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, “” 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 site or go directly to her website at

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 I found this: “, Inc. is home to one of the largest collections of digital music on the Internet. A favorite of music fans and emerging Artists alike, 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


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