Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Rite of Passage?

       Among the aborigines in Australia, there was a traditional quest called the walkabout. This quest was the trial that would turn boys into men and make them into full-fledged members of their tribes. An adolescent boy on a walkabout would wander alone aimlessly through the desert. He would live in a state of communion with nature. He connected with spirits of his ancestors, who would guide him back home.1 

       In modern Thailand they have a different tradition. In a parade called the Poy Sang Long, young boys in colorful robes, headdresses, and makeup, are shown off before the people. The boys don't enjoy this celebrity treatment for long, however. After the parade they are dressed in the simple robes of a Buddhist monk and enter a monastery, where they will live as Buddhist monks for at least a week before officially coming of age. Through their service they hope to bring good fortune upon their families, who wait for their return.2

       In Myanmar it is traditional for young men to enter a monastery for three months. The age of ordination for a Therevada monk is twenty years old, and these young monks enter into religious service not only for its spiritual benefits, but for the cultural benefits, as well. Burmese girls are much more likely to marry a returned monk, and the time in the monastery is seen as a chance for the young men to learn and mature before taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.3 

       Each of these rituals, while they come from different cultures, all fall under the same category: rites of passage. A rite of passage is a ritual in which a person transitions from one stage of life to the next. Rites of passage are everywhere, ranging from Jewish Bar Mitzvahs to Native American vision quests. Most rites of passages are designed to help boys become men. They turn dependent children into capable warriors or eligible bachelors. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

True or False: the Men Were Dead

       It was September 2012. Mitt Romney had clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Looking to help Romney's campaign, Glenn Beck went on the air and did a Mormon Special to answer viewers' questions about Mormonism. One of the biggest questions was why the Church had practiced polygamy. To answer this question, Mr. Beck turned to history. He told his viewers about the Missouri extermination order and about how the Mormon men were slaughtered. Beck talked about how most of the Mormon menfolk were casualties of persecution in Missouri and Illinois and how the Mormon Battalion took away many of the men that remained as the Saints were crossing the plains. 

       "They were being killed, they're leaving the country, and they believed so deeply in this country that they served. So one reason for polygamy was there weren't a lot of dudes left. And everyone was saying 'we're going to exterminate you,' and they said 'we are not going to survive. We need to repopulate.' That played a role, but also women and children were left alone."1 
       This broadcast helped non-Mormon conservatives understand the reasoning behind polygamy and made the early Saints not seem so strange to contemporary Americans. But is this information correct? Was polygamy instituted to support the widows and children of the murdered Mormon men? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What It Was Like to be an Early-Returned Missionary

       The following is a letter from my good friend Kristan Whitney. Kristan was called to serve in the Marshall Islands mission and was given an honorable medical release before her expected eighteen months were up. I asked her to share her thoughts about her experience and what she would like others to know about life as an early-returned missionary. Here is what she said...

       Before my mission I was aware that there was a stigma, however slight or prominent it may be, for missionaries that returned earlier than the expected time frame. I didn't give it much thought. Despite knowing a few people who had returned from their missions early, it was never something I expected to happen to me. I was prepared. I knew what to expect and how to cope…or so I thought.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

8 Famous Duos Who Would Make Excellent Missionary Companionships

Every RM knows a companion can make it or break it when it comes to missionary success. A good companionship, one that gets along and works well together, can make great things happen. There's less contention, lessons run more smoothly, and you're both more cheerful. Best of friends can often be best of missionaries. With that in mind, here are a few famous duos who would make excellent mission companionships.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Messages

“This is Easter, when, with all of Christendom, we commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was not an ordinary thing. It was the greatest event in human history." 
- President Gordon B. Hinckley1
Commemorate the story of Easter with these images and verses about 
the last days of our Savior's ministry.
(Click on an image to enlarge)