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Racial Portrayals of Christian Athletes

I had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Darron Smith of the University of Memphis a few weeks ago.  He’s recently written a book When Race, Religion, and Sport Collide.  In our first discussion, we discuss media portrayals of two Christian athletes, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, and how race plays a role in how they were portrayed in the media.  Dr. Smith said,

We aren’t conditioned to see Asians as basketball players.  We see Asians as mathematicians, scientists. We see them as quiet, meek, humble, some of those qualities that we ascribe to people.  We see Asians as being allies, we see Asians as being safe, model minorities.  Certainly someone like Jeremy Lin, who is actually southeast Asian.  This guy would be the phenomenon that he was, the run that he had a couple of years ago, but he’s continued to do that as time has gone on.  It was a perfect set of events that took place that gave him, that catapulted Jeremy Lin to his stardom that he had.

Tim Tebow is the perfect Christian.  He’s a white male, wealthy, he’s handsome, a college graduate, he’s an athlete.  He’s got all of the things that embodies a football player.  He’s a southerner perspective, so in the south, the image of Tim Tebow personifies football.

Tebow is celebrated for his Christianity, and someone like Jeremy Lin, who is also deeply Christian, deeply Christian.  I would even argue probably more Christian than Tebow because he’s so humble about it.  He doesn’t parade it around, but we weren’t interested in that, with that aspect of his identity, Lin’s identity, but Tebow’s identity, it just fit his identity.  That’s the narrative that we typically hear about at least in the South, of what a football player should be, someone like Tim Tebow.

Had you considered that race might play a role in how the media covered these two players?

Media Stereotypes of Christian Athletes

 

 

 

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1st International Temple was almost a Temple Ship!

Trivia question for you:  what was the first LDS temple outside the United States?  The answer is below but see if you can guess before you read the answer.  In our final conversation with BYU Church History professor Dr. Richard Bennett, we learned that this temple marked the end of gathering the church to Utah, and the beginning of creating temples away from the center of Mormonism.

Temples were magnets and were a powerful factor in people gathering from Europe and inland to the Rocky Mountains.  Originally they went to Nauvoo.  The saints wanted to be where the temple is.

After 1900 and the beginning of an understanding that we should stay where we are and gather to the local units and gather in their own nations, you begin to see temples now moving out from Utah.  I think the first major expression of that would be the Cardston Temple.

We also discussed the Temple Ship, an idea mentioned in Greg Prince’s biography of President David O. McKay!

Yes I know that story, like a Hope Ship.  It had a lot of traction at one time.  It’s pretty hard to keep sacred a ship though, {chuckles} and I think that was the thing that sunk it, the idea that, oh we can have this boat that would be a dedicated temple.  The reason it had traction was you could go to places where the saints were. You could go to the islands and different countries all over the world.  But I think, I don’t know.  I remember studying that when I was studying the life of David O. McKay years ago, and I wrote the history of Brigham Young University, shadow boat history.  This was going to be difficult to keep a ship afloat that’s a temple and keep it sacred, going all over the place, and having it serviced and everything else, plus the cost.

Check out our conversation, and give us a 5 star review on iTunes or Youtube!

 

1st International Temple was almost a Temple Ship!

 

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Ouija boards, Spiritualism, Manifesto, & Endowments for the Dead

You’ve probably heard lots of ghost stories, Ouija boards, and other supernatural phenomenon.  I was surprised to hear Dr. Richard Bennett, a BYU professor of Church History tell us that Spiritualism, the idea of communing with the dead, may have had some impact on the LDS endowment.  Some quotes from Dr. Bennett:

Spiritualism, the practice of communing with the dead, adulterated today by Ouija boards and things like this and telekinesis and paranormal, but Spiritualism is well-known in American history as flowering after the Civil War with so many dead and lost and the great desire of many families to know what happened to their sons or their fathers or their brothers.

In the 1870s there’s a lot of comment by general authorities, leaders of the church, particularly Orson Pratt about this is a counterfeit, but it has its place.  We understand why people are seeking the dead.  Was that a factor in the beginning of endowments for the dead for the church in 1877?  I claim that it may have been one of the factors to begin to address how we really think about them.  There is redemption for the dead but it’s not that way.  So was it a factor?  I argue that it probably was one of the factors.

We also talked about the start of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper!

There were a small number of astute, intellectual Latter-day Saints who broke with Brigham Young in the 1870s, who thought they knew the gospel a little bit better than Brigham Young did.  But they thought that they knew economics better than Brigham Young did and they broke with the church over that.  The Salt Lake Tribune starts with the Godbeite movement which was very negative,of course against the church.  It still tends to be a little bit on that side, but that’s its history.

There’s also a discussion about the revelation that preceded the Manifesto.  Check it out!

 

Ouija Boards, Spiritualism, the Manifesto, and Endowments for the Dead

 

 

 

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Sealing to GA’s Through Law of Adoption

It was once a common practice for faithful LDS Church members to be sealed Church leaders until about the 1890s when President Wilford Woodruff put a stop to the practice.  This was known as the Law of Adoption.  BYU professor Dr. Richard Bennett will talk to us and tells us about the theological justifications and why church members felt the need to be sealed to church leaders. Bennett makes the case that until Joseph F. Smith’s 1918 of the Spirit World, that many didn’t know the gospel was preached to the dead.  How do we better understand the Law of Adoption?

Dick:  I don’t think you can talk about the Law of Adoption without understanding the development of the doctrine of the Spirit World and the doctrine of the gospel being taught in the Spirit World, which really doesn’t come to fruition in our doctrine and our history until Joseph F. Smith’s great revelation in 1918 and what was going on in the spirit world.  It’s a progressive doctrine about the souls of men and women that are living in the spirit world.

Are they being reclaimed?  Are they being taught the gospel?  Are they being converted?  Are they being forgiven?  Are they receiving the fullness of the gospel there?

Baptism for the dead opened that door, to actually begin to do ordinances for the dead.  But could we be sealed to our ancestors like we do today?  We take it so for granted.  You’re just being sealed to your ancestors.  Well if they’re not receiving the gospel, we don’t want to take the risk of being sealed to them because what’s going to happen to us if they don’t accept the gospel?

Until it became clear that the fullness of the gospel was being taught to them, the deceased, and that they were receiving the fullness of the ordinances, better be on the safe side and be sealed to a living prophet or a deceased prophet maybe like Joseph Smith and we’ll be sealed.  Until we know more clearly what’s going to happen, let’s be sealed to the prophetic priesthood lineage of the prophet Joseph priesthood claim and therefore it’s a done deal.  Can I use that term?  It’s a safer way than, we don’t know what’s happening to our ancestors.  That’s going to change as we learn better and more clearly, especially in 1877 with Wilford Woodruff when he announces that from now on, we’re going to do endowments for the dead.  We don’t begin to do endowments for the dead until 1877. That’s 40 years after Nauvoo, 30 years after Nauvoo.

Were you aware that this is why church members were sealed to prophets and other general authorities?

 

Law of Adoption

 

 

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Evolution of Temple Worship: From Speaking in Tongues to Masonry

Temple worship has changed significantly over the years.  In early Kirtland, many of the Saints spoke in tongues at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.  Also in Kirtland, the ritual of washing and anointing was first practiced by many of the early saints.  In Nauvoo, not only did we have baptisms for the dead, but also many Mormons were Masons, and Masonry was highly influential in the development of temple endowment.  In this episode, Dr. Richard Bennett a BYU professor of history and religion will talk to us about the development of many of these early temple practices.  Some quotes:

Brigham Young spoke in tongues many times.  When they got here out in the [Salt Lake] valley they spoke in tongues.  But it’s just gradually been, not replaced, but that other gifts have been emphasized more than the gift of tongues.

The development of the Kirtland Endowment is a progressive one.  It doesn’t come immediately.  Joseph seemed to indicate something was coming and it created an anticipation of something special at the Kirtland Temple to coordinate with its dedication in April of 1836.  Even before that there were what they would call special washings and anointings and washing of the feet as well which began in the Newell K. Whitney store and eventually migrated into the Kirtland Temple.  There were a series of what we would today call preliminary ordinances that were given to priesthood holders for preparation for going on missions and as a blessing and a benediction for having worked so hard on the temple.

The signs and symbols that you sometimes see in the temple, whether they are the all-seeing eye, or the geometric symbols have some similarity to Masonry.  There’s no question about that.  Maybe even some of the clothing has some parallels.  But Joseph Smith explained that he did it, he may have borrowed some of it, but for and entirely different reason, something that they were somewhat familiar with but for an entirely different reason. To the best of my knowledge, the differences are very, very stark when it comes to scripture and prophetic and Christian.  Masonry is a benevolent and wonderful society, but it’s not necessarily for just the Christians.  It’s not a religion.

What do you make of early temple practices?

 

Evolution of Temple Worship: From Speaking in Tongues to Masonry

 

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Selling LDS Temples!!!!

This next episode is full of surprises!  I’ve got 2 sample quotes below!  Mormons know that the Kirtland Temple is currently owned by the Community of Christ, rather than the church based in Salt Lake City.  Have you ever wondered why the Mormons in Salt Lake City don’t own that temple?  I asked Dr. Richard Bennett that question, a BYU professor of Church History and Doctrine, and was really surprised by his answer!

Brigham Young and the Quorum of Twelve made the conscious decision, not publicized to too many people that we needed to sell off the temples…

Have you heard this before?

Dr Bennett also said that the US government, and Missouri actually saved the saints!

We think of Missouri as being the great enemy of the church.  It was of course in the 1830s, the expulsion by Governor Boggs and what have you.  But as we were moving west, many of the saints went down into Missouri on side trips to work for the season wherever that might be, building fences, harvesting crops.  We have an interesting paradox that Missouri saved the Church heading west in 1846-47.

Were you aware of this?

Check out the video and transcript below, or get one on Amazon!

Selling LDS Temples!!!!

 

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Early LDS Temples Open to the Public

Modern LDS Temples are opened to the general public only prior to dedication.  Following the dedication, only Mormons who meet certain standards of conduct are allowed to enter.  It wasn’t the case in Nauvoo and Kirtland however.   There were exhibits of Egyptian mummies in Kirtland, and there was dancing in the Nauvoo Temple.  We’ll talk to Dr. Richard Bennett, a BYU professor in Church History and Religion and we’ll talk about some of the other things that were open in these two temples.

GT:  So I understand when the mummies were brought to Kirtland and then Joseph Smith and the church purchased them that they actually displayed those in the temple and I believe charged admission.

Dick:  Yes they obtained those mummies in 1835 and there’s no question that Joseph Smith had begun the interpretation of what we now have as the Book of Abraham in Kirtland.

So yeah, they were shown.  The Smith family took possession of them, or at least shall we say they were owned by the Church, but the Smith family kind of took care of them and would invite people to come and see them not just at the temple but at the Smith home for maybe 25 cents, 20 cents or something like that.

GT:  There was a lot of different music and they used to dance inside the temple.  I was reading that Brigham Young said, “The temple is a holy place and when we danced, we danced unto the Lord.”  I thought, well, we don’t dance in the temples any more.  I think this was after a wedding.  There had been a big wedding celebration in there, and it says “The sisters retired to the side rooms, the brethren stretched themselves on the floor or on the sofas, and we were all soon in the embraces of a tired nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep.”  They actually feel asleep in the Nauvoo Temple.

Dick:  Yeah.

GT:  As I think about my experiences in the temple, they’re very different.  {chuckles}  What do you think about those differences that the Nauvoo days and our temple worship today?

Dick:  There’s no question that they danced unto the Lord in the Nauvoo Temple.  You don’t see that so much in the Kirtland Temple, but in the Nauvoo Temple as they were preparing to move west, there was this great push.  Let’s have as many as possible receive their endowment, even though the temple isn’t dedicated yet. There where what, 5500 people who received their endowment in the Nauvoo Temple before they left between the 10th of December and the end of January.  They were giving them around the clock.  Brigham Young in particular was the one in charge because Joseph is gone by now and the Twelve hold these keys of sealing which Joseph had bestowed upon them.

What do you think of these differences in temple today compared to early Nauvoo and Kirtland?

“No Chapel in Kirtland” – Mormon Temples Opened to All

 

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3 New Paperbacks!

If you’re interested in “real” books, I’ve got 3 new titles on paperback.  (I’m testing the waters on paperback.)  These are available at Amazon, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get free 2-day shipping!

Of course you can get all these titles on your Kindle, or individual episodes for just $3 here or at Amazon.  (Note Staker’s entire interview also contains the entire Kirtland Banking Crisis.  The Banking Crisis book also has images of Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes.)  Anyway, check out our new paperbacks!

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Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 3): Joseph Blamed

Here’s our final episode on the Kirtland Banking Scandal.  (Here is Part 1.)  I always blamed Joseph’s financial troubles on lack of business sense, but it seems like there were other people conspiring against him.  Given the reasons cited in our previous episode, Grandison Newell trying to create a run on the bank, as well as John Johnson selling lands that was serving as collateral for the bank, why was Joseph blamed? Are there other reasons that we need to talk about?  Dr. Mark Staker, anthropologist at the LDS Church History Library said,

Whether guilt or compassion for everybody else or whatever, he begins to take on the debts of all these individuals who have been losing money under his—people who have gotten loans to operate businesses, and probably primarily it was the church, he’s calling in all those debts to try to settle the books.

Newell took Joseph to court.

Now did that exonerate Joseph for operating the institution without a bank charter?  No because he ended up being tried and convicted for that.  But did Joseph have honorable intentions through the whole thing?  Absolutely.  He tried to make every effort to pay off all the debts that were incurred in the process and even the very last night of his life, while he was laying on the floor in Carthage Jail, he’s still dreaming about those Kirtland troubles and he’d been weeks before that sending letters out to people and warning people not to take Kirtland bank notes.  They weren’t good anymore.  It haunted him for a long time afterward.

It was a very interesting episode!  I’d like to thank Dr. Mark Staker for spending so much time telling us about the Kirtland Era of Mormonism!  Check out the video below, or a transcript at Amazon or here on our website!

Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 3) – Joseph Blamed

 

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Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 2): Why it Failed

In my studies of the Kirtland Banking Scandal, I’ve blamed the bank’s collapse on simple ignorance.  Joseph Smith was a prophet, but didn’t know how to make a profit.  However, in talking with Dr. Mark Staker, an anthropologist for the LDS Church History Library, I discovered some nefarious outside influences.  A man by the name of Grandison Newell from a rival bank and competitor, purposely tried to induce a bank run.  Combine that with the fact of a nationwide real estate bubble, and the Banking Panic of 1837 looks even worse than our Great Recession of 2008.  Comparing the causes between 1837 and 2008 shows a similar cause:  real estate speculation.

But it wasn’t just that.  Banking competitor Grandison Newell actively tried to cause a bank run on the Kirtland Safety Society.  Staker says,

While that charter’s still kind of out in limbo, one of those local opponents of theirs, Grandison Newell, he wants to put the bank out of commission, so he goes up and buys up all the banks notes that he can buy, and he comes in and he asks for specie, which is hard currency, gold and silver coins rather than the paper notes and the bank has to trade for those and so all of this currency, all of this specie that’s in the coffers of the bank in the vault, they’re trading out to Grandison Newell and he’s trying to create a run on the bank.

I think the actions of Newell and Johnson are not well known and under-appreciated in the bank’s collapse.  The bank run worked (combined with John Johnson’s sale of bank property which sent real estate prices plummeting.)  In our next podcast, we’ll ask this question.  Given all these reasons for the collapse of the bank, why did Joseph take most of the blame?

Please get a transcript here or at Amazon to help support more podcasts and documentaries such as this.

Kirtland Banking Crisis (Part 2) – Why it Failed