A couple of things about me:
- I’m fascinated by stories…not the kind we tell children before bed: the kind we live out…and take for granted – and forget that they’re even Stories at all. From romance to sexuality to mental health to spirituality, most of my writing focuses on surfacing these “narratives” or “interpretive frameworks” for public (conscious) examination.
- My twin passions (besides Ultimate Frisbee, black licorice, eggnog + my four boys) are dialogue and mindfulness. I’ve given my heart and big chunk of my life to help people understand across divides. But I’m not sure it’s something society cares much about these days.
But for me, at least, it’s been personally transformative and professionally thrilling. It’s impacted who I am today.
In one sense, I’m a hippie Mormon, with an herbologist, essential-oil loving wife, dreams of building a straw-bale home one day and possessing a sure witness and testimony that Monsanto, et al. are the True Bad Guys we’re up against. My best friends are flaming liberals – Arthur, Phil, Elaine. These relationships and my experience studying depression narratives (and the clear imprints of Pharma marketing that show up throughout) has led me to say in the past, “Almost thou persuades me to be a liberal.”
But I never converted! So in another sense, I very much remain a solid conservative. That means I don’t claim to be a neutral arbiter. I write from a particular standpoint that I acknowledge. For instance, my beloved grandpa used to tell me, “Jacob, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the solution to all the world’s problems.”
I believed him. And I still do.
That influences so much of what I do, and I’m not embarrassed to say it. I believe the prophesies of the ancient poet that anticipate a day when all will see “the glory“, “the arm” and “the salvation” of God (as King Benjamin similarly anticipated).
In the meanwhile, we have plenty to talk about!…not as enemies in a culture war, but as complex, well-intentioned and (generally) good-hearted people.
My dream for many years was to teach at BYU – what I consider the greatest university in the world. But on the verge of getting close to that dream, I felt a strong prompting to stay in the non-profit world and withdrew my application. My work has focused on three primary areas: (1) factors that differentiate between short-term copying and long-term, lasting, sustainable healing from depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions (2) the role of online classes in helping introduce people to mindfulness-oriented education and (3) practical implications of contrasting narratives for mental and emotional distress.
I do dream of getting back to the academy one day – a place of constant exploration and curiosity that I relish. Till then, I’ve paused my peer-reviewed articles at 15 – with a focus on creating content that helps facilitate and encourage dialogue – and in some cases, confronting hegemonic narratives that make dialogue largely impossible.