For a book that claims not to be about Mormonism, Tara Westover's memoir "Educated" certainly had me worried about Mormonism. While many elements were familiar-- from essential oils to decrying socialism-- I was often left asking, is this the same Mormonism I grew up with?
I am late to the game in discovering the wonderful Eugene England. England is Exhibit A for "to be learned is good if they hearken to the counsels of God" in my book. He stepped on GA's toes, but he was as dedicated to the gospel as they come.
Stormlight Archives has spoiled my taste in fiction in that I now expect a profound engagement of philosophical or moral issues. The Cruel Prince didn't engage the reader at quite that level, and I found the protagonist distasteful as she freely uses others as a means to an end.
I needed some comfort food this week, so I read Truman G. Madsen's "The Prophet Joseph Smith." Growing up, my dad could quote these lectures like scripture. I think this book perhaps most closely captures why the saints loved him so much. But the saying is definitely true: "Catholics say the pope is infallible, but don't really believe it; Mormons say the prophet is fallible, but don't really believe it."
Just as Jim Crow replaced slavery as a means of racial control in America, mass incarceration of people of color has replaced Jim Crow. The really harsh thing isn't the prison time-- it's the label that comes along with it for the rest of your life that bars you from jobs, government programs, and even the right to vote.
Are billionaires like Bill Gates giving their billions to public causes out of the goodness of their hearts? The short answer is, no. They're not. The one who holds the purse strings dictates policy. And educational policy and priorities have largely been dictated by the Gates Foundation, effectively bypassing democratic processes.
The killing of George Floyd was a tragedy. I am grateful that it has sparked meaningful conversations, but at what a cost. Black lives matter. I'm doing what I can to educate myself so I can best help those who are vulnerable. This is my start. Norm Stamper, former police chief of Seattle, has some powerful insights into police reform, including how to combat systemic racism.
Wiker's book claims a lot of ground for the conservative tradition-- he calls on both Chesterton and Lewis, and both Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments, and even Lord of the Rings. But Wiker's vision of conservatism seems very different from the current embodiment of the Republican party. His discussions surrounding self-government, a distributed economy, and cultivation of virtue seem like a call to return to our roots. It is a refreshing reminder that politics shouldn't be entirely defined by what we're against.
What can I possibly have in common with perpetrators of murder and torture? Tavris and Aronson argue, quite a lot. The same patterns you use to justify you yelling at your child or spouse or cheating on a test have been used by governments to justify much worse things-- and still be able to feel like a basically good person. Tavris and Aronson's book really hits hard-- but it's not just a self-help book to become a better person. Self-justification quickly becomes political.