Monday, March 31, 2014

Louis C.K. & Mother in Heaven



by Seattle Jon:

Louis C.K. makes the case for a Mother in Heaven. Beginning at the 5:45 mark.

Sunstone Navigating the Borderlands Conference




The Sunstone Education Foundation is holding a conference on faith and navigating faith transitions in Salt Lake City on Friday April 4, 2014, featuring Joanna Brooks and Tim Weymann.

The conference will be held at 2747 E 3640 S, Salt Lake City, Utah 84109.

Get tickets at the Sunstone website or check out the Facebook event page to join and invite others.

Shifting Gears



by Bradly Baird:


Recently, a church calling was cut short by six months because the leadership of the organization where I served decided to implement a complete change in teaching methodology. We—myself and a number of other elders and sisters—received no warning; but were simply informed one day that we would be released the following week and that we should not return again to serve.

This sudden change created a huge hole in my life. I found myself with a bunch of extra time and I also felt a great emptiness because I no longer had access to the tremendous spiritual intensity and blessings that came with the calling. Not only that, but I missed the extraordinary interpersonal associations, both with my fellow teachers and with those that we taught.

Abrupt change happens inside the church fairly frequently. After all, the church is a product of continuing revelation enacted by humans struggling to do their Father's will; and, because we are so very human, we each experience natural emotional and psychological reactions (positive and negative) when the change occurs. Whatever the cause—ward/stake realignments, changes in church policy, ward reorganizations, changes in personal circumstances, alterations to cherished tradition, etc.—we adjust to its arrival in different ways.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Guest Post: Race and the Priesthood Survey




We’d like to interrupt the flurry of bloggernacle posts about women and ordination with a survey about black men and the priesthood. Nancy Ross, Christina Duncan and Kristine Olson at Dixie State University are studying responses to the Race and the Priesthood document that the Church recently published on its website. Individuals have very different reactions to this document and they want to know what you think. They are looking for a broad range of Mormons to participate. Preliminary findings will be presented to the Utah Academy's annual conference at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah on April 11. They invite you to take this survey.

Friday, March 28, 2014

LOL at Sexual Assault



by Kyle:

Twitter is a great place. I say “place” as if it is somewhere that I actually hang out, and if you were to ask my wife she’d probably say I “hang out” there a lot. It’s a great place for news, sharing ideas, and cat pictures. The thing I love most about Twitter is the ability to share news, ideas, and cat pictures with people you normally wouldn’t have access to. One of my proudest Twitter moments is that time I got Chuck Todd’s attention right before a live broadcast.


With all the great things about Twitter, there are also the dark sides. Over the past few weeks there’s been some trouble terrorizing female BYU students. That trouble is a serial groper—a guy wearing a hoodie jogging around campus groping women as they pass by. The first incident was reported on January 23 with the most recent reported March 19. So far, the person(s) behind the groping have not been caught.

If this wasn’t a big enough problem by itself, the reports of the serial groper have caused an additional problem. In the last couple of weeks two Twitter accounts have popped up in an attempt to parody and even glorify this sexual predator. Now I love a good parody account. When done correctly and done well they are not only hilarious but add to the conversation of whatever they happen to be mimicking. These parody accounts, however, are nowhere near what is acceptable. @BYUgroper and @TheREALGroper are taking a sexual predator and attempting to make it cool, funny, and really no big deal at all. Here's just a few of their tweets.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Words to Live By 11: Look Up!



by Seattle Jon:

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. Previous Words to Live By here.

Look Up!
by Joseph Wood Krutch (Author and Naturalist)

"He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many take it for granted that progress means the gradual elimination of everything which God and nature put into our world and the substitution for it of the conveniences which man has made.

I like many of them well enough myself, and I have no illusions concerning the "noble savage." Civilized life is the only truly human life. I will take wild flowers and television if I can have them both. But a civilization which has no appreciation of or love for the beauties of nature is only a new kind of barbarism.

It is good that we have our parks, our museums, our nature-study clubs. Nevertheless, opportunities to see wild birds in flight or a wild flower blooming in lonely loveliness grow fewer and fewer because we do not value them enough.

Of course, we need paved highways. But we need quiet wood roads, too. We need television, yet we also need the opportunity to see geese flying against the autumn sky. Unless we realize how much we need these simple pleasures, the time may come when we don't have them. "Nature is the art of God," and a flower is more wonderful than the most ingenious of man's machines.

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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, March 26, 2014

Dies Irae, Die Laetitiae (Day of Wrath, Day of Joy)



by Shawn Tucker:


There is traditional funeral music dating from medieval times that includes a section called the Dies Irae, which is Latin for “Day of Wrath.” The music warns of an ultimate judgment day, a day when the sinful would experience God’s anger. As Mormons, though we acknowledge both, we don’t typically emphasize either God’s wrath or a dreadful final verdict; perhaps a final Judgment day merits some reflection.

My typical image of Judgment Day involves a lot of people sitting around watching the DVD of each individual’s life. There is a funny Calvin Grondhal cartoon that puts forward the idea that those who would not be exalted to the Celestial kingdom would be asked to pick up and put away all of the Judgment Day chairs, inevitably trying to stack all of them properly on those rickety carts and slide them under the stage. The Egyptian idea of final judgment was weighing a person’s heart against a feather. Does God make some sort of tally marks as each person’s DVD rolls on the big screen, drawing up some final cumulative total indicating to that individual the mansion or condo or duplex or shack or van down by the river wherein they will be spending eternity?

Once you actually start to think about it, the idea that Judgment Day is a day of wrath becomes clear. As I mentioned in a previous post, when I was 17 a close friend died from bone cancer. Imagine how I might feel on Judgment Day if I were able to see that Greg’s cancer was not completely accidental or an act of God? What if, on that day, I learned that the willful neglect of some people had directly led to Greg’s cancer? Imagine the shock, surprise, and bright, burning anger that I might feel. I think that we should anticipate that if there is a Judgment Day that it will be filled with dark, painful, and nasty surprises. We will see how the actions of others have affected us and our loved ones in tremendously painful ways. Those surprises will truly make that a day of wrath.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage



by Pete Codella:


Note: This post has been mulling around in my head for a while now. I’ll share the two separate concurrent Sunday conversations that motivated me to finally write it, then provide a few thoughts.

Conversation 1

Heard in Relief Society, as retold to me by my wife last Sunday afternoon ...

Question posed by the teacher: What threats do our families face in this day and age?

One woman's answer: The gays.

Conversation 2

A thought I shared in Elders Quorum that same Sunday during a lesson on the divine nature of the family ...

What the LDS community has is an opportunity to live with love and charity towards all; to be accepting of everyone even when their values don’t align with ours. There are plenty of laws in the U.S. and other countries that are contrary to the laws of the gospel.

Even when homosexual marriage becomes a federal civil right (which I believe will happen during President Obama’s second term) we can still honor and support marriage and the family as described by living prophets:
“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” — The Family, A Proclamation to the World
This approach is no different than keeping the Word of Wisdom when others choose to smoke, do drugs or drink alcohol.

Some Additional Thoughts

I was amazed by the bigoted comment shared in the women’s Sunday meeting. Can you imagine how a comment like that would be received if it were focused on people of a certain race or religion?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest Post: The Magic Eight




At eight years old you are accountable for your sins. At eight years old you are eligible to take name of Jesus Christ upon you. At eight years old you are learning your two times tables.

I think I was a mature little kid. With that maturity, when I was eight years old I knew enough to know I did not know nearly enough to get baptized. I begged my parents to let me wait until I was the wizened old age of ten to get baptized. I even asked the bishop about it. I argued if I waited until I was ten, I would take the covenant more seriously and really understand what I was committing to. They argued that if I was thinking about these things, I was already taking it seriously enough.

I can't remember if I was just trying to be difficult/unique or if I really felt unprepared, but I do remember feeling like I, as a good girl who wanted to please my parents, did not have a choice. Baptism was a rite of passage, something you do as a Mormon eight-year-old child.

I received my temple endowment at 20 years old, a week before I got married. I didn't get my endowment because I felt like it was the right time and I was prepared to receive my endowment. I made those commitments because I wanted to get married. I felt sick to my stomach on my endowment day. I knew the seriousness of the commitments I was about the make, and I just didn't know if I was ready for it. But I wanted to marry the love of my life in the temple (that's the YW goal), so I did it, ready or not.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Interview with Educator Mike Rose



by Eliana:

A hundred or so years ago, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. My school experience had been all about boredom and I knew I wanted to do better. I was assigned Lives on the Boundary in a teacher prep class in college and it blew me away. My upper middle-class k-12 world was expanded; good thing, since my first teaching job was at an alternative high school in a border community.

In 2013 I read Mr. Rose’s newest book which again perfectly aligned to my teaching career. Back to School is about community college, vocational school—second chances all around. I reached out and had the privilege of interviewing Mike Rose for a column at The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was interesting and gracious and didn’t at all make me feel like a weird education research groupie, even though I am.

Why School? is a classic Mike Rose text that has just been reissued and expanded. While reading it, my highlighter was busy and I kept wanting to talk to someone about the ideas inside—ideas about what is really happening in public education, about equality, about testing: all the big issues that deserve more than a sound bite. So I emailed Mr. Rose, hat in hand, and he agreed to chat with MMM readers about education from the parent perspective.

Eliana: You say that "there is a powerful and concerted attempt assisted by mass media to portray public education as a catastrophic failure." I hear this time and time again, even as most of us are happy with the actual classroom experience our children are having. Is public education a failure? Who benefits from a belief that it is?

Mike Rose: Here’s a fascinating statistic from public opinion surveys. While many people believe that public schools in general are failing, a high percentage of those same people rate their local school as good to very good. This is not an uncommon pattern. It could reveal an unfounded preference for schools one sees as one’s own, or it could reveal a judgment based on more accurate local knowledge.

It is absolutely true that some of our schools are failing their students. These are typically schools that are in poor communities, are under resourced, and have a history of turnover in administrators and teachers. But many schools are doing a good job, and some are exemplary.

“Face it, the public schools have failed,” a bureau chief for a national news magazine tells me, offhandedly. A talk-radio host in L.A. actually said: “The kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District are garbage.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Titanism



by Reid:


In the October 1964 General Conference, Sterling W. Sill made this bold assertion:
"Certainly the greatest problem of our generation is its titanism, as shown by our enmity toward the Almighty."
I have to admit that I had never heard of titanism prior to reading his talk (which immediately made it into my General Conference Classics file). In classical Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of giants with enormous size and strength that sought to rule heaven. They made war with Zeus and the other Olympians, but were ultimately defeated and thrown down. Titanism has therefore come to represent the tendency to be at defiance and revolt against tradition, convention and established order. Elder Still used titanism to represent "our unfortunate human inclination to fight against righteousness ... [and wage] war against God and his purposes."

The parallels between the War of the Titans and the War in Heaven (Revelation 12:3-14) are hard to miss. Similarly, we can't make it through an entire day without being confronted by the ferocity with which the world takes the fight to the gates of Heaven. But Elder Still wasn't talking to the world as much as he was talking to the church. The Church has always known it's share of conflict from within; perhaps the most unlikely titans that battle God do so from within His Church.

With the Priesthood Session of General Conference just around the corner, battle lines seem to be forming once more. The Ordain Women movement seems determined to press its case, and the Church equally determined to hold the line. Not only was their petition for tickets denied, but their premise was labeled as "contrary to revealed doctrine." They were asked not to protest, but given maps on how to find "free speech zones" if they insist on doing so.

Let me be clear that I am not redefining titanism as the OW movement or any other movement in the Church. Any attempt to compile a list of offenses constituting titanism would be presumptuous; it's manifestations are highly individual anyways. Fundamentally, titanism is a state of mind that puts us at war with God on a individual level: our priorities become more important than God's priorities. Though we may agree with Him on everything else, even one point of disagreement is enough--if we feel strongly enough about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Prophet Playing Cards: Taylor & Woodruff



by Seattle Jon:

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of collecting sports cards and memorabilia with my dad. This series is an attempt to try and recapture some of those feelings by making my own prophet playing cards.

Prophet Playing Cards: Smith & Young



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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.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

15 Minutes in the National Gallery of Art: Late Medieval Art



by Shawn Tucker:

Series Note: The best way to experience Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art is in short intervals. The thing is like the Costco of art museums! Too often when people go they stay too long and look at too much, and it all becomes a big, beautiful blur. So this will be an ongoing series of posts that use a room or even just a painting from that museum and connect it with a song or poem to create what I hope is a productive and satisfying 15 minutes.

Yep, today we're starting with gallery one. No, we’re not doing every gallery ... don’t worry. We just happen to be starting in the first room. So, when you walk into that room, this is one of the paintings that you will see. It is a 13th Byzantine painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Christ child. Perhaps the first thing you might notice is the sadness on Mary’s face. On her lap is her child, and not just her child but the Savior of the world. But his red robe hints at how he will bleed from every pore, and the humble maidservant of the Lord already reflects her deep sorrow. Mary wears the traditional blue robe, and that color is associated with truth and integrity. Mary and Christ are seated in a grand, celestial throne, and two angels accompany them. The throne seems to rest on a sort of green stage.

The emphasis in the painting seems to be on Mary and Christ. The background is a simple, plain, golden wall. Mary’s robe is a series of interesting lines, shapes, and patterns. Christ’s robe is similar. The chair seems a little awkward if not clumsy by our standards. They seem to look straight out at us, but the chair seems to … move to the side.

So one quick note about the approach to painting here: the artist seems to treat the surface of the painting as something to be decorated. There is a hint of three dimensions, but no one is going to mistake the painting for window. Some centuries later, artists are going to try to make paintings seem like windows, with the action happening on the other side of the painting's surface. That is not the approach of this Byzantine artist. The painting is not meant to trick your eye into believing that it is a window. Instead, the painting is meant to inspire the eye and the mind and the heart and the soul to seek the joy and the blessings that came into the world via Mary and Christ.

So let’s listen to a couple of pieces of music that might make this painting even more interesting. The first piece is a portion of medieval plainchant. Listen to the music, perhaps follow along with the English translations, turn down the lights, and what happens? Does the simplicity and beauty of the music almost transport the soul? Do the music and painting lift you above the daily and mundane? Do they come together to invite a meditation on or even a connection with the Divine?

Okay, so now let’s listen to another piece of music. What is this piece like? How is it similar to the plainchant? Did you notice the echo? And what happened when you heard him say, “talking like this?” And did you notice the anachronism? (That is when something is out of chronology, or out of its time period.) The voices that accompany the main voice create harmonies. Plainchants feature either one melody or melodic lines treated individually. They do not (generally) harmonize. And did you laugh when this became a sort of medieval barbershop quartet? Finally did you find the self-referentiality funny?  (Self-referentiality is when the singer refers to himself.) What is funny about self-referentiality is that the painting and the plainchant try to move you, viewer and listener, away from the art and toward God. They Might Be Giants do exactly the opposite, inviting you to notice the song and “plight” of the singer.

So, does this show the world we live in? Have we become out of tune with quiet, contemplative things? Do we expect visible realities and therefore reject what is meant to move one toward higher realities? Does the self-referential, perhaps, show us how easy it is to be trapped in the mundane details or in the busyness of daily life such that we miss out on something valuable? Or is the They Might Be Giants song just a fun spoof?

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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: motabenquirer.blogspot.com.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Guest Post: The Reality of the Atonement




When I was 18, as a freshman at Utah State, I received a phone call from home. It was my mother, and she had called to inform me that one of my childhood friends had committed suicide.

WHAM.

It hit me badly. I did not take it well. Optimism was absent; I was full of darkness, a figurative darkness that was suffocating my soul.

Well, mostly guilt. To quote scripture, "my soul was racked with eternal torment."

I felt guilty because I had not maintained contact with this friend when he went to college. I felt guilty because I could have been a better friend to him when he was in high/middle/elementary school.

Friday, March 14, 2014

MMM Library: Great Moments in Sacrament Meeting



by A-Dub:


One thing that is at least fairly unique to the mormon church is the fact that once a month, we are willing to let anyone in the congregation get up and “bear their testimony.” I’ve always felt that this says a lot about the church. We’re willing to have open mike night where folks can plant themselves in front of the audience and say pretty much anything they want, totally off the cuff. Bishopric members, being ultimately responsible for the content of the meeting and the doctrine preached, are oftentimes sweating bullets during the first Sunday of the month. Even the regular 2nd-5th Sunday meetings are for the most part sermons given by members of the congregation. So anyone who says there’s no free speech in the mormon church I think is kidding themselves. But I digress.

So, given the freedom to speak our minds during the meeting, I’m sure we all have a favorite sacrament meeting/fast and testimony meeting story. I wanted to share one of my favorites with you.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Regret ...



by Kevin Shafer:


Yesterday I spent a couple of hours getting a personalized Spanish lesson in preparation for work in South America. I took eight years of Spanish from 8th grade through college and can’t speak a lick of it. I never took the classes seriously, thinking, “I will never use this again in my life.” Flash forward 15 years to BYU where I have become increasingly interested in studying men, depression, and families in South America. Of course, my “I don’t care” philosophy in high school and college has now come back to proverbially bite me back.

This is a small example, obviously, but one that I think illustrates the fact that we all live with various regrets in our lives. How many of us look back on our lives and dwell on the things we’ve done, left undone, said, or thought? How many of us look back and wish that things would have been slightly different? Our attitude influences so much of this. I’m convinced that if I had really put maximum effort into learning Spanish and came away knowing as little as I know now, I think I would be okay with having to relearn (or, more accurately, actually learn for the first time) the Spanish language. But, what hurts is my casual, callus attitude at the time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Journalist's Testimony



by Lauren Johnson:


I’m a journalist. Back in 2007, after graduating college, and having a hard time landing my first job, I took off for a reporting workshop in L.A.  It was there that I reported on my first murder.  I wrote about this experience in my journal seven years ago.

“A day I’ll never forget was my second day of field reporting. I reported on my first murder. It was overwhelming … to say the least. The man--Edward Gaucho--was only 19-years old, and was sitting on his porch the previous night with friends when a drive-by shooting took place. I interviewed the LAPD, his neighbors, his brother, and his friend.  We went to Edward’s apartment where his family still resides. His brother showed us Edwards’s graduation photo and told us what a great older brother he was. He and his friend pointed out where the bullet holes in the door and ceiling were. They started arguing over one bullet hole, because the brothers’ friend said it was an old one, "when they shot the other guy." It was hard to think these boys could be no older than 12 and had already seen numerous shootings, one ending in the death of a brother. I realized that if this mother could, she would move her children into a safer environment. Yet, it was obvious she couldn't afford to, nor did she speak any English. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mormon Doppelgängers 17: Elder Bednar & Emmet Brickowski



by Scott Heffernan:


This Doppelganger was sent to me by fellow MMM contributor ldsbishop. I definitely see the resemblance, but I haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet. You guys may have to help me out with some similarities. From what I understand though, both of them are very fixated on strict obedience to the rules. Oh, and they have the same initials!

See all Mormon Doppelgängers.

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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: ScottHeff.tumblr.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mormon World Records 9: Books



by Seattle Jon:

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.


QHas a Book of Mormon been to space?
A: The first copy of the Book of Mormon to go into outer space was carried aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 12, 1985, when Senator Jake Garn (R-Utah) launched into orbit. When astronaut Don Lind took his trip in the space shuttle on April 29, 1985, he also carried with him his scriptures. That particular copy of the Book of Mormon has the distinction of traveling 2,511,592 miles through space during 110 orbits around the earth. Brother Lind donated the scriptures to the church where they were put on display at the Church museum.

QWhat was the first non-scripture endorsement from General Conference pulpit?
A: President David O. McKay stood up during October 1959 General Conference and warned the Saints of the dark powers rising among the nations of the world, and that most people had no idea such works were underway. He recommended all LDS read The Naked Communist, by W. Cleon Skousen. He repeated his plea at a subsequent General Conference.

QWere Book of Mormons found in the rubble of September 11th?
A: An Episcopal priest helping with the cleanup at ground zero of the destroyed World Trade Center buildings also collected dozens of Bibles and other sacred books from amidst the smoldering rubble. Among the items found was a copy of the Book of Mormon, smelling of burnt plastic but still in pretty good shape. The book most likely belonged to one of the hundreds of LDS who escaped the buildings before their collapse. Three Mormons died in the attack - two in one of the planes that hit the buildings, and another who was on the 108th floor of Tower 1.

QWhen was the quickest reading of the Book of Mormon?
A: In 1989, more than 700 Laurels and priests from nine stakes met for a regional conference in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Each person was given a number and a page out of the Book of Mormon, had to find another youth with the same number, and then read to one another the page each had been given. As a group, the entire Book of Mormon was read in 11 minutes and 30 seconds.

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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.
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Friday, March 7, 2014

MMM Sermons: Courageous Parenting



by Saint Mark:

This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine. Read or watch this sermon here, or read previous MMM Sermons.


Afraid that if you tell your child "no," they will stop loving you? Fearful that if you kick your son out of the house even though he's in his late-20's he won't make it on his own? Scared to ruin your relationship with your child by being authoritative? Then, Elder Larry R. Lawrence's sermon is for you.

Elder Lawrence laid out how we need to be courageous parents in October 2010 General Conference. Here is some of his counsel:
Imagine for a moment that your daughter was sitting on the railroad tracks and you heard the train whistle blowing. Would you warn her to get off the tracks? Or would you hesitate, worried that she might think you were being overprotective? If she ignored your warning, would you quickly move her to a safe place? Of course you would! Your love for your daughter would override all other considerations. You would value her life more than her temporary goodwill.

Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train. As we are reminded in the family proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children. That means spiritually as well as physically.
I love this train analogy. It gives me courage when I sometimes would rather keep silent than discipline my child. Elder Lawrence's sermon is in line with family studies. It seems that there are at least four parenting styles: Permissive, Authoritarian, Apathetic, and Authoritative. The first three lack the requirements of being a good parent, namely love AND discipline. Permissive has all love and no discipline. Authoritarian has all discipline and no love. And, Apathetic has no love and no discipline. You can imagine or have lived scenarios of each, I'm sure.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fowls and Fish and Furry Things



by Eliana:


Some people like animals. My father shared his room with a crow for a time, which makes me wonder a lot about my grandmother's sanity. I am not an animal person. When my husband and I watched My Dog Skip in the movie theater, we had to wait through the whole end credits so my man could get his emotions under control.

We have urban farmers here at MMM. Good for them. I can't deal with any more feces in life than absolutely necessary so farming is definitely not the path for me. In my teen years our family had both a pygmy hedgehog and a gerbil. They shared a large aquarium, which worked out fine during daylight hours. But at night the hedgehog would sleep and the gerbil would be up. We didn't notice anything for a while—until the bald spot showed up. Yep, Mr. Gerbil was nibbling on his roommate every night. Any underlying animal dislike tendencies were magnified then by the weirdness of this cannibalistic ritual.

I've always been a fan of St. Francis of Assisi, despite his animal connection. Many saints are a bit on the creepy side, as least to a Mormon outsider looking in, but he just seems mellow and nice. The neighborhood shrines to him are inviting, with little birds perched on his outstretched arms. The humility of the current pope is a good match for his namesake.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The One True-to-Real-Life Story Behind the Soldier Actor in BYU-Idaho's Wounded Soldier PSA



by Seattle Jon:

Note: BYU-Idaho's Housing and Student Living Office recently made an inspiring PSA. The video overlaps imagery of a wounded soldier with President Kim B. Clark's words encouraging his students to turn in reach out to those who struggle with pornography and masturbation. For the first time in print, MMM exclusively presents the backstory of the PSA's main actor, a BYU-I student named O.N. Pecks. As you will read, some months prior to the release of the video Brother Pecks spoke with his agent. The report then brings us to the two weeks after the PSA aired.

Six months before PSA airs

Actor (answers phone): Hello?
Agent: Hey, you got a second?
Actor (shuts computer on which he was viewing porn): Sure, what's up?
Agent: Your scenes from Saints and Soldiers 3 were cut in post-production.
Actor: Ah man, are you serious? That was some of my best work.
Agent: Yeah, I thought so too. Which is why I shopped your scenes. Turns out BYU-Idaho wants to use them for a student housing PSA. How does $500 cash grab ya?
Actor: Seriously! Are you for real?! Just yesterday I was down to my last $20 with two weeks still to go in the month, but chose to pay tithing instead of eating knowing something like this would probably happen.

Two weeks after PSA airs

Actor's Friend: Thanks a lot man, my roommate turned me into my bishop after watching your PSA.
Actor: That sucks. Want to see Saints and Soldiers 3 tonight at the dollar theater?



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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.
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Mandela's Twin Obligations



by Bradly Baird:


At the time of Nelson Mandela's death, I just happened to be reading his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. The book presents an engaging history of Mandela's role in South Africa and also offers some terrific insight into the political forces that shaped his country and life.

Despite these fascinating offerings, I was most attracted to three passages wherein Mandela offers some personal perspectives on the sacrifices and choices he made, particularly with respect to his family. To my mind, these passages cut right to the heart of the choices and sacrifices we make everyday; and in a culture such as Mormonism, where family is one of our highest priorities, these passages are particularly relevant.

I am not going to provide any commentary on Mandela's words, because I think that they speak well enough for themselves. But I wonder what you, our readers, think when you encounter these words? How do these words affect your mind when passed through the filter of your Mormon background and all you know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Robben Island: The Dark Years

"A mother's death causes a man to look back on and evaluate his own life. Her difficulties, her poverty, made me question once again whether I had taken the right path. That was always the conundrum: Had I made the right choice in putting the people's welfare even before that of my own family? My family had not asked for or even wanted to be involved in the struggle, but my involvement penalized them.

In South Africa, it is hard for a man to ignore the needs of the people, even at the expense of his own family. I had made my choice, and in the end, [my mother] supported it. But it did not lessen the sadness I felt at not being able to make her life more comfortable, or the pain of not being able to lay her to rest."


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Five Years In



by ldsbishop:

I have recently passed my 5th Anniversary of being called as the Bishop of my ward. In early 2009 when I first started my calling there was no such thing as the iPad, missionaries were that little bit older and I had much fewer wrinkles. Back then I was a fresh-faced youngster, now I’m a grizzled, almost 32 year old.

As I looked back over the past five years, I made a number of observations, some of which I incoherently and randomly present below:

Serving as a Bishop teaches me compassion more that I ever thought possible
I’ve never been what I would describe as a “people person” so I always thought I would struggle with the love and compassion required for a Bishop. However, as I have served I have seen a wide range of human emotion and suffering. I suffer with my brothers and sisters as we work through their problems together. I can feel their pain and hurt and the various situations we deal with. My calling instills in me a desire to help people that was never there in the past.

Tied to the above is a greater appreciation for the atonement
I have encountered situations that I would have unlikely come across were it not for my particular calling. I can see how the atonement of the Saviour applies to the full scope of all human suffering. I doubt I will ever comprehend the true power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, but my testimony, such that is is, hinges on that event. Otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.

When you’re a Bishop you can’t avoid difficult decisions
As much as I’d like to run and hide from making the hard decisions that come with the calling, I have to be bold and confront the issues as they arise. Thankfully, I have not had to deal with much church discipline, but there are always things that need to be addressed by the Bishop, and no one else in the ward. I have found that if there is a situation that needs to be dealt with or a difficult decision to be made, I have to man-up and deal with it or things will get worse. I never really knew what discernment was until I started serving in this capacity. Thank God for the Holy Ghost!

My sense of humour has kept me going
A Bishop and those he serves with have to deal with some heartbreaking and upsetting situations on a regular basis. If I didn’t focus on the many good things that happen, the bad situations would grind me down. Coupled to this is the need to keep my sense of humour and enjoy a laugh and joke with my counsellors when we can. This makes dealing with the sombre times that little more bearable. Many of the situations we find ourselves in are so absurd you have to find the funny side of things. Sometimes all I can do to cope is to laugh at how obscure church service can sometimes become.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Guest Post: The Problem with Comparing the LDS Church to the Church in Christ's Time




I just read a recent CES devotional by Elder Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy. It bothered me. His thesis was that many New Testament verses prove that out of all the Christian churches out there today, the LDS Church is the only one that is a carbon copy of Christ’s church. That, in turn, means that it’s the one true church. He cites many New Testament scriptures that back up the various aspects and elements of the church that we as Latter-Day Saints are familiar with: baptism by immersion, apostles, elders, the three degrees of glory, baptism for the dead, etc. The idea is that the LDS Church is the only church that exactly matches the blueprint of the church of old because hey look, we’re the only church that practices baptism for the dead and believes in the three degrees of glory as mentioned here in the scriptures.

The problem is that when you use Bible verses to back up your claims, you open up the door for people to draw verses from the Biblical well that could contradict or refute your claims. It turns into Bible bashing. For every Bible verse that Elder Callister reads that purportedly backs up our modern practices of baptism for the dead or the three degrees of glory, I can find a couple Bible verses that talk about things that we don’t do in the church today. We Mormons are willing to point to the verses about the seventy [Luke 10:1,17] but rightly or wrongly ignore the verses about how women shouldn’t speak during church [1 Cor. 14:34-35], how there were female prophetesses [Luke 2:36], and how divorce shouldn’t be allowed [Matt. 19:3-9]. And sure, apostles are mentioned in the New Testament, but the idea of a first presidency as a unit separate from and additional to the twelve apostles is not. We’re just cherry picking the verses that are most tasteful to us and conveniently ignoring everything else.

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