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...]

Acts of God

Not too long ago Pat Robertson claimed that the increase in tornadoes in the country was due to the fact that people weren’t praying enough. He thought the Haitians deserved their suffering following the recent earthquake too because of a deal he feels they made with the devil when they wickedly decided to overthrow their own slaveowners in the early 1800s. Ken Hamm, the director of the Creation Museum in Kentucky, similarly argues that all suffering is caused by human moral depravity. We always … [Read more...]

The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment

Last Saturday I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion about the intersection of poverty and the environment sponsored by the Episcopal Church. Before our panel discussion, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori, gave a stirring sermon on the need for us to give our attention to those who are the most vulnerable to the effects of global environmental degradation. This topic was motivated by one of the five “Marks of Mission” in … [Read more...]

On the Theologies and Ideologies of the Earth

Giving an interview always leaves unfinished business. In my interview with KCPW on Wednesday, a caller (later identified as Scott Howell, Democratic candidate for US Senate in Utah) asked my opinion of HB 148, a piece of legislation recently passed by the Utah State Legislature and signed by Governor Gary Herbert. I said that while in theory taking back federal lands into state control could result in better stewardship of those lands, I didn’t have confidence that this piece of legislation was … [Read more...]

Radio Interview

Listen in to an interview with me on KCPW on April 18, 2012 about stewardship and ecospirituality. … [Read more...]

The Grace of Nothingness

“Pray as if everything depends on the Lord. Act as if everything depends on you.” Mormons recognize this as Brigham Young. Catholics as St. Augustine. In either case, I have never heard commentary on the strange duality of mind this “as-if” theology requires, as if true faith requires remaining open to both possibilities simultaneously. To act as if everything depends on us is to assume ultimate responsibility for the world, to accept the fact that we live in a universe of comprehensive account … [Read more...]

On Politics, Ambivalence, and Left and Right Wings

I have always been profoundly ambivalent about politics, but not because I don’t have political convictions. And while I am no expert on political matters, my ambivalence is certainly not a function of being uninformed about things generally. I am serious about my citizenship. I read the news religiously. I vote in all elections, local and national, and I volunteer in my local party. What I find difficult is the way in which politics tends to divide and conquer knowledge, the way it makes me f … [Read more...]

On Music

Every night I hear piano practicing in the house—my son, Sam, and my daughter, Camilla, working tirelessly. Sometimes Chopin, sometimes popular songs my daughter likes to learn and quietly sing to. And over the last few months, almost nightly I hear the sound of the small plying voice of my boy, exploring old Beatles classics on his not always perfectly tuned guitar. Just last week I was in Nashville for a conference and a friend and I made it into one of the night clubs to hear live blues m … [Read more...]

On Beauty

The older I get, the less I understand the meaning of beauty, even though it is also true that I more desperately depend on it than ever. I think it used to mean that the world was friendly, that if I could capture a beautiful sunset or the angle of the sun illuminating the leaves of a tree, that somehow I had found meaning and grace because I was known by someone, somewhere. But as I have gotten older, beauty causes a heartbreaking alchemy of sadness and ecstasy, as if beauty always demands an … [Read more...]

Ecospirituality Workshop

I am very excited to offer an ecospirituality workshop with Rev. Tom Goldsmith in Montana this summer. You can learn more about the center and the workshop at I hope you will consider joining us! … [Read more...]

On Loving Enemies, Fictional and Real, or Marilynne Robinson 2.0

According to the essays of Octavio Paz, finding unity not despite but in our differences is the ultimate quest of a democracy. And it is also the ultimate quest of literature, which practices this work of communion in language. A metaphor builds a bridge between two unlike things and holds them together in relationship to produce a new meaning or a new unity, without, paradoxically, destroying or diminishing their differences. What generates new meanings is precisely a metaphor’s refusal to pass … [Read more...]

A Visit From Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is at it again, having just published a new book of essays entitled When I Was A Child I Read Books. Before I write some commentary directly about the book (which I am still finishing), I thought I would describe my encounter with her back in October of 2011 when she came to Utah for the Utah Humanities Council Book Festival. This was not the first time we had met, but it was for me unprecedented access to her. Part of this included a public interview with her in Salt Lake. … [Read more...]