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Friday, November 30, 2012

MMM Sermons: Receive the Holy Ghost

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. Watch or read it here.

You think you understand one of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ and then Elder David A. Bednar comes along and flips the script on you. Who would have thought that there could be so much in those four little words, "Receive the Holy Ghost."

In October 2010 General Conference, Elder Bednar shared a telling teaching that Joseph Smith taught while visiting Washington D.C. to meet with the then-President of the United States Martin Van Buren.
In December of 1839, while in Washington, D.C., to seek redress for the wrongs done to the Missouri Saints, Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee wrote to Hyrum Smith: “In our interview with the President [of the United States], he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 97).
This sermon by Elder Bednar expanded my view of the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the import of immersing myself in the things of the Spirit as often as possible. At first, I preferred things of the world a little more and became easily bored with hymns, Primary songs, church videos and such. But I finally realized that Heaven or the Celestial Kingdom is not "of the world"; it is of the Spirit. And it dawned on me that Heaven wasn't going to change its "tastes" for me so if I wanted to go to Heaven I needed to be the one who changed his tastes.

The account of Brigham Young returning from beyond the grave to educate a prophet and us sealed the decision in my heart to truly "receive the Holy Ghost" every day. My marriage, my family, and my life has been happier and more peaceful ever since.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The BeFrugal Browser Add-On

by Pete Codella (bio)

Although this post is secular in nature, it is very much geared to provident living. For full disclosure, the tool this article is focused on was developed by a client of mine, but it's so cool that I had to share. And I'm not even a very frequent online shopper.

If you do any shopping online, you seriously should check-out this browser add-on that automatically identifies any coupons or discount codes, then lets you select the one you want from a drop-down when you checkout. The tool is available now and works in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.

It's called the BeFrugal Add-On. The tool crowdsources coupons, so if someone uses a code on a site that isn't already in the system, once it's accepted by the merchant, the code is added to the online database for that site, benefiting all Add-On users.

If you ever do any shopping online and find yourself going from site to site looking for coupons and discount codes, the BeFrugal Add-On is bound to save you tons of time and money. It automates the whole online discount shopping process, which, I suppose, is why it's called Couponomatic™.

I think the add-on is the digital version of what some families do around the kitchen table each week, clipping coupons and filing them for later in-store use. That was then, the BeFrugal Add-on is now — a discount shopping tool for the digital age.

Also, BeFrugal has a cash back program that works at more than 3,000 sites covering 80% of the top 500 online retailers. So in addition to discount and coupon codes, shoppers can receive cash back through BeFrugal, requesting a PayPal deposit or check in the mail once their account reaches $25.

As I said, I'm not a big online shopper, but I'm really impressed with this tool. I think it will be a game changer for Internet shopping. I'm going to use it this holiday season. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Do You Believe in Santa Claus?

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

My wife was recently looking for some minimalist Santa Claus art to add to our Christmas decorations. She was disappointed in what she found (or didn't find) and asked me to design something for her. I really dove into the project over Thanksgiving and am extremely happy with the result (more importantly—she is happy.)

My favorite is the version that reads, "BELIEVE," shown at the top of this post. But it kind of got me thinking. I have mixed feelings toward the whole Santa thing that I need to work through. I've met parents who are anti-Santa Claus. "It's the first big lie we tell our children," I remember one mother telling me. (And I'll never forget when I asked her seven-year-old daughter what Santa had brought her, only to be met with a long blank stare.) I've heard others who take a more nuanced approach. They lightly participate in a Santa Claus Christmas, stressing that Old St. Nick is a myth, but a very powerful myth that teaches valuable lessons about love and selflessness. I think that the biggest part of me wants to create that magic in my children's lives. I do love getting swept up in the spirit of the season. But are there legitimate negative consequences? Will our kids lose trust in us? Are we teaching them it's okay to lie? Will they eventually view God as the next big fairy tale that is to be outgrown? Or is that a positive thing to help them learn to think critically for themselves and not live on borrowed light. I'm a bit lost. It seems like any way you approach it could potentially backfire. Harmful, harmless, or beneficial? Dear readers, now is your chance to convince me.

Below are the four versions I made that are available in our Etsy shop. Ho, ho, ho!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post: Not Your Average Fast and Testimony Meeting

This guest post is from an anonymous reader in Sacramento, California.

Photograph by Roberto Trm.

As a separated dad in the process of navigating divorce, my life is full of all the things that have become urgent - providing for my children under (now) two separate roofs, filling out reams of paperwork, getting my children to church and activities (as the role of the only parent who participates in church now), and ensuring that I don't collapse from it all.

Sitting in Fast and Testimony meeting two months ago, all of my current (and more to the point, my children’s current) situation came to bear in one moment.

We had a string of women get up and bear their testimony, or more appropriately, their I-just-know-i-mony. We all know these stories, and in general, we love their sentiments - about how happy they are to have their husbands, how spiritual they are, how they honor their priesthood and how they know how they will be living together forever, sealed to each other and their children. Along with their words came all the normal weeping at the podium, and while it was mostly tearing up on the part of the bearer, there are sometimes a few people in the audience who feel things and start crying as well.

While generally not a testimony-crier, I don't want to take that away from anyone who was or ever has become emotionally overcome and cried. At around speaker I-just-know-i-mony number five, I looked over at my 11-year-old son and saw that he was on the verge of bawling. I quickly put my arm around him, leaned over, and asked him if he wanted to go outside. He nodded yes and we quickly left the chapel.

First in a side hallway of the church and then outside, I held him while he cried and asked me, essentially, how things would work out with me, his mom, and his sister. There were tears and sadness, a lot of holding him close, and an overall questioning of how, what, and why.

Giveaway 21: Winner & Movie Review

by LJ (bio)

The winner of the The Odd Life of Timothy Green DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack is Kristi O'Dair Clews (link to comment). Please email us your address by this Friday to claim your DVD. If you didn't win, buy this wonderful movie for your family starting December 4th.

First and foremost, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a squeaky-clean movie with a good message about putting family first. It's almost totally free of fart jokes, double-entendres, or even kids being super rude to their parents. This was a breath of fresh air because I feel like some kid movies are incredibly and intentionally crass. (Anyone closely connected with the late Jim Henson or Pixar Studios, you are of course excused from this sweeping generalization.)

My husband and I had seen the trailer for this film earlier in the year and frankly, I didn't know what to expect. It looked like a couple without children who somehow mysteriously grow a son in their garden overnight. (I found this to be a fun little detail, considering how many of us Mormon kids probably went through some of our childhoods believing that sex was for degenerates and that we were picked from the garden ourselves.)

From a technical standpoint, I thought it was a really pretty movie with a gorgeous setting and great costuming. The look and the score contribute to a homey, small-town feel that made me oddly nostalgic. CJ Adams as Timothy Green, gave the best performance of the film as a slim little dreamer, a trusting and gentle soul who goes around making people's lives better.

This being said, this is a movie that would be difficult for the 8-and-under crowd mostly because the pace is a little slow and the ending is a little sad. Parents, be ye warned that it also verges into corny territory in a couple of spots. However, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is worth the watch because it encourages you to do your best by your family and put your pride aside. Most importantly, it gives you license to believe in little miracles when they do come along.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Worth of a Soul is $752.3 Million

by Ben Johnson (bio)

In the book Starship Troopers an interesting conversation takes place between a soldier and a professor at the military academy. They debate a hypothetical situation where, after a protracted and vicious war between two countries, prisoners are being kept by one side. The question posed to the soldier is "are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war?" Without hesitating he answers in the affirmative. The professor then says "Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?" This time the soldier isn't so quick with his response. After much thought the soldier comes to the conclusion that the worth of just one man is sufficient reason.

What if the conversation was about souls instead of men and we were talking money and not war? What do you suppose one soul would be worth? Let's think about this in terms of something we can relate to. How much money do you think the church spends each year on missionary work? I’m talking about keeping the lights on at the MTCs, printing copies of the Book of Mormon, running the I’m A Mormon campaign, pass along cards, other radio and TV advertising, etc. Add that all up and you are looking at a check with a lot of zeros on it.

Someone cleverer than I could suss out a fairly accurate dollar amount and then divide into that the number of convert baptisms each year. That would give you how much we spend for each baptism. Do you think there is some sort of 'return on investment' that the church has to have in order to continue to spend the money on missionary work that they do? Would the church spend that amount of money if they knew they would only baptize 10,000 people? 500? One?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giveaway 22: Zarahemla Books 2

Christopher Bigelow, owner and operator of Zarahemla Books, is back with another timely holiday giveaway. In operation since 2006, Zarahemla Books publishes Mormon-oriented fiction, humor, and memoir, with an emphasis on adventurous Mormon stories that are unorthodox but not apostate. Theric Jepson, of A Motley Vision blog, calls Zarahemla "the most valuable brand in Mormon letters today" and "the Pixar of Mormon literature."

As you already know, Christopher is generously giving away one copy of each of Zarahemla's 18 titles to Modern Mormon Men readers. For this, the second of four giveaways, Zarahemla is giving away the following provocative, unconventional, yet ultimately faith-affirming books.

Giveaway guidelines are for the following five titles (click for previews): The Death of a Disco DancerHooligan: A Mormon BoyhoodRift, The Tree House and Hunting Gideon.

Can't wait? Buy Zarahemla's books nowAll books are 50% OFF through the END OF NOVEMBER using coupon code HALF-OFF when checking out.

Giveaway Guidelines:
You have THREE chances to enter. Each entry requires a separate comment.
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Like MMM on Facebook or share this post on Facebook. Leave a comment letting us know you did.
3. Follow MMM on Twitter or share this post on Twitter. Leave a comment letting us know you did.

• 5 days to enter (closes Friday, November 30th at midnight).
• Winner announced Monday, December 3rd.
• Winner must respond via email with their address by Friday, December 7th to claim the books.

Death Comes for the Twinkie

by Bradly Baird (bio)

After the announcement that Hostess planned to shutter its doors, a great Twinkie frenzy engulfed the country. People began scouring grocery and convenience stores, buying up as many as could be found; while boxes of the delicious golden snack cake appeared on auction websites, available to the highest bidder. Newscasters proclaimed America a land of desolation and commentators blamed everyone from organized unions to the Obama Administration. Even teenagers in my Sunday School class expressed their own feelings about the situation and told me stories about the ways in which their families engaged in this temporary madness.

This consumeristic melee fascinates me and - like so many other similar phenomena - incites a little riot of imagination. In my mind's eye, I envision websites dedicated to the history of the snack, memorials along byways and country roads, blogs declaring undying love for and misadventures in snacking, not to mention a host of merchandise - including t-shirts, mugs, caps, toys, etc. - all dedicated to and adorned with images of the golden treat. And, if I let my imagination run wild, I forsee that some nutcase will launch a "Save the Twinkie" campaign and then build a gigantic Twinkie-shaped restaurant (featuring animatronic Twinkies that dance) somewhere along Route 66; or, someone may even build a Twinkie museum near the Las Vegas Strip.

To me, this craze for mourning the Twinkie demonstrates a vulnerable and sensitive side of our humanity. It shows that beneath the materialistic, vain, and coarser layers of our consumer culture sits a deeply felt need to connect with others through a shared experience. The phenomenon also provides some satisfaction and comfort in the knowledge that friends, neighbors, and total strangers are similar to one another ... so very similar when expressing their own personal brand of humanness.

In 1997, a children's humorist named Bob Tucker expressed his own regard for the Twinkie in a poem called "Ode to a Twinkie," that aptly represents the feelings of many. This charming little ditty should make us all smile just a little bit as we recognize ourselves within its words and as we deal with the fact that the Angel of Death arrived this week for a beloved icon of American consumerism.

Oh, Twinkie with your golden hue,
You have delicious goop in you.
There you are! Were you waiting long,
Between Sno-balls and stale Ding Dong?

My friends all think I'm kinda kinky
Cause my role model is a twinkie.
But they don't know what we've been through.
Dear Twinkie, I can count on you.

I tell my troubles as I bite.
You never tell me, "That's not right."
You listen to each foolish fear,
Then slowly, deliciously disappear.

I hold you close when we're alone
And think the thoughts that are my own.
Then turn to you, my dear sweet yummie.
You clear my mind, tickle my tummie.

Your outside is a little plain,
But inside you are "mellow lane."
I like you better than these folks,
Who look at me and then make jokes.

People should be more like you.
You don't judge the things folks do.
Inside is where your beauty lies.
Within the plain, there's sweet surprise.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Guest Post: To Bear One Another's Burdens

Originally from the great state of Utah, Greg is currently living out his dreams in Los Angeles as an actual working actor. He is single, old enough to be set in his ways, and is unofficially officially “on the market.” He has a deep and abiding testimony of Christ, and lives life with a healthy dose of optimism. He's also what some might call "gay," but doesn't let that stand in his way of living a happy, fulfilling life as a modern Mormon man. He contribues to Northern Lights - a blog for members of the church who deal with homosexuality; writes about his adventures in Hollywood - among other things - on his own blog; and does the twitter thing too.

Image by thedimka.
Sometime between 7th and 8th grade I realized I was attracted to men. It wasn’t some great paradigm shift or stunning realization for me. I think it may have been more of a “huh ...” moment. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, so I can’t say for sure. What I do know is that that realization has made life more than interesting over the last 15 years or so.

Coming to terms with something like that while trying to maintain one’s faith can be a challenge - to say the least. Luckily I have some amazing parents, and later some amazing friends to help me out. Outside of my immediate family it wasn’t something I really talked about with people until I was home from my mission and fully entrenched in the throes of college life.

I’ve always found it easier to share that information with my girl friends. I think that makes sense. I’ve never had a negative reaction from a male friend, but I always find it a bit more nerve-wracking to tell them. I think that also makes sense. (Especially when some of those male friends were people I showered with in the MTC ...)

That kind of revelation can create some interesting new dynamics in a male-male friendship. I think most of the time it’s more awkward for the person in my position. You’re going out on a limb with that disclosure and hoping for love, support, and encouragement, while simultaneously prepping yourself for rejection. I recently decided it was time to let the world know about my story and the response has been 100% positive - which is very encouraging. Here are some things my male friends and family have done - whether consciously or otherwise - that helped me know we were still okay.

1 Hugs. The. Biggest. Thing. If a friend, family member, loved one, co-worker, cashier, mechanic, whoever tells you they’re “gay” or “deal with SSA” or “struggle with homosexuality” or whatever, give them a hug. Immediately. A long one. Not too long - that’s awkward for everyone. But long enough that they understand. That immediate physical connection can - and does - mean so much. (Granted, the conversation doesn’t always happen in person. I’ve told a few people via phone/email. But when possible - hug. And if it doesn’t happen in person, the next time you see them, give them a hug before you do anything else.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Freedom from Want

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Most of you will probably recognize Norman Rockwell's iconic painting, Freedom from Want. Here are a few variations (click on image for source). Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunday In the Rockaways

by May Jones (bio)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I suffered a little bit from survivor's guilt. Here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we watched on our fully-powered televisions in our well-lit living rooms as our downtown neighbors lost all power. Then, the next day, we saw the horrific scenes of homes on fire, coastlines obliterated, and cars completely underwater. We felt relieved, of course, but also somewhat helpless. So close, yet so far away. Some displaced families were brought up to live in our schools and we were able to provide a bit of relief in the way of clothing and toys, but we still wanted to do more. We started collecting donations to send in vans out to the hard-hit coastal areas of New York. Then, two weekends ago, thanks to Mormons Helping Hands, we got to go out to the Rockaways ourselves to pitch in.

On Sunday morning, bright and early, my step dad and I drove out to Plainview, NY, to a stake center there. When we walked into the cultural hall, about a hundred members of the Nashua, New Hampshire stake were sitting in folding chairs singing I Know That My Redeemer Lives. Everyone was wearing work boots and jeans and sweatshirts and several people had on bright yellow shirts or jerseys inscribed with the Mormon Helping Hands logo. The early morning sacrament meeting service consisted of the passing of the sacrament, a stake counselor reading a few scriptures, and then testimonies offered by those who had been out to the site the day before. We finished by singing Called to Serve. It was one of the most memorable Sunday morning services I've ever attended.

Afterward, we got our team assignments and drove out to Belle Harbor in the Rockaways in Queens. Other stakes met us there, including my own, as well as other non-member friends who wanted to help. Our team was assigned to two missionaries, who led us to our first house. I saw many missionaries throughout the day, with their name tags pinned to the front of their jerseys. They have been working day in and day out for the past three weeks and I wished their parents could have seen them out there.

My first impression of the area was that it felt like a war zone. Large trucks barricaded the ends of streets and piles of debris were everywhere. At our first house, we transported water damaged belongings sorted into huge piles in the backyard to the dumpster across the street. The homeowner shared with us his feelings of being overwhelmed at having to basically sort through his whole life and try to figure out how to replace it. And all with no power. Every time his wife came outside, she repeated, "Thank you so much, thank you so so much." With our team of ten, we were able to clean up the backyard in less than an hour. I know that if it had been my house, I would have gone out and stared at that pile for days, just trying to figure out where to start. I was happy that we relieved them of that burden, at least.

Giveaway 21: The Odd Life of Timothy Green Blu-ray/DVD

by LJ (bio)

Once again, our kind connections with Disney are providing us a new pre-Christmas giveaway, this time a shiny Blu-ray/DVD of The Odd Life of Timothy Green, which hits shelves everywhere on December 4th. Like with Brave, I will be writing my own review of Timothy Green sometime next week.

Giveaway Guidelines:
You have THREE chances to enter. Each entry requires a separate comment.
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Like MMM on Facebook or share this post on Facebook. Leave a comment letting us know you did.
3. Follow MMM on Twitter or share this post on Twitter. Leave a comment letting us know you did.

• 5 days to enter (closes Sunday, November 25th at midnight).
• Winner announced the week of Monday, November 26th.
• Winner must respond via email with their address by Friday, November 30th to claim the DVD.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giveaway 20: Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered to win Randy Paul's new documentary DVD, Unresolvable? The Kingdom of God on Earth. The movie focuses on Mormons, Evangelicals, Hindus, and Muslims, and the issue of how Americans treat their religious rivals and critics. It is a gripping story of a Mormon who is angry with the anti-Mormon demonstrators who descend on Temple Square during General Conference. He decides to get to the heart of the problem and finds much that he did not expect. Randy Paul is founder of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and a friend to modern mormon men everywhere.

Randy's foundation has made five DVDs available to Modern Mormon Men readers. Winners are below. Please email us your addresses by Friday, November 23rd to claim your DVD. If you didn't win, please contact the foundation for information.

Cordeiro (link to comment)
Seeking Goodness (link to comment)
Da Bast (link to comment)
Tatiana (link to comment)
Emily R (link to comment)

The Road to Jerusalem

by Bradly Baird (bio)

Jerusalem by Night

When the Spirit of Promise confirms a divinely appointed commission, those in receipt of the blessing are expected to act in accordance with carefully inspired parameters and to fulfill the prescribed mission with the utmost effort and feeling. Sometimes a commission begins with a gentle prompting, while at other times the commission arrives in a more ceremonious or formal manner. Either way, the errand is always relevant to the life of the individual who is called upon and requires sacrifice.

As I observe members of the Kingdom accepting these commissions on a daily basis, I am reminded of a statement by President Hinckley. He was once asked to described the symbol that represents our Church - as the cross represents many Christian denominations - and he responded very eloquently that the symbol of our Church was evidenced by the sacrifices manifested in the lives of its people. I believe this because I see it everyday inside our faith and am quite convinced that - apart from the Atonement of Jesus Christ - our own sacrifices will be the things that open the gates of heaven for each one of us.

In 1840, Orson Hyde received a commission that became one of his legacies to the Kingdom of God. In his diary, he states that, "in the early part of March, 1840, I retired to my bed one night as usual; and while meditating and contemplating the field of my future labors, the vision of the Lord, like clouds of light, burst into my view. The cities of London, Amsterdam, Constantinople and Jerusalem, all appeared in succession before me, and the Spirit said unto me, ‘Here are many of the children of Abraham whom I will gather to the land that I gave to their fathers; and here also is the field of your labors. The vision continued open about six hours, that I did not close my eyes in sleep. In this time many things were shown unto me which I have never written; neither shall I write them until they are fulfilled in Jerusalem."

Linger Longer 16

Linger Longer is a series where we highlight articles that recently caught our attention. Suggest religious blogs to add or recommend your own articles in the comments. Click here for previous lists.

Bloggernacle (religious sites)
The Time Hasn’t Flown By For Me (Segullah)
Why Mormons Love Movember? (By Common Consent)
Joseph Smith and Baseball: The Evidence (Times and Seasons)
Don’t Talk to Me About Coffee and Sex (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
On Mission Hierarchy, Gender, and Organizational Communication (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Orson F. Whitney and "The True History and Character of My People" (The Low-Tech World)
No One Belongs Here More Than You (The Exponent)
Equality or More Licked Cupcakes?: The New YM/YW Manuals (Wheat & Tares)
Equality of the Sexes: The View from 1890 (Keepapitchinin)
The Complicated Issue of Inoculation (Rational Faiths)
Evil Speaking (Into the Hills)
Twilight and the CleanFlicks Aesthetic (A Motley Vision)
Dudes – How To Be A Woman is a Must-Read! (Doves and Serpents) BUY THE BOOK!
The Best of the “Mormon Moment” (The Juvenile Instructor)
Letting the Nibley Family Defend Nibley (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Can Women with Kids Serve as Temple Workers? (Ask Mormon Girl)
Did America Just Dodge the Next Sarah Palin? (Religion Dispatches)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episode 139: A Beautiful Vision of Mormonism (Mormon Matters Podcast) BUY THE BOOK!
Episodes 133-134: LDS Spiritual Supplementing (Mormon Matters Podcast)
Episode 66: Freemasons (The Cultural Hall)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Short Answers, Mariana Trench Explosion, and Lightning (What If?)
You're an Idiot. Statistically Speaking. (The Motley Fool)
Does Biology Make Us Liars? (The New Republic)
Half the Facts You Know are Probably Wrong (
The Classics-to-Be for Tomorrow’s Car Collectors (The New York Times)
A History of the Movies In Four Parts (The Wall Street Journal)
How the Moon Was Born (The Atlantic)
List of Unusual Deaths (Wikipedia)
The End of Jazz (The Atlantic)
God Distances Self From Christian Right (The Onion)
George Lucas’s Force (The Chronicle)
How to Eat a Triceratops (Nature)
The Case of the Mormon Historian (Slate)
Liberal Mormons: A Minority Within a Minority (The Washington Post)
Utah Sugar Daddies Coming from Ranks of the LDS Church (

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saintspeak 12: The Letter J

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.

Jackson County The former location of the Garden of Eden. Now it's part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. If Adam had just held on a little longer, his property would have been worth millions.

Jay-Dubs The Saints' oddly affectionate name for Jehovah's Witnesses, the other 19th-century American religion that matches our missionary zeal throughout the world. It is the secret dream and dread of every Mormon missionary to meet a jay-dub head on in open battle - much like the feelings of the average knight toward a dragon. It would be nice to slay one but even nicer never to meet one.

Journal Every Latter-day Saint keeps a journal. In the average journal, the first entry is three pages long, the second is one paragraph, the third is a single line, and the fourth was never written.

Journal of Discourses A mammoth collection of speeches by General Authorities in the 19th-century, containing many doctrines that were never taught by the Church. As a safety measure, it was once suppressed by the Church, for several once-bright people had gone mad trying to make all the old-time apostles' statements fit within the same gospel. Today, however, there is no fear of ill effects from publishing the Journal of Discourses, for only fundamentalists, anti-Mormons, and historians ever read it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Giveaway 20: “Unresolvable? The Kingdom of God on Earth”

by jpaul (bio)

Several months ago, I interviewed Randy Paul, founder of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on Modern Mormen Men. His foundation is screening a powerful new documentary titled Unresolvable? The Kingdom of God on Earth, which was recently featured in Deseret News.

The movie focuses on Mormons, Evangelicals, Hindus, and Muslims, and the issue of how Americans treat their religious rivals and critics. It is a gripping story of a Mormon who is angry with the anti-Mormon demonstrators who descend on Temple Square during General Conference. He decides to get to the heart of the problem and finds much that he did not expect.

The Foundation has made 5 DVDs available to Modern Mormon Men readers.

Giveaway Guidelines:
You have THREE chances to enter. Each entry requires a separate comment below.
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Like MMM on Facebook or share this post on Facebook. Leave a comment letting us know you did.
3. Follow MMM on Twitter or share this post on Twitter. Leave a comment letting us know you did.

• 4 days to enter (closes Monday, November 19th at midnight).
• Winners announced Tuesday, November 20th.
• Winners must respond via email with their address by Friday, November 23rd to claim their DVD.

Also, if you are in the Salt Lake City area and don't have plans tonight (Friday, November 16th), there will be a free screening at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the new Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City (209 S. 500 E. - parking in the SL Library garage next door). The movie is 80 minutes long followed by a panel discussion of religious leaders.

More information here: Facebook, Twitter, Website.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Uchtdorf Meme: Part 2

A few month ago, I posted about the popularity of the Uchtdorf meme. Since then, the Uchtdorf meme has been going strong and evolving in new and exciting ways. Brothers and sisters, let these new Uchtdorf memes--all but two of which I have found online--nourish and strengthen you. They are a fitting digital tribute to someone we all honor. 

This one was inevitable. How could you not make the comparison? Especially when the number of celebrities with German accents is what it is ...

I wonder if this one is based on a true story. Part of me believes it. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guest Post: Gladys Knight and the SUV Choir

Sally Ashmore is a long-time reader, first time contributor to MMM. A second-generation Mormon, she grew up in the mission field of Wisconsin and earned a B.A. in English from a small Catholic school in Iowa you've probably never heard of. She currently resides among other YSA's near historic Winter Quarters (Omaha), where she forces life to be interesting.

A-Dub (read post) and LJ (read post) both had some wonderful recommendations for fine tuning the musical portion of our meetings, but Ms. Gladys Knight one-upped them before they even started. Upon becoming Mormon, she realized that the hymns we sang were, as she puts it, "tame." Growing up, she was used to more, um, vibrant music as part of worship services. She still loves LDS hymns, but wants everyone to connect to them and to each other better. Hence her organizing and directing the Saints Unified Voices (SUV) Choir.

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of their performances. If you get the chance, GO. It's worth spending an hour outside in line and three hours in a metal folding chair in the gym, which is about what you'll pay. The whole get-up is volunteer work and most performances are held in LDS buildings, so no venue costs.

One purpose of the event was to experience spiritual music in ways Mormons don't normally get to. The performance I attended featured a Hawaiian prayer song as well as Southern revival-style arrangements of favorite LDS hymns and Primary songs. So, yes, there was some clapping in the chapel. (Sit in the gym if this might be too weird for you to do.) But it was beyond a doubt one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. (Including temple work)

I was able to feel the Spirit throughout the performance as testimonies were borne both in word and in song. The Spirit testified truths to me in a way I had never felt before. I knew there were different ways for different people to feel the Spirit, but I never knew there were different ways for me to feel it. There are hymns and Primary songs we hear all the time that I won't hear the same way again. There were also non-LDS songs I wouldn't mind seeing in the next edition of our hymnbook. And I would love SUV's arrangement of I Stand All Amazed to be standardized for every ward choir out there. (Unfortunately, they don't use sheet music for any of their songs.)

The SUV choir is truly an inspired group that really does break down barriers of cultural differences in spiritual music. Their performances let not just non-members, but members, too, see how the power of music can impact our testimonies and open doors for everyone, regardless of heritage or personal religious history, to join together in praising our Heavenly Father through music.

The Princess Bride: 25 Years Later

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Fact: Mormons love The Princess Bride. Why? I don't know exactly. It's romantic without being overly sexual. Adventurous without being violent. And funny without eliciting loud laughter. It's good, clean, wholesome fun that can be enjoyed by all ages. The Princess Bride is the go-to mainstream movie for seminary, Young Men/Young Women, or anywhere else Mormon youth gather. Anyway, in honor of the recent 25th anniversary, the original cast got together for a reunion photo shoot. Enjoy the inconceivability! (More pictures after the break.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brave Revisited, or Why Blu-ray is Actually Super Awesome

by LJ (bio)

Congrats to the winners of the Brave DVD/Blu-ray giveaway! If you weren't one of the lucky two (don't cry, I never win anything either), Brave is now in stores and available online for purchase. Or, you know, for your kids.

I know I already talked about how Brave basically blows every previous Disney princess film out of the water. This viewing marked another first for me: the first time I've ever seen a film on Blu-ray.

To say I was flabbergasted would be a slight understatement. My husband and I are not technophiles and have never owned a TV in our marriage that exceeded 15" of screen (or had a working remote to our DVD player, come to think of it). This is not for ideological reasons. It's because we're cheap.

Enter our good friends Sam and Sara, who graciously hosted our viewing party at their house because they've got at least a 40" screen, a sound system and a Blu-ray player. I figured that purchasing films on Blu-ray, like eating organic or using premium gasoline, was yet another marketing scheme to eke more money out of you. (Did I mention that we're cheap?)

Well, turns out I was wrong. Seeing Brave on Blu-ray made it sharper, brighter and even more detailed than I'd seen it on the big-screen. This was a boon unto itself, since I feel like it takes a good half-dozen views of any Pixar film to be able to catch all the little details or even all the jokes.

Giveaway 19: Winner

Thanks to all who entered to win a copy of Connor Boyack's latest book, Latter-day Responsibility. Connor is a web developer, political economist, social media consultant and author of the popular prequel/sequel to this book, Latter-day Liberty.

And the winner is: Shaylee Ann (link to comment). Please email us your address so we can get this sent out to you.

Didn't win? Buy Latter-day Responsibility for yourself or as a gift. Also check out our interview with Connor if you missed it.

Mormon Helping Hands

by May Jones (bio)

Joshua Brown, who hails from my ward, made this video on Sunday, November 11th, when Mormons across New York cancelled a portion of their church services and arrived to help the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Please share this video with any friends and family that might be able to help. Not only at the Rockaways, but Staten Island, Long Island, and New Jersey. The church is coordinating the efforts, but anyone is welcome to come help. For more information about this and other ongoing recovery efforts please visit Mormon Helping Hands NYC.

Mormon Helping Hands :: Hurricane Sandy :: Rockaways, NY from Joshua Brown on Vimeo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giveaway 18: Winners

We had such a great response that we convinced them to giveaway TWO copies of Disney-Pixar's Brave Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.

And the winners are: Adam Lund (link to comment) and danielle t (link to comment). Please email us your address so we can get these sent out to you.

Didn't win? Buy the Brave combo pack in time for Christmas.

Ordering Patriarchal Blessings

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I recently took advantage of the church's patriarchal blessing service by requesting the blessing of my great-great-great-grandfather, Marriner Wood Merrill. Within a day someone from the Patriarchal Blessing section of the Church History Department had contacted me, and other than having to hop through a few extra hoops because he is a former apostle, I received not one, but two patriarchal blessings for Marriner Wood Merrill in the mail.

The blessing above, given on December 18th, 1885 just after Marriner became the first president of the Logan Temple, is written in beautiful cursive by Zebedee Coltrin, church patriarch. Not surprisingly, I found the language more elegant and stirring than that contained in my own blessing. Here are a few examples:
"And thou shalt be enabled to proclaim the gospel of the Son of God aloud, for thy voice shall be as the voice of a trumpet, and thou shalt be enabled eventually to roar like a lion from the forest, proclaiming and announcing the mighty work of God about to be poured out upon the children of men; ..."

"And thou shalt have power before the Lord to control the elements, that they shall not have power to injure thee, nor to injure the Temple in which thou presidest, ..."

Angels shall be at thy command, if it is necessary; and the powers of the heavens shall be exerted in thy behalf, for the Lord, thy God, has raised thee up for a great and a mighty purpose and thou shalt become the father of a mighty people; and thou shalt be blessed with a posterity that shall be great and powerful upon the earth, and the Holy Priesthood of God shall rest down upon them throughout all their generations upon the earth."

"... and thou shalt behold the Lord when He shall come to this Temple ..."

"... and thou wast ordained unto this office and calling in the spirit world, and it shall be carried out in thee in thy days upon the earth; and no hand lifted against thee shall prosper."
Reading these two blessings moved me, and it takes a lot to spiritually move me these days. I'd be surprised if the boldness of language and specificity of promises contained in these two blessings were common within today's church. Enough fortunes generally have not come to pass (for example, Marriner was promised in his first blessing, in 1865, that he would be living upon the earth at the time of the Second Coming) that I imagine today's patriarchs are rightfully more general in their proclamations.

That being said, the prophetic elements of today's blessings, even if watered down, would have to be considered remarkable. That LDS youth continue to seek out patriarchs in order to be guided by these "life roadmaps" bears testimony that patriarchal blessings are powerful personal documents. And that I, as an adult, continue to be occasionally moved by my own - and now my ancestor's - patriarchal blessing(s), shows the value to be found in them as well.

So, pick an ancestor and request their blessing. I think you'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Had a Good Cry Lately?

by MAB (bio)

Crying Men by David Prior

I cry about once every four years. I guess if I kept a journal like a good Mormon I would be able to recount these important events with better accuracy. Off the top of my head, here are the events that made me cry in the past twenty years:

  • A passage in a book about viruses (My wife loves to tease me about this even though it happened before we were married. The passage was about the size of viruses compared to super clusters. I was overcome with a sense of scale, my insignificance in the universe and the complexity of life.)
  • My first child's birth
  • My grandmother's funeral
  • My aunt's funeral
  • And most recently, a movie (juicy details below)

The subject of crying has been on my mind recently because I had a good solid sob about one month ago and I just came across an interesting experiment that is documented in the great video below.

But first, here's my cry story. I was on a work-related, twelve-hour, night-time flight from Amsterdam to Hong Kong. Anxious for the work ahead, I couldn't sleep so I decided to watch an in-flight movie. The first movie that peaked my interest was Moonrise Kingdom. I watched the movie, and it was great, but no, Moonrise Kingdom was not the movie that made me cry.

Not feeling completely exhausted yet, I looked for another movie and this time found Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The movie didn't just make me cry, I was practically sobbing. I think the guy next to me, as well as his daughter, got a little worried and uncomfortable. I blame it on the movie's plot and subject of course, but also on the fact that I was tired and leaving my family for two weeks. I think the plot was that much more difficult for me because it featured 9-11 extensively and I've been outside the U.S. for over a year. So, on top of missing my family, I felt homesick and disloyal to my compatriots.

Taking things a bit lighter, here's a movie about four guys who compete to cry. It has a surprise ending. Then don't forget to answer my questions at the bottom of the post.

The Crying Competition (part 1) from Brent Hoff on Vimeo.

I fessed up to my recent sob ... what caused yours? Men, do you think (as implied in the movie above) that we are vastly inferior to women in our ability to connect to our sensitive side?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guest Post: Dear Natasha Helfer Parker

Name Withheld is a prolific contributor of sad, embarrassing, and painful articles to other sources like STD Digest, Modern Train Aficionado, and Ensign. He also reports on Middle Eastern drone attacks under the name “sources who could not be identified because of the sensitivity of information,” and he has written thousands of lousy poems and given hundreds of so-so paintings to museums under the names “Anonymous” and “Anonymous Donor.” As this story would hurt his wife deeply, he chooses to remain anonymous.

Dear Natasha Helfer Parker,

Thank you for your contributions at Patheos. I teach Institute, and I came across your article on masturbation as I was preparing for a class discussion about sexuality. I found your article thoughtful and interesting. I would, however, like to respectfully disagree with some of your points, hopefully in a way that might inspire some dialogue. You have tremendous expertise and experience, so I value how you might respond to what I have to say.

a detail of Lust (1557) by Peter Bruegel the Elders
Like most boys, I encountered masturbation as a teenager. These first experiences were electrifying and shameful. Now that I have two sons, I hope that their experiences are not shameful. In fact, I'm still struggling with how to help them contextualize that experience. For me, part of the problem was that around that same time I also had my first encounter with pornography. The best description of this encounter is actually David Sedaris’ description of his first experience with crystal methamphetamine: "The moment I took my first burning snootful, I understood that this was the drug for me." (12 Moments in the Life of the Artist) Pornography had an immediate and powerful impact on me. Not long after discovering masturbation, I learned how pornography could heighten that experience.

I fall into what I believe is a pretty common pattern. I struggled off and on with masturbation and pornography before serving a mission, during which time I had no struggle. Soon after returning home, the struggle resumed. After getting married, this was not initially a problem. Asymmetrical sexual desire created a situation where my old struggle became my current struggle. In about 1998, I discovered pornography on the Internet, and, of course, this has been a much more difficult struggle ever since. I have worked with every single bishop I have had since that time, trying to overcome the struggle.

In 2010, I tried very hard to separate pornography from masturbation. I hoped to conceptualize masturbation as a physical, sexual expression that could be healthy if it were disconnected from pornography. In spite of tremendous efforts to compartmentalize each one, this did not work. In late 2010, a Bishop’s inspired blessing instructed me to seek knowledge. That seemed like strange counsel, because I had read a number of books and I am usually one to solve a problem with a book. What I did encounter was the Cyber Secrets conference at Brigham Young University.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mormon World Records 3

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Paul Skousen might not be the best known of the Skousens, but he did pen The Skousen Book of Mormon World Records. This is my tribute series to his good work. Previous Mormon World Records here.

Q: Who has/had the lowest social security number in the church?
A: The lowest social security number in the church was 000-000-0001. It was reissued to Randy Jenkins of the Glendale, Arizona, Sixth Ward, in 1976. The number had previously been used, of course. However, Brother Jenkins just had to have that number! With a lot of tenacity and determination, he climbed over the federal bureaucracy and, with the help of his Arizona congressmen and senators, sparked the passage of a bill authorizing the reissue of the first 10 social security numbers. Congress agreed to reissue the numbers in 1976 "in the spirit of the Bicentennial celebration." However, after a few years of having to prove the number was a real one, Jenkins became fed up with the problems of being "number one" and applied for a regular number. Every time he wrote his number down, computers or people would reject it saying the number was a phony. Even at BYU, he was constantly taking letters and forms back and forth between professors when the BYU computerized class scheduling system wouldn't accept his SSN as proper student identification.

Q: What city has the most people hooked on candy bars?
A: Salt Lake City was the candy bar and marshmallow consumption capital of the nation in 1985. On a per-capita basis, Salt Lakers swallowed more candy bars than anyone else in the United States, prompting the editorial cartoonist for the Deseret News, Calvin Grondahl, to comment, "We don't spend a lot on light beer, so we go heavy on the chocolate. That's the way it is with people, you crack down on one vice and they go to something else!"

Q: Who owned the largest chicken in the church?
A: Former church historian and long-time chicken farmer Leonard Arrington and his wife, Harriet, were the proud owners of the largest chicken in the church in 1987. Okay, so this wasn't a live chicken, but where else do we put a 6-foot tall chicken who looks like it won't take no for an answer? This plastic-and-fiberglass bird showed up on the Arrington's front porch on Christmas Eve, 1987. Stepson Rick Sorenson had the bird flown in overnight as a Christmas present. When the bird was discovered out front on Christmas morning, Brother Arrington said, "We laughed and laughed for two hours straight."

Q: Who has been the oldest living man and woman in the church?
A: In October 1983, Encarnacion Banares Rampas of Cuzco, Peru, became the oldest woman in the church when she was baptized at the age of 118. She told the missionaries during her first visit to a church meeting, "I just like the feeling there." In 1980, Nicholas Santucho of Canada de Gomez, Argentina, became the oldest man in the church when he was baptized at the age of 116. His wife was baptized a week later at the age of 86. They had 17 children. "There is no secret to long life," Santucho said. "I have lived because God has wished it so."

Pie Personality Test

by Casey Peterson (bio)

With Halloween safely in the rear view mirror, the next holiday is my very favorite. The simple focus is on gratitude, spending time with family, and of course food. Nothing is more telltale about a person than their taste in pie. A few years ago I read a pie personality test, and was intrigued. Through the years I have built my own. I hope you find it as useful as I have in using the powerful lens of pie selection to perceive personality type.

You Are Apple Pie
You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional.
You prefer things the way you've always known them.
You'll admit that you're old fashioned, and you don't see anything wrong with that.
Your tastes and preferences are classic. And classic never goes out of style.
Those who like you crave security.
People can rely on you to be true to yourself - and true to them.
You're loyal, trustworthy, and comfortable in your own skin.
And because of these qualities, you've definitely earned a lot of respect.

You Are Pumpkin Pie
You're the perfect combo of uniqueness and quality.
You're able to relate to many types of people with many different tastes. But you're by no means generic or
   ordinary. In fact, you're one of the most original people around.
Those who like you are looking for something (or someone) special.
You tend to confuse people when they first meet you. But you're not as complicated as you seem.
Even though you have a lot of spice and flavor to you, you're never overpowering.
You are a calm and comforting force in people's lives.

You Are Cream Pie
You're the perfect combo of simplicity and divinity.
You are a secret hedonist. No one knows how indulgent you can be.
You don't indulge often, but when you do, you go for the best.
You have expensive taste - even if you aren't rich.
Those who like you live for understated pleasures.
You're not flashy or trendy, but you have a depth that most people lack.
Interacting with you makes most people feel incredibly satisfied.
You are gentle, super sweet, and in harmony with those around you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mormon Doppelgängers 12: Special Mitt Romney Edition

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.

Welcome to a special edition of Mormon Doppelgängers featuring a slew of Mitt Romney look-alikes. If you are still undecided on who to vote for, this may help you make up your mind (though I'm not sure in which direction). Some I thought of myself and others I found on the net. (More after the break.)

Mitt and Nephi looking disapprovingly. They even kind of act the same.

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