Faith Matters offers an expansive view of the Restored Gospel, thoughtful exploration of big and sometimes thorny questions, and a platform that encourages deeper engagement with our faith and our world.We focus on the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) tradition, but believe we have much to learn from other traditions and fully embrace those of other beliefs.
80. Challenging Terryl Givens — A Conversation About "All Things New"
Terryl and Fiona Givens most recent book, All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation and Everything in Between has received a remarkable amount of positive attention since it was published by Faith Matters a few months ago. We’ve been delighted to see that it’s resonated with so many people. Because of its bold scope, it has also sparked some wonderful debate.
In this week’s podcast episode, we collected some challenging questions from readers and posed them to Terryl. What followed was a really illuminating exploration of the book’s main ideas. As you might expect, Terryl had some really good answers to some really challenging questions.
Fiona is in Guam visiting her daughter’s family and was not able to join the conversation, but Terryl was as articulate, well-versed, and insightful as always. Enjoy this conversation with one of today’s most brilliant and engaging Latter-day Saint scholars.
79. Imaginative Discipleship — A Conversation with Robert Rees
For this episode, we talked to Dr. Robert Rees. Bob has fit enough into his life to fill several lifetimes, so we can’t talk about everything he’s done, but we’ll give you some highlights here.
Bob has taught in humanities and Mormon Studies at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and several other institutions. He’s also been the editor of Dialogue, former Chair of the Sunstone Foundation, and has published a wide variety of scholarly articles, personal essays, editorials, and poetry. Bob is the editor of a book series called Why I Stay, which compiles essays by some really remarkable Latter-day Saints; the latest edition, Why I Stay 2, which contains essays from Carol Lynn Pearson, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Phil Barlow, and others, was just released in April.
Bob is also one of the founders of The Bountiful Children's Foundation, whose mission is to nurture the potential of infants and toddlers to lead healthy, productive, and self-reliant lives by eliminating malnutrition.
We spoke with Bob about how we as Latter-day Saints can engage fully and faithfully with a world that’s in need of imaginative and optimistic discipleship. He embodies that ideal so perfectly, and we came away so inspired by his energy and enthusiasm for making the Church and the world better places.
78. Loving Without an Agenda — A Conversation with Ben Schilaty and Charlie Bird
For today’s episode as June and Pride month come to a close, we brought on two really special guests, Ben Schilaty and Charlie Bird. Charlie and Ben are both gay Latter-day Saints as well as authors published by Deseret Book. They host a podcast together called Questions from the Closet.
In this conversation, Ben and Charlie share a little bit about their backgrounds and faith, what “pride” really represents and why it’s important to them, their thoughts on the process of coming out to faithful friends and family, and how leaders, friends, and loved ones can be effective allies to the LGBTQ community.
To give you just a little bit more background on these two: Ben works as an Honor Code administrator at BYU and as a therapist at Family Services in Provo, Utah. He holds three degrees from BYU and a PhD in second language acquisition and teaching from the University of Arizona. He serves as a high councilor in his stake.
Charlie was Cosmo the Cougar at Brigham Young University from 2016 to 2018 — and was the Cosmo from the original viral dance with the Cougarettes that was viewed over a billion times across social media platforms. He graduated from BYU in 2018 and is an active LBGTQ advocate, involved with multiple nonprofit LGBTQ organizations nationally and across Utah.
We are super grateful to Ben and Charlie for coming on, and learned so much from them. We hope you enjoy the conversation.
77. A Divided Church (Pt 2): Our Better Angels — Councilwoman Julie Spilsbury and Jeremy Spilsbury
In this second episode about political tribalism and its effect on Latter-day Saint congregations, we invited Mesa, Arizona Councilwoman Julie Spilsbury and her husband Jeremy Spilsbury to talk specifically about their own challenging experiences in their local ward and community.
Jeremy was serving as their ward’s bishop until his term expired a few weeks ago. Their story is fascinating and illustrates both the challenges and the opportunities we face in creating Zion.
In this conversation, the Spilsbury's share the very personal spiritual experiences that led them to engage in the political sphere from a strong sense of compassion. Not surprisingly, given the political environment in our country, and particularly in Arizona, that decision was not universally appreciated. But love can be an irresistible force over time, and healing the inevitable result.
76. Why Weepest Thou? — A Conversation with S. Michael Wilcox
We recently read a wonderful book by S. Michael Wilcox called What Seek Ye? How the Questions of Jesus Lead Us to Him. In each chapter of the book, Brother Wilcox explores a question Jesus asked in the scriptures. One in particular stood out to us; it was the question “Why weepest thou?” and in the corresponding chapter, Brother Wilcox explores the role that trials play in our lives. He sat down with us to talk about that chapter, and shared what he’s learned as he’s gone through his own adversities, including the deeply felt loss of his wife, Laurie.
To give you just a little more background on Brother Wilcox — he received his PhD from the University of Colorado and taught for many years at the LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah. He has spoken to packed crowds at BYU Education Week and has hosted tours to the Holy Land, to China, to Church history sites, and many others. He’s written several books and he and his late wife, Laurie, are the parents of five children.
We felt honored to share this time with Brother Wilcox, and we hope you get as much out of this conversation as we did.
75. A Divided Church: What's Going on in Arizona? — Mesa Mayor John Giles and Councilwoman Julie Spilsbury
The political climate in Arizona has been unseasonably warm recently, frequently making national news. And it seems political tribalism has even caused division in some Latter-day Saint wards and stakes.
It raises the question that many of us have started asking — could political identity begin to eclipse religious identity in some parts of the church?
In part one of a two-part series on the church in Arizona, Bill from Faith Matters sat down with Mesa Arizona Mayor John Giles and Councilwoman Julie Spilsbury about division that erupted around an LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance.