Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guest Post: Rants of a Summer Ward-Hoppe​r




This summer I have been wardless in my travels away from my Houston home, jumping from ward to ward as I please, always with at least the connection of a friend somewhere in the congregation. It has been eye-opening and has made me contemplate and develop strong opinions about three things:

1) I appreciate our church as a Christian community.

Church is a great place to be reminded about the things that really matter in life. It is a great place to connect with other people and their experiences in coming to Christ. It is a great way to find opportunities to serve and accomplish meaningful service. It is an excellent place to examine one's life and get back on track. It is a place where we recommit to Jesus, weekly, as we partake of the sacrament. Church attendance is a refuge from the hectic world, as we pay our devotions to God and make him a priority on our Sabbath.

I am indebted to the HUNDREDS of people who have helped me out in so many ways, due to my involvement in my church activity, which has always provided a true community of love and support. I have learned so much from other people who are striving for similar goals.

Ideally, church is a place we come to 1) remember Jesus's atonement, 2) study Christ's gospel, 3) feel the Spirit testify truths and guide our thoughts to future change and action, and 4) renew ourselves for the coming week.

At least, this is the opinion of Melissa.

2) I dislike it when church becomes a social outlet.

As I have attended a variety of YSA wards this summer, I'm not going to lie, I have observed some disappointing behaviors. The main one being that most people in my situation seem to be going to church solely for social reasons. I see members of the congregation craning their heads around, checking out new people, seeing who is sitting by who, why isn't he sitting by her anymore?, spending half of a meeting talking about upcoming social activities, are you going to that one?, want to come over for dinner? etc. etc.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Re-Thinking My Position on The Death Penalty



by A-Dub:


Before you read any further, I want you to think about what your position on the death penalty: Are you for or against it?

Done? Alright.

In years past, I have always been a proponent. And I think my reasoning boiled down to the following, in order of importance:
  1. I don't want my tax dollars supporting a criminal for the rest of his life
  2. Capital punishment deters violent crimes
  3. It gives closure to the families of the victims
  4. It permanently keeps the criminal off the streets
  5. It seems like there are some crimes that are just deserving of it; some people just don't deserve to live after committing certain heinous crimes
First I'm curious as to what you all have seen in the Church. It has been my experience that many, if not most of the people in the Church are in favor of it. Admittedly, I don't go around asking people about it, but that's my general impression. If you've had a different experience, I want to know about it, but this is typically what I've seen.

But the more I think about it, the more strange I find it that many in the Church seem to be pro-death penalty (again, maybe I'm wrong). There have of course been times in the scriptures where people had to die – Laban, Amalickiah, tens of thousands of Lamanite soldiers. But should it be happening now? Doesn't the gospel value life, even that of the vilest of sinners? Don't we believe in justice and mercy? Isn't it core to Christ's teachings that everyone can change, including those that may have committed some of the worst crimes imaginable? So why is it that we would have a tolerance level for the uber-sinner such that he or she must die for their crimes?

Since the Church doesn't have an official position on capital punishment, over the years I've been looking at the five reasons I just outlined and re-thinking my position. What I've found is that this is a very complex issue, much more so than I can put in one blog post. Maybe I'll do a follow-up at some point. But where I net out now is that I am against the death penalty. Here's why:

COST: Honestly, as a super-fiscal conservative, this is a big one for me. But what I've realized after a lot of research is this: It's an indisputable fact that on average it costs MORE to sentence someone to death than to life in prison. A lot more. It's simply that the appeals process drags on for so long and the state spends so much money defending the verdict, that it would be cheaper to just keep a criminal as an inmate for life. There are tons of great sources on this. Here's one: Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole. Based on the 44 executions Florida had carried out since 1976, that amounts to a cost of $24 million for each execution. (Palm Beach Post, January 4, 2000).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Questions for William Shepard, Author of Lost Apostles, Published by Signature Books



by Seattle Jon:

Signature Books recently published Lost Apostles: Forgotten Members of Mormonism's Original Quorum of Twelve, a compelling and interesting look at six of the original twelve apostles of the restored church. Signature provides this summary:

Before the LDS Church was organized, Joseph Smith received a revelation telling him that twelve men would be called as latter-day apostles. Their assignment would be to warn men and women that the end was near. Although the determination of who would fill these positions was delayed for five years, when it finally happened, God reiterated that these men were to "prune the vineyard for the last time" because the Second Coming was nigh. In fact, "fifty-six years would wind up the scene," they were told. Of the twelve men selected, nine would eventually be pruned from the vineyard themselves, to varying degrees. Seven were excommunicated, one of whom was reinstated to his position in the Twelve. Of the other six, the subjects of this book, none returned to the apostleship and four never came back to the Church at all. Those who left faded into obscurity except for when they are occasionally still mentioned in sermons as cautionary tales. But two of them made their marks in other areas of society, John Boynton becoming a successful dentist, a popular lecturer, geologist, and inventor with dozens of important patents to his name, while Lyman Johnson became a prominent attorney and business owner. Even though Luke Johnson, Thomas B. Marsh, William McLellin, and William Smith became religious wanderers and tried unsuccessfully to adjust to life outside of the Church, their experiences were interesting and comprise valuable case studies in belief and disaffection.

Rather than attempt to duplicate what's already been done, read Cheryl L. Bruno's comprehensive and well-written review of Lost Apostles. For this post, as I did with Signature's Cowboy Apostle, I've asked one of the authors a few questions that came to mind as I read the book.

Seattle Jon: Why write Lost Apostles?

William Shepard: I have been a student of Mormon history for many years and have developed standards for myself in spite of my up-bringing. That is, as a Strangite, I was weaned on the belief the Brighamites and Josephites were wrong, and of course, James J. Strang and his fellows were beyond reproach. Having shed this attitude some fifty years ago, I developed the need to express Mormon history honestly. This has been shaped in part by church associates who blamed any inconsistency or bad press the Mormons under Joseph Smith and James J. Strang received on the Gentiles or apostate Mormons. This has been exasperated by visits to Mormon Church sites at Kirtland, Independence, Nauvoo and Carthage where "faith promoting" history was spoken and blessed with a testimonial prayer. Add to that, I respect authors who can honestly tell their Mormon story in a manner where human frailties are addressed openly and honestly.

SJ: Lost Apostles - the book's title - implies loss. What exactly has been lost?

WS: Lost, to me, means the Apostles became lost because of a faith promoting process dedicated to dehumanize early Mormons who could not endure to the end. Such a philosophy demanded they be presented as being weak or bad. Moreover, lost relates to why they became lost. The collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society reflects conditions which made some become lost. Others became lost due to Mormon militancy, others from the centralization of authority, and yet others from the failure of Zion's Camp. In essence, the Church dogma of Mormon exceptionalism made them lost.

Lost Apostles Events with Authors Marquardt and Shepard



Signature Books recently published Lost Apostles: Forgotten Members of Mormonism's Original Quorum of Twelve, a compelling and interesting look at six of the original twelve apostles of the restored church. Authors Mike Marquardt and Bill Shepard will be discussing their book at the following events happening this week. Check them out!

Reading and Book Signing
Ken Sanders Rare Books (268 S 200 E, SLC)
Tuesday, July 29th   7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Complementary food from the famous Chow Truck
more info

Various Presentations
2014 Sunstone Salt Lake Symposium
University of Utah Olpin Student Union
July 30th - August 2nd
final program

Friday, July 25, 2014

MMM Library: Is Tithing the Same as Giving to Charity?



by Kyle:


On [the August 15, 2012] episode of NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, reporter Natalie Morales interviewed Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. You can see the interview here.

During the course of the interview the questions turned to the campaign, and to their refusal to release additional tax returns to the public. At the conclusion of her reasons for not releasing additional tax returns, she said that they pay their taxes, and added “beyond paying our taxes we give ten percent of our income to charity.” I know the Romney’s have given a great amount to various charitable organizations outside of the LDS community, but this sparked in my mind a debate: is paying tithing the same as donating money to charity?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do Hard Things



by Seattle Jon:

Summit of Mount Adams. Mount Rainier in the distance.

I recently summited Mount Adams with my two oldest children, Ella (14) and Will (12). The 12,281 foot strato-volcano is the second highest mountain in the state of Washington, and while the climb isn't that technical, crampons and ice axes are needed and people do die in pursuit of the summit.

The six-mile climb from trailhead to summit took two days and was extremely difficult, one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I've done in my life. Part of me wonders what I was thinking doing this with them, but the other part thinks I don't do enough hard things with my kids.


My sense is too many kids these days live less-challenged lives. Society, it seems, has extremely low expectations of kids, especially teenagers, which can cause them to then have low expectations of themselves. Providing opportunities for kids to get out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to exceed expectations as often as possible should foster personal growth on a level we're not used to seeing.

We've already seen changes in Ella and Will - some subtle and some extraordinary - since the climb.

Will was a machine on the climb, leading our party of six for most of the way. I could not pass him no matter how hard I tried. He was the first to start out after breaks and the first to summit. Since the climb, he's been more patient and fun with his brothers, and interestingly, a smarter eater. I'm thinking this might be because we were careful about what food we packed and how we had to ration near the end of the climb. He also seems more mature and a little wiser than before. Instead of poorly managing his time last year as an 11 year-old scout camper, returning with only one complete and two partial merit badges, he returned this year the week following the climb with five merit badges and no partials after planning to complete just three. Coincidence?

View from camp. Mount St. Helens in the distance.

Ella has been a different young woman since the climb. There was a moment on the mountain that could have been a turning point for her personally. We'd reached the false summit, about 800 feet below the true summit. We were exhausted and our food and water were running low. Rather than resting, Will and I pushed ahead, leaving Ella and her cousin to follow with another member of the party. When that person had to sit out the final ascent due to injury, Ella and her cousin had a choice to make. They could sit out too, or get up and climb a very difficult last 800 feet to the summit by themselves. I can't tell you how cool it was to look back down the mountain and see them trudging up the snow and ice. I think Ella knows she made a difficult choice and accomplished something amazing, and it changed her. Since returning, she has been more confident, happy and content; less moody, judgmental and reclusive; and quicker to forgive and express love. Surely this too can't be a coincidence.

What is it about doing hard things that changes who we are?

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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.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: GB Overton (used with permission).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Mormon Comic Sans Project 2



by Scott Heffernan:

The Mormon Comic Sans Project is an ongoing design exercise that involves taking Mormon-related logos, and replacing them with designer-unfriendly Comic Sans font. You can see the first batch here. They are kind of hideous and glorious at the same time.

There are still plenty of logos to go, but if there's one in particular you'd like to see in the next batch, let me know in the comments.

(Click on any image to see the original logo.)




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MMM Cross Stitches: Love At Home 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 love and understanding better than a cross stitch?  The below cross stitches are part of an ongoing series, cross stitches that you can make for your 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: motabenquirer.blogspot.com.

Monday, July 21, 2014

True Grit and the Tour de France



by Reid:

Andy Talansky off the bike in the stage 7 sprint finish

Every summer I have a fight with myself that I predictably lose. The ever-present doping scandels and scoundrels of professional cycling make me vow to stop watching. Then the Tour de France begins and I cave in like a house of cards.

Andrew Talansky breathed a giant breath of life back into U.S. hopes in European pro peloton when this promising young American stood on the top step of the podium last month as the winner of the Criterium du Dauphine. Winners of the Dauphine are always competitive at the Tour, and frequently gone on to win it. Andy had horrific crashes in stages 7 and 8 which forced him to abandon the race after stage 11.

Friday, July 18, 2014

MMM Library: The Six TV Shows That Make Me a Better Man



by brettmerritt:

Of the 25 or so shows listed as "Season Series" on our family's DVR, a few are shows that only I like to watch. I got thinking as I looked at my list of shows. I started wondering which ones I could let go. I started asking, "Do the shows I like do anything to make me a better man? Do they teach me anything? Or are they just filler, a means to escape for a few hours a night?" If they were only filler, I deleted them.

Of the shows that were left, I could honestly say each one meant something to me personally. Some are shows I watch not only because they entertain but specifically because I like what a specific character shows about being a man in today's society. Here they are:


1. Friday Night Lights - Coach Taylor

I only started watching FNL this year. I had heard how great the show was from a number of friends and so when the entire series -- minus the final/current season -- became available on Netflix Instant, I started watching. I was instantly hooked for one reason: Coach Taylor. I could do an entire post on this guy. I watched this character and wanted to be just like him. I can say that I have never felt that way about a fictional TV character before in my life. Here are some qualities Coach Taylor has that every man should admire and emulate: totally faithful to his wife, leads his home, loves his job, works hard, makes time for his family, is a consistent father, has principles he will not back down from, keeps his word, picks his battles, admits his mistakes, preaches and practices honor and humility.

Quote: "Listen to me. I said you need to strive to better than everyone else. I didn't say you needed to be better than everyone else. But you gotta try. That's what character is. It's in the try."


2. Modern Family - Phil Dunphy

He often takes things too far (it's a comedy, after all) but Phil Dunphy is a well-meaning, lovable, earnest goof. He isn't afraid to risk and try something silly. We all shouldn't take ourselves so seriously. When we screw up, we should admit it, apologize and move on. He also loves the hell out of his wife and kids.

Quote: "I am brave. Roller coasters? Love 'em. Scary movies? I've seen Ghostbusters like seven times. I regularly drive through neighborhoods that have only recently been gentrified. So yeah I am pretty much not afraid of anything. Except clowns … I am not really sure where the fear comes from, my mother says it's cause when I was a kid I found a dead clown in the woods. But who knows?"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Thrift Store Finds



by Scott Heffernan:

I previously wrote about how Instagram has saved my marriage. I do a lot of thrift store shopping and want to buy every weird thing I see. My wife hates clutter and will probably divorce me if I bring home one more piece of junk priceless treasure. Taking pictures of these items and sharing them on Instagram has been the perfect compromise. (I still buy a modest amount of bric-a-brac.) Here are some of my latest finds.

Deceased Grandma angel wears socks and sandals, still needs glasses.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guest Post: Far Between, A Documentary About Gay Mormons




A few years ago, Kendall Wilcox called me and asked if I’d like to help him produce a documentary about gay Mormons. Being an accountant and having absolutely no experience in documentary filmmaking, of course I said yes. A short time later, he flew up to Portland and we set to work with post-it notes and a couple of sharpies, littering a bare wall in my condo with notes about all the people we should talk to, the organizations we should talk about, the tone we should strike, etc.

After laying the groundwork, I traveled quite a bit that summer with Kendall, helping out with interviews in the Bay Area; Kirtland, OH; Utah; New York City and the Pacific Northwest. It was an incredible experience. It became a process of Kendall working through his own reconciliation between his sexuality and his spirituality by talking to others in various stages of that same reconciliation and on various and diverse paths. It also became a process for me of reconciliation, learning to listen to stories much different than my own and learning to sit with the tension of placing my story alongside those that contradicted my own.

Sitting with that tension was probably the most important thing I could learn. It helped me explore important questions about myself and my place in the world and my responsibility to others. Kendall is a fiercely curious person and also incredibly respectful of each person’s story. He very conscientiously creates a space that invites in a range and multiplicity of voices. This shows in the diversity of stories he has collected; everything from a Boy George lookalike writer of horror fiction who spent 30 years outside of the church to more traditionally Mormon, temple married couples.

In listening to all these assorted stories, I developed more of an understanding of and respect for why people make choices different than my own. At the same time, it helped me flesh out my own understanding of why I have made the choices I did. I learned to sort through important questions like how do I resolve differences between my beliefs and how others choose to live their life? How do I form my values? How do I process conflicts between internal and external forces? How attracted am I to the same sex versus opposite sex and in what ways? What role does religion play in my life? How much of my overall identity is bound up in my religious identity? What happens when someone else thoughtfully and conscientiously arrives at different answers to these questions?

I’m certainly not the only one who has been faced with important questions. During the past few years the national conversation about homosexuality and gay marriage has exploded. In that time, the number of states where marriage is legal for same-sex couples has more than tripled, with dozens of challenges to state gay marriage bans advancing through the federal legal system. Some states have pushed back by attempting to pass and enact laws protecting discrimination based on religious beliefs. Religious leaders have pushed back and asked for religious freedom protections. The Boy Scouts of America changed their membership rules to allow gay youth and continues to face pressure to also allow gay leaders. The problem is the questions around the role of religion and sexuality too often play out in the political realm, which too often polarizes and fails to empower individuals to address some of the questions I mentioned above in a way that brings greater understanding of self and therefore more peace and respect for the process and decisions of others.

I don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know for sure where the gay marriage debate will end, but I do know that whether gay marriage becomes the law of the land or is abolished completely, the polarization is frustrating for people on all sides of the issue. I also know there will still continue to be religiously oriented individuals who also experience a strong orientation of attraction to their own gender. There will still be a segment of the population (both inside and outside Mormonism) who have to wrestle with the tough questions that bubble to the surface as a result of the at times seemingly irreconcilable conflict between their religious and spiritual identities. This is why I got involved with the documentary film project (titled Far Between) and why I think it’s so important. These questions don’t just affect those who are gay and Mormon. These are questions that affect all of us: gay, straight, transgender, religiously affiliated, non-religiously affiliated, etc.

We currently have hundreds of hours of footage, encompassing over 180 interviews, loads of research and a detailed outline (a script of sorts) to guide us to completion. We now need to assemble a postproduction team, including editors, colorists, sound designers, etc. to create the final product. Our goal is to enter the final product in the Sundance Film Festival so that we can take the ongoing conversation to a broad audience. If this conversation is important to you, or if these are questions you’d like to explore yourself, please donate to Far Between, like our facebook page, or share our Kickstarter page with your friends and family in order to keep the conversation going.

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Jon Hastings lives in Portland, Oregon and is an accountant by day and by night and on occasional weekends is an associate producer for Far Between, a documentary that explores the experience of being homosexual and Mormon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Garden of Enid Comic Compilation



Enid comics are posted on the comic homepage regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays and sometimes on days in between. You can also follow the adventures of Enid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Trust us, this is worth reading and supporting. Some of our recent favorites are below (posted with author's permission).


*****


*****


*****

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blue Lobsters: Standing Out in a Crowd



by Reid:


I took a tour of the Sydney Fish Market a few years ago when I was in Australia. This fella was begging to be noticed. Blue lobsters occur at a rate of 1:2,000,000 as a result of a genetic mutation that results in an abnormal protein complexing with naturally occurring carotenoids. The resultant complex, known as crustacyanin, gives the lobster's shell its cobalt blue coloration. Though truly impressive to look at, they say this peculiar looking lobster* tastes just like the others. He was even priced the same as his mates!

In my clinic, I have often marveled at how Mormons tend to stand out in a crowd as sharply as if they were laden with crustacyanin. This is particularly true of the females of our species (but males are also conspicuous after just a few minutes of interaction and close observation). The complex gemish of dress, grooming, and patterns of speech are part of it; but there is also a certain presence that somehow betrays them.

Scott Heffernan put together a pretty good list of thing that make us stand out in a crowd. Peter and Paul also described the saints as peculiar compared to the rest of the world:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shed forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)
[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)
A closer look at the phrase translated from the original Greek as ‘peculiar people' in both of these Biblical passages is interesting. This phrase is probably more accurately read as 'people owned by the Lord'. We must concede the point that part of what makes us different is who we are. But both Peter and Paul suggest that part of what makes us different is whose we are.

We (and all true followers of Christ) became the Lord's people when he purchased us with his blood. That (and possibly a very slight blue tinge to the skin) makes us rather conspicuous. My mother used to always say 'don't forget who you are' as we were going out for the evening. Both Paul and Peter build upon that concept by reminding us 'don't forget whose you are'.

If that's not enough to make us stand out in a crowd, then I guess we're doing something wrong.

*****

* For you triviologists out there, the yellow lobster is seen at a rate of 1:30 million, split-colored lobsters 1:50 million and albino lobsters 1:100 million.

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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: stunnedbanana.blogspot.com.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: Reid (used with permission).

Friday, July 11, 2014

Handbook of Instructions (1940): Corporations Sole



by Seattle Jon:

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

Corporations Sole

There is in operation in the states of Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming and Nevada, a law which permits the bishop of a ward, or the president of a stake, to become a corporation sole, with perpetual succession. The law vests the corporate power in the bishop, or the stake president, and his successors in office. When a bishop, or president of a stake, ceases to hold office, his successor succeeds to all the rights of his predecessor by filing a certified copy of his appointment, (which is issued by the First Presidency), with the county recorder of the county in which the property is located. The ward corporation should hold title to all ward real estate, including cemetery, tithing department, Relief Society and other auxiliary organizations. The stake corporation should hold title to all stake property.

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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.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Underlined: Halfway Through The New Karl Maeser Biography



by Bradly Baird:

I am just about halfway through the new biography of Karl Maeser by A. LeGrand Richards (Professor of Educational Leadership and Foundations at Brigham Young University). Reading the book has been such an unexpected delight and such a rewarding experience that I cannot wait until I am finished to share some of its riches. Enjoy!

A selection of One-line Aphorisms
"Be yourself, but always be your better self."

"Make the man within you your living ideal."

"Man grows with his higher aims."

"Nature is the best educator."

"School is a drill for the battle of life; if you fail at the drill you will fail in the battle."

"Everyone of you, sooner or later, must stand at the fork of the road, and choose between personal interests and some principle of right."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

21 Lessons from a Lesson on David and Bathsheba



by Shawn Tucker:


So I was asked to substitute for Sunday School, and the lesson dealt with David and Bathsheba. (For a slightly amusing take on this challenge, see here.) Here are 21 lessons I learned from preparing the lesson:
  1. When David saw Bathsheba in the bath, she was performing a ritual washing or Mikveh. She was not just chillin' in the tub after a long day. In fact, the verses tell us she was doing this because she had just finished her period.
  2. Jerusalem is on a hill, so David could have looked out from the roof and seen Bathsheba.
  3. There is nothing, NOTHING!, in the scriptures to suggest that Bathsheba had put herself on display, wanted to be seen by anyone (including David), or was doing anything but performing a ceremonial washing. In fact, the verses mention her bath and her period to drive home the point that Bathsheba's child was David's and could not have been Uriah's.
  4. David saw a beautiful woman performing a ceremonial washing, became sexually aroused, had his men take her, and then had non-consensual sex with her.
  5. The sex between them is non-consensual because David had all of the power, had compelled her to come to him, and someone in Bathsheba's position is not completely free to say yes or no to sex. What David did was beyond adultery; it was rape.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Strange Church Encounters: MMM Edition



by Eliana:


The following are true tales, without embellishment.

The Primary president was doing sharing time one Sunday soon after my first calling to teach in Primary. The topic was Word of Wisdom; kids had to choose a picture and put it on the bulletin board on the good or bad side. Cigarettes, bad, apples, good. Then there was a picture of macaroni and cheese. The child put it on the good side—no evil here. But wait, President disagrees. Macaroni and cheese is a processed food. We shouldn't eat it all the time. It isn't good for our bodies. So she moves it to the bad side. I bite my tongue, nearly drawing blood. This is officially the most confusing Word of Wisdom lesson for kids under eight ever. I'm confused even. I clearly need to ask more questions about what my kids are learning each Sunday while they’re away from me.

*****

Our whole stake is reorganized so we are in a different ward after a dozen years in the same one. I show up at the building on a week night to get my temple recommend renewed. There's a guy hanging around the bishop's office who I see every week but don't know, so I put on my friendly face.

"Hi, I'm Eliana Osborn. I don't think we've met yet."

"I'm Brother X."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Prophet Playing Cards: Snow & F. Smith



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 | Taylor & Woodruff



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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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Saintspeak 22: The Letter S, Part 1



by Seattle Jon:

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

Sacrament The ordinance in which the child at the beginning of the row touches all the bread with his slobbery hands before finally taking a piece, the person who hands you the water tray tips it so it spills allover your lap, and the child in front of you keeps making a popping noise with her plastic cup throughout the rest of the meeting. People who can keep their thoughts holy during all that are invariably translated before the end of the meeting.

Salt Lake City The center of the world.

Salvation Resurrection from the dead. Mormons regard it as a pretty ordinary gift, since it is automatically granted to everyone who ever lived, even Democrats.

Savage Misogynist To a Mormon feminist, this is an all-purpose term of abuse which can be applied to men whose sins range from thinking it is better to wait to give women the priesthood until after God has given his OK, to thinking that women should get the priesthood right after men are given the power to have babies and suckle their young.

Savages What Mormon pioneers called Lamanites who didn't cooperate.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why Can't I Get It Right?



by Bradly Baird:

I cannot seem to get my career right. Why?


Every job that I have had since I finished my undergraduate work in 1990s has been an unhappy experience. I worked hard at these jobs, accomplished many things, and still felt at the end of the day as though I wasted my time or just felt empty about the work that I completed (zero satisfaction by any of it). I am now in that same position with my current employer. I come home at the end of everyday completely exhausted - feeling as though I am just making money for someone else - and I am at the end of my rope.

All of my friends and acquaintances from college have found stable careers and seem to derive at least a little bit of satisfaction from their work; many even seem to enjoy it. So, what is my problem? Where does my inability to find this satisfaction come from? I am unable to answer either of these questions and now I am thinking that perhaps I need some sort of therapy.

I maintain an incredibly fulfilling religious and spiritual life, enjoy a fulfilling life at home with my family, and experience hobbies and interests that endlessly fascinate and interest me (not to mention the fun of writing every month for Trip M). If I can get the personal aspects correct and feel a tremendous sense of peace and joy therein, where am I getting it wrong with the professional? I just don't know.

I thought last week that I might not be cut out for the regular business life and started looking around at homesteads in Utah that I might purchase and try to become self-sufficient (like those nutzos on the "reality" show, Alaska: The Final Frontier). But, after a few minutes I came to my senses and realized that I couldn't do something like that to my family.

So, blogosphere, I put it to you. How do I figure out this professional stuff? I am open to any sort of advice from anyone out there (especially if some of you might have a particular expertise in this field). You can put a comment on this post or, if you have something deeper to say, send me an email. I am open to any ideas and thoughts because everything I have attempted thus far has failed.

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Bradly Allen Baird is the father of two amazing children and has been married for almost twenty years. He served a mission in Finland, though he was really supposed to serve in Uruguay. His professional meanderings include everything from education to economic development, to human capital management in the IT industry (hopefully this one sticks); and spends his Saturdays hanging out with the missionaries in Provo, or racing back and forth between his children's activities in tae kwon do and elite cheerleading. Bradly also survived an MBA program; developed a somewhat limited interest in music, theater, film, urban planning, judaica, liberation theology, politics, israel, and latin american history; studies the influence of graphic imagery on public space; wrote a thesis about Leonard Bernstein, is obsessed with the American Symphonists, and reads publications like The Tablet and the Jewish Daily Forward.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: James Yeung.

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