Tag Archives: npr

Tom Hanks’ brief exposure to Mormons

!! About a month ago Tom Hanks was on Fresh Air. Terry Gross mentioned that Mr. Hanks had been around a few different religions when he was younger and he went on to explain each of them. One of them was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (although only the term Mormon was used).

These guys, literally like The Book of Mormon [musical], they came around in white short-sleeved shirts and black ties and they rode bicycles. They convinced my Dad’s second wife that being a Mormon was just the greatest thing in the world.
My Dad said, “You know what, Whinnie?” (that was her name; sweet lady), “If you want your kids to be baptized in the Mormon church you go right ahead, but no way are my kids going to go through it.”

So we just kind of sat around and enjoyed some good Mormon Family Home Evenings that were choreographed by Elder Paul and Brother Bob and a few other people. They knew magic tricks with coins and were really funny. All the time my dad would sit in the living room with his hands around a can of beer.

From 31:23-32:07 of Tom Hanks Says Self-Doubt Is ‘A High-Wire Act That We All Walk’

If I had a chance to talk with Mr. Hanks, I would tell him that indeed, being a Mormon is the greatest thing in the world! 🙂 (j)

NPR’s On Point – Mormon Moment

I think I’ve mentioned before that I go for a walk every day at lunch along the Niagara Parkway in Niagara Falls, Ontario (I work there). I usually listen to a podcast (sports talk show out of Toronto, various NPR shows, or Church-related shows). The other day I listened to an On Point episode from last week called The Mormon Moment. It was quite a good show. Host Tom Ashbrook had 3 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on to talk about how Mormons felt about this “moment” and what it meant to them and the Church. There was time for a few callers, and the questions were respectful. Unfortunately, many of the comments on the On Point web site are not.

If you have some time or like to listen to podcast while walkin/running or driving to work, you should definitely check it out.

“If It Feels Right…” – NY Times article that President Monson quoted

You may recall that President Monson quoted from a NY Times article during his Sunday morning address at General Conference. The article was by David Brooks. I haven’t really read much of his work, but I do hear him every week on NPR‘s All Things Considered (he’s a political analyst) and I enjoy hearing him. The article was about how young people today have a hard time defining what something moral is.

The article was published September 12, 2001 and is called If It Feels Right.

Stones, Zeppelin Songs Combat Crickets

I first heard about this on NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Most members are aware of the story from early Utah when some crickets were eating crops and seagulls came and ate them. The type of cricket has been called Mormon Crickets.

Anyway, these so called Mormon Crickets are causing a problem in Nevada, and officials are trying to use heavy metal music to chase them away.

Imagine waking up with a cricket on your head. Imagine crickets swarming everywhere outside your house. It sounds like some kind of Biblical plague, but it’s actually affecting Tuscarora, Nev. so badly that the residents have resorted to blasting rock ‘n’ roll to combat them…

To me, the most noteworthy thing about this, is that when mentioned on Wait, Wait… there weren’t really any Mormon-related joke. One panelist mentioned that Mormons, like crickets, reproduce a lot, but that was it. There were no jokes about polygamy, nothing about getting rid of Mormons, etc. It would seem that we are indeed making some progress 🙂

Put faces to the numbers

I may have mentioned before that I go for a long walk each day during my lunch hour. I have a few podcasts I listen to during the week as I walk (Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Prime Time Sports, 60 Minutes, and occasionally some others). A couple of weeks ago there was a segment on 60 Minutes about Flight 1549, Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III, and his crew. It was quite a moving piece, but one part of it particularly stuck out. When talking about how everyone survived, Captain Sullenberger said this:

You know, 155 is a number, but when you can put faces to it and not just 155 faces but the other faces, the wives, the daughters, the sons, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, it gets to be a pretty big number pretty quickly.
60 Minutes podcast. Flight 1549: An Emotional Reunion [online]. [Accessed 20 February 2009]. 2009. Available from World Wide Web: [Podcast]

In the Church, as in essentially all other organizations, the only way to measure progress is with numbers. Sometimes we focus on this number, or that number, but it still comes down to a number. What was our sacrament meeting attendance? How many baptisms have we had this year? What was our home teaching percentage? We need to often remind ourselves that those numbers do, indeed, represent people. Captain Sully and his crew expertly maneuvered the plane and got the passengers out, and 155 people were saved. But the impact of what they did is far greater than that. It has affected hundreds of people directly, and probably thousands, maybe even millions of people, more. The same goes for our service in the Church. Whether in a calling, or as a home and visiting teacher, we may be only working with a certain person, or a small group of people, but the effects of our work can affect dozens more and can last for generations. It is a humbling, but inspiring thought!

“1 billion people’s Saviour” – Thoughts on swearing

I’ve never been one to use “bad” language. The closest I came was in high school. At the time I didn’t have much of a problem with quoting a song or a movie. I don’t remember which word it was, but one day I said something (again, quoting something), and all of my friends were stunned that I had said it. That was a real wake-up call for me. People really do watch what you do, and if you are going to live a principle, you need to live it all the time.

That happened 15-20 years ago, but I still remember it well. Now that I spend much of my time at work, I have to walk a fine line between letting people be who they are, but also being myself. I don’t like swearing. I don’t like to hear it. Depending on who it is, if I hear someone at work swear, I might gasp playfully or even tell them they have a “potty-mouth” (only for those who I am quite friendly with). As far as I know, no one has ever been offended that I don’t appreciate their swearing, and almost everyone now is careful when they are around me. I think they respect me for my beliefs.

The reason why I am posting about this is because this week I’ve heard or seen several things which are related to this.

The first thing was a report on NPR’s All Things Considered called ‘No Cussing’ Founder: Mind Your Dang Language. It’s about a 15-year-old young man who is trying to discourage people from swearing. You can read all about it on the NPR site. One of the stunning things, is that his campaign has actually brought threats and other hateful pranks. Come on, people! Why would you threaten someone because they don’t want to swear and they don’t want others to swear?!

The next thing was watching the movie Swing Vote. This is a movie starring Kevin Costner where because of some circumstances, he is to cast the vote to decide the next President of the United States. At one point in the movie, his daughter Molly (played by Madeline Carroll), is bothered by the fact he keeps saying “Jesus”, or “Jesus Christ” to swear. She tells him he’d better stop using Jesus as a cuss-word because Jesus was “1 billion people’s Saviour, you know”. Just the way she said it and the way he reacted was kind of cute/funny. Incidentally, I’m often torn with movies. Swing Vote was rated PG in Canada, and overall I thought it was a pretty decent movie. However, there was some casual swearing, which almost made me turn it off. I understand that the type of character that Kevin Costner was playing would have almost definitely been someone who swore in real life (if he were a real person), but it still makes me uncomfortable. My wife commented that there was more swearing than she expected from a PG movie.

Lastly, I also recently watched the terrible 1998 movie Lost in Space. At one point the young Will Robinson swears, and Dr. Smith (played by Gary Oldman), tells him that swearing is only for the weak minded (or something like that). I generally agree with that.

I know some people say that swearing is just a word. It’s no different than saying fudge, flip, shoot, etc. They may be right. I think those words are dumb replacements (although I am not offended by them). I just think that we should all speak a little better. I like what it says in For the Strength of Youth:

How you speak says much about who you are. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind. Use language that uplifts, encourages, and compliments others.
“Language,” For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God, 22

True to the Faith says this:

Foul language harms your spirit and degrades you. Do not let others influence you to use foul language.
“Profanity,” True to the Faith, (2004),128–29

Lastly, President Hinckley once said this:

Conversations I have had with school principals and students lead me to the same conclusion—that even among our young people, there is an evil and growing habit of profanity and the use of foul and filthy language.
I do not hesitate to say that it is wrong, seriously wrong, for any young man ordained to the priesthood of God to be guilty of such…

Brethren, stay out of the gutter in your conversation. Foul talk defiles the man who speaks it….

Don’t swear. Don’t profane. Avoid so-called dirty jokes. Stay away from conversation that is sprinkled with foul and filthy words. You will be happier if you do so, and your example will give strength to others.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Take Not the Name of God in Vain,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 44

Mapping Happiness

This post is a little old, but back in February On Point, the NPR show out of WBUR in Boston had a show called Mapping Happiness. It talked about how we may or not be “wired” for happiness.

By guest host Jane Clayson:

So much has been written about the search for happiness — in songs and poems and countless self-help books — much of it straight from the heart.

But it turns out there’s also a science of happiness, and in her new book a psychologist lays out the cold, hard facts, based on decades of research.

Did you know you have a happiness “set point”? What do you really need to be happy?

Her book is part science, part self-help, with questionnaires and exercises. We’ll give it a try.

This hour, On Point: mapping happiness

· Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of Riverside and author of “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want”
· Eric Wilson, professor of English at Wake Forest University and author of “Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy”

It was a very interesting show, and it made me wonder about the “men are that they might have joy” scripture and just how interesting it can be sometimes to hear the way that science and religion explain things differently.