Great Lovers… of Places

Near Rydal Mount in the Lake District

William Wordsworth wrote an important book that during his life time vied for the most popular work he ever published. Nowadays it is much less well known. It is called Guide to the Lakes, published first in 1810 and then later expanded in 1835, and in it he provides an elaborate description of the now famous Lake District in England so as to lead his reader into what he hoped would be proper aesthetic appreciation of the area’s qualities. More importantly, he hoped it might be preserved, maybe e … [Read more...]

Gardens and the Art of Self-Reflection

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Inspired by my recent travels in the UK, including several visits to some of its most outstanding gardens, I have been thinking about the role a garden can play in teaching us about ourselves in the world. A garden is a literal walk through a figurative world or perhaps it is a figurative walk through a literal world. We can never be sure. It is real but artificially designed. It is nature yet very much a manifestation of culture and values. There is no escaping culture in a garden, but it is … [Read more...]

Balancing Intellect and Faith

I spoke last week to a group of LDS students at Oxford University about the challenges and opportunities of reconciling faith with intellect. I have written about this before, especially as it relates to the question of scholarship. While there is much to say on the topic, I would like to summarize a few points briefly. … [Read more...]

Life’s Insubstantial Pageant

Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is for me a kind of touchstone. It is the play I know and probably love the best (although “King Lear” is a contender) and the one I have seen most often performed. I read it as an undergraduate and ended up writing my honors thesis on it as my first bona-fide research project. At the time, postcolonial theory was on the rise and all the talk about the play was centering on Prospero’s abuse of Caliban as an emblem of colonial rule. Language was a tool of control: “You … [Read more...]

Four Lessons from a Suicide

In relation to my previous post about patience in suffering and about my brother’s suicide in 1982, about which I write in greater detail in my book, Home Waters, and whom I remembered on the recent anniversary of his death, I wish to reflect on a few things that I feel I have learned in retrospect. These are spiritual lessons, mainly, and they relate to the specific nature of how my brother died, but I hope that they might apply to other circumstances as well. I admit that I haven’t suffered any … [Read more...]

Patience in Suffering

NOTE: My book, Home Waters, after which the blog is named, treats the theme of environmental stewardship but not always directly. It also touches on themes of community, human suffering, the humanities (specifically poetry), and theology. While I have devoted most of this blog to themes related to environmental stewardship, I have occasionally touched on these other topics. After completing my first year of blogging, I would like to shift the focus of this blog to these other themes, but I will … [Read more...]

Five Paradoxes of Mormon Environmental Advocacy

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This is a brief summary of the speech I gave at the recent Stegner symposium, with a little more elaboration on the final point that I ended up having to rush through. You can see a video of the lecture here. … [Read more...]

A General Authority Teaches Stewardship

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History was made on Friday. Elder Marcus Nash, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ, spoke as a formal representative of the church at the recent Stegner Symposium on “Religion, Faith, and the Environment” and presented an official view of Mormon stewardship of the earth. The symposium was remarkable in many ways. We heard from ecclesiastical leaders and representatives of evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. We heard a variety of sch … [Read more...]

Stewardship and Citizenship at the State Level

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Polls in this country indicate a gap between the mainstream voter and elected officials at the state and national levels. I am not sure how different the trends are between the two parties, but there is certainly evidence this has happened on the right. Most recently, for example, we find evidence that a majority of Republicans are concerned about climate change and believe that more should be done to address the problem. This is true on other issues as well, including gun control and … [Read more...]

Immigration, Promised Lands, and Homelands

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 LDS pioneers who arrived in the Great Basin in 1847 were, well, squatters. I don’t know what else to call them. The academic term for their development of the Great Basin is “extralegal,” that is, outside of the bounds of law. They were stepping into the ungoverned and soon-to-be contested territory of the Spanish colonies, but even if their immigration was not technically illegal, their practice of polygamy certainly was. LDS pioneers were deemed a sexually deviant and threatening bunc … [Read more...]


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