Sunday, May 30, 2004

I don't like it when Jacob is in the hospital. Let's get that clear right up front. There's amost nothing good about it. But, once or twice a year, we have to go through it. This time is particularly difficult.

But one thing I really love about the hospital is going to church up there.

He goes to the Primary Children's Medical Center. It used to be owned by the church, but, along with LDS Hospital, is now owned by some medical care company. But the hospital still carries a lot of mormon traditions. For example, if you want to give a blessing, a lot of the nurse stations carry little sterile syringes of consecrated oil. And every time we're up there at least once I'll hear a call over the intercom for Elders.

And they have a sacrament meeting in their auditorium.

It's short, and that's nice, but the Spirit is always so powerful there. That's because the meeting is filled with people who both want to be there, and know they need to be there. People in hospitals are looking for spiritual strength, and that makes the meetings that much more powerful.

People show up however they are. Hospital gowns, wheelchairs, scrubs, jeans, T-shirts. Only those that have been called to the hospital branch presidency, it seems, is there in a suit and tie. And nobody seems to mind. We all know that Spirit is more important than dress.

Everyone sings, too, instead of just mumbling.

Outside in the lobby, they have church magazines for you to take, and a complimentary donated blanket.

It was just a reminder to me of how powerful a sacrament meeting could be.


Mark Hansen

Monday, May 17, 2004

I Don’t Skate, But…

I just found this website that almost made me wanna learn how.

What a cool site. It got me thinking. Lately (I mean within the last few years), there’s been a lot of products introduced for “The LDS Market”. I mean, above and beyond music and books, there’s jewelry, action figures, games, T-Shirts, everything. Our cups runneth over!

Some people get upset about it, thinking that somehow, it’s cheapening the gospel, or even like it’s priestcraft, trying to get rich of the church.

I think it’s exciting to me that there are people trying to create a popular culture for ourselves. It helps us create an identity in our own minds, and it also helps us to declare our identities to others.

An example: Years ago, I was very active in the Salt Lake City recording scene. I was doing sessions in lots of different studios, and in lots of different situations, for lots of different bands. Many of the bands I recorded were hard-core death metal or punk bands. As I reflect back, I remember the musicians quite fondly, even though their messages were ones that I didn’t fully agree with. One, I did agree with at the time, was a straight-edge band. They were fun. Years later, as I was seeing news reports about straight-edgers getting into fights and getting violent, I became very sad, because they guys I knew and recorded were nothing like that.

But I digress…

During all this time, I always wore my CTR ring. Many times, the musicians I was working with started conversations with me. All of them knew what it meant, They’d all grown up in Utah, so even if they weren’t members of the church (most were, in record, anyway), they knew what the CTR stood for. So, they saw the ring on my finger, and never offered me a cigarette, a beer, or anything else. Often, I heard them swear, and then they’d smile, embarrassed, and apologize.

And all without me having to say a word. The ring spoke loudly enough, without shouting.

So, here’s this skateboard company, making longboards named the Sword of Laban, and the Liahona! As I looked over their site, these guys obviously love to have a healthy and clean good time, and are not ashamed of their religion. They’re showing that “cool” and “righteous” are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

And I REALLY like to see that.

Mark Hansen

Friday, May 14, 2004

Michael McLean, Me, and the Royal "We"

I was out cruising mormon blogs tonight and came across an interesting one at the Sons of Mosiah. Here’s a few quotes to distill out the message:

“The Mormon "We" Problem

“As Logan and I dove deep into our conversation on appropriate music, I began formulating my own theory and have decided to name it the Mormon "We" Problem.

“It all started when I asked a simple question of "What music should we boycott?" To which Logan responded, "You seem to operate on the assumption that some music should be boycotted."

“My next thought was, "My main point is that although I don't have a very good set of criteria for boycotting music somehow I still do boycott music based on musicians actions (like Marilyn Manson) and I wonder if I should do it more." To which Logan replied, "By equating everything you reject with a "rule" -- or "standard", or whatever you want to call it -- you are saying that if you don't like it, nobody can."…

“…When "we" discuss appropriate media, it is extremely easy for one of "us" to find "the answer" and assume that it applies to everyone just like abstinence from alcohol and wearing garments does. Logan has called me on this a few times even though I never specifically said something like, "I have come to believe X to be true for me, so it must follow that it is true for you". Where X is avoiding a certain type of music”

I found this one to be particularly interesting, especially as a Mormon musician. By that I mean I’m out there making music for Mormons, not just a Mormon making music. Since I’m a rocker, I frequently get comments by people that rock music cannot possibly be spiritual. That noise chases away the Spirit, and it can’t bring it in.

As I delve deeper, I follow that through the question that logically follows: “What music DOES invite the Spirit”. In all cases that I’ve encountered in conversation, the person then describes the music that they’ve always liked, that they grew up with, that they’re the most comfortable with. In other words, “That which I like is spiritual, that which I don’t like or don’t understand is unrighteous noise”.

It’s a perfect example of what’s happening in this “We” syndrome that Logan’s talking about. We find something that touches us, and we generalize that to the whole Church.

The more I look at musical styles and sounds, the more I believe that the Lord communicates to and through people in different ways. Michael McLean is a great example. Mormondom is full of teenage girls, housewives, and yes, even men, who melt with the Spirit when they hear his songs. I’m not one of them. I’ve met the guy. He’s a great guy. He’s an incredible performer, and a great writer. But he doesn’t reach me. His tunes are just too fluffy for me.

And I’m sure there are people who thing my tunes are to loud or sacreligious.

So, why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t people allow me to be touched by my songs, and let Michael touch others?

Let’s let go of the Royal “We”!

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

To all my readers who also blog:

I recently changed my site template here, and I'd sure like to reset all my old links and set up linking exchanges with other bloggers, especially other LDS bloggers. So, just leave a comment, and I'll add your link onto my site, and you can link to me, too!


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Yet More on Death

Last wednesday, while I was at work, my lovely wife IM'ed me to tell me that my uncle Jim had died. He'd had a big stroke and passed a few hours later.

I wasn't really "close" to him, but all of my memories of him are fond.

When Ieft on my mission (I won't tell how long ago that was), it was he and his family that picked me up at the airport and put me up for a few days before delivering me to the MTC.

After the mission, I moved from Indiana to Utah. As my old VW Rabbit limped into Salt Lake City on I-80, he was the one that looked it over and discovered that it was the clogged fuel filter that was causing the problem. It was fixed in no time.

He and his sister, my mom, have always been very close. It soon became tradition for my mom and dad to fly out from Indiana every Thanksgiving. Then we would all gather for the feast. As my sister and I each got married, our spouses were welcomed into the family without question at the annual dinner.

Years later, my wife took a photography class at the Community College, Jim (a former professional photographer and camera repairman), gave her a nice Minolta SLR. We still use it when we shoot together.

Jim was a vey prolific and creative poet. He's one of the few pure poets I know who writes in rhyme and meter. I mean, I do, too, but I'm a songwriter, intending to set my words to music. He'd really mastered the ability to meter and rhyme just for its own sake.

And above all, he was just a great person, as is his wife. And together, they raised their kids the same way.

The funeral's today. While it will be nice to see everyone, Jim will be sorely missed

Mark Hansen Music


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