About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

Must-read never before seen letter from Hugh B. Brown on faith

Do yourself a favor and read this letter from Hugh B. Brown, the former member of the First Presidency.

A highlight:

First, I have found that periods of doubt and skepticism, of negative reactions and disbelief have always been characterized by darkness, refrigeration of spirit, pettiness, cynicism, and general misery, even to a point of wishing for oblivion. Whereas, periods of faith, hope, and positive reactions have been times of buoyancy and cheerfulness filled with a desire to be and to become, to lift and encourage, and to point with confidence to something even more about to be. Here, life had cadence and lilt and zest and value, and I gloried in the thought that I could extend these benefits and joys and possibilities to my children.

From the selfish standpoint of personal satisfaction then, I have chosen to swim in the clear, cool stream of faith rather than wallow in the turbid, enervating, stagnant swamp of doubt and cynicism. In other words, faith pays dividends of joy as we go along.

A few thoughts on the Pew study of religion

The Pew study on religion is a massive undertaking. Pew interviewed 35,000 adults on religious habits in English and Spanish. The study is not perfect, but it seems to be widely recognized as the best, most comprehensive study out there on the religious practices of Americans.

For Mormons, there is some good news but also plenty of worrisome news.

First, the good news. Mormons still have big families.

PR_15.05.12_RLS_chapter3-07

Mormons have significantly more kids than any other religious group. This of course is good news for the future. Kids born Mormons are more likely to stay in the Church.

Mormons are also more likely to be married and divorce is relatively rare.

1535047

Continue reading

Why you should have more sympathy for protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson

The chaotic protests and looting in Ferguson last year and Baltimore in the last week have created understandable concern about the rule of law in these cities and elsewhere.

Who cannot help but admire the mother who disciplined her teenaged son who she thought was throwing rocks at police?

This mother’s actions seem to show that 1)the people protesting are misguided thugs and 2)all that is needed is a bit of discipline to get things under control.

Such a reaction is understandable but unfortunately ignores the realities of the lives of people in Ferguson and Baltimore and their interactions with the government. Once you begin to dig down into how police and local government have, for years, oppressed the people in Baltimore and Ferguson, you cannot help but feel some sympathy for residents there.

Let me put it to you this way: if you lived in the poorer parts of Ferguson or inner-city Baltimore, chances are you would feel helpless and angry at the police and the government too. Would you riot? Perhaps not, but you would at least understand why other people are protesting.

Before going on, let’s remember how the United States was founded. It was a violent revolution against an oppressive government. History shows clearly that the British government was considerably less oppressive to the majority of people in the colonies than the police and local governments of Ferguson and Baltimore today. It is simply a fact that the vast majority of colonists never had to deal with a British government official. If you were a landowner in Connecticut or New York or Virginia, you might go your entire life without ever seeing a British “oppressor.”

So, why did the colonists rebel? Because of taxes (which were ridiculously low compared to today) and because the British government was denying basic rights to people in the Americas that were granted, for the most part, to people in England. It is true that colonists read about and heard about oppression of other people, but the vast majority of white colonists never suffered any oppression from government themselves. (It is worth remembering that the situation was obviously different for the slaves).

Yet, in an environment of relatively light tyranny, the colonists nevertheless wrote founding documents expressly intended to limit and control police power. The colonists recognized that they had unusual liberty, and they wanted to protect and enlarge liberty for future generations.

Do the people of Ferguson and Baltimore have liberty today? No, they do not.

Continue reading

The Economist discusses young women, missions and education

The Economist magazine has a very interesting article on another side of the surge of young women going on missions. It turns out that as more young women go on missions, fewer are going to college, and the Economist says some people in Utah are concerned about this trend:

KAITLYN BOURNE, a 21-year-old student from Salt Lake City, Utah, recently returned from 18 months as a Mormon missionary in Atlanta, Georgia. Before going on her mission, she was studying a pre-medicine undergraduate degree at the University of Utah with a full scholarship. But when the Mormon church lowered the age at which young women can go on missions from 21 to 19 at the end of 2012, the idea of going consumed her. “It was a huge commitment, a really hard decision,” she says. “But after months of prayer and thinking about it, I realised I had to do it.”

Ms Bourne’s decision was hard—she had to give up her scholarship. Since returning, she has made plans to go back to university, but instead of resuming her pre-medicine course, she plans to study music at the Hawaii branch of Brigham Young, a Mormon university. Such decisions concern many Utahns. In seeking to expand spiritual opportunities for women, they fear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be inadvertently reducing academic ones.

I think this article in the Economist, while thought-provoking, has a fatal flaw: it ignores the biggest crisis in higher education right now, which is that going to a four-year university for a BA degree is increasingly worthless.

Continue reading