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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Made in Americana: The Amazing Easter Egg Chicken

by jpaul (bio)

Just when I thought urban farming couldn’t get any more interesting, I started getting blue eggs from my favorite hen, Chewbacca. What an amazing pet.

Once she started a couple weeks ago, she hasn’t stopped laying them. I get an egg a day without fail, and if I am around for lunch that day, nothing tastes better than a blue eggs and ham sandwich. Chewbacca is an amazing breed of chicken known as the Americana (actually spelled Ameraucana, but I don’t like that spelling). When I purchased her a few months back, I was told that when she starts laying, her eggs would be either brown, pink or blue. Half the fun is waiting for the first egg to arrive to see what color “egg gene” the chicken has. Because of the variety of color, these chickens are also known as Easter Egg chickens.

Now that she is laying, all three of my chickens are in production mode, which means we get 2 to 3 eggs/day. After the initial trials of broken chicken coops and raccoon/hawk/possum attacks, my little backyard experiment is beginning to pay off. While urban farming is not meant to be a profitable venture, it is nice to know that I can now officially stop buying eggs. Rather than being a financial decision, I believe there is a spiritual aspect of urban farming that has been lost in our fast- moving, fast-food society. Brigham Young spoke wisely when he admonished the saints to never lose touch with urban farming as they settled Salt Lake Valley:

“The soil, the air, the water are all pure and healthy. Do not suffer them to become polluted. Strive to preserve the elements from being contaminated. Keep your valleys pure, keep your towns pure, keep your hearts pure, and labor as hard as you can. Adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations.”

Okay, maybe he didn't say "urban farming", but he came pretty close. We should all ask ourselves if we have rendered our little place on this earth pleasant so that angels would be delighted to visit. As spring comes in the next months, begin small with one or two vegetables in a pot and you may soon find yourself with a full-size garden and chickens roaming your backyard. If you need help getting started, visit, the first community of urban farmers.

Note: MMM contributor Casey Peterson was recently spotlighted on Farm Loco.

A Son With ADHD

by Pete Codella (bio)

The school year got off to a rough start for our six year-old son this year. After a rocky few months we ended up pulling him from public school and placing him in a nearby private Montessori school, where he is doing much better.

Last fall we also began meeting with professionals to help us diagnose what was going on. We had him tested for every kind of allergy, sight, hearing, etc.

What we have learned so far is that he has ADHD. It has been an interesting experience. There seem to be as many perceptions of ADHD, medication and behavioral modification approaches for the diagnosis, as there are people.

It’s a little overwhelming for busy parents who only want to do the best thing for their child.

MMM Quotes 5: Shawn Carter

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Jay-Z has some words of wisdom for the 1%'ers and the rich man who is having trouble entering the kingdom of God:

I can't help the poor if I'm one of them
So I got rich and gave back
To me that's the win, win

- Moment of Clarity, The Black Album

Other stuff to read:
Gwyneth Paltrow on Jay-Z (Goop)
Jay-Z's Interests (Life + Times)
Man of Year 2011 (GQ) *language*
Profile (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saltair, Why Do You Give Me The Creeps?

by MAB (bio)

Like many a good Mormon, I spent some time in and around Salt Lake City. I haven't been back though for more than seven years. What's keeping me away you might ask? Well, one thing is the Saltair Pavillion. That mysterious palace of salt sends chills down my spine. Now, I'm not normally a fearful person, so the effect that edifice has on me is a bit mysterious. It periodically haunts my thoughts even though I've never been there, just drove past it a few times as a teenager.

Bennion's Teachings of the New Testament, List 2

by Seattle Jon (bio)

A few months ago I purchased and slowly read Teachings of the New Testament, written by Lowell Bennion and used in the adult Sunday School in 1953. Brother Bennion was Director of the Institute of Religion in Salt Lake City when he wrote the manual.

There are 44 chapters, or lessons, in the manual designed to "bring out the moral and religious implications of New Testament teachings for our times." Our time is not their time, but the fundamental principles taught by our Savior are timeless in their application. Here is the second of four lists (list one) in the manual I found interesting, uplifting and easy to replicate in post form.

Implications of the Fatherhood of God for us today

1. God being just, fair, and impartial, we should claim no special favors for ourselves. He loves us as his children, but no more than he loves Jew and Gentile - Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Buddhist. They too are his children, the object of his great love. They too live under the same forces of nature and under the same moral laws.

Monday, February 27, 2012


by Topher Clark (bio)

Last night Xanadu, a show I directed, opened at the Hale Center Theatre in Orem. I'm not just pimping out my work here, since I know that many MMM readers live outside Utah County. (Wait, there's people living outside Provo? Say wha?) But if you come to the show I would be happy to say hello. If I'm there. I have a lot of TV to catch up on and I seriously need to get my car into Jiffy Lube before all hell breaks loose with my fluids.

Anyway, I have thought about this production a lot. I've put a lot of time into it. And while there's nothing particularly offensive about the play, it does contain the following:

1. Men and women in super short shorts
2. A girl who brags about not wearing a bra
3. A cyclops and a Medusa (Satanic?)
4. A line about "fleeting intercourse"
5. A lot of super fey finger snapping
6. Choreography (i.e. angry flea hops)
7. A lot of glitter being thrown
8. Ladies dancing in tight metallic pants
9. A flying Pegasus (Satanic?)
10. Actors who stick their butts out a lot

I'm very proud of the show, but I'm also a priesthood holder. What's more, I'm a counselor in a bishopric. I'm not ashamed, but should I be? Is it okay to be a faithful LDS man and still like mythological (Satanic?) creatures and hot pants? Will my ward members judge me? Will I care? Will this come up in any kind of recommend interview? I don't know. I'm split. Brother Jekyll in me thinks that this is all very irreverent, but Brother Hyde loves it.

Oh, I don't know. It's something all of us in the arts struggle with. We want to create, and we want to explore, and we want to entertain. But we also want to hold our heads high in Elders Quorum. I'm not sure I know what the resolution is yet. Luckily, I shouldn't have this problem on my next production, Hedwig and the Angry Itch.

The Thing Across The Street In Santa Clara

by Bradly Baird (bio)

An Internet Confession, a Missionary Discussion, and Mexican Food

I've been trapped for two weeks in Santa Clara, California. For those of you who are not familiar with this charming little joint, Santa Clara is adjacent to San Jose and Palo Alto, and is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. To make the geography more challenging, my little hotel is in the center of the high-tech business district. Each morning, I look out my window and see corporate complexes for Yahoo!, IBM, Citrix, EMC, McAFee, Cisco, Solix, Dell, and the San Franciso 49ers. Problem is, apart from my hotel, a couple of really sad restaurants, and the Silicon Valley monstrosities, I am isolated from humanity.

This isolation rang true this afternoon. After I spent the entire day in a small conference room with people who definitely do not share my value system, after I returned to my hotel room, and consumed a really sad BBQ Pork sandwich from TOGO's(plus a really disgusting cheesecake dessert from IHOP), I was hit hard by the loneliness. I knew that I couldn't call my family because they were running around to the usual evening activities of YM/YW and sporting events. So, I sat with nothing to do and real pain in my heart.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The True Captain Of The Soul

by Saint Mark (bio)

image via eva juliet
When I first saw the movie "Invictus" and heard the self-titled poem by William E. Henley (1849-1903), I was moved to tears. It was powerful. It was evocative. The fact that Nelson Mandela used Henley's words to keep his mind, body and spirit alive while incarcerated for 27 years was a testament to the indomitable soul of mankind.

Here is the poem in its entirety, along with a moving rendition here:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Giveaway 8: Blacks In The Scriptures DVDs

On the heels of yesterday's post about blacks in the church, we are excited to offer one of our readers a complementary copy of the 2-DVD set Blacks in the Scriptures courtesy of Marvin Perkins and Darius Gray.

The four-part DVD set tackles many of the most vexing race questions in the church. Marvin and Darius deal straightforwardly with the myths surrounding scriptural references to skin color and curses and past practices related to equality and the priesthood. The four lectures are entitled:

1. Blacks in the Bible
2. Skin Color and Curses
3. Equality and Priesthood
4. Blacks and the LDS Priesthood

For this giveaway, Marvin and Darius are generously providing one complementary copy of the 2-DVD set Blacks in the Scriptures. To enter the giveaway, follow the guidelines below. If you don't win, or don't want to wait to see if you won, please support their efforts by purchasing the DVD set. Even better, for every DVD set purchased, they donate a DVD set to men and women throughout the world who desire to have them but cannot afford.

Giveaway Guidelines:
• You have 7 days to enter (closes Thursday, March 1st at midnight).
• Make one comment on this post to enter (anonymous comments ignored).
• Winner chosen via and announced March 2nd.
• Winner needs to respond via email by March 4th to claim her or his DVD set.

The Center for Service and Learning

"Help others in their race of life. Remember that when you help another up a mountain, you are a little nearer the top yourself." - Thomas S. Monson

One of our newest contributors, Casey Peterson, heads The Center for Service and Learning at BYU. His mission: to provide every BYU student with a meaningful service opportunity and to instill in the hearts and minds of BYU students a desire to give lifelong service.  Casey does this through the Y-Serve office located in the Wilkinson Center, and if the numbers tell any story, it's that he and his staff are succeeding in their mission: over 22,000 student volunteers donated almost 122,000 hours in 2011.

If you're a BYU student and don't know about The Center for Service and Learning, drop in and learn more. If you're interested in becoming more involved with Casey's efforts, get in touch. Programs like this should be supported through word of mouth and through our actions.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blacks In The Church: Marvin Perkins & Darius Gray

by Seattle Jon (bio)

With most of today's media bandwidth seemingly taken up by Mitt Romney and Joanna Brooks (go Mormon Girl!), the continued effort by African-American Latter-day Saints to gain membership momentum despite our church's racially fraught history hasn't gotten enough attention (in my opinion). Two members of the church, Marvin Perkins and Darius Gray, who are also members of the church's Genesis Group, are trying to change that.

As background, from the 1830s to the mid-1800s, the church liberally extended priesthood to all worthy males without regard to race or color. Then around the mid-1800s, the church instituted a policy of restricting black male members from holding the priesthood (and serving missions or participating in temple work) that would last until 1978, when the practice was abolished. During this time, in an attempt to justify the new restrictive policy, many inaccurate teachings grew within the church regarding skin color, race and equality. In 1978, the church announced that a clarifying revelation had been received and the priesthood was once again made available to all worthy male members of the church.

Though the practice of restriction had been discontinued, the myriad of issues created by the policy, including the inaccurate teachings, misunderstandings, thoughts and some behaviors which grew from the policy, still exists among the membership nearly 34 years later for the simple fact that they have not been addressed and corrected. Therefore, issues of equality and race related to the church continue to surface.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vote or Die 6: Which Modest Is Hottest?

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Vote or Die posts here.

Modesty is so hot right now. It's taking up my mind and my Facebook wall. You've no doubt heard about the recent incident at BYU involving Brittany Molina, a young woman who received a special note on Valentine's Day politely informing her that her clothing is harming God's children.

You may also remember Rachel Vermillion from a couple of months ago, a BYU-Idaho student who couldn't take a test because her pants were too tight for the taste of the testing center overlords.

So which outfit is saucier? Who would you write a condescending note to? I sincerely hope the answer is neither. (But I also hope for the sake of the vote, you'll pick one or the other.)

Some have pointed out that both of these outfits do, in fact, violate the honor code that these women agreed to. Rachel's clothes are somewhat "form-fitting" (whatever that means exactly). Brittany's dress cuts off above the knee, and even though she has thick, opaque winter tights on, this technically still violates the honor code. So why have the reactions to these incidents been so strong?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Post: The Swearing Stand-Off

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).

Laurie Stradling once actually got into a fight with her older brother Steve about whether or not "jackass" was a real swear word. She is the only swearer in her family: her husband claims his swears don't sound natural, and her one-year-old son doesn't speak, ergo, his mother has not yet taught him how to swear. You can read her online drivel here and her MMM guest posts here.

I come from a swearing Mormon family. Grandmother (Mom's mom) could cuss with the best of them and Grandpa (Dad's dad) dropped cowboy swears so casually that even talks in church were tinted a light shade of blue. We all appreciated Grandpa's swears because you could repeat them in context without getting your mouth washed out.

I picked up a mean swearing streak in middle school that carried over past my college career. At BYU, swearing was like a litmus test for friendship: If I could swear occasionally around you, we could be friends. If I couldn't, I occasionally daydreamed about how mad I had to make you to get you to swear back at me.

Now, I definitely had swearing standards. "Hell" and "damn" were Tier 1 swears, or "Bible swears," and weren't actually offensive. Same with "jackass" and "bastard" (or, as my little brother called it around sensitive ears, "turd of bass.") The words having to do with excrement or the gender of a dog were heftier and thus saved for more weighty situations. I never dropped The Granddaddy in my entire life. Still haven't. I have to stop somewhere.

Linger Longer 5

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

Bloggernacle (religious)
Crossing the Plains and Kicking Up Dirt, A New Mormon Pioneer (CNN)
Ask Mormon Girl (Modesty, Polygamy, Becoming Gods)
Female Friendship At Forty (Segullah)
Unclean! Unclean! Unclean! (By Common Consent)
The Not-So-Great Apostasy (Times and Seasons)
Judging the "Hot Mom" (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Tithing Workaround (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Strengthening Families vs. Fighting Gay Marriage (Wheat & Tares)
The Treachery of Amalickiah, Parts 1 and 2 (GRAPHIC NOVEL) (Keepapitchinin)
Call for Abstracts: Ender’s Game and Philosophy (A Motley Vision)
Religion Dispatches (Church Membership and Church History)
FAIR Podcast Series Explores Homosexuality Among LDS (Deseret News) (FAIR podcasts)
Double Vision (Mormon Midrashim)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious)
Baby Sleep Positions: “The Roundhouse Kick” (How To Be A Dad) (Other Positions)
How to Prioritize When Everything Is Important (Lifehacker)
Happiness Takes (A Little) Magic (The Wirecutter) *language*
The Ultimate Mormon Male (Salon)
California and Bust by Michael Lewis (Vanity Fair)
Things I Could Do Before I Had Children (Huffington Post)
What Would the End of Football Look Like? (Grantland)
Jeremy Lin (Wired, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal)
How Companies Learn Your Secrets (The New York Times)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Are French Parents Superior To American Parents?

by Saint Mark (bio)

According to this article, YES! And why? Despite what this lampooning cartoon of the French depicts, the French are better at parenting because they know how to educate their children in delaying their own gratification. They thus, indirectly, teach their children to be patient.

In Pamela Druckerman's "Why French Parents Are Superior," she chronicles her frustrations (and I think most parents' frustrations) as an authority figure over her children. Here's what she shares:

When my daughter was 18 months old, my husband and I decided to take her on a little summer holiday. We picked a coastal town that's a few hours by train from Paris, where we were living (I'm American, he's British), and booked a hotel room with a crib. Bean, as we call her, was our only child at this point, so forgive us for thinking: How hard could it be?

We ate breakfast at the hotel, but we had to eat lunch and dinner at the little seafood restaurants around the old port. We quickly discovered that having two restaurant meals a day with a toddler deserved to be its own circle of hell.

Bean would take a brief interest in the food, but within a few minutes she was spilling salt shakers and tearing apart sugar packets. Then she demanded to be sprung from her high chair so she could dash around the restaurant and bolt dangerously toward the docks.

Our strategy was to finish the meal quickly. We ordered while being seated, then begged the server to rush out some bread and bring us our appetizers and main courses at the same time. While my husband took a few bites of fish, I made sure that Bean didn't get kicked by a waiter or lost at sea. Then we switched. We left enormous, apologetic tips to compensate for the arc of torn napkins and calamari around our table.

After a few more harrowing restaurant visits, I started noticing that the French families around us didn't look like they were sharing our mealtime agony. Weirdly, they looked like they were on vacation. French toddlers were sitting contentedly in their high chairs, waiting for their food, or eating fish and even vegetables. There was no shrieking or whining. And there was no debris around their tables.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mormon Mashup 1: The Beatles

by A-Dub (bio)

In the style of iTunes Essentials, if you combined The Beatles and Mormons what would you get?

The Basics
• Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band of Gadiantons
• I Want to Hold Your Handcart
• Come, Come Together Ye Saints
• Neal A. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
• All You Need is Love at Home
• Love Me Do as I’m Doing

Next Steps
• She Came in Through the Bathroom Windows of Heaven
• Good Day, Sunshine in My Soul
• Strawberry Fields Forever Families
• Let it Be Grateful, Let it Be Smart, Let it Be Clean…
• The Fool on the Hill Cumorah Pageant

Deep Cuts
• When I'm 64th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants
• Octopus’s Gardening for Food Storage
• J. Golden Slumber Kimball
• The Ballad of John and Yokolob
• Rocky Mountains Raccoon
• Help … Me Move on Saturday

Guest Post: Socks Define A Man

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).

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

Socks define a man. It's true, you can learn a lot about a man and their personality by what type of socks they wear. As Modern Mormon Men and just men in general we all wear socks on a (mostly) daily basis and depending on where we work, what we do for work can have an influence on what type of socks we wear and why we wear them.

I am a people watcher. I could sit at an airport or amusement park and watch people all day long. If only I had the time to sit and watch on a daily basis. So, after a lot of people watching and noticing socks, I have come to the following conclusions about socks and personality. I have narrowed it down to 3 distinct groups and then show how they each define a man and his personality.

1. Plain - These are either a solid black or white sock. These are the type of men who don't really have strong opinions. They are usually quiet and well mannered and wear what is simple and easy. They might even have their wives buy their socks for them. These men seek independence and peaceful situations. They can be emotional and sensitive at times though. They listen well but are occasionally stubborn.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Men Are That They Might Have Joy … On The Court This Season

We're excited to introduce Coach Billingsworth, who came to our attention when he left a comment on this post as ChurchBallCoach. We liked his attitude, so invited him to document this year's church ball season.

Coach Billingsworth is a lover of basketball. As a three-year regional championship coach, he has a natural eye for talented players and works to farm the youth at a young age and develop their skills on and off the court. As a frequent caller to the Jim Rome show, Coach Billingsworth has the unique ability to fuse basketball and Mormonism together like jello and fruit.

We’re finally here … church basketball season! I haven’t yet been called by Bishop Thorpson to once again be the basketball coach, but frankly, I know it’s only a matter of time. Why? Because I’m a winner. Three regional championships in a row don’t lie. I’ve set a meeting with the bishop to discuss new plays for this season as well as a new prospect we’ve been fellowshipping who just so happens to be 6’ 8”. I call him “Hightower” but his real name is Clarence and boy … can he play.

I plan to run some extra practices with the team before the actual season starts because I want everyone to get use to playing the “Triangle” again. It took Phil Jackson a few years to get the Lakers to play it correctly. But I don’t have three years, I have three weeks. However we’ve got faith on our side so I’m not worried about it. “Endure to the end” is what I tell my teams just before tip-off.

So let’s go over the starting roster this year.

1. Hightower: 6’ 8” power forward/center with elbows like Karl Malone. I’ve just called him on a mission. A mission to man-handle the inside paint.

2. White Lightning: 5’7” point guard with super-speed and great court vision. His motto is, “Did you think to pass?” Very Jimmer-ish.

3. Silky Johnston: 6’1” forward/wing with tenacious defense. He’s a real hand-in-your-face kind of guy. Drives players crazy. He returns flagrant fouls with honor.

4. Brigham Young: 5’10” wing who’s a real shooter. He’s got more trick plays than the real Brigham Young had wives. He’s our youngest player on the team and his first name is Brigham so hence … Brigham Young.

5. Daniel Jorgenson: 6’ 3” forward/wing. Daniel is probably our most one-dimensional player, but his size and ability to rebound makes up for his lack of shooting. “I love to see the temple,” his elbows coming down on other players' temples on a good rebound that is.

We’re excited to get this team out on the floor for our first match-up. We’ll have the spectators standing all amazed at our great playing this season. How do your teams match up?


by Casey Peterson (bio)

January 19th began as an ordinary day on BYU campus. The skies were overcast and gray, with busy students shouldering heavy backpacks hurrying to class to begin their days. The early morning scene on campus holds a quiet reverence, as everything from sleepy students, to awakening buildings stir out of the quiet predawn slumber. However, the morning quiet was broken as busses full of local 6th graders started unloading masses of children who are bursting with enthusiasm this day to get a glimpse of their “heroes.” Revered names begin to drop from their lips as they start guessing who they’ll see. Kyle Van Noy, Riley Nelson, Brandon Davies, “Juice” Quezada, Futi Tavana, Cody Hoffman, or Charles Abouo are among those mentioned most.

You see, for this one day, these kids have left familiar surroundings and come hoping for more. I know some of their situations, the broken homes, the unemployed parents, and especially the mean spirited comments of their peers. This is the age that they notice examples. They see good and bad examples each day in their life, and from them they take bits and pieces that become the fabric that forms their lives. For this day, they get to escape the fear of what they look like, what they say, and the confusion of who they are, and meet what they perceive as “perfect” people.

I get to work with the athletes at BYU in my job. I know they are not perfect. I know they have their own challenges, their own fears, and mean comments that come from a passionate fan base. I know they are trying to figure out their futures and form their identities also. There are striking physical differences, yet subtle similarities between the two groups who are coming together on this day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Proclaimed Upon The Housetops

by Sam Nelson (bio)

"Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."

A few weeks ago I was sitting at home bored and typed my name into YouTube to look for old videos my brothers and I posted when I was in high school. To my surprise, I scrolled down and saw a thumbnail of me singing and dancing with a microphone in my hand! It was a video of me rapping about modesty to the tune of Sir-Mix-A-Lot's I Like Big Butts for my EFY talent show. Apparently some girl with a camera on her phone filmed it and posted it years ago. Over 30,000 people have viewed the video... and I didn’t even know it was out there!

Fortunately for me, the video isn’t too embarrassing, even though it exposes my weirdness as a teenager. It got me thinking about the long-term implications of increased technology, though. Nowadays, filming something and putting it on YouTube is as easy as taking out your phone, pressing a button to film, then pressing another to post.

I predict that this will become an issue as my generation grows up and incorporates into the adult world. How weird would it be to see a video of your young women’s president Jello wrestling at a BYU frat party? Or a video surfacing of your bishop taking a bong hit when he was a teenager? Your wife (or mom) making out with some greasy skateboarder in high school? Will things like this impact you when you are a boss? A doctor? An elementary school teacher? It causes problems today, but I predict that when today’s carefree younger generation grows up, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media permanently floating around cyberspace are going to become extremely irritating. What do you think?

The Mormon Lit Blitz Begins!

by Scott Hales (bio)

"We must read, and think, and feel, and pray, and then bring forth our thoughts, and polish and preserve them. This will make literature."—Orson F. Whitney

Fifty years ago, most schools taught that making literature was a matter of combining great language and universal human values. Since then, millions of readers have decided that context also counts: that it’s nice to get our grand human dilemmas through the lens of very specific cultures with their unique values, traditions, tensions.

From February 15th to February 29th, Mormon Artist magazine will begin hosting the Mormon Lit Blitz, an online literary contest organized by James Goldberg and Scott Hales. We believe that Mormon experience is rich enough to inspire engaging poems, stories, and essays—and are ready to offer thirteen pieces as proof.

The format of the contest is simple. Beginning on February 15th, the Mormon Artist blog will post one short story, poem, or personal essay a day for the rest of the month (except on Sundays). At the end of the contest, readers will be encouraged to vote for the pieces they like best, and the author of the winning piece will be awarded a Kindle loaded with works of Mormon literature.

The thirteen pieces featured in the contest were selected from almost two hundred entries from four different countries. They were written to appeal broadly to Latter-day Saint audiences, particularly committed members of the Church. However, the judges were careful to select artistic works that avoided the cheesiness and preachiness that people often associate with Mormon literature.

We hope you will enjoy the Mormon Lit Blitz. Please support the finalists by reading their work and voting for your favorites.

Contest Schedule:
2/15 “In Bulk” by Marilyn Nielson
2/16 “The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop” by Wm Morris
2/17 “No Substitute for Chocolate” by Jeanna Mason Stay
2/18 “Second Coming” by Emily Harris Adams
2/20 “The Road Not Taken” by Sandra Tayler
2/21 “Stillborn” by Merrijane Rice
2/22 “Oil of Gladness” by Kathyrn Lynard Soper
2/23 “The Shoe App” by Emily Debenham
2/24 “Cada Regalo Perfecto” by Deja Earley
2/25 “The Gloaming” by Kerry Spencer
2/27 “Babel” by Jonathon Penny
2/28 “The Hearts of the Fathers” by Jeanine Bee
2/29 “Red Rock” by Marianne Hales Harding

You can stay updated on the Mormon Lit Blitz by liking it on Facebook (here), following it on Twitter (here), and/or subscribing to the Mormon Artist blog (here).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Show Your Love

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Happy Valentine's Day.

Show Your Love // A Valentine's Day Short from Kien Lam on Vimeo.

Valentine's Day Infographics

Men, click on the infographics below to get all the Valentine's Day statistics you could ever need. As for how all this information might help you successfully navigate this tricky holiday, we can't say, but we can say that if the information helps just one modern mormon man discover the v-day truth, our blog mission will have been a success. Both infographics are courtesy of our friends over at Frugal Dad. Check out their site for insights on money and career.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bennion's Teachings of the New Testament, List 1

by Seattle Jon (bio)

A few months ago I purchased and slowly read Teachings of the New Testament, written by Lowell Bennion and used in the adult Sunday School in 1953. Brother Bennion was Director of the Institute of Religion in Salt Lake City when he wrote the manual.

There are 44 chapters, or lessons, in the manual designed to "bring out the moral and religious implications of New Testament teachings for our times." Our time is not their time, but the fundamental principles taught by our Savior are timeless in their application. Here is the first of four lists in the manual I found interesting, uplifting and easy to replicate in post form.

Why study the New Testament?

1. The New Testament is varied and rich in content. It abounds in human interest material, in insight into ancient life and culture, in beautiful literary expression, and in interesting and inspiring moral, religious and theological teaching. One may read the book again and again and neither exhaust nor retain its full meaning.

Mormonism Obsessed With Christ: Responses

We thought Mormonism Obsessed With Christ, an article written by a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College in First Things magazine, interesting enough to solicit responses from our contributors. Add your own reactions in the comments.

Bradly Baird (bio)

It is clear by reading this interesting article that - while the author seems to have some admiration for our doctrine and our "obsession" with Christ - he also finds us somewhat "peculiar," but in the best sense. He is unmoved by the Book of Mormon and speaks of it as a work of literature rather than what it actually is, a record of God's dealings with a chosen people. And he marks our interest in the Savior by declaring that we - the collective MormonISM - do "not significantly damage or deface that portrait" of Christ.

These declarations and opinions do not awaken any sort of ire on my part; instead, they reinforce a remarkable sense of gratitude at having acquired a personal testimony and a sincere feeling of humility in the knowledge that I acquired a singular knowledge of Truth through intimate and personal contact with Divinity (something only a small percentage of humans may declare). What is even more remarkable is the fact that I receive a similar blessing every single day of my life, the guiding light of conversation with my Father in Heaven.

And when all is said and done, I can't help but feel that the author has his nose pressed up against the metaphorical glass of the true gospel. He is an outsider looking in - as with all of our critics - and will simply not fully comprehend our obsessions until he too acquires that same enriching knowledge and faith.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Guest Post: Mormons Don't Surf!

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. You can read Big D's first guest post here.

“Ponce DeLeon sailed the ocean 
in search of The Fountain of Youth, 
when all he had to do was jump over the side of his ship.” - Skip Frye

My own mother recently referred to me as a “bum.” I guess she felt warranted giving me that title because of the accumulation of several things; my personal spiritual beliefs, my association with particular friends, as well as my incessant need to find fulfillment in an activity she’ll never comprehend. Of course these are all assumptions as to the reason why. You see, I’ve spent most of my life setting goals and acquiring accolades that, in general, people would think are about as far away from “bum status” as possible. Accomplishments like being an Eagle Scout, college graduate, 10-year business professional and small business starter, CPR certified, married, and a father of three all come to mind. But I guess those things were overlooked before deciding my newfound classification.

You see, I have a deep affinity for the ocean and oftentimes spend countless hours chasing surf and riding waves. I’m basically the guy sitting in a business meeting thinking about water displacement off the tail of a surfboard instead of focusing on expanding strategic marketing initiatives. But many times being labeled a “surfer” comes with a particular bum status stigmatism. Maybe that’s where the whole thing originated, but I digress.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Countries & Colour

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Check out these very cool images by artist Jerod Gibson. They are part of his series, Countries & Colour, in which he created abstract illustrations for specific countries. I thought them relevant to our Mormon world because many of us have served missions abroad (also they're just awesome anyway). They are for sale in a bunch of different sizes and are really affordable. See if he has your favorite country.

Found on Laughing Squid.

Mormonism and American Politics

by May Jones (bio)

Image via here.

This past weekend, Columbia University hosted an event called "Mormonism and American Politics: A Conference." Since Columbia is just up the street from me and the conference was free, I felt compelled to go check it out. Plus, two of my fellow ward members, Richard and Claudia Bushman, were presenting.

Upon arriving at the conference, I was struck by how many people were there, and I only recognized a handful of them. As the sessions progressed, I became aware of the fact that the presenters and audience were made up of almost equal parts members and non-members. At one point, a guy who was asking a question of one of the presenters introduced himself as non-LDS, and said he was studying Mormonism. I was intrigued. I was also appreciative of the overall feeling of respect for our religion that permeated the conference. Everyone was there to learn and to explore the many aspects of the LDS faith.

I was almost brought to tears by Sister Bushman's account of the oral history project she worked on in Claremont, California (Being that Claremont High is my Alma Mater, I might have been a little bit more sensitive to the subject matter.) She collected oral accounts of LDS women living in California during the Proposition 8 campaign. As she recited their stories, I could sense the anguish they felt at being torn between obedience and their personal feelings. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been, and I'm grateful that Sister Bushman had the wisdom to record their thoughts.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Brief Twitter History Of The Author - 2009

by brettmerritt (bio)

I started tweeting in 2007. Back then most of us didn't have a clue what it was, what to do, or that it would grow into what it is today. Still, many of you aren't on Twitter. I find that amazing. It's your choice I suppose.

You should know, however, that it can be really useful like to keep up on breaking news. For me it's sports, religion, comedy, politics and trends in my industry. Still, there's the fun side of it too. Here, for your reading pleasure, are my best tweets from 2009.

  •  20% of Americans think that the sun orbits around the Earth. While 75% think the Earth revolves around them.
  • You know it's your first subpoena when you tell the guy, "Oh, you can't find the address? I'll come to you."
  • Pretty sure most Geneva Rock truck drivers are former murderers.
  • Foop is an acceptable alternative to the word shart. I may have just taught this to my daughter. Also, I am a horrible person.
  • Recent words I absolutely hate and hear all the time now for some reason: Noshing and Kanye.
  • Texting with the iPhone while driving is so difficult it should be illegal.
  • My 5 yo daughter just told me that what I said was inappropriate. Shen then proceeded to pick her nose and eat it.
  • Old Tippecanoe 2: The Presidency #videogamesiregretbuying
  • To the grammar police, thanks for making the Internet more safers.
  • I'm not taking a Mormon's stance on health care (Hatch) so I'm leaning toward a Mormon's stance on health care (Reid). 
  • I think it would be really awkward if someone said, "I'm a hands-on kind of uncle."
  • Anyone know where I can find a real barber in #Provo ? You know, the kind that does leeches and blood letting ...
  • Me: "That Michael Jackson movie is playing." Wife: "I don't want to see Michael Jackson's face on my birthday."

2010's installment will be coming soon. Until then, feel free to follow me on Twitter. My handle is @thebrettmerritt.

Modern Mormon Geek Moment #1

by Bradly Baird (bio)

I confess that I maintain a secret life as a fan of popular - and not-so-popular - culture. I know that each of you knows what I am talking about. You assiduously keep your guilty pleasures secret and never let anyone outside of your immediate family know about them. Because to reveal such things is to reveal your inner geek; that deepest, most secretive (and embarrassing) part of your personality. But no matter how deep inside you've hidden your geekiness, I am here to say that you should let it out every once in a while and share it with someone. You never know, you might discover a fellow geek. And in that spirit, I present some of my geek secrets . . . please don't beat me up, take my lunch money, or give me a wedgie.

By the Blue Purple Yellow Red Water

"White. A blank page or canvas. The challenge: bring order to the whole through design. Composition. Balance. Light. And harmony." These words are the first and the last spoken onstage in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical drama, Sunday in the Park With George. The words prepare the audience to experience the work as though they themselves are a part of the creative process that drove its creation. Indeed, the dramatic narrative unfolds as though a painting is being made in front of the audience, with set pieces changing, fading in and fading out of focus.

The first act of Sunday focuses its fictional storyline on the painter George Seurat and the creation of his masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte. Seurat interacts with the subjects of the painting, people who stroll through a large Parisian park on a succession of Sunday afternoons, and the audience learns about their lives, interests, and loves in a series of humorous/dramatic sequences. Central to this "plot" is the artist's relationship with his model, Dot, who appears with Seurat in the first scene of show. And as their relationship progresses, the two become a centerpiece for discussion and gossip on the part of the other characters. Their relationship culminates at the beginning of the second act with each of characters summing up their opinions of Seurat, spurred on by the news that he has died at a very young age, without ever selling a single painting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Saint Mark? Why?

by Saint Mark (bio)

Names have always been a matter of concern for me.

Having been named after three men who were monsters to me in my youth has made me keenly aware of the meaning behind one’s name.

I was named after three me: my biological father, my maternal grandfather and my step-father. In that order. My biological father beat my mother and then me. My maternal grandfather beat my grandmother and mother’s siblings. And my step-father was emotionally abusive and a drug dealer. You can probably guess that I had some issues growing-up with these men’s names.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, some of these men have reformed themselves. My biological father no longer beats women. My maternal grandfather left my grandmother and headed south to Mexico. We don’t know the full details of what happened to him other than he started a new family. Hopefully, he treated them better than his family in the States. And, my step-father made the biggest reformation. He went to rehab, stopped selling and using drugs, cleaned up his life and his character, and now works hard as a legal dealer….of cards, that is.

My step-father’s improvement has made an impact on my life because his life illustrates the great message of Jesus Christ: ANYONE can change and in order to inherit eternal life and eternal bliss with our families, we all NEED to change. Watching him be kind to my mother by making breakfast and going shopping for her, be considerate towards me by calling me just to see how I’m doing, and be thoughtful to my little ones by writing Valentine’s Day cards to them makes me feel gratitude for my step-father’s willingness to change and his courage in choosing to change. He is fulfilling his potential as a great man, husband, father, and grandfather.

Long ago, I forgave each of these men whose names I bear. I believe everyone has the power to choose change and I believe that forgiveness helps to foster that change. Although I do not harbor anger or malice towards these men today, the experiences that came through these men’s earlier poor choices definitely have informed my paradigms of life on a multitude of topics such as being a father, overcoming genetic predispositions to anger and abuse, and names.

MMM Style 3: Growing Old With Style

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Charlie and I obsess over whether or not we'll grow old together. Do you?

all photos via The Sartorialist

1 - I want to be him, but with hair. (Sartorialist)

2 - I'd like this coat, only darker. (Sartorialist)

3 - Old men look good in hats. (Sartorialist)


by Casey Peterson (bio)

Image via boocal.

When recently I was changed from “guest” to “contributor” status on MMM, I was asked to provide a moniker. This has always been a challenge for me, and cause for deep reflection of the power and purpose of a name.

The historical instances of changing names is quite interesting. From the aspiring musician Gordon Sumner, who because of his propensity to wear black and yellow attire was given the moniker of Sting. To the young USC football player from Iowa named Marion Morrison, who was asked to take on a more manly name, John Wayne. Few of us readily recognize Norma Jean Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe), or Samuel L. Clements (Mark Twain). Yet in the technology world of today, many of us have monikers or aliases, but do we really know the reasons?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ass-U-Me Nothing

by Dustin (bio)

My mission president used to say, "When you 'assume,' Elder, you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me.'" (Gasp! He said that?! But ... how?! I thought ...) I suppose when you're El Jefe you can get away with that. Plus, our religion wouldn't be as interesting if we didn't have some of those dichotomies to keep us on our toes: General Authorities at Chuck-a-rama on Sunday!? Bishops watching football games on the Sabbath!? I digress ...

It turns out his saying was more than a trite play on words -- it is the key to successfully working with all people in every situation on planet Earth (and likely beyond), from leading a work group to managing a marriage to navigating the holidays. Don't make assumptions! When you assume someone understands something, you are setting yourself up for failure. And yet this happens all too often and is really probably the root of most of the dysfunction we experience.

For example, I often assume:
-My wife knows what kind of day I had at work.
-My wife will change the poopy diaper.
-My kids knew the rules and proactively broke them.
-That driver knew I was right behind him when he cut me off.
-My coworker knew what I expected of him.
-My employee understood the task I assigned, the date it was due, and what level of effort was expected.
-My seminary kids know exactly how they are supposed to behave and innately have a desire to learn the Gospel and build their testimonies.

This list could go on forever. That's because I make a lot of assumptions. Most of us naturally assume people think like we do, have experienced what we have gone through, and are on the same level spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and any other "-ally" you can come up with. In fact, it takes more effort to consciously think the way another may be thinking. We are hardwired this way. And yet, most people are having a completely different experience than us! Assumptions create tension when our expectations aren't fulfilled.

Guest Post: Blabbergasted

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).

Michelle Glauser wrote her Master's thesis on mommy blogs at the University of Leipzig in Germany. She loves languages, reading almost anything she can get her hands on (and thus libraries), hiking, technology, baking, traveling, and blogging. You can read her personal blog here.

While on a senior couple mission in Czech Republic, my grandmother handed a Book of Mormon to an individual and asked, "Will you please eat this?" A missionary I knew in Germany mixed up the words for "nice" and "wet" and ended up telling people, "You are so wet! So wet!" A friend of mine who served in Brazil told someone that she didn't like to eat poop. "Really?" the person asked. "I don't think anyone does," which prompted her revision, "I mean, I don't like to eat coconuts." As for Spanish, there is no end to the times someone has wanted to say "embarrassed" and ended up saying "pregnant" instead.

I love stories of language mistakes, especially the funny ones (after all, laughter is the best medicine). While being personally involved in the mistake may be a cause of embarrassment, sometimes it opens the door for missionary experiences, as people end up laughing together. At the very least, our mistakes help us learn to understand cultures and languages better.

My friend Autumn Lindsay and I just started a blog called "Blabbergasted" to collect stories of funny language blunders. While not all of the stories involve missionaries or even Mormons, worldwide missionary work means that Mormons have a potentially huge pool of these stories. So what do you think? Have I sparked any memories of a time you couldn't believe what your companion just said? Are you blushing at something you said to an investigator without really knowing what it meant? Or maybe you just remember a story you've heard. If so, share the love with us at blabbergastedblog AT (or just fill out the form on the blog).

If you can't think of any stories, that's okay. Check out Blabbergasted and enjoy a few good laughs anyway. You might need to know not to mix up "sugar" and "prostitute" when you get called on that mission to Russia.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Modern Mormon Motivational Posters 3

by A-Dub (bio)

Linger Longer 4

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

Home Sweet Home (Segullah)
Mormon Architecture (By Common Consent)
The Book of Mormon as Narrative (Times and Seasons)
Hate Correlation? Get Over It (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Practical Infallibility (Zelophehad’s Daughters)
Mormon Lit Blitz Pass-Along Card #2 (Low-Tech World)
Ten Questions LDS Women Think About (Wheat & Tares)
The Kiss (Keepapitchinin)
Emboldening Women: An Interview With Neylan McBaine, founder of MWP (A Motley Vision)

"What if..." Movies Reimagined for Another Time & Place (Behance Network)
Meet the Marriage Killer (The Wall Street Journal)
How Do We Identify Good Ideas? (Wired)
Fumblerules of Grammar (Lists of Note)
Evolution Is Still Happening: Beneficial Mutations in Humans (Big Think)
Where Did Dragons Come From? (Smithsonian)
George Lucas Is Ready to Roll the Credits (The New York Times)
Mitt Romney ‘Evolved’ in Mormon Leadership, Some Churchwomen Say (The Washington Post)
35 MacGyver Tips (Lifehacker)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto (Boing Boing)
Addiction to Prediction (Process Maximus)

Other MMM Posts

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