Thursday, October 30, 2014

Linger Longer 36




Linger Longer is a series where we highlight religious and non-religious articles, as well as mormon-related podcasts. Click here for previous lists.

Bloggernacle (religious sites)
God of the Margins (Feminist Mormon Housewives)
On Being A Liberal Mormon: Two Defenses and An Attack (By Common Consent)
New BYU Religious Ed and CES Curriculum (Times and Seasons)
Temple Talk Trends (Zelophehad's Daughters)
Spooks A-Creep! (Keepapitchinin)
Forgiveness Comes From Without (Segullah)
Church Hop: Quaker (Doves and Serpents)
Flooding the Earth Via Social Media (Millenial Star)
On Eliza R. Snow's "To The Writers of Fiction" (Artistic Preaching)
Marilynne Robinson on Writing About Faith (A Motley Vision)
The Gospel Checklist: Crowding Out the Spirit? (Worlds Without End)
Modern Family (Dandelion Mama)
Prayer Changes Things (Mormon Women Project)
Finding Your ACE Score (The Mormon Therapist)
The Doctrine of Celibacy (No More Strangers)

Mormon-Related Podcasts
Episode 122: Slippery, A Mormon Horror Story (FMH Podcast)
Episode 503: Discussion the New Lds.Org Polygamy Essays - Part 1 (Mormon Stories)
Episode 255: New Church Video on LDS Temple Clothing and Garments (Mormon Matters)

Off-Bloggernacle (non-religious sites)
Soda SequestrationTungsten CountertopGreat Tree Great Axe and Faucet Power (What If?)
The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect (Wired)
Why the Last Five Years of Your Life Have Disappeared (Fast Company)
Thirty Things I've Learned (Medium)
Client Feedback on the Creation of the Earth (Timothy McSweeney)
American Manifesto (BoingBoing)
Here's Why Stealing Cars Went Out of Fashion (The New York Times)
How to Turn Every Child Into a "Math Person" (Quartz)
Decline of the Curve (Sports on Earth)
The American Band Championship Belt (Grantland)
Email is Still the Best Thing on the Internet (The Atlantic)
Why You Should Stop Believing in Evolution (The Week)
Always Talk to Strangers (The Atlantic)
Do Parks Make People Happier? (Psychology Today)
40 Maps That Explain the Roman Empire (Vox)
Eat More Nuts (and Vegetables, and Don't Forget to Exercise and Quit Smoking) (FiveThirtyEight)
20 Hilariously Sarcastic Warning Signs (Diply)
25 of the Most Dangerous and Unusual Journeys to School in the World (Bored Panda)
The Church of In-N-Out Burger (Priceonomics)
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture (The New York Times)
Learning from Benjamin Franklin (Seeking Wisdom)
Grandmaster Clash (Slate)
Westley Shares Inconceivable Tales from the Making of 'The Princess Bride' (The Daily Beast)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Photo Essay: Gilgal Gardens at Night



by Scott Heffernan:

If you live near Salt Lake City, Utah, you've probably at least heard of the Gilgal Sculpture Garden (or Gilgal Gardens). If you've never been to this stunningly strange spectacle, I highly recommend a visit.

Growing up in the 1980s, we knew this place as Mormon Land. We didn't know much else. We'd go in the middle of the night and had to hop a fence to get to it. With our flashlights we could make out a sphinx with Joseph Smith's face, some creepy quotes, and a guy wearing brick pants. It felt very spooky, dangerous, and thrilling!

Gilgal was built by an eccentric Mormon Bishop named Thomas Child starting in 1945, purchased by a neighbor upon his death in 1963, then in the year 2000, sold to a group whose mission is to preserve and restore the garden. Gilgal Sculpture Garden is now a city park and open to the public.

I took these photographs in 2005. I shot the garden at night because I wanted to recreate the mystery and angst that surrounded it for me as a kid. Very long exposures brought out the peculiar purple color of the sky.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Fighting Words



by Reid:

Recently I read an editorial in which owners of a wedding chapel in Idaho face fines and possible jail time for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. The husband and wife owners are both ordained ministers and believe same-sex marriage to be contrary to their religious beliefs. But the recent court rulings on same-sex marriage now make it legal in Idaho. As a result, they are in potential violation of local non-discrimination ordinances because their wedding chapel is registered as a business, not a church.

So it begins.



In reality the battle lines have been forming for quite some time now and the Church has anticipated this fight. To those that are in favor of same-sex marriage--and even those that are completely indifferent about it--the Church's position is difficult to understand. "Why not concede on this one issue and then everyone can get along with no further quarrel?"

148 years ago, critics were asking the same question of the Church regarding it's position on marriage. Brigham Young's response then is something that would work pretty well today--if we simply substitute 'polygamy' for 'same-sex marriage':
[If] we would give up polygamy ... would they be satisfied with this? No; but they would next want us to renounce Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God, then the Book of Mormon, then baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Then they would wish us to disclaim the gift of prophecy, and the other gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, on the ground that they are done away and no longer needed in our day, also prophets and apostles, etc.

They want us to yield all these points, transgress the laws God has revealed for the salvation of the world, and change all the ordinances of God's house, and conform to the dogmas of modern Christianity and to the corruptions of the age. Will the Latter-day Saints do this? No; they will not to please anybody. Shall we have a warfare? We shall; we will war and contend for the right, and trust in our God until righteousness is established upon the earth, until peace shall reign everywhere, until the children of men shall lay down the weapons of their warfare and cease to exhaust their ability and ingenuity in forming weapons of destruction to slay their fellow men, until the minds and affections of mankind shall be turned unto the Lord their God, and their energies be directed to beautifying the earth and making it like the garden of Eden. We calculate to struggle on, and continue to exercise faith and enjoy our religion, keeping all the commandments of God, observing the ordinances of his house, trying to fulfill all his words, trusting in him, and we shall see what this course will come to. (Brigham Young - Journal of Discourses 11:239)
His words are eerily prophetic. Were the Church to concede on the issue of same-sex marriage, it wouldn't end there. There would be "just one more thing." I think we are in for a fight no matter what.

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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: reidlitchfield.com.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Questions for Angela Hallstrom, Author of Bound on Earth



by Scott Hales:


Few recent Mormon novels have received as much praise as Angela Hallstrom's Bound on Earth, which was first published in 2008 by Parables. (You can read my enthusiastic review here.) Because the book is being republished by Mormon fiction powerhouse Zarahemla Books, I sent Angela a few questions about the novel, the change in publishers, and the state of Mormon fiction today.

Here is what she had to say...

Scott Hales: Tell us a little of the history of Bound on Earth. I gather that it began as a series of short stories about the Palmer family. At what point did you begin to think of it as a novel?

Angela Hallstrom: During my MFA program I was focused primarily on short story writing. Near the end of my program I took a point-of-view class that was very influential, and in it we read a few novels-in-stories. I was taken with the idea of exploring one Mormon family using such a method. I wrote "Thanksgiving" in that class, which later became the first chapter of Bound on Earth and the foundational story around which Bound on Earth was built.

The novel has recently switched publishers. What motivated the move to Zarahemla Books? Have you made any revisions to the novel in tandem with the move, or is the novel essentially how it was when it was published by Parables?

I enjoyed working with Beth Bentley at Parables, but her husband and business partner, George, recently passed away, sadly. His passing precipitated some changes at Parables and I found that the rights to the novel reverted to me. I've worked with Chris Bigelow and Zarahemla—they published the short story anthology I edited, Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction—and I approached him, knowing the novel would be in good hands. I knew I'd be in good company, too: Zarahemla has published some of the best contemporary Mormon fiction in the last decade. No changes have been made to the novel itself, but I'm grateful that my partnership with Zarahemla helps keep the novel in print.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet Six Mormons



by John English:


I wasn't sure I was going to see Meet the Mormons in theaters. After all, it looked like something I could record on KSL in between General Conference sessions. All eight reviews at RottenTomatoes were negative, though some of them seemed to be slamming it for not being a hard-hitting expose.

It's a documentary produced by the LDS church for nonmembers, but really, it is just as much for members, maybe more so. Meet your fellow Mormons. Come meet some members of your global family.

It's hosted by New York resident and former Daily Show employee Jenna Kim Jones, and she narrates as we meet the six spotlighted members, each getting between 10-15 minutes. Watching their stories unfold made me wonder how director Blair Treu and his crew might treat my family, or my neighbors' families. I'm sure it would accentuate the positive. (Hey, Blair, if you want...)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Thoughts on New Temple Clothing & Garments Video



by Seattle Jon:

(1) Surprise at seeing actual temple clothing and garments on video.
(2) Surprise at hearing the words "magic underwear" in a church video!
(3) Surprise at hearing the church state there is nothing "magical or mystical" about temple garments.
(4) Not surprised at how well done the video was, the church makes good videos!

What are your thoughts?



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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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Dream Deferred



by Eliana:


You know that poem by Langston Hughes? Even if you don't do poetry, you've at least heard of the drama A Raisin in the Sun. I've always loved it, despite it being very foreign to my existence.

The options, according to the poem: a dream can dry up (like a grape becoming a raisin) or it can explode. I may be losing some of the linguistic beauty, but that's the Cliff Notes version.

I had a dream this year, the year my youngest child started kindergarten. My dream was to write a book. It has been simmering and floating around for a long time but I knew it would need more focus than I could manage with a small person around.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seven Tips For Giving Your Best Missionary Homecoming Talk



by Shawn Tucker:


You are excited and happy to be home. Here are some ideas that might help you give the best homecoming talk possible:

Tip #1: What We Really Want Are Your Stories
As we watch you get up to the podium, all we really want are your stories. In fact, the bulk of your talk should be you telling three mission stories. You and everyone who served a mission will know that stories are creations, narratives that have been condensed for a particular audience and purpose. They are true (or they should be true), but the real events are always more complex than any one story can convey. That is okay. Formulate and give us as clearly and honestly as possible three important stories from your mission experience.

Tip #2: Use a Simple Framework
Since you cannot just tell three stories, have a framework or over-arching theme to connect them. It could be the joy of service or how the Lord blesses our best efforts or whatnot, but have some overarching idea that links the stories together. Introduce that theme at the outset, return to it very briefly between stories, and tie all of the stories together at the end with that theme.

Tip #3: Include Scriptures Where Helpful
When you introduce your framework or over-arching theme, between stories, or in your conclusion, include scriptures that support and advance your ideas. I would suggest no more than three scriptures.

Tip #4: Be You
We are glad to see you. We love you. We are glad that you have changed and grown. Simply being you is enough. Also, you are very, very excited about missionary work. That is great. Honestly, we will smile in agreement when you tell us to study Preach My Gospel every day, but there is no way we are going to actually do that. So, if you really want us to do missionary work, just talk about the joy you felt and allow the Spirit to work on us. I say that to say this—you are becoming an adult now, so you need to know that we are all doing our best and some of us have deep, painful struggles that you don't see. When you left, you may have imagined all of us as happily on the gospel escalator taking us to heaven. By now you should know that there is no such escalator, or that the escalator is broken and everyone has to take the stairs. Many find those stairs almost impossibly steep and frightening. You need to know that there is pain in every pew. The value of knowing that is that now when you speak you can rest assured that you don’t need to tell us to do anything. We are adult children of Heavenly Parents, and your job is not to attempt to correct or counsel us. Your job is to be who you are--some who is full of joy and love and enthusiasm. That is enough for us; who you are lifts us. So just be you and share who you are.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How, When and Why Do You Give?



by Seattle Jon:


The New York Times ran an op-ed recently outlining Alicia Keys' plans to "gather an army" from her fans in support of 12 groups that further social justice causes.

Here are the groups: All Out, a gay rights organization; CARE, the aid group; Equal Justice Initiative, which combats racial inequity in the criminal justice system; the Future Project, which empowers high school students in America; Girl Rising, which supports girls' education around the world; Keep a Child Alive, which helps children affected by H.I.V. and AIDS; Moms Rising, which supports universal prekindergarten, maternal leaves and tighter gun laws; Oxfam, which fights global poverty; Partners in Health, which tackles disease worldwide; the Trevor Project, which prevents suicide among gay and lesbian youths; the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which fights racial profiling; and War Child, which supports children in conflict areas.

To get the effort started, Keys donated $1 million of her own money, released a new song related to the effort and has said she will do more to address racism, injustice and poverty in future songs.

I applaud Ms. Keys' - she is one of the world's best-known singers, and with 35 million fans on Facebook and almost 20 million followers on Twitter (MMM is close behind with 1600+ followers), I'm sure her efforts will yield impressive results and I admire how she directs her time and money to causes she believes in. Naturally, this got me thinking about where my own time and money goes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mormonism and Bigfoot



by Scott Heffernan:

As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me.... His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight.... [Lycurgus A. Wilson, Life of David W. Patten [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1900], p. 50., quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 127-128.]
I love this story. I don’t believe it’s true, but I still find it fascinating. I initially came across it as I read Spencer W. Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness on my mission (not recommended). I’m not quite sure why President (then Elder) Kimball included it in his book. It doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than to point that murderers exist, they are evil, and Cain was (or is) one of them. I like to imagine Elder Kimball recalling the story and thinking, “This is awesome! I’ve got to find a way to work it in.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't Edit Me, Bro!



by Kyle:


This past General Conference gave plenty for people* to buzz about. Whether it was speakers delivering their talks in their native language or the first black woman praying in the Women's Session. And even the Women's Session being referred to as part of the whole General Conference rather than a separate meeting.

Unfortunately it appears as though the Church has taken some action in order to walk that last point back a bit.

First, let's see how this all got started. At the beginning of the Women's Session on September 27, 2014, President Uchtdorf opened his talk to the women of the Church by saying:
"My beloved sisters, my dear friends and blessed disciples of Jesus Christ, I am honored to have this opportunity to be with you as we open another general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the coming week the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles will meet with all the General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders, and the remaining sessions of our worldwide general conference will follow on the coming Saturday and Sunday" (emphasis added).
From his remarks it is pretty clear that he considers the Women's Session the first session of General Conference. This brought much joy to many women of the church as it has been long debated whether the Women's Session (until recently the Relief Society Session and the Young Women's Session) actually was a part of General Conference, or if it was just its own meeting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Baptists (and Mormons) on the Road to Emmaus



by Shawn Tucker:


Those who have done missionary work in the South (and perhaps other places) may be able to relate to this experience: you have a nice conversation with someone, and when you return for the follow-up appointment that person's pastor or minister is there. It is hard to know if the local leader was invited or invited herself/himself, but usually that pastor seems to view the conversation as a chance to "defend the flock." I had that experience with the missionaries working here in North Carolina. I think the local pastor already had his Bible open as we walked in the door. And I was very proud of how the missionaries responded. Usually an exchange like this is the battle of the prooftexters, or, as I like to call it in the South, "Dueling Bibles." The missionaries here addressed the questions that were raised with humility and sincerity, and refused to quibble over scriptures.

The conversation did not last very long, but before we left we spoke with them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. And this is how we did it: we talked about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. We talked about how Christ's crucifixion was very surprising. Many anticipated that Jesus was a Savior who would throw off Roman political rule and restore David's kingdom. When the Man that they believe would save them politically was brutally and shamefully killed, many experienced painful disappointment and confusion. Amidst this confusion, those disciples encountered a Stranger who seemed oblivious to what had transpired. The Stranger soon explained via the scriptures why all that seemed so shockingly unexpected had to happen. The disciples eventually persuaded the Stranger to dine with them, and over the course of the meal discovered Him to be the resurrected Savior.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Child Welfare System



by Eliana:


I went to family court with a sister from my ward recently. She's working a plan to get her children out of foster care and back home with her on a full-time basis, after more than a year of only visits.

I was there to support, nothing more. And it was hard. It isn't a good situation for anyone involved. Waiting for our turn in the courtroom, we ran into another couple from our ward. They were having a hearing about the foster child they are in the process of adopting.

Our time in front of the judge was brief, mostly making sure that progress is being met, with check-ins from five or six institutional entities: case worker, guardian ad litem for the kids, attorney for mother, attorney for absent father, and more. It was exhausting to me even though I had no personal involvement in the issues.

Ten years ago my husband and I became licensed foster parents in Arizona after hours of classes, building a higher fence around our pool and numerous other small home changes, background checks, and letters from friends and relatives vouching for our sanity. We agreed to take a sibling group, up to three children, since they can be hard to place together. I quit my job.

Then … nothing happened. Our case manager essentially disappeared; no one would return our calls. We had a paper saying we were legit and legal but it didn't seem to matter. A few months later we got a call to do an emergency placement: little baby, just for a weekend, while her regular foster parents had to leave the state for a family event.

There was very little sleep on my part—baby was only eight weeks old—but otherwise our three days went very smoothly. When I had to give her back, meeting the foster folks in a Walmart parking lot, I knew she was safe and sound. 72 hours, maybe a little less. Still it was extremely hard to hand this baby over.

At that moment I realized that foster care was not going to work for us.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Low Expectations



by Reid:

From The Simpsons Episode 72 "Selma's Choice" (Jan-21-93)

I recently watched an excerpt of Charlie Rose's interview of Bill Maher in which they discussed the looming threat of terrorism sponsored by radical Islam. Maher said something so provocative that I had to listen to it several times and then review the transcript:
"Now if they were beheading people in Vatican City, which is the equivalent of Mecca, don't you think there would be a bigger outcry about it? So this is the soft bigotry of low expectations with Muslim people. When they do crazy things and believe crazy things, somehow it's not talked about nearly as much (source; emphasis mine)."
It was just one of those phrases that struck a cord with me. And, although Maher has used this line before (here), it seems he's borrowed it from an unlikely source: his avowed archenemy President George W. Bush.* Talk about irony!

Now you may think this post will go on to rant about the scourge of radical Islam. Not today. Instead, I'm struck with how universal the soft bigotry of low expectations has become in our everyday world. President Bush originally used this phrase in his 2000 speech to the NAACP shortly after assuming office. He was illustrating the need for the Republican Party to mend fences with the NAACP and address issues of discrimination and racism that still exist in this country. But this example is just the tip of an iceberg of scenarios in which this rhetoric could be applied.

Think about society's current expectations for restraining profanity, immodesty and overtly sexual imagery and messaging. The expectation of respectful or courteous treatment by others, trustworthiness of strangers and the public sense of common decency is almost non-existent. We are programmed to expect tantrums from children that don't get their way and infidelity from spouses. We expect dishonesty and corruption from politicians and the media who cover them. After all, its just politics, right? We are told that the key to personal happiness is to lower our expectations of ourselves and others. If you don't, you'll just be disappointed. It all begs the question: when will it end?

In contrast, take a look at how our Church has revised expectations of its members. Start by taking another look at The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Review how the Church's expectations regarding chastity and moral cleanliness have changed since the sexual revolution. Finally, consider the changes in levels of commitment in terms of time, money and heart that is required of members of the Church. In the face of society's rush to the bottom, we find our Church clinging to standards that are increasing old-fashioned.

Legitimate problems arise from unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others--there's just no getting around this. We have to expect that on our best day we all will still fall short. But the answer, contrary to popular belief, is not just lowering the bar. When every kid gets a trophy, it's all smiles at first. But it doesn't take long for everyone to recognize the devaluation of trophies that this practice creates. It is refreshing to spend time with people that honestly believe and teach that we are capable of much, much more.

Undoubtedly, there will be days when we have our share of disappointments from dashed expectations. The essence of the Gospel is the ability to love and nurture those that fall short of lofty standards. The things that make this possible are faith in the Lord and hope in the power of His atonement to lift us over a bar that is set very high.

__________________

* George W. Bush's speechwriter at this time was Michael Gerson and he is generally credited with coming up with this phrase.

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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: reidlitchfield.com.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: WikiSimpsons.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

MMM Is Changing




First of all, thank you. Thank you for reading Modern Mormon Men. And a special thanks to those of you who've written for our blog. Thank you for helping us make MMM something that matters. And MMM will continue to matter for a long time, or at least we hope it will. And that's why we're changing.

This post is the product of change. As founders, we've both changed - our motivations differ from when we started MMM. Blogs have changed, both in content and form. Our sense is that there are fewer regular readers of blogs. The church has changed and is engaging the online world in new and different ways. And our permanent contributors have changed - life is busy and sitting down to write monthly isn't always a priority. These reasons and more made us feel like we were growing stagnant and needed a good kick in the pants.

So what is actually changing on the blog? Mainly the way we organize and manage contributors. The harsh line between permanent contributors and guest posters will blur. Over 100 people have written for MMM since its founding in April 2011, and going forward, these 100 and hopefully many, many more will regularly write content for MMM.

Those who write for MMM frequently will be called "Regulars" and will be recognized on our sidebar. Even if you're not a Regular and only occasionally write, you'll still be a part of the MMM family. Your writing will be published as you send it to us and each post will have a link to all your other posts and include your picture and bio. We'll keep in touch, but not too often - writing shouldn't be something you have to do, but something you want to do when the inspiration strikes.

So, will you write for us? We hope you will.

Seattle Jon & Scott Heffernan
Founders, Modern Mormon Men

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