Archive for April 2007

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Helen Whitney, Producer of the PBS Film: "The Mormons"

I interviewed Helen Whitney, regarding her research, interviews, writing and production of the 4 hour PBS documentary, "The Mormons," which will air on PBS channels on 30 April and 1 May 2007. She has won a number of awards for her previous movies. We discussed a number of points regarding the movie's contents and Helen's experiences in her research and interviews.Also included is a clip from her presentation at a Sunstone meeting in San Francisco two weeks ago.During the last 30 minutes, several callers asked questions and made comments.Helen has spent three years making this movie/documentary during which she conducted more than 1000 interviews, including Mormons and non-Mormons on a wide range of topics, and from various perspectives. She received full cooperation from the Church, interviewing several General Authorities. I was sent 2 DVD's of the documentary to preview before my interview with Helen. Those who believe that Mormonism is 100% perfect and that nothing negative should ever be said by anybody about anybody or anything in Mormonism, or that an honest person could ever doubt Mormon claims may well dislike the movie. On the other hand, those who deny that there is any good to be said about Mormonism's history, doctrine, claims and leaders, and that an intelligent honest person could not be a believing Mormon, may also dislike the movie. I have already read harsh comments on the movie from several subscribing approximately to each of these perspectives. I will be interested to hear the opinions expressed after the movie has been viewed.

I am an active believing Mormon, but I take seriously Joseph Smith's many denials that neither he, nor the doctrine, nor Church are perfect. From this perspective I enjoyed the movie immensely. Helen's work far exceeded my expectations. She has woven together impressive visuals and music with clips from numerous interviews, including many well-studied individuals, who spoke to both sides of a number of controversial Mormon topics and events. To me, she has dealt with her subject in a kind and respectful manner, but not uncritical. While watching Helen's documentary, I frequently found myself feeling proud to be a Mormon.

With Mormonism caught from the beginning in a whirlwind of controversy, it is only to be expected that any documentary, no matter how well done, will generate new controversy.

Talk Show host: Van Hale, LDS

Official website: mormonmiscellaneous.com

Podcast address: mormonmisc.podbean.com

Talk Show Blog: mormonmiscellaneous.com/radioprogramblog

This is the 29 April 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year. To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited, regardless of your point of view.  

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Polygamy: Some Statistics and Some Speculations

Because of the inherent difficulties in drawing conclusions from certain types of sources, answers which have been given for some significant questions on early Mormon polygamy are based more on speculation than on demonstrable fact.

I discuss the treacherous nature of newspapers and testimony, especially reminiscences. Several well-known factors are responsible:

As we have all experienced, two eyewitnesses often differ in the details of an event.

Precise memory is fleeting with the passage of time.

On sensitive or controversial topics all are affected by their bias.

Some are blinded such by their bias that they filter out all facts which do not fit. They thus, intentionally or unintentionally, relate what they wish had happened rather than what actually happened.

I raise five questions regarding Joseph Smith, which many insist they can answer with certainty. I point out that the slim and ambiguous nature of the historical sources from Joseph Smith and his plural wives renders responsible students incapable of answering these questions without resorting to various degrees of speculation.  

 

 

1. What was his reasoning and motivation in teaching and practicing polygamy?

2. What was the nature of his plural marriages? Were they all sexual, were they all non-sexual or were some sexual and others not?

3. What was the nature of his polyandrous marriages - marriage to women who were already married?

4. Were any of his plural marriages for eternity only?

5. What men were eligible for plural marriages? What women?

I proceed to present my gathering of statistics from several important historical studies and provide a few of my own speculations on these 5 questions for which I find support from these statistics.

Talk Show host: Van Hale, LDS

Official website: www.mormonmiscellaneous.com  

 

Podcast address: www.mormonmisc.podbean.com       

This is the 22 April 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year.To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited by phone or email, regardless of your point of view.

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Anti-Mormon verses Mormon

My guest was Shawn McCraney. He is an ex-Mormon who hosts a weekly anti-Mormon TV show which airs in Salt Lake City, Utah and Boise, Idaho. The fact that Shawn is an aggressive anti-Mormon, and I, Van Hale, am a believing, participating Mormon, resulted in a lively and confrontational dialogue. Interest was high and many attempted to participate by phone and email - more than I was able to include in the two hour discussion. Those who enjoy this type of religious wrangling will not want to miss this.

Because of the nature of this discussion, I fear that I may not be able to provide an appropriate summary, so I have decided not to attempt to it.

Talk Show host: Van Hale, LDS

Official website: www.mormonmiscellaneous.com Podcast address: www.mormonmisc.podbean.com

This is the 15 April 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year.

To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited, regardless of your point of view.

 

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LDS Views of God as the Father of Spirits 

 I discussed what many would find to be surprising: the view of Joseph Smith that our spirits are eternal/uncreated; that they did not begin to exist. I quoted the 8 sources which record his teachings on this point and read the passages from LDS scripture which teach that we become begotten sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ, suggesting that we are not sons and daughters of God by a premortal spirit birth. Joseph Smith taught that God organized spirits in the preexistence and, as their head, as a caring Father, prepared an earth for the advancement of these spirits as God himself had advanced - by obtaining a physical body.

I further discussed the fact that several LDS, prior to Joseph Smith's death, speculated of a premortal spirit birth, and following his death the idea is found in a number of LDS publications in Nauvoo from 1844-1846. It has been widely taught and believed by Brigham Young and his successors. It is now one of the most widely believed concepts by the Saints.

I explained the views of B.H. Roberts in which he harmonized the views of Joseph Smith with the subsequent beliefs that our spirits began their existence through a premortal spirit birth.

I reviewed Joseph Smith's position that study and theorizing is essential to the maturing process for LDS and that our doctrinal speculations should not be the source of division; that eventually they will be corrected and clarified, but not completely until long after we leave this life.

A number of listeners responded with questions with some expressing their disagreement with my findings.

Program Notes: I have prepared extensive program notes which include all of Joseph Smith's known statements on the topic and a special treatment of his King Follett discourse with the 4 original reports and the two printed versions in six parallel columns for comparison. I discuss the three different LDS views on what part of our being is eternal and uncreated.If interested in the Program Notes go to: http://mormonmiscellaneous.com/id22.html

Official website: www.mormonmiscellaneous.com Podcast address: www.mormonmisc.podbean.com

This is the 8 April 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year.

To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited, regardless of your point of view.

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Diversity in the New Testament

I began this talk show discussing the fact that the earliest Christians of which we have any record held divergent views on some important doctrinal topics. There was no creed declaring mandatory belief on such topics which have become major points in the later development of Christian tradition, such as:

Source the Gospel of Luke - God or early written sources

Doctrinal contrast between Mark, Luke and Matthew

Was Jesus baptized for the remission of his sins?

Contrast between God and Jesus - knowledge, goodness

Doctrinal constrast between these gospels and John.

The nature of Jesus - omniscience, pre-existence, deity

Question: Why does Luke devote 20 of the 28 chapters in Acts to Paul's ministry without ever once mentioning that he ever wrote letters?

 

Discussion with callers and email on the following topics

As usual, calls and email pursue a variety of different subjects as follows:

1. Why doesn't the Church give a full detailed financial report?

2. Response by a caller. Tithing is a matter of faith not finances.

3. Email critical of my taking calls from certain callers.

4. Caller insists that I am a liar with a satanic spirit because I have talked about differences between Joseph Smith and Brigham Young on some doctrinal points. The main topic of his call regards the eternity of the spirit or the intelligence of man.

5. Email: Deuteronomy 18:20 presents the Biblical standard for a prophet, why did Joseph Smith say that it was possible for a prophet to be mistaken about the source of a revelation; that is that it might not be from God.

6. This caller insisted that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught that to become a god one must first be the savior of a world and thus that God the Father was once a savior on another world.

7. Another caller continued the subject of spirits and intelligences.

 

Official website: www.mormonmiscellaneous.com

Podcast address: www.mormonmisc.podbean.com

This is the 1 April 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year.

To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited, regardless of your point of view.

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Mormon Doctrine: Mandatory and Forbidden

For various reasons many insist that there is much mandatory doctrine required of Mormons and much forbidden doctrine. Drawing from many sources and such enlightening examples as the Adam God theory and Polygamy, I demonstrate that, from its beginning, the LDS Church has had very little official doctrine and almost no mandatory or forbidden doctrine. Price: 2:50