13 things I want my children to know

From a sacrament meeting talk given on Father’s Day.

1. You can support any football you want and retain your father’s favour . . . bar one: Liverpool F.C., a.k.a. the RS.

2. For me, believing in God makes sense of the wonder and sheer weirdness of life. Try to really find out whether you agree with me.

3. This same God knows you, loves you, and has, through Jesus, shown you the way to live. Give it a go.

4. You are free to think for yourself. So are others. Show respect for other faiths and world views provided they are not destructive to human dignity. Give your mother’s Anglicanism special respect. Remember too that science and faith need not be in conflict. Simply believe what is true, whatever its source.

5. Mormonism is generally not as bad as its culture often makes it look.

6. Your ability to reason sets you apart from other animals. Work hard at school, read good books, and enjoy intelligent conversation. The Xbox One is good but not as good as reading The Silmarilllion.

7. You are a biped, built to walk. Compared with other animals your size you may be rather puny but you can out-walk them all. Walk, enjoy nature, and walk some more. Go on long walks. Walk the whole Camino de Santiago with me one day.

8. Be kind to animals, for how we treat those over whom we have power is the measure of a moral human being.

9. Another measure is how we act when there’s nothing in it for us.

10. Learn to love listening to cricket. In a world where our senses are overloaded with noise, listen to a Test series on the radio while gardening.

11. Be tolerant and forgiving. Worry mostly about your own sins.

12. Appreciate your country. You are lucky to live in England. Don’t waste it.

13. Don’t be afraid to come home. Wherever you are and whatever you do, your father’s love is unconditional. Well, almost (see #1).


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Lovely. Did you get any pushback on number 5?

  2. Walk with me. Don’t be afraid to come home.
    Me too.

  3. “You’ll never walk alone, RJ. YNWA.” – Jesus

  4. “5. Mormonism is generally not as bad as its culture often makes it look.”
    This is a very wise thing.

  5. Mind you, the whole thing is great. Thanks RJH.

  6. Mark Brown says:

    Please explain what RS means in connection with Liverpool F.C.

  7. Er, Red . . . Scum.

  8. Really beautiful. Thanks.

  9. Thanks Ronan.

  10. Good stuff.

  11. “Mormonism is generally not as bad as its culture often makes it look.”


  12. This has both Liverpool and LDS connections:

  13. Mark B. says:

    I think numbers 5 and 11 contradict each other. Maybe you should have had a carve-out like you did for the [English equivalent of the New York Yankees].

  14. This is a very nice list, really, but I would like to ask a sincere question: Would you please explain what part of Mormon culture makes the religion itself look bad?

  15. So, so good.

  16. “Would you please explain what part of Mormon culture makes the religion itself look bad?”

    How about the tendency to elide the distinction between contemporary conservative American politics and eternal gospel principles?

  17. Irina, one could make a long list of cultural grievances that make mormonism look bad. From racism, to pyramid schemes, to treating women as children (albeit children on pedestals!), the list goes on and on. But really, the fundamental fault in our culture can be summed up in just one word: Jello.

  18. Kev,
    I skipped that one.

    The kingdom of God knows no boundaries of race or polity but the Woodruff/Smoot accommodation and the reaction to the Red Menace has seen Mormonism wrap itself in the American flag in ways that can be quite alienating.

  19. I think our culture suffers because of our tendency to confuse doctrines of men with the gospel. Or allowing lesser things take us away from working together to build the kingdom.

    The idea that we need to think one way politically is one example. Whether that is manifested in thinking everyone should agree with conservative American political issues or thinking that anyone who does agree with those same issues is harmful to our culture.

  20. APM, cool track.

  21. Scott B. says:

    I’ve a video of RJH singing the unedited definition of “RS” in a full, exuberant, voice filled with explicit joy.

  22. It seems like I have risked something very terrible with my denigration of the RS. I take it all back. It’s Chelsea.

  23. The scriptures are indeed applicable to our day. Even to RJH.

    Luke 15:20: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

  24. Bro. Jones says:

    #10 – I love you. You have captured the essence of cricket.

  25. Angela C says:

    Wow, Camino de Santiago. I want to go there. Also, #5 worlds without end.

  26. Dave K,
    Rather than a list of “cultural grievances that make Mormons looks bad,” I wish there was a greater emphasis on the cultural differences that make Mormons look good. Not all of us were raised to be racist—quite the opposite in my case—and no one ever tried to suck me into a pyramid scheme or treat me like a child, which is not to say that others haven’t experienced any of this. I do appreciate the reference to Jello, however. Of that, I plead guilty! Thank you for the smile.

  27. “and no one ever tried to suck me into a pyramid scheme”

    This is a surprise :)

  28. And your point is. . . ?

  29. How novel, thought-provoking, and refreshing it would be, here in Phoenix, AZ, to hear such things in a sacrament meeting talk!. Ours are nearly always based (meaning: largely read verbatim) from recent GA talks in Conference–or worse, High Council talks beating some basic gospel principle, like a dead horse.

  30. Jason K. says:

    So basically you’re suggesting that Ezra Taft Benson was worried about the wrong “Red Menace” all along?

  31. He-hey!

  32. Jason K, I will concede that ETB would likely support Everton. They do have elephants on their uniforms after all.

  33. Ryan Mullen says:

    Love the list. For me, #1 would be about crunchy peanut butter (heavenly) vs. smooth (only eat as a last resort).

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