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Showing posts from 2012

Board's clear! Area's clear!

During the summer of 2009, the teachers and priests in our ward chose to participate in a week-long summer camp at the Boy Scout Claytor Lake Aquatics Base near Radford, Virginia.  Activities at this camp all centered on aquatics activities.  Our young men participated in canoeing and kayaking, waterskiing, large boat sailing, snorkeling, motorboating, and even a pilot program for personal watercraft (jet-skis).  One of our goals for the week was that the experience would provide strong spiritual experiences as well.  In order to accomplish this goal, we started the week by challenging each of the young men to look for spiritual analogies in their activities.

One example came from a class on the large boat sailing.  The youth had learned about a principle called tacking.  They reported that if you just try to sail with the wind to your back, you can only go as fast as the wind and would be at the wind's mercy.  Sailboats, however, are built with a keel which acts like a sail in th…

Decision Making, Science and Moral Values

In the late 1990s, I was an adult leader for a Boy Scout unit (technically a Varsity Scout team) that was sponsored by my ward (the title given to congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormons, coming from the fact that congregations are organized geographically) in Tucson, Arizona.  One weekend in September, as part of Operation On Target, we were hiking up Picacho Peak and I found myself in a conversation with a friend on the topic of evolution.

My friend was trying to downplay evolution, saying that it was "just a theory" and using arguments similar to if not exactly the analogy of the watch formed without a watchmaker.  He was wanting to argue that schools really should be teaching alternatives to evolution.  (I can't remember if we were talking about creationism or intelligent design.) At the time, I was working on my PhD in applied mathematics at The University of Arizona, with an emphasis particularly on the intersection of physics …

Mormon and Undecided

The presidential election of 1992 was the first for which I would have been eligible to vote.  However, I was in the middle of my two-year Mormon mission and I was not registered for absentee voting, nor did I seek it out.  As part of my commitment to this mission, I tried to maintain a complete focus on my service and would not have carefully studied out the issues.  But this did not keep the election from creating a significant impression on my memory.

I was serving in Billings, Montana, and a number of the church members that I interacted with regularly were fervently opposed to Bill Clinton.  They were convinced that a vote for the Democratic candidate were votes for evil.  Some of their arguments were persuasive to me, for the emphasis was on platform issues that would clearly show some conflict with my conservative religious background.  The night of the election, I heard the poll results declare that Clinton would win the election, and I literally felt a sense of forboding for…