On Being a Believing, Traditional Mormon in an Amoral, “Nuanced” World

By any standard, I am still in the bloom and pluck of life, being only 35 years of age currently.  My physical health is outstanding, my hair is not going prematurely gray, and by contemporary American standards I am fit and within my recommended weight limit.  Financially I am fine (although “secure” is probably not the appropriate word).  I have a brilliant, loving wife and special children.  Truly, there is much to be thankful for.

And yet…I have sobering moments of reflection in which I survey the climate and landscape and resist shudders of despair.  By nature I am not overly pessimistic; I truly believe that over time, the good guys eventually win.  I look forward, with an eye of faith, to the time when righteousness will cover the earth as the waves cover the sea. Continue reading

Original Poetry: By the Hand of Uriah

In the months I was preparing to visit Israel last year, I listened to a great deal of the Old Testament while riding my bicycle to and from work. Listening instead of reading helped me approach the scriptures in a way that prompted new insights and ideas, and I unexpectedly found that listening inspired me with some ideas for poetry to write.

Though I am not a prolific poet, the poetry I write is usually infused with gospel concepts and imagery. But I had never thought of poetry so directly inspired by scriptural narratives before.

As is usual for me, the time between when the idea for a poem occurs to me and when I actually write it is substantial. It has been well over a year, and I am now approaching the one year anniversary of my trip to Israel for Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles.

This last Sunday, I sat down and wrote a draft of the first poem, and then honed it during the next day and a half. Hope you enjoy it.

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Life Without Morality?

I have been having an ‘offline’ conversation with a self-proclaimed ‘apostate’ friend. It’s a philosophical conversation about morals and morality. We haven’t really drawn any conclusions as of yet.

He sent me this interesting article where the author (Joel Marks) claims that he has abandoned belief in the existence of morality and that it didn’t effect him at all because we don’t need morality.

So the two of us wanted to put up that article plus a proposition for discussion. Consider this statement that both of us believed was basically true:

I believe it’s basically impossible for human beings to really treat morality as if it’s non-objective.

So, for the sake of argument (as the author of the article suggests)  let’s assume at the outset that morality really is non-objective. If human beings can’t treat morality as non-objective (even though that is what it is), what are the implications, if any. Continue reading

Unrated vs Clean: It’s Time to Demand Choose-Your-Own-Rating DVD Options

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

A few years ago a film came out that my wife and I had wanted to see, but we didn’t get around to seeing it in the theatre. So when it came out on DVD, I stopped by a local video rental and picked it up. In our family, we don’t watch R-rated films. Since I knew that this particular film had been rated PG-13, I hadn’t bothered looking at the rating on the DVD when I rented it, I just hurriedly found the title and picked it up.

Even though we both wanted to see it, my wife ended up watching the movie without me while I was at work. She called me, shocked, because the film contained a scene full of gratuitous nudity and explicit sexual activity. Embarrassed, I double checked that the film had been PG-13 using an Internet search. A closer look at the DVD container showed that the DVD contained an “Unrated” version of the movie. We had fallen for a bait-and-switch! The theatrical version had been rated PG-13, but it was not available to be rented on DVD. You could only rent the “Unrated” version.

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Sam Harris on Science and Morality

Warning: The attached link to Sam Harris’ video includes some fairly small ‘magazine images’ to demonstrate Western views on the female body. He does not condone western views as morally correct, and in fact I think his point of view is in alignment with our values. But I was not comfortable including the video directly on a Mormon website where people might click on it and watch it without realizing what they were about to see.  

Sam Harris’ speech on science and morality made the rounds amongst Internet circles a while back. A non-LDS friend brought it to my attention and was curious what I thought of it. He later told me that he found it enlightening, but felt there was something wrong with it, though he couldn’t put his finger on it.

The idea that “science” (and by that we really mean scientific epistemology of conjecture and refutation) has the ability to explain and answer questions of morality is very appealing to me because it fits properly into my view of an explainable reality, including an explainable God.

I believe that this first part of Sam Harris’ presentation is spot on. I agree with him that “Values are facts about well being of conscious creatures.” Continue reading