Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Another Christmas Song

Yeah, it’s way to early in the morning.

About an hour ago, I woke up lying in bed. A phrase drifted through my head and somehow attached itself to a melody.

Then another line.

I knew, as I had done many times before, that I had to get up and write it down, or I’d lose it forever.

And I had been wanting to write this song for a long time, but it hadn’t sparked yet.

So, here it is:

Another Christmas With You
Words and music by Mark Hansen
For Jodi
12/24/2002 5:38 AM

We spent too much money again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care right now
Because I know tomorrow morning will one for the boys
The room will be filled with laughs and the noise
As we are all playing with all our new toys
And my memory will be filled with the fun and the joys
We spent too much money again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care

We were way too busy again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care right now
It seemed there was always a good friend in need
An ox in a mire that had to be freed
A sick one whose pains and whose eyes would plead
And I saw you give like the Christ child indeed
We were way too busy again this Christmas
But I don’t seem to care

Because you’re here sleeping next to me
And our children are here with us too
And I’ve got the best present under the tree
That’s to spend another Christmas with you
I get to spend another Christmas with you

We gave a lot of ourselves this Christmas
You really showed how much you care
The smiles and the sweetness that you give to me
Are all that I need to know you love me
You’ve showed me what heaven wants us to be
And the best thing of all is that His love is free
We gave a lot of ourselves this Christmas
You really showed how much you care

Because you’re here sleeping next to me
And our children are here with us too
And I’ve got the best present under the tree
That’s to spend another Christmas with you
I get to spend another Christmas with you

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 23, 2002

My Boys’ Gramma

My boys’ gramma is in the hospital today.

I call her that mainly out of respect for the wonderful bond she’s built with them. Technically speaking, she’s my step-mother-in-law.

Ever unable to have any children of her own, she contented herself over the years with spoiling the grandchildren that her husband’s kids had brought her. She married into the family a few years before I joined it, so I’ve always known her as “Gramma Bev”. She and my father-in-law also spent a lot of their retirement years raising foster children for the state.

She’s really dedicated her life to serving others, almost to a fault. In fact, Dad is having quite a difficult time dealing with her being sick and down. He’s been waited on hand and foot for so many years, he’s not sure how to deal with it.

Anyway, today she’s in the hospital having some pretty heavy surgery. The doctors suspect that she has pancreatic cancer. If that’s the case, it’ll be looking pretty grim for her, as I’m told that this kind of cancer spreads rapidly. We were told that after this surgery, she’ll be recovering in the hospital for as much as several weeks. She’s been pretty much down in bed for almost two months, now.

So, while I’ve been sitting here working at my computer, I’ve been glancing my thoughts back to her and praying for her.

I’ve been praying for her recovery, and that might be a selfish thing to do, for myself and my boys, but it’s interesting how “Thy will be done” takes on a new meaning when you have to actually mean it. I want her here, to live and survive, and be a part of the family on earth. But if God wants here there, I have to accept it. He’s not gonna keep her here just because I want it.

Anyway, if anyone reading this is of the mind to take a moment to pray, think of Bev and ask Father to do what’s best for her.

And ask Him to help all the rest of us through whatever that is.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, December 19, 2002

A Loud, Silent Protest

Anyone that lives in Utah, especially in the SLC metro area has heard about the conflict going on over the “Main Street Plaza”. If you’re not in the loop, just go to the Deseret News and do a search and you’ll get plenty of background.

But in a nutshell, a while ago, the church bought a one block part of Main street from the city a year or so ago, and closed it off, building a beautiful park-like plaza there. It connects the church office buildings and the temple.

That’s all well and good, but the problem comes in because the church doesn’t want to allow people to make loud and angry protests on the property. This has become quite the conference week tradition. I can see their point. It’s a very relaxing scene, and it’s not fun to have that all messed by someone shouting and waving signs, especially when you’re trying to take some beautiful wedding pictures and enjoy family after the ceremony in the temple.

Others say that since it used to be public property, for the church to buy it and then restrict its use constitutes violation of the constitution. No free speech, etc…

As the debate has raged with proposals and counterproposals back and forth there has been a lot of noise generated, and frankly most of it has been anti-church.

Now, I know a good deal of the SLC metro population is LDS, and much of the outlying areas, too. But I haven’t heard of or seen much of those that favor the church’s position. Except as I talk one on one with people I meet.


What if the members of the church were to do a bit of demonstrating of their own?

What I propose is not a radical shouting and sign-waving mob, but rather a quiet protest.

What if we, as individual members of the church were to go to the plaza and sit there en masse quietly reading our scriptures. Not picking fights, not making noise, just a big group of people sitting on the benches, reading our scriptures.

What a loud statement of support THAT would be!

So, let’s do it. Let’s spread the word via email, and go and do it. Just sit and read in the shadow of the temple, or by the bright Christmas lights for an hour or two.

Sometimes the quietest protests can be the loudest!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

A New Song

There are a couple of different ways that the Spirit moves me.

One is where I get this tranquil feeling of peace and contentment. It’s a kind of swelling from inside that tells me that everything’s going to be all right. It often comes to me when I’m troubled or stressed and praying really hard for something.

Another is the kind that fills me with energy. It grabs me and lifts me up by my shirt and shakes me and makes me want to move. It makes me want to jump and do something, accomplish something, make someone happy.

Well, I had that second feeling come over me today, and it came out in a new song.

Well, kind of new. The basis of it is a guitar riff that I came up with literally years ago. I knew that it would be something busy and bouncy, but I never really knew what to set to it. No lyrics ever came for it, as many times as I dusted it off and tried to work it out.

I think that the Lord saw that I needed a boost in my music somewhere. He might have looked down at me and said, “This poor boy’s mopin’ way too much. He needs a little jolt!”

So, I’m sitting there playing the guitar riff good and loud, and a melody comes to my head. Then suddenly it’s words, too. And they’re nothing deep or profound or laden with subtle and clever imagery. Just simple, and clear. Just as they poured into me.

I love it when I can get songs like that.

Here it is:

Here in Me
Words and music by Mark Hansen
12/17/2002 12:51 PM

What is this fire I feel
It’s light is bright and real
Here in me

Darkness is scattering
No longer mattering
Here in me

Here in me is soul brand new
Turned inside out by the Love of you
Here in me is a heart that’s burning bright
Here in me

What is my life to be
What will become of me
I can’t see

I know that if I fight
Reaching up to the light
I can see
What’s ahead of me


What good would it do locked up inside me
What good would I do to hide it there
My empty cup is filled to overflowing
And it’s spilling Spirit out into the air
And its here in me

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 16, 2002

Modesty Part II

I was out checking out some blogs this morning. I found one, very interesting, in light of an earlier blog posting of mine.

The blogger was an inactive lady who had, in her own words, long since given up her testimony, but wanted some good friends and associates for her daughter.

“…So I took the kids to Church. Bad idea. Apparently I am not keeping my temple holy, as I have a third piercing in my ear. The kids were taught that Jesus Christ is not happy when we get tattoos, when girls get pierced more than once and only at the bottom of their ear lobe, and when boys get their ears pierced at all. Sierra says that they told her it's all in the bible. Yep, the Book of No Tattoos. I believe it's mentioned also in The Book of Mormon under the Yer Goin Ta Outer Darkness Fer That Earring section.

“Saddle up! War, famine and pestilence! Mama got a third earring!”

Now, I got no gripes with the prophet when he sets out standards. I’ve seen the way kids act. They want to know exactly where the line is drawn and how close they can get to it before they need to repent.

I guess we adults are kinda like that too, sometimes, huh?

But anyway, I’m talking about kids.

Actually what I’m talking about is our attitudes. It sounds a little to me like swallowing camels and straining at gnats. I mean, if MY worst sin was a pierced ear (we guys don’t get that much allowance), or a little tattoo, I’d be in pretty good shape.

Now, if the prophet says that she shouldn’t have three earrings, and she decided to get a third one, then that’s between her, the Lord, and the Prophet, right? I certainly don’t have the stewardship, much less the right to be running her out of church.

“JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.

“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” –Matt 7:1-5

See, there, in verse two, it tells me about my final judgment. It says that I’ll be judged with the same measure that I give out.

I dunno ‘bout anyone else, but I’m gonna need a pretty big helping of lenience and forgiveness when my time comes, so I don’t have much room to be picky with anyone else.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, December 12, 2002

What is Music? Part II

This one’s not so much a continuation of my other thoughts so much as a different direction, a different way to look at the same question. It’s something that has been on my mind for a very long time, as a musician and a recordist.

What is music is a tough one to do. It’s a tricky definition.

See, I’ve heard many people say, “That rap stuff isn’t music at ALL!” My dad and I used to constantly argue over whether or not rock was music. I never was able to pin him down as to WHY rock got excluded, but I was never able to convince him otherwise, either.

Some claim that rap isn’t music because it’s got no melody. I disagree. I think rap has a very musical melody, but you just can’t notate it. Speech can be very musical, so rap can as well.

Normally, I hate it when writers refer back to the dictionary, and I hate it worse when speakers do it. It’s a sure thing that it’s gonna be dull. But this time, it really sets up what I’m thinking about.

There’s a whole bunch of different definitions in this dictionary, but there are two thoughts that I really liked:

One said, “The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.”

And the other said, “An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds: the music of the wind in the pines.”

I really like the words “The art of arranging sounds in time.” I think that’s the best possible definition.

Music IS art, as any creative endeavor. And the palette is sound and the canvas is time.

What kinds of sounds qualify for the palette? Well, that’s where the debate starts. For some, that means beautiful choral voices and violins. For others that means pounding drums and crashing cymbals. For others that means shouting, and for others it means loud distorted guitars. What classifies as a “musical” sound changes over time.

There are many for whom the sounds around us, such as my keys clacking rhythmically as I type, can be music. This is musica concrete, the style of taking samples and recordings of “real world” sounds and arranging them in time as a musical work. The wind in the pines, as mentioned above

Or the tree falling in the woods…

I find the whole endeavor very exciting to explore. And while I don’t enjoy all of the results of everyone else’s explorations (as I’m sure they don’t all enjoy mine), I’ll grant them the benefit of still calling it music.

After all, in Psalm 66, it says to make “a joyful noise”. It doesn’t say anything about music…

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 09, 2002

What is Music? Part I

“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound”

A long time ago, a musician friend of mine reopened in my mind this age-old debate.

For years, the scientist in me said, “The tree crashes to the ground, and the impact creates sound waves. The fact that there’s no one there to listen, doesn’t change the fact that the waves are there. Duh…”

And that simple fact made me think that the whole line of questioning was just pretty silly.

Then this friend of mine pointed out something that changed my mind. “Yeah, but is that ‘sound’? When the waves are created, they’re really just fluctuations in air pressure traveling through the atmosphere. It’s not until it hits someone’s ear and gets interpreted into something the brain can use that it becomes a sound.”

That hit me and spun me around. Because…

It introduced to me the concept of the audience. It made me rephrase the question to this: “If a singer sings in the woods, and there’s no one there to hear it, is it music?”

Or, if I write a song, and sing out my soul, but there’s no one listening, what’s the point?

Now, this one’s not as clear-cut as the first version of the question. Because, in this variation, there IS a built-in audience, and that’s the singer his/herself. I have written many songs over the years that are not intended for a larger audience. Not intended for anyone but me. I’ve also written lots of songs that I want to get to a large audience.

The point is, I guess that they both have value.

I think of two scriptures, both in the D&C:

First, in section 18, verse 15 – “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

And the other is in Section 4, verse 4: “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;”

So, what if I labor all my days, singing the songs that the Lord has inspired, and the only person that it helps is me? Hasn’t it still been worthwhile?

But then, back in Section 18: “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

I wrote a song about that one, about how I want to help the world, but if I end up only helping myself, that’s still OK with me.

Waking the Dead
Words and music by Mark Hansen
9/4/2002 10:41 PM

The cloth is tight around me
My eyes can only stare
Coldness hugs my lifeless limbs
Heavy spices fill the air
I feel only emptiness
A loss I can’t even mourn
And then I hear His blessed voice
Call to me “Come forth!”

Life swells up inside me
And I stumble into the light
I feel His warmth run through my veins
Filling me with right
And I don’t understand why
It was me He chose to serve
Filling me with happiness
That I really don’t deserve

The music that’s inside my heart
Leaps into my throat
I want to sing it out to you
I’m ready to explode

I want to sing a song to wake the dead
A song to make the lame take up their beds
I want to sing so that the blind can see
Even if the blind one is me
Even if the dead one is me

My sins are like the open sores
That boil up on my skin
The righteous throw their stones at me
And shout “Outcast! Unclean!”
But one man comes and takes my hand
And brings me to the fold
He heals the sickness in my heart
And cleans my cankered soul



I was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
I wish to give to everyone
The sight He gave to me

Mark Hansen

Friday, December 06, 2002

Handicap or Handy?

As I was driving around WalMart the other night, I got to thinking about the ethics of handicap parking.

There’s an interesting moral question here. My son has cerebral palsy, and has to be transported in a wheelchair, complete with van and ramps. Now, sometimes, my wife or I will be driving that particular van and he won’t be in it. Are we allowed to park in handicapped spaces when the handicapped individual isn’t in the car?

Now there are some circumstances that are obvious to me. If he’s with us, but I drop them off at the door, I don’t have any troubles parking in a wheelchair spot, because I know we’ll probably have to wheel him out to the car when we’re done.

But if he’s not even there. If he’s with a babysitter or somewhere else.

On the one hand, the opportunist in me says, “Look. Raising a child with CP is no picnic. He’s sweet and lovable and fun, but it ain’t an easy life. If I get to spare myself a few feet of walking, then that’s just one of the few tiny little perks that comes with the struggle.” And that has a certain “ring of rightness” to it.

On the other hand, the generous voice in my head says, “Yeah, but If you park there, then when someone that needs it, like someone with a handicap and is actually there in the car, they’ll have to park farther away.”

And my other side says, “Hey, I got enough of a tough time without you adding more to it!”

“Bla, bla, bla, I never promised you a rose garden…”

“Ya, come over here and say that, you wusss…”

Um… Guys… I’m trying to blog here…

But they both have some valid points.

And there is a third consideration as well, and as it adds to the conversation in my head, it tends to tip the scales. I think that it’s important for people who are both not handicapped, nor have anyone close to them that are to have a certain amount of confidence and respect in the idea of special parking and other services for those that need them.

So, what would they be saying to themselves if they see someone drive a van up to a wheelchair spot, and then watch an obviously healthy man (albeit portly) get out of the car and stride into the store? Hasn’t that diminished their confidence in the system? Hasn’t that removed his respect for those that do need it?

So, with all those, and many other (mostly irrelevant) thoughts going through my head, I tend to park elsewhere when I’m driving the van alone.

At least I get to win one argument in my head…

Mark Hansen

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Singing Christmas

I have a dilemma.

I have to chose a Christmas song to sing for my ward Christmas party in a week and a half.

Now, I’ve written two, but they don’t want rock and roll, so that leaves those out. I don’t have any commercial minus tracks, and I don’t really have time to produce any.

But I might be able to borrow one or to get someone to accompany me.

So, the question is… What is my favorite Christmas song?

Well, when I think of Christmas music, at our house growing up, it was Handel’s Messiah. I ain’t even gonna attempt that one.

I’m not into the saccharine schmaltz that you hear on FM 100 (“Continuous Soft Hits and other musical sleeping pills”), and I think I prefer the religious songs to the “Santa Claus is Comin’ to town” tunes.

One of my all-time favorites has always been “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, because it’s all about affirming that even though the world is a violent and ugly place, It’s still worth saving, and that’s why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep”.

Another one I like is the famous “Angels We Have Heard on High”. I just love singing the polyphony in the chorus. It’s also the only hymn in our book that has Latin in it. Somehow that snuck by the brethren…

Speaking of polyphony, “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” is another one. Same sentiment in the chorus, but in a language we can all understand. This one’s got a beat, too. It’s one of those tunes that rouses you up on a Sunday morning.

But then, there are the beautiful Christmas hymns, like “Silent Night”. I love this one. It took me a long time to understand the line about “Round yon virgin” because of the old poetic phrasing. If you read it like prose, it makes perfect sense. “All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother, and child.” But the musical phrasing breaks it up.

This song is so beautiful musically, that even when the singers scoop the “Sleep in heavenly pe-e-e-e-ace”, it’s still ok. I like it better when they don’t but… still…

So, what’m I gonna do?


Decisions, decisions…

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Border Crossing

A couple of my good internet friends came into town last night, and I was quite sad that I wasn’t able to see them.

Steve and Brad a few years ago formed an acoustic duo named “Border Crossing”. They chose that name because they lived in two towns just across the Idaho/Oregon border from each other. Barely ten or fifteen minutes away, but still in a whole other state. Since they had to keep crossing the border to rehearse, the name came to them.

Anyway, they’re a part of the newest wave of LDS musicians who are not “LDS musicians”. In other words, they’re very devout in their religion, but they don’t beat you over the head with it in their songs.

I first met Brad in the late summer of ’99 when, as a lonely LDS musician in northern Idaho, he created an email group, looking for others. What he found were that there were lots of them, and the list and the camaraderie grew.

I was actually one of the first to join up, so I’ve been there over the years. If you’re also an LDS musician or know one, go to the group website and check it out. Join up, contribute, you know…

These guys have been kinda quietly working on a studio CD for quite a while, now, and I’m very excited to hear it. About a year ago, they recorded one of their gigs and put out a limited edition live CD, cleverly titled “Border Crossing Live”, and it has quickly become one of my favorites.

They’ve got some mp3’s on their site from the CD.

I think my all-time favorite song of theirs is one called “The Other Way Around”. It talks about testimony and belief and shows that, for some people, “Seeing is believing” and for others it’s “the other way around”. It’s a gorgeous song, just a single guitar with vocals.

Anyway, they were playing in Provo last night, and I had to work. So, I hope they come back soon so I can hear them again!

Mark Hansen

Monday, December 02, 2002


I have got some serious repenting to do.

That was shown to me very strongly this last weekend.

So, I’d like to get that started by confessing. What was this terrible sin I’ve committed?


“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” -D&C 59: 21
And that tells me that, as sins go, ingratitude ranks pretty high up there.

I’ve been moping about with a “woe is me” kind of attitude for several weeks, now. It started with the technology troubles I’ve been having, and spread to my home, frustrations with my music, etc…

Then I started looking around and realized that as annoying as my niggling little petty problems were, there were others with worse ones. Family members facing their own mortality dealing with blood clots and cancers. Friends with children in the hospital. People living on the streets.

Suddenly my problems seemed pretty small.

And I think that’s the biggest reason why ingratitude is such a big sin. It completely turns you inward. It’s a moping for things you want but don’t have, to the exclusion of what you do have. And especially, to the exclusion of what you can give to others.

So, on Thanksgiving day, I was feeling very guilty. And not JUST for overeating.

A while ago, I wrote a song, inspired by one of Pres Hinkley’s “Six B’s”. I’ll include the lyrics here. The recording isn’t finished yet, but I’m hoping it will be soon.

Thank You
By Mark Hansen
10/23/01 1:09 PM

Thank you for the wind and the rain
Thank you for the love and the pain
Thank you for life again and again
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for the laughter in my ears
Thank you when a song brings me tears
Thank you for bringing me these years
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for the smell of fresh baked bread
Thank you for the pillows under head
Thank you for the sweet words that she said
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for my sons, my joy, my prize
Thank you for the giggles in their eyes
Thank you for the futures in their skies
Thank you, thank you

Thank you, thank you for the breath I owe to you
I’ll always owe you more, no matter what I do
I only hope that somehow I’ll come close to what is due

Thank you for my heart soul and mind
Thank you for the answers that I find
Thank you for your sacrifice so kind
Thank you, thank you

Thank you for the wind and the rain
Thank you for the love and the pain
Thank you for life again and again
Thank you, thank you

Mark Hansen

Monday, November 25, 2002

Ah, Youth!

Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been out searching the web for other LDS church members who blog. It’s been a very fascinating study. I hadn’t found too many until I came across another blogging site called, “ Xanga.com” There I found a number of blog rings for church members.

And what I saw sure took me back.

I found a lot of blogs by LDS teenagers.

More specifically, there were a lot of blogs by LDS teenagers that live outside of LDS population centers. Out in “The Mission Field” as we like to call it.

What’s cool about that to me, is that’s where I grew up. I was raised from 6 to 24 in Terre Haute, Indiana, right in the Midwestern heart of the bible belt. I was one of 7 or so active Mormons in my entire high school. Most of my friends were either atheist or born-again Christians. Both found themselves united in the goal of showing me just how wacko it was to believe in the mission of Joseph Smith, or in the validity and truth of the Book of Mormon. Either I was doomed to the pits of the eternal fiery abyss, or I was to face the same nothingness that was to be the fate of all after death.

The celestial kingdom sounded much better than either of those two options.

As I read, I found myself in their writings. I recalled how it was difficult to find kids with my standards that would be my friends, much less my dates.

I mean, we’re not supposed to date non-members, right? That’s all well and good if you lived in the heart of Mormon suburbia in happy valley, Utah. But out in “The Mission Field”, it was quite the challenge.

First of all, I wasn’t quite the prize of confidence and masculinity that I am today. I was quite the geek back then. I know, some of you will say that some things have never changed, but I truly wasn’t the suave monster of Rock and Roll that writes to you now. Coolness eluded me in my teens.

So, out of 7 Mormons in my high school, I was one, so that leaves 6. Three of those were guys, and I’m not swinging that way, so that left 3. 3 Girls. 3 wholesome, upstanding, pure little Mormon girls for me to date. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except for the fact that 5 of them didn’t want anything to do with me.

So, what did I do?

I moved to Utah, of course!

Now I’m happily married.

I just find it interesting to see so many members of the church out in the vast world beyond the Rockies out on the web. It’s almost as if they’re reaching out to find others. There are 10+ million members of this church. Why can’t I find one next door? I’ll go look on the web.

But then, if you’re reading this, you know that already. You’re out looking for us.

We’re here.

And it’s not that tough to find us, if you’ll just keep looking.

Mark Hansen

PS--Check back from time to time. I'll be posting links to other LDS bloggers that I find over on the left.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Bragging Rights

Ok, I know that I’ve been praying for humility, and I know that I shouldn’t want to boast…

But today is one of those landmark days in your life that you just gotta shout about.

My first Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation!

No, not as a speaker, as a parent.

Today my oldest son sat, not with his family, but up on the stand with his primary class. I sat in the congregation and watched as the children filed up, one at a time, stepped up on the booster stool, adjusted the mic and then either shouted or whispered their memorized or prompted lines.

I’ve seen dozens of these performances over the years of my church attendance, and I’ve always had a good chuckle as I watched the parents nervously watching the kids. They’re hoping that Johnny or Suzie will remember their lines, not pick their noses, run around the podium, or do whatever other silly little kid thing that’s always so memorable.

Well, my wife had had a great time this past two weeks helping him learn his part. And throughout the last week he’d repeat it to us over and over, “I prepare to go inside the temple as I follow Heavenly Father’s plan for me.” I was amazed how fast he picked it up and learned it.

But then, hey, he’s my kid, right?

And I’m sure that every parent is saying the same thing, but MY kid really is the best. That’s objective fact. There’s nothing biased about it. Right?

Anyway, so the Sacrament meeting starts, we sing the opening hymn. We do the Sacrament, and the program starts. I’m half expecting him to ask to go to the bathroom or run wild through the aisles. But he sits, content, even if a little squirmy, on his primary teacher’s lap.

I know that they intentionally put his part late in the program just to push my buttons. I mean, I wasn’t nervous, or anything. Nor was I excited. It’s just that this week I wasn’t as sleepy as I usually am about that time of a Sunday afternoon. Besides, there wasn’t a High Councilman in sight.

But finally, it was Brendon’s turn. He stood and walked confidently up to the podium, stood up, and said his line loud and clear! “I prepare to go inside the temple as I follow Heavenly Father’s plan for me.” Then he sat back down as if he did that sort of thing every day.

Of course, I would never impose my will on my child’s future by speculating that someday he’ll be a great orator or college professor. Only if that’s what he wanted to be, of course. And I would never speculate that he could end up as a bishop or something like that because, of course, we never seek after callings.

With my luck he’ll end up as a High Councilman. But by then, I’ll be listening to his speeches from the Spirit World.

And I’ll probably be the only one not sleeping…

Mark Hansen

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Righteous Songs

I was reading an article the other day, that gave me lots of things to think about. I wish, in fact, that I could link you to it, because it’s a very profound article. But, unfortunately, I can’t.

It’s a transcription of a speech given by Gordon Bowen to the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications in November of 1994. It’s all about the viability of the arts in modern society, especially in modern LDS society.

There are some seriously way cool points in the article, but the one I want to talk about is:

“I believe it was Cole Porter who asked, ‘If a song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, why does Satan have all the best tunes?’”

When I read that I had to chuckle. This is something that I’ve been on about for a long, long time.

Why is it that LDS music has to be so fluffy? Why does it have to be so watered-down? Do we need to have so much of the emotion drained out of it in order for it to be considered to be spiritual?

I recently got a copy of the newest CD by Jericho Road. When I first heard them, I was very excited by the possibilities of the band, but I felt like their first CD was very “held back”. It sounded great. They were very tight, vocally, and the songs were well written. But when I played it side-by-side against its mainstream competition (like N’Sync or Backstreet), the beats were very reserved, and the energy level was much lower. It had been tamed.

It almost felt to me, like they had wanted to bust out, but didn’t quite know if they could get away with it.

Well, after touring to packed houses all over the valley and other parts of Mormondom, it was clear that they were being received well. I saw them myself, and I was sold. They were much more intense live than they were on CD. The beats were strong and their moves and performance was polished. And, I liked the way they kept the Spirit there in their performances.

So, I was anticipating their second CD with excitement. But again, the beats were quite tame, the production reserved.

What are we afraid of? Are we afraid to compete with the world? Are we scared that we can’t make art that’s as good or as intense? Are we afraid that if we do, we’ll somehow lose the Spirit?

Bowen also says, “…We need to create with the same passion of our pioneer ancestors, who penned these words, ‘The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.’ Well, let’s start burning—inside out. Let’s create art that melts Jello.”

Mark Hansen

Monday, November 18, 2002


OK, I admit it.

I’m a slave to technology.

I’m serious. I am a tech junkie and toys are my life. I can’t imagine how my pioneer ancestors made it across the plains without a GPS or even a DSL line. I think "roughing it" is using dial-up.

Need more evidence? I blog. The prosecution rests.

And I am convinced that in spite of the proliferation of such perniciousnesses as pornography, spam, bizop scams, viruses and forwarded email jokes, that computing technology was inspired by the Lord.

And the first time I discovered that was actually years ago, before I even got connected to the net. I had a frumpy little 80-88 (THAT dates me) running an old DOS version of PAF (the Church’s genealogy software). I went up to the Family History Center and I sat down in front of one of their terminals. I called up a family line (one off of my maternal Grandfather). I saw that there were numbers of generations of work done, so I slipped in my disc (a 5.25 floppy – that dates me again), and I set it up to drop names.

It asked me how many generations I wanted, and I selected the “as many as ya got” setting. It asked me if I wanted family group sheets, and I said, “Of course”. I hit the button and it started loading.

Well, after about 45 minutes, I had to go, and I had loaded well over 1500 names.

And that’s NOTHING now. But even way back then, I was convinced of the power of technology to further the Lord’s work.

And that’s to say nothing of the way the technology has allowed myself and many others to share our testimonies with the world through music. That’s a whole separate blog topic, though.

Maybe tomorrow.

Well, anyway, since I’ve been praying for humility, He’s been impacting my personal technology, too. And that was felt keenly last week in Priesthood meeting.

See, I’ve been carrying my scriptures, the Harold B Lee lesson manual and the Gospel Principles manual all in my little 8 MB handspring palm (WITH the Topical Guide and footnotes). Way cool. The teacher calls out a scripture to read or a passage from the manual and “beep-beep-boink” and I am so there. No more of this archaic “flip-flip-flap” for me. I am an Elder in tune with his times.

But it crashed last week, and I can’t get it to re-sync. So, I’ve got all this wealth of spiritual information, and I can’t access it.

So, (if you can believe this), I was forced to carry my paper scriptures! I had to flip pages like everyone else!

Oh the humiliation, the suffering! The anguish of my technological soul! A crisis of – dare I say it – BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS!

Would that I had died for thee, my palm!


I’ll be ok next week. Maybe I’ll get it to sync by then…

But in the meantime, I’m sooo more in tune with the suffering of my pioneer ancestors.

Mark Hansen

Saturday, November 16, 2002

LDS Banned Books

Oh, we ARE a peculiar people, aren’t we?

Way peculiar…

Deseret Book has announced that it won’t be carrying the newest book by LDS Wunderkind Richard Paul Evans. He’s the guy that wrote the tear-jerker “The Christmas Box”

Why, you ask? Why won’t the most LDS bookstore carry the most LDS author?

Quoted from the Deseret News: “Evans said he knows his new book is not another "Christmas Box." "It's not a warm, fuzzy, 'Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul' kind of book. It's a sophisticated, adult story about a woman caught in an abusive marriage. To me the message is as important as anything. We need to understand that we need to take care of each other. We all need love — and if we're deprived of it, eventually we're gonna find it. So, I wanted to write about that."

Deseret Book’s side of the story: "We love Richard, but in this book, adultery is implied — and the bigger issue is a married woman having a physical relationship and falling in love with a man she is not married to."

Back to Evans: "Adultery is a pernicious evil, but there is no adultery in this book. I didn't write something that condones adultery. A man stays with a woman through the night on the banks of the Arno River. To me, it was a compassionate, tender thing he is doing to a woman who has been emotionally abused for seven years."

For the full text of the article jump to the DesNews website.

For the full text of the book, well, buy the book.

This, of course, is making some things kinda difficult for DB. Not the least of which is the fact that now they have to actually read through the Non-LDS books they’ve been carrying all these years to see if there’s even a hint of impropriety, even implied sex in any of those books.

Here’s the shocker: I’ll bet there are a few…

This whole story leaves me with a couple of thoughts: One: Only in Utah would this even be news.

Two: As an LDS artist (whatever the medium), ya gotta be EXTRA, EXTRA careful what you write, sing, paint, or whatever…

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Getting Dressed for Church

On the Meridian Magazine site, there’s an article about modesty and the way that young women dress for church.

It’s really interesting to read, because it stirs up a number of deeper topics, many of which can get quite controversial.

First of all, I agree with the general sentiment. There are a lot of young women in my ward (and, from the letters in response, my ward isn’t isolated in this) that show up to church wearing clothing that’s simply too revealing. You want details? Read the article. They pretty much captured what’s going on.

There’s some debate as to what to do about it, though. It went all the way from “Call them out, send ‘em home, and make ‘em change!”, to “At least they’re still coming to church…”

I think that it reveals some things about us as a people that run much, much deeper than even the vague issues of modesty. There are some underlying beliefs that we express or reflect by our clothing. And some of them aren’t exactly pretty.

First, we equate clothing with conformity. We’re wearing uniforms, essentially. There’s some variety with what is allowed, but the bottom line is that we’re wearing uniforms.

Men have to wear white shirts, ties, and dark suits. The hair is short, and facial hair, while allowed, is frowned on.

For women, long skirts or dresses, usually pretty much pastel or not to loud.

If a man shows up to church in a blue shirt, or even without a tie, his commitment to the gospel and his testimony could well be in question. Young men are taught that in order to pass the sacrament, they have to wear a white shirt and tie. Why? Because the white shirt represents purity.

But it’s ok, if the teenage priest who’s blessing the sacrament got a bit frisky with his date the night before. He’s still eligible to participate. As long as he’s got a white shirt. It’s more important to represent purity, than to actually be pure.

There’s a woman in our ward who doesn’t like to wear dresses. She wears pants to church every Sunday. She gets more strained looks than the young women showing their midriffs over their skirts. Yet this lady is completely, modestly covered.

Second, we equate clothing with respect. Why do we wear our best clothing to church? Because it shows respect.

Respect for who?

I have a hard time imagining that the same Lord that dined with publicans and sinners, who told us to clean the inward vessel first, cares how nice my clothes are when I arrive to worship Him.

If someone were to arrive at church wearing jeans and a T-shirt, would that make them any less receptive to the spirit?

Weren’t the ancient Nephites caught up in who was wearing the finest clothing as they worshipped?

“And it came to pass in the *eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.

“Now this was the cause of much affliction to Alma, yea, and to many of the people whom Alma had consecrated to be teachers, and priests, and elders over the church; yea, many of them were sorely grieved for the wickedness which they saw had begun to be among their people.

”For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.

”And thus, in this eighth year of the reign of the judges, there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God.” – Alma 4:6-9

Now, I’m all for modesty. I think that’s very important. I think in today’s oversexed world, it’s a good thing to keep some things private.

All I’m saying is that let’s be very careful how we judge those that don’t dress the same as we do.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, November 10, 2002


I love my sons.

That’s nothing new. You all love your sons, don’t you? And if you don’t have any, you’ve might have some pretty fond memories of your parents.

One of my sons, Jacob, has a lot of medical challenges. I almost typed “problems” but then I checked myself. It’s interesting to think of the differences between those two words. Challenges can be overcome, problems are there forever. And in reality, Jacob has a little of both.

For example: we found out soon after he was born that he has Cystic Fibrosis. At the time I had heard that it was fatal to children. I have since learned that as treatments have progressed, there are many CF patients living well into adulthood. And living well, into adulthood.

But even with those treatments, the CF doesn’t go away. CF isn’t a disease, it’s a genetic condition. So, unless treatments change as medical technology improves (which is very likely), he’s going to be doing these treatments his entire life.

Still, that alone shouldn’t debilitate him. It’s a challenge, not a problem. He should be able to live a normal life with the exception of his daily regimen of treatments.

Except for the fact that he also has Cerebral Palsy.

And with that brings a host of other regimens and treatments, like Physical Therapy twice a week. It’s been interesting to watch my son learn to talk before he could learn to crawl. But it’s also been exciting, because it changes your perspective. Because he was diagnosed so early with CP, doctors couldn’t give us any real answers. Will he walk? Who knows… Will he be able to think clearly, even talk? Just a shrug. So every little thing that most parents enjoy about a growing, developing child are multiplied in gratitude, simply because we didn’t expect him to be able to do that.

But again, these are challenges, not problems. Even though these are lifelong, they can be overcome.

I know that someday, I’ll wish he’ll quiet down, but right now I’m enjoying the little chatterbox. He’s WAY into Veggietales, and loves to sing along, even though he struggles with the timing a lot.

So, this morning, he woke up saying, “Hold you, hold you”, which is his way of saying, “Pick me up!” So, I held him and he went back to sleep. And I smiled with him and thought I could come upstairs and tell some of my friends (you) about him. He tackles life with a courage born of not knowing he’s not supposed to be able to do things. He takes his sufferings in stride because he’s never known anything different.

So after a lesson like that, why do I let myself go on whining about MY life?

Well, that’s the subject of another blog, another day…

Mark Hansen

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Qualified for the Work

I want to expand a little on what I talked about the other day. I’m a little on edge about this topic.

The more I read of articles by the powers that be in the LDS arts, the more I hear people saying how the quality must improve.

And I really don’t have any gripes with that, at face value. I think it’s important that we as a people are constantly striving to improve our art as we improve our lives. And when you consider how LDS popular arts has a reputation for schmaltz (particularly music and lit), it makes a certain amount of sense for those in the arts to want to raise the bar.

But I’d like to mention another Meridian article by Keith Merrill. It’s called “Go Make a Movie”. Before I go any farther, let me say that I like the article, and agree with it. It’s all about what he calls “Personal Cinema”. This is when people take their camcorders, their computers and make movies.

He’s not talking about filming Junior’s graduation or Sally’s wedding. He’s talking about making movies on your home computer.

And it’s really interesting to me because I just discovered the other day that the computer that I bought a year ago comes packaged with video editing software.

He says that we that have the ideas should start shooting and making our own movies.

But, oops, just like all the others “in the industry”, he ends by saying we should make GOOD movies.

Well, I’m sorry, but before we make a great movie, or song, or book, or poem, most of us are going to make a lot of bad ones. Or at least mediocre ones.

I should know.

I’ve made a lot of mediocre songs.

Even my good ones (even though they’re good) are not up to the level of things recorded and sung in the big leagues. What do you expect? I record them in my den! Now, I keep getting better. I practice, I take lessons, I redo and do over and over until it’s better. But even with all that, I’m not there yet.

Does that mean I should stop until I can do a masterpiece? Does that mean I should hide my light under a bushel until it’s worthy of a Pearl award? I don’t think so.

I read in D & C Section 4, and I notice something that I find kind of interesting. This section is usually interpreted to be applied to missionary work, and the “Marvelous work” that is about to come forth is rightly interpreted to mean the restored gospel.

But let’s reread it with a slightly different, yet still applicable, interpretation. Let’s make the “marvelous work” mean the arts of the gospel, and apply the whole section to us as artists.

1 NOW behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.


As I read it, I don’t see any mention in all those wonderful qualifications that relates to skill or talent. It all deals with humility, desire, spirituality.

See, as I see it, if we have all those traits that God wants us to have, he’ll help us develop the skills and talents. We have the desires, we are called to the work, we’re cultivating the traits. Doesn’t it make sense to expect the help the Lord promises if we knock?

So, it seems to me that if my first songs aren’t that great, or if someone else’s first movie has a thin plot or bad acting, or if another person’s first novel has a storyline that’s pretty formula, that’s not a bad thing, is it? I’d rather have it be attempted than stifled.

So, let your light so shine, and don't hide your talent in the ground, and all those other parab-olic analogies! And don't be afraid to make art.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Mormons and the Silver Screen

If you’re a mormon, living in Utah, you’d have to be living in a cave to have not at least heard of the blossoming Mormon Cinema movement (which I am now officially dubbing: “The MCM”).

Started several years ago by Richard Dutcher’s “God’s Army”, and then followed up with… nothing for a while, it later exploded with “Brigham City”, the “The Other Side of Heaven”, and a whole slew of others. My personal favorites have been “Brigham” and “Singles Ward”. My wife’s favorite is, (duh) “Charly”. I still haven’t seen “Out of Step”, or “Handcart” (which kinda came and went without much fanfare, it seemed), but I’ll get to them.

Love it or not, it’s happening. To me, as a musician and a follower of LDS pop culture, it’s exciting. It’s exciting to me to see us grow as a subculture, even a counterculture. All too often I hear people griping about how bad Hollywood and TV has gotten, but a lot of that to me seems like that old adage, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it!”

Well, some people are doing something about it.

I’ve been thinking about and following this for a long time, but a lot of my sentiments kinda boiled up top after reading an article by Keith Merrill in Meridian Magazine. His article was, in turn, a response to the Deseret News’ review of the movie Charly. The best line in his scathing review? “If Clean Flicks gets a hold of Charly, it will put stuff in.”

What a great line!

I’ve seen most of the movies to come out of this wave of cinema. For the most part I agree with Merrill, but I come to this with a different perspective. I’m not a professional.

So, as a result, I can’t speak to a lot of the details that he can. However, I can comment on my own gut reactions. And I’m a part of that “Supply and Demand” that he talks about.

“Charly”? Great show. Lots of fun. Pure, undiluted formula romance. Boy meets girl in an odd mismatch. They clash, then fall in love, clash again, fall in love again, then marry, and one of them dies. There’s no surprises, here. This is nothing new.

Here’s the flash: It’s not supposed to be new! Thousands flocked to read the book, and many more will flock to see the movie not to be surprised, but to take the ride. In that sense, the ferris wheel is the perfect symbol to thread throughout the show. You know exactly what the ride will be like, but you get on and ride it anyway.

“Singles Ward”? One of the funniest movies I have ever seen. I laughed harder at this show than I did at any show since “Spinal Tap”. It was pretty much formula, too, in it’s story line. Once again, you have a mismatched boy and girl that fall in love, clash, patch it up, and end up happily ever after. Except nobody dies in this one.

Not even the guy who bungee jumps his VW.

Don’t ask, just see the movie.

Lots of people die in “Brigham City”, but it’s not a fun show. It is, however, a powerful one. The sacrament meeting scene at the end had me bawling like a baby, and not in the same way that “Charly” got me watery. And frankly, nothing even in the big budget “Other Side of Heaven” even came close to grabbing me like one scene in BC did.

I think that of all the Mormon movies I’ve seen, I like BC the best.

Merrill says that there will be some great movies to come out of the MCM, some mediocre ones, and some really lame ones.

I agree with him there, but somehow, I think that somehow we’re missing out on the point. The point, to me, is that it’s happening, no matter how good or bad it is. True, in the long run, most of the good movies will win out over most of the bad ones, but so what?

Hollywood puts out lame movies by the dozens, year after year. That doesn’t seem to startle or even bother anyone. I guess we’re used to it by now. So, I think that in our effort to provide an alternative voice in our culture, we’re allowed a few stinkers.

I like one other point he makes, too:

“If you fail to support the movies by LDS film makers who struggle to make a difference and who want to create family friendly films that run counter to popular culture – however imperfect and flawed their early attempts – then you forever forfeit your right to complain about Hollywood and the steady decline of popular culture.”

And if you read my last posting, you know how important my right to complain is!

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Election Day

OK, I went out and voted yesterday, and a part of me is proud of that.

It’s more than just my civic duty, though. It’s a commandment. I really do look on it as if it were a religious experience.

I’m not talking lights coming down from the sky and voices telling me who to vote for. I mean that voting is a part of my religion, and a part of my overall religious practice.

Before anyone starts in on me, I’m also not saying that I blindly rely on anyone else’s opinions on who I should vote for. The fact that I voted mostly Democratic in Utah proves that!

Joseph Smith, long ago, wrote: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” –A of F 12

Even longer ago, in ancient America, the people of Mosiah set up a democracy. And with that democracy, Mosiah gave them a warning: “Yea, well did Mosiah say, who was our last king, when he was about to deliver up the kingdom, having no one to confer it upon, causing that this people should be governed by their own voices—yea, well did he say that if the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity, that is, if the time should come that this people should fall into transgression, they would be ripe for destruction.” -Alma 10:19

In other words, we get what we vote for. And part of what we’re voting for is so that things good and right can be preserved in our land. Right? We go out an vote so that we can do our part to make sure that the men and women that govern this great country are people of integrity and great moral character. Right?

Well, yeah, but that’s not the coolest reason to vote.

What is? I’ll tell you!

The right to complain!

When you step out of the booth (after dutifully checking for any hanging or pregnant chads), you drop your ballot in the box and they give you a cool little, “I Voted Today” sticker. It should also read, “…so that means I can gripe tomorrow!”

Truer words were never so smugly implied.

Deep inside the core of me is my inner child. And my inner child isn’t the sweet little cherub with the teddy bear and the puppy-dog eyes. My inner child is an annoying, whiny, little snit that likes to pout and throw tantrums.

So, how do I give him a socially acceptable outlet? What area of interest could I possibly pursue to give him expression in a way that would not only be understood, but welcomed and even embraced?

Politics! Of course!

Where else but in our great august bodies of legislature and in the corridors of power would you find others he could fit in so well with? Like a fish in a school, like birds of a feather, etc…

That’s why I love a good mud-slinging, name-calling, trash-talking, in your face campaign. One that leaves the “winner” more embarrassed than the “loser”. It’s like the WWF for the thinking man!

And for that we (my inner child and I) are eternally grateful to our founding fathers.

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I See God Anyway

From time to time, I’d like to take a breather from commenting on my chaotic life and tell you about some of my favorite songs. They get to be favorites for lots of different reasons, some for the music, some for the message. Some for both.

This one is that kind of song.

I grew up in Indiana, not exactly the hotbed of Mormonism that Utah is. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. What isn’t born-again protestant Christianity is usually atheist. And since I grew up in a college town, surrounded by college people (My dad’s a physics professor), I got a good dose of both.

I think that’s why Julia Davis Allen’s “I See God Anyway” strikes such a solid chord with me. It really deals with what seems to be the constant clash between intellect and Spirit.

The first verse points out all of the great thinkers of our western intellectual tradition that spoke of a higher power and order, and then talks about how we want to rely on our own strength and wisdom.


“I See God Anyway
I see God anyway
When pure emotion streaks the sky
And the shades of His love bleeds through the clouds
Even through doubt”

The second verse takes another interesting track. It talks about some who claim to be believers meeting and voting to reject the very divinity of Jesus. Even within the ranks there are those that would rather rely on our own minds.

“Did God make man, or did man make god?” is the question so often asked.

Through the clouds of chaos and confusion that man so often kicks up around himself in a strange effort to find clarity, we can still see god. We can just look around us and see His hand in everything.

I see God anyway.

You can download and listen to the song for free at her mp3.com site or go directly to her website at juliadavisallen.com.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Twelve little notes

I’ve been thinking about things musical lately, and I’ve been feeling a little amazed.

As a part of that amazement, I stopped in a record store in a mall last night. Not a big one, either. I asked the tune dude behind the counter about how many different CD’s he thought they might have in the store. He said, “Well, we’re a small store, so we’d have about 45,000. A bigger one might have 70,000.”

Now, that seemed to be a bit high to me, but let’s take his word for it. Then let’s pretend that, on the average, there’s 12 songs on each CD. That means that in the store (which covers the major labels, with maybe a few bigger indies), there were about 540,000 songs.

Now, I’m not going to debate, in this article, the fact that most of these 540,000 songs sound alike. I’ll take that one up another day.

Then I thought I’d explore the independent music industry. These are often people like myself that are creating music in their homes and sharing it in the world without the approval of SONY or David Geffen. And for that I took a quick look at mp3.com. I found this: “MP3.com, Inc. is home to one of the largest collections of digital music on the Internet. A favorite of music fans and emerging Artists alike, MP3.com features streaming and downloadable music from more than 250,000 Artists and over 1.6 million songs.”


1.6 million! That’s a lot of songs!

And that’s what’s currently available! Add to that the masses of songs and music that have been written over the years and vanished into well- or not- deserved obscurity. I’m talking all the way back to the monks where recorded western music started. And I’m not talking about CD’s, there, I’m talking about writing words and notes on paper.

Here’s the amazing part:

All this musical variety and creativity is essentially based on twelve little notes. Twelve little notes that repeat over and over in different orders, in different rhythms, in different tone colors. Some you play alone, others you stack up in chords and clusters.

But no matter how you stack it, there are twelve notes.

Yes, I know that there are those that are writing using quarter-tone scales, and others doing exciting things with musica concrete, but that doesn’t diminish the vastness of what’s being (and has been) done with…

Twelve little notes.

Now, I know you’re sitting there waiting for the point. You’re thinking, “Maybe he’s going to draw some gospel message out of all this, or quote me a scripture”.

Since I hate to disappoint you:

“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass;” –Alma 37:6

Mark Hansen

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Humble pie

These last few days have been very difficult for me.

Actually, the whole last year and a half has been difficult for me.

I know why, too. It’s because I’ve been praying for humility. Don’t ever do that.

See, I remembered back to my mission when a talk in a zone conference or something said that the best way to get the gifts of the spirit, like spirituality, humility, charity, healing, etc… was to pray for them. I was feeling in need of a little humility, so I started praying for it.

I’ve been paying for it ever since.

Somehow I’d forgotten some of the analogies that the Lord uses when he talks about humbling people, like mountains crumbling and valleys exalting, and other geological calamities.

Somehow I had imagined that a little blue good fairy with gentle wings and a flowing robe would drift down from heaven while I was sleeping. He’d wave a magic wand over my head, sprinkle a little humble dust, mutter some magic words, like “OK, you’re humble now…” And then he would whisk off to his next gig, like my neighbor’s house (who REALLY needs the humility, believe me!).

Well, I did get a good fairy, but not quite like I expected.

He was big, tall, with muscles out to here, and instead of a magic wand he carried a baseball bat.

“Hey, is you the one what wanted a good humbling?”

Uhh. No, I think you want my neighbor…

“Nope. This here’s the right address. This shouldn’t take long.”

(This is the part where you insert things like “Pow”, “Wham”, “Ooff”, and “Ouch!”)

I wouldn’t have minded so much if his parting words hadn’t been, “That’ll do for starters. See ya next week!”

The Lord said, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” -Ether 12:27

I haven’t quite come to that last part yet, where the weak things are made strong. But I suppose that eventually I’ll get there, if I keep at it.

And I suppose that if it didn’t hurt, it wouldn’t be humility, now, would it?

But still they call it humble pie, and isn’t pie supposed to be sweet?


Mark Hansen

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

OK, I’m not sure what to think of this Halloween thing.

I mean, on the one hand, what’s really going on, here? Ghosts, witches, chainsaw murderers… Is this really the stuff we should be celebrating? Is this really what we want our kids to grow up to be?

On the other hand, what’s the big deal, here? Kids dress up in fake blood and masks, stomp around the neighborhood and get all buzzed out on candy for the next few days.

I remember my father used to not like Halloween. “It teaches kids that they can get something for nothing,” he’d pontificate. I remember thinking to myself, “I thought that was what Christmas was for…”

Of course, I wouldn’t have DARED say that to him. I wasn’t about to cut myself off from TWO cash cows in a single mouth-off! Get real!

As I was preparing to write this, I did some web searches to try and find out the real origins of Halloween. I found out what I expected. There’s a lot of historical, religious, and rhetorical debate. Not everyone agrees. Most seem to lay the “blame” at the feet of the Pagans/Druids/Heathen in Northern and Western Europe before the Christian Era. Others point at the Romans, still others at the Catholics. I imagine the truth is sort of a blurry line in between all of the above.

But all that leaves me with the original question, namely, “What are we celebrating, really?”

I mean, I admit to a certain amount of dogmatic self-righteousness. Witches and evil spirits aren’t exactly the right role-models for my kids.

But that was before I had kids. That was before I saw the look on a kid’s face the first time he does the trick or treat thing. He shuffles up to the neighbor’s door in an ill-fitting mass wrapped up in a winter coat. One of the older kids with him pounds on the door, and suddenly everyone is yelling, “Trick or Treat”. He doesn’t yell with them, he’s still too overwhelmed.

The door opens, and an older lady coos and ahs over their cute and bloody costumes, then drops candy into his outstretched bag. While the rest of the kids are rushing off to the next house, he stands there in total awe.

It worked! He got candy! Suddenly all this weirdness is cool!

And even though the next few days will be spent pulling him off the walls as he works off his sugar buzz, by next year, all we’ll remember is his face and the fun he had.

And I don’t suppose that’s so evil…

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

A while back we were studying Isaiah in our Gospel Doctrine class. Am I too far gone or are there others that are as baffled by this book as I am? Nephi says, "For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews."

I can relate...

Then a bit later he goes on: "Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy."

And I think, "Ah HA!" That's my problem!" I just need that spirit of prophecy thing... How do I get that? You know, prayer, fasting, righteous living, etc... At least I'm working on it...

One thing I've tried that sometimes works, is to just be really superficial about it. Read each verse like it's talking to me and not read too deep. 'Cause when I read to deep, that's when it rushes over me and I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of obscure images. I like the verses that have simple messages.

Like: "Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." That one's pretty clear, innit?

And the next verse is pretty famous in Sunday School: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

But my favorites since I was a child have always been the ones that I hear music to. The ones that Handel chose for the oratorio "Messiah". I can never read these without singing them in my mind.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

This one's lifting and haunting melody cuts right through me every time: "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."

And this one inspired a song of my own: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"

I haven't finished recording that one, but when I do, you'll be among the first to know! I can hear the gospel choirs echoing the chorus in my head. I don't hear voices, I hear music!

Well, even though it can be challenging, I gotta just dive in and read it. Maybe the fact that I don't understand it is kind of a challenge calling me out. "C'mon, Mark, figure me out!" You certainly can't get any better endorsement that this one from 3 Ne: "AND now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah." Nothing like a plug from the Lord himself, eh?

Thanks for listening,

Mark Hansen


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