Steve Crandall is a scientist and a physicist and is one of the most intelligent people I know. I am not sure I have ever met someone who so fully embodies and represents the joys of learning and understanding things.

Many years ago, most specifically back in 1992, while living in New Jersey, I had the pleasure of hometeaching him and his wife Sukie. Steve was no longer attending church and Sukie had never been a member of the church. Perhaps I should add that after coming back from my mission, I had re-inherited that particular assignment from my father, who had moved to Utah to take on a new job at BYU. So I had gotten to know this family through accompanying my father on visits (before my mission) and then later (after my mission) when I was hometeaching them myself.

Over time my father had worked out a unique arrangement with the Crandalls – we didn’t offer prayers during our visits and typically did not share any kind of LDS spiritual message. But we would talk about interesting things and just enjoy the conversation. I learned so much from them. They would play music for me, talk to me about their pet ferrets, share books from their library or magazine articles that were of special interest in some way. They had a wonderful marriage and were excellent examples to me of the importance of that kind of love and relationship. Those hometeaching visits I had with them will always be a set of experiences that I will treasure.

I’ll never forget Steve showing me his used set of Oxford English Dictionary editions that he had acquired. He took joy in owning it and being able to look up words and his enthusiasm for this helped me to realize and appreciate the importance of that particular resource.

One time, after a number of visits, I worked up a little bit of courage just to ask Steve about whether or not he had any spiritual beliefs. I’ll never forget his response: “some physics equations are really beautiful.” I could tell he sincerely meant it and for a non-mathematician and non-scientist such as myself, this gave me a glimpse of the importance and wonders of science. In a real way I felt he was bearing me his personal testimony and it meant a lot to me.

Years later I was reading an article in Wired magazine about a practice referred to as jackpodding. I was not paying too much attention to the actual names of people being talked about in the article, but at the time the iPod was a very new and revolutionary device. There was a link to the blog of one of the people being talked about, and again, without knowing the person’s name, I went to that blog and found a way to email him and just thank him, letting him know I thought the article was interesting. I was shocked and surprised when I got an email response saying “say hello to your father for me!” After all those years, I had once again made contact with Steve.  We’ve had some contact ever since and I try to follow his blog for interesting things that he has to share on a wide variety of subjects.

While Steve is not a practicing member of the church, he still has a belief in the concept of the tithe.  In fact, he has developed a unique personal approach to the tithe that I think is very thoughtful and innovative.  Specifically, he believes in the value of tithing his time.  He has told me this before and it has always impressed me as an important concept.  But I didn’t fully appreciate all that it meant to him and what kind of experiences he has had as a result of this practice.  This morning he shared with me a link to a YouTube video where he actually discusses at some length the adventures and learning experiences he has had while tithing his time.  I think it is very worthwhile and as Mormons we might learn something from what he has to say on the subject: