Friday, April 17, 2015

Church Ball Chat

by Seattle Jon:

Yet another church ball season came to an end for me last night in the regional tournament, but not before I had this pre-game skype session with two of the other players. Enjoy.

[2:20:59 PM] Luke Warmer: what time do we show up?
[2:21:13 PM] Dave: there should be some warm up time by about 845
[2:21:29 PM] Dave: Bring compression sleeves
[2:21:32 PM] Dave: Knee braces
[2:21:35 PM] Dave: Headbands
[2:21:43 PM] Dave: Chewing gum
[2:21:56 PM] Luke Warmer: ... the usual
[2:22:08 PM] Dave: Small sun visors worn reversies
[2:22:25 PM] Dave: and bring a good whistle too
[2:22:30 PM] Dave: For warm ups/
[2:23:14 PM] Dave: Snap away warm up pants
[2:24:15 PM] Dave: A small spray water bottle for combing your hair back if it gets too disheveled
[2:24:41 PM] Luke Warmer: with switch-blade comb
[2:24:56 PM] Dave: Bring the gym bag that fits 7 regulation basketballs in it
[2:25:21 PM] Dave: And any extra ankle braces you have lying around. We'll need all of them.
[2:25:29 PM] Seattle Jon: reebok pumps
[2:25:39 PM] Dave: Wrist bands. Extra thick.
[2:25:52 PM] Dave: Neck warmer, lip balm
[2:25:55 PM] Luke Warmer: oxygen tanks
[2:25:55 PM] Seattle Jon: a small towel for wiping the floor of sweat
[2:26:03 PM] Dave: yes bring extra
[2:26:11 PM] Seattle Jon: one of those foam fingers
[2:26:17 PM] Seattle Jon: actually two, for the bench guys
[2:26:28 PM] Seattle Jon: an extra scoreboard battery
[2:26:40 PM] Dave: Bring the clipboard that has erasable marker for drawing up the play coming out of time out
[2:26:47 PM] Seattle Jon: I have one dave
[2:26:50 PM] Seattle Jon: I'm coach
[2:27:01 PM] Dave: We'll need an extra because you might snap it in half
[2:27:05 PM] Seattle Jon: good call
[2:27:37 PM] Dave: Bring 3 water bottles. One with water, one with gatorade
[2:27:43 PM] Seattle Jon: the other one for urine
[2:28:17 PM] Dave: Bring one of those dog training clickers for Bob
[2:28:26 PM] Dave: He responds well to that
[2:28:58 PM] Seattle Jon: bring an extra backboard in case you shatter one
[2:29:01 PM] Dave: You might have to write this down. It's a good list.

Consider it written down, Dave.

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Seattle Jon is a family man, little league coach, urban farmer and businessman living in Seattle. He currently gets up early with the markets to trade bonds for a living. In his spare time he enjoys movies, thrifting and is an avid reader. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Japan Fukuoka mission field. He has one wife, four 
kids, a cat and four chickens.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

MMM turns four years old today. Yay!

Image credit: JD Hancock (used with permission)

Freetown Movie: More Reviews

MMM NoteFreetown could be playing in a theater near you - if so check it out!

by Pete Codella:

Freetown delivers a miraculous missionary story with cinematography and music that transport you to Africa. If you enjoy faith-based movies, you’ll enjoy Freetown. I found the story remarkable, watching as the group of six missionaries make their way in a small sedan, driven by a local church member on unpredictable dirt roads, through several rebel-held check-points, across Liberia to Freetown, Sierra Leone. A mix of quick thinking and divine protection help them escape danger and safely make their way to the mission president’s home amid a civil war. Much of the story takes place as they travel in the car, making the film seem a bit claustrophobic, even though wide-angled countryside shots give you a good sense of the beautiful African landscape. I felt like some of the acting could have been stronger, and my nine year-old son asked a couple of times for a translation of what was being said due to the strong African English accents. Still, the film is well-made and the message of good Christian living is certainly worth two hours.

by Pete Busche:

The film Freetown tackled intense subject matter and relayed important messages about faith, doubt, and race. It's encouraging to see filmmakers seek to create or recreate authentic Mormon stories, of which Freetown was a great example. The story in this case was an important history, probably wholly unfamiliar to the audience who will see the film (American Mormons?). The acting was certainly amateur and leaves one wanting for more believe-ability at times. However, it is felt far more genuine to have African actors in a believable setting (hopefully gone are the "Testament" days of "dark-skinned" people being played by white actors with too much tanning-oil) which felt overall more "real" than the run-of-the-mill Mollywood film.

The film presented the theme of cognitive dissonance as relating to the tribal violence in Liberia, as well as within the LDS Church's history. With the recent surge of membership in Africa, the Church's Priesthood ban for African descendants will have to be addressed. One of the missionaries in the film provided this explanation: we all make mistakes; even prophets and institutions, and all have need of Christ's Atonement: God rejoices in our repentance, regardless of who we are or what we did in the past.

As one who listens to more soundtracks than movies, I was disappointed in Robert Elliot's work in this film. I enjoy his style: he fits in with the major prolific contemporaries like Hans Zimmer, Alexander Desplat etc. and worked wonders with creating the anxious, unsettling mood in The Saratov Approach. Freetown required a much different tempo, style, and mood-based on the subject matter. Elliot relied in similar musical patterns (even used redundant chord progressions from The Saratov Approach), and didn't quite make the necessary change I would've hoped for.

by Theric Jepson:

I expected to be more thrilled than moved by Freetown. In fact, I was more moved than thrilled. The thriller aspects of the film are competent but not extraordinary. What is extraordinary is the sense of hope and joy the film imparts in balance to the despair and danger. And make no mistake: even though we expect the miracles the missionaries promise and all bloodletting is done offscreen, the reality of the violence and death and finality that was Liberia's civil war is utterly plain. One of the smart choices of the script is making the protagonist someone other than a missionary. Henry Adofo who plays Philip Abubakar is a powerful lead. He teeters between being a nobody and a hero---or, in other words, he's fully human and accepting of that. Something about being twenty and wearing a black tag that Broadway doesn't understand is the attendant joy of being nothing, and how being nothing leads to complete reliance on God and the ability to see all things as possible. Abubakar doesn't have the luxury of a black tag to render him nothing. Sure, death is no more real to him than it is for the missionaries, but he feels the weight of death differently, being the only adult in the car (which may be why, in the end, it will be his faith that's necessary if they are to survive). The film presents language intelligently, as we should expect when the words are penned by AML Award-winning playwright Melissa Leilani Larson. The film's score by Robert Allen Elliott is likewise suitable and intelligent. The problem is that these two strengths can bump into each other. Sometimes, what Freetown really needs, is some more faith in silence. That said, I think the best way to enjoy the film is to take a crowd to the theater. If it makes it to the East Bay, I plan to invite a lot of people. This is a movie that should be experienced communally.

by Scott Hales:

The story FREETOWN tells is compelling. While it is based on true events, I admit that I have no clue where it takes liberties with history. Were the missionaries really hunted by a vengeful rebel? Did the ending really happen the way it's portrayed in the film? I don't know and I don't think it matters. Freetown is a story that could happen. The characters are realistically drawn and the situations they find themselves in--including the miracles they encounter along the way--seem wholly plausible. It's an excellent follow-up to The Saratov Approach.

by Carrie Stroud:

I watched Freetown with my husband and 13 year old daughter. I would say that this film could be watched by those ages 10 and up, simply because it was a violent situation and although not gory, could trouble a younger child with so many guns. Although I hesitate to write this aspect, my family had a very hard time understanding the accent and in retrospect I think subtitles would have been helpful. It made it difficult to feel emotion when we were struggling so hard to understand each sentence. I felt like the character development was definitely lacking. The story itself is very powerful and it would have been nice to understand more background into their lives. With that said, my family agrees that the overall acting was well done and we felt great empathy for each person and situation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Freetown Movie: A Review

by Melissa Condie:

MMM NoteFreetown could be playing in a theater near you - if so check it out!

Freetown was successful in that it took me on a journey.

When it comes to movie-watching, I am not known for being able to stomach a lot when it come to violence or suspense. I can get pretty hyped up when characters are in danger.

As I started watching Freetown, my insides were all sorts of tangled and edgy. I had a pretty constant sense of "What-Is-Going-to-Happen?" at every turn. "Oh-My-Goodness!" and "Are-They-Going-To-Die?" also stormed my thoughts.

But, as the movie progressed, my mind started to settle, which, though I first attributed the feeling to poor pacing, I realized it was how I was supposed to feel. With each act of faith the movie portrays, with each act of courage, with each instance of coincidence, with each mark of divine protection, I realized that the sense of fear and alarm I had felt at the beginning of the movie was dissipating because the makers of the movie had intended to dissipate those gnarly feelings.

Sure, there were a few weak moments. In the scene where a missionary and a father are trying to gather food, I was sort of confused by what happened to all of the items they had gathered, and the seemingly random demise of the father. It was confusing. Truth. But the confusion added hype to the moment, I guess.

The hellbent, vengeance-filled enemy did not seem as evil as he could have been; the missionary sympathizer only seemed brave when his life was not in ultimate peril. BUT, you absolutely fall in love with the "good guys." The man who drives the elders around. The rebels who do not really have a heart in it, and are only looking for beer. The women at church wearing the cutest dresses I have ever seen in my life. [I want one.] The adorable, smiling, happy, affable Mormon missionaries.

And, when you remember and realize that these characters are all real people, portraying a real story, it makes you love them that much more.

I mostly enjoyed the background music, especially the tracks with African voices, also the music that propelled the action in running scenes, but there were some parts, especially in quieter scenes, where I felt, "Yeah, this music is totally going to date this movie." [Sort of like when you watch a movie blazing with synthesizers, knowing that it has the 1980s written all over it.]

But, I loved how the movie tackled issues that are oh-so very important. It is good to bring awareness to civil war. It is good to point out that hatred only breeds hatred. It is good to say that you can move past "cognitive dissonance." You cannot change the past, you can only change the future. You can learn to forgive and move on. Stuff like that. Love it.

Kudos to the persons who decided to bring this story to light, instead of letting it remain forgotten or unknown to the LDS masses.

The overall theme I took from the movie is that, even when a gun is held to your head, you can still feel peace and trust in the Father of us all. Even when you do not know what is coming next, you do not have to worry, because the Lord will provide. And this theme is worth sharing over the cinema. Bravo, Three Coin Productions, bravo.

I have walked away from this movie with an honest-to-goodness strengthening of my personal faith.

"It just doesn't make sense to doubt anymore."

I can repeat those words in recognition of events in my own life, and I hope all that watch this movie can leave the theater and proceed in such faith.

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Melissa Condie is a middle school orchestra teacher in Houston, Texas. She loves jalapeño chips, passion fruit smoothies, MS Paint, and the smell of desert rain. She also has a blog: Tacky Galoshes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Slowing Growth in Membership

by John English:

In Elder Quentin L. Cook 's talk "The Lord Is My Light," he spoke of the strength we can receive from the Christ-centered unity of our wards and branches. He also included this statement: "Some have asserted that more members are leaving the Church today and that there is more doubt and unbelief than in the past. This is simply not true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger."

I normally love looking at the stats of the church, but I found this statement a little curious considering the numbers that we have. Going strictly off of the statistics reported by the church, 2014 is the first year the church didn't see at least 2% growth since 1947. The church's membership as December 31, 2014, is 15,372,337, which is a 1.92% increase from last year. Any growth is good, but why the slow-down, especially with such an increase in full-time missionaries?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Responding to Non-Mormons about Women and the Priesthood

by Shawn Tucker:

About two years ago or so the missionaries came to our home to talk with two of my university students. It was a great experience all around, with the students asking questions and the missionaries generally doing an excellent job. It was also great for my children to see missionaries in action. Toward the end the missionaries mentioned modern prophets, and the students asked about them. The elders showed the typical pictures from The Ensign. The students, both female, asked why there were not any women, to which the elders responded that women are not ordained to the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the two twentysomething, female college students asked the two, twentysomething, male elders why, one of the elders said that since women are better nurturers and can bear children, men are given the priesthood. This was met with considerable skepticism on the part of the young women. Oh, and I wanted to grab the elder’s words out of the air and stuff them in his sock.

Another Approach

Since that evening, I have thought a lot about what I might say to non-LDS friends about why women are not ordained to the priesthood. What follows are ideas I have learned/stolen from others, and if I could find their original sources I would give them credit. The approach includes three elements.

Don't Use Gender Roles

The first element of what seems like a wise approach is to not use gender roles or stereotypes as an explanation. Saying that women are one way while men are another, even if those roles are in the Proclamation, is not going to sit well with many non-Mormons. Many people would find this line of thinking sexist. In addition, I think there are two more problems with it. The first problem is that talking about gender roles are not our specialty or expertise. Few of us are sociologist, anthropologist, social historians, or people who have spent the years of study necessary to talk with confidence about issues like gender roles. In this respect I don't think the Proclamation gives us enough foundation or expertise to support that approach. But the second problem for me is that I'm not sure the Holy Ghost will testify, will carry to the hearts of non-Mormons, the idea that women are not ordained because of gender roles. Perhaps that is just my experience, but this does not seem like something that the Holy Ghost will powerfully testify to others.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Introducing Kolob Kitsch!

by Scott Heffernan:

I'm excited to announce a new website I've been working on—Kolob Kitsch! Celebrating the weird and the wonderful of Mormon culture, humor, and arts. I created Kolob Kitsch as an outlet to share the oddly charming and overlooked treasures of Mormondom. I’m a lifelong and faithful member of the LDS church, but also have a bit of a twisted sense of humor.

Kitsch refers to items that are considered to be distasteful, garish, or overly sentimental, but are appreciated in an ironic or knowing way. I’ve always had a fascination with Mormon and religious kitsch, and plenty will be featured here. Many of the themes on the site will go beyond the scope of kitsch, but I chose that word because I like the tone it sets.

Mormon life is endlessly beautiful, inspiring, peculiar, and absurd. Kolob Kitsch is irreverent, but good-natured. I hope you enjoy this collection of paraphernalia I’ll be creating and curating.

Other MMM Posts

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