Spirituality is Addition and Subtraction

Spirituality is part addition, part subtraction.
In the West, we tend to focus on the addition part: doing things, getting things, and achieving things. That is not necessarily bad, but in our focus on addition, we can sometimes inadvertently add things that are not healthy, like perfectionism. We can also fail to account for our Western worldview and how it impacts our spirituality.

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Memory, Prophetic Translation, and the Lost 116 Pages

I am unfortunately at an advanced enough age that I have now encountered more than once something I have said, done, or written, that I have no memory of at all. This is a humbling experience. So while I was reading Kent Jackson’s excellent book Understanding Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible that Joseph Smith translated some sections of the Bible more than once, apparently having forgotten that he already had done so previously with a different scribe.

How do his second pass translations compare to the first? Did he translate the passages in exactly the same way?

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Sustaining Leaders and Fellow Saints

This blog post is based on a talk I gave for my ward on February 12, 2023.


A little over seven years ago I got the idea of reading through all the General Conference talks that are easily available on the Church’s website, which means going back to the April 1971 General Conference. I haven’t kept to my schedule perfectly since then, but I’ve read many, many talks, and I’ve really gained an appreciation for the wisdom and consistency of these teachings. 

So when I was asked to give a talk on the fourth temple recommend question–a kind of topic I’ve never heard of before–I knew where to start. I did a quick search and ended up reading (or at least skimming) about two dozen talks, some of which were incredibly powerful to me. I’ll be quoting from these talks at length.

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This is Buoyancy

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This is the 372nd week, and we’re covering the Sunday afternoon session of the October 1999 General Conference.

There was one quote that really stayed with me from this session of General Conference, and it came from Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk A Year of Jubilee. The quote comes from Harry Emerson Fosdick, who I’d never heard of before. He was an American pastor who lived from 1878 to 1969 and was (via Wikipedia) “one of the most prominent liberal ministers of the early 20th century.” I know basically nothing about Liberal Christianity other than what I just read on Wikipedia:

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My Answer to Ellen

In 2008 John McCain appeared on the Ellen show and gave an awkward and inarticulate answer when challenged about her own desire to be legally married. (This is before the Supreme Court required states to recognize same sex marriage). In a blog that is long since defunct, I posted my own imagined response to Ellen if I was interviewed on her show. I reproduce it here for historical interest.

John McCain, appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show as part of his 2008 presidential campaign.

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Peace… and Something for Everyone

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This is the 371st  week, and we’re covering the Sunday morning session of the October 1999 General Conference.

The theme that stuck out to me from the session was peace. As Sister Pinegar taught

The world is not a safe place. It is not a place where children will feel peace, hope, and direction unless they are taught to love and follow the Savior. 

This knowledge comes from a place of personal tragedy as she made clear in her talk:

The difficult experience of my son’s death helped me identify and rejoice in the blessings of peace, hope, and direction—blessings that all who truly accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ may enjoy. I can bear witness to the words of Elder Richard G. Scott: “Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing”

President Faust spoke on peace as well, saying that “Peace in this life is based upon faith and testimony.” So did Elder Ballard, adding “Our safety, our peace, lies in working as hard as we can to live as the Father and Son would have us live, in fleeing from false prophets and false teachers, and in being anxiously engaged in good causes.”

So there are the things that I learned from these talks on peace.

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