Mormons and Public Transportation

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Recently an article in the Salt Lake Tribune raised the timely question, Is air pollution a moral issue? In it faith leaders from a variety of communities in Utah answered the question from their particular perspective.This is what the LDS church said:“While LDS Church leaders have not spoken specifically to issues of air quality in Utah, the church teaches that all humankind are stewards over the Earth and should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources and u … [Read more...]

Chile Journal #5: The Hope of Nature

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Pablo Neruda once said that if you didn’t know southern Chile and the Chilean forest, you didn’t know this planet. He wasn’t the first great poet to be guilty of bioregional chauvinism, of that kind of local pride that tends toward exaggeration and overstatement. But then again, having been here a few times and explored the area, I am not about to tell you he is wrong. As I have written before, I believe every place, just like every person, deserves a lover given to rapturous praise.The novel … [Read more...]

Chile Journal #4: What Courage Looks Like

Tito, in front of his childhood home where his parents were arrested.

"Why were they imprisoned, your parents?" I asked my new friend, Tito, who was introduced to me through a mutual friend, someone in fact who had baptized him into the LDS church some twenty-five years ago. … [Read more...]

Chile Journal #3: Serendipity and Second Chances

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Twenty-six years ago, I was a student in a study abroad program in West Berlin. This was in the spring and summer of 1988, one year before the Berlin Wall came down. Before I left, I had told one of my Spanish professors of my intention to go to Berlin, and he told me that I should look up his close friend, Antonio Skarmeta, a Chilean novelist of considerable fame (most known for his novel that was the basis for the award-winning movie, Il Postino, about Pablo Neruda and the military coup of … [Read more...]

Chile Journal #2

From the Wall of Memory in Santiago

It has been an overwhelming week thus far, and it will be hard to summarize the extent of what I have learned and experienced. As I mentioned, I am here to research the context of the period of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet who governed Chile from 1973 until 1990. During this period, thousands of individuals were disappeared, executed, tortured, or forced into exile in order to silence political opposition from the left. At the conclusion of Pinochet's rule, Chile entered a period of … [Read more...]

Chile Journal #1

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I am currently on a research trip to Chile for a novel that I am writing. It is a story about a young LDS Chilean woman, an MFA student at BYU, who was raised in Utah but who in 2002 returns to her birthplace in Chile to seek the story of her missing father. It is also the story of an unlikely friendship between her and a wise and cranky and lonely older Utahn man who hires her to paint wildflowers for his magnum opus, a field guide of Wasatch wildflowers. There you have it in a nutshell.  … [Read more...]

The Biggest LDS News of 2013

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It has been an eventful year in the LDS community and in Utah. I think it is healthy that we are engaged in a robust discussion about the definition of marriage. I have seen some promising signs that we are listening to one another with greater compassion. I like that the church has helped clarify our unequivocal opposition to racism and has helped to open the door for a more direct confrontation with our history. I would like to believe there is more room in the church today than there was a … [Read more...]

Giving

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Let us suppose that the rich young man who came to Jesus to ask what more he could do to inherit the kingdom of God represents you. At first you might protest either because you do not think of yourself as rich, as young, or as sufficiently in charge of your own material possessions. Or perhaps you don’t see yourself reflected in his story because, unlike him, you have not always obeyed the commandments since your youth and you still feel that, before you can start giving away everything you h … [Read more...]

Why Working For Conservation Is Good For Democracy

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Today it was my immense honor to receive the Nature Conservancy of Utah's Conservation Partner of the Year award. I am posting here the remarks I gave at a meeting of the board held at the University of Utah. **** I admire the work of the Nature Conservancy as an effective model for environmental change. I know there are those who prefer a more combative approach not just by disposition but because they see the environmental crisis in perhaps more urgent relief. I have no strong disagreement … [Read more...]

Grateful To Be An “Unworthy Creature”

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As usual at this time of year, I find myself reflecting on the blessings of life. I have already elaborated on them here, and not much has changed since last year. I still recognize how profoundly undeserving I am of the good fortune I have enjoyed in my life. I don’t know why, but it feels good to repeatedly say out loud what my blessings are but also to repeatedly say out loud that I haven’t earned any of them. … [Read more...]


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