A few days after I returned from my trip to New York, I packed the suitcases again–this time with the children’s pajamas and toothbrushes, too–and flew to Utah for the annual conference of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, where I was slated to read a paper.
Last month I kindly provided my husband some uninterrupted bonding time with his children and flew to New York City for a few days. On the recommendation of a friend (bloggernacle personality D. Fletcher), I stopped by Lane Twitchell’s current art show, “Here & There,” at the Greenberg Van Doren gallery in midtown.
I can’t read without a pencil in my hand, and my greatest vice is pencilling in the margins of library books. In my defense, I can argue that at least I’m not breaking the golden rule: I love reading other people’s marginalia, too. When I was in graduate school, I came to recognize the distinctive notations of my advisor in the margins of the books we both borrowed from the library, and I learned almost as much from his notes as from the texts themselves. Every once in a while I’d take home a book to find my own marginalia from months or even years before. In that spirit, then, I offer (for what little it’s worth) my “marginalia” on the first half of the April Ensign.
Last weekend at the conference of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Richard Sherlock presented a stimulating paper observing and explaining the complete absence of an LDS casuistry of medical ethics–that is, the absence of a body of literature exploring in a careful, ethically- and scripturally-bound way the trade-offs inherent in the excruciating panoply of choice that modern medicine demands of bereaved families and dying patients. This sort of literature abounds in most other religious traditions, made available to priests, pastors and rabbis as they counsel with congregants staggering through the worst day of their lives; Mormon bishops, on the other hand, rely on their own personal views, experience and inspiration of the moment to shepherd members through the throes. This has been on my mind during the last few days, as I’ve asked myself–as all of you surely have, too–“What would I do if Terry Schiavo were my daughter, my husband?”
I’m happy to announce that Naomi Frandsen will be joining Times & Seasons during the next two weeks as our newest guest blogger.
Noted LDS filmmaker Richard Dutcher recently addressed the Southern California-based Miller-Eccles Study Group.
Yesterday the postman delivered the latest installment in the collected works of Hugh Nibley, volume 15, Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity. At a modest 254 pages, the volume has quite a bit to say about church history, record keeping, authority, change and apostasy. It may have even more to say about the life-cycle of Mormon Studies.
I experience flashes of poetry, but I was assigned an unreliable muse in the heretofore, alas. My moment of greatest poetic inspiration arrived when I was twelve or thirteen, on a trip across country in our fifteen-passenger Ford van. My mother devised a contest among us siblings to compose the best family cheer, and, motivated as I always have been by competition, I came up with these four immortal lines: Get the baby, shut the door! What’s for dinner? We want more! Though we’re busy and sometimes mad, The Frandsen family is really rad! Needless to say, I won the competition.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, a love simile: If married love were chocolate, it would be have to be a bittersweet dark, because no chalky milk or bland white could adequately convey the depth, complexity, and challenge of fidelity in marriage.
Two weeks ago I caught a few minutes of a story on NPR about the Church’s Indian Placement Program.
I just finished a ravishing little novel called “The Confessions of Max Tivoli.” It begins, “We are each the love of somebody’s life.”
“I wish to celebrate this morning the reality of the often ignored and too little heralded but very real outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the believing inhabitants of earth–right now, this morning, in the early evening of the last dispensation.”
My husband’s grandfather once uttered a one-liner that has made its way into family lore. Surveying a particularly, uh, well-endowed session of temple patrons, he said, “We may be a chosen people, but we are a corpulent people.”
In the noble tradition of literary hacks who never miss an opportunity to recycle old material, here are the interesting bits of a sacrament meeting talk I delivered in church today. Repentance is, at its simplest, a turning away from sin and a returning to God.
Writer, director and playwright Neil LaBute has been producing provocative and critically-acclaimed theater, film and fiction for more than a decade in the US and abroad.
JV is the kind of person one notices right away in an LDS chapel, the kind of person one remembers. I’d seen her at various stake activities after I moved with my new husband into our micro-studio apartment in a transient-urban ward; when we moved into student housing in the neighboring transient-student ward the next year, hers was one of the few familiar faces that greeted us that first Sunday. It was impossible not to like her instantly: JV is outgoing, exuberant, affectionate, interested, and an intent listener. She also happens to be African-American.
The danger in telling people you write a little bit is that they then assume you can. Last week a friend from my ward called and asked me to write the libretto for a musical show she has been called to coordinate for the stake; a few of the creative decisions had already been made, she told me, but she needed me to write lyrics and a narrative frame for the story. The show is meant to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of our stake, headquartered at the Butler Hill meetinghouse; the stake presidency had designated a “Sound of Music” theme, and the show had been titled, naturally, “Butler Hill Is Alive with the Sound of Music.”
As I read yesterdayâ€™s text from the David O. McKay reader, â€œJesus Christ: â€˜The Way, the Truth, and the Life,â€™â€? I was struck by its repeated injunction to apply Christâ€™s words to our livesâ€”and, more boldly, to extend that application into the world. I frequently hear admonitions of this sort urging me to liken the scriptures to myself, and inasmuch as this means merely that I must be a doer of the word and not a hearer only, I think I get it. But once I get down to the actual business at handâ€”that is, reading the scriptures and figuring out how they bear on my lifeâ€”I confess Iâ€™m often at a loss: what does it mean to apply the scriptures to oneâ€™s life?
On Sunday I received this year’s course curriculum for RS and Priesthood: a diminutive paperback with a striking portrait on the cover, entitled Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay.
Please join me in sending off our crack team of guest bloggers, Shannon Keeley and Brian Gibson, with our collective thanks. Invariably funny and occasionally controversial, their posts were a delightful addition–and one of them even made it onto the T&S favorites sidebar! We especially thank them for blogging over a difficult holiday period and soldiering on through more than their fair share of Christmas travel woes. Back to work taking over the universes of reality television and educational literature, you two!
After you try your hand at composing a haiku, take a chance on writing a Christmas story. All you have to do is supply the ending: a crotchety old cop is assigned to supervise a Christmas shopping trip for two needy kids, and after grudgingly performing the act of service he finds himself
Speaking of Mormon masculinity, once-Mormon playwright Neil Labute premiered his new play this week, Fat Pig.
We’re pleased to introduce Shannon Keeley and Brian Gibson, our newest guest bloggers and our first co-blogging team.
An exercise in historical imagination, if you please: youâ€™re sitting in the tabernacle on a hot Sunday afternoon, Brother Brigham at the pulpit.
It’s shockingly easy to make confessions on the internet, and I can’t resist making one of my own:
Itâ€™s been five months since my family moved from the edge of the country to the middle, and Iâ€™ve never felt so out of place. The change of season is to blame, of course: it happened quite quickly, here, on the day before Thanksgiving, when the low sky let fall flurries of snow and something else, too–a dampening of the light that makes everything look different, somehow. Iâ€™m not pleased.
Well, it must be autumn again. Not only is my house threatening to sail away in a sea of leaves (mostly ugly brown oak, sadly), but I’ve been asked to teach a mini-class on literacy at Enrichment. The rhythm of the schoolyear is hard to resist, and almost every fall I’m asked to give a presentation on reading. I’m always happy to comply. This year, though, the notes to my standard presentation were lost in a cross-country move, so I’m asking myself–Why do I like reading fiction, again?
In the fall of 1995 I enrolled in a critical theories seminar; first out of the block was feminism. One afternoon in September, I sat at a carrel in the old reading room on the south side of the HBLL and wrote on the inside cover of my reader a personal manifesto of sorts: â€œWhy I donâ€™t believe in gender essentialism.â€? Less than a week later, I sat in the Marriott Center watching the Womenâ€™s Broadcast on the big screen, and heard President Hinckley say, â€œGender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose.â€?
Iâ€™ve never seen the Disney version of â€œPinocchio,â€? but Iâ€™ve absorbed by cultural osmosis the image of Jiminy Cricket cheerfully chirping, â€œAlways let your conscience be your guide.â€? Our banal present-day version of conscienceâ€”and our uncritical acceptance of the concept as a stable psycho-spiritual category–belies the treacherous history of the idea.
This afternoon at lunch, my angelic three-year-old daughter said causally to her quesadilla, “I’m going to kill you by plunging my spoon into your heart.”