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...]

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. … [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...]