Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Teachings of Jesus Christ: An Interview with Mark Anthony Barrionuevo



by Seattle Jon (bio)

In this post I interview Mark Anthony Barrionuevo, author of the recently published two-volume anthology of Christ's teachings titled The Teachings of Jesus Christ.

What is The Teachings of Jesus Christ?

I think of it as Mormon Doctrine meets Jesus for Dummies. I’m not trying to be irreverent but I believe the alphabetical and doctrinal order of Bruce R. McConkie’s seminal take on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ beliefs, as well as the simplified format and user-friendly presentation of the [Blank] for Dummies series, is an appropriate synopsis of The Teachings of Jesus Christ.

In a nutshell, The Teachings of Jesus Christ considers every single doctrine, principle, truth, verity, idea, topic, etc. that Jesus Christ spoke while in the flesh among the children of men or taught through His actions. For me, these are encompassed in the Gospels in the New Testament of The Holy Bible—Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, and Saint John—and in 3 Nephi of The Book of Mormon.

Why did you write The Teachings of Jesus Christ?

This project began because of an experience attending church. I brought my biological father to worship services with me one Sunday and after the meetings were done I asked him what he thought. His answer surprised me. My father said that the church we had just attended claims to be the Church of Jesus Christ but that he did not hear any of the teachers and preachers speak about Christ.

My visceral thought was that he was wrong. Hadn't he listened to the sermons? Hadn’t he paid attention to the topics of the talks? And then I thought again. The topics of temple work, God’s plan for His children, and priesthood authority were all discussed that Sunday and to me each subject is inextricably centered on Jesus Christ: temple work is performed in the House of the Lord Jesus Christ and is possible because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice; God’s plan of salvation is possible because Jesus Christ performed the atonement; and priesthood authority is the authority for man to act in God’s name on the earth, which is the same authority that Christ possesses and acted under while he performed His labors among men. But, to my father who did not have a background in the LDS-perspective on these spiritual matters, Christ, or at least the explicit name of "Jesus Christ," was absent.

So, in answer to your question, I wrote The Teachings of Jesus Christ so that any preacher or speaker who speaks about Christian or spiritual matters can begin with the source and branch off from Him. In that way, our implicit reverence and reliance on Jesus Christ will be explicit and "His light may shine."

How did you start this project?

So, as this conversation and experience with my biological father percolated in my mind, one day while I was observing students do their classwork for a few hours (yawn) I decided to be productive. How could I be productive? Starting with St. Matthew Chapter 1, verse 1 of The Holy Bible and moving methodically from there, I wrote down what topics each verse spoken by Christ or about Christ's actions contained. Some days I was able to complete a block of verses. Some days I would spend an entire hour on one verse, notating and analyzing the multitude of significance and meaning in the words of the Savior.

I have to add that it was a very daunting and extremely humbling, but extremely invigorating, task to analyze the numerous layers of meaning located in one sentence of the Redeemer’s teachings. As the greatest teacher who ever lived, even as the Word in flesh, you can't imagine the complexity and perfection infused in one seemingly passing comment to a lawyer or to an adulteress. Yet no sentence is a throw away; no word is wasted. There's meaningful yet underlying context. There's eternal significance. There's temporal solace. There's piercing condemnation. There's unadulterated love in every syllable. Maybe that is one reason Jesus Christ is called the Master: He is the Master of language and of teaching the eternal verities of God.

How long did it take you to complete it?

I started in March 1997 and it was finally published in February 2012. The process wasn't continuous. I had lots of false starts and switchbacks.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Post: Discussing Race With An Investigator



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).

Ryan Gotchy Mullen always uses three names in print, but only one aloud. He is a husband, father of three, engineering grad student and avid reader of the Book of Mormon. His hair has been both black and white in the past, but is now rapidly turning gray.


Race is always a tricky subject for me when talking about the Church. How can I simultaneously explain that my church had erroneous views and prejudiced racial policies while affirming the Church's divine origin? As a modern Mormon man I am comfortable with this dichotomy, but I'm not great at explaining it. However, a friend of mine is taking the discussions and in reading the Book of Mormon, he stumbled upon the Lamanite cursing. In his own words:
I wanted to be honest in that I had a hard time reading 2 Nephi 5. It started with the chapter description. Then again in v. 21, where it seems to claim when the Lamanites were "white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome," but then because of their unbelief, God marked them and "cause[ed] a skin of blackness to come upon them." I read this as saying something about both black and white skin. The way it praises white skin is bizarre, and blackness is seen as some kind of punishment. As I read this, I read that the Nephites continued to have white "delightsome" skin and that the Lamanites where marked---by God---with black skin. So, good guys are white; bad guys are black.
He goes on to stress that he has never witnessed racism from modern Mormons, however he's aware of Mormons' rocky racial history and sees in this passage strong evidence for the idea that Joseph Smith was influenced by his culture in writing the Book of Mormon. Here's my response:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Little Clouds



by Scott Heffernan (bio)

PBS Digital Studios has just released their second video from their remixed icons series. You probably saw the first video, Mister Rogers: Garden of Your Mind (shown after the jump). To create these wonderful videos, PBS teamed up with Symphony of Science musician John D. Boswell. This newest one features Bob Ross, creator and host of The Joy of Painting. Watch and enjoy.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

MMM Sermons: "Come to Zion"



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 or watch the sermon here.

I remember reading in Matthew 24:36 a statement by the Savior regarding His Second Coming: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Thus, whenever I see signs by groups who proclaim to know the exact date and/or time when Jesus will return, I know that such a claim is contradictory to Christ's teachings in the New Testament.

So, when I heard Elder D. Todd Christofferson's October 2008 sermon during General Conference, his talk resonated with my personal feelings about the Coming of Christ and Zion. Zion is a necessary precursor to the Second Advent of the Savior. But attempting to give God a deadline as to when these things should transpire is like herding cats: an exercise in futility.

Here are his thoughts on the subject:
Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, "the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." (Moses 7:18). If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard. It will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us.

We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen ...

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object." (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 186). In our families and in our stakes and districts, let us seek to build up Zion through unity, godliness, and charity, preparing for that great day when Zion, the New Jerusalem, will arise.
Zion will not come, nor will Christ come again, unless we become one in mind and one in heart, i.e. Zion.

What suggestions do you have for helping to foster Zion in your home, your ward, your stake, and/or your community?

Words To Live By 1: Why Everything Counts



by Seattle Jon (bio)

Words to Live By is a new MMM series featuring short selections by eminent men and women from the mid-twentieth century. Originally published in This Week magazine, the selections represent a mosaic of what people were thinking and feeling in challenging times.

Why Everything Counts
by Samuel Goldwyn (famous Hollywood producer)

"You always meet people a second time." - Unknown

Those words were told to me when I was quite young, and whether I have fully succeeded or not, I have at least always tried to act accordingly. I know of no better advice to pass on - especially to young people.

The first impressions you make are usually the most important. What you say - what you do - how you act - the first time you meet someone, will largely determine your reception the next time. Even though it may be years later, people will usually remember whether you were courteous or rude, decent or smart-alecky, honest or dishonest, and the general impression you made.

Be yourself with everyone you meet - but be your best self, for you can be sure that before you have lived out your life, you are going to meet again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Post: On Early Retirement



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).

Reed Soper was born and raised in southern California. He considered attending the Lord's University but opted for BYU instead where he met Kathryn Lynard doing his home teaching. They married in 1992 and have seven children. Friends and loved ones often describe Reed as "difficult" or "a slow learner." In his spare time, he likes (virgin) pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. Check out Reed's first guest post or his more recent post on becoming sterile, which won our Post of the Year in 2011.


Recently I got some sad news: the check-out lady at the grocery store where we shop told me that Eric, a bag-boy at the store, was retiring.

I imagine that not many people "retire" from bag boy, but Eric is not like many people. Eric is in his mid-30's and has Down syndrome. When we first moved to the area and began grocery shopping at this store, I avoided the registers where Eric was bagging. I am not proud of this; in fact, I am quite embarrassed by it. I had my superficial reasons for avoiding his bagging, like concern about squished bread and broken eggs or other mishandled or damaged groceries, but the real reason why I avoided those lines was because of Eric’s different-ness -- something I was uncomfortable with. Beyond the typical visual cues, Eric's speech was often difficult to understand. On several occasions he would speak to me and I’d have a hard time understanding him, or worry that if I did respond, he might hold me captive for a lengthy conversation. These interactions reminded me that I have always been uncomfortable being around people with disabilities. And being around Eric reminded me of my significant character flaw.

I remained this way for some time until my son, Thomas, was born. Thomas, like Eric, has Down syndrome. Thomas' extra chromosome was a big surprise for us -- we found out shortly after his birth. It has taken me substantial time and effort for me to be comfortable with the differences and limitations that tiny extra chromosome brings to Thomas and our family. One of the more difficult things for me is seeing the limitations and separations the world places (and I placed) on those who are different, like Thomas or Eric. I was at once feeling protective of my child and also realized that I was one of the people he needed protection from. As his father, I knew I needed to make some major adjustments in how I viewed Thomas and others with special needs. I also knew that no matter how much I was able discard my biases, others would continue with whatever biases they have held onto.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Golden Nickel: How to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want



by Dustin (bio)

There's this quote in leadership literature that says that the essence of leadership is getting others to do what you want because they want to. Now this sounds awfully manipulative but when you apply it to parenting it's just downright genius. Three weeks ago my wife and I stumbled on a little parenting "pot of gold" that has influenced our kids to do what we ask them to because they want to. I'm sharing it with MMM readers and ONLY MMM readers as a benefit to you for your faithfulness in following the blog and occasionally commenting. I'm even throwing a bone to those who like to blast various posts with weird and often overly critical commentary. You're welcome.

But first, imagine this: You roll over at 6:30 a.m. and throw a crusty-eyed glance out into the living room. From your vantage point in bed you can see the last few stairs of the stairwell and, to your surprise, you see your six year-old and four year-old -- fully dressed in their clothes for the day -- tip-toeing down the stairs with their laundry baskets and having already made their beds. At first you think you've gone insane. Then you go through major holidays in your mind. Father's Day? Nope. Mother's Day? Nope. What could have possibly convinced your otherwise individualistic and disobedient children to manage themselves in a mature, almost adult-like way? And then you remember ... the nickels.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Using The Church History Library and Catalog



by Bradly Baird (bio)


Chronicling the Kingdom In March of this year, I started developing a manuscript that describes the spiritual opportunities available to full-time missionaries in the Missionary Training Center. To provide inspiration for the writing process, I decided to explore the MTC's history and also to find and read the dedicatory prayers offered by various General Authorities as a new phase of the MTC complex was completed. I did not know where exactly I might find these materials, but hoped that the Church History Library and the Church History Catalog might provide the answers.

I visited the Library for the first time on a cold March day and - accessing the Church History Catalog at a research station in the main reading room - found source materials on every conceivable gospel and church-related topic. Most of these materials are available for use by the public - as long as you register with the Library - and include journals, publications, minutes of meetings, photographs, plans, and architectural drawings. I even found a large quantity of photographs and written material related to my full-time mission in Finland, authored by fellow missionaries and former mission presidents.

Friday, July 20, 2012

MMM Movies: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close



by Saint Mark (bio)

Having read and listened to the news about last night's brutal maiming and murder of audience members at The Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado, I wonder what devastating and profound effect it will have on the relatives of the traumatized? What about the individual and collective memories that will ripple out until understanding and forgiveness are achieved?

On this same premise is the film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (trailer), except the story isn’t a horrific shooting at the local movie theater, but 9-11. The quasi-Asperger's Syndrome suffering son of a victim of the destruction of the World Trade Towers has enough anxiety without the horror of 9-11 to make him phobic of people and outside places, but 9-11 pushes him over the edge. He fears, for example, "things that fly, things that go fast, people eating meat, subways, elevators, bridges" and the list goes on and on. Having seen the movie just last week, I cannot keep myself from juxtaposing those surviving the victims of the Century 16 shooting and this little boy in Extremely Loud. What anxieties, neuroses and phobias will percolate to the top of their psyche?

Yet, why I recommend this movie is not for the obstacles but for the overcoming of those obstacles. As this child of 9-11 shows, living with fear is not living at all. Watching him slowly but deliberately tackle his fears, I realized that faith was the motivating power. Faith in God (for me), faith in people (that they wouldn't attack him or treat him brutally), faith in buildings (that they wouldn't fall down on him), faith in the everyday experience of living and going about while trying to achieve one's goals. Faith is foundational in believing that when one walks through their door to the outside world, they shall return home with all being well - even if the "home" they believe they are returning to is heaven.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was a dramatic, tearful, heart-wrenching yet beautiful and redemptive movie experience. This film is not to be watched with the faint of heart nor the young. As we see from the Aurora shooting and from 9-11, the times we live in can be full of terror but it is when we are full of faith that we can overcome fear and not only survive but live.

Linger Longer 11




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 entries.

Bloggernacle (religious)
Oh, Girls Camp (Segullah)
Sameness Chokes Oneness (By Common Consent)
Mormons in Soccer (Times and Seasons)
Exponent Retreat 2012 (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Emma and Eliza (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Do We Need New Mormon Literary Theory? (The Low-Tech World)
2012 Salt Lake City Conference (Open Stories Foundation)
Richard Dutcher: Episode 49 (The Cultural Hall Podcast)
On Divorce/What is Marriage For? (The Exponent)
Bushman on Sunstone/Dialogue (Wheat & Tares)
Youth Media – Pure and Simple Faith (Beginnings New)
Funny Bones, 1931 (Keepapitchinin)
A RM’s Letter to the Single Women of the Church (The RMTC)
What Mormon Books to Read This Summer? (A Motley Vision)
Our Favorite Mormons: A Hidden Jewel (Doves and Serpents)
Introducing: Dictionary of Mormon Biography (The Juvenile Instructor)
The Gender of "Church" in the BofM (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
What’s Wrong with the Controversial Businessweek “Mormon Money” Cover? (Religion Dispatches)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious)
Confessions of An Ex-Mormon (The New Republic)
The Measured Man (The Atlantic)
The Mormon Lens on American History (The New York Times)
You're Addicted to What? (The Humanist) *sexual content*
Amber Waves of Green (GQ)
How the Mormons Make Money (BusinessWeek)
Relativistic Baseball (What If?)
Consciousness: How Do You Study What You Can't Define? (Big Think)
Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice (Infographic) (Frugal Dad)
The 11 Ways That Consumers Are Hopeless at Math (The Atlantic)
Baseball’s First All-Star Game, a Gimmick That Endured (Bloomberg)
The Dream Will Never Die: An Oral History of the 1992 Dream Team (GQ)
A Perfect and Beautiful Machine (The Atlantic)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Book's Life: A Review of Paul C. Gutjahr's "The Book of Mormon: A Biography"



by Scott Hales (bio)

If this book review were a sacrament meeting talk, I would start by saying that Webster defines “biography” as "a usually written history of a person's life." Pulpit deconstructionist that I am, though, I would then challenge that definition with another—likewise provided by Webster—and suggest that a biography can also be "an account of the life of something (as an animal, a coin, or a building)," which would segue nicely into my assigned topic, Paul C. Gutjahr's fascinating new book The "Book of Mormon": A Biography, which is—and here's the connection—a biography of a book.

The rest of the review would be smooth sailing. I'd borrow freely from the latest conference talk about the book, solicit polite laughter by recycling that joke about Nephi's horse,1 and end with a semi-related mission story about the time my companion wouldn't let me use his Book of Mormon during a street contact.

Sadly, though, this review is not a sacrament meeting talk. Both of Webster's definitions still stand, of course, but no conference talk has yet been given about Gutjahr's book,2 so I've got nothing to plagiarize except, perhaps, another review.3 And let's face it: that joke about Nephi's horse is ready for the glue factory.4

Published recently by Princeton University Press, The Book of Mormon: A Biography is exactly what its title suggests: the story5 of the 181 years between the Book of Mormon's first printing in 1830 to the debut of the hit Broadway musical that bears its name, but not its plot. At 255 pages (55 of which are notes, bibliography, and index), the book is like a good home teacher. Smart, insightful, and concise, it offers a new perspective on an old topic without overstaying its welcome. It may not be able to fix your sink or change your oil, but it gets you thinking differently about the Book of Mormon and its place in American history and culture.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Film Alphabet Posters



by Scott Heffernan (bio)

I love these Film Alphabet Posters created by British designer Stephen Wildish. Five bucks to the first person who wants to take the time to name all the movies shown on one of the posters without cheating. (If you cheat, you'll still get the five bucks because I won't know. But God will know, and eventually you'll probably feel guilty and want to repent. Part of the repentance process is restitution, and that will be pretty awkward when you have to send my five bucks back to me.) You can buy his prints here.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Post: Four Centuries of Modern Mormon Men



James Goldberg holds an MFA in Creative Writing from BYU and is the editor-in-chief of Everyday Mormon Writer. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Shofar, Drash, Sunstone, Dialogue, and Prick of the Spindle. He also blogs about religion at Mormon Midrashim.


From now until September 17th, Everyday Mormon Writer is accepting fiction and art submissions for its "Four Centuries of Mormon Stories" contest, open to short stories (preferably of 1,000 words or fewer) about Mormon life in the 19th, 20th, 21st, or 22nd century. Individual authors are allowed up to three submissions per century.

As a reader of this blog, you've probably thought about what it means to be a Modern Mormon Man now and probably have a few story ideas for early 21st century LDS experience. You may also have an interest in Church history or in speculating about the Church's future, which puts you ahead of the curve in being able to write a story from the 19th, 20th, or 22nd century.

I hope you'll try, because being a self-aware Modern Mormon Man puts you right next to the secret of great historical or speculative fiction, which is that everyone feels very modern in their moment. It may be tempting to cast 19th century Salt Lake as a simple pioneer diorama, but to the people who lived there it likely felt high tech (telegraphs! railroads! odometers!), innovative (my great-great grandmother wrote about the excitement over learning Spanish at a time when most educational institutions in the U.S. focused on Latin and Greek), and ambitious (not only were Latter-day Saints developing an alternative culture, they were spreading it through a vast Rocky Mountain corridor). Many historical fiction or futuristic stories invent a main character with totally modern sensibilities and drop them into a stereotyped past or stock future. Can you sketch a character who really belongs to his/her time and help us see them solve a problem or confront a meaningful choice in that moment?

For purposes of the contest, we're interested in stories that focus on women's experience, men's experience, and experiences where gender doesn't figure prominently. But thanks in part to the efforts of great publications like Segullah and in part to cultural expectations that make it easier for Mormon women than men to focus on creative writing, there's currently a lot more thoughtful fiction about LDS women's experience than about LDS men's experience. So if you are interested specifically in what it might mean to be a Modern Mormon Man in the 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd century, make the time to put together a contest entry. We need your voice.

For further information, see the EMW contest page, the By Common Consent interview about the contest, and the Association for Mormon Letters blog post about the contest.

Monday, July 16, 2012

R.I.P. Stephen Covey



by Seattle Jon (bio)

I was saddened today to read that Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, died at 79 due to complications from a bicycle accident in April. I hadn’t heard of Stephen Covey before my mission, but The Seven Habits was a book of scripture in the Japan Fukuoka Mission during the mid-90’s thanks to the Ammon Project (maybe Saint Mark and I will do a joint post on the AP someday). I internalized the habits to such an extent that I sought out and won an internship at Franklin Covey after I got home. I even dated his niece for awhile (I didn’t stalk seek her out, too, it happened naturally) and spent some time in his home. I clearly remember his living room wall – it was very tall and wide – covered floor to ceiling with hundreds of framed pictures, most of them filled with family and friends. I remember being overwhelmed by the memories contained on that wall and hoping that someday I would also have so many people to love and be loved by. I’m sure this is a sad day for the people in those photos, but the memories … those will never go away even if he has.

Guest Post: New Rings



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).

Steven is an average guy trying to make sense of himself, his above-average wife and children. He enjoys all things out-of-doors so he can legitimately claim he's trying to think "out of the box." Check out Steven's first short story, Negotiated Love.

Grace stared at the untanned circle on her ring finger a few moments. She had worn her gold band with the third carrot diamond for 35 years when her husband Paul died suddenly. She continued wearing it afterward, even after she met Charlie, even after they had dated and discussed marriage. Charlie wore his, too. Sometimes, when they went through the temple, strangers would assume they were married to one another. And now, sitting in the temple in the bride's waiting room, she had a phantom feeling where the ring used to sit. What do couples do with wedding rings from first marriages? Do they keep them? Do they put them away, give them to children or grandchildren? Where do you store 35 years worth of intimate memories with another person? Rings on hands that had held babies, dug gardens, sliced onions, given blessings. Hands that had explored every inch of skin we call a temple. Both Grace and Charlie felt awkward about using their old wedding rings for a new marriage. Finally, they had settled on an idea. A new marriage would mean a fresh start, but they both felt they brought along memories of their past marriages. So, they decided to turn something old into something new. They agreed to go to a jeweler, and using the original rings, come up with new rings. The gold would be melted, the diamond reset. The day before they met with the jeweler, Grace cried. And cried. And cried. Charlie did, too. He had been married about 37 years when his wife died. He had rarely been without his ring, wearing it always as a token of his love and commitment. When they went to the jeweler, they both felt true excitement at the designs and ideas offered by the jeweler. By the end of the meeting, both enthusiastically took off their rings and handed them over. Then, after an early dinner, Charlie dropped Grace off at her house. And both went home and cried and cried and cried.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Family Fan



by Saint Mark (bio)


I just found one of the coolest websites around! If you are into your heritage, ancestry, genealogy, family history or just like knowing who you came from, check out www.createfan.com. This website helps you to create a nine generation "fan" of your ancestors. From Mama Lola to Joseph Smith's grandma, you can see everyone on one page in one swoop. You need to create a Family Search account in order to create your fan, but anyone can do that, whether you are LDS or not. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saintspeak 10: The Letter H



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.

Happy Valley Utah Valley. Protected from the world by a ring of mountains, blessed with fertile soil, with well over 90 percent of the population Mormon and Brigham Young University the valley's largest business by far, the place is indistinguishable from the city of Enoch. If it weren't for a few humanists, cynics, and Democrats, it would have been translated years ago.

Harmony What Latter-day Saints used to believe they ought to be in with their leaders, their families, and their fellow Saints. In recent years, enlightened Saints have come to reject the idea of harmony, in which many different melodies work together to create music, and instead understand that the Lord prefers plainsong, in which all the voices endlessly sing in unison.

History A collection of faith-promoting stories about dead people, whether the events actually happened or not.

Homemaking The art of removing all evidence that anyone lives in your house.

Hope A level of certainty that is stronger than suspicion and weaker than belief. It means you are in doubt but you want it to be true.

Hot drinks To normal Latter-day Saints, tea and coffee; to fervent believers, everything containing caffeine, including ice-cold colas; to fanatics, everything that contains caffeine and every drink that is served hot.

Humility A precious liquid that many Mormons carry with them; strangely, no matter what container it is in, it is always deep, never shallow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Icarus/Ferdinand Paradox



by Casey Peterson (bio)

Image via *F~.

Icarus or Ferdinand?

Icarus was a figure in Greek mythology. Together with his father, Daedalus, he was held in prison. Then, Daedalus had a bright idea. He started collecting feathers that had dropped from the sky and glued them onto some twigs using beeswax. He made two pairs of wings.

Daedalus told his son, "Icarus, let’s fly out of here!" Initially, Icarus thought, "Yeah old guy, like that's going to work; a pair of wings!" But Daedalus said, "Believe me son, they will work, just try them." And so Icarus did so. He put on the wings and, cautiously, started flapping his arms. And, much to his surprise, he took off!

Icarus was flying, initially quite cautiously but gradually he grew more confident and started enjoying his flight. He started flying higher and higher. Eventually Icarus got so high that he started flying too close to the sun. The beeswax melted, the feathers popped out, and Icarus fell back down to earth.

This is what we call the Icarus Paradox. The same thing that had made Icarus successful, escape the prison and fly, is what led to his downfall. In his overconfidence, Icarus had become blinded to the dangers of flying too close to the sun.

Ferdinand was a young bull, larger in stature and more powerful than all the other young bulls. Yet while the others would run and knock heads, Ferdinand would sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers. Despite his physical gifts, Ferdinand’s interests and passions did not lie in physical competitiveness and ambition to be selected for the bull fights. Ferdinand’s mother recognized the kind heart and gentle desires within her large son, and understood and protected him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post: An Opportunity For Honesty: Unconditional Love



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

Ben Prime is a BYU graduate in Audiology and Speech-language Pathology from 2009. He is also a Graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders (Speech-language Pathology for those not up on their terms). He is single, modern, Mormon and incidentally, male. Read Ben's first guest post here as well as his first "An Opportunity for Honesty" post.

The One Who Does Not Judge Has Two Friends by h.koppdelaney.

I’ve gone through about a million versions of this follow-up post to "An Opportunity for Honesty." When I wrote the post I was feeling inspired and really, really good. I think those feelings came through in that short piece.

The problem is a follow-up piece I wrote was honest, but not positive. I've struggled to find a topic on which I can be as honest as that last piece while still being positive. Not that I'm afraid of my own negativity, it's just that it doesn't read as well. I decided I have to find a way to harness my passion without letting my frustration come through.

So I'm going to make the subject myself, something I've hesitated to do because I do use a thin pseudonym on this website and have tried to not give my identity away too much, although many people who know me would see right through it anyway.

I'm kind of less active. I'm not as less active as I was two months ago, but I don't go to church every week, and when I do go, it's often not to my assigned ward. Those that know me personally would be tempted to blame this on a recent ward boundary shift. I don't really care for my new ward, but that isn't why I became less active. I've been struggling for years, I just got really good at hiding it.

While I still agree with what I said in my first guest post, about being happy and single, I'm not going to lie and say it's easy being both at church. As a single man in his late 20's I feel like I've failed. I've failed the "mission, marriage, college, life plan." I can ignore that feeling most anywhere but church. My late 20's isn't even where my struggle started, though, it started on my mission.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Modern Mormon Motivational Posters 5



by A-Dub (bio)


"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!"
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2012 General Conference

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mormon World Records 1



by Seattle Jon (bio)

Mention the last name Skousen in front of a mormon and there's a good chance they'll know one. There is W. Cleon Skousen, prolific mormon theologian and notable anti-communist (The Naked Communist); there is Joel Skousen, "survival retreat" and "fallout shelter" design and construction expert; there is Mark Skousen, American economist, investment analyst, newsletter editor, and author of more than 25 non-fiction books; there is Royal Skousen, BYU professor of Linguistics and English and the leading expert on the textual history of the Book of Mormon; and finally, there is Paul Skousen, author of the The Skousen Book of Mormon World Records and Other Amazing Firsts, Facts, and Feats. Wait, what?!

Yes, Paul Skousen, son of W. Cleon Skousen, wrote a book of mormon records (not to be confused with the records the Book of Mormon came from. I'm not starting the rumor that Paul, not Joseph Smith, authored the Book of Mormon). Anyway, the book, published in 2004, is a treasure trove of mormon trivia. Here is the first of what I hope to be many mormon world record installations on MMM.

Q: When and where was the largest LDS toilet flush?
A: The largest LDS toilet flush (although City Creek Center probably broke the record) occurred on January 22, 1984 (a Sunday?!) in Salt Lake City. Public utility workers were struggling to repair a broken water main when suddenly a tremendous rushing noise could be heard as air was sucked into the open pipe leading into the city system. The rushing noise lasted 2-3 minutes. Workers knew the vacuum represented a very high demand for water perfectly timed with breaks people were taking during halftime television advertising of the Super Bowl. The workers estimated that some 10,000 toilets had been simultaneously flushed.

Q: Who is mormonism's, and possibly the world's, greatest linguist?
A: John Henry Jorgensen was fluent in 15 languages when the book was written (American Sign Language, Arabic, Arabic Sign Language, Eastern and Western Armenian, English, French, Georgian, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Syrian and Turkish). At the time of his graduation from BYU, he was learning an additional five languages (Japanese, Ukranian, Mongolian, Persian and Czech) and planned to learn an additional five.

Update: According to this 2005 article, John spoke 18 languages fluently, and another 10 conversationally. And guess what ... at the time the article was written he was already learning language No. 29 – “Furbish” – the official language of Hasbro’s Furby doll. It took John a month to learn Furbish, which he says wasn’t as hard as Arabic or Japanese.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Lord Cares What I Do For A Living



by Dustin (bio)

I want to dispel the myth that the Lord doesn't care what I do for a living. I've made several career changes in the spirit of finding my passion and doing it for a living. Along the way, during the dark moments of confusion and self-discovery, I have often had people around me say, "I don't think the Lord cares so much what you do for a living as long as you do it well." Something about that statement rubs me wrong and it's taken some time to figure out why.

I get it. I understand what people are saying. We aren't going to arrive at the pearly gates and have the Lord shaking his head with disappointment that we were a lawyer instead of a doctor or an investment banker instead of an educator. I believe most lines of work are equal in the eyes of God. And yes, he does want us to do whatever we do with integrity. But the moment this becomes an excuse to just "eeny-meeny-miny-mo" it and pick a career, I think we are selling ourselves short. Here's my logic.

If the Lord wants me to be happy, and "men are that they might have joy," then surely He didn't intend for that to only occur before work or after hours. Certainly he wants me to find joy in my day-to-day labors ... in the activity where I spend the most time each day. In addition, I can surely find some joy in any job, but that isn't the same as "loving what you do." For that love to occur, I would argue that I need to be enjoying more than 75% of my daily labors. I need to be utilizing my strengths the majority of the time and experience the rush of energy that comes with doing so. And, if the Lord will help me find my keys when they are lost then why wouldn't he help me find the best job that most aligns with the God-given abilities and talents I've been given from Him!? He will and he has! I've experienced it and can say that if you care to ask He cares to answer. This is the parable of the talents. To each of his servants he gave them talents. One did nothing with his and was chastised. His talents were removed and given away to others. To the others he rewarded them for multiplying the gifts they had been given. "Well done," he said, for not hiding what you had been given and reserving it for Sundays only or off-work hours.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

MMM Readers: Q2 2012



"Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss." - Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

Here are selected book titles purchased through the blog from March through June.


Evertaster (Adam Glendon Sidwell) ... don't miss LJ's interview of the author
A Young People's History of the United States (Howard Zinn)
Freeing Your Child from Anxiety (Tamar Ellsas Chansky)
How Will You Measure Your Life? (Clayton M. Christensen)
Mormon Country (Wallace Stegner)
The Age of Miracles (Karen Thompson Walker)
The Fading Flower and Swallow the Sun (Mahonri Stewart) ... don't miss Scott Hales' interview of the author
The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail (Wallace Stegner)
The Giant Joshua (Maurine Whipple) ... mentioned in DanH's recent guest post
The Lonely Polygamist (Brady Udall) ... mentioned in DanH's recent guest post
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Robert Caro)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Illustrated Mormons



by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Modern Day Prophets: Gordon B. Hinckley, Spencer W. Kimball, David O. McKay, Thomas S. Monson.

You may recognize this style of illustration. It was developed by visual artist Julian Opie, and made famous when British band Blur asked him to design the cover of their album, Blur: The Best Of.


I'm a fan of Julian Opie's work so I thought it would be fun to render some prominent Mormon personalities in his distinct minimalist style.

Cool Mormon Women: Carol Lynn Pearson, Chieko Okazaki, Gladys Knight, Joanna Brooks.

Mormon Politicians: Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman Jr., Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch.

So far I've completed such clusters as Modern Day Prophets, Cool Mormon Women, and Mormon Politicians. I have some other batches in the works that I hope to release in the next few weeks. Here is a sneak peek.


Clustered as well as a few individual portraits available here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spotting the Yank



by Topher Clark (bio)

Cheerio from London, gents. I've been here for a month, which is why I can say things like "cheerio" and "gents." I'm here with my UVU students for a month long study abroad program; this is my seventh consecutive year doing it. So I know some London! I also spent a year living nearby when I was in graduate school, which qualifies me to discuss my topic today: how to spot an American in London.

The old adage about the noisy, ugly American is actually untrue. I don't run across that many. I look for fanny packs and ball caps and people rasping "OMG" and complaining about customer service and all the other tell-tale signs, but you just don't see these people. I've heard they exist, but I don't know where. Maybe they are all at Madame Toussauds or something? I see them in Paris. All the time. But London? Not really.

So who are the Americans I can spot? Here are five examples:

1. You are some kind of vague business guy here for a few days on business. You wear a suit. You talk on your cell phone. Considering cell coverage is expensive here, you are either billing it to your vague business back in the states or totally faking that call. You go everywhere in a taxi, because you are secretly afraid of public transport.

Linger Longer 10




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 entries.

Bloggernacle (religious)
Tunes From My Father (Segullah)
On Loving Both FARMS and the Maxwell Institute (By Common Consent)
Gendered Unity (Times and Seasons)
An Open Response Re: Modesty Lessons For Children (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
How Do We Offer Pastoral Care? (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Response to Levi Petersen's "The Backslider" (The Low-Tech World)
Scouting (The Exponent)
The Cost of Being a Mormon (Wheat & Tares)
Youth Media – Our True Identity (Beginnings New)
To You, in the Year 2000 A.D. (Keepapitchinin)
On Parables As Literature (A Motley Vision)
New Resource for LDS Families with Gay Children Links Acceptance and Health (Religion Dispatches)
The New Church History Library Catalog (The Juvenile Instructor)
Fundanibleists and Fauxpologetics (Faith-Promoting Rumor)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious)
An Idea Worth At Least 40 nanoKardashians of Your Attention (My Heart's in Accra)
The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever (D Magazine)
The Economics of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets (Forbes)
Daddy, What Were Compact Discs? (The New York Times)
Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things (NPR)
Can a Better Vibrator Inspire an Age of Great American Sex? (The Atlantic) *sexual content*
Princeton University Baccalaureate (Michael Lewis) and Class Day (Steve Carell) Graduation Remarks
Take Me Home by Ray Bradbury (The New Yorker)
The Most Radical Social Experiment in Modern History (The Atlantic)
Why Smart People Are Stupid (The New Yorker)
Cocaine Incorporated (The New York Times)
I Point To TED Talks and I Point to Kim Kardashian. That Is All. (Download the Universe)
Blade Runner: Which Predictions Have Come True? (BBC News)
The Partner: Meet Mitt Romney’s Most Trusted Adviser (The New Republic)

Other MMM Posts

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