Author: Russell Arben Fox

MWS: Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale is a Newbery Honor-winning, New York Times bestseller-listed author of youth and fantasy fiction, most particularly Goose Girl and Princess Academy. This week sees the release of her latest novel Austenland, her first adult fiction novel. She is a returned missionary and lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two under-three-years-old children.

MWS: Doug Thayer

Douglas Thayer is one of the pioneers of what Eugene England called “faithful realism” in his definitive study of Mormon literature. Besides having taught literally thousands of Mormon writers during his fifty years as a professor of English at Brigham Young University, his short story collections Under the Cottonwoods and Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone have become a template for those writing about the interior life of Mormons today. He has also published the novels Summer Fire and The Conversion of Jeff Williams.

My Daughter, the Universalist (Part 2)

Three years ago, I related how Caitlyn, our second daughter, imposed a new ending upon the story of “The Ten Young Women,” in which, after the foolish women who’d left to refill their lamps returned to find the door to the wedding feast closed, the Bridegroom returned, opened the door again, admitted everyone, and everything ended happily. She is seven years old now, and less innocent, but her longings remain the same.

Protest Days

Only only time I’ve ever been arrested for civil disobedience, or held up a sign during a protest, or marched and chanted in the name of a political cause, was when I was an undergraduate at BYU. Go figure.

The Stake Conference Experience

Today we had stake conference. It was our turn for one of those newfangled and (I hope) still evolving “multistake conference broadcast” experiences; at least some of you living in the Midwest and Great Plains must have caught it also. I think this is the fourth time we’ve been part of one of these over the past five years or so in four different states. Of course, the language of our having “had” stake conference, or being “part” of it, is rather misleading; what I really mean is, we joined twenty or so others in a cacophonous side room, sat on folding chairs, alternately hushed our kids in vain or supplied them with snacks and crayons and paper, and strained to hear and see what was being relayed to us from Salt Lake City on an 18-inch TV screen. As far as meetings go, it’s not my favorite format. Still, I managed to take a few notes. Here they are,…

Easter Weekend, by Eugene England

Gene England (1933-2001), Mormonism’s greatest personal essayist, wrote “Easter Weekend,” his greatest personal essay, twenty years ago. I reread it every Easter, usually on Holy Saturday. The following are only excerpts. It was originally printed in the Spring 1988 issue of Dialogue, was reprinted in the Autumn 2001 issue of Irreantum, and is available in full in The Quality of Mercy, a collection of his essays long out of print. I didn’t know Gene well. But even many of those who didn’t know him well miss him, and look forward to someday hearing his voice again.

Mormonism and War

Tomorrow will mark the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Several bloggers have acknowledged that anniversary this month by responding to a challenge: link to whatever you wrote about the war in March 2003, and explain what, if anything, you were wrong about. I have put up my own response here. But for Times and Seasons, I want to reprint something else I wrote, just under four years ago: a post inspired by President Gordon B. Hinckley’s April 2003 General Conference address, “War and Peace”.

Mormons, the Cross, and the Power(lessness) of Christ

Over the past couple of weeks, four things I’ve recently read have continued to stick in my mind: Nate’s post on the power (or lack thereof) of prayer, Kaimi’s post–and the ensuing long thread–on his daughter’s desire to wear a cross, an extremely thoughtful FARMS review of an apparently equally thoughtful book about Mormonism by an Anglican priest…and finally, Matthew 5. Taken together, they make me wonder why we Mormons think about Christ’s atonement the way that we do.

What Didn’t Make It Into the Deseret News Article

Over in the “Notes from All Over” sidebar, I linked to a Deseret News article by Carrie Moore which discusses a recent addition or addendum to the church’s oft-repeated state on political neutrality. (Scroll down to “Relationships with Government,” where you will read that “elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with…a publicly stated Church position.”) I was contacted for the article, and I have to thank Carrie for making me sound far more coherent than I’m sure I actually was; she put together a fine and thoughtful exploration of what this statement might be taken to mean for the church and Mitt Romney’s campaign. But–as is the case whenever you talk to a reporter–there was a lot we discussed (a whole hour’s worth) that didn’t make it into the final piece. Let me hit a few of those thoughts here.

An Abortion Retrospective

A regular reader asked me why Times and Seasons let yesterday’s anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, honored in much of the blogosphere as “Blog for Choice Day,” go by without any comment. I replied that probably the main reason was that everything has already been said which can be said here on that topic. Really, he replied? When? Oh, you recent arrivals, I thought to myself…

Snow Sundays

Melissa and I can’t be the only LDS parents out there whose first reaction upon hearing that church has been cancelled due to bad weather is “Oh crap–what are we going to do with the kids all day?!?”

Thanks from Afghanistan

Four months ago, I passed along my cousin Bob’s request for humanitarian donations as part of his work as a JAG officer in Afghanistan. His request has paid off: as the weeks have gone by, he and his fellow soldiers have received clothes, toys, shoes, hygeine kits, school supplies, blankets and much more from friends, family and numerous anonymous donors. To see his first post on the distribution of these donations, filled with some wonderful photographs, click here. (To see his post on how he successfully recruited Superman and Wonder Woman into the humanitarian cause, click here.) And to all of you who helped out–thank you!

One Thing Damon’s Article (Probably) Gets Right

Damon Linker’s TNR article “The Big Test” came out last Friday. Despite the holiday, his argument about Mitt Romney’s all-but-certain presidential candidacy and the problems which at least some Mormon beliefs pose for people looking to decide who to vote for has already caught the eye of many, and will no doubt be talked and argued about for some time to come. If you’re looking for a lengthy take on his argument…well, I’ve put one up on my blog here. But here, writing for T&S’s Mormon audience, let me pick out one paragraph of Damon’s article, and see what I can make of it.

(He’s A) Tiny Little Baby Born in Bethlehem!

I have a tendency to envision Christmas as a time of quiet joy, peaceful awe, hushed delight–the snow, the candlelight, the embers on the hearth, the distant stars, the bells and choirs reverberating into silence, the baby in the manger who “no crying makes.” Very New England, very northern European, very medieval, very traditional.

Revolutions in Mormon Culture

“Revolutions” is probably not the right word: what I’m getting at is turning points, watershed events, or paradigm shifts. What got me thinking about this was the “Mormon Culture Tournament” over at By Common Consent. It’s basically just a fun exercise (go ahead: vote!) but there’s an interesting project lurking within it: the attempt to identify which, out of many historical habits, references, and signifiers, really are the most telling, the most unique, the goofiest markers of the truly, authentically “Mormon.” And if you look at the answers and comments, a pattern is made clear….

Welcome Aboard, Ardis!

In case it may have escaped your notice, Ardis Parshall has been posting and commenting a great deal lately. Actually, she’s so quickly made herself at home here at Times and Seasons, with her superb series of historical posts, as well as her reflections on everything from running a business to doing archival research, all from her own unique yet thoroughly Mormon perspective, that it almost escaped our notice as well. But not quite! So allow this to be a somewhat delayed official introduction of Ardis to the Bloggernacle as T&S’s newest permablogger. Welcome, Ardis! (We’ll be getting you your own set of keys any day now.)

Homeless

Yesterday was the first day of Sukkot, the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, or Festival of Booths; the holiday continues for seven days, during which observant Jews will build and take some of their meals in, perhaps even sleep in, a sukkah, a small home within (or outside) their home.