Friday, August 29, 2014

MMM Library: Choose Your Love, Love Your Choice



by Pete Codella:

Pete and Vickey Codella | June 1999 Something President Monson said in General Conference recently really stood out to me. He said: “Choose your love; love your choice.”

He made this comment in regard to the concept and importance of marriage to members of the priesthood in the General Priesthood meeting. I have witnessed many different marriages and divorces - even subsequent marriages by those who have already ‘been there and done that.’ Sadly, we’ve heard much reported lately about married, powerful, well-known men who have had affairs and, as a result, caused all sorts of damage to their families and communities.

Rather than define marriage or discuss problems caused by infidelity, I’d like to share my personal experience with marriage and why I agree with President Monson that once you’ve made the commitment to be married you should love your choice — both your choice to be married and the person you married.

I had the privilege of traveling with the BYU Young Ambassadors for three years while I was in college. I thought, even hoped, I’d find my eternal companion among the ranks of that talented ensemble. But alas, it wasn’t to be, and I’m certainly grateful for that. After college I spent a couple years chasing my Broadway dream in New York City, working to support myself and continuing to sing, dance and act when given the opportunity. Then, at a fortuitous moment, a job at BYU’s Performing Arts Management office opened up. I applied and was ultimately offered the job.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dream Jobs



by Eliana:


A few days ago I caught the end of a story on the NPR program All Things Considered. Apparently there's been some confusion about the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. You can probably imagine the bureaucratic nightmare of having your home or business in a different jurisdiction than you thought. 

The five second transition after the story is what caught my attention: a music clip of the Robin Thicke song Blurred Lines. See? The story is about lines and they aren't clear … which is another way to say blurred? Genius.

My dream job is to be the NPR music person—not doing stories about celebrities or albums. I just want to be in charge of the sneaky snippets of music serving as an inside joke if you can place the song and figure out it's connection to the story. When done well, these brief moments elevate my enjoyment of a piece to a whole new level.

Other dream jobs:
  • The one I already have, teaching community college without dealing with politics, but in my fantasy there's an entirely different pay structure involved.
  • Back-up dancer for a big concert act. 
  • Researcher, primarily for a quirky billionaire with flexible deadlines.
And you? What's your dream job? 

*It goes without saying that if you have influence regarding hiring for any of my dream jobs, I fully expect you to pull some strings for me.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MMM Search Term Roundup 14: July 2013 - September 2013



by Scott Heffernan:

See all Search Term Roundups here.

When someone finds Modern Mormon Men via search engine, we get to see what they typed to get here, giving us a small glimpse into the thought processes of those who happen upon our site. I think our readers need to see these, so I'll be sharing them monthly. Some are funny, some are sad, some are disturbing. Maybe we can work together to give some context or help answer some of those curious questions. WARNING: Although some of the more explicit entries have been excluded, saucier phrases that are included have not been edited.

how are mormon children punished
We make them go to church for three hours.

things to bless a baby with
Super speed and x-ray vision.

mormon labyrinth


can mormons wear tank tops
Of course! What a silly question.

can mormon guys wear tank tops
Nope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2014 List of Banished Words



by Reid:


Lake Superior State University has been publishing an annual list of banished words since 1977. Their website catalogues all the entries over the years, but be forewarned: reading too many of these lists will put your hate-coefficient into the red zone very quickly. There is a lot of painful memories buried in these archives. Though its difficult to admit it, I'm as guilty as the rest of you in creating this sad legacy.

The 2014 entries are indeed worthy of banishment from our vocabularies forever. Each of us would do well to read this list annually and use it as one of your home teaching lessons. Trust me … people will thank you.

2014 List of Banished Words (in descending order)

3. Hashtag
I thought it was just me, but apparently I'm not the only one annoyed by the hashtag craze. Actually it's call an octothrope, but either way it's best if you part ways. If you insist on continuing to use it on Instagram or Twitter then let's just try to use a little restraint. No one will complain if you never say it or use it again.

2. Twerk/Twerking
I hope you're happy, Miley Cyrus. I can never unsee that. You've ruined it for everyone.

1. Selfie
It seems that most of the world is under the mistaken impression that other people care about seeing a picture you take of yourself (or rather retake eight times before publishing) every day. It's a lie.  I think we should employ Elder Uchtdorf's advice on this one: Stop It!

LSSU is on to something good. I think we need to talk to Scott & Jon about creating a similar list of mormonisms. What's on your list?

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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: Paško Tomić (used with permission).

Monday, August 25, 2014

7 Religious Stock Photos That Make You Go Hmmm: 2nd Amendment Edition



by Kyle:

Due to popular* demand I bring you the second installment of the crazy, the whacky, and the awesome that religious stock photography has to offer. (See the first one here.) This time a little faith mingled with the 2nd Amendment, because…

'Merica!


Do you hang both of these above your bed or keep them somewhere easily accessible?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guest Post: Remarks on the Passing (and Likely Suicide) of My Son




My son, Maxwell Defiance Landbeck, was killed early the morning of July 13, 2014. I’ve written about Max before, about our troubles. This post is my effort to make sense of his death. To find personal context and peace with it, to see the meaning in our loss and grief. It is comprised mostly of the remarks I gave at his memorial service, though I've included a few passages from the eulogy his sister read (the entire eulogy is here).
"Grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at their suffering or death. The only way to avoid grief would be to not experience the love; and it is the love that gives life its richness and meaning."
A little over two years ago, Max was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. In the months prior to that, he struggled with substance abuse. It is now obvious he was self-medicating. The burden of bi-polar disorder is swinging between depressive and manic episodes. For Max, when he was Manic, he would become delusional. Delusions of different realities, grandiose visions and fantasies. He was never violent, but pursued his bizarre notions no matter how strange or dangerous.

When Max would use drugs, even marijuana, he became even more delusional. But he sought out bizarre drugs, custom hallucinogens, spice, gleefully experimenting with substances that were not technically illegal. During these years, family and friends tried to help him, offering him a place to live if he promised to quit for good. Max was easy to love, but difficult to live with. Addiction is a terrible burden. He could not resist the draw of trying drugs one more time. Each time Max was certain that it would help. Each time he was terribly wrong.

In the very early morning of Sunday, July 13 Max was struck by a freight train and killed instantly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More Mormon TV



by ldsbishop:


Previous installment can be found here.

Summer is almost over, the days are getting colder and the nights are getting longer. Lock your kids in their bedrooms, put your snuggie on and settle down to watch the latest and best Mormon TV shows.

Stake of Thrones
Fantasy drama following the many stories of the members of the Westeros 2nd Stake. Stories include that of Brother Robb Stark, out to get Stake President Joffrey who had Robb's father released as the Stake Executive Secretary. Also see Sister Daenerys Targaryen get lost on a YW camp hike.

24
Brother Bauer is a veteran member of the High Council. His talks seem to go on all day and make people want to commit acts of extreme violence.

Food Storage Wars
When the local supermarket goes out of business, members of the Relief Society engage in physical fights to get a good deal on a case-lot of kidney beans.

50 Shades of Grey
Lengthy review of the suits worn by your favourite General Authorities. This week, Dark Charcoal #18 as worn by President Henry B. Eyring during the April 2010 General Conference.

Elder Pythons Flying Stake Roadshow
Wacky revue featuring your favourite sketches. Includes "Nobody expects the Stake Disciplinary Council" and "The Quorum of Silly Walks."

Man vs. Food
After recent employment problems, Brother Richman is inundated with meals provided by his local Relief Society. He feels obliged to eat them all, in spite of gaining 300lbs over the last three months. The latest episode sees him attempt to eat 5lbs of Sister Jensen's famous "all beef" lasagne in one sitting.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saintspeak 23: The Letter S, Part 2



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.

Service Project  The festive springtime ritual in which teenage Mormon boys and girls descend upon the home of a defenseless widow, trample her garden, break down her fence, and gouge chunks out of her lawn, all in order to paint large sections of the walls and windows of her house a color that she doesn't like.

Set Apart  The point of no return: Once you're set apart, you can't turn down the calling.

Shake the Dust of Your Feet  What missionaries do in order to trigger the destruction of towns, homes, and dry cleaning establishments that offend them.

Signify By the Usual Sign  Mormons communicate many things with special physical signs of great significance. For instance, closed eyes and a nodding head signify, "My, what an interesting talk!" An upraised right hand signifies, "Thank heaven I didn't get called to do that." And picking up a screaming child and carrying him or her out of a meeting signifies, "The auction is beginning. What am I bid for this child?"

Sister  The Mormon equivalent of Ms. It is used equally to refer to married and unmarried women. While Brother is used to refer only to those male Mormons who do not hold high positions, Sister can be used to refer to any adult Mormon woman from the general president of the Relief Society to the humblest ward member; whether this is because women are more democratic or because no woman is regarded as having genuinely high status in the Church I dare not guess.

Monday, August 18, 2014

5 Practical Tips for Getting Personal Revelation



by Shawn Tucker:


It can be difficult to distinguish what the Lord might be telling you. For my Institute students I call this the BB Principle: is this sensation a heaven-sent Burning in the Bosom or just the result of that afternoon's Bean Burrito. What follows are some practical helps for making that distinction. I will add that this already assumes that you are doing the fundamentals to get personal revelation, including being as obedient as possible, praying and reading your scriptures regularly, searching for answers in the scriptures, in modern revelation, in one's patriarchal blessing, and from trusted people around you, and perhaps going to the temple, fasting, or seeking a priesthood blessing. Even doing all of those things, these tips might be useful.

1. Expect mistakes. I am of the opinion that recognizing answers to prayers is a skill that requires time and practice. It also requires a lot of experience, and some of those experiences include making mistakes. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I felt inspired that we would have a boy. I didn't really care whether we had a boy or a girl, but the notion that we would have a boy was quite strong. I was more than a little surprised when our first child was a girl. I have pondered this experience many times, and now I just chalk it up to making a mistake. I feel fortunate that it wasn't a very serious issue or mistake, but it does help me to see that mistakes are part of the learning process.

One thing I would add is that communication from Heavenly Father seems to come through thoughts and emotions. Sometimes distinguishing those thoughts and emotions is like playing the piano with boxing gloves. Instead of fine distinctions between one finger and another finger, between different inflections of emotion or different qualities of thought, I just have thoughts and emotions. But it does seem to be that over time I can distinguish the qualities of different thoughts and emotions in ways that make it easier to differentiate what is from God and what is not. This is an ongoing learning process, and knowing that mistakes are part of the process is very reassuring.

2. If you don't have to do anything, wait. Sometimes you want an answer to a prayer for a decision that needs to be made. One helpful tip is to neither rush yourself or the Lord. If a decision does not need to be made immediately, then wait. This can allow time for a correct decision to become clear. The problem of course is that waiting can be painful. Uncertainty is painful. Uncertainty is like lifting weights in that you are doing something and it is painful. You want that pain to end—you want a clear answer. Sometimes you want to put the weights down and be finished with the painful uncertainty process perhaps too early. The problem with putting the weights down too early is that you are probably not getting the best answer possible. But a second and perhaps even more important problem is that putting the weights down early will mean that the weights and the waiting have not yet done their job. Lifting weights makes you stronger. Waiting on the Lord and on yourself for the best answer and its confidence to emerge requires patience that makes one stronger and more resilient. Perhaps God doesn't just want to give you an answer, He wants you to gain power and faith that only come from exercising patience.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rock & Roll Parables: Rush's Conform Or Be Cast Out



by Reid:


It's a well-documented fact that Rush is the greatest rock and roll trio that ever toured the planet. Neil Peart not only has superhuman abilities as a drummer, but he's a gifted lyricist as well. In the chorus of Subdivisions (Signals, 1982; music video here), he captures that all-to-familiar pressure to conform to those standards established by our peer group, or risk being cast out. It makes for a another excellent Rock & Roll Parable.*

(Lyrics by Neil Peart)

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone

[Chorus:]

(Subdivisions)
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
(Subdivisions)
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights ...

[Chorus]

Since humans are innately social creatures, they feel pressure to conform to the standards of the peer groups to which they belong. Every day, virtually every sentient person feels this pressure to some degree. It is not limited to young people with tattoos, stupid haircuts or ridiculous fashion statements; it goes all the way up the food chain. When an older generation describes this phenomenon in a younger generation, they call it peer pressure. It is usually (and often rightfully) portrayed as bad. Non-conformity is frequently generational, with the younger generation rejecting conformity with the older one. Accordingly, themes of non-conformity are extremely common in Rock and Roll. Watch Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) for Roger Water's bold rejection of conformity over thirty years ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Letter to My Non-Mormon Friends



by A-Dub:


Dear MMM Readers - I was too chicken to post this on Facebook.

*****

Dear Non-Mormon Friend,

You probably know that I'm a Mormon. What you may not know is that I want to share my religion with you really badly. Not because we want your tithing money. Not because people will think I'm cool. And not because we have a quota we're trying to fill. Being a Mormon and a follower of Christ helps me be happy and I think it would increase your happiness as well. It's really something that I want to share with other people, but it's genuinely difficult sometimes.

You see, to me, sharing my religious beliefs is like a guy who is eating a really, really great piece of pie at a party. I mean, amazing, knee-buckling, you-have-try this kind of pie. And he goes around to people at the party, fork in hand, offering it to them: "Holy crap! This pie is amazing! Take a bite!"  And then he tries to feed it too you. Yes, it could be that you love the pie too and that one bite begins a life-long love affair with the best thing you've ever eaten. But it's weird that I'm trying to feed it to you. So I try and think of lots of ways that I can get you to try the pie, without it being weird. But I'm still a little socially awkward.

So often, because of the pie thing, I don't share my religion with you ... mainly because I am a chicken. Here are some examples:
  • I'd like to give you a copy of The Book of Mormon, but I'm afraid you'll feel like I just gave you homework. And afterwards you'll avoid me because you don't want to have to admit that you didn't read it when I invariably ask you about it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Forging the Generations Through Indexing



by Bradly Baird:

This past week, I finished indexing my 4,000th record for FamilySearch. I didn't believe when I started the process in March of this year that this simple task would become a part of my daily routine, much the same as reading the scriptures or personal prayer. It really only required me to index about 15-20 records a day, which takes up about 20-30 minutes; and, as I work, I am filled with the spirit of Elijah and can feel "hearts turning" as prophesied by Malachi. Incredibly simple!

I also started arbitrating records for my stake, since each stake unit is responsible to arbitrate its own indexed records. This is a little more daunting task because the final word on a submitted and published record is mine. However, the deeper I move into the tasks of arbitration, I feel the process reflects the principle that, "in the mouth of two of three witnesses, shall every word be established." I am learning to rely on the Spirit when faced with the more difficult choices.

So, the time has come for the thousands of you who view Trip-M to get with the program and start indexing through FamilySearch (if you are not already involved). Indexing is not difficult and does not take up much time, once you establish a regular pattern; not to mention that the process can be somewhat addicting once you get rolling. You will feel the Spirit of Elijah.

"The Spirit of Elijah is a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family." (Russell M. Nelson)

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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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lessons from a Tibetan Buddhist



by Reid:

Tibetan Monk - Sera Monastery
Lhasa, Tibet
We recently returned from a trip that took us to a number of cities in China. Without a doubt, our stay in Lhasa, Tibet was a highlight. The contrast between one city teeming with 32 million people and another nestled in a valley surrounded by the Himalayas could't be more dramatic. The blue skies, towering slopes and clean mountain air make you realize very quickly you're not in Shanghai anymore.

Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world at 11,800 feet above sea level. With only 68% of the oxygen found a sea level, you really feel the difference while hiking around. But I could also feel a difference in the spirituality of the Tibetan people compared to their Han countrymen. Tibetans are deeply religious, with 98% of them being Buddhist; they seem to wear it on their proverbial sleeves.

Our guide, Gyatso, was a devout Buddhist. He was determined to teach me everything there is to know about Tibetan Buddhism in three days, including the pedigrees of all 14 Dalai Lamas, 11 Panchen Lamas and each of the incarnations of the Buddha. It was all quite overwhelming. Most of it is now lost to me. But something Gyatso said was so spot-on that I wrote it down as soon as I heard it. It relates to what Buddhists call the three poisons.

These three poisons are the root of all human suffering and are toxic to both body and spirit. They include ignorance, greed and anger. Interestingly, ignorance is considered the root poison from which greed and anger arise. To Buddhists, one of life's principal struggles is to eliminate the three poisons. Gyatso said that as we succeed in eliminating the three poisons we will be "close to enlightenment."

Friday, August 8, 2014

MMM Library: The Birds & the Bees (& Babies)



by Aimee:


As a marriage and family therapist (and someone who just enjoys chatting about the subject), I hear a lot of couples discuss their struggles with getting back into the intimacy groove once the baby(ies) joins the family. As a new mom, an article titled Sex and The Baby Years really helped me get my head back in the game a few weeks after having our baby boy.

The CNN Health author, Ian Kerner, takes a fun, realistic approach on the issue of sexuality for couples after babies. One of my favorite lines from the article reads:
We believe that sex matters. It’s the glue that binds couples together. It’s what makes us more than just friends. Without sex, lovers become roommates, and a bedroom becomes just a place to sleep in (often with a kid or two in it as well).
Amen. Sex matters! A lot. And as committed couples, working hard to make sex an enjoyable, safe and pleasant experience can make all the difference in our overall health.

Also note the great advice for dads (hint: Don't Give Up!) and the direct, healthy advice for moms in point number four.

This post was originally published August 5, 2011.

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Raised by a self-declared "Zen Mormon,” Aimee was exposed to a unique, open approach to mormonism. This allows her to easily relate to people of all different backgrounds. She will be contributing to Modern Mormon Men with her insights as a marriage and family therapist and has the great pleasure of writing on topics regarding mental and emotional health, parenting, couplehood, sexuality, and anything else she sees fit to share. Aimee served a mission in the beautiful countryside of Sendai, Japan. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University and practices in Redmond, Washington. She loves her (above-average) charming husband and son. Aimee is world renowned for her parallel parking skills and vertical leap. If you ever run into her, she will be happy to demonstrate either.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: Charlotte (used with permission).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Illustrated Mormons 2



by Scott Heffernan:

A while back I shared some Illustrated Mormons modeled after Julian Opie's iconic portrait style. Here are a few more to add to the collection.

Latter-day Prophets: Joseph Smith, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marriage Advice



by Eliana:


From my father-in-law to his son, my husband, at some point between ages 21 and 26 when we got married: "There's a lot of women who are good in the kitchen. You got to make sure you find one who's good in the bedroom."

From the musical and actual novel Les Miserables: "To love another person is to see the face of God."

From my grandmother at my bridal shower: "Before you get married, keep your eyes wide open. After you get married, keep them half shut."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guest Post: Brown Mormon WHY???




As a child I would see those old Latter-day Saints commercials on television. I would ask my mother, “Who are they?” Her response was always, “Only white people are Mormons.” Which is how I felt most of my life—that certain things were white, and others were for minorities.

I grew up Catholic—that was what I had to be and the only thing I could be—because I am Puerto Rican. I attended Catholic school and was even in a pre-seminary studying program. I was going to be the priest in the family.

My family is not and has never been a close one. At dinner, we got our meals and went to our rooms and watched television. There was no community involvement in our lives because my mother felt those people would take advantage of us. So I what learned at a young age was no close family and no sense of community.

Flash forward a few years; I am a combat veteran of the United States Air Force, medically separated for PTSD, alone, tired, and suicidal.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Swagger Wagons



Good news to all readers on the fence about buying a mini-van because you think they're not cool.

Friday, August 1, 2014

LDS Sign Language: Elders Quorum



by Seattle Jon:

From the LDS Dictionary of Sign Language Terms (1980 print version).



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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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