Theology, Ecology, and the Word: Notes from Halki Summit, Part II

I have a few things to report that deserve commentary from the Halki Summit II co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church and Southern New Hampshire University. It is an extraordinary privilege to be a part of these conversations. … [Read more...]

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Theology, Ecology, and the Word: Notes from Halki Summit, Part I

I have arrived this week for the Halki Summit II, a meeting co-sponsored by the Patriarch Bartholomew and Southern New Hampshire University at the island of Halki off of the coast of Istanbul. The topic of the summit is “Theology, Ecology, and the Word: A Conversation on the Environment, Literature, and the Arts.” You can read more about the summit here. I intend to provide some observations about it as I attend. … [Read more...]

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The Hope of Stewardship: A Review of Joseph Spencer’s For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope

There are those who are infected by nostalgia and yearn for a nineteenth-century Mormonism because, I suppose, they imagine that the prophets then seemed more willing to condemn capitalism or to preach environmental stewardship and that Mormons were more communitarian, less materialistic, and more obligated under the law of consecration to work to eliminate poverty. And there are others who are disgusted with the wickedness of this world and pine for the world to come, a time when poverty, … [Read more...]

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Experience and Understanding

Two friends recently independently mentioned to me that it seems that at every turn, their friends and family, many of whom have left or are leaving the church, are expecting them to have an answer for every major issue facing the church in recent months. I wonder how many members of the church feel the weight of this pressure to have an answer for everything. I wonder too why anyone should believe that they need to have answers for everything. I don’t much respect faith when it leads a person t … [Read more...]

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If Truth Were A Child

We live in the age of polemics. Choices are presented to us as mutually exclusive, and you are not given the time to listen, to be reflective and careful in your judgment, or to acknowledge nuance and the validity of different points of view. You are supposed to pick your enemies, not consult with them. Instead, you are asked to make a choice and a quick one at that, one that binds you to one camp that is defined by its opposition to another. And it’s all about identity. You are what you think, w … [Read more...]

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Review: First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple by Samuel Brown

Sam Brown has written an important and beautiful book. Every Mormon serious about deepening their understanding of their most fundamental commitments should read it, and any Mormon who feels adrift in the institutional church will find resources sufficient to stoke the fires of faith anew. It is also a fantastic introduction to the fundamentals of the Mormon faith for anyone new to Mormonism. … [Read more...]

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Mormonism, Cosmology, and Environmental Stewardship

I just returned from a marvelous gathering at the Yale Divinity School where scholars and theologians met to discuss the story of the origins of the universe and of life on earth, as told by contemporary science, and its impact on and relevance to Christian belief. More specifically, it was a series of responses to the project called Journey of the Universe that includes a book, a documentary film, a DVD series of interviews, and a website. You can read more about the conference here. I have … [Read more...]

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Why I Am A Mormon, Part IV (Temples)

When I was in my last year of graduate school at Berkeley, I was given the opportunity to teach a class I had designed on the various meanings of genealogy in American literature. I was intent on showing how important genealogy was to the formation of identity in American experience and yet how antithetical and even oppositional American experience can be to the task of preserving genealogical memory. As part of the class assignment, I required the students to write a family history that … [Read more...]

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Why I Am a Mormon, Part III (Missionary Work)

It is fair to ask why a religious conviction needs to be expressed and shared publicly. Why can’t it simply be a private and personal matter? Given the world’s long history of religious intolerance and violence too, it would seem to be a safer bet to stay at home and stay quiet about religious convictions. I have spent a great deal of my education learning about the pitfalls of religious intolerance, and I have been pained beyond my capacity to express by the atrocities of violence that have bee … [Read more...]

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Why I Am A Mormon, Part II (Revelation)

To continue from my previous post, I want to focus on three areas of my belief that are central to why I am a Mormon. I want to clarify again that I am not interested in making arguments against other beliefs, nor am I trying to defend what I believe. I only intend this to be an explanation of what informs my own belief and religious experience.  … [Read more...]

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Why I Am a Mormon, Part I

This is an attempt (in four installments) to explain a few things about what might be called my spiritual autobiography. I have felt compelled to write something like this for some time, but I haven’t always known how to write about such a personal subject for a wide diversity of friends for whom I have great love and respect let alone for unknown readers. My intent is not necessarily to persuade but to share what it feels like to be inside of my belief a little bit. I always felt that this was t … [Read more...]

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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...]

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