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Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Choose a Career: A Non-Lame Guide to Finding More Joy in What You Do Every Day -- Part 1

by Dustin (bio)

NOTE: This is the first in a series of posts that piece together things I've learned over the last eight years of using my life like a lab rat to figure out the question "what should I do with my life?" This series is aimed at those who are exploring career, looking to change jobs, or who are simply searching for more happiness in their daily work regardless of what that work entails.

Image by Thomas Leuthard

This time of year makes me nauseous, mostly because I have flashbacks to my time as a graduating senior from BYU-Idaho almost 10 years ago. For some, graduation was an epic day because they transitioned smoothly into ready-made jobs with benefits. For me, an educational drifter who dabbled in seven majors in college, graduation marked the end of procrastinating one big, universal question -- what should I do with my life?

I graduated in public relations and spent one year in a job that drained my energy before I abruptly quit and devoted the next eight years to figuring out how to figure out what to do with my life and find more joy from 8am-5pm. I worked 8 jobs in 6 states in those eight years including stints as an alarm system salesman, corporate relations specialist, large appliance delivery man, program adviser at a university, community service intern, and a leadership development coordinator. I interviewed more than 200 people, read countless books and articles, and researched career exploration like it was my job. From all of this, two things happened: 1) I found a dream job that I get paid above average to do and 2) I figured out how to figure it out. I put everything I learned into a massive 98-page Google doc on my Gmail account and have spent the last few years teaching the concepts to every person who would listen, particularly to college kids at UNLV and Rice, to do my part to alleviate world suffering and global warming. I've coached hundreds of people through career exploration and believe the things I've learned in my journey can blow the lid off choosing a best-fit career and enjoying what you do. In this series of posts, I'll start with some basic things you need to know to figure it out. I'll then give three simple strategies to get you started. If after all this you need more help let me know by contacting me at dustin (at) petersonleadership (dot) com. No spam or Canadian drug offers, please. I am, however, open to wire transferring money to Nigerian kings or old ladies with big inheritances.

Know This First
It's important to understand at the outset that when people tell you to "just do what you love" they are both right and wrong. Yes, you should pursue something you love because you are more invested in things you love and you get more return on your investment. Think puppies. Or your family. But they may be wrong in suggesting that if you love singing you should be a singer. Or if you love basketball you should head for the NBA. I made the mistake of charting a course to a career in professional basketball that ended when I was 14 and got cut in tryouts. I didn't get far. All my life when people suggested I should just do what I love for a living I poo-pooed them, feeling like I had missed my calling in basketball and was forever doomed to just work out the rest of my days in job purgatory. "Well, if I failed at doing what I love I guess I should fall back into line with the day laborers."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Modern Mormon Book: A Review of Aleesa Sutton's Diary of a Single Mormon Female

by Scott Hales (bio)

There have been times in my life when I've been good at keeping a journal. As a teenager, I wrote weekly if not daily about the stuff that interested me: movies, music, books, girls. Sometimes I wrote profound things. Most of the time I was angsty and melodramatic. I thought of myself as a great writer back then, and I fully expected my journals to make it into print. Fifteen years later, they are still on my shelf, unpublished.

And I think they'll stay that way.

Mormons have a long history of publishing journals and diaries. Joseph Smith's diaries became the basis for the History of the Church and are currently accessible in the original through the Joseph Smith Papers project. William Clayton's journal is one of the best primary documents about the trek west. Wilford Woodruff's journals are legendary for what they tell us about Church history and the character of early leaders.

But let's be honest. Most of us aren't writing journals of that caliber. Heck, most of us aren't even writing journals. We're blogging, tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking, and—if we really get desperate for a social media fix—Google+ing. The print journal or diary is on its way out as our life's records becomes increasingly digitized and pixelated and confined to 140 characters or less.

But it's not dead yet. Private journals—whether written on paper or tapped out on a word processor—still fill a void. When we don't want to share our latest disappointment or heartbreak with the world—when what we have to say is still too embarrassing to share with our 589 Facebook friends or 239 followers on Twitter or the 97 people in our Google+ circles—we turn to the journal. We write in it because we know no one else will read it.

Unless we publish it. Then it becomes something else, something hybrid and rare: a book written in secret, but shouted from the rooftops.

Aleesa Sutton's Diary of a Single Mormon Female is such a book. Begun, in a manner of speaking, when Sutton was eleven, it follows her life from the manic idealism of adolescence to the frustrations of post-BYU Mormon single life. Much of the book is composed excerpts from the her many journals intercut with snarky or reflective commentary from her older, wiser (but still single) self. Sutton's main focus is on the many relationships and non-relationships that have helped define her identity as a "Single Mormon Female." However, her focus is not solely on men and failed relationships. Along with accounts of awkward first dates and sloppy first kisses is a portrait of Sutton coming of age and discovering herself, her dreams, and her faith.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All Paths Lead to God

by Shawn Tucker (bio)

During my mission I often heard investigators say that all paths lead to God. This drove me crazy. People would normally say this when we discussed the need to be baptized or to go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically. They would say, "Well, it doesn't really matter if I believe in your book or join your church because, in the end, all paths go back to God (or to heaven, or some version of that)."

As a missionary, for the most part, I handled this poorly. Here are some bad ideas of how to respond:
  • Bad Idea #1: "The scriptures say that only the straight and narrow road leads to God and that few find it, while the broad road is common and leads to hell." So why is saying that a bad idea? Well, this tells others that they are wrong, you are right, and that everyone not on your version of the straight and narrow is going to hell. I would also argue that it uses (or abuses) the Bible to make your point in a potentially manipulative manner. Others are forced to either agree with you, disagree with you, or disbelieve the Bible, at least disbelieve your use of the Bible. Oh, and it just might be prooftexting. (If you don't know what prooftexting is, follow the link—it just might change your life!)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MMM Sermons: The Eternal Blessings of Marriage

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.

Have you ever wondered how an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ acts as a husband and a father? Elder Richard G. Scott, in General Conference of April 2011, reveals many personal and exceptional experiences he had with his late wife and children.

Someone once interviewed Elder Scott and asked him if he would ever remarry. He responded, "If you did it right the first time, why would you do it again?"

Through sickness and health, pain and joy, Elder Scott chronicles his marriage and his fatherhood in this sermon. Even though death took one of his children, he and his wife pulled together and drew closer to the Lord.

After finishing listening to this talk, I knew that I needed to repent and improve. It reaffirmed President Monson's counsel to "Choose Your Love. Love Your Choice."

Now, where can I find a hole punch? (read the talk or you won't get this)

Giveaway 29: Winners

According to Scott Hales, our resident book expert, Aleesa Sutton's self-published Diary of a Single Mormon Female "... is a fun book with a lot of insight into the lives of single Mormons. The book is made up of excerpts from Sutton's journals since the time she was a starry-eyed (and boy-crazy) pre-teen intercut with snarky bits of commentary from her older and wiser self. The combination is hilarious and heartbreaking." The following MMM readers have won a copy.

Gretchen Alice (read comment)
Emily Richardson (read comment)
Karen Peterson (read comment)
Ally Grigg (read comment)
Jenny Lloyd (read comment)

Winners must respond via email with their addresses by Friday, May 31st to claim their book. If you didn't win, buy Aleesa's book.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Cards

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

"Memorial Day occurs every year on the final Monday of May. It is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as D Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service."

Words to Live By 8: On Hope

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 Hope
by The Reverend John LaFarge (Famous Catholic Editor and Author)

"Hope does not disappoint." - St. Paul

I have learned that you can build a life upon hope, and if that principle is your anchor, plenty of other people will cast their moornings hard by you.

Life has taught me that the hopeful policy wins acceptance from even embittered minds. The prophet of despair gains a shouting audience. But one who speaks from hope will be heard long after the noise dies down.

As St. Paul said, "Hope does not disappoint." It is man's answer to the trust placed in him by the Creator.

Friday, May 24, 2013

MMM Library: Linked Parents, The Chain Conundrum

by Casey Peterson (bio)

This post was originally published on January 25, 2012.

I grew up on a very large cattle ranch among a most colorful group of cowboys. I quickly became familiar with their ability to communicate in different types of metaphors, mixed metaphors, and mixed up metaphors. I’ll let you decide which type relates to the lesson of the chain.

The story is told of an old cowboy who pulls up to the local hardware store in his beat-up pickup truck, and determinedly marches into the store as fast as his bowed legs can carry him. “Give me the strongest chain you’ve got” he demands to the store clerk. The clerk politely inquires the length, and then measures, cuts, and delivers the chain to the impatient buckaroo. Within the hour, the quiet of the store is broken and filled with the rumble of the old truck, the clicking of run down boot heels on the sidewalk, and a loud rattling sound as the chain is angrily tossed back on the counter. “This chain don’t work” states the old cowboy. “I hooked on with it, and no matter how hard I pushed, it wouldn’t move a thing. It’s not stronger than my rope I tried to push with this morning.”

The chain metaphor and analogy was used to remind me in many situations of the difference between “pushing” and “leading.” When pushed, individual links of a chain go different directions, acting independently, and lacking a common purpose, they serve little use. Yet when pulled by a common purpose, each link lends individual strength that collectively fortifies the chain as a whole. Several times in my life I have found myself pushing, not leading.

Last night, I found myself once again reflecting on the lesson of the chain. I was standing in the corner of the gym at my son's basketball game. You see, I prefer standing near the corner, away from parents who are exerting their own “chain” powers. Some by pushing and shouting at their kids, the referees, and the coaches. Others by quietly complaining and comparing abilities of said kids, referees, and coaches. I’ve determined no one in the stands seems to be happy, and the swell of chain pushers inevitably spills ugly frustrations out on the court to a group of emotional, changing, somewhat insecure teenagers who are trying to figure out how to function as a pulled chain, linking their individual abilities in a cohesive athletic effort. So I choose to stand apart where I have to deal with my own emotions, independent of the commotion in the stands.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mormon World Records 7: Politics

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 Mormon senator?
AReed Smoot was the first member of the Church elected to the Senate, in 1902. Anti-Mormon efforts* delayed his being seated in the Senate, but after an investigation, he was allowed to begin his duties.

Read this book and you might formulate a different opinion.

via Greg Newbold
QWho was the first woman state senator?
A: In 1896, Martha Hughes Cannon became the first woman elected as Utah state senator, and also the first woman state senator in the history of the United States.*

* I would add that she defeated her husband, who was also on the ballet.

QWere Mormon women really the first to vote in the history of the United States?
A: In February 1870, the Utah territorial legislature passed a statute permitting women to vote, making them the first female citizens in the nation to vote in a regular United States election.

Q: How long was the Missouri extermination order in effect?
A: It took 138 years, but in June 1976, Missouri Governor Christopher S. Bond rescinded the extermination order issued by Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs in 1838. Boggs' extermination order stated, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary, for the public peace - their outrages are beyond all description." Up to that time the order was legally in effect. Governor Bond said Governor Boggs was clearly outside his legal and constitutional bounds and expressed "deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by this 1838 order."

Mormon Exploring in Paris

by jpaul (emeritus contributor)

Modern Mormon Men has been an early supporter of Mormon Explorer. We are grateful for their continued support and are proud to announce that a year since launching we have nearly 1600 users in 82 countries. Members have shared amazing stories with us of travels to Norway, Peru, Singapore and more. I've personally had a chance to use Mormon Explorer for local trips to Dallas and San Antonio as well as a couple amazing experiences in Paris and Mexico. I'd like to share some of the lessons learned during my Paris adventure, and invite you to share your stories with us. Message us on Facebook to be highlighted on our homepage.

Ever since we launched Mormon Explorer in mid-2012, my wife and I had wanted to try it out. We love to travel and meet new people, so we figured Mormon Explorer would be the perfect way to do both, while saving money (another passion of ours). We couldn't be more pleased with our experience traveling to Paris and staying with Georgette Lalaus and her amazing family.

We arrived at the Paris airport in a complete downpour late Sunday evening. I don't have an international cell phone, so meeting up became a bit trickier than I had expected. When we finally found each other, all of us soaked from running around in the rain, I clearly remember Georgette’s huge smile on her face. She repeated several times the phrase, “I am so Happy!”. Her joy for life was contagious and I knew right then that we were going to have an amazing few days with her in Paris.

Her husband, Phillipe, drove us back to their apartment on the south-west side of town. Their apartment was a beautiful little haven from the crazy day of travel we had just been through. We were surprised to hear that they had moved their two boys out of their bedroom so that we could sleep in their room. Both Georgette and Phillipe had to wake up early to get to work, but that didn't keep them from staying up late to help us plan our next day’s activities, nor did it keep them from waking up early to make sure there was delicious quiche for us when we woke up…Did I already mention they were an amazing family?

Rather than mention the tourist sites we saw, I want to focus instead on the unique experiences that were only possible through our use of Mormon Explorer. Here are some of the highlights. The second day in Paris, Georgette was able to leave work a little early to give us a personal tour of the city. She introduced us to a parisian cafe where I tasted the best french onion soup I have had to date. We relaxed in the cafe and got to know Georgette better. Her conversations were deeper than most you would have over lunch. She delved into our life story by asking questions like, “when did you get your testimony?”, “what does the church mean for you?” While she's been a member most her life, she could have easily been mistaken for a new member by her eagerness to talk about the gospel.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest Post: The Week of Living Nervously (Part 3 of Urology Series)

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.

The doctor's office can be a perilous place. I'm never quite sure when I go because I feel ill just talking about the symptoms or probing them out. Annual physicals are even more capricious in nature, at least from my experience. Sometimes physicals are at the request of a new health insurance company, sometimes because of volunteering for Boy Scout service, and sometimes just because you reach a milestone age. Each of these occasions bears its own "form" – a piece of paper outlining the battery of tests to be performed. My real question on these occasions is what sort of indignity will I be asked to submit to.

I fancy myself as a shy, somewhat reserved person. I tend to not speak or write about things I deem personal until sufficient time has transpired and then, only if, I can mine the experience for some comedic value. (1) Let's just say that I was at my doctor's office getting my 60,000 mile servicing several years ago. The doctor ran through his list of places to poke on my body. Then it came to the part of the exam that I was secretly hoping would not occur. I thought the doctor and I could remain in the "friend zone." Nope, drop your drawers Soper. He needed to check something. I cleared my throat and put my hands above my head, closed my eyes and began to think of England. I'll try to be more gentle in my description than the doctor was in his investigation. He was checking for issues in the "area where Lance Armstrong had cancer." (2)

I glanced down and saw a furrowed brow on the doctor's face. He told me that I had something going on in the “AWLAHC." He assured me that this was by no means a diagnosis that I had cancer in the "AWLAHC," but that it needed to be followed up on. I was to be scheduled for an ultrasound.

If I ran the world, when a doctor told someone they might possibly have cancer, especially in the “AWLAHC," you wouldn't have to wait very long for the ultrasound. Sure there are more pressing medical emergencies -- I'm not saying I should have been transported immediately by ambulance or helicopter to the closest medical facility with an ultrasound machine and immediately whisked into the room, like a Disneyland patron with a park hopper pass. No, I am not proposing that at all. It would be nice if you didn't have to wait nearly a week, walking around wondering if you might have cancer in the "AWLAHC."

In this particular case, I had to wait five days. Not an eternity by any stretch, but they were still five days. I considered my options. Maybe I just blow off the ultrasound and live my life and hope for the best. Or, I could assume the worst and go bungee jumping, parachuting, and eating nothing but McDonald's food for a month because, hey, I might have cancer in the “AWLAHC." Life is short. Let's get some excitement going. At the very least, I should have created some sort of bucket list, you know, just in case.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fathers & Sons: Three Reasons I Support the Annual May Event

by Pete Codella (bio)

Every ward I’ve lived in since getting married has held an event during the month of May for fathers and sons: the annual Fathers and Sons Camp Out.

Perhaps such an event existed while I was a child, youth, teenager or young adult, but I don’t have a recollection of ever participating in this event until I was married. I don’t remember my dad ever taking me to a Fathers and Sons.

After I was married, I attended before I actually had a son because, although I wasn’t a father, as our bishop explained, I was a son and therefore eligible to participate. And when my son finally came along in 2005, I had him in tow with me at our ward’s annual Fathers and Sons at just 9 months old the following May. (I think I packed the most things for that trip, including a portable crib, diapers, food and all the trappings that go along with kids that age these days.)

Lots of rain on this Fathers and Sons Camp Out.
The Jordan River Utah Temple is in the background.
Last weekend my now seven year-old son and I set-up a tent in the rain and stuck it out all Friday night, had breakfast the next morning, then threw everything in the truck soaking wet to get home, dried out and warmed up.

For those of you not fond of camping, you may not choose to participate in such a seemingly silly event. But I quite like Fathers and Sons, and I’ll give you three reasons why.

1. May marks the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood (May 15, 1829 to be exact). That's why we gather as men and boys in the month of May, to commemorate that event.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this priesthood is available to worthy males beginning at the ripe old age of 12. It’s quite remarkable to me that our Father in Heaven entrusts the authority to act in His name—the priesthood—to such young men. Also remarkable is the opportunity to serve given to the youth (boys and girls) of the LDS Church.

This is Water: David Foster Wallace

by Seattle Jon (bio)

In case you missed this, watch and be more aware this week.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Giveaway 29: Aleesa Sutton's Diary of a Single Mormon Female

According to Scott Hales, our resident book expert, Aleesa Sutton's self-published Diary of a Single Mormon Female "... is a fun book with a lot of insight into the lives of single Mormons. The book is made up of excerpts from Sutton's journals since the time she was a starry-eyed (and boy-crazy) pre-teen intercut with snarky bits of commentary from her older and wiser self. The combination is hilarious and heartbreaking."

Introducing the book on her website, Aleesa has this to say:
Lots of single women are looking for The One. But what does one do at age 32, when the pool of eligible men is tiny and she should have been married long before now? Diary of a Single Mormon Female is the wry and moving memoir about coping without Mr. Right in a church focused on marriage and family.

Scripture juggling, a virtual albino Chinese teenager, chastity lines, the virgin lips club, Brazilians (not that kind), a pink flamingo date messenger, an elusive guitarist in Malta, an open-minded parrot, a Swiss lumberjack, Icelandic Mormons, a marriage flowchart and dozens of awkward conversations … it's all here. Chapters include The Hunk of Burnin' Love; Was I Weak-Butted?; Who Talks About Grandpa's Migraine Headaches on a Dream Date??; Virgins, in This Day and Age! and Do You Think I Have Nerves of Steel? Actual diary pages and photos accompany the text.

As an awkward, home-schooled Mormon teenager, she dreamed of the day she would find the man of her dreams, have a temple marriage and live happily ever after. But it hasn't happened. Is there truly someone out there for her? And will she succeed in reconciling her beliefs with her reality? Some days it feels like it would take nothing less than a fairy godmother and a magic wand.
Today, we are giving away five copies of Aleesa's book. Good luck!

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, May 24th at midnight).
• Winners announced Tuesday, May 28th.
• Winners must respond via email with their addresses by Friday, May 31st to claim their book.

Mormon Armageddon: The Game!

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

While recently visiting my hometown of Salt Lake, I came across this old gem from college. As part of a visual design class, we had to mockup a new board game. I present to you Mormon Armageddon! It's basically a tongue-in-cheek Mormon version of Battleship. Rather than varying sizes of ships, it has various icons of good and evil. The game boards are the Celestial Kingdom and Outer Darkness. Heaven throws lightning bolts; Hell throws flames.

The game pieces are:
• Jesus vs. Satan
• Joseph Smith vs. Governor Lilburn Boggs
• Gordon B. Hinckley vs. Osama B. Laden
• Scrapbooking vs. Gambling (yeah, that's right)
• Hot Chocolate vs. Coffee

"You burned my scrapbook!"
"You martyred my Joseph Smith!"

Friday, May 17, 2013

Linger Longer 23

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)
My Despair (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Authentic Prayer After a Faith Transition (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Laying On Of Hands and Other New Church History Website Content (By Common Consent)
Chastity and Virginity (Times and Seasons)
"I Never Noticed Women Weren't Praying in Conference" (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Creative Writing and Hearing the Word of the Lord: Mormon Lit Blitz (Mormon Midrashim)
Brigham Young on Writing (A Motley Vision)
Children's Lit Corner (Dawning of a Brighter Day)
Mormon Passive-Aggression (Wheat & Tares)
B.H. Roberts, On Tracting (Keepapitchinin)
Motherhood in Six Short Words (Doves and Serpents)
Mormonism and McDonald's (The Juvenile Instructor)
Priesthood, Women and Non-Agency (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Thoughts on "Sexual Purity" (Peculiar People)
Using the LDS Ward Library (Millenial Star)
A Mormon at the Vatican (Ships of Hagoth)
Imagining Stuck (Dandelion Mama)
Her Version of Having It All (Mormon Women Project)
Shifting Talk on Mormon Racism Reveals Divisions Within LDS Church (Joanna Brooks' Religion Dispatches)
Mormons and Mullets (Rational Faiths)
Letter to a Doubter (Mormon Interpreter)
Cinematic Heroes as 'Types of Christ' (Mormon Movie Guy)
Happy Day to Heavenly Mother (Living Creation)
Oh My Mother (C.Jane Kendrick)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episodes 172-173: Proactive LDS Parenting (Mormon Matters) *features MMM contributor Aimee
Episodes 170-171: Toward Expanding and Improving LDS Discourse About Sexuality (Mormon Matters)
Episode 38: Who is Mark Hoffman? Part 2 (Mormon Expositor) listen to Part 1
Episode 84: Christopher Clark (The Cultural Hall) *features MMM emeritus contributor Topher Clark
Brad Wilcox Interview, Part 1 (Mormon Discussion)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Pressure CookerGo West and Longest Sunset (What If?)
50 Common Cognitive Distortions (Psychology Today)
What's in a Nickname? The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names (Mental Floss)
Chess and 18th Century Artificial Intelligence (BBC News)
Nine Things You Probably Didn't Know About Swear Words (Time Magazine)
The Passion of the Costas (Grantland)
Why is it So Hard to Make a Phone Call in Emergency Situations? (The Atlantic)
Science, Magic and Madness (BBC News)
Lost in Space (The New York Times)
The Science Behind Why We Procrastinate (LifeHacker)
20 Words We Owe to William Shakespeare (Mental Floss)
George W. Bush's Presidency, in 24 Charts (The Washington Post)
What if We Never Run Out of Oil? (The Atlantic)
How One Small College is Leaving Sports -- And Might Lead a Revolution (SB Nation)
Winners of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards (The Atlantic)
Kareem: 20 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was 30 (Esquire)
66 Behind The Scenes Pics from The Empire Strikes Back (imgur)
How to Be a Better Friend (Scientific American)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Underlined 2: Commitment, Vaughn J. Featherstone

by Bradly Baird (bio)

Underlined is a series where contributors share what they underlined while reading books. Today's book is Vaughn J. Featherstone's Commitment.

"Commitment is a quality that combines determination with an intelligent goal. It is a great concentration or focus on something that requires labor to acquire or teach."

"By its very nature, commitment is a word that exudes strength. But it is not a declaration only; it has to include action."

"Choose you this day whom you will serve whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the Gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24: 14-15)

"So commitment is a path. The first step is to say or write the commitment. May it be a noble one. The second is to prepare, including, perhaps, listing the obstacles that may turn you aside so that you can avoid them or prepare to climb over them. The third step is the action part, the time when you slay the "Goliath," or the dragon."

"'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' Do it. Do it with your might. That's commitment."

"I believe that the work ethic is an attitude. It is a discipline. It is something that can become a habit. By that I mean that when you work fast and hard or when you are intense in studying, it becomes a habit; and every time you study with that habit."

"The greatest poverty is the poverty of desire." (Harold B. Lee)

"'The mind will take a terrible revenge if one does not think on constructive things. It will reach out  and grasp anything that is nearby. It is being worked all of the time, twenty-four hours a day. Consciously or sub-consciously, it is involved.' So, controlled thinking is the hardest work we do and it is the very essence of life, the meaning of being."

Handbook of Instructions (1940): Tithes

by Seattle Jon (bio)

My youngest brother recently gifted me a Handbook of Instructions from 1940 signed by first presidency members Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. and David O. McKay. At 170 pages, the handbook is much shorter then our current versions (Handbook 1 alone is 186 pages) yet contains some interesting rulings and regulations - and language - which I'll share over time on MMM.

Persons Exempt from Payment of Tithing

Aged persons without incomes; women who have no income separate from that of their husbands; children who have no individual source of revenue; and persons dependent entirely upon federal or other relief are exempt from the payment of tithes. Those receiving federal or other relief may be considered exempt because the relief rendered is supposedly only sufficient to supply their absolute needs. All Latter-day Saints should be encouraged to cultivate the spirit and practice of tithepaying when conditions are such that they are able to earn.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A New Menu Item That's Spiritual

by Bishop Higgins (bio)

You know how in church, when someone is conducting, they will announce the speaker and then say, "After which, we will hear from ...". Well I don't know about you, but that always makes me hungry.

So finally I've done something about it. I've invented a new sandwich I'm calling "The Afterwhich." It's roast beef on rye, but with capers instead of horse radish. And, it's to be eaten immediately following sacrament meeting. After which, you can enjoy Sunday School.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Is This Heaven?

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I wrote and submitted the following short essay for this year's Mormon Lit Blitz. My essay was not selected, but I still found the writing exercise extremely fulfilling and suggest some of you write something for next year's Lit Blitz. You can read the eleven finalists starting tomorrow on Mormon Midrashim.

Is This Heaven?

It had been a Sunday. I'd been hiking with my wife of twenty-eight years and my oldest daughter, Ella. A two year-old grandchild – our first – was on Ella’s back. There was some discomfort in my chest and pain in one of my arms, and then …

… I opened my eyes. I was in a room, on a bed. Other than the bed, the room was empty. I stood up slowly, expecting the pain to be there. It wasn't. I walked to the door, opened it and entered a long hallway. I walked down the hallway, passing doors similar to my own, all closed. At the end of the hallway was a staircase, and as I descended, the pain in my chest and arms started returning.

The pain increased as I neared the bottom of the stairs, spreading to the lower half of my body and to my head. Despite the worsening pain, I was able to move normally and think clearly. "I shouldn't be able to take this amount of pain," I thought, as I moved into an open space on the lower floor.

It was then I noticed two couples, sitting across from each other in comfortable chairs. From the looks on their faces, it appeared as if they’d been having a pleasant discussion. I approached and they looked up. I knew both couples intimately – one was my earthly parents, both of whom had died a few years earlier – and the other was my heavenly parents.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Two Matures

by Shawn Tucker (bio)

From my experiences of LDS North American culture, we use "mature" in two ways. One way is as a merely descriptive word, as in "the young apple tree is not yet mature enough to have apples." This is a common use of the word, but it is not the most common usage that I have observed, especially when talking about LDS young people. When someone says, "that youth is not very mature," the word is used as a value judgment. Some young women and young men want to be considered "mature," since this is associated with goodness, respectability, and adult-like behavior. Youth that want leaders and some young people to like them find currency in being considered mature. Other young people, or even the same young people in different situations, reject the constraints and manipulation that would go with the stigma of being considered immature, but do so at considerable risk.

What I seem to see is that when leaders accuse young people of being "immature," those leaders are comparing. They are saying that these youth over here are good, respectable, and adult-like, while others are mischievous, silly, and childish. The problem with comparison is that it is always unfair and leads to conflict and competition. To compare two youths, even of the same family, even twins, is to strip away all that makes them rich and mysterious. It is to reduce them to some superficial qualities and to calculate their goodness against that of others. Furthermore, it is to base this comparison by appealing to a standard of the leader's own invention. C.S. Lewis and then President Ezra Taft Benson had some pretty strong words about comparison's damning dynamics (see Mere Christianity and Beware of Pride).

Besides the problem of comparison, what leaders really seem to mean when they say that someone is immature is not just that they dislike how that person is behaving, but they dislike that person. The youth is not acting according to that leader’s expectations or desires, therefore she or he is "immature."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day from MMM

Happy Mother's Day to all the past, present and future moms of the world.

Or, if you've had a rough Mother's Day and need a pep talk, watch this one from Kid President.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Words to Live By 7: On Self-Respect

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 Self-Respect
by Phyllis McGinley (Pulitzer Prize Poet)

"Don't let your sins turn into bad habits." - St. Teresa of Avila

The woman I quote was one of the wittiest, holiest, most delightful creatures who ever lived. She was speaking to a nun of her order, an overscrupulous girl who came to hear in tears, berating her own evil nature. "Ah, my dear," Teresa consoled her, "all of us are human and prone to sin. Just see to it that you don't let your sins turn into bad habits."

The paradox is as full of common sense as it is of the saint's famous salty humor. Certainly to err is human, and Teresa knew it as well as the poet Alexander Pope. It is not the occasional lapse but the repeated fault which turns us into the sort of persons we do not wish to be. We can all mourn a trouble. It's the habit of self-pity which corrodes character. To fly into a rage now and then is excusable. But to let a habit of anger master us is to court destruction. We all like gossip, it's the amusing small change of conversation. But a habit of malice can turn us into bores, troublemakers, monsters of mischief.

Few of us are murderers or traitors or thieves. Yet unkindness is a sin, too, and so is selfishness or intemperance or spite or hate or sloth or detraction. And how many of us are altogether free of those flaws? Wisdom lies in the ability to forgive ourselves such human failings - to tumble, pick ourselves up, shake the dust off our spirits, and try to avoid the next mistake.

No matter what degree of religious faith we profess, all of us yearn to be decent people and we believe in free will. Teresa has given us the best possible advice to follow on the thorny, difficult road to self-respect.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

B.L.Z. Bub: An Original Illustration

by Andrew Beck (bio)

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" - 1 Peter 5:8

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Infantilisation of Young Single Adults

by ldsbishop (bio)

Brother Troy and Brother Abed hope their pillow and blanket fort will serve as an object lesson for their dates.
The fort is an allegory for the Priesthood protection they'll provide for these dear sisters if they but agree
to be their eternal companions. However, like a blanket fort, their object lesson is flimsy.

A couple of years ago, in one of my trips to Utah to visit with my wife's family, I went Christmas shopping at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City. I was walking along with my wife and infant son, slightly freezing to death in the Utah winter, when I was approached by eight young adults (early 20's, equal numbers of men and women). Now, in most cities of the world, when you're approached by a gang of young people, you get ready to hand over your wallet and hope you don't end up being stabbed in the face. This was Utah, however, so I was ready to expect something different.

The "gang" leader started the conversation: "Hey man, can we have your name please? You're wearing a green shirt and we need someone wearing one."

It turns out they were on a scavenger hunt as part of a YSA group date and they had to complete a number of tasks that one of them had drawn together in advance. I was number 15: Find someone wearing a green shirt, get their name and take a photo.

Now, don't get me wrong, they seemed to be having a lot of fun and were positively gleeful when they heard my British accent, but I couldn't help thinking that their "date" was more suitable for a bunch of school children.

Speaking of what I perceive to be childish activities; my sister-in-law has been a member of a YSA ward in Utah for a number of years now. When we were chatting on Skype a couple of months ago, she got talking about a group date she was planning. They had decided that they were going to get together to make a blanket fort.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ender's Game Trailer

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

The first trailer for Ender's Game, the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's classic sci-fi novel, was just released.


If you're interested, you can also watch the film's director discussing the film here.

The Flying Heffernan Brothers

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

Here is a little project my family and I have been working on. We have been making our children fly in various spots around Seattle. We've all loved taking these shots. Every family member is involved and each one is happy and eager to participate. It's been fun to let the kids in on some of the magic we try to create for them. I plan to continue this as an ongoing project throughout their childhood and hope to add more sites and aeronauts as we have more kids. See the rest here.

I also did some animated GIF versions.

Guest Post: Being Grateful for My Imperfections

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.

Alex Balinski is a Senior in Communications at BYU. He and his wife have a baby boy. After graduation Alex plans on building open educational websites. One project he and his wife are working on right now is a mission prep website that has over 7,500 clean travel and mission prep videos hand-picked for LDS families. Next Alex plans to create a database of thousands of interactive video interviews with thousands of successful professionals. Alex occasionally writes on his blog Scripture News.

Image via Salt and Light
I've been thinking recently about two physical weaknesses I've been endowed with: frequent headaches and motion sickness. As I write this post I am experiencing a moderately-strong headache. If I tilt my head forward, my head may throb. Headaches are a weakness I inherited from my mother. While they are not usually strong, they do come somewhat frequently and can make it difficult to feel productive.

My other weakness, motion sickness, does not prohibit me from most normal activities but has tempered some of my physical activities. To help you understand how easily I get motion sick, I feel dizzy after turning around once. I also begin to feel nauseous after one move on the swing.

Sometimes I ask myself why I've been given these weaknesses. Is there some purpose behind the challenges, or would I be better off without them? I like to think that behind things I can't control there is a purpose.

Growing up I have been very physically active. Without any exercise regimen I could usually do about 20 pull-ups. By exercising a couple minutes a day I was able to build up to over 40 pull-ups at one time. If it weren't for my headaches and motion sickness, I could see myself becoming obsessed with extreme sports that could put my life in danger. I also could see myself focusing too much on competition and becoming prideful.

These concerns may seem silly, but for me they are real. I honestly feel that if I didn't get headaches or motion sickness, I might have chosen a more worldly lifestyle, and thus would have forfeited many spiritual blessings.

My weaknesses have helped me to remember my dependence on God and avoid extreme lifestyles. Next time you face a personal challenge, I invite you to consider how your weakness might be a blessing in disguise from your Heavenly Father.

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Open Letter to the Single Fathers of the Church

by Eliana (bio)

Image via pipitdapo
To be clear, I’m not your target audience: I'm married. But I've been thinking about you guys and it seems like you could use some help.

The most attractive thing you can offer women is to be a good dad. Whether that is one weekend a month, two weeks a year or full-time. I don't know what it is, but a grown man being sweet with kids even when they don't deserve it? Sexy as hell. Seriously.

You think I'm joking and that you should spend more time at the gym. No. Grossly overweight is a problem, but otherwise we don't care about your body that much. If you are over 30 and weird things are starting to happen to you physically—hair in unexpected places, weird red dots—don't freak out. Someone will still love you as long as you keep up basic grooming and hygiene.

I hear a lot of horror stories about you guys, especially your behavior using dating websites. Don't be stupid. Don't lead with how much you miss sex, even if it is true. Don't expect women to be desperate and willing to settle for you.

What else ... I know it is hard. No matter how you became a single dad, life hasn't been what you expected. Join the club. Maybe you thought you could coast after you got a lady in your life. And now here you are, right back in the thick of things. We the married sympathize. Really. We may cringe when we think about dating again, but if you aren't willing to be real with us then we'll probably keep trying to set you up. We don't mean to, it is just an instinct.

If you have girl children, find women in the ward to be in their lives. We women love that kind of thing. Probably not single women or they might be confused. But if there's someone you respect, let her know that your daughter could use a big sister figure. It isn't about you not being enough; it is about having the maximum number of loving adults in your child's life.

I've met some great ones in your Single Dad Club. Really impressive. And some super losers too. It takes all types. If you find yourself slipping towards the loser end of the spectrum, take some of this advice to heart. Own your faith, your trials, your dreams. Your kids are learning from you, even when they aren't around.

Good luck out there. We your fellow saints really are here for you.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Upcoming Events in Seattle

If you live in the Seattle area, you're about to be spoiled. See below for two upcoming firesides you won't want to miss. See you there.

Who: Margaret Blair Young
Who she is: expert on the African-American Mormon experience
MMM Links on MBY: here, here and here
When: Sunday, May 5th @ 7:00 p.m.
Where: Shoreline Stake Center (102 North 132nd Street, Seattle, WA 98133)

Who: Clayton Christensen
Who he is: expert on disruptive innovation, Harvard professor, author
MMM Links on CC: here, here and here
When: Monday, May 13th @ 7:30 p.m.
Where: Seattle North Stake Center (5701 8th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105)

Handbook of Instructions (1940): Qualifications of Bishops

by Seattle Jon (bio)

My youngest brother recently gifted me a Handbook of Instructions from 1940 signed by first presidency members Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. and David O. McKay. At 170 pages, the handbook is much shorter then our current versions (Handbook 1 alone is 186 pages) yet contains some interesting rulings and regulations - and language - which I'll share over time on MMM.

Qualifications of Bishops (page 3)

"A bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?" (Titus 1:7-9. See also 1 Timothy 3:2-7; Doctrine and Covenants 46:27)

The bishop should be qualified to keep accurate account of the tithes and to check over the financial accounts of the ward. He should be wise and tactful. He should be sympathetic and considerate. He should develop system and executive ability in his labors.

Since the bishop is concerned largely with temporal affairs, he should be a man of judgement, integrity and thrift. Some knowledge of accounting is very helpful to him. He should set an example in the systematic, careful handling of his own affairs.

My bishop qualifies ... how about yours?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Post: Combating Internet Evils w/ Missionary Work Online

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 and submit via email.

Kenny Schank was born in Las Vegas and raised in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. He is a recently returned missionary who is slowly but surely adapting to "real life." He spends his new-found free time working so he can save up for college and major in ... something. If his dreams are realized, he will find himself later working for the Church Educational System as a seminary or institute teacher. Eager to better qualify for such a position, he is already trying to dry out his sense of humor. He loves playing sports, some good alternative rock, and a thin slice of cheesecake. Or a fat one. Whichever he can get his fork into.

Elder Schneider and Rauni Jussila by Charles Roberts

I love websites that seek to carry on with the noble and praiseworthy task of building others' faith and inviting them to Christ. These days, people spend more and more time online. The internet is an incredible blessing.  Virtually all the information one could ever need is available at our fingertips and can be delivered to us in mere seconds. And that's not even mentioning how much easier it is to learn and share the gospel with the content made available by missionary-minded publishers.

Unfortunately, the devil has gotten really good at his game of perverting the good things God has inspired men to create. For example, music is one medium through which we can find motivation, peace, and even communication from the Holy Ghost. However, it's becoming harder and harder to find a radio station or a new album by your favorite band that doesn't include some sort of profanity or innuendo describing violence or immorality. Even lyric-less songs can drive the Spirit away if they direct our thoughts towards unrighteous action.

Like music and other forms of media, the internet is a powerful tool both in the hands of God and those of Satan. And Satan is tricky in how he uses it.

Have you ever ran a Google search for the word "Mormon?" Do it and you'll find a lot of very helpful links and uplifting sources: official church websites, educational and objective articles on Mormonism, etc. But you'll also find in the mix links to websites that teach misleading and negative falsehoods, "warning" people about the so-called dangers of Mormonism. While God inspires man to use the web to enlighten and bring others to the truth, Satan fights back hard by enticing others to use it to confuse and mislead those who are "kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:12) and develop a hostility within them towards the restored gospel. This, my friends, is where we come in.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BYU Group Projects: A Meme

by Shawn Tucker (bio)

Detour: 1000 Years in Hell

by Seattle Jon (bio)

My mom found this the other day in some old files. She remembers the graphic as part of the old Book of Remembrance packet. My dad, in emailing it to me, had this sage advice: "If you have every considered choosing between alcohol and coffee, here is some guidance. Alcohol will get you 1000 years in Hell and coffee only lurching along Broadway to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Pick carefully your vices!"

Thanks, dad. Including this in my book of remembrance, which I pull out and review several times a year (don't you?), could have avoided me 1000 years in hell.

Other MMM Posts

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