Author: Russell Arben Fox

Making Peace with Missionary Work

Tweny years ago today, June 15, 1988, I entered the Missionary Training Center and began my 24 months as a missionary assigned to the Korea Seoul West Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’d like to take this moment to offer all my mission companions, every missionary I knew, both my mission presidents, all the people I ever taught, all the members I ever interacted with, the Korean people as a whole, and the church my deepest apologies, and ask for their forgiveness…because, as a missionary, I really sucked.

From the Archives: My Gifts (Whitsunday Reflections)

Today is Whitsunday on the Christian liturgical calendar, a holiday in honor of the Day of Pentecost. Not quite four years ago, in June of 2005, I wrote something about the gifts demonstrated on that day, and about those–decidedly less spetacular–gifts which I believe I have. I’m somewhat proud of it; I think it is one of the more honest things I’ve ever written about myself. The text is below; you might want to check out the comments on the original post as well.

Some Notes on Religious Freedom from the Former USSR

An old friend of mine (a former bishop, for whatever that’s worth) whom I keep in touch with by e-mail has spent much of the past decade working for the U.S. government in different capacities in Russia and Ukraine. In response to some recent news items regarding limits on visas to the former Soviet Union, I asked him to comment on how the church and the missionary program is fairing there. This is what he has to say. For security reasons, he asked that I post it without his name attached.

Thoughts on Hinckley and Monson

Since Kaimi was kind enough to link to it, I thought I’d elaborate a bit on some comments of mine which Peggy Fletcher Stack used in her excellent article summarizing the accomplishments of President Hinckley, and the opportunities and challenges facing President Monson. It would be interesting to hear more from some of the other sources she made use of in putting her piece together (Melissa Proctor, Ronan Head, etc.), but for now, here is at least a little bit the context of my remarks.

The Three Trees: a Folktale for Good Friday

[This post was originally put up on Good Friday, April 6, 2007. I thought about putting up something different this year, but I couldn’t think of anything that can approach the beauty of this little story. Enjoy.] Once upon a time, three little trees stood in a forest high on a mountain, dreaming of what they would be when they were grown.

Little Zions

Today was our stake conference, and we had a visiting general authority: Elder Terrence C. Smith, one of the North American Area Seventies. His talk was one of the finest, most doctrinally insightful sermons I’ve ever heard at a stake conference. But what really caught me came in the first minute of his talk. He’s Canadian, specifically an Albertan, and he mentioned being from a little town “that’s probably 90% LDS.” That’s interesting, I thought.

Should Mormons Hate Huckabee?

For the first time in American history, a Mormon had a serious shot of making it to the highest office in the land. But no more: Mitt Romney has pulled out of active competition for the Republican nomination and thus for the presidency. How should us Mormons feel about that?

Seeing Him

Because Adam asked, here’s my Santa Claus/Meaning-of-Christmas manifesto, originally written on my own blog three years ago. A brief update: our oldest daughter, mentioned below in this post, is now eleven, and while she is a joyful and spirited participant in the Christmas season, particularly for the sake of her three younger sisters, she isn’t herself much of believer any longer, and all my philosophical/theological reflections mostly flat with her. But that doesn’t worry me. Give her time; she’ll come around. I probably thought pretty much the same at her age, but as the wise man once said, I’m younger than that now.

The Christmas Dress, by Elaine Harris

My wife’s grandmother, Elaine Harris, has lived in Evanston, Wyoming, all her life, except for a brief period during the Depression, when lack of work at home forced her parents–my wife’s great-grandparents, John and Dorothy Martin–to relocate their family to Bountiful (technically Woods Cross) in search of employment. It was there, seventy years ago this Christmas, that Grandma Elaine….but wait: she should tell the story. It is, after all, her own.

From the Archives: Stop Cancelling My Church!

Up at 6:20am, into the shower, on with the shirt and tie and jacket. Grap some Grape-Nuts in the kitchen. Open the front door: a half-inch or so of sleet on the ground. No biggie, I think. Normally I walk, but this morning I’m running late, so I hop in the car, drive to the chapel for PEC meeting. No one there. Drive around the chapel twice: still no one there. Cancelled for sleet?, I ask myself. Drive home, log on the computer, check the e-mail. Yep, sure enough: the stake presidency cancelled all meetings yesterday evening (we were supposed to have been called by someone, but obviously weren’t). Arrrg. Yes, yes, I know, I know: rural routes, dangerous road conditions, better safe than sorry, people without back-up transportation plans, etc., etc. It’s all perfectly reasonable. Except that now we have a whole day to fill. At least last time there was actually snow on the ground me and the…

Times and Seasons Welcomes Paul Reeve

It has no doubt been noticed–for those that care about the deep red-blue rivalries of Utah, anyway–that Times and Seasons does pretty well when it comes to drawing upon the Cougars insofar as perma- and guest-bloggers are concerned, but until this point, our track record with the Utes has been lacking. With arrival of Paul Reeve, an assistant professor of history at the University of Utah, as a guestblogger for the next little while, we hope to turn that record around.

Random Thoughts on the Princeton Conference

The recent conference on Mormonism and American Politics at Princeton University, organized by former Times and Seasons blogger Melissa Proctor, was–from the perspective of this participant at least–a resounding success: plenty of exchanges, ideas, and arguments, some presented formally through papers and many others emerging informally through conversations after and between sessions, all packed into a little more than a single cold, grey Saturday in New Jersey. Reports on the conference are already making the rounds (see Matt B.’s excellent summary here, for example); those seriously obsessed with Mormon studies will be happy to here that the entire conference was recorded and will be made available online, for viewing or downloading. I can’t provide anything so nearly comprehensive, as I missed some of the presentations; but herewith are some random impressions of my own:

From the Archives: The Greatest Mormon Halloween Costume Ever

So, that costume you’re going to wear to your ward Halloween party tonight? The one you’ve been working on for weeks? The one that you’ve consulted your parents/spouse/children/roomates/bishop/stake high council about? The one that manages to be simultaneously perfectly orthodox as well as moderately heretical, perhaps even a little risque? The one you’re so proud of? Well, no offense, but maybe you should just chuck it and go as Bozo the Clown. Because you see, the World’s Most Perfect Mormon Halloween Costume has already been done–it was done, in fact, two years ago. And we’ve got the evidence, right here. Enjoy.

Times and Seasons Welcomes Curtis DeGraw

There are those who get invited to guestblog at Times and Seasons because they’ve been a regular in the Bloggernacle for ages and we figure their turn has come. There are those who get invited because it collectively occurs to us that we and our readers would really benefit from hearing from a circus animal trainer/professional skydiver/registered Democrat/Hollywood movie star/John Birch Society chapter president/illegal immigrant/11-year-old chess master/French chef/member of President Hinckley’s security detail/quantum physicist/polygamy rights activists/dude on the corner handing out pamphlets/female panda/etc. And then there are those who get invited because we just plain like them. Curtis DeGraw is one of these.

The Times and Seasons Hat Trick

This summer, Times and Seasons was fortunate enough to host three superb guest-bloggers: Dave Banack, of Dave’s Mormon Inquiry fame; Patricia Gunter Karamesines, who came to us by way of A Motley Vision; and Kathryn Lynard Soper, who blogs and writes at her pseudo-eponymous blog and the journal Segullah. We are proud to announce that, one by one, all of these fine guestbloggers have succumbed to our desperate pleadings and wholly fictional promises of shiny new kitchen appliances stuffed with cash have agreed to make their presence here at Times and Seasons more permanent. For more proper introductions to them all, see our welcome to Dave here, Patricia here, and Kathy here….but for now, welcome the new permabloggers!

“Larger Projects”

Last week, Adam Greenwood pointed out to me an essay by Sally Thomas in First Things, titled “Home Schooling and Christian Duty.” Her article defends home schooling against a very particular kind of attack–specifically, the claim that educating one’s children in the home, away from the public schools, is a failure to be a witness to others as a Christian, a failure to be “in the world,” and more specifically be a light unto it. It’s an interesting claim, one which comes down to, as Ms. Thomas puts it, the idea that homeschooling is selfish, that “homeschoolers [have] enthroned the needs of their own children at the expense of the larger society…[and therefore have] truly turned [their] backs on the lost of the world.”