Thursday, January 28, 2010

LDS Young Women Are Keepin' Busy

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Young Women's Presidency
Subject: Calendar
As always, the Young Women have a super special week ahead!

Monday, February 1: Family Home Evening

Tuesday, February 2: Bridal Dress-up at Abbottsville Formal Wear.
Extra padding provided for the Beehives. Mia Maids may opt to try on a prim prom dress in addition to a wedding gown. Laurels will receive a free bridal fitting. Modest bridesmaid's dresses will also be on display. Each girl will take home a fancy satin wedding dress hanger.   

Wednesday, February 3, 7 PM: Young Women's Night.
Lessons planned as follows:
Beehives: "Avoid All Loud Laughter." Girls will practice quiet tittering.
Mia Maids: "Self-Reliance Part II." Learn how to turn your glue gun into a money-maker.
Laurels: "What I Really Want for Graduation." Breast implants or a car, which will take me where I need to go?

Thursday, February 4, 7 PM: Finger Puppet Fun. 

Friday, February 5, 6 PM: Dinner Dance with the Young Men.
Assignments as follows:
Beehives: Prepare lasagna, jell-o and grated carrot salad, garlic bread, and Sister Loomis's super yummy Cool Whip and Nilla Wafer Cake for fifty people.
Mia Maids: Decorate the Cultural Hall with crepe paper and balloons. Suspend the mirrored disco ball from the ceiling. Set tables with calligraphy place cards and homemade graham cracker temple centerpieces. Serve the meal, deliver an a capella performance for dinner entertainment, then do the dishes.   
Laurels: Rewire the stage electrical system so that it can accommodate the ward's new speakers. Install them and all other stereo equipment. Hire a DJ. Construct a small platform for the karaoke competition. At the end of the evening, dissemble and store everything, including the disco ball. Deliver the crepe paper and balloons to the recycle.

Saturday, February 6, 10 AM: Young Women's Retreat.
Young Women may choose between the following:
Instant Milk and Dehydrated Chicken Bits: Super yummy recipes using your mom's food storage.
Sew Fun!: Make your own "Modest is Hottest" swimsuit cover-up.
What Flavor Man Do You Fancy? A popsicle activity.

Testimony bearing at the conclusion of the seminars. Bring the hankies we embroidered last week.

Sunday, February 7, 7 PM. Youth Fireside.
Brother Homer Samuelson's talk is entitled, "Fighting a Tyranny of Tolerance: the Mormons' Crusade Against Gay Marriage in California." Bring more hankies.

This week's recipe was contributed by twelve year old Esther Renfro of the Beehive Class:

Make chocolate instant pudding.
Mix in gummy worms and arrange attractively in a special bowl.
Cover with crushed Oreos and refrigerate.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll instruct the Beehive class to bring you a super yummy dessert along with a special craft every night this week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LDS Temple Garments -- Wear Them or Else!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: The archives of Bishop Loomis
Subject: Temple Garment Policy

Having received a series of complaints over his advice to Doubting Mormons, Bishop Zimmerman decided the ward might like to revisit the following policy under former Bishop Brent Loomis, whose shocking murder last year remains unsolved.

Brothers and Sisters, I am impressed today to talk about your underwear. Those of you who have been through the temple enjoy the privilege of being clothed in the garment of the holy priesthood, and know the special protective powers this sacred underclothing provides. Consider the tragic stories of some of our near and dear. For instance Sister Maxwell, who snapped her neck after slipping in the tub, or Brother Fink, who dove into the shallow end of the pool. Neither was wearing garments, and now both are drooling idiots. Then there's poor departed Sister Quinn, who wandered outdoors in nothing more than her housecoat, brassiere and panty girdle, only to be flattened by a bus.

As I have said repeatedly, there is simply no reason to completely remove one's garments. The following are situations when one might partially remove the holy garment:
                                        1.  To bathe
                                        2.  To change into new garments.
                                        3.  For certain surgical procedures.
                                        4.  During sex. (Women only.)
                                        5.  For appearances on Dancing With the Stars.

As always, I advise ward members to exercise extreme caution during all of the above activities, due to your  heightened state of vulnerability. Consider the following example:

In light of this counsel, imagine my surprise when I saw Sister Elaine Miller at the local Safeway in work out clothes, her bikini panty-line protruding beneath the Lycra. Likewise when I spied Brother Harold jogging in a tank top and shorts, minus his garments, and seemingly without an athletic supporter as well. I now wonder if these and other ward members go everywhere without garments, even church. It's hard to tell what with those thick knit dresses or colored dress shirts. Brothers and Sisters, this simply will not do!

I am reminded of the faithful convert, Justo Velasquez, who labored patiently selling tamales on a street corner in Tegucigalpa, saving all of his pesos for a trip to the temple in Salt Lake City. When he finally completed the endowment session, his joy was so immense that he donned his garments over his dress suit and paraded around Temple Square with pride. Would that we all had such faith! There are times when I think that our garments should be worn on the outside, so there could be no confusion over our convictions. But that would no doubt give the non-member community yet another excuse to label us a bunch of kooks.

Instead I instruct all ward temple recommend holders to dress for church in blouses and shirts made from material shear enough to confirm he or she is clothed in the garment of the holy priesthood. I have no specific instruction on how your nether regions are covered, however I will have an eye out for that distinctive line above the knee. You may also expect unannounced visits from me during the week. This policy is effective immediately. For the sake of your safety, I can no longer allow you to hide your underwear.

***Update*** Brother Velasquez continues to serve out his sentence at the Happy Hill Sanitarium, where he was recently granted permission to use forks.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, then you probably need to put on your garments.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mountain Meadows Massacre Revisited

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Former Stake President Stan Taylor
Subject: Mountain Meadows

Last year my travels took me back to St. George, Utah, the home of my maternal grandparents. It was no longer the sleepy town I visited in my youth. A housing tract now sat on my grandparent's land, their ward meetinghouse was bygone as well, along with the old diner and the five and dime. Instead I browsed the Barnes and Noble at the mall, dined at Applebee's, watched a movie at the new multiplex, then found a comfortable bed at the Marriott. I might have been in any small city in America. That is, until the following morning when I asked the perky hotel clerk for directions.

"Certainly sir," she said, then pulled one of those local map give-aways from a slot above her desk, and slid it toward me.

"Which way do I go to pick up Highway 18?" I asked, unfolding my reading glasses.

Her eyes clouded, but her smile remained intact. She laid a protective hand across the map. "Where're you headed, sir?"

"The Mountain Meadows Monument."

She drew the map back and returned it to its slot. "The 18 is a few miles north of here," she replied, and wished me a good day.

I drove for twenty minutes before realizing I had been misled. Was it by accident, or by design? In any small city in America, I would assume by accident. But this was Southern Utah, and I knew its history. I headed back towards town, feeling like I had returned to the St. George I visited as a boy. A stark, dry planet hanging in the void. Even in the 1940's, the town was much like Brigham Young intended, a solitary outpost, accessible by a single road, shunned and left to itself, a deep compost of Mormon shame. It was a reminder of the blood bath on September 11, 1857, the day a group of Arkansas pioneers known as the Fancher party was murdered at Mountain Meadows. The Mountain Meadow Massacre, our first 9/11. An American tragedy that the LDS Church continues to cover up.

I imagined the brave historian, Juanita Brooks, the author who aroused my passion for Mormon history.

In 1918, Juanita, then a young school teacher, was approached by the elderly Nephi Johnson. "I want you to do some writing for me," he told her. "My eyes have witnessed things that my tongue has never uttered. I want them written down. And I want you to do the writing."

Juanita agreed and promised to visit him on his ranch. Weeks later, when she finally made the trip, he was deathly ill and delusional, crying out, "Blood Blood BLOOD!" at the ceiling. It was then that she learned that Brother Johnson was a participant in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. At the time, the LDS Church officially claimed the crime to be the responsibility of St.George Mormon Militia leader, John D. Lee, along with the local Paiute Indians. Brother Johnson never recovered to tell her of his experience. But Juanita left him determined to record an accurate account of the event.

Juanita was a practicing Mormon as well as a devotee to the facts. "I feel sure," she once said, "that nothing but the truth can be good enough for the church to which I belong." In that spirit, Juanita spent the next five decades unearthing the diaries and records of Utah's early settlers and piecing together the actual chain of events. Her pivotal historical work, The Mountain Meadows Massacre, published in 1950, revealed that the brutal slaughter of some 150 people was carried out mostly, if not entirely by Mormons, some of whom were disguised as Paiutes. Brooks also concluded that the attack was inspired by Brigham Young's firebrand rants against church "enemies," early Mormon temple rituals depicting blood atonement, and the mistaken notion that members of the Fancher party were involved in the murder of Parley P. Pratt, a Mormon missionary proselyting in Arkansas. (He was instead killed by the angry husband of a woman that Pratt had attempted to take on as a "spirit wife.") In short, it was an act of domestic terrorism by a group of religious zealots acting upon the teachings of their prophet, Brigham Young, and the extremist doctrine of the early LDS Church.

Mary Elizabeth Baker Terry, a five year old survivor of the attack recalled: "Now I could see that they weren't all Indians. Whites had painted themselves to resemble their savage companions. With bloodcurdling yells they leaped on the defenseless pioneers. I sought shelter under a wagon and peered out between the spokes. I saw my father fall to the ground. . . The sight of blood sent them into a fanatical frenzy. One huge white kept shouting ,"For Jehovah." The fiends slackened their butchering only when there were no more victims. Dripping paint and blood, they stood panting, searching for any signs of life among the hacked and clubbed bodies . . . Some of the disguised Mormons were washing their paint (off) at the spring."

The LDS Church has officially refused to admit any involvement in the massacre, and continues to blame the Paiutes and a few local Mormons whom they claim acted without church approval. During my years as the LDS Institute director at Grafton College, I was not allowed to use Juanita Brooks as a source when teaching about Mountain Meadows. Likewise for Will Bagley's excellent Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows. Towards the end of my employ, I was banned from discussing the massacre at all.

I followed the sage brush lined road to the monument. The parking lot was empty, the early Spring air was crisp, and wisps of snow lingered on the sepia tinted soil. The walkway that wound to the stone cairn was spotless, and the site impressive. It possessed that sort of Walt Disney ambiance that many LDS attractions bear. Sturdy handrails, nicely patterned stone and concrete, well-made signs providing bland explanations, and a squeaky clean bathroom. The perfect mix of sobriety and cheerfulness. The same could be said of the monument's dedication in 1999. Rather than speak from his heart, the Mormon prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, spoke from a page prepared by his lawyers. "Nobody knows what happened here," he declared to a gathering that included the victims' families.

Up the hill I found a smaller monument bearing the names of the known victims, constructed by their people in Arkansas. I perused the names of the dead, said a prayer, then looked out at the quiet meadow. If only it could tell the story. But the silence was deafening.

History wasn't meant to be attractive and faith promoting. It was meant to recount the lives of flesh and blood humans, of their courage, cowardice, frailty and vision. But the LDS Church prefers the Disney version, their own Stepford history. Or, as my grandmother from St. George used to say, "Those clowns in Salt Lake want all of the credit and none of the blame."

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, click here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

More Temple Wedding Tips

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

The Abbottsville Stake Young Women lined up early outside of Souter's Bridal and Formal Wear for a chance to hear LDS wedding coordinator, Randy Johnson.  Brother Johnson did not disappoint. Thanks to his valuable advice, every Mormon girl in Abbottsville may look forward to the wedding of her dreams.

The following is a portion of the chapter he read from his new book, Queen for an Eternity:

In addition to proper attire and hairstyle, the clever temple bride should practice for the dressing and undressing ritual she will perform in the temple. Understand that all of the people attending your temple ceremony, including the groom, will have probably been through this routine before. Be prepared for them to slide in and out of their clothing like a G-rated version of the Chippendale dancers, then turn to disparage your clumsy attempts. Given the secrecy that surrounds the temple, I have long been at a loss to suggest an activity that might prepare a girl for this exercise. Then, last month when I was on a cross-country flight from Salt Lake to Boise, I had an epiphany while watching the flight attendant demonstrate the safety features on the aircraft. The flight attendant, Phred, turned out to be incredibly friendly and agreed to help me with a little play-acting. I was the new bride and he was a version of the bossy voice that booms from the speakers during the temple session.
Phred: Sister Johnson, put on your airline blanket.

I took the blanket from the arm rest and tied it around my waist.

Phred: Sister Johnson, remove your blanket and take off your shoes. Put your life vest on backwards, tie your oxygen mask around your waist in the back, put your blanket back on, open your in-flight magazine to page sixteen and stick it on your head, then put your shoes on.

Oh my heck, that was quite a bit to follow. But having been to the temple on numerous occasions, I managed to do all of this the first time through. Don't feel bad if it takes you a few times to get it right.

Phred: OK Sister Johnson, now I want you to take it all off, your shoes, blanket, mask, vest and magazine. Then put your life vest on in the right position, tie your oxygen mask around your waist in the front, put your blanket back on, turn your magazine to page forty and stick it on your head, then put on your shoes.

I must admit that in spite of my experience, my execution of these tasks was considerably less deft, thanks in part to a sudden burst of turbulence that caused me to careen on top of Phred and accidentally inflate my life vest. But don't worry, this probably won't happen in the temple.

Now, I want to say a few words about the temple recommend interview. In order to receive your pass to get into the temple, you will be required to submit to a one-on-one interview with your bishop. Sometimes sisters are uncomfortable with the intrusive questions their bishop asks. Luckily, I don't have that problem. I'm happy to answer to the bishop, and in detail. In fact, I'm still confused about an experience I had recently. I arrived for my yearly interview at the appointed time, but instead of inviting me into his office, the bishop slapped a new recommend in my hand, then hurried out of the building. I don't know why he did that. And he hasn't returned my calls.

At any rate, I understand that many sisters are embarrassed to sit alone in a room with a man whom they barely know and discuss kissing, fondling, intercourse, orgasms, erections, and masturbation. The best advice I can offer is to remember that your bishop is only talking to you about these things because he has been called of God to protect and preserve your moral dignity.

To order any of Brother Johnson's books, or sign up for his "Cross Country Temple Preparation Flight," visit his website at Also, be sure to watch your e-mail for more events at Abbottsville Bridal and Formal Wear.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll schedule you for a one on one with the bishop.