Friday, September 30, 2011

All Those In Favor?



by Pete Codella (bio)

The Mormon church has a rather unique process for asking people to support callings (opportunities to serve fellow church members) and welcoming people to our congregations.

The person conducting the congregation’s Sunday sacrament meeting will share names of people being released from callings as well as those called to new positions of service. The congregation is then given the opportunity to lift their right hand in support of the new callings.

The person conducting the meeting will say, “All those in favor of,” fill-in-the-blank for the calling, “please show by the uplifted hand,” or something to that effect.

After support has been indicated by members of the congregation raising their right hands, the meeting conductor then says, “Any opposed?” Which means if anyone is not in favor of the recommendation, they would raise their hand to indicate their lack of support. (I’ve never personally seen this happen, as most of us are happy to go right along with the recommendation.)

Sneak Preview Recap: The 5000 Days Project




What a night! Amazing weather, good food, great company and a special movie. Thanks to everyone who came out in support. Don't forget to watch The 5000 Days Project: Two Brothers this weekend. The 80-minute movie premiers at 4 p.m. MST on BYUtv directly following the afternoon session of General Conference on Sunday, October 2nd. Links below.

5000 Days Trailer: here
5000 Days Facebook: here
BYUtv Live Feeds: U.S. here, International here

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post: Breaking the Female Gift Code



Have a post you think would be good on Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and modern mormon 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.

Richard Tait is the proud father of a returned-missionary son attending BYU-Idaho, and a beautiful high school senior daughter. He has been married to the same woman for 25 years, and its been the best 22 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 200 weeks, a streak that started soon after he was released as Seattle Jon's bishop in Maryland. You can read Richard's first guest post here.

Image via art.com

Men, there is hope for us yet. Women, you have a defector in your midst. When you find what dastardly evil my own wife perpetrated in compromising the completely unwritten but wholly binding female gift code, you’re going to want to grab your virtual pitchforks and torches, form an angry mob, and descend upon her like frightened Transylvanians staging a warlike protest in front of Frankenstein’s castle.

Why? Because she committed the unthinkable, unpardonable sin in the battle of the sexes- she intentionally, willfully asked for a kitchen appliance as a Mother’s day gift!

Stories of loving but emotionally ignorant husbands showering their better halves with gifts of non-stick cookware or lovely assortments of classic wooden stirring spoons is the stuff that legends are made of. I have heard sensational rumors of poorly-trained men doing such things, but never met one bold and stupid enough to actually do it. That was, however, before that fateful Mother’s day in 2008 when my wife begged me, with all the energy her soul could possess, to buy her a kitchen appliance as a present.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I Read Realistic Mormon Literature



by Scott Hales (bio)

image via streetballblog.com

Two years ago, despite being a self-proclaimed fan of Mormon literature, I could count the number of Mormon-themed novels I had read on one hand. And even then only one of them—Douglas Thayer’s The Conversion of Jeff Williams—dealt with contemporary Mormon characters in a realistic way. Everything else was either historical fiction or fantasy or sanitized fluff.

At the same time, thanks to Christmas money from my wife’s grandpa, I had a single shelf full of unread Mormon titles recently published by Zarahemla Books and Signature. My plan was to read them eventually, but I had other books to read at the time. I was also beginning work on my Ph.D., which was another easy excuse for leaving them untouched on the shelf.

Basically, I was a big fat poser. When it came to Mormon lit, I was acting like I had in junior high, when the Chicago Bulls were big, and I pretended to be a huge Scottie Pippen fan even though I hated basketball and had never even seen the Bulls play.

Except it was easier.

MMM Quotes 2: Gospel As Resource



by Seattle Jon (bio)

“Sad things - children who are sick or developmentally handicapped, husbands who are not faithful, illnesses that can cripple, or violence, betrayals, hurts, deaths, losses - when those things happen, do not say God is not keeping his promises to me. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance against pain. It is resource in event of pain, and when that pain comes (and it will come because we came here on earth to have pain among other things), when it comes, rejoice that you have resource to deal with your pain." - Carlfred Broderick

Discuss.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kinfolk Magazine



by Clark (bio)

Kinfolk is a thoughtful guide for gathering together as friends and family to spend worthwhile time in one another's company enjoying good food and constructive conversation. It's about staying in and creating your own atmosphere and experience rather than heading out to a restaurant and letting others make the moments for you. It's the ultimate creative source for tips and ideas on entertaining small groups, but its also so much more. I'm lucky enough to know several of the people behind the effort, including the editor. I've experienced first hand the creative abilities of these people and their goal of bringing others together. Head over to Kinfolk and take a gander at what's going on. You'll be glad you did.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Mormon Doppelgängers 6: Henry B. Eyring & The American Gothic Farmer



by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.


Please don’t shoot the messenger. They really do look alike. Although Elder Eyring looks friendlier and more spiritual.

First, keep your eyes open for humor in the present. The people I know who are good for the long haul all seem to smile easily. It’s not hard for me to understand, for instance, that the Prophet Joseph Smith, who marched triumphantly through trouble, would describe himself as having a “cheerful disposition.” You can’t just get yourself a cheerful disposition, but you could keep your eyes open for something to smile at.
- Henry B. Eyring

The children of God have more in common then they have differences.
- Henry B. Eyring

The Diaper Dilemma



by Aimee (bio)

image via Bum Genius

When we were expecting our first child, I talked to many cloth diapering parents about their decision to do cloth instead of disposable diapers. After hearing how much easier the process was than I had previously assumed, I was sold. Sign me up! I had my colors picked out for our future tree hugger and was dreaming about what we would do with all the money we would save. New couches?! But wait....convincing my husband was an unforeseen challenge.

I thought the argument for cost would win him over, but he wasn't easily persuaded. We then moved into an apartment building with a shared, coin-operated laundry and my dreams for cloth diapering were thrown out with the bathwater.

We are currently pregnant with baby #2 and plan to soon move into a house with our own personal, non-coin-operated washer and dryer. My desire for cloth diapering has been renewed! But alas, I face the same problem with my husband as I did before. Click here please.

I would love to hear from any mom, or more importantly dad, who might have opinions on this most important poop issue. Successes, failures, tips, warnings? Is it as easy as cloth diapering families describe it to be? Or does cloth diapering really just stink? (pun intended) 

Your input is appreciated!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Freemasonry, Washington & The Church



by Seattle Jon (bio)

In light of market volatility and the drag on the dollar, take a look at some of the fascinating aspects of the U.S. one-dollar bill. The numerous references to freemasonry are interesting, especially given our church's historical ties to the organization. If you're interested in a faithful take on how to reconcile the two - mormonism and freemasonry - check out one of Mormon Stories' earliest podcasts here, or attend an October 13th meeting at the Provo Library. While some in the church might find the parallels uncomfortable, I found and still find great comfort in the interviewee's (Greg Kearney, FAIR's masonry expert) view on reconciling the two.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In Memoriam: Mary Esther Garcia Perez



by Saint Mark (bio)

At age 63, barely a week after her birthday, my Aunt Esther passed away on a Friday afternoon. She had battled cancer for over 10 years and finally succumbed to its effects on September 9th, 2011.

I was humbled when I was asked by her only son if I would give the eulogy. I accepted the privilege and honor but was overwhelmed at the weight of the task. I had never given a eulogy before. I had been to two funerals and one was in Japanese. The other funeral and its eulogy I couldn't recall because I was too young to remember the details.

So, there I was. A few days before the funeral and my mind was a tabula rasa. Where to begin? Thankfully, Google does exist and I found amazing tips on how to organize my thoughts. See BestEulogyTips.com for some really great helps if you are like me and have no idea where or how to begin. I also began collecting and writing down memories of Aunt Esther and poems and quotes regarding death, life, and the hereafter. Finally, and what I probably should have done initially, I prayed. I asked God to guide me so that I would bring honor to Him and honor to Aunt Esther's memory. Then, waves of inspiration came as I sat on the airplane on my way to the funeral. I drafted the outline of the entire eulogy on that flight and typed it out the morning of the funeral service.

Guest Post: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell - Baby Edition



Have a post you think would be good on Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and modern mormon 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.

Jared Jones views himself as an expatriate New Englander living in San Antonio. He resides there with his brilliant military doctor wife and his nearly five-going-on-45-year-old daughter. When he is not working, churching or family-ing he likes watching superhero cartoons. This blog post represents his first of a non-family variety.


My wife and I are the proud parents of a very beautiful and gifted 5-year old and are expecting our second child - a boy - due in November.

We had hoped to have our kids a little closer together, but due to various circumstances and choices both beyond and within our control we have a little gap. As mentioned in the immortal classic “A Bug’s Life,” gaps happen. During the time we prayerfully planned and hoped to grow our family, I was amazed how our choices somehow became everyone else’s business. To be fair, members of our faith are not the only people who do this. I had several weird conversations with co-workers as well. I think it may happen a little more frequently in the church setting, however, because of our focus on the family. Calling everyone Brother or Sister also gives us the illusion that we are closer that we actually may be.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Utah Skate Convergence 2011



by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Dan H., frontside tailslide.

I recently flew to Salt Lake City to attend “Utah Skate Convergence 2011.” As mentioned in my bio, I grew up skateboarding with friends in SLC. Many of us still skateboard (some more than others—I only get out once every few months if I’m lucky). Some of us still live in Utah, while others have moved to various cities around the United States. The idea was that we all fly in and hit up the old spots we skated as teenagers. In practice, we went to more skate parks instead. Maybe we are too old and tired to argue with cops and security guards these days.

Heli.

One of our friends owns a mini ramp that is located inside an airplane hangar. It is incredible. Besides the ramp and other skate obstacles, it has a rock climbing wall, several arcade games, a pop machine, a ping pong table, couches, and a big screen TV. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Foot Clan’s lair (2:40–4:00) on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, minus the cigarettes and Sam Rockwell. Also, there is just something cool about skating while helicopters and small airplanes whiz past you.

Hippie jump body varial.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Post: Great Moments in Sacrament Meeting



Have a post you think would be good on Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and modern mormon 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.

Aaron lives in Portland, Oregon, but does not hug trees and only wears socks with sandals on rare occasions. He is a data-driven corporate sellout who thinks the government should generally mind its own business. A lifelong Mormon and former bishopric member, he feels that the eccentricities of Mormon culture should be made fun of as much as possible, that the main point of the gospel is to be like Christ and help others, and suspects that – whether openly or covertly – everyone likes Neil Diamond. He spends at least 45 minutes a day pondering why his incredible wife condescended to marry him, but suspects it was to produce two amazing sons. Read Aaron's first guest post here.

One thing that is at least fairly unique to the mormon church is the fact that once a month, we are willing to let anyone in the congregation get up and “bear their testimony.” I’ve always felt that this says a lot about the church. We’re willing to have open mike night where folks can plant themselves in front of the audience and say pretty much anything they want, totally off the cuff. Bishopric members, being ultimately responsible for the content of the meeting and the doctrine preached, are oftentimes sweating bullets during the first Sunday of the month. Even the regular 2nd-5th Sunday meetings are for the most part sermons given by members of the congregation. So anyone who says there’s no free speech in the mormon church I think is kidding themselves. But I digress.

So, given the freedom to speak our minds during the meeting, I’m sure we all have a favorite sacrament meeting/fast and testimony meeting story. I wanted to share one of my favorites with you.

My Doubts Have No Shadows



by Dustin (bio)

purchase on zazzle

Few things are more guaranteed in an LDS testimony meeting than an onslaught of idioms and cliches, and none are as prolific as knowing something "beyond a shadow of a doubt." A distant and equally effective cousin is the classic qualifier "with every fiber of my being." Both yield great power, but from where do these phrases originate? And how can we use them most effectively?

Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt
This humdinger is actually the fifth level of "burden of proof," a legal and scientific phrase meaning the "obligation to shift the accepted conclusion away from an oppositional opinion to one's own position." This is nerd-speak for the necessity to prove something is true. The spectrum of proof looks something like this:

1. Air of reality - only having the traces of truth
2. Preponderance of the evidence - it is more likely than not
3. Clear and convincing evidence - it is substantially more likely than not
4. Beyond a reasonable doubt - no reasonable doubt could be raised
5. Beyond the shadow of a doubt - no doubt whatsoever could be raised

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the phrase dates back to the Dark Ages, circa 1300 A.D., meaning it was likely used by Marco Polo in his discoveries, townspeople describing the Black Plague, and/or John Wycliffe in advocating religious reform -- "I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this plague is the pits" or "beyond the shadow of a doubt your religion is oppressive."

But how do we deploy this verbal missile in modern times? The best way is to place it immediately before stating something that would be viewed as doubtful by a reasonable person, like so: "I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was not meant to serve in the Nursery." Likewise, you could say, "I definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, did not realize that our son was poopy. I'm sorry for not changing him before you got to him."

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Religious Test: A Documentary Film on Mormons in Politics



Genesis Media Works, in collaboration with Old Future Studio Productions, is producing a documentary called The Religious Test, looking into why 1 in 5 Americans would not support a Mormon for President, and what that means for American democracy and religious freedom.



We talked with Meredith LeSueur, the writer behind the project, to get a few more details about their process, what they've found, and what they think the project will uncover about religious freedom in the United States.

Modern Mormon Men: Welcome, Meredith! Let's jump right in. This is a documentary about religion in politics. Do you feel comfortable sharing the faith leanings of your team? What about political leanings?

Meredith LeSuer: That's a good place to start I guess. Currently the production team consists of all Mormons, although interestingly we range in level of orthodoxy or have wildly different philosophical leanings with regards to religion and politics. We are also actively reaching out to people of different faiths to add depth to our bench and ensure safeguards to our journalistic approach. I'm confident our approach will be as objective and fair as possible given the dynamics of the team. Politically we range from conservative to libertarian to social democrat. I'm not sure who is what, we don't talk politics outside this project to be honest. Personally I'm too pragmatic to claim any political category, but I'm Canadian anyway so I can't vote.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sneak Preview: BYU Broadcasting Feature Film



If you are a blogger and live in the Seattle area, you are invited to a special advanced screening (details below) of BYU Broadcasting's The 5000 Days Project: Two Brothers, which will premier at 4 p.m. MST on BYUtv directly following the afternoon session of General Conference on Sunday, October 2nd. Plus, filmmaker Rick Stevenson has generously offered a free copy of the DVD to attendees. Let us know as soon as possible if you'd like to attend by sending us an email with the number of guests to expect.

SPONSOR: Modern Mormon Men
WHAT: Dessert and Film Screening
WHO: Northwest bloggers* & their families (children 12+)
WHERE: The Stevenson's, Shoreline, Washington (address will be sent once RSVP is received)
WHEN: 7:00 - 10:00 p.m., Friday, September 23rd
* If you can help spread the word in other ways, you're also invited

This ten-years-in-the-making feature film about two LDS brothers, Sam (guest posts here and here) and Luke Nelson, is a surprisingly candid journey through time involving their adolescent struggles with brotherhood, depression, peer pressure, forgiveness and growth in their mormon faith. The film features in-depth interviews and life footage, as well as first-of-its-kind mission field video diaries from Sam. This is a film everyone should see, including and especially youth, and you get to see it before it airs.

Sometimes I Go To Antique Shops



by Clark (bio)




















I got a 3/4 shell motorcycle helmet and a hurricane lantern for ten bucks each at the antique/random junk shop in Colombia Falls, Montana (first picture). I got two Pendleton wool shirts for 23 bucks in Babb, Montana (second picture) along with the coolest leather belt I've found since the one I wear nearly every day with bears and oak leaves on it. It deserves a post all by itself. All of a sudden I can't get enough of what Montana has to offer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When One Dream Ends, Just Keep Dreaming



by Eric Devericks (bio)


As the editorial cartoonist for The Seattle Times, I had carte blanche to mock anyone and anything. And although I often tried to make people laugh, I took my work seriously. From world leaders to ordinary citizens, no one was safe from the wrath of my brush pen.

It was my dream job. Really — sometimes I really felt as though I was dreaming.

After all, there are more blacksmiths in America than political cartoonists. There are more basketball players in the NBA. There are more prosthodontists (which The Huffington Post mistakenly called the “rarest job in America” last year.)

But against all odds — and to the surprise of many (including myself) — I had landed a staff position at one of the largest and most respected newspapers in the country.

Giveaway 3: Winner



Congratulations Jon and Sarah, you are the winners of a one-year subscription from the folks at Seeing the Everyday magazine. Email us your mailing address by Tuesday, September 20th to claim the subscription.


Thank you to everyone who participated. Magazines like Seeing the Everyday are rare, so do what you can to support them. One-year subscriptions are only $24 ... subscribe here now.

Seeing the Everyday magazine is about seeing relationships within everyday living — the repeated, common moments together in yard work, laundry rooms, and around the kitchen table. It may be that our most prosaic events, those at home, are the least discernible and the most critical in shaping our lives. Seeing the Everyday is a quarterly, advertisement-free magazine and the content comes primarily from our readers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Post: Heaven, Hell and Rob Bell



Have a post you think would be good on Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and modern mormon 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.

Matt Lipps was just thinking to himself that he needs a pen name. Fortunately, though, he has at least two years to think of one. He likes missionary work and at the time of writing this is exactly 19 days away from reporting to the MTC to prepare for service in Santa Maria, Brazil (MMM note: he's now a few weeks into the MTC). He goes to BYU and loves it to death. His greatest ambitions are to improve his piano chops, run a triathlon and get barreled while surfing. You can read Matt's first guest post here.

One of the mormon faith’s most distinctive characteristics is the idea of the divided heaven. In mormon doctrine, Heaven contains three separate kingdoms: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom. After we die, we are judged of God - or, rather, we judge ourselves against God - and are placed into the realm we most deserve; the obedient followers of Christ who followed in His footsteps and accepted the necessary ordinances inherit the celestial glory, those who lived righteously but didn’t accept the gospel or otherwise abandoned their covenants receive terrestrial glory, and the unrighteous enter into telestial glory. Within the LDS church, Heaven is quite a pleasant thing – all are given completely fair judgment and placed where they would be happiest, forcing none to be where they would not want to be.

And then there’s Hell.

Feeling Low



by Seattle Jon (bio)

When you feel low, what do you pour yourself into?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Origin of Man



by Saint Mark (bio)

A few years ago, I fulfilled one of the five things I want to do before I die: I went to the Galapagos Islands. It thrilled my soul to swim in a bay with a penguin, three sea lions and a marine iguana. As I walked the archipelago, I couldn't help but feel that the Galapagos Islands and the adolescent stage in which its flora and fauna exist are a microcosm of Genesis, when God formed the earth.

I believe, as Joseph Smith believed, that the earth is billions of years old and that it was a form of evolutionary development which saw the earth develop from disorganized matter to organized matter, from single-celled organisms to a Pre-Cambrian explosion of multi-celled creatures that eventually became the plant and animal life we now dwell among.

Having sailed in the same bays and around the same islands as Charles Darwin in The Beagle, though, my intuition diverged from Darwin's. I did not extend that evolutionary development to Mankind. Although there were other Neanderthals who appeared like Man, Adam was not one of them. I believe Eve and Adam were the first Woman and Man on the earth. They are my ancestors and the entire human family flows from them.

The Evolution of My Faith



by MAB (bio)

Tadpoles are awesome. This young one here is just barely growing its front legs. I used to catch them as a child in rural central Utah and watch them as they grew legs, lost their tail and turned into frogs. I like the fact that they disprove the notion that swimming creatures can't evolve and walk (or hop) out of the water.

I was a fairly typical latter-day saint boy in small town Utah. I went to church every Sunday and tried to pay attention. I was well versed in Book of Mormon stories that my teachers told to me. When I got into high school, though, and took the standard physics and biology classes, everything changed. Learning about genetics, and evolution especially, was a significant and powerful experience that affected me much like a religious awakening. I began to wonder about the discrepancies between scientific and religious thought. Many things were insignificant, and easily reconciled. But questions remained, and when I asked people about them I either got conflicting information or was told I would have to wait to get an answer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Evolution on My Mind



Image: "Charlie" by Mike Mitchell
Is it just me or has evolution been in the air lately? Jon Huntsman recently announced, with his tweet heard ‘round the world, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” In a recent interview he added, "I believe in evolution. I think it’s part of God’s plan." Mitt Romney seems to take a somewhat similar position.

Mormon Matters released a fascinating podcast on the subject of evolution. To honor the centennial of the 1911 Evolution Controversy at Brigham Young University, host Dan Wotherspoon, along with James McLachlan (philosophy and intellectual history professor), Duane Jeffery (BYU emeritus biology professor), and Steve Peck (current BYU biology professor) discuss the controversy as well as other issues relevant to evolution and mormonism. I highly recommend it.

Modern Mormon Men takes a similar position to the LDS church regarding evolution: None. Neither we, nor it, take an official stance. However, two of our contributors do have positions and have decided to share them with us (that’s right—we’re at this again). They will be posted tomorrow morning.

A note regarding this format: Although we sometimes choose to feature posts from two separate contributors on a given subject, and although those posts likely regard the topic with different approaches/conclusions, the posts are not necessarily intended to be a point/counterpoint debate with each other. Rather they are just two different stories from two different contributors. As always, we welcome a healthy discussion, and also ask you to be nice.

-Scott Heffernan

GOOGLE vs. GOD



by jpaul (bio)
“Don’t Do Evil” claims Google. While good-intentioned at times, Google is unknowingly changing the way we learn and impacting how we study the gospel, which may not always be for our good. I include Apple in this same sinister group, with their deceptively cute iPads and iPods, which are inadvertently leading us down a dangerous path. Take a minute to STOP and reexamine how these technologies have impacted spiritual growth in your own life.

At church this week, look around your Gospel Doctrine class and count the number of ipad/ipod users. As full disclosure, I am one of these people, as are most of you. Do we understand the full impact of relying on our portable devices because of their ease and convenience … is there a trade-off perhaps? Most people are eager to discuss the obvious benefits; not having to lug scriptures to church, quick reference to multiple manuals, and (shh) even access to email when things get dull. I have yet to hear anyone comment on how studying the scriptures on their i-device actually increases their ability to understand the scriptures and draw closer to the spirit.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 Remembrances



by Seattle Jon (bio)


What do you remember? Leave a comment ...

Seattle Jon
I was an investment banker in Baltimore on 9-11. I was at my desk when the first and second planes hit the towers. I remember the guy who sat across from me (he was also LDS) turning around and saying, "Hey, there are planes hitting buildings in New York." When the third plane hit the Pentagon, he turned around again and said, "Dude ... I think this is the end of the world." His statement sent chills through me. Soon after, we went down to the trading floor where we watched both towers fall on fifty television screens. It was horrifying to think what our headquartered colleagues across the street from the towers were going through. Baltimore essentially shut down, and I was only able to get out of the city because I knew a few cabbies. I spent the next few days glued to the news, worrying about my wife and daughter in Utah.

Scott Heffernan
I was on a mission in Bristol, England on 9/11. We happened to be tracting door-to-door when the attacks began. We knocked on a woman’s door, introduced ourselves as missionaries, and she curtly told us she was not interested. As we were walking away she said, “Wait…Have you seen what’s going on?...I think you better come in.” We watched her TV in shock and confusion as the first tower burned, a plane crashed into the second tower, and then both towers collapsed. It was a heavy, heavy day and the mission changed a great deal after that.

Kyle August
I was a freshman in high school and had just started attending early morning seminary. We were reading something as a class when "the late kid" came in, interrupted us, and said, "I was watching the craziest movie! Planes were hitting buildings. It was nuts." We didn't pay him any attention and returned to our reading. After seminary, I hitched my usual ride and entered my high school. Normally you could hear a loud buzz of socializing going on, but when I opened the door it was silent. I remember thinking that school must have been canceled, but then I heard a news voice. As I moved toward it, I saw hundreds of students gathered around every TV in the school. Everyone was watching and not saying a word to each other. I spotted a friend and asked him what was going on. He didn't say anything. He just pointed to the TV. TVs stayed on in every classroom all day. We really didn't get much done.

Pete Codella
9-11 happened the day after my wife and I brought our first child home from the hospital and on my wife’s birthday. We lived in Henderson, Nevada at the time and had just struggled through a sleepless night when my sister-in-law phoned to ask if we had seen the news, and no, we didn’t have the TV on at 6:50 in the morning! Amid the realization that our lives had forever changed now that we were parents, we were forced to deal with the fact that terrorists had figured out how to launch a pretty successful attack on U.S. soil. It was a new world. I lived and worked in Manhattan from 1996-97 and went through the Trade Center on my way to work at the World Financial Center every workday. Plus my wife’s sister (a different sister-in-law than the one who called) was studying at NYU at the time, so we were all concerned as to her whereabouts. She was impacted like all New Yorkers but not in danger of harm. It was surreal to realize that a place I had frequented almost daily for two years, and could have been in on that fateful day, was now destroyed. We celebrate 9-11 in our family because it's the day my sweetheart was born, long before terrorists destroyed the World Trade Towers.

Dustin
I had recently returned from my mission and was attending BYU-Idaho. I stumbled out of bed a bit late that morning to find my roommates glued to the TV. As I poured a bowl of cereal, they told me that one of the twin towers was in flames and that an airplane had apparently hit the building. I was shocked, but didn't grasp the gravity of the situation until the second tower was hit. "This can't be a coincidence, right?" I asked. I'll never forget how I felt when I found out the source of the attacks...dismayed, angry, vengeful, and, in spite of being in one of the most remote locations in the U.S., unsafe.

MAB
In 2001 I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and was asleep when the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9-11. My alarm clock was set to a local news station and it was typical for me to wake up, listen to the radio for a minute and then hit the snooze bar a few times. That morning was no different. Each time the alarm went off there were anxious voices, and I eventually understood through a sleepy daze that one or two planes had hit the WTC in New York and it seemed serious. At that time we didn't have a television, so not knowing what else to do, I got ready for the day and headed in to work. Like everyone there, I was glued to my computer trying to understand what was happening. I wasn't getting much work done since the magnitude of what happened made my routine activities seem trivial. By noontime there was so much information and speculation flooding in via the internet that our CEO sent an email and told everyone they could go home to be with their families.

Max Power
I can't say anything overly interesting about where I was the morning of September 11, 2001. I awoke that morning to the phone ringing--a friend calling to tell me to turn on the news. At that point, only United 11 had hit the north tower, and everything still appeared to be some confusing, inexplicable accident. I distinctly recall the startling wave of realization that crashed over me as I watched, live, the second plane, United 175, make an unnaturally sharp turn and slam into the south tower. It was remarkably clear to me at that point that something was terribly wrong. My recollection of that surreal scene, as well as the disbelief I felt as the first tower fell, will probably never leave me. For me, 9/11 serves as one of a handful of moments of uncomfortable revelation in my life, where something I once treasured is irrecoverably gone. Like discovering that your parents are semi-annually defrauding you every Christmas and Easter. Or like the jerk who put razor blades in candy bars one halloween and ruined the event for everyone, forever, because the thrill of amassing an obscene hoard of candy is somehow spoiled by parents sorting through your stash and discarding anything that isn't hermetically packaged. I hate the fact that I really want to watch the 9/11 Tribute in Lights from the Brooklyn Bridge this year, but I am too afraid to be around major New York landmarks. And I miss the feeling of invulnerability we used to have, a uniquely American sort of naivete that war and civilian life can be neatly separated, with war cordoned off on a foreign battlefield thousands of miles away and insulated by oceans and the innocence of never before being attacked on our turf. That all went away when we watched planes flying into buildings.

Aimee
I was three weeks away from entering the MTC to leave on my mission to Sendai, Japan. I had wrapped things up at my job and was taking it easy until I left in early October. I was still asleep when my brother-in-law Tyler who was living with us at the time, came into my room to tell me I needed to come watch the news. I could not believe what I was witnessing on that tv screen. What had happened to the world while I was peacefully sleeping? Both towers had fallen and the news was recapping the events and filming the awful aftermath. With a heavy heart for the victims, their families, and our world, I sat in my pajamas on the living room floor watching the coverage the rest of the day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Weekend



by Seattle Jon (bio)

Every year, over Labor Day weekend, I take the kids away for four days. The tradition started three years ago when my wife started homeschooling the kids. Rather than go to the Ellensburg Rodeo in Eastern Washington with my family, she suggested a weekend alone to "charge the batteries." So, I went solo ... and had an absolute blast with the kids. When we pulled in Monday night, she was waiting for us. She looked ... different. Vibrant, refreshed ... and glowing?

The Third Annual "No Labor for Charlie Day" weekend is now in the bag. As usual, I had a blast with the kids (no rodeo this year, just lots of day trips and geocaching). And yes, my wife was glowing when I returned. Guys, if you can swing a weekend like this, the dividends are worth the time investment.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Interview with Mitch Mayne: Gay, Mormon, & Recently Called



by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Over the last several years, Mitch Mayne has been anxiously engaged in a good cause. He has been helping to build bridges between the LGBTQ community and the LDS church. Visit his very cool blog and website to learn more. Recently Mitch made headlines over his announcement of a new calling he received in San Francisco's Bay Ward. He was called to be the Bishop's Executive Secretary, a highly visible leadership position within the LDS church. Mitch's placement into this role is remarkable because he is "openly and unapologetically" gay. It has been absolutely fascinating to follow the unfolding events. Read the story as covered by Joanna Brooks, Peggy Fletcher Stack, the San Francisco Examiner, and even Robert Kirby. Mitch was nice enough to grant us an interview as well.

Image via Mitch Mayne.

Scott Heffernan: Hi Mitch. I just want to say thanks for being willing to interview with me. From what I understand you have been inundated by the press trying to speak to you. It's an honor to have you here on Modern Mormon Men. Welcome! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Mitch Mayne: Thank you, Scott. It’s my pleasure—I think it’s pretty apparent that this is a topic about which I am deeply passionate, and have been for some time.

First, I wish to mention a couple of points. I am not a spokesperson for the Mormon church—I speak for me, and as such can share my perspectives, my experience, and my hope. Second, I don’t set doctrine—fortunately, that mantle of responsibility does not fall to me. I do believe our faith is led by kind, inspired men who seek to do the right thing, and that gives me great hope.

As for me personally, I believe every single one of us is equal in the eyes of our Savior, regardless of orientation, ethnicity, gender–or any other marker we use as humans to define differences between ourselves and others. As such, I don't believe it is ever my job to condemn, criticize, or mock another. My job, as my Father’s son, is to walk beside you as you learn the lessons life is intended to teach you; to celebrate your joys with you, and to lend a hand when you stumble. The true spirit of love we have for one another is kind, patient, and doesn’t demand it’s own way. It doesn’t scold, condemn, or criticize. I am most certainly an imperfect human–but this is the spirit I think our Savior wants us to strive to achieve throughout the human family, and it is the spirit that I endeavor to bring to my entire life–and most certainly my faith.

And, it is the spirit I bring to this interview with you today.

Scott: Good to state all that right up front. Let me start by asking why your calling is such a big deal? Why do you think this is getting the attention that it is?

Mitch: I think what’s generating the enthusiasm and attention is the direction we’re taking here in San Francisco, and the opportunity that represents to begin to create more peaceful hearts when it comes to the topic of gays and lesbians within the church.

There are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of LGBTQ people and those who care about them in the membership of the church. In 2010, there were over 14 million people across the globe on the church membership records. Based on an extremely conservative estimate of just 1%, that would mean that there are over 140,000 gay and lesbian individuals within the church. Add to that their families—and that number quickly grows to at least 500,000. Then, add to that their friends, their neighbors, and their priesthood and relief society leaders, those who care about them—that number quickly grows to over a million.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vide Cor Meum



by Saint Mark (bio)

There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is. ~William P. Merrill

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

Music is what feelings sound like. ~Author Unknown

I have found that some of the most divine things on this earth are music and nature. I saw this video recently that combined them both and I felt as though I had experienced heaven. The voice and views are reminiscent of something you and I would feel in a cathedral, a synogague, or a temple.



The operatic song is called “Vide Cor Meum” composed by Patrick Cassidy and based on Dante’s “La Vita Nuova”. It comes from a poem written by Dante about a lovely little girl he saw every day on his way to school. He was nine years-old. He only saw her in passing but he was smitten. Then one day she was gone. He never saw her again until her wedding day as she wed another dressed in a white gown, glowing as a beautiful bride. After that and still as a young woman, she died in childbirth. He watched as they carried her body to the cemetery. He went home and later wrote this poem.

Here are the lyrics:

(Chorus: And thinking of her)
Sweet sleep overcame me
I am your master
See your heart
And of this burning heart
Your heart
(Chorus: She trembling)
Humbly eats.
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.
Joy is converted
To bitterest tears
I am in peace
My heart
I am in peace
See my heart

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Giveaway 3: Seeing the Everyday Magazine



The folks at Seeing the Everyday magazine, some of whom are LDS, have built something special with this magazine, just as we hope we are building something special at Modern Mormon Men. And today, they are kind enough to offer one of our readers a one-year subscription to their wonderful magazine. Per their website:

Seeing the Everyday magazine is about seeing relationships within everyday living — the repeated, common moments together in yard work, laundry rooms, and around the kitchen table. It may be that our most prosaic events, those at home, are the least discernible and the most critical in shaping our lives. Seeing the Everyday is a quarterly, advertisement-free magazine and the content comes primarily from our readers.

Seattle Jon, who has been subscribing to Seeing the Everyday for years, has this to say:

"We are a magazine household, but there are very few that both of us want to read as soon as they hit our mailbox. Seeing the Everyday is one of those, though. The magazine is inspirational, touching, motivating, beautiful and uplifting. The fact that there are no ads in the magazine makes it even better."

Giveaway Guidelines:

• You have 7 days to enter this giveaway (closes Tuesday, September 13 at midnight).
• Make one comment on this post to enter (anonymous comments ignored).
• One entry per family please.
• Winner will be chosen via random.org and announced on Thursday, September 15.
• Winner needs to respond via email by Tuesday, September 20 to claim the subscription.
• If you don't win, we strongly encourage you to subscribe here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sneak Preview: BYU Broadcasting's Newest Feature Film



If you are LDS, blog regularly and live in the Northwest, count yourself blessed. You do not want to miss the event below ... it will be a night filled with good food, great company and amazing views. Space is limited, so let us know as soon as possible if you'd like to attend by sending us an email with the number of guests to expect.

*****

You are coordially invited to a special advanced screening of BYU Broadcasting's The 5000 Days Project: Two Brothers, which will premier directly following the afternoon session of General Conference on Sunday, October 2nd.

This ten-years-in-the-making feature film about two LDS brothers, Sam (guest posts here and here) and Luke Nelson, takes a hard and honest look at LDS youth as they grow in the gospel and head into the mission field. The film, which was approved without edits, features in-depth interviews and life footage by filmmaker Rick Stevenson, as well as first-of-its-kind mission field video diaries from Sam. Having recently seen a cut of the film, we can honestly say this is one of the most raw, emotionally powerful and incredibly inspirational films we've seen in a long time.

Event Details
SPONSOR: Modern Mormon Men blog
WHAT: Dessert and Film Screening
WHO: Northwest LDS-related bloggers & their families (children above 12)
WHERE: The Stevenson's, Shoreline, Washington
WHEN: 7:00 - 10:00 p.m., Friday, September 23

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summertime



by Clark (bio)

This is what Summer is all about. Hope yours is finishing great. Do yourself a favor and go jump in a crisp, cold, refreshing lake if you haven't had a chance yet. You still got time. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guest Post: Making the First Move, An Act of Faith



Have a post you think would be good on Modern Mormon Men? Both modern mormon men and modern mormon 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.

Erin Whitehead is a writer and performer in Los Angeles. She performs comedy at Upright Citizens Brigade. She is a featured writer for OnlineDatingSites.net. She has faith that she'll figure it all out one of these days.

I think I might have just accidentally asked someone out in the comment section under a wall post on Facebook. To be clear, I'm aware that's probably the worst way to ask someone out short of sending your friend over to the other side of the cafeteria to do it for you. I did actually have a guy break up with me that way. But he was eleven. I should know better.

See, the problem is faith. Not my religious or spiritual faith – I feel pretty solid there. But my faith in myself as a dateable human being has been faltering lately. And by lately I mean for the last fifteen years. You guys can relate, right? I mean, you're traditionally the asker-outers. Even in this age of lady power and equality, the most confident of babes often still leave it to the dudes to make the first move. And let me be the first to congratulate you. Just the thought of presenting myself to a semi-stranger as a person who finds them attractive and would like to get to know them better gives me a panic attack. And yet you guys walk up to women all the time and put yourselves out there. Way to go.

Since I'm also a person who apologizes to customer service representatives for asking questions, it's probably not surprising that I worry about wasting other people's time. Obviously one of the scariest things about asking someone out is the possibility they could reject you. But scarier to me: What if they say yes and then I somehow disappoint them? I could be boring or weird or less attractive in the light of day. I could be completely myself and make what I think is a great impression and THEN get rejected for just being me. Stir up all that anxiety and the what-if's and you get a recipe for me (sort of, kind of, in a veiled and jokingly way) asking someone out on my own Facebook wall.

When I'm home alone, dancing around my apartment and talking to myself I actually think I'm a catch (trust me, it's quirky and adorable). When I'm out with friends laughing and talking I think, 'See, people like you! You'd be awesome in a relationship.' And then I go on a date, panic, and end up acting weird and nervous and laughing in the wrong places or telling anecdotes about all the times I've spent the day in Urgent Care because my anxiety makes me think I have exotic diseases.

That's the thing about faith; whether it's faith in God or in yourself, it's not enough to have it when things are easy. You have to be able to summon it in times of darkness. Like when you (maybe, possibly, kind of sort of) like a guy and you find the faith in yourself to walk up and ask him out in person with the confidence that even if he says no, you're still a dateable human being. (Is that how you guys do it?)

Image via indyposted.

Segullah Magazine: Upcoming Issue




We've said this before, but we're fans of Segullah magazine (and Diet Coke). Looks like the upcoming issue, available only to those with subscriptions, is making subscription holders laugh AND cry. The deadline for new subscribers to receive the upcoming issue is September 5th. Head here to get signed up. Do it now.

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