Friday, February 25, 2011

Real Mormon Housewives

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward Relief Society
From: Ruth Turley, Relief Society Enrichment Leader
Subject: Girls' Night Out with The Real Housewives of Federal Heights

Forget the Oscars, sisters, this weekend come to my premier party for the new reality show, The Real Housewives of Federal Heights. Our ward mission leader -- and my DH -- H. LaVar is taking the kids out tracting so that we sisters can have the house to ourselves to watch this honest portrayal of the selfless, joyful, and complex lives of Mormon women.

From the show's website:
The Real Housewives of Federal Heights follows five of the most righteous and deserving women in the country as they enjoy the lavish lifestyle that only Salt Lake City's Federal Heights and The Avenues can provide. The series offers a glimpse inside the world of luxurious wealth and pampered worthiness, where the wive's breasts are as inflated as their husbands' priesthood callings. These women are in the center of it all, and they have the McMansions, the mini-vans, and the spray-on tans to prove it. From the wife of a General Authority, to a fiber artist, to an heiress, to a couple of entrepreneurs, The Real Housewives of Federal Heights is Mormon Culture at its most sophisticated.
Vanessa Carroll 
Feisty free thinker, Vanessa Carroll, is the heir to her late husband, Max "One Eye" Carroll's fireworks empire. Her liberal views make her an odd fit for this Utah group, as she actively supports many radical, left-wing notions, such as birth control, recycling, and speed limits. But the wives accept her because she is a total hottie, has tremendous style, and lets everyone borrow her clothes. 
Zina Hafen  
 This witty and charming designer's career began when she created her own wedding dress, a confection so thick with lace and billowing fabric, that she had to be hoisted into the temple via the loading dock. Sadly, her marriage only lasted one night. But Zina's line of modest bridal and formal wear has been hugely successful, as have her sex manuals and marital advice books. A political activist and champion of traditional marriage, Zina is an active member of the Utah Eagle Forum, the Utah Historical Association and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. She also volunteers as Utah's (now unofficial) Porn Czar.
Katty Taylor
Former BYU cheerleader and Hot Relief Society Babes calendar girl, Katty Taylor, works 24/7 on maintaining her curvaceous and stunning figure. It's a necessity if she wants to hold on to Bishop Ralph Taylor, that randy husband of hers. Two years ago, when the bad economy forced Ralph to put her on a budget, Katty took a job as a marketing director for a line of push-up bras. Today she owns the company. Recently she financed her own brow lift and liposuction, as well as breast enhancements for her 18 year old daughter, Tiffany. A philanthropist at heart, Katty donates her time and money to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also to a center for the victims of ruptured silicon implants. She and "frenemy" Zina frequently clash over their differing business and personal philosophies.
Merrilee Cookson
Merrilee is neither witty nor charming, isn't very attractive, wears dowdy clothes, and has no particular talent, but she's on the show because her husband is an LDS General Authority.
Mindy Payson
Sweet spirit Mindy divides her time between scrapbooking, quilting, tole painting, tatting, clay art, and stamping. -- Skills that serve her well as a wife, mother, and member of the General Young Women's Presidency. She is adored by her family and friends, and often assumes the role of peacemaker. However, her fellow housewives sometimes tire of her penchant for turning everything into a doily. 

Sisters, don't forget to bring your favorite snacks, pop, and plenty of hankies. Also, after the show, we'll hold a critique/discussion, vote on our favorite wife, bear testimonies, and give each other mani-pedi's.
Who knows? Next year we may see the premiere of The Real Housewives of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward!

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, Brother Turley and the kids will tract out your house during the show.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Word From The Bishop -- Keeping The Romance Alive

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Bishop Paul Zimmerman
Subject: Appreciating our wives

They cook our meals, clean our houses, do our laundry, mow our lawns, change the oil in our cars, re-shingle our roofs, lay concrete, chop firewood, and singlehandedly bear, give birth to, and raise our children. For those, and countless other sacrifices, the wives and mothers in Zion deserve all the pampering we can afford.

My wife Carrie was applying for a semester abroad in London when I swept her off her feet and changed her plans. Someday, God willing, I'll take her there. But right now, the pressures of family, work, tithing, and church callings make such a journey impossible. I know that many of you brethren share my dilemma. But don't despair, while we may not be able to swing the overseas plane fare, with a little imagination we can do the next best thing here in good old Abbottsville, California.

Believe it or not, this Valentine's Day, I took my sweetheart on a trip to Merry Olde England!

First thing in the morning, the kids and I served Mommy a genuine full English breakfast in bed!

Their Food Hall is Famous

After that, I assumed the roll of black cab driver, loaded the pram and diaper bag into the boot, and motored everyone downtown so that Mommy could get lost in "Harrods."

Book lover that she is, Carrie dreams of browsing the bookstores on London's Charing Cross Road. This week the Abbottsville Barnes & Noble stepped up to take their place. I dropped the kids off at the Harry Potter display, then escorted my sweetie over to the Shakespeare shelves. (To enhance the mood, I downloaded the soundtrack to Mary Poppins onto both our iPods.) Unfortunately, our literary experience was interrupted when our kids' impromptu quiddich match toppled over half of the American Girls section. -- Served me right for leaving them in the care of non-members!

Carrie seemed a little frazzled after the quiddich match, so I took her home and treated her to the best relaxer there is, an authentic English High Tea. Not being a whiz in the kitchen, I had a moment of panic when I couldn't find anything resembling tea in our cupboard. But my ingenious children saved the day by scooping up dead leaves on the lawn, steeping them in a mug of hot tap water, and assembling a plate of traditional English scones.

Why go all the way to the British
Having been refreshed by the tea, we resumed our sightseeing. While I couldn't come up with a substitute for Stonehenge, I did discover that the illustrations in an old copy of The Pearl of Great Price bore a striking resemblance to the Rosetta Stone.

The clock reminded us of Big Ben!

Of course, no visit to Britain is complete without a trip to a castle. With all of our royalty residing in Salt Lake City, this presented a challenge. But I found a solution in the lobby of Abbottsville's new Holiday Inn Express. The desk clerk was super nice, and even let us tour some of the salons.

 Finally, we ended the day with a visit to the local pub for a traditional dinner of fish and chips.

While children are a Mormon mother's pride, joy, and entire reason for being, every sister deserves a little alone time with her eternal companion in their very own five star hotel. (I even changed the sheets!) During our trip to "Harrods" I had snuck off to buy Carrie some skimpy nightwear for the occasion. But prices were way too steep! Maybe it's just as well. My wife never looks sexier than when she's wearing nothing but my old BYU tee-shirt. So while she slipped into that, I slipped next door to the Harolds' to see if they could keep the kids for a few.

Turned out Brother Harold was treating his own wife to a similar Valentine's Day travel fantasy, and was in the kitchen rescuing a charred version of steak au poivre and pomme frites. He agreed to let my kids stay and watch the final half hour of Ratatouille if I'd take his back to my house for the next half hour.

Crickey! A whole thirty minutes? That left us time to snuggle after, and watch a little ESPN.

Then we gathered all the kids from next door, came home and hosted another impromptu quiddich match, this time in our own living room.

A perfect end to a perfect day. And nobody is more deserving than my little woman! She doesn't even need to thank me!! (And hasn't, come to think of it.)

Total cost of this vacation: $15.67. (+ $200.00 for damages to Barnes & Noble.)

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll send over some of the Zimmermans' home grown tea leaves.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Angels In America With The Ex-Mormons

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Former Stake President Stan Taylor
Subject: The Angels in America exhibit

A little over a week ago I rode the train into San Francisco to join the Post-Mormons for the Angels in America exhibit at the Museum of Performance and Design. I got off at the Civic Center BART station and walked past San Francisco's magnificent City Hall, the place where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were famously wed, and George Moscone and Harvey Milk were notoriously murdered. On this particular Saturday, Egyptians were protesting Mubarak. But a howling wind dulled the sound of their chants, and gunmetal grey clouds curtained the afternoon in a macabre gloom.

I climbed the steps of the old Veteran's and War Memorial. On an occasion when the Herbst Theater is holding an event, the War Memorial is teeming with people. But on this day the cavernous lobby was empty, save for a mirthless security guard who eyed me from behind his circular desk. My footsteps echoed as I crossed the marble lobby. I stepped inside the elevator and pushed "two." The doors slid shut, but the lift stayed still. I pushed "two" again. Nothing happened. I pushed the "open" button. Nothing happened. Again. Nothing happened. I rang the alarm.

The doors opened and I was met by the startled security guard.

"What are you doing in here?" he asked.

"Trying to go to the second floor."

"Nobody ever uses this elevator."

I muttered "sorry," followed him to an adjacent lift, and looked up to watch the antique brass arrow travel from "four" to "one." This time when I pushed "two" the car engaged. I chuckled to myself as I rode. It's no wonder that San Francisco has been the chosen setting for the noir works of great artists like Hammett and Hitchcock.

Sketch of "heaven" for the HBO
movie. (Sorry for poor quality) 
Then the "noir" evaporated when I greeted the sunny faces of the ex-Mormons who waited for me at the entrance to the exhibit. Together we went in to view the work of another great artist, Tony Kushner, who also used San Francisco as a setting. -- In his case, for heaven.

Kushner was inspired to write Angels in America: a Gay Fantasia on National Themes after he was approached by Mormon missionaries on a NYC subway. He was taken with the missionaries' sincerity and devotion to the faith, and also fascinated by the notion of an American religion.

He began by composing long-hand notes in a series of lined journals with one of his many fountain pens (for which he had an admitted fetish.)
On this page of his journal, Tony Kushner wrote:
There are some lovely things about Mormons.They believe everyone eventually gets into heaven. You can pray a dead person into heaven if you're a Mormon and you believe.
Of course Joseph Smith was crazy.
But he was crazy like Walt Whitman. Crazy in a Big American way. If P.T. Barnum had written the Holy Scriptures while ingesting great quantities of opium, it would be the Book of Mormon.
Only in America does an Angel of the Lord appear dispensing eyeglasses.
It is wonderful to believe that an Angel appeared in upstate N.Y.
I have waited all my life for an Angel.
An American Angel.
Joseph Smith and millions like him believe that there are Angels in America. Or were, anyway.
An American Angel would have rawhide tassels, tangled hair, buckskin wings, coon tail hat, eyes like the Great Lakes, skin like bark and a pine tree smell. It would live in the sunset in Yosemite National Park.

The journals evolved into a seven hour play in two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches received its world premiere in 1991 in San Francisco. From there it went to London, then to Broadway. Part Two: Perestroika followed in 1992. In 2003, the two parts were adapted as the HBO mini-series, Angels in America. The work received the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards, including the Tony, Golden Globe, and Emmy.

As I toured the exhibit with the ex-Mormons, I couldn't help but feel sad that so few believing Mormons have seen the plays. Three of the main characters are LDS: Joe Pitt, a closeted gay man, Harper Pitt, his mentally fragile wife, and Hannah Pitt, his stoical, pioneer-stock mother. They are well-drawn and accurate reflections of real Mormons, and Kushner treats them with the compassion and dignity they deserve. However, because the play pokes a little fun at Mormonism, and depicts its followers as imperfect, it was deemed inappropriate by the authorities in Salt Lake.

For the life of me, I can not understand why The Brethren are not thrilled that our church inspired one of the greatest works of American theater.

Ironically, the play's central premise is that God abandoned His angels for the more interesting company of His less perfect human creations who are capable of change. The angels become jealous of mankind, and try to halt our progress, much like the current LDS authorities.

But old-school Mormon that I am, I still consider "eternal progression" and "free agency" to be primary elements of my faith. And as a retired Institute Director, I am no longer bound by The Brethen's opinions. In other words, I do what I damn well please.

After the exhibit I climbed into the back of Steve and Sarah's Prius, and was chauffered downtown to a lovely meal at Le Central on Bush Street. We enjoyed great food, lively conversation, and, of course, loud laughter. And I personally savored another rare opportunity to discuss science, art, and ancient American history.

After dinner I walked alone down Powell past packed restaurants, bars, and clanging cable cars. What started as a drizzle turned quickly to a downpour. But the weather did not dampen spirits. It takes more than a little rain to keep San Franciscans from enjoying their free agency.

This month a new musical is opening on Broadway entitled, The Book of Mormon. In a recent interview in Vogue, Trey Parker (the show's co-creator with Matt Stone) said the following:
We love musicals, and we love Mormons. I think if any Mormons come and stay all the way through, they'll end up liking the show. I mean, it rips on them a lot, but in the end their spirit of wanting to help wins the day.
Not only are The Brethren in Salt Lake not staying to the end of the show, they are not even waiting for it to begin. Last Monday LDS Public Affairs issued the following statement:
The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.
Beneath the statement is a link to a March 2009 article entitled The Publicity Dilemma, a tiresome screed that denigrates any person, film, or TV show that has recently criticized the Mormons, then goes on to boast of the LDS Church's powerful influence (with the use of inflated numbers.)

Again I am saddened that many of my fellow believers will miss out on another celebration of their faith. But I am glad that as an old school Mormon, and retired LDS Institute Director, I am at liberty to do as I please.

. . . and have already bought my ticket to New York. 

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, check this box.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Land A Guest Spot On Kori-Whore And Her Double-D's!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: How do Utah restaurants stay in business?

My dear friends from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward,

Because you keep me on your e-mail list I can only assume that you are a fan of deep and insightful writing, as well as reverent reflection. In that spirit, I invite you to read my recent offering about Utah cuisine on the blog of my esteemed literary colleague, Kori-Whore. Prepare to feel the spirit as you read, not only my piece, but older posts by Sister Whore, all of them lovingly crafted especially for Mormons.

Your sister in the gospel,
Donna Banta

Don't stop there, check out Insana D's other great blog, the Brodie Award winning, Finding the Pony!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mormons: Be Prepared!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Brother J. "Bull" Barton, Ward Preparedness Specialist
Subject: Ward Preparedness Update

Dear Abbottsville Fourth,

Photo added by blog owner
in hopes of attracting more
male followers
The good news is that the Republicans' mid-term victory has allowed me to lower the Ward Threat Level to Orange. However, due to ongoing liberal attacks on the Second Amendment, increased chatter over Same Sex Marriage, and the last Victoria's Secret ad campaign, it is still essential that we remain vigilant and prepared. I advise all members of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward to have the following on hand.

One year's supply of:
powdered milk
dehydrated pear flakes

Hazmat suits -- 2 per family member
Hand guns -- 2 per family member
Ammunition -- you can never have enough
Duct tape -- 4 rolls per family member
Consecrated oil -- 1 gallon per family member
Scriptures, The Ensign, dominoes, Yahtzee, Twister, and other amusements to help pass time in the bunker.

In the event of an emergency, ward members are to gather their provisions and report immediately to the church. Be aware that non-members, inactives, and other "have-nots" will likely engage in looting, vandalism, rape, masturbation, same-sex marriage, murder, and desecration of the flag. The faithful will need to be on guard 24/7.

On a lighter note, I know that many of you share my high opinion of the Utah legislature and its recent resolution. In that spirit, I propose the establishment of our own Official Ward Gun. Nominations are now open.

This concludes your Ward Preparedness Update.

Your fellow patriot,
Bull Barton

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll send you a vat of KoriWhore's super-yummy dehydrated pear flakes.