Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sweet, Innocent and Vomit-Inducing

LOGAN, UT - 5: 00 PM: I woke up this morning and it hit me: I'm back in the singles ward scene.

I immediately rolled over and pulled the covers back over my head and only just woke up.

Kidding - kidding - I made it to church today. Granted, I am living on campus of a fine institution of higher learning, so most - if not all - members of the ward are college students (that brings its own set of issues). Thus, the student-singles ward is a beast of necessity because, let's face it - the good LDS citizens of Logan, Utah are not going to share a ward with a bunch of hormonal young people out on their own, many for the first time. There are too many or them and there's too much of an insurance liability.

To be fair, I am living in the on-campus dorms for grad students. Most of the grad students in Aggie Village are international students that come from countries where the only god they recognize is the local dictator. And if someone is LDS, they're most likely married. Total single LDS folk in this complex: 11 (the bishop counted them). Across the street are the dorms that mostly freshmen occupy, so they put us poor schlubs from Aggie Village in a ward where most of the kids are 18 or thereabouts.

Now, I don't know how the singles wards work outside of Utah (I never got to serve in the campus ward in Gainesville), but I am not a fan. For the pure and simple fact that - well, let me illustrate with our Relief Society lesson today. All about modesty and wearing our clothes appropriately so the poor, defenseless boys don't get the idea that we're all sleazy bimbos and, hence, undateable (or worse, will put a mission out of their collective reach - I'd guess that about half these guys haven't even left yet).

(Yes, undateable is a word. I made it up, so it exists).

And the teacher - bless her heart, her husband is in the bishopric and she got this job since we have no RS teachers yet - kept telling us all "You're all about 18, but you look so bright and... etc..." In my head, I couldn't help but think - "Yeah - I'm 18 ... give or take six years, a college degree, plus a mission..."

On my mission, Relief Society was my favorite part of the block for some reason I haven't pinned down yet. Maybe it's because the wards I served in had Relief Society at the end of the three hour block, so our investigators were a bit more comfortable by the time it rolled around. Or maybe it was because all those motherly-type sisters were just so fun to be around (I figure that term "motherly" had something to do with it too). And we had actual, doctrinal lessons. None of this stuff about "Wear nice clothes so you don't look like a piece of meat and the dogs won't be snarling at your heels - but we can get you sweet, dense girlies all married off by the end of the school year - preferably to someone 10 years older than you."

(I added that part about the "10 years older" - but that's another topic. It'll come up, trust me. Now I know why so many LDS girls are idiots...)

[If you're one of those types - like me - that grinds your teeth whenever some bright-eyed idealist prefaces a sentence with "On my mission..." deal with it. I haven't even been home a transfer. I had to suffer through other people's reminiscing and I deserve the same courtesy.]

On the other hand, Sunday School was pretty good. The girls actually do put on an intelligent showing. Whether it's because they really know the material or they're just trying to impress somebody doesn't matter much to me. As long as the conversation is stimulating.

Bottom Line: They need a student ward for grad students. Preferably with some mature, committed young men (ha - funny. They're all married...)

Whenever I get feeling lonely and blah - like "Hey, I want to go on a date," or something to that effect, I just have to remember - is there anyone around here that I want to date? Then, I happily settle down and enjoy my "24" DVDs (I have 8 episodes left of season 7 - SPOILERS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT!!).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Pursuit of Perfection

Another subject that has been boiling around in my brain for some time.

On my mission, I was introduced to a rather insightful book called "Believing Christ" by Stephen Robinson. I was also told of a book call "The Continuous Atonement" by Brad Wilcox. Both these books explained the Atonement and what its intended role in our lives is.

Before I get into that, I read somewhere that cases of depression are significantly high in LDS women. The explanation of that is that we are told that we have to be Supermoms, get all of our callings done, do satisfactory scripture study, prayer and Family Home Evening, satisfy the kids and husband, keep our visiting teaching sisters taken care of and keep an immaculate house and yard.

Yeah, freaking, right. Anyone can tell you (in and out of the Church) it cannot be done. If all the legions of angels came down to help you, you might have a chance. But since that's not happening any time soon (at least, I doubt it).

And we tend to be very hard on ourselves. I am as guilty of this as the next person (ask my mission president and my companions - a few of them seriously started to question my sanity). We aren't perfect.

The beauty of it is - going back to my opening paragraph - we aren't required to be. At least, not all at once. Perfection is a process that is going to continue well after we have passed on from this life. We will always be progressing and growing. I will still be correcting typos in the next life and apologizing for misguided fits of anger (luckily, it doesn't happen too often). The Lord is going to give us as many chances as we need as long as we are trying. So, if I miss a night of dishes or if the dog poops in the living room and I can't find it - it doesn't matter in the long run.

That's the great thing about the gospel of Christ - there is always some kind of hope even when things have gone the way of the penguin (meaning "south"). It irritates me that so many dwell on all the negative aspects of life - as though there is no other hope to be had, so let's all smoke dope and die. I'll admit, I fall into that trap often enough (and I get plenty irritated with myself) - but there is always going to be a second, third and fourth chance. There is a balance, though. We do have to expend some effort, but it's worth it in the end.

So - be happy. It's trite and cliche - but I've found that cliches are cliche because they are true. Be happy because there is plenty to be happy about - even if your siblings are driving you nuts and the bank account is dry (it's called a recession. Real estate took it in the pants. Everyone has financial problems. Save your pennies and find something to laugh about.)

PS, One other talk I found insightful: "The Myth We Call Perfection" by John L. Lund. And this is actually on CD so you can listen to it in the car!

PPS, I didn't add these links because I'm being sponsored by Deseret Book or anything - I just wanted you all to be able to see what I'm talking about. Hey, I just told you to save your pennies - try your local library or borrow it from a friend.

PPPS, Mom - this is what I wanted you to read.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Can't Start Making Up Terrible New Characters!

After my adventures in job hunting, I spent some time at home, got bored with that and decided that I needed a "new" book to read. However, since my bank account is a bit woebegone, I decided to make use of the Utah State library (would have done the Logan City library, but you have to have proof of residency to get a card and I haven't received any mail to legitimize myself - if you'd like to donate to the cause, please send me a private note and I'll send you my mailing address - like I'd post that on the internet... pfffttt...)

Okay - so a word about college libraries: they are not friendly to the public. It's not like you can go browse shelves and pick out something fun to read. If you're trying to find something by, say, Ayn Rand - you have to wade through all the craptastic literary criticisms written about her works (because heaven forbid we would actually want to read Atlas Shrugged for ourselves ... what, you think this is an institution of higher learning or something?) Oh, but you can definitely find plenty of the "white-Western-civilization-'let's be tolerant'-majority-hatey" books. That's true academia (oh look, my dinner just came up my throat and onto your Birkenstocks...)

(I hate literary criticism, by the way. It's just a bunch of angry old hippies that never got anything of their own published so they have to rip on people who actually wrote something of value.)

Anyway, just reflecting on why we need libraries and I was reminded starkly of this as I was on the library catalog looking up where they stashed the Ayn Rand books (side note: they'd all been checked out, which tells you something about the students here). Right next to me was a vegetable glued to reading some Star Trek fan fiction. I can't be sure, but I'd guess he'd been there a while.

Oy - that is why I want to become a librarian. To make books fun for people. It sounds trite and cliche, but why can't we open up the classics to everyone? And even some new classics that don't get the time of day from some people (Lois Lowry, anyone?) Maybe inspire them to come up with their own stories.

Fan fiction does not count - sorry, fellow geeks, but I've tried to enjoy fan fiction, but all it succeeds in doing is melting the brain cells that holds any respect for the series in question. Some fan fiction is so bad that said brain cells leak out of my ears, never to be replaced again. Sort of why my interest in Animorphs died off ... that and the fact that you can just tell when even the author is getting bored with some of their own material.

Not that I'm 100% opposed to all fan fiction - I'm willing to give quality material my attention. Sad part is, I haven't found anything of quality. So, I'm 99.9999% opposed to all fan fiction.

(See this Strong Bad cartoon for my general feelings toward fan fiction - it comes after the commentary on fan clubs.)

[Wow - I got severely off-topic there.]

My point: make your future librarian-type-person-friend happy - go read a book. Educate yourselves because no one is going to do it for you.

You Search and Search ... just to find something you hate...

.... but at least it pays the bills.

Day 3 of the Job Prowl (yesterday I did apply for a few things online - but everybody's not interviewing until next week). And I'm exhausted from it all.

That and all the incessant "Teddy Kennedy dies" headlines... oh joy... I'm sooo not looking forward to the media-Michael-Jackson-love-fest (maybe I won't bring the TV up to Logan). I don't like to speak ill of the dead (even if the dead in question got on my nerves in life - to say the least). But then again, to quote a friend on LiveJournal (who in turn was quoting Jim Treacher - not sure who he is, but I like his style): "Think of it this way: If they get to bring up Camelot, we get to bring up the lady in the lake."

(Search "Mary Jo Kopechne" on Wikipedia if you don't know what I'm referring to).

That's that - I actually want to bring up something pretty funny I saw an ad on Facebook (it was on a friend's computer or I would have screencapped it so I could show you - I'm still trying to find it). It was some kind of clothing company advertising and one style of clothing was women's underwear in boy-brief style. Like, little boy post-Pullups underwear - complete with fly-opening (hey, if the Church Distribution catalog can say it, I can too). It was obviously a female wearing it - and it was hot pink.

In the best possible way I can put all this - I had to laugh. So... who is this for, anyway? Is it for those guys who just want to feel pretty? Or girls that want to feel butch? (I would make a Hillary Clinton joke, but I don't think she's worn pink since... ever). Help me out here - pick one or the other, people.

If I find the ad, I'll screencap it and post it. Trust me - there are no words.

(I stand corrected - Hillary has worn pink pantsuits to the dismay of... everybody. There are actually two at the link - scroll down to 7 and 3. Wow, glad I check my facts.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Satan Wants You to Be "Friends With Benefits"

Warning: Harpy-shrew-man-hate post ahead. If this is not your cup of tea (or you happen to be of the male persuasion), I would suggest going and taking one of those "How well do you know [Dobby]?" sorts of quizzes and have a better day than if you would have read this.

I was at the temple today doing a session (where this occurred is a moot point - the fact is that it occurred) and there were two or three girls going through for their first time. Well and good - everyone has to go through at some point. Most (actually, all) were engaged and their fiances were in the session too. Well - I recognized one of the fiances - he was my old roommate's boyfriend (and I'll call him Josh, since I can't remember his name - Shelley might know who I'm talking about). But the chicky-poo that he was engaged to was NOT my old roommate. This girl was a tall, blonde, 19-ish teeny-bopper freshman (that's what it looked like - wouldn't surprise me. BTW - Josh is well over 19 - probably 24-25 by now. That topic is another post in and of itself).

Before I continue - Josh is an idiot. I thought so when my roommate was dating him. But she was in love, so who was I to say anything (though I could have spoken up when they were cannoodling in our room while I was trying to do my homework - I was a doormat at the time. I shared a room with her, that's why they were always in there. Probably a good thing I stayed in the room and watched... bleah...)

Maybe I'm old fashioned and maybe I expect too much (and maybe I'm just a grumpy old maid) - but it's bothersome to see people date, make out, proclaim their undying love to each other, talk marriage, etc., and then back out with a giggly "Jay-Kay!!!" (liek, OMG!!! XP) Can't you decide all that BEFORE you make your family, friends, roommates and acquaintances watch you be stupid? Oh right - we're not supposed to care. This is alllll invisible to the rest of us. Puh-leaze.

My point - keep it under control until you really decide this is who you want. Because you'll probably regret all those "fun" NCMO sessions when you finally do get married (for those that didn't go to college in Utah, "NCMO" stands for "Non-Committal Make-Out." Personally, I think we ought to do away with the anagram because it's just taking the responsibility out of relationships. Not any different what the wh***s and other sleeze-bags do in the rest of the country.... and I better quit before this post gets less-than-PG rated.)

Tell me, am I just being bitter or am I ahead of the curve? Because I'd like to think I've got something here. Then again, I could be out of my head and these people have the right formula to find a suitable mate. I've just missed the bus all these years and I'm going to be buying cans of tuna for my 45 cats and chasing the neighborhood kids out of my yard after they unwittingly hit their baseballs in my yard in my old age (hey - maybe I'll get a reputation as the local witch. It'll give me an excuse to pickle their livers and feed it to the mutant capybara in the closet).

No - I think I'll go with the former. Disagree? I'll be happy to take any other suggestions...

Monday, August 24, 2009

So - I Broke Down

While I was on my mission, my laptop crashed. Thanks to my super-computer-intelligent-type cousin, I got it back up and running, but it was back it was when I first bought it (thankfully, I had the foresight to backup all my files before I went to Florida). When I got it back, I resolved that I wouldn't hook it up to the Internet because it's so old and my family said they'd replace my computer.

So, I'm back at school (sort of) - but I need internet and what-have-you. Thus, my old dinosaur Lappy is connected to the Utah State internet - I figured that's safe. Plus, the aforementioned super-computer-intelligent-type cousin showed me a few free virus protection programs (which - I used to have the $70 Norton deal - but that only lasts a year. And that's well passed).

Job Prowl Progress: Applied for 4 jobs - 2 of them gave me a short interview on the spot. One looks promising as long as she has a place for me. That was all this morning, then I stopped for lunch and had planned to go to a session at the Logan Temple - except I didn't know the Logan Temple was closed on Mondays. Booger... Maybe on Wednesday.

Once I get my job schedule, then I can go volunteer at the library, thus earning brownie points for that "I... am a Librarian!!!" career. I did get to look at some grad programs - so far I've looked at Alabama and Denver. Alabama doesn't require you to write a thesis, but I haven't found any assistanceships yet. That is going to be a mandatory thing for me - do I look like I have money for grad school?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Packing for College is Not Like Getting Transferred

Now, I've completed four years of college and I will likely complete 2-3 years more (I'm a glutton for punishment). And I am fully aware of of what I'm about to point out - but I've never though of it before (since I had never been on a mission before).

Packing to go to college is nothing like getting transferred.

I hate packing. It's so stressful. And I've been in a weird summer-isn't-over sort of denial mindset the past month (holy crap - I've been home a MONTH?!). So, while everyone else is going "Yay - COLLEGE - OMG - I'M LEAVING!" I am going "i donwanna..." That makes things worse. But - I'll probably be over that once I'm in Logan. Maybe.

Feh... the stress is only beginning. Starting next week, I must find some kind of job that pays some kind of money (preferably American money). And I really ought to hunker down and research MLA programs. All the while setting aside time for Institute (that's not hard) and also carving out some time to work on writing. That last one is going to be the most difficult since it must be a self-motivated project. I'm not getting graded on this - only in the category of "Dreams Achieved." But I'm going to try limiting my leisure TV/Internet intake and see if I can't use that time more productively. If I have time to channel surf, I have time to write (Facebook to a minimum; Twitter is strictly off limits; MySpace is equated to Playboy on the list of acceptable sites).

Unrelated side note that I must share: The Tintic School District is giving all their students iPod Touches for school. Since the district is so poor (or good at playing the beggar), they're giving the kids iPods so they can store their textbooks and things on them. Supposed to give the kids all the most up-to-date information while saving money. Alison was just talking about it. I think they even get to keep the iPods for personal use (like, storing all their Taylor Swift, Hannah Montana and Lindsey Lohan songs. Nothing says "Back to School" like "The Best of Both Worlds").

I am insanely jealous. Not just because my iPod got the lost the first week I was home (I'm still boiling over that. That and my laptop crashing. Luckily, I had all my music and computer files backed-up. BACK UP YOUR FILES, PEOPLE!!). But I had the idea back in middle school that they could seriously save money by putting school textbooks in a computerized format. Oh well, I guess my younger sister gets to benefit from my "brilliant-yet-unpatented-idea." But I can say that I thought of it first - and people thought I was nuts...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Homecoming to Me!!

(only crazy people do this - case in point: me)

I gave my homecoming talk in church today and it was pretty good. Seriously - I haven't been in this much of a missionary mode since... well, since I got on the plane in Jacksonville. So, I decided to share the happiness with you all - Enjoy!

(side note: I didn't give this word-for-word. Really, this was my train of thought as I wrote it up. But you get the basic idea)

Mission Homecoming talk - August 16, 2009

When most people come home from their missions, they give a sort of “travelogue” about all the miraculous experiences that they had on their mission - try to let those things speak for themselves and let it go at that. But I’ve decided to go a bit deeper and speak on something that made my mission - actually my entire testimony of the gospel - very miraculous. Hopefully it will enhance your testimony more than a list of great mission stories - not that there’s anything wrong with mission stories - but I can tell you a few of those later.

I served in the South, which is also referred to as the “Bible Belt.” The vast majority of people are already Christian - mostly Catholic and Baptist. Typically, you don’t expect to have a whole lot of success in convert baptisms. That’s the general idea in the Church, anyway. And most of the people I met tracting, etc. gave us the response “Oh, we already have a church that we are happy with” - the same way you would say you are happy with your family doctor or insurance company. The bottom line is that many of these people figure that they already know who Christ is, they read the Bible, they go to their churches, listen to their preachers and that’s all they need. Church on Sunday - “real life” the other six days of the week. Stick a fish on the back of your car and you’re saved. Hallelujah, praise the Lord, shout amen.

If that were the case, why send missionaries to Florida, anyway? If any old Christian church will do, why should we even bother preaching the gospel to the people who “know it all?” Why would our mission president teach us to invite people to baptism at the doorstep if they’ve “already been” baptized into some other church?

[quote by Elder Ballard - “Unless we [can] offer people spiritual insights and understanding they [can’t] receive anywhere else, there really [isn’t] much reason for them to listen to us.”]

This - [pic of the First Vision] - is the reason we send missionaries everywhere. I don’t think a lot of us in the Church really understand how important the First Vision is. I certainly didn’t before I left home. I didn’t know how important it was that we have a living prophet or the priesthood or any of the things that were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

[review the story of the Restoration - by the way, religious strife is alive and well in the South. I think the problems in 1820 Palmyra just migrating down the east coast. Probably the only time people of Christian beliefs can agree is when atheists try to take religion out of public life. [[pardon for getting slightly political - you can take the girl out of the ... political debate...]].]

[The First Vision - “I saw a pillar of light…” -- either quote of read it. Doesn‘t really matter much…]

The First Vision and the Book of Mormon set us apart from all the other Christian churches. They are a sign that the Lord’s true church has been restored. God is not limited to one tiny book. Think about it - the God of the whole universe, our Heavenly Father, wants us to return to Him and you think all he’d give us is one 1,000-some-odd page book? Playboy and harlequin romance novels have probably published more material than that in the past 20 years. Satan has plenty of weapons in his arsenal and he’s not going to stop using them. Don’t tell me that God isn’t going to go above and beyond what Satan can do.

The First Vision is such a miraculous thing. Everyone has to go through their own Grove at some point in their lives. There were certain people that, when they heard us quote the First Vision from Joseph Smith-History, they felt the Spirit testify to them that it really did happen. The Spirit testifies of truth and He cannot lie. Now, not everyone that felt the Spirit got baptized, unfortunately - but plenty of them did. The Florida Jacksonville Mission set as a goal for baptisms 650 in 2008 and 1050 in 2009. Now, I don’t know that those numbers will impress my brother when he gets back from Argentina (I guess he has 29 people with baptismal dates - which, that was huge in Florida if you had that and they all got baptized) -- but we knew that the Lord was preparing people to hear the gospel and accept it (Alma 13:24). And a lot of them did - we baptized 665 people in 2008 and when I left in July, we were on track for the 1050 in 2009.

[as an aside - in other missions the Southeast area, the average number of people that a missionary would baptize in a year was about 2-3. In our mission, the average number of people a missionary would baptize in a year was 8-9].

It may not seem like it, but people are waiting to hear the gospel. The elect are out there (D&C 29:7). Even when we were looking for the “low-hanging fruit” - we found them. Because of the Grove.

Joseph was a prophet. He was the Prophet of the Restoration. If you don’t know that with all your heart, you better find out. If you already know it, you’d better keep knowing it. Any time you have any kind of struggle or problem - in or out of Church life, ask yourself - Did Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appear to Joseph Smith in the grove? Did They call that boy to be their prophet? Did Joseph translate the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God? Did Christ appear to the Nephites in Bountiful? If the answer to those questions is yes (and I know that they are) - things will turn out okay because everything we believe and hold dear - everything that is true in this world - stems from those questions.

You will know by the Spirit that these things are true. There’s plenty of scientific/empirical/historical evidence - but if you know by the Spirit, there’s nothing that can shake you. So many people look at the Church as a superficial thing (sort of like some disaffected people formerly of other faiths do), but that social outlook on religion doesn’t sustain you through storms and I saw so many people that had fallen away from the Church because of whatever lame excuse they have. They have a testimony, but they aren’t converted. So, I challenge you to get converted this minute. The Spirit is testifying to you that these things are true - and the Spirit doesn’t come just because you want to feel happy or whatever. The Spirit invites you to act - whether that’s to be a better person or to take Church more seriously or whatever that is.

People have lost hope - even hope in God. So many think that all the have to hope in is themselves and the government (ha. ha. Oh, that's a good one) But because of the Restoration of the gospel, we know that this life is not all that there is. There is not a people more blessed than we.

Believe in Christ - believe that He lives. Believe that He was born in Bethlehem and suffered and died in Jerusalem. Believe that He is risen. Believe that He appeared in Bountiful to the Nephites and that is recorded in the Book of Mormon. Believe that He and His Father appeared to a 14-year-old boy in response to a prayer. Believe that Christ is the Head of this Church and that this Church is the only way you can find true happiness. Believe that this is the only answer to the problems in the world. Because it is. It’s really bold to say that - and there are people that don’t like to hear it, but it’s true and we don’t have to be wimpy about it. Don’t be arrogant - because there’s nothing to be arrogant about. But it’s true. And lots of people are looking for the truth (possibly some in this room).

Then I ended with my testimony.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Crazy Cultist Is As Crazy Cultist Does

Being the conservative-radio-talk-show-Fox-News junkie that I am, I've been following all the health care town hall news through all my favorite programs. I was listening to Glenn Beck today and he gave some advice to people who go to these town halls to speak their minds.

Now, I think it's wonderful that intelligent, informed people are getting out and getting their voices heard. It makes me feel all warm and squishy inside when conservative-type people can get their message out (even though the Drive-By media is laughing at them and calling them crazy mobsters - all I can say is read between the lines, people).

Now, as I said, I was listening to Glenn Beck, whom I've started following since I got home from my mission. It's neat to have a member of the Church (that isn't Harry Reid) be in the public eye like this - you know, being a semi-normal, plays-nice-with-others (except when they don't deserve it), so-not-a-brainwashed-cultist-that-most-people seem-to-think-Mormons-are. (If you understood that sentence, you get a cookie). This is part of why I like Stephenie Meyer as well.

So, I was looking through Glenn Beck's website and looking up some archives, just because I was bored and I noticed this article: Glenn Beck Story Pulled Because of his Mormon Faith.

At first, I got really, really, REALLY pissed off (these sorts of things tend to do that - see also Mike Huckabee's remarks in the 2008 Republican Primary about Mitt Romney - ultimately, if you think about it, that event is pretty much the reason Obama is president). What really gets me is that the conservative base is happy to have the support of LDS people on moral issues and such, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of religion and what-have-you - the evangelicals get on this "Oh-Noes! You-re-Mormon-You're-Not-Christian-You're-EVIL!!! rawr!!!" high horse and don't want anything to do with us. Frankly, it's stupid and unwarranted, but don't try telling them that.

I could speculate why this truly is (trust me, I have looked into why so many "Christian" pastors and preachers demonize and vilify the LDS Church - and it has nothing to do with doctrine), but that's another post for another day.

But as I listened to Glenn's radio show today, he was talking about people who go to these town halls on health care and he gave some advice that applies to how I was feeling after reading that quite outdated article. Basically, he told these town hall goers to go to whatever lengths to NOT act the way that the media has characterized them. Don't act crazy, keep your cool, be passionate, have your facts straight, and for heaven's sake, BE INTELLIGENT.

And that's great advice for anyone that has been wrongly characterized by another group. Now, you can't control what others in your group do (as much as we wish we could), but you yourself can be civil, be smart, be classy and still stick to your deeply-held values in spite of what lies and crap others spread about you.

And here I go referring to an experience on my mission: I taught and baptized a family in my last area whom I dearly adore. When we first met them, the mom, K, was not interested in learning. She'd met missionaries before, but it wasn't a good experience, besides, she'd heard Mormons were "X, Y and Z" and not at all what she believed. However, her oldest daughter, J, felt the Spirit when we taught her and she was baptized. J told K to read the Book of Mormon and just give it a chance. K reluctantly did because it was her daughter that asked her to.

And when K read the Book of Mormon (applause for her - most... people can't even get that far), she realized that the negative things she had heard about the Church were wrong - and actually, the Book of Mormon tallied with her already-deeply-held beliefs. She learned more, came to church, gained a testimony for herself and got baptized.

The moral of the story: As angry as you get and as much as you want to get even, take a breath, be reasonable, keep your head, BE CLASSY - and let your example speak for itself. And when people see your actions and realize that they don't tally with whatever BS the rest of the world puts out there - they'll get it.

To quote "Newsies": The world will know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Movie Review: "Emma Smith, My Story"

I heard about this movie while I was on my mission and it was on the list to see when I got home. I was even more intrigued when I heard that they used the same basic cast as the Church-produced film "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" - even though "Emma Smith" is not an official Church production. Suffice it to say - I was a bit giddy about this. I LOVE studying Church History (any kind of history, really, but Church History has a warm, tingly place in my heart... and if you need me to explain why, see me after class). And Emma Smith is my hero. Period. No Arguing.

A brief history of Church filmmaking is in order: there has been dramatic improvement in the last - I'd say 10 years. You watch anything from before 1990, especially... you'd have your year's supply of cheese. Back then, it was probably discouraged for actors in those videos to utilize any sort of acting talent - just tell the story in your best Sunday-School-scripture-reading-monotone voice (zzzzzzzz....). The message and doctrine and so forth were all there - but you have to quit laughing long enough to listen. Not condusive to being educated by the Spirit, believe me (those of you who have showed "Together Forever" to an investigator family in conjunction with the Plan of Salvation lesson know what I'm talking about).

But now, you have "The Testaments" and the aforementioned "Joseph Smith" movie. Plus, the most recent Church History seminary/institute videos are very well put-together. Same goes for the 20 minute "Restoration" video and "Finding Faith in Christ." Yes, Virginia - the Mormons can act!

But I'm not here to talk about those videos. Just know that they are doctrinal, spiritual, uplifting and, yes - they are entertaining. Check them out if you get the chance.

Back to "Emma" - first response: Awesome movie! Like I mentioned before, Emma Smith is my hero. Think about it - think of the life of Joseph Smith - he's the Prophet of God, he's seen amazing visions and revelations. Plenty of people believe what he's seen - but just as many (if not more) don't believe and there's no shortage of persecution and abuse and lies to go around. (and that BS continues today, even - that's another rant for another day). Ultimately, he's murdered at Carthage Jail, imprisoned on trumped up charges and the "powers that be" in government could very well have released him, but because the anarchist mob wants him dead, they don't. All because God called Joseph to do a great work in restoring the true gospel. You want to talk about unfair and unjust...

So now, think of Emma - how much she had to sit through and deal with throughout her life. Oh, she believed in the gospel with all her heart - as this movie so beautifully portrays (if I had one complaint about "Prophet of the Restoration," it was that Emma seemed to lose faith completely towards the end - which is another reason I'm glad this movie was made). She stood by Joseph until her death and kept her testimony. I don't blame her in the slightest for staying behind in Nauvoo when the rest of the Saints went on to the Salt Lake Valley.

There's a line in the movie - after the Saints were driven out of Missouri to what would become Nauvoo. Emma says that, in her mind, she left the storm across the Mississippi River and she had no desire to cross the river again (something to that effect), so she didn't.

This movie did a great job of portraying Joseph and Emma as real people who simply had extraordinary callings. But after the revelations were given and the work moved forward - they still had to deal with regular life, but with added purpose (as it is with any member of the Church). All the human responses to the trials they both faced are there, just like anybody else.

Plus - there were funny scenes too. I don't want to give too much away, but I have to tell this one: it's the hairbrush scene at the end. It's the middle of the night, Joseph is in hiding from his enemies, but people have been around the house harassing Emma, so the situation is tense. Emma's just put the kids to bed and she's about to go to sleep herself when she hears someone coming into the house. So, she takes a hairbrush from her side table and waits for whoever this is to come upstairs. He comes in the room, Emma goes to attack him - and it's Joseph! Best line is Joseph - "That thing's not loaded is it?" Priceless! (don't know if it's historically accurate, but in this case, who cares? XD XD XD XD)

Oh - and there is a mention of plural marriage. My first thought was "Dear heaven, do we have to go there?" But the did a great job of addressing this sensitive issue - it was just old Emma discussing the topic with her grown daughter and the answer was "God commanded, Joseph obeyed - might not have liked it, but we did what we had to do." I was impressed with the movie to that point - but that blew impression out of the park!

Everyone should see "Emma Smith: My Story," especially if you have an interest in Church History - most especially if you want to know, at least to a degree, how prophets and apostles do what they do. Seriously - you can tell how much Joseph relied on Emma and that is the best part of the movie. Personally, I think that's a vital part of Church History that needs to be discussed, but doesn't get the respect it deserves. Joseph Smith was an amazing man with an amazing calling from God - and he was blessed with an amazing wife to support him.

Bottom Line: I love Emma :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Left to My Own Devices

Now hear this: it has been two weeks since I got home. And I am FINALLY unpacked!! And my room looks like... slightly less than the tornado wreck it was this morning (maybe the victim of the massive wind storms today that knocked out the power, thus preventing me from watching the third season of "Heroes" on Hulu. Feh...)

It's amazing what you can do when you're home alone with the dog and certain people don't have X-amount of "favors" and "jobs" for you to do (funny - folks seem to think I'll die of boredom if I don't have a "to-do" list the minute I am finished bolting down my morning toast with cherry jam. And that's only because we're out of raspberry).

In other news - I am going back to Utah State for the semester - Dad says I need a few months to "goof-off" and socialize - but I put in the stipulation that I can take the GRE Prep course in anticipation for grad school next year (that's being optimistic, friends). I can't go back to school and NOT do something mentally stimulating - just because I already have my degree. I'm not going to tell people that I'm majoring in Ping-Pong - I'm not that desperate.

And the red header with the pink layout - it's kind of annoying, don't you think? (Note to Facebook peeps - I'm talking about my Blogspot layout here. You won't see what I'm talking about otherwise). Iiiiii'm..... going to look into tweaking it a bit. I'm typically a LiveJournal girl here - bear with my while I learn something new (this may take a few hours).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm on Blogspot!!

Go me.

I've decided to use Blogspot to connect to my Facebook since - well - since I decided to. So, this should be fun, eh?

Watch this space for news on my life and what-have-you. It'll be sparse until I get more time to do things - heaven knows I have plenty to work with. And you'll find out in the coming posts what I mean (sorry to be so cryptic, but this is just a first post and - yeah - that's it).