Author: Dane Laverty

12 Walks to Zion

I’m not ready to leave my “building Zion” discussion just yet. Where does the New Jerusalem come from? If you asked my peers, parents, seminary teachers, and Sunday school instructors, you might receive visions like these:

The Why

Last night I was considering the “what” and “how” of Zion. After reading the comments from that post, I see that I’m skipping past the “why”. If I want to understand how Zion will work, I first need to understand…

What Does Zion Look Like?

Take a minute and review the tenth article of faith with me, if you will: We believe…that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent. What does this mean? How is this city different from any other…

A Middle Path Toward Theology?

This discursive approach to church leadership certainly had its problems (most dramatically in the story being re-told by Daymon and Brad at BCC). It is more chaotic, less predictable, more likely to offend long-time members when long-held doctrines change. However, it is, perhaps, more responsive to the changing needs of church membership.

Mirth in Marriage

The other night as we were getting ready for bed, my wife said, “You know Dane, I really miss laughing. I don’t mean like little *he he he* laughs, I mean deep, cleansing laughter.” And she’s right. Between children, school,…

Soul Work

Norbert at BCC recently shared this reminiscence about his wilder days at BYU. What struck me most was the conversation in the comments between Norbert and his friends and acquaintances from those days. I caught glimpses of magical people from a mystical (or mythical?) time.

A Thing to Grasp

Havelock Ellis said, “It is only the great men who are truly obscene. If they had not dared to be obscene, they could never have dared to be great.” I think the word “obscene” here denotes not mere prurience or crudeness, but more generally the will to defy social expectations. It is in this sense that the title character in Cool Hand Luke is obscene, with his Nietzschean will to power.

The Test

When asked why life is hard, the Sunday school teachers of my youth replied, “Life is a test. It’s supposed to be hard.” The scriptures support the life-as-test perspective — a “probationary state” where we “prove” ourselves. Of course, if…

Answering Nate

“Once upon a time, numberless spirits inhabited the vast chaos of space and unorganized matter. They exercised their minuscule powers to organize little creations, but these quickly vanished in the swirling chaos, like sand castles against the tide. Having spent an eternity without achieving any lasting accomplishments, these spirits mostly just despaired and drifted.

One of these spirits, however, discovered the skill (perhaps through ingenuity, or perhaps just through persistence and luck) to build works that could endure the chaos. So, with much effort and with limited power, he began to build a habitation from the unorganized matter around him. This new dwelling attracted the attention of the other spirits, who desired to take shelter from the constant chaos.

My God

I love my God. He loves me. Sometimes I suffer, and sometimes there is nothing He can do about it, and I love that. I love my God because He is limited, like me. He prepares my way to eternal…

Suckers and Monsters

We human beings don’t handle technological progress very gracefully. Those of us who have spent years doing things “the hard way” can feel cheated when suddenly someone invents an easy way. Take, for example, the ballpoint pen. This little invention…

Friendship is Unnatural

I love the interactive nature of blogging. I had planned to close this series with a post neatly tying everything together, but all of your contributions have challenged my premises and preconceptions to the point that I can’t do it. I started this series with some really good ideas, as well as some very naive ones. In a year or so, as I’ve been able to sort between the two, perhaps I’ll come back with a follow-up series. In the meantime, let me close this series by touching on friendship.

Building Your Own Green Hill

If you’re feeling moved upon to bring together a community of your own, here are some approaches you might consider. I’ve divided them into two sections: organic and venture.

Organic approaches to community building grow fairly naturally out of everyday living. They may sound mundane — you’re probably already doing some of them — but that doesn’t mean the resulting relationships are any less rewarding. In contrast, venture approaches to community building take significant planning, time, and money.


Programs and lifestyle are the main repositories of culture in a community. Programs are optional. Lifestyles are not. The person who declines to participate in a program still gets to sit in the audience at the awards ceremony. The person who declines to participate in a lifestyle is excluded from the flow of community life.

Space (How It Looks)

Could we make zion building into a hobby? Like scrapbooking, except that it requires a little more money. And instead of gathering memories in a binder, you would gather loved ones in a community. Anyway, here are some visual examples of intentional communities that exist here in the United States and Canada.


Lifestyle is about the flow of daily living. It is not about the grand mission and purpose of the community (that’s the program), but rather, it is the community’s values, norms, and expectations. A good demonstration of lifestyle (as opposed to program) can be seen in the cohousing movement.

About-ness and Communities That Last

My initial interest in building a green hill was just to live near my friends and family — something as simple as purchasing land, building houses, and inviting my loved ones to come on over. But, while that would be wonderful, I realized that my dream was about more than just building a “friends of Dane club”. I don’t want to be the linchpin that holds everyone together.

The Dream of the Green Hill

Green Hill Communities | Next About fifteen years ago, I had a dream. In my dream I saw a green hill with several people silhouetted against a cloudy sky. These figures were engaged together in various activities, some speaking, some…