Thursday, May 21, 2015

Five Questions for William Morris about Dark Watch and Other Mormon-American Stories



by Scott Hales:

William Morris is one of today’s great advocates for Mormon literature. Aside from founding and frequently contributing to the blog A Motley Vision, William is also a creative writer whose fiction addresses Mormon and non-Mormon subjects with depth, insight, and imagination. Recently, William published his first collection of Mormon stories, Dark Watch and Other Mormon-American Stories.


Here are William’s answers to five questions I had about the book…

Tell us about Dark Watch and Other Mormon-American Stories. What's the genesis of the project? How long have you been working on this collection?

A little over two years ago, I realized that I had enough stories that had been published in Mormon journals plus others that I had completed or would soon complete to make a collection of my Mormon-themed short fiction. At the time I had focused my writing more on (not-Mormon-themed) science fiction and fantasy, and this felt like a good project to serve as a coda to my work in the MoLit field. Wrap up in a neat package, put a bow on it and move on. I was interested enough in the idea to come up with a cover concept for it and then it sat for awhile until I finally convinced two family members who have professional-level editing experience to copyedit and from there it was simply a matter of creating the ebook files and setting up the accounts for Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc.

And, as it turned out, in the process of putting the collection together, I found myself re-engaging with the issues and imagery and experiences that had caused me to write the stories in the first place, and so as much as I enjoy writing science fiction and fantasy aimed at the mainstream market and will continue to explore that part of my creative life, I'm actually not yet done with Mormon literature. I now look at it less as the end of my engagement with the field and more like the beginning of a new phase.

It's interesting that you call your stories "Mormon-American." What does that term—or label—mean to you and your fiction?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Building Better Youth Discussions, Mini-Classes, Workshops, Etc.



by Shawn Tucker:


In my calling in the Stake Young Men program, it seems like we are constantly trying to come up with ideas for mini-classes or workshops. Youth conferences typically have some sort of instructional time, class, or workshop, and many other stake activities also have them. This is in addition to firesides and Bishop’s youth discussions. Below is a list of principles I’ve developed that seem to make these successful. These principles are followed by a list of possible class or workshops topics. If you have more, please add them in the comments.

Principles:
  • Youth generally prefer workshops and engaging activities to lectures. Of course a talented presenter can be excellent, but, taking a page from TED talks, I believe that no presentation should last more than 18 minutes.

  • Youth generally appreciate genuinely open-ended workshops and discussion. Presenters or workshop directors with knowledge, skill, and confidence sufficient to make a workshop genuinely open-ended and truly engaging are often the most successful. Presentations which only have the appearance of being open-ended but which have leading, “fishing,” or manipulative questions should be avoided.

  • Youth generally listen to other youth much more attentively than to adults. Panels that feature other youth or younger people, like recently returned missionaries or young single adults, can be very effective. Youth also seem to appreciate a variety of speakers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Giveaway: Enslaved to Saved eBooks



Long-time MMM contributor Reid just finished writing a reaaaally long blog post. His new book, Enslaved to Saved: The Metaphor of Christ As Our Master, examines the cultural and political background of slavery during the time of Christ and what it means for our modern-day commitment to the Lord. More on the book below, but first ... Reid and publisher Cedar Fort are offering two readers free eBook copies of Enslaved to Saved. Giveaway details below.

Giveaway Guidelines:
• Leave a comment on this post.
• Seven days to enter (closes Tuesday, May 19th at midnight).
• Winners announced Wednesday, May 20th.
• Winners must provide their email addresses in order to receive the eBook.

Enslaved to Saved: The Metaphor of Christ As Our Master

Members of the LDS Church are people that identify strongly with the idea of being servants of the Lord. Yet, where the King James Version of the Bible reads ‘servant of Jesus Christ’ the original Greek in which the New Testament was written invariably reads ‘slave of Jesus Christ’. Although latter-day saints believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly, most fail to understand the servant/slave translational nuance. This may limit understanding of the original message of these important passages. The saints in the first-century Mediterranean world truly considered themselves slaves of Christ. We as latter-day saints have much to learn from this perspective.

This book reviews the New Testament message that men are transformed from being slaves of sin, to slaves of Christ as they are redeemed by His atonement. It illustrates how frequently the New Testament equates conversion to the gospel to becoming a slave of Christ. It chronicles the many instances in which the early apostles and gospel narrators referred to themselves in this way. It also reviews the extensive Hebraic tradition, which held that man was the slave of God, and numerous instances where theme of slavery is found in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Anciently slavery was a condition that was worse than death, and associated with utter hopelessness and loss of control. Yet enslavement to Christ was paradoxically esteemed to be an essential element of conversion that brought joy, freedom and eternal life. By illustrating this metaphor from the context in which the New Testament was originally written, my book helps the reader gain a new perspective about Jesus Christ. This perspective strives to improve the reader’s relationship with their Redeemer, and inspire them to more completely surrender their will to His.

Enslaved to Saved can be found at LDS bookstores and the usual online booksellers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Romney Vs Holyfield Charity Fight




As you may have already heard, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney is set to take on five-time heavy weight boxing champ Evander Holyfield in the ring on May 15th. Event proceeds will benefit Charity Vision, a non-profit with the goal of eliminating curable blindness by providing treatment to those who would otherwise be unable to access care.

While Paige Lavender first covered the news in her Huff Post article breaking news of the main event, what you may not already know is that this fight comes complete with an official weigh-in featuring the contenders. The official weigh-in will be held at XCEL Fitness in Holladay, UT on May 14, the night before the main event. As with the main event, proceeds from tickets purchased for the weigh-in will benefit Charity Vision and its efforts to eliminate curable blindness around the world.


The weigh-in event will feature all Fight Night fighters as they complete their physical exams and weigh-in for the big fight the following evening. The Weigh-in roster includes Evander Holyfield and Mitt Romney, as well as fighters Wes Capper, Steve Rolls, Leon Spinks III, and Jose Haro. Evander Holyfield is also scheduled to take the mic to share stories from his career as well as his views regarding the importance of maintaining physical fitness and giving back to the community.

If you’ll be in the SLC area that week, you can purchase tickets online for the weigh-in event. Each $25 General Admission ticket gives the gift of sight to someone with curable blindness. The weigh-in event will take place from 6:00PM to 8:00PM at the local training facility.

The main Fight Night event will be held at the Rail Events Center in Downtown Salt Lake City the following night, May 15, at 6:30PM, and Weigh-in attendees will have the chance to win a pair of tickets to attend the sold-out black-tie gala featuring the headliners as well as preliminary fights between Freddy Spielberg and Gary Cobia, Jordan Smith and Christian Nava, Wesley Capper and Kent On Sippio-Cook, and Leon Spinks III and Rashad Ganaway.

Following the MayPac madness, join in the fun to be at one of the most buzzed about fights this year while helping an amazing cause!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dear Editor: Hairstyles Too Extreme



by Eliana:

I have very little memorabilia from my years at BYU. I don't think I ever owned a piece of clothing or anything stamped with a logo. I had a lot of pens from their fabulous selection in the bookstore, but those are long gone.

What I do have is this very special letter to the editor, circa 1998, from The Daily Universe. The letter was written about me, by a stranger. I feel pretty special, even all these years later. Oh how I don't miss the self-righteousness of the Cougars, though it seems to be alive and well from the stories I still hear about leggings, skinny jeans, and the testing center.


Do you have any classy 1990's memorabilia? Kolob Kitsch can probably help if you are feeling nostalgic for EFY cds and such.

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Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best. Twitter: Eliana0Eliana. Website: elianaosborn.com.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tools for Dealing with Pornography Struggles (Specifically After a Mission)



by Anonymous:


Someone I know recently returned from a mission. He loved being a missionary and found great joy and satisfaction in doing the Lord’s work. He also experienced no or nearly no struggles with pornography. This was remarkable in part because it had been a struggle before his mission. Now that he’s home, he’s glad for how much he has learned and grown and glad to “have that behind him.” Sort of. What he has found, instead, is that getting home from a mission for many young people means, unfortunately, a return to previous struggles. This is devastating for some, since they believed that this difficulty would never plague them again. Here are some tips that might help a young person—male or female—who finds that this struggle is not in the past.

1. Find some sort of peace with this struggle

It is painful to feel like, no, that struggle is not in the past, especially after all you have done, learned, and experienced. I’m sorry, but having that struggle is just there, and it may not go away any time soon. Finding peace with that struggle does not mean liking it. It means not feeling guilty that you have it. Perhaps talking with Heavenly Father as openly and honestly as you can about it will help you see its role and place in your life. Perhaps making peace with it is realizing that it is a struggle that will call forth your courage, diligence, patience, and compassion. Perhaps it is resistance or weight that will help you develop strength.

2. Don’t use the devil’s tools to do the Lord’s work

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Taming of the Modern Mormon Man (Full Post)



by Russ Peterson:

Note: This is the full installment of this week's multi-part post. Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 hereherehere and here.


I first stumbled across the MMM website only recently. As an inherently visual creature, I was immediately struck by the graphic of the man holding the baby bottle. I saw someone who—although tired of trying to calm his fussy little one—was nevertheless glad for the opportunity to escape the mundane and collect his thoughts while allowing his child the freedom to wander semi-supervised in the church foyer. I reflected on the internal dialog I’d entertained many times in similar settings. I saw myself.

To me the image represented the resignation I’d felt when my life was on autopilot. I had the nice home, the decent marriage, and the steady job—albeit the kind that slowly robs a man of his pride, confidence, and independence. It was when life couldn’t have been any better that I sometimes wondered if it could get any worse.

I had been tamed.1

In retrospect it had happened so gradually I hadn’t even been aware it had happened at all. Childhood had set the stage perfectly. My parents had a high conflict relationship, and their arguments frequently centered on church activity and attendance. My father was LDS but not active, and I grew up swayed to my mother’s view that his “unrighteousness” was the cause of all the problems at home. Hence I determined at an early age to remain active in the Church and to avoid conflict at all costs. Anger was not an option.

My perspective on anger was heavily reinforced through years of church activity. I learned to equate anger with sin. Anger was associated with all sorts of evil: unrighteous dominion, the spirit of contention, and a host of other ills imputed to the “natural man.” Furthermore, I understood that the “natural man is an enemy to God,” and that his base impulses had to be put off, overcome, and subjugated to the governance of the spirit. Consider for example this counsel given during the priesthood session of the October 2009 General Conference:
“I ask, is it possible to feel the Spirit of our Heavenly Father when we are angry? I know of no instance where such would be the case.

***

To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible.”
I wish to tread lightly here. In context, this speaker was talking about the many instances where anger gives rise to abuse, oppression, and other unrighteousness. Unfortunately we know that such is often the case, even among the men of the Church to whom this leader was speaking. This vast problem needs to be identified and corrected, and this leader was forthrightly doing so.

But I always struggle when anger is equated with sin, because I can’t reconcile that view with the scriptures. I can’t imagine Jesus in a pleasant mood when He took a whip and drove the moneychangers from the temple. He was angry, and He used His anger to accomplish a righteous purpose. The same was true when Jesus was known as Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. He was frequently angry with individuals and nations—sometimes so much so that He destroyed them. The “wrath of God” (scriptural phrase) is kindled when His children disobey Him. This is God we’re talking about—the being in whose image we are made and on whom we are to pattern our lives.

War on Masculinity

Whence cometh, then, the war on anger? I’d like to examine this in context of a larger cultural war on men and masculinity. With the rise of feminism has come a much needed recognition of oppression and abuse of power; usually this has involved men wielding anger as a primary instrument whereby they have accomplished their designs. We all know the saying: “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Further, we are instructed doctrinally that:
“…it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion” (D&C 121:39).
Men (who have traditionally been in positions of power) have so often failed to exercise that power with restraint and to the benefit of humanity that in Western society we have become largely suspicious of men exercising power of any kind. Anger—so often a tool of oppression—has become particularly vilified by association. Thus in Western society especially, men aren’t supposed to be angry; we are supposed to be tame.

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