Friday, December 30, 2011

Mitt Romney: I Pray Everyday

Mitt Romney has been increasingly more open about his faith as the 2012 election goes on. Recently, he sat down with the Huffington Post and talked about his spiritual routine as a Mormon: 
The Huffington Post asked Romney in an interview Thursday what kind of daily routine he conducts to keep himself spiritually grounded, a topic past presidents and presidential candidates have discussed at length. George W. Bush, for example, often spoke about how he would try to read the Bible daily and pray.
Romney said he does something similar with the Mormon scriptures, which include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and two other "canonized" books that are also referred to as "standard works."
Romney paused for a moment before describing his routine.
"Let's see, how would I describe this? Let's see," he said. "I read scripture regularly, and seek the counsel of my creator on a daily basis."
"I pray every day. I don't read scriptures every day, probably should," he added.
Ann Romney, who sat on the couch in the Romney campaign bus next to her husband fiddling with an iPad, held up the device, prompting an exclamation from Mitt.
"There we go, just did. I got them on my iPad," he said. "I should probably read scriptures every day, but I read them frequently, but not every day."
"Sometimes I read to him. If we're on the phone, I will read him chapters," Ann Romney said with a smile.
"But I go to church every Sunday," Romney said brightly.
I appreciate Mitt Romney talking about his daily spiritual routine, especially to the press, since he is like most Americans who pray daily and struggle to read their scriptures daily.  The daily practice of being LDS isn't any different from most Americans who try to lead a religious life in a busy and hectic world. Its inspiring to know that even Mitt Romney struggles with balancing work, family and religion just like everyone else. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Archuletta: I Will Be Serving A Mission For The LDS Church

David Archuletta has announced that he will be serving an LDS Mission soon. Watch the video below:

David has already been a good ambassador for our faith by using his musical talents and serving a mission will add an extra dimension to his experience in helping people become familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The LDS Church Launches New Website Focusing On The Bible

The LDS Church has just announced during tonight's December 4th Christmas Broadcast that has launched a new website consisting of Bible videos for viewers to watch. The LDS Newsroom has more information about this new website: is a repository for original short videos that depict scenes from Christ’s life, ranging from the angel foretelling Christ’s birth to the Savior's Resurrection.
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, announced the site during his talk at the devotional.
“Like the scriptures which these short films follow faithfully they may seem to you quiet,” he said. “Your faith and the Holy Ghost will create the emotion these world-changing events deserve.”
As reported from the LDS Newsroom, The Church will be releasing more videos in the future for people of all faiths to enjoy:   
The project will yield more than 100 vignettes portraying the life of Christ, taken directly from the text of the King James Version of the Bible. Over time, each video will be posted to along with the scriptural text from which it is taken. The goal is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ by assembling one of the finest collections of Bible videos in the world.
“We intend for these videos to be used freely by individuals, families, and groups,” said Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Executive Director of the Media Services Department. “We want to help our own members strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ, and we offer this freely to other churches who may wish to use these videos in a similar way. The message of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be shared as widely as possible throughout the world.”
Subscription options, including RSS and e-mail, are available in the footer of the website for users to receive updates when new videos are provided.
The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos website is intended to provide members and their families with a new and meaningful way to learn about and share the teachings of Jesus Christ. Through these videos, individuals can explore biblical environments, watch scripture-based stories come to life, view slideshows, and discover additional insights into biblical accounts.
“It is our hope that these New Testament videos will help people to visualize what they have only been able to imagine, and to more deeply feel the truths of the New Testament as they witness the Savior’s life and not just as they read about it,” Elder Robbins said. “Hopefully, there will be entirely new insights into the Savior’s character that will help viewers feel of His love and inspire them to want to be more like Him.”
The website enables individual to share the content in order to extend the videos’ reach and impact. Items on the website can be shared through Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.
“You can give a great and wonderful Christmas if you will remember the gifts God has given you, and as best you can, offer them to others as He would,” President Eyring stated.
The website has a mobile-friendly design and is available in English (, Spanish (, and Portuguese ( A free iPad app will also be available in the future, offering a new way to experience Bible stories through sight, sound, and touch.
Given that members of the LDS Church are very active in reading the Bible and have a strong knowledge about Christianity, this will be a resource that will be enjoyed by all Mormons as well as Christians of other denominations.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book of Mormon Broadway Musical Scores Grammy Nomination

Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Broadway musical, "The Book of Mormon" has been very successful for them. The won nine awards at the Tony Awards last year. for Today, they were nominated for a Grammy award for best musical theater album:  
 "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are competing against timeless composers Cole Porter and Frank Loesser for a 2012 Grammy Award. In the category of musical theater album, their new Broadway blockbuster "The Book of Mormon" was nominated Wednesday along with the albums for revivals of Porter's "Anything Goes" and Loesser's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
The musical theater category honors the composers and lyricists for a show, as well as the producers and principal cast members.
"The Book of Mormon," released by Ghostlight Records, features songs by Stone, Parker and Robert Lopez. Cast members Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells also were included in the nomination. The hit comedy won nine Tony Awards this year, including the award for new musical.
Not only has the "Book of Mormon" been success musically, but also financially since they have recouped all the cost of making the play and are now generating a profit from the play:
The critically acclaimed Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” has recouped its roughly $11.4 million capitalization after just nine months of performances, its producers said on Tuesday. “Mormon” is the first commercially successful musical from the 2010-11 season, which had an unusually large number of original musicals open, including the still-running “Sister Act” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and flops like “Catch Me If You Can” and “Wonderland.”
Since starting preview performances in mid-February, “Mormon” has broken the weekly box-office record at the Eugene O’Neill Theater 22 times. The show is regularly among the five highest-grossing productions on Broadway in spite of running in a theater with hundreds of fewer seats than most major musical theaters.
The producers make up for a small house by charging premium ticket prices of up to $477; as a result, theatergoers pay far more on average to see “Mormon” – about $170 during Thanksgiving week – than for other Broadway shows.
Given that people are willing to shell out money to pay premium to see this show, people obviously like the work of Matt Stone and Trey Parker and were confident that they would get their money's worth in seeing this play. But it was also a risk for them to be charging such high prices but the gamble paid off for them handsomely. 
Many LDS people are unhappy with this play because its disrespectful to our religion. I say, let them poke fun at us. We are a unique religion and there's no denying that. Rather than getting our feathers ruffled over it, let them laugh at us. Its ok. Some people will not want to learn about our Church because of this play. Perhaps a few people will. Overall, I think the result of this play is a positive one for the LDS Church and its members. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lawsuit Seeks To Ban LDS Church From Giving Its Input On Utah Alcohol Laws

A lawsuit has been filed in Utah to prevent The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints from giving its input on new or proposed alchol laws:
A trade group for bars and restaurants is asking a federal judge to block Utah legislators from considering input from the Mormon church when drafting future liquor laws.

The Utah Hospitality Association contends that considering the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unconstitutional under federal laws separating church and state.

The claim is part of an amended lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

"We know the LDS church wields a lot of influence with the Legislature, especially as to liquor policies in this state," association board spokesman Kenneth Wynn said on Tuesday. "I think we've felt this for a long time. The church ought to butt out of state business ... we're just bringing it to the forefront."

Hospitality association attorneys originally filed the lawsuit in June. It targets Senate Bill 314, which bans daily drink specials and ties the number of liquor licenses to population totals and the number of state-employed police officers.

Association attorneys say eliminating discount pricing for alcohol amounts to price-fixing that harms both consumers and businesses. They contend such limits on competition in liquor sales and distribution places an unfair restraint on trade that violates federal antitrust laws.

Passed by lawmakers earlier this year, most of the new laws became effective in July. The portion of the so-called "quota system" tied to the number of law enforcement officers takes effect July 1, 2012.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the state of Utah, the governor and the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission.

The Mormon church is not a defendant, but the lawsuit cites examples of the Utah-based church's influence with lawmakers, including remarks from Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, who sponsored SB314, about the church's support for the bill.

The lawsuit also contends that a pair of church lobbyists had "warned" lawmakers that "there would be repercussions" if they disagreed with the church's position on the legislation. Court papers don't specify what those repercussions would be.
This is an interesting lawsuit and I'm interested in the outcome of this case. The LDS Church is free to give its opinion on laws and to lobby in support or opposition of a law just as much as any other organization is free to do. However, they are alleging that the LDS Church has a greater influence on laws crafted in Utah than most regular lobbying groups do. It will be interesting to see how the Plaintiffs prove that given that most of the members of Utah Legislature is LDS.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Study Shatteres A Few More Dating Myths About Men

In a previous blog article, I wrote about a study that found that men single men are, on the whole, as likely to want to get married as single women.  Recently, another study has come out that shatters a few more myths about men: 
That old chestnut about women always wanting to cuddle? Myth, according to a Kinsey Institute study, which finds that kissing and hugging were more important to the happiness of men than of women.
The study involved 1,009 heterosexual middle-aged and older couples in long-term (average 25 years) committed relationships in five countries. Researchers asked participants to fill out questionnaires about their satisfaction with their relationships and sex lives, revealing some surprising truths: for instance, men who reported frequent kissing or cuddling with their partners were on average three times as happy with their relationships as men who reported limited snuggling. For women, such shows of tenderness didn't have much impact on relationship satisfaction.
However, both men and women who reported frequent touching, kissing and hugging, as well as higher sexual functioning and more sex, were more likely to be sexually satisfied. For women, sex got better over time: they reported significantly more sexual satisfaction after being with their partner for 15 years.
"Possibly, women become more satisfied over time because their expectations change, or life changes with the children grown," Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "On the other hand, those who weren't so happy sexually might not be married so long."
Both men and women became happier with their relationships the longer they stayed together. But, in a reversal of stereotype, men were more likely than women to report being happy in their relationships, while women were more likely to report being satisfied with sex.
These studies certainly changes they way we view the physical needs of men and women and how it contributes to their happiness.  Tearing down stereotypes and myths are a good thing since it helps us to strive to a more realistic view of how things are.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Book Of Mormon Musical Is The Big Winner At The Tony Awards

The Book of Mormon musical was not only a hit on Broadway but at the Tony as well. Tonight, the play picked up nine awards
The profane and hysterical "The Book of Mormon" took home nine Tony Awards on Sunday including the prize for best musical, a considerable achievement for a pair of first-time Broadway playwrights known more for their raunchy cartoons featuring potty-mouthed kids.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the Emmy Award-winning "South Park," found a kindred soul in Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the Tony-winning "Avenue Q," and all three found themselves with plenty of awards when they collaborated to gently mock Mormons and send-up Broadway itself.
Collecting the best musical prize, a subdued Parker, who tied Josh Logan of "South Pacific" with four Tonys in one evening, said he'd be remiss if he didn't thank his late book co-writer - Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion.
"You did it, Joseph! You got the Tony!" Parker said looking skyward and holding up his award.
The show, which netted honors for best musical, best book, best direction of a musical, best score, best featured actress and four technical awards, came in with a leading 14 nominations and was the heavy favorite for the top musical prize.
I really wish I could go and see this play. From everything I've heard, Matt Stone and Trey Parker deserve these awards. Congratulations guys! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

LDS Church Releases New Statement On Illegal Immigration

The LDS Church has recently released a new statement to the media about its position on illegal immigration: 
Around the world, debate on the immigration question has become intense.  That is especially so in the United States. Most Americans agree that the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants. Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.
As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.
What to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now residing in various states within the United States is the biggest challenge in the immigration debate.  The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God.  
The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved.  This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any
As those on all sides of the immigration debate in the United States have noted, this issue is one that must ultimately be resolved by the federal government.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God. 
The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship. 
In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.
This is a surprising statement in light of the LDS Church's agreement with the Utah Compact and with the  Church's previous statement stating that they had no official position on illegal immigration:
Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the LDS headquarters in Salt Lake City, said in an e-mail that elected officials who are Mormons do not represent the position of the church. She said the church has also not taken a position on immigration, which is "clearly the province of government."
"However, Church leaders have urged compassion and careful reflection when addressing immigration issues affecting millions of people," she said in the e-mail.
Perhaps the biggest reason behind the Church's change on its position of illegal immigration is the fact that an LDS Bishop in Utah was arrested for illegal immigration
A branch president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was arrested and jailed for suspicion of illegal immigration.

Felix Joaquin Callejas-Hernandez and his family were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on April 19 in Draper.  President Callejas-Hernandez and his family was booked into the Utah County Jail.  His wife and two teenage children were released April 22.  Felix remains in jail as the deportation process continues.
However, this arrest didn't come out of the blue. It came after they had refused a judge's order for them to be deported a few years ago:
Haley said Callejas’ wife had been ordered deported by a federal immigration judge in 2008. The rest of the family had been ordered deported in 2009.
Haley said all had filed appeals with the Board of Immigration Appeals, which dismissed their cases earlier this month.
The arrest highlighted the Church's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in which it turns a blind eye to members who enter the country illegally and many cases, like this bishop, who defy a judge's order to leave the country.  Not only do they turn a blind eye to it, but they allow members to hold leadership positions, serve missions and enter the temple. 
The LDS Church wants to keep this policy going as long as possible. They are trying to have it both ways in which they demand members of the Church to obey the laws of the land yet insist that members and non-members should have compassion on illegals for choosing to break the law.  An organization cannot simultaneously ask members to obey the law but permit some members to break the law and be in good standing with the that organization. Period. 
But then again, some LDS leaders don't view illegal immigration as a criminal activity:  One general authority said that there was nothing inherently wrong about illegal immigration and compared it to a civil trespass: 
"The church's view of someone in undocumented status is akin, in a way, to a civil trespass," said Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, relating it to coming onto someone's property uninvited. "There is nothing inherent or wrong about that status."
Illegal Immigration is not the same as a civil trespass. Illegal immigration, by definition, is a crime. Regardless if its on the books or not, illegal immigration is inherently a criminal activity because its not private property that a person is crossing but an international border and they're entering the country without the government's permission.  
This new statement is a big improvement from its prior official position on illegal immigration. However, until the Church has an coherent and consistent policy on illegal immigration, LDS Church will face more embarrassing arrests. It will also continue to divide the Church among its members and leadership. It will continue to hold contradictory teachings and practices. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How To Get That Cute Mormon Boy To Ask You Out On A Date

During April 2011 General Conference, a few of the General Authorities have admonished the men of the Church to get out and date the women of the Church.  
While some men have no problems asking a girl for a date, there are others who have hard time asking a girl out on a date. However, a witty LDS blogger has suggested that there is a clever way for girls to nudge that cute LDS boy into asking you out on a date:
Walk up to the guy and ask:

“Do you have a piece of paper?”

If he has one, he’ll give it to you. Then ask:

“Do you have a pen?”

If he has one, he’ll hand it to you. Then ask:

"What's your number?"

This will catch him off guard, but he’ll give it to you. Then ask:

“What time are you picking me up on Saturday?”

To which he will reply:


Works like a charm. You can then give him your number, and have a lovely conversation about your plans for Saturday.
As a Mormon guy, I love this approach. It is, with out a doubt, a very cunning and awesomely clever way of getting a date.

And guys, this isn't just for the ladies. You can use it to land a date too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Busting The Myth That LDS Guys Don't Want To Get Married

Dallin H. Oaks, in his talk "Desire," given during the April 2011 General Conference, read a letter from a single sister who claimed that LDS men have no desire to make any kind of commitment to a woman:
"Single men, please consider the challenge in this letter written by a single sister. She pleaded for “the righteous daughters of God that are sincerely searching for a worthy helpmeet, yet the men seem to be blinded and confused as to whether or not it is their responsibility to seek out these wonderful, choice daughters of our Heavenly Father and court them and be willing to make and keep sacred covenants in the Lord’s house.” She concluded, “There are many single LDS men here that are happy to go out and have fun, and date and hang out, but have absolutely no desire to ever make any kind of commitment to a woman."
The sister's claim that men have no desire to make a commitment to a woman is not true
"But according to what may be the biggest study of single people ever, that image is, like the enthusiasm for the chocolate, quite false.
Single men are, on the whole, as likely to want to get married as single women, the survey found. They are more likely than women to be open to dating people of a different race or religion, more prone to falling in love at first sight, more eager to combine bank accounts sooner and more likely to want children. (That distant choking sound you hear is thousands of women finding this news hard to swallow.)
The study — of 5,200 people ages 21 to over 65 who weren't married, engaged or in a serious relationship — was funded by, which has a vested interest in understanding the partnerless. But it was carried out by an independent company in conjunction with Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, social historian Stephanie Coontz and the evolutionary-studies program at Binghamton University. (Evolutionists are all over mate selection, which is the academic term for dating, because those who successfully pair up and procreate send their DNA into the next generation. Think of it as survival of the flirtiest.)
Their findings put the lie to the impression that all guys are Seth Rogen–esque commitmentphobes who regard the dating scene as a kind of all-you-can-meet buffet for their enjoyment. "This study confirms what my research on the brain shows," says Fisher. "The mechanisms for attachment for men and women are exactly the same. Just as many men want to get married as women do."
But the figures need to be parsed carefully. While overall, as many men as women wanted to marry, age played a big role in their preferences. Younger (ages 21 to 24) and older men (50 and up) were more favorably disposed to legal lifetime unions than their female peers. In the between years — the decades when women must pay heed to a uterine deadline — the ratios shift the other way."
The conclusion of the study is this: 
"From the get-go, women are fussier about whom they'll consider for a partner. More men (80%) than women (71%) don't care about the race of a love interest, and many more men (83%) than women (62%) are flexible on their date's religious beliefs. It's not simply, the figures suggest, that guys are more pro-marriage than has been believed; it's that women are less so than the stereotypes would have it."
One of the authors of the study is Dr. Hellen E. Fisher who is a professor of anthropology and a researcher of human behaviour at Rutgers University. She is one of the leading highly qualified "expert" on the biology of love and attraction given that she has studied romantic interpersonal attraction for over 30 years. Dr. Fischer says that her study destroys the myth that men are don't want to commit to a woman:
"But I have long wanted to bust myriad myths about the other half of the human race–men. Single in America does it in spades. This national survey clearly shows that men are just as eager to marry as women are; 33% of both sexes want to say “I do.”  Moreover, men in every age group are more eager than women to have children.  Even young men.  Among those between ages 21 and 34, 51% of men want kids, while 46% of women yearn for young.  Men are less picky too.  Fewer men say it is  important to find a partner of their own ethnic background (20% of men vs 29%  of women said this is a “must have” or “very important”); and fewer say they want someone of their own religion (17% of men vs 28% of women said this is a “must have” or “very important”).   Men are also more likely to have experienced love at first sight, as well as open to introducing a date to their parents sooner.
Perhaps most impressive:  In a committed relationship, men are less likely to say they need personal space (58% vs 77% of women); less likely to want nights out with friends (23% vs 35% of women); less eager to own their own bank account (47% vs 66% of women); and less likely to want to take a vacation on their own (8% vs 12%).  Remarkably, men under age 45 are also more willing  than older men and women to enter a committed relationship with someone who has everything they were looking for in a partner, but whom they do not find sexually attractive.  And just as many men under 35 believe you can stay married to the same person forever (84%).
I study the brain in love.   My colleagues and I have put over 60 men and women ages 18-57 into a brain scanner to study the brain circuitry of romantic passion.  We found no gender differences.  This Single in America study supports what I have long suspected: that men are just as eager to find a partner, fall in love, commit long term and raise a family.   It’s an illuminating, indeed myth-shattering, new set of scientific data.  And the sooner we embrace these findings, and fling off our outmoded and unproductive beliefs about both sexes, the faster we will find--and keep--the love we want." 
I think if this study was conducted among LDS people, you would get the same results or close to it. However, the idea that LDS men are refusing to commit to marriage is bogus. If non-LDS men are more pro-marriage than their non-LDS female counter parts, I would think that LDS men would be even more pro-marriage than is asserted by the single sisters of the Church. 
Which brings me to a point that Elder Oaks makes after reading the letter from the sister:
"I am sure that some anxiously seeking young men would want me to add that there are some young women whose desires for a worthy marriage and children rank far below their desires for a career or other mortal distinctions. Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life."
And Elder Oaks is right. Both the single LDS men and women need to have the righteous desires to get married. There are many wonderful men and women who are doing all that they can to be married in the temple. There are also many men and women in the church who are putting off marriage.
At some point, both the LDS Church and members of the Church need to stop perpetuating this myth that men are dragging their feet to the Temple because its simply not true. The truth is that there are many men and women who are dragging their feet to the temple.
There has been a great debate raging among single LDS women and men in the church on the subject of dating and marriage. Too many people are blaming the opposite sex for why there has been a decline in dating. Both men and women in the Church have been pointing the finger at the opposite sex and blaming them for their single status.
The blame game ends now. Today. 
The only person who is responsible for finding a eternal companion is YOU. You are accountable and responsible for that. No else is responsible for your dating life. You have the agency to choose to ask that girl out or not. You have the agency to choose to say yes or no to that date. If you choose not to ask that person out or say yes to a request for a date, the only consequence is that you missed an opportunity for a date.
I'd like leave you with a question for my readers to ponder: 
Does He really have a preference for one dating approach over another?  In other words, does Heavenly Father care, in the eternal scheme of things, whether the boy asked the girl out or the girl asked the boy out so long as the couple got married worthily in the Temple?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LDS Church Helping Members And Non-Members in Japan

The LDS Church have an amazing ability to to take care their own members during a crisis
"The only thing that rivals the Mormon church’s ability to spread the word is its ability to cope with emergencies.
Within 36 hours of the earthquake striking off the coast of Sendai on March 11, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that all 638 of its missionaries in the country -- 342 Americans, 216 Japanese and 80 from other nations – were safe.
Within a few days, the church also had accounted for all but about 1,000 of its 125,000 members in Japan.
 “Whether it is Haiti or Japan,” said David Evans, a senior leader in the church who serves in the missionary department. “This is how it works everywhere.”
Chalk it up to a culture of discipline and emergency preparedness. The church has a detailed hierarchy and network that works in ordinary times to maintain cohesion among followers, and in disaster to locate them."
What's even more impressive is that the LDS Church also has an amazing ability to help non-members in times of crisis at the same time as well:
"Humanitarian aid from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is arriving in Japan in the ongoing wake of this month's triple-catastrophe in and around Sendai.
Much of the LDS-provided relief supplies are coming from Japan and other Asian nations.
To date, the LDS Church has arranged for more than 135,000 pounds of food and water, 8,000 liters of fuel and 15,000 blankets. Besides the in-kind supplies, the church has made a substantial financial donation to the Japan Red Cross.
Food and fuel is being purchased in Japan and shipped to the affected areas, while blankets were purchased in China and shipped to Japan.
Japanese Latter-day Saints are helping their own as thousands of members from hundreds of congregations across the nation are assembling hygiene and cleaning kits."
While the LDS Church is helping people in Japan, its still needs your help in giving humanitarian assistance to those people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Anyone can make a donation to the LDS Church Humanitarian Aid Fund.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does Religion Make You Fat?

A recent study claims that kids who are more religious are more likely to get fat than non-religious kids:
“Our main finding was that people with a high frequency of religious participation in young adulthood were 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age than those with no religious participation in young adulthood,” says Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“And that is true even after we adjusted for variables like age, race, gender, education, income, and baseline body mass index,” he added…
“We didn’t look specifically at the potluck factor, but anecdotally, we know that oftentimes at these religious gatherings people will eat traditional comfort foods which are often high in fat and calories and salt,” says Feinstein. “But, again, that’s not something we looked at in this particular study.”…
Feinstein says while obesity appears to be an issue for religious people, previous studies have shown that the faithful tend to live longer, be less likely to smoke, and to have better mental health status."
That study flies in the face of various other independent studies that show that religious people tend to be more healthier than non religious people. I'll reference two for your reading pleasure. 
The first study was conducted by Princeton University in 2009 which found that religious people around the world tend to be more healthier than non-religious people. 
The second study was conducted by Gallup poll in which they did extensive research on the wellbeing of religious people in America. The study found that there are different factors that could account for the results of their findings: 
There are a number of factors that could contribute to very religious Americans' healthier lifestyle choices. Some of these factors are likely overt products of religious doctrine itself, including rules related to smoking and substance abuse. Seventh-Day Adventists, for example, strictly adhere to vegetarian lifestyles free of alcohol and smoking, while orthodox Mormons and Muslims do not drink alcohol. In some Christian denominations, gluttony and sloth are considered two of the seven deadly sins, and many evangelical faiths frown on drinking and smoking. The Bible indicates that one's body is the "temple of God," which could in turn help explain the relationship between religious orthodoxy and exercise and certain types of food consumption.
It is possible, of course, that the noted relationship between health and religiosity could go in the other direction -- that people who are healthier are the most likely to make the decision to be religious. This could be particularly relevant in terms of church attendance, one of the constituent components of Gallup's definition of religiousness. Healthier people may be more likely and able to attend religious services than those who are less healthy.
It may also be possible that certain types of individuals are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices and more likely to choose to be highly religious. The most parsimonious explanation, however, may be the most intuitive: Those who capitalize on the social and moral outcomes of religious norms and acts are more likely to lead lives filled with healthier choices.
As a result, I'm highly skeptical of the study that finds that religious kids are more fat than non-religious kids.

Do you agree or disagree with the study?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Book Of Mormon Musical: How Do Silly Stories Produce Good People?

The media is still buzzing about Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Broadway musical, “The Book of Mormon" and the sneak preview reviews have been mostly positive so far. The Broadway musical is set to open at the Eugene O’Neill Theater on March 24. However, sneak previews are one thing. What the general audience thinks is another.  
From what I can glean from reading various media accounts is that the play is pretty enjoyable. For example, Jon Stewart absolutely loves the play. You can see him gushing about it in his interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker on the Daily Show:
I am intrigued by how Mormons will feel about this Broadway musical. The play paints a mixed picture of what the Mormon church is about. Not all of it is flattering. Some of it may be offensive:
"It's sprinkled with jokes about Mormons discriminating against black people and repressed gay longings, but the creators of a new musical about Mormons say it won't attract the sort of religious controversy they are famous for. 
One of the most anticipated musicals this Broadway season, "The Book of Mormon," satirizes the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sexualizes the ritual of baptism and has plenty of politically incorrect jokes."
At the same time, Matt Stone and Trey Parker believe that the play also demonstrates the goodness and sincerity of the LDS people even if people find our faith to be a bit odd: 
Parker and Stone cite a song called "I Believe" in the second act as an example of how the show mixes humor about the beliefs of Mormons with warmth for the two main characters, including rising actor Josh Gad as a bumbling missionary. 
"It's this whole song that gets huge laughs, but it doesn't have a single joke in it," Stone said. "It's just interesting, idiosyncratic things that Mormons believe, but at the same time it is a really heartfelt song from a devout Mormon, so it isn't really just laughing at this person. It works on both levels."
By all accounts, this play isn't hostile to a specific religion like A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant which was a satirical musical about Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. However, that remains to be seen when The Book of Mormon Musical opens to the public. How the audience and members of the LDS church react remains to be seen.

Regardless of how the play is received, the creators of the Book of Mormon music pose an interesting and legitimate question about the LDS faith:
But having found that his Mormon neighbors were always good members of the community, Mr. Stone said, he had to wonder: “Do goofy stories make people nice? What if, in their goofiness, these stories somehow inspire that in the right way. Is that a social good?” 
I think these questions could be asked of any religion but I think given the fact that our religion is fairly new and recent in comparison to other religions, Mormonism is a good religion to use in exploring the general question about the value of religion have in people's live and society even if they are arguably based on silly stories. 
I pose a question to those that follow my blog: let us assume that the stories in the book of Mormon are just plain silly and are not true. What is it about our religion that produces good people? Is Mormonism a social good?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evangelical Christian Realizes Mormons Are Christians After Attending Insitutite

One of the most fascinating stories I have come across on the internet is an interview with an Evangelical named "David" who attended the LDS Institute for four years while working on obtaining a PhD in Molecular Biology. 
I'd like to share a portion of that interview with you (and I encourage you to read the entire interview at the link above) in which he discusses how Institute helped him see that Mormons really are Christians:
"How has your interaction changed your views of Mormons and Mormonism?
At the same time I started attending Institute classes, I made a point to read several books on Mormonism written from conservative evangelical perspectives or by individuals who had left the LDS Church.  Those texts reinforced many of my early LDS preconceptions and argued adamantly that Mormons were not Christians.  I believed as I read those books that I was preparing to enter a mission field, and during the first couple years of attending LDS classes and conversing with Mormons, proselytizing was always at the back of mind.  I couldn't envision Mormons receiving an evangelical version of salvation without first accepting conventional Christian doctrine.   My current perception of Mormonism is quite different.  As I befriended more Mormons, I discovered that some of the most contentious issues that were the focus of anti-Mormon literature were simply irrelevant or ancillary to modern LDS beliefs and practices.   The practical application of their faith and understanding in LDS doctrine was actually similar to that of other Christians with respect to purely biblical doctrine.  Consequently, I no longer believe I am in a position to say the biblical salvation of Mormons is more in question than members of other Christian denominations.   My current practice, which has contributed to the most productive and meaningful of my inter-faith relationships, is to treat Mormons as Christian brothers and sisters as opposed to members of a non-Christian cult.  
I was recently given a book by Stephen E. Robinson that makes several compelling arguments in favor of Mormons being Christians.  I'm in agreement with him on many of his arguments, so I will limit the explanation of my change in heart and mind to one simple conclusion.  To deny someone who accepts the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ the title of Christian is to deny the sufficiency of that sacrifice, as you surely can't be saved by grace through Christ and not be a Christian.  I no longer argue, as I once did, that a precondition for that salvation is a proper understanding of its heavenly manifestation and the sufficiency of the grace that makes it possible.  I still disagree with LDS doctrine as it pertains to grace, works and exaltation, but denying salvation to Mormons on those grounds requires passing judgment on the motive of their works.   As a Christian and a witness to many apparently humble acts of Mormon service, I'm personally reluctant to pass judgment.
Evangelical Christians sometimes acknowledge the promptings or the perceived presence of the Holy Spirit in their life, and I specifically remember attending a large LDS social event during the first year of my studies where I really felt the absence of the Holy Spirit.  I never mentioned this feeling to any of my Mormon friends, but I share it now as an example of a subjective experience that I used to substantiate my academic rationale at the time for why Mormons should not be considered Christian.  It's also relevant in that my current acceptance of Mormons as fellow Christians is the result of both intellectual argument and the accumulative effect of more recent subjective experiences.  Shortly before my graduation from the LDS Institute, I was invited to attend a Mormon baptism, at which a moving testimony was given by the LDS friend of the woman being baptized.  I could not have denied the profound influence of the Holy Spirit in that woman's life or in the lives of others who shared their testimony at an LDS church service I attended on a different occasion.  The Spirit could also be felt in many of the prayers offered at Institute gatherings.  Such spiritual fellowship is common amongst Christian brothers and sisters and I can't deny the significance of experiencing it amongst Mormons."
While David acknowledges that he still has doctrinal disagreements with the doctrines of the LDS Church, he at least sees that we are Christians.
David's statement that Mormons are Christians because "to deny someone who accepts the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ the title of Christian is to deny the sufficiency of that sacrifice, as you surely can't be saved by grace through Christ and not be a Christian" applies equally to all other denominations who accept the atoning sacrifice of Christ. 
Christians will always have doctrinal disagreements with one another, but its time to put an end to the debate over who is a Christian and who isn't. No one except Christ is in a position to determine who is a Christian and who isn't.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How You Can Help The LDS Church In Providing Relief To Japan

If you want provide donations to the LDS Church so that they can help the people in Japan, please go to LDS Philanthropies and make a donation to the Emergency Response Fund.
The LDS Church has also released a statement about the earthquake in Japan and that most LDS missionaries serving in that area are safe and accounted for: 
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan following the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami.
There has been a high volume of inquiries concerning the safety of missionaries serving in the area. The most immediate information is that five of the six missions in Japan have reported all missionaries are accounted for and safe. However, all communications systems in the Sendai area are down. We have not been able to contact each missionary in that mission yet. We continue to work diligently to account for the missionaries in this area and will update information as we are able to do so.
Initial reports from missions in areas affected by tsunami activity show all missionaries are safe.
We are also assessing how the Church might help meet the needs of people affected by the earthquake and tsunami."
Keep checking back here at LDS Phrontistery for more updates on the LDS Church and their involvement in helping the people of Japan.
Update #1 (3.13.11):  It has been confirmed that all missionaries in Japan are safe and accounted for.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

LDS And Evangelicals Leaders Meet In SLC

Politico is reporting that an Evangelical group is holding their meeting in SLC and will be meeting with LDS Church leaders:
The National Association of Evangelicals is holding its semiannual board meeting in Salt Lake City on Thursday — the first time the group has met in Utah. The association chose to gather in Utah precisely to open the door to improved relations between the religious groups.
The board plans to meet with a Mormon leader, in what the evangelicals are framing as an opportunity for “dialogue” that will “deepen our understanding of the Mormon faith and contribute to the ongoing work of evangelicals in Utah.”
While Politico sees the meeting as something that might benefit Mitt Romney if he decides to run in 2012, the meeting between Evangelicals and Mormons have bigger implications than just the upcoming presidential elections:
“Evangelicals and Mormons have fundamental doctrinal differences in terms of their faith, but historically have been very compatible and even cooperative on various moral, social and political issues,” he said. “Politically, evangelicals have more in common with most Mormons than we do with liberal Southern Baptists” like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton."
The meeting isn't about politics. It is part of it but it is not the whole picture here. Both Mormons and Evangelicals are concerned about the rapid growth of secularism in society and how political, social, and legal changes have been having huge impact on the way religious organizations operate in America.
As a result, we are seeing religious groups starting to form alliances with one another even if they have strong doctrinal disagreements with one another. One of the best examples of religious groups coming together is with California’s Prop 8 in 2008 and how powerful multi-religious coalitions were in helping the law get passed in that state.  
If the meeting goes well in Salt Lake City, we could be seeing a new era in collaboration among various religious groups who are politically and socially conservative that will have a significant impact at the ballot box and in the hallways of state and federal legislatures.