Project Zion Podcast

Episode 214: Fair Trade with Brian Whitney Part 2

August 22, 2019
Project Zion Podcast
Episode 214: Fair Trade with Brian Whitney Part 2
Chapters
Project Zion Podcast
Episode 214: Fair Trade with Brian Whitney Part 2
Aug 22, 2019
Project Zion Podcast
Show Notes Transcript

In Part 2 of our Fair Trade episode with Brian Whitney, Brian takes us through his growing interest in Community of Christ over the last few years. Brian shares why he chose to be confirmed a member of Community of Christ and where he hopes his discipleship will take him. 

Speaker 1:
0:16
[inaudible].
Speaker 2:
0:18
Welcome to the project Zion podcast. This podcast explores the unique spiritual and theological gifts community of Christ offers for today's world.
Speaker 1:
0:32
[inaudible]
Speaker 3:
0:34
hello product. I listeners, this is Brady Mango Olson. I am bringing you part two in our episode with Brian Whitney. This is a fair trade episode. So it's about faith transitions. And if you have not listened to the first part of this conversation, please go back and listen to it because this might not make a whole lot of sense because you're missing a whole lot of background and a whole lot of context. But, uh, we just kinda jump right back in to the story of when he moves back to Utah, finishing his internship in Nauvoo. So enjoy [inaudible].
Speaker 4:
1:09
I got back from my internship, um, from Nauvoo and, uh, um, wrapped up my final part of my four year degree at, we were state, uh, in history and at this point, um, started doing just some student work for Greg Coforge books. I was just transcribing some documents. Um, LDS President David O. McKay. Uh, there is a whole office diary. Uh, it's like multiple volumes, um, that his, uh, his secretary Claire Middlemiss, uh, took notes and stuff for him. And so I was just transcribing that for eventual publication, which I, I, you know, it's still kind of lingering out there as a project. Um, but that's what started me with editing with them. And it was just like a 10 hour a week kind of Gig. And, uh, and then from there I graduated and they offered me a little bit more work editing historical biographies and, uh, monographs, which a monograph just means that it's like a narrative history on a particular topic as opposed to like a biography, which is on a person.
Speaker 4:
2:17
And then there's documentary histories, which is what it sounds like. It's just like documents, right? And so like, uh, like the Joseph Smith papers is a documentary history series. Oh. So, um, so like right now I'm editing a documentary history of Oliver Olney, who was actually a dissident in Nabu, who in like 1844, 45 and 46 who stayed in Malibu even after he became a dissident. Right. Which he, so he has a really unique perspective on what was happening in Nabu cause he's like this outsider now who's still living there. And, uh, so his documentary history is pretty fascinating. Um, so I started doing that and I've been a, with Greg covert books now for the past four years. And, uh, and then their marketing guy, um, Brad Kramer was doing their marketing and he started a bookstore down in Provo called a written vision. It's like a gallery bookstore.
Speaker 4:
3:15
And that left a gap there. So I took over the, his role as well of doing marketing. Um, so you know, if anybody ever, you know, this isn't applaud, but if anybody like listens to our podcast, it's me. If you subscribe to our newsletter, it's me, like the, all of those kind of public things for me. Um, but you know, it's been a great experience, um, uh, doing all this scholarship and stuff, but I, I really reached this point like spiritually and religiously, I had reached this point where the history really just stopped mattering, right? Like you just kind of eventually, like when you're in the throws of like, oh my gosh, all of this stuff is so different than what I had been taught, then it's really upsetting. Right. And it's naturally, especially if you've had a lot invested into it, which I haven't had nearly as much invested into it as somebody like you who grew up like deep in the yellow belt and probably multi-generation.
Speaker 4:
4:14
Right? I would assume. So. It's like, you know, everything really hinges on it for somebody. Like you were. As for me, I'd kind of tiptoed my way around it my whole life. And even though I was deeply invested for like a good decade, it wasn't, I wasn't, I didn't have that upbringing component of it. Right. The whole mission service, the seminary education, the constant church activity, things like that. So, so for me, I think it was a bit of a, like it wasn't as high of a fall when when I started, like when, when I started questioning what I believed. Right. It was like a step down. Yeah, that makes sense. It wasn't crushing. Right. So, so I think it was a little easier for me to kind of get over how like how dramatically different the historical story is, right. It was, it was just like, okay, you know, and so, um, but I had, I still went through this phase where it's like, okay, I'm just going to just throw myself into the scholarship and I'm not even really gonna think religiously about things.
Speaker 4:
5:27
I'm just gonna this is just like any other historical study. You could be studying the history of the civil war or you could be studying the history of American government or you could be studying the history of American religion and it's all pretty much like you use the same methodology, the same tools. You try to like distance yourself from it emotionally, look at it some as objectively as possible. Right. Which, I mean, we're humans so we can ever be completely objective, but you try to like not feel that like attachment to it. Right. And, and not feel threatened by it. Right. I'm, the cognitive dissidence just wasn't there anymore. It was just like this. I'm just doing history. Um, and, and I really threw myself into the whole study of, um, like the second grade awakening period of America and the different religious movements that came out of this period, which is kind of the pre civil war era.
Speaker 4:
6:21
And you have a lot of, like, there's, there's a lot of, um, fervent belief that this was the end of times. Um, millenarianism is how you refer to that, right? This is, this is the, the millennium is going to come. And there were, the question was as whether we were, uh, going to create heaven on earth before the millennium or whether everything is going to come crashing down and then the millennium and then have an honor. Right? So it's like the whole pre-millennial and post-millennial arguments with each other. And that was like the biggest debate. It wasn't the debate of is the world really coming to an end? It's, no, it's coming to an end. It's a matter of where we're sitting right on the, on either side of it. And A, and Evangelical, um, missions were huge during this time. Um, and you've have, uh, you know, Methodists ministers that are crossing over across the plains and bringing the good word.
Speaker 4:
7:16
You've got all of these fringe groups that are growing out of a different ideas. You've got a lot of these groups that are coming over. They're immigrating and trading, create these little utopian societies. Um, and communal living societies. A lot of people are most people from with like the shakers for instance. And, but there's like tons of these little groups. Like there's the Amana colony and there's the Oh night ones. And like there's just all of these, like there's hundreds of these little groups that just create these little communal utopias believing that the end of the world was coming, that they were going to create the Kingdom of God, right. Prior to, prior to the second coming. And you've got, um, these, what you call these Christian perfectionists who believed that they could, uh, they could sort of perfect themselves through obedience to certain principles. You have Christian primitive wrists who believe that they can reconstruct the original Church of Jesus Christ, like from the New Testament, you know, I mean, and this is like all very 19th century perspectives because when you really study early Christianity, it was pretty spread out and wasn't really that cohesive, right?
Speaker 4:
8:24
So, but in their minds, the 19th century, when they're reading the Bible and they're reading the book of acts in particular, um, they see a very cohesive presentation of a church that's being presented allegedly by Paul. Right? And so for them, that's what early Christianity was and that was the Church of Jesus Christ. And that's what they were trying to, to recover and emulate. Um, but you know, so I'll, out of all of these different groups, suppose you have like free masonry is really popular during this time. Uh, the question of Deism, how is God really in our lives? You have just all of these different things happening and occurring. Uh, during this, this period, which is like 1800, you know, beginning in about like late 17, hundreds, early 18 hundreds, you've got these huge revival meetings with very charismatic events like the Cane Ridge revival and people just like speaking in the spirit and like barking like dogs and just really insane things.
Speaker 4:
9:21
And out of all of this fervor, like it creates this, this very fertile soil for religious movements to, to be sprung from. So out of that, you get like Adventism, right, which, uh, Adventism started out saying, we've got a very specific date for the end times, right? It was like, you know, it's going to be April 14th of 18, 42 that's when Jesus is going to come, right? And they all stood out on the hillside in their white robes waiting to receive the savior and then humbly went back to their homes about an hour later and, and, and reconstructed their narrative if maybe it was metaphorical, um, and, but, but Adventism is still around today, right? The seventh day Adventist church grew out of that and they were able to successfully reconstruct their narrative and focus on a different aspect of what they were doing, which in this case was Sabbitarians Chisholm, right?
Speaker 4:
10:22
The idea that the sabbath was on Saturday, not Sunday. And that's really what fomented them as a religious identity apart from the groups surrounding them. Right? So Adventism grows out of this and eventually post civil war, the Jehovah's Witnesses grow out of this and right smack in the middle of the two Mormonism grows out of this. Right. And so for me as a re, as a thinking, just from a historical, religious, scholarly standpoint, I'm just looking at Mormonism as another movement among movements in American history. And I'm not placing a lot of emotional investment into it. Sure. I'm still attending church on Sundays, you know, with my family and I'm still serving in, you know, some sort of calling in the church and things like that. But I'm not really invested at this point. I'm just like, okay, you know, we go to churches, what we do, it's good to raise your kids in church.
Speaker 4:
11:14
And then there's like the whole, like religious scholarship side of me, which is almost like a completely distinct part of my life that I didn't let blend over. Right. I didn't go to church being like, oh, guess what I learned this week. Right? Like I didn't want to have those conversations with people who weren't, I mean, this is gonna sound so snobbish, but I didn't want to have this conversations with people who weren't half as well read. Right. Because I knew that it was just going to be upsetting and threatening. Right. Um, and again, I know it sounds so arrogant. This is like, I know so much more than you that I'm just not going to tell you anything. I don't mean it that way at all. I just, I just felt like, what's what, what's my goal with this? Right? Like I actually, I really value faith and I don't, I don't want to shake people's faith.
Speaker 4:
12:04
Right. That's, that's not my goal. I do think that it's very useful to have a more reasonable and realistic view on faith, particularly where it crosses over with history. Right. I think it's, I think, I think people get themselves into a lot of trouble with assumptions about historical facts that, that inform their behavior now and, and their worldview and their outlook on things and particularly their social outlook on things. So I'm, I'm, but I've kind of arrived at the point where I'm like, I think you need to know enough history to know that you can draw a line and move past it instead of being mired in it. Right. So I'm not, I'm not going to be like, well you need to read these 40 books. Right. Cause I know people won't, but I do think that you should have a basic understanding and a basic primer of things just so you can, if nothing else, just so you can say, okay, I get the context of things now and I see like the human development of this and now I understand that I don't have to just, I don't, I don't have to base my personal belief system on that anymore.
Speaker 4:
13:22
Right. Like, I can, I can choose to just to decide what I want to do moving forward and who I want to be moving forward. And that's, and that's something that really stood out to me with community of Christ as a religious group, more or less, it seems like, at least within leadership of the church, it seems like they also arrived at those same conclusions of, okay, here's our past, here's the heritage that we came from, but we're not bound by it. Right. And, uh, and so that, that, that was always very true. It's something I always admired and always wished that the more conservative LDS tradition could learn from. Um, sure. What really hit me, uh, was in 2015 when the LDS church issued, uh, it's very quietly issued its, um, policy update on LGBTQ couples and their children. Um, that was a big blow to me and to a lot of my friends.
Speaker 4:
14:31
And I think, um, that was the first time in a long time that religion became personal to meet again. Right? Like, that's, it's weird to say that, but I had been stuck in such, like just a historical thinking and like scholarship side of it that I was just going through the motions religiously. Right. And it was like just, no, you just go church on Sunday. You take the sacrament in, it's what you do. But I wasn't like, things weren't hitting me personally. Right. Like the whole, like ordained women's movement started, um, before this end. I, that was, that was one of those moments where I'm like, wow, this really means a lot to these, to these women. They really want to be able to participate fully in the LDS church. And I support that. And I think that's like, you know, you go, but I didn't wanna like I didn't feel like me as a guy that I should just like rush in there and be like, okay, what can I do to make this happen for you?
Speaker 4:
15:22
Right. Like it was just like, I'm gonna Cheer for you from the side. Right. So I was there when they did the whole march on to Temple Square and asked to get into the priesthood meeting. Like I was there, like applauding from the side, right. Like, you know, and uh, and cheering him on. Um, so I supported those efforts. Um, but again, it was like I still hadn't personalized this and tell that policy wasn't how I was, and then it was just like I said, it just felt like a ton of bricks being dropped on me. Um, in part because, you know, I mean, I had had that experience in Seattle with LGBTQ members in our congregation who I loved and adored and I thought this is going to break them right? This is, this is going to completely break them. And then my wife has been very involved in LGBTQ advocacy.
Speaker 4:
16:14
Um, she's part of an LGBT TQ advocacy organization called glisten that works with public schools to try to create like safe spaces and inclusive curriculum, um, for LGBTQ students. And you know, so this was, this was kind of blindsiding to her too. Um, and then not long after this, my son from my first marriage came out as gay. Um, and so it was just like this trifecta of these three things of being like, this just doesn't feel right to me. Right. I, I have no justifiable way of explaining this to anybody. Um, especially my son who, um, you know, he asked to be removed from the records of the LDS church and I just said, I don't blame you. Right? Like, I, you know, I will sign your letter. Um, it's not a healthy environment for you, so, you know, I want you to just be healthy.
Speaker 4:
17:12
Um, so anyway, that has been, that, that has really been kind of the catalyst for me to start reevaluating what d, what principles and values do I really have outside of just being a history nerd. Like, where do I sit theologically, right. And, um, you know, what can I really support? Um, and, but I didn't want to respond in anger. Um, so I, I did, I did attend, I think you'll recall, I did attend community free service in Salt Lake City the weekend after that was announced. And I think, I think we sat with your family, actually. Yeah. Um, and, and it was just, I couldn't, s I just couldn't attend an LDS service, uh, after that announcement. Um, I knew that I would be too angry. I would be in tears. My wife would be in tears. So we needed a place of healing. And I knew, I mean, at this point, you know, the new community pricing's hymn book had come out and I knew that you guys would be singing a place at the table.
Speaker 4:
18:23
Um, and it was like, that's where we're going. Right? And you guys had announced we're going to have pizza for everybody. Like, you know, Seth Bryant was like, well, we're gonna, we're gonna reach out here, you know? And, uh, and so it was very good. It was very meaningful. And my kids still talk about that service to this day. Wow. That's how much an impact it had on them. And that was, that was four years ago. And they're like, oh, that church, that, that Pizza Church, right? They're like the pizza church. They're like, how come our church doesn't do pizza?
Speaker 4:
19:04
Like, why do I have to wear a shirt and tie? Great. But anyway, um, that, and I think that Denise at that point knew that eventually I was probably gonna make the decision to affiliate on a more official level with community of Christ. And, uh, but I don't think she was quite ready to accept that yet. Um, she, I, she needed to go through some internal, um, sort of reflecting on her own thoughts and beliefs about things because she had grown up in a pretty, you know, uh, devout LDS home that taught very traditional, uh, views on things. And even though she was a rebel in her early years, she still, um, had a lot of deep values for some of the specific teachings of the LDS church in regards to eternal family ceilings and things like that. Um, so, you know, it, it took a, took a while of top I talking about those types of things and, you know, she's got, she has so many friends in the LGBTQ community and, um, I mean this goes all the way back to when we were in Seattle together.
Speaker 4:
20:16
Um, two of her dearest friends are a married lesbian couple that she just, I mean, she was there, bridesmaid, right? And She just adores them. And I w I remember talking to her saying, do you really think that God is going to sever their relationship? You know, like, because they're lesbians, like they are completely in love and committed to each other in a way that is rare to find even in heterosexual couples, um, and said, you really think that their relationship is going to end, you know, after, after this life. And she said, no, I don't, I don't believe that. So that was, that was a big turning point for her. Um, you know, similarly, uh, even back in Seattle when, when I would take her to like the Episcopalian complex service and she would sit there and just in this beautiful cathedral with this beautiful prayers being sung, being canted right.
Speaker 4:
21:12
And it would just hit her that this spirit was there. And you know, I, that was a very eye opening experience for her. She said, you know, I, she'd never really thought about the spirit being outside of our tradition. Right. Maybe it's such, it's such a silly, small thing, but it's so true. It really is. Yeah. And, but she had an undeniable spiritual experience in this Episcopalian Cathedral where there was like, there were homeless people laying on the floor and like gay couples and elderly and us, and like, it was just this diverse group of people that were just there to find some connection to God, right. And to worship and it, you know, it was very moving. Um, so that was, you know, those, those types of things had really softened her to just saying, well, you know, maybe, maybe the exclusive claims that we have aren't quite all what they seem to be.
Speaker 4:
22:11
Um, but still, I just kind of felt like I needed to wait and till I felt like it wouldn't really hurt her before I told her that I wanted to, um, be confirmed and community of Christ. Right. Um, so it took, it took a few years of being sensitive to that. And when I felt like she had reached a point, um, where she could accept it, then I took her out for dinner and said, I told her, I said, I just, you know, I, I feel ever since 2015, I've been feeling like I really want to support community of Christ because I agree with the principles and the principles of equality and justice. Um, and, uh, their ecumenical view, um, of their place in Christianity. Uh, and she grabbed my hand and she said, I've known this for five years. So, um, then I, on my way home, I'd picked her up from work.
Speaker 4:
23:13
So we drove separately. On my way home, I called lock and MCI and I said, lock, are you going to be in town for sunstone weekend? And he said, yes, I am. And I said, what do you think about confirming me? And uh, he wept. He was in Mexico at the time and, uh, he wept in. And then I contacted after that my, uh, dear friend, John Hamre, who I've known ever since I moved to Utah. Um, and, uh, he likewise just said that, you know, it would be an honor and, and wept and, um, that he'd been looking forward to this day for a long time. Um, you know, nobody had ever as close as I'd gotten with community of Christ members. Nobody had ever once put any sort of pressure on me to make a decision to try to convert me. Right. The closest that I'd come was, you know, Seth, Brian giving me a little ribbing, right?
Speaker 4:
24:09
Like, you know, you know that, you know, that you're closer to us than you are the LDS tradition. Like, what's the, what's the hangup here? Right. Um, and, uh, you know, but he's a 70, so he gets away with it. Right. And, and John Hammer too, um, you know, I remember him saying, uh, you know, if, if, if you ever were to convert, like, what's your like, you know, what's, what's holding you up from something like that? And both of them are very, uh, gracious and patient. When I would tell them that I don't want to do anything that's going to hurt my marriage or my relationship with my wife. Both of them were like immediately, yes, you know, we're not going to do anything that would, that would disrupt that. So mate, you know, make your marriage the first priority. Um, so yeah, that's, that's really my journey into community of Christ.
Speaker 3:
25:02
Again, I just have a cheesy grin on my face. I understand what you mean about like tiptoeing I think is the word you used around. Yeah, no, the peripherals of community of Christ. And you know, there's, I think that there's a lot of, um, a lot of people that are really trying to make it work and have to really sift and sort through a wide variety of consequences really for joining a new, a new religion. Uh, and so the intentionality that you brought to the decision, I think is wise. Uh, and yeah, like you said, something that community of Christ would not put pressure on you, whether it's individuals or church members, you know, maybe they'd crack a few jokes. It's like, well, you're already community guys. Why don't you make it official, but, um, but yeah, I think that approaching these big life decisions with intentionality is really important. So,
Speaker 4:
25:57
yeah. Yeah. And a big part of the reason why I decided that I wanted to become a member is because I would like to become involved and helping support mission of community of Christ in more of an official way that, um, that I felt like I couldn't do on the outside, you know, for like for example, um, you know, I've started working with Karen Peter on, on doing, uh, a booth for the Logan Pride festival that's coming up next month. And those are the kinds of things that, I mean, could I do that without being a confirmed member? Yeah, probably. Maybe, but I, it just felt like I should be a confirmed member if I'm going to go out and try to represent the church and try to say, you know, here's a place of, of healing and a place where your heritage is still, um, you know, honored particularly for Utah, uh, LGBTQ individuals where there still is the restoration heritage that's available to you.
Speaker 4:
26:49
But in a place that's accepting of you. Um, you know, so I felt like for me to be able to participate in the way that I want to, um, I felt confirmation was the next logical step also. Um, so I, you know, I, I've, I've mentioned that I really enjoy high church and I'm kind of a big high church nerd. I love high church liturgy of like the Catholic Church and the Episcopalians and Anglicans and Orthodox. The Orthodox make you stand a little bit too much. But um, but I, uh, I still like, I'm still very drawn to that and it's, and I totally recognize that is just like the religion nerd in me that's drawn to that. Um, cause most people just want to go to church for like an hour, get a snack and be at it and head out. Right. Whereas I'm all about like the smells, the bells, the standing up, the sitting down, the kneeling, all that stuff is like super cool to me.
Speaker 4:
27:37
Um, and I, and I've been drawn to the Episcopalian church for a long time because they share so many similar perspectives and values as community of Christ. Right? They're progressive minded church. Um, they fought for a lot of social justice causes, um, throughout the past decades. They were one of the early churches to ordain women, uh, 1977 maybe around there. So when they began ordaining women, uh, which is pretty progressive for its time. And so I have a great admiration for them. And of course there's, uh, uh, an Episcopalian congregation that's much closer to me up in Brigham city. So I really, it would have been pretty easy for me to move that direction. I attended their church several times and they were always very gracious and the pastor was great director, I guess is what you would call her, was great. You know, we would sit around and cuss and talk about, you know, Utah history and stuff.
Speaker 4:
28:27
Um, she was awesome. But, um, in the end, the reason why I decided, uh, community of Christ was because of my background, um, in, in particularly in the Mormon tradition. And in the restoration tradition and my historical study of the restoration tradition, um, I felt like would be actually useful in a community of Christ context, whereas it's completely un-useful in an Episcopalian context, right? Like, it doesn't hold the same value in an episcopalian context for me to discuss the history of the restoration movement or even the different schisms of the Mormon Diaspora. But to a community of Christ's audience, it would be interesting and relevant. Right. Particularly in Utah. Um, so it, it came down to, I felt that I had more to offer to a community of Christ. It wasn't a which church has the most to offer me, right? Because quite frankly, the episcopalian churches just right down the street, it would have been a lot easier just to like, okay, I'm gonna go here every Sunday.
Speaker 4:
29:39
But then I think I would have felt like everything that I've gone through, all the experiences that I've had, the decade of study that I've put into American religious history, I feel like I would've just like shelved it all and been like, you know, it, I would've had to just like scrap it. And just start over again. Right. And maybe for some people that's super healthy to do that and be like, this is just completely done. I'm not gonna think about the restoration narrative again. You know, Joseph Smith is the last name I ever want to hear. Right. I get that. That's totally understandable. And for them it's a lot easier for them to just completely reinvent their religious identity either as, you know, an episcopalian or a unitarian or nonreligious or whatever. Right. And I honor that path. Um, and I understand it, but I feel like I've put a lot of time into this and I feel like I have a unique perspective on restoration history that I can, that would, again, it would be a value. It'd be of service. Um, so I wanted to bring that to the table. [inaudible]
Speaker 3:
30:44
that's really interesting that you bring that up because earlier in our conversation you had said something about you weren't necessarily invested as far as your genealogy goes, your family background, whatever, in the church. Um, but you have invested a lot, you know, so maybe you weren't totally devastated to the same degree as some sixth, seventh, whatever generations, uh, of people that discover a different narrative of church history, but you still studied it. And like you said, you put in hours and hours and years and years of work into this. And so to then not to not be able to bring that to your next religious experience would be difficult. And I mean, I can relate on a sense of, you know, this is my heritage and my family does go back to the days of Kirtland. And, um, so being able to bring that part of me into community of Christ was important for me too. So I do think that there's a lot of parallels there, um, that maybe this isn't your heritage going back generations and generations, but it's your heritage of your current life with your life's work.
Speaker 4:
31:58
Right, right. And what I do professionally as an editor with a, a Mormon studies book publisher. Yeah, exactly. All of those things. It's, you know, and another initiative that I would like to do is I would like to, to try to help, uh, support as sustainable, um, House church seekers group, a ministry up in my area, the Logan Brigham City Ogden areas. Um, you know, so the day after pride, I'll actually be sitting down with pastor Carla long to talk about the viability of, uh, of a house church up in the Logan area. And you know, those, again, those are just things that I don't feel that I would have been able to if I was an outsider, um, to the faith if I was like friendly but not, you know, a, a confirmed member, I would, I would always feel a little bit like I'm infringing and imposing as an outsider.
Speaker 4:
32:53
Right. So I felt like I needed to take that step of being confirmed as a member and then bringing these things to the table of, of what I could do to try to help support Seacrest group ministry, um, historical initiatives, LGBTQ outreach, ecumenical outreach with other progressive churches. Like, those are all things that I would like to do because they, they are meaningful to me, right? Like, these are the things that I wish I could have done with my previous religious tradition. Um, they, they are there for me. These are the things, these are, this is my way of walking the disciples walk. Um, and, and I felt like I couldn't do that. I couldn't, I couldn't go to my local ward bishop and say, I would like to put up a booth at pride parade to do some outreach. Right. Um, or, um, I would like to start offering some lectures on the history of restoration isn't, but it's not going to be faith promoting, like, it's just going to be like a purely like secular history and discuss Mormonism as just another religious movement of many. Are you cool with that bishop? Right? Like, you know?
Speaker 4:
34:15
Right, right. Um, and, and they're not really in a position in a place to be able to support those types of initiatives, you know, at all. No, not at all. Um, or even if I was to say, you know, I would like to start a independent study group with those who are questioning their faith, right? Even that is like, it's frowned upon, right? Because now you're starting to, you're start, it's a slippery slope kind of, you know, kind of thing. Whereas with community of Christ, like I bring these ideas up, you know, to, to Karen Peter and to Karla is f and they're just like, great, let's do it. And you know, it's, it's just a completely, because what we were talking about earlier, because everything is more localized, right by region, by specific need of congregation, uh, there's just a lot more flexibility to respond to local needs and, and you can, you can bring your creative ideas to the table, I feel anyway.
Speaker 4:
35:20
And the structure isn't so, um, hierarchical or rigid or solidified to where there's like, no, I'm sorry, but there's no way to do that. We would have to run that all the way up the chain and you know, the chances of it being approved are going to be slim to none because there's going to be too many concerns [inaudible] right. Instead it's just let's do it right. I mean, I can get on a Facebook message with a couple of people and within an hour we've registered for exhibiting at pride, right? Like that's just to me that that's a very attractive, um, kind of relationship to have with a religious organization. And I think, you know, a lot of it has to do with the size difference, right? Being a smaller organization and not having quite as much representation out here, it's a little easier to make suggestions of how you want to help out and have those suggestions heard.
Speaker 4:
36:16
Right? I mean, if there were, if 80% of the population out here was community of Christ, it might be a little different. [inaudible] you know, it might be too big to have that kind of immediate, um, support for things. I Dunno. You know, so some of it's geography, some of its size, some of it's just [inaudible]. But a lot of it comes down to the religious outlook and the outlook of what the mission is. Um, and, uh, anyway, I'm excited to be able to participate in those ways and be able to do something that's like super meaningful for me. Um, and feel like I'm actually like walking the path of discipleship that I envision is, um, what I would hope that, that Christ would be doing. Um, I've even gone so far to saying, you know, let's just, let's just knock down the walls of the church and let's just start meeting out in like public parks and lakes and stuff for house church. And, uh, you know, because that's what Jesus did, right? I mean, he just went out to the people and they sat by a lake and talked, and that was, that was church, right?
Speaker 3:
37:20
Yeah. And you know, I'm proud of Zion. I interview a lot of people about mission and what they're doing and their areas. And one thing that is always repeated is that mission is contextual. And so when I think about Utah and the
Speaker 3:
37:39
quirkiness that we have here, um, you know, it's, we need people that understand the dynamics, that understand the need, that have lived in the need, uh, to then respond. And I saw that very quick quickly when I first came to community of Christ and I didn't necessarily want to be more busy in the sense of just having more things to do, but I wanted what I did to be meaningful and I wanted to actually feel like I was heard in a way that I never could have been as a Mormon woman. And that happened immediately. I mean, I was able to do things that Mormon women are never able to do as a non member in community of Christ. Um, and so then, yeah, joining and, uh, getting involved in a more official capacity. Just my ability to just do more. And again, not more in the sense of just being busy, just keeping myself numbed out and busy, but actually doing more meaningful, right? Giving ministry a was deeply important for me. So
Speaker 4:
38:53
teaching, teaching the five-year-olds in primary, it wasn't as life giving. And meaningful.
Speaker 3:
38:58
That's what holds me calling. I honestly had as an adult, as a married adult, I did a lot more when I was, yeah. Up at Utah State and Logan. Uh, but yeah, I just, I dunno it, yeah. It's interesting to actually be in a church that values your thoughts and yeah. And creative. Right. And Yeah. Your creative input and your willingness to do things out in the community and willingness to take a bit of a risk.
Speaker 4:
39:30
Right? Yeah. Let's just try it and see what happens. I think that's [inaudible] I had a great conversation with, with Laughlin when we were at sunstone and he's just like, you know, we're trying to redefine what church is does at this point and like, you know, I mean, it's no question that the younger generation is just not interested in church, right. Like, they don't, they don't want to participate. They don't want to go there on Sundays. They don't want to be in these classes and they don't want to have this like, manufactured relationship with God, you know? Um, and it's so, it's like, well, where do we go to try to offer some sort of spiritual support for, for this younger group? And, you know, it dawned on me, and I was actually, this was during my, uh, confirmation, um, and I was chatting afterwards while we were all getting a lunch.
Speaker 4:
40:20
And I, and I said, you know, I, I think, um, the younger generation, we just have to like go out and meet them right where they are, wherever they're at. And when you, if you think about it, like, so if you're at a church service and it starts going over about an hour, you start looking at your watch and you get a little antsy, right? And you're like, okay, let's go, let's wrap this up. Let's get out of here. But if you're out with a group of friends or associates, um, maybe even people you don't know that well, but you're just like at a coffee shop somewhere, that conversation go on for hours and you don't even realize it. And it's like so edifying and like spiritually uplifting. You walk away feeling good and you don't feel like you wasted your time at all and you don't feel antsy about the time.
Speaker 4:
41:01
And that to me, I think is a real learning, something that we need to learn about. Like what does it mean to bring church to the people, right? It's not necessarily trying to get them in the pews. It's sometimes it's us being willing to go out and meet with them and the place that they're comfortable and uh, and have those, like those enriching conversations and those uplifting conversations. So that's just something that I'm kinda like toying around with right now. And also even like leveraging technology in that, um, you know, a lot of people are willing, like John Hammer does a great job of having his church brought his Tuesday evening lecture series broadcasts, uh, for people and where he's talking about like different faith traditions and religious traditions and you know, the history of different aspects of society like nationalism and things like that. And I, it was, it was really neat to be able to log in and watch those, even though he's in Toronto and I'm out in Utah.
Speaker 4:
41:58
Like, you know, technology is bringing the world closer together, but at the same time we're also like missing that one on one individual connection. So I think we kind of have to minister to both. Um, I think that we need to learn how to leverage technology in a way that can create these, like these virtual congregations that are bound like boundary lists at the same time. And we have to bring value, right? It can't just be, it can't just be sermons, right. It has to be something that actually like, that people really like are interested in. Um, like John Hammer does a great job with his historical topics. You also do the zoom meetings and it's usually on some sort of relevant social topic. Right. I would love, I would love to do some history type work doing that. Um, and you know, there's that and people feel this real sense of online community identity.
Speaker 4:
42:52
Like it's not fake, right? I mean, yeah, people legitimately feel when they're part of an online community that they really are a part of an actual community. Um, and they're willing to give, you know, uh, financially their time, whatever, to support that community that they believe in, um, or that they feel that they're getting value out of. At the same time, I also think that like physical meetups are super helpful, right? Like it can't just be all virtual, you know, I mean, for some people that live way out in the middle of nowhere, that's their only option. But I think most of us have the opportunity to, to get out and meet with people, you know, whether it's on a Sunday basis in an actual church setting or whether it's, like I said, the coffee shop setting or private houses or whatever, but, you know, smaller groups of 10, 15 people having meaningful conversation to me is modeling community, you know? Um, so anyway, I just think, I think that this is where if you ask me, where can church really head in the future to where we can, uh, really, like I said, support the next generation. I think those are the things that we should really be looking at because that's the kind of life that they live.
Speaker 3:
44:05
Yeah, I agree 100%. Uh, and you know, a big chunk of my ministry does happen online. Um, I'm also heavily involved in leadership in Salt Lake. That happens face to face, but even actually we have implemented technology with in the Salt Lake congregation. So we do monthly zoom meetings or quarterly zoom meetings and um, you know, just have different opportunities to connect and face to face. And like you said, you know, it doesn't have to be all or nothing swinging one way or the other. Yeah, completely. But yeah, just having more options and not letting ourselves be held back because we've quote unquote always done it this way. I get a little defensive when people talk down on social media and how can relationships really foster and how meaningful can it be and can people really learn about the church through social media? And I mean I, yes.
Speaker 3:
45:04
Yeah. I'm a strong advocates for that cause the reality is, I mean in Salt Lake, we usually have people come in who know way more about community of Christ than your average person on the street here because they have already quote unquote investigated or researched. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean they come knowing a lot. Um, you know, a lot of times I'll recommend maybe the John Dolan Mormon stories podcast with Stevie z or stuff with John Hammer and they're like, oh yeah, we've already watched that. I'm like, of course you have. Right, right. A lot of times they've, they even followed me on Facebook already or they're in the latter day seekers group or they listened to Gina Colvin or you know, they, they've already made connections and then they want the face to face. So that's what gets them through our doors. So.
Speaker 4:
45:58
Totally, totally. I S and I, like I said, there is a benefit cause sometimes you just need to get together with people in person and just weep for sure. Right. Which is not something that you're going to do as easily online. Yeah. Um, you know, but you just need to have that physical touch of somebody just putting their arm physically on you while you are crying. You need that. Right? And so I think there's definitely the place to try to foster those types of communities. Um, but yeah, I mean as far as just like the whole learning and outreach and, um, those types of models. I mean, there's so much that can be done outside of a chapel setting, in a congregation setting. Um, and quite frankly, there's so many people out there that are like, man, if church was seriously going to a public park and letting my kids play while we sit around and eat and talk about spiritual principles, I'm there.
Speaker 4:
46:50
Like, that's, that's my comfort level, right? That's where I'm willing to do. And in, and even if those, like sitting around talking about spiritual principles, it needs to be super authentic, right? Like there has to be room for, for differing views and dissension and anger. And like I said, you know, profanity and love and like the whole thing, right? All of those things just is, this needs to be like super human and super real. Um, and uh, and not trying to put on the errors and like, I dunno, manipulating emotion, uh, into, in, in, in, into bearing false witness or false, but just being super authentic with people. Um, you know, if I look at Christ ministry or at least what's been written about Christ's ministry after the fact, what we see is a super authentic guy, right? Who was willing to just go out and heal people and, and be with them and eat with them and touch their lives and listen to them and be authentic back to with them, um, and cry out against the same injustices that they were crying out against and the same forms of oppression that they felt in their lives.
Speaker 4:
48:07
Um, and I think that, you know, I said it in my confirmation talk. He didn't sit there in a synagogue just waiting for people to come find him in his message. You know, he went out and he was constantly just among the people offering himself to them. And I think that's when we talk about the idea of a re a restoration, you know, the restoration such in 19th century concept, right? It's like, it was based on this very, um, number one egotistical notion that there was some sort of form of like 100% absolute truth, right? Number two, number two, this false idea that it was ever a unified and cohesive. Um, it was just this very misguided view of what early religion, of how religion develops and what early Christianity really looked like. Um, and I'm not saying that to denigrate them because they were very sincere, right?
Speaker 4:
49:01
They were, they were very sincere in their search for a true, the true faith before Jesus's return. Right? So, but we've gotten to a point now where I think we can reevaluate that, uh, just like we do millenarianism and other things and we can say, well, what does the restoration really mean to us? Right? And I mean, I would love if what restoration really means to us is this idea of, well, I mean it's, it's in the name, the idea of community, right? And the idea that what Jesus was really doing was building a community of people and he wasn't starting a church, right? He, he was, he was out there building a community, um, several communities really that, that came off from it. But, um, so I don't know, I think, I think that that's something that we can, that we can play around with this whole concept of what does restoration mean to us now in the 21st century? What are we restoring? Right? And I think in some ways we've lost this idea of close community, right? Because we're all so busy now with our lives. We're all pulled one way or another and distracted so much by media and by, um, everything going on around us. It's really hard for people to find that place of community. Um, so let's restore community, right? I don't want to make any promises
Speaker 3:
50:28
here, but I am suddenly seeing a whole new project I series in this recently talking to people about what does it mean to be a prophetic people. And I think it'd be amazing if we talked to a bunch of people about what does it mean to be a church of the restoration. What does restaurant mean?
Speaker 4:
50:45
Right. Right. You got, you got to find a coffee spin on that though to keep it consistent with the theme. Oh, for sure. Well, I'll get working on it. Excellent.
Speaker 3:
50:55
Ah, well Brian, this has been such a good conversation. Um, it's been really helpful. I've loved getting to know you a little bit more. Um, and when I heard the news that you were being confirmed on sunstone Sunday as we call it, and I was like, Yay.
Speaker 4:
51:13
And on the other hand, of course she was so sensed on Sunday and I mean it was because it was convenient. It really was, is because it was because lock was going to be out there. John is going to be out there and I'm like, let's just do it
Speaker 3:
51:29
really. I mean, again, I can relate to that to my baptism and confirmation date was based around Robin Link Card schedule. So it worked out perfectly.
Speaker 4:
51:39
But, but at the same time, my husband's work, right. But at the same time too, I thought that it was a fitting weekend because I knew that there was going to be a number of people there who have known me for a long time who attend sunstone. Right. Who wouldn't ordinarily come to a community of Christ worship service or you know, or whatever. So it was really great to have a few people out there who, who I've known for, you know, personally for a long time. Um, in the Mormon studies circles and everything. And you know, a lot of them were pretty surprised, but very supportive. Um, you know, I didn't get any lack of support from anybody. Um, but so I, it kind of felt good to be able to make this public declaration, um, and say, yes, this is what I affirmed. This is what I believe.
Speaker 4:
52:23
And, uh, you know, like I, like I talked about in my confirmation, um, I, I've been thinking about the idea of the, the Hebrew, um, the story of the ancient Hebrews going through the, uh, the 40 years of wandering, right. And them having to break down their tabernacle and then move and then rebuild it. Um, and I kind of felt that in my own life. Like, you know, I just, I had to break down the tabernacle and, and that spiritual home of myself and just really re-examine like, where am I moving to here? And you know, it, it did come down to really analyzing where do I sit on a lot of these, like a lot of these topics that are really important to a latter day saint and, uh, and in conversation with several very, what we would call kind of conservative Orthodox believers, realizing just how different I was at this point.
Speaker 4:
53:19
And like how I tend to reinterpret things like what restoration means, right? And like that it's, it wasn't about restoring authority or restoring ordinances that it's a bigger project. And, and I, and that's really what it came down to was just realizing where I sit on these things. You know, as, as I indicated, it was so easy to get lost in history and just studying history. But where do I personally sit on these issues and where does my theology rests was a question I hadn't asked myself. And then when I did started asking, I started really looking into that and asking those questions. It was like, holy smokes, I have really progressed. Like, or some people would say digress. I don't know. I've, I've really like shifted away from mainstream belief on a lot of these things and I still find tremendous value in a lot of them.
Speaker 4:
54:11
But man, do I look at them so differently now than I ever did before. And then when I really looked at it and said, you know, every single one of those things like are while those areas, like what does authority mean? What does exclusive, how does exclusivism like factor into religious life? How does like all of these, these, these things, when I start really looking into it, I'm like, I'm, I sit a lot more closely with where community of Christ is on these topics. And, and even the areas where maybe I'm not like 100% it's still like there's a lot of tolerance for where I am. Right. It's, you know, because there isn't that, that impulsive need to be like, no, this is the way it is. This is the doctrine, right? It's like, no, this is the principles. These are the principles that we teach and you're totally within that realm of those principles. So we love you, embrace you and support you in it. Um, and yeah, just that just felt like that that was emotionally for me. That was my transition point of, of realizing just how much I have personally internally shifted, um, on my theology and yeah.
Speaker 3:
55:25
Thank you Brian. Thank you for sharing all of this. There's a lot of relatable content at different points in your story and I think it's going to be one of interests and one that helps people. So
Speaker 4:
55:37
thanks. I appreciate the time. I know it's been much longer than we anticipated.
Speaker 3:
55:42
No, this is good. I actually will probably split this into two, a two parter, which I think is great. So
Speaker 4:
55:48
great. Well thank you. Awesome.
Speaker 1:
55:57
[inaudible]
Speaker 2:
55:58
thanks for listening to projects. I am podcast subscribe to our podcast on apple podcast, stitcher, or whatever podcast is streaming service you use. And while you're there, give us a five star rating projects. I am. Podcast is sponsored by latter day seeker ministries of community of Christ. The views and opinions expressed in this episode are of those speaking and do necessarily reflect the official policy or position of latter day secret ministries or community of Christ. The music has been graciously provided by Dave Heinz
Speaker 1:
56:55
[inaudible]
Speaker 5:
57:01
[inaudible] [inaudible].