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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guest Post: On Waiting and/or Winning and Probably Whining

So here is my story. About four months ago I decide that I should try and see a specialist (1) about this thing. So I go and look up the list of doctors that deal with this thing that are covered by my insurance. And there are four of them. So I go down the list and call and, in turn, the first three receptionists tell me they aren’t taking new patients. Not a good sign but I am intrepid. I call the last on the list and they can see me, in four months. So I make the appointment. I tell the person getting my information what I want to be seen for and they say, sure, come on over in four months.

Last night is the day before the long-awaited appointment. And like I do, when I’m trying to go to sleep, I’m totally obsessing about this appointment. It is like Christmas for a six-year old except without presents. I’ve been waiting for a long time and I’m anxious about what they are going to want to test for and what they might discover and all that and so I toss and turn and get maybe three hours of sleep.

So finally the long awaited day comes and I go to the doctor’s office. The waiting room is tiny and dimly lit. The go through the deal with me signing more papers and copying my insurance card and having me wait in the first room and then moving me into the second waiting room where the doctor will eventually see me. The room where I am asked to wait for the doctor (2)  has about the same square footage of other rooms of this type but it is crammed with stuff. There is the examination bed, two regular chairs and then this crazy 1970s style ergonomic backless chair with a makeshift table attached to it. I literally have to walk sideways to get to the seat. This room is maybe three stacks of newspapers away from being a hoarders episode. And here I wait.

The specialist finally arrives. He looks to be about 300 years old, about 4 foot 11 and maybe 85 pounds. As required of old men, his pants are hiked up to his armpits, barely leaving the pocket in his shirt that holds no fewer than 12 pens visible. He has his white doctor’s coat on and has his auxiliary pens in that pocket as well. I have seen my fair share of doctor’s over my lifetime. Typically, when they enter the room, they greet you and ask what I am here to see them about. No big surprise but this was not the case with Dr. McOldy. He walked in, said hello, I said hello back and he then sat down in his goofy ergonomic backless chair, opened my file, put a nice crease down the middle of it and stared at it in silence for a good two minutes. After this moment of mediation, he cleared his throat and said that he isn’t really enthusiastic about trying to work with patients with the thing I have. Which is super funny because the insurance list showed him as being someone to see about this thing. He blah, blah blahed on for a little bit and then said that he bet that I was wondering why they had me come down in the first place, given his disposition on this matter. I felt that was a valid question. He was unable to provide an answer. After some more of his blah, blah, blahing, I stood up and suggested that “we were done here” and left.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Linger Longer 33

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)
The Best Modesty Lesson Possible (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
Our Sisters Are Leaving (By Common Consent)
Understanding Anger Against Mormon Missionaries (Times and Seasons)
For the Discouragement of Youth (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Empathy (The Exponent)
What Does a Family-Centered Church Look Like? (Young Mormon Feminists)
Heavenly Mother (Juvenile Instructor)
Biblical Literalism, Literally (Faith-Promoting Rumor)
Mormons and the FBI (Peculiar People)
Why Missionary Work Isn't Working (Millenial Star)
Sunstone Kirtland and The Garden of Enid (A Motley Vision)
Moving Culture (Dawning of a Brighter Day)
120,000 LDS Children Are Malnourished (Worlds Without End)
An Advocate of Faith (Mormon Women Project)
General Conference: A Mental Health Perspective (The Mormon Therapist)
A Petition for Kindness (No More Strangers)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episode 004: Mormons Marrying Gay People (Rational Faiths)
Episode 110: Men and Eating Disorders (FMH Podcast)
Episode 225: Wrestling With Prophets and Scripture (Mormon Matters)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Soda PlanetPhone Keypad, Reading Every Book, Growth Rate and T-Rex Calories (What If?)
21 Fun Facts About Penguins (Mental Floss)
The Doctor Who Coaches Athletes on Sleep (The Atlantic)
How Americans Hate Each Other (Priceonomics)
The Business of Building Roller Coasters (Priceonomics)
Hook of Mormon: Inside the Church's Online-Only Missionary Army (Huffington Post)
The Invention of the Slurpee (Priceonomics)
The Crossroads of Should and Must (Medium)
5 (Happy Little) Things You Didn't Know About Bob Ross (Mental Floss)
Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? (The Guardian)
Here's How A Kid from Long Island Became A King of Japanese Ramen (PRI)
Building the Next Pixar (FastCompany)
The Hidden Value of the NBA Steal (FiveThirtyEightSports)
The Drugging of the American Boy (Esquire)
A Photographic Exploration of the Oldest Living Things in the World (Huffington Post)
Why We Love Repetition in Music (Aeon)
How We Built the Ghettos (The Daily Beast)
DataBall (Grantland)
Raising Arizona's 25th Anniversary: 25 Things You Didn't Know (Movie Fone)
What Louis Armstrong Really Thinks (The New Yorker)

2014 Mormon Lit Blitz: Call for Submissions

The Mormon Lit Blitz is the world’s premier contest for Mormon Micro-Literature. Held annually, the contest has helped expose fickle online readers to engaging Mormon flash fiction, poetry, short essays, and so on for longer than most missions last. Submissions for The Third Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest are due by 31 May 2014 to Submitted works may be in any genre so long as they are under 1,000 words and designed to resonate with an LDS audience in some way. Previously published material and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Up to three submissions are allowed per entrant.

Finalists will be posted on the Mormon Artist magazine website starting 16 June. At the conclusion of the Lit Blitz, readers will vote for their favorite pieces and a $100 prize will be given to the winner.

2012 Lit Blitz Finalists are available here and 2013 Finalists are available here. For updates about the 2014 contest, follow the Mormon Lit Blitz facebook page.

To facilitate the judging process, we prefer to receive submissions as .doc, .docx, or .pdf attachments with the author’s name and contact information in the body of the email but not included in the attached text. Please feel free to email with any questions.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Anita Diamant and the Mystery of Kaddish

by Bradly Baird:

My brothers and sisters who are worn out and crushed by this mourning, let your hearts consider this: This is the path that has existed from the time of creation and will exist forever. Many have drunk from it and many will yet drink. As was the first meal so shall be the last. My brothers and sisters, may the One who comforts comfort you. Blessed is the One who comforts the mourners.

- from A Blessing For Mourners

I've always been interested in the way religions and cultures memorialize and mourn for their dead, particularly the way artists appropriate religious artifacts and employ them for use in literature, painting, sculpture, film and music (to name a few).

One particular religious artifact that I've always been curious about is the Jewish prayer for the dead, the Kaddish. This is a short prayer that is synonymous with mourners in nearly every facet of Judaism, from the Orthodox to the Reformed. I start noticing the Kaddish while exploring the works of American composers Leonard Bernstein and David Diamond, who both composed concert works based on the Mourner's Kaddish (the former a symphony exploring man's search for peace and the latter an eight-minute work for solo cello and orchestra).

I also read about the Kaddish in the books of Chaim Potok, when his famous character Asher Lev participates in the rites at his uncle's death and most movingly in The Gift of Asher Lev,  when Arthur Leiden stands in the bombed-out ruins of Hiroshima and reads the prayer for the victims of a nuclear bomb in The Book of Lights.

But, for myself and many others, the text of the prayer itself is a bit of a mystery; nowhere does it speak of death, mourning, or the soul of man and his place in the next world. Mostly, the prayer offers praise to God. So, how is it that this prayer is a prayer of comfort at death?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

MMM Library: Triggers

by Casey Peterson:

Recently as Mother's Day was approaching, I was asked what kind of flowers I was getting for my wife. It seems like this is a question that I get around Valentine’s, anniversaries, birthdays, Columbus Day, Cinco de Mayo, Arbor Day, etc. ahhhhhhh!

Flowers for me are an interesting paradox. I love growing them in my yard, love seeing them in the mountains or deserts, in fact I even know the Latin names of many of them. Yet, something about buying them just doesn’t appeal to me. I assumed for many years that the root (no pun intended) for my flower aversion came from either a financial or a safety perspective. Financial because they are terribly overpriced right when we need them most, and they wilt and die quickly, no matter how many little powder packets are sprinkled in the water. An average bouquet costs roughly the same as a rack of ribs, a pack of steaks, or something that can cheerfully be marinated, basted, and grilled. While using a modicum of money is convenient, true value is established when compared to the currency of barbeque, and flowers wilt in comparison.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gospel Doctrine Bingo

by Eliana:

I once taught the whole scripture cycle in Gospel Doctrine; I asked to be released when we rounded the corner to start it all over again.  I'm recently back in my favorite calling and realized that I could probably script a whole class before anyone even opened their mouths.

In the great tradition of Testimony Bingo, but with less design skills, I now present Gospel Doctrine Bingo.  May be applicable for other block meetings as well.

Downloadable file for your responsible use.

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Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Manly Design: Record Album Cover Art

by Scott Heffernan:

When my wife, Aimee, and I got married, we wanted to have some art that combined our interests. We really connect on music and thought it would be fun to put some of our favorite albums on our wall. I liked the idea of a 3x3 square, so we each chose four albums, then agreed on a ninth together.

There are a few things to consider when choosing what to put in the frames. Love of the album, first and foremost. But the album cover art has to be good. And in some cases, really good album art wins out over a great album with poor cover art. We got married in 2006. Here's what we went with:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Idolatry: To Each His Own

by Reid:

When I saw this gypsum wall panel from the Ancient Assyria exhibit at the British Museum last year I was absolutely blown away. How could you not love this guy? He's got the full package including a flawless fauxhawk, perfectly man-scaped facial hair, exaggerated upper body musculature and a steely-eyed stare that would intimidate anyone and everything.  Even his accessories are spot-on: custom robes, choker, wrist bands, biceps bands, and a pair of sweet daggers.

I've read several theories about who this guy was, but the best one says this is an image of Nisroch. Nisroch was the deity that King Sennacherib of Assyria worshipped [1] after running rough-shod over the Kingdom of Judah.[2] But I didn't need to know any of those details to be an instant fan and immediately make this image the home screen on my phone.

Call it a personal character flaw if you like, but there really is something innate that makes humans easily awed. We are highly visual creatures, and iconography is therefore very powerful. It’s not difficult to see how an Assyrian peasant or soldier would readily count Nisroch among the gods that he worshipped. Ancient Israel was just as easily impressed: the first of  the ten commandments starts with "thou shalt have no other gods before me" and the second goes on to forbid any graven images. The Israelites were expressly forbidden to "bow down thyself to them, [or] serve them."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Would You Donate?

by Seattle Jon:

Looks like the church's marketing department has not only been tasked with boosting conversions but with boosting donations as well - who else thinks this Deseret Industries ad is pretty slick?

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Seattle Jon is a family man, little league coach, urban farmer and businessman living in Seattle. He currently gets up early with the markets to trade bonds for a living. In his spare time he enjoys movies, thrifting and is an avid reader. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Japan Fukuoka mission field. He has one wife, four kids and three chickens.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

MMM Cross Stitches: Called to Serve Edition

by Shawn Tucker:

As Modern Mormon Men, we know the value of surrounding ourselves with images that convey love and understanding. And what could convey those feelings better than a cross stitch?  The below cross stitches are part of a new and hopefully ongoing series, cross stitches that you can make for your own home. Knowing how many of you regularly cross stitch messages like the ones given below, please add yours to the comments.

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Shawn Tucker grew up with amazing parents and five younger, wonderful siblings. He served as a missionary in Chile during the Plebiscite and the first post-dictatorship election. After his mission, he attended BYU, where he married ... you guessed it ... his wife. They both graduated, with Shawn earning a BA in Humanities. Fearing that his BA in Humanities, which is essentially a degree in Jeopardy, would not be sufficient, Shawn completed graduate work in the same ... stuff ... at Florida State University. He currently teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. He and ... you guessed it ... his wife have four great children. Twitter: @MoTabEnquirer. Website:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Mother Here: Heavenly Mother in Art

by Scott Heffernan:

Recently there was an art and poetry contest "celebrating the wondrous truth that we have a Heavenly Mother overseeing our spiritual development." A Mother Here announced the winners on Mother's Day. I was lucky enough to get an honorable mention. Here's my piece, as well as a few of my favorites. See more at the A Mother Here gallery. Selected poetry entries can be seen here.

Scott Heffernan

Jennifer Smith

Lynde Mott

Caitlin Connolly
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Scott Heffernan is an artist, designer, and photographer living in Seattle. He works on the creative team at Archie McPhee, doing all manner of strange things. He grew up a child of the 80s in Salt Lake City and loves skateboarding, toys, and thrifting. He served a mission in England/Wales and has a degree in American Sign Language from the University of Utah. He has one wife and two kids. Twitter: @ScottHeffernan. Tumblr:
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Guest Post: Declaring His Ministry

We do not know much about what sorts of things Jesus did after his birth, since no information about his childhood or youthhood or early adulthood can really be found in the Bible.

We do know that, when he was twelve, he stunned all of the learned men at the temple in Jerusalem with his profound wisdom and understanding, but that is it. It is only a glimpse. We know he went about doing his Father's business, but that's all we truly know without haphazardly speculating.

It is interesting to think about how, even after all the glorious signs of his birth, Jesus went incognito for the first thirty years of his life.

This is the Savior! This is the Messiah! This is the Lord!

But Jesus did not draw attention to himself. He used this time to prepare himself for what was to come.

I absolutely LOVE how Jesus reveals himself when the appropriate time finally comes. I am going to quote it exactly from Luke 4, because I cannot give it justice in paraphrase:

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Friday, May 9, 2014

MMM Library: Mother's Day Tips & Thoughts

Mother's Day Tip #1: Don't hide the affection you feel towards the mothers in your life.

Mother's Day Tip #2: Also, don't literally hide the mothers in your life. (no, those kids aren't sitting on a badly-upholstered chair)

Mother's Day Thoughts from MMM Contributors

Thanks, mother, for instilling in me a love of the following: yarn, nature, Matlock, singing German operas in a fake falsetto, bottle caps, hats with feathers in them, stories about owl rescues, Hee-Haw, fake cheese, real cheese, Lehi, Nephi, Nehi grape soda, the town of Lehi, hankies, Fibber McGee and Molly, saying the word "gal," ribbon cutting ceremonies and responsibility. (Bishop Higgins)

To Mother-dear: Thank you for teaching me how to make pie crust, sink my teeth into impossible opportunities and still believe I'm invincible, somehow. I love you. (LJ)

I'm grateful to my mom for showing me that, no matter what is happening in your life: sickness, doubt, adversity, financial ruin, self-righteous ward members, sheer laziness, you get up on Sunday and you get yourself to church. Also, in regards to ward choir, use it or lose it! (My husband wishes I didn't follow that one so faithfully ...) Thanks, Mom! Love you! (May Jones)

The following quote by Robert Brault has been very true of my mother, whether it is my singing, my temperment, or my potential: "A mom reads you like a book, and wherever she goes, people read you like a glowing book review." (Saint Mark)

Moms: Doing what men are incapable of since the beginning of time. Thank you Mom and Wifey! - (Apparent Parent)

Mom, thanks for showing me that creativity, resilience, music, unconditional love, and the gospel can help make me better and happier. (brettmerritt)

It's still as true as when I said it when I was four: I'm glad Heavenly Father sent me to you. Love you Mom. (A-Dub)

Dear Mom: Thank you for The Outermost House, 84 Charing Cross Road, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and the courage of my convictions. (Bradly Baird)

Mom: Thank you for being around and interested in every aspect of my life. Love you. (Seattle Jon)

With the perspective of a middle-aged father I can better appreciate your wisdom, patience and self sacrifice which has never wavered and which continually encourages me to be a better person. (MAB)

Many are so lucky as to have a hero in their life, but fortune has given me two, my mother and my wife. (Casey Peterson)

As a parent now I've learned to appreciate even more the activities you did with me and the time we spent together working on various projects. I'll always be grateful for all you've done and continue to do for me. (Pete Codella)

Thank you, Mom, for changing my diapers, educating me, teaching me discipline, providing a comfortable home, cooking great meals, sacrificing your time, surviving my teenage years, cheering me on my mission, loving my wife and kids, and, most importantly, showing me a Christlike example to live up to. I love you! (Dustin)

Thanks for always communicating your love to me as unconditional and for teaching me to value kindness. (Scott Heffernan)

Even though your legs don't work anymore you have managed to come at life with an amazing sense of humor and ability to make the world and everyone in it your friend. Thanks for always loving me for who I am and helping me gain a strong sense of self. You are loved today and everyday. (Aimee)

This post was originally published May 13, 2012.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Say My Name

by Eliana:

1. Once upon a time, I met an amazing man named Todd. We instantly clicked and spent most of our time together over the next several months. We saw awesome plays, talked on the phone when we were apart, and I even edited his 100 page honors thesis. Good stuff.

Then I met another Todd. This Todd was someone I was interested in Not as a Friend. So I would refer to Todd #1 as “Todd” and the new Todd as “Other Todd.

Then “Other Todd” and I fell in love and he became “Todd” while Todd #1 was relegated, respectfully, to “Other Todd.”

Despite the confusion, both Todds were at my wedding and I ended up getting hitched to the correct one. Years of friendship ensued and since the two Todds were so dramatically different, there was never any confusion on my part. Not so for anyone who asked about what Husband Todd and I did over a weekend and I had to explain that we went to visit Todd. Insert laugh track and sitcom magic could be born.

2. I have a whole theory of child naming that should be a New York Times best seller but probably won’t make it into book form, so I’ll share it with you all. Please don’t write your own book using my genius idea. That would make me cry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Civil Government Mingled With Prayer

by Kyle:

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their ruling in Greece v Galloway, a case dealing with a city council opening its legislative meetings with prayer. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the town of Greece, NY did not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of an establishment of religion when it allowed residents to give an invocation at the start of its monthly meetings.

You’re probably thinking, “But wait, haven’t towns, states, and even Congress itself been opening meetings with prayer since like that Washington guy?”

The answer is yes, but just because we’ve been doing something for a long time, doesn’t mean that we should keep doing it.

Unfortunately Justice Kennedy doesn’t agree with me, which is fine, because you know he’s like a ton smarter than I am. In his opinion for the majority Kennedy wrote:
From the earliest days of the Nation, these invocations have been addressed to assemblies comprising many different creeds.

These ceremonial prayers strive for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


by Reid:

It has happened again.* This time it's the largest coin hoard ever discovered in the USA. A couple walking their dogs stumbled upon another coin hoard on their property in Northern California. Known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard, it contains 1427 coins in total form 1847 to 1894 in total with many being in mint/uncirculated condition.  It may be worth up to US $10 million. Not a bad find for just checking out an old rusty can at the side of the path.

This treasure lay hidden for over 100 years. It's secrets are long forgotten and it's riches heretofore unclaimed. I can't help but think of the account in the Book of Mormon that described how the people would hide their treasures in the earth to try and keep them safe from the Gadianton robbers.  These treasures were lost as "they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again (Mormon 1:18)."

These stories lend themselves to teaching moments as much now as they did in the Lord's day.  Jesus introduced the Parable of the Rich Fool with a warning to "beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."  This man's ground produced in great abundance--so much that he had to pull down his old barns and build bigger ones.  Having secured his wealth, he determined to 'eat, drink and be merry'.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21).
I would love to have a coin from the Saddle Ridge Hoard.  It would probably be a better investment to work on being rich toward God.

*Here are links to some old posts on coin hoards discovered in IsraelNorthumberland, UK, and the woods north of London.

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Reid is an endocrinologist from Henderson, Nevada. He's blessed with wonderful wife and three great kids. His interests are charitably characterized as eclectic: cycling, fly-fishing, history, travel and the coinage of the Flavian dynasty of Imperial Rome. With a deep-seated belief that people habitually do dumb things, he's trying really hard to keep things positive. People are not making it any easier these days. The gospel has helped a lot. Blog:
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Monday, May 5, 2014

Returning with … Difficulty: Missionaries, Going Home, and Macaroni and Cheese

by Shawn Tucker:

A recently returned missionary attended my Institute class last week, and my heart went out to him. He looked so poorly adjusted and dejected. We had the same conversation that I seem to have with many recently returned missionaries. And, of course, that conversation was about macaroni and cheese.

My 11-year-old loves macaroni and cheese from the box. Thin noodles, often poorly cooked, sauce that is usually too thin, and that orange color that looks like it is made from pulverized Martian soil—my son just eats bowl after bowl of it. In contrast I love a nice homemade macaroni and cheese. Something with a good, full macaroni noodle and with a well-balanced sauce made from white, extra sharp Vermont cheddar. Others like theirs with a nice crust on top or maybe the three cheese sauce, but you get the picture.

I talk about macaroni and cheese from a box and the homemade variety with recently returned missionaries because this describes my coming home experience. I had spent two years with a steady diet of that rich, flavorful, spiritual homemade macaroni and cheese, and all I could seem to get when I got home was the stuff from the box. The spiritual letdown that came with coming home left me feeling hungry for mission life. The post-mission life was thin, starchy noodles in bland, thin, and weirdly colored sauce. After I got home, I took a job delivering pizza, and the irony of going from bringing families the blessings of eternity to showing up with a pepperoni and extra cheese was often painful.

Part of the problem with coming home is how hard it is to feel disappointed around the people you love. I was so glad to see my family and to finally sit with them and enjoy their company. Arriving at the airport back in the United States and seeing them again is something I’ll always cherish. But after being home for some time, I began to feel disappointed in how unsatisfying post-mission life was, and it was hard to feel disappointed around those who are glad that you are home. (I attempted to write humorously about this conflict here.)

Just helping that rather disoriented recently returned missionary understand his experience as a contrast between different forms of macaroni and cheese seemed helpful. At least he didn’t feel so alone in dealing with the challenges of returning home. He and I talked about how it is really impossible to enjoy the fullness of mission-life blessings outside of its required discipline and particular discipleship. It also seemed helpful to remind him that there are times when he can re-taste some of what he felt as a missionary, but it was equally important to help him develop the expectation that such moments are meant to be temporary. He has to go to school or work, and he has to date and watch movies and read books beyond those approved for missionaries. He has to return to the world. If his experience is like mine, he might learn to appreciate the macaroni and cheese from a box for what it is without losing his taste for the wonderful, homemade stuff.

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Shawn Tucker grew up with amazing parents and five younger, wonderful siblings. He served as a missionary in Chile during the Plebiscite and the first post-dictatorship election. After his mission, he attended BYU, where he married ... you guessed it ... his wife. They both graduated, with Shawn earning a BA in Humanities. Fearing that his BA in Humanities, which is essentially a degree in Jeopardy, would not be sufficient, Shawn completed graduate work in the same ... stuff ... at Florida State University. He currently teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. He and ... you guessed it ... his wife have four great children. Twitter: @MoTabEnquirer. Website:
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gif Image credit: Emran Kassim (modified by Scott Heffernan, used with permission).

Friday, May 2, 2014

Brother Jake Explains: Tithing

by Brother Jake:

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Brother Jake is the caboose of a big Mormon family. He enjoys playing video games and making silly videos. After serving a mission in Peru, he married a violinist, transferred schools, and finished his undergrad at Indiana University. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree in analytics (a dumb word for "statistics") at NC State. He has extremely stretchy elbow skin.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Three Recent Winners of Mormon Literary Awards

by Scott Hales:

Something is always happening in the Mormon literary world, yet lately it has seemed that things have slowed down on the "literary" fiction front. I know of several authors—William Morris, Steven Peck, Mahonri Stewart, and Douglas Thayer—who have lit fic that is either almost ready to be published or well on its way, but for now, Mormon lit enthusiasts have to sit tight and catch up on what they've missed.

I have my own backlist of Mormon novels to read. Most of them have been sent to me by authors and publishers looking for reviews. The two I'm most excited about right now are Ryan Rapier's The Reluctant Blogger, which I was reluctant to read until everyone I know started recommending it to me, and Jennifer Quist's Love Letters of the Angels of Death, which I also initially blew off until the Deseret News gave it an unfair review that stirred up a small controversy (see here and here). I've already started Love Letters, and I am ready to proclaim it the most beautifully-written Mormon novel since Angela Hallstrom's Bound on Earth.

Also on my to-read list are three recent winners of Mormon literary awards. The first is Sarah M. Eden's Longing for Home: A Proper Romance (Shadow Mountain), a series romance novel that surprised everyone by taking home the Association for Mormon Letter’s 2013 novel award. I know practically nothing about this book, except for Amazon's description of it, so I'm curious to see how it fits in with past award winners like Steve Peck's The Scholar of Moab and Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist.

The second is Sarah Dunster's Mile 21 (Cedar Fort), which recently took home this year's Whitney Award for Best General Novel. I've been a big fan of Dunster's work since reading herhistorical novel Lightning Tree last year, and I'm interested to see how she handles the story of a modern-day twenty-something Mormon widow in the always-awkward LDS dating scene. So far reviews of Mile 21 have been good, and it doesn't hurt that it takes place in Rexburg on the BYU-Idaho campus, where I made a lot of good memories back in the day.

Finally, I'm interested in Julie Berry’s All the Truth That's In Me (Viking), the winner of the 2013 Whitney Award for Best Young Adult General Novel. Like Longing for Home, I know next to nothing about this book except for Amazon's description of it. However, my fellow MoLit enthusiast Andrew Hall recently raved about it on a recent episode of The Good Word podcast, and I've been interested in it ever since. Plus, it's a vaguely historical novel about a rigid, secretive community ... which is enough to get me interested.

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