photos

Hiking Badger

From a distance, Badger Mountain looks like a barren pile of dirt crowned with cell phone towers. There are no waterfalls, cliffs, or forests—not even a single tree. Yet there is beauty here, and life in abundance, but you have to let go of your expectations of beauty to really see it. (more…)

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Going Undercover, Saving Sex Slaves

The auditorium of the old Rexburg Tabernacle is packed. Everyone here has come to hear Tim Ballard speak, the man who founded Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit devoted to liberating child sex slaves. O.U.R. jump teams travel to countries like Colombia and Haiti, pose as buyers for sex slaves, and organize big deals with local sex traffickers. At the right moment, local police burst in with weapons drawn, arresting traffickers and O.U.R. team members. The traffickers are taken to jail, the teams are released, and the rescued children are placed in reputable care. It’s as intense as any sting Hollywood could contrive, but this is completely real, dangerous, and far more rewarding. (more…)

The Uncomfortable Solution to World Poverty

For several months, my wife has been trying to get me to read an essay called “The Solution to World Poverty,” which appeared in The New York Times Magazine in 1999. The author, Peter Singer, presents the idea that if we don’t give all our surplus money to help people in need, we are not living an ethical lifestyle.

I put off reading the essay because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. I was nervous to assume responsibility for whatever knowledge it might contain. Finally, I read it at work during a recent lunch break, and I was right. It challenged me in ways that I’m still working through. (more…)

The Kid and the Canal

I’ve heard stories of children drowning in canals. A canal runs past my apartment complex, and it doesn’t seem threatening, yet I’ve heard these man-made streams can be deceptive and treacherous. This one was emptied several months ago with the approach of winter, but during the warmer months it was full of water and life. Green moss billowed on the rocky bottom, ducks dove to catch small fish, and my wife once saw a muskrat scuttle to the water and swim upstream. (more…)

The Tale You Did Not Know You Needed to Know

In early December, the well-known author Brian Doyle did a reading at BYU-Idaho and visited the nonfiction class I was taking at the time. Meeting him and hearing him read his writing aloud was an incredible experience, and I realized that while our personalities and writing styles are different, our goals as writers are much the same. We both see our writing as weapons. We both see stories as food that can nourish the world.  (more…)