Monday, April 30, 2012

30 Strangers Portrait Project: 2012

by Seattle Jon (bio)

via Justin Hackworth Photography
MMM tries to highlight worthy causes, especially if they are somehow related to one or more of our contributors. Examples have included The 5000 Days Project, an LDS Philanthropies project for single mothers and the recent fundraiser for Luciano. Justin Hackworth's 30 Strangers Portrait Project is now officially on the list.

I've written about this project before - my wife and daughter were chosen to be photographed in 2011 - but now it's your chance. Visit Justin's blog to read more about the project and the institution being supported, and if you're available for the shoot, leave a comment and maybe you'll be picked as one of the Strangers. The deadline is tonight, so hurry over!

Giveaway 10: Used Church Books

Seattle Jon lives a few blocks from what has to be one of the few Deseret Industries outside of Utah. With fewer members around to pick over the church books, he is constantly hoarding buying. Some have got to go. For this giveaway, he is dipping into his collection to offer the following used church books to one lucky winner.

The Story of the Latter-Day Saints (James Allen and Glen Leonard)
• Mothers of the Prophets (Leonard Arrington and Susan Arrington Madsen)
• Science and Mormonism (Melvin Cook and M. Garfield Cook)
• Brigham Young: American Moses (Leonard Arrington)

Giveaway Guidelines:
• You have 5 days to enter (closes Friday, May 4th at midnight).
• Each person has 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.
• Winner chosen via and announced May 7th.
• Winner needs to respond via email with their address by May 11th to claim the books.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Everyday Mormon Writer & The 2012 AML Conference

by Scott Hales (bio)

Last month, James and Nicole Goldberg, my accomplices in the Mormon Lit Blitz, began an excellent new Mormon literature website that's worth checking out. It's called Everyday Mormon Writer, and its goal is to "[publish] works that everyday Mormons have time to read and that are worth their reading time." Like the works featured in the Mormon Lit Blitz, these works have no more than 1,000 words and are selected because of the way they fuse faith and creativity without succumbing to cheesiness and sentimentality.

Already Everyday Mormon Writer has featured four poems, two short stories, and one piece that defies categorization. I highly recommend that you check out Jonathan Penny's short story "Ascetic" and Douglas Staker's poem "Gyroscope." Also, because I am not ashamed of self-promotion, I strongly recommend that you take a look at my short story, "Album." which was featured on the site a few weeks ago.

For the moment, new works are appearing weekly, usually on Friday. In time, James and Nicole hope to post one work a day. Creative writers who are interested in being featured on Everyday Mormon Writer can submit their work by following the instructions here. Also, those who wish to make a monetary contribution to the effort can go here. This money, as I understand it, will go towards funding future Mormon literary contests.

So, check it out. Subscribe to it. Support it. It's a good cause.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guest Post: Five Reasons In Favor of The Three Stooges

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

Warning: Ladies, if you are caught up in the traditional “THE THREE STOOGES ARE JUST PLAIN STUPID BUT I LOVE MY HUSBAND SO I PUT UP WITH IT” mentality, look away now! This is going to be long and emotionally graphic!

My wife is your typical modern Molly Mormon mom who has bought into this mentality; I'm sure that there are many other LDS ladies out there wrestling with similar issues. So, if you are a woman that has read beyond the legally required warning label above, it is assumed that you are seeking help for your issues. This post may seem unbearably long to busy sisters overwhelmed with taking care of a husband AND kids, but this is important. Help is on the way. Read on.

My sweet wife must be just a wee bit disturbed that I have resurrected what she views as a seemingly superficial appreciation for The Three Stooges after at least a decade of dormancy. She overlooked my mania for the three kings of slapstick comedy when we started our lives together back in '84. As I have grown in the Gospel and in life, she probably assumed that I had matured out of that immature phase, and graduated to more settled, approved entertainment options such as soap operas and grisly crime dramas. However, I never really abandoned The Three Stooges; I just emotionally buried them for awhile, waiting for the right moment. Father's Day 2011 was that right moment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Am Fundamentally Team Peeta

by LJ (bio)

Please welcome our newest team member (and third Modern Mormon Woman), LJ, author of several great guest posts over the past few months. Read those posts or check out her bio.

The first time I read The Hunger Games, I fell in love with the character of Peeta Mellark. I absolutely gobbled that guy up. He was strong, sweet, tender. I know that from a literary perspective he was written as a foil to Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the series and who, in our world, would be the woman you see riding solo on a Harley down the freeway, her hair streaming behind her like a windsock.

But the point is, I loved Peeta because I was married to the guy who would’ve been his big brother in another universe. I acknowledged that Gale was the hottie of the series, so I distrusted him immediately for both his good looks and his testy manners. (Please do not take this as gospel or even informed opinion. I also am the only person I know who dismissed “Twilight’s” Edward Cullen because I knew I could never call him “Eduardo” to his face, so there you go.)

For all of you Team Gale women out there, know that I was totally there. I think every woman goes through a period where we dream of marrying a Mr. Darcy or an Edward Cullen (or, ahem, a Mr. Rochester). We want these guys beautiful, passionate, brooding. These men are free from things like nose hair or bad gas and when you ask them, “What are you thinking?”, they can come up with a flowery response on the spot, instead of saying “Nothing” and being completely sincere.

The thing that finally booted me out of my Jane Eyre fantasy was meeting my husband. He was tall, handsome in a Jimmy Stewart kind of way, and basically the nicest guy I’d ever met. He treated every woman in his life like gold. He was funny without being mean. He cooked for me on our third date. On our fifth date, we ran into a menacing black dog while hiking, and while I was near wetting my pants in fear, he calmly picked up a huge rock and said to it, “If you come too close, I will kill you.”

MMM Quotes 7: The Big Rock Candy Mountain

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Wallace Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist, often called "The Dean of Western Writers." He was also a fervent Mormon booster, writing two affectionate books (Mormon Country and The Gathering of Zion) about the Mormons, primarily inspired by the friendship he experienced as a non-Mormon growing up in Salt Lake City. The quotes below are from The Big Rock Candy Mountain, a book I recently started and finished on the beaches of Mexico.

"People, he had said, were always being looked at as points, and they ought to be looked at as lines. There weren't any points, it was false to assume that a person ever was anything. He was always becoming something, always changing, always continuous and moving, like the wiggly line on a machine used to measure earthquake shocks. He was always what he was in the beginning, but never quite exactly what he was; he moved along a line dictated by his heritage and his environment, but he was subject to every sort of variation within the narrow limits of his capabilities."

"I suppose that the understanding of any person is an exercise in genealogy. A man is not a static organism to be taken apart and analyzed and classified. A man is movement, motion, a continuum. There is no beginning to him. He runs through his ancestors, and the only beginning is the primal beginning of the single cell in the slime. The proper study of mankind is man, but man is an endless curve on the eternal graph paper, and who can see the whole curve?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How To Preach Like A Four Year-Old

by Apparent Parent (bio)

"Hey," my son told my neighbor, "you didn't watch general conference."

My neighbor is not LDS and lives with his girlfriend, generally two things that make it a pretty sure bet the person won't be watching general conference. In my neighbors' defense, they are getting married this summer. I love these neighbors. They are the best neighbors you could ask for, really. They treat our kids respectfully and we help each other out all the time doing odds and ends.

With this background, you understand the confused look my neighbor shot my miniscule 4-year old while he was getting regaled about not taking part in something he probably doesn't know exists. My son then proceeded to tell him he should go to our church, something he is also guilty of not attending.

"Those two things are really good things," my son added. This made my neighbor laugh.

"Those are really good things, buddy!"

I personally fought the urge to cringe, wondering if I should call off the doctrinal attack midget. But after a moment, inspiration struck and I explained to my neighbor, who happened to be in a conversation with another neighbor, that my son always wishes he and his girlfriend would attend church with us because he likes them so well. It was true, inoffensive and made my son's proselytizing seem more friendly than accusatory.

This made both my neighbors laugh, the other neighbor saying, "Oh, how cute!"

Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Post: I'm Not Scared of Guest Posting

Ella is twelve years old. She is in sixth grade and loves her school! This is her first (but not last) guest post. Ella enjoys playing with her seven chickens and wrestling with her dad (Seattle Jon). Ella is active in tennis, soccer and choir. At school, Ella is involved in drama and enjoys middle-school literature. She hopes to do more guest posts in the future, but wanted to get this one up to be the first kid to guest post!

My school is having a book fair. I was in the library where the fair was being held, browsing the books, when I saw a book called "Phobia." I thought the book looked interesting, so picked it up and started to flip through it. Inside were some of the basic phobias a person could have.

For example, two of my phobias are: claustrophobia, a fear of tight spaces, and selachophobia, a fear of sharks. Here are the rest of my phobias.

Acrophobia: fear of heights
Odontophobia: fear of dentistry
Hemophobia: fear of blood
Aquaphobia: fear of water
Apiphobia: fear of bees
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders
Clinophobia: fear of going to bed

What are you scared of?

MMM Sermons: "Finding Joy in the Journey"

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.

Read the sermon here.

President Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of our time, gave key counsel in the October 2008 General Conference.
Many years ago, Arthur Gordon wrote in a national magazine, and I quote:

“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’

“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know,’ [she said.]

“‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’”
As a father, I appreciate the reminder by the prophet to be a deliberate parent and to make the most of the moment I have with my children because childhood doesn't keep coming back.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest Post: A Taxonomy Of Women

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).

Tanner was born and raised in Georgia, with a few years in Alabama. He has a delightful wife, Sarah, and a fat, adorable and cheerful six-month old son, Nikolai. He is currently completing his master's degree at Georgia State University focusing on corpus linguistics. He served a mission in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Tanner played football and rugby though high school and college and was a male cheerleader his last year at BYU. His time is mostly split between family, school and work (and trying to watch college football on Saturdays). For work, Tanner is a linguist analyzing less common languages and writing language tests, as well working as an academic research assistant. He also has a pressure washing business on the side. You can read Tanner's first guest post here.

Taxonomy of a Distant Planet by Michael Chesworth
To say that women are complicated and incomprehensible is like saying that the sky is blue. Everybody knows it. In fact, this is so commonly accepted that nobody bothers talking about it until it reaches a state of extreme. That is when people say things like, “Wow, what a beautiful day!”, or “Wow, did you see that sky today? Talk about blue!” However, in the case of women those sentences often begin with more profane exclamations. Yet, the complicity of women need not befuddle men. In reality, there exists a very simple way of looking at women as they all fit into one of two categories: girls that will date me and girls that will not date me. As dating is the reason and purpose of a young man’s life, it is urgent that men become acquainted with the varying types of women before proceeding to date. As an expert on women, I have included a guide to the taxonomy of a few select genres of the feminine type.

The Athlete. The athlete is a great girl. She enjoys sports, working out, and physical stimulation. This is a great thing as long as you share these qualities, but if you do not you should immediately cease in your pursuit of the athlete. The athlete is a team player and needs social activity; yet, because of this need of social action, personal one-on-one time is of greater value to her than to other types. The athlete is strong and decisive. If you cannot provide strong support for her to match her own strong will your quest for her will fail. The athlete has physical stamina and energy to spare, and excess energy often leads to a demanding sense of humor, so cardboard boxes need not apply. If you have support and consistency to offer then the athlete is a great dating option. Dating recommendations include: outdoor activities, hiking, dancing, and hopscotch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

MMM Movies: Linotype

by Clark (bio)

I'm looking forward to seeing Linotype: The Film. Apparently Thomas Edison called the machine the "Eighth Wonder of the World". If that doesn't get your attention you should go back to watching cat videos on youtube or something weird like that.

Mormon Doppelgängers 9: Mormon & Alec Baldwin

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.

Tom Lovell used Alec Baldwin as a model for his Mormon Abridging the Plates painting. I'm sure of it. Like 68% sure. If it wasn't Alec, it had to be a Baldwin of some sort. However, aside from him seeing The Book of Mormon musical, I couldn't find much linking Alec Baldwin to Mormonism. Although Alec and Mormon do seem to share an affinity for leopard print materials.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Word of Wisdom, Reimagined

by Seattle Jon (bio)

"We are in the midst of the single biggest global epidemic of chronic disease in the history of human species. We will spend 47 trillion dollars over the next 20 years dealing with it. 90 percent of people who have it are not diagnosed, and in America alone it affects one half of the population. This chronic disease is "diabesity," and it is preventable."

So argues Dr. Mark Hyman in a fascinating article I recently read titled It's Time to Upgrade Your Biological Software. In summary, the good doctor points out that industrial food, agribusiness and pharma generate one-third of the U.S.’s economic profits and all profit from making people sicker and fatter. He argues that a majority of what we eat in the U.S. is not real food, but “Frankenfood,” and that Frankenfood is, in fact, more addicting than cocaine and heroin. Dr. Hyman’s example of a lab rat choosing sugar over cocaine EVERY TIME was both surprising and unsurprising at the same time.

His solution? Eat more real food.

But as members of the church, we already know this. It’s laid out in D&C 89, the Word of Wisdom. By my count, there are eight verses in D&C 89 that deal specifically with food, twice as many than those that deal with strong drinks.

If food addiction will be this big of an issue in the future, and if we already have scripture dealing with the topic, why are we not talking about it more? Imagine what would happen if church leaders spent an equal amount of time encouraging church members to eat better than they do encouraging them to be free of facial hair, tattoos, skinny jeans and multiple ear piercings. Couple this counsel with the ability to then exercise more (D&C 89:20) and I think we’d have a healthier, happier, more attractive and spiritually deeper church membership.

Is it time to reimagine what the Word of Wisdom means to us today?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Las Vegas Grotesquerie

by Bradly Baird (bio)

In terms of place and place making, the area surrounding the Las Vegas Strip is something like a train wreck. Offensive and grotesque, a wasteland of excesses and extremes that is built on the backs of people who just can't say no to temptation and gluttony of every sort. Every year I come here, and every year I see its hideous nature amplify and expand. Despite all of that, I just cannot look away. I love to come here and people watch, and I love to look at the grotesque public morphologies piled together in a great heap. Here, for your enjoyment, is a sampling from just a few of my favorite structures and places.

#1 The Real Downtown Las Vegas

On a non-descript tract of land between the Strip (unincorporated Clark County) and the Fremont Street Experience is downtown Las Vegas - the real downtown Las Vegas; with law firms, government centers, auto dealerships, and all of the other normal things you would expect to find in an ordinary city. And then there is the World Market Center situated right next to the Cleveland Clinic.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Linger Longer 7

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)
Angry Mom (Segullah)
Instructing Children in Church Liturgy (By Common Consent)
The Implied Statistical Report 2011 (Times and Seasons)
Feminist and Faithful: Why I Stay (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Circumcision Panel (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Men Crossing Into Women’s Realms: Where’s the Reciprocity? (The Exponent)
How Does It Get Better, Exactly? (Wheat & Tares)
A Few Thoughts on Motherhood and Not Judging Other Moms (Beginnings New)
The Lockerbie Rail Disaster, 1883 (Keepapitchinin)
High and Low Mormon Art (Ships of Hagoth)
Commemorating Mormonism and/through Poetry (A Motley Vision)
Thoroughly Modern Mormons (Religion Dispatches)
Joseph F. Smith and the Great Hawaiian Cat Massacre (The Juvenile Instructor)
Retention (Faith-Promoting Rumor)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious)
First Life: The Search for the First Replicator (New Scientist)
Why Incompetent People Are Too Incompetent to Know They’re Incompetent (
When Prejudices Become a Disadvantage (ScienceDaily)
How to Have a Conversation (Financial Times Magazine)
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (Rutgers Math Department)
The Rise of Mormon Feminist Bloggers (The Guardian)
Top 10 Reasons Darth Vader Was An Amazing Project Manager (GeekWire)
The Evolution of Death (Salon)
Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys (The New York Times)
What Happens When A 35-Year-Old Man Retakes The SAT? (Deadspin) **LANGUAGE**
Three Classic Fairy Tales Examined Through the Lens of Architecture (Brain Pickings)
Just the Facts. Yes, All of Them. (The New York Times)

Blogging for Good

by Saint Mark (bio)

Julie Beck of the Relief Society General Presidency for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints talks openly and specifically about Latter-day Saints and their involvement in blogging (see video below).

As one of a multitude of member-bloggers, I was intrigued by President Beck's comments. I, like her, see blogging as a positive tool for doing good and helping others come unto Christ. But, I see cognitive dissonance in the underlying agenda of some blogs vis-a-vis what they say they promote and what they actually promote.

Let me know your view. And, where do you think Modern Mormon Men is on President Beck's spectrum of good and, by implication, not-so-good blogs? What could we do to improve? What should we continue doing or blogging about?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy First Anniversary, MMM

One year ago today, Modern Mormon Men was officially launched. We are amazed by the awesome first year we've had. Thanks to all the contributors, their spouses, guest posters, commenters, and readers for making this blog into something great. We hope to bring you more uplifting, challenging, and entertaining content in the coming year.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Guest Post: General Conference Spring Cleaning

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.

As Modern Mormon Men, we have the opportunity to take part in General Conference two times a year. Every Spring, when the air gets warmer and the tulips start to burst through the hard Utah soil, you know that General Conference is coming soon. Thousands of people flock to Salt Lake City to attend the sessions, visit family, friends and go to missions reunions all over the Wasatch Front. It is a time of year to do some 'spring cleaning' in your own personal life. It is a time to reflect on your life, your family members' lives and to make appropriate changes to become a better person and a better member of the church. It is a great weekend where you can just sit at home in your pajamas, eat good food, lounge around the house and watch conference on your tv, computer, radio, iPad or iPhone. (Isn't technology awesome!) It's a nice break from the typical Sunday routine, plus my wife makes awesome cinnamon rolls!

There are five sessions that take place over a two-day period. On Saturday night, men leave their wives, women and children at home to go to a Priesthood session. This meeting was by far my favorite this year. It seemed like the majority of the talks were directed to men being men, to taking responsibility, to taking charge of our households and stepping up to our Priesthood responsibilities. As Mormon Modern Men, we need to be willing and worthy of the Priesthood authority that we hold. We should be different men because of the Priesthood. Each talk given was great motivation to step up a be a better man, husband and father.

MMM Readers: Q1 2012

We thought it might be interesting to periodically take a look at what our readers are buying. Here are selected titles purchased through the blog from January through March.

Among the Mormons: Historic Accounts By Contemporary Observers (Mulder & Mortensen)
Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (Calvin & Hobbes) (Bill Watterson)
Beautiful Chaos (Garcia & Stohl)
Brave: Honest Questions Women Ask (Angela Thomas)
Of Pigs, Pearls, and Prodigals: A Fresh Look at the Parables of Jesus (John Bytheway)
The Backslider (Levi Peterson)
The Big Rock Candy Mountain (Wallace Stegner)
The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith (Joanna Brooks)
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (Dawn Huebner)
Anxiety-Free Kids: An Interactive Guide for Parents and Children (Bonnie Zucker)
The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post: Music For Kids, Big & Small

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).

Jared Jones currently makes his home in San Antonio, Texas with his brilliant doctor wife, five-going-on-45 year-old daughter, and five month-old son (who is, of course, advanced for his age). When he is not working, churching or family-ing, Jared enjoys watching super hero cartoons and many other mindless but entertaining television shows. You can read Jared's first guest post here.

When satellite radio came out I thought “Who would ever pay for radio?” At the time, I normally only listened to a few stations in the car, and most of the time it was the news on NPR. Several years ago, however, we bought a car that came with a temporary subscription to satellite radio. I thought I would just try it for a little while and then learn to again live without it.

I was hooked.

I loved the Broadway station, the coffeehouse station (should I call it the hot chocolate station?) and the top 40s station. There was great variety and I listened to more music because there weren’t any commercials or drive time host tomfoolery. My favorite station quickly became Kids Place Live (XM Radio channel 78). The station plays a huge range of music for kids of all ages. I learned that there was a whole world of music out there beyond The Wheels on the Bus and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.

Now to be fair, “grown-up” music works for kids just fine too. I have a friend whose son loves a song by Pink, and my five year-old daughter enjoys Taylor Swift, Adele and many others. Most of the time if a song has a memorable melody and a catchy beat kids will like it, and it’s fun when your kids like the same music you like. I have found, though, that even the most unsuspecting song can have some words I would rather not have repeated—so just be prepared or really read your lyrics before you introduce something new into the mix.

In fact, a lot of “grown-up” groups have created albums or singles of kids songs. The Barenaked Ladies have a great album called Snacktime, and there are quite a few compilation albums including For the Kids (Cake, Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan and more) and Mary Had a Little Amp (Maroon 5, Dixie Chicks, Madonna, Indigo Girls and more). Grown-up groups singing kids songs have a couple of benefits—you know the songs are clean, and you get to hear artists you already like.

Saintspeak 8: The Letter F

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.

Faith-Promoting Story Any story that makes you feel glad you're a mormon, even if you can't bring yourself to believe it.

Family is Forever What it feels like on the fourth day of vacation.

Farewell A sacrament meeting in which a newly called missionary proves that you don't have to know anything about the gospel in order to preach - you just have to know it's true.

Fast Day The first Sunday of the month, when normal mormons skip breakfast and eat one huge meal right after church. Fervent believers also skip dinner the night before, while fanatics don't drink any water, brush their teeth, chew gum, or bathe for twenty-four hours.

Fast Offering A donation in which mormons give to the poor the price of the two meals they skipped on fast day. The size of the average donation should make the poor very grateful they don't have to live on such a tiny food budget.

Folk Doctrine Doctrines that grow up out of rumors and wishful thinking. For example, it is a common folk doctrine that in the pre-existence, children chose the parents they'd be born to. This idea is harmless as an expression of affection in happy homes, but it leads to the logical conclusion that the children of child-abusers quite literally asked for all the suffering they get.

Friend The official church publication for children. Because children are a far more discerning and demanding audience than adults, The Friend regularly contains the best writing and artwork published by the church.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asking For An Arm And A Leg

by Sam Nelson (bio)

If any of you have been around a newly returned missionary, you’ll notice two things.

1) They won’t stop talking about their mission.
2) They will bring up the same few people over and over.

Luciano was that for me. I baptized Luciano Concha when he was a young teenager in my first area. Despite few friends in the church and being the only member of his family, he attended church every Sunday. He loved it, he had a difficult life and found comfort and hope in the gospel. The gospel was the perfect outlet for his highly intelligent and curious self; after only one year Luciano had read the entire Book of Mormon twice, the New Testament once, and was halfway through the D&C. When I returned to visit him later on my mission, I realized I could talk to him about Book of Mormon stories and church doctrine as if he were an adult.

You meet thousands of people on the mission, and between those thousands of people there are a few that are simply extraordinary. A few people you feel like, alone, would have made your entire mission worth it. You know that in the future, they will be leaders in the church, and their children will have the opportunity to grow up in a gospel-centered home. It’s a rush just thinking about the potential impact on future generations. There was no one more like that for me than Luciano Concha.

Three months ago I received a barrage of emails and Facebook messages with the tragic news that Luciano was involved in a train accident. Although he miraculously survived, he had the misfortune of losing his entire right arm and leg.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Day For Couples

by Clark (bio)

So I don't have a lover. Oh well. I'll live vicariously though this random couple that I happened to document last spring while visiting Chicago. I had a little bit of free time to get away from the Midwest Political Science Association Conference (I was there because I helped out with a little research with one of my professors on a paper he presented there) and found myself walking around Millennium Park. I recklessly positioned my camera to take a timelapse of the incredible sculpture known as Cloud Gate and happend to catch this lovely couple enjoying the warm weather and lack of wind at the park that evening.

With the help of my dear friend Nellie I was able to put some music to this captured moment. Thanks again Nellie and thanks Rand for taking a handful of college students to Chicago so we could eat at all the best restaurants I mean go to the Political Science Conference.

Guest Post: The Deal

The following video was produced by the young men and women organizations of the Port Washington Branch in the North Milwaukee, Wisconsin stake. The 12-minute film, put together for their Stake Film Festival, was received to rave reviews. We were told to "think M. Night Shyamalan meets the Mormon Church," and while it didn't invoke the same reaction we had when watching The Sixth Sense for the first time, it did have quite the twist ending. Are there other Stake Film Festivals out there? If so, send in your videos.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pretty Darn Funny: An Interview With Lisa Valentine Clark

by May Jones (bio)

I recently sat down to Facebook chat with my dear friend Lisa Valentine Clark (LVC), who is starring in the new web series, Pretty Darn Funny, brought to a computer near you by Deseret Book. I thought it would be fun to get an exclusive behind the scenes look at the transmedia show. Lisa is a mother of five, the wife of MMM contributor Topher Clark, and an all-around amazing human.

LVC: Sorry I’m late! I started cleaning the front closet and got overwhelmed and kept going and going …

May Jones: No worries! How’s the closet?

LVC: Almost beautiful. Almost. No one will care or notice. BUT I WILL.

MJ: I’m going to interview you now!

LVC: Okay, this is weird … and funny!

MJ: So, I’ve been seeing stuff out there about What exactly is it?

LVC: It’s the website for the webisode “Pretty Darn Funny,” but also the site to enter our contest, and to check out blogs, Pinterest and Facebook pages of the characters. Basically, it’s a place to find some funny stuff!

MJ: You play Gracie Moore in the series. What can you tell us about her? Is she similar to you? Different?

LVC: Well, Gracie used to be in a comedy troupe in college, she's Mormon and committed to teaching her kids and raising them the best way she can. Her husband is busy a lot, and she wants to have fun and is fulfilled by being at home but would be lying if she said she didn't miss being on the stage every now and again ... So, in those ways we're similar. But she has 3 kids and doesn't mind a messy house, so that's where we differ!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Guest Post: The Lonely Easter

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

via this blog
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

The Taits had a lonely Easter that weekend. I was starting a one-week business trip in a far-flung land so far away that it required me to be there on Sunday to be ready for Monday; our son was saving souls in North Carolina with his missionary companion; our daughter was still in school in Utah, and Deon was trapped at home holding down the fort. Technically, we weren't alone; we all spent time with someone we could be comfortable with - we just were not with each other.

Usually, it's never good to be alone during the holidays; I highly recommend against it. Easter, however, may be an exception. I don't think it is truly possible to comprehend in even a small way the Lord's atonement for us unless we are alone.

The atonement that Jesus wrought on our behalf was both infinite and eternal in its scope and application. To fulfill these requirements he would have to know and feel of every pain and sorrow mankind has felt. This includes the terrible agony of loneliness. Perhaps this is why God left him alone on the cross for a few moments? So he could know and feel what it was like to be alone?

Elder Holland explained it this way: “To all such, I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. Rightly He would say: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me. I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold [me].”

So it's OK to be alone on Easter. Being alone on this day of all days seems to grant appropriate respect for the loneliness the Savior shouldered on our behalf.

Our family's impromptu brush with loneliness will last only a short season. Towards the end of August, our son will be back from his mission; our daughter will be home from school; I'll be done with my business trips, and Deon will still be there keeping the home fires burning. What a joyous day that will be!

The Savior's lonely atonement makes it possible for us to never be lonely again; it is only through him that we may join our complete families in the Celestial Kingdom and enjoy the endless fruits of living in his presence. What a joyous day that will be!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

MMM Quotes 6: On Grooming

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Per Wikipedia, Hugh Nibley was bothered by what he saw as the unthinking, sometimes almost dogmatic application of some portions of Brigham Young University's honor code. Nibley had no objection to requirements of chastity or obeying the Word of Wisdom, but he thought the often intense scrutiny directed at grooming (hairstyles and clothing) was misguided. In 1973, he said the following. Thoughts?

"The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism ... the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stuff Mormon Moms Say

by Saint Mark (bio)

If you haven't seen this, you've missed out on some flippin' funny stuff. And of course, this stuff is not limited to Mormon Moms. This Mormon Dad has said some of these things as well. Hey, who doesn't like Pampered Chef?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Post: Dear Bishop, From Your Gay Mormon Brother

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).

In spite of his pretentious pseudonym, GMP is much like any other single, active, lifelong member of the Church. He enjoys reading and writing, working on his car, and finding new music to become obsessed with, in addition to jogging, camping, and snowboarding. Ladies, he's pretty much your dream guy, except in that he is a self-proclaimed homosexual. His blog, Gay Mormon Pioneer, is a window into the life of the Millennial gay Mormon, struggling to live in accordance with the Gospel and occasionally succeeding. There, he chronicles his struggles with pornography and his desire to enter the temple, serve a mission, get married, and raise a family, with bits of his boring daily life thrown in the mix.

Image via Caitlinator.
Dear Bishop,

I am a gay member of your community, but if I can, let me refine that a bit further. I am a practicing Mormon and I try every day to live the standards of the Gospel that have been set forth by our books of scripture and the words of our living, modern prophets. I do not smoke, drink coffee, or consume alcohol and I take care of my body as the Lord has told all of us to do. I live the law of chastity. I have never been with another person sexually, either male or female, and I do all I can do to avoid pornography and masturbation. I enjoy church and I have served faithfully as a teacher in Sunday School, a secretary and clerk for the bishopric, as a member of the missionary committee, and as a Sacrament meeting greeter. I am far from perfect, but I’m trying every day to be a little more like Jesus Christ, because I have a testimony of His love and power and I am trying to catch that greater vision of what He has in store for me.

Know that my comments today are not directed at you per se, because I have always felt loved and accepted by you and the other bishops in my life. You have been a friend and have offered me a tissue and a hug every time I come into your office to talk about the challenges I faced that week. You text me every few days, hoping that I’ll hear the love you’re feeling as you write those kind messages. You reassure me that I can do it, and yet, you also tell me that it doesn’t matter what you want for me, it matters what I want for me. I get that you care about me personally, and I appreciate it every day.

My purpose in writing you is to explain some of the emotions that I still have, in spite of my best efforts to eradicate them from my thoughts and focus on happier, more hopeful tidings.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Toy Boats

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

One of my very first posts on this blog was sharing some of my photographs of Miniature Cemeteries. Here are a few shots from a similar series involving water. The tilt-shift effect is intended to make the boats appear as toy models. Enjoy. And if you really like them, you can purchase them here.

Other MMM Posts

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