Guest Bloggers

Consumerism vs. Stewardship

September 26, 2011 | 79 comments
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The following is a modified excerpt from my presentation at Sunstone this summer. We live, not only in a capitalist, but a consumerist, society. Our society is all about spending, acquiring, cluttering, and replacing, not about maintaining, restoring, renewing, and protecting. It is cheaper to buy new than to repair old.  We live in a disposable country, where everything is trash, if not now, then soon. How did we get here? One of the best explanations I’ve found is in the work of the social theorist Max Weber (1). He examined the correlation between the Protestant religious belief and... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Ben Spackman

August 26, 2011 | 14 comments
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Times and Seasons is pleased to welcome Ben Spackman as our latest guest blogger. Ben received his BA in Near Eastern Studies from BYU and an MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, focusing on philology and Semitic languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic. During his graduate summers, he taught New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Biblical Hebrew at BYU. He has taught various courses in a volunteer capacity for the LDS Church Education System since 2003. Most recently, Ben was the managing editor of the Mormon Portal at Patheos.com. Ben has lived... Read more »

What If President Monson Endorsed Mitt Romney?

July 19, 2011 | 37 comments
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What If President Monson Endorsed Mitt Romney?

In his talk at the close of the April 2008 General Conference, President Monson talked about the blessing we had received, both as members of the Church and, specifically, over the course of the conference. He ended his talk with counsel: parents are to love and cherish their children, youth are to keep the commandments, those who can attend the temple should, and we should all be aware of each other’s needs. But what if, in closing his remarks, President Monson had said, “My dear brothers and sisters, I feel strongly that Mitt Romney is the best person to... Read more »

The Tax Exemption and the Church’s Political Leanings

July 18, 2011 | 28 comments
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In light of the Church’s recent policy statement banning some Church authorities from endorsing candidates, and the speculation that the Church’s political neutrality derives from its desire to stay tax-exempt, I thought I’d present a brief primer on the tax exemption. The Revenue Act of 1894 probably represents the birth of the modern federal income tax. An inauspicious birth, to be sure–it was struck down as unconstitutional in 1895–but the birth, nonetheless. True, it was enacted 19 years before the 16th Amendment permitted direct taxation (whatever that is), but it set the stage for the income tax to come.... Read more »

The Parable of the Talented Endowment Tax

July 14, 2011 | 51 comments
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Governments impose taxes in order to raise revenue that, in turn, funds government function and services. In designing a tax system, tax theorists generally try to create provisions that will raise revenue without significantly altering taxpayers’ economic choices. That is, ideally, taxpayers will act in approximately the same way as they would have in a world without tax. But we can’t hit the ideal. The income tax alters people’s actions, because it alters the price calculus. One way is in our work-leisure decisions. Assume with me that I earn $10 an hour. That said, I enjoy not working, too–my... Read more »

In Praise of the Administrative Function of the Prophet

July 11, 2011 | 29 comments
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When I was just off my mission, President Hinckley announced that, in answer to a question about how to provide temples to smaller LDS communities, he had been inspired to construct smaller temples. There was a palpable sense of excitement at BYU, as we saw the prophet make what we regarded as a prophetic announcement. And, as a result of this revelatory change, we waited with baited breath for other announcements of revelatory changes. Occasionally I run across complaints about the bureaucracization of the leadership of the Church. The complaints seem to suggest that that’s not the role of... Read more »

Summer 2011 Syllabus

July 8, 2011 | 31 comments
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Part of my job as a law professor is to model to students what a transactional attorney does. As part of that, I include in my syllabus a list of things media that they ought to consume in order to understand the world a business lawyer functions in. The list is not exhaustive, by any means, nor should they necessarily read or listen to all of it, but it provides a slice of intelligent commentary on the world I’m teaching them how to enter. If you were preparing people to do what you do, what resources would you recommend?... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Sam Brunson

July 6, 2011 | 4 comments
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Times & Seasons is excited to introduce Sam Brunson as our latest guest blogger.  Sam grew up in the suburbs of San Diego and served a Brazilian mission what seems like a millennium ago.  He went to BYU as an undergrad and found that a freshman saxophone performance major made his eventual English major look like a practical choice.   After toying with teaching critical theory or becoming an author, he did what all good English majors do and chose law school.  At Columbia, he met his wife, got a degree, and got a job as a tax associate... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Brad Strum

June 17, 2011 | 8 comments
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Times & Seasons is excited to introduce Brad Strum as a guest blogger.  Brad lives and works in the DC area as an economist, where he has been since earning a Ph.D. in economics at Princeton University.  Before grad school, he served in the Russia, Rostov-na-Donu mission and attended Brigham Young University, earning undergraduate degrees in economics and mathematics.   Going back even further, Brad grew up in a military family, living in a number of places around the U.S.   When he isn’t working, Brad enjoys many activities, including tennis, biking, dancing, reading, discussion groups, and spending time with family... Read more »

Faith, Philosophy, Scripture: A Typology of Readers

January 5, 2011 | 18 comments
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Faith, Philosophy, Scripture: A Typology of Readers

In the introduction to his Faith, Philosophy, Scripture (Neal A Maxwell Institute, 2010), Jim Faulconer gives us a kind of typology of religious subjects. Imagining the different kinds of responses he might get to the difficulty of his philosophically inclined essays, he picks out four basic types. I. Typology 1. Those who enjoy a kind of childish naivete. Those with childish faith will find what I say difficult because it makes the obvious difficult. They are likely to be bored or, at best, indulgent of me, and their reaction is the right reaction. I have nothing to say to those who are... Read more »

Home Waters: Soul as Watershed

December 8, 2010 | 17 comments
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Home Waters: Soul as Watershed

Spurred by Handley’s Home Waters, I’ve been reading Wallace Stegner. Like Handley, Stegner is interested in the tight twine of body, place, and genealogy that makes a life. On my account, Handley and Stegner share the same thesis: if the body is a river, then the soul is a watershed. Like a shirt pulled off over your head, this thesis leaves the soul inside-out and exposed. You thought your soul was a kernel of atomic interiority, your most secret secret – but shirt in hand, everyone can see your navel. Stegner’s novel, Angle of Repose, opens with the narrator’s own... Read more »

Home Waters: Overview

December 7, 2010 | 4 comments
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Home Waters: Overview

George Handley’s Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River (University of Utah Press, 2010) practices theology like a doctor practices CPR: not as secondhand theory but as a chest-cracking, lung-inflating, life-saving intervention. Home Waters models what, on my account, good theology ought to do: it is experimental, it is grounded in the details of lived experience, and it takes charity – that pure love of Christ – as the only real justification for its having been written. It is not afraid to guess, it is not afraid to question, it is not afraid to cry repentance,... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Ralph Hancock

June 2, 2010 | 7 comments
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While Rana Lehr-Lehnardt’s guest run continues, Times & Seasons is happy to introduce our next guest blogger, Ralph Hancock. Ralph is a long-time professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University. He is the author of Calvin and the Foundations of Modern Politics, as well as of numerous edited volumes, articles and chapters.  His forthcoming book, The Responsibility of Reason (Rowman & Littlefield),  addresses the meaning and limits of reason through a triangulation involving de Tocqueville, Heidegger and Strauss.   Ralph has also translated three books (including one with his son Nathaniel) and numerous chapters and articles from French, and has... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Rana Lehr-Lehnardt

May 23, 2010 | 14 comments
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Times & Seasons is happy to introduce our newest guest blogger, Rana Lehr-Lehnardt. Rana is a mother of three who just finished up her first semester teaching at the University of Missouri at Kansas City Law School. After spending several years in the D. C. area, Rana and her family are adjusting to life in Liberty, Missouri where her husband, Mark, has established a corporate and international trade practice. Before finding her way to the University of Missouri, Rana attended law school at BYU, clerked on the Tenth Circuit for Judge Terrence O’Brien, earned an L.L.M. from Columbia Law... Read more »

T&S Introduces Dane Laverty as its Newest Blogger

March 18, 2010 | 5 comments
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Almost two months to the day that we invited him to guest, Dane Laverty has continued to blog with us at a prodigious pace.  We are now happy to report that he is a guest no longer, but will be joining T&S as a full-time blogger. Dane is a resident of Salem, Oregon and Sacramento, California. He graduated from BYU in contemporary dance, supports his family as a computer programmer, and is attending Willamette University as a business student. He is also a prolific reader and — as we have seen — blogger. We certainly look forward to more... Read more »

Letting Go

January 22, 2010 | 6 comments
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Letting Go

Thanks so much for all the fun. Before departing, I leave this layered perspective on parenthood and then return you to your regular T&S, already in progress. Read more »

Sacred Spaces, Holy Ground

January 20, 2010 | 9 comments
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Sacred Spaces, Holy Ground

We, the children of our Heavenly Father, naturally make places where we can draw closer to Him. Almost all of us do it- in some way- all over the world. The thoughts and efforts we put into these holy places reflect our theology, values, hopes and desires. Read more »

Vanity, What Is It Good For?

January 15, 2010 | 82 comments
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Vanity, What Is It Good For?

Several months ago, I temporarily transfered from a place where personal vanity is refreshingly low (Vermont) to a place where it is remarkably high (Northern Virginia) and it has caused me to ponder the following question: is there such a thing as righteous vanity? Read more »

Dinner, Old Testament Style

January 12, 2010 | 19 comments
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Middle Eastern foods are my favorite. So at the risk of totally overstepping the bounds as a T&S guest blogger, I offer the following to enhance one’s study of the Old Testament and further an appreciation of ancient culture. May you have your meal with gladness and health! Read more »

Light Thoughts

January 11, 2010 | 7 comments
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Light Thoughts

Light and shadow are the essence of photography. Where light and shadow are together, there is something to see and an image can be made. These polar opposites make up the visual part of this life; they are both required in order to see anything. Opposites are necessary in order to understand. I believe that most things in life have their opposite. Order and chaos. Gorgeous September days and ice storms in March. Chocolate cake and pickled eggs. Sometimes the opposite of something is not as simple as we were taught when we were young… compassion and hatred are... Read more »

Some Thoughts on How to Approach a New “Place”

July 23, 2009 | 13 comments
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I reside in Alexandria, Virginia, about 10 miles south of Washington, DC.  Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Jayme Blakesley

July 22, 2009 | 5 comments
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Times & Seasons is pleased to welcome our newest guest blogger, Jayme Blakesley. Read more »

Marriage and gender roles

July 18, 2009 | 29 comments
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I suppose we have Mark Sanford to thank for the recent frenzy of articles about marriage (or was it Jon and Kate?). There’s Caitlin Flanagan’s piece in Time, Aaron Traister at Salon.com, the Women’s Day/AOL living survey, Amanda Fortini wondering “why would anyone submit to the doomed delusion that is marriage?” No surprise then that last week, the Church’s Mormon Message was Elder Oaks on divorce. Read more »

The Question of Pacifism

July 17, 2009 | 55 comments
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I’m not, by nature, a pacifist. Read more »