Smoking, Pollution, and Other Sins

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The Utah State Legislature is contemplating a bill that would outlaw smoking within a car when a child is present. The bill seems to bring into direct conflict two of the most cherished principles of this conservative group of politicians: 1) choices about our own bodies matter because they impact others, especially our children and 2) government should respect freedom of choice. This isn’t the first time we have seen these battles in the state legislature. They have debated similar laws … [Read more...]

Stewardship and Citizenship at the City Level: Part II

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It is easy, and understandable, to get cynical about politics. There are those who choose not to vote out of a sense of frustration because they sense that a vote makes little difference. I think this is a poor excuse, and I would go so far to say that it is unconscionable as inheritors of our freedoms in this country to not vote. My suspicion is that most of those who don’t vote do so out of laziness or ignorance and not out of any reasoned political stance of opposition to an imperfect … [Read more...]

Not Yet Full, Not Yet Empty

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I am always disappointed by the apathetic but I distrust the overzealous. And it only seems that the deeper we slide into apathy as a society, an increasingly yawning gap stands between those who feel and do nothing and those who feel that they have all of the answers. It is certainly understandable why a radical and proportionate certitude would seem to be a necessary answer to the contagion of indifference, but I am not convinced that an apathetic or willfully ignorant society is any better … [Read more...]

Citizenship and the Environment: An LDS Primer

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Before moving on to a discussion of state and national level involvement, I wanted to pause and consider the broader principles of citizenship, specifically as they pertain to people of faith concerned with the environment. Consider this a prequel to my previous post. A little known passage in the Aims of a BYU education deserves our attention. It describes the aim that a BYU education should be “intellectually enlarging.” It goes on to say: … [Read more...]

Stewardship and Citizenship at the City Level

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I would like to offer a few posts that explore ways of getting involved in the political process, from an LDS perspective and particularly in relationship to the environment. I want to start at the city level, which is a good place for anyone to start, especially if you are new to political involvement. My perspective is informed by my experiences, and I don’t mean to suggest that my experiences should be considered the ideal nor do I pretend to know what the right course of action is in … [Read more...]

Can Literature Save the Earth?

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Can literature save the earth? At first glance, this seems like an absurd question, but even if the answer is a definitive "no," it is a question worth asking. One of the absurdities is that hardly anyone reads anymore. How can literature compete with visual media, the internet, or the many forms of idle entertainment our world throws at us? Moreover, who reads serious literature anymore? And why should we expect to learn anything vital about our relationship to the land from creative writing? … [Read more...]

The Environmental Roots of Our Poor Health

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A recent study of health in America noted some curious problems. It turns out that we are less likely to live as long and are more apt to suffer from diseases than all other developed nations. And this disadvantage holds true across the entirety of the American demographic, for all ages and socio-economic classes. You can read about the study here. … [Read more...]

A Planet Commanded to Our Care

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At the inauguration of President Barack Obama, we heard a rather stunning statement: “We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful … [Read more...]

The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

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I was recently involved in a conversation about stress and anxiety in which we struggled to define these terms. At the time, I said that maybe stress came from an inability to be fully present with the task at hand. That might be correct, but I have since felt there was more to say on the topic. This is mainly because I have been, well, very stressed of late and in need of some clarity on the issue. … [Read more...]

The Tragic Death of a Young Boy

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Tragedy has struck in my community. An 11-year old boy, Alan Zapata, and teammate of my son was playing a futsal game last week and, after scoring a handful of goals and playing his usual aggressive and skillful game, asked to be subbed out. His head hurt. Moments later he collapsed, went into cardiac arrest, and stopped breathing. Someone called 911 immediately and a few adults attempted CPR until the ambulance arrived. After a life-flight to Primary Children’s Hospital and several days in a … [Read more...]

A Lecture on Derek Walcott and Theology

This is a video of a lecture I gave almost two years ago at the University of Iowa. The lecture covers the relationship between theology and literature and the role death and dying in Walcott's view of nature.   http://clas.uiowa.edu/dwllc/news-events/george-handley-presents-metaphysics-nature-poetry-derek-walcott     … [Read more...]

In Praise of the Ordinary

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I think it is typical to imagine that there are two types of beauty—the natural beauty that the world offers as is and the invented, enhanced pleasures of art. The former is a kind of rawness that surprises us precisely because it does not seem to be made. It has no intention necessarily of being beautiful. It just is. In this category, we might think of the shape of Half Dome in Yosemite or the curvilinear red rock of The Wave in southern Utah. The latter more artificial beauty, of course, … [Read more...]


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