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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guest Post: I Prayed to Know if Another Church Was True

It doesn't matter if you're man or woman, gay or straight, dark- or light-skinned. All can equally submit guest posts to Modern Mormon Men. Write something now and submit via email.

My name is Ethan Unklesbay. I'm a Junior in Spanish Teaching at BYU. After growing up in southwest Ohio, I served a mission in Chile, Rancagua. I play the guitar, the harmonica, and enough piano to get myself into trouble (because I can't actually play any hymns). I love literature, especially in Spanish or from Spain. Being a Mormon is awesome, but sometimes I think it gets complicated, and that more so at BYU than elsewhere. Scott Hales recommended me to MMM while he and I were on a trip through Logan (to visit the temple) and Brigham City (to visit the grave of Nephi Anderson's first wife, Asenath). Read Ethan's first guest post here.

Image by h.koppdelaney

It was on my mission. My first area was difficult, as I imagine most first areas are.

I can still remember the black-haired man in his white, short-sleeve shirt as he leaned out of the from door of his blue chilean house. After the initial rejection, we invited him to pray to know if our message was true before we came by again. His response was something I hadn't ever heard: "Oh yeah? Well I invite you to pray to know if my church is true. WIll you do that?" He was being kind of sarcastic, and I doubt that he really actually cared about whether or not I prayed to know if his church was true. Regardless, I agreed to do so.

I got home that night, and I remembered the commitment that man had left with me. I prayed quickly and asked, "God, is that man's church true?" I didn't get an answer, so I decided to go straight to bed, content with knowing that I was in the true church. Shortly after that prayer, however, I began to feel guilty. Moroni's words came into my head: "Sincere heart and real intent ... sincere heart and real intent ..." I thought about what that meant and began to ponder.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Old Testament Story Art 1

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I occasionally come across old church manuals at my local Deseret Industries. One of my latest scores was Old Testament Stories, written in 1946 by Marion G. Merkley and published by Milton Bennion for the Deseret Sunday School Union. In this series, I'll share with you the beautiful illustrations included throughout the manual.

Gospel Fire 4: Punching Through The Wall

by Bradly Baird (bio)

For previous posts in this series, read Gospel Fire 1, Gospel Fire 2 and Gospel Fire 3.

I knew exactly what I had to do next. I needed to set aside an extended amount of time for prayer. Not just an hour, but time to really wrestle and explore. I knew that I had become relaxed about some things and that the Lord expected me to fight really hard in order to make the next rung on the spiritual ladder. He expected more and wasn't going to help me out until I measured up and expended the kind of effort that demonstrated real commitment.

The whole thing happened over a particularly difficult weekend.

I had been sick for nearly a month with the adenovirus and was not feeling at all well. My wife also recently contracted a very serious virus and was suffering as well. I finally persuaded her to visit the doctor on a Wednesday afternoon and he told her that she had walking pneumonia. He gave her a number of prescriptions and informed her that she would start to feel better in a couple of days. The symptoms worsened over the next couple of days and by Friday night, the sickness moved into her chest and she was plagued by a terrible cough that caused her severe pain.

Friday, April 26, 2013

MMM Sermons: Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need

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 it here.

"Look into my eyes. You are getting repentant. Repentant!" Elder Christofferson referenced Elder Richard G. Scott's indomitable eye contact in April 2011 General Conference and it's true what he said; Elder Scott does have a penetrating gaze. Can't you feel it right now? And this is just a picture!

In April 2009 General Conference, Elder Scott told Saints like you and me, in so many words, to get our butts to the temple more often. He is a little less frank than I but here's a sample:
Because I love you, I am going to speak to you heart to heart, without mincing words. I have seen that many times individuals have made great sacrifices to go to a distant temple. But when a temple is built close by, within a short time, many do not visit it regularly. I have a suggestion: When a temple is conveniently nearby, small things may interrupt your plans to go to the temple. Set specific goals, considering your circumstances, of when you can and will participate in temple ordinances. Then do not allow anything to interfere with that plan. This pattern will guarantee that those who live in the shadow of a temple will be as blessed as are those who plan far ahead and make a long trip to the temple.

Fourteen years ago I decided to attend the temple and complete an ordinance at least once a week. When I am traveling I make up the missed visits in order to achieve that objective. I have kept that resolve, and it has changed my life profoundly. I strive to participate in all the different ordinances available in the temple.

I encourage you to establish your own goal of how frequently you will avail yourself of the ordinances offered in our operating temples.
After I gave the eulogy and buried my Aunt Esther, I went to the temple. It wasn't for an endowment session or to do baptisms for the dead. It was to just sit in the foyer with my non-member mom and "be still." I was emotionally drained and my heart was full. My wife was not in attendance and I had only the Lord to pour my feelings out to. After ten minutes, I began to feel better. Comfort came to me and energy returned to my body. I felt recharged and refreshed and ready to go to the family gathering scheduled following the funeral.

If you are suffering or feel loss or pain or any other feeling that weighs you down, go to the temple. It is heavenly real estate and will be a Mt. Sinai to you, elevating your spirit closer to God.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reasons for Leaving Early from Priesthood Session

by A-Dub (bio)

Going to Priesthood Session of General Conference was not my favorite activity as a kid. I viewed it as two hours of sitting in the dark listening to boring talks. Years later, I am much wiser ... at least, less fidgety. I do enjoy the talks in Priesthood Session now, particularly the current First Presidency.

However, being on a Saturday, I am sometimes tempted to maximize the rest of my evening by sneaking out immediately when the Prophet says "Amen," thereby forgoing the closing hymn and prayer and beating the rush. This past conference my son and I attended with my brother-in-law’s family, including my 13 year-old nephew. When my nephew asked his dad if we could leave during the closing hymn, his dad replied "Well, it's really considered bad form to do that." Then with a big grin he looked at me and said, "Let’s go." We didn't, of course.

However, there are always a few that do sneak out a tad bit early. As my wife always says I need to give people the benefit of the doubt, here are five potential reasons for leaving Priesthood Session before the final amen:

1. Trying to get a seat at Chuck-a-Rama. Going out to eat after Priesthood Session is a time-honored tradition. Particularly in Utah, where the overall quantity of after-priesthood-dinner-goers is larger, you may have to wait an extended period of time for a table if you leave when everyone else does. So it's tough to get a quality meal afterwards. Seconds count people. If I don't get a bacteria-infested bowl of macaroni and pudding from the salad bar at Chuck-a-Rama immediately, bad things may happen.

2. Save gas. Let's face it – Mormons are penny-pinchers. Leaving priesthood session seems to be an even bigger jam up than after Stake Conference. Understandable that someone might simply just not want to wait in line and waste gas. And in the Pacific Northwest, we could also list our phony environmentalist fervor as a reason for not wanting to waste gas/pollute the environment.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guest Post: Tales from Cuyahoga 3 - The Mistake by the Lake

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. Don't miss Reed's previous guest posts.

There are two types of mission stories – inspirational and funny. I like to save the inspirational ones for church talks.
- Reed Soper

It was early spring of 1985. I had graduated high school the year before and had recently quit my job to "prepare" (1) for my missionary service. My papers had been submitted and all that was left was to wait. My father had served a mission some 30 years before. He said that after he submitted his papers, he went to a travel agency to look at the various posters from far away places. While there, he saw a poster displaying a large field of dutch tulips and he felt impressed that he would be called to serve to the Netherlands. Lo and behold, that was where he was called. I can remember one night thinking of this story as I was in bed and drifting off to sleep. I had a strong impression that my call would come in the mail the next day and I imagined where I might be sent. My older brother would be coming home in a few weeks from Venezuela. (2)  Two young men from my stake had recently been called to London. I thought of all the interesting and far-away places that might be a part of my near future. As I thought, the word "Ireland" came to my mind clearly and repeatedly. My 19-year old self was satisfied with this answer and fell asleep.

The next day, as I had suspected, my call came in the mail. I had heard stories of many young men waiting for their families to return home in the evening and gather around before opening the envelope. I committed myself to wait to open the envelope for a good five minutes (3)  and then decided I needed to confirm my call to Ireland. I opened the envelope, filled with pictures of what my haircut should look like, lists of clothes I should bring, lists of things I should not bring, and the cover letter. My hands shook a bit from nervousness as I read the letter. The first time through I couldn't figure out where I was going or when I was to report. I sat down and steadied the letter against the dining room table. Ohio Cleveland Mission. What? Wait? I checked the envelope to make sure it was actually addressed to me since I was supposed to go to Ireland. This must be some mistake. I read further. I would learn the discussions in Spanish. Wait a minute here. I'm no geography expert, but Ohio is pretty far from the Mexican border or any other place where Spanish is spoken by a large segment of the population. I was confused and left the materials on the table to be digested at a later time.

One of my older brother's friends had been called to Cleveland and had recently returned. When he had received his call, I remember teasing him about going to the jewel of the rust belt. I was aware that the Cuyahoga River had caught fire during our lifetimes and Lake Erie was known to live up to its name. I called him up and, without disclosing my call, asked him how frequently he ran into Spanish speaking people during his stint. After some thought, he replied that he could not recall contacting one person who spoke Spanish. Apparently my mother could sense my lack of excitement over the call and suggested that this might be payment for me being a smart aleck through my teen years. (4)

So there it was, Cleveland and Spanish speaking. In time I came to accept the call and even look forward to going. I'm not sure this is doctrinal, but this was one time that karma played a big role in a mission call.

(1) My preparation included sleeping late, watching a lot of tv and going to a record store on a regular basis.
(2) I noticed at the time of my brother's mission call, everyone over the age of 50 pronounced Venezuela as "Venzueala."
(3) I've always had exceptional willpower.
(4) I could always tell when I was clearly and obviously in the wrong cause my mom would not be in my corner.

Mormon World Records 6: Pageants

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 was the first member of the church to win the Miss Universe pageant?
A: The first member of the church to win the Miss Universe pageant was Linda Bement, Parley's 1st Ward, Parley's Stake, Salt Lake City, in 1960. Months after graduating from high school, Sister Bement won the Miss Utah and Miss USA contests and was crowned Miss Universe that same year. Bement tells of the counsel she received from President David O. McKay shortly after returning home from the pageant in Florida: "We met in his office one day, and he was so happy about me winning," she said. "He looked me in the eye and said, 'Don't forget you represent the youth of America.' I was so impressed that he wanted me to be a good example to more than Mormon youth ... he was thinking of America's youth."

Q: Can you give me two examples of future Miss Universes?
A: Christy Ann Cheney, 2, of the Yucaipa 2nd Ward, San Bernardino, California, East Stake, won the Miss Gorgeous Eyes 1983 context. Previously she had won the Miss Dream Girl California contest. Brittany Lynn Harper, 13 months old, of the Las Vegas 23rd Ward, won the 1988 National Pee Wee Miss of America contest. She received a fur coat, scepter, satin monogrammed sash, a U.S. savings bond, and a wardrobe.

QHas an LDS man ever won the Mr. Clean look-alike contest?
A: The only LDS man to win the distinction of resembling Mr. Clean is Wayne O'Dell, Mesa, Arizona. His shining bald head, prominent ear lobes and glistening smile helped him wipe away the competition in the 1985 Southwest Regional of the Mr. Clean look-alike contest.

Q: Has mormon modesty ever interfered with pageant rules?
A: For a long time, Utah was the only state that didn't hold a swimsuit competition for its Miss Utah/America contest. The broken rule was excused by Miss America pageant officials in Atlantic City in 1979 only because of "strong objections" in Utah, but there is no such exemption when Miss Utah arrives for the Atlantic City pageant.

QSpeaking of swimsuits, what's up with the swimsuits BYU used to issue to coeds?
A: The BYU-issued swimsuit for women was, for two decades, a baggy, shapeless, ugliness worn and abhorred by nearly every coed who dared wear one to swim in the indoor pools. The suit prompted one single BYU male to boldly declare: "If I ever see a coed who looks good in one of those suits, I'm going to marry her." But by 1988 a more stylish suit was approved, much to the relief of males and females alike.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Plugging From the Pulpit

by Ben Johnson (bio)

ABC: Always Be Closing
Do you remember President Gordon B. Hinckley's October 1998 talk To the Boys and to the Men in the priesthood session of general conference? If you can remember back that far, do you recall him saying this: "Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future."

I don't know why but that line has always stuck out to me. I remember after the meeting remarking to my dad that "if Pres. Hinckley would have said that he was prophesying I bet store shelves across the country would be empty tonight."

Do you remember when Pres. Hinckley announced the Perpetual Education Fund? I happened to be in the conference center when that happened and it was electric. A thrill went through the congregation.

Do you remember President Thomas Monson's general conference talk where he lowered the missionary age for women and boys? Or when he announced a temple to be built in Rome, Italy? After both of those announcements there was a wave of chattering in the conference center. People were excited.

I bring all this up to make what is hopefully a legitimate point: we Latter-Day Saints love it when our prophets and apostles speak, especially when what they are saying is a bit outside of the norm. Every conference we hear about tithing or service or not looking at porn. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to tune that stuff out because it is repetitive. But if something comes out of their mouths that is different our ears prick up and we move to the edge of our seats.

I believe this makes them cautious when they speak. I believe they know that we can get carried away with their words. If you doubt me look at what happens when Pres. Packer gives a talk in a stake and mentions the second coming. Emails start flying across the internet and people start getting their food storage gathered. We sometimes have itching ears.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Top Ten (Clean) Twitter Picks

by LJ (bio)

I first joined Twitter in 2008 to prove to a company they should hire me as their social media coordinator. When I didn't get the job, I abandoned my account for a few years because a) I didn't see the point of Twitter and b) I didn't know how to use it anyway. Hence why I wasn't hired.

Now that I've joined the scads of smartphone-addicted-robots in America, I turn to my phone for entertainment should my brain ever fall to rest. Twitter is my favorite--I can streamline my social media to only include people who spit out pithy punch lines that are (mostly) free of smut.

Without further ado, I present my Top Ten (Clean) Twitter Picks:

C.S. Lewis Quotes (@CSLewisDaily). The best place to turn for a daily dose of my favorite honorary emeritus apostle.

Rowan Atkinson (@OfficialMrBean). His feed is funny, but also purely self-depricating and never mean.

Science Porn (@SciencePorn). Tasteless name, awesome facts and photos.

Google Facts (@GoogleFacts). Several mind-blowing little facts a week. Note: there is the occasional sex-related fact, but nothing crazy.

Novelty Feeds
Modern Seinfeld (@SeinfeldToday). These tweets are plots of would-be Seinfeld episodes, and they're dead on. My personal favorite so far: "George dates the model who is 'the face of Duane Reade.' Kramer is furious to learn that she's not actually a pharmacist." Runners up include Sixth Form Poet (@sixthformpoet) and Very Short Story (@VeryShortStory) for pure quality content.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Let's Talk About ...

by Shawn Tucker (bio)

Image by Mike Monaghan

The other night at Institute we had a very interesting discussion. My students asked the age-old chastity question about what physical intimacy is appropriate before marriage. They happened to ask the simultaneous question of what is appropriate inside of marriage. I find the second question to be easier to address than the first one, but in answering the second a new thought occurred to me about the first.

I told the students that it is my opinion that the church does not have very many specific or hard-and-fast rules about what intimacy is appropriate in marriage. It seems to me that for obvious reasons that intimacy should not involve other people either directly or indirectly. It also seems obvious that the expression of intimacy should never be demeaning, manipulative, or coercive. Beyond that, it seems to me that every married couple must communicate openly about sexual expression, about what each person wants or needs or finds satisfying. I also told my students that these discussions are probably ongoing throughout a marriage.

Linger Longer 22

Linger Longer is a series where we highlight religious and non-religious articles, as well as mormon-related podcasts. Click here for previous lists.

Bloggernacle (religious sites)
Fanning the Flames of Our Faith (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Elder Bednar Talks About S-E-X (By Common Consent)
Why Today is Important (Times and Seasons)
What We All Secretly Wish We'd Hear More About At Church (Zelophehad's Daughters)
I Can't Do That ... (Dawning of a Brighter Day)
On Men and Heavy Lifting (Doves and Serpents)
"Bring Them Unto the Elders" (The Exponent)
The Blessings of Doubt (Young Mormon Feminists)
Of Mormons and Baseball (The Juvenile Instructor)
Sam Gamgee and the Relief Society (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
How Far Can I Soar? (Mormon Women Project)
Impact Of and Healing From Infidelity (The Mormon Therapist)
Historic Prayer Signals Growing Concern with Gender Equality (Joanna Brooks' Religion Dispatches)
My Daughters, Our Church (Rational Faiths)
What Are True "Christian Family Values?" (Into the Hills)
How Beards Became Banned Among Top Mormon Leaders (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episode 415: Kate Kelly on the Ordination of Mormon Women (Mormon Stories)
Episodes 39-40: Adam Miller on Grace (A Thoughtful Faith)
Episode 165: Mormon Women Sharing Their Lives (Mormon Matters)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Supersonic StereoVoyager and Hockey Puck (What If?)
The Marathon (Grantland)
Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity (The Atlantic)
Who, What Why?: What Does a Pope Do? (BBC News)
The Lock Pickers (Slate)
When Ian Fleming Picked My Grandfather to Steal Nazi Secrets (BBC News)
How One Man Turned Himself Into A Publicly Traded Company (The Atlantic)
Women Make Better Decisions Than Men (Science Daily)
How the Wild West REALLY Looked (Mail Online)
35 Astounding and Uplifting Facts About the Universe (BuzzFeed)
The Science of Monsters (The Telegraph)
A Tale of Two Londons (Vanity Fair)
The Touch-screen Generation (The Atlantic)
Why We Ignore Good Advice (Psychology Today)
How Memes Are Orchestrated By the Man (The New York Times)
13 Things Roger Ebert Said Better Than Anyone Else (BuzzFeed)
The Science of How Your Mind-Wandering Is Robbing You of Happiness (Brain Pickings)
The Standardization of Chess Set Design (

Thursday, April 18, 2013

11 Reasons to Stop Texting While Driving Now

by brettmerritt (bio)

More than eleven teenagers die everyday as a result of someone driving while texting. Obviously that number goes up when you include adults.

Allow me to ask two questions:

What is the acceptable number of yearly deaths caused by distracted driving in our country?

Now, what is the acceptable number of yearly deaths caused by distracted driving in your family?

Both numbers should be zero.

My friend and former co-worker, Haley Ann Warner, and her family experienced great loss this March. Her parents, Dave & Leslee Henson, went on a morning walk in St George, Utah and were hit by a car while walking on the sidewalk. Her dad was killed. Her mom, shielded somewhat because of the actions of her dad, survived with a broken neck, broken back, separated shoulder, and several other injuries that included more than 5000 stitches and staples.

The driver at fault was texting and speeding.

Haley's hope is that we can save lives by educating people on the dangers of distracted driving, most specifically, texting and talking on cell phones while driving. I support this effort wholeheartedly.

Here are some sobering facts. Texting while driving causes:

● 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
● 11 teen deaths each day – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts
● Nearly 25% of all car accidents

Texting while driving is:

● Six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
● The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers

Texting while driving:

● Makes you 23x more likely to crash – National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
● Is the same as driving blind for five seconds at a time. (five seconds of driving at 55 mph covers the length of a football field.) – VA Tech Transportation Institute
● Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – HumanFactors & Ergonomics Society

And, if you need more convincing, AT&T put together a little documentary for you called The Last Text which you can watch here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

MMM Search Term Roundup 9: June & July 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.

cher makes mormons mad
I know this is referring to a specific event, but I like it better on its own.

mormon mom trying to hook up her newly returned missionary
And I’m sure it's greatly appreciated. Not embarrassing at all.

photos of the terrestrial kingdom
You do realize you typed “photos,” right?

are mormon men encouraged to avoid eye contact with women
At. All. Costs.

is harrison ford lds
No, but he played one in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dating Advice From Brigham Young

by Bishop Higgins (bio)

Our ward historian, Brother Melden, has recently discovered an interesting text, and would like to share it with the ward. It is dating advice from the prophet Brigham Young, dated 1873. It is a privilege to see this before the rest of the world.

Brethren, when courting a young lady, it is important to remember to let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly. And don't forget to bring her a carnation. If you can, give her father a mule upon arrival. Not necessarily every time, but the first time, and then about one month later.

Always wear your best. Take her arm when walking down the street and make your intentions known from the very beginning. If she is to be your fourth or fifth wife, it is important for her to know this right from the start. Never bring any of your other wives on a date with a prospective wife.

Properly choosing a prospective date can be subjective, but within the following constraints. A proper lady will be able to play the harpsichord and can recite many poems. If the poems have been learned from sailors, steer clear of this one. If she snorts at any time, that indicates a problem.

Often you will ask yourself, but what will I talk about? Ask her about herself. Ask her if she has any fond memories about crossing the plains. Ask her if her shoulder is to the wheel. (It's a metaphor. If her shoulder is actually on a wheel, that's worse than snorting).

You may also want to ask her where she gets her petticoats. Then come and tell me. Some of my wives would like to find out where the best deal on petticoats can be had.

And always, always, always, remember to ask if she has any sisters.

Saintspeak 16: The Letter M (Part 1)

by Seattle Jon (bio)

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

Magnify Your Calling To do what needs to be done without waiting to be commanded. Not to be confused with going off half-cocked. You can easily tell the difference: if it worked, you magnified your calling; if it didn't you went off half-cocked.

Mahonri Moriancumr If that were your name, you'd go by "the brother of Jared," too.

Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen The words Mormons use to console themselves when they are stuck with cleaning up after the quorum party alone, even though six other people promised to help.

Millenium A thousand years of genealogy, temple work, proselytizing, and filling out reports, a prospect that can make wickedness and destruction look downright enticing.

Missionary A saint who has put on the whole armor of God, even though it's heavy, out of style, and 3 sizes too big.

Missionspeak A pidgin English built around the root word 'flip' and employing snatches of dozens of other languages. While the origins of words in Missionspeak are easy to trace, long conversations remain untranslatable even by the most accomplished linguists. Missionspeak seems to be a whole new turn in the history of language: an idiom that is used to convey raw emotion without communicating anything that could be called "meaning."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mormon Lit Blitz: Call For Submissions

There are two weeks left to enter the Second Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest. Send up to three submissions by 27 April 2013 to for a chance to win a Kindle and more.

What we want:

Short work for Mormons to be published and read online.

The details:

"Short" means under 1,000 words.

"Work" means creative writing in any genre, from literary realism to far future science fiction, and in any form: fiction, essay, poetry, comics, playlet, etc. Give us a tiny, polished gem we can show off to people who love Mormonism and love great writing but "know not where to find" a place where the two meet.

"For Mormons" means for committed Latter-day Saints. Yes, that's an extremely diverse audience (see the I'm a Mormon campaign—and your ward members), but it's also an audience with distinctive shared values and history that don't often get attention in creative work. We want you to write something that will appeal to us as people who believe in the sacred, who have ridiculous numbers of brothers and sisters we see every week, who worry about being good and faithful servants no matter what our day jobs are and wonder what it will be like to meet our grandparents' grandparents in heaven. We don't need your pieces to preach to us. We do need them to combine your creativity and religious commitment in a way that excites us and gives us something cool to talk about with our Mormon friends.

"To be published and read online" means we're going to publish six to twelve finalists' pieces and then ask readers to vote on their favorites. (For more details on the publication side, check here.)

Fast Offerings

by Eliana (bio)

I know the purpose of fast offerings: President Gordon B. Hinckley has said that if the principles of fast day and the fast offering were observed throughout the world, "the hungry would be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered. Our burden of taxes would be lightened. The giver would not suffer but would be blessed by [this] small abstinence. A new measure of concern and unselfishness would grow in the hearts of people everywhere. Can anyone doubt the divine wisdom that created this program which has blessed the people of this church as well as many who are not members of this church?" (1991)

I know the stated expectation of amount: "An important reason for fasting is to contribute the amount saved from the meals not eaten to care for the poor and the needy." L. Tom Perry, 1986

I even know the optional super-sized version: "Sometimes we have been a bit penurious, and figured that we had for breakfast one egg and that cost so many cents and then we give that to the Lord. I think that when we are affluent, as many of us are, … we ought to be very, very generous … and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—ten times more where we are in a position to do it." Spencer W. Kimball, 1974

At my house, no one fasts. Another subject for another day. The cost of food is something like $10 for a day of meals for our family. If you take out dinner, let's say like $5. That seems like a silly fast offering, even if multiplied by every single person in my ward.

Of all things done with my financial contributions, I feel most strongly about fast offerings. It seems like the purest of Christ-like charity. It shouldn't matter what others are contributing, but I do wonder. People are weird talking about money, so I'm wary of bringing it up.

If you aren't comfortable sharing a specific dollar amount that you give as fast offerings, how about a percentage? I give 1%. That is neither right nor wrong, just where it is for now. I'm thinking about it a lot though and would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

All Enlisted said, Let there be prayer: and there was prayer.

by Andrew Beck (bio)

All Enlisted's Let Women Pray facebook page: here
Salt Lake Tribune's reaction: here
Video of Jean A. Stevens' prayer: here

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Creating Sacred Spaces

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I've been thinking a lot about where my downtime went. I rarely feel like I have nothing productive to do and I miss that feeling. From experience I know that being passively engaged, or disengaged altogether, is when my mind wanders best and I can churn big questions uninterrupted.

Interruption-free space is sacred, leading some to call these moments of disengagement sacred spaces. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the internet, people, and other forms of distraction.

Why do we give up our sacred space so easily? The need to be connected is, in fact, very basic in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Our need for a sense of belonging comes right after physical safety. We thrive on friendship, family, and the constant affirmation of our existence and relevance. Our self-esteem is largely a product of our interactions with others.

It is now possible to always feel loved and cared for, thanks to the efficiency of comment walls on Facebook and seamless connection with everyone we've ever known. Our confidence and self-esteem can quickly be reassured by checking the number of followers we have on Twitter or the number of "likes" garnered by Instagram photographs and blog posts (please "like" this post, I'll feel better about myself).

So what's the solution? How do we reclaim our sacred spaces? Here are four potential solutions for consideration:

1. Rituals for unplugging
What if you made the Sabbath about more than just refraining from work, but also about unplugging? The notion of a day every week reserved for reflection sounds pretty good in today's increasingly hectic world.

2. Controlling the connection
We probably all know households that control "TV time," otherwise, it would consume every waking moment. Now, every waking moment is "connected time" – why not control connection as well?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gospel Fire 3: Loosening the Grip

by Bradly Baird (bio)

Oscar Hammerstein II - The man who really believed that there is a "bright golden haze on the meadow."

As I mentioned in Gospel Fire 1, I am currently suffering from a severe case of spiritual blues and don't have any idea how to shake it off. Anytime I do anything spiritually-related, I feel overwhelmed by a total sense of exhaustion and a kind of numbness. In Gospel Fire 2, I described a moment of reassurance in my heart that - despite the mass of pain I was then feeling - this whole spiritual frustration would eventually pass. This stirring came because of an encounter with specific images of the Savior and a deeply spiritual piece of music.

About a week after I received this assurance, I returned from work on a Friday evening and sat down to contemplate my situation. As I was sitting there, I felt a gentle prompting to spend the entire weekend listening to music, gentle music that would soothe my soul and heal my wound. I was surprised by this; but, as I thought about it, I realized that in spending time with beauty and gentleness, I would become prepared to take the next steps (and be open enough to accept the Lord's will for my next phase of growth).

I turned first to one of my favorite song writers, Adam Guettel, whose musical instincts are always very gentle and who once said "that writing for character and telling stories through music was something that ... allowed me to express love." I listened to Statues and Stories, The Beauty Is, Dividing Day, Fable, and Say It Somehow. They are all beautiful, gentle, and express the love of a mother and daughter.

I then moved on to Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers, and listened to some of their most optimistic songs, including The Sound of Music, Climb Every Mountain, Cockeyed Optimist, This Nearly Was Mine, Twin Soliloquies, Younger Than Springtime, and My Girl Back Home. Their work has a buoyancy and such a wonderfully calm spirit about it, that I always feel such a sense of hope about humanity and the world.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

10 Questions on the Challenge of Same-Sex Attraction

The following is an anonymous guest post submission; a conversation between two friends about homosexuality and the LDS Church. Submit your own guest post via email.

1) When did you first begin to realize an attraction to men?

I was about ten years old when I first started having those teasing thoughts in my mind. But, I don't think my sex drive had kicked in yet, so it wasn't until my hormones started to go crazy a couple of years later that I really started to feel the attraction. I think the first time I noticed was during gym class in junior high school. There were two or three guys that I found myself attracted to. It was very strange and I was pretty horrified when it started to happen. I didn't quite know what to do except keep the whole thing to myself and try not to think about those guys. It was especially difficult in the locker room after class every day and so I attempted to suppress it because I knew that no one would understand; and not only wouldn't anyone understand, but they would react in an extreme way if I ever mentioned it.

2) Did you ever act on your feelings?

Well, as I said, I didn't know what to do with it for a few years. I mostly tried to suppress the feelings and temptations and tried to ignore them as much as possible. I was also trying to reconcile those sexual feelings with my own feelings about the Gospel and I thought that it would just be simpler to do nothing, rather than provoke further feelings of guilt and shame. I also think that I was so afraid of the whole issue - I was afraid of everything back then - that I would never have said anything to anyone about it, even if I knew that another person shared the same attraction as I did. It was terrifying.

But, I was a typical teenager and as I grew little older, I did imagine what it might be like to be gay and to be with other guys. However, even those early imaginings were accompanied by such strong feelings of guilt and shame that I simply couldn't think about them for very long because it was so confusing. I had been brought up to think that it was wrong even to have those feelings, and so I shoved it all deep down inside and refused to deal with it. I promised myself that I would never tell a living soul. It seemed the only way to survive.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Be A Modern Mormon Man ... A Century Ago

by Scott Hales (bio)

Being a modern Mormon man is tough—even with blogs like this to help you do it right. Imagine what it must have been like for our manly Mormon forbears a century ago, those grim-faced dirt farmers who spent half their time irrigating fields and the other half attending meetings without air-conditioning and smart phones. Where did they get the know-how to be the best kind of Mormon men?

The Improvement Era and General Conference, of course!

In fact, for a while, the Improvement Era ran a series of talks for young men on how to be the kind of guy that would attract a nice Mormon girl. Take this snippet of advice from a 1903 issue:

Some young men greatly impair their opportunities in matrimony by being gad-flies of instability. What a woman admires in a man is manliness. When he is a certain given quantity and that quantity is good character, he immediately commands respect. Sensible girls don't marry men they cannot respect. Women have much keener insight into human nature than men, as a rule. And when these gad-fly-men pay them their passing attentions, women permit it and invariably put the right estimate on those attentions. Such men are constantly used by women, for really most women have a use for men in some way or other. But when those men who have been used by women as social caddies feel that it is time to be serious, their troubles begin. They find they have made themselves altogether too cheap, and it is pretty hard to find a purchaser. This is the retribution of flirting. No woman, and by no means a flirt, cares for a fickle man. The true woman wants a true lover, and one that will remain so through all their married life.

The message is clear: if you want to be a real man—the kind of man that doesn't get "constantly used by women"—don't be a Mormon gad-fly! It will only make things worse when you try to get serious! A true woman wants a true lover! Be the true lover!

In 1904, one of the talks to young men was written by a few young women with strong opinions on what a real Mormon man should be. Here is what they said:

The physical must stand first. Without a good body, all the powers and faculties will be blighted. As well might we expect to obtain luscious, beautiful fruit from a tree whose roots were poorly developed, or a rich harvest from an impoverished soil, as to anticipate rare intellectual and spiritual results from a diseased body. The ideal young man, then, must be strong in body, and as near as possible physically perfect.
To have a splendid physique, embraces many virtues. It is brought about by right living, for one thing. The ideal must have trained his appetite so that it is perfectly under his control; so that it will not crave food or drink that destroys or emaciates the body, or wrecks the nerves. That means that he must eat and drink in conformity with the wise counsels of the Lord, who has given us splendid pointers in modern revelation touching our mode of life, in this respect.

Ouch! As a guy who did not have a "splendid physique" as a teenager, I fear I would not have fared too well in 1904. But I should say, as a testimonial, that my wife and I have nevertheless obtained "luscious beautiful fruit" despite the "impoverished soil" that is my less-than-splendid physique. (As long as my kids can be considered "luscious beautiful fruit," at least.)

Here's some more from the young women:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Scouting Wanted My Feedback On Sexual Orientation Policy

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I recently received the following email from the Boy Scouts of America:
The Boy Scouts of America is in the process of a careful and deliberate review of our membership policy, as it relates to national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.

We are dedicated to the integrity of this process. In an effort to listen to our alumni's perspectives and concerns, we ask you to answer some questions about this topic.

Please take 5 minutes to complete our survey by clicking on the link below. Responses are confidential and will be summarized and reported as a group.
For those of you who don't know, the Boy Scouts of America's official position is to "not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals" as Scouts or adult Scout Leaders in its traditional Scouting programs. The first survey question, along with my answer, is below.

MMM readers, what would your answer be and why?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest Post: College, The Benefit of the Doubt

It doesn't matter if you're man or woman, gay or straight, dark- or light-skinned. All can equally submit guest posts to Modern Mormon Men. Write something now and submit via email.

My name is Ethan Unklesbay. I'm a Junior in Spanish Teaching at BYU. After growing up in southwest Ohio, I served a mission in Chile, Rancagua. I play the guitar, the harmonica, and enough piano to get myself into trouble (because I can't actually play any hymns). I love literature, especially in Spanish or from Spain. Being a Mormon is awesome, but sometimes I think it gets complicated, and that more so at BYU than elsewhere. Scott Hales recommended me to MMM while he and I were on a trip through Logan (to visit the temple) and Brigham City (to visit the grave of Nephi Anderson's first wife, Asenath).

via SoSheQuoted

It's easy enough to believe that your college professors are only passionate about their subject matter. When they pile on the homework, papers, research, readings, assignments, evaluations, etc., it's easy to think they only want you to focus on what they have for you to do or what's important to them. I should give more professors the benefit of the doubt.

I talked to my professors about a friend of mine who was admitted to the hospital recently with liver failure and how I want to be able to spend time at the hospital. The expected responses were: "Well, don't forget about your classes", "Make sure you can do your readings while you're there", "Are you going to be able to get your homework in on time?", etc.

The responses I got were: "How's your friend doing?", "Don't even worry about your work right now; I'll work with you", "It's not about whether or not I'm okay with you missing my class; you're an adult, and you know where you need to be", "I don't want you to miss your test and fall behind. I understand that things happen though. You do what you've got to do."

Faith in God has been carrying me for quite a while. Faith in humanity gets bolstered day by day. The benefit of the doubt is when that doubt is proved wrong. When I just try to believe in someone else, sometimes doubts will come, but knowing that they can be proven wrong is pretty comforting.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"I'm a Mormon" Comes to the UK ... Big-Time

by ldsbishop (bio)

The Book of Mormon musical opened in the West End of London last month. Back in September 2012, the musical started a clever advertising campaign in the city, advertising on London buses, the London underground and taking the front page of the Evening Standard (below), all based around the tagline "The Mormons are Coming."

Since the musical held its opening night, it has gone on to break box-office records and looks set to continue the success first seen on Broadway.

As expected, the response from the church to enquiries from the British press has been muted. The church once again published its dignified response first given in New York and has been quiet ever since. However, missionaries serving in London keep being stopped in the street and on public transport and asked if they are part of the musical. I believe the standard response is, "No, but here's a copy of the book." Now, missionaries in London and elsewhere have started ordering extra copies because they can't keep up with the demand.

In special training held throughout the UK last month, British Mormons were told how the musical in London provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to educate the British public about who we are and what we believe. To help with this, the church has just launched, much like but more UK-focused and including more video profiles of members from the UK and Ireland.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Guest Post: Questions for Heavenly Father

It doesn't matter if you're man or woman, gay or straight, dark- or light-skinned. All can equally submit guest posts to Modern Mormon Men. Write something now and submit via email.

LDS EQ President grew up in the church but far away from the bubble land of Utah. He has lived in both big wards and small branches. He likes to do things by the book, in this case Handbook 2, but takes great joy in playing loose with some of those definitions. While perfectly polite and cordial in outward appearances, his inner thoughts are judging you left and right. His biggest life accomplishment outside of his wife and two kids: avoiding Utah except for the two months spent in the MTC. LDSEQP tweets via @ldseqpres.

A common missionary tool when discussing the plan of salvation is to address three main questions asked by most people:

1. Where were we before coming to Earth?
2. Why are we here?
3. Where are we going after this life?

These three questions help frame the points covered in the discussions. Fortunately, because of the restoration of the gospel through modern-day prophets, we have answers to these questions.

There are, however, many other unanswered questions we all share. The hope is that these things will be revealed to us through our current prophet. After all, the Ninth Article of Faith states: We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

So what are these many "great and important things?" Below is a list I would like more information on, but feel I may end up having to wait until I get to the other side to ask Heavenly Father myself.

1. What is the purpose of dust? Do we have dust just so scriptures like Helaman 12:7-8 make sense?

2. I know that "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things" (II Nephi 2:11), but does that have to include the Twilight series? Don't you think that's taking "bad things happen to good people" too far?

3. Why create cats? What purpose do they serve apart from Internet memes? To quote Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation: "Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are pointless (emphasis added)."

4. Lastly, why does no one listen to their Elders Quorum President?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Linger Longer 21

Linger Longer is a series where we highlight religious and non-religious articles, as well as mormon-related podcasts, we think you should be aware of. Click here for previous lists.

Bloggernacle (religious sites)
It Has Been Confirmed: Women Will Pray (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Why I Do Not Watch R-Rated (Cert 18) Movies (By Common Consent)
The Case Against Scouting (Times and Seasons)
Gender-Neutral Language in General Conference (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Creating New Historical Narratives (Dawning of a Brighter Day)
Parenthood Juggle: Piano Lessons Are Worth It (Doves and Serpents)
Same or Different? (The Exponent)
Gender Flame Wars, BYU Memes and the F-Word (Young Mormon Feminists)
A Booklist for Mormon Women's History (The Juvenile Instructor)
Masculinity and Mormon Apologetics (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Weight Weight, Don't Tell Me (Peculiar People)
Precipice (Dandelion Mama)
A Vision of Eternal Perspective (Mormon Women Project)
Mindfulness and Sexuality (The Mormon Therapist)
How I Came Out to My Ward (No More Strangers)
"I Died Inside" (Joanna Brooks' Religion Dispatches)
Spirit World Nicknames (Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer)
See, Now THIS is Our Problem (Rational Faiths)
The Gospel of Jesus Is Not a Plan (Into the Hills)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episodes 31-32: James McConkie on Family, Faith and the Historical Christ (A Thoughtful Faith)
Episode 33-36: Andrea Radke-Moss on Mormon Women's History and Gender Equality (A Thoughtful Faith)
Episodes 153-154: Parents on Sharing Their Faith Transitions With Their Children (Mormon Matters)
Episodes 157-158: C.S. Lewis and Mormonism (Mormon Matters)
Episode 33: Who is Mark Hoffman? Part 1 (Mormon Expositor)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
ShipsTwitterHair Dryer, and Cornstarch (What If?)
74 Things Every Great Star Wars Movie Needs (Wired)
Shane Koyczan's 'To This Day,' Anti-Bullying Poem, Goes Viral [VIDEO] (Huffington Post)
Deep Space Photos: Hubble's Greatest Hits (Time Magazine)
How To Be a Better Driver (Scientific American)
What If You Rammed Every Car That Cut You Off (Thought Catalog)
Clayton Christensen Wants to Transform Capitalism (Wired)
What It Was Like To Guard Michael Jordan, According to Craig Ehlo (Deadspin)
How Not To Be a Dick to Your Fat Friends (xoJane)
How "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" Ruled the Internet (BuzzFeed)
Snakes in a Frame: Mark Laita's Stunning Photographs (Slate)
Upgrade or Die (The New Yorker)
Advice to My Kids (ZenHabits)
Cell Phones As a Modern Irritant (The New York Times)
Washed Away: Japan's Atlantis (Boston Review)
The Long Journey of Blue Jeans (Vice)
Jim Gaffigan is the King of (Clean) Comedy (The Wall Street Journal)
The Brilliance of the Dog Mind (Scientific American)

Other MMM Posts

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