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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Year's Resolution Update

by Topher Clark (bio)

Hey all. I just wanted to write and give you an update on how my New Year's Resolution is going, since it's the last day of the first month of the year. In case you don't know, because I never publicly announced it, I have resolved not to text and drive in 2012. In past years I have set several resolutions, and I've kept most of them, but I've never felt more strongly about just setting one resolution than I have this year. Because it's a matter of life and death! Ask Oprah.

Anyway, my update is that I am not doing very well with this resolution. My car is somewhat safer than it was in 2011, but it's still basically a deathtrap.

I feel a lot of guilt about this because my father, literally, passed a law in Utah to make texting while driving illegal. So I'm incredibly hypocritical, and on top of that, a disrespectful son. I deserve a fender bender, I do! That would teach me. But so far nothing. I just go my merry way, passing innumerable blocks and jetting through traffic lights while making plans and sending questionable pictures to my wife.

But I am better. I have improved. There are days where I ONLY text at red lights, and that's a step in the right direction. Most days I do that. And I have that feature on my phone where I can speak into it and the text automatically types up. But even when I use that feature I'm still looking down at my phone a lot, and the autocorrect on that thing is insane! I will clearly say "be there in fifteen!" and my phone will write "big hair in canteen" and then I have to start over and use crazy clear diction. Who has time for that? Not this guy.

But I also don't have time for killing people, including myself. So I'm resolved to do better. January = bad progress but February = way better progress. In the meantime, DO NOT DRIVE WITH ME IN MY CAR. DO NOT DRIVE NEAR ME OR COME CLOSE TO MY NEIGHBORHOOD. And if you get a text from me, you can probably bet I'm on I-15 near Lehi.


by Apparent Parent (bio)

Last fall, I shattered my kneecap in a hiking accident which has debilitated me to this day. I have had three surgeries, spent about seven weeks on crutches altogether, and spent way more time than I ever want to in a hospital. And this experience has given me a little insight into just how badly healthcare is run in this country. Is it the fault of doctors and hospitals? Partly, yes. But mostly no.

Looking at $6,000 of bills after my ridiculously expensive insurance payed $12,000 toward my first 48-hour hospital stay, I talked to a woman in billing about such line items as four $793 screws. My knee had two screws in it, the X-rays clearly show that. Yet they charged me for not two of these amazingly expensive pieces of hardware, but four. I spoke with her about 100-plus individual pharmacy charges when I refused almost all the medicine they offered me except one intravenous ibuprofen injection and two free samples of hydrocodone as I was leaving, because I suddenly reached a 16 on the 1-to-10 scale of pain. And I spoke with her about the overall ridiculous prices I am being forced to pay.

One item that especially galls me is called a PolarCare. It is a 12" x 12" x 12" cooler designed to pump cold water through a pipe to keep a constant ice pack of sorts on a knee injury. On the free market, we found these coolers from medical supply providers for between $100 and $150. I woke up with one on my leg with no foreknowledge or warning that they were going to ding me $728 for the thing, regardless of whether I wanted or needed it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Church Ball: To Play Or Not To Play

by Casey Peterson (bio)

In the 1980’s, a young shooting guard from North Carolina was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. At the beginning of every game, he would pull his team together, and shout the question to them “What time is it?” Their response was always “Game time.” The admonition from Brother Jordan continues to reverberate throughout LDS churches every year, as some coaches are called, and others are chosen to lead the masses of church ball.

Having recently received the clarion call to play once again this year, I reflected upon the categories of players who proudly don (more accurately painfully squeeze into) the colors of their respective wards and march like the sons of Helaman forward to conquer foes from other ward units. I’ve tried to enjoy my “retired” status from church ball the past couple of years. My high council calling came with the assignment of stake sports and activities, which I soon found entailed speaking with those who had been assessed technical fouls. This loud, proud, and seldom remorseful group validated the pleading message my sprained ankles, bruised thighs, and floor burned knees had been begging for some time, that it was time to stop.

Due to prohibited participation from high school coaches I was a latecomer to the church ball scene. Brimming with good will and athletic fitness carefully honed through BYU intermural championships, I entered the church ball realm later in life, lacking the proper expectations of those I would be interacting with. Lest others naively venture into church ball, please let me share the categories of those you can expect to see.

1. Sweaters. Veritably bursting with liters of liquid, these guys need only the slightest physical activity to open the floodgates within their sweat glands. A climate controlled gym, shiny hardwood floors, and plenty of absorbing jerseys provides the optimum outlet for these irrigative individuals. An unsuspecting encounter boxing out or rebounding with one of these men provides a second baptism by immersion, yet devoid of covenants or blessings. Sight and smell are most important senses in identification, yet avoid touch at all cost.

Mormons Like Coldplay

by Dustin (bio)

Check out this great Swahili cover of Coldplay's "Paradise" by Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Alex Boye, LDS piano guy Jon Schmidt, and Steven Sharp Nelson, who I know nothing about. Takes an already great song to a new level.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Never Waste A Hard Afternoon

by Bradly Baird (bio)

Dateline: Provo - 28 January, 2012

The temperature was below freezing in Provo today and I am doing my usual weekend work at the MTC. As our teaching session begins, the fire alarm rings. We file dutifully out of the building and walk down to the southern parking circle by the flag poles. Never to waste a minute, the MTC teachers line the service missionaries (read: me) and the volunteers up according to parking stall and set the missionaries on us for street contacting fun. It should be noted that none of us were wearing heavy coats.

The missionaries prepare for cold (very) street contacting.

Everyone is in their appointed parking stall.

The missionaries are on the move.

Closer and closer to their quarry.

Let the frosty street contacting begin.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Man Or Machine?

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Are we man or machine? Is information killing our souls? Can we get along without religion? These are three questions that popped into my head as I watched this recently unearthed AT&T video short by Jim Henson of the Muppets. What questions pop into your head?

Guest Post: The Librarian

Have something to say? Anyone can submit a guest post to Modern Mormon Men. Just send us an email with your post, a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself).

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). If you missed it, make sure you read Ben's first guest post about Halloween.

photo from UHF (starring Weird Al and Kramer)

I confess that I am a sinner. I’ve been told that in the church we are not supposed to aspire to callings. Nor are we supposed to ask for callings. Yet I did both in regard to my current calling. I’m sure when I tell you what my calling is you will offer me pardon, for you see, I am the ward librarian. Is there a better, nobler calling in the church? I submit that there is not.

My love of the library started while I was serving my mission. It was in these hallowed edifices that my fragile testimony was nurtured by such classics as Answers to Gospel Questions, History of the Church, Doctrines of Salvation, etc. A new world was opened to me.

As my love of the library grew so did my realization that the number of good books contained therein was inversely proportional to the number of years the church building had been in existence: the younger the building the poorer the selection, and vice versa.

So, getting back to my current calling. When our ward was split many positions were vacated and needed to be filled. The bishop asked me and my wife to come visit him one night and he extended a calling to Katti. He then turned to me and said, “We’ll find something for you someday.” Jokingly I said, “How about the library?” The bishop paused for a second, then threw me the keys and said, “It’s all yours.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Mormon Lit Blitz, Or How To Make The Most Of Four Minutes On The Internet

by Scott Hales (bio)

As many of you already know, the Church recently updated the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Among the many changes—none of which includes new guidelines on skinny jeans—is the addition of a section entitled “Work and Self-Reliance.”  Here’s an excerpt:

“The Lord has commanded us not to be idle. Idleness can lead to inappropriate behavior, damaged relationships, and sin. One form of idleness is spending excessive amounts of time in activities that keep you from productive work, such as using the Internet, playing video games, and watching television.”

This isn’t new counsel. Since the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Mormons have been warned about the dangers of idleness and sloth. Still, it doesn’t hurt to get the occasional reminder, especially since guys like Al Gore and Steve Jobs (may he rest in peace) have made it so easy to slack off in recent years. I mean, think about it: what sort of productive activity are you putting off right now so you can read this post?

Not that I want you to stop reading. In fact, I’m actually about to give you another reason to spend more time on the internet.

But first: math!

According to Wikipedia, the average person reads 250 words a minute. If my basic math is correct, that means that it takes you and me about four minutes, or half the length of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, to read 1000 words. That’s not very long, about .00000009746178328553807% of the average American life. Give or take a zero.*

Do You Ever Get The Urge To Move Far Away?

by MAB (bio)

About six months ago we moved from stormy Seattle to stormy Amsterdam (Holland).

So what's different here? Well for starters I frequently substitute Speculoos for peanut butter on PBJs or I just eat it straight from the jar. It has a strange power over me. I ride my bike to work every day alongside half the other residents - this burns off some of the Speculoos calories. Nearly everyone else is on a bus, tram or train. When the natives speak it sounds like they are clearing their throat before, during and after each sentence. The architecture and the canals are amazing in this city founded hundreds of years before Columbus reached the Americas. Everything is different here, either subtly or drastically.

It’s complicated trying to explain why we wanted to move and in the process, leave behind our good friends and family. I think my mission in Central America has something to do with it. The experience of being in a new culture and gaining a different perspective on life made me want to do it again. I also want my kids to have the experience, which is partly why they are in a public Dutch school instead of the private International schools. The culture shock has not been easy for any of us, but I think it will be a worthwhile experience as we learn many, many things about ourselves and others.

When we broke the news about our move to our friends and family, most were supportive. A few, however, were perplexed as to why we would ever want to do such a thing. So that made me wonder why some people want to live outside their native country but others do not. I know it's complicated if you think about the details, but generally speaking, I wonder what makes a person a homebody vs. a wanderlust. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with people who want to stay put; in fact, moving your family halfway across the world is stressful and a little insane.

Do you have the urge to live outside your native country? Why or why not?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mormon Doppelgängers 7: James E. Faust & Harrison Ford

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.

Ever wonder what a general authority would look like with an earring? There you have it.

The idea for this doppelgänger was sent in by Jeremy Hunt... a long time ago. Jeremy, if you still read this blog, I'm sorry it's taken me so long. I guess it has been a while since I've done any of these.

I once served Elder Faust in a restaurant. He was very sweet to me, even though I had a large, ugly mustache at the time.

Here are some things these two handsome fellows have in common:
• Faust worked as a lawyer in Salt Lake City. Ford played a lawyer in Presumed Innocent and Regarding Henry.
• Faust worked as a congressman. Ford played the President.
• Ford appeared on the cover of GQ Magazine five times. Faust appeared on the cover of the Ensign Magazine five times (I made that one up).
• Both men followed Jesus in their own way. Faust was an apostle. Ford was a carpenter.
• Both men are Democrats.
• Ford was a roadie for The Doors. Faust did not care for them.

Guest Post: Linked Parents, The Chain Conundrum

Casey Peterson is the Director of the BYU Center for Service and Learning where he loves working with over 22,000 BYU students learning life lessons through service and volunteerism. Casey is completing his doctoral degree at BYU in Educational Leadership, which gives him the unique current status at BYU of being a student, teacher, and administrator. Casey is married with 5 beautiful children who stay busy through church, sports, and community activities along with their work on the small family farm they operate in Salem, Utah.

I grew up on a very large cattle ranch among a most colorful group of cowboys. I quickly became familiar with their ability to communicate in different types of metaphors, mixed metaphors, and mixed up metaphors. I’ll let you decide which type relates to the lesson of the chain.

The story is told of an old cowboy who pulls up to the local hardware store in his beat-up pickup truck, and determinedly marches into the store as fast as his bowed legs can carry him. “Give me the strongest chain you’ve got” he demands to the store clerk. The clerk politely inquires the length, and then measures, cuts, and delivers the chain to the impatient buckaroo. Within the hour, the quiet of the store is broken and filled with the rumble of the old truck, the clicking of run down boot heels on the sidewalk, and a loud rattling sound as the chain is angrily tossed back on the counter. “This chain don’t work” states the old cowboy. “I hooked on with it, and no matter how hard I pushed, it wouldn’t move a thing. It’s not stronger than my rope I tried to push with this morning.”

The chain metaphor and analogy was used to remind me in many situations of the difference between “pushing” and “leading.” When pushed, individual links of a chain go different directions, acting independently, and lacking a common purpose, they serve little use. Yet when pulled by a common purpose, each link lends individual strength that collectively fortifies the chain as a whole. Several times in my life I have found myself pushing, not leading.

Last night, I found myself once again reflecting on the lesson of the chain. I was standing in the corner of the gym at my son's basketball game. You see, I prefer standing near the corner, away from parents who are exerting their own “chain” powers. Some by pushing and shouting at their kids, the referees, and the coaches. Others by quietly complaining and comparing abilities of said kids, referees, and coaches. I’ve determined no one in the stands seems to be happy, and the swell of chain pushers inevitably spills ugly frustrations out on the court to a group of emotional, changing, somewhat insecure teenagers who are trying to figure out how to function as a pulled chain, linking their individual abilities in a cohesive athletic effort. So I choose to stand apart where I have to deal with my own emotions, independent of the commotion in the stands.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Calvin & Hobbes: Reflections

by Seattle Jon (bio)

The mornings have been colder lately, so I wasn't surprised when Seattle received its first heavy snow forecast of the season this past weekend (by Utah standards, nothing significant fell). I remember the first snowfall of last year. Not much had stuck, but the kids came home from church ready to have "snowball fights." When I wished them luck in gathering enough snow for even one snowball, Will said, "Well, maybe we'll just throw snowflakes at each other."

Snow and kids often turns my thoughts to Calvin & Hobbes (Calvin often created horrendous scenes with his snowmen). I grew up reading the comic strip in the Sunday paper and started buying the collection books when I noticed them turning up at our local Deseret Industries a few years ago. Today, most of the 18 published collections can be found in our cars, in our bathrooms, on our bookshelves or under our beds. Calvin & Hobbes is read so much, in fact, that the kids have developed several endearing C&H rituals.

On long car trips, the kids will turn down their favorite pages so they'll know where to start when they switch books with each other.

Linger Longer 3

Linger Longer is a series where we highlight articles that recently caught our attention. Add your own articles in the comments.

Lifestyle Blogging, Guilt And Me (Zelophehad's Daughters)
The Daily Universe: An Obituary (By Common Consent)
On Not Being Boring (Segullah)
Sex-Ed And Social Justice (Times and Seasons)
Fears Of A Feminist Father (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
The First Black Mormon Leader: Pete (Wheat & Tares)
Latter-Day Saint Images, 1925 (Keepapitchinin)
Writing Towards Atonement (Ships of Hagoth)
Review: Joanna Brooks’ The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith (By Common Consent)

Worthless Women And The Men Who Make Them (Single Dad Laughing)
The Theological Differences Behind Evangelical Unease With Romney (The New York Times)
Elder Snow Appointed As New LDS Church Historian (Deseret News)
Mormons In America (The Pew Forum) and Live Blogging Call With Pew Forum (By Common Consent)
Washington Post's Guest Voices Lovefest (Joanna Brooks, Jana Riess and Steve Evans)
An Otherworldly Discovery: Billions Of Other Planets (The Wall Street Journal) also this (Youtube)
Google Maps: Designing The Modern Atlas (Core77)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Post: Searching For God In All The Wrong Places

godasman served a mission for the Church in the Philippines and now has three beautiful children. Having taken seriously the injunction to study from the best books, he secretly carries with him to church a copy of Moby-Dick alongside his quad. For a long time he has considered himself a Mormon not in the traditional vein, though he has heretofore maintained a respectful silence about his less-than-orthodox views. Ever the self-justifier and amateur Church Historian, he has a ready defense for all of his oddities of opinion. You can check out his blog here.

It is an accidental product of my openness to many different alternatives of spirituality that I am frequently invited to convert to other religions. Whenever I find those burning with religious zeal, confident atop a sure spiritual foundation, with a radiating countenance (Perhaps they have just left the presence of God!), I feel a promise of completeness in them that they have found what, in my more sober moments, I no longer believe to be possible. I ask them the whence’s and wherefore’s of that look they have, and they believe me to be an earnest spiritual pilgrim, looking for the One True Church to which I intend to swear my allegiance. (Maybe that is exactly what I am, though I doubt it.) It’s really quite cruel what I put people through by my questions. Everything I say leads them to believe I am on the path to the waters of baptism, when really I am a thief in the night, looking only for insights which I intend to incorporate into my own Mormon spirituality.

While pursuing my degree at a Liberal Arts College in the West, a fellow student had that very look. Whenever he deigned to break the silence of his heavenward gazing, he spoke of God and of life and of the immortality of the soul with such confidence that I hoped his child-like faith sprang from the depths and not from the shallows. He was a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, a congregation made up entirely of converts, and most of those came from the school I was attending.

John 3:16

by Saint Mark (bio)

I loved this commercial. It stopped me in my tracks while I was watching the Broncos get decimated by the Patriots. As I watched, I thought two things:

1) I really love my Savior; and
2) Why aren't we putting out a commercial like this?

What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Events From Signature Books

John Dinger, editor of The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (buy the book here), will discuss his new book this month at two Utah bookstores. He will discuss the significance of these two governing councils and their role in the events leading to the death of Mormonism’s founder, as well as their overall significance in shaping Mormon history.

“The publication of the Nauvoo city and high council minutes are a game changer in Mormon studies,” says Tom Kimball of Signature Books. “It is also interesting, with publication of this book, that the LDS Church History Library just opened up a typescript of the city council minutes for the public.” In the past, historians have been denied access to any version of these minutes. The originals are still unavailable to researchers.

Dinger will be at the following locations:

Tuesday, January 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Confetti Antiques and Books
273 North Main Street
Spanish Fork, Utah

Wednesday, January 25, 5:30 p.m.
Benchmark Books
3269 South Main Street, Suite 250
Salt Lake City, Utah

Guest Post: How Much Could Jesus Bench Press?

Have something to say? Anyone can submit a guest post to Modern Mormon Men. Just send us an email with your post, a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself).

Big D is a stay-at-work dad who spends his early mornings surfing, his days building strategic advertising campaigns, and his evenings professionally repairing surfboards on the side in San Clemente, California. He is a husband to an amazing wife, a proud father of three, and a cultural mormon who enjoys reading the writings of our country's founding fathers.

While sitting in priesthood class one day I looked over and noticed all the usual church posters on the wall. You know the ones ... they usually portray Caucasian kids doing something related to the catch phrase showcased above the activity they are involved in? It appears that all of these were created just after the release of Jaws and a hair before the sitcom Different Strokes became popular.

Apparently the church felt these clever collateral pieces were effective in teaching the youth how to be a better person. So much so in fact that thirty years later they are still on the walls. While scanning through all of these I recollected back to a conversation I'd had with an individual about how the church reports the fact that 50% of its members are outside of the U.S. now. With that fact swimming around my mind I thought, “Geez people, at least throw a Puerto Rican or two in these pieces.”

But then again, I work in marketing/advertising so maybe I’m just simply trained in recognizing the importance of diversifying your message, layout and models to fit the designated target. Or maybe in the 1980’s the target was middle-class Caucasians? To me, the posters really just seem to showcase the proactive paradigm in LDS promotion at the time. But if we’ve learned anything from The Simpsons, using words like “paradigm” and “proactive” are just buzzwords that stupid people use to sound smart ... but I digress.

After scanning through all of these faded-yet-classic LDS art-deco pieces, my eyes became suddenly fixed on the quintessential Jesus photo found in many LDS churches and homes. You know, the one where Jesus is wearing a white t-shirt with an unusually heavy-looking red robe over it? I always liked this one. Apparently Jesus was a gloriously handsome and very muscular Spaniard. One could deduce from the artists rendition of the Savior and his broad shoulders that the physical Jesus could max out in at least the 300+ lbs range.

Do you think this portrayal is accurate? Does it matter? I wonder how much our beliefs are influenced by images commonly used within our culture. Maybe we'll be surprised at what Jesus actually looks like if we ever get to meet him. I just hope I don't have to arm wrestle him to gain admittance to the Celestial Kingdom.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

MMM Movies: Warhorse

by Saint Mark (bio)

"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." - Joseph Smith (13th Article of Faith). I believe this includes movies. - Saint Mark

So there I was. Date night with the Misses. Dinner at Outback (because we received an awesome gift card from brother and sister-in-law. Two gift cards, actually. They didn't communicate very well on that one. But I digress.) Dinner at Outback but which movie to see? I was leaning toward Sherlock Holmes II but my wife said some critic bemoaned it as the only film not to see this holiday season. She wanted a chick flick, but my estrogen level wasn't high enough to compel me to sit for nearly two hours and suffer the ignominy of the men-are-stupid-but-we-women-put-up-with-them-for-who-knows-why? trope. So, what to do?

Out of nowhere arrives Warhorse. He swoops us up and rides off into the theatrical sunset. No, this isn't what really happened. This is the film version. What actually happened was that I begrudgingly agreed to watch a movie about a horse and was pleasantly surprised.

Feel Good About Sports

by Kyle August (bio)

Sports have given us little to cheer about lately. You've probably experienced the lockouts and heard of the unimaginable acts of a few sickos.

These disappointing stories have a knack for dominating the headlines. When that happens, you may find yourself all the sudden capable of causing bodily harm to anyone affiliated with the media, like this guy. But before you decide to pump up an inner tube, let's see if we can balance the scale.

I'm fortunate enough to work for a news organization. The day-to-day variety is incredible. Part of my job is to supply content to a newspaper and a TV station, per their request. Since August, we have focused on live streaming high school sporting events on the Internet. Why? We see it as a common source of positive for the community. Allow me to illustrate.

While broadcasting the 5A state football final in November, we received an email from a dad. He let us know this was the first time he had been able to watch his son play high school football. As he searched the Internet for score updates at 2 a.m. he stumbled across our live stream. He found it just in time to see his son score three touchdowns. Two receiving and one incredible 98 yard kickoff return. A monster game at any level.

By the way, he was watching from an army tent in Afghanistan.

Now it's your turn. I want to hear how sports have served as a vehicle for you to have a positive experience. Either leave your story as a comment, or email me. I'll compile all the inspirational goodness into my next post.

In the meantime, I leave you with one of my most favorite inspirational sports stories of all time. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post: Beck And Call

Have something to say? Anyone can submit a guest post to Modern Mormon Men. Just send us an email with your post, a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself).

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 other guest posts here and here.

Image via Spaz Du Zoo on Flickr.

"You are heeding the beck and call," said the Stake President. He smiled a big smile as he looked across the desk at me and signed the piece of paper. He stood up, gave me a big hug, and kindly pushed me out the door of his office. I was a little disappointed. I mean to say that the Stake President was supposed to be my last hope. He was supposed to be the one to overrule the Bishop, throw me out of his office, and possibly start disciplinary proceedings to have me thrown out of the Church for showing up on his doorstep with a ludicrous idea.

Four weeks passed and I was invited to see another member of the Stake Presidency. I thought to myself, "Perhaps the Stake President came to his senses and dispatched one of his counselors to tell me the bad news." Perhaps - I desperately fantasized - I was going to be punished by being permanently called to the Nursery. But it was not to be so. This good man, (my former Bishop and a genuinely nice guy) issued the call, which I accepted. And then we discussed the tasks soon to be mine.

I was frightened that perhaps somehow I was a fraud; that the inspiration I received from the Spirit to put in my papers and to serve a service mission in the Missionary Training Center was somehow a figment of my imagination. But, not one of my ecclesiastical leaders called me out and denounced me as a liar. Instead, they supported me with love and - inspired by the Spirit - encouraged me to begin the work training the good young men and women who would serve in the fields of the Lord.

MMM Search Term Roundup 3: July 2011

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

When someone finds Modern Mormon Men via search engine, we get to see what they typed to get here, giving us a small glimpse into the thought processes of those who happen upon our site. I think our readers need to see these, so I'll be sharing them monthly. Some are funny, some are sad, some are disturbing. Maybe we can work together to give some context or help answer some of those curious questions. WARNING: Although some of the more explicit entries have been excluded, saucier phrases that are included have not been edited. See them all here.

mormon prophet yoda
Yoda was a prophet, but he was a Jedi—not a Mormon. I've heard his temple work has now been done though.

are mormon women allowed to laugh out loud
They’re not. Technically they are not even supposed to type “LOL!” Actually we shouldn’t even be talking about this.

testimony about cross-dressing
"I know with every fiber of my... clothing..."

marriage argue with "clothes off"
Going to try this.

christopher reeve in cardigan
I couldn’t find anything out there, but wanted to see it too. So I made this...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


by Clark (bio)

Happy, exciting and sad all at the same time ...

Bake Your Potato Like A Man

by Roy Peckham (bio)

There are an infinite number of ways to prepare a studly spud. Allow me to lend you some advice to ensure that you bake your potatoes like a man.

If you wrap a potato in foil and throw it into an oven, you are pretty much just steaming it for 40 minutes. The key to baking a potato is getting the skin right. I like to wash and clean the potatoes, then pour some olive oil over them and crack some salt on top. It's probably best to do this in a big bowl. Then, roll your sleeves up, and rub the salt and oil so that it covers each potato completely. Punch a few holes with a small knife or fork. Throw it in an oven, on the rack -- not in a tray. You want the heat to completely surround and cook the potatoes evenly. Place a bit of foil below it to catch any liquid that will inevitably flow from the potato, thus relieving you from learning to clean the oven like a man later. I usually crank it to about 400+ F and leave it in for about 45+ minutes. Stick a knife in or give them a light squeeze with your fingers to know if they are done. You should end up with an evenly cooked potato and a crispy, well seasoned skin.

A few ideas for your manly potatoes:

Steak. Steak. Steak.

Chicken Fajita Potatoes: Pan fry some sliced chicken breast, bell peppers, chili, and light seasoning (salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon, whatever). Dump a big wodge of this lovely mixture on top of an open potato and top with cheese, green onions, or anything else.

Twice baked potato/potato skins: Since the skin on these bad boys is just that good, you can scoop out the guts, mix them with something delicious and re-bake them for a bit back in their original skins. They are perfect for potato skins.

Sausage and beans: Grill yourself some good sausage. Slice it up and mix into some hot baked beans. Pour this all over your freshly baked spud.

A bit dainty: Top your potato with some fresh cooked asparagus, peppery rocket, and salty parmesan cheese. Notice how the natural flavor of the ingredients will season the dish.

A few of your familiar toppings: butter, cheese, sour cream, spring (green) onions, bacon, chives.

A few of your unfamiliar toppings: pesto, cajun seasoning, hummus, salsa, avocado, olive oil, hot sauce, ranch dressing, broccoli & cheese, nutmeg, diced ham.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My 10 Favorite Things About 2011

by Bishop Higgins (bio)

Just like I do every year, I accomplished so many things in 2011. Some of them were ward-related, some of them were personal. And some of them had nothing to do with me at all! Here are my favorite things about 2011.

10 - We've still got one more year until the world ends.
9 - Helped my son Kyle with his Pinewood Derby (winning isn't everything, Kyle, but having a good relationship with your father is).
8 - Invented a new kind of nog. Ham nog.
7 - Strengthened the youth.
6- Became a lot more humble than nearly everyone I know. (I was already very humble, so this is one whale of an achievement).
5 - Inspired so many people in the ward to choose the right. They started choosing right up the ying-yang.
4 - Gave a blanket to a poor person. That person is in the ward, but I'm not going to tell you who it is.
3 - Refrained from telling people who I gave a blanket to.
2 - Memorized a lot of scriptures and even made up some of my own. Like this one: Ye shall know them by their fruits. And also, their last name will be Stevenson.
1- Sorted out the truth that the Murble family had eaten a cat. (They hadn't).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Preaching About Home Teaching

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I was walking down the hall a few Sundays ago when I heard someone call my name. I didn’t recognize the voice, or the person. He introduced himself as Patrick, our family’s new home teacher. He was new in the ward and seemed eager to get to know us better, so I proceeded to tell him how he could.

The scriptural foundation of home teaching is the commandment for priesthood holders to "watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them" (D&C 20:53; see also D&C 20:54–55; Moroni 6:4). The church has given the responsibility to home teach (women “visit teach,” a separate but similar program) to all Melchizedek Priesthood holders and to those who are teachers (14 & 15 year-olds) and priests (16 & 17 year-olds) in the Aaronic Priesthood. Per, the definition of home teaching is as follows:

"As part of their responsibility to watch over the members of the Church, home teachers visit their assigned families at least once each month to teach and strengthen them. Home teachers establish a relationship of trust with these families so that the families can call upon them in times of need.”

Reading the definition in reverse, home teachers are to establish a relationship of trust with their families so that the families can call upon them in times of need. Part of how they do this is to visit their assigned families at least once a month to teach and strengthen them. Reversing the wording helps me remember where the focus should be – establishing a relationship of trust so that when there is need, they’ll call.

Trust is an important part of any relationship, and this is why I believe a discussion regarding expectations should take place at the beginning of any new home teaching relationship. Do the individuals or families you visit want monthly in-home visits or would they prefer a more traditional friendship? When you do visit the home, do they want to hear the first presidency message or would they like to pick topics relevant to what is challenging their lives at the moment? Do they want monthly contact or would they prefer something a little less frequent? Once you have an idea of what will work for THEM, a relationship of trust should be relatively easy to build over time.

Shamed: A Documentary Feature Film

by Aimee (bio)

As a marriage therapist, it is saddening how often I see a significant breakdown in relationships with my LDS couples due to pornography addiction. The biggest sorrow is the mistrust it breeds in so many aspects of their lives. The recovery to rebuild that trust takes a lot of time and work. I'm sure everyone reading this has a personal story attached with how pornography has affected you or someone close to you. Am I right?

Recently, a trailer was brought to my attention that addresses this issue in very direct, honest, and open way.

Shamed is a documentary in the works with hopes of telling stories regarding pornography addiction in order to look at how to remove the debilitating shame that exists around pornography and sexuality in conservative Christian communities. Shame is such a powerful emotion that often keeps people from truly healing and can end up doing much more harm than good.

Please check out the Shamed trailer below and then head over to their Kickstarter page. I believe it could be a very powerful, healing tool in helping families work through this addiction. Plus, I like watching quality films focused towards the community of people I love. The filmmakers financial goal is $40k and Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform on a deadline so clearly they need support. Small donations from a lot of people add up quickly so please consider giving what you can. 

Please click right here and give them your support! 
And if you are so inclined, spread the word so they can reach their goal.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hardest Church Callings

by A-Dub (bio)
The Plague of Locusts by Vittorio Bianchini

Having recently moved to a new ward, I was without a church calling for several weeks. As my wife and I wondered what the Lord had in mind for us, I found myself pondering about what “the hardest possible church calling” would be. I hesitate to voice and/or write what I think this would be, because I am certain that the God of the Old Testament would appear, say “Oh, really?” and immediately insert me into said calling in lieu of sending a plague of locusts. So, I’m just going to conjecture what I believe other people think is the hardest calling.

Before anyone tries to call me to repentance, we all know that a calling is what you make of it, you can have a good experience in any calling, and ultimately they can all be rewarding. But we all have preferences. I for one find it hilarious when a good friend mistakenly says “I would HATE to get called as ______,” only to find himself a week later hearing “All that can sustain Brother You-Should-Never-Say-That-Out-Loud as the new {insert name of plague of locusts calling}, please indicate by the uplifted hand.” Yep.

So, here’s what I think most people think are the hardest callings, based on my own astute observations over many years and some thorough market research I‘ve done with at least two other people. So these babies are rock solid. Note that I am restricting these to the ward level ... I bet being the prophet is pretty tough.

1. Nursery Worker
Many adults look at church as a respite from their own kids – two hours of free babysitting! Bless the poor nursery workers who have to pry screaming children from their parent’s arms only to get snotted on, screamed at, and second guessed by smug parents who “would never do it that way!” I guess the one upside is no diaper changing. (Note: personally, I think any calling where there’s snack time and you don’t have to endure a boring priesthood lesson has some serious upside)

Man-Hugs & Missions

Our own Scott Heffernan was invited to guest post on Feminist Mormon Housewives as part of their annual Manuary tradition. Check out his post regarding Why Missions are Harder for Men. Also check out all the other great Manuary posts going on right now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guest Post: Sell Out

Have something to say? Anyone can submit a guest post to Modern Mormon Men. Just send us an email with your post, a post title and a paragraph of introduction (on yourself).

Sam Nelson recently returned from a mission in Chile and is currently studying Economics at BYU. He is part of The 5000 Days Project and is the subject of the film "Two Brothers" released in October 2011. You can read Sam's other guest posts here and here. You can also follow him on twitter: .

I’ve always been a proponent of doing what you love. After I knew I could put my embarrassing high school academic record behind me and start fresh at BYU I started to dream ... What if I worked at Bain and went to Harvard? I wanted to start my own business someday. I had an uncommon passion for business strategy and a weird knack for microeconomics. I thought about possibly being involved in politics ... I realized I could make a career out of doing what I loved and what I was good at and do it all day every day! Daydreaming about that future was so exciting that it propelled me from being a 3.2 GPA student in high school to a 3.9 GPA student at BYU. I’m not saying that to brag. And it wasn’t because I was just secretly really smart the whole time, it came at a huge cost. Freshman year I had my schedule worked out so I could finish all my classes by noon and study afterward ... There were quite a few days where I would be in the library until it closed at midnight. When you find a life goal that you are excited about ... life changes. I knew I could do well as a dentist like my dad, but I dreamed of more. The birds in the bush were so much more exciting than the bird in the hand!

After a year of college I left for a two-year mission in Chile. In those two years I changed a lot. The mission lets you experience first-hand the ironic joy that comes from forgetting yourself to better the lives of others. Also, if you get sent to Chile, you spend time with the happiest people you’ve ever met and they live in sheet metal houses ... It sounds cliché, but I really “got” that neither money nor prestige buys happiness. In Chile they don’t even really think much about people’s successes or failures. I got let in on a little secret ... Money has nothing to do with happiness. It was the belief that money could affect happiness that made people unhappy (rich or poor). Eureka! It was like when I was in elementary school and I realized that my grades didn’t actually matter!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Randy Paul Interview Part II: Establishing Trust

by jpaul (bio)

Over the past eleven years, Randy Paul (Harvard MBA, University of Chicago PhD) has focused his time, talent and energy on establishing a foundation that allows religious opponents to sit down together and have meaningful dialogue, not to resolve irresolvable differences, but to sustain them in peaceful tension.

Part I of my interview with Randy described how the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy came into existence and what he hopes to achieve. Part II, below, describes how Randy proposes that meaningful dialogue can be established between believers holding strong, opposing religious beliefs.

The full audio recording can be found here: LINK

Jeff: You believe we can honor those with opposing beliefs by listening to their views and taking them seriously. Can you uphold that honor without offending the other person when it is known on both sides that each think the other is wrong? How do we share our beliefs that we feel strongly about without offending others?

Randy Paul: That is a great question. We like to ask it in this way: How can you respect, let alone trust, someone who is wrong about the most important matter of all, God and the right way of life? The Foundation has found that there is a methodology that anyone can learn and use to begin to build trust with those we think to be wrong. This trust even allows offensive or dangerous views to be faced without people taking offense. There are four steps you can take to begin to build this trust with a religious rival. First, you get centered about your own beliefs and commitments. This means you have done the deep work to respect and trust yourself and a Higher Power (if your are a theist). In essence, you ask yourself, “Am I truly trying to live my religion with integrity?” If yes, then Second, you ask yourself, “Am I confident and caring enough to be open in an honest exchange of influence with someone who will challenge my beliefs?“ If yes, then Third, “Do I desire to be transparent about my various motives for engaging in a deeper relationship of mutual influence with my religious rival or opponent?” If yes, then Fourth, “Am I ready to listen half of the time, and be forthcoming half of the time in honest conversation?” These steps are based on a law of social life that describes the reciprocity inherent to trust-building: when people feel that they are important enough to you that they can influence you, then they take down their psychological wall and allow you to influence them. (Remarkably -- and we can talk about this later -- this law of reciprocity and these steps prepare us for a rare and powerful experience with our religious rivals - a new mode of mutually respectful missionary-to-missionary engagement.

Linger Longer 2

image via Flickr

Linger Longer is a series where we highlight articles that caught our attention over the last few weeks. Add your own in the comments.

My Testimony (Times & Seasons)
Feminism 101: Simone de Beauvoir (FMH)
Latter-day Saint Images, 1937 (Keepapitchinin)
On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage (Eugene England Foundation)
Julie B. Beck and Mormon Mommy Blogs (MMB Community)
Mental Illness and George Albert Smith (By Common Consent)

How (Not) to Understand What Mormons Believe (Religion Dispatches)
Princeton Brews Trouble for Us 1 Percenters: Michael Lewis (Bloomberg)
Social Media in the 16th Century: How Luther Went Viral (The Economist)
The Mess I’m In (The New York Times)
106 of the Most Beloved Street Art Photos of 2011 (Street Art Utopia)
Navigating Love and Autism (The New York Times)
Mitt Romney's Family in Mexico (Rock Center)
The Year's Best Humor Writing 2011 (SplitSider)

Monday, January 9, 2012

MMM on The Cultural Hall Podcast

MMM co-founders Seattle Jon and Scott Heffernan were interviewed on the Mormon-themed podcast, The Cultural Hall. Check it out here. Also check out the other great interviews they have done so far at Thanks to Richie T. Steadman and Lauren Johnson for being such gracious hosts.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Chose "The Road Less Traveled" And Was Wrong

by Dustin (bio)

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Three months ago I was heading to the Stake Center for an early-morning seminary in-service meeting. I had only been to the Stake Center once and it had been several months earlier. Now it was 5:15 a.m. and pitch black outside and I took a back road to avoid the stoplights. As I was heading east, in the general direction of the building, I started to doubt if I really knew the way. It only took four turns to arrive at the building, but one wrong turn could land me in Galveston, a city famous for hippies and smelling like rotten fish (and also not the location of the Stake Center).

I approached a street named "F.M. 1128." Houston is maddening because streets can carry several different names over the course of a few miles. I knew I was to turn on "Main Street" but suddenly found myself doubting if this was the same road. I looked right, then left, hoping to see something in the dim light that might jar my memory. Noting that I was running a bit late, and not wanting to arrive tardy to in-service, I said a quick, yet sincere, prayer in my heart that God would reveal to me if I should turn right or keep going straight. I waited for an answer. Nothing striking came, so I turned right and felt pretty good about my decision. As I headed down the road I found my surroundings growing darker and less familiar. Then the road veered back to the west and I knew I had chosen wrong. I quickly flipped around, headed back to the main road, and continued several miles before finally finding "Main Street" and eventually the Stake Center (with a minute to spare!).

The remainder of the drive I sat pondering why I had felt so strongly to turn right down what I would eventually determine was the wrong road. What's the point of praying for an answer if I'm simply going to choose wrong anyway?! I then thought about a recent life experience where I faced a decision between two very different life paths. I prayed and fasted for clarity, then pursued the road I thought was "right" with vigor. I followed my decision for months, investing considerable money and time into this endeavor. All the while I fasted and prayed that I was doing the correct thing for me and for my family. Two months ago it became strikingly clear that the path I had chosen was incorrect.

MMM Quotes 4: Truth

by Seattle Jon (bio)

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened." - Sir Winston Churchill

"Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it." - Andre Gide

"The truth is more important than the facts." - Frank Lloyd Wright

"Say not, 'I have found the truth,' but rather, 'I have found a truth.'" - Kahlil Gibran

"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth." - Niels Bohr

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Giveaway 7: Winners

Congratulations to the following seven readers (yes, LDSScriptures generously gave us additional codes), you have each won what many latter-day saints consider the best scripture app out there. To claim your download code, send us an email by January 8th with your preference - iPod, iPad or either - and hopefully we can work something out with the codes we've been given.

Kaja Sample, December 29, 2011 6:48 AM
LJ, December 29, 2011 7:05 AM
Kelly, December 29, 2011 10:48 AM
Jane, December 30, 2011 10:43 AM
Mia, December 30, 2011 3:39 PM
Bridger, January 2, 2012 7:53 PM
Stacey, January 4, 2012 10:04 PM

LDSScriptures is a leading innovator of scripture study tools and provides the app across all major platforms, including iPhone, iPad, Android, NOOK Color, Kindle Fire, PC, and Mac. The app backs up from each platform, syncing markings so you never have to start over with your digital scripture study. Perhaps the biggest reason to own the LDSScriptures app is the new Lesson Builder feature, which allows you to easily create talks and lessons and present them right from the app. Adding notes, scriptures, images from the Gospel Art Kit or URLs (including youtube videos) is a snap.

If you didn't win, please consider buying the app or any of their additional apps (LDS Coloring Pages, Mormonology, Scriptorian, Scripture Mastery Cards). What, you need a good reason to buy? A little birdy told us that the church pre-loads this app for all general authority devices. This alone makes the app true.

20 Pounds In 15 Weeks

by Pete Codella (bio)

graphic via

My birthday is the second week of April, which is about 15 weeks from now. As a husband, father, family and community member, business owner, MBA student and active member of the LDS Church, I have way too many things going on in my life. But it’s a New Year and I’m bound and determined to do something about the weight I’ve accumulated during the past decade.

So I’m going on record: I will lose 20 pounds by April 15. I think it’s a perfectly legitimate and achievable goal.

Yes, it will be difficult, but I feel like now’s the time to be proactive instead of just maintaining the status quo and waiting another year-and-a-half for when I’m out of school and will have more ‘free time’ (as if there’s really such a thing). Feel free to comment and provide helpful food and exercise tips, or just tell me how crazy you think I am. Also, I’d love to hear your personal goals for the New Year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Opportunities To Do Good

by Saint Mark (bio)

I'm amazed by what a few neighbors in a Seattle community did for a family and their little girl who was diagnosed with terminal liver failure.

It makes me think, "What can I do?"

Randy Paul Interview: The Irresolvable Conflict Between Religions

by jpaul (bio)

Over the past eleven years, Randy Paul (Harvard MBA, University of Chicago PhD) has focused his time, talent and energy on establishing a foundation that allows religious opponents to sit down together and have meaningful dialogue, not to resolve irresolvable differences, but to sustain them in peaceful tension. The following interview with Randy describes how the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy came into existence and what he hopes to achieve. Due to the length of the discussion, the interview will be shared in two parts.

The full audio recording can be found here: LINK

PART I: The Irresolvable Conflict Between Religions That Make Mutually Exclusive Truth Claims

Jeff: Can you tell me how the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy came to be?

Randy Paul: I studied philosophy and religious history and I had a chance in mid-life to go back to school at the University of Chicago and realized then what I want to study. I decided to study what might be called “the irresolvable conflict between religions that make mutually exclusive truth claims and authority claims.” Most conflicts in our society can be settled by some common measurement; you can compromise with a win-win solution, go to court and be paid x amount of money, or go to jail and pay your debt, but when it comes to conflicts over ultimate truths, there is no common metric that everyone will agree on. These conflicts are endless, continuous. The only way to get out of a conflict over religion is to kill your opponents, exile your opponents (or quarantine yourself), or convert your opponent. And I began to study that in a serious way.

I studied religious myths and religious texts of what we call “world religions.” I have found that they were telling stories about the ultimate nature and purpose and destiny of mankind that were different, that were not honestly harmonizable. (See Stephen Prothero’s new book, God Is Not One, on this point.) This was before 9/11, I could sense drooling in the world after the Soviet Union collapsed, there was still a lot of “ethnic conflict”, which was the phrase they once used to cover the fact that these conflicts were heavily religious in nature.

When I left my program in 2000, I wrote my dissertation on theories and actual historical cases of religious conflict. I realized I wanted to get involved somehow in public life and continue an intellectual pursuit of this question. I began the foundation with a couple collaborators and we took a few years to think about how religious diplomacy might be established in the world. Two and a half years ago, I left my business full-time and focused on the foundation.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vote or Die 5: The Best of MMM 2011


Modern Mormon Men was launched mid-Apri of 2011. We are still young, but we’ve already had some great times. We are really proud of our first year. What have you liked so far? We looked at page views and “likes”, among other things, to come up with a list of some of our favorite posts. Please vote below for your favorite MMM post. Feel free to write one in if you don't see your favorite. How did we do our rookie year? Anything you would like to see more of? Less of? Or did we nail it all first try?

Fatherhood Top Fives by Scott Heffernan.
I'm His Dad by Josh.
I Had A Bad Feeling About Serving A Mission by Sam Nelson (Guest).
I Know This Is Going To Make You Mad by Josh.
In Character: Bishopric Edition by Topher Clark.
Joplin, Missouri by Saint Mark.
On Becoming Sterile by Reed Soper (Guest).
On Queers and Marriage: Messieurs, I Respectfully Disagree by Luke Warmer.
Mormon Alliteration by Seattle Jon.
Mormon Radar: How to Spot a Mormon by Scott Heffernan.
The Six TV Shows That Make Me a Better Man by brettmerritt.
This Is Not A Post About Swinging by Aimee.
Welcome Casserole by Bishop Higgins.

Other MMM Posts

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