Blog Archives

Wanted: Greener Grass

July 9, 2010 | 95 comments
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Wanted: Greener Grass

People leave the church because…well, I don’t know. I’ve had a few acquaintances who’ve decided to be done with it, but I’ve never sat down and talked with them about why. If I were to guess, it’s because they discovered things they didn’t like about the church and decided to head out to where things are better. That’s why this article on gender stereotypes and science caught my eye—it’s easy to think that the cultural difficulties we try to navigate in the church are specific to the church. I wonder how many people leave the church thinking, “I’m done... Read more »

Excuses for Stopping

July 4, 2010 | 39 comments
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Excuses for Stopping

The post is brought to you by my wife, Heather.  Please be nice to her :) ****** It was time for Dane and I to have a discussion — the, “our baby is approaching 15 months old, do we want to have another one?” discussion.  We currently have three wonderful, healthy children.  At one point in this discussion I told my husband that I would probably feel guilty for not having more.  He was surprised and asked why I should feel guilty.  So I told him and the answer surprised him even more.  Actually, this is why I am... Read more »

The One True Hot Dog Stand

July 1, 2010 | 21 comments
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I'm hungry. I need a hot dog. Nate's Dawgs smells delicious, but they're a little pricey. Joe's Rolled Meats are cheap, but they taste like cigars. Trader Moe's dogs are additive free, so I guess they're healthier than the others. But the girl at the Delirama counter is a total babe. How can I possibly select the optimal hot dog stand? Read more »

God’s Game

June 27, 2010 | 25 comments
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God’s Game

It seems to me that there are two contradictory sets of underlying assumptions about the plan of salvation. One is the “salvation as a game” perspective and the other is “salvation as a journey” perspective. The key difference between a game and a journey is that in a game the rewards are given by people, while in a journey the rewards are obtained from nature. For example, money, gifts, recognition, and grades are rewards given by people. In a game, someone has the authority to bestow the reward. In a job, your boss has the authority to grant your... Read more »

Late-night Doctrinal Discussions

June 13, 2010 | 17 comments
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Late-night Doctrinal Discussions

I’m in the final semester of an MBA program at Oregon’s Willamette University. I took a job in California a couple months ago. That means I’ve got a killer commute to class. All that to say that my time for deep, theosophical discourse with my wife is limited to the occasional late-night discussion when we both really should be sleeping. Generally these discussions rehash the well-worn topics that have occupied our philosophical speculations over six years of marriage. This last week, though, I was caught flatfooted by an entirely new and vitally important doctrinal disagreement inspired by Geoff J’s... Read more »

Life’s Tough When You’re a Girl (or a Boy)

June 8, 2010 | 16 comments
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Life’s Tough When You’re a Girl (or a Boy)

A girl I know was considering taking a commissioned sales job at a truck stop. She commented to me, "Maybe I'll wear a tight shirt and a push-up bra. I bet that would help with my sales numbers." My immediate reaction was, "Don't sell yourself like that!" I'm told that there is a correlation between a man's physical height and his achievement in traditional measures of success (fame, fortune, etc.). I'd bet that there's a similar correlation for women and bust size. So why would I feel comfortable encouraging a man to use his physical traits to advantage in... Read more »

Reasoning the Doctrines

May 31, 2010 | 23 comments
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Reasoning the Doctrines

The question of the truth of the church didn’t enter my consciousness until I was about twelve years old. That was the age when I started discussing religion with my school friends. I remember a conversation I had with a friend after school. His family was not religious, and he was curious about my beliefs. I started by explaining to him the one doctrine that resonated the most deeply with me — the three degrees of glory. I remember learning about the three kingdoms in Sunday school and thinking, “Wow, this makes a lot of sense. Of course God... Read more »

“And What Do The Women Do?”

May 30, 2010 | 138 comments
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“And What Do The Women Do?”

I credit any awareness I have of gender issues in the church to the challenging, patient, and frank discussions that take place within the bloggernacle. Reading the first-hand experiences shared by many sincere sisters here has forced me to reconsider the paradigm I was comfortable in — the one where men and women have separate but equally valuable roles in God’s plan. Now I’m more inclined to view these strongly typed gender roles as reflective of the church’s situation in a specific time and culture. This week I went with the missionaries to visit a less-active member in our... Read more »

Calling Silos

May 20, 2010 | 25 comments
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Julie’s post on scouts has me thinking about how we do callings in the church. Several people pointed out that since scout leaders are called rather than volunteering, you end up with people who aren’t enthusiastic or engaged in the program. I understand that you can’t just let everyone pick their own callings in church, since you’d have twenty people teaching gospel doctrine and nobody teaching the nine-year-olds. However, perhaps we could allow people to pick the general areas they’re interested in. For example, you could divide ward and stake callings into: Teaching Leadership Clerk Provident Living (things like... Read more »

Nexus of Harmony

May 19, 2010 | 2 comments
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Nexus of Harmony

I’m a believer in having role models (and anti-role models). One of the great things about sharing the world with billions of other people is that you get insights into where you might end up depending on the paths you take. I like to watch people who are twenty or thirty years older than I am, to look at the ones who are happy and the ones who are bitter and ask, “How did you get there?” And patterns start to emerge. I see life as extending along four axes — “I” (my relationship with myself), “IT” (my relationship... Read more »

Noel’s Memorial Service

May 16, 2010 | no comments
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Noel’s Memorial Service

The memorial service was held in the mouth of the Russian River. Not on the beach by the river, but right in the water. Over a hundred surfers gathered there, clad in their wetsuits. They paddled on their surfboards into the river, pulling a massive floral wreath out on the water with them. The first thought that struck me was how distinctive the group was. The surfers that gathered there became a foreign community to the rest of us, like I imagine a group of Amish or Hasidic Jews (or Mormons!) would be. The wetsuits acted like ritual attire,... Read more »

Various Thoughts

May 9, 2010 | 18 comments
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Various Thoughts

Photo of Noel Robinson by Todd Glaser My cousin died this week. He was a surfer, Noel Robinson. All the surfing sites have pieces on him (this one is my favorite — what a great picture!), and there’s been a huge response from the surfing community. Noel and I got along well, but we only saw each other rarely. I had no idea that he was a celebrity in his sphere. Now that he’s gone, I really wish I had put in the effort to know him better. ***** I participated with Mormon Helping Hands yesterday. What an amazing... Read more »

Personality Tests and “Muchness”

May 5, 2010 | 13 comments
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Personality Tests and “Muchness”

A friend of mine came to visit a couple weeks ago, and he had me take the “Color Code” personality test. Perhaps you’re familiar with it. It divides people into red (control-oriented), blue (intimacy-oriented), yellow (socially-oriented), and white (peace-oriented) personalities. There are plenty of tests like this — Myers-Briggs, enneagrams, etc. — that result in classifying the taker into some class or archetype. I think they’re fun, and even useful. They provide frameworks for looking at oneself and one’s relationships. I don’t expect that any of them are The One True Truth, but insofar as they offer guidance and... Read more »

Taking Happiness at Face Value

May 1, 2010 | 25 comments
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“…wickedness never was happiness.” — Alma 41:10 I’ve only ever heard this phrase from the scriptures used as an encouragement toward righteousness — “if you are wicked, then you won’t be happy, so be righteous!” But reducing the scripture to a causal relationship like “if ( wicked ) then { not happy }” necessarily implies the contrapositive: “if ( happy ) then { not wicked }”. Both of these readings reduce the rich context of the passage to a logical proposition, and these sorts of shallow reductions don’t often translate well to the complexity of real life. Even so,... Read more »

Luke’s Spiritual Journey

April 28, 2010 | 4 comments
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I’ve asked several of my friends from different religious backgrounds to share the stories of their spiritual paths through life — what they believe, and why. This is the response of my friend Luke. Despite having looked into many religious movements as part of my graduate studies, I find writing about my own spiritual journey remains a challenge.  I don’t profess a faith, though I remain sympathetic and responsive to the efforts people make to introduce me to their beliefs and/or attempt to convert me. This suggests a curiosity on my part about things like spirituality, faith, and religion... Read more »

Introducing, Me

April 22, 2010 | 22 comments
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We T&S bloggers are pretty impersonal. Our posts tell about the kinds of things we think about, but we don't share much about who we are or what we do. So here's a bit about me. Read more »

Approaching Diversity

April 19, 2010 | 39 comments
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The text for today’s blog post is brought to you by BYU Speeches, specifically, “Weightier Matters“, by Dallin H. Oaks (does anyone here know if speeches are quoted, underlined, or italicized?). In part of his talk, Elder Oaks discusses diversity in terms of means vs. ends. Specifically, he says, “Since diversity is a condition, a method, or a short-term objective — not an ultimate goal — whenever diversity is urged it is appropriate to ask, “What kind of diversity?” or “Diversity in what circumstance or condition?” or “Diversity in furtherance of what goal?” This is especially important in our... Read more »

A Monastery for Families

April 18, 2010 | 27 comments
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A Monastery for Families

My wife and her friends chat together in the quad while the kids play outside. This last week, one of her friends said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just buy some land and move out there together?” This kind of sentiment is what I’m all about. We just need some place, some facility, to do it. How about a monastery? I mean, who doesn’t like monasteries? They’re peaceful, worshipful, and beautiful. In fact, I could become a monk. Except that I’m married. And have kids. And am Mormon…and we Mormons don’t have monasteries. But if we... Read more »

Stopping the Flood When the Dams Burst

April 12, 2010 | 12 comments
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A friend of mine told a story from when she was a seminary student. As I recall it, one student, let’s call him Eusebius, had had perfect attendance for three years. The attendance policy allowed a fifteen-minute late window. The teacher would shut the door fifteen minutes after class started, and any students who came it after the door was shut weren’t counted in attendance for the day. Eusebius had been prompt to class for the first three years, but during his fourth year he showed up closer and closer to the fifteen-minute mark, until he finally missed it.... Read more »

12 Walks to Zion

April 6, 2010 | 32 comments
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12 Walks to Zion

I'm not ready to leave my "building Zion" discussion just yet. Where does the New Jerusalem come from? If you asked my peers, parents, seminary teachers, and Sunday school instructors, you might receive visions like these: Read more »

Are We Mormon, or Are We Dancer?

April 5, 2010 | 10 comments
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Are We Mormon, or Are We Dancer?

In my previous job, I served as co-chair on the college diversity council. It was not a position I was qualified for, but one in which I learned a lot. While there, I noticed that “black” is a culturally acceptable word again. I’m interested in the words we use to describe races, ethnicities, and cultures. When I was little, “black” was the only word I knew, but I remember being taught in middle school to use “African American” instead. As a black-and-white (no pun intended) conservative teenage thinker, I was bothered by this shift. It seemed like a pointless... Read more »

The Why

March 29, 2010 | 7 comments
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The Why

Last night I was considering the “what” and “how” of Zion. After reading the comments from that post, I see that I’m skipping past the “why”. If I want to understand how Zion will work, I first need to understand why it exists — what it’s intended to achieve. The scriptures exhort us with eager anticipation for the prophesied Zion. They even go into some detail on visions of its dimensions and inhabitants. But they don’t say what it’s for, or why we should be excited about it. So what’s it for? And for whom? One key question to... Read more »

What Does Zion Look Like?

March 29, 2010 | 49 comments
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What Does Zion Look Like?

Take a minute and review the tenth article of faith with me, if you will: We believe…that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent. What does this mean? How is this city different from any other city? I imagine that most church members picture this Zion as a magical, idyllic dwelling place, free from sin and suffering. But an image of what the city looks like doesn’t tell us how it came to be that way. If Zion is a utopia, what attributes and qualities does it possess that allows it to be one? I... Read more »

Discovering That What I Thought Was The Spirit Was Not

March 23, 2010 | 67 comments
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Discovering That What I Thought Was The Spirit Was Not

From my youth I’ve wanted to do right. A desire to follow the Holy Ghost occupied much of my spiritual reflection in my teens and early twenties. I made it a point to be aware of my feelings, and after a time I identified a few particular feelings that I identified as being the Spirit. The most powerful of those feelings was a compulsion to do or not do a thing. When I defied that compulsion I felt guilty and unworthy. I sought the Lord’s guidance in prayer on even very minute matters, and so I would feel compelled... Read more »

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