Palm Sunday

 As I write, back home now in Utah, Palm Sunday is about thirty minutes away.I regret that Latter-day Saint culture was so completely formed by the Low Church Protestantism of its early converts that we make nothing of Holy Week and relatively little of Easter.  Theologically, this should not be so.Anyway, here's a piece that I published last year concerning Palm Sunday. … [Read more...]

Of Pastrami Dip Sandwiches and the Remembrance of Things Past

Down in Southern California for my brother's funeral -- it was the last time, I think, that I'll ever be able to feel that traveling to California is "going home" -- I was thoroughly (and sometimes painfully) immersed in bittersweet nostalgia. Around noon today, though, ready to hit the road back up to Utah, my family and I indulged in something that wasn't bittersweet at all.  Or, at least, not very much.  It was delicious.  We ate pastrami dip sandwiches at T … [Read more...]

The Promise of Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection

I really liked a comment from the first speaker at my brother's funeral this morning:We come into this life "trailing clouds of glory," he said, but we often leave it bruised and battered.  However, Christ will heal us beyond the veil of death.(The quoted words come, of course, from Wordsworth's familiar language from "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.")My less inspired and far more prolix commentary now follows:It's true.  We die because our bodies … [Read more...]

I Show Up on

"Fools' names and fools' faces," my mother used to say, "often appear in public places."So here I am -- mercifully just in a quotation or two this time, without a photo -- on biography Muhammad: Prophet of God also gets a mention, which should remind you -- you didn't really forget, did you? -- of your resolution to buy at least twenty copies of it for distribution to friends and relatives on May Day.Posted from Pasadena, California. … [Read more...]

Of William James and Alphabetic Writing

On Tuesday afternoon, with a few hours before I had to catch my flight out of Boston, I was able to spend some quality time in Harvard's Houghton Library with the original (handwritten) manuscript of The Varieties of Religious Experience, a very famous book written by the illustrious American psychologist-philosopher William James (brother, by the way, of the novelist Henry James).Someday, I plan to publish a short note regarding a particular feature of the book.  (More on that in … [Read more...]

Thinking Outside the Box about Public Policy Questions

Now here's the kind of creative public policy thinking that appeals to flint-hearted conservatives like me: … [Read more...]

Another Moroccan for Mitt

The driver of the Lincoln Town Car who took me this afternoon from the Harvard Square Hotel to Boston Logan Airport was, I was delighted to discover, a Moroccan.We had a great conversation about Morocco, Berbers, the Moors, Andalusia, Moorish architecture (which I particularly love), and whether or not Islam is an inherently violent religion.  (Needless to say, he didn't think so.)Then, out of the blue, he began talking about religious intolerance, and the fact that many people look down on … [Read more...]

I Provide Inspiration for a Whole New Rumor

The final question in my lecture tonight came from (I think) a Muslim, who wanted me to elaborate on the distinction between Arabic qital ("killing") and jihad.I was happy to.Contrary to popular supposition, jihad doesn't mean "holy war." It just means "striving." I described it as practical action, getting your hands dirty, as opposed to purely devotional acts like scripture reading and prayer.In the Mormon context, I compared it to nineteenth-century Mormons building temples . . . and … [Read more...]