Author: Russell Arben Fox

Russell Arben Fox blogged at Times and Seasons between 2003 and 2009. More detailed biographical information can be found here.

Way Back When, When Mormonism Was Tight

I was asked to prepare and give a talk on my Grandmother Jolley’s life story at her recent funeral. In going back through her history, one thing struck me more than anything else: that the Salt Lake City she grew up in was crowded with people whose names, today, sound like a hit parade of a Mormonism gone by.

A Thank You, A Welcome

We want to give our hearty thanks to Tyler Johnson, who took a break from his wonderful blog Mormon Hippocrates to grace Times and Seasons with a brilliant series of posts on achievement, spirituality, survival, and God’s grace. Thanks in particular, Tyler, for sharing your father’s story (though really it was a much larger story than that) with us; it made great reading. We hope to see you around T&S often in the future! We are also pleased to announce that, after a long and delightful engagement, Margaret Blair Young–fine scholar, wise teacher, thoughtful author, superb blogger, sympathetic listener and occasional provocateur–has agreed to join Times and Seasons as our latest permablogger. She keeps telling us that she won’t have much time to blog; we keep telling her that our readership doesn’t care if it has to await, along as there is the promise of beautiful posts like this or this or this awaiting us. Welcome aboard, Margaret!

The JAG Does Good

My cousin, Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Church, is a JAG officer in the Utah National Guard, assigned to the 1st Corps Artillery, currently serving in Afghanistan in support of Task Force Phoenix. Translation: he’s a citizen-soldier, normally a city prosecutor in Orem, UT, now sent to Afghanistan for a year to help train and support the Afghan Army; his particular task is to work with other JAGs in getting the local military justice system, for which there is as yet no case law and barely even a legal foundation, up and running. He leaves behind his wife, Janae, and his three teen-age sons, Luke, Seth, and Braxton. That’s him on the right. He has a job for us to do.

Waiting Between Earth and Eternity

Barbara Kirkham Jolley, my mother’s mother, died on Monday. She was 86 years old. Grandma Jolley’s husband, Joseph Arben Jolley, died eight months ago, and by all reports, she had put little effort and had even less interest in living ever since. Just days ago, she fell and broke her hip; when she heard that she would have to receive surgery, she was happy: “I hope,” she told my mother on the phone, “that I will go to sleep, and never wake up.” Which is exactly what happened. Her body didn’t quite come out from the anesthesia, and was put on life support. Her children, including my mother, unanimously decided to take her off the respirator; “she’d hate us if we kept her alive artificially,” was one son’s conclusion. The doctor suggested she could remain alive in that state for days, weeks, even months–but as it was, she died in minutes. Obviously, she’d made up her mind to leave.

Margaret Young’s Daughter Is Right

The fine thread which Margaret Young’s post kicked off yesterday reminded me of some equally fine ones from the past. I’ve posted on the topic before a couple of times as well, and so–given that there was a lot to say–I was having a hard time keeping my comment to managable size. So I decided I ought to just put up in a post of my own–especially since I’m going to take the contrary position, and suggest that, while I think Jim (in comment #1) is right that “judging the wealthy to be wicked” is potentially a sin against one’s neighbor, Margaret actually shouldn’t be “appalled” that her daughter views very wealthy people as wicked. Concerned maybe, but not appalled.

We Did It

We’ve finally read the entire Book of Mormon as a family, all of us (those that can read, anyway) taking turns verse by verse. It only took us four and a half years, and we’re ready to do it again.

Two Sundays in April

I’ve already told my story here. But that’s just what happened, and how it happened. Why it happened is a harder story to tell, especially since I don’t know (and may never know, because there may not be) an ending to it, at which point the answer will presumably be made clear. (Or not.) In meantime, however, I do have two Sabbath days to reflect upon.

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).”

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 who has surprised everyone this year. And let’s look forward to figure skating in the celestial kingdom! (Terrestial gets curling.)

Where The Boys Are

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how boys are in trouble–falling behind in school, terrible discipline problems, etc.–and I take it all quite seriously; I’m concerned that boys receive the guidance and education they need to flourish in a changing world. I have to admit, though, that my concern is not entirely motivated by a purely charitable concern for future generations and the happiness of fellow children of our Heavenly Father. Rather, a major portion of my interest arises from the fact that I am worried about my daughters. I mean, who am I going to line them up to marry if all the boys out there tank?

Thanks to Geoff J.

Before J. Stapley can get busy wowing us all, let’s take a moment and thank Geoff Johnston for a terrific couple of weeks. As the all-seeing Snarkernacle noted, Geoff’s posts laid waste to the competition here at T&S, such as it is. In five relatively short posts, Geoff generated 684 comments and counting. It’s been a long while since we had such a run of thoughtful, imaginative, doctrinally heavy discussions, and we owe it all to Brother Johnston. Our thanks, Geoff; we wish you could stay, but we know they missed you over at the Thang….

A Gentleman and a Saint

Today my maternal grandfather, Joseph Arben Jolley, will be buried in Vernal, UT; nearly all my family will be there. This is the third family gathering from just this past year that we haven’t been able to attend, and perhaps may not be the last. Living far away from extended family is hard–a hardship that, I think, Grandpa Jolley understood well.

RSR: Walter van Beek on Joseph Smith

[This review has been provided by special arrangement to Times and Seasons by Walter E. A. van Beek, an anthropologist and scholar of religion and culture at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.] O Lord; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed; I am in derison daily, everyone mocketh me. Jeremiah 20:7.

More Thankful Every Day: Conversion Week on T&S

This week on Times and Seasons several of us will be sharing conversion stories, whether discussing our own conversion to the restored gospel or that of others. We figured that there are few things more appropriate to Thanksgiving week then to reflect upon those events for which many of us have cause to be deeply thankful.

Is Mormonism Romantic?

A couple of excellent articles on C.S. Lewis’s life and work have appeared over the past few days–all part of the build-up to the release of the upcoming movie of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, of course, but still good articles nonetheless. In particular, the New Yorker piece, brought to my attention by Ronan Head, provides opportunity to think again about Lewis’s very magical, very romantic sense of the divine, and our own.

Fiction Books for Children

Despite appearances to the contrary, we here at Times and Seasons do not spend all our time debating the finer points of church doctrine, history, culture and theology. A lot of the time, we talk about our kids. And since raising kids–and in particular, finding good books to read to them and with them–is something a lot of our readers can relate to, we thought we’d open the blog up to some discussion and recommendations of that topic. First up, a guest post from my wife, Melissa Madsen Fox, who besides being a great consumer and critic of youth fiction, also maintains a blog where she reviews much of the same. Take it away, Melissa!