Scholars & Saints

Scholars & Saints

Scholars & Saints is the official podcast of the University of Virginia’s Mormon Studies program, housed in the Department of Religious Studies. Scholars & Saints is a venue of public scholarship that promotes respectful dialogue about Latter Day Saint traditions among laypersons and academics.

Episodes

April 16, 2024 47 mins

What do an archeologist, historian, philosopher, and literary critic have in common? They're all members of the Department of Religion at Claremont Graduate University! Continuing our series on Mormon studies in the academy, Dr. Matthew Bowman, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at CGU joins host Nicholas Shrum to discuss his own journey to Mormon studies as a trained historian, how Mormon studies emerged as an inter...

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What is Mormon Studies? How does one do it? In what way does it fit into the broader field of Religious Studies? In this all-new season of Scholars & Saints, UVA Religious Studies Ph.D. student Nicholas Shrum goes back to the basics of the discipline with renowned LDS historian and Utah State University professor Patrick Q. Mason. The two discuss Dr. Mason's personal journey to Mormon Studies, his experience in making it e...

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The mysterious gold plates are the gravitational center of the Latter Day Saint tradition. Although twelve people other than Joseph Smith claimed to have seen or handled the plates, Smith said he returned them to an angel soon after completing the translation of the Book of Mormon. Even now, nearly 200 years later, the plates continue fascinate and confound interpreters in American culture. Today on my last episode as host of Schol...

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Ryan Ward is a professor of experimental psychology. But during his time serving as a Latter-day Saint bishop several years ago in New York, the needs and concerns of his congregation motivated him to study theology in his spare time. We're chatting today about his recent book, And There Was No Poor Among Them: Liberation, Salvation, and the Meaning of Restoration (Kofford, 2023). We talk about liberation theology, atonement, ...

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Cory Crawford and Taylor Petrey join me to discuss The Bible and the Latter-day Saint Tradition (Utah, 2023) and the opportunities and challenges of Latter-day Saint biblical studies in the 21st century. 

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Today on Scholars & Saints, I'm joined by Mason Kamana Allred to talk about his new book Seeing Things: Technologies of Vision and the Making of Mormonism (UNC 2023). We discuss German media theory, feminist new materialism, cybernetics, microphotography, and spiritual feedback loops. 

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Christine Elyse Blythe, Christopher James Blythe, and Jay Burton join me to discuss the scriptures of the Latter Day Saint "diaspora." There are more than 400 branches of the Restoration movement begun by Joseph Smith, Jr., and the prophetic production of written scripture is central to many of them. In this episode we discuss the sealed portion(s) of the Book of Mormon, collaborative scripture writing, Book of Mormon exp...

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Dr. Rosalynde Welch, senior research scholar and associate director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU joins me to talk about the "literary turn" in Book of Mormon studies, postsecular critique, scriptural theology, and her recent book on the Book of Ether. Welch argues that the Book of Ether—a kind of microcosm of the Book of Mormon of which it is a part—presents a theology of scripture tha...

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In this episode, I chat with Dr. Bruce Worthen about his recent book Mormon Envoy: The Diplomatic Legacy of Dr. John Milton Bernhisel  (U. of Illinois Press). Worthen unfolds the little known contributions of Bernhisel, who as historian Matt Grow aptly quipped, seems to "have his fingerprints all over Mormon history during this period." We chat about the 1857 Utah War, Bernhisel’s rags-to-riches education at the Universit...

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In this episode, Professor Adam Miller (Collin College) chats with me about his recent book Original Grace: An Experiment in Restoration Thinking (BYU Maxwell Institute & Deseret Book, 2022). Miller argues that Latter-day Saint scripture's rejection of original sin offers an opportunity to rethink the implications of grace. For Miller, grace—not sin—is what's original. What this means, argues Miller, is that grace is ...

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Dr. Jon Bialecki returns to the show to discuss a recent essay, "The Mormon Dead" that explores why Latter-day Saints do not seek or experience the phenomenon of spirit possession as a feature of proxy temple ordinances performed for their deceased ancestors. We talk about the anthropology of spirit possession, the Godbeite movement, Latter-day Saint kinship, and more. 

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In this episode I chat with Professor Joseph Spencer, a philosopher and theologian from Brigham Young University. We talk about Spencer's recent reassessment of Nibley's legacy not as a scholar of the ancient world or of Mormon apologetics, but as a theologian. Spencer unfolds a unique take on Nibley undergirded by extensive research in Nibley's personal papers and correspondence in the archives at BYU. We talk about...

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Dr. George Handley, Latter-day Saint ecocritic, activist, and professor of interdisciplinary humanities at Brigham Young University joins me to chat about what Latter-day Saint theology says about environmental stewardship. Handley says he hopes he is "planting a tree on the last day of the world."

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Dr. James Faulconer, a Latter-day Saint philosopher and theologian now emeritus of Brigham Young University joins me to discuss "performative" or "scriptural" theology and how it helps illuminate Latter-day Saint scripture. In his recent book, Thinking Otherwise: Theological Explorations of Joseph Smith's Revelations, Faulconer argues that Joseph Smith's revelations addressed philosophical enigmas and ...

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Courtney Campbell, Hundere Professor in Religion and Culture at Oregon State University joins me in this episode to discuss his recent book Moral Realities: Medicine, Bioethics, & Mormonism (2021, Oxford University Press). We discuss Professor Campbell's three-part normative framework for a Latter-day Saint bioethics which centers on a "restored, re-storied, and prophetic morality." 

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Professor Nathan Rees (University of West Georgia) joins me to discuss his book Mormon Visual Culture and the American West. We chat about the role that visual art played in creating, mediating, and interpreting the experiences of nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints on the American frontier. Rees reveals that visual culture is more than just art: its about understanding and negotiating what is real. Join us to hear more about C.C....

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Kristine Haglund joins me to discuss her recent book, Eugene England: A Mormon Liberal, the inaugural volume in the University of Illinois Press's new Introductions to Mormon Thought Series. We talk about England's influences, methods, epistemology,  and theology from an intellectual historical rather than a biographical point of view.

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Dr. Michael Austin joins me to discuss his recent book Vardis Fisher: A Mormon Novelist. Fisher was the first of the "Lost Generation" or "Golden Age" of Mormon novelists in the early twentieth century. While self-identified as an atheist, his work is suffused with the hues and textures of his Mormon upbringing in rural Idaho. Fisher's work challenges easy categorization of insider vs. outsider. Was Vardis ...

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President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered the seventh annual Joseph Smith Lecture on Religious Liberty on November 5, 2021. His lecture was entitled "Going Forward with Religious Freedom & Nondiscrimination."

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Dr. Robin Jensen (Joseph Smith Papers) talks with me about the recently published facsimile edition of the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, part of the Joseph Smith Papers's Revelations & Translations series. We talk about early Latter-day Saint record-keeping, the relationship between prophetic authority and scriptural texts, and much more.

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