Blog Archives


July 12, 2007 | 33 comments

Mamadou has AIDS. Read more »


June 12, 2007 | 26 comments

Everything changed when Tyko came to church. Read more »

Sunday – the latest book by Craig Harline

May 8, 2007 | 102 comments

I’ll start this book review with two anecdotes of my own, from a Mormon ward in Belgium. Last Sunday, in church, the bishop’s sister told us that her little boys were so excited because they were looking forward to the swimming party in the afternoon. The bishop’s own family and the families of his siblings were going to enjoy a pleasurable family Sunday afternoon: togetherness, games, swimming, fun and food, and it would probably last until late in the evening. Read more »

Martha’s funeral

April 18, 2007 | 21 comments

When Martha died, I had to arrange the funeral. “A joyful exit, she had asked, and have the children sing.” Read more »

Church whisperers

February 13, 2007 | 23 comments

The buzz pervades the chapel. The whispers assemble to an insistent setting escorting the speaker’s voice over the sound system. The multiple murmurs from all corners of the audience spawn a hum that any outsider would consider disturbing. But we are used to it – our own relentless liturgical sound. Read more »

A knotty virtue

January 11, 2007 | 33 comments

Imagine these questions in a worthiness interview: Are you honest? Yes. – Do you keep the Word of Wisdom? Yes. – Are you humble? … Read more »

Fridays in Congo

December 12, 2006 | 22 comments

I was still single when I was sent to Central Africa as an international aid worker, to work as a teacher in a slum suburb of Kinshasa, capital of Congo. I got a room in a frail school building, part of a convent of Catholic nuns. The space had a bed, a table, a toilet, and a sink. Read more »

Linda’s blessing

December 5, 2006 | 15 comments

It was the first time in years a baby would be blessed in this tiny Belgian branch. The missionaries had explained how it worked and the handbook provided some scanty instructions. Read more »

Two ladies

November 14, 2006 | 17 comments

As soon as my friend said I was a Mormon, the two ladies wanted to know more. Read more »


September 7, 2006 | 38 comments

This time Nathalie wears a miniskirt. On Sunday, in Church. In spite of last week’s interview. In spite of the one the month before. And other months. For quite some time the matter had been about her bare midriff. Now the miniskirt. Read more »

A face

July 6, 2006 | 33 comments

Sacrament meeting in a small ward, in a large coastal city. Read more »

Maria’s treasure

May 30, 2006 | 28 comments

Maria, a seventy-five-year-old widow, member of our tiny Mormon branch, had asked me to meet her at a Notary’s office. She wanted me to be the executor of her will. I reluctantly agreed, remembering the council of a friend to avoid that kind of responsibility. But since I was the branch president… Read more »

The why and when of baptism

May 15, 2006 | 40 comments

How prepared should a person be before being baptized? How long should this preparation take? Recently the permabloggers had a brief e-mail exchange on this topic. The participants found it interesting to submit it to our broader forum. Read more »

Earth Day and the Church

April 22, 2006 | 59 comments

Today is Earth Day. A number of denominations have given their support to environmental issues, encouraging their members to be sensitive to the protection of the environment. This not only pertains to the major (and controversial) topic of climate change and global warming, but to all the small things people can do daily to save energy, sort waste, recycle, be attentive to what we purchase… Read more »

The organ

April 19, 2006 | 13 comments

It was a historic day for our tiny Flemish branch when we replaced the old harmonium with a new electric organ. Nothing could better symbolize our progress, lift the morale of our handful of members, and prepare the way to convert the whole city. Read more »

How quick we are to condemn

April 3, 2006 | 21 comments

In Notes from all over a link was added to a news item claiming that the latest Dutch spelling reform requested that the name “Christ” be written with a lower-case “c”. That information was spread on various American news channels and blogs. Flurries of comments ensued. Read more »

The unspeakable

March 28, 2006 | 32 comments

It happened in the mid-seventies, one summer afternoon, in the Swiss Temple at Zollikofen. Read more »

A temple session

February 27, 2006 | 33 comments

Provo temple. The room is full, waiting for the session to start. Soothing silence in this sea of white. Read more »

Martha’s Sacrament

February 9, 2006 | 56 comments

Martha was one of the older sisters in our branch. We counted a scant dozen of them, singles and widows, making more than half of the congregation and being its very backbone. When I got to know her, Martha was in her sixties. Huge by nature and strong from her lifelong labors as a market woman, she lived in a modest but sunny apartment, four flights high. Rent and utilities took most of her tiny pension, but she managed. Every Sunday the happy woman rode to church on her big black bicycle, rain or shine. She entered our old... Read more »

Free speech versus respect for religion

February 2, 2006 | 154 comments

The Islamic world is reacting angrily to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper. Demonstrations, threats, flag burning, forcible closure of Western offices — we know the scary pictures. In defense of free speech and to show support for the Danish editors, newspapers in France, Italy, Spain and Germany have also published the cartoons, exacerbating the wrath of Muslims. Read more »

The right to believe

January 30, 2006 | 12 comments

An Italian atheist, Luigi Cascioli, has started a lawsuit against a Catholic priest, claiming that the priest violates Italian law, which does not allow the abuse of popular belief. Such as when people are fraudulently deceived in believing falsehoods, namely, according to Cascioli, the historical existence of Jesus Christ. The lawsuit is drawing international attention. Read more »

I can’t, he said

January 21, 2006 | 48 comments

I have on my desk a primitive pen holder in ceramic, about four inches high. The figurine, crudely shaped, shiny in its warm terra cotta coat, represents a little man holding a tiny bucket in which a few pens and pencils can be stacked. Many years ago, an eleven-year-old girl kneaded and baked the clay in the children’s activity room of a hospital, during her long convalescence. She made the figurine for me. Read more »

Praying in another language

January 6, 2006 | 41 comments

“How does one pray in French?” one of my BYU students, visiting in my office, asked. The question took me by surprise. Read more »

Tax control

January 3, 2006 | 24 comments

The letter we received from the Tax Control Department was preprinted. Handwritten had been added a date, a number and the addressee: Kerk van Jezus Christus van de Heiligen der Laatste Dagen. Read more »