• Episode 100: Deuteronomy

    Deuteronomy, Devarim, Words. Moses’ words recall his uneasy relationship with speech all the way back to his conversation with God at the burning bush. Moses recounts Israelite history from the Exodus on, continually reiterating that he will not cross into the promised land with his people. This melancholy reminiscing of Moses is likely a product of later editors who crafted this text to fit their contemporary religious reforms around the 7th Century BC. God is more narrowly defined and religious practice is centralized under the authority of the temple priests. This context provides interesting possibilities for the narrative of Lehi and his family in the Book of Mormon. To what…

  • Episode 68: Contemplating Art with Greg Olsen

    In this episode Christopher and Riley welcome artist Greg Olsen. Greg is particularly well-known in LDS circles as a painter of Jesus. Our hosts had the opportunity to mine his experiences becoming a professional painter of religious iconography and images that convey the relatable nature of the Savior. Of course, he is much more than his public works and this conversation takes them through his contemplative practices, the nature of symbols, and simplifying our faith by practicing loving-kindness.

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  • Episode 99: Numbers

    Numbers, Bamidbar, In the Wilderness. The children of Israel journey in the wilderness, encountering death, failure, rebellion, and hope. In this largely imagined past there are profound ties to psychological and philosophical questions. Moses struggles with his responsibility as leader and prophet while the people murmur. The threat and reality of divine violence are ever-present, even when God’s mercy and love shine through the cracks. The staff of Moses has been a consistent symbol of divine authority and force, but does God have a new way to offer Moses that involves persuasion and gentleness through speech? The Brazen Serpent is raised in the wilderness, offering to heal all who look…

  • Episode 98: Exodus 35-40; Leviticus 1-27

    Can we properly understand the Old Testament if we skip reading some of its chapters? In this longer-than-usual episode, Ben and Christopher tackle Exodus 35-40 and the entire book of Leviticus. This intimidating section of scripture was difficult to approach, but with some help from the great Rob Bell, much of the seemingly irrelevant and bizarre has taken on relevance and profound meaning. In this Priestly manual, the sons of Aaron are invited to participate in the tending of the sacred space created in the Tabernacle as part of a new creation extending beyond it. Israel is called to be this new creation because the LORD has delivered them from…

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  • Episode 67: The Bhagavad Gita (Part 2)

    In this episode Christopher and Riley welcome Phil McLemore and Ben Heaton, Bhagavad Gita enthusiasts and students of Vedic wisdom, to finish our discussion of the seminal Hindu scripture.  Our hosts dive into the usefulness of the book, approaches to understanding it, and a few favorite passages.

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  • Episode 97: Exodus 21-34

    Ben and Christopher discuss the laws put forth in the Book of the Covenant. These laws have an Ancient Near Eastern context mirrored in contemporary legal codes in the same context. The general exceptions are in how they treat the disadvantaged of society. Nephi’s killing of Laban finds its justification in these verses. The LORD gives instruction on how to construct the tabernacle, being a representation of the cosmos in creation and Eden. Moses wins an argument with God after the people worship before a golden calf. What are we to understand about God and His relationship with the people from this event?

  • Episode 66: On Exodus

    The Book of Exodus can be divided into three parts: First, we witness the power of the Lord as he extends his arm against Pharaoh, sending the ten plagues and finally parting the Sea of Reeds, which swallows up Pharoah and his army, letting Moses and the Israelites escape into the wilderness. In the second part, Moses will ascend Mount Sinai and receive the law (Torah). The final section of the book is devoted to the construction and description of the tabernacle, or the portable temple the Israelites will carry with them over the next 38 years they spend in the desert. A three-part division is also seen in the…

  • Episode 96: Exodus 18-20

    Moses and the Children of Israel have been delivered from slavery and brought out of Egypt by the power of the LORD. As Moses struggles to bring the people into a relationship with the LORD, he receives wise counsel from his father-in-law Jethro: By creating a bureaucracy, Moses might better govern the people. While this counsel is timely and practical, it also leads to the loss of a deeper experience and relationship Moses was modeling. The Messianic type here is reminiscent of the ministry of Jesus. What moments with God do we lose out on in our daily quests for efficiency? As Moses ascends Mount Sinai, the people are invited…

  • Episodes 94 & 95: Exodus 7-13; 14-17

    Ben and Christopher combine two weeks’ readings into one podcast on the core of the Exodus narrative. The LORD afflicts Egypt with 10 plagues before Pharaoh agrees to let the Israelites go. The God of the Hebrews triumphs over all others and displays his matchless power in their deliverance. The narrative is summarized and repeated in the poetic verse of chapter 15, which is likely a much earlier source of the story that could be attributed to Miriam as a prophet. The LORD continues to deliver his people in the wilderness from thirst, hunger, and enemies.

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  • Episode 65: The Bhagavad Gita (Part 1)

    In this episode, Christopher and Riley discuss one of their favorite religious texts, an excerpt from the Mahabharata, called the Bhagavad Gita. This seminal Hindu work introduces the various forms of Yoga as an allegorical discourse between the warrior prince, Arjuna, and the reincarnated God, Krishna. Contrary to the Western understanding of Yoga, this has less to do with stretching muscles and more to do with stretching the soul. Christopher and Riley share some favorite commonplaces from their reading and offer their interpretations as a starting point for those wanting to explore the beauty and great value of “the Gita.”

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