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


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