Saturday, December 22, 2007

The CTR Ring

Over at “The Journal of a Black Mormon Girl”, she talked about a CTR ring. And she talked about how cool the originals were. You know, the adjustable ones that turn your fingers green.

I used to have one of those many years ago (though still in my adulthood). I loved wearing it, but occasionally it would snag on something, pull away a bit, and then the ring would pinch my finger something awful. Ouch!

So, I got one that was a full ring, instead of the adjustable kind. I don’t remember what happened to it. I think it fell off and was lost.

I never had one as a child. I used to joke that this was the reason I turned out the way I did. If I’d only had a CTR ring, everything would have been fine. One ring to rule them all, you know…

So, as I began my adult life, I got one and wore it pretty much constantly. Once someone asked me which way it should be worn. If you hold your hand out flat in front of you, should the shield be right-side-up, visible to you? Or Upside-down, visible to others? That got me thinking. Who is it really for?

On the one hand (pardon the pun), it should be there to remind me to Choose the Right. The symbolic way to wear this one would be facing me. The problem is, it never worked that well for me. I mean, if I’m going to be an idiot, I can do it just fine, with or without the ring, ya know? And I know this to be true, because I’ve done plenty of stupid things while wearing a CTR ring.

So, I ended up choosing to wear it facing out, because it really did a lot of good for me that way. At the time, I was living in Utah, and I was working a lot in the local music scene. I’d mix sound for a band, or record another one in the studio. I was often in places and with people who didn’t maintain my own standards. In those situations, having a CTR ring was a great way to let people know I was a member of the church, and I didn’t have to announce it or say a word.

It was amazing to watch. People would correct their swearing around me, they would automatically not offer me cigarettes, beer or any other banned substance. There were some that did, having not noticed the ring, or choosing to ignore it anyway, but there were many more that did not. Many times I got into quite deep conversations about the church and life as an active member as people mentioned the ring.

I’m not a big fan of a lot of the Mormon kitchy home decorations, but I allow them in my home. Partly because my wife loves them, but also from something I learned when I was delivering pizzas. You can tell immediately when you walk into the home of an active church member. Nobody has to say anything, but there are pictures of temples and the savior all around. It’s a way of announcing, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And you don’t have to get up in anyone’s face about it.

So, the BMG (Black Mormon Girl – She didn’t post her name at her blog) wants to start a fraternity/sorority using the greek CTR. “Chi Theta Rho” And have everyone wear the greek CTR ring. I don’t have to do anything embarrassing to pledge, do I?

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Rights of Parents

I just received what follows in an email from an old and trusted friend. He had apparently received it from another friend. I appreciated his added comments and the citation of the excerpt from the Proclamation on the Family.

I’m not fully sure what I think of this yet, so I’m offering it up here for perusal and discussion. I looked at the website that is the original source, and found it interesting. On the surface, it seems to be worthy of support.

Still all things political need to be weighed very carefully, especially when it comes to amending the Constitution. If it’s warranted, and the wording stands up to scrutiny, I will support it in the long run. For now, it looks good in my eyes, but I’ll withhold final choices until I’m better informed.

In the meantime, read on and tell me what you think:

To my family and friends with whom I share many common convictions. Please consider this email below carefully, which I received this morning from a respected and trusted friend and concerned parent. Though I am no expert in these matters, this sort of involvement strikes me as being in harmony with the final paragraph of the Proclamation on the Family (in bold), issued by the Lord's prophet and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. I've included an excerpt from that proclamation for your consideration:

"'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."

Again, please take a moment to consider this email below, and respond appropriately.


Greetings Folks,

I am sending this to you because I believe it to be an important matter and your assistance will be both helpful as well as quick and easy.

The proper and necessary rights of parents have long been under siege in our country. And now, the God given authority of parents is not only at risk from within our own country's legislative and judicial processes but also, believe it or not, from international law, vis a vis the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

There is an effort now to make a Constitutional amendment which would positively ensure the rights of parents to exercise their authority in protecting and raising their children and it needs your support. Here is the draft of the amendment.


The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

No treaty nor any source of international law may be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

The link below will take you to more information on the subject and also a very simple and quick petition to sign. All it asks is your name, email and address.

Please take a few moments to consider this issue and the signing of the petition.

So, let’s all look at it and discuss!

Mark Hansen

A Few Random Christmastime Thoughts

I love Christmas, and this year is going to be especially fun. I don’t know why it’s any different. Maybe it’s because we’re finally settled into our new house, or maybe because we’re buying presents, but we’re not really going overboard so much this year.

Although, if you’ll let me digress a minute, one of my all-time favorite Christmases was the first one with Jodi as my wife. We went absolutely crazy, and way way overspent on each other. The funny thing, though, is that what I remember about that Christmas was not any particular regret about spending too much money, or how hard it was to pay off (and it was hard), but rather how much fun I had picking out her presents, and how wonderful her presents to me were. I can still remember what most of them were. I had a ring custom made for her, she bought me tickets to see Jethro Tull… It was a great Christmas. We had our tree, our first tree as a married couple, up and lit before Halloween. It was a blast.

But I digress.

One of the things I think about as I’m listening to Christmas Carols and making Wassail, is just how connected many of our Christian celebrations are. We give thanks, we give gifts. But ultimately, none of that would make any difference if it weren’t for Easter. If Jesus hadn’t suffered in Gethsemane, bearing my sins, weaknesses, and sorrows, then we would have no reason to celebrate his birth. Ultimately, with no way to bridge the gap back to God, the Father, there would be no reason to be thankful, no reason to celebrate.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Have Been Snarked!

I’ve been blogging here for about five years, now. I’ve really enjoyed it, but I don’t seem to have much bloggernacle cred. There are others that get more traffic than I, there are others more controversial than I. There are even some that seem to find joy in seeing how far from their own testimonies they can go and still be called a “mormon blog.”

At one point, someone made a study of the LDS blogs to see who had the oldest, and I was winning for a while, but then someone found a blog with about a months worth of posts in his archive older than mine.

Nonetheless, I’ve not gotten the fame and glory that I so richly deserve. I’m a Mormon Blogger, so the world should be hanging on my every keystroke, right? What I type should change the world, right?

Well, this last week, I hit another milestone. I have now arrived. I am one of the special, even one of the chosen blogs.

I got snarked!

I know, I know, some may point out that there were a lot of other blogs that were snarked in that same posting, but I still know that I will rise above them all and take my fair place as… as…

Oh, well…


Still, it was kinda cool to see me listed there… I actually, and in all seriousness, enjoy reading the snarkernacle. It’s kinda fun to see someone else’s take on how we all seem to take ourselves way too seriously.


Mark Hansen

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Huckabee and Blasphemy

So much of religious doctrinal debates are all about truth, blasphemy, and perceptions. By that I mean that what I perceive as truth, you perceive as blasphemy. And, conversely, what you perceive as blasphemy, I perceive as truth. What’s funny is that the item in question is often the very same thing, and is not, in and of itself, in question.

A good example is the thing that Mike Huckabee threw at Mitt Romney not long ago. Do Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers?

Now, Huckabee is throwing that out there because he thinks it’s blasphemy. How can anyone believe that a being so good and a being so evil can be brothers? Mitt is pretty much ignoring the slur because there are other things more important to talk about.

Do Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers? The simple answer is, “Yes, we do.” And we believe that all humans are also brothers to both of them. Lucifer copped an attitude early on, before the world was built, and got himself cast out, because he wanted God’s glory. A full third of his (and by that I also mean “our”) brothers and sisters followed him and became his minions.

They rebelled. THEY rejected God and Jesus and so, became Satan and his servants. Hey, every family has it’s outcasts…

So, now Huckabee is trying a strange twist to anti-Mormon efforts, that is, accusing us of believing something we actually do believe. As opposed to telling us that someone a long time ago said a speech that is now misinterpreted to mean something totally different and so now because this person attended a class on how to save Mormons, he knows what we REALLY believe. I, of course, who have spent my life as a Mormon, have no clue what I actually believe.

But my response to the “Satan is Jesus’ bro” question is simply to say, “You say that like it’s a bad thing…”

It’s also like a lot of other church doctrines that Mainstream Christianity considers to be blasphemous:

  • Eternal Marriage: If my wife and I treat each other well and live as God wants us to live, we can be married even in the hereafter. Our children will be our children, too. A big happy family! That’s a good thing, right?
  • Eternal Progression: If my wife and I are good and learn what we need to learn here on earth, and repent and accept Jesus’ atonement, we can become like Heavenly Father. We can, in the heavens, be as Gods. You say that’s a bad thing. I think it’s great how God, our Father, wants us to be like Him.

Same concept, different perspectives

It even plays out in some of the more speculative areas. Like: Was Jesus married? Honestly, “Who cares?” is my response. I don’t have any problem with the concept of a married Savior. But some other people do.

It’s funny. The concept doesn’t change, but the two perspectives of it are completely opposite.. Is the human race all one big dysfunctional family? Does it include Satan and his legions of evil spirits? Huckabee wants to belittle us for believing it does. I think understanding it makes life a little clearer.

Mark Hansen

PS, a quick note to those that want to post comments to try and prove that my beliefs are wrong. Go ahead and quote your scriptures and your own interpretations of them. Go ahead and quote that Journal of Discourses chapter someone showed you. You’ll forgive me if I don’t comment back. You’ll also forgive me if I don’t feel the need to take up the challenge by going to your blog and calling your cherished beliefs blasphemous. ‘Cause it’s all about perceptions, right?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mitt Romney, Politics, and Religion

I read Mitt Romney’s speech over at Times and Seasons. I had tried to find it to download and listen to, but I couldn’t find a complete version.

It’s hopefull, but doubtful, that this will lay the religion issue to rest. At least not in the bloggernacle!

Still, I think it was a great speech. I like how he took a stand for separation of church and state without removal of church from state. By that, I mean that it’s important that we all have religious freedom, and that there be no official state religion. I also feel that it’s important to allow people in public service to claim religious beliefs, and for us to express our religious beliefs in public life.

I think that in an effort to not favor any one religion over the other, those that govern have made many efforts to squelch any religion at all, and I disagree with that.

Still, in practical reality, we’re talking about Christianity, here. For example, if it were this difficult to deal with the election of a Mormon, think how hard it would be for our country to elect a Buddhist. Would it ever be possible for America to have a Pagan president? What about a Muslim?

I’d like to think that if those circumstances ever occurred, I would vote on the basis of that candidate’s stand on the issues, rather than on their professed faith. In that same way, I hope that our nation judges Mitt on his merits, rather than his Mormonism. Let him stand or fall by his strengths.

Mark Hansen

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Golden Compass

I suppose I’m going to weigh in on the controversy. Not really, though. I’m not going to comment on the books or the movie. I haven't read the books, I haven't seen the movie. Instead, I’m going to comment on the fuss.

First of all, I am a bit confused by it. The fuss, I mean.

“Oh NO! There’s an anti-Christian movie coming out!”

And this is news? Like this is the first one? People have been making movies about their unbelief for years. What’s so different about this one? And why is this one supposed to be so damaging to our faith as a whole? What will make "The Golden Compass" any different from all the others?

Second: The boycott. Of course, Christian groups all over America are screaming about it and wanting to boycott it, thus creating controversy and a whopping lot of free publicity. Here’s a thought: I’ll bet the producers of the movie knew that would happen. Here’s another thought:: I’ll bet they’re counting on it! That means that the Christians are willing (though perhaps unwitting) participants in the game.

Third: To those that think that the boycott is somehow “enforcing a Christian agenda”, I have to laugh. Isn’t that what the Christians are saying about the “atheist agenda” in the movie? C’mon people, get a grip! Everyone has an agenda! Get over it!

Fourth: Some are saying, “The Golden Compass is just a movie, folks! It’s a work of fiction!” While that may be true, I have to say that fiction often has more power to display truth (at least as the author sees it), than non-fiction prose does.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts. Discuss… Or not…

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Final Bit on Brendon, Jacob and the Grizzlies.

Not long after that last post, my family and I were sitting in a Chinese restaurant having dinner. As we were winding down, an elderly couple that had been sitting near us came over to our table and asked my sons, ?Are you the boys that were on the news the other night??

It was fun to watch my boys light up with excitement and bask in their moment of fame. The couple talked about how the clip had touched them and how nice it was to see them be so close. Of course, the clip never showed them fighting or arguing (which they do, but not really all that much).

Then at church on Sunday, people kept coming up to us and sharing how much they enjoyed that show. My boss texted me when he saw it.

I've gotten a lot of other responses through the emails as well. Here are some cool excerpts:

"Mark the video on your boys was wonderful. It brought me to tears. Your sons are so awesome and I feel blessed to have met them a few times." That was from a musical friend who?s helped us with our annual LDS music fest. My wife always brings the boys out for the evening show each year.

A really great lady, who owns Modest By Design, said, "Mark, I am sitting in my office bawling my eyes out. That was amazing! You can tell that you and Jodi have done an amazing job raising two wonderful kids, and that they are just huge spirits. What a cool thing for them to get to experience! Thank you for sharing that, I really needed it this morning."

Kathy Aiken, who produced and narrated the spot, has been corresponding with Jodi. She told us that she was touched by them as brothers and so decided to focus the story on that aspect of their lives. "so good to hear from you...and I'm sorry to hear about Brendon. I think it's hard to make all of them feel special but we can only do the best we can! Obviously you have a unique situation, but Jacob adores Brendon and I hope tonight's story will make him feel special. I'll be sure to wish him Happy Birthday and I can't wait to share it with the audience! And as far as being in tune, there are some stories I do that when it's all done I know they weren't my words. I've had several of those experiences where I've been prompted to write things that aren't in my usual vocabulary and I'm so grateful to have those times. I only hope that these 4 stories will bring some type of happiness to the children because they have so much difficulty in life. I hope to hear your reaction and give the boys a hug for me!"

And this from Adrian Denny, one of the Grizzlies players: "Hi Jodi, just wanted to say hello and hope that all is well. I really enjoyed the story last night and wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to meet you and your great boys! Please stay in touch and let me know anytime you guys would like to come to a game or just stop by the rink! The two Scott's and Travis are still talking about how much fun they had that day!"

So, it's been very exciting to hear back from so many people and see that Brendon and Jacob made so many people smile for a minute or two. Thanks to all that responded!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jacob and Brendon Are Stars (Thanks to the Utah Grizzlies and KSL)

A lot of our friends already know that Brendon and Jacob had been meeting with Kathy Aiken of KSL, interviewing and shooting a piece with the Utah Grizzlies. The boys got to go meet the team, go into the locker room, and even out on the ice. Then a few of the team took Jodi and the boys to lunch. They really went out of their way to make Jacob and Brendon feel special. They came home with new friends and lots of swag (most of it autographed).

Here's the clip that aired last Sunday (Brendon's Birthday). It really captures how close these two boys are. A note: After the piece on the boys, there's some remaining parts of the SportsBeat Sunday newscast.

I'm a very lucky dad.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jacob, Brendon, and the Grizzlies on KSL

There might be some of you arriving here after searching for info on Jacob and Brendon after seeing the report on Sports Beat Sunday on Utah's KSL-TV. Hopefully, they'll post the spot on their website, and when they do, I'll put the link here. It was a very touching piece, and Jodi and I want to thank the Grizzlies team for treating my kids like kings, and to Kathy Aiken and Make-a-Wish for setting it all up.

Mark Hansen

Is it a Sin to Enjoy Church?

OK, I know I'm going to rot for eternity in the fiery abyss. I know it. And what happened today was just proof.

See, today was the first day in a very long time that I actually enjoyed going to church. I even looked forward to it. I was excited about it.

Last week, My wife and I were released from primary.

That meant that today, for the first time in almost a year (Pretty much since we moved into this ward), I got to attend Priesthood meeting. I got to sit with adults! I got to speak of grown-up things.

Then, I actually made a new grown-up friend. After that, I met my wife and we sat down in the grown-up Sunday School class, where we discussed grown-up topics in a lesson I didn't have to prepare. with people who didn't need treats to behave.

Look, the kids in my class were cute. And frankly, they were mostly well-behaved. They were even fun most of the time.

But for once, it was nice to not be supervising someone. It felt great to just be a part of the discussion. It felt great to think about the things that were being taught.

I know that there is no greater call than to teach the children of Zion. I know they are our future. I know I should find joy in serving wherever the Lord calls me.

But at least for today, I'm thankful we were released.

So, for that, at least... I know I'm goin' ta hell...

Mark Hansen

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank You, All!

OK, in the past, I’ve been pretty open about my opposition to the war in Iraq. Still, I've been very impressed by the committment and dedication shown by the soldiers I've known who have fought there.

A good friend of mine recently pointed me to a website that details the stories of the many soldiers (over 3,000 so far) who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. These are soldiers that really go over the top and serve their country above and beyond the call. The description of the award includes things like “total disregard for personal safety”, etc…

As I read the stories, I was inspired. These are truly courageous people. These are people who fully give of themselves for the safety and security of others. Because of the nature of the award, it is often given posthumously.

The website is at: I strongly recommend you click into the stories. That’s where the interesting reading really is.

As I read them, I was reminded of the verse, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15: 13

So, on this Veteran’s Day, I must give a special thanks to many people I know who have served in the military, serving their country. My father, his father. Both of my fathers-in-law. Vic, Matt, John, Justin, Barry... These are just a few. Thank you all.

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Elections, Part II

Well, I can’t start a story and then not finish it, now can I? The unofficial votes for Eagle Mountian are in.

The guy who admitted to Real Estate fraud lost by a big margin to the lady who’s supposedly “in bed with” the developers. We’ll see how she governs, but I’m actually pretty optimistic.

One thing that’s interesting about it all. There were no claims of “party affiliations” in this election. Nobody was Democrat or Republican. However, there were a band of three of these candidates, one for mayor and two for council that called themselves “Keepers of the Promise,” indicative of their fight against the evil developers. All of them ended up polling at the bottom of the lists. One, of course, was the mayoral candidate that admitted the fraud. Another was a lady (candidate for city council) who failed to report a “personal loan” given to her by one of the developers. I kinda felt bad for the third guy. I think he got dragged down by the other two. Still, when you hitch your wagon to a star that’s falling, that’s kind of a bad choice.

Another thing I found interesting is how low the numbers were. The winning mayoral candidate got 1500 votes or so. The loser, only 500. That means that only about 2000 people voted. Our city has a rather bizarre demographic. The total population is about 20k, and the average age is 13. There are a LOT of young families with little kids. Our primary has three classes for the 5 year-olds, and there aren’t enough 12-year-old boys to field a full team of deacons to pass the sacrament. I think this is the only ward I’ve been in where the youth program presidencies and advisors actually outnumber the youth. My point is that I’m not sure exactly how many of the population of our town were eligible to vote. Add to that the fact that many people are recent move-ins, and so they would have had to re-registered.

But still, only 2000 people voted? That’s sad.

Anyway. Like I said before, it’s all done now, and we get to see just how well anyone lives up to their rhetoric.

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


One thing you can always say about elections. You know that at some point, the turbulence, the debates, the commercials, and the mudslinging and arguing will be done. At some point, the votes will all be in, they will be counted (and yes, sometimes recounted), and then we will all move on.

So it will be in my small town of Eagle Mountain. I voted today. I think I voted pretty intelligently. I don’t mean to imply by that statement that my vote was the only intelligent choice. What I mean is that I did take some time to study the issues, the candidates, and then made a choice based on what I learned. Time will tell, really, how intelligent the choices really were.

I’m always a little bit smug and proud of myself when I vote. In some ways, I shouldn’t be, but in other ways, I like wearing the little “I Voted” sticker they gave me. I like being part of the process. And I liked being a part of the small-town process. Back when I lived in West Jordan, I almost never voted in civic elections. In fact, once, I decided I was going to, and then spent an hour or so searching for the polling place. I never found it.

I guess that now that I live in a new city, and I really feel like I can make a difference, I want to be involved. I want to be a part of it.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ah, small-town politics…

As I mentioned a while back in my blog (sort of as it was happening), I moved out to Eagle Mountain almost exactly a year ago. By and large, I’ve loved it out here. Our new house is great, and getting better. I’ve found some good friends, and my boys have friends by the ton over at our house every day.

Tuesday is our election day. We’re voting for a new mayor and some city council members. And it’s been an interesting fall, too be sure.

Let me set this up for you: No mayor, in the ten-year history of this small developer’s town in the countryside of Utah, has ever served a full term. Not one.

The current sitting mayor was really an interim. He was appointed by the city council to take over after the former mayor faced charges of mishandling city funds. Our current mayor is actually a pretty nice guy. I wish he was running. But he took over with the understanding that he only wanted to be an interim mayor. He would do all he could, but he would not run for election. He made that very clear, primarily by not running.

So, now we have two choices. And one of them is following in a long-standing tradition of crookery. About two weeks ago, it was revealed that he was being investigated for real-estate fraud. Of course all along he was pointing the finger at his competition for being “in the pockets of the developers” and not keeping the interests of the city at heart.

About a week ago, he actually admitted to the charges, and was fined some $40,000 by some real estate board, and lost his real estate license. There was a news report interviewing some of those that were the victims of his fraud, now left with destroyed credit ratings and mortgages they can’t pay. One of them, surprisingly, was the family of his own daughter and son-in-law!

And yet, for some reason, he still seems to think he can continue to run for the seat! I have never seen a politician with chutzpah like this, I have to admit.

Meanwhile, there is still all kinds of mudslinging going on between him and his opponent. His response to the publicity has been that it has all been politically driven. I guess it was his opponent that made him cheat on the documents and artificially inflate the prices of the properties they forced his son-in-law to pretend to buy for him. But his opponent is supposedly owned by the developers that own Eagle Mountain, and if she's elected we can say goodbye to city parks and open spaces.

Then someone else (we're not sure who just yet, both sides blame each other) took out an ad in our town newspaper pointing out which candidates for mayor and council were happily married and which ones had been divorced. Because, that, of course, indicates how well they would run our city, right?

Don’t these people realize that this is a small town? After this is all done, we all still have to live together. We’re all still going to be neighbors, after all. Crazy…

Mark Hansen

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thanks, Alex…

I was listening to the “Cricket and Seagull Fireside Chat” for this week, hosted over at Meridian Magazine. The guest is Alex Boye.

This guy constantly amazes me. I love listening to him tell about growing up in England, joining the church, singing in the boy band, and then coming to America and singing solo here. Now, he’s a married man and singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And he just put out another CD. Pretty good stuff, from what I’ve heard of it.

One of the things he said in the podcast, though, struck me pretty hard. He talked about how he started to get famous in England in the boy band, and how that was getting more and more worldly, leading him away from God and the Church. And how he wasn’t sure what to do after he quit, but that he’d put it all in God’s hands. He said, when he’d tried to run his own life, he’d made a mess of it, and so he turned it over to God, and it became much easier.

So, I’m wondering how to do that?

I’d imagine that if I want to do what God wants me to do, I’d have to pray a lot. Otherwise I’d not have any idea what it is God wants me to do in the first place. I’d have to do the things I already know God wants me to do, like love my family and my neighbors, keep the commandments, and all that.

I keep wondering what would come next? Maybe if I do that stuff, the other things I worry about on a constant basis wouldn’t be quite so worrisome. Like whether or not I’ll have a job next week, or whether or not my current salary is gonna be enough. Or whether or not anyone’s downloading my songs, or when I’m actually gonna finish a new one.


Mark Hansen

Monday, October 29, 2007

Strange Friends...

I have a really good friend. We met in high school, and we’ve remained friends ever since. We sat next to each other in our American History class, and we used to play chess on paper during the lectures. We were in the Model UN conferences together. We did all the high school geek stuff.

Then, in college, we’d debate. Philosophical stuff. The nature of truth, reality, etc… I from my own Mormon perspective, he from his own point of view.

He joined the Army, and we saw each other a time or two after that, but then there was not a whole lot for a lot of years.

Finally, and I don’t remember how, we hooked up via IM and started chatting on the ‘net. We still talk religion and philosophy, and, aside from a few bumps early on, we’re both pretty respectful. In the process I learned that what was going on for him in those late high school/early college years was that he left Christianity and became a Wiccan.

In the process of our discussions now, we talk a lot about what we each believe. He’s much more reflective and respectful of Mormonism, and I’m a lot less “afraid” of Wicca.

Recently he took some time to tell me his “conversion story” of his path from Catholic, through evangelical Christianity to Paganism. I was surprised to find a lot of similarities in my own experience. I found it interesting to realize that his experiences led him away from a belief in Christ, where mine brought me deeper into it. As I revisited and remembered my own experiences, they became real again for me.

I mention all this because he blogged about me about a week ago, and had some kind words to say. Even though he used to bait me into arguments like he tends to do with Christians, there was a part of me that enjoyed the banter. First of all, he asked me a lot of the tough questions, and as I answered them, it became much clearer to me what the real answers were. Also, I enjoyed it because he would often approach his questions from a mainstream Christian perspective, and then be surprised to find that question answered by Mormon Christianity.

Of course, there were still a lot of things that we simply ended up agreeing to disagree.

Still, I remember at one point ribbing him that he’d make a good Mormon. The ironic part of that is that this Wiccan has made me a better Mormon.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Five Years!

I was checking out my archives here at Mo’Boy the other day. Sometimes I like to play the “What was I thinking a year ago?” game. It’s so much more pleasant that the usual “What was I THINKING?” game I usually play.

Anyway, I noticed that my first ever posting was on October 29th, 2002. That means that I’ve been blogging here for just a few days under 5 years!

That’s a long time in the bloggosphere. It’s a very long time in the bloggernacle. But I’ve been at it, and though at times I’ve not been as prolific as others, I’ve never let go. It’s just too much fun. Yeah, it takes time, but I really enjoy it.

Let me pick a few of my favorites:

Those are my picks. What are yours?

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

To Coin a President…

I’ve started collecting the presidential “gold” dollar coins. I’ve been pretty excited about them. After the state quarters, and the historical nickels, this is pretty cool. They’ll make one new coin every quarter (quarter year, not 25 cents), until they’ve minted all of the presidents. Of course, the only ones that are eligible are the dead ones. The ones that are still living won’t be minted. Until they die, I suppose. Which is still not much of an incentive to pass on, in my book. You know, "Keep on living; have my face on a coin. Keep on living; have my face on a coin... "

Easy call, in my book.

But anyway...

One of the cool things I’ve been doing is that when a new one comes out, before (or soon after) I get it, I read up a little on that president. That way, I get to see what happened in his presidency and know more about our great history.

The latest one is James Madison. The big historic even that went down in his administration was the War of 1812. Sometimes that war is called, “the second revolutionary war” and also “Madison’s War”. It was originally started for economic reasons. The British and the French were at war, and while America tried to stay out of it, the British started raiding American trade with France. They also tended to stop American ships and press “British subjects” aboard into the English Navy.

Apparently, it was tough for Madison to convince Americans at the time to go to war. And, in the end, while it did solidify our international standing as an independent state, the borders of the country didn’t change.

It kinda made me think of the Iraq war, and how history will perceive it 100, even 200 years from now. Will it be called, “Bush’s War”?

Madison originally started his public life as a strong proponent of state’s rights, and an opponent of a strong central federal government. But as the war progressed, and he saw how difficult it was to fight a national war with state militias, and fund it without a federal bank, his position shifted, and he established a standing federal army and a National Bank.

It’s his work before his presidency for which he is most admired, that being that he was one of the principal authors of the constitution, and also the Bill of Rights. It’s also interesting to note that initially, he was opposed to a separate bill of rights, saying that those rights were already in the constitution, and that various state constitutions had shown that the paper was really not that effective in guaranteeing rights and liberties anyway. But later, he became a big promoter of it, and worked hard to get it ratified.

Anyway, it’s pretty fascinating. Sometimes we think of the “Founding Fathers” just as inspired men who put together this nation as it is, and we forget that they had to deal with politics and conflicting opinions just like we do.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, October 07, 2007

MoTab Rocks

There was some really cool things said in the Sunday morning conference session. I was really impressed. I’ll blog about them, for sure.

But that crowning moment for me was listening to the choir sing “How Firm a Foundation”.

As our own ward choir director, we did it (straight from the hymn book) about a month ago. It’s long been one of my favorite hymns. I thought our choir did a great job. This song is one that carries me through my trials more than any other.

The Tab choir did the third verse a capella, and the harmonies were glorious!

"Fear not I am with thee, O be not dismayed

For I am thy god and will still give the aid

I'll strengthen thee help thee and cause thee to stand

Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand."

Wow. What a sound, and what power. Then they sang the last verse in unison, with only the organ providing the harmonies. It just filled my soul, my eyes, and gave me chills. Especially the last verse:

“That soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I cannot desert to his foes

That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake

I’ll never no never no never forsake”

They rock!

Mark Hansen

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The One-Two Punch

This afternoon, I was cleaning my house while listening to conference. We often do things like that, while listening to the speakers. But when Elder Holland came on and started his speech, I was transfixed.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone take a stand like that and declare those kinds of truths with that kind of conviction. This was not simply a man bearing his testimony, though it was that as well. This was a man, with authority from a prophet of God, spelling out in clear terms that the world can hear, that we believe in a Godhead, rather than in the “traditional trinity”, and that the scriptures bear that out as truth. I can’t remember how many times in his talk I almost busted out crying.

Then the next speaker (I don’t remember his name) clarified the need for an open canon, and ongoing revelation. While not as forceful in tone, he also spoke with authority, and clarified that we do believe in the Bible, and that the additional scriptures we accept as truth support and clarify the Bible.

In recent years, there has been a certain amount of effort to join the world religious community. We’ve spent considerable effort trying to show that we’re pretty normal people who like to blend in with society. That’s all well and good, but, wow, if felt great to hear someone really shake it up and lay it down!

I imagine it’ll ruffle a few feathers in Traditional Christendom. I’ve already seen it ruffle a few feathers in the bloggernacle. It sure encouraged me to take my own stand!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I’ve got a couple of amazing kids.

I’ve just been thinking about that more and more lately.

The other day, I was talking with a friend. He had come out to my home for a birthday party about a month ago, and he commented on Jacob’s growth. I live with him every day, and so I don’t always see the progress.

Jacob, for those that don’t know has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Cystic Fibrosis. He has very limited control of his hands, or his feet, for that matter.

So, my friend sat and with a little bit of wonder, watched Jake playing “Toontown” on the computer. Now, this is essentially an MMORPG for kids. While it’s not like Halo or WOW, it’s actually a fairly complex virtual world. And yet, he gets around and interacts in it just fine. He can’t shape his hands to use a normal mouse, but we got him a keyboard with a touchpad, and he can work it like a pro (albeit not quite as quickly).

He can’t draw a letter to save his life, but at school the other day, he sat at the computer and typed his way to a 100% score on his second-grade spelling test. He did tell me that he missed one, but got the bonus right, so he still got a hundred. That works!

Brendon got this science kit for making crystals at a yard sale, and for quite a while, he’s been bugging me to help him do it. So, I finally had the time at the same moment that he was bugging me and we set it up. It’s been sitting on the counter ever since, slowly growing sparkly blue crystals. Then, last Saturday, it snowed, and we got to talk a little bit about how snow is basically ice crystals, formed by essentially the same process as was going on in his jar on the kitchen counter. He was pretty fascinated by that thought.

They drive me nuts much of the time. But they’re still the greatest.

Mark Hansen

Friday, September 28, 2007

Loving Your Enemies

This one’s been kinda bouncing around my head some lately. It all stared when a friend of mine mentioned that he can love someone he doesn’t like. I started wondering about that. How can I love someone I don’t like? If someone irritates me, annoys me, bothers me, or even hates me, how can I love him?

First off, I’m not talking romantic love. That’s obvious. I irritate, pester, and annoy my wife on a regular basis, and yet she still claims to love me. Go figgure.

No, I’m talking about the charitable love I’m supposed to have for my fellow man. You know, that troublesome “second greatest commandment”? “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matt. 22: 39

How do you do that?

Matthew shares some more advice from the Savior: Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” Matt. 5: 43-44

All of the Lord’s examples are things that you do for your enemies. Bless them, do good for them, pray for them. I read once a long time ago that to really love someone with a charitable love, then you have to truly want what’s best for them, regardless of how that impacts you, directly.

So, even if someone annoys me or even does me direct harm, I can still want what’s best for them. I can still work toward them getting that thing that’s best for them. Who knows, it might actually make it so they don’t annoy/hate/harm me anymore!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chapter and Verse, a Year Ago!

I was just jumping through my archives, as I do from time to time. I'll often play this "What was I doing a year ago?" game.

Well, it turns out that a year ago, I launched the introductory playtesting website for my scripture card game "Chapter and Verse". And then, I blogged about it!

A lot has changed in that last year. A lot of playtesting, a lot of development. Even though it's the same game, it's also drastically different. I mean, we're up to version 5.4 of the rules! And that's just the beta rules! Still, I think we've got a good game now, with a solid system, and cool-to-play cards (even if they don't look schnazzy yet).

Come on over and try it out. Let me know how it works for you

Mark Hansen

If Only...

Gary, in his blog at the One Man Mormon Blues Band, wrote a thought that really struck me. I’ve rolled it over and over in my head, and every way I look at it adds meaning.

“If people only understood how little it takes to please me, they would give me more.”

My thoughts:

  1. One of the reasons why I have a hard time giving toys and things to my kids is that it’s never enough. They’re thrilled to get it, but within a few minutes, that initial gift has led to another demand. Only one pack of Pokemon cards? Now I need a whole deck! Etc…
  2. Lately at work I’ve been lobbying and working for the guys on my team to get paid more. I’ve made some good progress. But rather than seeing it as good progress, I’ve been frustrated that getting final approval is taking so long.
  3. A long time ago, I read a book, called “Taran Wanderer”, by Lloyd Alexander. A young man takes a journey through a fantasy land and meets many interesting characters. One of the more fascinating of them was a guy who had nothing, but he felt lucky. Every little piece of discarded scrap he encountered was a treasure, and he found a use for it. He’d build it into his house, or adapt it to his farm, he even wore pieces of it as armor when the time came to protect his country.

Maybe if I didn’t demand so much, didn’t require so much, I’d get more.

Maybe if I was more grateful for the things I got, I’d get more.

Maybe if I recognized the things I did get, I’d realize that I already get a lot.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Thoughts on Callings

In music, especially in pop, and even more especially in jazz, there’s a particular kind of music notation that’s referred to as the “lead sheet”. It’s an abbreviated, annotated way of writing out a song that allows for lots of interpretation in the actual performance. Take a look at this example:

This is a slice of a lead sheet of one of my favorite jazz tunes, “Take Five”, made popular by Dave Brubeck. You’ll notice that there are not a lot of notes written here. If you’ve ever heard a recording of it, especially by a combo, you’ll know that there are a lot more notes actually being played. In fact, all that’s notated here with dots and stems and staves is the melody. A saxophone, for example, or a guitar would play those notes, while the band would fill in the rest. What would the band play? How would they know what to play? Well, those instructions are noted by the chord shorthand written above the melody. E flat minor, B flat minor seven, etc… These are the chords the rest of the band would fill out. The bass player, for example, would decide what actual notes he would play to fill out those chords. The pianist, or the guitarist would play those chords in a rhythm appropriate to the style.

The nice thing about a lead sheet is that it makes it very flexible. You don’t need to have separate sheet notations for each part. Let’s say your band has a saxophone player, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. They would each look at the exact same sheet of music, and be able to render their own parts. Let’s say all it’s just a piano player. She could look at this exact same sheet of music, and play the melody and fill out the chords with both hands.

The point is, that there is no one telling them what notes to play and when to play them. They read the basic instructions and they fill in the sound.

But wait, it gets worse. The notation of the melody is incorrect. Sort of. Notice that all of the first few notes of the melody are all notated similarly. They’re called “eighth-notes” and according to the sheet music, they should all be played equally long. But if you put this in front of a jazz player, he would know that you’re not supposed to play it that way. You’re supposed to “swing” it, which means the first note of every pair is supposed to be a little longer, and the second note is supposed to be a little shorter. Even though it’s written to be played “straight”, any musician should know you don’t really do that.

Here’s the problem: Using a lead sheet assumes that everyone reading it knows what they’re doing. If a beginning or intermediate player doesn’t know how to form those chords, or how to create a stylistic bass line underneath them, or how to swing the rhythm, then the lead sheet is useless to them, and they can’t participate in the band. They would need to have all of the notes written out for them in a technically correct way in order to be able to play the song.

So, now let’s look at it from a different perspective. Let’s say that we’re not looking at a lead sheet, but instead, we’re looking at the priesthood manual for a calling. How closely should one follow it? Is it a lead sheet or is it notated music? Are we all in the choir waiting for the bishop to raise his arm and conduct us, or are we in a combo, where everyone makes up their own part according to the rules and according to the lead sheet? Both are musical, and both are thrilling and inspiring to listen to.

To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is!

Mark Hansen

Sunday, September 16, 2007

MoreThoughts on Consecration

Tonight, I was reading in an LDS site,, a series of quotes about the Law of Consecration. There were a lot that were cool, but a couple of them hit me the hardest.

One of the biggest misunderstandings of the Law of Consecration is that it’s another form of Communism. Take from the rich and give to the poor. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs. This spells economic disaster, in the eyes of folks like Ayn Rand.

But recently, I read a forum posting where someone suggested that Consecration was just a religious version of Communism. I replied that I always thought that Communism was Satan’s failed attempt to mimic Consecration.

This first quote addresses the fears that in a Consecrated world, there would be too many slackers trying to live off the work and efforts of others. This is, of course, true of the current welfare state. It is also not true of Zion. If you have these kind of selfish people, then you don’t have Zion. And others that are critical and judgmental of the efforts of others are under equal condemnation. In Zion, you don’t have snarky backbiting. ALL must buy in and work, at whatever they are best suited for.

“The truths of the gospel, or things as they really are, confront not just the Korihors, but all of us. The lazy individual meets, head on, truths about the essentialness of work. The selfish and idle rich meet, head on, the truths about our need to share: they must also ponder the need to accept, one day, the law of consecration. The selfish and idle poor collide with the harsh truths about covetousness and envy.”

--Neal A. Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, p.8

A second quote also struck me:

“Consecration is a celestial law. This persecution and expulsion [from Missouri] never would have occurred had the people observed the law which the Lord required. That law was simply the law of consecration -- a law of the celestial kingdom. It was a law which, if observed, would have made the people the richest and wealthiest of any people in the world. There would not have been a poor Latter-day Saint in their midst. Every man would have had all he needed to make him happy and comfortable, so far as financial matters were concerned.”

--Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.163-164

I was fascinated by two aspects of this quote. One is that it was the disobedience of the saints which ultimately brought about the antagonism in Illinois. We frequently think that we were the innocent victims of Satan-induced hatred. Were we not willing to share? Were we too high and mighty?

I also find it very interesting that a prophet tells us that if we were to live in accordance with the Law, we would be the richest people in the world. I’m reminded of the time whe the Nephites had “everything in common”, and lived in total peace and harmony. Read the entire book of Fourth Nephi. In other words, the best way to get rich is to make sure that everyone else is rich, too. Or, in other other words, the best way to live is to make sure that others live well, too.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Calling All Saints

There were some comments over at By Common Consent about the inspiration of callings, and the original post shed some interesting light. Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about how callings come about.

My initial contact with this issue also came during my mission. I got to thinking just how the President made the assignments. And I wondered about it. Were they all inspired? I know my President was a prayerful and spiritual man (although we disagreed a lot – a topic for another blog), and I know he sought inspiration when doing the companionship assignments. I also knew he often delegated the “first drafts” to his Assistants. Still, he explained to us that he often made changes and often felt inspiration when making the assignments.

Here’s some of my thoughts:

First of all, there are some missionaries (and later in life, ward members) that will dive into the work and commit to the building of Zion no matter where they are called and what they are called to do. My father is an excellent example of this. I remember when he was finally released, after years and years and years in stake leadership, from the stake presidency. He had no calling for about a month, and he felt completely lost. Then, he was called as a Sunday school teacher for the thirteen and fourteen year olds. He struggled with it, but tackled it with as much dedication as he had shown in the stake presidency for all that time.

From the mission point of view, the president knows he can send them anywhere, with anyone, and they will “bloom where they are planted”.

I have always tried to be that kind of saint, but have not always done so.

Second, there is the direct opposite. These are those ward members and missionaries that will not commit no matter what the call. In the mission field, we wondered why they had even come out in the first place.

Then, there are some times when the Lord knows that the needs of a particular calling and a particular missionary or ward member, in a particular place all match up. Most of the time, we humans don’t see this. We don’t get it, and we wonder why on earth that person got that calling.

So, in a lot of ways, I imagined that it’s the task of the Bishop or the Mission President to sense when there are people that need to be in a particular place and feel that inspiration. They need to put that in place, and then they need to fill the rest of the positions with other people. Then he can go to the Lord in prayer and get a confirmation of that.

And, in a ward, you also have the additional wrinkle that everyone should have a calling. Everyone should have a task to do. So, sometimes, especially in big wards, they have to invent things for people to do and places for them to be.

Also, I think there are times when the Lord confirms a wrong choice so that the Bishop or President can learn how to better read people. It’s like He says to the leader, “Well if you want him there, I’ll OK it, but you’ll have to deal with it when it all breaks down… It’s alright, though. It will be a good learning experience for you.”

So, is every calling inspired? Yes, in the sense that the overall plan is driven by inspiration. There have been many times when I could sense that my calling was more one of convenience, or at least expedience. I’m fine with that. Like I said, I think it’s best to try and be one of those “plug me in anywhere” saints.

I think it’s amazing how the Lord works with us as individuals. He lets us stand or fall wherever we are. And yet, somehow the church moves forward still...

Mark Hansen

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My Testimony

It’s very late.

My mind is fried.

But my thoughts, for some reason, are turning to my blog, and you, the kind folks that occasionally pop up here to read my rantings and my frustrations.

Like some of you, I read in the bloggosphere, and I read a lot of the bloggernacle. It’s funny, but even though MoBoy is one of the oldest blogs in the ‘nacle, I’ve always gotten this sense of being on the fringes, on the outside. Like I’m not really in the bloggernacle, but rather sitting on a blanket outside on the lawn, listening to the choir while I’m waiting to get into the conference.

Maybe if I were more controversial, or wrote more thought-provoking posts. Or maybe if I simply wrote MORE posts, and didn’t wait weeks in between, I might be more read and more accepted.

Oh, well…

One thing I’ve been feeling of late, as I read here and there in the blogs, is a real need to go on the record with my own personal testimony. It’s not often that I stand in F&T and bear my soul. I don’t know why. Still, there are times when I feel like I have to say it. It needs to come out of me, like a song does.

I know the church is true. I feel it every time I’m in the bench in sacrament meeting. My main calling right now is to lead the choir, and last week we were rehearsing “How Firm a Foundation” and I almost broke down crying as I heard my choir sing it. “That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”

I don’t get to feel it so much when I’m teaching my primary class, but I think that has a lot more to do with the chaos a bunch of 5 year olds can bring to a room. Cute kids. Crazy, too…

Still, I know it’s true. I feel it when I read the Book of Mormon. I haven’t done that much lately because I decided to finally read the Old Testament all the way through (I’m in Joshua, now). But occasionally, I’ll still flip some screens on my Palm and read a bit of Alma, or Mosiah, one of my personal favorites (If you want to learn how to lead a country, how politics should work, read King Benjamin’s tower speech over and over).

I know it’s true. I feel it when I read the Doctrine and Covenants. Say what you will about Joseph Smith. I know he’s a flawed human like all of us, but I know his prophetic calling was (and still is) divine. Praise to the Man!

I know it’s true because I see it in my children’s eyes. They don’t know enough to think it through just yet. Their faith is way more pure than mine. I can still remember Brendon’s tears when, as a four-year-old, we told him he couldn’t go into the temple to meet Jesus. We had told him that it was the Lord’s House, so naturally, he thought he could just walk up, ring the doorbell and meet Him. Like Greg Simpson sings, “I need faith like that”.

Most of all, I know it’s true, because I’ve studied it and prayed about it. Over the years, I’ve gotten the confirmation that I’m on the right path. I may not be walking it quite as directly or as quickly as I should be, but I’m on it. And those are steps in the right direction.

I know it’s true.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Political Rant, with Religious Roots

Let me warn you in advance that what I’m about to rant about is not only long, but something I feel very passionate about. Its core is rooted in my family and our struggle to make our way in this world. I’m fully aware that what I’m saying flies in the face of some strongly held political beliefs by many of you, many of whom are my neighbors and friends.

But here we go anyway…

At a website of a local candidate for City Council, I found an ebook for free download. This was made available a few years back by Chris Cannon, a Utah Congressman. It’s called, “The Role of Government”, by Ezra Taft Benson.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I believe it a violation of the Constitution for government to deprive the individual of life, liberty, or property except for these purposes:

“1 Punish crime and provide for the administration of justice;

“2 Protect the right and control of private property;

“3 Wage defensive war and provide for the nation’s defense;

“4 Compel each one who enjoys the protection of government to bear his fair share of the burden of performing the above functions.”

Basically, that means that government can only provide a judicial system, a police force, and an army, and that it can tax its citizens to pay for that, and that alone.

Now, on the surface, that seems pretty reasonable. No big government, no volumes of rules and regulations, no high taxes. Pretty sweet, huh? In theory, it sounds great. But in practicality, I have some significant problems with it.

Any other use of taxes, he says, is redistribution of wealth and plunder. “…Once government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth and providing so called “benefits” for some of its citizens, then it becomes means for what he accurately described as legalized plunder. It becomes a lever of unlimited power which is the sought-after prize of unscrupulous individuals and pressure groups, each seeking to control the machine to fatten his own pockets or to benefit its favorite charities—all with the other fellow’s money, of course.”

But when talking about the needy, the lame, the sick, he says, “America traditionally has followed Jefferson’s advice of relying on individual action and charity.”

OK, so where’s all this going?

Every year, Jodi goes to the state capitol to lobby the legislators to provide more funding for services for the handicapped. Most prominent among those is a system called DSPD (the Division for Services for People with Disabilities). This system helps provide many valuable services for people, like my son Jacob. Unfortunately, the system is also drastically underfunded. There is currently about a four to five year waiting list to get approved. It took Jacob about four years to get off the list and begin receiving services.

Previously, however, once you were off the waiting list and on services, you were guaranteed services and aid pretty much for good. Not so any more. This last summer, Jacob had to requalify.

Let’s look at Jacob’s situation. The actual services we receive from DSPD are actually pretty nominal. A few hundred dollars a month for respite care. But the big deal is that if you get services from DSPD, you automatically qualify for Medicaid. That’s a big deal. What that means is that after our own insurance coverage, Medicaid covers the remainder of his medical bills.

For those that don’t understand that, let me point some things out:

  1. His formula for nourishment costs $2500 a month.
  2. His wheelchair for mobility at school and home costs over $20,000
  3. His medications for Cystic Fibrosis and seizures cost upwards of 8,000 to 10,000 a month
  4. And on and on…

So, if our state legislators were to follow President Benson’s advice, we would be left with expenses of over 10 to 15 thousand dollars A MONTH!

Let me clarify. This is not because I’m a lazy bum who can’t get work to support my family. This is not because I’m a welfare leech. This is not because I have bad or no insurance. This is the cost AFTER my insurance.

Let me further clarify: This is not money we’d like to have so that we can maintain a more comfortable standard of living. This is not so that we can drive a nicer car. This is money spent on medicines (and we receive the medicines, not the money) to keep my son ALIVE. Let me stress that. Without this “unconstitutional redistribution of plundered wealth”, my son would DIE.

So, how come he didn’t die while he was waiting on the list? Because my wife tackled his health care as if it were her full-time job and found other governmental sources of “unconstitutional redistributions of plundered wealth.” It also helped that he wasn’t having seizures back then and was on fewer medications.

The alternative, according to President Benson, is to rely on the charity of those around us. Anyone willing to step up and donate a couple of grand a month to help us out? I’m not holding my breath.

Here’s my point: Yes, government is too big. I think much of that has to do with a bloated “defense” budget, but that’s another blog entry for another day. Yes, there are a lot of people who cheat welfare. Yes, the welfare system is set up to encourage people to stay on and cheat.

But let’s reform the system to truly take care of those who need it, and not cut everyone off in the process.

Mark Hansen


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