Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mormons Urged To Stifle Their General Conference Critiques

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Bishop Paul Zimmerman
Subject: LDS General Conference calls for civil discourse.

Since the ward's mass defection on "Super-bowl Sunday," I have visited with most of you, and, as promised, I have listened to and addressed your concerns. Recently, some have complained that the upcoming General Conference again interferes with your Easter weekend. Understand that the Easter holiday is first and foremost about our Savior, and not about fancy hats, baskets and egg hunts. That being said, you are free to have family egg hunts and basket exchanges -- on Saturday morning before the first session begins at 9:00 AM. Also, the sisters and girls may wear their pretty church hats while watching the Sunday sessions in their family rooms. Now, as to the conference itself, I know that many of you have strong opinions about it's length, content, and the LDS General Authorities personally. We all have a right to our opinions, but we also have a responsibility to set good examples. Brothers and sisters, I urge you this weekend to keep your reactions to the conference talks civil, and in your indoor voices. In that spirit, I've compiled some alternative ways of conveying the thoughts you've so generously shared with me.

"This is the most mind-numbingly boring crap I've ever seen on television."
Change to:
"Golly, you don't see this kind of action on HBO."

"Why are we wasting our time with this drivel? We should be outside playing with our kids."
Change to:
"Isn't it nice that the Church doesn't charge us money to watch this?"

"That Elder So and So makes me so @#$%-ing mad, I want to reach through the television screen and wring his blubbery neck!"  
Change to:
"As usual, Elder So and So has me on the edge of my seat."

"I don't want another lecture from some horny old coot about masturbation and porn addiction."
Change to:
"Perhaps the Prophet was speaking as a man just then."

"Boyd K. Packer is a homophobic, misogynistic, anti-intellectual $%#-hole and certifiably insane."
Change to:
"Man, that Boyd K. Packer's a card. They oughta supply him with a laugh track."

"Does anyone still believe that bull-@#$% about the gold plates?"
Change to:
"I think I'll keep my thoughts to myself."

As you can see, brothers and sisters, I am more than willing to work with you, and expect you as a ward to extend me the same courtesy. Heaven forbid we have another Sunday like last February 7, when I walked in to find the chapel, as some of you might put it, "as empty as a Scottish pay toilet."

While there is no finer tribute to our Savior than LDS General Conference, don't forget to also mark the following date on your calendars:

Friday, April 2, 7:00 PM, Abbottsville Convention Center. Tri-stake Extravaganza: The Resurrection -- On Ice! Former Olympian and Abbottsville Second Ward member, Greg Cooper, will skate the role of Joseph Smith.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll send you a bill for General Conference.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Relief Society Book Club Time!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Susan Renfro, Ward Relief Society President
Subject: April Book Club Meeting

Dear Sisters,
Please choose from the following titles:
Go Sit in the Corner
for women

Latter-day Saint sisters can prepare for another interesting read this April with the choice of the following titles from Go Sit in the Corner for women.

The Questions You Should Have Asked
Elder M. Ross Andersen
Second Quorum of the Seventy

Sisters may increase their spirituality, hone their gospel acumen, and obtain further light and knowledge by letting Elder Andersen answer the questions they should have asked. -- As opposed to the questions they usually ask, that make no sense and only lead to trouble.

Just a Mother!
Melinda Price Maxwell

Former cable news weather-girl, Melinda Price Maxwell, recalled the time she attended a stylish soiree on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The exclusive guest list included LDS celebrities, athletes, billionaires, Republican politicians, talk show hosts, Gladys Knight and the descendants of the first handcart company. Over dinner, Melinda asked the wife of an LDS billionaire, "What do you do?" "I'm just a mother," the woman replied. In that moment, Melinda's life changed. Follow the true life story of this amazing woman who traveled the globe, mixed with top journalists and A-list celebrities, flew into the eye of a hurricane, and almost had a date with Ben Affleck. Then cry when you read how she gave it all up to marry a humble returned missionary and settle down to be, Just a Mother!  
***Sisters who choose this title will receive a free ticket to Melinda's Just a Mother! Twenty State Speaking Tour, as well as a sample of her new Just a Mother! fragrance line.

Zion's Last Outpost
General William "The Wall" Smith, (Ret.)

Our saga begins in the Pre-Existence, where Hank and Sally meet at a ward Mix and Mingle, vow their eternal love, then promise to find each other on earth and build a global media empire that will spread Gospel truths. Fast forward to the last days, when evil liberal commentators have the entire country drinking their Kool Aid. Meanwhile the White House is in the hands of the descendant of some morally bankrupt intellectual free-thinkers from Kansas. And the Constitution hangs by a thread. Hank and Sally meet again, this time at a Washington D.C. ward Mix and Mingle. Sally is dropped off by limo. Hank arrives via helicopter. But their reunion is spoiled when Hank discovers that Heavenly Father sent Sally to earth in a body with chunky thighs and inconsequential breasts. Add to that, their former bishop in the Pre-Existence is now an alcoholic, down on his luck talk show host who has yet to find the truth. Will Hank overcome his fear of cellulite? Will Sally resort to silicon implants and liposuction? Will the talk show host throw off his sinful ways, accept the Gospel, and sign on with Hank and Sally's media empire? Will the White House again be "delightsome?" Will the Constitution ever be restitched? Check out this riveting page turner to find out.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

At 53 He's Still Happy, Healthy, and Ex-Mormon -- Don't You Hate That?

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Happy Birthday, Honey!

Mark Steven Banta was born March 22, 1957 in San Jose, California, where he was raised Mormon in a loving home. The son of a school teacher, every summer he and his sisters were treated to camping trips across the U.S. and Canada. Mark's family also attended an LDS ward that provided him with a comfort zone of good friends and exemplary role models. He worked hard, excelling in school, sports and church, where he was the president of all three of his Aaronic Priesthood Quorums. At 18 he opted to attend BYU on an academic scholarship. It was the only school he applied to. Then, at 19, he agreed to serve an LDS mission. The Church sent him across the globe to Indonesia, to what would be a transformational event in his life.

Many LDS returned missionaries recall negative experiences. Doors slammed in their faces, guilt over lack of converts, pressure to convert everyone, strange companions, illness, filthy living conditions, etc. Mark had none of this. His was the "dream mission." It began in the Missionary Training Center when in a general meeting, President Max "The Ax" Pinegar pointed to the seven Indonesian missionaries, ordered them to stand, then to the other Elders' envy and disgust declared, "These are the only missionaries allowed out without suit coats." (This announcement was followed by a commotion of scared boys putting on their jackets.) Mark later learned that Indonesian law did not permit him to tract door to door. Also he was required to take two week-long trips to Singapore to renew his visa, where his only requirement was to "stay out of trouble." His housing included a housekeeper and cook, and he had a laid back mission president who didn't care about statistics. Basically Mark spent his mission sight-seeing, chatting people up, bashing around Singapore, and committing various missionary faux-pas such as flirting with the local girls, ogling a smuggled copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and wading in the Indian Ocean. (Satan rules the waters, you know.) Once he and a companion sat behind the gamelan during a performance of The Ramayana, an experience he insists everyone should have. In retrospect, Mark wishes that he'd gone to Indonesia to study Javanese culture rather than to teach people about Joseph Smith. He also wishes he could have dressed more appropriately (no suit coats notwithstanding), and that he hadn't spent 3+ hours in church every Sunday. Nevertheless, Mark's mission, coupled with his childhood travels, left him with a hunger to see and experience a world far beyond the confines of Mormonism.

After Indonesia, he returned to BYU, and all of its scintillating social venues. For a couple of years, he bore down on his accounting books and generally avoided the dating scene. Finally his father sent him a check, along with the instruction to spend it on a date with a nice girl. The "nice girl" he selected happened to be me, a sarcastic convert from Southern California with a growing disenchantment with Mormonism and religion in general. We married in the Oakland Temple on December 27, 1980. Mark's little sister waited outside, along with my mother and my close friends, as they were not deemed worthy to witness the secret ceremony. Then we started a family, and did our best to "stay close to the church."

Mark had long been concerned with my complaints about the faith. But as our children began to come of age, he grew more aware of the patriarchal nature of Mormonism, its innate racism and homophobia, and the anti-intellectual message it conveyed. Also the personal demands seemed unreasonable. He wasn't sure he wanted his daughter marrying at 18, or his son serving a mission at 19. (Not everyone gets to go without a suit coat.) Like many who have posted on Recovery from Mormonism, Mark's dissatisfaction with Mormon culture led him to a deeper study of its doctrine and origins, and finally to the conclusion that it was not the right place for him and his family. Losing one's faith is never easy, particularly within a system like Mormonism, where those who leave are often shunned by family and friends. Mark was disappointed by many he admired, pleasantly surprised by a few.

Since then Mark has spent his Sundays enjoying family and friends, going to a movie or the beach, sitting in a cafe in Paris, exploring Manhattan's Central Park, drinking a pint in a London pub, or hanging out with Post-Mormons at the San Francisco Ferry Building. He swelled with pride when he watched his son and daughter receive their college diplomas, something he feared might not happen had they been raised as Mormons. Then he shed a tear at the wedding of our son, which he attended along with me, his little sister, and all the family and close friends who could be there. -- Something he's fairly certain would not have occurred had we remained in Mormonism.

My dear friends from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward, please do not drop by with cakes, casseroles and a birthday message from The Ensign. As always, I am serving his requested dinner, this year Boeuf Bourguignon, and a good bottle of wine. That is, unless you have a nice tawny port -- his favorite pairing with The Ensign.

Happy Birthday Honey!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Traditional Marriage -- Mormon Style

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Sister Delores Souter
Subject: Book Signing at Souter Formal Wear

A record crowd showed up last night to hear Sister Lucinda Wooley Featherstone Richards. She read the following excerpt from her recent best seller, Thinking Outside the Cultural Hall: Creating the Eternal LDS Wedding Experience:

Too often, LDS wedding receptions have the atmosphere of a church pot-luck, with the greediest and least deserving rushing into the Cultural Hall, swarming the refreshment table and pigging out, only to leave the gentle folk with barely a handful of stale mints. Such an environment is hardly conducive to the spirit of reverence such a sacred event demands. I prefer a more organized approach to mixing and mingling, where each guest is rewarded fairly, and is guaranteed the comfort zone of his or her peers.

All wedding seating plans were devised in the Pre-Existence. With that in mind, I suggest that dinner guests be divided and served in the following manner:

Mormon Royalty
General Authorities
Relatives of General Authorities
Descendants of the first Utah pioneers, 1847-48
  Serve 3 courses on the Cultural Hall stage.

Mormon Elite
Descendants of handcart companies and other post-Gold Rush groups
LDS Celebrities
 "     Athletes
 "     Billionaires
 "     Republican Politicians
Obnoxious LDS talk show hosts
Gladys Knight
People we are trying to convert to Mormonism
  Serve 2 courses in the front section of the Cultural Hall.

Common Everyday Mormons
We may not know their names or faces, but we sure know their works. These are the folks who run the nursery, teach Sunday school, deliver casseroles, help members move, lend us their pick-ups, man the ward car wash, and baby-sit our kids. It is only fair that these beloved workaholics be alloted a tasty and relaxing meal, before they have to kick back into gear and clean up after the reception.
  Serve an entree in the rear section of the Cultural Hall.

Recent Converts
Members who joined less than 20 years ago. (Except for those that qualify for Elite status.)
  Serve a dinner salad in the foyer.

People of Color!
Since we are a world church, it is important that we celebrate our diversity with a separate section for our People of Color!
Native Americans
Eastern Europeans
"New York Types"
Priesthood holders wearing off-white shirts and loud ties.
  Serve PB&J's in the kitchen.

Alternative Lifestyles
Includes but is not limited to:
Less Active members
Working moms
Stay at home dads
Families with less than 5 kids
Members without temple recommends and/or Costco cards
  Serve Cheerios in the Primary Room

People Who Flaunt Themselves 
Like it or not, they will always be with us.
  Group should be monitored by LDS security team. (I like Big Beefy Tongans, Inc.)
  Serve mixed nuts in the parking lot. (Burgers for the Tongans.)

After dinner all guests may gather in the Cultural Hall for an equally meted out square of wedding cake, symbolizing that as members of His church, we are all equal before God. (Additional Beefy Tongans may be needed to secure this event.)

Signed copies of Thinking Outside the Cultural Hall are available at Souter Formal Wear. Sister Wooley Featherstone Richards' previous book, Knowing Your Place: A Guide to Relief Society Seating Charts is in stock as well. Watch your e-mail for upcoming events!

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll forward your request to Big Beefy Tongans, Inc.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Three Nephites Rescue Mormons and Shape History

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Brother Sid Dooley, Ward Spiritual Giant
Subject: The Three Nephites: A Historical Perspective

Faithful Mormons have long been grateful for the Three Nephites, that selfless trio from the Book of Mormon who begged the Lord to let them tarry on the earth in order to help the faithful. We've heard countless stories about the mysterious stranger who helped elderly Sister So-and-So across the street, or stopped a thug from deflowering a sister missionary.
But the Mormons aren't their only charges. The Three Nephites have labored the entire globe, tirelessly doing the Lord's work. Sometimes right under our noses. For example, next time you see the painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, take a good look at who's rowing the boat. Then compare him to the guy sticking the flagpole in the ground at Iwo Jima. Coincidence? I think not.

Over the years the Three Nephites have moved seamlessly in and out of LDS and Gentile society, molding the Saints into the superior culture God destined us to become, and preparing the world for its eventual conversion to Mormonism. After careful research, I have come to conclude the Three Nephites might have been with Lincoln at Gettysburg, probably were with Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis, and definitely were with George W. Bush during the Florida Recount.

There have also been noticeable lapses in their influence. For instance, when their involvement in the Nixon administration ended in their simultaneous incarceration. Likewise in the late-nineties when all three did a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic. (Upon completion of their work in The Big Lebowski.) More recently two of the three were hospitalized after an accident on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney. These ill-timed absences may explain the disco sensation, the Dole campaign, and Snakes on a Plane.

Late one night I was driving along a stretch of deserted highway, when one of my tires hit an unidentifiable object. I pulled off the road to find it completely flattened. It was dark and cold, and I had no car jack in my trunk. Then out of nowhere a man appeared on foot, jack in hand. At once I recognized him as one of Three Nephites, and greeted him with an enthusiastic embrace.

"Brother Nephite," I said. "The Lord alerted you to my distress and you have come to my rescue."

His blue eyes glinted and a trace of a smile crossed his face. "I thought somebody might need a hand, yes."

I watched in silence as he effortlessly switched out my flat for my spare. Then he stood, stepped aside, and motioned me to my car.

"Tell me brother," I asked. "Do you ever grow weary of your nightly labors?"

"No," he replied. "It's like a gift that keeps on giving."

Precisely what I expected he would say. 

I smiled, tipped my hat, climbed behind the wheel, and started my ignition. When I checked the rear view mirror, he was gone. Coincidentally, so was my wallet.

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