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.
The Church history department didn't disappoint with Saints Vol II. I will say, this one will be harder to talk about around the dinner table (I already sparked one family fight) A gripping tale with complex characters, moral ambiguity, and great pacing.
Brought back memories of filling out the Preach My Gospel Christlike attributes assessment and reaching the humility section. If I rank myself highly, I'm like the guy who says "I am the humblest person I know." But-- if I give myself all zeros, then I'm just doing it to prove I'm humble!
What I would give to have a Sunday School lesson taught by Lowell Bennion. Bennion refers to the OT as "the least known and least understood of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints", and this is his attempt to help address that. My favorite part: the prophets' insistence on justice for the marginalized: "relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."