I decided to start a new feature at Wheat & Tares — interviews of people I either really like or find interesting. steve1[1]

At first I had only one lined up — for December of this year — and I wanted to start in May.  But then I got some other great ones lined up, but something that kept coming up was just what exactly was I going to do with the interviews and how was I going to conduct one.

The essence of the interviews is to ask the people the questions they would like to be asked and to let them give the answers they would like to give.  I know, it is a softball’s softball type of interview, but it is also a type of interview that often gets surprising answers (at least that is my experience in real life talking to people).

So I did an interview with myself as an example.  I shared it with several people (before I had an interview up) and it helped them get an idea of what I wanted and to get the ball rolling.

Here is that interview.  I expect to have more interviews (including that one in December) and to also interview some of the other bloggers here at Wheat & Tares.

What do you believe the gospel is?

  1. Faith in Jesus Christ and the atonement.
  2. Repentance  and making the atonement real in our lives.
  3. Baptism.
  4. The gift of the Holy Ghost.

What commandments do you think are important?

34Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. 35And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

(And yes, I like the NET Bible, even own print copies of it.  http://biblehub.com/net/matthew/22.htm).

Here is an open source graphic being developed by a Jewish group to illustrate how the law flows.


I’ve been thinking a lot about this ever since I took to heart the scriptures that state that if one person is wronged and the wronged person holds a grudge, the greater sin remains in the one holding the grudge rather than the one who did wrong.

What sermons (talks) or doctrines or church leaders made an impression on you?

When I was first at BYU working on my bachelor’s degree (which I finished at CSULA) I heard Spencer W. Kimball speak.  He talked about how following leaders blindly would lead you straight to hell, buttressed with Brigham Young quotes. That talk had a very strong impact on me, even now, I believe that:

Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel.”

The second was hearing my father talk about when Spencer W. Kimball came through Newfoundland.  He stopped and met with our branch.  Here is the story, in context.

When I was just a kid (like first or second grade), Spencer W. Kimball came through Newfoundland where my dad was stationed.

 We had a sister who was trying to get her husband to shape up.  She tried to enlist Elder Kimball’s help at that time as to how she could force him to do the right thing.  As an apostle he told her to focus instead on patiently loving him.  To put her family first and the love between the two of them first, even if it meant not attending meetings and not pushing him to improve.  The advice made a big impression on my dad who was in the branch presidency and who had expected something very different.  Even more striking, Elder Kimball gave the same advice to another member of the ward.
I had a similar experience on my mission.  A sister who had long been a member with a bitterly opposed husband asked my advice.  The spirit pushed me strongly to tell her that the Church existed to support her family, her family did not exist to support the Church, and that she should put her husband and family’s harmony and love first.  Nothing else was important.
She followed my advice.  Amazingly (to me) he was reconciled to her and to her membership, before he died rather suddenly of a cancer that he had been unaware of.
As for the couples that Elder Kimball had advised, years later my dad encountered both, one of the couples in the temple.  They had both been completely transformed.
Obviously I do not expect that sort of thing to happen for everyone, or for even most people.  But if families are forever, I think that what we should do is focus on loving and supporting each other, in patience and kindness.
The other part of the visit with Elder Kimball was a very strong outpouring of the Spirit and a small miracle.  Something that struck my father was that when he met people later, those who had treasured the moment and remembered it were all active.  Those who were not had also lost the memory. It also gave my father a strong testimony of the prophetic mantle of President Kimball.
I understand you used to …
I used to do a lot of things.  For example, I started blogging on September 16, 1997.  One thing that I was involved in was FARMS before it was FARMS and it was just a desk in John Welch’s office.  Back then what became FARMS was pretty much some reading lists and some photocopies of essays that were going out of print or about to be lost.  When I hear people who say “everything FARMS has said is .[redacted harsh statements, “raca” comes to mind]…” I think back to reading Eliade and Campbell and Nibley and others and the broader scope of thinking that introduced me to.  I think of the photocopies of seminal essays such as Bird Mountain (a humorous essay by Hugh Nibley).  Those who dismiss FARMS so casually have not read “everything” (I know I haven’t) and have missed so very much.
I was also involved with FAIR as a founding board member.  But apologetics tend to make me cranky, so I’ve stepped away from them.  Too often there is the following pattern:
  • [Other person] They’ve discovered “xyz.”  It is irrefutable, new and … etc.
  • [Me] Try to get enough details about xyz to figure out which of the several mutually exclusive xyzs they are talking about.
  • [Other person] And it is all hard evidence.  [still without enough details for me to figure out which version they are talking about].
  • [Me] Probing (and trying to be gentle about it)
  • [Other person] You aren’t listening.  Mormonism is completely refuted by xyz.
  • [Me] Finally figure out which one they are talking about.  Look up the details.
    • often the details reflect huge breaks in logic. [me getting annoyed]
    • often the “facts” behind the details have been “massaged” out of recognition or are inconsistent. [me getting annoyed.]
    • often the xyz is presented in absolute terms and with great vigor. [me getting annoyed]
    • Etc. [me getting annoyed]
    • I’d rather than get annoyed.
  • [Other person] I don’t care about that any more, what I really was trying to get to was [the completely unrelated] “qrs.”
  • Me getting annoyed.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • I’ll let others do it who don’t get as annoyed.  E.g.

As you might guess, I found it too annoying.  Though I did enjoy Was the Book of Mormon Plagiarized from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass?

Anything else?

Too much.

If you could give one piece of advice?

I’m not smart enough to do that.  Maybe in a few more years when I have more wisdom.

Now, to the real purpose of my sharing my own sample interview (other than being filler on the schedule):
Who would you like to see an interview from?
I’m open to suggestions.