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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Almost the End of the World as We Know It. Start Reading.

by Scott Hales (bio)

2012 is just around the corner, and if conspiracy theorists and Roland Emmerich have their way, this upcoming New Year's Eve will be our last.

This saddens me a little since New Year’s Eve parties at my parents’ house have always been the highlight of my holiday season. I mean, I’ve never read The Hunger Games, but something tells me that New Year's parties in general just won't be the same against the smoldering backdrop of a newly eradicated, post-apocalyptic world. Especially since I can’t imagine Ryan Seacrest finding a tanning bed so soon after civilization crumples.

With the world ending in a little over a year, the uncreative among us are already planning to spend the next year wearing their lives out doing clichéd Tim McGraw-inspired things: sky-diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, etc. Others will be following Glenn Beck’s advice and hoarding gold and investing in food storage insurance and subterranean Cold War-esque bunkers.

To each his own.

My plans for 2012 are less dramatic. This year has been a great one for Mormon literature, and so much has been published recently that I’ve fallen behind in my reading. So, while others are preparing for the Abomination of Desolations, or partying like its really 1999, I’m going to hit the books and get caught up.

Already I’ve got a head start. Just last month I finished Jana Riess’s memoir Flunking Sainthood, which has been enthusiastically praised and re-praised by Mormon and non-Mormon readers alike. In the book, Riess writes humorously about a year she spent living obscure religious practices—and failing gloriously at each of them. It’s not an overtly Mormon book—Riess, a well-known Mormon author, targets a much broader audience—but its honest message about the paybacks of spiritual failure makes it the kind of book Mormons should read. Especially if they’re getting ready for next year's December Doomsday.

Anyway: click below for a list of other books I’m either reading now or intending to read soon. With any luck I’ll have them all read well before the bombs or meteors or alien death rays start falling.

Vintage Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Photos

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

I happened across this cool old photo of a Superman balloon from the 1939 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It inspired me to search out a bunch more. Here are a few favorites that I found. Enjoy.

Superman 1939, Fish 1941
Pinocchio 1937, Mickey Mouse 1934
Dragon 1931, Tin Man 1939
Hippo 1948, Eddie Cantor 1934
Cry Baby 1934, Spaceman 1959

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is Your Thanksgiving Menu Traditional, Cultural or Geographical?

by brettmerritt (bio)

As I was gorging myself on Thanksgiving Day leftovers, I got thinking about how awesome the day was. Of course, I spent much of the last week thinking about how blessed my life is but in that particular moment I was happy about the food.

Amelia baked so many new dishes this year: butter & herb turkey, carrots and parsnips, parmesan cauliflower, maple and brown sugar yams, glazed pearl onions, cornbread sausage stuffing, and more. It's compounded in awesomeness because she has only cooked Thanksgiving dinner three times in her life. These dishes were different and amazing.

However, growing up in Utah and Colorado, the menu was always the same from year to year. We either ate at home for Thanksgiving or at my Grandma's house. We'd have turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, olives, marshmallow yams, jello salad, baked carrots, celery sticks and peanut butter, and rolls. I always loved knowing what I was going to eat for dinner that day. It was always delicious too.

On my mission to Alabama, the two Thanksgivings (and six meals I ate) had a great mixture of traditional and local dishes. One meal we were served BBQ chicken, collard greens, sweet potato pie, and chitlins. (I loved everything but the chitlins which are boiled pig intestines. I still ate them.)

As I've gotten older, I've appreciated a little more variety and surprise in the menu. It's probably why I loved what my wife did this year so much and why we're already excited for next year (or Christmas).

This has all got me thinking. Not everyone has the same menu across the board for Thanksgiving Dinner. So, I'm looking for your input. Is the most anticipated meal of the year determined by geographical or cultural factors or both? Are we following traditions or blazing our own trail? Are there foods that people eat in California that they don't eat in Maine? What about farmers versus inner city residents? Do Mormons eat different dishes than the Baptists, Jews, Atheists or Catholics? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Flickr.

Chicken Coop For The Holiday Soul

by jpaul (bio)

I posted a few weeks ago regarding the launch of and received great feedback from MMM readers. Many of you expressed interest in the coop, so I wanted to announce the Holiday Special that began this week. We lowered the price on the RedBarnCoop from $650 to $399 + shipping. We have also made improvements to the coop thanks to feedback received on MMM. There was a comment on the first blog post that the locks seemed insufficient for clever raccoons, so we upgraded to more secure latches. Thanks for all the support and join the Urban Farming Movement this Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Agency in 1Q84

by MAB (bio)

I just finished reading "1Q84", a thousand page novel by Haruki Murakami. I've read four of his novels now and couldn't put any of them down. This, his latest novel is probably my least favorite though. I'll talk a little about the book but won't give anything important away.

The book follows a girl "Aomame" and her eventual boyfriend "Tengo". They first meet in grade school but only say a few words to each other and very briefly hold hands. Shortly after Aomame's family moves to another part of Tokyo. Many years later they realize they are deeply in love with each other and always have been. It's a good love story (note: R rating) with a healthy dose of magic realism. I'm no expert on love stories but I would bet the grade school fling that comes back to haunt young adults is a common theme. One book that used this to great effect was "Love in the Time of Cholera." So, to delayed love gratification, add some Romeo and Juliet style star-crossed love baked in the magic realism oven and you get 1Q84.

There is much I could write about in the book. For instance, Aomame has a spiritual awakening at one point. But for me it wasn't as thought provoking as it could have been. I had no desire to slow down while reading about it, like I did when reading Ivan's religious thoughts and discussions in "The Brother's Karamazov".

The John Muir Trail

by Clark (bio)

As winter approaches, why not look back at what other people did this summer. It couldn't hurt to start planning the summer of 2012's adventure list. Hiking all two hundred and some odd miles of the John Muir trail is on my list of things to do in the not too distant future. In the meantime, this well-made video can serve as a motivational advertisement for future mountain expeditions. Click here for more info.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Post: Enough Said

Have a guest post for Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and women can submit guest posts via email. In addition to your post, please include a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself).

Carrie Stroud is the wife to one cool husband and two overly-enthusiastic kiddos. She started her college career in theater, but when motherhood struck her uterus she began to consider another artistic outlet and decided to become one of the thousands of part-time photographer Mormon Mothers. As a loving wife she has assumed the role of putting her husband through grad school (ending in December! Yippee!) and works entirely too much which therefore leaves her children starving for dinners other than cheerios. As a bonus to her versatility, she writes way too often on her blog All That Is Sweet In Life.

I got married really young. Like, 19 really young. It basically rocked me to the core that I was capable of doing something like that. My whole life (all awesome 19 years of them) I had wanted to serve a Mission. I knew it was going to happen and I wrote religiously in my journal about the day when it would. South America? France perhaps? Gosh I hope it's not Salt Lake City! So when I met my husband and he swept me off my feet, I felt a pang of guilt that I wasn't fulfilling my potential. That I wasn't giving myself the opportunity that I knew a Mission would afford both my testimony and my ability to strengthen and convert others to the truth. The chance to serve the Lord for two years (er ... 18 months for girls) -- giving nothing but all that I had -- was a complete honor and I wanted it desperately. It drove me nuts that so many "boys" did not understand the awesome calling that it was, and well, my feminist self was going to show them who was boss.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from MMM

On this, our first Thanksgiving as a blog, our thoughts naturally turn to pie. Whatever your favorite may be, we hope you get more than one piece tonight, then another for breakfast tomorrow morning. Happy Thanksgiving.

- Jon & Scott

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Pain And The Atonement

by Apparent Parent (bio)

Pain is much more real after an emergency helicopter evac.
And somehow that pain taught me a spiritual lesson.
"On a scale of 1 to 10," the nurses asked me every time they ever saw me.

"A dull 4," I'd usually answer. "Maybe a 5."

Little did I know they were secretly trying to make me cross that 10 threshold. Throughout my hospital stay, I had avoided pain medication. When I shattered my kneecap in the mountains, I refused morphine they offered to stream into my blood to make the pain go away while I unexpectedly camped because it was too dark for the rescue helicopter to fly out with us after it brought in rescue rangers. Not the chipmunk kind - the khaki kind. Heck, I even refused Advil.

You see, I'm of the school of thought that feels most medicines mess with your system more than they help it. I'm not saying it's an accredited university or anything, but that's how I've always felt. So I doggedly persisted in refusing anything but anesthetic while they tore my knee open, drilled two screws through my patella to reconnect the five pieces of my kneecap back into a blessed skeletal Pangaea, and stitched up the five-inch gash under my knee.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Mormon is Mitt Romney?

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I won't call it a crush, as ScottHeff did here, but I too am a huge Joanna Brooks fan. I enjoy listening to her regularly on Mormon Matters (also recently on APM's Being podcast with Krista Tippett here) and try to read as much of her writing at Religious Dispatches as I have time for.

Awhile back she took a break from her usually politics-heavy column to post some incredibly funny "Mitt Romney is so mormon ..." jokes. Here are a few of my favorites. You can read the rest here. Do our readers have any to add?

Mitt is so Mormon he’ll make the income tax a flat 10% and collect fast offerings to fund Medicaid.

Mitt is so Mormon he’ll ask the Senate to “sustain” his appointees by manifesting with an upraised hand.

Mitt is so Mormon he’s organizing his precinct walkers in pairs to knock doors with a very special message.

Guest Post: Why I'm Happy Being Single

Have a guest post for Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and women can submit guest posts via email. In addition to your post, please include a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself).

Ben Prime is a BYU graduate in Audiology and Speech-language Pathology from 2009. He is also a Graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders (Speech-language Pathology for those not up on their terms). He is single, modern, Mormon and incidentally, male.

I am a menace to society. Let me demonstrate.

1. I’m a second year graduate student. While scary for me, I don’t see how this makes me a menace.
2. I’m a returned missionary. Missions are good, right?
3. I’m a BYU alumni. The Lord’s university right? So nope, not a menace.
4. I’m single. There we go! Wait how old am I? 5. I’m 26. Ah yup. By the standard set by a long dead leader, I’m a menace to society … but shouldn’t we be judging me by something a bit more current?
6. I’m ok with it. Oh dear. This is downright despicable. Now I’m willingly a menace.
7. I didn’t choose it. Does this have any bearing on my menace-hood. I think it should.

What, you’d like some explanation? Well yeah … I mean you can’t challenge accepted wisdom without a reason, can you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Almost Abortion

When I was first conceived, my father told my mother to have an abortion. This was not a new request. My father made the same demand when my mother was pregnant prior to my conception. He justified the abortion of my sibling by saying that my parents didn't have enough money or it wasn't the right timing or they were having too much fun reconstructing Harley-Davidson motorcycles and a child right now would basically gum up the works. So, my mother obeyed and had the abortion. Later, she told me it was one of the worst experiences of her life and that she would never do it again.

So, you can foresee the ultimate conflict: mother was "pro-life/anti-choice" and father was "pro-choice/anti-life." What are two conflicting ideologies to do? Well, in my family's case, my father chose to threaten my mother with physical violence if she did not obey his wishes. She obviously did not and he beat her for it.

So, Where Do I Stand?
Since abortion was legalized nation-wide, more than 40,000,000 abortions have been performed in America. (Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood), Centers for Disease Control, National Right to Life Committee, and Central Illinois Right to Life). That's roughly 4,000 abortions per day. The most recent data on abortion statistics notes that approximately 1,293,000 abortions were performed in the United States in 2004. World-wide around 46,000,000 abortions are performed annually and that's about 126,000 abortions each day on the earth. (Source: Center for Bioethical Reform). Based on research, approximately 95% of all abortions are performed as a means of birth control. 1% for rape or incest, 1% because of fetal abnormalities, and about 3% due to health problems of the mother. (Source: Central Illinois Right to Life).

Now, I know there are many arguments for each side of the debate about abortion. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, almost about the same time my parents discussed whether to abort my sibling, and the debate on its constitutionality is as old as I am. The pro-choice debate goes something like this: Women have an implied right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution. Women should have a right to control their bodies. On the other side, the pro-life supporters proclaim that a fetus is a person and deserves protection.

Giveaway 5: Winners!

Congratulations to the following MMM readers, you each win a 30-piece box of assorted dark and milk chocolates delivered straight to your door, courtesy of Lula's Chocolates! Don't let all the football and turkey distract you from remembering to send us your address by Friday, November 25th to claim your chocolates.

Even if you didn't win the giveaway, you can still win. Head to Lula's online store where owner Scott Lund has generously offered MMM readers a 15% discount (use discount code MMM15) off their entire first order. Or click here for a list of the many retailers in California, Florida, Nevada, New York, Oregon and Washington who carry Lula's chocolates. We can say from personal experience that the chocolate is delicious and the wrapped caramels are heavenly (we have it on good authority they will be served in the celestial kingdom).

"Be true to your teeth, or they'll be false to you." - Lula

Friday, November 18, 2011

Claudia & Richard Bushman: Speaking in Seattle

Seattle is so hip. We get all the coolest people to come speak to us. If you live in the Seattle area, or even if you don't, you should try and make it. Claudia Bushman will be speaking on "Telling Our Stories" and Richard Bushman will discuss "Joseph and Emma." This Sunday, November 20, 7:00 p.m. at the Seattle North Stake Center. See you there! Bios below.

Photograph by Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times

Claudia Bushman was a professor of American Studies at Columbia University, now teaches Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, and has produced twelve books on social and cultural history and Mormonism, among them Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in modern America. She was the New York State Mother of the Year in 2003.

Richard Bushman retired from his professorship in history at Columbia University in 2001, now occupies the Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, and has written extensively, including Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, published in 2005. He is a Co-General Editor of the Joseph Smith Papers.

Guest Post: The Month of Movember

Movember first caught our attention when Sam Brunson over at Times And Seasons announced he'd shaved his beard of two-and-a-half years. Then, we watched GUYDE's Movember Edition, reminding us to check our balls (medically speaking, of course). Finally, after receiving a guest post from Marcus, we knew we could ignore Movember no mo.

Marcus Lane was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and served his mission in Guatemala City. He spends his days running tree-lined streets and listening to his favorite tunes to prepare for marathons, half marathons and 10K's. He is married to his tall blonde dream girl and they have a two year-old son and another baby in the oven who will be making a grand entrance in February of 2012. Marcus writes on his personal family blog, The Shields Riot, where he updates his readers on the family's travels, humor, thoughts and other meaningless adventures. You can read Marcus' first guest post here or check out his Movember page here.

Haven't you always wanted to sport a manly look like Ned Flanders, Tom Selleck or Hulk Hogan? Apparently I have, because during this month, the month of November, I am participating in Movember. Movember is changing the face of men's health, one moustache at a time, and this year I chose to be a part of it. Basically, you shave your face on Halloween and then over the next 30 days you grow and groom a moustache of your liking. Because of your new look people will ask questions. Your response should be that you are helping to raise awareness for prostate/testicular cancer and for men's health in general. You can also tell them that they can donate to this great cause by visiting your Movember website.

This is my first year participating in this great cause and I am sure I will be doing it every year from here on out. (Although my wife might have another opinion about this) Now that I can actually grow a moustache, I feel like it is my duty and responsibility to participate and to help others become aware of what is happening with men's health.

I have been growing my moustache for almost two weeks now and it is definitely noticeable. It is great to see people's reactions when they notice it. Some people will take a second look, while others will straight up ask me, "What's with the moustache?" Last weekend I attended a fancy-schmancy Political Gala in Salt Lake City, where a gentleman in his freshly rented tuxedo straight up asked me why I had a moustache and if my wife liked it. I told him about Movember and what it means and that my wife did not condone the stash, but was still supportive. He was very intrigued and fascinated and will hopefully be participating next week and I hope you will too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why We Love Geocaching

by Seattle Jon (bio)

the "Shoreline Crew" (our geocaching handle)

Our family was introduced to geocaching a few months ago during a family reunion at Fort Worden. Word went around that a group of family members were heading out to locate a few geocaches near the fort's old batteries. It sounded adventurous, so we went along ... and discovered a new hobby.

According to wikipedia, geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which participants use a GPS device (my iPhone) to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches," anywhere in the world. Continuing on, wikipedia explains that "a typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is often described as a "game of high-tech hide and seek", sharing many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking. Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. After 10 years of activity there are over 1,532,000 active geocaches published on various websites. There are over 5 million geocachers worldwide."

Imagine what you would typically do in the following situations:

You coach a soccer team and need to drop off raffle tickets to someone in the league who lives nearby. Your five-year old son, who is wired, asks to come along on the quick trip.

Did you answer that you'd tell your son it's just a quick trip and you'll be home in ten minutes? I would have a few months ago. Instead, I told him to hop in because I'd already checked my iPhone and there were two un-discovered geogaches near the person's house. We spent 30 minutes treasure-hunting after dropping off the tickets. My five year-old came home tired (less wired) with fresh scratches (from trees and bushes) and stories of buried treasure.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Ward Callings This Week

by Bishop Higgins (bio)

We've had so much activity in the ward this week. Here are a list of the most recent new callings. Thank you for your willingness to serve.

Fire drill coordinator - Brother and Sister Felbur
Ward Concierge - Nels Tetly
Ward to Stake liaison - Cory Kilton
Cow to Steak liaison - Alton Tibbs
Ward corn husker - Marjorie Warmbaum
Ward gossip - I would tell you, but I don't think it's my place to do so. Well, ok. I'll tell you. It's Marvin Gibler.
Elders quorum athletic prig - Charles Packertonsby III
Ward sniper - Carle Essle
Ward nurse - Carl Essle
Wart caterer - Holy Macaroni Catering Company (outsourced)
Ward Jennifer Anniston - Charlene Pugger
Ward Greeter - Old Man Campbell
(Not sure what to name this calling) The person responsible for chasing owls from the rafters - Martha Kertzy

Marcel, Marcel

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Many of you will remember the original Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. How could you forget? Well the adorable Marcel is back! The long awaited sequel was uploaded on Monday and is quickly making its way across the interwebs. When I started this post, it had 45,000 views on YouTube. When I finished this post, it had 395,000 views. And by the time you read this it will have over a million. What is it that's so cute about this little shell?


And in case you have no clue what I'm talking about, here's the first one.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TED: Louie Schwartzberg

by Clark (bio)

I like coming across inspiring commentary from speakers on TED. This one particularly stood out to me. The footage of hummingbirds, bats, and bees is some of the most amazing I've seen. You can tell he isn't a pro at speaking, but that doesn't mean he can't give a powerhouse presentation. This little video reminds us how mother nature is incredibly complex. The footage this guy captures blows my mind. Here is a link.

What are some of your favorite and most inspiring TED talks?

Opening Doors For Single Mothers

We heard rumblings a few weeks ago about a church-sponsored mommy blogger conference (we're still waiting for a daddy blogger conference), but weren't sure exactly what the purpose was. Well, now we know.

Our friends over at fMh were invited to send representatives to a meeting of mommy bloggers with LDS Philanthropies, a department of the Presiding Bishopric, to coordinate a project to help single mothers attend LDS Business College. Read more about the project here, or donate through the widget below.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giveaway 5: Lula's Chocolates

A few months ago, the Marriott Alumni Magazine ran a feature article on Lula's Chocolates, a Utah-based family business turned high-end chocolate retailer in Monterey, California. The owner, Scott Lund, makes chocolates the "home-fashioned" way using techniques passed down to him from his grandmother, Lula. When we read what Lula would tell her grandchildren when placing a chocolate in their hand - "Be true to your teeth, or they'll be false to you." - we knew we needed to contact Scott about a giveaway.

For this giveaway, Scott is offering four lucky MMM readers a 30-piece box of assorted dark and milk chocolates delivered straight to your door, a $50+ value. According to Scott, these are the small-batch, hand-crafted butter crèmes, nut clusters and caramels that started it all.

To enter the giveaway, just follow the guidelines below. If you can't wait until Friday to see if you've won, head to Lula's online store (use discount code MMM15 for 15% off your entire first order) or click here for a list of the many retailers in California, Florida, Nevada, New York, Oregon and Washington who carry Lula's chocolates.

Giveaway Guidelines:
• You have 5 days to enter (closes Friday, November 18 at midnight).
• Make one comment on this post to enter (anonymous comments ignored).
• Four winners chosen via will be announced November 21.
• Winners need to respond via email by November 25 to claim their chocolates.

MMM Movies: The Other F Word

by Roy Peckham (bio)

It was the mid '90s. The sun poured into my dad’s cherry red '63 Volkswagen Beetle as we drove over the Vincent Thomas Bridge into the shipping town of San Pedro, California. We made weekly trips from Long Beach into San Pedro to visit relatives when I was young. But on this particular drive, my dad let me pop my most recent acquisition into the tape player. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I managed to obtain Offspring’s album “Smash”, but I was stoked. As we crested the apex of the long green bridge, “Bad Habit” was just getting started. The long descent down the other side of the bridge seemed to represent the rapid decline in my father’s opinion of my musical taste. However, just as his generation outgrew the LSD-inspired psychedelic rock of the 1960s, so to must our generation eventually outgrow the anarchy-fueled, rebellious era of punk rock. The Other F Word explores the unique juxtaposition of punk rock and fatherhood. Jim Lindberg (Pennywise), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Mark Hoppus (Blink 182), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid) and others offer candid insight into this transition from Punk Rock icon to dad. In a poignant, tear-filled moment, Flea states that "the classic parent attitude to a kid is ‘I brought you into this world, I gave you life.’ But it’s like, I just think completely the opposite. My kids gave me life.” Living in the cultural mecca of Utah puts me about 500 miles from any of the documentary’s screenings. However, if you find yourself in a city where this film is being shown, I’d consider a viewing. Though don’t be surprised if our generational icons aren’t celestial fathers, and let some other choice words (or gestures) slip.

Watch the trailer here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Young, Hip & Mormon

The New York Times ran an interesting article the other day about how young mormons are expanding the boundaries of style within the church. The article discusses - among other things - fashion, facial hair, tattoos and the Word of Wisdom. What do our readers have to say about these topics and how they're addressed in the article? (click picture to read article)

Revisiting My Dorky Childhood

by Scott Hales (bio)

image from

When I was in sixth grade, my parents would force me to do my homework by threatening to take away my comic books. The rule was that if my report card had anything lower than a B on it, my comics would go straight to a “secret” hiding place in my parents’ room--a cabinet in their TV stand. Math was usually my Kryptonite. I don’t think I ever got a B or higher in sixth grade math. Seventh grade math was a little better, especially when I got demoted to the dumber math class. The dumb math class was good for my comic book habit.

As titles go, I was an X-Men fanatic. This was in the early 1990s, when Jim Lee, and later Andy Kubert, were penciling a brand new X-Men title. John Romita, Jr., I believe, was penciling Uncanny X-Men, but I didn’t like his work as much and I could tell you why with all the geeky elitism my twelve-year-old self could muster.

I gave up comic collecting around the time I turned fourteen--after a girl in my ward gave me a look when I mentioned that I owned nearly one hundred comics. It was the kind of look that let me know a girl like her would never go for a guy who still treasured a collection of kiddy magazines.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Manhood, Fatherhood, and Patriarchy

Our own Scott Heffernan was invited back on the Mormon Matters Podcast. He talks fatherhood, patriarchy, priesthood, manhood, and more with Dan Wotherspoon, Stephen Carter and Adam Jacobsen. Check it out here.

Image by Scott Heffernan. (No children were harmed in the taking of this photograph.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post: How Much Is Too Much?

Bradly Allen Baird is the father of two amazing children and served a mission in the Finland Helsinki Mission somewhere around the dawn of time. Having acquired an MBA and then subsequently throwing over his entire (and incredibly boring) professional(?) life to study biotechnology and computer information systems, he is finally finding his way as a modern mormon male. Oh, and he became interested in the bloggernacle a few years ago by submitting comments and a couple of guest posts to A Motley Vision. You can read Bradly's first guest post here.

With the arrival of the news on November 9th that two LDS missionaries were killed by an automobile in Texas, I have been wondering about the families of these young men and how they might be coping with such a sudden and terrible loss; especially one family member who is an acquaintance of mine and who has suffered some extraordinary challenges in the last eight weeks.

In addition to losing his younger brother last evening, I watched this good man lose another member of his family in - what appears to be - a brutal murder just a few weeks ago. And, to top it all off, his home was foreclosed on just a couple of weeks ago because his real estate-related business has been in serious decline over the last few years.

Josh Wright: Performance

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I'd never heard of Josh Wright until a few Sundays ago, but he has my full attention now. Check out this moving, original arrangement of Clair de lune (Debussy) and How Great Thou Art during a recent sacrament meeting in my ward. I think you can see why his self-titled album topped the Billboard Classical Traditional chart just three weeks after its release in April 2011. Now go and buy his CDs for someone for Christmas.

(posted with permission of artist)

Guest Post: Disney Moments

Richard Tait is the proud father of a married son attending BYU-Idaho, and a beautiful YSA daughter getting general education credits out of the way at a junior college . He has been married to the same woman for 27 years, and its been the best 25 years of his life. Richard writes for his own blog, Mormon Third Eye, where he talks about the Third Eye ... the notorious eye in the back of the head, or the extra view of life that God blesses parents striving to do the right thing with so they can see more of life than the children they chase after. Amazingly, Richard hasn't missed a weekend post in over 230 weeks, a streak that started soon after he was released as Seattle Jon's bishop in Maryland. You can read Richard's other guest posts here and here.

Beautiful princesses dancing majestically with grotesque beasts; manly high school basketball stars inspiring teen masses with moving vocal performances in the school play; plain girls laboring in filthy cinders transformed into a Prince's true love at the ball; these are the Disney dramas that comfort us. They usually involve an unlikely hero conquering seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve a life that is lived happily ever after.

In the Disney universe, all the elements come together perfectly to form magical moments as often as one can press the rewind button on the remote. In the real world, however, they rarely occur; you have to look hard to find them. I saw this one a few years ago at a church dance.

There was a young teenage girl - to protect her future we'll call her Mabel. Outwardly, Mabel appeared to be your typical Laurel class member. Those who knew her, however, knew that she was, well, let's just say, different. She didn't fit in in almost every possible way an LDS teen queen could or should fit in; she said the wrong things at the wrong time, and didn't always care very much for the things that LDS culture demanded that a young woman her age should care about. Her Asperger's Syndrome took her social awkwardness to astronomical levels.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You What?!

After watching this video, we agree with Ben, Halloween IS the best holiday. For what other holiday could you get reactions like this from tired, sugar-fueled kids! Enjoy.

Modern Mormon Myths

by A-Dub (bio)

My undergraduate degree was in the very lucrative field of socio-cultural anthropology, with a double major in Latin American Studies (tagline: “Oh! So…what are you gonna to do with that?”). One of the four things that I learned and still remember from my anthropology degree is that almost all cultures transfer beliefs through some type of myth. Bear in mind that the word myth doesn’t necessarily equate to untrue.

Mormons also create myths, though I must admit that some of them make me cringe. When people tell these myths, they get so adamant that they’re true: “No, seriously! My boyfriend’s dentist heard it from his cousin’s bishop, so it has to be true!” I’m sure some are based in reality, but some are so obviously made up that it makes we think many Mormons lean towards being gullible. I think that we really want them to be true because they help affirm our faith to some degree.

Here are some of the most popular myths/legends I’ve heard. I do question the veracity of many of them, but I’m not saying which. Okay … I question the veracity of any myth involving the Three Nephites.

• Yoda from Star Wars was based on Spencer W. Kimball. (see here)

• The corner towers of the Salt Lake Temple were built perfectly as elevator shafts, though no one knew why they were supposed to be built like that at the time.

• The three Nephites warded off a serial killer from inviting the sister missionaries into his house. Police found this out when they caught him later and he said he didn’t invite them in because "I was scared of the three huge Indian warriors that were standing behind them."

Monday, November 7, 2011


by May Jones (bio)

gilles vranckx - walking backwards in the wind

I'm doing it backwards.

I got married as a junior in college, had my first baby before I graduated, then three more while my husband was working full time. We built a house and sold it and went back to law school with four kids. By the time he graduated, we had sold both our cars. Last year, we moved out to Manhattan with our children and a few possessions and a job. Nothing else. My husband is a first year associate at a big law firm and we live in a two bedroom apartment. No cars, no second home, no savings, no college funds. My daughter just started middle school this fall. I'm thirty-four years old. To our New York city peers, I am a baffling creature. The way I am living my life goes against all reason. I'm supposed to have my Masters and ten years of an esteemed career under my belt, be having my first baby about now, maybe my second. I'm supposed to own a house in Westchester County and I'm supposed to spend my summers in Italy or France. I'm not supposed to buy all my coats at Target. Or have all four of my kids sharing a room. I am doing it wrong.

Modern Seattle Backyard

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Our backyard was highlighted last week on Check it out, and look for a post on our chicken coop in the near future.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Footage of Early Church Leaders

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

My ward calling is to teach Sunday School to the twelve/thirteen/fourteen-year-olds. It's a good gig and I actually relate to people of that age pretty well. The lesson manual is The Presidents of the Church. It spends two lessons on each modern day prophet and each lesson discusses the life of that president, using some stories or quotes to emphasize a certain gospel principle. I'll be blunt—the manual is really boring and it almost seems like they tried to make it not relatable to early teens. Which is a little bit ironic considering it is one of the very few manuals created for that specific of an age range. I often struggle to make the lessons relevant to what an adolescent is experiencing in life. My students weren't connecting to any of the prophets very well, but I recently came across something that helped some of them a bit.

Did you know there's video footage all the way back to Joseph F. Smith and audio recordings back to Wilford Woodruff? You probably did. It makes sense. But I had never thought of it before. (There are also photographs back to Brigham Young and maybe even Joseph Smith.) I don't remember what I imagined Heber J. Grant to sound like before, but it definitely wasn't like this. I love how ebullient he is. Check out this video of George Albert Smith—also more animated than I had supposed.

I'll have to change my intonation when I read their quotes from now on. The leaders start to get that familiar sober tone starting with Joseph Fielding Smith, but it's still fun to get a feel for their personalities. At the very least it was fun for me to get better acquainted with David O. McKay and Spencer W. Kimball and to help my students connect a face to the people we are learning about/from.

Apparently these have just been sitting under my nose and are available on DVD for dirt cheap from the distribution center.

MMM Sermons: "The False Gods We Worship"

by Saint Mark (bio)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call them "talks," but most (non)Christians call them sermons. This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine.

You can find this talk in its entirety here.

Although one of our shortest prophets on record, President Spencer W. Kimball has to be one of the most engaged, inspired prophets we had during the 20th century. Through his inspired counsel, missionary work more than doubled, the priesthood became accessible to all worthy men and the leadership of the LDS church became more diverse and international.

President Kimball is also well known for his fiery sermons that galvanized and chastised congregants. The False Gods We Worship is no exception. It is even more apropos during our days of "screen worship," whether smart phone, smart pad, computer, movie or television. When I read this sermon I was pricked in my mind by the reminder of the sheer volume of hours I have wasted being idle in front of a screen instead of immersed in the words of God or the service of others.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guest Post: Why Halloween Is The Best Holiday

Ben Johnson grew up in the heart of Mormon country, just outside of Salt Lake City. Given the unsophisticated nature of his palette ("what's a filet?") he was sent to Denver on his mission, where he grew to love even more types of cereal. Post-mission Ben broke his mother’s heart by attending and, *gasp*, graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in Finance. Whether he does anything with that degree is another matter. Determined to prove that the system works, Ben met his future wife Katti in a single’s ward. It was nothing like the movie. Ben currently lives just outside Salt Lake City with his beautiful wife and two cereal-eating kids, Elizabeth "Chuck" (8) and Jacob (6).

As everyone comes down off of the sugar-high of Halloween, they begin to steel themselves for the upcoming holiday season. The heavy hitters of Thanksgiving and Christmas are just on the horizon. And yet … I’m not quite ready to let go of Halloween. While I love turkey and presents and good cheer as much as the next guy, I’d like to make the case that Halloween is the zenith of the holiday pantheon.

First, a disclaimer: I am avoiding any discussion of religion in this contest. Religion allows Christmas to bring a gun to the holiday knife fight. It will win every time. So let’s leave that off the table and get to my list of why Halloween is the best.

1) The time of year. Is there anything better than stepping outside on a sunny October afternoon, crunching leaves while you walk to the mailbox, holding your wife’s hand? What about wandering through a pumpkin patch with your kids, watching them heft every gourd in sight so they can find the perfect one? There is something about the sun being a bit lower in the sky, giving things a warm orange hue. If you ride a motorcycle you’ll know what I mean when I say that a fall ride on a bike is one of the great joys in life.

MMM Halloween 2011

May Jones as The Invisible Woman (Hiding from her Four Kids?)

Scott Heffernan & Aimee's Monkey ... Scott Hales' Buffy & Vampires 

Pete Codella, Kids & Tank (Weimaraner) ... Ken Craig & Family (They Have 7 Dwarfs)

Seattle Jon as Jimenez the Jeweler & Kids (SF Giant, Jedi & Old Maid)

MAB's Kids Continuing the Tradition Internationally

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guitar Wielding Ninja

by Clark (bio)

My buddy is the dude on the electric guitar dressed up like a ninja. His name is Evan and he wails on the guitar. Evan has always made fun of acoustic guitar goobers like the dude with the two gals by him who gets destroyed by the guitar solo, so when the opportunity to be in this commercial was proposed by our friend Phil, you better believe Evan was up for it. I've never tried the energy drink GungHo, but at least they have clever commercials.

Dear Ender's Game Movie: Please Don't Be Twilight

by Apparent Parent (bio)

As a student at BYU back in 2005, I happened to walk through the BYU Bookstore just as Orson Scott Card was beginning a book signing for one of his many inconsequential books. As an author, I have always found Card's work hit and miss. He writes a ton, and seems to only find greatness every once in a while. In fact, some might consider Ender's Game his only memorable book.

Now, I haven't read every Orson Scott Card book, and I don't intend to. Books like this are whyAlso thisAnd this, which is actually Book 3 in the Ender's Game series. It was absolutely unreadable for me. (Spoilers in next sentence.) What started as a strong series about a boy playing a game as training to fight an interplanetary war against an evil species trying to take over the world became nothing but philosophical ponderings about war, race, etc. Talk about devolution.

Anyway, when I saw Card at the bookstore, I had only recently finished reading Ender's Game, which, like many, was my entry to Card's writings. So I was excited to see him. At the time, he talked about the scripting process for the movie, which recently announced for real casting calls after dozens of false starts. Since Ender's Game is a classic, this was exciting news to me and all the other sci-fi/fantasy nerds that surrounded me in the bookstore to hear Card speak before his signing. Card spoke of the difficulty in getting a satisfactory screenplay because of the amount of introspection in the book. This is supposedly why this movie has been in the pipeline for, oh, 3.6 million light years.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guest Post: The Food I Love To Eat

Have a guest post for Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and women can submit guest posts via email. In addition to your post, please include a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself) to run above the post.

Roy Peckham was raised in a diverse community in north Long Beach, California and served his mission in Scotland. He’s married to a beautiful 4th grade teacher and they’re expecting their first child in June 2012. He’ll finish his Masters of Information Systems just before their tiny tenant arrives and just in time to move to Houston, Texas. He grew up filming himself cooking with an old video tape recorder, dreaming of someday having a show on the food network. He’s a messy chef who loves hearty, undefined, and chaotic food. A true eclectic, he also works as a freelance web developer in his spare time. showcases his portfolio and blog.

I love the chaos of cooking and I’m really quite good at it—the chaos that is. Being a good cook has gotten me into a few dates and out of a couple binds. It’s a subject every Modern Mormon Man should minor in. I don’t call myself a foodie because I think “foodies” live in a pseudo-intellectual soup that’s canned and sold in bulk. To me a good meal is chaotic, unspecific, simple, and delicious. For my first post, I want to walk through a manly take on a dish featuring a Greek mix of ingredients. It’s a meal by Jamie Oliver. It has three major ingredients and is remarkably simple to put together. However, it’s important to understand each component of this before putting the knife to the board. I want to tell the story of the dish so that you don’t have to think about a recipe when you cook it. You just put it together and burn a few fingers.

The Chicken: I love meat and I love chicken. However, what I don’t love is dry, boring chicken breast. The best meat from the chicken is not from the breast, the wings, or the legs. The best meat is from the thigh. A load of flavor is transferred from the bone and fat. The meat is tender and a bit dark. It will go sticky and delicious with a little bit of care. Get them, unfrozen, with the bone in and the skin on. Seriously, take a chance and break away from breasts.

MMM Style 2: Nippon Style

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I served my mission in South Japan in the mid-1990's, and remember noticing many Japanese youth experimenting with hair color and clothing style ... often with poor results. One sixteen year-old teenager changed his hair color so often over the course of us teaching him the discussions that I worried the font water would turn purple when we baptized him. Judging from the photos below, though, it looks like Japanese youth are finally starting to figure it out.
all photos via The Sartorialist

1 - Love the informal look of this youth in a kimono, a traditionally formal garment (Sartorialist)

2 - Wish I could look this cool carrying a man-purse (Sartorialist)

3 - Thought ScottHeff would like this one, given his love of skating. I am always on the lookout for shoes like this even though my wife often donates them back to Goodwill. (Sartorialist)

4 - The pioneer- and scouting-inspired outfits have me wondering - could this be two mormon teenagers in love?  (Sartorialist)

Other MMM Posts

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