A Letter for My Someday-Teenage Children

* This is a letter examining faith, written for my children--though they currently lack the attention span and the adolescent angst to get through such a long discussion. I hope someday they will find it useful. In the meantime, perhaps others will find it useful now. I’ve changed the personal names of people who aren’t already public figures speaking about Mormonism, or Chinese revolutionaries.2 July 2017, Auckland, New ZealandDear buddies,Since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I’ve … [Read more...]

Confederate Symbols and the Black Flag of ISIS: Two Sides of the Same Coin

A terrorist symbol looms over my hometown. It stands for an intolerant, un-American ideology, one that stripped human beings of their dignity and equated them with animals, beasts who could be killed at will.  Ominous and unmoving, it is an unholy shrine to rape, torture, and genocide.It is a monument to Confederate soldiers. And it is just as much a symbol of terrorism as the black flag of ISIS.I grew up in Cochran, Georgia, a small town located approximately two hours south of Atlanta. … [Read more...]

America Needs Mitt Romney

A Senator Romney could stand up to Donald Trump without losing his seat. America needs Mitt Romney.I never thought I would find myself typing those words. In 2012, when Romney ran for the presidency, I unabashedly voted for Obama instead. Romney’s bellicose rhetoric towards Iran bothered me, as did his borderline racist comments about Palestinians. In contrast, Obama impressed me with his cautious, cerebral approach to decision making and his compassionate position on immigration. In the e … [Read more...]

First-Order Myopia: What Donald Trump Can Learn from Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's life was cut short because he failed to look beyond first-order consequences. Trump should learn from his mistake. In the summer of 1844, the bustling new city of Nauvoo, Illinois, was a powder keg. Doctrinal disputes and personal feuds had birthed a state of heightened tension between Joseph Smith, the mayor of Nauvoo and founder of Mormonism, and certain Mormon dissidents. These tensions came to a head on June 7, when some of Smith’s detractors published the first (and only) e … [Read more...]

Unbridling Mormon Illustration: “From the Dust” – 2 of 2

In yesterday's post, I discussed the relationship  between Mormon illustration and historical accuracy, specifying that I'd prefer to see a efflorescence of approaches in the Mormon illustrative tradition. To exhibit the analytical richness artistic diversity can encourage, I present From the Dust, a graphic novel project based on the Book of Mormon. There’s a major difference, however, from all previous illustrations of the Book of Mormon: in From the Dust there are no hu … [Read more...]

Trump Should Learn from Andrew Jackson: Keep Church Out of State

Trump can learn from his hero and reject a fusion of Church and State.  Among the Religious Right, the idea that America is a secularized, atheistic wasteland has become an article of faith. From annual jeremiads about the “War on Christmas” to lamentations about prayer in schools, conservative Christians portray the country as a prodigal nation that has strayed from its faith-based roots.President Trump has pandered to this religious discontent, proclaiming that his America will “start sayi … [Read more...]

The Anti-Trump General Conference

Like many Mormons around the world, I’ve spent this weekend watching the Church’s General Conference, a biannual assembly of Church leaders and members where they come together to learn and be uplifted. While watching it, I’ve been struck by one thought – this is the anti-Trump conference.No, the leaders of the Church haven’t spent their time denouncing President Trump or calling for his ouster. Rather, they have offered forceful denunciations of some of the key tenets of Trumpism. That is, t … [Read more...]

A Hillbilly, a Professor, and a Mormon Mayor Walk into a (Dry) Bar . . .

The experience Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams gained on his Mormon mission helped him bridge economic and political divides. A year of national service could do the same for young Americans. A few months ago I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy, an engaging memoir by J.D. Vance that has been seized upon to explain the historic shift of blue-collar whites from their Democratic roots to voting for Trump in the 2016 election. In it, Vance discusses how many working-class whites, especially those … [Read more...]