The latest Marvel movie, Black Panther, is out, and fans and critics are raving. I saw the movie yesterday, and I also really enjoyed it. The protagonists are likeable, and I cared about what happened to them. The action was fun and exciting. The villain was clearly a psychopath, but still sympathetic. I’d been worried that the cgi would be too over the top, but it struck just the right balance.
I do take issue, however, with the claim that all the wonder-tech of Wakanda is “science.” I’ll believe that vibranium is stronger than any other metal on Earth and yet still light. I’ll even believe you can somehow make it into clothing. But it ruins all suspension of disbelief to claim all the amazing creations of Wakanda are based on vibranium and is still science. Vibranium is, after all, still just a metal. If it really can do all the things Black Panther says it can, then it is not science. It is magic. I’m willing to believe vibranium really can do all these things as long as we’re being honest.
In case you aren’t convinced, here is a list of all the amazing things vibranium can do and is used to create according to Black Panther:
- Deflect bullets
- Absorb energy and unleash it later
- Materialize a full suit out of a necklace
- Spears that are basically hand-held energy cannons
- Cloak a ship
- Project illusions (after all, when people fly over Wakanda, they see a relatively barren landscape and shepherds)
- Communication devices with perfect reception and unlimited range
- Hovercraft technology
- Holographic computers like Tony Stark’s
- A device that can be attached to any vehicle that allows it to be controlled by remote from halfway across the world
- Stabilize a dying person by sticking a ball of it into the wound
- Fast healing. Like, really fast. As in, a bullet wound that should have been fatal, healed overnight.
I don’t care what you say, metal can not create fast healing.
Vibranium is magic.
If you like historical fiction kid lit, you should definitely check out Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.
It’s a really cute book. It’s the story of a little family, Jacob, and his two children, Anna and Caleb, in the late 19th century. Their mother died when Caleb was born. Jacob has put an ad in the newspaper for a new wife, and Sarah responds. She comes to stay with the family for a month to see if she likes it. The central question of the story is, will Sarah decide to stay?
I have my second graders create Jacob’s advertisement. The results are pretty darn funny. Here are some of the best ones:
This last year, I helped my husband put together a Star Wars event for our church. We had games for the kids, dinner, and a show. One of the games was a scavenger hunt that I wrote. I wrote two tracks of questions: harder Star Wars questions for the older kids, and easy CTR (choose the right) questions for the littles.
Here are the questions:
1. Luke Skywalker was raised on what planet?
a. Naboo (go to TIE fighter)
b. Tatooine (go to lightsabers)
c. Coruscant (go to Wookie)
1. What does CTR stand for?
a. Choose to Read (go to room 10)
b. Choose the Right (go to room 2)
c. Chew the Rice (go to room 12)
2. What were Luke and his uncle farming?
a. Moisture (go to Boba Fett)
b. Wheat (go to Stormtrooper)
c. Sand (go to X-Wing)
2. Who is the prophet of the church?
a. Thomas S. Monson (go to room 5) (now it’s Russel M. Nelson!)
b. Dieter F. Uchtdorf (go to room 6)
c. Henry B. Eyring (go to room 8)
3. What color was Obi Wan Kenobi’s first lightsaber?
a. Yellow (go to R2-D2)
b. Blue (go to rebel symbol)
c. Green (go to empire symbol)
3. Your mom asked you to help do the dishes. What should you do?
a. Scream (go to room room 11)
b. Say you’ll do it later (go to room 2)
c. Help with the dishes (go to room 3)
4. Who was Obi Wan Kenobi’s master?
a. Qui Gon Jinn (go to BB-8)
b. Mace Windu (go to Yoda)
c. Yoda (go to Stormtrooper)
4. What did the Lord command Nephi to do?
a. Build a boat (go to room 1)
b. Build a tower (go to room 10)
c. Be nice to his brothers (go to room 9)
5. What species is Darth Maul?
a. Twi’lek (go to lightsabers)
b. Cathar (go to X-Wing)
c. Zabrak (go to Darth Vader)
5. How old do you have to be to get baptized?
a. 9 (go to room 4)
b. 7 (go to room 3)
c. 8 (go to room 7)
6. Who designed the Death Star?
a. Galen Erso (go to the gym)
b. Orson Krennic (go to the drinking fountain)
c. Grand Moff Tarkin (go the lobby)
6. How do we keep the Sabbath holy?
a. Go to church (go to the gym)
b. Go shopping (go to the lobby)
c. Go to the movies (go to the drinking fountain)
And at the end, kids earned a piece of candy.
I write a lot about modesty, mostly because it is a topic I’m experienced with and have a lot to say about. There are a lot of myths about modesty floating about society and social media, so here I’d like to address the more prominent ones that I’ve noticed:
Dress Codes are Sexist
This one arises primarily because dress codes are much more detailed for women than they are for men.
A large part of this is because there are so many more options for women than there are for men. When looking at dress wear and formal wear, women have choices about the color, fabric, sleeves, neckline, waistline, cut, hemline, and more. Men can choose color and, to some extent, cut, but mostly men’s dress and formal wear look more or less the same. Women’s dresses, on the other hand, have enormous variety. Many of these varieties involve showing off a woman’s boobs, back, or butt. When suits come with thigh-high slits or tops that threaten to fall off, then I’m sure men’s dress codes will become more detailed as to what is appropriate.
The other reason women’s dress codes are so detailed is that so many young women appear to not know how to dress themselves. Take a look on social media and you’ll find numerous stories of a young woman sent home from school or a dance because of immodest clothing. She or her mom or sister posts a melodramatic rant about what a sexist organization such-and-such school or church is. Social media, without question and without fail, fawns all over the victimized teen and joins in in vilifying the evil sexist patriarchy. The school’s only recourse (besides allowing anyone to wear anything) to events like this is to have a painfully detailed dress code so no one can claim they didn’t know what they were wearing wasn’t allowed.
In short, dress codes are not sexist. They are very detailed about women’s dress because modern fashion has a lot of variety and encourages immodesty, and there is always someone who will try to exploit any and all loopholes in the dress code.
Modesty is Optional
“Bare shoulders won’t keep you out of Heaven.” “Cleavage won’t keep you out of Heaven.” These are types of comments I’ve heard and seen. They are sometimes paired with a good message, that God looks at who we are and not how we look. These comments, however, overlook the fact that modesty is a commandment. For Latter Day Saints, in particular, it shows a lack of understanding of modesty, because immodest dress will keep you out of the temple.
Different Christian denominations have different views on what exactly constitutes modesty, of course, and I take no issue with that. What strikes me as a dangerous sentiment is that God’s commandments are subject to our opinions. We are not commanded to obey only those commandments that we want to obey or are convenient for us to obey. We are commanded to obey all of God’s commandments.
Deuteronomy 30:8 says: “And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.”
Modesty may seem like an unimportant thing compared to other commandments, but willfully breaking any commandment makes us unclean, and “No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37)
Young Women Should Dress Modestly To Keep Young Men from Thinking Impure Thoughts
I don’t know where this one came from, but it needs to die. I don’t have any personal experience with a teacher or leader teaching this, but others have, so I guess it’s a thing.
The reasoning goes, that young men looking at young women dressed immodestly will encourage the young men to think impure thoughts. I think Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer said it well: “I’m seventeen. Looking at linoleum makes me think about sex.” There’s not much young women can do in the face of that.
Additionally, we all have agency. It is our own responsibility to choose the right, regardless of what people around us are saying and doing.
Potiphar’s wife bluntly told Joseph to sleep with her. He refused her; nevertheless, she persisted for several days. One day, she managed to get him alone and even grabbed his robe (or some such article of clothing). He literally left the robe in her hands in his hurry to get away from her. (Genesis 39) Joseph had ample opportunity to commit sexual sin, but that did not excuse him. He was responsible for his own actions even when Potiphar’s wife was actually throwing herself at him. Young men today are similarly responsible for controlling themselves regardless of what the young women around them are wearing.
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Modest is Hottest
At first, I thought this was a fun and harmless motto. It’s catchy, and reinforces the idea that you don’t have to wear a burlap sack in order to be modest. We can dress stylishly and still be modest.
But as I thought about this more, I saw how it draws us towards the world’s standards and away from God. What does it mean to be “hot,” after all? It means to be sexually desirable. If you are trying to look sexually desirable to the world, then you have missed the whole point of modesty, regardless of how much skin is covered.
We are supposed to be in the world but not of it. As long as we buy into the idea that a woman should make herself appear sexually attractive whenever she goes out into the world, we are of the world. When we are modest we can focus on more important things than our appearance: we can focus on eternal things.
Modesty is Just About Skin
Modesty doesn’t just include the number of square inches our clothing covers.
Modesty includes the cost of our clothing. Do we spend more money than we can afford, or money better put to other things? Do we buy certain items so we can feel better than others? Do we do we value our clothes and appearance more than we value others? This attitude certainly draws us away from God.
Modesty includes our language and behavior. Are we rude or disrespectful? Are we arrogant or showing off? If we are modest, we show kindness to others. We are thankful and gracious when others help and serve us. We are patient. We are willing to listen and to learn from others. We are willing to admit when we are wrong. Modesty means humility, particularly before God.
There are a lot of conflicting messages in the world about modesty. It can be hard to sort through them all to find the truth. That makes it all the more important to rely on God instead of our own wisdom, and God has commanded us to be modest.
Sunday services in the Latter Day Saint church always involves music. We have a canon consisting of a hymn book and a children’s songbook, but that’s not the only music you’ll hear in our meetings. Most Sundays include a special musical number, from the choir or someone asked especially for that Sunday to provide music. Special music doesn’t have to be from the canon, and can be from Latter Day Saint or other Christian composers. Here are my favorites of the non-canon music: the music I consider the most beautiful (in no particular order)
I Heard Him Come – I learned this song as a youth and have loved it ever since. This song helps me understand the love Jesus has for each individual, however lowly, including me. Written by Jeff Goodrich.
No Ordinary Man – This song describes how not everyone was converted by Jesus’ miracles, inviting us to understand Christ’s divinity. Written by the one and only and much beloved Janice Kapp Perry.
O Lord My Redeemer – This song is about the crucifixion and saving mission of Jesus. My husband sang this song on his mission, and it has been special to him ever since. Written by Jeff Goodrich.
No Other Name – I just recently learned this song with my stake choir, and instantly loved it. The text comes from the scripture Mosiah 3:17. The link only gives a brief sample, but believe me, this song is beautiful and moving. My favorite part is when the altos come in with “He can save me.” Written by Lynn S. Lund.
I Know that My Redeemer Liveth – You might think the sopranos overshadow the other parts in this piece, with their soaring melody, but this song really is a complete package. I love how it builds to a thundering finish. Written by Joseph M. Martin.
He is Not Here – This is a relatively difficult choir piece to learn, but worth it. I’ve sung both alto and tenor, and loved both. This song gives me chills every time! It’s about the discovery that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, but had risen. Written by Russel Nagy.
The Garden – Okay, so I’m kind of cheating by including this on the list, since it isn’t a song you’ll hear in church, but, rather, is an oratorio, like Handel’s Messiah. The Garden is an Easter oratorio and is an allegory about the Atonement. Written by Michael McClean.
My Servant Joseph – All right, I’m cheating again. This is an entire album of songs about the life and work of the prophet Joseph Smith. It’s so beautiful that I couldn’t choose just one song as my favorite. Written by Kenneth Cope.
Invocation – I can’t say enough about how beautiful this song is. (It just needs to be sung by someone who’s not me, since it’s hard for me to not go flat on a cappella pieces.) Its text is from Matthew 18:20: “Where two or three are gathered, in my name, there shall I be in the midst of them, in the midst of them that love me.” Written by Claudia Bigler.
I Would Exhort You – This is my favorite piece from Oakland Temple Pageant: And It Came to Pass, though the rest of the songs are good, too. Moroni shows Joseph where to find the plates, and then exhorts him to study them prayerfully as he translates them with this song. Text is from Moroni 10:3-4. The link is for the whole show; “I Would Exhort You” begins at 37:20. Written by Whitney Groo, Jr.
Go Ye Now in Peace – This song is special to all performers in the Oakland Temple Pageant. After each performance, we’d get in a circle and sing this song. At the end, we would segue into “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” from the hymnbook. Even many years later, it’s still a very special song to me. I don’t think the composer is LDS, but the importance of her song to many members merits its mention on this list. Written by Joyce Eilers.
Those are my favorites. What are yours? I’d love to hear from other Christians as well about your favorite music for worship!
This year I finished a two-volume pictorial history of my grandma. I did it to honor her after she passed away. My only regret is that I didn’t start this project sooner, while she was still alive, and I could hear her stories.
So that got me thinking about recording stories from my family. In 2018, I’m going to help my parents write their memoirs. I hope this will be a keepsake for their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
Each week, I’m going to email them one question about their lives. At the end of the year, I’ll have it bound through a self-publishing company. I wanted the questions to be comprehensive, so at the end of the year I’d have a full picture of their lives. These questions also include topics specific for Mormons.
I hope these questions might inspire you to start your own memoir project, for yourself or a loved one. Feel free to use these as a starting point!
52 Memoir Questions
- What were your parents like? What is your favorite story about your parents?
- What did your parents do for a living? How did this affect your life?
- Where did you grow up? What was your home/community like?
- What were your siblings like? What were your relationships with your siblings like?
- Describe the pets you had growing up.
- What were your birthdays like growing up? Any traditions or particularly memorable birthdays?
- What vacations did you go on growing up? Which one was your favorite?
- Tell about when you were baptized.
- What was school like? What kind of student were you? What were your favorite and least favorite things about school?
- What did you do over the summer breaks?
- What were your hobbies growing up? Do you still do any of those things?
- What was your favorite book as a child/youth? What did you like about it?
- What was Christmas like growing up? What traditions did your family have? Any particularly memorable events?
- Who were your friends growing up? What did you do together?
- Tell about a mistake you made as a child/youth that you learned from?
- Who was your first crush/first date? What did you like about that person?
- Who taught you how to drive? What was your first car? Any memorable driving experiences?
- What important spiritual experience(s) did you have as a child or youth? How did you gain a testimony of your own?
- What was your first job? How did you get it? What were your experiences like?
- What other milestone(s) did you experience as a child or youth?
- Tell about your college years. Where did you go? What did you study? Why did you choose that?
- Tell about when you went to the temple for your endowment. How did you feel?
- How did you meet your spouse? What was your courtship like?
- How did you know your spouse was “the one”? Describe the proposal.
- Describe your wedding day.
- Where did you go for your honeymoon? What did you do?
- What major historical event(s) have you lived through? How did these impact your life?
- What did you choose for a career? Why did you choose that? What have your experiences been like?
- What activities do you enjoy as a couple? What do you do to strengthen your relationship?
- What have you learned about what makes a good marriage? What advice would you give to a new couple?
- Describe buying and remodeling your home.
- How/when did you decide to have children? How many did you want to have?
- How did you choose each of your children’s names?
- Tell about when your first child was born/a baby.
- Tell about when your second child was born/a baby.
- Tell about when your third child was born/a baby.
- Tell about when your fourth child was born/a baby.
- What traditions did you pass on to your children that were important to you? What new traditions did you create with your family?
- What vacations did you take with your family? What was particularly memorable?
- What was challenging about raising children? What did you learn from those experiences?
- Tell about a memory of raising your children that makes you happy.
- What makes you most proud of each of your children? (This could be an event or a character trait, etc.)
- What callings have you had in the church? What calling did you enjoy most and why?
- What calling have you had that was very challenging? What did you learn from it?
- What hobby(ies) have you started as an adult? What do you enjoy about it?
- Describe your relationships with your parents as an adult. What changed? What stayed the same?
- Describe your relationships with your siblings and friends as an adult.
- Describe the transition as your children became adults and you no longer had small children at home. How did you feel about these changes?
- How did you feel about becoming a grandparent? Tell about a happy memory with your grandchildren.
- Describe your plans for retirement. How do you feel about retiring? What do you want to do when you are retired?
- What other important events happened in your adult life?
- How do you want to be remembered?
There’s a lot of mixed messages about modesty out there in the world. Let me help you sort them out.
Also the left: Christian women who practice/encourage others to practice modesty are oppressive, part of rape culture, teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies, and analogous to forcing women to wear a burka! Also, you’re probably sexist!
All that mental gymnastics must be exhausting. No wonder the feminist moralizing fashion police are so cranky.