Listening to podcasts has almost completely wiped out my desire to attend my university classes. It’s also almost obliterated traditional talk-radio (which I can’t complain about) and can be heaven for Type A, “get-to-the-point” personalities. But my favorite kinds of podcasts are the ones that offer insight into culturally taboo topics—especially those relating to the Church.
I love these podcasts because some topics within church culture are so hush-hush that not addressing them can be so isolating. You know the kind I’m referring to. Sex, suicide, same-sex attraction and marriage, and excommunication are just a few examples. But isolation isn’t the only thing we risk when we avoid talking about these topics. Avoidance also perpetuates negative stigmas and unfair judgments.
Needless to say, it’s time to start opening up about some of these topics and seeking to understand them—which is exactly what some members of the Church have started to do.
Within the last few months, I’ve started to follow 3 really incredible podcasts. Each of these has its own unique twist, but each of them shares a similar vision: to help all of us open up to these taboo topics.
Listen, Learn, and Love with Richard Ostler
Listen, Learn, and Love is a podcast run by Richard Ostler, a former bishop to a Young Single Adult ward in Ogden, Utah. In the podcast, Richard interviews Latter-day Saints about their unique stories. He touches on topics such as same-sex marriage, excommunication, and transgender issues.
Richard’s interviewees are both members and non-members of the Church. Sometimes discussing these topics in our own circles can get contentious (which is part of the reason we don’t talk about them), but not with Richard. Richard is patient, understanding, and so loving! Honestly speaking, each interview is just as pleasant as the last—which is a big win considering how sensitive these topics are to us all.
Discussing these topics is difficult for everyone. Both those who are walking these paths and those who do not have any personal experiences struggle to know how to talk to and support one another. But this is what I find so genius about Listen, Learn and Love. It isn’t about defending sides, it’s about bringing them together.
Ultimately, Listen, Learn, and Love has 3 goals for its listeners: to help them listen, learn, and love from others (surprise!) Because in the end, we are all children of God who are walking unique and individual paths. As brothers and sisters, it can be our privilege to walk these paths with each other. And when we do this without judgment or coercion then both sides can rejoice.
You can find Listen, Learn and Love on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud.
The Mormon Marriages Podcast (Name Change Pending)
The Mormon Marriages podcast with Nate and Angilyn (Ang) Bagley is all about improving your marriage. I love their motto: helping you to “create a marriage that will make you look forward to eternity.”
Like Richard’s podcast, Nate and Ang also strive to cover difficult family life topics. While this podcast is newer, the episodes dive deep into important topics like sexual desire, pornography, mental health, and masturbation within marriage. While these topics may not seem as taboo as others, the depth at which Nate and Ang, and their expert guests discuss them, is. But that’s what makes this such an incredible podcast!
The conversations between Nate, Ang, and the experts they interview are raw (though respectful) and completely worth your time. By discussing these “taboo” topics, Nate and Ang have helped to demystify many of the concerns that newly-weds and seasoned couples struggle with. Indeed, they’ve helped many couples revitalize their marriage and have given them a renewed desire to fulfill their marital covenants.
I applaud the Mormon Marriages podcast for being uplifting and appropriate while addressing such sensitive topics. **But a quick disclaimer: if you’ve got kiddos around, some of these episodes are best listened to with headphones on. 🙂
The Mormon Marriages podcast is available on iTunes and SoundCloud (under Loveumentary).
Leading Saints, Be A Leader, Not a Calling
Leading Saints is yet another interview podcast that seeks to give a voice to those who have experienced difficult issues. Kurt Francom, a former bishop and host of Leading Saints, discusses topics such as faith crises, balancing work, church, and family, and common leadership faux pas.
While these topics may seem more ordinary than taboo, having open discussions about them is anything but normal. As many of Kurt’s guests can attest, it’s difficult to for members with doubts to find fellowship within the Church or within their families. It’s also not easy to deal with leaders we see as disagreeable or leaders whose counsel we struggle to sustain. But these are some of the concerns that Kurt and his guests talk about.
The beautiful thing about Leading Saints is that the podcast’s tone is friendly, not antagonistic. YouTube, online forums, and other podcasts can often pass harsh criticisms and cast a poor light on those who wrestle with these concerns. So in this increasingly negative and individualistic world, we need more unity and more understanding. Leading Saints provides a space wherein guests and listeners can engage in polite and humane discussions about these difficult topics (hallelujah!).
My final note regarding Leading Saints speaks to its vision of helping members of the Church fulfill their callings. As disciples of Jesus Christ, it’s our privilege to serve Him by serving in His church. But sometimes the anxiety of not believing we can measure up cripples our desire serve. Leading Saints’ website is a wonderful resource for connecting with other leaders who can share their experiences and practical advice.
Leading Saints can be found on iTunes, on several Android-compatible apps, or a subscription via email.
Final Elevator Pitch
So there you have it folks: my unofficial transcript from the Mormon Studies department at the University of iTunes’ Podcasts. I sincerely hope you’ll take the time to listen to one (or all!) of these podcasts—and I hope that they’ll do for you, what they’ve done for me. Each episode has helped me to feel my Savior’s love for others and to begin to understand opposing viewpoints. More than anything though, each episode has strengthened my resolve to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ.