Month: February 2006

A Letter To My Mistress

My Love, You’re probably surprised to get this letter from me after all these years. Communicating with you has always been a chore due to your aversion to technology (a characteristic I still find profoundly endearing) but I’m hopeful you may someday find this blog and know how I feel. I’ve been thinking about you lately and I miss you.

The Mormon Bankrupt

Utah has a very high rate of bankruptcy. In 2000 it hovered at around 7 filings per thousand people– twice the national average. This lonely fact has launched a thousand explanations for why Mormons have such a problem with defaulting on their creditors. Clearly, the thinking seems to be, this shows some of the rot in the Kingdom. Just as clearly, this view has very little support in the data.

Are Mormons Crunchy?

Rod Dreher has a new book out, all about a new countercultural movement which he describes as “crunchy conservatism”–or, as his subtitle eloquently puts it, “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party).”

Singing Time

I have envy — calling envy. Yes, that’s a sin that’s endemic to Mormonism. Unlike some others, I don’t really want to be a bishop or a stake president of a general authority. I’m deeply jealous, however, of people who regularly get to participate in singing time.

Call and Response

Last night at 6:30 PM Pacific time, most members of my family dialed in to a conference call to Provo, Utah—to the lobby of Stover Hall on BYU campus, to be specific. My brother Benjamin—seventh child, sixth freshman at BYU, fifth missionary, third son, and a few days shy of nineteen—was about to open his mission call.

Chance in Creation

The most recent lesson in the Wilford Woodruff manual contains a quote from a general conference sermon given by Woodruff on April 6, 1872: The Lord never created this world at random; he has never done any of his work at random. The earth was created for certain purposes; and one of these purposes was its final redemption, and the establishment of his government and kingdom upon it in the latter days, to prepare it for the reign of the lord Jesus Christ, whose right it is to reign. That set time has come, that dispensation is before us, we are living in the midst of it.

At Sixes and Sevens

The high point in my Church career so far came at age two, when I stood and recited the first four Articles of Faith from memory in Sacrament Meeting . Alas, early precocity did not usher in mature perspicacity, and I confess that these days, while I can still recite most of the Articles as stand-alones with some accuracy, I’m hard pressed to string them together in any recognizable series. (I can, however, rattle off all the books of the Old Testament in order to the tune of “Praise to the Man,” thanks to the heroic efforts of my Sunday School 14 teacher.)

Book Review: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

I have a friend –I know her through the homeschooling community–with an interest in the Church. She told me that one of the books that she read about the church was Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. Now, she’s not stupid–she didn’t expect it to be unbiased–but she did want to know my reaction to it. So I read it and then sent her this email:

From the Archives: Swifter, Higher, Stronger

Melissa and the girls and I watched the opening ceremonies for the 2006 Olympics last night, and we’ll no doubt watch quite a bit more over the next two weeks. The spectacle, the drama, the stories of striving and succeeding and failing get to us every time. As I wrote before, as I watch these contests I find myself wondering just what is and isn’t praiseworthy about the drive to excel. That performing at such a high level invites all sorts of temptations, and often generates a mindset towards others that is anything but compassionate and charitable, is obvious….and yet, if God has given us bodies that can do beautiful and graceful and marvelous things, how can the desire felt by those who have such gifts to perfect them, to take them to the very limit, be anything but good? Back in 2004, there was an Olympic hopeful in our ward, and his example helped me see things in a slightly different light. Read what I wrote and what others commented about him–and the games themselves–here. Or, talk about these Olympics if you prefer. For our part, we’ll be cheering on Matt Savoie, a local Peoria boy and true amateur…