Introducing Dan Ellsworth

Dan Ellsworth grew up in Southern California (San Marino/Pasadena and Agoura), served a mission in Brazil, then graduated in international studies from BYU. Since his time at BYU, Dan has moved on to places with better architecture, less pole signs, and more University buildings named after women. He has worked for various defense contractors, including a year supporting the offices of reconstruction and contracting in Iraq. While in Iraq, Dan flew out to Spain and married a beautiful woman named Julee from Tennessee, then returned to Baghdad for an additional 8 months of work. His interests are in the study of Arabic, international and domestic politics, culture, cooking, exercise, and mormonism in its more honest and gritty flavors.
Dan commutes back and forth between Washington, DC and Charlottesville, Virginia and will be permanently situated in Charlottesville with his lovely wife in June 2007.

48 Posts
Mormon Bikers Unite! Jun. 2nd, 2008 at 11:07 pm

In response to mfranti’s post at FMH on bike commuting, I have decided to join with her in promoting bike commuting among the fine publications of the bloggernacle.

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The Dilemma of an Obama supporter May. 31st, 2008 at 10:10 pm

I should say from the outset that I like Sen. Obama and will probably be voting for him in the fall. Tonight I watched the press conference where he discussed his separation from Trinity United after video has surfaced of his church welcoming and cheering on a nutty, pandering white preacher named Rev. Michael Pfleger. Read more »

Ambivalence in California May. 21st, 2008 at 1:29 pm

There was a recent post at Times and Seasons about the California gay marriage decision, and like the discussions of Pres. Beck’s “Women Who Know” talk 2 conferences ago, this conversation about gay marriage was lamentable in that it often degenerated into a back-and-forth of Who’s on the Lord’s side, Who?

I would submit that there are several reasons why some of us are not happy with gay marriage and the Church’s approach to it.  Blake and others in the Times and Seasons discussion decry the California Supreme Court’s “creation ex nihilo” of a right to gay marriage, but what is our insistence on monogamous heterosexual marriage, if not a system created “ex nihilo?” Read more »

An invitation for you lawyers Apr. 23rd, 2008 at 2:02 pm

and everyone else, for that matter, to offer your best legal opinions and/or satire.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080423071943AAWAwJY

Behind the scenes at “The Mormons” Apr. 20th, 2008 at 8:11 pm

For those of you who haven’t seen the Northern Lights blog, it’s a blog devoted to faithful LDS first-person perspectives on same-gender attraction. Several of the guys over at Northern Lights have posted on their interactions with the production staff of Helen Whitney’s The Mormons, and there are some interesting items to note there.  The decision to make Trevor Southey the film’s sole example of same-gender attraction in the context of our faith was a head-scratcher for me, since our basic position regarding same-gender attraction is mostly verifiable:

Notwithstanding your present same-gender attractions, you can be happy during this life, lead a morally clean life, perform meaningful service in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with your fellow Saints, and ultimately receive all the blessings of eternal life…
Same-gender inclinations may be very powerful, but through faith in the Atonement you can receive the power to resist all improper conduct, keeping your life free from sin.

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Guest Post from mfranti: On Missionary Motives Mar. 26th, 2008 at 10:01 pm

mfranti is an FMH friend of ours who drops in from time to time, and she asked me to pass this along for comment:

My husband and I rarely talk about the Church. He’s happy to be half Mormon (the other half Lutheran) and he’s willing to accompany me to church on occasion as long as it’s not a powder day; we are there on time and I agree to iron his shirt-In that order, but we just don’t discuss my religion unless it has to do with YW’s, mutual or why I missed Sacrament-again. Read more »

Jeremiah Wright and Brigham Young Mar. 15th, 2008 at 11:21 am

I have chosen to edit this post because I do not want it to be controversial in any way- that is not my intent.  I originally posted in the form of a letter to Sen. Obama, explaining that as Mormons, we have experienced things similar to what Obama is experiencing with his spiritual leader, Jeremiah Wright. Read more »

Introducing Jeff Bennion Feb. 20th, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Hi everyone,

Time to make room for a new voice in the Bloggernacle.  Tagore and I have this friend, Jeff Bennion, who has been one of our favorite intellectual sparring partners over the years.  Actually, sparring partners is not an accurate metaphor, because he runs circles around us on pretty much any issue and has read vast amounts of books by authors we’ve never heard of.  At times, we have even speculated that he’s more than human.  In any case, to paraphrase Trent Lott talking about making legislation with Ted Kennedy, if you want to discuss Gospel or any other issues with Jeff, you better bring your lunch because you’re going to get an education.

Jeff is in Salt Lake City, but through the wonder of the Internet, he is also everywhere at once.

“Time is only unto man”: exhibit A Jan. 19th, 2008 at 3:13 am

I don’t think I ever thought seriously about the sacrament until my mission, when I received a letter from my grandfather. Grandpa had a long history of service in the Church, and so I regarded him as one who could enlighten me on the “mysteries of the kingdom” through our correspondence during my mission, and looked forward to what treasures his letters might hold for my understanding of spiritual things. Read more »

EW’s love songs, and an observation from Provo Jan. 3rd, 2008 at 9:21 am

Entertainment weekly has posted a list of their top 25 love songs ever:

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20047752,00.html

One of my favorite Provo bingo events is listening to hear the inevitable playing of a Howard Jones song on the radio or in a store when I’m shopping. I don’t understand the Howard Jones nostalgia in Provo; he is to Provo what the Bee Gees are to Brazil or what Lionel Richie is to the Middle East, never fading in relevance no matter how far the rest of the world moves on. Read more »

Putting Kolob to rest? Dec. 18th, 2007 at 7:15 pm

Check out this Church response in Fox News’ “21 questions” article:

Q: If so, does the Church believe that God lives on a planet named Kolob?
A: ‘Kolob’ is a term found in ancient records translated by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did not provide a full description or explanation of Kolob nor did he assign the idea particular significance in relation to the Church’s core doctrines. Read more »

Andy Kaufman and Mike Huckabee Dec. 12th, 2007 at 1:12 pm

For those of you unfamiliar with the late Andy Kaufman’s comedy, Kaufman had one of the most unique comedy acts ever seen.  Watching him perform, it was often hard to see the line between which of his antics were part of his act or whether he was honestly out of his mind.  Read more »

Borrowed Light – name that test Nov. 25th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

Heber C. Kimball is quoted as saying the following in 1856:

The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. If you do not have it, how can you stand?

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The Stair-Stepper and the Prophets Nov. 12th, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Consider this a follow-up to Devyn’s fantastic post on The Lottery of Spiritual Experiences.  In that post, Devyn refers to hiking in the mountains as a context for spiritual experiences, which really resonated with me.  I have come to believe over time that a lot of the pride that keeps us from having spiritual experiences is made possible and/or facilitated by brain chemistry. Read more »

Please don’t say the following things about Iraq Oct. 25th, 2007 at 9:50 am

1.  We need to leave Iraq because thousands of innocent people are dying. Read more »

On Mormon Contentment Oct. 14th, 2007 at 4:46 pm

note: the idea for this post came the other night as I was listening to The Who’s Baba O’Riley in the car on the way to the store to buy popsicles for my wife.

This recent article in the NYT (hat tip: T&S sidebar) discusses the research of moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt here at UVA, where he surveys five moral systems that are common to all cultures.

Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) began his research career by probing the emotion of disgust. Testing people’s reactions to situations like that of a hungry family that cooked and ate its pet dog after it had become roadkill, he explored the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding — when people feel strongly that something is wrong but cannot explain why. Read more »

Is it really all about sex? Sep. 18th, 2007 at 5:28 pm

A few years ago, I read Degenerate Moderns, by E. Michael Jones, Catholic theologian and editor of Culture Wars.  The book is, in essence, an elaborate and eloquent ad hominem argument that the modernist thinking of Margaret Mead, John Maynard Keynes, Alfred Kinsey, and other thinkers — as  well as liberals in general — is rooted in sexual guilt.  To quote from the book’s introduction,

The crucical intellectual event occurs…when vices are transmuted into theories, when the “intellectual” sets up shop in rebellion against the moral law and, therefore, in rebellion against the truth.  All the modern “isms” follow as a direct result of this rebellion.  All of them entail rationalization.  All of them can be best understood in light of the moral disorder of their founders, proponents, and adherents.
…modernity was rationalized sexual misbehavior. All the intellectual and cultural breakthroughs of modernity were in some way or other linked to the sexual desires their progenitors knew to be illicit but which they chose nonetheless. Their theories were ultimately rationalizations of the choices they knew to be wrong. Read more »

Doctrine — can less be more? Aug. 12th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

When my parents married, they did a very smart thing; they decided to seek marital counseling often, regardless of how their marriage was going. The counselor they saw and became close friends with over a span of decades was the late Carl Broderick, one of my favorite intellectuals and a man the Church was very blessed to know. In one of his talks, The Uses of Adversity, Dr. Broderick related some terrible and tragic ironies faced by people with whom he had counseled, and he delved into some lessons learned from those experiences. The essence of his message can be found in this passage:

I think we do not understand the nature of ourselves. I think we do not understand who we are. Some people call the temple ordinances the “mysteries” of the kingdom. When I went to the temple, I thought I was going to learn which star was Kolob, where the Ten Tribes were, and other such information. But those aren’t the mysteries of the kingdom; the mysteries of the kingdom are who we are, and who God is, and what our relationship to Him is. Those are the mysteries of the kingdom. You can tell somebody in plain English, but they still don’t know in their hearts who they really are.

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President James E. Faust, 1920-2007 Aug. 10th, 2007 at 6:41 am

This will be a short post;  I must confess that over the years, I don’t think I was drawn to Pres. Faust and his teachings the way I have been to other General Authorities of the Church.  But years ago, he gave a talk with a quote that always endeared me to him: Read more »

Gardening advice from the Church Aug. 5th, 2007 at 8:37 pm

Here is a page in the Church’s FHE manual that discusses container gardening:

Many people who live in apartment buildings or houses with little or no yard space may think they cannot follow the prophet’s counsel to plant a garden. But you can grow quite a bit of food in pots and hanging planters inside your home or on a balcony. This activity will help you get started gardening in containers. Even if your family has plenty of outdoor garden space, you might want to try growing some of your vegetables indoors.

Read more »

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