March 27, 2014

An Interview with Alonzo Gaskill.

Let me introduce you all to one of my favorite professors at BYU: Professor Gaskill. I've never had a more energetic, more engaging professor in my college career. His world religions class can be irreverent at times, with him cracking jokes about his mother-in-law or about times he's embarrassed himself, but he is very intelligent and knows a great deal theologically. In fact, he's been called Hugh Nibley on amphetamines...or was it methamphetamines? Either way, even though class can be rowdy, you can tell he holds the truth, found in many religions, in the highest esteem.

I recently interviewed Professor Gaskill on his newly published book The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women.

Photo from Amazon, where you can also purchase the book.

It seems to me almost like destiny the way Prof. Gaskill came across these scrolls. He was just hanging out at a used bookstore and found some Russian guy's journal. It recounted his trip to Tibet and discovery of scrolls at a Buddhist monastery. These scrolls had some of Christ's teachings and it contained sermons that aren't included in our New Testament today. One of these sermons was on women and was, as Prof. Gaskill said, "the only part that really drew me in—enough to write a book on it, anyway."

From this account, Prof. Gaskill goes on to provide us with what Christ said and with commentary on the verses. The teachings are extremely relevant to women and men today. Especially within the LDS Church, it furthers the role that women have in our society.

Here are some highlights of my interview:

I love your class and it was interesting reading your book, as it has a completely different tone (and understandably so). What do you want your readers to know about you? 
This book is a bit of a departure from what I typically write on: e.g., Temple and Scriptural symbolism. But I think it was worth saying. I would hope they would see this little book as my personal testimony of the power and value of women—in my life, and in the world and Church generally.

Who are the most influential women in your life? 
Certainly the matriarchs in my family: My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. My wife, as would be expected, has had as much influence upon my life as any other human being. (We’ve been married for a quarter of a century. So, I have had ample time to be influenced by her.)

How would you address the Ordain Women movement? Do you think they would benefit from reading your book? 
I don’t know how they would respond to my book, but my encouragement to the Ordain Women movement would be to be active in the Church, and request to be an Ordinance Worker at their local Temple. I think that would provide blessings in their lives and perspective on their divine role and worth. I understand that we each desire blessings in our lives which may or may not come to us. But I think one of the profound principles of the Restoration is the belief in modern Prophets and Apostles who see more than the laity of the Church. We sustain them as being those whom God has ordained and equipped with the mantle necessary to lead and guide the Church. If we call into question their prophetic mantle, are we not—by default—really calling into question the actuality of the priesthood and its existence?

What do you think is the most important takeaway for women, and men, who read your book? 
God does great and important things through His children. Men and women are, by design, different. Equal, but different. That being said, there is much to celebrate about women and their divine roles, callings, nature and power. Men—and the world, generally—should respect and revere the place, role and contributions of women. They are a gift to families, children, husbands and the Church. And this discourse highlights the many things God has called them to be.

Thanks for reading. Also, Mothers' Day is coming up in a couple months. Just so you know.

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