Blog Archives

Power Imbalances and Dane’s Hierarchy of Christmas Presents

December 17, 2011 | 19 comments
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Christmas is awesome as a kid because you get cool stuff that you can’t get any other time. (Yeah, yeah, you can tell me that Christmas is awesome because we celebrate the Savior’s birth or because we get to serve people, but if you were a kid like I was a kid, it really just came down to presents and time off school.) Now here’s my “kinds of presents” list: Stuff the recipient doesn’t want (like Christmas ornaments — who ever thinks, “I’d love a Christmas ornament”?) Stuff the recipient likes and would probably get for themselves anyway (like... Read more »

The Irreconcilable Triangle of Mormon Political Values

December 16, 2011 | 97 comments
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The Irreconcilable Triangle of Mormon Political Values

FOX News was on while I stood in line at McDonald’s last night. I noticed that the guy being interviewed looked distinctly Mormon (apparently we have a distinctive look), so I walked over to see what was up. The guest was Connor Boyack, and he was talking about how, of all the political ideologies, Mormonism is most compatible with Libertarianism. The Mormon-Libertarian connection is nothing new, but it fits in with something that’s been on my mind lately — competing “goods”. Or, in Elder Oaks’ words, “good, better, and best”. As I see it, there are three cardinal points of political... Read more »

Everybody Hurts

November 27, 2011 | 22 comments
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Depression played a major role in my self-identity for a decade of my life, from about 7th grade through the end of my mission. Life is good. In fact, life is great now. I’ve worked through my demons. No, that makes it sound like I knew what I was doing. Even now I can’t say why things have turned out as well as they have. Just lucky, I guess. I remember the day I decided to be lucky. I was walking to school with a friend on one of those frigid mornings when you can see your breath. Things... Read more »

Mormonism: The Everything Religion

November 23, 2011 | 11 comments
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I’m impressed at how frequently I hear parallels drawn between our church and the many other religions out there. Apparently, we are similar to… the Catholics, due to our shared focus on a formally ordained lineage-based priesthood, strong church hierarchical organization, conservative moral politics, family focus with traditional gender roles, the need for works in addition to faith, and the role of priesthood ordinances in obtaining salvation. the Evangelicals, with our conservative moral politics, family focus with traditional gender roles, claim to spiritual gifts, 19th-century scriptural interpretations, and renewed focus on salvation only being available through faith in Jesus... Read more »

The Manner In Which I’m Mormon: Dealing With Difficult Doctrines

November 16, 2011 | 52 comments
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Each church member responds to problematic issues in church history, doctrine, and culture in their own way. Some people ignore them, some engage in apologetics, and some leave the church entirely. As for me, I'm a categorizer. I categorize them away. I separate human knowledge and experience into two overarching spheres --- science and religion. For this to make sense, let me start with my definitions of those two spheres. Read more »

Why Do You Read Times & Seasons?

November 9, 2011 | 66 comments
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It’s that time again — reader participation day, so come join in and let yourself be heard! Back in January, I asked what brings you to the bloggernacle. Today, I want to narrow the question down to Times & Seasons in particular. Several of you are new here in the past six months, and there are a few old friends that I haven’t seen in a while (Bill of Wasilla, where’d you go?) I want to know what keeps you guys coming back here, week after week, month after month. Feel free to take the discussion in any direction you’d... Read more »

The Manner In Which I’m Mormon: My Articles of Faith

November 2, 2011 | 52 comments
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Over the past ten years, my approach to the doctrines of the church has shifted dramatically. I’m Mormon now in a very different way than I was then. With the various discussions attempting to define what it means to be Mormon, I thought I’d share what it means to me (well, what it means to me at this time — check back in ten more years and we’ll see where things are at). I believe that the religion that does nothing for people in this life isn’t likely to do much for them in the next. The church is... Read more »

Designed to Meet Needs

October 25, 2011 | 29 comments
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(This is the third part in a series about my vision for a community. Here’s Part One and Part Two.) Time to look at distribution of labor, education and job skills, and self-determination. … Like I said previously, I’m targeting a $1,000-per-month lifestyle that covers food and housing for a family. In practice, the way I imagine implementing it is with a three-tier system: Tier 1: $2,000/month Tier 2: $1,000/month + part-time community maintenance Tier 3: $0/month + full-time community employment Each tier is designed to meet a different individual need. Tier 1 is for people who have money... Read more »

Building the Dream City

October 22, 2011 | 36 comments
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Building the Dream City

In my previous post about the principles that would govern my ideal community (affordability, space, distribution of labor, technology, education and job skills, and self-determination),  several of you made comments and asked questions about how those principles might work in practice. Here are my thoughts. … Affordability Across the street from my workplace is a Lowe’s (Lowe’s is a hardware/supplies store, for those of you that aren’t familiar with it). The Lowe’s parking lot has a bunch of sheds. Being the odd kind of guy I am, I took a tour of the sheds during lunch one day, and discovered... Read more »

The World I Choose

October 20, 2011 | 36 comments
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My first posts at Times & Seasons were about building zion-like communities. I’ve wanted to expand on those posts in the year and a half since I originally wrote them, but whenever I try the words refuse to come. Why? In part it’s because communities are difficult and complicated. Mostly, however, it’s because the ideal community that I envision is so dear to me that it pains me to put it into words. I feel like the words do violence to the vision, and a part of me fears that, in transit from vision to writing, the vision might... Read more »

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

October 12, 2011 | 25 comments
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I read Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy over the weekend for the first time since high school. I was glad to see that it’s a book that ages well. As a teenager I enjoyed it as a fun, imaginative science fiction romp. Now I appreciate it as a commentary on the absurdity of life and the immanence of death. (Speaking of which, this book fits in quite nicely with my previous post on Halloweeen. Hitchhiker’s Guide is definitely a Halloween classic, at least in the way I look at Halloween.) The story is essentially a series of... Read more »

Halloween and the Extended Christmas Season

October 8, 2011 | 19 comments
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For me, Christmastime starts around the end of September, with the first hints of autumn coolness. It extends through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and ends sometime around mid-February. My calendar looks something like this: Christmastime (September through February) The Wet & Cold Season (March through May) The Hot & Dry Season (June through August) Being yet the beginning of October, we’re still right around my new year. When the relentless Sacramento summer heat starts to withdraw and I need to roll my windows up for my morning commutes, I feel the stirrings of new life in me.... Read more »

The Manner in Which I’m Mormon: My First Principles and Ordinances

October 6, 2011 | 13 comments
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The first principles and ordinances in my life, borne of my experiences and observations, are these: Exposure, which leads to awareness, or, in other words, the knowledge of good and evil Awareness, which leads to gratitude and wonder Wonder, which leads to vision and discipline Discipline, which leads to understanding and becoming Understanding, which leads to humility and perspective Becoming and perspective, which lead to joy, which is sustainable happiness Sustainable happiness, which is the purpose of life They aren’t as concise as the 4th Article of Faith, but they work for me. Also, they are a work in... Read more »

Elder Perry and the Church’s Image

October 3, 2011 | 36 comments
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Elder Perry and the Church’s Image

Elder Perry’s Saturday conference address focused on how we present ourselves and how we are perceived by others. Religious affiliation affects how we perceive others. For example, when I lived in Oregon it wasn’t uncommon to see the little “Christian fish” on business storefronts. (I see this occasionally in California, but not nearly so frequently.) At first, this was a value-neutral statement in my mind. I was just as happy to frequent a business as a non- business. However, my experiences with the businesses were subpar, and I came to associate the as indicating, “We’re not as good as... Read more »

“What the Hell Is Happening in Somalia?” – Part 3

September 28, 2011 | 18 comments
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“What the Hell Is Happening in Somalia?” – Part 3

Once upon a time there was a boy named Ghedi. Ghedi has a little brother named Korfa. Ghedi and Korfa are best friends. They live in Mogadishu, in apartment #214, between the Suuqa Bakaaraha and the high school, just across from the Catholic school. Korfa likes to watch Sesame Street with Ghedi. Their mom and dad teach them that it’s important to learn English. Ghedi is 13, and Sesame Street is easy for him. Korfa is 5. Ghedi helps him with the hard words. After Sesame Street, Ghedi usually goes down to the quad to hang out with his... Read more »

Getting Acquainted With Our More Dubious Doctrines

September 7, 2011 | 54 comments
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Reading back through the recent posts at Keepapitchin (sorry Ardis, I haven’t been keeping up :)  ), I found a great piece on those long-lived, die-hard “doctrines” that aren’t really doctrines at all. Things like how Jesus was married…with children…to multiple wives(?!?!). Or how blacks couldn’t receive the priesthood because they were in the pre-mortal life. Or any number of other eclectic tidbits (I had mission companion who had been taught that Cain survived the Flood in a specially built one-man submarine). She closes with this question: Why the heck do we do that? Why do we... Read more »

“What the Hell Is Happening in Somalia?” – Part 2

August 31, 2011 | 9 comments
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“What the Hell Is Happening in Somalia?” – Part 2

Somalia is the kind of country where a New York City Department of Transportation worker can be invited over to become prime minister. Following a year of primely ministration, he quit yesterday…and now he’s back to working at his old job in New York City. But back to Ghedi. Ghedi, 13 years old, was born five years after the events that inspired Black Hawk Down. To get a quick sense of his growing up years, take a look at Wikipedia’s Modern History entry for Mogadishu. You’ll note that the subheading provides these links: Main articles: Somali Civil War, Battle of Mogadishu (1993), Battle... Read more »

“What the Hell Is Happening in Somalia?” – Part 1

August 17, 2011 | 13 comments
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“What the Hell Is Happening in Somalia?” – Part 1

Ghedi, 13 years old, is trying to escape Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. Now, before I start Ghedi’s story, let’s get ourselves situated. Here’s Mogadishu relative to the rest of Africa: You can see that it’s a coastal city, on the southern end of the Horn of Africa (that’s the pokey piece of Africa jutting out right below the Saudi Arabia.) Let’s zoom in on that a little bit closer: Note that Kenya is just southwest of Somalia. That’s important because Ghedi, the hero of our story, is trying to get out of Somalia and into Kenya. Specifically,... Read more »

The Conference Showdown: Ward, Stake, or General?

August 14, 2011 | 23 comments
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It’s ward conference for us today. Ward conference is kind of a let-down for me. It doesn’t offer the short church session that we get from stake conference, and I can’t watch it on my laptop while eating not-Cap’n-Crunch in my pajamas. It’s pretty much just business-as-usual. But it’s not like the two-hour session of stake conference is really such a break when you’ve got to keep small kids quiet for the duration. Really, I’d rather have three hours of church with someone else watching my kids than to try and keep them quiet and attentive for two hours... Read more »

Call Me Uzzah

August 3, 2011 | 44 comments
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I just saw Stephen M (Ethesis)’s post on complaints about EFY and I liked his list of reasons people complain (particularly about church stuff). For those of you who aren’t clicking the link to his article, here’s the quick summary of his list: Legitimate — Complaining about a demonstrable problem with a demonstrable solution. Compulsive mental illness — What it sounds like. Compulsive snarkers — “People who are just constant nitpickers…” Thematic — “People who have adopted a cause, and thereafter have a stream of advice and complaints that circle around that as a theme…” People in pain —... Read more »

Things I’m Banning

July 24, 2011 | 38 comments
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Quoting from Monty Python. Sorry, it’s just not funny when I hear you do it. This applies double to anything about being turned into a newt and getting better. Same goes for Princess Bride. Yes, it’s quite possibly the greatest movie ever made, but I don’t care that you can recite the whole thing word for word. And I’m especially banning the use of British accents by non-British peoples who defy bans #1 and #2. I shouldn’t even have to include #2, because Wesley wasn’t British. Also, the word “bloody”. The grammar rule that says periods and commas go inside... Read more »

Loosely Coupled – An n-tier Religion

July 20, 2011 | 53 comments
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One goal in computer programming is to build “loosely coupled” systems. A loosely coupled system isn’t tied down to a specific platform. It makes it easy to take a program written for Macintosh and turn it into a program that can run on Windows or Linux or whatever other system you want. When a new platform appears (like the iPhone), a loosely coupled system makes it so that you can just swap a few parts around and make your program work on that new platform. Loose coupling is achieved by separating a system into “layers”. Take this blog, for... Read more »

Borrowing and Betraying Culture

July 13, 2011 | 47 comments
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NPR did a piece yesterday evening on a speech school for Brooklyners (Brooklynites? Brookies?) who want to get rid of their accent. These are people who feel that speaking with a Brooklyn accent makes people perceive them poorly, and that it’s holding them back socially or professionally. Predictably, this leads to a kickback from the non-Brooklyners who feel that regional dialects are part of the richness and charm of our nation, as well as from other Brooklyners who feel that these ones are “betraying their culture”. Is culture something that can be betrayed? And do we have a responsibility... Read more »

Valid Targets and the Muse

July 9, 2011 | 14 comments
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Valid Targets and the Muse

In 2001, when I lived in Tracy, California, I attended the tri-stake institute in Stockton, or maybe it was Manteca. The teacher was Pres. Anderson, an amazing CES instructor. (He was transferred out to Utah shortly after I left Tracy… Do any of you know what happened to him, or what he’s up to now?) Pres. Anderson started  his lesson on the celestial kingdom with these words written on the chalkboard: Two pedigreed Siamese kittens — Cost: $100 Is that a great deal? I don’t know how much Siamese kittens normally cost, but apparently it’s more than $100 a... Read more »

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Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.