Sep 25

The Church’s Use of Media

A colleague mentioned to me today that it was interesting how BYU is expanding its use of media to share uplifting messages of truth, enlightenment, and intelligence.  My reply to him was that in general, the Church’s use of media lately has been explosive.

How much does the Church use media?  Five years ago, there were few places where one could grab a podcast of something as fundamental as the Standard Works.  There were MP3s here and there.  One could go to BYU Broadcasting and search for talks and discourses one at a time.  But this very day, September 25, 2012, I found no fewer than 90 podcasts relating to the Gospel and members of the Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an entire section of their site dedicated to “Video, Audio, and Images” available to all.  They have not one but several Youtube channels, a number of Facebook pages, a bunch of Twitter accounts, lots of things available on iTunes, and a handful of audiobooks to be posted soon.

As one who loves to collect and listen to audio files of speeches, discourses, devotionals, General Conference addresses, and other such LDS materials, this thrills me.  Through the past few years, I have amassed a collection of about 70 Gigabytes of such content.  What excites me even more is that it is starting to be produced faster than I can listen to it.  To make some attempt at cataloging everything I have found, such types of resources will be placed into the “Audiovisual” section of this site.  As I get more organized, that page should be more intuitive.

Recently, our household was considering ways to cut expenses.  One way was through buying a Roku device.  The one-time purchase provided extra content, allowing us to take our Satellite TV plan to the lowest one available.  Buying a Roku turned out to be one of the best purchases I have ever made.  The reason: The Church has its own channel on the Roku!  In addition, there is a lot of highly informative and uplifting material in the BYU Channel.

The Church’s use of media has exploded in the last handful of years.  I first became aware of this from an address by M. Russell Ballard at the BYU-Hawaii Commencement on December 15, 2007, called “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet.” (mp3 here)  Since that address was given, all kinds of channels, feeds, podcasts, and other types of resources have been made available to all who wish to have it, most of the time in their own language.  A quick visit to the links provided herein will take you to audio, podcasts, or videos on nearly any topic for which you seek more information.

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Sep 21

A Different Way to Study

How long is your drive in to work?  Do you ever find yourself waiting?  Waiting for them to finish your oil change, car repairs, fill your prescription, finish your child’s haircut, or any other down-time can be used to study the Gospel.  This method is a little out of the ordinary, but is very effective in furthering one’s understanding.

Here at Gospel Study Journal, we have a page of Podcasts, usually offering audio files, but sometimes providing links to wonderfully uplifting videos.  Enter your choice of these links into any podcatcher, such as iTunes or MediaMonkey (both have free versions).  In this day and age, there are literally thousands and thousands of hours’ worth of marvelous uplifting talks, discourses, audio books, and other recorded programs.

Smartphones these days come with some great podcatchers.  For the Android platform, I would recommend either BeyondPod or Podkicker.  On the iPhone, I’m not sure what options are available for listening to Gospel programs, but if you know of one, please do let me know!

When my ears are graced with the powerful, stirring words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie or President Gordon B. Hinckley, it is a little easier to forgive the foibles of the drivers around me while driving to work.  The Spirit is with me, calming me and helping me to feel love for others as I drive.  Additionally, I learn a great deal about the Gospel.  If you have the means, I highly recommend this manner of learning the Gospel.

Audio books, talks, discourses, and other recorded programs can be a wonderful way to partake of the marvelous teachings of the Gospel.

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Sep 19

Why Study the Gospel?

Studying the Gospel isn’t always at the forefront of most peoples’ minds.  They may think more about the immediate, weighty matters of life.  What some folks may not realize, though, is that a knowledge of the Gospel is part of why we are here.

Understanding the Scriptures should be a high priority for us all.  What loving parent, when a child leaves the house, wouldn’t make sure they knew how to get back home?  Of course it’s up to the child whether they do come back home.  If the child is away for an extended period of time, wouldn’t their parent want them to call home and tell them how things are going?  Thus it is with us: we are given commandments to read the scriptures and have daily communication with the Lord.

When you study the Gospel, you are also quite likely going to have the Holy Ghost to be with you.  The Holy Ghost has a refining, settling effect on your life.  If your life seems like it’s hectic, what more could you want than having the companionship of one of the members of the Godhead to be with you?  This is one of the reasons that I enjoy contemplating the Gospel.  I am able to feel the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

As you put more effort into your studies, you get much more out of them.  A slight daily glance at the Gospel will not get you very far.  But if you dig in with all your might and study the Gospel the best way you know how, you will gain an understanding of why we are here.  You will have the Holy Ghost to be with you.  You will have a more fulfilled life.

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Sep 17

Gospel Study Journal, Part 2

Last time, I was discussing different ways that I have tried pondering the scriptures.  During my mission, as I had mentioned, I wrote short notes in my margins.  Then, I would write a unique number (for that page) next to the note.  Next, I wrote that number right next to the line and verse to which that note applied.  For longer notes, I wrote them out on a small sheet of paper, then glued them into the spine where the note applied.

In this way, I was able to keep track of all of my thoughts.  But then, I began to notice things I didn’t like about that way of studying the Scriptures.  My scriptures were getting quite messy and tattered.  I also realized that if I lost them, I would lose all of my notes.  Also, when I began studying a new set of scriptures, I would have to hand-copy all of the notes from the old set to the new set.

From then on, my method of scripture study slowly evolved.  When I got home from my mission, I began keeping electronic copies of my notes so that I could easily print them out again if I needed to.  Also, if I lost my scriptures, I wouldn’t lose all of my notes.

After a short while, I noticed that I would sometimes want to link notes to other notes.  I would have to write something like “see note on D&C 132:5 about marriage” at the end of a note if I wanted to link them together.  Also, I would want to add scriptures to the end of my notes so as to create scripture chains.  But then, I would have to physically write on the printed note that was glued into my scriptures if I wanted to have the changes in my current set.

It was at that point that I sat down and considered creating a method of gospel study that could be either electronic or printed out or both.  Next time, I will describe where that took me.

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Sep 12

Gospel Study Journal, Part 1

Studying the Gospel has been important to me for a very long time.  While on my mission, I woke up an extra half-hour early every single morning to have that much more time to study the scriptures.  As I got more serious about getting as much out of it as possible, I began to consider different methods of scripture study.  When meeting with my Mission President, the topic of Gospel scholarship came up.  I asked him and many others about the different methods they used to understand the scriptures.

One method that I saw many folks use was to take a red pencil and underline something that jumped out at me from what I was reading.  This method of studying the scriptures didn’t and still doesn’t make much sense to me.  I have nothing against it.  Should someone find it effective, I’m glad they have a way to study the Gospel that works for them.

Another way some of the missionaries studied their scriptures was to mark passages of different types in different colors.  For example, things marked in yellow could be Christ’s direct words.  Blue could refer to a prophet making a prophecy.  Other colors could refer to other concepts or types.  My questions here were, “What happens when I run out of colors?” and “What if a given passage fits multiple categories?”  I ended up not choosing this manner of studying my scriptures.

For a long time, I did take extensive notes in the margins of my scriptures.  This allowed me to easily refer back to a thought I had about a given passage when I again was reading it.  One problem with this is that you unknowingly lock yourself into assigning that passage as having the meaning you wrote.  You aren’t as free to ponder upon what you are reading.  Your mind says, “I already know what this means because there’s the note I wrote about it the last time I was studying this passage.”  I couldn’t think of a better method, so throughout the remainder of my mission, I studied in that manner.

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