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...]

Letter to a Student (excerpt #2)

It is fair and important to look at the institutional church and ask, “Are the cultural aspects of our particular Mormon moment the sum total of what the church or the gospel is? Is this all the institution is capable of? Has it made its full usefulness to the world evident?” And clearly the answer has to be no. This is not a heretical thing to say. Quite the contrary. It is akin to asking, “Is my idea or understanding of God sufficient to sum up who or what God is?” Of course not. But disbeli … [Read more...]

Letter to a student (excerpt #1)


I wish to post a series of thoughts extracted and revised from a letter I once wrote to a very thoughtful and beloved student. I share these excerpts in the hope that they provide edification and insight for anyone needing such.By way of confession, I think it is fair to say that, despite many liberal tendencies, I also have a cautious and conservative disposition. I move back and forth, almost like a perpetual tide, between a desire to see the world as standing in need of radical change and … [Read more...]

The Question of Wilderness Part III


Last summer I participated in an unusual event in southern Utah. A local environmental organization hosted a panel discussion about stewardship and went out of their way to invite an audience of diverse political and religious persuasions. The panel discussion, however, was focused on Mormonism and the environment, with the intent to create a dialogue about the meaning of stewardship. Prior to the discussion, I did a reading from my book Home Waters. I chose selections that treated the story of … [Read more...]

Panel Discussion of Mormonism and the Environment

Enjoy this podcast with friends Dan Wotherspoon, Craig Galli, and Rachel Whipple, and yours truly.http://mormonmatters.org/2012/07/25/113-mormonism-and-environmentalism/ … [Read more...]

The Question of Wilderness, Part II


Maybe one doesn’t have to be an anthropologist from as far away as Mars to imagine that the divisions in Utah are perhaps more like family feuds, a split in a personality of a whole people, two siblings of the same civilization that symbiotically insist on and perhaps even create differences in order to perpetually seek to vanquish them. Like siblings who choose different paths and whose choices, then, feel like betrayal, we are afflicted by class, religious, ethnic, and yet sometimes literally f … [Read more...]

The Question of Wilderness Part I


In his popular story, “The Bear,” William Faulkner once described the wilderness of the South as having soils brutalized by whites and saturated by the blood of massacred Indians and beaten slaves, a tragic land, then, of at least triple inheritance. His wilderness, in other words, is no escape from the travails of human history. He wrote of “That dark corrupt and bloody time while three separate people had tried to adjust not only to one another but to the new land which they had created and inh … [Read more...]

Born on Third Base


In a classic speech, Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, recently addressed the graduating class at Stanford University and reminded them about the “conspiracy of love” that has enabled them to be at this particular point in their lives. What he wanted to convey was simply that every person’s opportunities and fortunate circumstances do not emerge in a vacuum and, much less, do not exist merely as a result of an individual earning or deserving them. Instead, he insisted that these circu … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #10 Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others


What I have always found intriguing about Doc’s thinking and his many books is that they are so utterly commonsensical that their importance is almost too easily lost on us. He kept his wants, his principles, and his thinking simple. And yet, like all great ideas, although they are presented in simple and straightforward language, they hold up against increased scrutiny and probing, revealing more rather than less. In the case of this, his final aphorism, Doc might as well have quoted from the S … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #9 Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day

My friend Kristine Haglund has again prepared some terrific thoughts on this. You can find them here: … [Read more...]