Friday, October 29, 2004
In the most recent of his articles on hymns, Orson Card made a comment that rang true with me. He noted that a lot of the hymns that we tend to sing as “Priesthood” hymns are very martial. I’ve thought about this for a long time, and I’ve noticed that a lot of our hymns are very military. And that has always bugged me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a hymn with a good movin’ beat. I just don’t like the “Always marching forward, trampling the evil foe under our righteous feet” kinda texts.
As I look back on them, though, I can kinda see where a lot of them are comin’ from. I mean, many of them were written in the early days of the church. That was back when you either had mobs chasing you out of your city, or you had federal armies marching into you haven as an occupying, oppressive force bent on crushing your “rebellion”. The church had a lot of enemies growing up. And a lot of the songs of that day reflect that.
Even songs that might not have been written in that era certainly took root in our culture then.
“Hope of Israel, Rise in might, With the sword of truth and right…”
“Onward Christian soldiers, Marching as to war…”
Sometimes I just get a little tired of the “Us v Them” mentality that we so often wear like a chip on our shoulders.
Fortunately, many of our more contemporary hymns are much more introspective and full of testimony. “I Believe in Christ” is one of my favorites.
And we don’t have to be marching with swords, spears, or guns to sing a song with vigor. Every night in the MTC, the floor of our dormitory would gather to sing a hymn and say an evening prayer. Every Thursday it was “El dia de los nuevos”, when the new missionaries would come in. We would always sing a certain hymn, and we sang it with such power and enthusiasm that it has been permanently etched in my testimony to this day. I can still sing most of it in Spanish twenty years later. But it wasn’t one that is traditionally associated with an energetic rendering. It was “Secret Prayer”, aka “There is an Hour of Peace and Rest”.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
10/25/04 11:01 am
I'm on an airplane right now, winging back to Salt Lake City. I've been in Orlando, Florida since Friday, doing a symposium for my work.
I didn't do my presentation until Sunday afternoon (yes, sometimes we have to work on Sundays). It was all about promoting your website.
Part of what I spoke on was blogging.
And that got me thinking. Isn't it cool how empowering technology can be?
I started by thinking about blogging. About how it means you don't have to have a journalism degree and years of experience to write an opinion column and be a famous and widely read author. I mean, these days, any idiot with internet access and an attitude can start spouting off opinions. I know. I'm evidence of that.
And now that my readership is mushrooming exponentially (I think it's up to, what, 12, now?), I should consider harnessing that vast political might into something truly powerful.
But nonetheless, it's very exciting for me to think that technology allows me to write my blogs, record my songs, post them both to my website, and in so doing, cast my virtual bread upon the digital waters.
And it's very exciting when some of it floats back in. Like when a kid I've never met face-to-face set up a gig for me at a youth conference. Or the brothers from India that emailed to tell me hoe much they liked the song. Or even when someone simply responds to one of my blog posts.
It's nice to feel alive.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
There’s a posting over on Baron of Deseret about an aspect of Mo Movies that’s beginning to crop up, that being the moral relativism that get associated with casting choices. The lines are blurring between actor and role.
Now, this is nothing new. How many of us have assumed that since an actor plays so many roles that are similar, that they themselves are that way?
But for some reason, we want those that star in “OUR” movies to reflect “OUR” lifestyle as well. And we get upset when they don’t. In Baron’s blog, for example, the lady writes in upset that the actress that played Jean in “The Other Side of Heaven” will be doing a role with nudity. Many were surprised to find out that the younger missionary in “God’s Army” is actually Jewish. On an anti-mormon website, they were reporting that the girl that played Eliza in “Legacy” has done some nude scenes, and the guy that played Joseph Smith was openly gay. All were non-members.
Part of it comes from misconceptions. Many people are assuming that it’s THE CHURCH that is out making these movies, not private companies.
Part of it comes from us wanting to put the best face in front of the world.
I think that also it comes from our old pioneer notions of self-sufficiency. We want to do it ourselves, for ourselves. We don’t want to think we need the outside world. We don’t want to imagine that someone other than us can tell our story. It is, after all, OUR story, isn’t it?
There’s some discussion going on right now on the LDS Musician’s group about how some LDS artists, and their labels, are turning to Nashville’s Contemporary Christian circles for songwriters. The cry is, “Aren’t our own songs good enough that we have to go looking to the outside world?”
Others say that by working with the outside world, we are making contacts that are ultimately sharing the gospel, and dispelling our image as a tight-knit, defensive group.
I, personally like a lot of CCM. There a few songs that I’d even consider covering. There’s some great stuff coming out, and I wish that LDS artists would learn from it. I wish our scene were as vibrant and diverse as theirs, and I believe it will be someday.
I can watch a show where intellectually, I know that these people are not members, and I can still feel the message in the performance. When the younger missionary finally kneels down and prays and gets his own testimony, it’s a powerful moment. Carried beautifully. By a Jewish actor.
But I also admit that I really like it when LDS people make LDS art. It brings it all together, I think.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
I had to chuckle when I read this from the SL Trib's Rolly and Wells:
"On second thought: Before the Utah Valley State College Student Council invited Michael Moore to speak, several others were contacted first. One was Sean Hannity, but his price, as quoted by his agency to the council, was more than $80,000, nearly twice what the council could afford.
"So, said student President Jim Bassi, the council settled on Moore. It was then that Hannity offered to speak for free and save Utah County from the voice of a liberal."
This is so funny on so many levels.
For those not in Utah, not following Utah events, or that simply don't care about Michael Moore, let me set you up. There has been quite a fuss here lately over a decision of a small school in Utah County to invite Michael Moore to speak. Much of Utah county (the heart of Mormondom, really) is up in arms that the school would pay so much money to bring in such a lying scum as him. There have been protest rallies (attended by few) and protest protest rallies (attended by even fewer) and a lot of media coverage.
Funny thing #1: There has been so much media coverage of the controversy, in fact, that it has had the impact of selling out the tickets to the lecture.
Funny thing #2: A large part of the hue and cry was that it cost so much money to bring in Moore. There has been an indignation expressed along the lines of, "Why should we pay $50,000 for some guy to stand up and talk for an hour or two?" Nobody deserves that much money to sweep in for a day. Hmmmm. Don't the Stones get a couple of hundred thousand? And their promoters charge $80 to $100 a ticket, not the five bucks that the Moore show is getting.
Wake up. That's what you pay speakers these days.
Funny thing #3: I'm just laughing my head off that the great and noble Hannity's first offer wansn't the generous price of "Free", but actually beat Moore's price by over $30,000! It was only when he heard of the controversy and saw the opportunity for big publicity that he became so giving.
I haven't seen "Farenheit 9/11". I've heard some really credible voices saying that it's not a credible film. If that's so, then in the long run, Moore could well do more long-term harm to the Democrats than short-term good. The republicans might do well to simply let him.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
My colleague here at work did a couple of quick searches and found some interesting things about not only mormons and 9/11, but also a bunch of other good LDS urban legends.
I love reading about stuff like this. And I'm also amazed at how often I fall for it, too! :-)
If anyone out there has any more stories about Mormons and 9/11, or any good Mo' legends, post it here. I'd love to hear more!
Sunday, October 10, 2004
In Elder's Quorum meeting today, someone retold that old story about all of the church members that worked in the World Trade Center called in sick the day of the airline attack. Now, somewhere in the back of my head I seem to remember a Utah newspaper article about some local families that had lost loved ones, and it seemed to me that the article mentioned that some were LDS.
I'm curious anyone within "the sound of my blog" remembers any of this, or any other version of the story, and has any personal experience one way or another.
Sometimes I wish there was a Mormon Snopes to check these things out...
I was at a party last night with a bunch of my mo’ friends. Great people and it was tons of fun. The conversation drifted momentarily into politics, and the debates. I’ve learned not to wade in too deeply when people talk politics. Too often we don’t know what we’re dealing with, both in terms of what’s really going on, and what the other person is feeling. In other words, arguing is worthless.
I remember the adage, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still…”
But all that was kinda floating in the back of my mind when I went surfing the bloggernacle this morning. I found it really interesting that mo’ bloggers on both sides of the political bird (right-wing, left-wing) were claiming decisive victories in the last debate. I guess we hear what we want to hear, right?
Here’s some examples: Orson’s Telescope does admit that the Kerry victory wasn’t quite so decisive as last time, and suggests a drinking game where viewers take a swig every time a candidate says a clichéd sound bite. He’s working up rules for teetotaling mormons.
This Liberal not only claimed victory, but spoke of the historical retrospective of the Bush presidency as if campaigning for another face on Mt Rushmore. OK, I’m exaggerating. A little.
What is the truth? It’s out there, all right. I guess we’ll have to wait to November to know… Of course, last election we had to wait until almost January!
I love watching politics!
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
After the gig the other night (see my Studio Blog), I got to thinking about performance and the nature of music. I got to thinking about motivations, and the purity of the music itself.
And I was reminded of a scripture I read not too long ago. It really grabbed me because of the word choice. Nephi uses the word “performance” referring to do any task for the Lord. Home Teaching, preparing a Sunday School Lesson, having Family Home Evening… But as a musician, the term “performance” has a more direct, more literal meaning. It means, well, my performance. Here’s the verse:
“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” --2 Nephi 32:9
In other words, if I’m performing prayerfully, then that performance is consecrated to MY benefit as well as the benefit of the listeners, and the growth of the Kingdom of God. As I type, that reminds me of yet another scripture…
“Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.” --D&C 62:3
So, if I’m bearing testimony in my song, and I’m doing so prayerfully, then my performance is for the welfare of my soul, and my sins are being forgiven. These were concepts that, while I knew, hadn’t really sunk in yet, and I hadn’t really applied to the music. If I pray and sing, and bear testimony in my songs, then I consecrate and purify my soul.
Let me tell ya… If I ever knew anyone whose soul needed purifying, it’s me! It’s nice to think that I can get that for a song!
Friday, October 01, 2004
I just received this in my email:
>DON'T BUY IT!!
>How ironic is this??!! They're getting their own Christmas stamp, but don't
>dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property?
>USPS New Stamp
>This one is impossible to believe.. Scroll down for the text.
>If there is only one thing you forward today.....let it be this!
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World
>Trade Center in 1993!
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine
>barracks in Lebanon!
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military
>barracks in Saudi Arabia!
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American
>Embassies in Africa!
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!
>REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on the TwinTowerson 9/11/2001!
>REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were
>lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!
>Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the
>EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class
>holiday postage stamp.
>REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp
>when purchasing your stamps at the post office.
>To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those
>AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.
>REMEMBER to pass this along to every patriotic AMERICAN you know.
This is in reference to the USPS's stamp commemorating the muslim celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha. For more info on the email circulating and the festivals, go to: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/eidstamp.asp
The thing that really chaps my hide about this is that it stirs up that good old american hatred and love of vengeance. I guess that by boycotting the use of the stamp, I'm somehow supposed to be showing my love of my country?
What about all the millions of peaceful, law abiding, US Citizen muslims in this country? They go on about their daily lives, contributing to the community, being productive, raising good kids, and, I might add, voting and paying taxes. Many have decried the extemist practices of the terrorists. Don't these people love their country, too? Don't they feel patriotic? How should they show their patriotism?
That's my Grrrr this week...