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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 3: Why Traditional Higher Education Should Be Abandoned

In a Special Article to CNN by Mormon scholars Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring (the son, not the Apostle) suggest that much of the problem is schools trying to imitate Harvard. From "Colleges should stop imitating Harvard":
Going to college today is more important than ever. In this world of unprecedented change, now isn't the time to be staying away from the institutions whose primary mission is to discover and share knowledge. But these institutions have put themselves at risk by allowing the education they offer to become expensive, hard to access and unengaging relative to what is possible.
Please consider that both Christensen and Eyring had the typical college experience and both teach and administrate at traditional colleges. They lay out the problem below:
They didn't mean to do this. In fact, our colleges and universities are all about getting bigger and better, and their success has made us much better off. The problem is that too many of them, including former community colleges and technical institutes, now act more like Harvard, the world's most widely admired university.
Imitating Harvard is a problem for two reasons. One is the cost: If you don't have a multibillion-dollar endowment and government research funding, the only alternative is to raise tuition. The other problem is that the basic elements of the Harvard model of education are roughly 100 years old. Thus, its imitators have, with the best of intentions, become expensive, exclusive and distanced from the nonacademic world.
Christensen and Eyring both think there are better options out there and so do I. Future posts will cover them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 2: Church Schools ARE More Affordable

Church schools like Brigham Young University (BYU), BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii and L.D.S. Business College subsidize higher education with Church funds. This makes them affordable. If you are a member of the Church then portions of your tithing funds go toward supporting these institutions. The logic is that if you are a member you will end up contributing to these institutions your whole lives. Tuition and fees are higher for non-members.

In addition, these schools are not trying to wring every dollar out of the students (and vicariously through the federal government through the loan programs) they can. They try and keep costs low. Facilities like student housing, campus laundromats and so forth are not trying to make an obscene profit. Church schools keep these kind of costs reasonable. At all the other schools I have attended, taught at or been to this is not the case.

Church schools pour necessary money into campus facilities and they pay the necessary costs for upkeep. This is not the case at other schools. Next to Church schools, other campuses are shabby.

I got a world class education at BYU for a mere pittance. Was it worth it? Yes! Is it worth it now? Not really.

For nearly all students, there are better options out there.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 1: College is TOO EXPENSIVE!

I've never really been out of college and I've watched it develop over time. If I had it to do over, I would not do it the same way.

College costs have gotten exorbitant. Looking at the costs for tuition, fees, living expenses, textbooks and supplies, I have to say that I no longer think college education is worth the cost.

I had the traditional college experience. I moved away from home and went to BYU. I don't think kids should do this anymore. It is too expensive. Unfortunately, many parents are expecting their kids to do college this way. Kids will try and live up to their parents' expectations.

Kids or families have no choice but to go into massive amounts of debt for the traditional college experience. It isn't worth it for families and it isn't worth it for kids. It is too much debt. Parents may grasp these costs but kids don't.

College kids can't really fathom how much money they are borrowing and how much it will cost to repay the debt. They do not have the maturity or life experiences to fully understand what they are committing themselves to. Few occupations will allow people the luxury of paying off the debt in a timely manner. It just isn't worth it anymore. No college education is worth that much anymore. It just isn't.

Entities allow college students to borrow too much, too early and too often. Nobody really looks at it as a cost benefit type question. Well, I'm looking at it now and I'm telling you not to do it.

The rest of this series will examine the better options out there and what the church is doing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pageants Galore!

If you haven't seen a Mormon pageant somewhere you are missing out. These musical and spiritual extravaganzas have been going on for years and just keep getting better and better.

See this list for all the pageants.

Some pageants have their own web sites including:

Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant (Arizona, obviously)

Hill Cumorah Pageant (New York)

Nauvoo Pageant (Illinois)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mormons: Making It Really Simple

CNN has a short article, "Explain it to me: Mormonism" and video (embedded above) that profess to explain Mormons in simple terms. It is pretty good. I would recommend it to you. The only criticism is calling the polygamists' Mormons is inaccurate.

Polygamists (or fundamentalists) are not Mormons in any sense of the term. Either they were never part of us or they left us.

Being a Mormon requires an actual membership record. You either have it or you don't and they don't.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mormons and Humor

How religious people react to humor is often far more damning to the religion than the humor itself.
Herb Silverman presented the above quote in a Washington Post article entitled, "Humor is in the eye of the beholder."

There are plenty of stuffy Mormons who can't take a joke. There are plenty of Mormons who take humor way too far. I'm not going to comment on where Robert Kirby falls on the continuum but I will say that I often enjoy his humor.

There are plenty of Mormons worked up into a religious lather over The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I won't see the play and I'm not recommending that you do. But, I do find the Church's reactions to the play amusing. First, the official statement and now the official advertising response. From "Also playing on Broadway: new Mormon ad" in the Salt Lake Tribune:
The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now launched a million-dollar ad campaign in the Big Apple, with a Times Square looping video staring down at tourists and ticket-holders around the corner from the Eugene O’Neill Theater, where the raunchy “Book of Mormon” satire about LDS missionaries in Uganda has been playing to wildly applauding audiences.

The 14 million-member faith also bought ad space on 200 of the city’s cabs, in a spot known as “taxi-toppers,” as well as for a video clip on the screen inside the cabs. This week, the church put up posters inside subway cars and on bus shelter boards. Next week, it plans to add a second, static poster in Times Square, at a right angle to the digital one.
Why the add campaign?
LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday. “We included New York City in this round because of conversations about the church happening there."
(Also see: “I’m a Mormon” campaign arrives in New York City)

Clayton Christensen makes a distinction between laughing at God and laughing at Mormons' quirks in his Washington Post blog.

In Istanbul for The Washington Post, John Mark Reynolds condemns the play, likening it to Amos and Andy, while championing Mormons though he isn't one:

I am no Mormon, but I have witnessed bigotry and ignorance directed against this American community. . . Mormons have a history of being persecuted. They have been exiled in their own land, but have returned unfailing devotion to our Constitution.
This new play will pander to our prejudices and treat our Mormon neighbors as we would never wish to be treated. Some Americans will allow it to confirm unthinking prejudice, while cowardly Mormons will applaud it hoping for crumbs of respectability.
Meanwhile the actual Mormons in our midst will keep paying taxes, making strong families with children, and dying to protect the rights of a decayed and decadent theater “elite.”
I stand in solidarity with my Mormon neighbors.
Reynolds is worth reading in detail. I wish his writings were the last word on this matter, though I'm certain it won't be. I just wish I could figure out what Alexandra Petri is really saying.

Pease is right. No matter what happens, the President will not apologize to us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Do Mormons Do What They Do?

An article by Molly Worthen entitled, "The Missionary Position" initially published in Foreign Policy (also in the San Francisco Sentinel) commits a rather common mistake, it mixes facts with speculation. Consider the following:
Rumor has it that the CIA and FBI treat the Mormon faith as a de facto background check and recruit more heavily on the campus of Brigham Young University than almost anywhere else.
I'll be the last to contest that the CIA and FBI recruit heavily at BYU. It is true. However, Worthen's guess seems far off the mark when the answer is easily available, and rather obvious. From BYU's web site:
Many factors contribute to the diversity and depth of language expertise at BYU. More than two-thirds of BYU students speak a language other than their native tongue. . . Additionally, approximately 50 percent of the students at BYU have served church missions, with many gaining fluency in a second language.
More than 50 languages are taught regularly, with an additional 30 languages available with sufficient student interest-among the most offered anywhere in the country. The number of enrollments in language courses at BYU equals 32 percent of the student body, compared to the national average of 9 percent.
Gee, maybe the CIA and FBI are simply after language prowess. It's more plausible than assuming our religion is a "de facto background check." I can't see government agencies skipping background checks. Can you?

Throughout the article, Worthen states basic facts about our religion then presents the explanation for why we do such things from non-Mormons who generally present a secular reason, or their own speculation. Why don't people like Worthen ask Mormons why they do what they do?  Wouldn't that make more sense?

Maybe making sense isn't her objective. One can only guess.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 7: Clintonesque? Not Hardly!

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
As for the prospect of having two Mormon Presidential candidates in 2012, the elders say they're not generally interested in politics. None have heard of Jon Huntsman, and they don't have much to say about Romney. Upon reflection, though, Elder Hildebrandt says, "One good thing about having a Mormon President—we'll be able to hold him to a higher standard."
The boy is right, he may not now much about the Presidency, but if Romney becomes President, I can guarantee you he will be a stark contrast to Bill Clinton.

I like the way D. K. Jamal put it in, "Mitt Romney having ‘weird Mormon’ problem":
. . . it would be nice to finally have a President that would not have to explain his collegiate drug use, rehash his addiction to alcohol before his conversion to Christianity, distance himself from bigots or questionable anti-American associates – or apologize on national television for his sexual exploits with women other than his wife.
Jamal compliments all Mormons for our "admirable lack of vice."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 6: Prosperity and More

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
Mormons insist that self-improvement and self-reliance, not material wealth, are their religious aims, yet the Book of Mormon states, "And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church" (Alma 1:31). The same passage goes on to explain why non-Mormons fall short: "For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes." Armand L. Mauss, professor emeritus of Sociology and Religious Studies at Washington State University, notes that "Mormons tend to assume that if they are doing their best in meeting their religious obligations, God will bless their worldly efforts."
Our beliefs naturally lead to material prosperity regardless of our motives, materialism or otherwise.

An article that appeared in Time, I think it was, years ago suggested that Mormons in Utah do three things, "breed, pray and make money."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 5: Speak, Even if You Just Learned How

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
Church obligations start early. "Children at a very young age begin to learn things that leaders have to do—speak in public, interact with people, teach," says Kim Clark. Public speaking starts with two-minute presentations at the age of three, according to Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the church. The goal is to "help them internalize their beliefs," she says, and any professional benefits are secondary.
As a member, you are imbued with organizational skills at a very young age. Public speaking at the age of 3 is not an exaggeration, nor is it rare. Mormons feel much more comfortable in front of a group speaking than probably any other group on earth.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 4: How Many Hours?

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
Simply belonging to the highly managerial Mormon Church requires work. Mormons depend upon an unpaid "lay" clergy composed of ordinary congregants tapped to lead sermons each week. Congregants don't just go to church on Sunday, they run the church, filling all the positions from Sunday school teacher to bishop, serving an estimated five to 25 hours each week. At the same time, they are expected to pay a 10 percent tithe on their incomes while encouraged to raise large families.
Yes, we are "tapped to lead sermons" but that doesn't capture what really happens because even ordinary members put in an unheard of number of hours on church work. Twenty five hours for our top local lay leaders is a conservative estimate. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 3: Work Ethic on Hyperdrive

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
Mormons, who consider their faith to be a Christian denomination, take Biblical exhortations to work hard to the extreme. "Mormonism is kind of like the Puritan ethic on high," says Nathan Furr, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at BYU's Marriott School. "There's total emphasis on self-sufficiency, on working hard."
Taking the Puritan ethic to extreme suggests it can be taken to excess. Balance is difficult, especially with the Church's voluntarism ethic as well. You can't stay in hyperdrive forever.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 2: Not in This Country!

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
Serving abroad helps Mormons learn languages (around 70 percent of BYU students are bilingual). It also seems to provide them with insight into foreign cultures and economies, an asset many missionaries have used to start businesses and careers.
Okay, let's just focus on the "insight into foreign cultures and economies." I'll give you an example. A relative relayed a story to me about seeing some girls in a car accidentally hit a bumper of a car ahead of them on BYU's campus. The driver of the other car got out, started to scream and yell, gesticulate and kick the side door of the terrified girls' car. A bystander confronted the man and said, "Hey, we don't solve our problems like that in this country!"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mormons, Missions and MBA's Part 1: Missionaries Work Hard!

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders." I'm sure it will get plenty of attention. I'm simply going to pull out a few various quotes for analysis.
Each elder or sister spends every moment of every day in tandem with another, sleeping and rising at the same time in a shared room. That companion isn't always American and doesn't necessarily speak English. For the next two years, these "companionships" proselytize for 10 hours a day, six days a week, knocking on doors and offering The Book of Mormon to strangers, often in languages the missionaries barely know how to speak. They must persuade people to listen and learn to persevere in the face of near-constant rejection. "I don't think there's any more demanding profession than being a Mormon missionary," says Christensen.
Why is anyone surprised that missionaries are more apt to become leaders in anything than those who haven't. Isn't this a no-brainer?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Good Samaritan Mode": The Silver Lining in the Arizona Fires

Stories about how the Church responds to emergencies are my favorites. There are some great stories coming out of Arizona right now. The following are excerpts from "Arizona Fires: Mormons Mobilize to Help" from The Daily Beast:
Known in Arizona for their ultra-conservative politics and well-honed organizational skills, hundreds of Mormons in northeastern Arizona have gone into Good Samaritan mode, helping protect properties, transporting horses and other animals to safe areas, manning phone trees to check on each other’s safety, passing fire information along on Facebook and Twitter, baking cookies for firefighters and opening their homes to strangers as the blaze roars through the White Mountains.
The efforts appear to be enough to overwhelm even the American Red Cross:
The efficient outpouring of help from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others has sometimes overwhelmed emergency officials. And “when the Red Cross feels it's too much, that tells you something about the community, and members of the church,” Mayor Crockett says.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

He Got Lucky!: Former Southern Baptist Preacher Becomes Mormon

Mark Oppenheimer's article, "At Picnic for Black Mormons, No Sign of Church's Biased Past," in the New York Times had a lot of good stories in it, but the following except is my favorite:

And I met a former Southern Baptist preacher, a white man with a real Dixie accent, who became a Mormon after moving to Utah. I asked him how that happened, and he said, “I got lucky!”
 He sure did!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Picnics And More

Usually it is clear what prompts news articles about Mormons, but sometimes they just seem to pop up out of nowhere. Mark Oppenheimer's New York Times article, "At Picnic for Black Mormons, No Sign of Church’s Biased Past" seems to be one of these. 

The Genesis Group is a social organization set up for black Mormons. The author describes a visit to one of the group's activities:
A tall man wearing rainbow suspenders told me he likes the Genesis Group even though he is white and has no children. “They’re just friendly,” said the man, Wayne Richardson. “So I come to help. I help set up the food.” He said that when he was a missionary in Alabama in 1975, he was not allowed to baptize a black maid.
“They would not allow it,” Mr. Richardson said. “She wanted to learn the church teachings, and we were told not to. We were there to work with the rich whites.” Mr. Richardson could not remember who had forbidden him to baptize the woman, but he said the message had been clear.
Richardson doesn't say who wouldn't allow it but I'm inclined to guess it was local leaders rather than a Mission President. Black males were not allowed to hold the priesthood at that time. I'm appalled that this got interpreted as not being allowed to baptize black people. This action would fall under "corruption" in my opinion.

The articles establishes that Darius A. Gray joined the Church in 1964 so that interpretation of the rules obviously didn't extend everywhere.

I bristle at the author's use of the term "biased." I know this is a near universal assumption based on the ban but I question it's accuracy. Mormons have always claimed, officially, that we never really knew the reason for the ban. People speculated, of course. People assumed, of course.

The ban was eliminated overnight and the change had near universal acceptance amongst Mormon membership. If Mormons thought blacks were inferior, the change couldn't have gone down so easily.
Max Perry Mueller, who is writing a dissertation at Harvard on African-Americans and the Mormon church, and who attended the Genesis Group picnic last year, says that the church has “made a very sincere effort” to welcome blacks, but that so far few American-born blacks have joined the church. Mr. Mueller also said that “the idea that Mormons” were until recently “exceptionally exclusionary or racist is probably unfair.” While no other large, predominantly white church barred blacks from the clergy in the 1970s, none was particularly integrated or had notable black leaders, either.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Off With Their Heads!

The Church has issued a new official statement on immigration. I've already covered this issue in detail. What interests me is the related resource it is linked to. The statement is entitled, "Responsibility of Church Members: Avoiding Being Judgmental." Here it is in its entirety:
The First Presidency has for many years taught that undocumented status should not by itself prevent an otherwise worthy Church member from entering the temple or being ordained to the priesthood.
Bishops are in the best position to make appropriate judgments as to Church privileges. Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.
Just like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, people quickly pronounce a draconian sanction on all undocumented people, even when their own lives won't compare well under scrutiny.

Speeding, copyright violations, white lies -- "Off With Their Heads!"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Active Online: Digital Activities that Help the Church -- Part 3: Miscellaneous Tasks

This is a series on digital activities that can help the Church.

There are things you can do online that don't fit into the other categories.

Google Review for LDS Chapels:

You can help make LDS chapels more visible in Google searches when people are looking for a church to attend. You will need a Google account in order to submit your review. This link will walk you through the process of submitting your review.

Free Bibles:

Create a StumbleUpon account and you can provide people with the opportunity to obtain a free Bible (King James Version). This site will give you all the details.

If you have any other ideas you would like to add, please feel free to comment below.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Active Online: Digital Activities that Help the Church -- Part 2: Creating Your Own Content

This is a series on digital activities that can help the Church.

Yesterday I covered sharing existing content. Today's topic is similar but it involves creating your own content.

You can refer people to Mormon.org but you can also create your own profile on it. This is a link to my profile. If you have a profile and an LDSAccount, the Church creates badges for you to place online. See the right hand corner of this blog for one of my badges. Click on it and it will send you to my Mormon.org profile.

The Church encourages us to create our own blog, creating our own content while linking to relevant Church content. It even provides links to major blogging sites that can host our blogs along with promotional tips. There are even suggestions on how to blog about specific issues like The Book of Mormon.

Right now, the Church is encouraging us to blog about Spanish speaking missionaries.

You can create a video testimony and share it on YouTube and other similar forums.

The Church is encouraging us all to create media. See their new web site, "Create."

There is no end to getting creative. One of my favorite examples is these missionaries in the embedded video below:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Active Online: Digital Activities that Help the Church -- Part 1: Sharing Existing Content

This is a series on digital activities that can help the Church.

The most obvious way to share existing content is to refer people to Mormon.org or any of the other official Church web sites like lds.org. There isn't a master list but the best place to look is probably the Church's Media Library that just got revamped.

You can share content by posting it to social bookmarking sites like Delicious, personal and other blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, email and so many other tools.

The Church provides a number of widgets, badges and other gadgets. See the widgets embedded in the right column of this blog for several examples. These handy items send people directly to a site or source.

Nearly every page the Church owns has a "Share" option somewhere which makes it easy to transmit the information. When you click on "Share," the usual options are Email, Twitter, Facebook and Delicious.

Whenever you see a news article that mentions the Church or Mormons you can share links and information via the comment feature.

So, keep your eyes and ears open and start sharing!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Active Online: Digital Activities that Help the Church -- Introduction

This is a series on digital activities that can help the Church.

Part 1: Sharing Existing Content
Part 2: Creating Your Own Content
Part 3: Miscellaneous Tasks

In 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave his classic talk ordering  us all online:
Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from Church and other appropriate sites, including newsroom.lds.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the Church and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you understand the basic principles of the gospel. It is essential that you are able to offer a clear and correct witness of gospel truths. It is also important that you and the people to whom you testify understand that you do not speak for the Church as a whole. You speak as one member—but you testify of the truths you have come to know.
 In 2011, Elder Dieter F. Uctdorf backed him up with additional statements including:
With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before.
Keep the following web site and statement in mind in your digital activities:
As you share online, focus on fruitful relationships that bring you closer to Jesus Christ. Anything unfruitful and unfulfilling—anything that drives away the Spirit—should be avoided. As you build and nurture relationships with friends using online tools, the gospel will spread naturally, allowing you to “fish where the fish are.” Satan can trick us into squandering those relationships and wasting our time on the web with things not conducive to the Spirit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Enough of Used Gum Already

When I was a teen the Church taught chastity primarily with fear. Used gum was the perennial analogy. It went something like this: Leader passes out a stick of gum to every girl in the room. We all chew it for a minute or two. Then the girls are told that having had intimate relations with a boy will make us used gum to another. And no one likes used gum. We were instructed to take the gum out of our mouths and offer it to one of one of the other girls. This grossed us all out of course. No one likes used gum.

One of the biggest problems with this analogy is that it did not account for repentance. There are other problems of course. I'll simply say they did the best they could at the time. Fortunately, they are doing better now.

View the new youth video below and see if you don't agree with me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lack of Aggression is Not Necessarily Pacifism

In, "Burying their weapons of war: The example of the Ammonites" in Mormon Times, Emily W. Jensen suggests some interpretations for the relevant scripture (Alma 24). I like the following:
And Elder L. Tom Perry recently said, “While the message of the story is not to insist on universal pacifism, we do learn that by not returning aggressions from others we can have a profound effect on them. Literally, we can change their hearts when we follow Christ’s example and turn the other cheek. Our examples as peaceable followers of Christ inspire others to follow him.”
I can't find the site for Perry's quote off-hand. I'll have to dig a little further for it. I've never liked regarding the story as endorsing "universal pacifism" because the Ammonites voluntarily produced abundant supplies for the Nephite army though they did not fight in it. Later, they sent their sons to fight who had not taken the oath to never wield weapons again.

But it is true that you can deescalate aggression by not responding with aggression, and that is a message for us all.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Are You Somebody Important?

I was at a church event around 1975. I do not remember what it was. All the kids were clustered around a man wanting his autograph. I did not know who he was, but if he was somebody important I wanted his autograph too. He had a little rainbow colored writing tablet in his hand and he signed autographs and then tore it off and gave it to each person. I patiently waited my turn. I was too afraid to admit I did not know who the guy was. Years later I discovered his identity. And that, my friends, is how I obtained the autograph of Shawn Davis.

The recent news article in The Denver Post recalled this memory:

Frei, T. (2011, June 1). Old rodeo star Davis keeps busy at Arapahoe Park, The Denver Post. Retrieved, June 2, 2011 from http://www.denverpost.com/dontmiss/ci_18179955?

Also see: Kelly, B. (1972, Sep.) Shawn Davis, Latter-day Saint and World Champion Bronc Rider, New Era, 40. Retrieved June 2, 2011 from http://lds.org/new-era/1972/09/shawn-davis-latter-day-saint-and-world-champion-bronc-rider?lang=eng&noLang=true&path=/new-era/1972/09/shawn-davis-latter-day-saint-and-world-champion-bronc-rider

I know a person who attended a Presidential inauguration. A reporter, from a local hometown paper, interviewed this native for the hometown perspective of the inaugural events. Suddenly, they were converged upon by a crowd of reporters and media personnel. "Who are you?" they demanded focusing cameras and thrusting microphones in faces, "Are you somebody important?" After explanations were given, the crowd raced off to find "somebody important."

Most of us will never be "somebody important" in the popular sense but we can always be somebody involved in something important.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important news in the world and we can all be involved in it. This blog is part of my effort to be involved in something important.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

ePub Books and the Church: The End of Dead Tree Books?

If you have no idea what ePub books are then you are not alone. The good news is that the Church has issued some ePub books that are freely available online. The bad news is that you have to download an Adobe Digital Editions Installer first. Visit the site and the launch the installer. You will have to give them an email and establish a password, but that is normal.

Once you have completed the installer, you should have an icon on your desktop. Click on it. Go to the Church's ePub book page and click on one of the books you want. It will download to your computer. Click the book and it should load into the Adobe Digital Editions reader.

So, what is that advantages over reading books online? Well, you can download EPUB books from your local library as well as the books the Church provides. Also, it may be a more reading-friendly format especially if you are old. I think it is easier to read than html or pdf books. You can read them offline as well. You do not need to be connected to the Internet.

So, check it out and happy reading!

(Is this the end of dead tree Church books? Unlikely.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mobile Apps for Mormons

It seems the Church is active on many fronts. Besides the ePub books, the Church has updated it's apps for mobile media. In New Updates for Gospel Library Apps in Church News & Events:
In an effort to provide additional content to multiple mobile platforms, updates of the Gospel Library app have been released for Android, iOS, and Windows 7 operating systems at mobile.LDS.org.
The offerings seems especially broad for the Android operating system:
For the Android, the entire English library of Church publications is now available. While the previous app offered only the scriptures, general conference, and a few other key publications,
There are apps for many other operating systems and many other apps as well. It is especially nice to apps aimed at youth. Visit the Church's Mobile Applications page for links and information. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eat Your Fruit & Veggies But Grow 'Em First!

I wish I'd kept the statistic I read recently, but I didn't and I can't find it. What it said, in essence, was that we do not produce or import enough fruits and vegetables in the United States to take care of the basic daily needs as recommended by health experts.

I can understand vegetarians who want everyone to adopt their lifestyle. However, one look at the produce section of most Wal Marts in rural America is enough to turn anyone into a carnivore. I'm tired of seeing rotting produce for sale.

Since this is the 75th Anniversary of the Church's Welfare Program, I wanted to highlight some of the provident living resources the Church has compiled so I've embedded the video above. There are many others.

I'm not much of a gardener, but looking at what the Hopi and Navajo have coaxed out of their unforgiving landscape, I think we should all be humbled, and energized to follow their example.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Sure Foundation

The June 2011 Ensign is now available. One of the articles is called, "Building on a Sure Foundation" by Joshua J. Perkey.

The article contains a clear and succinct definition of "moral relativism."
. . . what one person believes to be true is just as valid as what someone else believes to be true, even if those beliefs differ in fundamental ways. In this philosophy, as I understand it, there are no eternal principles true for everyone, just personal viewpoints that intelligent people have the right and obligation to determine are true for themselves.
I addressed moral relativism in a prior post, but I wanted to underscore the above quote. Perkey suggests that his youthful moral relativism was the biggest impediment he faced in believing what the missionaries taught him.
I know that when the prophet speaks, his words are from God. When circumstances arise that challenge my testimony, I trust in the witness I have already received, and then I do my best to live by it. That is the road to peace; that is the way of happiness.
Moral absolutism as contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ IS the sure foundation.