Virtual Fireside Graphic


June 27, 6:30pm PDT: Blair Hodges on “The Life of the Mind and Things of the Spirit: Four Lessons Learned from Writers of the Best Books”
For the past eight years, Blair Hodges interviewed some of the foremost scholars of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of religion more broadly as host of the Maxwell Institute Podcast at Brigham Young University. Having recently moved to other projects, Blair looks back in this fireside at interviews that changed his heart and expanded his thinking. What does true forgiveness look like? How can doubt operate as a core driver of one’s discipleship? Is it possible to read scripture both critically and religiously? How can apologetics or defenses of one’s faith be made stronger?

May 23, 6:30pm PDT: Carter Charles on “Let the Living Rejoice and ‘Let the Dead Sing Forth Anthems of Eternal Praise’: The Relevance of Joseph Smith’s Revelations on Baptism for the Dead in Haiti and Madagascar”
On October 1, 1842, about two years after revealing that “the Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead,” the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote an epistle to them in which he addresses procedural matters regarding the doctrine. Towards the end of the epistle, which is now Doctrine and Covenants 128, the prophet opens up and exults, “Let your hearts rejoice… Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prisons.” Having personally lost loved ones, including children in infancy, Joseph had every reason to be ecstatic. That unique doctrine in the Restoration was “good news” for him, for the Saints, and for the world. Indeed, as is illustrated in this presentation with beliefs from Malagassi and Haitian cultures, it is a doctrine that resonates the innermost desires of people across the world and their efforts to offset the problem of death, to collapse the distances occasioned by death in an attempt to ensure “sociability” or togetherness in this life and beyond. Click here to see Carter Charles’s presentation slides.


April 11, 6:30pm PDT: Anthony Sweat on “Adjusting our Eyes: Latter-day Saints and their Developing Religious Imagery”
Visual art has a potency to communicate concepts in a way that the spoken or written word cannot. Because of this many Christian faiths have embraced religious artwork as a way to communicate their messages to the public. Latter-day Saint artistic imagery, however, is relatively new, and still developing. In this fireside, religion professor and painter Anthony Sweat will share images, experiences, and insights from his recent book project, Repicturing the Restoration, to discuss the past and potential future of Latter-day Saint visual art.

March 14, 2021, 6:30pm PST: Melissa Inouye on “God’s Sandbox: Believing and Belonging in a Big, Broken World”
When life gets scary and overwhelming, they say, turn to God–to faith–to Church. So I did this, and what happened? Everything got 99.98 times scarier and more overwhelming. When society blows you this way and that, they say, cleave fast to the gospel culture. So I did this, and what happened? The thing I was clutching swelled enormously, then exploded in a thousand different directions. So when death came for me, I sat down in God’s hellish sandbox and wept. And my sisters and brothers crept in, weeping, and sat. And sat.

February 7, 7:00pm PST: Lisa Olsen Tait and Jed Woodworth on “Making Saints: Behind the Scenes of the Church’s New Multi-Volume History”
This presentation explores the genesis and writing of the Church’s new official history. Tait and Woodworth explain why the history of the Church is relevant to the spiritual lives of Church members, and show how the new history draws on the best work of scholars to tell the story of the Church’s history. They also share spiritually meaningful stories from the production of the series and from the Church’s history.

November 8, 6:30pm PST: Neylan McBaine on “Thinking Women: Latter-day Saint Leadership in the National Women’s Movement”
In February 1870, a Utah woman — a Latter-day Saint woman — became the first American woman to vote under and equal suffrage law. Latter-day Saint women continued to play a vital and pioneering role in the national women’s advocacy efforts of the 19th century. Over the past three years, Neylan McBaine, author and co-founder and CEO of Better Days 2020, has been amplifying this story and seeing the power it has to change our perceptions of ourselves as members of the Church today. With never-before heard stories, complex personalities and dynamics, and larger-than-life characters, McBaine explores a forgotten and surprising era of our communal history.

October 18, 6:30pm PST: Thomas Griffith on “Civic Charity and the Constitution”
Latter-day Saints claim a special stewardship for the U.S. Constitution. What does that stewardship look like in a time of political tribalism when the nations’ ‘bonds of affection’ are unraveling? Thomas Griffith, former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and former General Counsel for BYU, addresses these pressing issues that affect every Latter-day Saint living in America today. His insights are especially timely as we approach the November Presidential election.

September 13, 6:30pm PST: Richard Bushman on “Art and Vision: An Illustrated Lecture on the First Vision”
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Gospel, Richard Bushman, the pre-eminent scholar of Joseph Smith and the first Chair of Mormon Studies at CGU, shared his insights using the art of the First Vision. Dr. Bushman helped us understand what this Vision meant to Joseph, to the religious world, and most importantly, what it can mean to you and me today.