Monday, July 26, 2010

New Church Ads, New Church Website

I’ve seen some of the new church ads on the ‘net, and I’ve seen the new member section of the church’s website.  In fact, I’m working on my own profile.  In many ways, it has me very excited. 

I’m sure that there are all kinds of reasons for the new approach.  I’m sure that at some point someone did some “market research” and discovered what everyone outside of Utah already knew, that being that outside of Utah people really don’t know Mormons very well.  The new ads and the new site are a chance for people to get to know some real Mormons.

One of the ads, for example, features a surfer, who talks about all the things she’s learned from competitive surfing, and about all of the family bonding that has happened as they all went to the ocean together.  Up until the very end, when she says, “...And I’m Mormon”, it could easily be any kind of ad, for almost any product.

The profile pages, too, are opportunities for browsers to log in and encounter some real church members, bearing real testimonies and talking about real lives

My first thought, as I began perusing this new outreach, was to remember President Hinkley (at least I’m pretty sure it was him) talking about the enduring symbol of Mormonism not being the Angel Moroni with the Trumpet, but being the lives of the members.  If that’s the case, then the Church is acknowledging that in a big way!

Other thoughts:

On diversity:  One of the challenges the Church faces in modern life is the perception that we are all the same.  We act the same, we think the same, we are, in fact, all little robots manufactured and shipped from Stepford - I mean Provo.  This site and promotional initiative is a great way to dispel that myth.  To show that we are all unique, and that Heavenly Father not only gave us that uniqueness, but celebrates it.

Sadly, this is a message that is desperately needed within the walls of the church, as well as without.

On freedom:  As I’ve been filling out my profile, there have been guidelines that encourage me to avoid language that non-members wouldn’t understand, like “Relief Society” or “Bishop’s Youth Council”, etc...  But other than that, I’ve been free to put in the content I want.  Now, granted, if I don’t know what would happen if someone were to try and publish anti-mormon rhetoric on one of these sites.  But there has been no attempt to control what I’ve written so far.

Another message that we need to share both within the gospel and without is that the Church does NOT rule us.  We are free to learn and think and grow.  It’s all our own choice.

On marketing:  Some, more cynical than I, will think that this is just a way of “commercializing” the Gospel.  I see it as a way of throwing the doors open and letting the world see us as we are.  And that the Gospel shines better through the lives of extraordinarily ordinary saints than it does through any other means.  And that will do far more to help the world understand our light than will a million press releases telling the media that we’re not polygamists and that we shouldn’t be called “Mormons”. 

...I’m a Mormon!


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Dutch Oven Swirled Bread Redux 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I wrote a new song this morning!  It's called "Tenth and Main", and it's all about rediscovering lost spirituality.  You can find the lyrics and the story behind it at my Mark Hansen Music Blog.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Some Mixed (and kinda mixed-up) Thoughts on Immigration

I must confess to being quite confused on the issue of illegal immigration.  There’s a lot of rhetoric going around, and most of it confuses real issues and problems.  It’s starting to boil over here in Utah.  Many people are pressuring legislators to act, and pressuring the church to make a stand.  Others are publishing lists of violators, and saying public prayers in Spanish.  A lot of anger flying around.  Here are some thoughts, based entirely on my own experiences.

Draw your own conclusion

1 - The Church’s Stand

The Church today issued a statement of its stand on immigration, prior to the Governor’s big summit meeting about the issue.  It was, as expected, pretty much a non-statement of neutrality.  Not only is that not surprising, it’s prudent, in my opinion.

A long time ago, when I lived in West Jordan, I was called as a stake missionary, and assigned to work in the local Spanish-speaking ward.  I met and worked with a lot of wonderful people there.  At one point, as a part of that calling, I attended a big conference in the chapel at temple square.  The theme of the conference was all about ministering and teaching to the hispanic population in the valley.  The conference was conducted by some mid-level general authority, and I can remember him saying (even though he made it clear that it was his own opinion) that he found it interesting that many people were immigrating to the state, and then finding the Gospel and being baptised. 

That struck me as well.  Much of the rhetoric focuses on the immigrants that come into the state and commit crimes and drain our social resources.  It doesn’t mention those that come in, and become productive and valued members of our communities.

2 - English

The other day, while I was up at the hospital with my son, a lady came in to clean out our room and empty our garbage cans.  It was clear to me after we exchanged a few words that she spoke Spanish and only a very little English.  I started conversing with her in Spanish, which I enjoy doing a lot.  It turned up in the conversation that she’s been living in Utah for 20 years, and had raised her family here.

OK, this is one of my gripes.  I can understand someone struggling with living in a new country, and having to learn a new language.  I did it, myself, when I did my mission in Honduras.  I can understand the frustrations of navigating foreign bureaucracies in a foreign language when you first arrive.  I’ve been there, done that.  It’s not easy, it’s not fun.

But after 20 years, you should be able to speak the language of the land where you live.

3 - Viva La Raza

I think that much of the problems that immigrants face when dealing with the majority population are made worse by the choices of the immigrants themselves.  As an example, I remember seeing a protest demonstration in downtown Salt Lake City a few years ago.  Local Latinos had gathered to express their frustrations.  Yes, they, too, are frustrated.

The gathering was peaceful, and essentially respectful.  But I noticed that they were all flying and waving Mexican flags.  Now I don’t have any problem with the Mexican flag, nor with people expressing their heritage.  But if you want to send the message that you want to be a part of the country, wouldn’t it have been a stronger statement to fly American flags?  If you want to assimilate, if you believe in the “great melting pot”, then join us.  Become American.  Not just in citizenship, but in your own personal demonstrations of your loyalty. 

4 - If It Ain’t Broke... Oh, wait...

I, personally, don’t have a lot of problems with Mexicans living and working in Utah.  I know that the issue has caused a lot of problems, but I’ve not had any problems with it myself.  I’d like to see a way established that it could all happen legally.  I would like to be seen as a friendly, welcoming country, even if that welcoming needs to be regulated to some extent.

I don’t know the answers.  Clearly what we’ve got going on right now isn’t working.  If we want to keep people out illegally, then we’re not doing a very good job of it.  If we want to welcome them in, that’s not working very functionally, either.  I do applaud the governor for his reaction to the “blacklist” mentioned earlier.  I also applaud the summit.  I hope that some good comes from it.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post,

Saturday, July 03, 2010

When it's OK to Burn a Flag

I had a very patriotic moment tonight. At the close of Brendon's scout camp, some of the older scouts retired a couple of old and faded flags.

The flags were treated like fallen comrades, and the ceremony was much like a funeral. I had tears in my eyes as the color guard displayed each flag and we all stood and recited the pledge.

Then we all stood saluting as the color guard teams gently lowered the flags into the fire.  As they burned, I thought of the message of Paul to Timothy about fighting the good fight.

Then  all of the boys walked past the flags, paying respects, and I got to hug my son for the first time in a week, and hear about his adventures.

Location : Nina Loop, Garden City, UT 84028,


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