• Quote of the Day

    “Surely the reason Christ said, ‘Father, forgive them,’ was because even in that terrible hour He knew that this was the message He had come through all eternity to deliver.”
    —Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Small and Simple Things—We’ve Got Mail

 We've Got MailThis may seem like a strange thing to mention in this blog, but I thought I might highlight something interesting from a section of the Church magazines that probably doesn’t get a lot of attention. In this month’s “We’ve Got Mail,” the letters-to-the-editor section of the New Era, there are a couple of comments that made me think.

The first one is from a missionary serving in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. He tells of how a simple, short feature in the New Era helped him and his companion bring a less-active member back to church. In this feature, called “My Favorite Scripture,” a teen simply gives a scripture reference and explains in one or two sentences why he or she likes that scripture. Somehow, a scripture verse and a few words sent to the New Era by a 17-year-old girl from California gave a missionary in Sierra Leone the inspiration needed to help someone feel the Spirit and decide to return to church. I suppose this is another example of small and simple means that bring great things to pass. To me, it’s just remarkable to consider.

The second comment is also about small and simple things, I guess. It is from a young man named Spencer, who explains that he used to read only “The Extra Smile” (the comic strips and jokes in the New Era) but that he eventually started flipping through the New Era and reading the other articles too. This is just a guess, but I would say that this young man’s experience is fairly common. I would also hazard to say that there are grownups in the Church (and at Church headquarters) who dislike seeing such frivolous stuff in a Church magazine for young people, who need to be developing a testimony of the gospel to shore themselves up against the temptations and challenges they will face in the world. Well, to them I would say, look at Spencer’s experience, and then multiply it by several thousand.

Has any small and simple thing in the Church magazines affected your life or the life of someone you know in some way? Please share it with me or, better yet, with the Church magazines.


The Best Bargain

I realize that I haven’t written about the Friend yet, so I’ll rectify that today by briefly mentioning an article titled “The Best Bargain.” A girl looking for a good bargain on a Mother’s Day gift discovers that, even in business dealings, our primary concern is not necessarily what benefits us the most; integrity and keeping promises are more important than simply looking out for number one. Good for the Friend. Though imperfect, this story, in a way, prepares young people to be more thoughtful and introspective when asked the question “Are you honest in all your dealings with your fellow men?”

A Note to the Good Guys, A Note to the Good Girls

A good New Era article is like a good lasagna—meaty with just the right amount of cheese. Or is it cheesy with just the right amount of meat? Anyway, I would turn your attention to an article in this month’s New Era that seems to have the right recipe. It’s made up of two small articles written as anonymous “notes” like those that might get passed around at school. “A Note to the Good Guys, A Note to the Good Girls” contains a list of things that a young woman or young man secretly admires about someone of the opposite sex who is upholding Church standards. (By the way, these particular notes have bylines, so they apparently are real and weren’t made up by the New Era editorial staff.)

I guess the idea behind this article is to strengthen these good guys and good girls so that they know their goodness is being noticed and admired. If it helps just one boy or girl feel better about continuing his or her efforts to keep high standards, it will have been worth it.

Personally, I recall the girls I admired in high school because they quietly did the things they knew were right. I particularly admired the ones who weren’t ever mean to anyone and who didn’t take on worldly or trendy styles and attitudes. And, yes, I really appreciated the ones who dressed, talked, and acted modestly. Of course, many of these things applied equally to LDS and non-LDS girls, but I suppose I had higher expectations of the ones I knew to be LDS. I can only imagine that the girls felt the same way about the guys around them.

After reading these notes, think of the reasons you admired certain people you knew in your teen years, and add to the list.

Mormonad—Be Big

Mormonad—Be Big, Don't BelittleI rather like the Mormonad in the New Era this month. Its message is one that I wish more people (not just teenagers) would take to heart. The picture in the Mormonad shows a young boy and a teenage boy walking off of a soccer field. Presumably the younger boy has lost the game or played badly, but the older boy is putting his arm on the younger boy’s shoulder to comfort him rather than ridicule him.

Far too often we see people putting others down in order to build themselves up or just to be mean. There seems to be an entire genre of humor centered around clever, sardonic ridicule, and much of the Internet seems to thrive on it. I suppose politicians and other public figures are fair game (they asked for it, right?), but we should be aware of how our put-downs actually diminish our own stature.

For a good article on this topic, read “Is Anyone Laughing” in last February’s New Era.

Why the Book of Mormon?

In this month’s New Era, President Henry B. Eyring begins his message by saying, “When I was a young man I wondered why the Lord needed to have the Prophet Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon to begin the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The rest of this article, titled “Why the Book of Mormon?” answers this question. President Eyring began finding answers when he started his service as a missionary. He focuses on four main answers: it is a powerful missionary tool, it testifies of Christ, it brings the Spirit, and it teaches and invites. As always, President Eyring offers simple but profound insights.

I believe that many other returned missionaries can tell similar stories of how their understanding of and relationship with the Book of Mormon grew through their missionary service. I know mine did. And, yes, I think that I now understand better why the Lord introduced the Book of Mormon at the beginning of the Restoration. This “marvelous work” is indeed both a strange and a wonderful thing, and it deserves much closer attention than most in the world are willing to give it.

The Miracle of the Conference Magazines

I suppose the more often a miracle is repeated, the less miraculous it seems. That said, I’d like to remind us of one those miracles that affects all of us in the Church but goes somewhat unheralded.

The general conference issues of the Ensign and Liahona should be arriving in most people’s mailboxes this week—and what a miracle it is. Of course, the conference issue of the Ensign has been delivered in the May issue for some years now, but the same has been true for the Liahona only in recent years.

Think of it—over three dozen addresses, as well as biographies of around 20 new General Authorities and members of auxiliary presidencies, all totaling over 140 pages, and, oh, by the way, it has to be edited, designed, approved, translated into dozens of languages, printed, and distributed all over the world one month later.

We all marvel at the wonderful communications technology that allows general conference to be broadcast by satellite and the Internet every six months, but I wonder whether we truly appreciate the magnitude of the task of publishing the conference issues of the magazines in print. I daresay that, in spite of the quicker and more ubiquitous availability of the conference addresses online, the printed conference issues of the Ensign and Liahona are the most highly used versions of those addresses in the months (and perhaps years) immediately following the conference.

So, there’s a simple reminder of the semiannual miracle that is the conference issue of the Church magazines.