Mouths of Babes — Does Can Mean Should?

March 1, 2013

O be wise, what can I say more?

- Jacob 6:12

A Mormon boy from an affluent neighborhood in Utah, barely 18 years old, will leave a few days after graduating from high school for the crushing poverty, suffering, and misery of Sierra Leone. This isn’t the plot of an off-color Broadway musical. It’s going to happen in a couple of months to a real person.[1] He’s not going to experience mere culture shock; it will be an entirely different world, a different universe. Nothing in the boy’s lived experience up until this point is going to have prepared him for even the smallest percentage of what he is going to observe landing there. I hope and pray he survives!

There isn’t much difference between an 18 year old boy and a 19 year old boy — both are teenagers still, both usually as green as can be. On paper it’s a wash. Read the rest of this entry »


Like a Trampled Flag on a City Street

August 10, 2011

I enjoyed and was humbled by Aaron R.’s great post today about the London riots. We live in neighboring wards in London’s eastern outer boroughs so we have both experienced the riots first hand, though thankfully my particular neighborhood was not touched, though others in my ward were more affected. His post reminds me once more that he is a better man than I — and he’s a sociologist, so I understand the charitable and analytical place that his post is coming from. I am grateful for his good example! He reflects well on Latter-day Saints with this perspective. Read the rest of this entry »


Pluralism and Persecution in the UK

June 22, 2011

Despite the Telegraph’s deliberately provocative title (“Christians are more militant than Muslims, says Government’s equalities boss”), which doesn’t accurately reflect the content of the article, the Chairman of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission recently raised some interesting points and makes some insightful observations about integration, pluralism and claims of religious persecution in modern society (ht:M*). Read the rest of this entry »


Our Remembrance Sunday

November 15, 2010

The tradition in our ward and in some other wards in the UK is to have a Remembrance Sunday service on the second Sunday in November — the Sunday closest to November 11, or Armistice Day. In doing so, we essentially join with the rest of society in this act of remembering veterans as the rest of the Christian churches in the country uniformly dedicate a service on this day to the memory of those who died serving in past wars and to those currently serving. Part of this tradition in our ward is to move away from the assigned congregational talks that we usually have on a Sunday and stick to a readings-based program planned out in advance to capture the Spirit of the day and convey the purpose of the meeting. Read the rest of this entry »


A Mormon Liturgy for Fourth Advent

December 22, 2009

I recently left a note here about the “liturgy” that our ward routinely does in honor of Remembrance Sunday and which I look forward to every year. We also enjoy a uniquely Mormon liturgy on Fourth Advent to celebrate Christmas properly as one — as a “ward family”. Hopefully the word “liturgy” isn’t misleading here: make no mistake, the meetings still had the rough and tumble of low church Mormon practices (i.e. this wasn’t a ritualized sung Eucharist or anything, just a slightly different readings-based format to Sacrament Meeting channeling the inspiration received by the Bishop in contemplating the Christmas message for the ward). Read the rest of this entry »


A Mormon Liturgy for Remembrance Sunday

November 11, 2009

Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday in November, the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day, which falls on November 11 every year. Each year my ward celebrates Remembrance Sunday with a peculiarly Mormon liturgy that is wonderful to experience. 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 »


Bemused Observations

March 12, 2008

The shoe shiner at my firm today explained to me that Americans really like getting their shoes shined whereas the British don’t have it done. The reason for this, she explained, can be found in British public (i.e. private) schools where only “fags”, as she put it, shine their shoes and then all the other rich boys beat them up.

Americans, by contrast, she explained, love getting their shoes shined because they are “fond of animals” what with all that killing and beef and skins. Also all the horse riding out and about in the free. “We don’t do all that in England.”


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