Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Spirit of the Law

I’ve been thinking about the Law of Consecration a lot lately, and the United Order.

For those of you that might not have heard of those words in LDS parlance, it’s kind of like a utopian dream that mormons have. A dream of a perfect society, where there’s a perfect blend of collective unity and individuality. A place where economics are driven by compassion and kindness rather than competition and greed.

It’s where communism wanted to go, but couldn’t even get close to. It’s where capitalism becomes pure and freedom expands explosively. It’s also called Zion, the pure in heart, and it’s what the City of Enoch had that got them transported up to heaven.

Of course to make that happen, we’ve got to make some big changes and some MAJOR paradigm shifts here in the real world.

I’ve been noticing what some of those shifts need to be, and they’re scary. I don’t know if I can make them. No, actually I do know. And I don’t think I’m ready.

--Want what you have

A big shift that will have to happen is that we’ll all need to get out of our “stuff” mindset. We gotta shake that feeling that life will be wonderful, or even just a tich nicer if we had this or that “thing”. I look at my house right now, and it’s so cluttered with so much “stuff” that I hope I never have to move.

I’ve got to start thinking more and more that it’s not a question of having what I want, but wanting what I have already. And suddenly, I’ll realize that so much of what I have are really things that I don’t especially want, anyway.

How am I going to be able to share what I have if I feel like I have to hoard it?

--One equals one

We have to shake the idea that one person’s efforts to help society is more valuable that someone else’s. The notion that a doctor’s contribution, or a musician’s contribution is somehow more important than a garbage collector’s, or a basketball player’s has to be left behind. Hour to hour, one must equal one. The doctor, the farmer, the IT technician, the artist should all put in an eight-hour day, and should be able to make a living at it. That one profession should be compensated more than another, or even be respected more than another is detrimental.

And for that to happen, we need to stop looking at it as money for work exchange. It needs to be looked at like “I am contributing to the whole, and I have what I need.” I give and I receive. One equals one.

--My wants are less important than your needs

I’ve got a lot of nerve.

I go and I fritter much of my pay away on silly things, gadgets, computer stuff, music stuff, and there are people in my own neighborhood who are behind in their mortgages and are weeks away from living on the street.

I buy toys for my kids for Christmas, and I buy fast food, and there are people who wonder where their next meal will be coming from.

And this doesn’t even include all the people living in abject poverty half-way around the world. These are people in my own neighborhood.

The church says that I should give 10% of my income and the cost of two meals a month. That seems pretty paltry when you think of it. But I’m not even all that diligent on those requests. What’ll it be like if I have to share all with someone that’s worse off than me?

--What’s it all mean?

For now, I’m just thinking of what needs to change. It’ll be a long and difficult effort to change my outlook, but it will be something I’ll be working on.

Mark Hansen

Friday, October 24, 2003

My Challenges

Someone on the LDS Artists list asked us all to talk about our greatest challenges as LDS artists. Here are mine:


My mother-in-law recently paid to take her daughters and their children to Disneyland. While some would have been frustrated by not being able to go along, I was thrilled. Why? I finally had some large blocks of time where I could get some real recording done. Sure, I would have had a great time with my kinds in mouseville, but I’ve done that before, and we’ll do it again. For me it was a wonderful time to play reclusive bachelor and just make music.

Probably the biggest challenge I face as an artist is that between earning a living, raising a family, being a husband, and serving in the church, there is precious little time left for music. I have to steal away for moments. I wake up a little early and start on a drum track. I stay up late and cut some vocals. A half hour here, 45 minutes there. I take a sketchpad to a park on my lunch hour. Bit by bit, the work gets done.

I wish I were independently wealthy and I could just create all day for my “job”. That can’t happen right now. But bit-by-bit, I still go on creating.

I was in an art store the other day, and my wonderful wife asked me if I wanted to get anything. I really don’t need more art supplies. The one thing I need, they don’t sell. Time.


I’ve been working on my CD for two years, now, diligently. I’m hoping it will be done in another six months or so. There have been many times during that process, and in the years before that I wished it were done and out. I’ve wanted so badly to have it, that many times I’ve forgotten that I need to do it in the Lord’s time. I think to myself, “Lord, I’m doing this to your glory, why isn’t it happening!?”

Part of the problem with that is that it has led to jealousy. As my friends get their CD’s done and in the stores, I have found myself at times not able to celebrate for them as I’d like. In truth, I’ve been learning some patience, and in recent times, I’ve found more joy in other’s successes. I remember when a friend of mine won a Pearl Award, I think there were few cheering as loud as I was that day.

I’ve had to learn to be a tortoise, not a hare.


I’ve also had to face some very humbling experiences. It’s very hard become a great artist when you already think you’re great. I really believe that I have been blessed with some wonderful talents. Unfortunately, the skills to utilize those talents are coming more slowly.

I find it hard to accept what I have, instead of constantly wanting more. Gadget addiction is rampant in the music industry! I used to try and convince myself that they were tools. They’re not. They’re toys. And I constantly think, “Wow, if I just had one of those, I could make great art!” When the reality is that George Martin and the Beatles made “Sgt Pepper” with WAY less technology than I currently have in my basement. This technology allows me to do things they couldn’t even dream of in their day. And yet, they still created great art.

I also have to face the fact that when I perform, it’s not always just for the Lord’s glory. This is something I constantly struggle with, and it’s rooted in knowing where my songs and my talents come from. I need to be much more grateful.

There are lots of other challenges, but those are temporary, practical issues. How to find performance opportunities, how to broaden my audience base, how to better my voice and my performance. How to overcome the prejudice of church members. These are all valid challenges, but they aren’t the core things that I need to work on the most.

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Barbie v Superman

We live in a very confused society.

That’s not exactly news, but the media is going on about it anyway. They’re not saying, “We live in a very confused society”, but they’re reporting on it, and the things I’m reading say to me that “We live in a very confused society.”

A while ago, there was a big hue and cry about the Barbie doll. Feminists were quite upset that the dolls were indoctrinating young women with the idea that if they didn’t have big boobs, thin waists, and empty heads, they weren’t valuable. They went on and on about how her proportions (especially if they were to be considered in scale) were creating much of the bad body images that girls were going through. It was like the Barbie doll was single-handedly responsible for all the Bulimia and Anorexia in the country.

I heard some women tell us men that we had it easy. We didn’t have to live up to such an unattainable standard.

Got news for you, sister. We have an even higher standard, one even tougher than a triple-D chest. We got Superman.

You thing you’ve got troubles squeezing into a bikini? We’re supposed to be faster than bullets, strong enough to stop speeding trains with our bare hands, and leap over tall buildings in a single bound! Last I checked, Barbie never flew to the moon or used X-ray vision.

…Talk about unattainable…

Well, like always, I’ve got a song about it. You can find it at markhansen.iuma.com


By Mark Hansen

I wanna be your superman
Wear a red cape and everything
Come to your rescue and make a stand
I wanna be your superman

I wanna jump in the air and fly
Every time you’re in trouble
I wanna carry you in my hand
I wanna be your superman

But I am not your superman
And yet you love me as I am
So I’ll just do the best I can
So I can be your superman

I try to help around the house
Play with the kids do the laundry
Try to cook soup from a can
So I can be your superman

Monday morning I’m at my job
Friday night I’m exhausted
Didn’t quite go as I had planned
Not much of a superman

And I know you are doing your best, too
And feeling like you’re fighting for air
And through it all I hope you can see
You’re like Wonder Woman to me

Mark Hansen

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Kilroy Was Here?

Does anyone remember the Styx Album “Kilroy” a while back? It was their attempt at a concept album. As an artistic creation, it failed miserably, mainly because it lacked any real depth. It did bring a couple of hits, including “Mr Roboto”.

Part of its problem was it’s lame story line. Rock music has been outlawed, and the album tells the struggle of a musician named Kilroy to rally the youth of the nation to rebel and listen to rock again.

Part of the problem with the story line is the totally unbelievable premise that popular music would be outlawed. I mean, get real…

Well, last night I saw something that was quite chilling.

I was watching a documentary on PBS about Pakistan. It turns out that, particularly in the northern provinces, some of the more fundamental mullahs are starting to run the cities, and they’ve been banning not only popular music, but music entirely! CD store shelves are empty. Market places that used to flourish with musicians are devoid.

The mullahs are succeeding in repressing the music even though they have no civic authority to do so. The president of Pakistan has spoken publicly against the bans.

But in the meantime, musicians are being shunned, and occasionally arrested and beaten. “Singing has no place in Islam” one mullah said in an interview.

One of them, the focus of the documentary isn’t sitting down, though. He’s the lead guitarist for a band called “Junoon”. The documentary followed him around as he met with people on the streets, teachers in muslim schools that supported the ban, and even with some of the mullahs themselves.

What it all comes down to is the same sort of inter-sect bickering that has been going on at various levels in the Christian world for centuries. Moslems of all variations are at odds across the muslim world. Some are militant, some are peaceful. Some value strict adherence to law, while others prize personal communion with God.

Each one is calling the other infidel and trying to use the political systems to enforce their own style of Islam onto others.

Like I said, this is all nothing new. Christians have been doing this sort of thing for years, too.

I never thought I would see it happen, though, that music itself would be silenced. In the New Testament, Jesus said that if the people went quiet, the stones would cry out…

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Top 20

Book Magazine recently released a list of the twenty books that changed America. Among their list was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (credited by Abraham Lincoln as the book that started the Civil War), “The Communist Manifesto” (For good or bad, it had a tremendous impact on America), as well as “Atlas Shrugged”, and “Common Sense”.

The surprise for me came from seeing the Book of Mormon on the list. Now, I’m not at all surprised that it SHOULD be on the list. I’ve known of it’s impact on US history for years. But, I was surprised that a secular organization would recognize the impact of a religious book. Especially of a Mormon religious book.

For a long time, I’ve felt it’s personal impact. I’ve received insights, inspiration, and clarity through it’s verses. Comfort, peace, and understanding. All that good stuff that a religious book is supposed to bring.

Let me share some of my favorite moments:

One of my all-time favorite stories in the book is the conversion of Zeezrom. This guy is a snake, but he gets bitten by the Spirit, and his conversion is complete. He witnesses the destruction of hundreds of believers by fire, and wracked with guilt flees to another city. There, he lays on his sickbed, tormented by fever and repentance. Finally, he hears that Alma and Amulek are still alive, and sends for them.

“And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

”And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.

”And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.

”And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.”

Another favorite of mine is commonly referred to as “Nephi’s Psalm”. It’s a beautiful passage where Nephi both celebrates the visions and blessings that the Lord has sent him, and mourns his own unworthiness. Boy, I can relate. I mean, I’ve never had visions like Nephi, but I’ve been blessed, and yet, I’m not worthy, either…

“Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

“And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

”My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

“He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

”And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

”O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

”Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.”

Mark Hansen

Monday, July 07, 2003

The Flag

I used to have mixed feelings about the American Flag. I don’t any more.

I used to be upset because the flag didn’t stand for the country any more. Various political parties and groups were claiming it as their own. Instead of representing a wonderfully diverse and beautiful nation, people were trying to make it represent what THEY believed.

Conservatives made it stand for kicking terrorist’s butts and military might.

Extremists made it stand for hatred in the name of “racial purity”

Liberals made us want to feel ashamed of it, suppressing the majority culture in the name of elevating minorities, instead of elevating ALL cultures.

Well, I’m taking it back!

When I fly my flag on the various holidays, I’ve decided that I no longer care how other people might interpret that. I’m not going to let that get in the way of my patriotism.

To me it stands for:

1—A chance for anyone from anywhere to take charge of his or her life and make a difference. That by shedding the label of “victim” one can rise above and become successful. THAT’s freedom.

2—A place where I can worship God how I want to, and I can allow anyone else the same privilege.

3—A place where I have a voice in the government, as long as I make the effort to make that voice heard. Apathy was never intended to be an excuse for bad government.

4—A place where you can have a voice in the government, even if your voice clashes with mine. We can BOTH make our voices heard.

5—A place where the government changes hands every 4-8 years, not in bloody revolution, but in a peaceful, constitutional transfer.

6—That in spite of all of the flaws in our world, our government, and our system, I’d still rather live here than anywhere else.

THAT’s what patriotism is to me.

THAT’s what my flag means to me.

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Do It!

I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants today, and a scripture struck me.

It was in section 24, verse 18: “And thou shalt take no purse nor scrip, neither staves, neither two coats, for the church shall give unto thee in the very hour what thou needest for food and for raiment, and for shoes and for money, and for scrip.”

Here the Lord was talking to Joseph and especially to Oliver, and he’s telling them how to do their missionary treks. In fact, in this particular section, he’s also telling them that they need to go into temporary seclusion because of the persecution of the saints.

So, this verse has that specific, historical application.

But Nephi says we’re supposed to “Liken the scriptures unto ourselves.” So I was thinking how this applied to me.

And it’s talking about faith.

I mean, sometimes in life it’s important to plan and prepare and to know what’s happening every step of the way. To have it all spelled out and worked out.

And at other times, it’s necessary to fly blind. To just do it, and to trust the Lord to provide what you’ll need as you go.

But that’s scary.

I’m sure that Nephi, when we went back into Jerusalem, was nervous. “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (1 Ne 4:6)

There are lots of aspects of my life that are running this way. I’m not sure where my work will lead me. I don’t know how to be a good parent. I don’t even know how a song will turn out when I start it.

But sometimes ya just gotta do it.

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

More Thoughts for Bev

There have been a few people who have written back to me requesting an update on my Mother-in-Law Bev. For those that don’t want to dig back through the archives, she’s the one with pancreatic cancer.

She’s doing OK for now. She’s mostly in bed, but she’s been back from the hospital for months, now. She’s done a couple of rounds of chemo, and she seems to be taking life in stride. She’s already outlived the predictions of the doctors.

This whole experience has changed our relationship. I’m sad to say that I used to take her and her husband for granted. They loved having our kids over, so Brendon, especially, would sometimes be over there 3-4 times a week. But they can’t handle that kind of action and energy now. He’s a 5-year-old… C’mon!

It was sure nice to have built-in babysitters.

We get over for short visits about twice a week, now.

And I feel bad about that. Sometimes I felt like I took advantage of the situation, and wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been. They are wonderfully giving people.

Anyway, if anyone wants to send her an email now, they can send it to me and I’ll hand-deliver it!

Mark Hansen

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Pearls, part II

One thing I enjoyed very much about this last Pearl Awards program was just how many award recipients remembered to thank the Real Source of their talent, skill and success.

That is, of course, Our Heavenly Father. A few years ago, when I went, I was shocked at how few remembered. I suppose at the time that with the surprise of winning the award, that they fumbled in their minds, because I’ve met many of them, and they are all very spiritual people.

See, as a musician, I see there are the three elements I mentioned above.

Talent, to me, is the raw, natural ability that the Good Lord blessed you with before you even arrived here on earth. Everybody has it, but we all have it in different areas. We say, we have a “knack” for this or that. I have felt a definite knack for playing string instruments, and for songwriting. That part always came very easy for me. It’s part of the cards that were dealt to me at the beginning of the game.

Skill is what we here on earth do with that talent. It’s when the Lord tells us to “magnify our callings”. Practice, instruction, effort, discipline. It’s what we add to what the Lord has given us.

In spite of all my gifts in instrumental music, as well as recording and arranging, I’ve always struggled with my voice. I’ve had to work very hard at getting even the minimal level of skill that I now have.

I can’t take full credit, though, because with that effort came a lot of prayer, and with that prayer came a lot of guidance and blessings from heaven.

And even with my knacks, I’ve invested time, study, and effort in improving the talent with skill.

Remember when the master gives out the talents in the parable? The servants were expected to build on those and multiply them. That’s skill

Finally, you have success. This is, in my book, how you go about promoting yourself and sharing your music with others. This is effort, too, and blessing, yes. This is the one area where you get the praise of the world. And in LDS music, it can be tricky.


Because you want to share. The whole point of music is to communicate a feeling or an idea to your audience.

But at the same time, you don’t want your notoriety to overshadow the message. You can get real wrapped up in yourself, and the music and the message suffers.

That’s why, to me, it’s always gratifying when the winners of the Pearls acknowledge where the real awards will be coming from, when He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”

Mark Hansen

Friday, June 20, 2003

The Pearls

I just had a great evening! My wife and some friends all went to the annual Pearl Awards Gala.

Now, I’m sure that most of you are scratching your heads about now, wondering what on earth the pearl awards are. It’s a wonderful event that they do each year for us Mormon musicians. I know it’s not much, but in our little world, it’s a big deal.

It’s kinda like a Mormon Grammy show. No, it IS the Mormon Grammy show. All the big LDS musicians vote to see who they think is the best in the various categories, and then we all dress up in our best and have a major hob-nob party.

Great fun.

This year’s awards had some way cool things happen.

One was a couple of really refreshing “upsets” or at least pleasant surprises. The first was Fiddlesticks. They’ve been nominated every year for the last four years, and this year, they finally won one! I’ve been hoping for that day for a long time, and I’m sure they have, too. They were up against some very popular groups, too, and still came out ahead.

Another was Stephanie Smith. She won for New Artist of the Year. I had the chance to promote a concert for her last year, and she was a lot of fun to work with. She is one of the more innovative young writers I’ve ever heard. But she, too, was up against some more popular acts in her category, and came out ahead.

Also, neither of these two have big, or even small label support.

Some of the perennials were there, of course. Tyler Castleton was listed as writer, producer, or artist in just about every category. Kenneth Cope won his 9th and10th award. It’s not like these guys don’t deserve all the accolades. They really are that good. But as the LDS music world grows, there’ll be more equally good people to share the wealth around a bit.

The best part of the evening, is introducing my friends to the people I’ve met as I’ve been a part of the industry. It’s just a lot of fun.

The reality is, that the LDS market is still very small. And winning a Pearl won’t mean a dime in additional sales, like a Grammy would. But at the same time, it’s a fun time, and a really cool event.

And a chance to hear some great new music.

Mark Hansen

Saturday, June 14, 2003


As a Father’s Day present, my wife took me to see a touring production of Les Miserables today. What a show!

I’ve been pretty familiar with the story. I read almost all the way through the book (and THAT’s a project, let me tell you), and I saw the movie starring Liam Neeson. Even still, it gets me every time. It truly is one of the great achievements of western lit.

There are sooo many layers of messages. The fact that a man can change, the fact that compassion and mercy sometimes take precedence over earthly justice. That a life lived in service is valuable beyond measure and can change so many lives.

I wonder if the priest at the beginning, such a minor character in the musical, not much more in the book, ever realized just how major a role he played in so many people’s lives when he gave the poor convict the silver candlesticks and rescued him from re-arrest. And to think he lost his fine silver over it. But what an impact it had.

I think ultimately, this is the story of true Christianity and how a pure Christian can win out in the long run. And I think that’s why I love the story so much.

So then we come home from our date, and my little five year old, Brendon, asks me if I liked the show.

Yes, I liked it a lot.

“What was it about?”


How do you explain Jean Valjean and Javert and Cozette and everyone else to a five year old!?

So, I fumbled through a really short father’s digest version. When I was done, he said, “I like that story, tell it again!”

So I did, with just a little more detail.

And I will many more times.

Tell it again.

Tell it again…

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The LDSMusic IV Festival

I’m very excited.

The email group I’m in (for LDS musicians) is again sponsoring a music festival, currently in our fourth year, and I’m in charge of it again this year.

Here’s a press release I wrote for it:


For immediate release

LDSmusicians.com has announced that Maren Ord will be headlining their fourth annual festival of LDS music this August.

Ord began writing songs as a hobby at an early age, and at 15 entered four songs in a song contest in her home town of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “Edmonton has about a million people and I was a little nervous about going up against thousands of other accomplished artists, ...I think at this time I had only written five songs, ...and they needed me to enter four, Ord explained, “So, I sat in my room with this old eight-track recorder and just sang my songs with my guitar (I was 15 at the time), ....and when I got a return phone call that I had won along with five other artists, I was ecstatic!”

One of her songs was chosen as a single from the compilation album that accompanied the contest, and soon it was getting airplay all over Canada.

She then joined the Lilith Fair tour, and signed with Sarah McLaughlin’s manager. “Soon after signing with Nettwerk records and Capitol EMI records, I was off recording in New York and London, England. Now THAT was a neat experience!”

Recently, after getting a few songs placed on soundtracks in locally produced movies, she had a chance to do some acting as well, appearing as Sariah Phelps, Jared’s sister, in Halestorm Entertainment’s “The RM”

“Shooting the RM was something I never want to forget,” says Ord, “I still do not claim to be an actress, but it was such a fun and different experience for me. I think I enjoy more of the ‘behind the camera’ stuff more than being in front of it.”

The festival will be held at the park amphitheatre at 800 E on 700 N in American Fork (just west of the Mt Timpanogos LDS Temple) on Saturday, August 30. While events and performances are scheduled there throughout the afternoon and evening, the headliner showcase will start at 7:30 PM.

This is the fourth year for the festival, showcasing budding and rising stars on the LDS music scene. It arose out of a email group started by Brad Thompson, now of the folk duo Border Crossing, in an attempt to find friends that shared his passion for uplifting, well-crafted music.
“We’ve got a wide variety of sounds and styles performing this year,” says Mark Hansen, performer and festival organizer, “And it should be a great show. There are performers that are traditional and folk and rock musicians as well. Some really break the mold!”

In addition to Ord, Stephanie Smith, Rich Bischoff, David Edwards, Sam Payne, and Wayne Burton are also slated to perform, among many others.

While Ord’s music appeals to church members, it also has a broader audience. “Yes, I've played EFY's, ...but I have also played Lilith Fair. I don't think I am one side or the other. I play a lot of shows to a lot of different people, and I think everyone sees the same person on stage. I still have values, ...and people see that whether they are LDS or not.”


So, mark your calendars! It’ll be a great show.

Mark Hansen

Monday, June 09, 2003

You go, girl!

A long time ago, I said that the LDS music world was poised for a renaissance, if it hadn’t already begun.

Well, here’s some more evidence:

At The Deseret News there’s a story of a new mormon choir. One that takes LDS hymns and gives it a little soul. And who could come in with just the right blend of experience and sweetnes to show us stodgy mormons how to do it right? None other than Gladys Knight, recent convert, and genuinely adopted into the fold.

A quote from the article: “She said once when she was singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, church President Gordon B. Hinckley "expressed a little concern that I may not feel very excited about our hymns.

"I do love the music of this church," Knight told those gathered. "I just think that some of it could use a little zip!" she said, to applause from the audience.

I knew that when I heard of her baptism, that she would make waves in the LDS Music world. It just didn’t happen like I’d expected. Funny how the Lord has ways of making things work out better than they would have if I had been in charge.

Another cool thing about this is that she’s using it as a way to broaden some people’s perceptions of how things are in the church.

“Knight thanked President Hinckley and other church leaders for their encouragement and urged the audience to widen their embrace of the cultures, music and customs of all people. Using her love of ice cream as an analogy, she said as she visits congregations around the world, she's noticed that "some congregations are mostly vanilla, some are mostly chocolate, according to the makeup of the immediate community.

"But the most enjoyable sight for me to see is a congregation made of fudge ripple, that vanilla and chocolate blended together."

“She emphasized that the "face of this church throughout the world is changing" fulfilling the prophecy by the apostle John that the gospel would go to "every nation, kindred, tongue and people." She spoke of the Book of Mormon account following Christ's visit to the Americas, where people of different ethnicities were no longer divided and there were no more manner of "ites" or divisions among the people based on race or culture. "I like that."

One of the things I loved about my mission is how people from a totally different background, different situation, different color and culture could treat me with such kindness and welcome. That was the first time that I truly experienced the brotherhood of the gospel.

And yet, I was also saddened to see that so much of church culture had been transplanted from Utah. In directing the fledgling congregations, missionaries had unintentionally taught their own traditions, which became as ingrained as the gospel. There are many righteous traditions of the people that can be embraced. The gospel is constant, but the people and the cultures are rich.

And rather than start a noisy revolution, Sister Knight is starting a musical one. And that will accomplish FAR more in the long run.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, January 19, 2003

An Email to Bev

As I hear back from the thousands of you who read my blog (try 3 or 4), there’s one of my entries that seems to come up quite a bit. It’s the one about Bev, my step-mother-in-law.

Just as an update for those that might not have caught that entry, she’s been in the hospital since Christmas week. She had a surgery that I think is called a “whipple”. They ended up taking most of her pancreas out and unblocking the ducts for the bile from her liver.

I discovered recently that there’s a website for the hospital, and a page of that where people can type in a form. That message is delivered to the volunteers at the hospital via email, where it’s printed out and hand-delivered to the patient. Here’s that address: http://www.ihc.com/xp/ihc/lds/contactus/contactpatient/. Her name is Beverly Timothy.

Wouldn’t it be cool if she suddenly got lots of emails telling her that we’re all praying for her? I think it would be cool…

Mark Hansen

Thursday, January 16, 2003

My Goals

Every year, I set down and revise my musical goals.

Now this last year, it was kinda interesting. In previous years, I had been very specific in my writing. I wanted to get so many song downloads, I wanted to do so many performances, I wanted to get so much STUFF done. And I spelled it out.

But this last year, I got real introspective. I decided that I wanted to enjoy music more, I wanted to learn from it more, I wanted it to come more from inside than from any external drive to succeed or exceed.

So, I had goals like praying every time I started writing a song or doing a recording session. I found myself praying more for increased skills and a deeper understanding of myself through the songs.

One part was that I wanted to overcome my “results” mentality and change that into a “process” mentality. I mean, I wanted to delight in the fun of creating and discovering and enjoy the process instead of just shooting for results.

Over the last year I’ve come to realize that having your “eyes on the prize” is a good thing. It keeps you moving forward. But it also tends to narrow your life, and that it’s often a good thing to take your eyes off the goal once in a while and look around you at all that you already have, instead of only looking at what you want.

Another mental shift that I’ve been working on is having an “abundance” mentality instead of a “scarcity” mentality. The scarcity approach says that there’s only so much success available in the world, so if someone else I know gets some, that means there’s less left for me. That tends to lead to ugly things like jealousy and envy.

The abundance mentality says there’s plenty of goodness and luck to go around. And if someone else gets success, it only means that the stage is better set for me to get some too.

So, I can be genuinely happy for them.

Or I could, if that were always the way I looked at it.

I don’t, but I certainly do a lot more than I did before.

And I guess that’s what goals are for, right?
Mark Hansen


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