Friday, April 29, 2011

Elizabeth and Me

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

So...I met the Queen of England.

I’m the handsome young fellow on the left, holding the large camera lens. In honor of the Royal Wedding I thought I would let you know. I served a mission in England. We heard the Queen was coming to the area (Worcester) and decided to go see if we could catch a glimpse. Little did we know she would walk right up to us and begin a meaningful conversation. It follows:

Her Majesty: Where are you from, then?
Me: America.
Her Majesty: Are you here studying or something?
Me: No, we’re Mormon missionaries.
Her Majesty: Oh, jolly good.

We also gave her a bouquet of flowers that contained a church flyer (the family proc). You can see it tucked in with the orange flowers. When she walked away reporters rushed up to us to get the story. Despite clearly telling them we were missionaries from the U.S., the caption in the newspaper the next day read, “Local photographers visit with the Queen.” Damn the liberal media. Another cool thing is that a copy of this photograph resides in the church’s Granite Mountain Records Vault up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Don’t I now seem like a super interesting person that you would like to get to know?

I think it’s safe to say Elizabeth II and I hit it off. I found her charming and attractive. Not Helen Mirren attractive, but still quite beautiful. She likely found me polite, yet familiar. I know missionaries are supposed to stay focused on the work. And I know finding your bride on your mission is discouraged. But I have to wonder, had we met under different circumstances, had I been born a few generations earlier, maybe, just maybe, I could have been her Kate Middleton. So although I don't plan on staying up late to watch the ceremonies tonight, I will always remember fondly my brief brush with Royalty.

Congratulations to the happy couple.

Kids Who Lie

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Most days, we allow our kids thirty minutes each on the computer to do as they please. The other day, our ten year-old daughter told me that our nine year-old boy was back on the computer after having already spent his allotment. When confronted, he said he was "just checking my email." After reminding him that he never checks his email, he sheepishly admitted to have been playing games. The result? One week technology detox (computer, iProducts) for the additional computer time and another week for the lie.

I almost shortened the technology sentence when later that evening he came to me and said, "Dad, I'm really sorry about lying. I don't know what I was thinking. My brain must have been the size of a walnut." [Did he mean peanut?] I wonder how many of you out there have nutty kids who lie like mine do.

Learning to Lie (New York Magazine): here
Image via

Cotton Candy Woman and Pride

by Saint Mark (bio)

As I entered the bus the other day, an obnoxious, ugly woman blocked my way. She sat next to a cart full of groceries which obstructed the isle. I dodged her cart and got a closer look at this woman: she had unwashed hair the color of rotten oranges and soot. She was obese. She was missing teeth and the ones she did still have were misshapen and popped-out of her mouth like a pop-up book when she talked. She liked to talk so that everyone in the bus could hear how she loved cotton candy. I had earphones on and I could still clearly understand each syllable which plunked off her teeth on their way out of her mouth and to my ears. As you guessed, I sat away from this woman, near the back of the bus.

At the next stop, a man in a wheelchair entered and needed the area where the aforementioned woman sat. She moved herself and her cart to the seat right in front of mine. Her odor of the sweaty outdoors and dust wafted into my nostrils as I continued to listen to General Conference on my iPod. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was speaking. His talk just happened to be on the topic of pride.

When the "hard to look at" woman (as the Japanese say) sat down, she asked the man across the isle if he liked cotton candy or had ever used the cotton candy body spray. In my mind, a thought popped in that I should respond to this woman's question and start a conversation with her. However, I volleyed the thought out of mind like a ping pong ball just as soon as it registered. I found this woman very unappealing and did not have a desire to interact with her.

Yet, as I silently compared myself to this woman and rejected her, the words of President Uchtdorf washed over my mind: "At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with 'Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,' it always seems to end with 'Therefore, I am better than you.'. . . This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being 'chosen,' 'superior,' or 'more righteous' than others. This is the sin of 'Thank God I am more special than you.'" Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Pride and the Priesthood," Ensign, Novermber 2010.


by teguc1999 (bio)

I don't consider myself a man of extremes or one wont to obsessive behavior (my children would probably think me saying that is pretty funny). On the other hand, I have noticed something about me that seems to be getting worse as I get older. I am addicted to office supplies.

I googled "names for obsessions" and got some pretty interesting lists. I know I don't have chinamania (desire to collect china) or epomania (craze for writing epics). My wife would agree that choreomania (excessive desire to dance) is not one of my weaknesses - especially polkamania. I have had episodes of opsomania (or in my case, opsochocolatamania - a desire for one type of food to the exclusion of all others) and technomania (I do like to indulge in the newest tech craze). But never rising to the level of an obsession.

But I do have this crazy thing about wandering the aisles at Staples or Office Depot and just smelling the piles of copy paper and the leather briefcases. Then there is the pen aisle. I cannot walk out of an office supply store without some new pens. Today it was the Foray Rollerballs (Medium 0.7mm) - one black and one red. Did I need some new pens? No, but those pens were whispering to me - BUY ME, BUY ME. And they were on an end cap. Those retailing devils. I have drawers of pens that will dry out long before their use. I even sold several hundred last year at our garage sale - for $.25 each. Not a very good investment.

I could not find a name for my sickness. I think I will call it Sharpimania. That certainly makes it sound more positive. And for you that are shaking your heads at this very moment, I am not alone. Just read the "Stationery Fetishist's Manifesto" and ask yourself - how many post-it notes should be in your emergency supplies?

The Responsible Man-ager

by Bitner (bio)
A guest lecturer at class this week brought in a great article from Harvard Business Review that I have been thinking about. It's called The Responsible Manager.

Here is the core part of the column -- an 11-point list (and please forgive the professor's misuse of 'unchartered', he only teaches at Harvard):
  • Understand the importance of nonconformity. Leadership is about change, hope, and the future. Leaders have to venture into unchartered territory, so they must be able to handle intellectual solitude and ambiguity.
  • Display a commitment to learning and developing yourself. Leaders must invest in themselves. If you aren’t educated, you can’t help the uneducated; if you are sick, you can’t minister to the sick; if you are poor, you can’t help the poor.
  • Develop the ability to put personal performance in perspective. Over a long career, you will experience both success and failure. Humility in success and courage in failure are hallmarks of a good leader.
  • Be ready to invest in developing other people. Be unstinting in helping your colleagues realize their full potential.
  • Learn to relate to those who are less fortunate. Good leaders are inclusive, even though that isn’t easy. Most societies have dealt with differences by avoiding or eliminating them; few assimilate those who aren’t like them.
  • Be concerned about due process. People seek fairness-not favors. They want to be heard. They often don’t even mind if decisions don’t go their way as long as the process is fair and transparent.
  • Realize the importance of loyalty to organization, profession, community, society, and, above all, family. Most of our achievements would be impossible without our families’ support.
  • Assume responsibility for outcomes as well as for the processes and people you work with. How you achieve results will shape the kind of person you become.
  • Remember that you are part of a very privileged few. That’s your strength, but it’s also a cross you carry. Balance achievement with compassion and learning with understanding.
  • Expect to be judged by what you do and how well you do it – not by what you say you want to do. However, the bias toward action must be balanced by empathy and caring for other people.
  • Be conscious of the part you play. Be concerned about the problems of the poor and disabled, accept human weaknesses, laugh at yourself – and avoid the temptation to play God. Leadership is about self-awareness, recognizing your failings, and developing modesty, humility, and humanity.

In class and most of the day, I was looking at the article through the lens of the manager, but if we were to apply this strictly to the modern mormon man, does it translate?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Am I Just a Bunch of Synapses?

by MAB (bio)

I think I'm just a bunch of interconnected neurons. The essence of who I am, seems to me, to be nothing more than that.

I don't know what to make of the commonly held belief that we are made of body and spirit that together form a soul. It doesn't make sense to me for a few reasons. Take sleep for instance. If I have a spirit that forms the essence of who I am, makes decisions and so forth, then what happens to it when my body sleeps? Personally, I think my brain goes through the various sleep cycles, I dream, etc. But rarely do I remember what happens while I sleep because of course I am unaware or semiconscious. It would seem that if I had a spirit it would not need to sleep and would continue to be aware even though my body slept. I know there are a lot of very smart people researching how our brains manage all the sensory data, make decisions and so forth to create an overall stream of conscious. That research, like a lot of brain research seems to be in its infancy so maybe things will make more sense as new information becomes available.

Another reason I am baffled by the body + spirit = soul concept is because the essence of who we are seems to be tenuous. I think our personalities can change in drastic, permanent and nearly instantaneous ways that shouldn't, to my way of thinking, apply to immaterial spirits. Obviously, we mature as we age so that's one form of change. As we mature we probably make wiser decisions. Drugs can also change a personality. Steroids are an easy target here with their common side effects such as aggression. Do steroids make a spirit more aggressive? If so how do drugs (material) impact the spirit (immaterial)? Could it be that our spirits are filtered through imperfect bodies and come out distorted? That seems less likely to me for some reason. I think psychoactive drugs change body chemistry and the way a brain works. To my way of logic that's the reason someone behaves differently. A brain is behaving differently, not a spirit. Drastic and nearly instantaneous changes in a personality can happen after injury to certain portions of the brain. Another sad example is Alzheimer's disease, where victims exhibit personality change as the disease takes hold of their brains.

To me the idea of a soul is perhaps incorrect, incomplete, or maybe just oversimplified. But there is a good chance I don't understand the idea of a soul very well. I certainly don't understand precisely how a brain works.

Dear Testimony Meeting

by Eric Devericks (bio)

Dear Testimony Meeting,

You are a sweet, sweet spirit, but I must admit that I have a hard time loving you. Maybe it’s because you’ve long had a rash that, with the help of your doctor has finally cleared up, or perhaps you’ve “drank a lot of beer”, or “slept with a lot of women.” And let’s not forget that time you, “had an affair with the young women’s your heart.” (all actual testimonies) In general sweetie, there are things about your life, many things, that, to be honest, I just don’t want to know.

If it were just your lack of candor and propensity to disclose inappropriate content, I could stay in my seat and we could still be friends. Truth be told, my dear sweet Testimony Meeting, it is your delivery that has me frequenting the bathroom or hanging out in the lobby desperately trying to avoid you. It’s the way you get all choked up, unable to speak. It’s those long dramatic pauses and like a cheese grater to my brain you make that clicking sound with your mouth as you try to carry on. That clicking sound pierces my very soul, snuffs out the burning in my bosom and drives me to that dark place, slouched forward, head in hands and staring at the floor.

Please Testimony, please change your ways. I want to stay with you for the children. I want to stay with you for obedience and for the hope I hang on to that one day you will share something with me that makes it all worth it.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The #9 Giveaway: Update

We're man/men enough to say it - we've learned our lesson. No more giveaways requiring anything more than simply leaving a comment. The sole entry, sent in by Chris from Gilbert, Arizona, wins him a copy of Christ's Ideals for Living, a wonderful book commissioned by President David O. McKay and written by O.C. Tanner.

We won't be posting the picture, but for your information Chris was negligent to the point of being obscene, putting a newborn dress on his two year-old daughter as a t-shirt. Let's just say there was quite a bit of tummy showing.

Guest Post: Unfolding the Heavens

A close friend of MAB's, David is multilingual, writes music and is a math and chess fanatic. He also writes dense papers related to the gospel. We were lucky enough to be invited to read his latest paper, titled "Unfolding the Heavens." If you want to read the rest of the paper after reading the first two excerpted paragraphs below, email us and we'll put you in touch with the author.

"Spanning the chasm between God and man has been the underlying design of theologians throughout history. We desire association with the divine - we push toward ascension to see the unknown. We crave to pull back the veil and peer into Heavenly Father’s realm and see reality from His glorified perspective. Although an understanding of Heavenly Father’s nature and the expanse of his domain may not be directly relevant to our ability to learn and follow the Gospel’s teachings, I do believe that catching a glimpse of His relationship to us may inspire confidence in His omniscience and build our trust and hope in Him and His Plan.

I believe that Heavenly Father, as the architect of our tangible universe, has a perception of His creation that allows Him to communicate with us according to His will. I propose a conceptual model that, although not entirely unique, helps explain God’s glorified perspective and physical relationship with this world as described throughout LDS scripture. The model is based in dimensional geometry."

Tricky Dick

by Saint Mark (bio)

In order to teach our children, I have created placemats that deal with various subjects such as anatomy (the skeletal and organ systems), astronomy, numerals in various languages, the Plan of Salvation, the Book of Mormon timeline, etc.

One night, my sons and I reviewed the Presidents of the United States placemat during dinner and I taught my sons about Richard Nixon. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "His nickname was Tricky Dick."

Four year-old: "Why was he called Tricky Dick?"

Six year-old: "Because he was tricky and he was a dick."

'Nuff said.

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma

by Luke Warmer (bio)

Here's a video Spike Jonze posted of Lil Buck dancing (backwards?) to Yo-Yo Ma at a fundraiser for bringing art back to schools. It was only a matter of time before the world's foremost cellist went hip-hop. The street-cred is built-in with a name like Yo-Yo Ma.

Lovely and bizarre.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Name's Ken. But My Friends Call Me Robert.

by Ken Craig (bio)

So, it’s 9:00 p.m., and I’m in the Express Lane at our friendly neighborhood Albertsons. (Albertsons' Motto: If we can’t win you over with our high prices, we’ll make ourselves so stinking convenient, you’d have to be a real weenie to drive by us on your way to another grocer.) I wasn’t planning to be out, so I’m dressed quite casually. Quite casually. Very, extremely casually. To be honest, if I were dressed any less, I’d be in the shower.

I have my 10 Items or Less on the conveyer belt, and I’m waiting my turn, when I hear voices and glance over my shoulder to see who’s behind me. Lo and behold, it’s Brother Dustin Hoffman* and his little daughter. (* name has been changed.) Brother Hoffman is in the bishopric of a neighboring ward in our stake, and I’ve known him, more as an acquaintance than anything, really, for about three years. My wife and I spoke at a fireside in his ward a couple of years back, and afterwards he invited us to go to dinner with him and his wife sometime. (P.S. We never went.) And since I’ve been in our bishopric, I’ve seen him at various and sundry meetings where we’ve chatted casually from time to time; so, while I wouldn’t call us “friends,” I’d say we are definitely “friendly.”

But not tonight.

First, I’m very self conscious because I’m dressed like I’ve wandered from my bed to the bathroom, and second, well, Brother Hoffman has caught me – ME, a bishop – engaged in the reading of an intriguing article out of the cheap and tawdry publication known as People.

Newsflash: Jesus Trapped Under A Rock

by Seattle Jon (bio)

This is the first in what should be a long-running series out of my family. Why long-running? Because kids never stop saying funny things.

Charlie: What was your primary lesson on today?

Ten Year-Old: How the wise man built his house upon the rock.

Charlie: Who is the rock?

Ten Year-Old: Jesus.

Four Year-Old: If you build your house on Jesus, he'll be trapped!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Deeper Connections

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I've been trying to create deeper connections with my kids, especially my ten year-old daughter, as often as possible lately. Now that she's starting to use email more frequently, I enjoy dropping her short emails. Here is one I sent a few days ago....her response melted my heart. What do you do to create deeper connections with your kids?

Me: I haven't been home as much lately, but I wanted you to know I feel like you are really stepping it up at home and I appreciate it. You are growing up too quick...stay my little girl forever?


Addendum: How Did Good Become Evil and Evil Become Good?

by Saint Mark (bio)

Because it seems that my original post has struck a (polarizing?) chord and it was suggested in the comments that I make my reply the body of a post, I decided to post this addendum to my original post, “How Did Good Become Evil and Evil Become Good?” Having to attempt to limit a complex discussion to a self-imposed word limit for the sake of brevity and readability, I can understand why some readers feel that the issue of the shifting standards of the world or “good becoming evil and evil becoming good” was not fleshed out as thoroughly as desired. As Diana, a commenter, suggested, blanket statements seem to leave out the complexity of seemingly simple issues. But, because of comments like those left by Anonymous about an abusive spouse, my heart goes out to those who may have misinterpreted my original message.

The truth is there really are no simple life scenarios. When dealing with something as unpredictable as human beings, simplicity is not the experience of the non-hermit. For example, I feel spouses should not feel required to ALWAYS stay committed to a marriage if there is abuse or adultery. These are actually exceptions given by the leaders of the LDS church for spouses to feel justified in breaking their marriage covenants, mostly, I feel, because the offending spouse has already broken the marriage covenant. Moreover, before the advent of no-fault divorce laws, many spouses, particularly women, were compelled to stay in violent marriages. I believe this imprisoning of women in the shackles of these abusive marriages was an "evil" and I'm glad that the pendulum has swung away from the injustices perpetrated on these wives and mothers.

Another example, motherhood and fatherhood, for that matter, are not easy, pain-free experiences that make you grateful every second of the day for having chosen to participate in them. Being a parent is hard, discouraging, and thankless in many instances. Feeling discouraged and impotent as a parent is not evil, in my opinion, and people should feel free to discuss these valid feelings without the added weight of guilt or judgment.

Message to Facebook Fans

A special thanks to one of our earliest facebook adopters - Brad - for turning right around and calling us "fetchers" on our wall. By liking us on facebook, he declared to the world that "Brad likes Modern Mormon Men." We've since changed our facebook page to "Modern Mormon Men Blog" to avoid any confusion.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Note: We are still working to get our facebook and twitter pages fully functional. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How Pondering "Bloggernacle" Made Me a Believer

by brettmerritt (bio)

As many of you probably know, the Bloggernacle or Bloggernacle Choir is what many in the LDS blogging community call the Mormon portion of the blogosphere.

Over the past few days, I have been pondering why that became the go-to name for Mormon blogging and why it happened to stick. After all, members of the Bloggernacle are very creative, intelligent, skillful writers. Couldn’t we have done better?

Finally, I decided to see if, off the top of my head, I could pick a winner. I enlisted my friend and fellow writer Eric D. Snider to help me with the brainstorm session and here's what we got:

The Nursery
The Pearl of Great Blog
Journal of (Online) Discourses
Do As I’m Blogging
General Blogference (with messages from the General Blogthorities)
Blogham City
The RameBlogtom
The Blog of Mormon(s): An Online Testament of Too Much Free Time
Governor Bloggs
Willie and Martin Blogger Company
The Blogtrin and Coveblogs
The enZine

As you can see, we could do much worse than calling our online community the Bloggernacle. I guess it just proves that Christopher "Grasshopper" Bradford was inspired. I now know the Bloggernacle is true.

How about you? Can you come up with any that rival these or Bloggernacle itself?

Compliment FAIL

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Attention all modern mormon men. Or any man for that matter. The following compliment will not get you any action.

Me: You are an amazing physical specimen. In fact, if you died today and donated your body to the bodies exhibit, I think they would put you near the visitor entrance.

Charlie: ...(silence)...that is gross.

Me: That wasn't the reaction I was going for. It was a compliment.

Charlie: I didn't take it that way. I feel a little sick to my stomach.


BODIES exhibit: here
FAIL blog: here

1:7, a Rough Easter-to-Christmas Decoration Box Ratio

by MAB (bio)

For family home evening I was sent out to the garage to find the Easter decoration box. It was hard to find among the Christmas decoration boxes. Decorating for Easter took 30 minutes. Decorating for Christmas takes 3 months. To me the balance doesn't feel quite right.

Image courtesy of Scrapologie Blog.

Mumford & Sons

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Every time Mumford & Sons' The Cave comes on in the car, I crank it up and sing loudly off-tune. After watching my excitement during the band's 2011 Grammy performance, Charlie bought the single on iTunes. Now, our basement has become the cave, as every few days we crank it up and dance around as a family.

Official website: here
Wikipedia (Mumford & Sons): here

Thursday, April 21, 2011


by Josh (bio)

It's a Book
It's a Book by Lane Smith
It makes me happy when children's books are smart and funny. It makes me even happier when they are topical and well written. (If I have to read another one of those Hot Wheels books again when on every page the cars are on a different continent, I am going to tear my remaining hair out.) It's a Book by Lane Smith is fantastic in that regard. Gorilla (or whatever he is) is reading a book, and his friend Jackass (which is kind of a funny name to have in a children's book) can't seem to get his head around it. He keeps asking questions like "How does it scroll down? Does it need a password? Does it tweet?" to which Gorilla simply replies "No. It's a book."

I read it to the kids last night and laughed (especially when the book ended with the pithy "It's a book, Jackass.") but it made me think about the books and their place in our world.

I am a great lover of books. My wife and I were both English majors, so we own plenty of books. Just last week we were measuring the home office to see if we could fit another bookshelf in there. We have bookshelves in our living room, in the kid's bedroom, in the upstairs hallway. The china hutch in the dining room holds our collection of cookbooks and food literature. The floor next to my nightstand is stacked with an ever growing and expanding collection of books I want to read. I meticulously catalogue it all on Goodreads. Our house is overflowing with books.

Adventures in Homeschooling: Part One

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Let me take you back to the summer of 2008. We’d moved to Seattle from Baltimore the summer before and had transitioned the kids from private schools in Baltimore to the Seattle public school system. Our oldest daughter had just completed second grade, had been active socially (a little too active at times) and had done well in most subjects. Our first son had just finished kindergarten and, to nobody’s surprise, didn’t know half the kids’ names in his class when quizzed at the end of the year.

I remember that first year in Seattle as incredibly busy. I was adjusting to a new job and an MBA program, Charlie (aka wife) was making new friends and starting a small interior design business, and we were working almost daily on the remodel of our 1960’s home. The kids were constantly doing SOMETHING, whether it was schoolwork, music lessons and performances, sports practices and games, church activities or play dates. Our evenings and weekends were full, full, full. Life literally did not stop.

It was in this environment that my wife first brought up home-schooling the kids for the 2009 school year. I remember thinking, “Something has snapped and she’s gone crazy,” but instead said, “You’ve never struck me as the kind of mom who wants to be around her kids all day, are you sure you want to look into this?” I had what I thought were good reasons to question her sanity. My first job, as an investment banker, resulted in Charlie being a single mom to two toddlers for the first seven years of motherhood. I’d call home from work around 6 p.m. to say goodnight to the kids and they were already in bed. She was done for the day. Knowing I wouldn’t be home until past midnight most nights, the evenings were her time, not her-and-the-kids time. After leaving investment banking, I was around more. Evenings became looser as the older kids stayed up later. I was under the impression that Charlie was looking forward to having the two oldest kids in school all day, leaving her to focus on herself and our youngest, who was then only one.

So, after asking her the question above, Charlie shared with me the following. She’d been thinking and praying about our busy schedule, and the thought – to look into homeschooling – had literally popped into her head. The sudden thought surprised her for a number of reasons. First, other than our busy schedule and some disconcerting social behavior out of our oldest daughter (“mean girl” stuff), Charlie felt we lacked a catalyst to make what we she thought was a pretty dramatic move. Second, up to that point Charlie's only exposure to homeschooling was the one or two “different” families she’d known growing up who homeschooled their kids. Third, Charlie was not a teacher by training and she questioned her ability to teach the kids what they needed to know. Despite these reasons, and despite the fact that bringing the kids out of the school system would mean significant changes for us, we looked into homeschooling.

Image via the amazing Leah Naomi Design & Photography, Spanish Fork Canyon

Timelapse from El Teide Mountain in Spain

by Clark (bio)

I have been keeping my eyes peeled for great timelapse photography for a couple years now, hoping to one day get a nice enough camera to shoot some of my own. I think this incredible timelapse is some of the best I've seen yet. The shot at 1:28 boggles my mind. The music is great too. The combination of music and video inspires me, and I hope it does you too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The #9 Giveaway

Topher's advice about birthing (originally posted here), especially #9 in his list of things not to do during the birthing process, seems to have struck a chord. No, not that cord. So, readers, you have one week to send us your best (worst) mismatched-outfit-messy-haired-kid(s) hospital picture. We will choose the top three and put them up for a reader vote. The man voted most negligent will receive the very first MMM giveaway. We want to see our inbox flooded with pictures, so pass the word via Facebook, Twitter, email and/or word of mouth (not sure if this last method is used anymore, but we thought it worth the mention).

Our first giveaway is a reminder of the days when the church contracted trusted intellectuals to pull together Church materials. Christ's Ideals for Living, commissioned by President David O. McKay and written by Obert C. (O.C.) Tanner, was used in 1955 during sunday school classes. The book contains forty-five chapters, each describing a virtue (e.g. resolution, balance, friendship, tolerance, sacrifice), with each virtue magnified through four lenses: Christ's life, the scriptures, literature and the words of modern prophets. The book can essentially be summarized as follows: what the gospel is for. This is a book everyone should own...including and especially negligent men.

Giveaway Guidelines:

• Man-dad voted in photo contest to be the most negligent wins.
• Winner will be announced Wednesday, April 27th.
• Winner needs to respond via email by May 1st to claim the book.
• Book will be mailed to the winner at our cost.

Vote or Die 1: Posthumous Embrace

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Vote or Die posts here.

I used to run a site called Vote or Die Blog. It presented a random question with an either/or option that readers would vote on. Notable posts include:

Who would win in a fight? Chandler or Ross (from Friends)?
Who looks more like Sam the Eagle? Don Imus or John C. Calhoun?
What are you more afraid of? Ghosts or Aliens?
Who is the cooler Jehovah’s Witness? Ja Rule or Lark Voorhees?

Much to the sadness of readers (my wife and my parents), posts slowed, then stopped. I hope to resurrect the Vote or Die style and occasionally post them here on MMM. Sometimes they border on irreverent and sometimes they’re way beyond that, but please realize it is not my intention to offend. And always remember to vote with your heart.

Beloved by Mormons and gentiles alike, these revered men were taken from us too early. Perhaps the Lord needed them to inspire spirits on the other side. I wonder what they're up to.

Fred McFeely Rogers hosted the endearing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (although one wonders if it would have been as highly acclaimed had it been presented under it’s original name, Uncle McFeely’s Den of Little Wonders). He was an advocate for PBS funding as well as for the VCR. You Tivo/DVR users owe him a big hug when you see him. He was a vegetarian Presbyterian minister. Oh and did I mention that he neither drank nor smoked? BAM. I know we’re not allowed to take material possessions with us when we pass, but I like to think that the Reverend is still sporting a cardigan.

Christopher Reeve a.k.a. Superman was actually quite versatile. Aside from acting, he was an experienced pilot and competitive horse rider. He was an environmental activist and proponent of embryonic stem cell research. Also a man of integrity, he was known to turn down big roles that were offered if he felt he was not right for the part. American Gigolo, Lethal Weapon, The Running Man, Pretty Woman, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Spicoli) are but a few of the movies he passed on. He turned down a lead role in a TV series as it would have moved him from NYC to LA, further away from his children living in London. Perhaps his only sins were Superman III and IV.

But this is not a competition to decide who was a better person. Who do you think would be more receptive to the missionary discussions? Let the speculating begin.

Reader's Indigestion

by Ken Craig (bio)

So I recently canceled my longtime subscription to Reader’s Digest. Originally we subscribed to this national treasure for two reasons. Katie grew up with it, so it was a bit of nostalgia for her, and I needed something to peruse whilst lounging in the bathroom.

I’m kidding of course. I haven’t lounged in a bathroom in ages. Not since I’ve had children old enough to recognize that when Dad is in the restroom, he is trapped. They have a captive audience, and it’s an opportunity to tell me the details of their day, get my opinion on their outfit, or – and I wish I were making this up – cram a drawing they made for me under the door so I can compliment their artistic abilities.

Kid 1: (Paper appearing as if printing off a dot matrix. being wedged between the door and the floor) Daddy, I made this for you while you were at work!

Me: If you’ll wait just a second, we can look at it together. Daddy just needs to finish reading about life-saving dental breakthroughs, and I’ll be right out.

Kid 2: Dad, look, I’m waving at you! (Little fingers sticking out from under the door.)

Me: Yes, mm-hm, I’m waving back! Why don’t you go see what your brother is doing?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Business Vacation

by jpaul (bio)

Modern mormon men never complain about taking too many vacations. However, I often hear complaints about business travel. Why not try a “Business Vacation”?

I have the opportunity of developing and updating the Business Travel Guidelines as a Policy Advisor for a Fortune 10 Company as part of my day job. As such, I often hear complaints from disgruntled business travelers. But I believe, if used correctly, business travel should be considered a valuable perk. This, of course, assumes that you are not a consultant who travels 120% of your life...You have reason to complain, but then again, you chose the job. I also have to admit that I read Ken Craig's post after writing this and realized that once you have more than a couple kids (7 in his case; see below), the only realistic vacation is wherever there is close friends and family within driving distance of a mini-van.

For those of us who are not yet at the Brady Bunch family size and who travel once a month or even once a year for work, embrace business travel and turn it into a vacation. Business trips are extremely underutilized in my opinion. Take last week for example; 20 colleagues and I flew to Washington D.C. for business. The meetings were conveniently scheduled on Thursday and Friday and happened to coincide with the Cherry Blossom Festival, considered one of the city’s greatest events. Of the 20, only myself and one other flew our spouses out and stayed for the weekend. I thought it was madness that my colleagues spent their Friday night sitting on a plane rather than enjoying a weekend in D.C. paid for mostly by the company.

You may say to yourself, the company only paid for your flight and expects you to fly home Friday. What about the change fee and all the other costs? Actually most business travel guidelines will pay for your return flight at a later date as long as the cost is less than or equal to your originally scheduled flight. (a Monday flight will always be cheaper than a Friday night flight.) My wife flew out on miles that we had previously accrued from previous business trips = free. The monuments and museums in D.C. = free. We stayed at a friend’s = free. $15 dollar/day rental car = $60. Food = $75. A trip that ended up costing me $135 would have cost $835 (assuming $350/ticket) if it had not been for my company subsidizing our airfare costs.

Next time you are on a business trip, why not stick around for the weekend and consider yourself lucky that you have a job that occasionally sends you on a “Business Vacation”?

Family in DC minus 2 kids and 1 on the way

How Did Good Become Evil and Evil Become Good?

by Saint Mark (bio)

In my Employment Law class, my professor shared this cartoon (artist unknown) that, for me, epitomized the techtonic shift of the world's perception of good and evil and the confusion that has arisen regarding these diametrically opposed signifiers.

How did good become evil and evil become good? It is fascinating and devastating to note how quickly the social mores of the early 20th century (e.g. waiting until marriage to have sex, honoring the Sabbath day, religiosity, committing for life to marriage and children, etc.) have transformed into punchlines for 21st century society. Where being a homemaker was once honorable, now the title of homemaker is synonymous in some circles to the status of slave. Mother is a four letter word and dogs are considered a better investment of time, money, and energy than children. Men now delay or reject marriage and fatherhood as impediments to self-fulfillment, self-discovery, and just plain old self-centeredness. And, unfortunately, some women respond in kind.

My mother told me of a story she saw on the news of a woman (a wife and mother of two) who went to work abroad for six months and decided to not return home. She said she didn't want to be a mother any more. My mother asked her co-workers if they would "do it all over again." In other words, she asked them if they would go through the pains and joys of being a mother one more time now that their children were grown. Shockingly and unanimously, her group of co-workers all said, save my mother only, that if they had to do it all over again they would not go through motherhood!

Raising a family in a world where what I consider evil is more and more accepted and "appropriate," i.e. good, is a daily challenge, especially when what I consider to be good is mocked, devalued, or even invalidated by the world as something of little worth or "inappropriate," i.e. evil. How do I, in a practical way, teach my children to value what I believe is good when so many opposing messages come through screens, people and even institutions?

I know one thing: what is good must be defined as good and what is evil must be defined as evil if I want to have any chance of preparing my boys to be honorable husbands and fathers who are honest, full of integrity, loving and serve God and their neighbors. To me, those roles are the eternal ones that matter most.

Know What You're Saying

by Bitner (bio)

The older I get the more I am taken back by the poor understanding most Americans have of their native language. It's like they each say, "I could care less."

Maybe I just take it for granite that we Americans should know what we're saying. I mean if you don't know what your saying, that just doesn't pass mustard. Literally, it does not pass mustard.

But, thankfully most of us have a second leash on life. And we have unchartered territory to explore. You might be waiting there with baited breath, but I'm telling you it'll be ok. Be optimistic. There is reason for the bearish outlook. There is hope!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brotherhood of Man

by Theodore Kettlewood (bio)

Have a lovely day.

Brotherhood of Man

All day, since your haircut in the morning,
you have looked like a painting, even more than usual.
We are in the wind, planting the maples.
We meet an older man who seems to know
I miss my dad.
And he smiles through the limbs.
We talk easily with him
until the rain begins.
This is the brotherhood of man.

Waiting at the airport on my suitcase,
a girl traveling from Spain became my sudden friend,
though I did not learn her name.
And when the subway dimmed
a stranger lit my way.
This is the brotherhood of man.

I never can say what I mean
but you will understand,
coming through clouds on the way.
This is the brotherhood of man.

New Bizwords for Monday

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Via Fast Company and, here are three hot new bizwords creating buzz in business meetings and boardrooms.

Appternoon Delight (aka Angry Lunch)
The practice of barricading oneself in a bathroom stall for 20 or 30 minutes every afternoon just to play Angry Birds on your smartphone.
Losing an otherwise solid sale, job, or business relationship by acting like a jackass on Facebook.
The sensation of vulnerable nakedness one feels when all one's puffed-up BS and profit jargoning has been stripped away to reveal actual numbers in the harsh light of day.

Images via Fast Company

In The Beginning...

The ever-expanding bloggernacle is a unique piece of the mormon puzzle. On Friday, we became a small part of that puzzle. The reception was more than we were expecting and we want to say thank you.

A special thanks to Feminist Mormon Housewives for approaching us for an interview. We hope we can live up to the title of your post.

Friday, April 15, 2011

We've Launched


Birthing Plan

by Topher Clark (bio)

I feel strongly impressed to write about what a man is supposed to do to help his wife in labor. The problem is that I'm the worst at birthing. You would think that, having been through it five times, I would have some kind of insight into how to make the baby come out easier, or stop the screaming, or make the nurses come to the room any quicker when you push the button. I've taken the Lamaze class so I should have some idea about how to help, but that was thirteen years ago and I only remember that you are supposed to get all up in your wife's face and count, and I have since learned that this is NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Which leads me to think that I would be more effective at giving pointers about what not to do, since basically we men need to be completely unobtrusive during the birthing, whether we know it or not. It's really not about us, fellas. I know you took your little class and it's supposedly your baby, but still. This isn't your moment to call the shots and make "helpful" comments. Mostly you need to be present, positive, and accept whatever demands are made of you. These demands may include "please-hold-my-hand-and-let-
me-squeeze-yours-for-support," but they may also involve "Please-turn-the-channel-Glee-just-came-on-and-my-now-my-baby-won't-come-out."

All of my children were born in good old-fashioned hospitals. I know that women make many different birthing choices, and that these days anything goes as long as the baby eventually emerges. I respect that, but I should confess that hospital deliveries are all I know, so I will be very little help here to you gentlemen if your wife decides to give birth in a hayloft or on some kind of bobsled. You can take whichever of my suggestions fit your birthing plan, and I wish you the best of luck!

A Legacy in Progress

by Ken Craig (bio)

I recently thumbed through a book titled Living a Life That Matters, by a Jewish rabbi named Harold Kushner.  And when I say I “thumbed through it,” I mean I “read the cover” and thought to myself, “What a catchy title!” I was going to start reading the book, I really was; but I am still only three DVDs into the second season of Chuck, and my friend is going to want his DVDs back pretty quick. Those episodes aren’t going to watch themselves, you know!

Living a life that matters. Hmm. Well, my wife claims my life matters to her. And, I’ll be honest, even without some daily barometer reading for how I’m doin’ at this little game called Life, mattering to my wife is kind of my main mission. Second only to mattering to my kids.

My seven children run from age 13 years old to several days overdue and showing no signs of arriving on the scene in the immediate future. They are delightful and adorable souls. They have only one distinct flaw, and this is it: They are far, far too observant of their dad’s behavior.

You have to wonder what kind of legacy you are leaving for your children when they make astute observations like, “I can’t wait to be a dad – you get to stay up every night eating ice cream and watching TV!” Apparently I have painted quite a picture of fatherhood for my three sons. “Yep, that’s all there is to it, my boys! You put in your time as a youth spending grueling hours making forts out of the couch and collecting farts in a mason jar; and then in a few short years, you’ll be living the high life with Haagen-Dazs and Seinfeld reruns. Life just gets simpler and simpler, I tell you.”

Six in the City: Subway Door-Hogs (or, Why Important People are Allowed to Break the Rules)

by Max Power (bio) & May Jones (bio)

Max Power and May Jones live in Manhattan with one (paying) job, four children and zero dogs. They are mormons. These are their stories.

Max Power: So, once again this morning, my fiery indignation was kindled toward those people who seem to believe rules of social order are only applicable to them to the extent they are also convenient to them. Yes, as you probably have guessed, I am talking about subway-door-squatters.

May Jones: Ah yes, the “important” people who hover around the subway doors like they’ve been sworn to protect them. As if they won’t be able to nimbly hop off the subway in time carrying only their tiny man purses. Sure, block the way for those of us who have to muscle through the crowds with a four year old on each arm. We have a MUCH better chance of making it out in time! You don’t have to share the public transportation with 10 million other people. It’s all yours!

Max: (Sounds like I struck a nerve, May.) The best is when you get two such VIPs each occupying one half of the entry, leaving only a sliver of space between them. And then they just glance at you disinterestedly as you try to board/exit. “Oh, no, don’t move into the middle or anything. All 20 of us who have been waiting for ten minutes for this train will just grab the next one.” I mean, believe me (I frequent these trains every day) I know how desirable the door spot is. Unlike some people, though, I listen to the train driver repeating the same plea AT. EVERY. SINGLE. STOP: “Please step all the way into the train.” (Hint: she’s talking to you, door-hog.)

May: Why can’t people just be rule followers, like me? In the suburbs, it was the agony of the elementary school drop-off line cutters. You know the ones I’m talking about. And I’m sorry to say it, but most of the offenders were/are men. Why are their days more important than mine? Alright, so I’m not headed to Wall Street to change the world. But I am transporting a Cub Scout (future rule follower, like his mother) to his meetings and that should be worthy of some respect, amirite? These subway VIPs are also apparently concealing their secret lives in the theater, because you should see them roll their eyes and hear them make loud huffy noises when they have the incredible misfortune of getting stuck on the stairs behind a small child. Here’s an idea: go around! I’m sorry, but my daughters’ legs are twenty times shorter than yours, they can’t sprint down the stairs like there are free Krispy Kremes at the bottom. I admit, sometimes I’m really sold on the mob mentality and I grab both the girls so they’re clinging to me in an awkward hanging fashion and try to dash down myself, but not once have there been donuts. SO not worth it.

Max: I have to admit it—I am one of those platform-stair-sprinters; only I run out of the subway station. Maybe it’s the clean(er), fresh(er) air wafting through the openings just beyond the turnstiles, but the mere sight of the platform exit triggers an inner-animal instinct to race out of the subway and break into a Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 500 Days of Summer dance routine. But I definitely don’t huff when I see a four-year-old in front of me on the stairs. Let’s face it—given the relative scarcity of kids in this city, there’s a decent chance that any four-year-old I get stuck behind is one of my own. In fact, from the frequent reactions of people riding on the benches opposite us on our way to church Sunday mornings, you’d think a family with four kids deserves its own reality show.

May: Mmm hmm. They point, they gasp, again with the dramatics! Now I know what celebrities feel like, and it isn’t easy, you guys. All the staring, all the looks, everyone appraising your every move. I feel so exposed. No one stares at the guy walking four dogs in the park. Maybe I’m just walking all these children for other people. Yes, they all uncannily resemble me. Maybe that’s why the moms hired me.

Max: And it’s not just individuals—the Metro Transit Authority similarly has no idea how to process the concept of a family with more than 2 children. [Inside the prepaid MetroCard project planning meeting]: “Hey, Boss, we need to set a maximum number of swipes at one turnstile for the prepaid cards to keep people from selling bulk discount swipes on the black market. Pick a number... Let’s just do 4. Who on earth would ever need more than that?” [Cut to dad standing outside said turnstile frantically swiping his card for the fifth time after sending the four kids through, which kids are splitting off and heading for various wrong trains]: “*&$%, *$^#, @#%!”

May: So ... um ... maybe on occasion I have been guilty of standing right by the subway doors myself... But it’s a tough town! Survival of the fittest! (I’m important, too...)

Man Colds

by Seattle Jon (bio)

For some reason, I think colds affect men more than other humans (women). I have difficulty with even the simplest of tasks, like getting out of bed, putting on clothes, washing the dishes or playing with the kids. More than once Charlie (aka wife) has called me out for being a baby when I have the sniffles.

Thanks to Britian, I now know that men suffer from Man Colds (note capitalization) and not the regular run-of-the-mill cold. When does "999" come to the U.S.?

What is My Modern Mormon Manhood, Anyway?

by Josh (bio)

Me and my boys making cookies a few years ago.
My manhood and I have had always had an evolving relationship. I am not what most people think of as a typical guy. I am, generally speaking, not into "typical" guy things. I am not, nor have I ever been, an athlete. I don't watch any type of sport on TV, unless you count Top Chef. In fact, the only way I know that major sporting events are occurring is when Facebook lights up with everyone's commentary about whose team is winning or losing, or why Utah fans are better than BYU fans. Usually I am not sure what sport is even being played. I don't like camping. I prefer Nancy Drew to The Hardy Boys. I am confused by Home Depot (why do they need so many kinds of screws?) I have no idea what a jimmer is.

But I grew up in a home where manhood was more rigidly defined. I have five brothers and three sisters who are almost all athletes. When I was born, the second son, it was likely assumed that I would be an athlete too. I remember playing T-Ball when I was about six, and taking a golf clinic in my early teens. It was pretty much the end of my organized sports career. When I was a teen, my activity in the church was sometimes questioned. I went to all of my Sunday meetings, but rarely went to young men/scouts during the week. Most weeks they played basketball. Occasionally they worked on merit badges - neither one was really my scene. So no, I am not an eagle scout. (Sorry - do I get kicked off the blog now?) I remember once finding out that young men in my ward had been given the assignment to find out what I liked so they could plan activities that I would attend. I am grateful for that leader who wanted me to be involved, but also kind of chuckle that the idea of a boy who didn't want to play basketball or go camping left them so flummoxed.

In high school and college, I did theatre. I don't think my parents were expecting to have to come and sit through a lot of poorly done Shakespeare when they had a son, but they were always very supportive and never missed a performance. I am sure they sat through a lot of poorly done shows just for the 15 minutes or so that I might be on stage. But when I did Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, my senior year of high school, my dad was so proud when he watched me perform that he actually cried.

The Allure of Angry Birds

by Seattle Jon (bio)

When a certified human factors engineering professional and president of a usability engineering and user interface design consulting firm speaks, we should listen (just because of the fancy title). Although you don't need to read the article to know that Angry Birds is addicting. You just need to know that I often stretch my bathroom visits in order to achieve a few more stars or find another elusive golden egg.

Stanley Bing, who can be found on the last page of Fortune magazine, goes several steps farther than I do. He seems to be turning into an angry bird. I wonder if our women are as addicted as we are?

Wikipedia (Angry Birds): here
Angry Birds shop: here
Angry Birds walkthroughs: here
Angry Birds movie: here
Wikipedia (Stanley Bing): here
Fortune magazine: here
Image via zero-lives blog

Going Beyond "Battles"

by Saint Mark (bio)

Last night, after putting my sons to bed, I contemplated my interaction with them for the day. Having been apart for two weeks out of the past four because of business travel (me) and family reunions (wife and kids), I felt a distance growing between my six-year old son and me.

In my mind's eye, I thought I saw my death and afterwards my son, whom I felt the distance growing between him and me, reviewing the interaction we had before my death. It was not very memorable or uplifting. It consisted of prayers, scripture study, playing "battles" (i.e. setting up army guys for battle), and reprimands for his poor yet childish choices.

I realized that I did not want this to be his closing memories of our interaction here on earth. I wanted our relationship to go beyond "battles" and disciplining his behavior. Yes, the daily prayers and scripture study moments were important but because of his age and the age of my other son (four years-old), our family prayers were not very long and we could not read more than a handful of scripture verses with them. Thus, I did not find myself spending as much time with him as I wanted.

Without an abundance of time together, our relationship was deteriorating for a lack of love. This sentiment is captured best by President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, who recently said, "In family relationships, love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2010, 22)

Before going to bed, I repented and prayed to God in the name of Jesus Christ for insights about what I could do to have better interaction with my son. As I meditated after prayer, ideas began to come to my mind. I wrote down these ideas which turned into a list of activities that my son and I could do that would go beyond "battles" and truncated, spiritual moments.

The list consists of simple things such as making a card together to send to his grandparents, playing board games together, sharing stories from when I was a little boy and listening to his stories, and creating lessons together for him and me to teach at Family Home Evening. As you can see, the dominant theme is doing something together that is positive and non-violent. In this way, I feel that our relationship will heal and become the close relationship it needs to be, that I want it to be and that I'm sure he wants it to be as well.

Being one of many modern mormon men is not easy, but I know it is worth it.

Mini Cemeteries

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

This is a photography project I started working on last spring. The idea was to take pictures at various cemeteries in Seattle and use a tilt-shift effect to make them appear like a miniature model. I lost steam part way through the project and never finished, but I thought I would share a few anyway. You can buy them here.

Smashing Magazine's 50 Beautiful Examples Of Tilt-Shift Photography: here

Comparative Reality

by Aimee (bio)

Self Acceptance.

I also like this one and this one and this one too.

Droppin' Sh** Bombs in the Cultural Hall

by Luke Warmer (bio)

Pop! A week ago today, I came down from a routine jumpshot and collapsed on the cultural hall floor and cussed a mighty and bellowing cuss - the injury seemed to have momentarily deactivated my usually adroit cuss-censor. (A moment later the missionaries came out of the adjoining Relief Society room with well-trained stink-eyes and investigators in tow. Blush.)

Goodbye un-ruptured Achilles Tendon, you will be missed.

I'm thirty-three and work a desk job, but the moment I step on a court I forget all about my sedentary reality. In my head I become seventeen. My body disagrees with my head on this age issue. So my body - always the resolute arguer - settles things by completely rupturing my largest tendon. (C'mon body; we both know there were plenty of ways you could have proven your point without sending me to the DMV for a handicap parking tag.)

Like most Momos I've been having dramatic debates between my mind and body since... oh let's see... about the onset of puberty. It's probably safe to assume that my body was still angry about losing one-too-many of those hormonal arguments during my teenage years and was waiting in the wings for a chance to win a debate in melo-dramatic fashion.

Thus begin the chronicles of our hero, (referring to myself in the third person for dramatic effect) hobbling around on crutches and gearing up for a year of grueling rehab.

Has anyone else got wrecked in church-activities? Did your cuss-censors hold-up, or were they glitchy like mine? What is the most awkward place you've experienced cuss-censor failure (think Ralphy in
A Christmas Story)?

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