An interview podcast where I, Daniel Filan, interview guests about topics I'm interested in, with the aim of clarifying how the guest understands that topic.
15 April 2023
Episode 10 - Jeffrey Heninger on Mormonism
In this episode I chat with Jeffrey Heninger about his religious beliefs and practices as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes colloquially referred to as “the Mormon church” or “the LDS church”. Topics we talk about include:
- Who or what is God?
- How can we know things about God? In particular, what role does religious experience play?
- To what degree is modern morality downstream of Jesus?
- What’s in the Book of Mormon?
- What does modern-day prophecy look like?
- What do Sunday services look like in the LDS church?
- What happens after you die?
- Why don’t Mormons drink coffee?
- What’s the role of utopianism in Mormon life?
YouTube link (download raw mp3)
Jeffrey’s email address: jeffrey dot heninger at yahoo dot com. Please include “The Filan Cabinet” in the subject line so he knows you came from here.
LDS church links:
Jeffrey’s notes and corrections:
- 0:33:00: The combatant - noncombatant distinction did not start in Ireland in the 900s. It was started by Adomnán, an Irish abbot in Scotland, in 697, and was proclaimed throughout Western Christendom after the Council of Charroux in France in 989: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_and_Truce_of_God
- 0:36:00: A better explanation for why the inverted hierarchy doesn’t lead to a different elite is: The king is told that he should be a servant for the poor, but the poor are also told that the king is their brother. This removes the push for violent revolutions to reverse the social order.
- 1:05:00: The Plat of Zion, with a Historical Introduction: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plat-of-the-city-of-zion-circa-early-june-25-june-1833/1#historical-intro.
- 1:11:30: Shift to Home Centered, Church Supported learning: https://site.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2018/10/home-centered-church-supported. Nelson’s quote was “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” https://site.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives.
- 1:17:00: Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides (1190). http://files.libertyfund.org/files/1256/0739_Bk.pdf. I should also note that Maimonides is more Aristotelian than Neo-Platonic, although he is still using a notion of God coming from Greek philosophy.
- 1:27:30: Here is the Church’s explanation of the Initiatory and Endowment in the temple, including the associated covenants: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/temples/what-is-temple-endowment.
- 1:46:00: I actually teach Elder’s Quorum, rather than Sunday School. I’m including Elder’s Quorum as a thing like Sunday School which happens during the second hour of church. I don’t think that the distinction is important for this conversation.
- 1:55:00: The Plan of Salvation is usually explained with the help of a diagram, like this one: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mormon_plan_of_Salvation_diagram_(English)_(1).jpg.
- 2:01:40: “Every knee shall bow … and every tongue shall confess” - Philippians 2:10-11.
- 2:15:20: The ‘EAs should be more Mormon’ talk is part of Tyler Cowen’s Fireside Chat from EAG DC 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNtqRbz-5c0.
- 2:16:00: Pew has some data indicating the Mormons take our religion more seriously than most other denominations (although not Jehovah’s Witnesses): https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/ (esp Ch 1 & 2).
- 2:20:00: Over 70,000 Mormon pioneers walked across the plains to Utah: http://npshistory.com/publications/mopi/index.htm.
- 2:23:15: The attempts at building utopian communities failed gracefully. The most communal of these towns, called ‘Orderville’, abandoned its collective economy after an enterprising young man got himself a new pair of pants: http://greatbasinmuseum.com/index.php/articles/20-great-basin-historical-society-highlights-and-comments.
- 2:27:15: The charter city planned by a Mormon is called New Vistas: https://newvistas.com/.
- 2:30:45: There is also empirical evidence that human brains do not function in a similar way to digital computers: https://wiki.aiimpacts.org/doku.php?id=uncategorized:ai_safety_arguments_affected_by_chaos:chaos_in_humans.
- 2:31:00: AI Alignment and the Plan of Salvation blog post: https://wearenotsaved.com/2016/10/08/artificial-intelligence-and-lds-cosmology/.