“And now I know that man is nothing”


I confess to feeling my utter insignificance. Even when I imagine my life as having realized its maximum impact on the world, it doesn’t take much imagination or realism to acknowledge that one’s life becomes insignificant in the long term with only a turn or two of the years. And what does it matter anyway? Why feel the need to leave a mark, to be remembered? What could possibly motivate this other than some kind of romance about immortality, about mattering in the hearts and minds of those to c … [Read more...]

Family Relationships and the Outdoors


Recently I was asked to be on the Mike Townsend show at KBYU Radio. Mike is a specialist in family relationships, and he wanted to talk about the value of getting our kids outside. I don't consider myself an expert in child psychology nor do I think I have managed to get my kids outdoors with exceptional frequency. But I have strong feelings about the importance of experiences in nature that shape us from an early age. … [Read more...]

Environmental Stewardship and Mormon Belief


I will be speaking next week at a fireside in a neighboring stake. The topic is “Environmental Stewardship and Mormon Belief.” I have written and spoken about this topic for 14 years. I don’t suppose I can talk about it enough. I believe that the gospel of Christ contains all truth, that all topics are relevant and important to consider. There is almost no topic I am not interested in reading and talking about with others, especially when it concerns the fundamental principles of Christ’s teachin … [Read more...]

The Huckabee Paradox

If you care about the religious values of a political candidate, it is because you believe there is some direct correlation between how and who they worship and what policies they would espouse. Even more specifically, it is because you have a theory about the reliability of that correlation. What is your theory?My experience tells me there is little evidence that what one believes or does not believe about the nature of God or how one chooses to worship and serve provides any kind of … [Read more...]

What of Romney’s Mormonism?

Home Waters is a blog that is occasionally dedicated to policy issues, particularly as they pertain to environmental health, but I generally steer away from politics, especially partisan politics. I wrote about my feelings regarding politics here. But I am a political animal, and I certainly believe it is vital to be informed and active as a citizen in a democracy. I am not one who yearns for the chance to wade into the waters of contemporary debates about Mitt Romney and his Mormonism, but I … [Read more...]

Ecospirituality Workshop (Day #4)


On our final day, we spent the morning listening to a wonderful explication of Buddhist thought and its relevance to our environmental worldview and behavior from Tom. His emphasis was on the importance of “taking time to notice,” learning to live with less ego and selfish desire, and avoiding excess. He offered a critique from Wendell Berry of American rugged individualism and emphasized instead the value of a more interdependent and less selfish conception of existence. Western culture, he arg … [Read more...]

Ecospirituality Workshop (Day #3)


We spent the morning sitting outside in the sunshine, sharing our nature writing with one another. As I said, I didn’t have any particular expectations about this exercise, at least in terms of the quality of thought and expression we would hear, only because I knew this was not a writing workshop and there was no expectation that participants had or wanted any experience with writing. What stunned me was how heart-felt and honest and brave the writing was. We had discussed over the past two d … [Read more...]

Ecospirituality Workshop (Day #2)


We began the second day discussing the art of nature writing. Tom had asked the day before, “Who do you think you are?” I asked: “Where do you think you are?” I suggested that nature writing is a kind of reconnaissance, an exercise in inhabitation, or as Annie Dillard puts it, an exploration of the neighborhood. Of course other art forms work to this end as well, but nature writing is a terrific way to literally ground your thinking and build some specific content into your growing affections for … [Read more...]

Ecospirituality Workshop (Day #1)


I have been in Centennial Valley in Montana, a very remote and marvelously beautiful valley that lies some 40 miles or so west of West Yellowstone and that is home to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Bird Refuge and the Environmental Humanities Education Center. I have been honored to co-facilitate a workshop on Ecospirituality with Reverend Tom Goldsmith of the Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City. I wish to share some of what has transpired at this wonderful event. Our small group is … [Read more...]

Letter to a student (final excerpt #3)

When faced with the extremism of Pharisees, I know it is common to insist that love is more important than obedience and that the spirit is more important than the letter, but it is unfortunate that such positions so often result in a lax attitude about taking commandments seriously. As opposed as he was to fanatics, Christ never preached love at the expense of obedience. Sometimes the spirit of the law requires more intense conformity than we thought. Christ said it was not enough to avoid … [Read more...]