Being a Mormon Entails…

A friend asked the other day "what does being a Mormon mean to you personally?" With some eventual polishing, I was able to share a series of reflections on what concepts, attitudes, and outlooks have characterized my Mormon identity—what ideals and aspirations constitute the bulk of how I try to orient myself to God, those around me, the Church, and my sense of self. Religious identity and practice is as varied and diverse as the human family, but this is a glimpse of what mine has and continues to mean for me.

Repairing the Word, Repairing the World

The other day as I was trying to water one of my hanging plants, a combination of fate and my clumsiness changed the course of my mood in an instant. I accidentally bumped into this handcrafted wood carving of Ayat al-Kursi, a passage from the Holy Qur'an (2:255), sending it plummeting onto the hard floor below....

Religious Landscape of Greater Phoenix 1.1

In what can be considered a personal summer project, I have put together and interactive catalogue of various religious/spiritual sites, communities, and establishments in the Greater Phoenix area. This project reflects my personal interest in studying and understanding the intersection of religion and spirituality across space, location, and community. Though in its early stages, my hope is that this map can help illuminate the character, organization, and history of religious life of the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area within my home state of Arizona.

“Life’s Voyage”— A Poem by Lorena Eugenia Washburn, 1889

My third-great aunt, Lorena Eugenia Washburn, and various other members of her family, participated in plural marriages alongside other Mormon pioneers. Her faith sustained her through many hardships, even as her tradition dealt her various wounds. She captures part of what it was like for her—living through the challenges of frontier life as her and her family sought to evade federal persecution—in the following poem.

Fighting in the Temple

"And he said, "Not Jacob shall your name hence be said, but Israel, for you have striven with God and men, and won out." And Jacob asked and said, "Tell your name, pray." And he said, "Why should you ask my name?" and there he blessed him. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, meaning, "I have seen God face-to-face and I came out alive." —Genesis 32:28-31, Robert Alter Translation

The Mormon Conquest of Death

A poem written on April 2nd, 2022, reflecting on what the recent passing of my father has felt like at times. One could say that Mormonism was born out of one family's encounter with grief.

“Blessed are the Strangers” — An Interfaith Encounter

"There’s something really special about a communal prayer on that scale, standing elbow to elbow with the many hundreds in attendance. Around me were Muslims coming from a variety of international, racial, and cultural backgrounds united by the universal truths contained in their faith. As prayer isn’t always something which comes easily to me, feeling buoyed up and supported by an inspiring community of believers from outside my own tradition helped me to connect with God."

A Glimpse of Zion: A Latter-day Vignette

A Muslim, two Jews, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, a Catholic, a Unitarian Universalist, and a Latter-day Saint walked into a chapel—though they weren’t there to summon a punchline. Instead, this was the time I caught a glimpse of Zion while visiting the United Nations.

“The True Meaning of Sacrifice” — A Poem by Kimball Washburn, 1996

While going through my father's memory box, spanning from his childhood to his mission, I happened upon this poem. I've never known my dad to have written poetry. It perfectly captures the kind of man he was and the role his faith played in his life. His was a "salt of the earth" discipleship through and through. He was never one to devote much energy to theological abstractions. Religion for him was always visiting the fatherless and the widows in their afflictions.

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