Lessons from Doc: #2 “Learn to like reading, conversation, music”

The underlying principle of Doc’s aphorisms seems to be that it matters a great deal how we spend our time and where our deepest affections lie. This matters not only to our character but to the communities, large and small, of which we are a part. As I suggested in my previous post, this is in part because how we spend our time also tends to determine how we spend our money and resources, that is, how we consume. The activities listed here—reading, engaging in conversation, and listening to or p … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #1 “Learn to Like What Doesn’t Cost Much”

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6: 6-8).Price, of course, is not always a reflection of quality, as I have sadly learned in this economy of increasingly poorly made products. We live in an economy that thrives on obsolescence, so durability is arguably at least one reason to buy what may cost more. As I mentioned in my earlier … [Read more...]

My Debt to Lowell Bennion

In the last few months I have had the privilege of meeting two sons of Lowell Bennion, a man who had a stronger influence on the way that I think (and hopefully someday act!) as a Mormon than anyone else. On the occasion of both of these encounters, I felt overwhelmed with feelings of tenderness and nostalgia for their father perhaps because they held such a close physical resemblance to him but also because they were living out their lives in ways consistent with who he was. I believe that … [Read more...]

“You are everything you feel beside the river”

When I was writing Home Waters, I had to deal with dueling impulses. On the one hand, I felt surges of desire to write that were, at times, almost overwhelming, and it seemed that the only way to deal with them was to get out of the way as much as possible, to trust instinct, and to let myself believe, even if only for a moment, that I was up to the task of giving adequate expression to the totality of what I felt. This is the power of self-confidence, a feeling of plenitude that needs to offer … [Read more...]

Lutherans, Mormons, and the Poor

Community is only as wide as we imagine it to be. Life experiences provide the foundation, but imagination is the alchemy that allows us to understand ourselves as part of a community that is broader than what our one chance on earth as an individual can teach us. I cherish the qualities of local community as much as anyone, but without a connection to the planet and to the broader human family, community is a shallow value. When I meet people who not only care about but work on behalf of … [Read more...]

The Economy of the Creation

(adapted from a speech given at Mormon Scholars in the HumanitiesSouthern Virginia University, May 19, 2012)The LDS account of the creation makes several seemingly heretical claims. I wish to focus on one: that the world is made from pre-existing and unorganized matter. Of all the reasons to call LDS belief heretical, this has to be among the most obvious since both the notion of a pre-existing chaos was shared by pagan narratives of creation and was expelled from traditional Christianity in the … [Read more...]

Upon the Occasion of the 5th Annual Meeting of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities

Amy Hungerford in her book, Postmodern Belief: America Literature and Religion Since 1960, notes that we are caught in America between dual impulses. On the one hand, despite our secular age, we have a “longing for conviction” and the “transcendent purpose conviction brings.” At the same time, however, we are possessed of a “desire for pluralism and tolerance and perhaps even the celebration of endless indeterminacy.” She argues that literature’s decline over the past several decades perhaps has … [Read more...]

This is the Place

Jacob lay down on stones for pillows and slept. And in his dreams he saw a ladder reaching up into heaven with “the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” It was a curious thing, to be sure, to find oneself sleeping on stones only to then discover that, as he says in the morning when he has returned to his natural senses, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” Upon further reflection, this causes him to feel overwhelmed by what had once seemed so ordinary. “How dreadful is … [Read more...]

Soccer Dad

I am told that few states in the country have a higher level of participation of girls in soccer than Utah. I don’t doubt it. Every Saturday everywhere in this valley are wide swaths of soccer fields dotted with colored jerseys of girls, and boys, playing their hearts out in front of their parents and siblings. People by the thousands do this all along the Wasatch Front, screaming, laughing, yelling, chatting, enjoying the pleasures of warm sunshine, community, and family pride. Or at least as l … [Read more...]

Connecting the Dots on Climate Change

A remarkable alliance of concern about climate change has emerged among the nation’s clergy. Major ecclesiastical leaders in the world, including Pope Benedict, the Patriarch Bartholomew, the Dalai Lama, and many others, have expressed public concern about the moral responsibility of civilization to act on behalf of the planet’s weakening capacity to regulate our climate. One national organization, Interfaith Power & Light, has been leading the way to formulate a religious response to cli … [Read more...]


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