Wednesday, February 23, 2011 a Mormon Democrat? Pt 1: "How Wide the Divide?"

How Wide the Divide 
Several years ago, I came across a wonderful book called How Wide the Divide: a Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation by Stephen E. Robinson (the LDS scholar who wrote Believing Christ) and Craig L. Blomberg (an Evangelical scholar). The back cover of this book reads as follows:
Mormons and evangelicals don’t often get along very well. Unfortunately, much of what they say about one another simply isn’t true. False stereo-types on both sides prevent genuine communication.
   Having discovered this sad state of affairs, [the authors] set out to listen to one another and to ferret out the genuine agreements and disagree-ments between them. In the conversation that develops, you will read what each believes about [four] key theological issues.
The book is structured in such a way that each chapter is devoted to a specific theological issue. That issue is treated first by one side and then the other. The chapter ends with a “joint conclusion” in which the two authors point out where there is consensus and agreement and where they must simply agree to disagree. Most helpful is when they discover simple but complete misunderstandings because the two religious cultures often work with a slightly different vocabulary, such as when both sides use the same word but mean two different things. Understanding, not debate, was the goal, as Robinson explains:
It is our hope that with this book we will begin to tell and believe the truth about each other, the issue of who is ultimately right and wrong being set aside for the moment.
What a concept! What a wonderful and straightforward goal: First, seek understanding. Set aside any hopes of persuading the other side for the time being and concentrate on learning about each other. As simple as the idea is, I am sure it was a rough ride for the authors to execute it and to present their discussion in an organized manner. But it resulted in a great book. It was a long awaited step in the right direction.
It was while reading How Wide Divide that I thought about how nice it would be to see a similar book written between a Republican and a Democrat of the same faith.
Well, as you know, such a book now exists. It's called How Can You Possibly be a Mormon and a Democrat? It was first published back in November 2010 straight to Amazon, where it is still available. However, now it is available at LDS bookstores throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Deseret Book.


...Build a Hobbit Hole in your own Backyard?

The Question:
What should I build for the kids in the backyard?  Tree house?  Swing set?  Monkey bars?  Sand box? Or…. a  HOBBIT  HOLE?!!!

How can you possibly...
build a hobbit hole in your own back yard?

The Answer:
First of all, let it be known that this has been done, more than once, actually. What follows is the story of two hobbit holes, constructed independant of each other.

The first was completed in 2006. The designer/builder was Joe Andersen of Chandler, Arizona.
The second was built by a man named Joe Everett (yes, the same first name!). Exterior construction of this northern hobbit hole was finished in 2010 in Mapleton, Utah.

See the following clips of our hobbit hole on local and national television.

Our first appearance on the local news, 3TV:

Our appearance on HGTV:

Our second appearance on the local news happened when 3TV ranked each of the unique homes that they had ran stories on in and around the Phoenix metropolitan area in 2006. No one was more surprised than we were to find out that, not only was our hobbit hole among the top five... it was the number one "hands down" favorite of 2006!

So, how exactly did I manage to build a hobbit hole in my backyard?  Can it be done by anyone? How much time, money and materials did it cost? These questions will be answered later, perhaps in the form of a published book.

For now, here’s a slideshow of the various stages of building this hobbit hole, over a four year (or so) period.

As for the Mapleton Hobbit Hole by Joe Everett, there's plenty of information on Joe's blog: