Thursday, January 31, 2013

Can We Accurately Describe History?

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Trying to describe the past as it actually was is a real challenge. I put forward that it cannot be done. Why? Because of the limitations all of us share in approaching any past happening, limitations that no analytical skill or linguistic or statistical tool can transcend. Taken from Richard D. Poll's History and Faith: Reflections of a Mormon Historian, these six limitations are:

Perspective: Each of us looks at what is happening from a certain point of view; we cannot see it in the round. We have invented machines that do a better job of looking at a thing from all sides than we are able to do with our human perceptions.

Bias: We bring not only a point of view to every event but also prejudices. We may think our approach to books and articles is relatively neutral and dispassionate, but bias—prejudgment—concerning subject or author had something to do with our decision to read and it will certainly affect what we retain.

Memory: Each of us can remember occasions, either amusing or stressful, in which efforts to recall a relatively recent conversation generated differences about the content and even the conclusions reached. Memory affects all events.

Records: As time and distance affect our memories of an event, we confront our dependence upon documents and artifacts and the problem of the incompleteness and impermanence of all records.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who ART Thou?

by Casey Peterson (bio)

I realize that this is the season to see and review movies. I think that release times coincide with the madness of the holidays when money is madly flying from pockets and budgets are cast by the wayside. Most of us returned to workplace discussions of what movies we saw over the holidays. This year, however, entertainment and "art" were combined with the release of Les Miserables. A certain social expectation exists for everyone to take a side on if they loved or hated it. This struggle of choice has caused me deep reflection in many areas, but mostly relating to "art."

I must preface this post by saying that I loved spending time with my wife at the movie. I loved the songs, the history, and much of the message. It was a cool movie, which I wish it could have just been. But instead, in an attempt to infuse it with "art," lines were sung that could just as well have been spoken. Movements were made that didn't have to be danced. And through it all, I realized I just don't get the art part, it detracted for me instead of helping.

I love music, and appreciate it. However, music is like caramel on ice cream for me, it has a time and place as a wonderful enhancer. I can't eat a straight diet of music, it quickly will gross me out by itself, but when judiciously used, it's awesome.

Dancing, well, that's like jalapenos on ice cream, it just doesn't work for me. The strange contortions of the body which are supposedly telling me a plot, a story, or an interpretation just don't get the message across to me. They are a stark reminder of my mission time spent in South America when gastrointestinal distress was a common companion. I've witnessed most modern dance "art" moves, but in dusty streets of pueblos, and not on an illuminated stage. My poor companions in pain rushing against the cruel clock of Mother Nature in search of bathroom facilities were not a thing of beauty, refinement, or culture. Yet the same movements, when performed by dancers on a stage in light clothing, are considered "art" and culture. If the message is so important, why can't performers just say it, post it on facebook, or spell it out. Hours watching to interpret are just too much!

I love poetry, many paintings, and music of all kinds. Movements are fine, I considered Michael Jordan in the open court, or Hakeem Olajowon in the post, or Jerry Rice on a go route to be incredibly graceful and inspiring. I'm inspired by the BYU Young Ambassadors doing cultural dances, and enjoyed watching Argentines dance the tango. Yet please don't force art upon me, by singing what should be said, making my guess your story by watching you jump around, or acting who you're not while dressed in crazy costumes, all in the name of art.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Giveaway 26: Winners

According to Scott Hales, Theric Jepson's new novel Byuck should be required reading for BYU students, alumni, and basically everyone else who appreciates good fiction with a healthy dose of quirk. The book recounts the adventures of David Them and Curses Olai, two BYU roommates who defy Brigham Young's call to "get married to a good sister, fence a city lot, [...] and make a home" by writing a rock opera with an unpronounceable name.

Now, on the heels of an excellent interview with the author, Therese Doucet at Strange Violin Editions is generously giving away five copies of Byuck to the following MMM readers:

Lindsay Brimhall Wolsey (link to comment)
Christopher Bigelow (link to comment)
Saskia (link to comment)
Brouge Ramos (link to comment)
Kadusey (link to comment)

Winners, please email us your home address by Friday to claim your book. If you didn't win, buy Byuck now!

MMM Search Term Roundup 8: April & May 2012

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

When someone finds Modern Mormon Men via search engine, we get to see what they typed to get here, giving us a small glimpse into the thought processes of those who happen upon our site. I think our readers need to see these, so I'll be sharing them monthly. Some are funny, some are sad, some are disturbing. Maybe we can work together to give some context or help answer some of those curious questions. WARNING: Although some of the more explicit entries have been excluded, saucier phrases that are included have not been edited.

See all Search Term Roundups here.

mormon socks
The only socks going to the Celestial Kingdom. (But they have to be in pairs to make it to the highest level.)

mormon eccentricities
There aren't any really.

mormon making out
The best kind of making out.

young hip and mormon blogs
Two out of three ain’t bad.

when a mormon man loves a woman
This was the original title to the famous Percy Sledge song. Probably wouldn't have had quite the reach. Good move.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Talking At People

by ldsbishop (bio)

image courtesy of Mrs. ldsbishop

For the first twenty years or so of my life, I didn't much like the company of people. Crippling social anxiety during my school years, along with living in a rural part of the UK, meant I kept my circle of friends small and reassuringly familiar. Many people described me as being aloof when they tried to get to know me, but it wasn't a form of snobbery that was preventing me from engaging with them, it was just my natural shyness.

After a sequence of events too mundane and obscure to mention here, I ended up living and working in Utah, engaged to a beautiful girl and seriously investigating The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Here was I, a skinny British kid from the shire, thrust into the most alien environment I had ever been in - a rural Utah Mormon ward. I'd only ever seen people wearing bolo ties and cowboy hats in the movies before. Now here were those people in the flesh, just less stereotypically cowboyish and more stereotypically Mormon.

Being thrust into an alien Church environment somehow did more to ease my social anxiety within minutes than months of sitting with a hypnotherapist ever achieved.  My mother hired him when I was ten in a desperate attempt to trick the shyness out of me ... it failed.

Was it the comforting messages of the gospel, the firmer knowledge that I was a child of God or just that the situation was so out of character and absurd it caused a short circuit in my brain that killed the anxiety? It seemed as if the Spirit was whispering to me, "Don't worry, don't feel embarrassed or anxious. The guy that's speaking to you is wearing a bolo tie with a picture of Jesus in the middle of it. You're not the odd one here."

So, instead of quickly making excuses and finding somewhere to be quiet, I was now at least able to hold a conversation with people. Or should I say, stand there while they talked at me. My gosh, these people didn't half like to talk. Yap, yap, yap, that's all people ever did with me. In the lessons, in the hall, during sacrament meetings. Mormons love to talk. Anyone who has ever had to sit in a High Priest Group lesson would soon realise that there is very little opportunity for silence and reflection. It's talk, talk, talk all the time.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Caleb Miracle: Redux

by LJ (bio)

In late August 2012, I began what would be my first hurdle toward my own Caleb miracle and wrote about it here on MMM.

On December 13th, 2012, I dropped off my application for a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. Then I went home to eat half a tube of Toll House cookie dough.

Turns out applying for grad school is a huge boogery process, including mysterious "processing" fees, blood sacrifice and references to prove that you yourself can be connected to Kevin Bacon in six degrees or less. For someone who consistently pulled C+ grades at the BYU, this also meant two months of intensive cramming for the GRE (I still scored in the dumb-kid range in math), a personal statement and an original 23-page short story.

To top it all off, I decided to do this one month after moving 2300 miles cross-country with our extremely active toddler to settle here for my husband's new jobAnd I was like four months pregnant with our second kid.

All the circumstances melded into one perfect storm of SWEET FANCY MOSES ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR GOURD from sources both without and within. Many of my beloveds cheered me on or fielded incoherent phone calls when I was too tired and pale and weepy to edit my own work, much less melt a dang quesadilla for dinner.

MMM Sermons: Come What May, and Love It

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 this sermon here.

Just prior to his death, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught us how to laugh at life. In the October 2008 General Conference, Elder Wirthlin shared personal anecdotes of how he approached the challenges and awkward moments of life. Whether driving to the wrong state or having his daughter mistaking a husband for her date, Elder Wirthlin knew how to laugh at life where others might have cried in embarrassment or anger.

I haven't come close to laughing at all of life's trials, but when a trial comes I often think of Elder Wirthlin.

Because of the timing of this sermon, there is more weight to his words of "Come What May and Love It."

How have you learned to laugh at life and love it?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Book of Mormon Musical: A Review

by Seattle Jon (bio)

The other day a group of us (including three MMM contributors) got together to take in The Book of Mormon musical. As I posted to Instagram moments before entering Seattle's Paramount Theatre, I was "ready to be offended, humored and quite possibly inspired." In the end, I was all three. Here's my review of The Book of Mormon.

First, let me state: I think this musical is worth seeing. Yes, it might be hard for some to disregard the show's vulgarity and irreverence, but if you can, the entertainment value, lovable characters and subtle messages of faith and hope will make the effort worthwhile.

Despite the production's title, the musical has very little to do with the scriptural Book of Mormon. There are a couple of framing scenes in which we see golden plates being buried in "ancient upstate New York." We also have brief glimpses of Mormon and his son Moroni. Then the music begins, with an up-tempo, very catchy and well-choreographed number featuring ten male missionaries proclaiming, "This Book Will Change Your Life." I was hooked.

The main missionary companionship – Elder Price and Elder Cunningham – nailed the two ends of the mormon missionary spectrum. Elder Price is the type of guy who earned all the awards, was president of every youth quorum and read the book of mormon five times before his mission. Elder Cunningham is a science fiction nerd, socially inept and a pathological liar. Fireworks ensue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why I Don't Think Women Will Pray in Conference ... Yet

by Ben Johnson (bio)

When I was in college I took a course called Philosophical Issues in Feminism. Incidentally, it was the only A I received in my four years at the university. During the semester I remember thinking, "This is great and all, but how are you going to reach Sally Jo Smith in Koosharem, Utah? She's not going to care, let alone understand, why women's comportment in magazines is a big deal. Nor is she going to get her dander up over some glass ceiling when she hasn't ever set foot in an office building." My takeaway was that all of this was fine for ivory tower feminists talking to and publishing with other ivory tower feminists, but if you want to call folks to your cause you've got to sell it and sell it well.

Which brings me to All Enlisted. If their goal is to bring about change within the church I think they are going about it the wrong way. I personally think they would have had a better chance getting a woman to pray in conference if they hadn't organized "Wear pants to church day." Whether intended or not, that brought negative attention to the church. In my mind, there was no specific goal (women could already wear pants to church). It seems the sole purpose was to highlight their perceived lack of equality within Mormonism and it gave everyone an excuse to laugh and point. Right or wrong, I think All Enlisted now has a negative 'reputation'. Anything they agitate for now has a stigma attached to it, no matter how noble or right.

Which now brings me to having women pray in conference. A great idea. It is specific, no doctrine has to change to implement it, and you have President Kimball backing you up. I hate to say it, but I don't think it is going to happen because the movement is attached to All Enlisted. It's akin to having a heated discussion with someone you don't like. Even when they make a good point you don't want to yield because you just can't give them the satisfaction. Not to be too crass, but the church has a brand to protect. Do you think they want to be known as the organization that caves to every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a Facebook page and 1,200 likes?

Imagine the mayhem that would ensue if a woman offers a prayer in conference this April. The more liberal members would chest thump and crow about victory and immediately start planning their next attack. The more conservative members would get angry and perhaps even waver, questioning how leaders with a direct line to God could be swayed by a small group of people with Twitter skills.

I don't want to seem like I'm trying to dump on All Enlisted. As I said, I think having a woman pray in conference is a great idea. I look forward to the day. I just think we are farther away now than we were a week ago. Whether you agree or disagree your comments, as always, are welcome.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Considering the End of the World

by Bradly Baird (bio)

I awoke on the morning of December 21, 2012 and was somewhat disappointed to discover that the world had, in fact, not ended. I kind of hoped that the world-ending delusion purveyed by the conspiracy theorists, pop culture gossips, and doomsday believers about the Mayans and their calendar might be true; and that the time-space continuum might come to a crashing end that morning (mainly so I wouldn't have to pay my mortgage, go to work, or clean the rain gutters anymore). But, alas, no such luck. I went to work and another boring day of adulthood ensued.

As I sat at my desk that day, I thought about the different ways that creative artists, mystics, and prophets have presented the end of the world and wanted to share a couple of my favorites, plus an apocalyptic fantasy of my own.

1) From C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle:

Immediately the sky became full of shooting stars ... these were dozens, and then scores, and then hundreds, till it was like silver rain; and it went on and on. And when it had gone on for some while, there was another dark shape against the sky...It was in a different place, right overhead, up in the very roof of the sky...there were no stars there: just blackness...and then the starless patch began to grow, further and further out from the centre of the sky. And presently a quarter of the whole sky was black, and then a half...the black part of the sky was the part in which there were no stars left. All the stars were falling...and all this was under a sky that would be starless forever.

2) From Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council," the voice continued. "As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you."

"And what's happened to the Earth?"
"Ah. It's been demolished."
"Has it," said Arthur levelly.
"Yes. It just boiled away into space."

3) Apocalyptic descriptions from scripture:

"And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree." "Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Giveaway 26: Theric Jepson's Byuck

According to Scott Hales, Theric Jepson's new novel Byuck should be required reading for BYU students, alumni, and basically everyone else who appreciates good fiction with a healthy dose of quirk. The book recounts the adventures of David Them and Curses Olai, two BYU roommates who defy Brigham Young's call to "get married to a good sister, fence a city lot, [...] and make a home" by writing a rock opera with an unpronounceable name.

Now, on the heels of an excellent interview with the author, Therese Doucet at Strange Violin Editions is generously giving away five copies of Byuck to MMM readers.

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, January 25th at midnight).
• Winners announced Monday, January 28th.
• Winners must respond via email with their addresses by Wednesday, January 30th to claim their book.

"I Knew I Had a Great Book": Theric Jepson Talks About Byuck

by Scott Hales (bio)

Theric Jepson's new novel Byuck should be required reading for BYU students, alumni, and basically everyone else who appreciates good fiction with a healthy dose of quirk. It recounts the adventures of David Them and Curses Olai, two BYU roommates who defy Brigham Young's call to "get married to a good sister, fence a city lot, [...] and make a home" by writing a rock opera with an unpronounceable name.

Theric recently was kind enough to answer my questions about Byuck, his first novel. He also offers some keen observations on the value of Mormon Art and why Billy Joel makes such an excellent punchline.

Scott Hales: I think we ought to get this question out of the way first: How do you pronounce Byuck?

Theric Jepson: As for me, I rhyme it with yuck, but I don't really feel it's my job to tell people how to pronounce it. I'm the numbskull who gave my novel a ridiculous name. Now I must live with the consequences.

SH: What is the origin story of Byuck? If I understand correctly, you wrote Byuck a while ago, but shelved it after you were told that is was basically unpublishable? Is that right?

TJ: I started Byuck as a play back in 1999. I had some problems developing it and shared what I had with one of my professors at BYU, Donlu Thayer. She liked what I had fine, but gave me some stellar advice. She told me I wasn't ready to write this story yet, that I needed some distance. So I set it aside.

I picked it up again sometime after I graduated in 2002 (by which time I was also married). By 2004 I had a working rough draft which Fob(of The Fob Bible) helped me polish.

My original plan was to try and sell the book outside the Mormon ghetto, but I did have a weird history with Deseret Book, so I decided to try them first. Which is where the comedy started.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Religiosity and Attitudes About Relationships

Ryan Stevenson, an LDS grad student in the University of Utah Counseling Psychology doctoral program, is doing his Doctoral Dissertation on how religion and the church impacts our attitudes and ideas about relationships between men and women.

He is looking for participants for a survey. The only requirements are that you are 18 years of age or older and have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at some point in your life (you can be active, less-active, inactive, or a former member). The survey takes 10-15 minutes and is completely anonymous.

Please help Ryan by completing the survey here.

Still unsure? Visit the Facebook page for more info.

Tell your friends.

Friday, January 18, 2013

World's Greatest Dad

by Bishop Higgins (bio)

As I've been told so often, I'm probably one of the best dads around, and since I'm one of the best, that means I'm a way better dad than you. It's nothing to be discouraged about, because all it means is that there's room for improvement for you. (But keep in mind, I'll still be improving, too, so it's nearly impossible for you to keep up). It's not a contest, though, and that's the good news. Although, I do have both a mug and a t-shirt that say, "World's Best Dad" while you have a t-shirt that says "Vivant."

I know what you're thinking. I know you think that because I have a boat, that's the reason I'm a better dad. Well, you rascal, you read my mind. But it's only part of the reason why I'm such a Great Dad. I also teach my kids about humility and serving others and that old people can be a fountain of knowledge. And you might say, "Well yes, old people are a fountain of knowledge if you want to know about what it's like to ride in a buggy, and the time Calvin Coolidge was the governor." But don't you see? That attitude is why I'm a better dad than you. And the boat.

But let's not get all caught up in who is better at what and how new whose boat is. Instead, let me give you some parenting nuggets to chew on.

First of all, only let your kids eat chicken nuggets once a year. Chicken patties only once every three years. Next, when spending time with teenagers, try to be cool, so they'll respect you. Talk about the internet and Carly Rae Jepson. Do not bring up Neil Diamond. And finally, implant a GPS tracker into the skull of each of your children. Trust is fine and all, but so is knowing exactly where your kids are.

Linger Longer 18

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)
Once Upon a Soapbox (Segullah)
Ecclesiastical Abuse (By Common Consent)
Should Women Pray in Public? (Times and Seasons)
"Help Meet" of Their Own Agent (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
"I Am No Man!" (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Some Facts in the Storm: From the Mother of a Child with Autism (Dandelion Mama)
Best and Worst Reads of 2012 (The Low-Tech World)
A God Like Me (The Exponent)
We Are All Liars (Wheat & Tares)
In Which We Bid Farewell to NewFamilySearch and Welcome Family Tree (Keepapitchinin)
Baby Blessings, Feminism and Worldviews (Rational Faiths)
Why I Believe in Santa Claus (Into the Hills)
The New Mormon Pop: CleanFlicks or Artistry? (A Motley Vision)
How Much Does a Mormon Apostle Make? (Doves and Serpents)
Touchdown Jesus, Catholic Blessings, and Supporting Mormon Religion (The Juvenile Instructor)
Joanna Brooks Should Say the Inaugural Benediction (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Issues in Mormon Feminism (Peculiar People)
Should I Marry a Non-Mormon Man? (Ask Mormon Girl)
Recent Piano Purchase Makes Family Into Real Mormons (Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer)
Oxen and Bison: Part 1 (Ships of Hagoth)
The Year in Mormons: Top 7 Stories of 2012 (Religion Dispatches)
To Do the Business of the Church (FAIR)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episodes 392-395: Ralph Hancock, Critic of Mormon Liberalism (Mormon Stories Podcast)
Episodes 144-145: The Kingdom of God is Within You (Mormon Matters Podcast)
Episode 72: C Jane Kendrick (The Cultural Hall Podcast)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Mapping America's Most Embarrassing Addresses (Curbed)
DiamondMachine Gun Jetpack, Cost of Pennies and Short Answer Section II (What If?)
Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space (Wired)
110 Predictions for the Next 110 Years (Popular Mechanics)
Why People Believe Weird Things and 8 Ways to Change Their Minds (PSYBlog)
20 Reasons Why 2012 Was The Coolest Year to Be A Mormon (BuzzFeed)
Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up (The New York Times)
Seinfeld Reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm (YouTube)
The 30 Most Powerful Photobombs of 2012 (BuzzFeed)
Dysfunctional Family Bingo (The Wall Street Journal)
The Real Brothers Grimm Were Stranger Than Fiction (Christian Science Monitor)
Restless Genes (National Geographic)
6 Simple Rituals to Reach Your Potential Each Day (Fast Company)
Wikipedia Remembers: 2012 Deaths (
The Hundred Best Lists of All-Time (The New Yorker)
The Culture of the Copy (The New Criterion)
The Future According to Google's Larry Page (CNN Money)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Post: Chip

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 previous guest posts, including 2011's post of the year on his vasectomy.

print by Brian Kershisnik
He is sitting precariously on the edge of my bed, switching between his iPad and mine. His focus today, as is most days, is numbers. He plays number games and watches numbers dance to music on YouTube. Occasionally he'll slip in some letters, but he seems preoccupied with numbers.

One of my earliest memories is standing behind the front passenger seat in our VW bus, looking out the window and counting things. Telephone poles, street signs, mailboxes, trees, whatever stuck out from the concrete sidewalk and cinderblock walls. Early on it was just a tallying of how many there were on a particular block. Then I compared the number from one block to another to check for patterns. Since often those patterns didn't exist, I would invent my own patterns, counting the items in groups of threes, hoping to end with a full set of three upon arrival at our destination. Later, I would count the letters in the street signs and assign them to groups of three or five, and occasionally seven. This all took place completely in my head and I don't think my mom (the driver) or my siblings had a hint at my peculiar hobby.

He will look at the flash cards on the ground. Sometimes he will initiate the arranging activity and place the numbers in order from 1-20. Most of the time he prefers someone else to get it started. I purposely place a few numbers out of order. He makes a hooting sound and moves the numbers to their appropriate spot. While at seven years old he does not speak with words, his actions communicate loudly that making order out of chaos is a priority to him.

I can hear my mother expressing frustration that there are no clean pieces of scratch paper in the junk drawer. The pieces of scratch paper remain but they are filled with math problems, generally multiplication and division. I have no idea why I, as a seven year old, would do this. I would get a math problem in my head (what is 265 times 52) and would need to work it out so I could know the answer.(1) I didn't commit answers to memory; maybe it was more of an exercise to remind myself that I could make order out of chaos should the need arise.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mormon Doppelgängers 13: Alex Boye & Wayne Brady

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

See all Doppelgängers here.

You probably know Alex Boyé as a noted LDS recording artist and member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. You may even know he was lead singer of famous UK boy band Awesome, which frankly is ... awesome. Additionally, I just discovered Alex served in the same mission as me in England. I bet none of you knew that.

You've seen Wayne Brady on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Wayne Brady Show, Don't Forget the Lyrics, and Let's Make a Deal, among many other TV shows.

Although Mr. Brady could almost pass for Mormon, he's officially not. I have proof.

So what do these two gentlemen have in common?

1. Wayne Brady sits on the celebrity board of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Alex Boyé worked at McDonald's as a teenager.
2. Wayne Brady hosts Let's Make a Deal. Alex Boyé makes lots of deals.
3. Both have met '80s/'90s icons George Michael and MC Hammer.
4. Both have squeaky clean public personas. Wayne Brady, however, revealed his disturbingly devious dark side on an infamous episode of Chapelle's Show. What are you hiding under there, Boyé?

Check out Alex's website here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Was Doomed to Read This Horrible Book

by MAB (bio)

I have this affliction where I usually cannot stop reading a book once I start, no matter how bad it is. I say 'usually' because there are books I've read parts of but didn't finish. But nearly all of my unfinished books are by-products of dates or vacations. Let me explain.

When we were first married we went on 'dates' to bookstores because it was cheaper than a movie and we loved to read. They were odd dates, I will grant you that, because we would spend a few hours in different parts of the book store as our literary tastes do not always converge. We rarely bought any books, but just read whatever we fancied hunched down in an aisle somewhere. Aside from 'date' books, there are unfinished vacation books scattered in relative's houses, lodges and cottages we've stayed at, but whose final pages were not met before it was time to go.

Once a book enters my house for a longer period and I crack its cover, I usually read it from start to finish regardless of the content and quality of the writing. This affliction recently played havoc in my life, and during the holiday season no less! My dear readers, I will now tell you a little about this book so that you will not pick it up unawares, and if you are afflicted like me, be stuck reading all 500 pages.

The book is called Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. The book won some awards and has a sci-fi element, so I thought I would be safe. The book is about a young time-traveling historian who tries to go the middle ages, about 40 years before the plague hit Europe. But uh oh, something goes wrong. I bet you can guess what. I guessed (nearly, but close enough) what went wrong on about page 10, but due to my affliction I had to read the next 490 pages where some semi-interesting things happened but the writing got in the way of its explanation. In fairness, the book kind of gave a vague sense of what it would have been like to live in a small village during the plague. Oh, and the author kind of does a few weak twists on good and evil. But don't let that tempt you into reading the book. You can do much better.

My wife on the other hand can pick up a book and stop reading it at anytime, never to pick it up again. She just gets tired of the book and moves on to something else on her long 'to-do' list. In other words, unlike me, she does not feel compelled to read a book once she's started. One other odd reading behavior she has (which I think is a little blasphemous) is she reads the ending ... first! That's right, she often reads the end of a book first to see if she wants to spend time reading the entire book. This is not what authors intend and her habit is one of the many things that prevent me from writing a novel. I'll not let her read the ending of my book without going through the whole thing, chapter by long chapter.

So, I put a few questions out to MMM readers. Do you have to finish a book once you've read even a small portion of it? Do you ever 'cheat' and read the end before you get there? I have a feeling this is all explained by some economic theory, perhaps loss aversion, which probably means I shouldn't start frequenting casinos. Any other theories?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Missionaries in the United Kingdom: A Cultural Guide

by ldsbishop (bio)

During the October 2012 General Conference, we all cheered the announcement by President Monson that the age at which both male and female missionaries can serve was being lowered. Due to the anticipated increase in the number of missionaries serving, the amount of time they spend in the MTC will be reduced. This could mean that a greater number of young people will be set loose on the streets of the world with little knowledge of the cultural idiosyncrasies of the people they are supposed to teach.

After working with a number of full-time missionaries here in the UK during my years of Priesthood leadership, I have observed a number of pitfalls and mistakes they make due to their lack of knowledge of British culture. Below is my handy guide for potential missionaries that may end up serving over here in Blighty.
  1. If you are called to serve in Britain, spend as much time as you can learning about the British way of life. The best way to do this is to buy the boxset of Downton Abbey. All British people are either landed gentry or serve them in some way. We also like getting it on with our cousins (this makes family history work easier to pursue, since we're all related very closely).
  2. Following on from number 1, when tracting, you must never just walk up and knock on the front door. As the Lord's servants, you must enter the house via the servant's quarters. No matter how humble-looking their house might be, all British people have at least a butler and a maid, who you must pass first before you gain entrance to the house. The servant's quarters are normally found at the rear of the house. Upon knocking, ask the butler or maid if you "Might request an audience with his Lordship or her Ladyship."
  3. Hollywood has depicted all British people to either be evil villains or cheerful Cockney chimney sweeps. Obviously, those are untrue stereotypes. Thankfully, since the release of Harry Potter, we are now shown in a more accurate light, inasmuch that we all have some kind of magic power. If the discussions are going well, why not ask the man of the house to "Whip out your wand so I can compare it the ones I've seen in the movies."
  4. Brits and Americans are often said to be separated by a common language. Some words that might be perfectly innocent in the USA will cause offence in the UK. Among them are: fanny, sod, soccer, spunk, Mitt Romney, pants.
  5. During World War II, American servicemen charmed lonely British women with presents such as pantyhose and gum. While the things they got up to might be against mission rules, commodities such as pantyhose are still in short supply. To gain the trust of British women always carry some pantyhose with you and offer them to the ladies at the earliest possible opportunity. This small gesture almost always guarantees you an invitation to teach them the discussions.
  6. All cars drive on the left in the United Kingdom, but that's not the only thing you need to do on the left. It is a cultural requirement that you must also dress on the left (if male), vote on the left and only make left-turns when walking the streets.
  7. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is our head of state. Since she is also head of the Church of England, all convert baptisms need to be authorised by her. Do this by writing her a letter requesting that one of her subjects be allowed to leave the Church of England to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Don't forget to be polite and address your letter to "Dear Sister The Queen." Requests are normally granted within 18-24 months. She's a busy lady, you know.
  8. British people employ heavy use of sarcasm and irony in their humour. They will be telling you things and it might be difficult to know if they are joking with you or not. The best thing to do is laugh out loud at everything they say, no matter how serious they might be sounding at the time.
The points above are certainly not an exhaustive guide. Why not add some of your knowledge of British people and culture below, or give us some insight into your own country. The more information we have, the better we can train our prospective missionaries, allowing them to concentrate on what really matters - preaching the gospel and getting sick on obscure foreign foods.

Giveaway 25: Winner

As you already knowChristopher Bigelow, owner and operator of Zarahemla Books, is generously giving away one copy of each of Zarahemla's 19 titles to Modern Mormon Men readers over a series of four giveaways. This giveaway's winner will receive the following five titles (click for previews): The Fading Flower & Swallow the SunDispiritedWhat of the Night?Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction and On the Road to Heaven.

And the winner is: Michael Asay (link to comment) - email us your address

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." If you didn't win, buy them or other Zarahemla titles now. Look for the final Zarahemla giveaway soon!

Friday, January 11, 2013

MMM Library: This Is Not a Post About Swinging

by Aimee (bio)

This post was originally published on May 12, 2011.

Before I got married, I didn’t realize how complicated finding married friends would be as a couple.

The ladies need to like each other.
The men need to like each other.
I need to like the guy of the couple.
My husband needs to like the girl.
And the same goes for them.
They both need to like both of us back.
The same rules apply for our same-sex couple friends too. 

Once married, you think you have been released from the dating world, but little do you know that you have merely graduated into a whole new world of dating.

Couple Dating.
(And you thought dating alone was hard?)

Finding successful couple friends is an art form. Everyone needs to genuinely like each other in order for it to be a successful couple friendship that will last a lifetime…the kind of friendship where you get choked up at their children's weddings.

"How did the kids grow up so fast?" {tear}

This may seem like it would be easy to find, but in the real world, couple dating is a complicated, delicate, relational, and highly important marital matter.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Brief Twitter History Of The Author - 2011

by brettmerritt (bio)

I contend it's a selfish exercise posting blips and blurbs from Twitter and passing it off as a blog post. Seattle Jon contends that Twitter "by its nature is self-indulgent," which is probably true.

Either way, my tweets are sometimes funny, sad, mean, or nostalgic. They are often inappropriate. The main reason for publishing this trip to tweets of years past is that I hope someone can get a little enjoyment from it.

Here for your reading "pleasure," are my "best" tweets from 2011. You can also read my best tweets from 2009 and 2010.

  • Today's Moment of Awesomeness: Hearing my daughter (1st Grade) read to me in French about zoo animals.
  • Was your momma an anesthesiologist? Because, when I look at you, I feel like falling asleep in your arms. #worstpickuplines
  • "Whisper to a Scream" #fartsofthe80s
  • In the Air Tonight #fartsofthe80s
  • Always Something There to Remind Me #fartsofthe80s
  • Tainted Love #fartsofthe80s
  • James Franco is starring on B'way in a musical version of 127 Hours. It's called ... Amputwheee!
  • I want to go back to the day when trolls only lived under bridges and surfaced occasionally to eat people.
  • I tried to walk a mile in your shoes but your feet were too small and I got blisters.
  • "Enter the last sanctum," is what I heard in my dream before I promptly started to pee the bed. Caught myself in the nick of time.
  • Tip: When watching pre-1990 movies, remember that most of the older actors in them are probably dead.
  • Movie pitch: George VI gets sent to investigate a murder at hospital for the criminally insane. "Stutter Island"
  • Play It As It Lays Up #Englishmajorbasketballteam
  • The Lords of the Ring #Englishmajorbasketballteam
  • A Clock Shot Orange #Englishmajorbasketballteam
  • All the King James' Men #Englishmajorbasketballteam
  • Last line of my dream: "There must be a reason God doesn't want Alec Baldwin in the Senate."

The Spirit and the Seahawks

by Seattle Jon (bio)

The following video was created by EastLake Church in Seattle. After watching, I sent it along to my bishop and a member of the stake presidency (both good friends) and suggested they do their own coin toss since our ward starts at 9 a.m. and the Seahawks kick-off at 10. It's a long shot, but you never know until you ask ...

BEASTLAKE 2 from EastLake Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Words to Live By 5: On Decisiveness

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Words to Live By is a 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. Read previous entries here.

On Decisiveness
by William G. Saltonstall (Principal of the Phillips Exeter Academy)

"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise." - Horace

One of our human failings, as I see it, has been our admiration for the "middle-of-the-roader." Certainly many of us agree that the exercise of restraint is one of the marks of the good man. But in some areas compromise is flabby and dangerous. Any person of real conviction and strength must choose one side of the road or the other. It would be a strange kind of education that urged us to be "relatively" honest, "sometimes" just, "usually" tolerant, "for the most part" decent.

As you read history and biography, I think you will not come to equate greatness with compromise. Rather, you will find it in decisiveness, combined with charity, gentleness and justice. There will be some wrong decisions, of course, but as long as mistakes are recognized, the loss is far less serious than that occasioned by playing the middle of the road, sitting on the fence, undecided, unconvinced, incapable of strong feeling.

Life should be a continuing search for those people, those ideas and those causes to which we can gladly and wholly give ourselves.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top MMM Posts of 2012

We had a great year here at Modern Mormon Men. Thanks for sticking with us. Here are some of the top posts from 2012. Won't you reminisce with us?

Testimony Bingo by Scott Heffernan
Calvin & Hobbes: Reflections by Seattle Jon
The Case for Barack Obama by Robert Taber
The Uchtdorf Meme by Scott Hales
Single, 32, Female and Mormon by Lauren Johnson
Sell Out by Sam Nelson
This Mormon Moment Isn't for Us by brettmerritt

Dear Bishop, From Your Gay Brother by GMP
Sustaining vs. Agreeing by Glynn Wilcox
The Golden Nickel: How to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want by Dustin
Why I am Fundamentally Team Peeta by LJ
Financial Transparency & The LDS Church by Seattle Jon
Worst LDS Hymns by A-Dub
Forget Proper Discipline: Let Your Kids Know You're Craaaaazy by Dustin

Hardest Church Callings by A-Dub
The Frustration and Perspective of a Bishop by ldsbishop
MMM Mail 3: Today's Young Men by Multiple MMM Contributors
The Librarian by Ben Johnson
My Sister Missionary Wish List by Aimee
The Mormon Comic Sans Project by Scott Heffernan
Sunday in the Rockaways by May Jones

Who Are You, the King of the World? by LJ
Judgement, Jesus and Justifications by brettmerritt
Bruce Lee, Joseph Smith and Water by Saint Mark
Get to Know Your Ward Members: Charlen Parmenter by Bishop Higgins
Less Is More by Casey Peterson
Being Enough by Pete Codella
Modern Mormon Geek Moment #2 by Bradly Baird

Did we miss any of your favorites?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Giveaway 25: Zarahemla Books 3

Christopher Bigelow, owner and operator of Zarahemla Books, is back with his third 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 19 titles to Modern Mormon Men readers. For this, the third 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 Fading Flower & Swallow the SunDispiritedWhat of the Night?, Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction and On the Road to Heaven. Can't wait? Buy Zarahemla books now.

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, January 11th at midnight).
• Winner announced Monday, January 14th.
• Winner must respond via email with their address by Wednesday, January 16th to claim the books.

Friday, January 4, 2013

MMM Library: In Character, Bishopric Edition

by Topher Clark (bio)

This post was originally published on May 4, 2011.

As some of you might know, I am a counselor in a bishopric. Please do not let this sway or alter your testimony in any way. I didn't ask to do it, and I barely voted for myself. God calls in mysterious ways, and I've always been taught that you never say no to a calling (except working at the cannery.) In this first year of of my bishopric I have learned three important things:

1. Everyone sustains the bishop once a year at ward conference, and then the rest of the year three quarters of the ward complain about him.

2. The best part of my job is class hopping. Is sunday school boring today? How about a visit to the Primary! Is today a Deacon's Quorum kinda day? Or do I feel more like hanging out with the membership clerks? I love that.

3. You do NOT grow a beard in a bishopric. Despite there being nothing said about this in any current manual or ecclesiastical degree, THERE WILL BE NO BEARDS. Don't even imagine the possibility of a beard on your face. If your face is even a little bit scratchy you have irrevocably changed the face of the gospel for every old lady in your ward.

But one of the most important lessons I've learned is the "bishopric face." You learn this very quickly, because you have to. You must never show unrestrained emotion on the stand. Because 500 people are staring at you, and they want to know what you think. Almost all the time, someone is staring at you. Don't dispute this! I see you doing it. You take turns. You want to see if we like something, or don't like something, or are in any way super uncomfortable. And guess what? We're not going to break. You cannot break our faces. But if you are patient, and acutely observant, you'll see little cracks of emotion peeking through.

Herewith, then, is a little how-to pictorial to let you know what we are really feeling up there. Watch closely. These pictures are almost indistinguishable:

Ope! Someone just made a "Brother Clark is bald" joke! My favorite. I support your "jokes" and I hope they really kickstart your talk. Just remember, your bum is in my face and I could make "jokes" about that! (I won't.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mormon World Records 4

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.

QWho is/was the tallest Mormon man?
A: Shawn Bradley, who stands 7 feet 6 inches, is the tallest living Latter-day Saint, and possibly the tallest LDS ever. He was a very highly recruited basketball star from Emery High School in Castle Dale, Utah, and signed on with BYU where his reputation as a rebounder and shot-blocker followed him through a successful first season. After serving a mission, he signed on with the Philadelphia 76ers.

QWho is/was the shortest Mormon man?
A: Billy Barty, well known on TV and in movies, was 3 feet 9 inches tall. He served as an assistant ward clerk in his Studio City Ward, Hollywood, and worked to stop discrimination against short people. He joined the Church in 1963, two years after marrying his LDS wife from Idaho. He appeared in more than 150 motion pictures and hundreds of TV shows, beginning in the 1930s. Some of his most famous starring roles included the movies Willow, Legend and UHF [he didn't need no stinkin' badgers].

QWhat is the most widely circulated LDS joke?
A: In 1989, a story was submitted to Reader's Digest's "Life in the United States" by Kathy Skousen [related to Paul?] of South Jordan, Utah, River Ridge 3rd Ward. The editors called the local school to verify its accuracy, and then published it in their July 1989 issue that went to 16 million subscribers. Over the years the joke has spread to no fewer than 85 web sites with funny variations on the sex, age and setting. Here is the original joke:

For Drug Awareness Day, the school asked each child to bring a white t-shirt so an anti-drug slogan could be ironed onto it. After a frantic search, I found my daughter's only clean shirt, which already had something on the front. The back was blank, however, and I sent her off with it. When she came home that afternoon, she proudly displayed the shirt. The front of it proclaimed, "Families Are Forever." On the back was, "Be Smart, Don't Start!"

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Do Something This Year

by Dustin (bio)

What's your impact in the world? And I don't mean your perceived impact. I mean your real impact. How would you measure it? What would others say?

I was recently struck with a realization: I'm a prolific public speaker and motivational force for good ... but I may be the only one who knows it. You see, I believe there's often a divide between who we think we are in the world and who we actually are. We live in our minds. We have a whole world set up where we are the center and everything else revolves around that persona. In my mind, I've built a successful business around helping others identify their career paths and excel in them. The problem is, it's in my mind. It hasn't actually manifested in the world quite yet. And the only way to close the distance between who we think we are and who we actually are is to do something. There are plenty of dreamers in the world with good intentions but very few people who take action on those dreams and make them reality.

Many things hold us back from taking action. For me, potential to fail and risk-aversion are big. Procrastination can be hairy for others. There are other ugly inhibitors that get in the way of us becoming who we were meant to become. Aristotle stated, "To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." I would suggest that we can avoid success and happiness this year in the same three ways.

Who you are now is a result of sum of your actions up to this point in your life. And who you hope to become will only happen as you take action toward that ideal. So as you set your resolutions for the new year, instead of settings goals to become someone new try setting goals to do something. At the end of the day, what you've done will determine who you become. So what will you do this year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Writing Under the Influence

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), a practicing mormon, was recently arrested in Virginia for driving under the influence. Senator Crapo had previously said he doesn't drink, stating publicly in 2010 that he would celebrate the passing of a measure reducing taxes on small beer brewers with root beer because he doesn't consume alcohol. As I read about Senator Crapo's very public break from what were apparently strongly held beliefs, I was reminded of a passage from Grant Palmer's The Incomparable Jesus:
If Jesus visited our various religious societies today, which of our prescriptions about behavioral minutia, to which we assign near-commandment status, would Jesus call "traditions of the elders"? Dictating and repeating a code of conduct for individual behavior on almost every occasion encourages Church members to engage in unrighteous judgement of others. Such judgement creates an atmosphere of tension, causing some to feel unaccepted.

In others it breeds hypocrisy, with people outwardly pretending conformity even while they secretly violate these near-commandments. The multiplication and emphasis of such rules blurs the distinction between significant commandments and trivial observances, making them seem of equal importance, especially among young people. Having observed these consequences first-hand during his formative years, Jesus rejected this approach to religion in his new church. He taught the things that mattered most and left the remainder to individual choice.
I'm honestly not sure what Jesus would think of how the Word of Wisdom has been applied since 1921, when Heber J. Grant made adherence an absolute requirement to enter the temple. BYU historian Thomas G. Alexander points out that while the original Word of Wisdom as a "principle with promise" was given by revelation, there is no evidence that any church leader, including President Grant, has claimed a separate new revelation, or even a spiritual confirmation, of changing the Word of Wisdom from "a principle with promise" to a commandment.(1) What is clear is that the near-commandment status of the Word of Wisdom does encourage church members to engage in unrighteous judgement of others, as evidenced in this case by the reactions of some of Senator Crapo's mormon political peers.

Palmer's second point - that the church's prescriptions about behavioral minutia make unequal "near-commandments" seem equal to commandments, especially in young people - seems spot on. Some of my children's strongest reactions to "sinning" have been toward strangers disobeying words of wisdom they know nothing about. "Daddy, that man is DRINKING BEER!" was a passionate response certainly not distilled instilled in them by their parents. Imagine if the one "sinning" was grandpa, as is the case for Senator Crapo's three grandchildren. They must be wondering what they should think, but there is no question in my mind what Jesus is thinking. Disappointment because he drove drunk, endangering the lives of others, but also love and forgiveness towards a man who almost certainly is under a lot of political pressure and who knows what else.

When these sorts of things happen, let it be a reminder to us to not reduce our religious life to a pattern of performances and of obedience to a few rather unique things in our church, but rather to live more like Jesus lived. To love and forgive others.

(1)Thomas G. Alexander, "The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14:3 (1981) pp. 78–88.

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