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Friday, June 28, 2013

Drops of Blood

by ldsbishop (bio)

To me, the most emotive symbol of our faith is that of Jesus, alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, bleeding from every pore. While I understand why the process to take upon Himself the "pains and sicknesses of his people" needed to happen, I will never understand how He did it, since it is physically impossible for me to do so. What I do know is that some of that blood was for me, personally. By doing this for me, He knows exactly what it is like to be me at my worst.

One of the most gratifying experiences as a bishop is when you are the part of the process to help someone apply the atonement of the Saviour to their lives. There have been many times in my service when someone has come to me in some kind of pain, either caused by their own perceived sin, some kind of action by another or just caused by the general crappiness of life. Even if they just hope to believe it, to teach someone that the Saviour has also suffered exactly what they are going through and knows what it feels like, can be a crumb of comfort at a dark time.

I've come to understand that we all go through our own small, personal Gethsemane's; the times when we feel alone, abandoned and hopeless. These times are different to everybody: for some the worst time in their life might be when their TV breaks down and they are upset they can't watch whatever is on that night; for others it can be the most awful, calamitous situation that I can't even begin to understand. No two situations are ever exactly the same, that's why Christ is our "advocate with the Father" and nobody else, since nobody else knows what it feels like to be you and me.

MMM Sermons: Marriage and Divorce

by Saint Mark (bio)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call them "talks," but most (non)Christians call them sermons. This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine. Read or watch the full sermon here.

In 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball foresaw the increase of divorce and the break-up of families. Here, in this talk, President Kimball lays out one of the greatest ills to a healthy marriage: selfishness.

Having gone through the pains of divorce, I can attest to President Kimball's inspired assessment. The childish chant of "me, me, me" never sustains "family, marriage, or us."

Here are some pearls of wisdom from President Kimball:

"Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for, they must know that marriage is not a legal coverall; but it means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. lt means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all."

"Financial, social, political, and other situations may seem to have a bearing; but the marriage depends first and always on the two spouses who can always make their marriage successful and happy if they are determined, unselfish, and righteous.

The formula is simple; the ingredients are few, though there are many amplifications of each.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to Choose a Career: A Non-Lame Guide to Finding More Joy in What You Do Every Day -- Part 2

by Dustin (bio)

NOTE: This is the second 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. Read Part 1 here.

In Part 1, we figured out that doing what you love and loving what you do are both possible if you change the way you look at "what you love." Quick anecdote to drive home this idea: My wife is a master at diving into stressful situations and arranging people and things to achieve an outcome, particularly when everyone else is freaking out. As you can imagine, this happens all the time in a house of six people, two cats and a dog. She skillfully manages the chaos and actually gets energy from doing it! She loves using this talent prior to having visitors stay with us or preparing for guests. So how does she take what she loves and transfer it or replicate it outside of the home to get that same energy high, satisfaction, and results?

Two weeks ago we attended a youth fundraiser at the church, a spaghetti dinner and auction. As the new second counselor in the Young Women's presidency, my wife didn't have any direct oversight over the fundraiser but showed up to be supportive and lend a hand. I arrived to the church 30 minutes before start time to help out and chaos was in full effect. Women were racing around the church slinging spaghetti and sauce on plates and setting up tables in the gym. Each of them had brought their children and the kids were running rampant through the church. Lord of the Flies had ensued. As I walked the halls I saw kids standing on the metal chalkboard trays scribbling on boards and setting up rows of chairs and leaping off of them at full speed. My natural instinct was to cower in the corner in the fetal position and protect myself and my children but then I came across my wife in the kitchen. She had immediately jumped in and organized the insanity. She deftly delegated responsibilities to some of the young women and organized the supply chain. More importantly, you could tell she was at her best doing it. Her energy was high, she was calm, and she had that "in the groove" look in her eyes (which is scary because it often ends in me vacuuming the whole house or building something). I, on the other hand, faded into the background and rocked quietly in the corner.

Now imagine if she decided to enter the workforce and showed up at a company with this talent: organizing and arranging people, things, and responsibilities to achieve an outcome on a deadline. It wouldn't take long for this skill-set to manifest and my guess is she would be favorably recognized and compensated for it. The talents we use in the home and in our callings that yield high energy and satisfaction can be replicated in the workplace to our benefit (and vice versa) and the result will likely be more joy from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., a feeling of living in harmony with who we are, and perhaps even recognition and more financial security.

Now let's dive in with three myths about career that I've learned over the past decade:

MYTH 1: Career is linear, or in other words, where I think I will be in 10 years is exactly where I will end up. If you think about this for a second, the probability is totally unrealistic. Ten years ago today I was kneeling on a tile floor in Puerto Rico installing an alarm system as a technician for an alarm company. I never could have imagined where I would be now because this career path was not part of my paradigm. A lot can happen in 10 years, and to land precisely where you thought you would 10 years from now would mean that you have total control over the universe around you and any element that could potentially shake you from your path. I was talking with a friend the other day who said that her goal was to get a job at IDEO in 6-8 years. She had seen a video about them at the beginning of her Rice career and loved the environment they fostered and so she would end up there. The plan upon arriving to Rice was to study mechanical engineering for four years, get into Stanford, complete her master's in two years, and get a job at IDEO. I asked her how the plan was progressing and she admitted it was a little shaky.

The Puppy Song, or The Inexplicability of Internet Funnies

by LJ (bio)

One Friday night a friend watched our kids for a few hours so we could go out and eat ourselves into a meat coma for our date. When we came back she was calmly rocking our squalling won't-take-a-bottle infant and letting The Boy play on her iPhone, which is to say she was being the greatest babysitter ever.

In the course of our post-date debriefing she said The Boy had kept asking for "puppy song." Since she  didn't understand that "puppy song" means "old Muppet Babies reruns on YouTube," she patiently searched the internet and found a video of a puppy dog singing an off-key and lightly creepy version of Happy Birthday. Which The Boy watched four dozen times in a row.

I don't know what it was about this video ... the Chipmunk voice? My state of constant sleep deprivation? Whatever it was, I laughed until I was palming tears of mirth off my face. Last time that happened was reading a Tumblr post of all the creative butcherings of Benedict Cumberbatch's name, and before that was listening to goats yell like humans.

So here's your chance, gentle readers. Pitch me the last Internetty thing that made you laugh until you cried, and I hardly need add I won't judge you. I couldn't, not after the Puppy Song incident. Plus I figure we could all use a good laugh.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sufficient Unto the Day is the Evil Thereof

by Pete Codella (bio)

Image via worshipgifs
I read an excellent article recently on Hands Free Mama titled The Important Thing About Yelling. As a parent, I could certainly relate to the author's comment about being in the 'midst of [a] highly distracted life.' I shared a similar perspective in my recent MMM post How to Teach Kids Values, or at least I think I had a similar intent.

After I read the Hands Free Mama article, which I highly recommend by the way, this scripture came very clearly to mind:

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." -Matthew 6:34

This is a scripture that frequently comes to mind when I feel overwhelmed by all that I'm supposed to do, not to mention the things that would be nice to do. If I just take things one day at a time, it'll all work out.

Interestingly, during April's General Conference I frequently found myself thinking:
That sounds great. I wish I were better at that. But I'm not going to feel guilty because that's not the focus of my life right now. Maybe at some point in the future I'll be better at that, but I'm just fine acknowledging that that's not right now.
Here's my question though: Am I rationalizing not meeting my full potential because I feel stressed, overwhelmed and generally unequal to my current roles and responsibilities?

Maybe the wall I've built to prevent others from making me feel guilty about not doing something I could be doing isn't a good thing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bones, Microphones and Apple Sticks

by MAB (bio)

I was putting my son to bed tonight and not listening very closely to what he was telling me when I suddenly realized he was talking about bones, microphones and apple sticks. Realizing I had a microphone on my phone I decided to record our conversation. I was not disappointed, as I found out what keeps my tormented child awake at night.

I hope your children do not go to bed thinking about remote-controlled ghosts that fly through your face, eating your brains on the way - but leaving enough brains for you to see the eyes of invisible monsters closing in on you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fam Spammers

by Seattle Jon (bio)

via someecards

I'm sure we each have a sibling, parent, grandparent or relative who frequently - sometimes despite sincere pleas to stop - bombards us with email forwards. You know the emails I'm talking about - the "Back in My Day," "WTF, Social Security" and "Wake Up America" emails (Buzzfeed has documented 42 different types of these emails).

I have two of these fam spammers. A grandmother in Eastern Washington and my wife's grandfather in St. George. The following email forward is the latest to clog my inbox. I'll not post my feelings about what was sent to spare this grandparent's feelings, so what do you think about this email and/or about email forwarders in general?

Is a Prophecy Being Fulfilled?

On June 13th, the National News reported two items of cataclysmic importance.

1. As of 2014, there will be more children of Minorities, age 5, than children of Whites, age 5, and this trend will continue.

2. In 2012 more elderly whites died than white children were born and this trend will continue.

Think of the ramifications of these two bits of news, and flash forward 3 or 4, maybe fewer, National Election cycles, and visualize who will be governing the United States. Of course, many of the "Minorities" beliefs and lifestyles are such that they could be counted with the whites with respect to values, but sadly, many of the Whites' beliefs are contrary to our traditional values.

These two news items were attributed to the fact that minority couples have more children than whites. No surprise. The birth rate of white couples is about 1.87 children, fewer than is needed to replace their parents, and has been so for many years. This same trend has also been in effect in most of the "white" nations in Europe for several years. And if the minorities in other countries are not gaining statistical dominance, they soon will. The Proclamation on Families issued by the Church stresses the fact that families are the basic unit of the church and of our civilization, and with the trend toward unmarried women having children, the broken marriages producing single mother families, the ascending numbers of gay and lesbian unions, the eventual result is inevitable. The traditional American Family is doomed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Guest Post: Tales from Cuyahoga 4 - What's My Whitebread

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

Do you know what happens when products at the "day old" bakery get to be two days old? They get donated. In Toledo, Ohio, in the winter of 1986, a ward member worked at the bakery and got the products donated to the missionaries. This is a story of gluttony, greed and stale donuts.

The Toledo Zone was comprised of eight areas and sixteen companionships, and Elder W-R and I were called to be Zone Leaders. We had known each other for more than a year and looked forward to our service together. One of our tasks each Saturday was to pick up the sorted bags of baked goods to distribute to the missionaries the following day. The member had painstakingly gone through the effort of ensuring that each of the eight bags contained essentially the same thing. The same amount of white bread, wheat bread, and baked treats. A sort of day old law of consecration, if you will.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Science of Trek

by Casey Peterson (bio)

Most of us are familiar with the fundamental questions of "Where do we come from?" "Why are we here?" and "Where are we going?" If you're not familiar with those questions, every Mormon has "two friends" who would like to discuss answers to those questions with you. However, in an attempt to help youth in our congregations ponder those questions and understand the accompanying insights, most of our LDS units put hours of preparation and planning into an experience fondly known as "Trek."

Last week I embarked on the spiritual Trek pilgrimage to ... Wyoming. Yes, the Wyoming of sparse population, unbalanced bovine to people ratio, unrelenting wind, copious amount of sagebrush, and vocabulary that is salty at best, and vulgar at worst. Even more, I went for a spiritual experience. Lest you are thinking that this sounds more like the ramblings of someone who instead visited one of the Wyoming watering holes, I assure you I am sober and have never tasted alcohol in my life.

Accompanied by several hundred men and boys dressed in wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, bandanas, and denim-less trousers, we slung our possibles bags over our shoulders to proudly amalgamate for the journey with the hundreds of girls and women who were wearing bonnets, full-length dresses, and aprons in pre-assigned family groups. We were assigned campsites, given a handcart to pull, and educated by elderly couple missionaries on the history of the place and the people who passed through. Historically, it was fascinating, but the real treasure was the spiritual insight and experience gained.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Father's Day Blanket Fort

by Scott Heffernan (bio)

This Father's Day morning we made an awesome air fort using a duvet cover and a fan. You need to try this! The kids and I loved it and I thought I'd share the results. Got the idea here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ulysses Contracts

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Ulysses and the Sirens by Otto Greiner, 1902

I think we've all heard the story of the Greek hero Odysseus (English: Ulysses) and the Sirens. Brave and curious Odysseus wants to hear the famous songs of the Sirens, but aware that, when the time comes, he will be unable to resist the Sirens' beautiful songs (which are really a deathtrap), Odysseus advises his men to secure him firmly to the ship's mast. That way, he can listen to the song without being lured to his untimely death.

I recently heard this story retold on NPR's RadioLab (Episode: Help!). The show's creators told the story of Zelda Gamson, who'd tried for decades to stop smoking. Part of her wanted to quit, but another part just didn't want to let go. They asked the question, "How do you win a tug-of-war with yourself?"

Spoiler: Zelda quits smoking. But how did she win the tug-of-war? She cut a deal with herself. She told a friend that if she ever smoked again she would give $5,000 to the Ku Klux Klan. Say what?! Well, Zelda thought the KKK so unbelievably "heinous" that the thought of them having her money was more powerful than the urge to smoke. And she quit cold turkey.

According to neurologists, we are many "people" on the inside, different parts of our brains that fight and argue and don't always agree with one another. The trick is none of these different people exist simultaneously. And for many of us, the person in charge - the one in the moment who wants things now – is the stronger one. You just need to think about shopping and food to know this is true.

But, if you can pit your short-term desires not against your long-term plans but against an immediate feeling of dislike or disgust, you essentially trick the person who wants it now and make the tug-of-war more evenly matched. Zelda, for example, changed her personal tug-of-war from smoking now vs. longer and healthier life later (smoking always won) to smoking now vs. paying the KKK 5K now, and that was enough to do the trick.

This approach is called the Ulysses Contract and is a combination of insight, foresight, and ingenuity. What contracts have you made or will you make with your future self?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Holding Your Ground (with Pie)

by Shawn Tucker (bio)

In my work as an Institute teacher, I feel like I get to watch brave young people on the frontlines. They come to class with many serious concerns. An example of this is when they are genuinely troubled by all of the red and pink equal signs on Facebook, causing them to wonder if they should be in favor of them, be threatened by them, or pretend they are not there. (If you are not aware, the sign is two pink lines that form on equal sign on a red background, and it is sign of support for gay marriage.) I have the privilege of talking with them about their concerns and exploring how their faith can help them address those concerns.

Elder Holland's recent conference talk Lord, I Believe included this very useful quote: "In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited." As we discuss how faith can help us address concerns, fears, doubts, and troubling times, we talk about holding the ground that has already been won. I find Holland's military imagery very interesting. Students do feel like this is a conflict, a pitched battle. But to talk about holding the ground they have won, I like to talk about pie.

I love pie, and I will admit that they are disappointed when I mention pie and then draw a circle on the board. They soon see that we are making a pie chart. Here's how we do it: I ask them about key parts of their beliefs or their testimony. Many mention a faith that we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent a Savior for us. They mention the power of the Holy Ghost to witness of this truth to them. I put that under the idea of The Godhead. That is so important that they give it a very big part of the pie. Some students mention a strong central belief in how God speaks to us through the scriptures, so that gets a piece. Others mention how obedience has proven to be reliable and powerful. Some students talk about the abiding faith that they have in ordinances and sacraments, or in living prophets or eternal families. We put these up and make a chart.

And then I ask them about their concerns: gay marriage, racism and sexism in the church, historical issues, and others. Where do these things figure in? They usually get a piece, but it is usually rather small. I believe that these issues are important, and should not be eliminated, but the pie chart allows them to see them in a larger context. This chart should not trivialize those concerns; it should place them in a larger context. It allows them to see their concerns in the context of the ground that they have already won. I also encourage them to think about the battles that they have fought for the faith that is so valuable to them. I point out how that faith is battle-tested. And the pie illustrates how that faith has been valuable in a way that might instill hope in them in addressing new concerns or in new battles.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Guest Post: The Misperceived Notion of The Modern RM

YSA Eddy Morris share some thoughts sparked by the release of the song and music video She's Going On A Mission, which placed first in his ward talent show. You can watch the video at the bottom of this post (Eddy makes an appearance getting a ridiculously over-exaggerating back rub in Sacrament Meeting).

Image by Taylor McBride

I would consider myself a typical male LDS Young Single Adult ("YSA"). I am 23, have recently graduated from college, and am about to begin my graduate studies. I served a full-time mission and am active in my singles ward. I try to serve where I can and live my life in the best way I know how. I am seeking to work hard now, so that one day I can have a good career with which I can support a future family (hopefully). I would say that there are many returned missionaries ("RMs") in the same boat today.

The portrayal of the RM has become something of an enigma in the church. Members now seem to envision a bunch of guys sitting around a big screen TV on Friday night watching ESPN or playing Xbox, eating pizza and downing Mountain Dew (gasp, not a caffeinated beverage!!). He has become the somewhat irresponsible college student who spends his summer selling pest control or security systems and then spends whatever remains after tuition is paid on nice cars and expensive toys. He is afraid of commitment and flees in the opposite direction at the sign of a relationship that has the potential to "get serious" – right now they just want to have fun. I am not saying this guy doesn't exist. When I hear that description, there are even a few people I know who come to mind. And I won't deny that the pizza and Halo scene may have occurred in my apartment a time or two. That being said, in my experience the aforementioned RM is the exception and not the norm.

With so much pressure on the YSAs of the church to move along and get married, it has almost become the assumption that the only reason there are so many YSAs in the church is because those darn RMs are just too busy playing and not willing to get down to business. If that is truly the case, then why are most of the guys I know all dying to find that girl and get married? Is there an extreme disparity in the number of single men to single women in the church? Are we all really that bad at dating?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fatherhood: Six-Word Memoirs

Image by Scott Ableman

Back in May, Heather over at Doves & Serpents wrote about a retreat where she and four other women wrote six-word memoirs about motherhood. Here are a few of our favorites.
  • Did I ever not have kids?
  • I see myself in his meltdowns.
  • Wanted 3. Got 2. 1 more?
  • I hope I don't wreck her.
With Father's Day on Sunday, we thought it would be a good idea to tap our readers for six-word memoirs on fathers. If you're a father, write a six-word memoir about yourself or your experience; if you're partnered with a father, do the same about him; or, if you have a father … you get the idea.

Looking forward to what MMM readers come up with. And when you're done, pass this post along to your family and friends and have them do the same.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How Many Prayers Does It Take?

by Eliana (bio)

Image by digitalpimp.

My son was 2½ when he started having seizures, one horrible night in August. We were dismissed at the hospital until he started shaking in front of the ER doctor. There were seven seizures that first night, hundreds more to come over the past two years.

For a long time I couldn't write, couldn't turn off the worrying mother part of my brain. I make my living partially from freelance writing work but I found myself simply unable to care or put the sentences together. Whatever else was going on, at least 50% of my mind was thinking about my son.

I have a testimony of specific prayers. Even that first night, my prayers were not of the grandiose variety. Help us find out what is wrong. Help me to be calm. Help us get the care we need.

My mother tells me she's put my son’s name on the temple prayer roll. I have been gracious when others have told me the same—I appreciate their concern and faith and small act of service for our family. But this is my mother so I tell her more.

It doesn't make sense to me that more prayers give more help. Why would God give you more credit for having more friends who will pray for you? That doesn't mesh with what I know, of a Heavenly Father who loves each of us individually. The mother with a sick child in her hut in Mozambique is out of luck because she's the only one praying for him?

Ward fasts? Temple prayer rolls? I don't dispute the power of collective action. In my mind though, the blessing is to the group involved in uniting their faith. There's not a tally sheet in heaven and you can't get help till a specific number of prayers have been offered. Or am I wrong and God really is a numbers guy?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guest Post: A Series on Disfellowshipment, Part 1

The following is an anonymous guest post in what will be a three-part series on disfellowshipment. Submit your own guest post via email.

Walking into my bishop's office knowing I'd be discussing serious transgressions with four grown men I had known all my life was one of the hardest things I'd ever done. They call it a Disciplinary Council. Bishop, 22 years. 1st Counselor, 22 years. 2nd Counselor, 22 years. Stake Scribe, 4 years. Ouch. I sat in my Jeep, wondering how I had gotten here. Let's rewind.

When I was younger, “I Hope They Call Me On a Mission” was simply a song and not much of a desire. After all, my older brother didn’t go. I didn't decide to go on a mission until I was 18. A series of spiritual experiences and opportunities to share my testimony helped build a personal witness that the gospel was true. I couldn't deny it. Growing up in Southern California gave me plenty of opportunities to stand up for what I believe in. I passed seminary. I went to scouts. My family is mostly active. It's not like I had a bad upbringing.

My mission was life-changing. I had experiences that strengthened my testimony in ways I’d never though it would. I had companions that tested my patience, preparing me to be a husband in the future. If my mission taught me anything, it was that there are things bigger and more important than myself and that Jesus Christ is the reason. I trained two greenies, held various mission leadership positions, and more importantly, witnessed many people come unto Christ. As the final months came to a close I swore to myself I would keep the important covenants I had made.

Post-mission life was a whirlpool of excitement and experience. Returning home to all my non-member friends introduced me to amazing live music and open-minded discussions, mixed with a bit of lewd behavior. My very first night back I was offered certain substances in the In-n-Out parking lot, substances often left out from the secret menu at my favorite fast food joint (did you know In-n-Out has a secret menu?). I got back with my non-member ex and holy things were quickly forgotten.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Linger Longer 24

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)
A Father's Open Letter to President Oscarson (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Teaching Lessons on the Priesthood to Young Feminists (By Common Consent)
Damnable Terminology (Times and Seasons)
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! (Zelophehad's Daughters)
LDS Publishing: A New Writer's Perspective (A Motley Vision)
Ride to Lakewood Church (Doves and Serpents)
Some Thoughts on Divorce (Dandelion Mama)
Mohawk Junkie (Mormon Women Project)
Mother's Day and Family Relationships (The Mormon Therapist)
A Post on Maude Adams (No More Strangers)
Like Sunshine in the Darkest Abyss I've Ever Experienced (Joanna Brooks' Religion Dispatches)
Sea of Change (Rational Faiths)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episodes 419-421: Tom Kimball and Dan Wotherspoon, 7 Years After "Stages of Faith" (Mormon Stories)
Episode 043: A Conversation with Emma Lou Thayne (A Thoughtful Faith)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Train LoopHigh Throw and ISS Music Video (What If?)
Alfred Hitchcock and His Blondes (Classic Driver)
40 Gargoyles and Grotesques Around the World (Twister Sifter)
Seeing Stars: The Big Science of Building a Giant Telescope (Harvard Magazine)
Knights of Soft Rock (Rolling Stone)
Thank You For Not Sharing (The Wall Street Journal)
This is the Most Detailed Picture of the Internet Ever (and Making it Was Very Illegal) (Motherboard)
The Food-Truck Business Stinks (The New York Times)
7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here (Mother Jones)
Are 'Hot Hands' in Sports A Real Thing? (The New York Times)
How to Have a Longer Marriage Than Kim Kardashian (Scientific American)
10 Hotel Secrets From Behind the Front Desk (Mental Floss)
I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before (Slate)
Mariano Rivera Breaking Bats (Fan Graphs)
What I Learned From Watching Every Episode of The Office (Esquire)
The Dark and Starry Eyes of Ray Bradbury (The New Atlantis)
Welcome to the Programmable World (Wired)
2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest (The Atlantic)
How to Buy Happiness (Los Angeles Times)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Brother Jake: True-Believing Mormon Dude

by Brother Jake (bio)

Hi! I'm Brother Jake. And I couldn't be more pleased to be making my first contribution to Modern Mormon Men. In fact, I made a little video for the occasion:

Now, while this video is obviously intended as a joke, writing a song about "the model of a true-believing Mormon dude" forced me to think about what Mormonism looks like to the outside world and the place Mormonism has in American culture. And to me, it looks like Mormonism is starting to drift into the cultural mainstream.

Now, by saying "starting to drift into the cultural mainstream," I'm not saying that now everyone wants to be a Mormon or people don't find Mormon beliefs odd anymore. I'm just arguing that in the wake of recent events (two Mormon presidential candidates, The Book of Mormon on Broadway, etc.), awareness of Mormonism is becoming a part of the common cultural language in the U.S.

The transition from being a largely unknown oddball to a quirky kid brother in American culture is one I'm curious to see unfold. What will the implications be for the members? Will the increased awareness in the outside world cause a dehomogenization of beliefs and participation levels among Mormons? Or will our tendency to see ourselves as the object of persecution make us more insular? (Not that those are the only two options--those are just the only two I can think of right now.)

I have no idea. But making the video sure was fun. I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Taking a Jewish Page from The Book of Mormon

by Bradly Baird (bio)

I am an avid reader of two publications that cover Jewish life in America, Tablet Magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward. Both cover a broad range of topics, including politics, arts, and religious life and offer a terrific variety of opinions. Not surprisingly, these publications almost never mention anything to do with the LDS Church; but, imagine my surprise when I came across an article from April 14, 2013 entitled: Taking a Jewish Page From the Book of Mormon on Interfaith Marriage. 

The piece was written by Naomi Schaefer Riley and discusses faith, marriage, and interfaith marriage amongst members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of the Jewish community in the United States. I wanted to share the entire article on this blog, but it is quite long and so I have presented the most important points for your reading pleasure. Click here to read the entire article.

"Jews are America's most intermarrying people and Mormons its least. According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, 27% of Jews were married to someone of a different faith, compared with 12% of Mormons."

"When it comes to marriage, the most striking demographic difference between Jews and Mormons is the age at which they get married. The average age of a first marriage for Mormons is, according to my study, 23, and for Jews it's 27. If we look at data taken from the 2006 General Social Survey (the last time researchers asked the question about age at first marriage), Jews married at 25.8 and Mormons at 22.6."

"The [Mormon] church elders realize that marriage and family are crucial to involvement in the faith, and so they try as soon as possible to get their members married and settled into a particular community. The church does not want members to experience those "odyssey years" when "emerging adults" tend to drift in and out of relationships and in and out of religious institutions. That is when you start to lose them."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Guest Post: Men's Conference?

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 all of Ethan's guest posts here.

I was in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU. It was May 2nd, and the campus was bustling with activity.

To my left there were women. To my right there were women. In front of me, women. Behind me was an extra ice cream cart … and more women. The men's bathrooms had been converted for the week into women's bathrooms. I hadn't seen that much pink since the last time I saw pictures of oral surgery. It was kind of crazy.

In the bookstore there were probably 5 to 10 men. Proportionally, that was about 3% I'd guess. Driving in Provo. Need I say more.

But this happens every year. This is "normal" as far as springtime on campus goes.

What if there were a Men's Conference?

I can imagine it now. No wait for the bathroom. Nobody in the bookstore. No line for brownies or ice cream. Bronco Mendenhall would be a keynote speaker. The bowling alley and pool tables downstairs would be full instead of the terrace and the bathrooms. Instead of a Hillary Weeks concert, it might be Imagine Dragons (they're Mormons, right?) or maybe The Killers (their lead singer is definitely Mormon). It would take three hours to get anything from Taco Bell … or Scoreboard, the burger place … vending machines empty and no hot wings left in the Utah Valley.

Maybe Men's Conference isn't my best idea. Let's just stick with the Priesthood Session.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Are Some Extinct Words Worth Bringing Back?

by brettmerritt (bio)

Image from

I recently read an article (here) that makes a case for bringing back some words that may have perished too soon. According to the writer Carmel Lobello, some are thousands of years old, from before English officially existed. Here is a selection of my favorites from the article:

Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance—"The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten" by Jeffrey Kacirk

Wonder-wench: A sweetheart—"The Word Museum" (Kacirk)

Lunting: Walking while smoking a pipe—John Mactaggart's "Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia," 1824

Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them—

Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram—

Curglaff: The shock felt in bathing when one first plunges into the cold water—John Jamieson's Etymological Scottish Dictionary, 1808

Sunday, June 2, 2013

National Cancer Survivor's Day: LDS Author Helps Husbands Cope

Husbands of cancer patients have a critical new resource available to them during the traumatic aftermath of a cancer diagnosis. Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? (Familius, May 2013) focuses on the thirteen common concerns shared by husbands following a spouse's cancer diagnosis. The book is written from the experienced perspective of LDS author Carson Boss, whose own wife was diagnosed with cancer, initially leaving him feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to support her, and their family, during this difficult time.

Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? helps husbands process their feelings while sharing valuable insights about how to navigate the myriad of issues that accompany a spouse's cancer diagnosis, including emotional support, cancer support groups, finances, children, extended family, jobs, romance, household chores, and more.

In developing the book, Carson reflects, "When I looked for guidance in the materials we were given from hospitals and doctors, I noticed there was nothing specific for me as a husband. So, I began the process of reaching out to husbands I knew whose wives had cancer and found their insights and advice to be priceless.”

With an introduction from Leigh Neumayer, Professor of Surgery at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? helps husbands address key issues, including:
  • How to get the word out about the diagnosis
  • Choosing the right doctors
  • Giving emotional support
  • Managing household chores
  • The financial costs of cancer
  • The emotions both husband and wife experience
  • The impact of diagnosis upon romance
  • The husband’s emotional and physical health
  • Long term care
According to Dr. Neumayer, "Many of my patients are supported by wonderful husbands. Much like parenting though, many husbands have a steep learning curve during this stressful period. In Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What?, Carson provides a guide ... kind of a What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens."

In addition, Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? shares first person accounts of husbands who supported their wives during their cancer, what they learned, what they wish they had known, and what they would do differently now. These personal accounts from men who experienced the significant challenges cancer brings to a marriage provide an invaluable tool for any husband wanting to help support his wife when she has cancer.

About the Author: When Carson Boss found out that his wife had cancer, he realized that the information provided for husbands is insufficient to adequately deal with this traumatic event. After thousands of hours of personal research with husband and wife teams and medical personal, Carson wrote Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What? to help other husbands be better prepared to help their wives. Carson is a devoted husband who adores his wife and four kids. He currently resides in Syracuse, Utah and has lived in both Texas and Canada. He enjoys writing a food centered blog as well a blog for husbands when their wives have cancer.

About the Publisher: Familius is a transmedia publisher who publishes for marriage, parenting, family fun, education, health and wellness, and children. The Familius mission is to help families be happy. We connect families with the books, e-books, videos, articles, and apps they need to build successful marriages and families.

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