I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"[Jesus] died on the cross so we could go see his Dad."

If you don't know who Colton Burpo is, you are missing out on a sweet Near Death Experience (N.D.E.). The title of this post is Colton's explanation of what Jesus told him in heaven as recounted in, "A young boy's experience with heaven" by Kristine Frederickson in Mormon Times.

I've known about the book for sometime now but haven't known what to post. The explanation of the Crucifixion, as recounted in this article, touched me. Visit the book's official site and learn more about Colton and the book entitled, "Heaven is for Real."

Enjoy the YouTube videos embedded above and below and my prior post on Mormons and NDE's.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mormon Singles in Washington D. C. and a "Duckumentory"

Mormon singles are apparently novel enough to warrant an entire article in The Washington Post. Entitled, "Church for single Mormons in Crystal City comes with pressure to marry" by Michelle Boorstein ran May 28, 2011.

This suggests something extraordinary, but it isn't. There are three congregations for singles in the Washington D. C. area and they now have their own chapel. If there were fewer congregations they would have to share the building with traditional, family congregations. Nothing unusual going on here.

The article does touch on the intense pressure to get married when you are a Mormon single. I'm not going to downplay this. The pressure IS intense.

It also touches on a tradition amongst the singles in the area to attend a Memorial Day party exclusively for Mormon singles. When I was interning in Washington D.C. and attending one of these singles' congregations, the Memorial Day tradition was occurring then. No, I'm not going to tell you how long ago that was.

Apparently, a film maker is documenting this annual ritual held yearly at "Duck Beach." No word on when the film will be done but one commentator has christened it a "Duckumentory." See the embedded video and widget below and/or the link for more information about the film.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What On Earth is That?: Mormons and Quick Response (QR) Codes

I have been saving up a posting on Quick Response Codes for some future date. I didn't think the time was right to introduce them to Mormons on my blog. I abruptly changed my mind. Why? Access the following link in the May 2011 issue of The New Era magazine. This is the magazine the Church publishes for teens. Starting on page 3, the magazine is full of them. The magazine's back cover explains these codes. It also is soliciting feedback on what readers think of them.

Think of them as bar codes that your smart phone can read (iPhones and Android ones anyway.) These codes can send you directly to information. The codes embedded at the top of this post will send you to the Church's official web site. The code below will send you to my blog.
You can read more about QR Codes at "Target: Customers on the Go" in the Wall Street Journal.

Generate your own QR Codes at this web site.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mormons DO NOT Buy Into the Nicene Creed

Evangelical Warren Cole Smith made waves with his article, "A Vote for Romney Is a Vote for the LDS Church." In an interview with Joanna Brooks on Religion Dispatches entitled, "Mormons & Romney Presidency “Dangerous” According to Evangelical Author: A Conversation with Warren Smith" Smith calls The L.D.S. Church "dangerous" because our beliefs are false and anything false is dangerous. He says we are dangerous because we do not embrace the Nicene Creed.
The historic view of Christianity is that the essential views of the Christian faith—the views affirmed in the Nicene Creed—both Catholics and Christians affirm those essentials.
He is right. Mormons do not consider the Nicene Creed to be Biblical. If other Christians embrace non-Biblical doctrines, that is their business.

Mormons will never embrace anything non-Biblical.

Friday, May 27, 2011

After a Revamp, the Joseph Smith Papers Web Site Will Formally Debut

In a prior posting, I covered the new Joseph Smith Papers web site. It is time to shine a spotlight on this site again because it will be formally launched this weekend. From the article, "Joseph Smith Papers website debuts" in Mormon Times:
The new site, www.josephsmithpapers.org, will be formally unveiled at a Friday afternoon session of the Mormon History Association Conference in St. George, Utah, by Elder Marlin K. Jensen, LDS Church historian and recorder, and three of his associates in the Church History Department.
The web site is intended to take prominence over the published volumes:
Indeed, all of the Prophet's papers will eventually be published on the website, amounting to some 2,500 unique documents, said R. Eric Smith, production manager. These will be viewable on the screen with a photographic image of the manuscript document on one side and a transcription of that document on the other side.
The digital version will have advantages over the hard copy version:
Of course, with computer technology, the Joseph Smith Papers content is electronically searchable with speed and convenience not possible in a printed volume, with links from text to glossary terms, biographical notes, place names, etc.
"It's the same information as in the printed volumes but available at the click of a mouse rather than having to look to the back of the book," Smith noted.
People who have claimed that the Church is secretive about our Church history will have much less to complain about when this project is finished.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

LDS Media Library Updated and Now Available!

The Church web site's media library existed on the classic LDS.org site but now it has been updated to the new version and it is a pretty exciting change.

Besides including all the pictures, audio, PDF's and so forth, there are new categories like "Feature Films," "Internet TV," "Ebooks" and more.

Previously, keeping track of all the Church's social media sites on Facebook and Twitter was difficulty, but there are links for them on the new media site. So, check it out!

Enjoy Noble Women, Righteous Lives, a video from the media library embedded below:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Multi-Vortex Tornado Should Elicit a Multi-Vortex Relief Effort

Damage to Church members or Church buildings have been noticeably absent in most of the recent disasters. However, the Joplin tornado, a rare multi-vortex tornado, did destroy a Mormon meetinghouse, a missionary apartment and some members' homes.

Michael Otterson, Head of Public Affairs for the Church, wrote the following in "Where is God (and the Mormon church) in a natural disaster?" for The Washington Post. 
It’s not easy to find anything good in disasters that rip lives apart or destroy them completely. But for those of us who aren’t directly affected, disasters provide unmistakable opportunities to reach out to those in need.
I like the word, "unmistakable." Disasters shine a spotlight on needs anybody can identify. All we need to do is gear up and address them . . .

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What You Can Take With You

One of my all time favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell from his book A Wonderful Flood of Light, page 87. (purchase, ebook)
The remedies for people who stumble because they feel unvalued, unloved, unused, unheeded, and unappreciated include coming to know about God's love and coming to see the disappointments of the day in the context of the blessings of eternity and God's plan of happiness. It is vital for one to know that life's real difficulties are "but for a small moment" and thereby to trust in God's timing. Likewise, with the fresh view that comes from Restoration light we realize that our qualities and gifts are portable and will go with us into the next world. These qualities and gifts may not have been adequately appreciated here, but they are much in demand there!
This quote can only be understood in the context of our belief in Heavenly Father's Plan. This knowledge sustains me during the rough times on earth.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Plate of Cookies

After my father died, my siblings and I often looked contemptuously on people's efforts to "help" us by bringing us a plate of cookies. We had real needs, none of which were addressed by a plate of cookies.

Cookies seemed to be everyone's answer to offering service or assistance to someone in need, or at least the appearance of doing so. We realized the intent was good even though the action fell far short.

I continued in this opinion until I was a single, professional woman, living on my own. Why the change? Simple. It was a change of circumstances. I didn't have time to make cookies. If I did have time, I didn't want to eat an entire batch myself. It would make me sick to my stomach. Even the smallest batch seemed way too much.

I truly appreciated someone giving me a plate of 2-4 cookies. It was the right amount for me in my circumstances and the right amount total.

I considered it a real treat. What a difference a few years, and a few circumstances, can make.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Were There Not Ten Cleansed?

The usual lesson gleaned from Luke 17:12-19 is that we should show gratitude to Heavenly Father for our blessings. If you are fuzzy on the story, I've extracted the relevant verses below. 
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.
And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
I certainly cannot dispute that we should show gratitude to Heavenly Father. That is a given. I'm simply suggesting we look at the perspective of the one who rendered such a remarkable service.

By healing them of leprosy, no one can dispute the importance of the service Christ rendered them. No one can suggest that perhaps they didn't need healing or it wasn't that big of a deal. It was. Still, only one showed any appreciation.

I think there is a dual lesson in this story. First, we must express gratitude to those who serve us. Second, as a service-giver, don't expect gratitude. It is unlikely to come.

We simply cannot let ingratitude hinder us from rendering service in the future, now or ever.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Love Your Neighbor

In Matthew 5:44 Jesus Christ teaches:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
It is easy to sit on the sidelines and judge people. If we think we are right, are innocent of wrong-doing,  wrongfully judged and deserve legal justice, Christ's teachings are easier to ignore.

In "Neighbors' dispute escalates into all-out legal war," I wonder if any of the parties would have made different choices if they knew what the initial dispute was going to lead to. It has been going on for six years and shows no sign of dissipating.
In that time, their dispute metastasized into a saga involving three separate police investigations, a dead dog, Adolf Hitler's secretary and allegations of forgery and organized crime. It led to the conviction of a decorated cop, the disbanding of the Sultan Police Department and, in March, a $79,146 judgment after a four-day jury trial.
 I feel for both parties. The suffering on both sides is enormous by any calculation. The collateral damage is also horrendous because so much time and resources have been expended by others.

Who will win in the end? I can think of only one party: Satan.

Friday, May 20, 2011

No Story More Compelling: The Willie and Martin Handcart Companies and their Sweetwater Rescue

Pulling handcarts was never an easy way for pioneers to travel west. The Martin and Willie Handcart companies had it especially hard. Caught in early snows, dozens died. Their sufferings were as horrendous as their rescue was miraculous.

For the first time, the story of these two legendary handcart companies has been made into a movie. I'm hoping the latest offering by T. C. Christensen entitled 17 Miracles will be as compelling as two of my favorites he's done: Only a Stonecutter and Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story. If this new offering is as good as these, it will be well worth seeing.

See the official web site, a KSL story (video embedded below), the YouTube video (embedded above), Facebook page and the IMDB site for more information.

Video Courtesy of KSL.com
There are a number of good resources on the story. In the Ensign there is "Heroes in the Snow—The Martin Handcart Company" by Britney Schetselaar from November 2006 and "Go and Bring Them In" by Larene Porter Gaunt and Linda Dekker from December 2006. President James E. Faust addressed it in his talk, "A Priceless Heritage" in July 2002. Don't miss the Church History Museum Exhibit entitled, "Willie & Martin Remembered: A Tribute to the Mormon Handcart Pioneers" and the radio program from Legacy #49 "Sweetwater Rescue." See a prior post for historical records of the companies.

A documentary chronicling the rescue entitled, "Sweetwater Rescue: The Willie and Martin Handcart Story" was made in 2006. It is available on BYUTV and I have it embedded below. Enjoy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Endure to the End - Serve to the End

A few years ago I was living in an area that received about 28 inches of rain inside of four days. Extreme flooding occurred. A city close by was completely inundated with water. Many lost their homes. As the water receded many organizations, public, private and non-profit kicked into high gear to help. There was a lot to do.

Mormons were a part of the overall effort. A lot of unskilled labor was needed in the initial stages of recovery. In the later stages, skilled labor was needed to help people rebuild their homes. The rains had occurred in spring. By mid-summer the rebuild was continuing. For about three weekends the temperature topped 100 degrees F. all weekend long. All the scheduled work had to be postponed because the extreme heat made it dangerous for anyone to work.

Our Stake President announced to us later that it was one of these weekends that a man, who had lost his home and everything to the flooding, killed himself. The despair had overcome him on one of these hot weekends. The Stake President used this story to illustrate the continuing needs although the flooding had long ceased to dominate the news headlines. The disaster was technically over but the tragedy continued.

Many of our efforts to serve are simply "tokenism." In other words, our efforts are minimal, usually geared to make us feel better, but does little to address the actual needs.

Cataclysmic disasters create long-term needs for service. We should look at them as long term opportunities to serve. Other needs may be short-term or require less to satisfy.

In our own lives we must endure to the end of our lives. We need to serve with an eye towards serving to the end of the need, not to the end of what we want to do.

Service is rarely convenient, but it is necessary. It is what Jesus Christ would do.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Water! Water! Everywhere!

Buried inside a recent Church News and Events article entitled, "Tech Volunteers Building the Kingdom" was this little gem:
During the conference this year, volunteers completed a mobile app called the “Water Project.” The app allows missionaries who inspect the Church’s water rights around the world to easily send back coordinates, pictures, and information about water sources to Church headquarters from places that would be hard to locate by address or other means. The Water Project app is available free of charge in the Apple Store online.
I couldn't find the app on the Apple Store online, but LDSTech has this site devoted to it and explains the app in detail.

I'd appreciate it if someone could post a link to where the app is available online.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Oh My Father" Available on The National Jukebox

"Oh My Father" (interactive version) is a distinctly Mormon hymn. The lyrics were penned by Eliza R. Snow, a renown, early member. I was surprised to discover a secular recording of the hymn included on The National Jukebox. The National Jukebox is part of the Library of Congress and makes historical recordings available for free. You can listen to it from the embedded item below.

This recording was made in 1923 by the Trinity Mixed Quartet in Camden, New Jersey. It was recorded onto a Victor record housed at a library at The University of California, Santa Barbara.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"They know their way around a chainsaw."

I have had some very strange compliments in my lifetime. Here they are, in order:

1. "You have well-developed calf muscles."
2. "Nice ankles!"
3. "I admire you because you never mix your metaphors."

I've received some very strange compliments about Mormons, but none stranger than, "They know their way around a chainsaw."

If this conjures up image from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre you need to think again. It is actually referring to to Mormon Helping Hands after the Alabama tornadoes.
Jacob Hamilton of Pleasant Grove said a group of 15 Mormon volunteers came to his yard Saturday afternoon and asked if he needed help removing fallen trees. He signed a waiver and the crew did in one hour what it would have taken him days to get done, he said.
The only way he knew who they were was by their yellow shirts that had the "Mormon Helping Hands" logo above the words Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"They never tried to tell me about their Mormon faith," said Hamilton, who attends a Baptist church. The volunteers also helped clear fallen trees for numerous other people in his tornado-ravaged neighborhood. "The Mormons were just going door to door," he said. "It was a great blessing. They know their way around a chainsaw."
In all fairness, the Mormons were only one of several faith based groups to assist. According to the article, "Alabama tornado victims get volunteer help from Mormons to Baptists":
Faith groups have played a major part in tornado relief, said Julie Wright, director of operations for the Greater Birmingham Area Command for the Salvation Army, an evangelical denomination that the largest church-run worldwide disaster relief program.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Obedientitis: Simon Says Institute is Safe

For young adults, 18 years old and older, the Church provides a program called "Institute." This is a generic name for a wonderful program. From the web site FAQ:
With a worldwide enrollment of 350,000 students in over 2,500 locations, there is an institute near you. Institute is a safe haven from the pressures, trials, and challenges of the world. Institute is concerned with education for eternity and provides an opportunity for students to be touched and nurtured by the spirit through classes and activities.
Request information from this link. I attended Institute when I was not attending BYU full time. It provides religious instruction to complement higher learning instruction. It is a life line for young adults. Institute is indeed, "safe." 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Technology in Church: Moral Decision Making in Mormondom #7

(This is an occasional series that discusses normative questions. Too often we do not consider the inferences and implications of what we do. In short, we fail to realize when a moral decision is necessary. This occasional series will do so. Readers are encouraged to pose their own questions and views in the comment forum.)

I've already discussed non-use of digital tools in my Moral Decision Making in Mormondom series. It is time to discuss when technology is overused. A recent Mormon Times article, "Are we too high tech at church?" gives some examples:

Fast forward to the present as I witnessed an Aaronic Priesthood holder check his text messages mere minutes before we broke and blessed the bread together. No kidding. This is not to mention a teenager listening to his iPod during testimony meeting. I’ve witnessed similar behavior with adults who should know better, too.

I’ve seen people loudly and obviously answer phone calls, and we’ve all heard blaring ringtones in the middle of church meetings. I taught Sunday School, and a young man pretended to be reading scriptures when actually his cellphone was tucked inside his triple combination and he was either texting or playing Minesweeper. How about people jockeying for a chair near the closest electrical outlet before class? Whatever happened to “Reverently, quietly, lovingly we think of thee”?
It is almost inconceivable to me that people could use just bad judgment in using technology. But then, many people think that being online is social media and video games. I'm online all the time and I rarely access social media and never play video games.
The bottom line is we should use what we have and what benefits us in life prudently and with minimal distraction to others. There is a time and a place. Is texting when someone is trying to teach a lesson appropriate? Of course not. Is reading scriptures from something not printed on paper inappropriate? No, and I’m sure I’ll get used to seeing it because it’s becoming more prevalent. Plus, I really shouldn’t care what works for someone else anyway.
All other gadgets used for the sole purpose of entertaining instead of enlightening should be left in the car or at home — unless you are an on-call surgeon, nurse or perhaps an astronaut. Brothers and sisters, a block time is only three hours. Surely you and whatever else is going on can wait.
I'm not going to condemn the use of all technology during Church. There are many appropriate uses including the teacher making use of it in classes. In addition, it is conceivable that someone may be spiritually prompted to check his or her email during Church and discover a loved one is in danger and emergency crews need to be dispatched. It's happened before and it undoubtedly could happen again.

Using technology in Church requires moral decision making. You need to ask yourself questions like:

Should I be using this right now?

Should I be doing this right now?

Could this use backfire?

Is this an appropriate way to teach a concept?

Could I do this better?

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! (I just re-watched The King and I)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who Said Technology Was Evil? OR All is Well in the Alabama Birmingham Mission!

(This posting is late because Google Blogger was down for most of the last 24 hours)

Most missionaries are basically banned from technology for the two years they serve. As I understand it, they can only email their parents once a week and the Mission President as needed. Multiple tornadic (Is that a word? Apparently so.) episodes in Alabama resulted in serious threat to life and limb. However, with technology, the Mission President of the Alabama Birmingham Mission was able to keep all his missionaries safe.

Consider the following quotes from the article, "Mission leader keeps in contact during Alabama tornadoes" in the LDS Church News:
Mission President Richard Holzapfel endured several anxious hours fretting and praying for the welfare of the impacted elders and sisters in his charge. But thanks to the technology of the day, he was able to maintain nearly uninterrupted contact during the historic storms with each missionary companionship, worried parents and authorities at Church headquarters.
Holzapfel prepped all missionaries ahead of time with emergency information and coordination procedures. He had already secured permission to use text messaging, One the day in question, President Holzapfel alerted all missionaries to prepare for the expected tornadic activity.
. . . As the evening evolved, he monitored online weather maps and noted each tornado that formed and touched ground. He then texted the companionships that were potentially in the path of the tornado. "I might send a text that said 'You have 10 minutes — leave your apartment and go somewhere else.' "
The missionaries would then acknowledge the text, inform President Holzapfel of their movements and, when the twister passed, pass along an "all's well" missive.
It makes me wonder where all these missionaries would be today if Holzapfel had been "technology resistant" to use a horrible euphemism. They may not have been safe.
President Holzapfel also utilized texting, e-mail and his personal blog to keep worried parents and priesthood leaders at Church headquarters informed of the evening's developments. When the last tornado had passed, all were able to retire for the night knowing the Alabama Birmingham missionaries were safe.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Church Logo: Not For Use by Mormons

The Church logo has now been translated into over 100 different languages. Church materials have been translated into 166 languages. This is according to "More than 100 Church Logos Represent Membership Diversity" recently published on the Church's Newsroom site blog.

Information that may come as a surprise to most Church members (Mormons) is that there are only three authorized uses of the logo, none of these enable ordinary members or local leaders to use the logo. From the Public Affair's web site:

Use of the Church Logo
The official Church logo may be used in only three ways: (1) on missionary name badges, (2) on official Church stationery, and (3) on correlated items (projects approved at Church headquarters and issued an identifying item number by the Correlation Department). This means that, for the most part, you may not use the Church logo on items you create. Instead, please use the full name of the Church, spelled out in whatever typeface you are using for your product (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Or, in a graphic layout, you may use the Church's name in two lines, such as:
The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
Please do not use all caps, typefaces that purposely mimic the Church's logo typeface, or the enlarged name of the Savior to attempt to simulate the standard Church logo.
This was a sobering discovery of mine a short time ago. I realized that I had used it improperly in putting it on a Sacrament Meeting bulletin. That is a no no.

We aren't even allowed to use "typefaces that purposely mimic the Church's logo typeface." The instructions don't give the typeface, but I believe it is Constantia. So, don't use Constantia or anything that looks like it.

Now that you know the rules, you are honor bound to follow them.

Are We Ripe For Destruction?

The first three verses of Helaman, chapter 5 have always been interesting to me.
And it came to pass that in this same year, behold, Nephi delivered up the judgment-seat to a man whose name was Cezoram.
For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.
Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.
When the majority of people choose evil rather than good then the laws become corrupt. We don't have any clear guidance on what constitutes corrupt laws. Those of us with public law training can guess.

Speculating on all these things are interesting, but the focus of today's post is the last phrase, "save it were to their destruction." This makes me wonder if voluntary compliance with law had so eroded that government couldn't get people to behave unless it slapped them with sanctions or penalties of some sort.

Most people who study ethics, normative behavior, moral theory or whatever you want to call it agree that in a well-functioning society you need some curbs imposed externally by government  as well as some curbs imposed internally by individuals.

You cannot wholly depend on one or the other. A blend of both is needed. This is why we offer law, criminal justice and ethics courses in school. We need them all.

If the majority of people are not doing something right unless they are compelled by government to do so then our society will fail. We don't have enough police to police everyone. We have to rely on voluntary compliance to law.

I think the Book of Mormon is warning us that when people won't obey laws unless compelled to do so our destruction as a society is only a matter of time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Mormon Moment?

In Being Mormon: Does it matter in public eye? Seattle Times reporter Janet I. Tu suggests:
Consider this: On the one hand, two names that keep coming up as serious candidates for the U.S. presidency are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who last week created a federal political-action committee to raise money for a possible campaign. Both happen to be Mormon.
She then brings up the recent controversy over Michael Young, a descendent of Brigham Young, recently selected as the new President of The University of Washington.
Some Seattle Times commenters expressed that negative view in response to stories on Young's appointment.
"All Mormons support bigotry. Michael Young is a Mormon. So, Michael Young supports bigotry," one commenter said.
This remark makes me wish I still taught logic. Based on how this argument is structured, it falls if you can find one Mormon who isn't a bigot.

Mormons, if they are even aware of the Young controversy, seem to be taking it in stride. Spokespeople for the Church certainly are.
Church spokespeople said the comments were no more vitriolic than those responding to articles on, say, Muslims, Catholics, race or immigration.
"You do not get an accurate perception of anything by reading comments," said Michael Otterson, managing director of public affairs at the church's Salt Lake City headquarters. "I put those in the category of 'alien abductions' — they're so far out there."
I agree with Otterson. I wonder if people could write half of what they do in comments if they weren't cloaked with anonymity.

Still, if all these things are going to throw another intense spotlight on my religion I only hope there are some commentators that can counter the inevitable misinformation and disinformation out there.
The church is seizing on a moment when its growth and the public spotlight seem to be converging.
"A lot of people believe that it's all working together to create a sort of condition where conversations about Mormons are likely to happen," Otterson said. "In that sense, maybe we have arrived at a 'Mormon moment.' "

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stepmother's Day: Reflections of a Stepmom

I'm a stepmother. Did I get acknowledged yesterday by my step children? No. Did I expect to? No again. Do I think I should. No again. So what's my beef? I don't have one really. I just thought some remarks would be appropriate given the big day is now over for the year.

I don't think stepmothers should necessarily be included in Mother's Day unless they had a significant role in raising their stepchildren. Being a stepmother is hard. There is no universally defined role for stepmoms. As a result, there is no universally defined way to appreciate them.

I know I will never have the appreciation, or the place in my stepchildren's heart that a real mother will. I don't think I should either. But, just because I am not totally relevant doesn't mean I have no relevance at all. My role is not the same as a mother, but it cannot be assumed that I play no role at all.

What follows below are simply some of my reflections:

- I often have to deal with behavior by stepchildren that would be easier if I were a real mother. No one put their arms around me as a three year old and said, "I  love you Mom." I don't have any of these emotional reserves to get me over the rough times.

- Kids often don't realize that basic family interactions, taken for granted, need to be reworked for a new family environment. Old tools may have worked in the old family environment, but new tools are needed for the new environment.

- When kids visit our home they occupy a sort of no-mans land between being family and being guests. Their role in my home is murky and everyone being uncomfortable often results. Behavior that may be normal in their mother's home may not be acceptable to me in mine. Norms of behavior forged in a family environment may suddenly again be under review. This is stressful for anyone.

- If I'm sacrificing to provide them with something, or if my time and resources is being committed to something for them, then it is my business whether they want it to be or not.

- Assuming everything belongs to their father and nothing belongs to me isn't a rational belief.

- When divorce occurs, it often results in the father not being in the home. The children must then choose to interact with him. It doesn't happen by default anymore.

- Often, especially in divorce, the father does not like his former wife's behaviors or characteristics. If the children have picked these up, then it can strain their relationship with their father. What can be endearing in a child, if your love your spouse, can be annoying in your child if you do not.

- People feel obligated to like their mothers. Nobody feels obligated to like their stepmother.

- Even if stepmothers are saints, they probably won't be liked.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

DreamGiver and Family Friendly Animation

People associate Mormons with typical things like families. They probably don't associate us with animation. Students at Brigham Young University (BYU), the Church's university, have been making their mark on animation for over a decade now. They have won numerous awards for their animation shorts including Student Emmy Awards and Student Academy Awards.

In 2010 the BYU Center for Animation was launched. Visit its web site for more information including a list of all their movies. Also, Enjoy some clips and information from the lates: DreamGiver. DreamGiver is the most recent animated feature to win a Student Emmy. I've embedded videos above and below.

Their first award winning animated short was FauxPaw the Techno Cat. You can view it here, in its entirety, on the I Keep Safe web site.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why I Hate Mother's Day

I hate Mother's Day. . . No, it isn't because I'm not a mother. (I don't like baseball either, but I do like apple pie and hot dogs.)

1. I hate Mother's Day because everyone THINKS I'm unhappy even though I'm not.

2. Everyone spends a good deal of time tip-toeing around me at Church. I'm assuming this is because they are afraid my feelings could be easily hurt on this of all days.

3. They force the annual Mother's Day gift on me. It doesn't matter what it is, they want me to have it. I don't want it, whatever it is.

4. The idea of spending Church money on a purposeless gift appalls me. Surely, there are better uses for money. Do I sound like Judas Iscariot?

Stack and Moulton in the Salt Lake Tribune's "The present predicament: What gift should LDS wards give moms?" cover most of the issues:
Every year LDS wards face the same Mother's Day dilemma: What is the best and least-offensive token to give the moms?
No choice is perfect.
“It's a minefield of hurt feelings, no matter what you do,” says Chicago lawyer Kevin Barney.
For a celebration that began during the Civil War as a mother's plea for peace and healing, it seems ironic that it has spawned emotional heartache.
Sheri Dew's address, "Are We Not All Mothers?" is a classic. Perhaps local congregations can look to that for inspiration in selecting how best to honor the day. The Church seems to be suggesting they do.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What Famous People Say About Mormons

Much Ado About Mormons is a book and a DVD. Rick Walton has collected statements about Mormons from people as varied as Charles Dickens and John F. Kennedy.

Read the article, "From Sharon Osbourne to JFK: What famous people have said about Mormons" in the Deseret News and view the three clips from the DVD embedded below. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Temple Weddings: Just How Many Can You Have?

By now, everyone knows that Marie Osmond married her first husband again, this time in the Las Vegas Temple. She married him the first time in the Salt Lake Temple. I remember she married her second husband, Brian Blosil in the Jordan River Temple. It is my understanding that she was both married and sealed to her husbands.

So, what does this mean? Being "married" and being "sealed" are different procedures. Usually they occur together but not always. When they occur together we usually say they are "married for time and all eternity." If a couple first get married civilly then they are married for time only. They can later be "sealed" in the temple for time and eternity. Also, a marriage for time only can take place in the temple.

In order for Marie Osmond to be married and sealed each time, the first sealing to Steve Craig would have to have been dissolved in addition to the legal divorce. That allowed her to be married and sealed to second husband Brian Blosil. In order to be married and sealed a third time, the sealing to Blosil would have to be dissolved in addition to a legal divorce.

Dissolving a temple marriage/sealing is a separate procedure from the legal divorce. The divorce is governed by law. Dissolving the temple sealing is governed by the Church. There is a procedure for it. Basically, it takes paperwork and approval. The particulars can change over time.

Marie's remarriage/sealing to her first husband again in Las Vegas could not have occurred without the paperwork and approval. So, it has been in the works for a while at least. It may be Vegas, but the temple is not a Mormon version of the "Vegas wedding chapel."

One other thing people may notice about Marie's wedding is that it was a small family event. Temple weddings/sealings usually are. In Mormondom, the reception is usually the big event. I don't mean to infer that the reception is more important. The reception, open house, party or whatever is where family, friends and such celebrate the event.

Mormons care more that the wedding takes place in a temple than they care whether they themselves can be physically present at the wedding itself. I've only been present at a handful of temple weddings, all for close family members.

None of my family members were present either for my marriage or my sealing. Why? Because I'm ornery . . .

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Enough to Get Along

After my father died my mother started talking to us kids about things she had presumably reserved for him. At least, I don't remember them being mentioned until then.

She would complain about people at Church or comment about neighbors or friends. Up to that time, it was a world I was unfamiliar with. Suddenly, I was painfully aware of the shortcomings of adults.

As I pondered this information and what I was learning, a phrase that had been repeatedly said to me as a child came into my mind:
Aren't you old enough to know how to get along?
I was pretty disgusted to find out that adults had essentially the same problems as kids. I thought there was still merit in the notion that adults should continually progress and replace childish behaviors with more adult ones.

I thought then that age should result in improvement. I still think it should. I just don't think it always does.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"What Lack I Yet"

A recent LDS Church News editorial entitled, "'What Do I Lack'" suggests some modern applications of the parable of the rich young ruler found in Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30
But do we not see in the rich, young ruler a parallel of our own condition today? He is perhaps an ancient counterpart to the modern-day high achiever, agenda-driven and task-list-oriented, hoping to accumulate enough tally marks to earn his way into heaven.
Consider the circumstances; He was well-versed in the law of Moses, having known and observed the commandments from his youth. Presumably, he was industrious and talented, having attained both wealth and position. And, ostensibly at least, he was fervent and sincere in his desire to do right, as he rushed to obtain counsel from the Master. Yet, in his heart he must have felt the troubling impression that something was still missing.
One of my favorite books is a young adult book (ages 12-18) entitled The Bronze Bow. It won The Newberry Medal in 1962. The book is about Daniel, a boy during the time of Christ. Daniel's parents were killed by the Romans. His sister was permanently altered by the experience. Daniel is bitter. He hates the Romans and lives to see their rule end.

Daniel is drawn to Jesus and Jesus' teachings. Daniel manages to have a private conversation with Him when Jesus asks what is troubling him. Jesus listens. In reply, Jesus recounts the story of the rich young ruler to Daniel. Daniel replies, "I would give you all I have." Jesus tells him that riches aren't keeping him from the Kingdom. He tells Daniel, "You must give up your hate."

This conversation marks one of the most powerful lessons in the book and a poignant example of forgiveness. It also provides an example of taking up one's cross. 
Indeed, taking up one's cross might mean different specific things to different individuals. For example it might entail letting go of the sort of pride wherein learning and self-regarded sophistication engender an attitude of fault-finding toward others, the Lord's anointed in particular.
The article's suggestion is one that I develop in my series on materialism and the one on corruption
Above all, taking up one's cross seems to mean total and unreserved surrender of one's own will to that of the Master.
Completely subordinating our own desires to what Heavenly Father would have us do is truly taking up one's cross.

Monday, May 2, 2011

If It Isn't One Thing It's Another . . .

People seem to be protesting temples and chapels in record numbers. It's difficult to believe that people are attempting to manage light pole colors though. It is happening. See "Mormon chapel's color choice for light poles panned":
"As far as light poles, they look terrible," said Jerich, a member of the council. "I certainly hope the LDS church takes it upon themselves either to remove them or paint them brown or bronze. No white light poles in Anthem for anybody. The white has got to go."
I've never read of anyone else objecting to the light pole color of other religious facilities. This is new for me.
"If they are already approved, there is not a whole lot we can do about it," Boates said. "But we'll make sure that at least we'll get them to work with us on the light poles."
I wonder if they also exert this sort of influence on homeowners in Anthem? Would homeowners stand for this sort of thing? I doubt it.
Kollings added that the Anthem staff is working with the church on the color of the light poles.
"Right now, it appears the approval for those were birch white, and we've asked them to come back to us to see if they would consider a dark bronze finish, which is the finish that you see on other light poles throughout Anthem," Kollings said.
Finally, here's their reasoning. light poles need to be color coordinated. Unbelievable. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mormon Flash Mob

The two videos above are from the article, "Local Teens Join Mormon Flash Mob." According to the article:
A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble in a public place to perform a spontaneous act and quickly disperse after it is over.
You can trace the history of flash mobs over time at Wikipedia. This particular flash mob was part of a L.D.S. (Mormon) Youth Conference.

Youth Conferences are generally held once a year. They are usually a three day event or so, where spiritual, intellectual and social activities are sponsored by the Church for young people, usually ages 14-18. Events are usually held at college campuses during off-peak times.

This event occurred in California and about 350 teens were involved:
The teens were from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints youth conference. To kick off that event, they organized the flash mob to create a fun wholesome experience for themselves and onlookers, LDS spokeswoman Karen Lake said.
I remember youth conferences as wonderful opportunities that were often spiritual pivotal points in my life and those of my friends. I have fond memories of them and whole-heartedly support them. It is just one of the things Mormons do for youth.