Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Mo’ Boy Doctrine - Halloween and Cub Scouts

A few days ago, Mo’ Boy celebrated it’s 8th anniversary.  That’s right - Eight Years!  That makes it one of the longest-running blogs in the Mormon blog world.  Unfortunately, that alone doesn’t make it the most consistently posted, nor the most frequently read.  But still...

There are a few issues that I’ve been stewing over lately, and it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve been alternatively laughing at them, and angry about them.  I thought, “It’s a great time to dust off the ol’ Mo’ Boy Doctrine for some good ol’ invokin!”

For the unfamiliar, the Mo’ Boy Doctrine came to be after I once wrote about our President Monroe, and his Monroe Doctrine.  A friend suggested I make my own.  So, I did.  It’s clear, and it’s simple.  I hasn’t changed the world, yet.  It contains two very important and complimentary parts.  It is this:

   1. Everyone should just not get so bent out of shape.
   2. If that bothers you, read it again.

And the first recipient of the invoking of the Mo’ Boy Doctrine is:  Saturday Trick-or-Treating vs Sunday Trick or Treating.  Honestly people, I can’t believe this is even an issue. Can we get over ourselves, here? 

Here’s how we, as a family, are dealing with it.  First of all, we’re doing our own family Halloween celebrations on Saturday.  Most of our neighbors are also church members, since we live in a small town in Utah, so I imagine that many of them will also choose to do that.  Second, we’ll leave our lights and our pumpkins lit on Sunday, and we’ll have extra candy for those kids that decide (for whatever reason) to do their celebrations on that day.  They’ll come and yell to our door, and we’ll open it, and fuss over their costumes, and give them their candy, too. 

...And it will still be fun!  Even on the Sabbath!

Also, the irony of having Christians debate the celebration of an essentially Pagan holiday (celebrating death and scariness) is not lost on me at all...

Next, we have this story of a Mormon family denied the opportunity to serve in a Cub Scout Pack because they’re *GASP* not Christian! This is another story to not get bent out of shape about.  In spite of this, there’s been a lot of blogger and news buzz.  The noise has ranged all the way from “How can they be so unChristian as to deny the offer of service from fellow souls...” to “It’s about time those Black- and Gay-hating Mormon bigots get a taste of their own medicine!”

It’s time to get real people.  First of all, I support the right of any privately-owned and run group to choose their own members and leaders.  So, if they don’t want to have Mormon volunteers, they don’t have to.  Second, as I was growing up in the Mormon youth programs, which included Church-sponsored Boy Scout Troops, I always had Mormon Scout leaders.  The Church youth program and scouting were seamlessly integrated.  What’s the big deal?

Although, I have to say, based on my experience as a scout leader in our own Church-sponsored Cub Scout pack, I have seen non-mormon and inactive mormons serve side by side with active Church members in scouting leadership capacities.

But in any case, my point still stands. I think that it’s not something that anyone, Mormon or not, should waste their time and ink getting bent out of shape about.

So, I hereby invoke the Mo’ Boy Doctrine on these two issues.  May they rest in peace.  But they probably won’t.



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: Progress on the Mormon Scripture Game, Small Dutch Oven Turnout,
Utah County Election Resources, LDS Music Today Podcast 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What of Free Speech?

The curious case of Pastor Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church

One of my favorite bits of all in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the Babel Fish. It’s this leechy little thing you stick in your ear and it instantly translates anything said to you in any form of language.  The bit goes on to wax philosophical and historical, but finally ends with this quote: “...Meanwhile, the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

See, we always assume that open communication and freedom of speech are good things.  That as long as we are all sharing our thoughts in open dialog, our society can grow.

But, as Pastor Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, Pastor Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center and Douglas Adams have all demonstrated, not all speech is enlightening or ennobling.

Should there be limits on what you can say and when you can say it?  That’s been debated and argued for a long time.  There are some laws that govern what you can say or print.  These laws are referred to as the laws of Libel and Slander.

Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The curious case of Pastor Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, however, raises up some really interesting thoughts.  For example:  One of the reasons why so many people are so upset at both pastors is that most people disagree with them.  These small, minority religious groups are making a loud statement that most people don't like.  How many pastors, preachers, and prophets are out there saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself”?  Millions.  So, that’s not news!  Because we all agree.  If they started saying, “Kill your neighbor”, then we would be upset.  This, then, flies in the face of the value expressed by Voltaire.  Rather than defending their rights to the death, in spite of disagreement, we’re clamoring for them to be silenced, BECAUSE we disagree with them.  Even though most of us think they're idiots (myself included).

Another hopefully interesting observation: In our current political climate, both the right and the left are busy defining themselves by being the opposite of their opponents.  The right is the right because they're against what the left is for, and vice versa.

So far, it’s been generally the right wing that has been the most vocal about “preserving the rights in the Constitution”.  It’s also been the right wing that tends to be the most vocal about “respecting the military and the soldiers and veterans within it”.  It’s also those on the right that have been the most vocal about the “incorrectness of the homosexual lifestyle”, especially in the military.

So, here’s an issue where all of the conflicting points involved are essentially based in current conservative values.  It’s the right vs the right vs the right.  That makes it a little challenging for the conservatives.  Who to back?  This also brings up the same conundrum for the left.  Which side to choose?  Where to stand?  I wonder where the ACLU will land on this one!

A third observation, from a Mormon perspective:  A while ago, the left in Utah, and the ACLU in particular were up in arms because the church attempted to prevent anti-Mormon protesters from shouting down Mormon wedding groups that would gather for taking pictures on the temple lawn in downtown Salt Lake City.  Free speech was the word of the day. If the courts decide that it’s inappropriate and illegal to disrupt a private funeral service, will it then also be illegal to disrupt a private wedding celebration?

My own feeling is that we should be free to express our opinions.  We should also be held accountable for the results of the things we say.  So, in theory, I’m opposed to letting people disrupt the private moments of other people’s lives in order to further their own political agendas.  I also think that this concept should be applied universally regardless of the political leanings of those doing the expressing, or those being disrupted.


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: Baking Dutch Oven Bread, Joyful Noises, A Call for Playtesters: LDS Scripture Game

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

My Epiphany

I had a bit of a spiritual epiphany the other day.  An epiphany is one of those moments when you see, with sudden clarity, what you really should have known all along.  For a long, long time, the debate had raged about Joseph Smith.  Is he an inspired prophet of God, or con man and a charlatan?  Is he a sex-driven madman that stole his friend’s wives, or a fierce opponent of polygamy? The historical debate rages.

Of course, over the years, I’ve gained my own testimony, and formulated my own understandings.

Then I read this post at the Pure Mormonism blog, and I was fascinated to read the information there and the interpretations thereof.  It turns out that the historical evidence isn’t always what it seems.  New documents are constantly being found, old documents are re-examined and understood in different light.

But what really hit me as the epiphany wasn’t the historical evidence that shook or supported my faith.  It was the sudden realization that we really don’t know what we think we know.  All of the ideas and interpretations and assumptions we’ve all made about Joseph Smith’s life are just that, and no more.  There is simply not enough empirical evidence to say with any certainty who he was as a person.

Perhaps the truest words every written about him are, “No man knows my history.”  People have been saying for years how the Church’s “official” history is glossed over and even inaccurate.  Well, it looks more and more that the anti-mormon histories are no more sure. 

The cool thing about that, and the source of my epiphany, is that, once again, it really comes down to testimony.  Do you believe that he translated the Book of Mormon?  Do you believe that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ?  Historical evidence will not prove nor disprove it.  Prayer alone will

...And I believe 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: Dutch Oven Berried Chicken, New Song: "The Chapel"

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,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Do We Really Know?

Another little bit of blasphemy, brought to you by Mo'Boy

I was reading one of my old posts, about the Trinity, and I saw a couple of comments there that I'd either missed or forgotten about.  They were postings by a couple of other Christians trying to convince me that I was all wrong.  On of them tried to show, using the scriptures of the Bible, that the Mormon concept of the Godhead is all wrong, and that the Mainstream Christian concept of the Trinity is all right.

You say Tomato...

For me it comes down to the question:  What do we REALLY know about God?  We have the words written in books that tell us all about God, and how he has, and will interact with us humans.

The challenge comes with the realization that these books are hard to understand at best, and that so many people understand the same words in so many different ways.  We pour over the words, and we study them, and we look at them in the context of our own experiences.  We also try and learn the historical contexts surrounding when they were written.  And we come up with lots of different conclusions. And that's assuming that we're even using the same translation, or even the same edition of the same translation.

But it's the Word of God!

Sure, but what did God mean when he said it?  And was it really God that said that phrase, or was that something of more historical note?  And how many mouths, ears, and hands did it pass through on its way from God to me?

The only thing I can KNOW is what I can personally experience, and, religiously speaking, that means that the only things I KNOW is what speaks from God's spirit to mine.  What it tells me is that (except for a few of my own missteps), the path of belief that I'm on is working.

I'm starting to feel that God values our faith and our search as much as he values our salvation.  Look at it this way.  IF God is omnipotent, and can do anything he wants to, he could appear today, announce his presence, and clearly state to everyone in the whole world which religion is the right one and which path we should all be walking.  Seriously, if he wanted to, he could get a press conference together and just say it. 

There are a lot of reasons why he probably doesn't do that.  For one, I'm not sure that everyone would believe Him if He did.

But a big reason is (in my own imagination) that it's important for us to seek Him and find Him on our own.  The ones that truly search for the truth will eventually find it.  And they'll be able to handle it when they find 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: Moroccan Lamb Tagine 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heavenly Father

I was reading in Psalms the other night, and came across this in number 127, starting in verse 3:

"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

I've read this one before, and even heard it quoted from the pulpit.  Usually, I've heard it in reference to earthly fatherhood.  It's all about a man looking back on his posterity and finding "joy and rejoicing".  It's a cool feeling.  I've been there.

That night, however, I got to thinking about it from God's perspective.  And suddenly, I thought about this also-famous verse in the Book of Moses:

"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

We are his children, and we are his heritage.  We are also his work and his glory.  It's a cool feeling.


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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Proposition 8: The Fallout

There has been a lot of fuss on the 'net, and in the bloggosphere about the Church's efforts in the defeat of California's Proposition 8, a proposal to allow same-gender marriages.  The Church is really taking a lot of heat in the popular press and culture.  The documentary movie: "8: The Mormon Proposition" is the focal point of a lot of the buzz.  The most recent bit is the legal actions against the Church, including some relatively nominal fines for supposedly not reporting the money trail correctly.

A lot of people not in the Church seem to be wondering why so much effort and fuss and money was put into the defeat of the proposition.  Why does it hurt us if some others want to marry how they will?  Just because Mormons disagree with them, does that give them the right to tell people how to live their lives? 

Really, I think the Church Leaders have a lot in common with those promoting the agenda for gay marriage.  I think they're feeling the exact same thing.  They don't want someone else telling them how to live, either.  And that's what they're afraid of.

In a recent talk to a group of young LDS members, Elder Russell M Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve said,
"If civil law were altered to recognize so-called 'same-gender' marriage, you as believers in God and as keepers of His commandments would be regarded as exceptions to the rule," Elder Nelson said. "Your conscientious convictions would be regarded as discriminatory. For example, if you were a Christian schoolteacher, you could be charged with bigotry for upholding the Lord's law of chastity. In truth, dear brothers and sisters, if you lose marriage, you also lose freedom of religion."

A while ago, here in MoBoy, I wrote about my view of the "slippery slope".  It seems that I'm thinking in a similar vein to Elder Nelson.

What I'm afraid of at this point, is that Proposition 8 and all of the fallout may well be growing beyond the "Live and Let Live" point.  We'll just have to see.

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: A Dutch Oven Father's Day Feast, Making LDS Music: Affliction and Comfort,

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Stake Dances, Revisited

Several years ago, I was on an LDS message board/forum, and someone posted a question asking about a mythical list of "approved songs" that BYU had supposedly compiled for church dances.  At the time, I mentioned that I was bummed that we, as a culture, couldn't produce our own music for our own dances.  Not necessarily to the exclusion of the music of the world, but mixed in with it.
I was shocked at the response I got.  It was not overwhelming in terms of numbers, but it was all negative.  The overall sense was that it was evil to put "church themes" to a danceable beat.  So, somehow, it was better to dredge through the muck that the world puts out to find a few innocuous tunes that are at least inoffensive rather than write our own positive songs.

I'm not saying we should necessarily set sacred themes to bouncy beats.  But we could write our own pop tunes about living the gospel in our lives.

Well, years later, we've got someone taking up this challenge.  Rachelle Call and Janine Laskey have written and recorded a great start.  Five tunes, available for listening at

The two writers/producers are also featured in interview at, in the new music segment, hosted by Cherie Call.

I'm very excited by the project.  They're also looking for submissions from other artists as well, so if you make LDS music, please drop in and submit!


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: 2010 IDOS Convention, Making LDS Music

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is God Still Progressing?

Hawkgrrl, over at Mormon Matters, asked this question, along with a lot of followup questions that were, I suppose, designed to get you thinking about the big question.  This is another one of those moments where I first thought I was going to just write a comment, but ended up writing a blog post.

One of her questions asks "Is there a God Threshold?"  The idea is to ask if there is a point in the progression where someone kicks it up a notch and is then a God.  I believe this is true.  I think we all progress in our spiritual power and growth and at some point, some of us become in tune with all to the point that they are Gods.

For most of us here on earth, that means a lot of work, then death, resurrection, and more work.  For Jesus, he got that way before he came here, and so, was a member of the Godhead.

Another question asks about making mistakes.  It implies that if God is progressing, then he's making mistakes and learning.  I don't see it this way.  I think that the essence of achieving godhood is that of getting past mistakes.  Understanding repentance so well that you transcend making mistakes.

Which leads me up to my final point.  If He's achieved perfection, completeness, how does he progress?  The answer in my mind is, He progresses through us.  In the book of Moses, he says, "This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  if we are His glory, then His glory grows as we do.  And so God progresses in glory, power, and honor by helping His children discover what He has.


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: Mark's Black Pot goes Middle Eastern!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

For Example...

There were a few things out on the 'net today that all kind of combined to make me think.

The first was a poll on Facebook that asked, "Now that Tiger Woods has apologized, do I forgive him?"

For me, that was a pretty easy question to answer.  I can stand up and give a resounding "Yes! I forgive you!"  Of course, that's not much of a test for me.  I don't watch pro golf.  I don't care who wins the Masters.  I'm not going to buy an expensive watch because Tiger wears one.  What Tiger Woods does or doesn't do has no impact on my life whatsoever.  So, if he wants to mess it up by cheating on his wife, that's his business.  If he can patch it back together with apologies and therapy, I'm happy for him.

So, I forgive him.  Tiger can take that for what it's worth.  I'm not the one whose forgiveness he should be looking for, anyway.

The second bit was an article about Australian Olympic star Torah Bright, who won the gold in the halfpipe.

The article made a big deal about the fact that she's a Mormon, and lives clean.  The article says that she's a perfect endorser.  She's good at what she does, she's pretty, and she's clean.  That means that she has no skeletons in her closet to jump out and ruin the reputation of the endorsee.

A part of me wants to give good kudos to her, and a part of me is proud that she's representin' so well.  Another part of me is wondering if we should be putting so much focus on her.

On the one hand, it's cool when people are recognized for living the commandments.  On the other hand, we often get really picky about that stuff, even to the point of pharasitical hypocrisy.  If she were to fall, she'd be in big trouble.  The article mentioned that she doesn't even do caffeine.  What were to happen if she were *gasp* be photographed in public with a Diet Coke?  What if the cola company were to offer her a multi-million dollar endorsement deal?  Remember the flack that Kirby Heyborne got into when he did that beer commercial (even though he doesn't drink beer, and wasn't shown drinking beer on the commercial)?

All I'm sayin' is that when we hold people up as examples of greatness, it inspires us to do better, but it also sets us up for disappointment.  We need to keep in mind that Tiger, Torah, and everyone else, is human.  We need to emulate their good qualities, and learn from their mistakes.  Then, not only are we not shaken when they fall, but we can be much more compassionate for them as well.

The third thing I read today was a quick little inspirational quote that someone posted on Facebook.  It nicely summed up all I've been thinking: "A man does not have to be an angel in order to be a saint." - Albert Schweitzer


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 Roast with Balsamic Glaze

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doug Erekson - Folksy and more than a little bit "out there".

The Songs of Zion

I've mentioned Doug Erekson before, not only because he's been a good friend for many, many years, but also because I've always been impressed with his music, even when it's not targeted to me or my tastes.

So, why mention him again?  Two reasons:  One, he recently put out a new CD, of original Christian kid's tunes, and Two, his tunes are now more immediately accessible on the web than before.  So, you can go check them out.

His sound runs from real, down-home country, through bluegrass, to retro acoustic rock.  It kinda depends on the project he's working on at the moment.  My personal favorites on this list are his versions of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (known in Mo' circles as "Israel, Israel, God is Calling", and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives".  His version of "Give, Said the Little Stream" is a lot of fun, too.

And maybe if enough people pester him about it, we'll get him to put "The Day Dawn is Breaking" on the page, too.  Or just go buy "Backporch Believer".


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 Aprons?

Monday, January 11, 2010

You're All Unique!

So, I decided to read over the lesson manual for my priesthood lesson next week.  I do a bit better as a teacher if I do that than I do if I just pick it up that morning...

This next lesson is all about "Our Heavenly Family".  It's basically about our life in the pre-existence.  An interesting part of it is that a big part of the lesson is all about how we developed as individuals even before our birth here on earth. 

Any parent knows that even though there are many similarities between their children, they are also very different, right from the start.  Parenting strategies that worked so well on the first child are total blow-up catastrophes on the second and third.  Things that were easy issues with one child are a constant struggle with another.

It all comes down to a big, nasty, dirty word:  FREEWILL.  That's right.  We all wanted it, we all chose it.  Now we have to deal with it.

And the actual problem with it is not so much that I have it, but that YOU have it, too.  I can deal with my own freewill, and the mistakes and successes that come from that.  But see, if EVERYONE goes out and starts exercising their own freewill, then suddenly we have to deal with (I'm sorry, I have to say it) DIVERSITY.  UNIQUENESS.  INDIVIDUALITY.

Ok, I hope you can see through my sarcasm.

I hate to admit it, but we Mormons have a history of "not playing well with others".  That's partly our fault, partly the fault of murdering mobs in Missouri and Illinois, and the result of a host of issues in between and since then.  For much of our history we tried to isolate ourselves.  We settled a land that nobody else wanted just so people would leave us alone.

Now we're in a world where isolation doesn't work any more.  We have to interact with others.  We have to be "in the world, but not of the world."  We have to live our standards, while respecting the rights of others to "worship how, where, or what they may."

That also applies internally.  We also have to face the ugly truth that freewill allows us to have diverse opinions even among ourselves, the members of the Church.  We weren't born alike, we don't think alike, and we've all had different lives that have led us to different personal places.

It turns out that all this individuality and diversity was a part of the plan from the beginning.  God wants us to work together.  Part of our task in achieving our godlike potential is in learning how to love and serve people who are different from us, people who reject us.  Our Heavenly Father has to deal with loving and caring about billions and billions of children, many of whom don't even believe He exists.  Many others fight among themselves, even to the point of killing each other, because they think He wants them to.

We have a long, long way to go.


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: Use Google to Find Backlinks!, Dutch Oven Cocoa Bread

Friday, January 08, 2010


New Year's Day

Last year, I started something new.  Instead of spelling out new year's resolutions, and instead of plotting out long-term goals, I tried a new approach.  I would choose a single word that I would focus on for that year.  I would try and make that word a part of my life during 2009. 

After a bit of internal debate, I chose "Joy" as the word of 2009

Did I find it?  I don't know.  It was certainly much of my focus during the year.  The song "Alleluia" came out of my search for joy.  One good measure of my success is the fact that at the end of 2009, I'm feeling in a much better place than I was at the start of 2009.  And that gives me some hope for the future.

Which leads me to the word of the year for 2010:  "Hope"

For much of my adult life, I've slogged through in a sort of semi-pessimistic haze.  I'm tired of that.  I'd like to be able to look forward to the future without the cynical overwhelming my psyche.  I'd like to feel that there's good things coming.  I want to focus on those good things and try to bring them about this year.

So, that's the word.  I'd love to hear what you good folks have to say.  What does "hope" mean to you?  What do you hope for?

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: Search Enginge Ranking Factors, Christmas Bread in the Dutch Ovens!,
Alleluia... Again...,


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