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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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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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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Earrings, Scrupulosity, and Love

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This is the 368th week, and we’re covering the Saturday morning session of the October 1999 General Conference.

It’s been a long time since I started this General Conference Odyssey way back in 2015. I stuck with it really well through about 2019 and had another good chunk in 2020, but I missed pretty much all of 2021 and 2022. One of my goals is to stick with it again throughout 2023. Eventually I’ll go back and fill in all the gaps, but I don’t know when that will be.

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Church Spending

Church finances are often a point of criticism. But should they be?

In thinking about church finances, it’s helpful to have a basic grasp of tools large organizations use to make complex decisions around investments and spending. In this presentation we look at one of those tools, the Analytic Hierarchy Process, and think about how organizations bring maturity to their decision making processes.

The important question to consider is, what methodologies are the church’s critics employing? And are those superior to frameworks like AHP?

Slides below:

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Responding to the SL Tribune’s Mischaracterization of my Testimony on Conversion Therapy

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune unclearly characterized my comments to the Utah State Legislature on August 18 regarding conversion therapy. I would like to clarify them. While I oppose the current version of the conversion therapy rule, I do not support conversion therapy. As a therapist, I don’t believe changing sexual orientation is an appropriate goal in therapy. But I oppose the conversion therapy rule because not only does it forbid these kinds of attempts to change sexual orientation, but also brands a much broader range of interventions as “conversion therapy,” including assisting clients who wish to manage their sexual behaviors.

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Getting Along < Shared Belief < Conversion

The Book of Mormon is an absolutely remarkable text of religious psychology. At various points in the text, certain terms are used to make fine distinctions between very specific states of mind and heart. And the consequences of these states of mind and heart are spelled out in terms of social trends in communities.

When I say I know the Book of Mormon is true, part of that statement includes my conviction that it conveys real history of real people and real phenomena. The other part of that statement is that its unique picture of religious psychology is accurate. This morning, my reading in 3 Nephi reinforced this conviction in me.

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