About R. Bell

R. Bell is an emeritus blogger.

Pessimism and a Hope for a Better World

As I’ve finally begun to feel accustomed to the ill-fitting costume of adulthood, I’ve noticed a new vulnerability to a kind of pessimism that has never tempted me before. Having spent the first 25 years of my life dreaming and expecting, I have come to the point where the dreams and expectations must be realized or discarded forever. You can guess which of those two outcomes is the more frequent.

I’ve never been a big dreamer. For whatever reason, one of the very most important dreams in my life is a house on a large, flat lot, enclosed somewhere among some mature trees and shrubs.

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Lost Members

The Salt Lake Tribune continues its interesting look into the numbers that define LDS church membership and growth today, with a look at “lost members.” The story reports on a large number of Utahn Saints that have fallen between the cracks, and cannot be located. All told, the list contains around 180,000 people, or roughly the population of Salt Lake City. The story allows Elder Merrill Bateman a chance to explain the statistics, which he does very candidly:

We really don’t give up on people. As long as they have not asked to have their names taken off the rolls of the church, we have a responsibility toward them and believe in time . . . we will be an influence to help them find their way back.

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M* Interviews: Newsweek Journalist Elise Soukup

Elise Soukup works as an Assistant Editor for Newsweek Magazine. She recently authored a cover story on the LDS Church and Joseph Smith for the magazine, titled
Mormon Odyssey. You can buy the issue at newstands everywhere. Elise is an active member of the Church, and lives in Manhattan.

First of all, congratulations on such a visible accomplishment in journalism. How did it feel to find out you’d be writing the Newsweek cover, and have things gotten any busier since then?

Thank you very much. I can say that this has been a particularly crazy week; I’m not usually scheduling my day around radio–and Mormon blog–interviews.

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The Battle for the Meaning of Sin

In a few recent conversations, there’s been some back and forth over whether a certain behavior is a sin or not.* The minority view, which held that the behavior is a sin, argued that the behavior is harmful and leads to addiction and unhappiness. Those on the opposite side conceded these points, but argued that it’s just unkind and unhelpful to put that label on the behavior, since many engage in it against their will, or with limited agency, or under pressure from society, or are otherwise pitiable.

These arguments sound like non sequiturs to me.

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