Thursday, December 4, 2008

Survey Results! At least partially...

Thanks to everyone who participated in LDS Environmental Survey! The results are available here.

Only the results of the individual questions are currently available, correlated results are not yet available. So for instance, you will be able to see how many survey takers were from Australia, but you won't be able to see how they answered the other questions. In the upcoming weeks (months?) we hope to upload additional analysis, including possible correlations between demographic characteristics and environmental thought.

The data does not represent a random sample. So just because 30% or so of the survey takers are politically moderate, that percentage is meaningless for any other group of people.

There is a wide spectrum of views out there. Just look at the data.

My favorite responses came from the political identity question. One of the respondents claimed to be a "Jedi" politically. Another responder wrote that they do not belong to any political ideology, but rather they take good from wherever they find it. I couldn't agree more.


Finally, thanks again to Bryce and Peter. Their help made the survey possible!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Please take a survey

As you can read in my previous post, I have been working on a survey that aims to learn about LDS attitudes towards the environment. As of 9 am (Eastern Time) the survey was not yet live. But I am told that it will go live today.

Please take a few minutes and participate in the survey.

Here is the link:

If you click on the envelope icon at the bottom of this post you can also invite others to participate.

I'm not allowing comments until after the survey is finished. If you have questions about the survey, e-mail ldssurvey at gmail dot com.

Why not put together a survey?

Last Summer I participated in J Nielson-Seawright's survey Experiences of the Book of Mormon. After taking the survey, I asked myself why not put together a survey to learn about LDS attitudes towards the environment? I answered my question with two good reasons why I shouldn't take on a survey project:

1. I'm lazy. Surveys take a lot of work.
2. As a Mormon/Environment blogger, I have a distinct point of view that limits both my ability and credibility for conducting an unbiased survey.

Not too long after taking the JNS survey, Bryce Hammond published this post on the Millennial Star blog. I summarize Bryce's post in a sentence: The Pixar movie Wall-E is part of a Satan-inspired scheme to trick people into sin by baiting them with calls to save the planet. Before you think harshly of Bryce, read on...

Bryce's post led me to an AHH-HAH moment: I should ask Bryce to team up on the survey! His involvement would solve both of my problems. Bryce could share the workload, and his "opposing" point of view would add balance and credibility to the survey. I sent an email to Bryce, and he agreed to join the project.

Wanting some additional help, I also petitioned the LDS Earth Stewardship group for assistance. Peter Ashcraft, a member of the group, agreed to be the third member of the survey team.

Bryce, Peter and I have been working for the past few months to create what we hope is an unbiased and meaningful survey. My main contribution to the survey was putting the team together. Peter and Bryce provided the brains and brawn behind the project. My next post will give a link survey. Stay tuned.

The survey writing process wasn't always smooth, but it did provide ample learning opportunities. For example, I learned that Bryce Hammond is a nice person who is great to work with. Another important lesson: Different points of view can be a great blessing if they are viewed as such.

Just don't get me started on the Gospel Principals that are affirmed by Wall-E. ;)

Thanks Bryce. Thanks Peter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Resource: Perry Quote

I don't read too much into this quote. But it is post-worthy when an Apostle mentions sustainable energy, if only in passing.

Quote from Let Him Do It with Simplicity, General Conference 10/08, L. Tom Perry:

"We have been hearing a lot about fuel and energy—about their high cost and limited supply, our unsafe and unpredictable dependence on their suppliers, and the need for new and sustainable sources of energy. I leave the discussion of these complicated issues to leaders of government and industry. The fuel I want to discuss is spiritual fuel." (italics added)

He certainly wasn't antagonistic towards sustainable energy. Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Commentary: Time, Postponement, Teaser.

Time flies. Nuf' said. To the kind few who actually read my blog, sorry I've been absent. Moving across the country will do that.

To borrow a phrase from the world of political candidates, I may be "postponing" my involvement in this blog for a little while. My new job is demanding a lot of me. Also, my new job is more fulfilling than my previous one, so I don't have such a need to blog.

Finally, I'm working on a big project that will surely be of interest to anyone reading this blog. The project is the result of lots of work from an super-orthodox Mormon, a super smart Mormon, and a lazy blogging Mormon (me). The project will give you all a chance to be heard!

More later.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Resource: Materialism Quotes from is a website from the LDS Church that provides self-reliance and welfare resources. Among theses resources is a list of quotes dealing with materialism.

Just one of the many quotes:

"Of course, none of us ever has enough. At least that is what we think. No matter our circumstances, we want to improve them. This, too, is good if it is not carried to an extreme. I am satisfied that the Father of us all does not wish His children to walk in poverty. He wants the best for them. He wants them to have comforts and some of the good things of the earth. . . . It is when greed takes over, when we covet that which others have, that our affliction begins. And it can be a very sore and painful affliction."

(Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 252).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Commentary: Praise from the Sierra Club? WWJD?

If you haven’t heard, the Sierra Club has praised the LDS Church for the Church’s role in developing the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City. You can read about the Sierra Club’s praise for City Creek in this Deseret News Article, or in this post at the Green Mormon Architect blog.

GMA has done a great job highlighting these exciting developments. Rather than rehashing what has already been written, I’ll just refer you to GMA’s blog –highly recommended.

After studying the reader comments to the Deseret News article, I am a little shocked at the responses to the Sierra Club. In my shocked state I came up with a few questions:

What is an appropriate response to the Sierra Club’s praise for the Church and the City Creek Center?

What would Jesus do if he were praised by the Sierra Club?

-This is the part where I jump into controversy by suggesting how our Lord would respond.-

I believe that Jesus would humbly acknowledge the praise then continue to quietly watch over His stewardship. Jesus knows that His disciples include those who in good faith love the Sierra Club and those who in good faith loathe the Sierra Club. (His discilpes also include great many, including your's truely, who fall somewhere in between.) Because one’s attitude to the Sierra Club is not a litmus test for discipleship, Jesus would continue to embrace those on all sides of this issue. Just like His Church is doing, Jesus would continue to build buildings that are spiritually, fiscally, and environmentally responsible.

Don’t believe me? Check out this release from the Church’s newsroom. Oh, and be sure to listen to the audio files in the press release. I guess the Mormon Church is "green".

Friday, June 20, 2008

Commentary: EXPENSIVE GAS, what is the cost of convenience?

Today I drove to a nearby town to do a little work. My drive was great. The sun was shining bright, and the grass and trees were green and beautiful. I wasn’t in a big hurry so I just turned on a little talk radio and enjoyed the drive.

The talking heads on the radio were all concerned about the high gas prices. I too like to complain about high gas prices, so I enjoyed the ranting. One of the radio voices suggested a return to the 55 MPH speed limit as a way of conserving gas. Liking the idea of saving gas (money), I slowed down to a more energy efficient speed. It made me feel very much like my grandmother -she always seems to be going a speed very different from everyone else on the road (at least I stayed in the right hand lane).

So there I was, in the right lane, driving slow, and listening to the radio go on-and-on about gas prices. In my mind I was imagining the other drivers on the road were also complaining about gas prices. Then I asked myself the obvious question: If these other drivers are also mad about high gas prices, why don’t they slow down too?

That is when it hit me…

Complaining about the high cost of gas is really just complaining about the high cost of convenience. I want to drive fast, but I don’t want to be burdened by the additional cost of fuel associated with that convenience. I want to a drive big comfortable car, but I get annoyed by the cost of that convenience too.

My rants about the price at the pump are just rants about the cost of the convenient and comfortable lifestyle that I have chosen. I am blessed that rising fuel costs are only an annoyance for me.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

30 years ago...

This is a little off my primary topic, but I want to commemorate a wonderful thing that happened 30 years ago this week. You can read about it in this post, or this document.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Resource: Kimball Quote (A retro localvore!)

President Kimball has so many quotes on subjects germane to my blog that it was difficult to choose one for this post. I chose the quote below because it shows that President Kimball was a pioneer in the now popular "localvore" movement! Mormons are way ahead of the times yet again.

Quote from The Stone Cut Without Hands, General Conference 4/76, Spencer W. Kimball:

"We commend to you the garden fever. If every family had a garden and rural families had a cow and chickens, some fruit trees, and a garden, it is amazing how nearly the family could be fed from their own lot."

And many more quotes from President Kimball to come...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Resource: Luke 12:15

The words of Jesus, Luke 12:15:

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Resource: Hymns (Music and nature show God's glory)

Few things can communicate God's glory and love like music and nature. We find the best of both in the LDS hymnbook. Here are just a few examples:

#33 Our Mountain Home So Dear

The streamlet, flow’r, and sod
Bespeak the works of God;
And all combine,
And all combine,
With most transporting grace,
His handiwork to trace,
Thru nature’s smiling face,
In art divine.

#62 All Creature of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,

#92 For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

What are your favorite hymns (from the LDS hymnbook and beyond) that celebrate God's glory and creation?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Commentary: Gospel, Consumption, and Algebra

If you haven’t seen Saturday’s Warrior, don’t. If you have, you know all about “Zero-Population.” Rather than learning about the Mormon tenet of “multiply and replenish” from a cheesy Mormon musical, how about using algebra?

Let ‘R’ equal average consumption per person.
Let ‘P’ equal the total population.
Let ‘C’ equal total capacity for consumption.

R x P < C

For those who understand numbers better than letters, let's say that we have 50 apples and 10 people. Using a little algebra and little division, we can conclude that each person gets an average of no more than 5 apples:

50 apples / 10 people > 5 apples per person

Taking this equation (or “inequality” to the math guru -but let's just call it an equation) to a global scale, we can multiply the average individual consumption by the total world population to find the total resources consumed. However ‘R x P’ must not be larger than ‘C’, because we cannot surpass the Earth’s capacity to sustain life.

The Restored Gospel teaches us about each term in the equation. We learn about ‘C’ from Doctrine and Covenants 104:17. This scripture teaches that the Earth has enough capacity ‘C’ for everyone:

"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves."

We learn about ‘P’ from (among other places) “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This document says that for now, we (at least the Latter-day Saints) are commanded to multiply and replenish (increase ‘P’):

“We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”

Considering that the Earth’s resources (‘C’) are "enough," but finite, and that population (‘P’) is to continue growing, the equation demands that our rate of consumption (‘R’) be limited. The gospel also demands that we limit our rate of consumption. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, referencing the Doctrine and Covenants 104:17 said this:

“The resources so necessary to sustain human life are so generously provided on this particular planet; unless they are mismanaged, we are told that there is ‘enough and to spare’.”

Using the language of the equation, we can restate Elder Maxwell’s statement in this way: ‘C’ is so generously provided on this planet, that unless ‘R’ is mismanaged, we are told that there is enough and to spare for all of ‘P’.

I am convinced that our current rate of consumption is taking a serious toll on God’s Earth. I pray we can all enjoy God’s creation, but not in excess (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Commentary: Happy Earth Day

Last night my three-year-old son prayed, "thanks for the Earth." I guess he must be learning from his Primary class?

I am also thankful for the Earth. What an amazing blessing.

Happy Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Resource: Monson Quote

Quote from That All May Hear, Ensign Magazine, May 1995, Thomas S. Monson:

"Does the world in which we live stand in need of the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Almost everywhere one looks there appears an erosion not only of the environment but, even more seriously, an erosion of spirituality and of compliance with eternal commandments. One sees a blatant disregard for the precious souls of mankind." (Italics added)

I look forward to following President Monson as we work to counter this "blatant disregard for the precious souls of mankind."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Resource: Kimzey Lecture

IS THERE ENOUGH? The Law of Scarcity vs The Law of Consecration Bruce W. Kimzey

1997 David O. McKay Lecture at BYU Hawaii

Hat tip to GMA for alerting me to this lecture. I don't have any proof, but I suspect that the quality of this lecture may be linked to the fact that Dr. Kimzey was born in Wyoming. On a more serious note, this is one of my all-time favorite readings.

Some excerpts:

"While there is no scriptural guidance to dictate the level at which wants become nonessential, it would seem safe to argue that many, if not most, American LDS church members have reached that level. In place of the desire for more and better material goods and services, a desire for sharing and strengthening others must be substituted. After generations of scarcity indoctrination and the lifestyle it creates, even the most active members may have difficulty reducing their desires for more goods."

"Is there enough? Under modern economic principles there is enough to create growth in rich nations and some growth in poor ones, but the gap between rich and poor will grow over time. Is the best economic system one that creates inequalities in the name of efficiency, and creates output without regard for conservation of resources? Or is there an alternative system which can create both efficiency and equity, where there are no rich and no poor, where cooperation can replace competition, and where workers and owners share the rewards of production?

The law of consecration is actually the only way to ever solve completely the problem of scarcity. A market economy is an efficient way to allocate scarce resources and to produce goods that maximize current satisfaction, but by definition markets cannot solve the problem created by unlimited wants and limited resources. No level of efficiency and economic growth will ever eliminate scarcity, or create equality between rich nations and poor."

Please read the entire lecture. It is excellent.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Resource: Otterson Article

Conscience, Not Religious Dogma, is the Motivator, by Michael Otterson. From On Faith.

An excerpt:

"Statements are on record from virtually every president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints back to the mid-19th century. Many of them are wrapped up in the powerful concept of stewardship - that the Lord has given us dominion over the earth, but that we are occupiers rather than possessors and that we will be held accountable for its use."

Michael Otterson has served as director of media relations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1997.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Commentary: Blog Life Meets Real Life

This post is off topic and without relevance to my stated purpose. I needed a diversion. Enjoy.

My worlds collided last week. A business trip took me to Gainesville, Florida, home to Mellifera of the MFE blog. After finishing the business portion of my trip, I had some extra time and took the opportunity to meet in-person with Mellifera. This was the first time I had ever met in-person with a previously virtual-only acquaintance. The outcome? It was great. Mellifera and Mellifera’s spouse are delightful. They are great company and wonderful tour guides. They showed me the pinnacle of modern American culture, a strip mall with a Wal-Mart and a Target. It was almost unbelievable. Thanks Mellifera.

Apparently, Gainesville is a magnet for Green Mormon Bloggers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Resource: Maxwell Quote II

Quote from A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 103 (as reported by this website), Neal A. Maxwell:

"This restored work not only involves the things of eternity but is also drenched in daily significance. True disciples, for instance, would be consistent environmentalists-caring both about maintaining the spiritual health of a marriage and preserving a rain forest; caring about preserving the nurturing capacity of a family as well as providing a healthy supply of air and water; caring for both the prevention and the treatment of the miseries caused by the diseases of transgression." (Italics added)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Resource: Hinckley Quote II

Quote from I Believe, Ensign Magazine, August 1992, Gordon B. Hinckley:

"I speak of that service which is given without expectation of monetary reward. Most of the troubles of the world come because of human greed. What a therapeutic and wonderful thing it is for a man or woman to set aside all consideration of personal gain and reach out with strength and energy and purpose to help the unfortunate, to improve the community, to clean up the environment and beautify our surroundings. How much greater would be the suffering of the homeless and the hungry in our own communities without the service of hundreds of volunteers who give of their time and substance to assist them." (Italics added)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Commentary: Is being "green" too expensive? I don't buy it. (Pun intended)

I have heard people complain that being "green" is too expensive. I don't buy it, literally.

One can be green and actually save money by applying the environmental catch phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."


Obviously, reducing one's consumption saves money. And, as pointed out by some of my other posts, "reducing" is also a gospel principal. Live within your means. Buy a smaller house. Buy a smaller car (or, don't have a car at all). Buy fewer clothes. Eat less. Take shorter showers. In short, don't buy it!


I'm going to pat myself on the back...I just bought a nice suit at the DI for 15$. Sure, I could afford a new suit, but why? I saved a bunch of money, and I helped Mother Earth. Second hand clothing is not taboo. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something...don't buy it!

You can reuse lots of things besides clothes. My son's tricycle: Second hand. My daughter's crib: Second hand. My spouse's piano: Second hand (but it sure looks brand-new).


Depending on where you live, and what you recycle, you may actually earn money by recycling. One of my co-worker's children gather paper from our office for recycling. A local company pays them for the paper. I think they are saving the money for a swing-set.

True, you don't get paid to recycle many (most?) materials. Some places may even charge for collecting recyclables. However, on the whole, recycling is generally cheap-to-free.

Other earth-friendly ideas that can save you money

Plant a garden (a post for another day)
Eat-in (I'm failing at this)
Use cloth bags for groceries (you may get strange looks in Idaho -ignore them)
Use public transportation (Washington State Ferries are among the best!)
Turn off your TV (save electricity and your brain...but Lost is OK, right?)
Buy long-lasting quality goods (rather than cheap disposable junk)
Give hugs instead of thoughtless gifts (Valentine's Day?)
Read the Ensign online (I still need to cancel my subscription)

Final thoughts and a couple questions

You don't have to buy expensive "earth-friendly" products to be green. Nor do you have to drive a Prius, install solar panels, or plant trees -All of which I applaud. In short, being green doesn't have to cost money, and often times it can save you money.

As a recent convert to the green movement, I confess that I am only beginning to apply the "3-R's". This post is as much for me as anyone. What ideas do you have that can help me be green and save me money? What is a better way of saying "go green"? So much of the environmental lexicon is becoming cliche.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Commentary: Mormon Environmental Ethic Explained for a General Audience (I hope)

My editor (spouse) is yet to review this post. Proceed with caution.

I started Latter-Day Sustainability with the intention that this blog would be a place where my fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA Mormon Church, AKA LDS Church) could come to learn about our theology as it pertains to sustainability, consumption, and the environment. Another intention was to gently persuade Mormons to live a little “greener.” These intentions haven’t changed. I just offer this as an explanation why my posts have been geared towards a Mormon only audience.

Earlier this week Latter-Day Sustainability reached a much broader audience after being featured by Andrew Sullivan and other bloggers (Grist, Evaneco, Rumromanismrebellion). Perhaps this new attention is because of my engaging and eloquent writing style? A more likely reason for the attention is the apparent novelty of a Mormon environmentalist. Whatever the reason, I assume that this broader audience includes at least some people who are unfamiliar with Mormon theology. I have observed that many people’s understanding of Mormons is based on outrageous claims and stories (some of which are probably true). If you will indulge me, I’d like to use this post to branch out and explain a portion of the Mormon environmental ethic to those with only a limited knowledge of Mormon theology and practice. Before diving in, I have a few of disclaimers:
1. I am not an official spokesperson for the LDS Church.
2. I am only an amateur theologian.
3. I am only an amateur environmentalist, and a mediocre one at that.
4. This is a huge topic for a single post.

Enough bla-bla-bla, let’s dive in. A twelve-word explanation of the Mormon environmental ethic: God made the earth and we are commanded to care for it.

And here is a much longer explanation:

To the best of my knowledge, the LDS Church has not issued an official statement that explicitly and directly addresses the environment. Still, one can glimpse the Church’s environmental stance by gleaning from its canon of scripture and secondary texts. The scriptural gleanings teach why we should be good environmental stewards, but they do not specify how. The secondary texts, especially recent articles in the Church’s magazines, do however give some commentary on the “hows” of environmental stewardship. You can find links to many of these articles on the Green Mormon Architect Blog.

Generally speaking, the absence of a direct and official statement by the LDS Church should not be taken as an endorsement or a rejection, of particular environmental positions. I speculate that the lack of an official statement could be in part because of the political nature of many environmental issues. The LDS Church doesn’t often weigh-in on political issues because of a commitment to political neutrality. On a side, I have always taken this neutrality to mean that heaven is big enough for Republicans and Democrats. Maybe Mitt Romney and Harry Reid will be heaven’s ultimate odd couple?

To some, environmental stewardship may be considered beyond the traditional religious scope of saving souls. However, the Mormon environmental ethic has roots in our theology of salvation. Our theology directly links care for the soul with care for the body. An 18th century Mormon leader said it this way:

"There is no distinction between spiritual salvation—of course, with some qualifications—and temporal salvation. Our bodies are as dear in the sight of God as our spirits. Our spirits cannot be separated from our bodies to have us perfect. The body and the spirit are the soul of man—not the spirit alone, not the body alone, but the body and the spirit. And God gives revelations for the temporal salvation of His children—that is, for the salvation of their bodies—and they are as important in their place as His revelations concerning their spirits" (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth [1987], 518).

By extension, care of the body must include care of the environment. Perhaps the most direct statement on the environment comes from The Doctrine and Covenants (one of the books in the LDS canon of scripture):

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion." Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20

Simply put, Mormon theology teaches that God created the earth to house and bless humankind, and that the earth’s resources are to be used wisely and not exploited. Our mandate to use resources wisely is amplified by the link between spiritual and temporal salvation. Thus, the Mormon environmental ethic has a strong theological base. However, the Church chooses to let the members decide how to best act on this ethic.

Another face of the Mormon environmental ethic is our bent against conspicuous consumption and materialism. From the Bible (yes, the Bible is also part the LDS canon of scripture) we read:

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10

From yet another of our books of scripture, the Book of Mormon, we read:

“But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”
Jacob 2: 18-19

In addition to addressing the appropriate use of money, Mormon texts also encourage thrift and modest consumption. From our late President, Gordon B. Hinckley:

“I deplore waste. I deplore extravagance. I value thrift." (Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work, General Conference 4/90)

To Mormons, materialism causes people to “[err] from the faith and [be] pierced with many sorrows.” In other words, happiness and spiritual enlightenment follow a freedom from materialism. Reducing environmental strain happens to be an implicit benefit of rejecting conspicuous consumption.

It would be a stretch to say that the LDS Church totally embraces the agenda of the stereotyped environmentalist movement. Still, Mormon theology does have a strong environmental ethic. The trick is getting Mormons –and others- to act on our environmental ethic. Encouragement to action is the intention of Latter-Day Sustainability.

I could go on and on…and I’m sure I will in future posts.

For those familiar with Mormon theology, please comment on the accuracy and tone of this post. And for those who are new to Mormon thought, please tell me if lost you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Commentary: Thank you Mr. Andrew Sullivan

Welcome to those coming over from The Atlantic. Thank you to Mr. Andrew Sullivan for the shout-out.

For those unfamiliar with LDS teachings on the environment, this essay by George B. Handley (a BYU professor) is a good place to start.

The LDS (Mormon) church has sad news to report today, the passing of our President, Gordon B. Hinckley. You can read about that here.

Welcome to my blog. I hope your learn something new.

Resource: Hinckley Quote

I also want to reverence the beloved Prophet and man of God, Gordon B. Hinckley. Thank you for a life of Christian service, love, and teaching.

Quote from Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work, General Conference 4/90, Gordon B. Hinckley.

"I deplore waste. I deplore extravagance. I value thrift."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Resource: Mormon Enviro-Bloggers

A couple of other "green" LDS blogs popped up just before I started Latter-Day Sustainability:

GREEN MORMON ARCHITECT. The name says it all. Lots of great information on buildings, church buildings, and green buildings. Also, check out GMA's extensive list LDS-Environmental themed articles, books, and web articles.

An excerpt from a GMA post:

"The LDS Conference Center may be, in a show-me-not-tell-me kind of way, the best statement received to date on the current Church position towards sustainability. When it comes down to the most sacred of Mormon spaces, Temple Square in Salt Lake City, the LDS Church is willing to send a significant statement to the world."

WHERE THERE IS NO VISION, THE PEOPLE PERISH. AKA "Mormons for the environment." This blog covers the medical and agricultural corners of the green-Mormon niche. Fun to read. Can anyone think of a nice three letter acronym for this blog? TPP? MFE?

An excerpt from an MFE post:

"So… what? I have a few simple suggestions for reducing one’s hospital footprint. Happily, they also tend to be wallet-friendly since there’s a relatively direct correlation between Embodied Energy and Bills in the medical world.

-Stay at a nice happy weight.
-Eat right.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Resource: 1 Nephi 11:25

I learned this in Sunday School yesterday.

God uses water and a tree as representations of His love.

1 Nephi 11:25

...which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Commentary: My Adgenda

If you are anything like me, then you approach the so-called bloggernacle with an ounce of suspicion. When I visit a new blog or read a new post, I quickly try to determine if it is “virtuous, lovely and of good report.” Although I admit to sometimes reading posts that aren't lovely, but merely interesting or amusing. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised by the many intelligent and uplifting writings that are being posted. In fact, I am a little jealous of the writing and academic talents on display in the bloggernacle.

The agenda of Latter-Day Sustainability.

In hopes of mitigating suspicion, I will use this post to freely share my agenda for Latter-Day Sustainability.

Latter-Day Sustainability has one goal: To encourage good stewardship of God’s Creation.

I hope to achieve this goal in the following ways:

1. By providing a resource where interested parties can learn what church leaders, church members, and especially the Scriptures have to say about consumption, sustainability and environmental topics.
2. By providing a forum where consumption, sustainability and environmental topics can be discussed from an LDS perspective.

To very loosely paraphrase Joseph Smith, “I [am compiling a list of links to help people learn] correct principles, and [am hoping that they will] govern themselves [sustainably].”

What Latter-Day Sustainability is not.

Obviously I don’t speak for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Nor do I speak for any other organization, group, or specific cause.

This blog is not about pushing environmental politics and green guilt-trips. I am trying to avoid controversial issues that tend to polarize and divide, though I may end up writing about specific issues on occasion (time will tell). Be sure to point out if ever I stray.

Why sustainability?

This is the short answer (in Mormon speak): Because I have a testimony of our responsibility as stewards of God’s Creation.

Elder Oaks gave a great talk entitled Good, Better, Best. Some might put sustainability into the “good” category. I confess that when compared to the things of eternity, temporal issues like sustainability may not fall in the category of “best” or even “better.” However, I would point out that Earth is spiritual as well as temporal (Moses 3:5), and that the Lord saw fit to dedicate small portions of the Scriptures for instruction on environmental stewardship issues. Thus, I am content to hope that Latter-Day Sustainability will fill a small, if only “good” niche.

Just for fun, what other small–but-“good” niches haven’t been filled in the bloggernacle? Any Mormon Mariners fans out there?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Resource: ASU, Sustainability Defined

It occurs to me that the term "sustainability" may to new to many people. For many Latter-Day Saints, the term might bring to mind the process of raising your hand in sacrament meeting to support someone receiving a new calling. However, for purposes of this blog, sustainability means something very different than raising your hand in church meetings.

The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University has a web page with definitions for "sustainability".

Here is just one of the definitions from the ASU web page:

"A sustainable society considers the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, and social systems; reconciles the planet's environmental needs with development needs over the long term; and avoids irreversible commitments that constrain future generations."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Commentary: A great start. A great question.

I am thrilled to have found other Latter-Day Saints who share my interest in sustainability. Thanks to all who have commented and visited my blog! Lets keep things going...

A great (large) question: How can we go from "preaching to the choir" to changing attitudes, practice, and convention? Maybe too large a question for a month-old blog, but I'm shooting for the stars. A quote to consider:

"Once people begin to acquire and enjoy and take for granted and waste surplus resources and space as a routine part of their lives, and to view them as a sign of God's favor, then it takes a genius to make a career -let alone create a culture- on the basis of agreeing to limits."
-William Appleman Williams

Any geniuses out there?

By the way, Latter-Day Prophets have made observations similar to William Appleman Williams.

Resource: White Article

I believe that this article is considered one of the classic texts in combined study of environment/religion.

The Historic Root of Our Ecological Crisis
by Lynn White Jr.

An excerpt:

"What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecologic crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink our old one."

The article is quoted in the Moffat Lecture at BYUH.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Commentary: Why are some Saints down on the environment?

I have observed that some Latter-Day Saints are antagonistic toward environmental sensibility. I say “environmental sensibility” rather than “environmentalism” because the latter only encompasses a portion of the antagonism that I’ve observed. I can’t call this antagonism a trend because I don’t have any data other than what I have observed in my little corner of the Mormon world. Trend or not, I am troubled and intrigued by what I’ve observed. Hence, I created this blog to explore what the Gospel says about the environment, as well as the related topics of sustainability and consumption.

Why are some Mormons (and others too, I suppose) down on environmental sensibility? I’m sure there are more reasons, but I propose this antagonism comes from any or all of the following:

Economic Position. Some find environmental protection and policy to be at odds with their economic interests. Here in Idaho, water policy has many interested parties including agribusiness, hydroelectric, and wildlife. I can imagine that it is hard for farmers to be concerned with salmon when their field of potatoes is in need of water.

Political Persuasion. Some find environmental protection and policy to be at odds with their political beliefs. For example, regulating auto fuel-economy may go against one’s belief in a hands-off government.

Radical Kickback. Almost every cause has over-zealous supporters. Environmental protection is no different. Perhaps some of the antagonism is a reaction to radical behavior.

Doctrinal Position. Parts of the agenda pushed by some environmentalists are clearly at odds with the Gospel. For example, “multiply and replenish” is in opposition with population control.

Doctrinal Side Effect. Some doctrines are interpreted to be in opposition with environmental sensibility. I have heard some Mormons (and some Evangelicals) who apply the doctrine of Christ’s second coming in such a way that environmental sustainability is not needed…“We don’t need to worry about the environment because Jesus will return to save us before the resources run out.”

Oblivion. Amidst their families, callings, and work, many Saints are oblivious to the environment. In their oblivion these Saints aren’t antagonistic, but I list this condition because it seems to be the most common attitude that I encounter.

My Position

I find myself in the unique (or is it?) position of being both a Latter-day Saint and a budding environmentalist. In full discloser, I’m not particularly upstanding in either role. That said, I am trying, and I believe that these roles are not exclusive of each other. Quite the opposite, I find that my faith and my growing environmental/sustainability ethic are in harmony. So much so, that I have chosen “Latter-Day Sustainablist” as my on-line moniker.

What about the antagonism displayed by some Saints towards environmental sensibility? I chalk most of it up to “throwing-out the baby with the bathwater.” However, disagreement with some environmental policy -or with some environmentalists- does not mean one should reject all environmental sensibility. The resources referenced by my other posts are full of reasons why Latter-Day Saints should be good environmental stewards. And although I haven’t found many specifics in the Gospel about this stewardship (nothing specific about recycling in the Book of Mormon, for example), I hope to explore this topic in future posts.

I can’t end this post without saying that I find it extremely myopic to hold the position that environmental sustainability is useless because Christ will return before the resources run out. But I’ll save that soliloquy for another post.


What attitudes (be nice) do the Saints in your part of the world have towards the environment?

What are other reasons why some Saints have antagonistic attitudes?

Where am I right? Where am I wrong? Lay it on me.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Resource: Helaman 3: 5-11

Resource consumption and non-sustainable forestry in the Book of Mormon.

Helaman 3: 5-11

Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land....

Resource: Beck Quote

Quote from Mothers Who Know, General Conference 10/07, Julie B. Beck.

"Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying."

Resource: Kawasaki Comic

Matt and Mandy Comic, Friend Magazine 8/07, Shauna Mooney Kawasaki.

An excerpt:

Mandy: Heavenly Father gave us a beautiful world. We’re just trying to help keep it that way.

Boy: Oh, right, the two of you are going to save the earth all by yourselves!

Mandy: Two not enough? Join us, and we’ll be three.

Resource: Burton Article

More or Less, New Era Magazine 11/07, H. David Burton.

An excerpt:

For some, the pursuit to acquire more of this world’s goods and services has become a passion. For others, more of this world’s wealth is necessary just to sustain life or raise living standards to a minimum level. The unbridled desire for more often has tragic consequences.

This article is from a General Conference address.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Resource: Moffat Lecture

Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono: A Global Paradigm. Riley M. Moffatt
1996 David O. McKay Lecture at BYU Hawaii

An excerpt:

Our Father in Heaven created a world for his spirit children to come to that they may prove themselves through their obedience. He saw to it that this Earth had "enough and to spare" for His children to use if they were wise stewards. We have demonstrated that we are quite capable of fouling our nest and rendering places virtually uninhabitable if we act unwisely. Our challenge in these latter days when there are ever growing populations and pressures on limited natural resources is to learn how to plan and act wisely that we may truly preserve the life of the land in righteousness as Kauikeaouli hoped.

Resource: Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20

Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benifit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion."

Resource: Doctrine and Covenants 104:17

"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves."

See also Maxwell quote

Resource: Maxwell Quote

"The resources so necessary to sustain human life are so generously provided on this particular planet; unless they are mismanaged, we are told that there is "enough and to spare" (D&C 104:17). " Italics added.

Neal A. Maxwell. Talk, Our Creator's Cosmos. CES Forum. 2002

This quote is a side-note in a talk addressing the immensity of God.