Marketing to the faithful

Last night I read to my son from an illustrated book called New Testament Stories. The book fell open to the story of Jesus cleansing the temple, and my impulse was to skip over it to avoid having to explain the image of Jesus using a whip. But my son wanted to hear the story, so I relented. I told him the basic outline of the story and conveyed the message that temples and the churches are houses of God, places where the Holy Ghost can be. That makes them special, and we don’t do everyday t … [Read more...]

As an eagle gathereth her eaglets

I spent some time today watching live feed of a pair of eagles caring for their hatchlings in a large cottonwood tree in Iowa. One egg hatched on April 2, a second on April 3, and the third will hatch within a couple of days. You can catch the 24 hour feed here. It was remarkable to watch them - especially around 5 pm central time when one was feeding the hatchlings a fish. The female and male take turns sitting in the nest while the other hunts for food - and the nest is fit for a noble … [Read more...]

Is Strong AI Possible? Mormonism Says No.

Last month the artificial intelligence computer system "Watson" beat the two biggest winners ever on Jeopardy!. Watson is a kind of specific artificial intelligence - it's programmed to do something very specific, which is to answer questions for Jeopardy!. As David Ferrucci, lead researcher of the IBM team that created Watson said, it can only respond to content it's been given and analyzed; it understands language "only in a way we call statistical machine learning. It gives you the answer … [Read more...]

Better Sex Through Chastity

Premarital sex on college campuses is not something I know anything about. I went to BYU about 10 years ago, and while premarital sex existed there, it certainly wasn't widespread enough to be conceived of as a marketplace. So when I read this Slate article reporting that the current market "price" for sex is currently very low, I was, well, shocked. Apparently single women in their twenties are having sex under conditions for which I wouldn't have even been willing to hold hands. According … [Read more...]

Why are Mormon homemakers so creative?

I like making stock. It makes me feel resourceful. Industrious. Virtuous. Rather than throwing away a chicken carcass, I wring a little more value out of it by boiling it with a few vegetables. Some cookbook authors declare homemade stock to be incomparably better than canned stock, but I honestly can't taste the difference. I like making stock for the virtue of it, not the aesthetics. It's one of the few things I do in my homemaking that feels conservative and productive.A recent post … [Read more...]

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Exodus. It’s a story as old as the scriptures that has been replayed in America many times. The Pilgrim's journey from Great Britain is an exodus tale, as is the Mormon’s journey across the Great Plains. For African Americans, the civil rights movement was their exodus story. Segregation, disenfranchisement, and racism were their Egypt. Today we remember the Moses of the civil rights movement – Martin Luther King, Jr.In 1963 King was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama for violating a city court … [Read more...]

Spirituality and the environment

I just came across an Ensign article on a topic I never expected to find in that magazine – the environment. Not our spiritual surroundings, but the actual great outdoors. Titled “Our Deteriorating Environment” and written by A. B. Morrison in 1971, the article describes in detail the pollution of our air, water, and land. While the information is a bit dated (lead pollution in the air has been wiped away with the use of unleaded gasoline, and Lake Erie has been largely cleaned up), many of t … [Read more...]

On character and ideals

I teach Relief Society and last week I taught a lesson on Richard G. Scott’s General Conference talk “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character.” The most meaningful part of the talk for me was a quotation from Hugh B. Brown:“Wherever in life great spiritual values await man’s appropriation, only faith can appropriate them. Man cannot live without faith, because in life’s adventure the central problem is character-building—which is not a product of logic, but of faith in ideals and sacrifi … [Read more...]

With God, nothing shall be impossible

Advent is almost over, the season of the church year that anticipates Christmas. At some point during Advent I like to read the Magnificat, Mary’s psalm of praise in anticipation of her son’s birth, and listen to Charles Villiers Stanford’s lovely musical setting of that text.My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mi … [Read more...]

How’s that equal-y, feminist-y thing workin’ for ya?

As many of you did, I read Kathryn Soper’s article about Mormon feminism with great interest. But it’s a paragraph in Claudia Bushman’s response to it that I am pondering. Bushman wrote that the feminist ideal of equal pay for equal work has contributed to an economy where it is difficult to make ends meet on one income, and that this creates a problem for Mormons who believe in the ideal of a non-working mother because it’s increasingly difficult to make it on one income. “Large families, lar … [Read more...]