Archive for December, 2010

Behind on Things

Monday, December 27th, 2010

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time for me to mournfully contemplate my to-do list and the many unfinished items on it. As I sit writing this (on the evening of Christmas Eve, though I’m not planning to post it until next Monday), that list includes:

  • Write my Christmas newsletter
  • Send presents to people
  • Do Christmas-y cooking (e.g., shortbread, candied pecans, baklava)
  • Visit people and take them stuff (see previous bullet)
  • Help clean and organize the house for a wheelchair-bound relative to stay with us for six months (This could be a whole list in itself.)
  • Write a business proposal
  • Complete a parent involvement workshop on bullying
  • Research and write a parent involvement workshop on Internet safety
  • Review a novel manuscript
  • Line up contributors for the AML (Association for Mormon Letters) blog
  • Write several blogs for posting at various locations
  • Help my daughter with a high school research paper
  • Read A Merchant of Venice with my wife and daughter (also for my daughter’s English class)
  • Attempt contact with several people who show up on our local Church records but whom no one has seen in years
  • Start on editing/reviewing someone else’s nonfiction manuscript
  • Make progress on my own fiction writing

All of which I feel an obligation to do, or at least make substantial progress on, over the next 2 weeks. It all seems pretty unlikely — especially since I’m so easily distractible by many things not appearing on this list.


One happy thing that I finally accomplished (a year after I took it on — ouch!) was writing a review for Adventures of the Soul, a collection of personal essays previously published by BYU Studies. It’s a lovely book, and I deeply wish that I had managed to get the review out in time for people to order copies for Christmas. Instead, the book disappeared in my stacks for a month back in November. Still, the review is done now and posted over at A Motley Vision blog. I hope it will bring at least a little attention for a most deserving collection.

Xenophobia and Punishment

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

It’s time for another of Jonathan’s vaguely political/cultural criticism posts! I promise not to get too rabid…

Listening a few weeks ago to a discussion on NPR about the challenges of educating black youth in the United States, I was struck by the comment of one of the experts. We know what to do in order to solve this problem, he said. We simply lack the will to do it.

His comment got me thinking. Is this really the case? And if so, what are the reasons underlying that lack of will? Two related answers came to mind: xenophobia — fear of the other, or more generally thinking in terms of “us versus them” — and a mentality that’s oriented toward punishing people for poor behavior rather than teaching them to do better.


Interviewed by Annette Lyon

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Not a lot of time to write today, and not a lot to say. However, I wanted to point anyone who might happen on this blog to my interview at Annette Lyon’s blog, which was posted yesterday. She asked me several things I don’t think I’d been asked before, and it was fun answering her questions. (Annette hasn’t reviewed No Going Back, but had commented positively on its non-didactic approach in a post over at the AML blog last January.)

Have fun everyone! Be good, stay warm, and try not to fall too far behind on your Christmas stuff! (as we’ve done).

I’m a Mormon Mommy! (Blogger)

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Work responsibilities notwithstanding, my relationship to the 21st century is (as some of you will know) a somewhat reluctant one. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, but most of it’s for specific, fairly well-defined purposes. I haven’t done Facebook or Twitter. I’ve slowly been pulled into blogging, but it was only with publication of No Going Back that I acted on my longstanding intentions to create a personal website, and later this blog.

It therefore shouldn’t surprise anyone that it was (once again) my book that pulled me into involvement in yet another blogging venue. A while back, I emailed an acquaintance requesting suggestions on ways to both (a) spread news about my book, and (b) make readers more inclined to read it — particularly Mormon readers, many of whom seem naturally reluctant to pick up a book on a topic this controversial. She suggested that I try guest blogging at some of the wider-circulation sites within the Bloggernacle (as I gather the LDS blog world is sometimes called). A few emails later, and I was lined up to post a couple of guest posts at Mormon Mommy Blogs.


A Consecrated (Artistic) Life

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Mormon thought includes the concept of the law of consecration: that is, that each fully committed Latter-day Saint (i.e., member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as LDS or Mormons) should devote all of his or her time, talents, possessions, and effort to building up the kingdom of God. Early in the LDS Church’s history, there were efforts to live this law on a community basis. Today, the notion of a consecrated life is still at the heart of LDS thought, but Latter-day Saints are expected to figure out what it means on an individual and family basis.