“American Diversity and the Wild West”

The Grand Tetons

  A few years ago, I discovered that, temperamentally and aesthetically, I'm a Westerner.  I hadn't realized that before.  I had always, in fact, thought of myself as something of a New Englander who happened to have been born and raised, and to continue to live, in the American West. But I really do like, and need, large skies and enormous spaces, with real mountains.  Distances.  And so forth. Anyway, be that as it may, I was amused by this piece … [Read more...]

1 Nephi 3

Not far from Astoria

  I'm embarrassed to have come so close, so soon, to missing a day in my commitment to post a daily comment on the Book of Mormon. But it's difficult to post when you can't get near your computer. I had obligations tonight, until just a few minutes ago.  (Yes, even rootless jet-setters such as I have commitments.)  And, earlier today, we drove on up to Astoria and across the Columbia River (very majestic at that point) into Washington.  Faced with t … [Read more...]

Islam, Murder, and the Worth of Individual People

A passage from the Qur’an

  “Why should I condemn Osama bin Laden?" demanded the Islamist shaykh Omar Bakri Muhammad, who sheltered in the United Kingdom for twenty years, some time ago.  "I condemn Tony Blair, I condemn George Bush.  I would never condemn Osama bin Laden or any Muslims. . . .  We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents.  Only between Muslims and unbelievers.  And the life of an unbeliever has no value.  It has no sanctitit … [Read more...]

“Atonement, Charity, and Wisdom”

amid the ancient olive trees

  Another entry on Ralph Hancock's new blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/soulandcity/2014/09/atonement-charity-and-wisdom/ As Ralph himself described it in a note to me, "Just a preliminary reflection on , like, the biggest thing."  Posted from Seaside, Oregon    … [Read more...]

The Prophet Muhammad on the superiority of the Arabs

Ka‘ba at night

  Here's a nice passage from the traditional text of the final address, the so-called "Farewell Sermon," of the Prophet Muhammad in AD 632: "O people! Verily your Lord is one, and your father is one. All of you belong to one ancestry of Adam, and Adam was created out of clay. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab; nor for white over the black nor for the black over the white, except in piety. Verily the noblest … [Read more...]

“Joseph Smith wasn’t arrogant or boastful”

the grave of Joseph Smith

 As usual, today's Deseret News column has drawn -- among others -- some amusing, not to say vexing, responses: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865610152/Joseph-Smith-wasnt-arrogant-or-boastful.html One Craig Clark, of Boulder, Colorado, for instance, professes to be astonished at my supposed need to rationalize away each and every alleged imperfection in Joseph Smith. He doesn't seem to notice the irony of his comment:  He has shown up in the c … [Read more...]

Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock

   The most prominent natural feature at Cannon Beach, Oregon, is Haystack Rock, just off shore.  (It can be reached on foot at low tide.)  Immediately to the south of it are three smaller rocks called, collectively, "the Needles." All of these, made of basalt, were created somewhere between ten and seventeen million years ago by lava flows, now mostly eroded at the shoreline, from the Grand Ronde Mountains not too far inland. Similar fl … [Read more...]

“A Nod from Heaven”

American Samoa, the island of Ofu

  Looking in, once again, on the work in Samoa, where missionary service unexpectedly links a young man to his great grandfather: http://samoamission.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-nod-from-heaven.html  Posted from Seaside, Oregon    … [Read more...]