Monday, March 30, 2015

CHURCH ISSUES PROOFREADING TOOLS FOR YW SEXUAL PURITY LESSONS

Salt Lake City, UT—The Church has issued proofreading tools for those Young Women leaders who might be working on lessons dealing with sexual purity. The tools are meant to help such leaders review key concepts and perhaps pinpoint lesson planning errors.

Male/Female P: This proofreading mark designates parts of a lesson where a leader might erroneously assume that pornography is only a male problem. The male and female symbols in the letter “p” remind a leader that young women can be just as curious and turned on as boys are by sexually explicit material. Leaders who believe that pornography is exclusively a male problem risk making young women who struggle with this issue feel additional isolation and shame.

Shackle?: This proofreading mark reminds those preparing a lesson that not all sexual struggles are addictions. This mark is especially useful for those who might conflate occasion pornography use with habitual pornography dependence.

Male Gaze: As some leaders might place too much emphasis on how a young woman’s actions might affect a male viewer, this symbol crosses out that male gaze. While young women can be aware of the signals they may send to others, including young men, women should not live lives dictated by what men may or may not see.

The T and Warning:Fear: These two symbols work well together when proofreading a sexual purity lessons. The scroll with a letter “T” is to remind instructors to use the truth as clearly and fully as possible. Telling that truth can mean being honest about struggles as well as success without being sensationalistic. It can mean affirming how powerful, pleasurable, and bonding physical affection can be as well as discussing some of the heartache that it can bring. The warning triangle with “fear” in it is to warn against using fear as a way to emotionally threaten or otherwise coerce young women to live the law of chastity.

A most obvious example of using fear in just such a way is the case of a woman from Cedar City, Utah who made cross stitches for all of her young women that said “if you have sex before marriage you’ll get syphilis and die.” The T and the Warning: Fear tools would have been ideal in the planning stages of this erroneous sexual purity message. In addition, these proofreading tools alert lesson planners to where they may feel tempted to use fear or manipulation—the devil’s tools—to do the Lord’s work.

Toast: This symbol, which is meant to show a piece of toast, could also be chewed gum, a cupcake with the icing licked off, or a flower without its petals. All of these are common symbols or metaphors for a woman whose sexual experimentation has “gone so far” that she is no longer considered “pure” by some. These very destructive, short-sighted, and erroneous comparisons use fear (see above), reinforce shame, convey the idea that God and others will no longer consider them worthy of love and connection, and undercut the very Atonement that is the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dynamite: This proofreading tool is used to point out where teachers can insert messages that will make young women feel powerful. Many of the symbols above show errors that could make women feel afraid or powerless with relation to their bodies and the amazing things that their bodies can do. This symbol shows areas where instructors can encourage young women to love and feel deeply grateful for their bodies and what those bodies can do. It can also point to places in the lesson where instructors can encourage young women to consider how the power and pleasure that their bodies offer them can be used to bless their lives. Women who take ownership for their bodies and love and appreciate their bodies can then consider how they can use their bodies to bless the lives of others. With those ideas in mind, young women can set their own standards for how they will use such God-given blessings.

Monday, March 23, 2015

CLEARPLAY ANNOUNCES NEW CLEARPLAYSCRIPTURES

Salt Lake City, UT—ClearPlay has announced its latest service: ClearPlayScriptures. As with its famous service for movies, ClearPlayScriptures removes the vulgarity, sensuality, nudity, violence, substance abuse, and other offensive elements from holy writ.

According to their website, “whether it’s personal scripture study, family home evening with the kids, or a talk or lesson, ClearPlayScriptures has you protected.” 

The alterations that ClearPlayScriptures makes are obvious from the first chapters of Genesis, including “modest outfits” for Adam and Eve as well as Cain “finding some alone time” and “getting a tan” instead of killing his brother, fleeing, and being cursed.

“I’m just thrilled with this service,” said Jenna from Provo. “When it was family scripture study time, and there we were with 4 year-old Khyileë and 2 year-old Pyler, I was so glad when we got to the story of Nephi getting the plates to see that ClearPlayScriptures had filtered it so that Nephi finds Laban, takes him home, offers powerful testimony of the Word of Wisdom, and then Laban and his whole family are converted.” Jenna added, “when Laban wept as he tearfully gave Nephi the plates and said goodbye to his trusted friend Zoram, well I knew that heaven had blessed my family with scriptures free of anything troubling or contentious.”

ClearPlay’s website has numerous testimonials of people ecstatic about this new service. As Troy from Logan puts it, “it is so refreshing to be able to read the scriptures without your finger on the page ready to turn immediately when you find something inappropriate.” Troy could be responding positively to filters where Joseph’s brothers throw him a surprise birthday party, Jezebel encourages devotion and modesty as her and Ahab serve as mission presidents, and Jonah not only converts all of the sailors but even the fish were “moved upon by the Spirit.” 

Jacob from Springville also loves the service, saying that he would like to “thank all of the folks that make the filters and the engineers/current Seminaries and Institutes employees who make this possible!” Jacob said that the change in Lehi’s speech, specifically when he says “for it must needs be that there is an opposition against all bad things” helped him to see that “removing all traces of struggle and whatever makes us uncomfortable” is clearly what good people should constantly do.

Monday, March 16, 2015

TOP 10 REJECTED MUTUAL YOUTH THEMES

For every “O Ye that Embark in the Service of God,” there are thousands of rejected mutual youth themes every year. Here are only 10 of them. Please feel free to add more in the comments. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

POINT: SISTER MISSIONARY EMAIL HOME / COUNTERPOINT: ELDER (MALE) MISSIONARY EMAIL HOME

POINT: SISTER MISSIONARY LETTER HOME

Sister Kaylee Snow, Toronto Mission
Sister Snow last Fall (though she has
sent 43 pictures home in the last 2 weeks.)

Hello Family!

This was another week when I felt the Lord’s hand in this great work. I’m learning to pay attention to His promptings, and I know that He is leading my path. The most difficult day was Thursday. Of course it was snowing, but I had the strongest impression that we should go visit Claire. I had it when I woke up and then when I was getting dressed. When I studied with my companion Sister Hovey I said, “Sister Hovey, how much do you trust me?” She of course said, “I completely trust you—where do you think we should go?!?!” We visited people all day in spite of the terrible weather. What made it a difficult day was that we didn’t see any results. I have no idea why we had to be out in the cold all day, but we did and I guess that the Lord will accept our sacrifice. I’m grateful for Sister Hovey and the love, faith, and trust she places in me. She has been such a blessing for me, and such an instrument in God’s hands for me.

We were richly blessed in other ways this week. We felt the Spirit powerfully witness to us as we testified of the Book of Mormon. We did service this week working at a retirement facility, helping a lady move out of her house, we heart attacked the ward mission leader’s house for his birthday, made and delivered goodies to a less active family, cleaned up a lady's yard, visited someone who needed a visit, and my favorite: helped someone regrout their bathroom. It all helped me to realize that if you want to love someone YOU HAVE TO SERVE THEM! 

I know I have said this before, but tell Powell that he needs to start to read Preach My Gospel NOW so that he can be ready to serve in just 6 short years. He’s a Deacon now, and those teachings will help him avoid temptation and hit the ground running when he gets to his mission.

Mom and Dad, have the courage to take a Book of Mormon with you wherever you go. If you have faith like Ammon you will know who to offer it to. Also, Mom and Dad, please extend this invitation to the ward. Tell them to email me to tell me how it went. I want to hear from EVERYONE!

Love,

Sister Snow



COUNTERPOINT: ELDER (MALE) MISSIONARY EMAIL LETTER HOME

Elder Mike Burnson, Tampa Florida Mission
(Elder Burnson, in spite of his
mother giving him a camera
and pleading with him to send
pictures, has only sent 4 pictures
in the 17 months he has been
serving in Florida)

good week taught some people and stuff. this week I got a really cool ralph lauren green suit for free and tailored and everything for free it is super dope. this morning we played some racquetball and then we played some BBall so I am worn out.  Love ya, have a great day!

love,

Mike

Monday, March 2, 2015

"LDS" BLOGGER COMPLETES TRANSITION FROM FAITH TO CYNICISM

Jensen's Vote for Next LDS Church Leader
Salt Lake City, UT—James Jensen, the blogger behind MormonVistas, has completed his transition from the faith that initially inspired his online work to the cynicism that now typifies his blog’s “truth seeking.”

“It has been quite the faith transition,” Jensen recently reflected in the podcast that accompanies his blog. “Where I used to just believe everything I heard and read from the church, now I can see that it is all sanitized and whitewashed milk that keeps Mormons weak and subservient to the church’s massive PR machine.”

Jensen’s faith transition can perhaps best be measured by the change in what follows this phrase: “If they would only.” When MormonVistas started, Jensen often wrote about how “if members would only” followed by phrases like “serve one another” or “put in a little more effort to magnify their callings” after which Jensen often wrote that, “wards and branches would run better.”

But over time Jensen’s faith in those principles was first challenged by suspicions and then completely replaced by an unmitigated cynicism toward Mormon leaders, practices, and culture. Now Jensen’s website and podcast often feature “if members would only” followed by “see how the church is all about power” or “look past the façade to see what is really going on.”

An example of Jensen’s overwhelmingly cynical approach is a recent post about how “Modesty Creates Sexual Violence.” In the post, Jensen describes grudgingly attending the missionary farewell of a distant cousin. During that meeting, a “charming and talented young woman” gave a “boilerplate, clichéd talk” about personal struggles, the death of a close friend, and finding her faith amid uncertainty. After talking about her struggles to set her own boundaries for sexual expression, the young woman remarked, seemingly parenthetically, that she was “grateful for modesty standards that help her see and then feel in control of the signals her clothes and body send.” From this remark Jensen wrote a 700 word tirade about the oppressive nature of modesty teachings in the LDS church, teaching that, according to Jensen, “commodify women’s bodies, turn them into objects, and perpetuate sexual violence.”  Where in years past Jensen may have found inspiration or expressed at least a balance of sympathy and suspicion for what this unsuspecting young woman had said, he now finds nothing but the nefarious “power workings” of the “whited sepulcher” and “evil empire” that is the LDS church and its culture.

If asked about the post, the young woman would have no idea what Jensen was saying. Jensen himself would find pride in his brave “truth seeking” and “truth speaking.”

Though MormonVistas is now consistently “revealing” the shortcomings and hypocrisies of the Mormon Church, Jensen has recently written several positive posts about the man who now seems to be the patron saint of liberal and/or disaffected Mormons: Pope Francis.

Monday, February 23, 2015

RECENTLY ENGAGED AREA MAN DISCOVERS WHOLE NEW WORLD OF CHURCH MEETINGS

Map of Nearly 2 hour Drive Probert will be Asked to Take
for a Devotional with an Apostle
Hattiesburg, MS—Since getting engaged to Melissa Stevenson, area man Michael Probert has discovered a whole new world of LDS church meetings. Probert, who joined the church at the end of his senior year at Mississippi State, did not serve a mission, and in the 5 years since becoming a member had only really been exposed to the 3 hour block of Sunday meetings.

“I’ve been the second counsellor in my ward’s Sunday School Presidency for over two years,” said Probert, “but it has only been since I got engaged that I have learned that there are two hour Stake Auxiliary Training meetings every six months.” Auxiliary Training meeting is not the only church get together that is new for Probert.  “Oh, yah, last month Melissa had us go to the Saturday evening adult session of Stake Conference, so, yah, that was another new meeting.” 

Probert, who previously found the 3 hour Sunday block “rather longish” compared with the Methodist church he attended as a youth, recently “discussed” his ever-expanding schedule of church meetings with his lovely fiancée. For her part, Stevenson expressed the joy she felt seeing her parents attend their various church meetings “several times each month beyond just Sundays.” While cherishing his lovely “bride-to-be’s experiences,” Probert expressed his desire to use each “entire Saturday” to prepare for Sunday. Both agreed to “table the issue for now” and make out.

Though Probert is very, very happy with Stevenson, he still does not realize that in 4 months he will be asked to drive 2 hours each way to Mobile, Alabama on a Wednesday evening for a special 2 hour devotional with Elder Holland nor does he yet know that, come April, there are Saturday sessions of General Conference he’ll be asked to watch with Stevenson. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 CHURCH LEADER VALENTINES

As we have done for years, okay two years, here are the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer's Church Leader Valentines: (oh, and these are the Valentines from last year and the year before)











Monday, February 9, 2015

RECENTLY RETURNED MISSIONARY’S ONLY EXPERIENCE OF ACCEPTANCE, COMPASSION COMES FROM SPANISH BRANCH

Unofficial Spanish Branch Clock
Rochester, NY—Since returning from his mission to La Paz, Bolivia, Elder James Maywood’s only lasting experiences of acceptance and compassion have come at the South Rochester Spanish branch.

“Of course I loved coming home,” said Maywood, “but it seems like I had hardly unpacked before my dad started getting on me about getting a job and mom started to talk about grandkids.” As the third of four children, Maywood is the only to serve a mission, and, according to his mother, her “only chance of holding a sweet, precious little grandbaby any time soon.”

Pressure from home has not been Maywood’s only stressor. As he puts it, “when I tried to go to a Young Single Adult activity, everyone just seemed so judgmental and so into music and movies that I don’t have a clue about, that, you know, I just felt out-of-place and like I can’t compete!”  Maywood noted that so many young women seemed unimpressed if not disappointed in him.

These experiences stand in the starkest contrast with the acceptance and compassion he has felt in the Spanish branch. “So the Branch President asked me to speak in church,” explained Maywood, “and after the talk everyone wanted to talk with me and told me how much they liked what I said.” Maywood added that “of course several older sisters gave me the warmest hugs, and one even said that I reminded her of the elders who had baptized her.”

It wasn’t just by way of his talk in church that Maywood has felt an outpouring of love from branch members. Maywood elaborated that “when I stopped by for a home teaching visit I just felt like a member of the family, but a family that isn’t harassing me all of the time.” Maywood also said that he thoroughly enjoys joking with ward members about differences in Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary in members from different places. As he puts it, “joking with Brother Morales about how Cubans sound like they have a potato in their mouths or how Chileans must be allergic to the letter ‘s’ is actually really fun for all of us.” Maywood added that “they love to tease me about my Bolivian accent and words, and how I sound like a ‘Bolivian gringo’.” 

Maywood believes that branch members offer so much seemingly unqualified love and acceptance in part because he took time to serve Spanish-speaking saints and to learn their language and customs. Maywood also noted that, “oh, and I think that we all feel a certain bond of affection and acceptance when we all arrive about 15 minutes late for everything!” 

Monday, February 2, 2015

TOP 10 REJECTED ESPECIALLY FOR YOUTH CLASSES

It is that time of year when families are signing their kids up to pick pineapple in Hawaii, planning visits to see their children in state and federal correctional facilities, or registering them for Especially for Youth. The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer is happy to present the top 10 rejected EFY classes. Enjoy!


Friday, January 30, 2015

DELBERT L. STAPLEY SENDS DIRE WARNING TO MITT ROMNEY

Apostle Still Seeking to do the Lord's
Work from the Spirit World
By Adam Lewis

La Jolla, CA—Confusion has, for some, followed Romney’s announcement that he would not run for president. Information from a source inside the Romney campaign may clarify why he is not running. This highly-placed source indicates that while organizing the papers on the desk of the savior of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, our source came upon an interesting letter, a letter that was “buried beneath stacks of diamond mine deeds and drafts of campaign donation requests.” The letter in question was from the late Delbert L. Stapley (Apostle 1950-1978), and its odd writings and other marks indicated that Romney may have transcribed the letter via what he refers to as his “Urim and Thumim 2.0” (aka top hat and monocle).

Stapley’s letter seems to be a sequel to his infamous 1964 letter to Governor George Romney, a letter wherein the now deceased Apostle criticized Romney’s support for the Civil Rights Act. In that letter Stapley warned Romney the Elder that support for such an act was against the will of the Lord as revealed through Joseph Smith. Stapley further cautioned that punishments are in store for those who seek equality in such ways. As evidence for such dire warnings, Stapley cited three US presidents who met their doom as a direct result of their pursuit of equal rights under the law as well as “the drowning death of some guy from Arizona.” 

Our highly-placed source suggests that the new Stapley letter is adapted for the new generation with similar advice and warnings. Stapley points out that the slippery slope of the Civil Rights Act has produced new minority groups that now have a voice and are seeking equal protection under the law. He goes on the say that groups like homosexuals, feminists, and Mormon democrats are pushing an agenda that restructures the proven and well established world that “needs no restructuring.” The source indicated that there may have been more, but the letter was whisked away by a representative of the Church History department who said that it needed to be “archived” properly.

When pressed for further details, our source noted the letter’s 116 word postscript. In that postscript, Stapley made clear his view that support for equal rights was why Romney the Elder lost the 1968 election, “plunging the nation into the dark ages of Nixon.” Stapley made clear that Romney the Younger has a third chance to “get it right” so the “purposes of Zion can be realized in national leadership.” Mitt was promised a win if he would adhere to Stapley’s directive, but any wavering would cause the dashing, righteous, and well-coiffed former governor to fall short, allowing Satan and the national media to yet again “sift him as wheat.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

TRIPLE, VENTI, HALF SWEET, NON-FAT, CARAMEL MACCHIATO CAUSES PRODIGAL LDS STARBUCKS BARISTA TO “COME TO HIMSELF,” RETURN TO FAITH

God can even use the absurdity 
of an iced, half caff, ristretto, venti, 
4-pump, sugar free, cinnamon, dolce 
soy skinny latte to bring a lost sheep 
back to the fold
Salt Lake City, UT—Kody Hollis’ recent return to the faith of his youth was apparently triggered by a customer request made while Kody was working as a barista at a Salt Lake City Starbucks.

“Yah, so this guy comes in,” recounted Kody, “and orders a triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato and it suddenly struck me; what the @#^& am I doing here.” Kody continued that “the absurdity of making this ridiculous drink for some pretentious University of Utah hipster and then making similar drinks for the line of equally pretentious hipsters behind him just made me snap out of whatever fog I’d been in.”

Kody’s experience of suddenly “coming to himself” was followed by other experiences that eventually led the twenty-five year-old to return to his parents and the church he was raised in.

“So I went back to my apartment, you know, after my shift, and looked in the mirror, saw the piercings and those ludicrous gauges, and decided that I really need to make a change.” Kody was going to discuss his decision with his roommates, but Brian was in the shower with his girlfriend Candice and Kameron was passed out with a bong beside him on their dilapidated, red, Deseret Industries sectional couch. 

Kody’s decision was not an easy one, and he nearly faltered on the drive back to his parents’ home in Wellsville, Utah. “I got off the freeway,” explained Kody, “and dropped into a Starbucks along the way, in Ogden I think, you know, to pick up something and to think about this [decision] before just going back to Cache Valley.” Kody concluded that “well, so this girl with a weed tattoo on her neck was in front of me in line, and she ordered a grande chai tea latte, 3 pump, skim milk, lite water, no foam, extra hot and I was like ‘I gotta get away from this $%^*!’”

Monday, January 19, 2015

INSTITUTE STUDENTS, CONCERNED ABOUT HIS WEAK FAITH, CAUTION INSTRUCTOR AGAINST ASKING HARD QUESTIONS, GOING ON INTERNET

Students don't believe their teacher 
could handle a crucible or a doubt
Phoenix, AZ—Students attending the local Institute class, concerned about his weak testimony, consistently try to dissuade their teacher, Brother Branden Nicks, from asking difficult questions or going on the Internet.

“Let’s just say we try to keep him in the manual,” said Melissa Carr, a returned missionary, Sociology major at Arizona State University, and student in Brother Nicks’ class. “We love brother Nicks, and we worry that if he started to wonder about why God didn’t give the Priesthood to every worthy man before 1978 (or to every worthy member now!), well, it could damage his struggling faith.”

When asked about why they believed that challenging issues might be difficult for their instructor, students mentioned many telling experiences.

“At the beginning of the year we get new students who think that Institute should be a college-level class with open discussions that engage the difficult but fruitful tensions between faith and doubt, especially at this particular time in one’s life and at a university setting” said Michael Lane. Lane continued that “clearly Nicks is so uncomfortable with whatever isn’t in the manual or said in General Conference that he shuts any challenging conversations down with an apostle quote, a stern warning to ‘follow the Brethren,’ and a standard plea for everyone to ‘stay in the boat.’ Everyone pretty quickly gets the message,” concluded Lane, “that Brother Nicks is so afraid of whatever isn’t easy or clearly sanctioned that it must be eliminated immediately.”

Students also report that Brother Nicks’ fear of difficult issues can emerge at any time. Melissa Carr recalled that one class, while talking about the woman caught in adultery, a visitor asked Brother Nicks how he resolved the fact that the story does not appear in the earliest Bible manuscripts nor is it mentioned by early Christian writers who had access to even earlier manuscripts than we have. Carr said that “we all looked on in stunned surprise, worried because Brother Nicks had no idea about Biblical scholarship or manuscripts.” She said that, “we were afraid that this could lead to a faith-destroying crisis for a man who clearly could not think outside the manual, when suddenly, like a miracle, Daniel Dexter just started to laugh, and then we all laughed, and in doing so we finally convinced Brother Nicks that we were pulling a prank on him. Let me just say,” said Carr, “we could have lost our weak-testimonied teacher forever right there!”

Dexter, Carr, Lane, and others all mentioned that they and other class members often meet during the week or chat online to discuss their readings of books like Rough Stone Rolling, The Crucible of Doubt, or issues of Dialogue. Such discussions give them a way to share ideas and encourage one another as they learn to develop a deeper faith while honoring and using concerns, doubts, and new knowledge to strengthen that faith.

When asked what they get out of Institute, Carr said “we mostly just go to socialize, oh, and sometimes there’s pizza.”