choice in the matter of belonging than we think we do; how it’s important to be thoughtful as we think about change and progress in a global Church; and perhaps most importantly, how we can reconcile both mind and spirit as we live our lives. As the book’s description puts it: “Instead of pushing us to choose between faith and reason, love and law, truth within the restored gospel and truth in the wider world of God’s children, these writers urge us to seek ‘anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report’ and learn to live in a world of complexity and abundance.”Melissa received AB and PhD degrees from Harvard University. She is a senior lecturer in Asian studies at the University of Auckland and a historian at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kate received a BA from Brigham Young University, an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD from Boston University. At the time of her death, Kate was the Academic Outreach Director at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she focused on women’s history.We’re really grateful that we got to hold this conversation with these two, especially at the time we did. Kate was an influence for beauty, truth, and goodness wherever she went, including on us at Faith Matters. And for those interested in furthering Kate’s work — when she passed away, a scholarship was set up in her honor, which anyone can donate to at https://www.kateholbrook.org/scholarship/This new book, Every Needful Thing is available on Amazon and at Deseret Book.
153. Developing Sexual Wholeness — Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
40:26This week, we’re sharing another one of our favorite presentations from our Restore conference, given by Jennifer Finlayson-Fife and called Developing Sexual Wholeness.In her talk, Jennifer brilliantly laid out human sexuality in terms of development, in the same way we might talk about adult development or spiritual development. Jennifer teaches that in its earliest stages, our sexuality is egocentric and focused on ourselves; eventually, moves into a social stage with deeper awareness of others and concerned with belonging, and finally, into a self-authoring stage, where we both know our own mind and move beyond self-preoccupation and into expansive love.Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a Ph.D in Counseling Psychology from Boston College, where she wrote her dissertation on LDS women and sexuality. She teaches online courses and live workshops to individuals and couples seeking to develop their capacity for deeper emotional and sexual intimacy. Additionally, she offers limited private and group coaching services to individuals and couples who have benefitted from her podcasts and courses and are looking for more direct input on improving their lives and relationships. She is frequent contributor on the subjects of sexuality, relationships, and spirituality to many Latter-day Saint themed blogs, magazines, and podcasts. You can find her podcast “Conversations with Dr. Jennifer,” on major podcast platforms, and find out more about her work at finlayson-fife.com.
152. The Richard Bushman Interview
59:37This week's guest is Richard Bushman, who is simply one of the most important scholarly voices ever in the Latter-day Saint tradition.Of course, Richard has been interviewed many times over the years, and we wanted to make sure that we covered new ground while asking for his perspective on some of the questions that have propelled and perplexed us throughout our faith journey.So in this very wide-ranging conversation, Richard spoke about his own early journey from agnosticism to faith; why learning history, and learning from history, are so important; the revelatory process, including his experience giving many patriarchal blessings; the legacy of Rough Stone Rolling, and even why he wants to live in a world where there could be such a thing as gold plates.Richard received his AM, AB, and PhD in the history of American civilization from Harvard University. Through the years he has taught at Harvard, BYU, Boston University, the University of Delaware, and Columbia. He married his wife, Claudia Lauper Bushman, in August 1955, and together they have four sons and two daughters. He’s written many books, including, of course, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, which has been called “the crowning achievement of the new Mormon history.” Richard served a mission New England and Atlantic Canada, and his Church callings over the years include seminary teacher, bishop, stake president, and stake patriarch.Richard is also the co-founder and Chairman of Center for Latter-day Saint Arts, a project that is incredibly important to him; you’ll hear him discuss in the episode why he believes that art is the next frontier for the Church, and why he’s so excited about what’s to come. The Center will be having a large festival in 2024; to stay up to date with that project or to donate, head to centerforlatterdaysaintarts.org.
151. When Faith is Hard — A Conversation with Terryl Givens
1:03:37For today’s episode, we were honored to bring back the inimitable Terryl Givens. Terryl and his son Nathaniel have recently released a new book, called Into the Headwinds: Why Belief Has Always Been Hard — And Still Is.This is a remarkable book and addresses some of life’s most profound questions, especially as they pertain to the modern world. Terryl and Nathaniel argue that though many of us see faith as “hard” in our scientific and rational age — but the reality is that for many years faith may have been too easy. People of faith, and Christians in particular, have long benefited from being a part of the in-crowd—since Rome adopted Christianity as its official religion, it’s been quite comfortable to call oneself a Christian. But Terryl and Nathaniel say that that may have produced a more fragile discipleship, and one that focused more on how we believe than on how we live.So in this conversation, we dived into all of this with Terryl — including how he defines faith, the limits of agency, how reckoning with our own biases is key to our own spiritual life, and how we can look well outside our own tradition to find examples of true discipleship.We’re sure that most of you know Terryl, but just in case: Terryl Givens is a Neal L. Maxwell Senior Fellow at Brigham Young University. He formerly held the University of Richmond's Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, where he was professor of literature and religion. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including All Things New, The God Who Weeps, and The Crucible of Doubt.Nathaniel Givens, Terryl’s co-author on this book, has been published in First Things, the Deseret News, and RealClearReligion on the topics of faith and politics. With graduate degrees in economics and systems engineering, Nathaniel works as a data analyst and entrepreneur.
150. How Are We Like the Ancient Christians? — A Conversation with Kristian Heal
54:39For today’s episode, we spoke with Kristian Heal. BYU’s Maxwell Institute has just released an amazing new volume of research called Ancient Christians, that offers remarkable insights into Christianity’s earliest centuries. It’s intended for Latter-day Saints, but based on the best scholarship available to give us a glimpse into what these ancient Christians believed, how they worshiped, and the ways in which they saw and experienced the world.Kristian Heal was one of the editors of this volume, and wrote the chapter that we spoke with him about, called Preaching Christ. In his chapter, Kristian explores several fascinating topics that we got to ask him about, including the ritual of baptism, and what were referred to as “the deep mysteries of baptism,” what sabbath worship looked like early on, and how he deals with the concept of “apostasy” and “restoration,” including how we can view the evolution of Christianity without seeing it through an “us vs. them” paradigm.And for those of you just being introduced to Kristian and his work: he’s a Research Fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He received a BA in Jewish History and Hebrew from University College London, an MSt in Syriac studies from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in Theology from the University of Birmingham.As we study the New Testament this year, we actually hope to bring you more of the insights that the Maxwell Institute has shared through this book.
149. Don't Let a Good Faith Crisis Go to Waste — Jared Halverson
53:27This week, we’re excited to share with you another presentation from our Restore conference, and one that we think was super memorable to everyone who attended. It was given by our friend Jared Halverson, and called “Don’t Let a Good Faith Crisis Go to Waste.”In it, Jared shares his experiences as a scholar, teacher, mentor, and person of faith who’s been through — and helped others work through — faith crises and faith journeys of all types. And what we loved about it was he completely removes “fear” from the experience of faith crisis — for Jared, not only is faith crisis “ok,” it’s actually a sacred space that many people have even found necessary for their own continued progress on the path of faith.While honoring many of the developmental faith frameworks that have helped so many, Jared brings his own to the table: a simple 3-stage model that he calls “creation, fall, atonement.” As you listen, you’ll hear the depth of this framework and understand why it can be such a useful map for many people as they experience shifts in their faith. Tim and I really related to what Jared had to say here, especially because we consider our own faith crises gifts we wouldn’t give up for anything — and Jared honors the “crisis” part of it while pointing to something even more beautiful on the other side.Jared is an associate professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, and has taught religion courses at the high school and college level since 1998. He studied history and religious education at BYU and earned a PhD in American religious history at Vanderbilt University, focusing on secularization, faith loss, and anti-religious rhetoric. He is frequently involved with interfaith dialogue, has been a featured speaker in both devotional and academic settings across the country. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel and podcast called “Unshaken.”