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Thursday, June 30, 2011


by Seattle Jon (bio)

Don't know what glamping is? Neither did I until Charlie booked a weekend of "glamorous camping" to celebrate the end of my formal schooling (MBA, check). Glamping is luxury camping in custom-built canvas cabins containing, among other niceties, a large bed (with pillow-top bedding) and bath linens. A feature in Sunset Magazine had initially attracted Charlie's attention, and honestly, what woman wouldn't want to camp in a "tent" that includes a queen bed and clean towels!

Having just glamped, I thought readers might be interested in what I have to say about my experience. In my manly opinion, the added luxuries were not worth the added cost (and when I say added cost, I mean $100+ per night in added cost). I felt like I was camping, but I slept better and felt a little cleaner. For some of you, these two things alone might justify the extra cost. Anyone else been glamping yet?

Guest Post: The Utah Sunset

Glynn Wilcox is a Texas native that sojourned in Zion for eight long years. After entering into the new and everlasting convent with his mormon princess Becca, they left Zion to Dallas, where he serves as sunday school president in the Desoto Ward with their two little future rebel missionaries. Glynn is also a repeat guest poster, having already written about radical equality here.

As mormons, there are times when we find ourselves in social situations where others are drinking and we must make the decision - imbibe the devil juice or drink something else. Some call them mock-tails and others call them faux-tails, but when the situation calls for me to hold something pretty so I can blend in with my martini drinking friends, I ask the bartender to make the following:

Utah Sunset
In a tall glass add...
Orange Juice
Grenadine syrup

This is my favorite drink to order when hanging out with my heathen or apostate friends. It is a little frilly (perfect for the ladies) but manly enough for anyone to pull off. It is a wonderfully sweet drink and it looks like what everyone else is having so you don’t become the weird-o drinking water. You can even change it up and have it in a martini glass or in one of those super cool yard glasses. Hanging out with one of these in your hand will help you avoid those awkward questions...unless you want those awkward questions?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Queers and Marriage: Messieurs, I Respectfully Disagree

by Luke Warmer (bio)

I'm mormon and I support Gay Marriage. Lots of mormons do; I don't think it makes me special. What makes me special are these fantastic gay socks that I wore today in a show of solidarity with all of the happy New Yorkers.

The second most commonly asked question I get from mormon friends who don't support same-gender marriage is, "How can you sustain the prophet and support gay marriage." I love this question because it is gorgeously complicated and messy - just like all of the best religious questions (see: Eden, Garden of*).

I'll be brief with my answer, but it ain't easy:

Firstly, the church's stance on a lot of controversial topics has evolved over the years. Think of Polygamy, Blacks and the Priesthood, etc.

But mostly, I’m one of those people, for better and worse, that needs to feel spiritual confirmation when the prophet speaks, especially on sensitive and controversial topics. And, I feel spiritually inspired to support gay marriage despite the church's official opposition.

Which U.S. President Will Legally Support Same-Sex Marriage?

by Pete Codella (bio)

Pres. Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
This post may be unpopular and controversial, and I’m okay with that.

With the U.S. presidential election of 2012 and New York State’s recent foray into the same-sex marriage business, we’re hearing more frequently from supporters and opponents of the issue. (On June 24, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. See this CNN article.)

I have many friends on the supporting side of same-sex marriage and like I told one of them recently, as long as the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advocates marriage only between a man and a woman, that will also be my position.

You may hear of similar marriage positions from Catholics following the Pope, Baptists following their ministers or others following their spiritual leaders.

I realize some of you may think, and choose to comment, that following in faith is weak, even foolish. I disagree. I believe the LDS Church president, currently Thomas Monson, is the Lord’s mouthpiece just like Moses once was, and I choose to support him.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Note on Matrimony, Diversity, and Civility

Tomorrow we are going to feature two posts on the topic of marriage equality/same-sex marriage. The posts come from two different contributors, with two different viewpoints.

It’s a touchy subject, so we would like to remind our readers that none of our contributors represent the blog as a whole (even though we do love all of them dearly). Each contributor speaks only for her/himself. Our contributors come from different backgrounds and are likely to have opposing opinions in some areas. We would also like to remind everyone how cool this blog is for that reason. Believe it or not, mormons are diverse, and we don’t all think the exact same way. We still share a common bond and can enjoy the association that comes with sharing our stories. The church (and this blog) is big enough for all of us.

We expect that there may be strong opinions expressed in the comments sections of these posts. We welcome that, but ask that you please remain respectful. Thanks!

Guest Post: The "White Whale" of Dunking

John Burger is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he received a BA in Communications with an emphasis in Advertising. During the day he sells watches as the Online Marketing Director for Precision Time. At night he fights modern slavery as AbolitionistJB. In between he enjoys his time at home in Dallas, Texas, with his gorgeous wife, three little kiddos and two chickens. Chickens, that's where it's at these days. His eternal church calling is with the Young Men and he still dreams of dunking a basketball. You can learn more about John's abolitionist work here or you can email him directly at abolitionistjb at Also, read John's first guest post here.

I turn twenty-nine this summer. The closer I come to thirty, the more I realize there's not much spring in this chicken. Since the age of sixteen I have had one constant New Year's resolution: dunk a basketball. With the first priesthood meeting of each year, it's inevitable that the lesson includes writing down some personal goals. Nowadays those goals read out something like this. Read the Book of Mormon, reread the General Conference talks, 100% home teaching, go to the temple each month, take my wife out on more dates, run 5K's, lose weight...and dunk a basketball.

I have a B+ average on most of those goals, but dunking a basketball is a big "F" for failure. It has always eluded me. It's my "White Whale." There was a point between age eighteen and twenty-one where I could dunk my wallet, or a tennis ball. Usually it was the wallet because who really has a tennis ball handy at the gym.

Here I am on my mission dunking over some kiddie chairs.

Looks impressive, I know. But sadly the hoop was only 8 1/2 feet off the ground. I even broke the rim off the backboard with this dunk. It was something reminiscent of Shaq in his glory days. The land lady was a little upset, but she bought a new breakaway rim after that. She was such a nice lady.

Recently a friend at church roped me into 6:00 a.m.-ish (emphasis on the -ish) basketball three days a week at our local rec center. It's been fun to play so often on a nice wood court, especially when contrasted to the mini-court with joint-tearing carpet floors at our ward building. Over the last three months I have shed 20 lbs. and my fingers can give the rim high-fives again. With my 29th-birthday fast approaching, I knew it was now or never to make my dunkfest goals come true.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mormon Doppelgängers 4: L. Tom Perry & Denholm Elliott

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.

Denholm Elliott was a recognizable character actor from England whose career spanned 40 years. You’ve likely seen him in the Indiana Jones films, Trading Places, and Toy Soldiers. You probably haven’t see him in the 1988 made for TV movie The Bourne Identity (starring Richard Chamberlain as Jason Bourne).

The Twist: Both men were born in 1922. Interesting. Both served in the military during World War II. Also interesting. The difference? Mr. Elliott’s plane was shot down over Germany in 1942 and he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. Elder Perry served a mission from 1942-1944, missing the axis of the war. Immediately after his mission, he was sent to Saipan, and later Japan.

Hypothetical Retroactive Scenario: Delaying his mission, L. Tom Perry goes straight into the military and is sent to Germany to fight in the war. He is captured and sent to the same POW camp where Denholm Elliott is imprisoned. They meet. After the initial shock of seeing each other wears off, they use their newly discovered twin-like abilities to fool the guards and escape. During the escape they are careful not to touch one another/occupy the same space, just in case. One goes on to serve an honorable mission to Chicago, the other becomes an actor specializing in eccentric English gentlemen.

L. Tom Perry Trivia:
• "L" stands for Lowell.
• A Boston Red Sox fan, he threw out the first pitch in a 2004 game. Sorry Yankees fans.
• Shares a special connection to L. Tom Penny, a legendary and elusive professional skateboarder from England.

In-N-Out Revelations

by brettmerritt (bio)

Recently, after I picked up my son from a week-long camp for recently graduated fifth graders, I decided the best way I could reward him for enduring five days with hundreds of eleven year-olds, cafeteria food and no shower would be to buy him a burger. We chose In-N-Out. While we were devouring our burgers and "Animal Style" fries, my son pointed something out that surprised me:

I think I have eaten at In-N-Out fifty times and I've never noticed scriptures. I got out my iPhone and opened the Gospel Library app to Revelation 3:20 and read:

"Behold , I stand at the door, and knock : if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Cool, right? On the surface, it's even about dinner. But we asked ourselves, "Why is it on the bottom of the burger wrapper? And are there more?"

After a quick Google search, I found a post on about it. I learned the Snyder Family, owners of In-N-Out, are religious and have elected to use this type of subtle proselyting.

It's not the only scripture featured on In-N-Out packaging. The soda cup sports John 3:16. The milkshake cup displays Proverbs 3:5. And, if you are the kind of person who frequently gets the artery-hardening "Double-Double," you'll see a reference to Nahum 1:7.

However, not all of the verses are about food, unfortunately. I was sort of hoping they had used Revelation 3:16 for coffee:

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth."

How about you? Have you seen this? Is this old news to Californians? Are you hungry now? (I am.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guest Post: The Rush

Matt Lipps is probably young enough to be your child. He is a student at Brigham Young University majoring in Astro-Physics and is a native of Sacramento, California. Matt enjoys surfing up and down California’s northern coast, chilling with friends, and starting really lame two-man bands/street gangs. Matt will be leaving on August 24th to serve in the Brazil Santa Maria Mission.

image via Jack and Jill Mormon

Preface: I am 19 years old, and a student at BYU. I have never had a girlfriend. My experience with dating is very sparse, and for the handful of dates I’ve ever chugged my way through, I have relied almost exclusively upon my bros to hook me up with girls. I also have not yet served a mission (But I will this August! Bring it on, Brazil!). Finally, the idea of getting married scares the tar out of me. Please keep in mind that as you read, everything is given from the perspective of an awkward twerp who could probably benefit from a good scolding of his thoughts and opinions.

I have a request for the readers of this blog: I would like to see a brief sampling of the ages and circumstances (i.e., how long you courted, whether you were fiscally prepared and so on) of each individual’s marriage, so I can contrast it to the stereotype I have of marriage and then use it to put my own impending marriage in perspective. Please don’t hesitate to offer advice or criticism either, as those will likely help me more than other information.

I’ve reached the point in my young mormon life where marriage is but a mission away. Following my honorable return from my honorable mission, I will become the half-menace, half-goofball that they call ‘the RM’. As a righteous young mormon man, it will then be my responsibility to get married as fast as I possibly can or else – egads!—set at naught the council of the prophets. I’ll wait, eh, six months?, before I finally date that special someone, likely an 18 year old freshman from Idaho, for three weeks (I go to BYU; it happens here) and realize that she must be the one. And then after a brief but intense period of dating, I’ll propose and we’ll be married by the end of the semester.

Will that really be me in two years? Or better yet, should that be me in two years?

I Love Curel

by Saint Mark (bio)

I'll admit it. I love Curel. Yes, it's true and I don't care how it sounds. I'm a man and I'm in love with a lotion. Now, this is not just any lotion. It is the lotion. Curel used to have the tagline "Ends Dry Skin" in all of its marketing a decade or so ago and I believe it should return to this maxim because it is true. As a continual customer of Curel for the past 20 plus years, I speak from experience. In fact, since the time we were dating, my wife (for the past ~9 years) constantly has commented on the softness of my feet, arms, hands, legs, etc. And the reason? Curel.

Full disclosure: I am a connoisseur of brands. I'm what might even be considered a "brand snob." After many trials and errors, I feel that I have found the perfect brand for many of our every day products. For example, on my pancakes it has to be Log Cabin or nothing. Anything else makes my hot cakes taste like Johnny cakes (the flour paste pies that pioneers used to make). Only Charmin adorns my toilet paper holder. I don't usually eat chips but when I do, it has to be Ruffles. The ridges and the crispiness and the taste are incomparable.

However, I do not consume only brand-name products. For peanut butter and jelly, generic works fine for me. I prefer wheat bread but will eat any brand that makes it. Paper towels, I'm indifferent. Bottled water, give me the cheapest.

But, when it comes to chips, toilet paper, syrup, or lotion, my brands have never failed me. If you doubt, I challenge you to the Curel challenge: try it for a month and let me know if it doesn't improve the dryness of your cracked hands or the Mojave desert you call your heels. Try Curel and your skin will never be the same. Take my word for it: I'm a brand snob. Out of curiosity, which brands would you say are the best of their kind?

MMM disclosure: No, Curel did not pay us to have Saint Mark write this. Yes, Saint Mark really is a man.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What To Do When Your Child Worries Too Much

by Seattle Jon (bio)

We were on our way out the door when my ten year-old daughter reminded us that our nine year-old son, Will, had to give a talk in primary. I quickly looked at Will, didn’t see a change in his demeanor, and thought, “Wow, he took that incredibly well.” I did a quick Google search for primary talks and found a suitably short talk on the restoration. “This isn’t a good start,” I thought, “we should have done this earlier in the week.”

I had him read the talk several times during sacrament meeting, pointing out words he had trouble pronouncing so we could practice them. His primary class meets first, so I had him check to make sure his regular primary teacher was in class. He was, so Will smiled at me to let me know it was okay to leave.

According to the pre-arranged plan, I showed up ten minutes before his talk was to start. I sat down as close as I could get to him and had one of his buddies pass him his talk. I searched his face for clues, but saw nothing. His primary leader asked him to sit up front. “Here it comes,” I thought. He sat down. I was optimistic as I saw him taking deep breathes to relax himself. His fingers were nervously playing upcoming recital pieces on his right leg. I noticed he was talking to himself, which was okay because I knew what he was saying. His turn finally came, and when he walked slowly up to the stand, unfolded his talk and started speaking, tears came to my eyes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Masters of the Universe

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

He-Man action figures are very nostalgic for me. I had a bunch of figures as a kid, but many of them got lost and broken along the way. Shortly after I was married, and much to the dismay of my wife, I spent a moderate-sized amount of money restoring my He-Man and G.I. Joe collections. I shot these photos a few years ago and, believe it or not, they actually hung (and sold) in a few art galleries. Seeing them up among “real” fine art pieces somehow restored my faith in humanity. If you're into them, you can get them here. But if nothing else, I hope they trigger some fond memories for you.

See the entire set here.

Philosopher for a Day

by Bitner (bio)

My final class at business school was a unique leadership course called Leadership & Diversity Through Literature. It was taught by one of the sages of the school who hand-picked various iconic stories to use as case studies for leadership. We read about Chief Joseph, Don Quixote, King David, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Joan of Arc, and many others. It was a really fun exercise.

The classroom experience was heavily dependent upon class participation -- it was often half our grade, if not more. During one discussion about Joan of Arc, someone in class was discussing Joan's claim to be called of God. "I can't think of anything that we can be absolutely sure of, so it's hard for me to imagine myself being that certain that I was right [if I were Joan and thought I had received a 'call'.]"

Surprisingly, the professor did not drill down on the point of whether or not we can be certain of anything. And the idea that we are sure of nothing struck me as a non-truth.

I sat there stewing on it for a few minutes while the class discussion quickly moved on to other topics.

Soon, the professor called on me for my thoughts on 'what we can take away from the story of Saint Joan.' My response (it's not verbatim, but it's pretty close):

"For me the salient message of Joan of Arc is that she was certain about what she was called to do and she had the courage to act on that thing about which she was certain. Now, the question was raised earlier, 'Can we be sure of anything?' and I think the only answer to that question is, 'Yes!' because if the answer is 'No' then in the very act of saying we cannot be sure of anything, we are, therefore, saying that we are sure of something! (lots of laughs erupt, not sure if they are at me or not). I believe that we can be sure of some things. And that gives me hope."

[Sidenote: My mind must have been so drained from philosphizing that I failed to wrap up the comment by neatly tying it back to Joan and leadership.]

It may never happen again, but on that day I was a philosopher.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Know This Is Going To Make You Mad

by Josh (bio)

I know I have already said some divisive things on this blog. I am really not a divisive kind of guy. But I have something I need to get off of my chest.

I hate dogs. Let me be clear from the get go, that if you love dogs, I don't hate you. And I don't hate YOUR dogs. They are lovely. But I hate the dogification of America. When did dogs become so awesome? I missed the memo.

Amy and I have a strict no dog policy at our house. We don't see the point. We have enough poop and vomit to clean up, thank you very much. And enough behavioral and disciplinary issues to choke a doberman. So we don't, nor will we ever, have a dog.

Let me just say again, if you have a dog, that is great for you. I don't think less of you. I don't hate you and I don't think you shouldn't have a dog. You are welcome to all forms of canine companionship. But why is there pressure for us to have one?

POINT ONE: Everyone I work with has one million dogs each. At every work function, everyone sits around swapping dog stories and showing pictures of how cute their dogs are. ("Look at this one! Captain Carbunkle is so fat and tired that he is sleeping on my desk! HA!") When they ask me about my dogs, and I tell them I don't have one, they look at me like I am some weird anathema. When I realized how annoyed I was at looking at everyone's pictures of their dogs, I decided to stop voluntarily showing pictures of my children to them. Maybe they are just as bored at seeing pictures of my kids as I am seeing pictures of Sargent Picklesworth. (In my dog hating world, all dogs have funny military names.) If someone asks to see pictures of my kids, I am happy to oblige. But if they don't ask, I keep them to myself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Saintspeak 3: The Letter B

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Another installment from Saintspeak, the mormon dictionary from writer Orson Scott Card. Previous installments can be found here.

The Letter B

Baptism by Fire - what happens when a convert is put in charge of the nursery.

Baptism for the Dead - it wins them neither fame nor profit, yet mormons will travel hundreds of miles at great expense in order to give to people they do not know a gift that might not be accepted.

Beehives - twelve and thirteen year-old girls in young women (ask your local Beehive teacher whether the beehive was chosen as their symbol because of their cooperation, their buzz, or their sting).

Bishop - in seminary films, the bishop is the man who has the solution to all problems in life. In his own home, the bishop is the man who used to be daddy before mommy became a single parent.

Blood Atonement - a doctrine that was never taught in the Church, especially by Jedediah M. Grant.

Bureaucracy - a term never used to describe the elaborate system of offices and organizations that provide logistical support for church programs and govern the vast properties, holdings, and operations of the church. So, when you run into computer foul-ups, abrupt secretaries, and baffling regulations, remember that there are no bureaucrats in the church, only dedicated servants of the lord with health insurance and a church office building parking sticker.

Burning in the Bosom - how the spirit will tell you whether the church is true or the pretty girl across from you in religion class is the one you're foreordained to marry.

BYU - the cultural and intellectual center of the mormon church, where professors who have sacrificed salary and tenure teach students who are there to get married.

Signature Books: here
Wikipedia (Orson Scott Card): here
Image via Signature Books

Guest Post: The Grey-Grid Painting

Sam Nelson is a newly returned missionary from Chile and will be studying economics at BYU in the fall. He is also part of the "5000 Days Project," was featured in a youth mormon message and is the subject of a BYUB feature film that will be released this September.

I grew up with an artist for a mother, and she would tell me about her ideas all the time. One of my favorites was her description of the “Grey-Grid Painting.” One day when we were in the car she said “Ok Sam, listen to this idea… Imagine a big huge canvas that is divided into a checkerboard with hundreds of little squares. 98 or 99% of the squares are grey, so imagine the big canvas with a whole bunch of square that are all different shades of grey. And between all of the grey, there are a few bright brilliant colors; but just a few scattered throughout. The painting is almost entirely grey, but the few squares of bright colors make the whole thing beautiful.”

She said, “To me, that is what being a mother is like. 99% of being a mother isn’t all that fun. I spend hours doing laundry, and cooking, and driving kids to sports, and sitting through t-ball games, and disciplining, and washing dishes until my fingers look like raisins… and no one even says ‘thank you.’ Really 99% of being a mother is kind of grey. But there are a few moments in motherhood that are so bright, and so beautiful, and so brilliant that you can hardly describe it; and those moments actually make motherhood worth it. If you take a step back, and look at the whole picture of motherhood, it is beautiful.

When I was sixteen, the story made sense and it sounded like a cool idea, but I didn’t really get it until my mission.

Anyone that has served a mission will tell you about how great it was and how much he or she loved it. But any returned missionary will also tell you that it was hard. You talk to thousands of people, and knock thousands of doors, and sometimes you walk more than 10 miles a day so that maybe, you can help someone discover the restored gospel. You push yourself to the bleeding edge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You never take a sick day. All day you think about, study for, fast for, and pray for your investigators… who don’t even end up caring. As much as I loved my mission, 99% was tough. But man, when someone stops drinking, or when a marriage is mended, or a family discovers the gospel together, or a teen decides that his future can be brighter than what he grew up in… It’s incredible. There were a few moments scattered throughout my mission that were so bright, and brilliant, and amazing that I would easily trade every difficult part of my mission for them. And now, as a returned missionary, I can take a step back and look at my mission as a whole and say the whole thing was beautiful.

I would guess that most things in life that are worthwhile are the same way.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Father's Day Celebration in Elders Quorum

by Pete Codella (bio)

In the LDS faith most men, when they turn 18, meet on Sundays with a group of men in what’s called elders quorum. The ages of men in this group vary greatly. Most men stay in this group from their 20s to their 50s until they join the ranks of the high priest group.

Going back several years and wards, I was part of an elders quorum that had a Father’s Day tradition. They would provide a slice of Marie Callender’s pie to all the elders quorum members on Father’s Day. I thought it was great, both the sweet treat and the tradition.

You see, at church, most congregations go out of their way to honor and recognize mothers on Mother’s Day. I can remember my mom receiving flowers, chocolate, books and a few items of homemade food or décor as a gift from the ward on Mother’s Day. And certainly moms do deserve a lot of credit and recognition.

I’d venture to say though that most congregations do less on Father’s Day. At least, such was my experience until I encountered the aforementioned tradition in my old ward. The best I did before that was a candy bar.

I’m not saying there should be a contest between recognition for Mother’s and Father’s Day. I’m just saying there should be something equally special for both. Of course, every gift is unequally valued depending on the receiver, but that’s another story.

So, imagine my dismay when I realized our new ward has a ‘tradition’ of holding stake conference on Father’s Day. (In the LDS faith, wards are the common Sunday congregation and multiple wards make up a stake.)

A Mormon Father's Prayer For His Son

by Bitner (bio)

My fellow UVA alum, Tina Fey, recently posted a cute, funny, and sincere prayer, called A Mother's Prayer for Her Child. Go read it if you haven't yet.

I am the only son to my father and I am now the father of two sons. With Father's Day approaching and with Tina Fey's prayer on my mind, I have drafted the following prayer of a Father for his son(s). What would/do you include in your prayer for your son?
Dear God,

When my son eventually emerges from the 'girls are gross' phase of childhood, may he be a picture of self-control. Help him keep his snake in his cage and his mind, eyes, and hands to himself until he is married to his wife. Once married may he forever be a one-woman man. May he find repulsive the advances of the female colleague at work and the seductive look of the Young Women's president.

In high school, make him well-liked, but not disgustingly so. Do thy thang and keep him humble.

In the hundreds of Sunday School lessons and Seminary classes that he will attend but rarely pay attention to, may there be something that sticks. May there be enough seeds planted that faith eventually fills his being.

Give him strength to never accept the offered beer or cigarette, or myriad other substances that he is taught to avoid. May the Ginger Ale or the 2-liter Mountain Dew be the extent of his binge drinking.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The 18th Camel

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I hope this short story helps someone have a better day today than they otherwise would have had.


There is a story of a man who left seventeen camels to his three sons. He left half the camels to his eldest son, a third to his middle son, and a ninth to his youngest. The three set to dividing up their inheritance but soon despaired of their ability to negotiate a solution - because  seventeen could not be divided by two or three or nine.

The sons approached a wise old woman. After pondering the problem, the old woman said, “See what happens if you take my camel.” So the sons now had eighteen camels.

The eldest son took his half - that was nine. The middle son took his third - that was six. And the youngest son took his ninth - that was two. Nine and six and two made seventeen. They had one camel left over, which they gave back to the wise old woman.

Like the problem with the camels, negotiations will often seem intractable. Like the wise old woman, you will need to step back from the negotiation, look at the problem from a fresh angle, and find an eighteenth camel.

Apps Josh Loves: Nike+ GPS

by Josh (bio)

When I was thinking about writing this series I was going to call it “The Twelve App-postles” or “App-ide with me, ‘tis eventide.” But then I thought that seemed a little silly, or sacrilegious, or both.

So I am calling simply “Apps Josh Loves.” I am hoping to regularly share apps that I use that make my life a little better. I am a bit of a techno-geek and always want the latest and shiniest new toys. And what I love about apps is that they are constantly giving me new ways to use devices I already love. Full disclosure: I am a dyed in the wool Apple Fanboy, so these apps will all be iOS apps.

In the last couple of years, Amy and I have both taken up running. I travel a lot for work, and while the fitness facilities in hotels are pretty hit of miss, they almost always have a couple of treadmills. And running is the workout that can be done anywhere. All you need is time.

But running outside has always been a little intimidating to me. I was never sure where to go, or how far I had run, so I tended to stick to the treadmill. That is where today’s app comes in.

Nike+ GPS. If you are a runner, this app is a must have. First of all, it is only $2. Well worth the price. And it makes tracking your run super easy. You just hit “Start Run” and go. The app uses your iPhone’s GPS to track the path of your run and your distance. (So you don’t have to have special Nike+ shoes.) You can even look at the map of your run and see where you ran your fastest and where you were your slowest. But it doesn’t stop there. Here is what I love:

1) It makes running into a video game. You can set the app to announce, in your headphones, when you pass certain milestones (every mile, every 10 minutes, etc.) and, when it does, it will tell you your running pace, time distance, etc. I found myself pushing to improve my overall pace at each announcement. You can also set goals online (run 10 times in the next four weeks, but 4000 calories in the next six weeks, etc.) and track your progress.

2) There are “running games” you can play with friends. Start a game of tag with your friends and, at a random point in the next 72 hours, the app will announce the game has started. The last person to start a run after the game starts is “it.” (Want to play games with me? My user name is “jooshanoosh.”)

3) You can post your runs to Facebook when you start. If your friends “like” your status while you are running, you can hear them cheering over your headphones.

4) You can set up a list of power songs -- those songs that you know will pump you up when you are running out of steam. Any time during your run, you can hit the “power song” button to give yourself a boost.
Maybe you are one of those people who doesn’t need that type of external motivation. But if you do, you will love this app. And it is free. You’ve got nothing to lose.

All images via: Apple

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Déjà Bush?

by Eric Devericks (bio)

Guest Post: What is the Role of a Man in the Family?

One of our readers, Spencer, sent in the following guest post. It raises a question we'd  never heard asked before - are men the new ball and chain? Happy commenting.

A national columnist recently suggested that "men are the new ball and chain." As our society moves further away from an agrarian and manufacturing lifestyle, she suggests that the stereotypical "tough" and "rugged" masculine attributes are no longer dominant. In our information, service, and creative economy, it is the traditional feminine skills of listening carefully and communicating openly that shine through more. Is she right? Are men "the new ball and chain", being couch potatoes and perpetual adolescents?

What does it mean to be a man, a REAL man? You don't have to be able to hit 10 free throws in a row to be a real man. You don't have to be a great hunter to be a real man, although many men are good hunters. You don't have to be able to rebuild a catalytic carburetor on the front side manifold to improve the fuel injection combustion. I don't even think those words make sense, to be honest.

A real man will love and respect his wife, being sincere, but also be liberal and copious with the positive words he says publicly about his wife.

A real man will actively participate in the affairs of the family. This is more than just mowing the lawn and changing the oil on the cars and perfecting the use of the remote control. To be clear, this means helping with meals and housework, assisting with preparations to go to church, and giving input on homework. It should not be a surprise to everyone or a special occasion when you are helping with the material needs of the family by changing a dirty diaper or emptying the dishwasher or putting away some laundry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest Post: Mormon Radar 2

You can find the original Mormon Radar here. This edition, sent in by a guest poster, is aptly titled "How to Spot a Mormon Even if She's in Slacks."

DanH is originally from Salt Lake City but currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is working on a project to measure residents' happiness, among other things. He is an early member of Outstitute, a tight-knit association of Cantabridgians and Somervillians who meet each week to discuss interesting topics related to Mormonism.

ScottHeff's recent post on Mormon Radar was a hilarious explication of something we all know we possess, but rarely talk about to outsiders. The comments section is full of people's stories of how they use this unseen power to spot their coreligionists (and funny advice on how to fine-tune the power, e.g. "If a guy comes to your door selling pesticide control, and he looks clean-cut, all-American, you can bet he is Mormon"). Whether they are on a cruise, at the amusement park, or in the courtroom, we Mormons know how to spot our own, even if we can't explain how we know as well as ScottHeff.

Well, it turns out we are right and there is scientific evidence for Mo-dar (or, Latter-day-dar, as my wife called it in the comments section).

About two years ago, a friend of mine who was working in a lab at Tufts University, decided with his colleagues to test this commonly-held belief. Scientists had already shown that there is a rational basis for belief in gay-dar. It wasn't just something joked about on Will and Grace, but a real skill that was more successful than one's chance guess. With that in mind, they set about to test Latter-day-dar, expecting that with some subtle clues, it too would work more frequently than half the time.

While they unfortunately were not able to prove the assertion, "If it's a mother who's a part time photographer, it's a statistical 90% chance she's Mormon," these psychologists did discover that Mo-dar was better than chance at predicting whether someone in a picture was LDS or not. In fact, Mo-dar worked even if the researchers inverted the portraits 180°, covered the eyes and mouth, and took out any distinct markings (like a second set of earrings, or a dork-dot from the MTC).

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Song Are You Listening To?

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Here is a fun video made by a guy named Tyler Cullen. He approaches various people in NYC and asks them what is currently playing in their ears. I love the Sinatra lady.

While posting this video, I’m listening to a cover of Ben E. King’s "Stand By Me" by Baron, Lemmy Kilmister, and Dave Lombardo. What song are you currently listening to?

Highs & Lows

by Ken Craig (bio)

A dinner ritual for our family is that we go around the table taking turns recounting our “highs and lows” for the day. You know, the best and worst things that took place that day. Our hope was that it might spur some lively conversation and provide some insight into how each child feels about their stage of life, current events, and of course, have the opportunity to rat out their siblings’ bad behavior and/or tell weird stories about their friends.

You might expect to hear something along the lines of, “Well, my ‘highs’ for the day included riding my bike, playing with Jo-Jo Marie – who told me that her dad passes gas when he’s watching TV – and having a dance party with Abbie. My ‘lows’ were cleaning my room and also…when Tanner wouldn’t let me play with his lightsaber!”

There have been some eyebrow raising discussions, of course, but for the most part, I’m beginning to see a pattern develop.

Becca, who is 2 years old, generally starts the discussion by reminding us about it. “Mom! Dad! Highsandlows! Highsandlows!” (Most anything Becca says includes exclamation points.) Then Becca will begin to give us not so much the stories of her “highs and lows,” but an itinerary of what she’s done that day. “Uhm, my highsandlows was, I eat breakfast…then I look at books…and my highandlows was, I played games with Connor…I made poops in the potty…and that’s Lucy, and I kiss Lucy, and she’s asleep, and that’s all!”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Social Injustice - What Would You Do?

by Luke Warmer (bio)

A friend sent me this fantastic video...

In this situation I would have been upset, and I probably would have said something. At least I feel inspired to say something now - after watching Mr. Hoop Earrings make everyone cry because he dumped gobs of pure Texas-Christian-civility all over their faces.

What about you, readers, would you have...

P.S. Texas, I've been too hard on you.

Choose Your Love, Love Your Choice

by Pete Codella (bio)

Something President Monson said in General Conference last month really stood out to me. He said: “choose your love; love your choice.”

Pete and Vickey Codella | June 1999He made this comment in regard to the concept and importance of marriage to members of the priesthood in the General Priesthood meeting. I have witnessed many different marriages and divorces - even subsequent marriages by those who have already ‘been there and done that.’ Sadly, we’ve heard much reported lately about married, powerful, well-known men who have had affairs and, as a result, caused all sorts of damage to their families and communities.

Rather than define marriage or discuss problems caused by infidelity, I’d like to share my personal experience with marriage and why I agree with President Monson that once you’ve made the commitment to be married you should love your choice — both your choice to be married and the person you married.

I had the privilege of traveling with the BYU Young Ambassadors for three years while I was in college. I thought, even hoped, I’d find my eternal companion among the ranks of that talented ensemble. But alas, it wasn’t to be, and I’m certainly grateful for that. After college I spent a couple years chasing my Broadway dream in New York City, working to support myself and continuing to sing, dance and act when given the opportunity. Then, at a fortuitous moment, a job at BYU’s Performing Arts Management office opened up. I applied and was ultimately offered the job.

I purchased a townhouse in Orem, Utah and ended up attending the single’s ward where my future wife went to church. I was twenty-nine when we married - older than most in the LDS faith. I had stopped praying that I’d soon get married and instead prayed that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to get married - that I’d recognize the right woman when I found her. After the first date with my wife, I went home very excited. Although I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, I felt very strongly that she was someone I could marry. And, as it turned out, she had similar feelings. We were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple eleven months later.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guest Post: On the Hazards and Pitfalls of Couple Dating

Regular MMM readers remember Aimee's thoughts on the complications of couple dating. If not, refresh your memories here before reading on.

Josh Weed writes a humor blog, The Weed, where he talks about things like colonoscopies and the cannibalistic tendencies of his four-year-old daughter. He is a marriage and family therapist and an aspiring novelist. You can also follow him on twitter.

All the married among us have been there.

A couple invites you and your wife over for dinner. You don't know them well, but you're happy to go and maybe connect with some people in your ward or from your work and get some free food. When you get there, you're seated at a sparklingly clean table, you're served a delicious pasta along with a broccoli salad that has nuts and Craisins and feta cheese in it, and as the night goes forward, the only thing that keeps flashing through your mind is "this is the most boring evening of my entire life." By the time dessert is served, you're already contemplating escape scenarios. You wonder how conspicuous it would be to send your wife a text that says "there is an emergency at home we need to attend to. Called not dying of boredom. Act like the babysitter just texted" but you decide against it because you're an honest fellow. In the end, you bide your time until 9:30 p.m., and at about the time the couple says "hey, do you wanna see our wedding video?" you yawn and stretch and say, "wow, I have a big day tomorrow. I'm all tuckered out! Maybe never..ext time."

You know you have officially not connected when the highlight of the entire evening is the broccoli salad. Find photo here.

It's only natural. Everybody can't "click" with everybody. You leave, and you never hang out with this couple again.

But, surprisingly, when it comes to "couple dating" or the process by which couples become bff's with other couples, things actually get more complicated when there is a click.

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins

by Clark (bio)

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins got together and created an incredibly remarkable album entitled Diamond Mine. From the start you can tell it's more than just music. It has sounds of people talking and glassware clanking in the background as the opening track slowly emerges from the atmosphere of a scottish cafe. I'm really glad I happened across this album from my wanderings on the internet because it's perfect to turn on and open a good book to. Calm and well thought out, the music is more of an experience crafted from Hopkins' arrangements and King Creosote's (Kenny Anderson) vocals collected over the years from various recordings. It seems those recordings from the past couple decades were created perfectly for the right moment to be released as this album. What mellow background music do you listen to as you read?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What We Used to Study At Church

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Bow Tie Guy and his family were over for dinner the other night. I was showing him a manual I'd come across and purchased at our local Deseret Industries. The manual - Apostasy to Restoration - was written by T. Edgar Lyon and used as the course of study for melchizedek priesthood quorums in 1960.

Here is a brief outline (I am not making this up):

Part I: Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World
Sample Headings: The Nature of Pagan Religion, The Mystery Cults, The Pontifex Maximus

Part II: The Christian Church During the First Three Centuries
Sample Headings: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Antiquity of the Gospel, Jewish Opposition Toward Christianity, Writings of Ignatius, Justin Martyr: The First Christian Apologist, The Gnostic Heresy

Part III: Christianity Joins Forces With the Roman Government
Sample Headings: The Donatist Schism, The Nicene Creed, Caesaro-Papism, The Choosing of Pagans as Bishops**

Part IV: Political and Religious Innovations in the Western Church
Sample Headings: Monasticism and Christianity, Mysticism and Worship, The Forged Decretals, Purgatory

Part V: Movements Toward Church Reform
Sample Headings: Humanism and Reform, Luther's Ninety-Five Theses, Calvinism Beyond Switzerland

Now, I know next to nothing about any of the topics in this manual, but isn't that the point? As early as fifty years ago priesthood quorums were spending an entire year on these topics. Now, the same lessons are recycled every four years. I don't know about you, but I could sure use a year of lessons on paganism, mysticism and purgatory.

If anyone in the church office building reads Modern Mormon Men, could you please leave this post up on the computer of someone in power?

** I mean no offense to my current bishop with the selection of this sample heading.

Ascots and Onesies

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

As for me and my house, we will celebrate Bill Murray.

Aimee surprised us with this awesome shirt from Truly Sanctuary. She knows me so well.

Images via Daily Dawdle and ScottHeff.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Wife is the Key

by Bitner (bio)

Consider five of the most influential men in the world over the last 250 years. (The list is long, but let's consider five for the sake of argument.)

John Adams - a man of impeccable integrity, the foremost speaker of the Revolutionary era, successor to George Washington, and famous for his exchange of letters with both is wife, Abigail, and his rival-friend Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson - author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia statute of religious freedom, successor to John Adams, father of the University of Virginia and self-taught architect and tinkerer..oh and lover of French wine.

JP Morgan - one of the greatest financiers of all time, single-handedly saved the American economy multiple times in the late 1800s and early 1900s, credited for building the Museum of Modern Art via his personal collection and support.

Winston Churchill - world champion polo player, world-class artist, authored 10 million words, one of the greatest (and funniest) statesmen in world history for his career in Parliament generally and his leading role in navigating WWII specifically.

Jack Welch - a came-from-nothing success story who had a volcanic rise through a stodgy, bureaucratic corporation, eventually becoming Chairman & CEO (possibly the best ever), known for fierce competitiveness and differentiation of people.

That's an incredible list of men.

Making Counting Count

by Josh (bio)

This is an actual meal I ate, with Ken Craig. It was magical. 
I know my first post on this site almost got my Man Card revoked, but I thought I would post today about something extremely manly in hopes of redeeming myself: calorie counting.

You see, I have kind of an obsession (read: addiction) to food. There was a time in my life where I was enrolled in culinary school with plans to be a chef. I love little more than eating and making delicious food. But I also don’t love being fat. So I try and run, with varying degrees of frequency and make smart eating choices, with varying degrees of frequency. Luckily my wife is an amazing cook and a healthy eater, so usually at least two of my three meals a day are pretty balanced and good for me.

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo in the media lately about restaurants, particularly fast food restaurants, posting the caloric content of their menus along with the prices. In fact, as part of new regulations by the FDC, calories will be required by mid-2012. Presumably, this is a way to fight the rising epidemic of obesity in the United States. But I kinda have to question that. If you are going to McDonald’s and ordering the 50 piece McNugget, two large fry and two large soda combo, will knowing it contains approximately one bajillion calories actually change your mind? Did you think, before you saw that number, that you were ordering something healthy? Will you decide, in a fit of prudence, to switch one of the large fries to a side salad? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saintspeak 2: The Letter A

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Another installment from Saintspeak, the mormon dictionary from writer Orson Scott Card. Previous installments can be found here.

The Letter A

Adam - the first man to insist he was not responsible for what a woman enticed him to do.

Adam-God Theory - a doctrine that was never taught in the church, especially by Brigham Young.

Agonize - what your church leader will always tell you he did before making a decision that unhinges your life.

Assistant to the President - the missionary most likely to succeed.

Signature Books: here
Wikipedia (Orson Scott Card): here
Image via Signature Books

Guest Post: What Came In The Mail

Mike Henneke is a dad blogger, journalist and responsible for the Hindenburg disaster. (Just ask his wife.) He has aspirations that sometimes include Costco peach pie, and hasn't received a call from the school principal in three weeks.

I don’t expect to see her letter there.

But there it is, buried in the stack of junk mail, letters and the weekly Rite Aid ad.

At first I think Barb has mailed a letter without enough postage. It’s one of the biggest fears of hers, I think, rivaling that of sharks and music not produced by Josh Groban.

“Is that enough postage?” Barb asks every time she hands me letters to mail.

“I don’t know,” I respond. “The Post Office may ban you for sure this time.”

“This one may take four stamps,” she tells me. “You better check it, just to make sure.”

“You’re only mailing some protons. I think you’ll be OK.”

So at the mailbox, I think she’s actually done it, mailing a letter without sufficient postage.

Then I realize the letter is addressed to me.

I’ve got mail. From my wife.

Joplin, Missouri: Revisited

by Saint Mark (bio)

I was reading the comments for my post "Joplin, Missouri" and although I believe all the comments were insightful and heartfelt, there was one by Mrs. Downhome America that gave me pause. Among other cogent points, Mrs. Downhome America implied that the devastation that occurred in Joplin may be an experience to "peel" away pride and other stumbling blocks. Here's an excerpt: "He knows what's important, and he's prepared to strip away things that aren't eternal to give us eternal, spiritual muscle. Brigham Young would say the saints had been "peeled'. All these things are meant to be for our good."

Mrs. Downhome America's point is a challenging one. As I noted in my original post, I don't know the rhyme or reason for the tornados that impacted Joplin so tragically. In reading the scriptures, I am conflicted as to the reason why the tornados hurt so many good people and destroyed so many homes, buildings, a hospital, and yes, the only LDS church building in Joplin.

For example, in the Book of Mormon, the Anti-Nephi Lehies are brutally attacked by their former brethren. Even though the Anti-Nephih Lehies have cast away all of their sins and evinced their deep faith in Jesus Christ by burying their weapons of war, still one thousand of the new converts of Christ are mercilessly murdered while they are in the act of praying. See Alma Chapters 23 and 24. In Helaman Chapter 12, verse 3, Mormon seems to proclaim the reason for catastrophes and "acts of God," as we lawyers like to say in contracts: "And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him." Does this apply to all disasters and tragedies? Does this apply to Joplin?

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