On the Spiritual Joy of Academic Work

(Adapted from comments I shared recently with the College of Humanities at BYU) Grading, I am convinced, is a circle in hell. And maybe an even deeper circle in hell is dealing with student complaints and anxieties about grades. But as much as we professors like to moralize about this, we all know that we have [Read More...]

The Quest for Renewal and the Religious Life

There is a paradox at the heart of the practice of religion. Religion is designed to produce rich experiences of spirituality both individually and in communities—experiences that are often characterized by their renewing power—but it relies on repetition, ritual, and habit in order to produce such results. My LDS religion provides a variety of stratagems [Read More...]

The Sabbath Day and Earth Stewardship

The LDS Church has recently rolled out new training for members about the central importance of the importance of observance of the Sabbath Day and of the sacrament. My thoughts here are inspired by this training, which I find to be wonderfully focused on the fundamental covenant we make at baptism and which we renew [Read More...]

Theology, Ecology, and the Word: Notes from Halki Summit, Part III

The Halki Summit ended after a provocative and fruitful discussion of the role the arts can play in helping religious cultures to address climate change. I still think the most impassioned and well reasoned explanation about how theology, art, and the environment intersect was offered by Father John Chryssavgis at the outset of the summit. [Read More...]

Theology, Ecology, and the Word: Notes from Halki Summit, Part II

I have a few things to report that deserve commentary from the Halki Summit II co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church and Southern New Hampshire University. It is an extraordinary privilege to be a part of these conversations. [Read more...]

Theology, Ecology, and the Word: Notes from Halki Summit, Part I

I have arrived this week for the Halki Summit II, a meeting co-sponsored by the Patriarch Bartholomew and Southern New Hampshire University at the island of Halki off of the coast of Istanbul. The topic of the summit is “Theology, Ecology, and the Word: A Conversation on the Environment, Literature, and the Arts.” You can [Read More...]

The Hope of Stewardship: A Review of Joseph Spencer’s For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope

There are those who are infected by nostalgia and yearn for a nineteenth-century Mormonism because, I suppose, they imagine that the prophets then seemed more willing to condemn capitalism or to preach environmental stewardship and that Mormons were more communitarian, less materialistic, and more obligated under the law of consecration to work to eliminate poverty. [Read More...]

Experience and Understanding

Two friends recently independently mentioned to me that it seems that at every turn, their friends and family, many of whom have left or are leaving the church, are expecting them to have an answer for every major issue facing the church in recent months. I wonder how many members of the church feel the [Read More...]

If Truth Were A Child

We live in the age of polemics. Choices are presented to us as mutually exclusive, and you are not given the time to listen, to be reflective and careful in your judgment, or to acknowledge nuance and the validity of different points of view. You are supposed to pick your enemies, not consult with them. [Read More...]

Review: First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple by Samuel Brown

Sam Brown has written an important and beautiful book. Every Mormon serious about deepening their understanding of their most fundamental commitments should read it, and any Mormon who feels adrift in the institutional church will find resources sufficient to stoke the fires of faith anew. It is also a fantastic introduction to the fundamentals of [Read More...]

Mormonism, Cosmology, and Environmental Stewardship

I just returned from a marvelous gathering at the Yale Divinity School where scholars and theologians met to discuss the story of the origins of the universe and of life on earth, as told by contemporary science, and its impact on and relevance to Christian belief. More specifically, it was a series of responses to [Read More...]

Why I Am A Mormon, Part IV (Temples)

When I was in my last year of graduate school at Berkeley, I was given the opportunity to teach a class I had designed on the various meanings of genealogy in American literature. I was intent on showing how important genealogy was to the formation of identity in American experience and yet how antithetical and [Read More...]

Why I Am a Mormon, Part III (Missionary Work)

It is fair to ask why a religious conviction needs to be expressed and shared publicly. Why can’t it simply be a private and personal matter? Given the world’s long history of religious intolerance and violence too, it would seem to be a safer bet to stay at home and stay quiet about religious convictions. [Read More...]

Why I Am A Mormon, Part II (Revelation)

To continue from my previous post, I want to focus on three areas of my belief that are central to why I am a Mormon. I want to clarify again that I am not interested in making arguments against other beliefs, nor am I trying to defend what I believe. I only intend this to [Read More...]


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