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.