The Ethics of Bad Friends and Good Art

horvath

"We can keep being friends, just so long as you know you're a bad one!"What a line. Hannah Horvath, everyone's favorite narcissist, coked out of her mind and newly freed of her inhibitions, captured the entire ethos of the show Girls, in 15 words.The scene came back to me when I saw yesterday's new trailer for the next season of the show. It looks fabulous. Hannah's cut her hair! Jessa's reappeared from Peru/Bali/the South Bronx! The inevitable manslaughter-suicide of Ray and Shoshanna … [Read more...]

Ghost Stories

I'm revisiting Judith Richardson's Possessions: the history and uses of haunting in the Hudson Valley as I start thinking about nineteenth century spiritualism for a new book project, and this time I've been struck by her emphasis on place.  The tangled and broken landscape of the Hudson Valley, full of cliffs and culverts and sharp bends in the river, makes for an ideal habitat for the unquiet dead. But just as powerful is the cultural landscape, marked since the seventeenth century with the … [Read more...]

A Review of Darren Wilson’s “Finding God in the Bible”

"Read any commentary and it'll pretty much explain the symbolism. My question is much, much simpler than that." -- Darren Wilson, Finding God in the Bible, pp. 193-194The title is intriguing: Finding God in the Bible. It seems meant to work against what is now a several-centuries-old tradition of interpreting biblical texts without reference to God, without insisting that scripture is to have anything more than canonical weight. And Bill Johnson's foreword to the book would seem to confirm … [Read more...]

LL Cool J, Accidental Mormon?

Last week, I logged onto facebook to see my newsfeed crowded with excited links from various Mormon friends to hip hop pioneer LL Cool J's twitter feed. Confused, I clicked over to discover that the man best known for the early 1990s hits "I Need Love" and "Mama Said Knock You Out" had tweeted to his 3.8 million followers the following:https://twitter.com/llcoolj/status/364587417795166208That quote comes from a 1994 farewell address to recently-deceased church president Ezra Taft Benson … [Read more...]

The “Turning of Hearts”: On Family, History, and Faith

A few weeks ago, during an unusually long summer excursion away from home, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend a few days staying with my paternal grandparents. It turned out to be a nice time with them in their quiet, settled home. In part, this was an opportunity simply to be in their company; as they advance in age, and we continue to live at a distance, there’s no guarantee of when we’ll see them next. But our week-long visit also had more focused and deliberate purpose. As much as an … [Read more...]

Mantra

The past several months, I’ve been trying to cultivate a practice of personal meditation (with halting success). After being introduced through a podcast to centering prayer (as taught by Catholic Thomas Keating, who draws on traditions of the Desert Fathers, St. John of the Cross, The Cloud of Unknowing, and others), and wandering tentatively into westernized Buddhist thought, I felt I’d arrived at a refreshing oasis. Perhaps part of the reason for my relief at this new practice stemmed from ov … [Read more...]

Be a Man

Every summer, our family spends some time at a cabin in rural Utah and attend church nearby. Many of the men in the local ward earn a living through physical labor. They are strong; they are big; they have masculine presence. And then they speak, and they cry, and every member of the congregation sees that manly men, even those who won a medal in last night’s rodeo, cry and love.One of their talks in particular has stayed with me. The speaker was a construction worker and a High Councilman - … [Read more...]

Why You Should Read More Fiction (and John Turner’s Brigham Young)

Recently, I finished John G. Turner’s excellent Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. It is an eminently fair-minded biography that should prove to be the definitive account of Young’s life. Personally, I came away from the biography with far greater insight into Young’s spirituality and his theological contributions to Mormonism—one of the many wonderful pay-offs for reading Turner’s 400-page tome. I also came away from the biography with a previously held picture of Young confirmed: he was a harsh in … [Read more...]


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