It is not often in this life that I am rendered speechless...
Friday, August 31, 2012
Before I announce the winner of the First Official MMM Giveaway, I would like to remind you ladies, (and the one guy who entered) that envy it not attractive. Remember: You are better than that.
"There cannot be sweetness in our lives if we are filled with envy or covetousness."
Spencer W. Kimball (Link here)
That said, I would like to announce
(Also, please note that I spelled "loser" correctly. It is not "looser." "Looser" is the opposite of "tighter." "Loser" is the opposite of "winner.")
And the winner is... Danica Neill. From a brief glance at Danica's Facebook, it would appear that she is completely, or partially, nuts. Which would be expected from an MMM blog reader.
Congratulations, Danica, and thanks for playing! Please leave your acceptance speech in the comments below. I will email you to find out what size you wear. No, I will not post it on the blog, because I am wise.
Those who are non-winners will be getting a condolence email from me today with a special offer...
Have a great long weekend!
PS: You can still buy a shirt at the store here:
Thursday, August 30, 2012
This is a photograph of a decaying fresco on the wall of a Roman Catholic church in Spain. Originally it looked more like this: (Which I think is a lovely painting.)
When she was finished, it looked like this:
Yeah - not so good. I don't think it would have scored very high in our recent contest. Authorities were thinking about pressing charges for vandalism, but it turns out the priest had given her permission. (Complete story here.) The botched restoration has spread around the internet in both serious and funny forms. This one is probably my favorite:
The woman who attempted the restoration is named Cecilia. And I feel bad for her, because I think this is something that I might have done. Had I lived in Spain, and been Catholic, and was old, and had no artistic talent whatsoever.
The reason I feel bad is not because of the damage she did to the painting, or the fact that the church is now a tourist spot, or that her family had to donate money to try and fix the mess. I feel bad because I understand how it happened.
Have you ever taken on a task and had it just get away from you? I have. I understand the expression "It just went South on me." I can imagine Cecilia began her "restoration," and then realized that it was not going so well. My response would have been the same as hers: Keep going and try to fix it. Rather than stop and get help, I would have just kept trying to fix my mistake, as it got worse, and worse, and worse. Until I had created a monster. In her case, literally.
Sometimes we just don't have the ability to "fix" things. Sadly, sometimes we won't acknowledge it until we have made a total disaster. I don't know if we do that out of embarrassment, or conceit, or desperation, or fear. But I do know that what we should do is put the brush down, back away from the canvas, and search for help from someone equipped and willing to fix the problem. A problem that is obviously too big for me to solve. Ironic that it is a painting of the Savior that exemplifies this so well.
I feel for Cecilia, and I understand her.
lds humor mormon humorist jesus
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Help me! Help me, me please!
I am about to throw away many things I hold dear...oh no! I'm losing it!
To be more specific, I am referring to 3 specific things:
1) Political Neutrality
Yes, I confess, I'm voting for Romney. I'll bet you are stunned. I am sorry to disappoint 15% of you. This will be the only time I ever mention politics, if you promise not to reach back in time and inform us that James E. Faust was a Democrat.
Here is my take on a possible Romney presidency.
I figure that having a Mormon in the White House will be a lot like when you went shopping at the mall with your parents: You are glad they are there to handle the money, but you are deathly afraid they will do something embarrassing.
Go Mitt! That's it. My political stand. Let's move on.
2) An Olive Branch to the Twi-hards
I have been mocking Twilight fans since I began my blog. I have found it very easy and enjoyable, and I will repent as soon as BD2 has been released and run its course. I apologize for past and future offenses. Mostly because of...
3) My first Giveaway
You've gotta be kidding! I vowed that I would never have a giveaway. As Justin Bieber would say, "Never say never." I think the change of heart came about from a nearly constant exposure to lethal doses of Mormon Mommy Blogs.
Here are the rules:
1) Comment, or Facebook, or Twitter your name and email address to me.
2) One entry per person.
3) Giveaway closes on Friday morning, August 31, 2012.
4) Winner will be chosen using http://www.random.org/
5) No hate mail, please.
Here is the prize:
Ha! Yes, it IS awesome!
Now don't go deleting your "followship" if you don't like
c) My Giveaway
d) My Store (I warned you I was losing my mind. Note to self: No more blog posts late at night!)
One more thing - you can buy the shirt at my giant store. Yes, with this shirt I have doubled the selection of products at the MMM Marketplace. If you want a shirt, hurry - election is coming fast - click here: T-Shirt Link.
giveaway mormon lds humor humorist t-shirt romney edward twilight
Yes, I know better. Yes, I know that opposition brings experience. Yes, I know we are here to climb mountains. Yes, I know I signed up for this.
But once in a while, I find myself having a little pity-party - like today. When I get in this mode, I start thinking about "fairness" and "what I "deserve" and other completely erroneous arguments to justify my funk. I do know better, but sometimes that isn't enough.
I was flipping through my email, and come across a comment sent in by one of my illustrious readers that said:
What I learned at Church today:
It's not about me.
It's not about me.
It's not about me.
It's not about me.
That about sums it up.
I need to get off my bum and serve.
Thank you Monique. Point taken. I will get right on it. (And your soon-to-be-famous quote probably has the best usage of the word "bum" in a religious context that I have ever seen.)
The regularly scheduled nonsense will resume tomorrow. And it's gonna be crazy.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Last week in Sunday School, I had a brief exchange with my class, and it stuck in my brain. I find myself thinking about it often, and any of you writers out there know that sometimes the only way to get it out is to write it down.
We were discussing why there was so much talk of war in the Book of Mormon. It is said that 1/3 of the entire volume is war related one way or another. That's a lot of war - a lot of battles - and a high body count.
The writers of The Book of Mormon make the point - multiple times -(Jacob 3:13, 3 Nephi 5:8, Ether 15:33) that they had to be very selective about what they included on the plates. They said that what was eventually was included was not even 100th part of the available writings. Since the abridged version of The Book of Mormon ended up with 531 pages, that means Mormon had over 53,000 pages worth of material to choose from.
I asked the question to my class, "With 53,000 pages of stuff to choose from, why do you think Mormon chose to include 30% war?"
They thought for a minute, then a brave soul volunteered an idea: "Maybe it's because those war stories contain principles that can apply to our lives." Perfect! Gold Star on the forehead. (I wish we still did that!)
Then another -borrowing courage from the first- added, "A lot of the Book of Mormon is history, and a lot of the most important parts of history involve wars." Another good comment! (These are smart kids: 15-16)
I had one more idea I wanted to bring out. You know when teachers have a specific answer that they are looking for, and they keep asking the same question in different ways, and then waiting for you to psychically divine what they are after? Yeah, I hate that too. And that is exactly what I was doing to my students when I asked, "If you think about who edited The Book of Mormon, does it give you any more ideas?"
Crickets and blank stares.
I figured out a way around my logjam. "When President Uchtdorf gives a talk, what does he always talk about?" All at once everybody had an answer - "He's a pilot," "Flying," "Airplanes." Exactly.
Then one of the kids made the leap and said, "Wasn't Mormon a General? Maybe he wrote a lot about war because that was his job." (See, these are smart kids.)
Mormon was chosen to be a leader of a Nephite army when he was 16 years old. Before that he had been preaching repentance. It would appear that his entire life was about making war and preaching the gospel. Because of that, it only makes sense that his selection process would be tinted by his life experience, and that may be why so much of what he chose for scripture was war related. I have no problem with it.
It makes sense that if President Uchtdorf can teach obedience with stories about airplane instrument panels, then Mormon can teach the very same principles using the Sons of Helaman. Both men use their knowledge base, and draw on their personal experiences, to teach truths.
I imagine if the prophet who had been called to abridge The Book of Mormon had been a farmer, or a lawyer, or a brick mason, the "tint" of The Book of Mormon" would reflect their lives and understandings. It would be a very different book. Would that make it any less true? No. The principles remain true. Just as we see every General Conference as the prophets teach the same principles year after year, but with variation based on their personal experience, or "tint."
As I read The Book of Mormon, and as I try and teach its truths, I keep reminding myself that everything in it is in there on purpose. So when I hit a section that doesn't "speak to me," I need to try and figure out why:
What is the principle that should emerge from this story or teaching?
How does the life of the author tint what I am reading.
If God inspired a prophet to chisel this into metal plates, what does He want me to get out of it?
And finally, how does my personal life and experience "tint" my perception of what I am reading? Because I'm absolutely sure that it can. There are times in my life that a specific passage of scripture can evolve from "meaningless" to "life-changing." Not that the words changed, but that my life and perspective have changed.
That is why we read The Book of Mormon over, and over, and over, and over again. It is never the same book twice - nor should it be.
And that is why I never mark scriptures - but we'll save that for another day.
Coming up: Our view of the Gospel: Tinted or Tainted?
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Back in March, I wrote two posts about kids and reverence, one conceptual (here), and one about application (here). Little did I know that those two posts would become my most read and distributed posts of all time. Apparently they got picked up on Pinterest, and were widely circulated. (The lead article actually surpassed the President Uchtdorf posts by a margin of 8:1. Sorry!) I guess there are a lot of young parents out there wrestling with the same things my EC and I wrestled with when our kids were young. (Yes, I used the word wrestling on purpose.)
In the post about "The Table," I mentioned that I had one more reverence technique to share - well, here it is...
Some years ago, when we were in the midst of the rearin' years, our boys were having a tough time behaving at church. The "Table" worked, but we recognized that it was more of a "stick" approach, and were looking around for more of a "carrot" way to motivate.
About that time, our family had been introduced to the "Red Plate." It was a red ceramic plate that was brought out for special occasions. Whoever had a birthday, gave a talk, or did something especially praiseworthy would have the privilege of using the "Red Plate" for dinner. The kids loved it, and really made a big deal out of it. (Red Plates still are available, but they are wicked expensive. link)
This gave me an idea: What if we were to find some unique plates for the kids, and let them use them for Sunday dinner - if they had been reverent at church that day? We knew we had a positive reenforcement winner - we would call them "Reverence Plates."
Next step - find the plates. Much tougher than anticipated. We went to all sorts of kitchen and ceramic stores in the search of the perfect plates, and came up empty handed. They were either too breakable, or the pattern had nothing "churchy" about it. We continued the search.
One evening, we were in California on vacation, and were eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Diego. They served the kid's meals on these terrific three-section plastic plates. My EC agreed that they would be perfect for Reverence Plates - if the design hadn't been all about spaghetti.
So we went to work, got a friend to sketch out some artwork, learned how to get the plates manufactured - in China. We were excited to see them when they arrived. When they did, we held onto them until we could have an FHE with the kids. We had a lesson on reverence and presented them with their plates.
They were thrilled! And motivated. They knew that if they behaved, they could use their Reverence Plate, and we could leverage that as a gentle reminder, as needed. The oldest kids played along, but the younger kids thought it was important, and were especially anxious to help set the table if they earned the plate that day.
The Reverence Plates became a regular part of our Sunday tradition. Dinnertime has always been important to us, (post here) and Sunday dinner - even more. It worked well for us, and the kids look back fondly on their "Reverence Plates." (Just this evening, my daughter asked me to make sure and save some for her eventual kids.)
My suggestion to you, is give this idea a try. You don't have to use an officially sanctioned, non-denominational, dishwasher-safe "Reverence Plate," but if you want to, you can buy them here:
Best of luck!
PS: If you somehow find out more about my identity from using the store, please don't go blabbin' about it.
PPS: If any of you are Pinterest or Facebook people, I sure would appreciate if you would get this post circulating.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I have an epic announcement to make!
OK, maybe "epic" is a little bit hyperbolic. How about "life-changing?" No, that doesn't work either - bad things can be life-changing too, and this isn't a bad thing.
So, it is not epic, or life-changing, but it is good. At least I think it's good. You might not care. In that case, I have an announcement to make that you might find completely insignificant. If you feel that way, I understand...Well, I kind of understand, but I might be hurt a little by your callous disregard for my feelings...I need to go take a break and regroup.
I'm back with my announcement: Ready? Tomorrow I will be launching a revolutionary new internet presence that will change the way we do business online. Yes, it is true. OK, maybe not entirely true. It isn't really revolutionary, and it probably won't have any impact on more than a few of you. Tomorrow I am launching a STORE. It will be the greatest online shopping experience you have ever had - with exciting deals on hundreds of wonderful and worthwhile products.
Not really. (I'm not really very good at this marketing stuff. I would be a terrible political candidate.)
Here's the deal. I am opening a little online storefront Thursday. When it opens, there will be exactly one thing for sale. That's the announcement. Tah-dah! I hope you will be able to get to sleep tonight - I'll bet it feels a lot like Christmas Eve to you. I guarantee that each and every one of you will be thrilled with this sole item. Except those of you who dislike it intensely, or think it is stupid. Be kind.
The item I will be selling has everything to do with Thursday's blog post. And this blog post will have everything to do with my most popular blog posts. So, read the post tomorrow, then visit the store if you would like. In that order. There will be a new tab up under the masthead to click. It is already there, but it won't take you anywhere and will only shame you if you click it early.
The MMM Marketplace
Some of you know that I have wrestled with the decision to "monetize" my blog. I have resisted the temptation to put advertising on it - because I don't want to have a Google ad for a Vegas vacation to pop up next to my serious doctrinal discussion about gambling, etc. - You get the idea.
I also did not anticipate selling anything either, but as the blog progressed, it became obvious to me that a few of you might like some of the things I can offer, excluding lawn services.
Here is the plan for the store...
1) Tomorrow, I will be adding the singular blog-related item.
2) Next week, I will add another fun thing.
3) Then, in a few weeks I will be selling a book. Yes, a book. Written by me, for you. Just in time for your Christmas giving.
ALSO: Should you, (my intelligent and attractive readers) have something of your own making that you think might be worthy of inclusion in the MMM Marketplace, email me, and we'll talk. Maybe you could sell it in my store.
If you are put off by me selling stuff, just don't click the link to the store, and your sensibilities will not be offended.
There you go!
LDS humor Mormon humorist gospel principles teaching ideas
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
As I got out of my truck, I noticed something new on the sidewalk in front of the store. It was a giant kennel.
To show how inappropriate my mental reflexes are, my first thought was, "I know some families in the ward that could use one of these for their kids."
I walked around to the front of the kennel. Imagine my surprise when I saw the tag!
A "Kid Kennel?" For $295? I was aghast. Clearly this was somebody's idea of a sick joke.
I mean, $300? That is so wrong. Most families that have enough children to justify a Kid Kennel aren't going to have an extra $300 just lying around. You can get an entire trampoline with net for that price! Granted, the kennel was really nice, and looked well built...
After giving it some thought, I decided it would be best for me if I didn't pass judgment on people who bought them. The majority of the FOMLs have now left the nest, and the two remaining don't really need that much space.
So, I have no intention of buying one - and I will not condone buying one. But I will concede that I have never served in a Nursery calling, so I reserve the right to change my mind.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
During the course of the contest to see which picture of Christ seemed the most accurate representation to my readers, I looked at hundreds of paintings and photographs -partially out of my own curiosity, and partially to try and find something new for you guys. (Contest posts begin here, and end here.)
I looked at a lot of really good art, and a lot of not-so-good art, but came to a conclusion that may surprise you. I think that any artist that takes on the task of portraying the Savior is courageous. Yep, brave.
Granted, painting Christ is not as courageous as say, painting Mohammed - nobody is going find you and murder you for painting it. The worst you might get is some unkind criticism. But I find it courageous in another way.
Everyone has their own opinion of what Jesus looked like, and it would appear that most of us have our own version in our minds and hearts. Some us us have a very defined depiction, some of us have more vague notions. One of the finalists in the competition was a composite that was created for a TV show.
You can see that there is absolutely no detail of the eyes - and the eyes are the one of the main things about a person, or a painting that captivate us. Maybe some us prefer a vague depiction that does not conflict with our own ideas.
Another picture I think is brave is this picture from Liz Lemon Swindle:
How often do you see representations of Christ as young, playful and ethnic? So often the pose is thoughtful or serene. I love this painting, because it is so "approachable" and shows a side of the Savior that must have been, but is rarely thought about.
Or this painting by Minerva Teichert that is radically different in tone and technique from what we are used to in the Church. Yet is speaks peace to many of our souls.
I find it equally courageous that an actor would be willing/able to stake his career on the portrayal of the most important man who ever lived - a person that everyone is very protective of, and considers sacred. (I won't bring up the fact that he was actually struck by lightning when he was making the movie.)
(Disclaimer: I never saw "The Passion of the Christ." for two reasons: 1) It was rated R. Yeah, that obedience thing. 2) I did not desire to see the Savior's intense suffering portrayed on film, as I did not want to experience it emotionally or mentally. I feel that pat of the beauty of the atonement is that He experienced those things so that I don't have to! Why would I voluntarily choose to experience - in any way - what He is helping me to avoid?)
Painting pictures of Christ is difficult because most everyone who will look at that painting will draw from their own life, belief, perspective and heart to pass judgement as to the accuracy of the portrayal. You don't get that kind of pressure when painting a seascape, or abstract art. You can still be criticized, but people aren't so emotional invested. I do not know for sure, but I imagine that for most artists, creating a portrayal of the Savior must be a tremendously personal, spiritual experience. If there was ever a situation where you risked "casting pearls before swine," this would be it.
I was pleased to see that, for the most part, my readers were kind in their evaluations of the paintings in the contest. It doesn't seem to "Christlike" to take shots at the art of people who are trying to portray the impossible.
Granted, not all art is "of good report, or praiseworthy,' and I have no problem pointing out things that I think are a bad reflection on our society, or spiritually damaging. I will never adopt the line that "all art is good, if it honest." (But I will save that for another discussion.)
For now, I would just like to thank all those artists, including actors, painters, composers, sculptors, writers who try and do good with their art. Those who try and elevate our thoughts and lives. One of the bests comments I received that said, "I have found myself thinking of the Savior much more this week than I usually do." That, my friends is why we hang pictures of the Savior in our homes.
To remind us.
And now for some Pixar wisdom: A brief clip from the movie "Ratatouille" to tie this up:
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Last week, my lovely EC and I were sitting in a hospital ER awaiting word on one of our loved ones, when my cellphone rang. It was a friend of mine informing me that FOML4 had "gotten his bell rung" at the war zone we like to call Mutual. Things happen. (Create a giant slip-n-slide on a hill, add plenty of water, dish soap and a zillion kids, and there is an itty-bitty possibility that somebody is going to get his/her bell rung.)
So, we left the ER and headed home, and got my son checked out, made sure he was in good hands, and went back to the hospital. He had a moderate concussion, and was out of commission for a few days. He'll be fine, but the effects linger. Back when I was a kid, the standard treatment for concussion was to shout at the victim, "Get up and shake it off you big baby!" Concussions are treated much more seriously nowadays, and rightfully so.
We are not strangers to brain injury. Another one of my kids went a step further and got his skull broken and received some significant brain trauma. As my EC and I were listening to the doctor talk about the recent concussion, we both thought, "we know far more about brains that we should have to."
One of the common elements we have noticed about both the severe brain trauma and the concussion is that, in both instances, our boys seemed utterly unaware of how the condition was effecting them. They would say or do something that made it completely obvious that they were experiencing symptoms, but they would be oblivious to it and keep repeating "I'm fine!" It isn't that they were lying, (see link here) it's just that in the jumble of the concussion the ability to self-evaluate had gotten muddled.
My older son that had the more extensive injury would get frustrated with us because of our concern, but now he looks back and is quick to acknowledge that he was more "fuzzy" than he realized at the time.
Our recently concussed son's recovery is taking a bit longer than we thought. In the meantime, he will be cranky at us as we worry about him, and he will be quick to deny that anything is wrong. He will tell us he doesn't understand why we are "overreacting," which is further evidence that all is not well in his noggin.
He's much better than he was, and we expect his recovery to be much faster than when he had his ribs broken playing ultimate frisbee at mutual last year.
As I was thinking about this inability to self-diagnose, it reminded me of something I wanted to tell you about:
Back in April, I wrote a series of posts about the dangers of living a Spirit-devoid life.
The basic idea behind these posts was that when we lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost, our ability to make wise decisions is diminished, and can quickly spiral out of control. There was a lot of interesting discussions surrounding these posts, as well as some powerful testimonies from readers.
So, the other day I was reading some blogs, and was catching up with a blogger friend Crystal's a Pistol, and read this quote:
"There is a line of demarcation well defined between the Lord's territory and the devil's territory. If you will stay on the Lord's side of the line you will be under his influence and will have no desire to do wrong; but if you cross to the devil's side of that line one inch you are in the tempter's power and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly because you will have lost the Spirit of the Lord."
Ha! See? I was right! Guess who said it: President George Albert Smith. He was quoted in General Conference last April by Elder Ulisses Soares in his talk, "Abide in the Lord's Territory!" I'm feeling pretty stupid that I missed it, because it's a great quote. Maybe I can blame Elder Soares accent? Naw - I speak Spanish. (Turns our it is a Portuguese accent - which is dumb because I speak Portuguese too.)
So, there you go - the point I was trying to make from a much more legitimate and reliable source. Thanks to Elder Soares and Crystal Pistol. (Is "Blog Diva" a compliment? If so, that would be Crystal.)
Note: I shouldn't have to say this, but to those of you trying to keep up, no, I am not associating brain injuries with a lack of spirituality. If you thought this, you might want to get your head examined.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Footsteps in the Sand: A Pictorial Essay
|When we walked side-by-side|
|When I was on crutches|
Sunday, August 12, 2012
To see the full painting that this was cropped from, please visit Greg Olsen's website here.
It was interesting to me that this painting won for personal reasons. My EC and I wanted to have a picture of the Savior in our living room. Not that we worship paintings, but as a constant reminder of who we are, who He is to us, and what we are supposed to be about.
After a lot of looking, we decided to purchase this very same print, and now it hangs on our wall.
To me it conveys a fascinating mix of strength and gentleness. I wouldn't confuse this painting with so many where Jesus is portrayed as weak or effeminate, he looks plenty manly. But his face and expression - to me - also portray kindness, patience, and an underlying sense of joy. Is it accurate? Who knows? But it works for me. I feel good things when I see this painting.
Being the audacious man that I am, I wrote to Greg Olsen, to tell him that he won. I doubt Brother Olsen will put this victory on his resume or website, but I thought he should know. Here's the cool part: He wrote back with a message for all of us.
"I think as artists we create "symbols" of Jesus. Every viewer brings their own spiritual eyes to each and every image they view, as a result different images resonate with different people...that is the beauty of art! Personally I'm pleased that there are so many wonderful depictions. Each one reminds us of some facet of his personality and each one will be of benefit to someone out there." - Greg Olsen -
How cool is that? My appreciation to Brother Olsen for writing back, and for sharing his amazing talent with us and the rest of the world.
I'm sure many of you have more thoughts to share about this contest. I know it got me thinking more about my Savior this week. I plan on posting some final thought either tonight or tomorrow. Please share yours!
Thanks for participating!