Monday, December 14, 2009

Sanitary Sacrament

Last week several members noticed that Johnson kid sneezing over the bread tray, and looked on in horror as the Deacon continued to pass the tray of the sneezed-on bread to additional isles. Well, since Tuesday when the boy was diagnosed with swine flu, I’ve had calls from more than ten concerned members asking if germs can stay alive on blessed bread. I really don’t have an answer for the germs-on-holy-bread question, but this incident has prompted me to make some long-needed changes to our method of administering the sacrament to ensure a safe and sanitary forgiveness of sins.

So, here’s the plan (pending approval from The Stake Brethren):

Starting next week, sacrament preparation of the bread will begin with viewing the Priests and Deacons (via a live video feed shown on a wall-mounted LCD) performing a, ‘scrubbing-in’ procedure. This will be very similar to the procedure that we’re all familiar with from watching Grey’s Anatomy and E.R. They will use surgical-grade anti-bacterial soap with small brushes to scrub their hands and arms up to their elbows. Then, an also-sanitized adult assistant will help place protective rubber gloves on their hands, and a face mask to cover their mouth and nose.

While delivering the bread to the members, the Deacons will stand at the end of each row, and members will stand and individually file past them to receive the bread from the gloved-hand of a Deacon, then circle back around to their bench. This eliminates the health risk from all of the children’s unsanitary fingers rifling through the bread to get the biggest, non-crust pieces. And if a sneeze occurs, that Deacon and his tray will be retired for the day.

After partaking of the bread, the Priests will say the normal blessing on the water, but they will be blessing the water in the hallway drinking fountains. Sometime during the remainder of the Sunday services, each member can take a sanitary sip of water from the several fountains around the building at their leisure. There should be enough water in the tanks at the time of the blessing to last all the way through the week. Members can even grab a drink after playing basketball, with the added benefit of wiping the sin-slate clean of any offensive language used during the game (definitely a plus for Brother Markie).

Yours for a Sanitary Holiday Season,

Bishop Young

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Classic Mormon Art

After the holidays have past and the Christmas decorations have been taken down, we usually feel it's a good time to refresh our house decorations. Like all active Mormons, we like to fill some of our walls with familiar Mormon art, just in case some of The Brethren stop by to issue a promotion.

So, here are a few of the classics that we're considering. If you have some you'd like to suggest, please post a photo or link.

We prefer the smiley, pirate Jesus over the serious pirate Jesus. I just love the open collar and toothy-smile look. It makes me think Jesus is saying, 'Hey Bro, it's all good. Don't worry so much.':

Perhaps something truly unique to Mormons:

I picked out this gem, but Sister Young shot it down for some reason. Maybe I shouldn't have referred to it as, "Jesus goes all FLDS":

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mormons in Space

Growing up my Mom used to tell me, "Be proud of being different. It’s what makes you interesting and stand out from the crowd."

There was a time, not too long ago, when LDS leaders would regularly go out on a limb and talk about very far-reaching and speculative doctrine concerning life on other planets with gusto and conviction. The speculation didn’t always pan out, but at least it was interesting and kept young minds engaged on the possibilities. Often these days, I yearn for the return of truly unique doctrine delivered without care of how it will be viewed by non-LDS churches.

I was reminded of our bold past when I came across this article from the New Era printed in 1971:

People on Other Worlds, New Era, April 1971

This is what I’m talking about! Bring back these types of articles. Sure, most people might think we’re nuts, but many do anyway, so at least we can have some interesting and unique speculative doctrine that involves space travel and extraterrestrials. We may even use this as our primary missionary message in some parts (New Mexico comes to mind).

In a Q&A topic on the New Era from 1985, the question was asked, “Is Jesus Christ the Savior of all the worlds God created or just ours?” (You have to scroll down past the Q&A on "Petting" – and no, it's not instructional info on cat-care).

The article points out that Jesus not only died for the sins of our world, but countless worlds. I remember vividly this topic being taught to me by my parents and being discussed among the Elders in my mission. This doctrine had created awe in my young mind as I tried to understand how people on other planets could possibly believe in an alien dying for their sins on some other unknown planet. I had a hard enough time understanding what happened on my own planet. Talk about faith in extraterrestrials! How could our Earth, in all the eternities and infinite space, be the planet chosen by God for Jesus to die on? How lucky I believed we were!

So, what say ye? Do you also wish we delved into the mysteries more, at the expense of appearing odder to our neighbors? Are we better off assimilating into the common Christian masses more and more? By becoming more conforming in our doctrinal emphasis to mainstream Christianity, should our Church expect more converts?

Has Mom’s sagely advice run its course?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Surely God Understands Modern English

Would it be too much to ask that, as a Church, we move to addressing God in common English that everyone can be comfortable with, instead of trying to sound like Englishmen of the 17th century? I've never really understood the affinity our Church has to this archaic dialect of English that everyone else happily jettisoned a couple of centuries ago along with blood-letting and witch burning (ok, someone forgot to send that memo to Salem).

Growing up, there were many times when I was in non-LDS homes where prayers would be offered before meals. Without exception, all of these prayers sounded very similar to how normal people spoke every day. They never used the fancy-pancy King James English that we, as Mormons, use in our prayers that no one else understands. Hopefully God understands this and doesn't just keep wondering if he's hearing stray prayers from the past echoing throughout the eternities.

To be honest, I've never been really comfortable speaking in King James English, even as a life-long member. It's old, awkward, and follows grammatical rules that people aren't familiar with. The more you understand the proper use of King James English, the more you notice just how few people actually get it right. It's even more strange that the only part of King James English that we use are the personal pronouns (Thee, Thou, etc).

In serving a mission on a Spanish-speaking country I quickly realized something very interesting about their prayers. In Spanish (and other languages?) members of the LDS Church pray to God in the most common, familial form, as if God was their best friend, just like my childhood neighbor Protestants in the USA. And, strangely, it's believed by members that God listens and understands these friendly, 'common language' prayers.

From the Wikipedia listing for 'Thou' we find the following information:
In a deliberately archaic style, the possessive forms are used as the genitive before words beginning with a vowel sound (for example, thine eyes) similar to how an is used instead of a in an eye. This practice is followed irregularly in the King James Bible but is more regular in earlier literature, such as the Middle English texts of Geoffrey Chaucer. Otherwise, "my" and "thy" is attributive (my/thy goods) and "mine" and "thine" are predicative (they are mine/thine). Shakespeare pokes fun at this custom with an archaic plural for eyes when the character Bottom says "mine eyen" in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Did you get that? Right.

I feel comfortable making the general statement that when a dialect is old and archaic enough to be made fun of by Shakespeare, it's time to move on. While unkind to point out, the only people that would miss this, will themselves be missed very shortly, and the rest will just heave a big sigh of relief. If we want a personal, accessible God, let's address Him accordingly, as most of our non-US Brothers and Sisters have the pleasure of doing.

I'm going to kick this suggestion up to The Brethren. Keepest your fingers crossed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Honing Your Mo-Dar Skills

Whether it's the Spirit emanating from the person, the tell-tale garment lines, or the 8 kids-in-tow, I've developed a particularly keen sense of Mormon Radar, or 'Mo-dar' over the years. I find it especially fun to use this gift of discernment while visiting outside of Utah and trying to figure out who's Mormon. I think I can give myself a solid 8-out-of-10 for picking up Mormon signals. For you just trying to build your sense of Mo-dar, here are some items that I've found to be key indicators. I've also included a scoring mechanism that can help beginners. Just add up the numbers, and as the total gets closer to 100, you can feel confident that you've found a Mormon. Anything over 100 is a sure-bet.

Haircut - If the man has a military-qualifying haircut you can usually place that person into one of two groups: a man that is currently in the military, or a Mormon. Score = 20, unless on a military base where it would only be .05

Women's haircut - This used to be a far better marker, but these days if you find yourself staring down a 1850's Prairie-style do, you've most likely encountered an FLDS lady. There are the occasional hold-outs in smaller Utah communities, but it's a dwindling bunch. Score = 1

Kids - This is always a good indicator, especially outside of Utah. Most have long-since-realized that we've reached a fairly good level of replenishment here on the Earth, and adding significantly more people is not in anyone's best interest. Sure, we still have a large portion of Southern Utah and Northern Nevada to populate, but maybe those areas are just best left to rabbits. So, when large families are spotted I generally narrow my sorting to Mormons or Catholics. Scoring starts at 20 for four children, and increases by 10 for every child past four.

Celestial Smile - When looking for this with men, you have to be careful. When I was just starting to hone my Modar skills I'd mistake the common wife-beater tank top for garments unless the wearer was also smoking. So my advice is to look not only below the neckline, but also at the sleeves. No sleeves, no g's. Score = 20 due to ambiguity

Celestial Crack - Unlike the Celestial Smile, the Celestial Crack is a sure give away. This is witnessed when a lady is sitting or bends over. You don't have to be looking directly at her to notice the sometimes-blinding white flash, with today's low-cut waists, results in typically 2-3 inches of 'g' exposure that can be seen from 80 yards out. Nothing identifies a Mormon lady, and mystifies those outside of Utah, more than this. Score = 90

CTR Ring - Well, this is a big one, of course. Many religions have their symbols: crosses, yarmulkes, hijabs, etc. Mormons have their CTR rings. Back in the day, there was only one type of CTR ring available - junky aluminum rings that turned your ring finger green faster than dipping it into Lime Jello. These days, the LDS paraphernalia-hawkers have really zeroed-in on CTR rings. Now you can get these rings in gold or silver and in any language you like. They come with diamonds for the bling-bling crowd, black lettering for the Mormon Goths, glow-in-the-dark letters for reminding you to CTR just before making a mistake you'll regret for a very long time, and my favorite - the, 'Sidewinder Royal Spinner CTR Ring.' Seriously. I couldn't make this stuff up. Score = 80

Participant in 'American Idol,' 'So You Think You Can Dance' or, 'Dancing With the Stars.' Score = 10

Well, those are a few tips to help those building the accuracy of their Mo-dar. I'm sure I missed some others, so please add those markers that have helped you to identify our own.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Time for a Word of Wisdom Refresh?

As any LDS member who's taken part in a Word of Wisdom discussion in Sunday School knows, the correlation between prohibited items and health benefits are a little hazy these days. We're still on solid ground for one of the Big Four: tobacco. It looks like we really nailed that one. Except for the helping sick cattle oddity. However, the other Big Four are in a losing battle with scientific research.

Tea is widely heralded for its health benefits in all current research (something the Chinese have known for thousands of years). The only substance in tea with a potential downside - caffeine - is still widely consumed by many LDS members in diet soft drinks and hot/cold chocolate. A quick search on the Journal of American Medical Association's website produced these highlights on tea's healthfulness:
  • Habitual moderate strength green or oolong tea consumption, 120 mL/d or more for 1 year, significantly reduces the risk of developing hypertension in the Chinese population.
  • There is evidence of green tea as a cancer preventive for humans in other parts of Japan where quality green teas, "typical" as defined by the National Cancer Institute, are traditionally consumed.
  • Green tea consumption was inversely associated with mortality due to all causes and due to cardiovascular disease.
  • Habitual tea consumption, especially for more than 10 years, has significant beneficial effects on bone mineral density of the total body, lumbar spine, and hip regions in adults.
  • The theaflavin-enriched green tea extract we studied is an effective adjunct to a low-saturated-fat diet to reduce LDL-C in hypercholesterolemic adults and is well tolerated.

    Coffee fairs quite well in studies, showing a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes and benefits from the antioxidants found in coffee.

    Alcohol is a mixed bag. Clearly, there is a danger of abuse associated with alcoholism, and Joseph Smith was painfully aware of this as there are many reports of his father's abuse of alcohol during much of his life. However, nearly all recent medical studies show ample health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, especially red wine.

  • Journal of American Medical Association: The consumption of 2 alcoholic drinks or fewer per day was inversely associated with extensive coronary calcification. The risk of extensive coronary calcification was 50% lower in individuals who consumed 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day than in nondrinkers.
  • Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research: "The benefits of alcohol are all about moderation. Low to moderate drinking – especially of red wine – appears to reduce all causes of mortality. The breadth of benefits is remarkable – cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more."

    I believe it may be time for a Word of Wisdom doctrine refresher. It's clear we already do a substantial amount of picking and choosing of what's important, so maybe it's time to really have an overhaul of Section 89 to better represent more current health understandings. We could start by removing coffee and tea completely from the prohibitions. The idea that hot drinks create an imbalance of the humors in the body (the common wisdom of the 1830's) has been replaced by more sound understanding of how our bodies actually function.

    Instead of seeing this refresher as a negative comment on Joseph Smith, I think he should be applauded for providing a health code that took the best advice available at the time, and was delivered in the hopes of improving the health of the Saints. It should be emphasized that with changing times, comes more relevant information and we also now face some different health concerns.

    We'd certainly keep the prohibition on tobacco, but perhaps lessen the restrictions on alcohol to 'moderate consumption.' By most literal readings of D&C 89, moderate use of alcohol would be considered as approved, even though this use has been prohibited in more recent times. In sec 89, verse 17, we read, "Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain." Mild drinks from barley would universally be recognized as 'beer' both in the 1830's and today. Many Latter Day Saints continued moderate drinking of alcohol, including many leaders, until the early 1900's, when a much greater (and stricter) emphasis was placed on the Word of Wisdom.

    Now, I'm not just in favor of loosening the definitions of the Word of Wisdom, but also expanding it to include more recent dietary information. I think LDS members would be well-served if we added to the Word of Wisdom some guidance for the moderate consumption of sugars and fatty foods. These weren't real concerns in the 1800's, but today are the leading causes of health issues, as least in the U.S. Perhaps adding some support for regular exercise would be helpful as well. Those American frontier people certainly didn't have to worry about lack of exercise, but we're not pushing too many hand carts, or hand-sewing fields these days.

    It would also go a long way towards improving our health by actually emphasizing the restrictions placed on the eating of meats in the D&C. Verses 12 and 13 of DC 89 read, "Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." Even though it's some of the clearest language in the entire section, the advice has always been completely disregarded.

    Don't be surprised if sometime in the near future you're asked to answer questions concerning sugar and meat consumption during a temple recommend interview, and receive a steely-glare from the Bishop who just yesterday saw you serving yourself a large Slurpee and three hot dogs at a 7-Eleven.
  • Monday, October 12, 2009

    Only in Utah

    I was enjoying a little heaven-on-earth this weekend at the best pizza restaurant in Utah County - Nicoitalia Pizzeria. I noticed this sign and couldn't stop laughing. Only in Utah...

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    General Conference Predictions

    As Fall General Conference nears, electricity is in the air, at least in Utah. And I'm not just referring to yesterday's lightening storm. I've heard a lot of speculation from neighbors (in Utah, Wards and neighborhoods are synonymous) about what's going to be covered in GC this Sunday, so I thought I'd throw out my own predictions. You can judge for yourselves how inspired I am, and add any of your own predictions.

  • The Brethren will finally decide that reading scripts from teleprompters make the talks feel robotic and cold. They'll ditch the comfort of scrolling words in favor of warmth and sincerity.
  • A Sister will be allowed to say a closing prayer at one of the four sessions. I'd hope for an opening prayer, but small steps...
  • One speaker will slip up and refer to gathering in The Great and Spacious Building, when they meant to say The Conference Center
  • A Sister leading the MoTab Choir during a normal session. Nearly all of the Ward Choristers I've ever seen have been Sisters, so why not let a Sister enter the Major Leagues of choir directing?
  • Talk covering the Word of Wisdom, specifically about eating meat sparingly
  • A single talk from a GA with a non-white shirt to really make a point about the Church's efforts to reach out to the Youth and be more inclusive, rather than all the speakers appearing like members of an Old English Country Club or a gathering of bank executives
  • A talk from a GA sporting a goatee, mustache, beard, or even sideburns as The Brethren realize that the 70's and Hippie movement are sufficiently behind us. We no longer need to feel threatened by facial hair.
  • A stern talk about online social networking addictions, with an example story of the potential heartbreak that this can lead to (reading Ward blogs is excluded). On-line porn addiction is becoming passé.
  • In the current state of economics with members out of work and trying to make ends-meet, expect a talk about the blessings associated with paying tithing
  • Announcement that the end is near, and that all Saints everywhere need to pack up and head to Missouri. Or, do we still believe this? It's been awhile since I've heard of this one being discussed, so maybe just an update on whether, or not, this is still expected to happen at some point would be nice.
  • A talk by one of the Three Nephites. One can dream...
  • Thursday, October 1, 2009

    General Conference Jitters - Continued

    Here we are, back where we were six short months ago. And again, with General Conference approaching rapidly I'm feeling that this time I just might be receiving the call to join the Major Leagues. Over the past six months I've really focused on building my resume and mingling with the visiting General Authority Brethren during Stake Conference.

    Just to be clear, I've lowered my sights from going directly into the Q12, to starting out as a humble Area President or Seventy. What are we up to now, like twenty quorums of the Seventy? Surely there's room for a humble, handsome Bishop from Spanish Fork. It's only 45 minutes from Salt Lake. They've called some Seventies that live farther away than that, although none come quickly to mind.

    So, if there are no new posts for several weeks on the Spanish Fork 401st Ward Blog site, you can safely assume that I've received The Call. Or that I had a heart attack and passed into eternal child-making bliss, and if that's the case, just know that you're all welcome to visit my planet any time you like. Wait - are we all on the same planet, just different cities? I think I'm having a melt-down from all the excitement.

    The Callings Process

    First, a little background. I was at the MTC on a visit several years ago and had the opportunity to listen to a talk to the missionaries by President Monson, who discussed the process by which Elders and Sisters are called to different areas for missionary service. Before this discussion I had some idea that the process involved some mystery element whereby people were selected to go to a specific destination through supernatural involvement. Come to find out, missionary information was all in a computer, and automatically assigned to areas based almost solely by need (X mission needs X number of missionaries in March, the computer assigns the appropriate number). While it was initially a let-down, logically it made perfect sense. How could assigning tens of thousands of missionaries a year be handled any other way?

    While brings us to today's post. I've been asked many times about the process by which callings are made. Most would like to believe, as did I in the past, that callings come straight from above, whispered into the ear of the Bishop, who then merely extends the call to the member. Needless to say, that's not exactly the typical process.

    With callings, I first spend some time pondering about the open positions. Usually this is done with my eyes closed while relaxing in my leather recliner. After pondering for some time I might feel particularly inspired that a person should be asked to fill a position, while other times I have no idea at all.

    If I'm at a loss, I may ask my wife for her inspired input. Let's face it, until women are officially running the Church, why not at least admit that they have great influence at every level and a great instinct for who might fill a position particularly well.
    In the next Bishopric meeting, any names that I've thought of are discussed and the other members of the Bishopric provide valuable input. Sometimes we go with my initial thought, other times another name is presented that seems to be a better fit for whatever reason. We can usually come to a consensus on the names during this meeting.

    Lastly, we extend the call and have about a 60% acceptance rate, even from those we felt good about. Of course, members are always able to use their free agency, and as it turns out there are many situations that we weren't initially aware of that make people unable to accept the call.

    So there you have it - callings in a nutshell.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    Ward Suggestion Box

    It looks like the theme of this week's suggestion box entries is 'luxury accommodations' at the Ward building. I'm not sure about some of these, so we may have to put them to a vote in PEC meeting this Sunday. I'd put the items to the vote of the full Ward Council, but I'm fairly certain I already know which way the ladies would vote on most of the below items, and I'd like to skip any uncomfortable debates.

  • Install deer jerky dispensers in each hallway. Every season our Ward hunters harvest tons of deer and elk meat. What better way to encourage others to join in thinning the local deer population than sharing the blessed bounty of the hunts. The dispensers would be locked on F&T Sundays.

  • Install bidets in the bathrooms - experience that 'just-showered' freshness anytime at Church. Feeling a little sweaty down below from sitting in wool pants on a warm seat for two hours? Swing into the restroom for a quick under-carriage refresher!

  • Dark pull-down shades on the classroom windows. As a teacher I'm afraid the kids are having a hard time seeing media presentations in such a bright room. Note: I think that this may be just to enhance the 'meditation' by the teacher during these 'media presentations.' Been there, done that.

  • Add, as an addition to the perks for the Uber-Tithers, 'Magic Fingers' chair massagers that can be carried from room-to-room (by the non-full-tithers).
  • Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Blessings Shout-Out

    It's time to catch up on some of the blessings that our faithful Ward members have experienced lately:

  • Brother Harvey - for the second year in a row was blessed with killing a beautiful, large elk in the fertile Wasatch Mountains. His wall is filling up faster than the refreshment line at an adult-singles dance.

  • The Anderson's are now able to fit their entire family of eleven into one vehicle. I didn't know they were still making the 'extended-full' vans, but there it was - truly a monument to being fruitful and multiplying.

  • Brother Neilson had the shingles this week. Not usually considered a blessing, but having it this particular week got him out of hitting up all his neighbors for money for "Friends of Scouting," eating burnt hot dogs and warm potato salad at the High Priest social, and the 7am Sunday Stake Leadership meetings. I'd place that squarely in the 'blessings,' category.

  • Sister Young was blessed last week with the hot, dry weather she'd been praying for. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of firefighters currently battling a dozen fires in the area caused by the dry weather. Please, Brothers and Sisters, think of the possible consequences when asking for divine weather intervention.
  • Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    BYU vs. Florida State Prep

    Well, I don't think there's been this much excitement among the Brethren of the Church since the announcement of polygamy. BYU may, once again, have a shot at a national football title. Watching ESPN the past two weekends has been surreal with all of the BYU-praising going on. They're even talking frequently of a potential Heisman trophy bid for Max Hall.

    Of course, there are a dozen games left in the season, and painful past experience has certainly taught that the chances for BYU's success usually diminish relative to the overall buildup of expectations and hopes of the faithful.

    Count me among the optimistic - at least until the first loss!

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    By Common Consent

    Something hit me this past Sunday while standing in front of the congregation conducting business (and thankfully, it wasn't Billy Crugan throwing soggy Cheerios again). Is it just me, or does anyone else think that it's odd to ask for a raise of hands for a consenting vote of fellow Ward members? In my many, many years at Church, I've yet to witness one hand being raised publically in opposition to a calling. Would anyone really feel comfortable these days raising a hand against a fellow Ward member, other than the small children or members with Alzheimer's? I think most members are just glad it's not them receiving another calling.

    At the center of this issue is a conflict between the core ideas of common consent and that of inspiration or revelation. The Church was founded on the idea of revelation, yet introduced common consent, where , "all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church" (D&C 28:13), and "No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church" (D&C 20:65).

    It seems that common consent has been basically dropped within the Church over the years. Meeting notes from early Church history show that dissenting votes were somewhat common, followed by public comment and discussion on the matter or person. Instead of the original purpose of actually asking for input into the decision, common consent has really been replaced by just a promise to sustain the leader's decisions. So, I'd propose it may be more appropriate to just ask for a raise of hands for those that are willing to support the person, and leave it at that, if that's the only culturally-acceptable result.

    I think I'm going to float this one by The Brethren. Does anyone have the hotline number?

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    New Ward Callings

    Look at who's about to receive untold blessings - mostly in the afterlife:

  • Marilyn Mathers - Ward Gossiper (might as well make it official)

  • Ron Studdard - Ward Parking Valet- another perk I thought of for the Uber-Tithers

  • Mark Landress - Ward Sports Updater - I decided that having one man listen to the big Sunday games, and provide some timely feedback, might motivate more men to stay the full three hours, instead of catching the Fall Football cold.

  • Shirley Dowen - Ward Boy Scout badge seamstress

  • Todd and Susan Templeton - Ward Obama supporters
  • Friday, September 4, 2009

    Ward Calendar Update

    Thursday, September 10th - Enrichment Night: "Making More From Less." Unlike the name suggests, it's not a lesson on the effects of overeating or alchemy, but rather some insightful strategies of running an efficient household.

    Sunday, September 13th - Welcome back Elder Clemens! Yes, it's only been eight months since his farewell, but he's returning home for mental health issues. We want to make sure he receives a warm welcome and feels right at home with the 65% of our adult Ward members currently using anti-depression medication.

    Tuesday, September 15th - Combined Youth Activity: "The Dangers of Pre-Marital Sex" If the normal Sunday School lessons hasn't scarred scared them enough, perhaps pictures of people suffering from genital herpes, the clap, crabs, and syphilis will. Snacks will be served.

    Thursday, September 17th - Temple Night! Wahoo! Mark your calendars now for that one night a month you can feel good about being a cheap-skate. Root beer jello shooters and ice cream will be served afterwards at Brother and Sister Snyder's house.

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Modest is Hottest

    For some reason, I imagine the 'Modest is Hottest' slogan being coined by a group of wannabe-hip-Nuns, religious fundamentalists, or very large older ladies. No offense Sister Crouser.

    Is it just me, or is there a rising creepiness in the attention that we, as a society, are placing on the sexuality of teenage girls? From unnatural interest in Brittany Spears during her teen years, to virginity pledges and now 'Modest is Hottest' clothing being all-the-rage in many Christian groups (including Utah County's primarily-LDS population), I'm becoming concerned with the unintended consequences. Is the message here to cover up to hide from boys, but by dressing like this they'll attract the attention of boys? The whole idea is extremely bizarre. LDS chastity ideals are starting to get pushed to extremes in some areas that may become unhealthy for the sexual maturation of young women.

    As an example (and I may get in trouble for this one), our Stake prohibited the wearing of shorts at the Stake-sponsored Young Women's camp this year. This is in the middle of July. And, they made it a point that it was about modesty. Let's get some common-sense and balance in here, please. Not allowing girls to wear shorts in the middle of summer while among other girls is an unbelievably-strict standard to push. Why in the world would wearing shorts among other girls be a modesty issue? On the other hand, shorts weren't an issue at all for any of the Young Men's scout camps this summer.

    As LDS members who strongly emphasize chastity, I feel it's very important to pair the chastity talks with frank discussions about sexuality in general to ensure that sex isn't just viewed as a dirty, nasty, sinful, embarrassing act that we save only for the one we truly love. Ideally, of course, these talks should take place in the home.

    In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, over 14,000 teens were asked different questions about sexuality and sexual activity. Some of the study's findings shocked a lot of people when it was found that teens that had taken a 'virginity pledge' were more likely to engage in higher-risk sex, including oral and anal sex, than the non-pledgers, and were far less likely to use condoms. This highlights a problem of focusing on just one aspect of sexual behavior (abstinence) to the exclusion of well-rounded discussions. When a teen feels that having unprotected anal sex is the answer to remaining a virgin, there's something drastically wrong with our approach to sex education.

    As Ward members, I strongly encourage you to be open, honest, and realistic when having age-appropriate discussions about sexuality with your children. Relying on marketing slogans or abstinence-only sex education is simply ineffective and dangerous. It's time to become comfortable with being uncomfortable about sex education in our homes. Let's actively help our children to become the educators among their peers, instead of naive recipients of dangerous information.

    And for goodness sake, let those poor Young Women wear shorts at summer camp!

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    Sexting? Not our teens!

    Most parents of teenagers with cell phones can safely assume that when their child is up late at night with the cell phone cradled in their sweaty little palms, more than likely they're sexting with other teens, sexting with a creepy man pretending to be a teen, or sexting with a school teacher. Informed parents, from my experience, are more concerned about their teen's use of texting/sexting than even their Internet use.

    But LDS parents need not be concerned any longer about what Nephi or Sarah are doing under the covers with their cell phones at 1am!

    Thanks to this ad for the Church's website that I've noticed now several times on different sites, Mormon parents can be assured that their teens are just texting about God, the LDS religion, and life's questions at this hour with other interested teens. Seriously. Rest at peace.

    I'm going out later today to purchase cell phones for all of my teen age grandkids just so that they CAN text. What a load off my mind, and I'm sure you're just as relieved.

    Now, if I could only figure out those enigmatic texting acronyms like 'ROFLMAO'...

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Oquirrh, Oak-her, OQrrxxj

    Yesterday along the Wasatch Front - Zion to many (except the Jews) - The Brethren felt inclined to give us a break from the normal grind meetings so that we might attend the temple dedication sessions. A newly gilded (careful not to confuse with 'gelded') Moroni was in place after the earlier mishap with the lightening, and music was in the air.

    I've been wondering about the choice of this temple's name, and I believe I may have figured out the mystery. Until now, nearly all of the LDS temples have been named after the city of their location (Salt Lake City, Logan, Boise, Draper, etc). However this new temple is situated only a couple of blocks from the already-existing Jordon River temple. So to avoid confusion, the Temple Naming Committee selected a name very familiar to both of the still-living Goshute Indians: Oquirrh Mountain.

    I've yet to speak to anyone outside of Utah who has the faintest idea of how to pronounce the name of this temple. Then the thought struck me - maybe this obscure and difficult-to-pronounce name was by design. I know a lot of people that, while visiting other areas, try and attend a new temple. It's like seeing a tourist site, without the entrance fee - well, sort of. In the case of this new temple, perhaps the idea was to discourage any out-of-town visitors - a "locals'only" hang out sort of thing.

    I can imagine that when visitors might think of selecting a temple to visit, they start with, "how about that new temple, the OQr... temple?" They'd get funny looks, make a few additional attempts at an intelligible guess in pronunciation, and then settle for the Draper or Salt Lake City temple. I think they also had this in mind when naming the Mount Timpanogos Temple, but that turned out to be phonetically sound enough to at least get close to the name. 'Oquirrh,' on the other hand, might as well have been named using cuneiform letters.

    I may be way off base here on my guess. Perhaps people enjoy the challenge of learning new, exotic Native American names and feel a connection to our quickly-fading Lamanite heritage. Have I missed any other obvious reasons for the selection of this name?

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    MLM - No, Please Not Another One!

    Having grown up outside of Utah, I feel that I lack an understanding in a foundational Mormon Institution: multi-level marketing, or MLM. In nearly a quarter of the interviews I have with adults, some form of an offer to join an MLM comes up. I've even received Christmas cards with MLM pitches making up the majority of the card's text. Christmas cards! I know that most Mormons likely believe that Jesus was a Republican capitalist, but this is ridiculous.

    From an outsider looking in, I've observed the following commonalities in most of these MLM schemes:
  • Smooth-talking salespeople with products who's actual value defy common sense (mystical berry juice from the Pacific Islands, over-priced commodities like vitamins, and many health-related creams and lotions).
  • The requirement that all participants themselves spend hundreds of dollars a month on these products of dubious value, ensuring that the founders have a steady income, regardless of any actual sales to non-members. I'm positive that these required-purchases by the sellers themselves make up 90% of total products ever sold.
  • Pressure for these recruits to constantly harass friends, neighbors and family about 'getting in at the top level,' of one of the hundred new MLM pyramids introduced every month in Utah.

    I know members that have jumped from one scheme to another for years. They've paid thousands of dollars for boxes of junk that still sit in a garage, or pile up in the Utah County landfill. Yet, as soon as the next-new-thing comes out, it's full-steam cycling through the friends again.

    After many years of counseling people in financial matters, here's my advice - avoid MLMs like the plague. The only people making any money are the shady founders at the very top that quickly move on to the next scam. If you want to become financially secure, try the proven method of spending less than you make, paying off debt quickly, building a savings and retirement account, and investing in long-term value. And as a bonus, you'll still have some friends and family left that don't avoid you like a leper.
  • Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Not Quite Intelligent Design

    I'm not usually one to complain, especially about God's creations, but in some instances He leaves me to ponder, 'What the heck was He thinking!?' I've read many articles on the idea of Intelligent Design, or Creationism Lite, and thought to myself - what about all of the unintelligent design in nature? Who designed that, and for what purpose? Were there a few semi-purposefully designed creatures (of course, we'd always have to lump us humans in with this group), but the rest of what we see was left to its own devices to evolve however it pleased? Even with humans, there are enough oddities to believe that at the very minimum, someone with a good sense of humor had a hand in this design.

    Take vestigial organs. Was the appendix just designed with the fore-sight to ensure adequate financial support for the surgical profession? And to spread the wealth, I have to assume that wisdom teeth were most likely designed to provide financial support to oral surgeons? Couldn't God at least have removed these for all future missionaries and saved them the time, money, and pain - just a little token of appreciation to two years of full-time service? How about that tailbone in humans? I suppose there might have been a change in plans mid-design about us homo sapiens having tails, but someone forgot to remove all the evidence? And male nipples - what in the world do I do with these?

    Hair is another interesting design aspect of humans. Our early ancestors started out completely covered. We shed some hair by the Neanderthal times, and now we're left with only a few small patches of hair, with the only hair we're really interested in being the stuff on top of our head, which also happens to be the only spot susceptible to balding. Couldn't we have been designed to bald in the nether-regions, and grow thicker hair on our heads as we age as a small compensation for a slowing metabolism? And why do we still have erector pili that cause our hair to stand on end (goose bumps), but we have no hair to really notice, where most animals have this trait as a defense mechanism to appear larger/fiercer to predators?

    Our poor digestive systems. For some reason, they seem only designed to handle grains and proteins efficiently. Couldn't we have been designed with some fore-sight to better handle the abundance of refined sugar and carbs that we now consume in-mass, instead of being designed with what appears to be more for an environment tens of thousands of years ago? Why weren't we provided with some mechanisms to break down hydrogenated trans fats and oils so that we could enjoy our Big Macs and Super-Sized fries guilt-free?

    And lastly, the duck-billed platypus. I rest my not-always-so-intelligent design case.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    Staying Home … Again

    The article, "Staying Home... Again," from the August 2009 Ensign caught me a bit off-guard, even after reading the article several times to make sure I fully understood the points being made. The entire article can be found online here.

    Over the years, the Church has clearly held the position that mothers should stay at home whenever possible, although the Church has clearly reduced its rhetoric on this position. From my experience speaking with members, today's reality is that in most cases, women work to help their families make ends meet. In our Ward, I would estimate that about 65% of the wives work outside of the home. Knowing these families well, I can say that these women are not working to provide jet boats and European vacations, but rather food on the table and clothes for their children.

    Ironically, I've noticed that a fairly-strong correlation exists between a need for this second income, and the members adherence to a strict interpretation of multiplying and replenishing the earth, paying a full tithing, and spending much of their free time in Church-related callings and activities.

    From the example in the article, a woman goes to work to save a business that her family owns from going under. She finds that she actually enjoys working - a lot! And that's a very bad thing, indeed.

    The woman begins to feel a great sense of guilt and starts to pray to have the desire to stay at home. In the end, their business fails, at the cost of, "hundreds of thousands of dollars," to her family. The lady interpreted this business failure to be an answer to her prayers, "Through this experience I have come to realize just how important it was to the Lord that I be home with my children, regardless of the consequences," and "He had first helped me to change my heart, and then He helped change my circumstances."

    Well, I'm all for faith-promoting stories. Heaven knows I've had to come up with quite a few for F&T meetings, but this article was way too over-the-top and extreme for an example of why women should stay home, in my humble opinion.

  • Wouldn't a business failure of several hundred thousand dollars put more pressure on a marriage than a wife that chooses to work? Is it rational to view this business failure as an answer to prayers?
  • The wife had a seemingly-legitimate reason to want to work in trying to save their business. Are we to understand that the Church doesn't support women working under any circumstance? Would it have been preferred that this women not even try to save the family business?
  • The article seems to support the position that women should feel terrible anytime that they have to work outside the home. There's not a single sentence in the article that supports any reason for women to feel okay about working outside the home.
  • After working a short time, the lady in the article states that she didn't want to be home anymore, but instead wanted to be anywhere but home. Having counseled many families, I've yet to see hear of such an extreme position. In my experience, the wife might feel some guilt, is probably more tired when she does come home after work - but doesn't want to come home at all? Really?
  • The lady in the story, "asked for forgiveness for straying so far from my divine role." Again, I can't correlate trying to help your family save a business to straying far from a divine role.

    The moral of this story (article) - If you're not particularly happy with working outside of the home, consider the potential consequences before praying for a change!
  • Friday, July 31, 2009

    BYU announces a new class for Fall '09- Bishop Prep 101

    In a follow-up to BYU's continuously-full GA-Prep classes, they decided to expand their Church-prep series and add a class for those destined to be Bishops. Sorry, Ladies - until the Word comes down from The Brethren, it's a male-only class.

    Topics covered will include:

  • What to expect during your first month in office
  • Delegation essentials
  • How to encourage successful YW activities on $5/week
  • Testimony meeting filler - a.k.a. How to turn every day events into faith-promoting stories
  • Pantyhose - Spiritual requirement for Sisters, or old-men fetish?
  • How to prioritize the 2 hours of free time that you'll enjoy each week while serving as a Bishop
  • Planning YM's activity on only $125/week
  • How to shake hands like a man, but cry like a woman
  • How to convincingly insinuate that you may know something about an interviewee through supernatural means
  • How to break the news to neighbors that they're going to have to work at Deseret Industries in order to be eligible for Church canned stew mystery meat
  • Accessorizing with a dark suit and white shirt, a.k.a. - The tie is your best friend
  • Climbing the Church ladder - Lessons in sincerity and humbleness
  • Shooting for the stars - Tips for getting called into the Stake Presidency
  • Monday, July 27, 2009

    Ward Suggestion Box

    To make this week's suggestions more interesting, I'm going to try using my Bishop Intuition to guess at who made the suggestions:

  • In-Church supply of dry ice for home-made root beer.
    -I'm guessing either Brother Barrows, or Brother Mark.

  • All primary-age kids should be required to wear diapers, so that they don't have to be escorted to the bathroom by the Primary Presidency.
    -Sister Turner - I know this was from you!

  • 'Hall of Shame' area on hall bulletin board listing any man caught looking at Internet porn.
    -My guess is this is from Sis Werner, Sis Gartner, or Sis Hendry. Perhaps I shouldn't have guessed on this one...

  • Release that creepy Brother Hicks from being a Primary Teacher.
    -Ok, I'm guessing this is from Sister Williams. Note to Sister Williams: your boy is terribly behaved and I'm sure that Brother Hicks having Stephen sit on his lap was for disciplinary actions only. Well, I'm fairly sure.
  • Thursday, July 23, 2009

    “There’s (no) China in Them Thar Temples”

    There’s a story that I’ve heard repeated many times concerning the sacrifices the early Saints made in building temples. One of the more dramatic stories for me was the one where Saints broke their good china and mixed it with the stucco for the exterior of the Kirtland Temple so that it would shine in the daylight.

    I easily imagined all of these poor people sacrificing some of their family heirlooms and greatest possessions, just to beautify this building. If only that was actually the case.

    At the website,, this and many other Mormon legends are put to rest, and others are verified as historical. As it turns out, there is not a single contemporary account of members breaking their china for the Kirtland Temple. “Old glass and crockery,” was requested and gathered for the temple, but no use of china in the Temple construction turns up in written accounts until talks given in the 1940’s.

    Well, other than being a bit bummed by this revelation, the site is actually really interesting to browse through. Just select the category on the left-hand side of the page to start debunking/verifying those legends and rumors.

    This seems to be a hot topic today! I just noticed that the Salt Lake Tribune is running a different story about Mormon Myths and a guy that created an archive that now totals over 50,000 stories at BYU. Read this story here.

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Ward YM/YW Activities Calendar July Update

    All I can say it, “Wow!” Our youth leaders are the best. Here is what the Young Men and Young Women can look forward to in the second half of July.

    Tuesday, July 21st

  • Deacons – Swimming Merit Badge – Bring a towel; we’ll be heading to the pool for some fun!

  • Teachers – Pizza, homemade root beer and a movie at Brother Johnson’s house

  • Priests – Hiking to Stewart Falls. Don’t forget your permission slips. We’ll be riding the ski lift up at Sundance, and then hiking into Stewart Falls. Wear a pair of shorts, or a swimsuit!

  • Young Women combined activity: Review of the new addition to the Young Women’s Personal Progress program – Virtue!

    Tuesday July 28th

  • YM combined activity – Water slide and BBQ at Peteet Neet in Payson. Tons of fun! We’ll be laying down the big plastic tarp again to slide down the steep slopes at Peteet Neet. Wear a swimsuit! Anyone that can stay on their feet the whole way down gets a steak, instead of a hot dog!

  • Young Women combined activity: Create “I’m virtuous – hands off!” T-Shirts as a reminder to all of the Young Men with non-virtuous thoughts.
  • Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Advice to YM on Supporting Other YM

    In my years as a Bishop and Young Men's President, I've over heard many lessons and discussions from Young Women leaders about how the Young Women need to behave and dress in order to support the Young Men as Priesthood holders in the Ward.

    Well, I think it's only fair these days to also offer advice to the Young Men in how they should support other Young Men in staying on the straight and narrow. Gone are the days of innocent frolics in the country swim holes and nightly "tick-checks" by Scout Masters. What seemed so innocent in the halcyon years of the early '70's has long-since past.

    So, here's my list of suggestions to help Young Men in areas that I've noticed cause the most wandering thoughts among their tent mates:

  • While it may seems like innocent fun, playing 'steamroller,' 'hide the bacon,' and 'spanking line' is discouraged at Scout over-nighters
  • While swimming with other Young Men, please use modest swim attire. Speedos, short-shorts, and skinny-dipping are the Devil's playground
  • A firm hand shake should always be used in place of a hug between fellow Young Men
  • Wear loose, cotton pants to church services instead of tight-fitting polyester/rayon slacks that have to be zipped up by your Mom as you "suck it in"
  • When playing basketball at the Church, a 'high-five,' or a simple, "good job," should be used instead of slaps to a teammates backside
  • Scout shirts and white church shirts should be kept buttoned to the top, and a neck tie or Scout neckerchief should be worn. Avoid showing chest area as much as possible
  • Modest footwear should be worn, whenever possible. Shoes with holes that show toes poking through are no-no's, no-back shoes should be avoided, and as far as flip-flops are concerned - one word: Hippies
  • Friday, July 10, 2009

    Ward Suggestion Box

    Another week, another group of suggestions. Ok, it's been a few weeks, but here's what I found in the suggestion box yesterday:

  • Call a couple as the bathroom facilitators - similar to fancy restaurants and hotels, this person would assist the younger children from primary do their business. They could also hand paper towels to the adults. (Shoe shines were also suggested, but that's just taking it too far, in my opinion.)

  • Plan an adult-only trek this winter from the top of Deer Valley ski resort, to the lodge at the bottom of the mountain (this can be repeated a few dozen times), and then continue the trek to the outlets.

  • Substitute breath mints instead of bread for the sacrament. (Note: At first I thought it was a terrible idea, but if we've already swapped the wine for plain water, it may not be too big of a stretch. The positives are very obvious - especially to those sitting next to Brother Harold. I may have to run this one by The Brethren.)

  • Along with handicapped parking, add 'Especially-Blessed' parking for the family with the most expensive car in the Ward. (Note: I know this was your suggestion, Brother Morgan).
  • Thursday, July 9, 2009

    20 Reasons to Be A Mormon

    Just the other day I was thinking to myself, "I am so blessed to be a Mormon!" How was I selected to be one of the lucky 0.001% of the Earth's population (not counting the neanderthals) to know The Plan? I'm sure that it most likely has to do with my valiant efforts in the pre-existence, or my uncommonly-good looks. If only everyone understood the blessings of being Mormon, I'm convinced we'd have a landslide of people investigating the Church. Okay, except for the gays. I think that door is pretty much closed for now.

    Well, to feel good in my proselyting efforts (and in lieu of talking to my non-Mormon neighbors directly) I decided to put together a list of 20 reasons to be a Mormon.

  • Funeral potatoes served without the need of a deceased
  • Believing that you still need to fruitfully multiple to replenish the Earth in 2009
  • Encouragement to use all your favorite names starting with 'B' for your children - all 12 of them!
  • The unanimous vote - each time, and every time
  • Xanax - more common than aspirin
  • Access to enough raw wheat supply to feed bread to every child in Africa for 5 years
  • No visible panty lines
  • An afterlife without hell and harps (but it will cost you the wings)
  • All-paid treks in Utah's scenic deserts in the middle of the summer
  • Vastly increases your chance of appearing on a talent or reality show
  • Women only need to shave their legs from the knee, down
  • Elimination of all that wasted free time, especially on Sunday
  • Other than the Forbidden-Four, it's everything-goes for diets. Red meat every night? Bring it on!
  • Limited money spent on teenage tattooing and piercings
  • Jello styles as diverse as hair style
  • Free dinner and movie any Friday night at the temple
  • Acceptable use of, 'moisture,' to identify a very wide-range of water forms (rain, dew, snow, etc)
  • A whole book full of unique kids names like, 'Nephi,' 'Sariah,' and 'Lemuel'
  • We can bless Krispie Kreme doughnuts to, "nourish and strengthen our bodies"
  • Last, but not least, eternal sex with many, many wives - and, you don't have to blow yourself up to get there! Granted, this may not be as big of a draw for the ladies.
  • Monday, July 6, 2009

    Handcart Trek Report

    As many of you know, our youth went on a handcart trek in the Southern Utah desert last week. I was invited to go along as a 'parent' for one of these handcarts and couldn't think of an excuse fast enough to get out of it. I'm still confused as to the purpose of making people suffer like this during this day and age, but I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned somewhere, like, "Thank the Lord I wasn't born in the 1800's!"

    So, here's my take from the adventure:

  • We didn't have to eat any of our own
  • I dropped those 15 pounds that I've been working on for a year
  • Seeing Tommy Ginther (a.k.a The Bully) cry like a baby the third day on the trail. "I want my Mom!" Boo-hoo!

  • 30 miles in 100 degree heat - Who the heck thinks this is a good idea? Next year, I'd support a modern trek where we emphasize how far we've come from pioneer times. We'd drive in air-conditioned cars to California, camp on a beach for a few days, catch and eat some fish, and drive back. Now that's a trek I could get into.
  • Blisters on 50% of my body
  • Listening to 'Pioneer Children,' 50 times - I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the children reported as missing on the plains, were actually just left behind after singing this song too many times
  • Food - Who's bright idea was it to get the 'true' pioneer experience of eating only grits, jerky, and hard bread? I thought those guys at least had pancakes and bacon.

    Oh, and it was a real testimony-building experience. I now have a solid testimony that indoor plumbing is truly a modern miracle and that the price of an air-conditioned Tahoe is worth every dime.

    (If anyone is interested in some used handcarts, I'd be willing to pay to have them taken away just to lessen the chances of every having to do this again.)
  • Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    J. Golden Kimball on the WoW

    As I was reading some additional information about last Sunday's Gospel Doctrine lesson on the Word of Wisdom, I found this really funny story from the always-colorful J. Golden Kimball, written by his nephew, James N. Kimball.

    "Uncle Golden's struggles with the Word of Wisdom sometimes forced him into ironic circumstances. On one occasion, he was asked to go to Cache Valley where the stake president had decided to call all the Melchizedek priesthood holders together for the purpose of emphasizing the importance of the Word of Wisdom. Uncle Golden didn't realize this was going to be the theme until he got there. As a matter of fact, he didn't know what he was to speak about until the stake president announced it in introducing Uncle Golden: 'J. Golden Kimball will now speak to us on the subject of the Word of Wisdom.'

    Uncle Golden didn't know what to say. He stood at the pulpit for a long time waiting for some inspiration; he didn't want to be a hypocrite and he knew he had problems with this principle. So finally he looked at the audience and said, 'I'd like to know how many of you brethren have never had a puff on a cigarette in all your life. Would you please stand?'

    Well, Uncle Golden related later that much to his amazement most of the brethren in that audience stood. He looked at them for a long time and then said, 'Now, all of you that are standing, I want to know how many of you have never had a taste of whiskey in all your life. If you have, sit down.'

    Again, to Uncle Golden's amazement, only a few of the brethren sat down. The rest of them stood there proudly looking at him and then there was a long silence. I guess Uncle Golden thought they looked a little too self-righteous, because his next comment was, 'Well, brethren, you don't know what the hell you've missed.' "

    For an interesting (non-correlated) overview on the development of the Word of Wisdom, here's the complete article from Life On Gold Plates.

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Mormon Patron Saints

    Having served a mission in a predominantly Catholic country, I came to find out that we LDS were missing out on one of the most popular aspects of that religion: Patron Saints. The variety of Patron Saints for Catholics number into the thousands, and can be found for any category - sore feet, Taxi drivers, butchers, etc.

    Well, I thought it would be interesting to create of list of LDS pseudo-Patron Saints. Leave your ideas in the comments, and if they pass the qualifications, they'll be added to the official list that I'll be submitting to The Brethren.

  • Mitt Romney - Patron Saint of Mormon Republicans
  • Marie Osmond - Patron saint of the Arts
  • Thomas S. Monson - Patron Saint of Widows
  • LaVell Edwards and Steve Young - Patron Saints of LDS Sports
  • Emma Smith - Patron Saint of Stay at Home Moms and Community Organizers
  • Lorenzo Snow - Patron Saint of LDS ZZ Top fans
  • J. Golden Kimball - Patron Saint of Swearing
  • Porter Rockwell - Patron Saint of Bodyguards and people in the car towing business
  • Brigham Young - Patron Saint of Civil Engineers and Fundamental Polygamists
  • N. Eldon Tanner - Patron Saint of CPA's and Financial Managers
  • Eliza R. Snow - - Patron Saint of Veterinarians
  • BH Roberts and Thomas Stuart Ferguson - Patron Saint of Closet Doubters
  • Ezra T. Benson - - Patron Saint of ultra right-wing conspiracy buffs
  • Barbara Thompson, Patron Saint of Social Workers
  • Harry Reid, Patron Saint of closeted Democrats and moderate Republicans
  • Glen Beck - Patron Saint of the mentally challenged
  • Hyrum Smith - Patron Saint of Brotherhood and Loyalty
  • Joseph Smith - Patron Saint of Inspiration, and Indian Leg Wrestlers
  • Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    What to Expect When You're Expecting in Spanish Fork 401st Ward

    Sister Wheeler, our wonderful Relief Society President, has come up with a great get-to-know-you idea that she's started to implement at all Ward baby showers. The contest is to see who can keep their hand over the expecting mother's stomach the longest.

    While in this close proximity, the Sisters enjoy some great bonding time, can share casserole recipes and provide pointers for coping with discontinued Xanax use during a pregnancy. The winner of each contest gets a gift certificate for Cold Stone. Let the touching begin!

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Satan-o-Meter iPhone App

    From our Ward Blog Sponsor:

    Finding yourself unsure whether you just make bad decisions on your own, or if The Evil One (or one of his billions of minions) is actually present? Have an accident, and you're confused whether Lucifer may had his hand in it?

    Well, wonder no more! This handy iPhone app will indicate the presence of any evil supernatural beings up to 25 feet. The app does get confused when used within the proximity of Ouija boards, decks of playing cards, stereo's playing The Rolling Stones and certain vampire books.

    Know when it's the real-deal!

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    The 'M' Word

    This week Brother Nielson and I took the opportunity to clean out the Ward Clerk's office. This office, as well as the library, are Church time-capsules stocked with some really 'interesting' items from the past. My favorite find was instructions provided as part of a 1970's Missionary Guide, written by Mark E. Peterson, on overcoming the 'M' word. I've copied some of the content, just in case you, 'have a friend,' that's having some, 'issues.'

    I'm especially fond of item #19 under, 'Suggestions,' - sound advice indeed. I wonder if the publisher of Dale Carnegie's classic, 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' would consider a Forward added to a special anti-masturbation edition by Mark E., in light of suggestion #7.

    This fixation with the 'M' word by The Brethern includes Boyd K. Packers famous, 'Little Factory' talk on the subject given at a General Conference Priesthood session in 1976. Combine these sources on the 'M' word for a fun-filled and fascinating FHE! I'd nearly guarantee the children will be silent for this one.


    1. Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal toilet processes.
    2. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.
    3. If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, YOU MUST BREAK OFF THEIR FRIENDSHIP. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don't suppose that two will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken OUT OF YOUR MIND for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.
    4. When you bathe, do not admire yourself in the mirror. Never stay in the bath more than five or six minutes - just long enough to bathe and dry and dress AND THEN GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM into a room where you will have some member of the family present.
    5. When in bed, if that is where you have your problem for the most part, dress yourself for the night so securely that you cannot easily touch your vital parts, and so that it would be difficult and time consuming for you to remove those clothes. By the time you started to remove protective clothing you would have sufficiently controlled your thinking that the temptation would leave you.
    6. If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, GET OUT OF BED AND GO INTO THE KITCHEN AND FIX YOURSELF A SNACK, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry, and despite your fears of gaining weight. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you GET YOUR MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.
    7. Never read pornographic material. Never read about your problem. Keep it out of mind. Remember - "First a thought, then an act." The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to stay in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.
    8. Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books - Church books - Scriptures - Sermons of the Cistern. Make a daily habit of reading at least one chapter of the Scripture, preferably one of the four Gospels in the New Testament. The four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and john - above anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their uplifting qualities.
    9. Pray. But when you pray, don't pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for the Missionaries, the General Authorities, your friends, your families, BUT KEEP THE PROBLEM OUT OF YOUR MIND BY NOT MENTIONING IT EVER - NOT IN CONVERSATION WITH OTHERS, NOT IN YOUR PRAYERS. KEEP IT OUT of your mind!


    1. Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and not out-loud when the temptations are the strongest.
    2. Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. The exercises reduce emotional tension and depression and are absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical activity when you feel stress increasing.
    3. When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell _STOP_ to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a pre-chosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.
    4. Set goals of abstinence, begin with a day, then a week, month, year and finally commit to never doing it again. Until you commit yourself to _never again_ you will always be open to temptation.
    5. Change in behavior and attitude is most easily achieved through a changed self-image. Spend time every day imagining yourself strong and in control, easily overcoming tempting situations.
    6. Begin to work daily on a self-improvement program. Relate this plan to improving your Church service, to improving your relationships with your family, God and others. Strive to enhance your strengths and talents.
    7. Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others and learn to enjoy working and talking to them. Use principles of developing friendships found in books such as _How to Win Friends and Influence People_ by Dale Carnegie.
    8. Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a way of escape. Plan in advance to counter these low periods through various activities, such as reading a book, visiting a friend, doing something athletic, etc.
    9. Make a pocket calendar for a month on a small card. Carry it with you, but show it to no one. If you have a lapse of self control, color the day black. Your goal will be to have _no black days_. The calendar becomes a strong visual reminder of self control and should be looked at when you are tempted to add another black day. Keep your calendar up until you have at least three clear months.
    10. A careful study will indicate you have had the problem at certain times and under certain conditions. Try and recall, in detail, what your particular times and conditions were. Now that you understand how it happens, plan to break the pattern through counter activities.
    11. In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called _aversion therapy_. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eat several of them as you do the act.
    12. During your toileting and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain partly open, to discourage being alone in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.
    13. Arise immediately in the mornings. Do not lie in bed awake, no matter what time of day it is. Get up and do something. Start each day with an enthusiastic activity.
    14. Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large amounts of fluids before retiring.
    15. Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food. Eat as lightly as possible at night.
    16. Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and not binding.
    17. Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that might create sexual excitement.
    18. It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use in overcoming this problem. A Book of Mormon, firmly held in hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme cases.
    19. In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.
    20. Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have to be a big reward. A quarter in a receptacle each time you overcome or reach a goal. Spend it on something which delights you and will be a continuing reminder of your progress.
    21. Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude patterns which were part of your problem. Satan Never Gives Up. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive mental attitude. You can win this fight! The joy and strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life a radiant and spiritual glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    Looking Forward to the Good Life

    In past posts I've pondered on some of the questions that remain as to the logistics of the afterlife experience. As I found myself pondering upon this topic again while watching, 'So You Think You Can Dance,' I realized that no matter what it's like in the celestial realm, there will most certainly be some positive changes:

  • Home teaching - If God's capable of reading the minds, and hearing/sorting through prayers from seven billion people speaking 1,000+ languages and dialects simultaneously here on Earth, surely he has a grip on the status of everyone in the afterlife. And after all, isn't it only blue skies and crying babies anyway? So, I'm guessing that the monthly calls that everyone tries to avoid will be a thing of the past.

  • Moving - There was a time when we were moving 2-3 families a month into and out of our Ward. I'm nearly moved-to-tears at the idea of not moving anyone in the eternal abode. They'll catch their own ride to their assigned home planet and start the procreating without any boxes, U-Haul, etc. Wahoo!

  • Church Welfare - I'm not sure how many of you would enjoy sitting across a desk from a neighbor and telling them to dump cell phones, cars, RV's, etc., to reduce monthly expenses, but I dread it. With the celestial streets paved in gold, welfare shouldn't be an issue. Although it brings up further questions: is the gold only in the Celestial Kingdom, or do all three come equally-equipped in this area, and more importantly, if a resource isn't rare anymore, is it really worth anything? But I digress...

  • Church Meetings - Now here's an interesting one to me. After we've 'made it' will we have to go to any Church meetings anymore? Since we'll already know everyone else's thoughts, I assume that we'll know what that person would give a talk about, before the talk is even given. I think I'm safe to say that Sunday may turn out to truly be days of rest in the hereafter. Don't get me wrong - I suppose that sitting in a chair for twelve hours every Sunday could be considered resting to a guy that works in construction, but...

  • Travel - There were few things that I hated more while raising my kids here on Earth than long car trips with children under five. With all the child-rearing that will be going on eternally in the netherworlds, I'm really hoping that there aren't celestial maxi-vans and that travel will be more-or-less instantaneous, like what we see on Star Trek, but with much larger teleportation pads that can facilitate a few thousand kids at a time.

  • In-Laws and Extended-Family Reunions - Since we're all, 'brothers and sisters,' will we still be expected to visit in-laws in the hereafter? I can't imagine having extended-family reunions either, since a gathering of tens of billions would take some massive coordination, and that doesn't even include the Neanderthals. On that note, are the Kingdoms going to be species-segregated, or will we all get lumped together? I enjoy the thought of seeing Fido again, but not so much being chased by the saber-toothed tigers and velociraptors.

    So, what are the to-die-for changes that you're most looking forward to in the afterlife (other than the return of the halcyon days of polygamy)?
  • Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Angel Louis, Is That You?

    As most of you know, the angel on top of the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple in South Jordan was struck by lightning this weekend and left Angel Moroni looking more like Louis Armstrong blowing a trumpet. See story and pictures here.

    Well, we just received the official word from The Brethren, that this was not a sign from God, and should not be taken as such. Lightning, as it turns out, is just very attracted to large, metal objects sticking high into the sky and no judgments need to be made by its being blackened by lightning.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Our Refined 1950's Heavenly Home

    Today as I was preparing for my afternoon meditation session by reading the new June 2009 Ensign, I ran across the article by Elder Douglas L. Callister (Our Refined Heavenly Home) which he previously gave as a talk at BYU and was printed in BYU Magazine.

    The talk/article is about appreciation for fine art, music, literature, etc. Then comes a whole section on the importance of physical appearance, which I found extremely interesting and insightful. Here's a sampling (taken from the BYU Magazine version, which differs only slightly from the Ensign article):

    "Many years ago an associate of mine decided he would please his wife by sharing with her a very specific compliment each night as he arrived home. One night he praised her cooking. A second night he thanked her for excellence in housekeeping. A third night he acknowledged her fine influence on the children. The fourth night, before he could speak, she said, “I know what you are doing. I thank you for it. But don’t say any of those things. Just tell me you think I am beautiful.

    She expressed an important need that she had. Women ought to be praised for all the gifts they possess that so unselfishly add to the richness of our lives, including their attentiveness to their personal appearance. We must not “let ourselves go” and become so casual—even sloppy—in our appearance that we distance ourselves from the beauty heaven has given us. Every man has the right to be married to a woman who makes herself as beautiful as she can be.

    Some flippantly say, “How I look has nothing to do with how God feels about me.” But it is possible for both earthly parents and heavenly parents to have unspoken disappointment in their offspring without diminished love."

    Elder Callister provides wisdom beyond his seventy years by painting a vivid picture of every forward-thinking man's dream:

    1. The Dad is at work and his wife is at home

    2. The wife is cooking and housekeeping (this one even achieved "excellence in housekeeping"!)

    3. Mom influences the children for good (making up for Dad's example?)

    4. Women really need to be praised for their beauty. Never mind her wit, charm, humor, intelligence, wisdom, etc. It's the beauty (and not to be confused with 'internal' beauty) that really counts. Cooking and housekeeping can come in a distant second.

    5. Man has the "right" to be married to someone who makes herself as beautiful as possible. (This precious point was left out of the Ensign article)

    6. God is disappointed when our beauty is not up-to-par

    I'm already planning the next Young Women's activity around this eternal advice! We'd kick off the evening with a talk about man's expectations for a woman's appearance, provided by a High Priest - perhaps Brother Hamm. Please, Sisters, do not be offended if you're asked to provide an example of someone that has, "let themselves go," or is, "casual - even sloppy." It's for the good of the Young Women as they seek to present the best face possible to their future mate.

    For the activity part, each Young Woman could then cook a home-made pie, and clean up afterwards. We'll invite the Priests in to judge the homemaker abilities, awarding a, "Future Homemaker of Excellance" medallion.

    If there are any suggestions on what to include in this YW's activity, I'm all ears!