Religion, Conservation, and Community


I have had a rare and unusual opportunity this week to spend a few days with leaders from The Nature Conservancy and from environmentally active religious communities representing many different faith traditions. The Nature Conservancy is an organization for which I have a great deal of respect and to which I am in debt since they helped support a faculty effort to enhance environmental education at BYU several years ago. I have written earlier about my experiences with them. … [Read more...]

The Theology of Climate Change Denial


Let me say outright that I am not interested in this post in trying to prove climate change to anyone. I frankly find such debates exhausting. If you want to know what I think of climate change, you can find some of my posts here and here. And if you want to read a more serious and academic version of these arguments, you can read an essay I published in Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment. More importantly, if you want a primer on the science from a reputable resource, … [Read more...]

The Spiritual Value of Reading Secular Literature


I recently gave a presentation at Education Week at BYU on this topic. I offer here a brief summary of my lecture. It builds on a theme of a number of my previous posts about reading. … [Read more...]

Seeing Through A Glass Darkly


I have learned by happy and sometimes sad experience that the mind is a changeable thing and not always the most reliable filter by which to perceive reality. I recognize, of course, that this is somewhat of an odd statement, since it is hard to imagine how else we might be able to perceive reality except through the mind. One of my favorite paintings is by Rene Magritte, called The Human Condition. In it he thematizes the paradox of trying to see the world beyond the constraints of how our eye … [Read more...]

The Trail of Memory


37 years ago I spent one month at the Bennion Boys Ranch in Victor, Idaho. It was the first of a total of four summers I would spend there, two as a camper and two as a counselor in my late teens. My parents sent me there, not because I was a troubled kid, but because they knew Lowell Bennion had a vision and a way with people that would benefit me. My brother had gone before me and loved the experience, so off I went. It seems more rare nowadays for parents to send their kids so far away for so … [Read more...]

On Marriage


Twenty-five years ago yesterday, I married my wife, Amy. When we were dating, we did a lot of envisioning. The feeling of romance is very much a feeling, among other things, for the future. We could envision the near future—the wedding, the moving in together, the search for a life together, for financial means to support ourselves, and the prospect of bringing children into the world. And then we projected ourselves quickly into the distant future. We sometimes talked about getting old t … [Read more...]

Love of Reading


Consider this title in both of its syntactical meanings. What does it mean to love to read? What does it mean to read with love? … [Read more...]

On Reading and Language (or, notes on what I have learned from literary theory)


There are at least two very important things that I learned from literary theory, especially the sometimes infamous deconstructionist variety. The first is the value of very close readings. There is nothing like a close reading to bring out the richest and fullest range of possibilities in a text. It is really only a means to an end, however, even though it is often assumed, wrongly, by deconstructive readers that a close reading that merely complicates an oversimplified interpretation of a text … [Read more...]

Nearing Fifty


I guess it must be the approaching milestone of turning fifty, but I am in a meditative mood these days about life.Well, the truth is, I think I have always been a meditative type. I used to write bad poems when I was a teenager that were ridiculous attempts at philosophizing about life (no, I won't share them) and later in my twenties and my thirties I dabbled in journal writing but it was usually the kind of stuff that now provides almost no window at all into my life. They are really only … [Read more...]

Waiting on the Lord


The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.            Lamentations 3:25For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound: everywhere and in everything I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need.            Philippians 4: 11-12There is scarcely a moment in life when we cannot identify something that needs to change. I don’t imagine that we … [Read more...]

The Blessings of Service: Lessons from Guatemala


Service opens the world to us. That, anyway, is what I have experienced in Guatemala where for the past 17 years I have joined a team of eye surgeons about every other year to work in a remote hospital in the highlands among people who are among some of the most underserved by modern healthcare in our hemisphere. I have no medical expertise, although I grew up wanting to become a doctor, but I do have Spanish language abilities that have allowed me to be of service as an interpreter and as an … [Read more...]

Anger, Forgiveness, and Community


 I have been blogging here for two years, and throughout this time, I have been chiefly interested in the quest for community. I understand community to be something that is achieved when we find “unity with” (as the word implies) others, be they family and friends, strangers and foreigners or even enemies, as well as unity, or at least harmony, with place and within our ecological context. Unity is achieved when we overcome selfishness and enmity, when anger is replaced with love in our … [Read more...]