A Stranger, A Pilgrim: Liveblogging El Camino

March 30, 2013

[Update Day 1], [Update Day 2], [Update Day 3], [Update Day 4], [Update Day 5], [Update Day 6]

scallop shell symbol8 Yo te haré saber y te enseñaré el camino en que debes andar;
te aconsejaré con mis ojos puestos en ti.

9 No seas como el caballo o como el mulo, que no tienen entendimiento;
cuyos arreos incluyen brida y freno para sujetarlos,
porque si no, no se acercan a ti

10 Muchos son los dolores del impío,
pero al que confía en el SEÑOR, la misericordia lo
rodeará.

11 Alegraos en el SEÑOR y rogocijaos, justos;
dad voces de júbilo, todos los rectos de corazón.

- Salmos 32:8-11

Madrid, March 30, 2013john f.: A motley crew of Mormons walking The Way of St. James might seem strangers on the Camino indeed. This will not be the first time that Jordan and I have raised eyebrows as Mormons in a culturally non-Mormon setting. Nearly fifteen years ago we studied Yiddish together in Vilnius — many of our fellow students young and old, I recall, found it very amusing that a couple of Mormon brothers were among them. Read the rest of this entry »


Our Dead V: Memorial Day at St. Paul’s Cathedral

May 29, 2012

Part IV, Part III, Part II 1/2, Part II, Part I

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England (source: http://www.stpauls.co.uk/Cathedral-History)

St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favorite buildings in the world. I love spending time under its splendid, cavernous dome whenever possible, whether attending a service, listening to an organ or choral concert, or just dropping in sightseeing with out-of-town visitors who are staying with us. I spent time there last month when my parents visited and then again yesterday with my brother Adam and his wife Eve and their children. It turned out to be a moving way to commemorate Memorial Day.

In past years we have been blessed to use Memorial Day as an occasion to visit the resting places or birthplaces of ancestors here in the UK and in the United States. Little did we know that our sightseeing visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral on this Memorial Day would become an opportunity to reflect on the life and death of my grandmother’s brother Glenn Brady who was an American airman stationed in the UK to fly sorties over Europe as a crew member of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” during World War II. Read the rest of this entry »


A Mormon Sermon for Reformation Sunday

November 3, 2010

Delivered in church on October 31, 2010*

By 1528 at the latest Martin Luther had written the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, number 68 in our hymn book, as a homily on Psalm 46. The words to this hymn always turn my thoughts to Luther’s experience in taking refuge in the mighty Wartburg fortress at Eisenach in the German principality of Thuringia in 1521. We can imagine Luther reflecting on his isolation while sequestered in that fortress, in disguise as a knight for his own protection, as he later penned the words. Read the rest of this entry »


A (Secular) Turkish Delight

July 27, 2010

Any general arguments against the safeguards provided to all religions by the maintenance of a secular public sphere should take into account whether it is better to live as a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. Read the rest of this entry »


A Pioneer Day Reflection on Americana at the Salt Lake Tabernacle

July 24, 2009

On July 3 my oldest daughter and I were fortunate enough to attend our Uncle Jim’s organ concert in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. We were in Salt Lake City for a family funeral but the Fourth of July atmosphere and its expression in the organ concert lifted our spirits as we enjoyed a fantastic performance of a variety of celebrations of America in music in what is, for us, a special place. Read the rest of this entry »


Our Dead IV

July 13, 2009

Part III, Part II ½, Part II, Part I.

Handgrip Oulton CemetaryMy great-great-great grandfather Alfred Parker Balls lived the early part of his life in a Dickensian nightmare. We celebrated Memorial Day this year in his old haunts in the Lowestoft area, England’s most easterly point, where he experienced a combination of Great Expectations, Hard Times, and Bleak House during his childhood. Read the rest of this entry »


A Note on Revelation

January 28, 2009

I have always loved the Doctrine & Covenants and am excited for this year’s focus on that book of scripture in Sunday School. Read the rest of this entry »


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