Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mormon Explorer: General Conference Blitz

by jpaul (bio)
by Roy Peckham (bio)

We wouldn't be much of a start-up if we didn't try to do some crazy marketing campaigns to stretch our small budget to its limit. Today we have a team of five volunteers hitting the streets at the Salt Lake City Conference Center to distribute 4,000 "postcards" introducing visitors from around the world to Mormon Explorer. The text is a bit small in the pic, but it is a letter home from a traveler using Mormon Explorer describing what an amazing experience it has been. The QR code will take mobile users to our mobile site for basic information and sign up.

If you are going to any of the Saturday sessions, see if you spot the postcards being handed out. Don't worry, they're not anti-Mormon literature. Also, a big thanks to the great turnout we've had over the last couple days. As I write this, we are at 252 users in 21 countries.

Finally, we are listening to feedback and constantly making improvements. If you haven't tried the "World View" yet, you should because it's awesome. You can see all the users across the world as you drag the map and zoom in and out. Sign up for free and keep sharing the site with others!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The 5000 Days Project: Updates

Get ready for another conference weekend filled with good stuff from The 5000 Days Project. Check out the exciting happenings below.

●  The first two episodes of The 5000 Days Project: Listen premiere Sunday, April 1 at 12:00 PM MST (directly following the morning session of General Conference) and 6:30 PM MST that same evening. Watch them both live on BYUtv.

●  The 5000 Days Project: Two Brothers, which many of you loved, has been accepted into the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs. See it April 4th at 1 PM at the Camelot if you're in town.

●  Rick Stevenson, founder and chair of The 5000 Days Project, was the first non-mormon to be interviewed by Ruth Todd for a special edition of Conversations on the Mormon Channel. Look for the episode to air on April 14th.

●  Rick is also going to be involved with the upcoming BYU Women's Conference, possibly screening Two Brothers and an episode of Listen. Details forthcoming.

●  Sign up here to stay informed about The 5000 Days Project: Video Diary, an online video diary archive service set to launch soon.

●  Finally, buy the Two Brothers DVD if you haven't already!

Apostles of Jesus Christ

by Saint Mark (bio)

Have you ever considered what it would be like to speak to an Apostle of Jesus Christ?

To speak to Peter about faith and how he was able to walk on water. To see Paul speak to the Greeks on Mars Hill about their "unknown God." To learn from John the Beloved about the future of mankind. It would be a singular privilege and life-changing experience for sure.

Peter, Paul, John the Beloved, and the other ancient Apostles were called as special witnesses of Christ by the Savior himself or through one He had ordained (e.g. Paul). Today, there are modern-day Apostles of Jesus Christ. Some of their names echo their ancient predecessors (Thomas and David) while others resonate with the times in which they live (Henry, Russell, Jeffrey, Todd, Boyd, Dallin, and Dieter).

Here is a personal account by one of today's Apostles of Jesus Christ, Elder Quentin L. Cook, sharing his call to the Holy Apostleship.

We have an opportunity this weekend (March 31st and April 1st at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. MST) to hear from Apostles of Jesus Christ. At this "General Conference", our modern-day Peters, Pauls, and John the Beloveds will share the words of Christ. What will they say? What is the counsel from God for our day here in 2012?

Listen and find out for yourself.

Bennion's Teachings of the New Testament, List 4

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 final list (lists onetwo, three) I found interesting, uplifting and easy to replicate in post form.

Reasons why we should not judge one another

1. We have no right to judge our fellow men. They do not belong to us, but to the Lord. He is our Creator and lawgiver and he alone has a right to judge us.

2. We are not capable of rendering a just judgment. We are always blinded by the beam in our own eye. We are often guilty of the same things for which we criticize others. No man can know another person well enough to judge of him as a person. Each person's life is so complex in its environment and heredity that only God can pass fair judgment on a man.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Judgement, Jesus and Justifications

by brettmerritt (bio)

Image via
We love to judge, don't we?

Man, I do. I enjoy looking at the thirty-something guy in his black clothes and piercings then saying something under my breath like, "How's mom's basement?" For some reason our brains need to instantly compartmentalize everything we see, feel, smell, hear and taste: good v bad, beautiful v ugly, smart v stupid, moral v immoral, funny v Whitney, independent v mom's basement. And we do this for EVERYTHING.

This complicates things for me. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I realize that, wait a second, people are doing this to me! I'm pudgy-married-creepy-aging-writer dad!

What I hate more than anything is being lumped into a group. I hate it when people think because I voted for Obama that I can't be righteous or that because I believe in God I can't also be logical. I hate it when people think that because I'm Mormon I want "the Gays" to burn or that because I'm American I'm a fat, angry, violent imbecil. I hate when people think that because I am a writer/actor that I don't have a job and cry a lot. (I do cry a lot.)

So if I hate it, why do I do it to others? I don't know. And, why, if Christ gave me some great advice on the subject, do I do it anyway?

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."


So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

Why, especially if God will judge us for the way we judge others, do we insist on adjudicating each person we meet and throwing stones around willy-nilly?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MMM Sermons: "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet"

by Saint Mark (bio)

MMM Note: This sermon, given by Ezra Taft Benson at BYU in 1980, is somewhat controversial. While many general authorities were supportive of the sermon's message, Spencer W. Kimball's biographer noted the prophet, "felt concern about the talk, wanting to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing ultraconservative politics or an unthinking ‘follow the leader’ mentality." For alternative views to Saint Mark's, check out excellent posts from J. Stapley (part 1 &  part 2) and Mark Brown, as well as the extensive comments on each post.

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

Read the sermon here.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7) For the Lord has said, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:38)

Multiple times each year, we Latter-day Saints raise our hands to the square and sustain the Lord's servants, the Prophet and the Twelve Apostles, as "prophets, seers, and revelators" for our time. In raising our hands in the affirmative, we sustain the Prophet and Apostles as mouthpieces of God, as His oracles on the earth and covenant that we will obey and support their counsel. “'For members of the Church, sustaining Church officers is not a passive act of casting a vote,' says Elder [Marlin K.] Jensen [of the Seventy]. 'Sustaining in a solemn assembly [and other church conferences] indicates a willingness to offer continued faith, prayers, and support for the new Church President'” For it is better to be a sheep and follow the Prophet (whether "blind" like Adam or Nephi or whether "knowledgeable" like Moses or Joseph Smith) than to be a goat and abandon the Prophet (John 10:24-28; Matthew 25:31-46).

This sermon, given by the late Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, expands this viewpoint and expresses the fundamentals in following the Prophet. President Benson gave this address on February 26, 1980 at BYU while he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Because this particular sermon has been referenced multiple times recently (by Claudio Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy and Kevin Duncan of the Seventy), I believe it to be extremely pertinent to us today in deciding whether or not we will follow the Prophet.

Mormon Explorer - Uniting Through Travel

by jpaul (bio)
by Roy Peckham (bio)

A small team of travelers, designers and entrepreneurs have been working for several years to build a free website that will bring together Mormons who share a common love for traveling. We are excited to announce that launches today!

Imagine being over in Italy and you would like to know when the closest church starts and where it is located. Let's say you would like to meet and eat with a local family in Peru while touring historic sites. How about hosting a family from Russia in your home when they come to Utah for General Conference for the first time? These are just a few of the possibilities with Mormon Explorer.

Our vision is to use the well-connected LDS community to create a network of explorers who are open to the idea of connecting with members from across the world while traveling. Meeting up with local members while traveling globally is a great way to make new friends, save money, and truly experience the culture of your travel destination. It's like having a good friend with local hookups wherever you decide to travel.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Financial Transparency & The LDS Church

by Seattle Jon (bio)

As monthly contributors to the Open Stories Foundation (mormon-related podcasts), my wife and I recently received a donor letter for our tax return. The stated purposes of the letter were:

1) To provide an end-of-year donation report,
2) To review what Open Stories was able to accomplish during the year, and
3) To let donors know some of what was ahead.

The summary of the foundation’s accomplishments and preview of what was ahead were nice, but what really caught my eye was the report on the foundation’s finances, including a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet. I have to say, the financial transparency was refreshing.

For years, I've been sending tithing directly to The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the corporation that receives and manages money and church donations) and declining the annual tithing settlement in silent protest of the lack of financial transparency in the church. I’m not trying to start a movement or anything, it’s just that I've spent my entire career in the financial services industry and I think transparency is good business … and good religion.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giveaway 9: Connor Boyack's Latter-day Liberty

Connor Boyack is a web developer, political economist, social media consultant and author of the popular book Latter-day Liberty. The book provides an analysis of what liberty is and how it applies to government and politics, using logic, reason, and secular sources of information, in addition to the abundant scriptures and statements from prophets and apostles which relate to these issues.

For this giveaway, Connor is generously providing one reader with a copy of his book. Connor also provides some answers to our questions below the giveaway guidelines.

Giveaway Guidelines:
• You have 5 days to enter (closes Friday, March 30th at midnight).
• Winner chosen via and announced April 2nd.
• Winner needs to respond via email with their address by April 6th to claim the book.
• You have THREE chances to enter. Each option requires a separate comment.
   - Leave a comment (anonymous comments ignored).
   - Like our facebook page.
   - Share the giveaway via Facebook or Twitter.

Q: Can you give us a few sentences on what Latter-day Liberty is about?

My book looks at scriptures and statements from leaders of Church to analyze what our faith says about government and politics. It explores the topic of individual liberty in depth and provides members of the Church with a guide to understand what laws they should support, and what criteria should be used to judge candidates for political office.

Guest Post: Make the Small Moments Matter the Most

Small But Splendid is a new advertiser on our blog. You can purchase their products at a 10% discount for a limited time through the ad on our sidebar.

A school teacher? A firefighter? A princess? No, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up ... a mom! I wanted to play with my kids, help them explore life, learn and grow. Although being a mom is one of the greatest jobs in the world, it doesn’t come with an enormous salary.

Day after day I watched my husband go to school and then off to work to support our little family. I wished there was something I could do to help make ends meet. We soon welcomed a baby boy and wanted his blessing day to be perfect. When hunting for a cute outfit, I quickly became discouraged with the lack of options and outrageous prices. It was then that it hit me … I knew what to do! I wanted to offer people in my situation quality outfits at competitive prices. Small But Splendid was born.

I was so happy. I was able to help reduce some of the burden from my husband while still enjoying life’s little moments with my baby. Now six years and four kids later, I find time here and there to work from our home office filling orders, answering emails/voicemails, and updating inventory. I don’t have to miss out on coloring pictures, reading books and cuddling on the couch with the most important people in my life.

I hope that you will take time to stop and enjoy the little moments in life. Now go give your spouse and kids a hug! You can make every small moment splendid!

Know anyone with an upcoming special event? Modern Mormon Men readers, families, and friends receive 10% off their entire order at for a limited time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mormon Doppelgängers 8: James E. Talmage & The Guy from Police Academy

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.

James E. Talmage and Timothy J. Kazurinsky don't have much in common, but they sure do look alike. Mr. Talmage gave the world Jesus the Christ and The Articles of Faith. Tim Kazurinsky gave us Sweetchuck from the Police Academy movies. Which is the more valuable gift? I loved Jesus the Christ but can't bear to think of a world without Police Academy 2.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is Crafting Manly?

by Pete Codella (bio)

One of my favorite pastimes is building furniture. I've built bedroom sets for every member of my immediate family. The only problem is I haven't had the time or set-up lately to do woodworking projects.

Recently I got the bug to do something creative - besides study for my MBA classes all night, 'cause that gets old - and talked my wife into a couple craft projects. I figure if the project includes wood, cutting, gluing, sanding, painting, screwing, burning ... you get the picture, it's a manly project. And if not, who cares? I enjoy the creative outlet. (Maybe one of these times I'll tell you about the puff-quilt I made when I was in college.)

The two projects had very utilitarian purposes:

First - To give our kids a concrete way of tracking their daily and weekly chores. We created a magnet board with magnets that included chores like making beds, putting toys away, folding laundry, setting the table, doing dishes, etc. The kids can move the magnets from the To Do to the Done column. Each child has their own color of magnets, made with those dome-shaped glass thingies (a technical term), scrapbooking paper, a hot glue gun and a high powered magnet (another material that makes the project manly - just ask my 10 year-old daughter who got a blood blister when two magnets connected on each side of her finger). We also added a few paid chores to give the kids the option to earn some money each week.

Second - To create an annual family birthday and anniversary calendar for our extended family. We made magnets with everyone's name and the date they were born, then put them in one of the 12 boxes created on the magnet board to represent months of the year. I've also seen these birthday calendars made with the person's picture under the glass. My wife then created the months with her plethora of scrapbooking materials. She and my sister-in-law enjoyed creating the labels for each month.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bad Press and the Conversations We're Not Having

by Scott Hales (bio)

We Mormons have had some bad press lately. A few weeks ago, BYU religion professor Randy Bott shared his racist views on the priesthood ban with the Washington Post to the embarrassment of most Mormons under the age of ninety-five. Then, a few days later, news broke that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, had been baptized for the dead without his family’s consent. And this coming only weeks after the Church apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal, whose parents had been baptized by proxy—again without family consent—sometime in January.

In each of the instances, the Church responded quickly and appropriately, denouncing racism and overzealous abusers of the proxy baptism policies. With the amount of PR fires they’ve been putting out lately, I’m sure the folks in Salt Lake feel like they’ve traded their suits and ties in for red helmets and heavy yellow coats.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t be surprised if most Mormons are feeling the same way. While I haven’t had to field any questions about Mormons and racism lately, I have had to explain baptism for the dead to a Jewish colleague and assure friends that Mitt Romney does not see himself as the fulfillment of the White Horse Prophecy. Each conversation, I felt, ended positively. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t awkward conversations to have.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vulnerability Is Not Weakness

by Aimee (bio)

Brené Brown continues to speak powerful words on shame, creativity, and vulnerability. If you missed her first TED Talk on vulnerability than I would suggest starting there before watching her newest edition, which I have embedded below.

I have all my clients watch  Brené's first TED Talk because her research into how the feeling of shame is a universal experience is significant. Shame is connected with depression, anxiety, and a whole bunch of other unhealthy consequences. I tease many of my Mormon clients that I need a separate chair to put Mormon shame in because it takes up a lot of space in the room. No, Mormons, unfortunately, are not exempt from shame, and we often have our own unique issues with the feeling. In fact, Mormon Matters has a fantastic podcast addressing this very issue.

In Dr. Brown's most recent TED talk, she discusses the issue of gender and vulnerability. She talks about how men have a much harder time sharing their vulnerability for fear of being perceived as weak. And that message doesn't come from just fathers and coaches in their lives, but also women who do not like to see men show vulnerability. I hope to see this gender dynamic change as our culture gets more emotionally mature and fosters more empathy, as Dr. Brown discusses.

What are your thoughts? Do we as a church community allow each other to be vulnerable and open? Are Mormon men allowed to show vulnerability? Or is there a pressure to have it all together and be in control?

Linger Longer 6

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)
UGLY (Segullah)
Why I Don’t Believe in Big Tent Mormonism (By Common Consent)
Passenger (Times and Seasons)
13 Articles of Healthy Chastity (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Mothering (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Voting for the Mormon Lit Blitz Begins! (The Low-Tech World)
Mormonism 101: A Confusing FAQ (Wheat & Tares)
Notes From Meeting Sis. Dalton (Beginnings New)
A Doggie Would A-Tractin’ Go, Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm (Keepapitchinin)
Of Orwell, Dickens, X-Men And The War In Heaven (Ships of Hagoth)
What’s On Your Relief Society Birthday Playlist? (A Motley Vision)
Standing Up For Contraception Education In Utah (Religion Dispatches)
Epistemology: Why the Focus? (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Female Healing And Non-Mormon Women (The Juvenile Instructor)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious)
Why Jews Don't Farm (The Big Questions)
How Much Would It Cost To Build The Death Star? (Centives)
How Waiters Read Your Table (The Wall Street Journal)
The Caging Of America (The New Yorker)
Teller Reveals His Secrets (Smithsonian)
The Big Reveal (The New Yorker)
What Does A Conductor Do? (New York Magazine)
One-Way Wantonness (The New York Times)
How to Be a Better Man Than 90% Of Guys: Be Polite, Always, To Everyone (Primer) *language*
‘La Protectora’ Confronts Scammers Who Prey On Immigrants (Fronteras) *Saint Mark's Aunt!*
Julie And The Deathly Surgeon (YouTube) *May Jones' Friend*
Dangerous Ignorance: The Hysteria of Kony 2012 (Aljazeera)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Annoying Business Jargon

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I was talking to a long-time friend the other day about annoying business jargon. He's in sales, I'm in finance. Both industries are heavy abusers of jargon, and we laughed as we shared with each other the phrases we found most annoying. Here are some of the phrases mentioned (definitions via Forbes):

  • Leverage: The granddaddy of nouns converted to verbs, 'leverage’ is mercilessly used to describe how a situation or environment can be manipulated or controlled.
  • It is what it is: No kidding. Thanks for the insight.
  • Ducks in a row: The saying apparently comes from the earlier days of bowling before machines set pins automatically. One needed to get his ducks in a row before, invariably, hurling a weighty ball down the alley to blast the poor ducks into a pathetic, unorganized flock.
  • Hard stop: An executive with a "hard stop" at 3 p.m. is serious about stopping at 3 p.m. Very serious.
  • Synergize: This word has infiltrated nearly every cube and conference room in the country. The fault here can largely be placed on Stephen Covey's No. 6 habit.
  • Move the needle: This beauty, which has nothing to do with heroin, is a favorite of venture capitalists. If something doesn't move the needle, they don't like it much.
  • Take it to the next level: In theory this means to make something better. In practice, nobody knows what the next level actually looks like, so how am I supposed to know when I've reached it?
  • Low-hanging fruit: The phrase has become a catch-all for managerial types who are trying to say "do the easy things first." Perhaps they should just say that.

If you find yourself talking with someone who abuses business jargon, fight back. For example, impress your stock broker by using this Financial Advice Generator. Or, simply don't participate by not incorporating annoying jargon into your own vocabulary.

What business jargon do you find annoying?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Boys & Girls

by Sam Nelson (bio)

When I was in high school there was a huge craze over the Satsuma scented body butter by The Body Shop. Girls would lather on the potent orangy-smelling lotion and fill the halls with the rich tangy smell of satsumas. In the minds of the girls and all their friends, they were cleverly luring the boys with the strong smell of sweet artificial oranges. What they didn’t realize, though, was that this particular smell wasn’t really that attractive to us.To boys, the strong artificial orange smell reminded us of urinal cakes. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with the smell ... it’s a very fresh smell. It just reminds us of urinals.

From my observation, I’ve noticed there is similar confusion about what is interesting in the returned missionary dating field and I want to clear up the fog a little bit.

1. Boys are the best source for info about boys. Sometimes I wonder if girls aren't spending a lot of time trying to attract boys by worrying about things boys don’t care about. Want to hear a secret? Weird new styles that clothing vendors try to push as the latest fashion make girls no more attractive to me. Nor do their nails, shoes, poofy shorts, or giant belts. These things don't make you less attractive, either. I’m just pretty sure the only people who will ever care is other girls. (Unless you're pursuing a guy who is really into women's fashion).

I think the problem is that girls get all their boy advice from other girls and boys get their girl advice from boys. The other night we had a bunch of girls over and had a really long discussion about what girls and guys really like. It was fascinating for us guys to hear what girls thought was appealing to guys, and vice-versa. Girls had a really hard time understanding such basic things. When one of my friends said, “If I really like a girl, it will be a long time before I kiss her,” it immediately made sense to every guy in the room, but none of the girls understood what he was talking about. When one of the girls said, “I never text guys first even if I really like them,” all of the guys in the room were surprised. Which actually brings my to my next point ...

Eye Out for Israel: Volunteer Opportunities

by Bradly Baird (bio)

The other night - in a very nonchalant fashion - I suggested to my wife that I want to vist Israel once a year and work as a volunteer on non-combative Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bases. Her immediate response to this casual conversation starter fell on the negative response spectrum somewhere between "over my dead body" and "snowball's chance in ----." She spoke so decisively and with such force that I decided to wait for a better moment in which to pursue the discussion. Secretly, however, I am glad she did not give me a chance to speak because I am incapable of expressing a well-reasoned argument for wanting to go, except that it seems interesting.

The opportunity to work on Israeli military bases is made available through two non-profit organizations: Israel-based Sar-El and United States-based Volunteers For Israel (VFI). Sar-El started in 1982 as a response to the first war in Lebanon. Israel faced a shortage of the labor required to drive its economy. In response to this challenge, General Aharon Davidi sent emissaries to the United States and other countries who enlisted volunteers to harvest crops and complete other tasks in place of thousands of Israelis who were then needed to serve in the army. The program found immediate success and provided thousands of volunteers to help with different needs. Today, the program supplies volunteers to serve on military bases, supporting IDF troops through food service, maintenance, and other necessities.

From the VFI Handbook:
Volunteers perform various civilian, non-combat duties on military bases that would otherwise have to be done by overburdened Israelis. Meeting and working closely with Israelis on the job puts you directly in touch with the culture, lifestyle, and pulse of this vibrant country, while providing essential physical and moral support.

On a military base, work may include but not be limited to the following:
• quartermaster/supply work e.g., filling and emptying duffel bags, organizing warehouse supplies, taking inventory, packing medical and other supplies;
• base maintenance, e.g., painting, repairs, gardening;
• maintenance and equipment repair, e.g., truck, tank and parts inspection, replacement and repackaging;
• kitchen work, e.g., food preparation, serving, cleaning;
• construction, e.g., building bunkers, erecting fences.

If you want more information about the opportunities, please visit Sar-El or Volunteers For Israel.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guest Post: Sustaining vs. Agreeing

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).

Glynn Wilcox is a Texas native that sojourned in Zion for eight long years. After entering into the new and everlasting convent with his mormon princess Becca, they left Zion to Dallas, where he serves as sunday school president in the Desoto Ward with their two little future rebel missionaries. Read Glynn's other guest posts here.

image via Deseret News
I have never raised my hand in opposition of a sustaining in church … not once ever. Like many, I find myself at odds with some of the church’s positions, chief among them the question of the equality of marriage.

I feel that my disagreement with church leaders not only on this topic but on other things does not mean that I am unable to sustain them with a clear conscious. I feel that it is possible to sustain someone that you may not agree with. To sustain someone in a church calling is to simply say … okay, sure, that is who will be in that leadership role and it is up to them to magnify their calling and it is their responsibility to lead responsibly. I am under covenant to sustain those that are called to positions of leadership; I am not bound to blindly agree with their positions. To sustain a leader under my covenant obligation is to recognize their position, honor that position, including not to slight or diminishing them in regards to their position. While I may disagree with what a leader may advocate or even instruct, I am still covenant bound to sustain them and discharge their decisions unless it is it is clearly improper. To disagree is not to withdraw my sustaining support.

I love my ward, I love my bishopric, I love serving as a member of the ward council in my capacity as Sunday School President. I can say that there are positions that are advocated by various members of my ward that I simply cannot agree with, but I will sustain them.

Saintspeak 7: The Letter E

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Another installment from Saintspeak, the mormon humor dictionary from Orson Scott Card. Previous installments can be found here. Reproduced with permission from Signature Books.

Endowment A dramatic ritual performed in the temple by and for the living and the dead. Since a large number of Saints find it nearly impossible to stay awake through an entire ceremony, they are encouraged to repeat the endowment again and again, until they can do it in their sleep.

Ensign The official church magazine, often called the "fifth standard work," since every issue is received through the urim and thummim.

Eternal Companion On your mission, any companion you have been with for more than two months; one month, if the companion snores. After your mission, the person who takes up two-thirds of the bed, leaves shoes all over the house, and puts away the vital papers that you keep in twenty-nine neat stacks on the bedroom floor.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bennion's Teachings of the New Testament, List 3

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 third of four lists (lists one, two) in the manual I found interesting, uplifting and easy to replicate in post form.

How can we measure our own humility?

1. A humble person is a good listener. He does not monopolize the conversation or discussion, but is pleased to hear from others. He listens to learn from them and out of respect for their thinking and feeling. This does not mean, of course, that all good listeners are humble; but humble people listen.

A Brief Twitter History Of The Author - 2010

by brettmerritt (bio)

Radio host or leader of the zombie apocalypse?
I know it may seem like a selfish exercise posting my blips and blurbs from nearly two years ago and passing it off as a blog post. I get that, but that's precisely why I think it's interesting. These tweets from years gone by can give me (us) a look into what was on the radar. Larry King's divorce and retirement. The finale of "Lost." What you don't see are my comments on our trip to Disneyland and re-tweets of Alyssa Milano. (I go through celebrity follow phases.) My main reason for this trip to Twitter's past is I hope you can get some enjoyment from it. So, here for your reading pleasure, are my best tweets from 2010. You can read my best tweets from 2009 here.

  • There are a million things that will make me laugh but only a handful of things that make me really enjoy laughing.
  • SPOILER! The twist at the end of "Shutter Island" is that they were actually using curtains the whole time.
  • I guess I'd rather have a sore back than back sores. #amirite

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guest Post: Is Mitt Romney a Closet Male Chauvinist? How Do Mormon Men Really View Women?

This column was posted yesterday on Joanna's Ask Mormon Girl. She asked if we wanted to re-post it in full on Modern Mormon Men so she could hear what our readership has to say on the subject. We're eager to see what you think!

Joanna Brooks is a national voice on Mormon life and politics and an award-winning scholar of religion and American culture. The author of The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith, she is a senior correspondent for the on-line magazine and has been named one of 50 Politicos to Watch by A twenty-year veteran of the Mormon feminist movement, she was the subject of an extensive profile: Crossing the Plains and Kicking up Dirt: A New Mormon Pioneer and of the acclaimed American Public Media show On Being’s Mormon Demystified show.

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I was reading an article about Romney and Mormon feminism, and it struck me that even though Romney stuck up somewhat for the Mormon feminist publication Exponent II in 1980s – 1990s Boston, he still behaved like a Mormon man “keeping control” over the women in his ward (not sure how else to word it). Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, I’ve read that he had a female lieutenant governor and his cabinet was almost 50% female (and they weren’t concentrated in “feminine” offices).

I guess I’m just confused by the “cognitive leap” that powerful Mormon men make between their views of women’s roles in the Church and the reality of women’s roles outside the Church. I’m tempted to see these men secretly thinking that in a “perfect world,” all women would be at home raising kids while they’re husbands are running the world — and if these men gained enough power, they’d try to shape the world in that direction. Am I wrong — are some Mormon men secretly questioning the Proclamation on the Family?


Dear AP:

I think the question of how Mitt Romney relates to and views the role women in leadership settings is an important one. Given the LDS Church’s conservative political record on gender—including its very public commitment to the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment—voters deserve to know how Romney will regard women as constituents and colleagues. I think the Washington Post article you cite did a good job calling attention to the fact that yes, there are Mormon feminists and an ongoing dialogue about gender in Mormon communities, and that Mitt Romney sometimes did a decent job of responding to women’s priorities and concerns and other times was a bit tone-deaf and imperious. (More on the tone-deafness in a minute.)

How We Got The Book Of Mormon

by Saint Mark (bio)

Teaching children things of value and of great worth is a challenge. But, in this modern day we have lots of tools to help us. One of these tools is the "Book of Mormon Stories." My wife and I have read this and the other scriptural "Stories" books to our children since before they could talk.

Having "read" the standard works with them multiple times, they now have a firm foundation in the stories of great heroes like Noah and Moses, Nephi and Ammon, Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ.

We have also tried to show them videos of these stories, but they have been flat and not captured the attention of our hyperactive children. However, now there is a new video version of these stories that is done in the "Ken Burns" style. Here is a summary of what the LDS Church has done to make these stories more captivating:

"As Fernando Camilo, manager of product awareness in the curriculum department, explains, “The Book of Mormon Stories video series has gone through a major update. A technique called parallax animation, in which two-dimensional figures are cut out and moved around the canvas, was used to give the images a new, animated three-dimensional look. This new version also features sound effects and stunning new visual effects such as lightning, twinkling stars and fire. A new original soundtrack was also added to the videos.” Plus, these videos will be available in ten additional languages come December, right in time for Sunday School study!"

I believe it takes a village to raise children in the way they should go, and a large repertoire of methods to engage our children's young, eager, and active minds and spirits. I hope these videos can buttress the good work you already do as parents of the rising generation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Let Your Darkness Hide Under A Bushel

by Apparent Parent (bio)

I'm pretty sure when Jesus said "Let your light so shine
before men," he didn't mean for us to set the church on fire.
Jesus declared in his Sermon on the Mount that we should let our light shine before men (Matthew 5:16). We Latter-day Saints take this to mean we should let people see the good qualities in us as easily as they would see a candle on a hilltop.

Unfortunately, there are members of the church standing on that same proverbial hilltop with a blowtorch aimed directly at the temple standing on it. This is sad to me. As powerful as a good example can be, a bad example can etch itself into our memory much more quickly and powerfully than a long-term good example. It's like branding a cattle instead of marking it with a permanent marker every few weeks for its entire life.

I learned this lesson today while shopping for a new cell phone. After a helpful salesman showed me which dumbphones got good reception (since I live in a cell-phone dead zone), he left me to talk with his co-workers. While not intending to eavesdrop, the word "Mormons" soon wafted across the store.

Eavesdropping suddenly became inevitable.

Missionary Music: How Can I Be

by Seattle Jon (bio)

A friend sent me this song, performed at a district meeting by his son who is on a mission. Listening to the song brought back memories of my own mission, when the simplest experience - a heartfelt song, a meaningful activity, a simple testimony - could captivate and inspire an audience. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Running With Lisa

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Sometimes you hear things ... about old friends ... and your heart just sinks. And you feel scared knowing the same thing could happen to you or someone you love. And you're a better husband and father that day.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. Yesterday was when I heard about Lisa Calderwood, a friend from when we lived in Baltimore, and how she recently had a baseball-sized tumor removed from near her brain. I also heard that she and her husband, Cody, now have four beautiful kids. And finally, I just now read about the efforts to help them pay for the astronomical medical costs that are piling up. And I knew I needed to write this post.

Do what you can, even if what you can do is just a note of encouragement. Other ways to help include participating in a 5K run, donating items to auction or holding your own fundraiser. Let's run together with Lisa.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's About Time!

by Casey Peterson (bio)

U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships. Other coaches worked on timed drills, incremental success, and measured improvement. Coach Wooden focused on the quality of every detail, not the quantity of work.

Each one of us can rattle off a list of activities that results in how “busy” we are. For me, I have a full-time job, five very active children whose “busy” schedules are transposed onto my wife and I’s schedules, a time consuming ecclesiastical calling, a family farm to oversee, a doctoral program I am trying to finish, my 4-H club leader responsibilities, maintaining a very large garden and orchard, coaching sports, a regular workout regimen, and rental properties to manage. Not included in this list are things I’d like to do more, including spending time with my wonderful wife outside of a gym, an auditorium, or a parents meeting for our kids, attending the temple more, doing family history work, and helping my widowed mother more. My neighbors include one elderly lady, one divorced lady, and a lady suffering with cancer. I’d love to help them all out more. Scout leaders, youth coaches, and city volunteers all could use my help more. I wish I had more time to do more. I’ve thought long and hard what I can do to fit more into my schedule of limited time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New MMM Baby

Future Modern Mormon Man
Grey (or GreyHeff), son of ScottHeff and Aimee, born March 2nd

Third Nephi Chapter 14 - Revisited

by Bishop Higgins (bio)

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, a ton of people took notes but then argued like crazy about who had the correct version.

2 For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged, except for Judge Judy, who, quite honestly, will be laughed right out of heaven.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest that the acne he has is way more noticeable.

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye, and can I also borrow your bicycle?

5 Thou hypocrite. You just told your friends that your brother’s bike is a piece of junk and now you want to borrow it?

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine. In fact, don’t cast your pearls at all. There’s a pretty good chance your husband paid a lot of money for those pearls and casting them before swine or anyone for that matter makes no sense at all. No pearl casting. I should have made that commandment number eleven.

Guest Post: Why Can’t Sacrament Meeting End On Time?

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).

Brandon grew up in the South in a ward that was made up of three counties. After graduating from Florida State, he traveled the world courtesy of his Uncle Sam, and then found a decent living in I.T. He lives with his wife and two kids in Sacramento, California, where they enjoy never being too hot or too cold.

Every Sunday, as the minute hand inches past the hour mark, inevitably, my seven year-old will ask how much longer sacrament meeting lasts. With every minute that passes, that question and an ever-escalating series of thoughts pass through my mind.

Exactly how long is sacrament meeting? Isn’t it supposed to be an hour? Maybe an hour and ten minutes? Are the talks really inspired enough to keep us in these hard metal seats in the back of the overflow area? By going over, doesn’t it take time away from the lessons that the Sunday School and Primary teachers have diligently prepared? Why does it take up 44% of the three-hour block and is 44% a significant number?

I decided to tackle the first question, and found this on

"How long does church last? Our primary family worship service is called sacrament meeting. It’s held in our chapels on Sunday and lasts approximately one hour."

I suppose that saying sacrament meeting lasts anywhere from an hour and ten minutes to an hour and a half would scare off investigators. We already get enough flak when someone asks how long church is and we stare at the ground and mumble that it is three hours. Trying to explain that the three-hour block is a lot less than the all-day system we used to operate under doesn’t exactly help when you are trying to convince your friends to skip the NFL Sunday Ticket to come with you to church.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures in Homeschooling: Part Three

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Read Adventures in Homeschooling: Part One and Part Two for some background.

My wife and I (mostly my wife, except when she's not around) continue to employ a variety of methods in educating our three children (11, 10, 5). This year our efforts have centered around:

(1) Edmonds Heights (45%): A K-12 homeschool resource center connected to our local school district. Essentially a college for kids, there is a wide variety of mixed-grade classes available to choose from – some cost money, most are no-cost. Interestingly, the resource center kicks back to us for educational use a portion of the taxes we pay the state, a majority of which we use towards classes at the center. So far this year our kids have taken the following courses: Latin, Musical Theater, Geography, Team Sports, Active Games, Engineering, Science, Literature, RPG (Role Playing Game) Maker, Ballroom Dance and Swing Dance.

(2) Maesar Academy (45%): We decided to experiment with online education for the first time this year. The Maesar Academy is an accredited online LDS-based curriculum that uses a combination of streaming videos, virtual labs, interactive practice activities and a variety of other tools to create the learning experience. Units covered include history, life sciences, language arts and math. For the most part, the experience has been a positive one for the kids and for us. We think the material is sufficiently varied and challenging and we like the fact that assignments/quizzes/tests have deadlines and are graded. Our biggest frustration has been the lack of flexibility in the schedule. There is no functionality to schedule vacation or down-time … the deadlines just keep on coming. This has, at times, been frustrating for our sixth-grader as she’s tried to stay on target.

(3) Parent-As-Teacher (10%): Cher’s role has been reduced due to the Maesar Academy, but she continues to supplement the above with memorization work (our youngest is working on the Gettysburg Address), scripture study and participation in a field-trip co-op.

While we realize homeschooling is not for everyone and carries a wide range of stigmas and stereotypes, we continue to find great value in shaping our children's educational experience. That being said, we are staring the dreaded junior high years in the face and contemplating questions such as "Is college an option or a must for our children?" Scary stuff. What the next few years hold, we don't know, but we can't wait to find out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Giveaway 8: Winners (Yes, Winners Plural)

Apologies for the delay in announcing the winner of our current giveaway. Seattle Jon was in Las Vegas watching the BYU Cougars get spanked by Gonzaga and ScottHeff was participating in new life coming into the world (baby boy). We have good news, though. Marvin Perkins and Darius Gray have generously increased the number of DVD sets to three. So, the lucky readers below need to send us their address by March 9th to claim their set.

From Onto, February 24 at 3:40 PM
Joshua, February 25 at 8:37 AM
Michelle, February 28 at 9:53 AM

As a reminder, 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. Brother Perkins and Brother Gray are trying to provide some much-needed clarity on the topic through this DVD set and their website, Blacks in the Scriptures.

This is an important and topical issue, as evidenced by the recent actions of BYU professor, Randy Bott. Please educate yourselves so you don't make the same mistakes he did in your interactions with members and non-members.

Finally, if you didn't win, please consider purchasing the DVDs. For every set purchased, a set is donated to men and women throughout the world who desire to have them but cannot afford.

Guest Post: Single, 32, Female and Mormon

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).

Lauren Johnson received her degree in journalism from the University of Utah and served a Mormon mission in Cleveland, Ohio. A laid-off television reporter, she currently resides in Salt Lake City. Lauren is an avid blogger. You can find her at: She’s also a tweeter: @laurenruthie

Single, 32, female and Mormon. Okay, so it might not be that unusual anymore. Thirty years ago I could have still been thrown into Old Maid category. Thank heavens times have changed. Now, it’s hip to be single — in a Sex in the City sort of way … or rather: “Make-Outs in the City?” Or how about “Modern Mormon Make-Outs in the City?” Yes, that’s it. And just like Carrie from our favorite single city show I get to wear Manolo Blahnik heels and a Marc Jacobs dress (with added sleeves). Which makes me think that maybe this should be called Modern Mormon Make-Outs in the City: in an economically-hipster-sorta-way, since most of my clothes are vintage finds from Deseret Industries, with a few H&M hand-me-downs that slightly resemble a Marc Jacobs dress in a cheap, not-so-Marc Jacobs sort of way.

And with all that being said, now I’m back to wondering if it really is hip being Mormon, single and in a city far from the size of Manhattan when I don’t even have enough money for those dreamy heels. (Sure, the make-outs are great, but I think something else, perhaps, maybe … could be better? Just saying.

Friday, March 2, 2012

MMM Search Term Roundup 4: August 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.

i lied to get my yw recognition award mormon
Now you must wear that necklace as a badge of shame, Hester.

tv shows guys should not watch
Cougar Town. Just... don't.

is phil dunphy lds
We get quite a bit of these for Phil Dunphy. As far as I can tell, he's a fictional character. So... no.

are the kardashians mormon
Again, fictional characters.

can mormon's attend same sex weddings
Yes. Can gays attend Mormon weddings?

how to crush a mormon's faith
You are a bad person.

MMM Sermons: "Watching With All Perseverance"

by Saint Mark (bio)

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

I, like you, worry about my kids. I worry that they are learning how to be and are becoming good men, good husbands, good fathers, and good disciples of Christ. I worry that I am missing something in their raising. I worry that I am keeping them from their potential or pushing them away from it. I worry that my children will be Lamans and Lemuels instead of Nephis and Abinadis.

In Elder David A. Bednar's talk on April 2010 in General Conference, he lays out ways that parents like you and I can discern the "spiritual warning signs" of our children and how we can make corrections.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

For The Mormon Teenager

by Sam Nelson (bio)

image via LDS Living
The teenage years are weird. People are mean. You are lonely (every teenager is), popularity feels like the most important thing in the world and it seems like all you have to do to be "cool” is sex, drugs, and alcohol. Then there’s that rush of hormones you don’t know how to deal with. It's one of the most challenging times of your life, but you are too old to talk to your parents about it and too young to talk to your friends. And everyday you are making decisions that will shape the rest of your life.

Being an LDS teenager is brutal ... especially now.

I was excited to get an email a few weeks ago asking me to do a youth fireside about teenage issues in Salt Lake City. I definitely wasn’t a perfect teenager, but there was one little thing I did that made my teenage years soooo much easier.

The Two Brothers film showed a dramatic turnaround in my life that happened after a decision I made in five minutes. I wish the film could have explained that experience in a little more depth, because it was really simple and I'm convinced that anyone else can do it very easily and get the same result.

At the fireside I started with this example ...

Which Candidate Is A Match?

by Seattle Jon (bio)

According to a candidate match quiz in USA Today, my top three choices for President are Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich (are you kidding me?) and Ron Paul. Jon Huntsman would have been my #1 if he hadn't dropped out. No sign of Romney, the lone mormon standing. Take the quiz and see where you land, then comment on your results.

Other MMM Posts

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