All posts by Dan Stout

Finding LDS Truths in Disney Films

By Toni Yee

Members of the LDS Church patronize Disney movies because of its wholesome family entertainment, themes that reclaim purity and hope in the world, it is a way of appreciating the sweet magic of children, and most importantly, it teaches life lessons which can be related to the teachings of the Church.

In Gordon B. Hinckley’s talk, he shared the story of a man who related Joseph Smith’s story to Disney. “Every time I would tell the bishop that Joseph Smith’s story was more Disney than Disney, he would tell me, “Maybe so, but it’s all true.” Members not only find happily ever afters in Disney movies, but also, in gospel truths of the Church.

The teachings of the Church is mostly emphasized on the importance of family. Elder Tom L. Perry, said “One of the great messages of the gospel is the doctrine of the eternal disneyandfriendsnature of the family unit. We declare to the world the value and importance of family life, but much of the confusion and difficulty we find existing in the world today is being traced to the deterioration of the family. Home experiences where children are taught and trained by loving parents are diminishing.” One Disney movie that strongly emphasizes family is Lilo and Stitch. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” This line was made famous by Stitch who was adopted by Lilo’s family.

Goal setting is an essential part of every individual in order to attain the desired outcome and success. It is always good to have dreams in order to stay motivated. Just like Cinderella, she dreamt of attending the ball with her step sisters, but they did not want her to. Cinderella’s friends knew about her desire to go and because of her kind heart, they helped her. “Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.” Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “Set goals that are well balanced—not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low. Write down your attainable goals and work on them according to their importance. Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting.”

Past experiences are meant to be overcome. Whether we choose to disclose these experiences, like Simba has in the Lion King movie, is up to us as individuals and our personal relationships. There are some aspects of the past that hurt tremendously but Rafiki offers a sound advice. “The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” We can either take our past experiences and use those as learning tools or we can pretend that they never happened and run, risking making mistakes as a result of the pain we are trying to avoid.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.” The pain of tackling the past might be overwhelming and hard, but in the end, we become the best version of ourselves.

Blade Runner 2049 Sure to be “High Octane” Action

By Myck Miller

Blade Runner is back! With 2049 just around the corner, Warner Bros. released a full trailer of the new movie which will be starred by Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling. The cries of girls all over the country could be heard as one of Hollywood’s most famous actors, Ryan Gosling along with Harrison Ford take to the big screen together in what is anticipated to be a sure thriller.

In an interview, Gosling stated, “The first film made me question what it meant to be a human being.” Referring to the original movie which was made in 1982. Gosling need not fear to ruin his childhood movie because there is a seasoned veteran who will be joining with him.

blade_runner_2049_ryan_gosling_harrison_ford-2560x1440Harrison Ford, widely recognized as one of those actors who just won’t ride into the sunset. That is of course to the exception to his ever long-lasting desire to get out of the Star Wars movies. Ford was in the first Blade Runner back in 1982 and is very excited to be back on the big screen playing a character that he hasn’t visited in nearly 30 years.

At an event in Los Angeles Ford said, “It’s very interesting visiting a character after some time. It was a very gratifying experience.” This won’t be the first time that Ford has gone back in time to play a character that he hasn’t touched in years. Everyone was ecstatic to see him back with Chewy and the Millennium Falcon in Force Awakens and who can forget his Indiana Jones movies.

What can the audience expect from this Sci-Fi thriller? There is going to be a lot of action and it’s going to be so much different from the first movie made 30 years ago. The technology is going to allow the movie to reach new heights in technological advancements. The movie is set in 2049 so expect to see things that have never been seen before. The movie will take you back in time to the old film and bring a new generation of characters and plots. Here’s a bit of advice though…. If you truly want to enjoy this movie, go back and watch the first. Nothing worse than going to see a movie and not bladerunnercopsknowing the plot, characters, or theme of the movie. The character progression of Harrison Ford’s character will be something to keep an eye out for and will electrify movie theaters all across the country.

Blade Runner will be hitting the theaters on October 6, 2017.

Why do LDS General Authorities Quote from C.S. Lewis?

By Dylan Sage-Wilcox

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strive to live the high standards of their faith, they look to their leaders for direction in biannual meetings known as General Conference. Thousands of members living in Utah convene together in the Conference Center while millions more tune in on TVs, laptops and phones. Faithful members who listen to these inspiring messages given on a variety of topics from selected General Authorities of the Church say that there is at least one talk that really touches them. Each message is often given through the personal experience of the speaker, however, there are other sources of inspiration that are called upon. Such a valuable resource is Christian apologist and renowned author, C.S. Lewis.

Lewis is one of the most quoted non-Latter-day Saints in General Conference. Marianna Edwards Richardson and Christine Thackeray wrote C.S. Lewis: Latter-day Truths in Narnia where they pointed out some of the reasons as to why Lewis is so often quoted by LDS leaders: “Lewis had a knack of speaking for ‘every man’ and gave us modern parables for Christian living. All can relate to his testimony of Christ and his practical understanding of how to put gospel teachings into practice today.”

The Deseret News complied 23 C.S. Lewis quotes shared in LDS General Conference, they found that Elder Neal A. Maxwell quoted Lewis the most, 19 times, four instances being in General Conference, the others in talks and devotionals he gave. President James E. Faust came next to Elder Maxwell, quoting the author at least seven times.

Lewis was born on November 29, 1898, in Belfast, Ireland. His religious background began as a youth when he was baptized in the Church of Ireland, under the nudging of his mother, Florence Augusta Lewis, whose father was a priest for the church. In 1908 Lewis suffered many losses; the death of his uncle, grandfather, and mother, the latter died of cancer. These life events helped to shape his view on life and even death as he began to immerse himself in Greek and Norse mythology and other literature. He was sent to Malvern to recuperate from respiratory difficulties, it was here at the age of 15 that he abandoned his childhood faith and became an atheist pursing mythology and the occult. The young Lewis viewed Christianity as cumbersome and time-consuming, however it wasn’t until Lewis read George McDonald’s “Phantasies” in 1916, which “baptized his imagination” did Lewis finally have a religious epiphany.

In 1929, as a faculty member at Oxford University, he met fellow colleague and equally-noted author, J. R. R. Tolkien, who persuaded Lewis to be fully converted to Christianity. Lewis recorded in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, “That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Since his conversion to theism at the age of 33, Lewis committed himself to the Church of England he became not just a defender of his Anglican faith, but of all Christianity. James Sire wrote “C. S. Lewis was a man with wide interests, a man who wrote with distinction in many fields – literary history, philology, criticism, Christian apologetics, science fiction, myth, poetry, and children’s literature. His readers are thus drawn from many walks of life.” Sire said that Lewis could be serious without being sentimental, he could be a genuine Christian without being trapped by religious piety, he could enjoy without the sole seeking of enjoyment, and he was willing to advise without becoming a professional advisor. Because of his broad perspectives and conversion from atheism to theism, Lewis was uniquely equipped to defend Christianity from naysayers because he was once a naysayer himself. His teachings and essays ranged from the Savior’s atoning sacrifice to the importance of motherhood. Hence the reason why many LDS leaders quote him so generously.

Jannalee Rosner, in her article for LDS Living, gives three insights into Lewis’s popularity among Latter-day Saint authors, leaders, and scholars. First, Lewis helps us with missionary work and Sunday School comments. Second, his ideas are related to Mormon doctrine. And third, he tells great stories and parables.

President Ezra Taft Benson gave a still-oft quoted talk in April General Conference of 1989 entitled, “Beware of Pride”, where he quotes Lewis, who said, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” The first general authority to quote from the renowned British author was Elder Paul H. Dunn of the Seventy in 1977, who gave a talk entitled “We Have Been There All the Time” where he advised members of the church to give special attention to relationships with loved ones, family, and friends. He quoted Lewis’s words: “Take care. It is so easy to break eggs without making omelets.” From that point on, general authorities have been using Lewis’s profound insight to enhance their messages

Family: Central Theme of the Fast and Furious Franchise

By Toni Yee

Family is the heart of Mormon theology.  Eternal family, extended family, – it comes in many forms.  But, rarely do we consider fast car families. The “Fast and Furious” movie franchise, however, maintains its core family theme through the recent installment “Fate of the Furious.” Fancy cars and drag racing are only part of the story. Family lends support, and can be drawn on by anyone in the most unusual circumstances . Even the urban race culture.

According to Michelle Rodriguez (Letty), a franchise star, the family theme fate-of-the-furious-filming-locations-jagcan be traced back to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) Vin Diesel. “It’s something that came out of Vin’s mouth where he didn’t like the line that was there. At the end of the day, the movie is all about family.”  Throughout the 16 years of furious movies, one little ad-lib by Diesel established the idea that anchored the franchise. Your upbringing makes no difference. It doesn’t matter if your childhood was stable. If you’re willing to search, family can be found in many forms, just like the urban one in “Fate of the Furious.”  The premise is that humans are inherently drawn to family, and it doesn’t have to be traditional.

In “Fast and Furious Six,” Vin Diesel says, “You don’t turn back on your family, even when they do.” Despite their trials the characters stick together as a family in the end. Even though they encounter misunderstandings and arguments, all of the films repeat the family mantra over and over again.   In “Fate of the Furious,” however, Vin Diesel choses a path without his family. This is dome at his peril as is our lives are also at risk when we choose to go it alone.

Everything was going so well with Toretto’s family then all of a sudden, Cipher, a villain, tempts Toretto to turn his back from his family which he does. He is blinded with the consequences of his decision as he falls under Cipher’s spell.  Suddenly Toretto sees hismaxresdefault son, reminding him of the wonderful support family offers. Despite the influence of Cipher’s team, he reunites with the family reclaiming the satisfaction that brings.  Toretto’s family still welcomes him despite his sins.  “You don’t turn back on your family, even when they do” Toretto utters in “Fast and Furious Six.”  He thanks family members for their foregiveness.

A dominant theme of the Fast and Furious franchise is that despite our poor choices,  it is never too late to get back on track. Our family will always be there for us even when stray.  Toretto chooses to go rogue for a while, but later he realizes that family matters most. It may not be blood relatives, but friends can turn our to be even more loyal and loving if we invest in the group.

Trials and temptations are inevitable, but the lesson of Fast and Furious is that it’s up to us how we handle them.  No matter how hard life gets, family is all that matters in the end. As Diesel says, “I don’t have friends, but I have family.” A family awaits all us. But, perhaps not in the places we expect.

 

 

LDS Students Size Up Power Rangers

By Myck Miller

For many the TV show Power Rangers was one that dominated the children of the 90s. These same children, now adults were ecstatic to hear of the production of the newest addition to the Power Rangers family. Rita-Repulsa-EW-e1461076145709The excitement was there, the technology was available, and yet many of BYU-Hawaii’s students were not happy with the result of the movie. Was it the anticipation? Could it be that the past can’t be replicated in the present? Whatever the answer is the BYU-Hawaii student body was not happy with the movie and voiced their opinions about where the movie went wrong.

Landin Hayter, a senior majoring in Political Science said, “my hope was that this movie was going to take me back to my childhood and give me the satisfaction that I once had as a kid. The problem is that the expectations that I placed on the film were too high and it ended up coming up short.” Landin later explained that much of what he loved as a kid now is no longer a form of entertainment. Many can remember those Halloween nights with one of the most popular costumes being Power Rangers.

When asked about what went wrong with the movie, Dave Johnson, a junior majoring in accounting said, “the plot wasn’t clear and the acting was terrible.” He later added, “I had a serious issue with the flow of the movie. 6084779ce2255704f927c668d4fbe3e8d7fa0b3bIt lagged on forever and when it was time to morph and get the action rolling the movie came up short. I expected the action to be like the superhero movies but it didn’t live up to the hype.” Much of what the students said about the movie had to do with the pace. Power Rangers had the expectation of living up to the hype of so many of the superhero movies that are currently in production. When BYU-Hawaii students were asked how it compared to the Marvel and DC comic movies the overall consensus was, “NOT EVEN CLOSE!”

Although the college students weren’t fans of the movie they did add that the movie may appeal to younger children and is a family movie. BYU-Hawaii students however are not fans and hope that if there is another movie in production they learn from the mistakes of this film and try to pattern the sequel to something similar to Avengers or the Christian Bale batman movies.

“All the Light We Cannot See,” A Novel for the Pensive Mormon

By Daniel Stout

Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” is in the slow-read category, but not in the monotonous sense of the word. On the contrary it is a lively fascinating book; it just demands a thoughtful pace. This reviewer is drawn to the pensive reading experience where a page-a-day can be immensely satisfying. That is if one adheres to Anna Quindlen’s thoughtful reading concept. Reading is in the mind, and some books let the imagination wander. All the Light is such a book.  Mormons that enjoy perusal of a sentence followed by gazing-out-the-window rumination should enjoy this tale. If you’re lamenting the lost art of thinking, allow Doerr’s artful prose to come to the rescue.

51wG7x-S+0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It is the tale of two teenagers in World War II France: A blind girl and a male member of the Hitler youth. The latter figuratively eyeless. These are disparate worldviews, but their lives eventually converge. The merge of mindsets not only makes a good story, but forces the reader to confront delicious dilemmas avoided in our religious lives. Why don’t we recognize the limitations of authority?  What is it about evil that makes it so difficult to discern?

It’s a novel about life’s ironies.  Happiness is somehow drawn from contradiction, and ultimately there is no happiness, only an arduous journey.  All the Light holds a mirror up to our journeys eliciting reflection of readers’ earthly sojourns. It raises more questions than it answers, but that that’s the goal of the author. It’s a a book to think with.

I had heard that All the Light was a literary achievement, but was unprepared for the elegant use of metaphor and well-crafted writing. Varied sentence length and brevity are but a few of the peruser’s delights. Doerr’s artistic workmanship is present in line after line. Take this sentence, for example. Four words, but a hundred interpretations:

Still night. Still early.

Ultimately, it is a book about the paradoxes of nature, i.e., so nurturing yet so cruel. Doerr schools us on a vital subject.  ________-__-____-2644Life may impair us, but never obstructs our drive to uncover love in its dark recesses.  Read this novel, and don’t be afraid to take a year.

 

“Parrot Heads:” The New Trop Rock Film

Former Eagle Timothy B. Schmit, coined the the term “Parrot Head,” a reference to fans of the rocker Jimmy Buffett. Parrotheads don tropical shirts, sunglasses, and grass skirts; jimmy-buffett-2015-ab2c8ca49025539csome bring inflatable sharks to concerts and even haul in sand to simulate a beach in parking lots. The new Netflix documentary, “Parrot Heads” transcends the foundational; it’s a look at “Parrot Head 2.0,” which has spawned an entire rock genre, “trop rock.” Trop rock bands and festivals are a vestige of Buffett culture, supporting an argument of this blog that this is truly pop culture religion.

If religion is reduced to belief, community, and ritual, the Parrot Heads qualify.  Songs elicit feelings about tropical paradise and the need for escape. florida-keys-trop-rock-playlistConsiderthe song, Fins; fans sway in unison and repeat various hand movements.

Parrotheads advocate a simple life that respects nature; many support environmentalist causes. It’s a search for a laidback lifestyle and the reclamation of spontaneity, which they find missing from a nine-to-five, overworked society. Many Parrotheads are critical of institutions; Buffett himself has a particular aversion to authority.These communities are neither superficial nor ephemeral. Parrotheads exist outside the concerts through parrothead clubs, informal gatherings and websites.

imagesThe documentary is riddled with compelling facts such as $42 MILLION raised FOR CHARITIES. Parrott heads  DONATED MORE THAN THREE MILLION HOURS OF VOLUNTEER TIME SINCE THEIR INCEPTION 25 YEARS AGO. What could be more religious than that?

The Church, Suicide, and “13 Reasons Why”

By Dylan-Sage Wilcox

Suicide is one of the hardest topics to address, yet a young adult novel written by Jay Asher in 2007 tackles this important issue. “13 Reasons Why” has been adapted to film for Netflix. The story follows the aftermath of the death of Hannah Baker who takes her own life. She leaves behind a series of cassette tapes that explain the thirteen reasons why she killed herself, she explains in these tapes that each character in the story had contributed to her decision. The main character, Clay Jensen, discovers the tapes in a box delivered to his home shortly after Hannah’s death and finds out he was one of the thirteen reasons why the suicide happened.

“Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers,” the website’s synopsis of the book said. The series on Netflix has already been popular with young adult audiences.

Mary Leishman, in her review of “13 Reasons Why” said, “This is important because it brings awareness to the issue and shows 4860c887-4fc1-4ff1-a8d5-f29c4d510589the warning signs that you can look for in someone who is contemplating harming themselves. This story is phenomenally written and brilliantly directed.” Leishman, who also attempted suicide in high school added, “I have heard a lot of speculation that this story is ‘unrealistic’ and for some it may be, but to me this felt like I was watching a TV series of my high school years on Netflix and it was extremely real.”

Although there are some who see “13 Reasons Why” as an attention-grabber to one of society’s most important issues, others felt that the series’ use of graphic language and other extreme elements, such as rape, made for a distasteful experience.

“I have watched the first few episodes and will not be continuing the series… I don’t understand why they have to include such graphic betrays and so many swear words in movies (and books). I stick to young adult fiction and even that is starting to have the same graphic and vulgar things that the rest of it does. Very sad,” said Stacey Hilderbrandt.

In recent years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been addressing suicide Thirteen-Reasons-Why-thirteen-reasons-why-10661875-1458-2244and the affects it has on families who deal with it. In an article produced by the Church, they write, “Suicide is a global public health issue that can often be prevented. While it is a complex situation with no single cause, the risks can be reduced when family, friends, ward members, and mental health professionals come together to help those who are struggling. Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention and should learn the risk factors and warning signs.”

 

Logan Slashes, but that’s OK

By Myck Miller

MPAA ratings have always been what has limited the X-Men characters from reaching the legitimacy of their characters as presented in the comic books. Hugh Jackman over the course of 17 years has starred in eight movies prior to the release of what is expected to be his last role of Wolverine in ‘Logan.’ With the R rating is there concern to go out and watch this film? The answer is undoubtedly, YES!

This film differs from old X-Men films in the sense that the action is more intense and less fictional as presented in other Marvel films. Let’s be real, Wolverine has razor sharp metal claws. backgrounds_logan_outerDo you really expect him to shave people’s mustaches and not kill people… With Deadpool’s immense financial success, Fox gave director James Mangold the green light to go all in on the R ratings. Don’t worry there isn’t anything too awful that would make you reconsider who you are as a person. However, if you don’t like violence this may not be the movie for you. In this film Logan openly comes out and attacks as a Wolverine is expected to do. Scenes of him bisecting heads and punching through skulls was the main reason for the film getting the rating that it did. There are some scenes of small strays of female toplessness which only adds to the R rating. Profanity also was a factor in the film receiving its rating as the F word was used definitely more than once throughout the film.

The film is set in the year 2029 with the implication that the mutants and X-Men are no longer in society. There seems to have been no mutants born in the last 25 years which begs the question, are they going extinct? Some subtle clues are dropped as to the reason for the Wolverine-collage-1X-Men no longer being a factor. Some of those reasons were the rise in villains and their destruction of the former super team. Logan is now an old man working as a limo driver to try and support himself and Professor X. Both are getting old and no longer have the power they once had and as a matter of fact their powers are the reason for their suffering in old age. Out of all the X-Men movies this is full of pain and sorrow. It is definitely the most depressing of all the movies and the characters are sad throughout the whole film. This is what makes it unique as it goes against the standard for Superhero narratives. We see the flaws and the weaknesses of superheroes even though we place them on a higher level than anyone else. This realness gives the movie a separation from others and is the reason why it is so great.

New Joe Cocker Documentary: “Who was that guy, anyway?”

Mormons, when hearing the name, “Joe Cocker,” are likely to draw a blank, unless you’re an LDS child of the sixties. What Zoobie can’t sing, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” or as Cocker wails, “…from me friends…” in that instantly recognized Cockney – that is Cockney so heavy it demands a translator.

Unlike the 1971 film, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” the new Netflix – produced, “Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul”  joe2is no meager concert film.  Yet performance footage compels, and to our liking, songs play for more than thirty seconds. While paling in comparison to the more mature “Eagles History,” and Peter Bogdonovich’s “Tom Petty: Runnin’ Down a Dream,” there is much here in terms of the compelling question, “Who was Cocker?” Filmmaker John Edgington lays it out there for fans to pass judgement.

Universally, he’s considered the “nice guy.” Shockingly though, Cocker leaves a trail of friends in the dust once their value wanes.  Stunning is Woodstock organizer Michael Lang, who invests a career in Joe, only to feel the cold shoulder of abandonment – not even a returned phone call for decades.

Few watch the Woodstock performance without sensing genius. Rasping wails and spastic arm movements. Joe_Cocker_-_Festival_du_Bout_du_Monde_2013_-_003Starred boots pigeon-toed in. Yet how far should a “single-single” carry one? “With a Little Help” is like Pure Prairie League’s “Amy;” the band would do it ten times if they could. Making things worse, it was a Beatles cover. Cocker had other songs, but few are likely to endure. As for the “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” project of the seventies, success was more Leon Russell’s than Joe Cocker’s. See the new autobiography of the Ban’s Robbie Robertson of you doubt Russell’s superior songwriting.

Jennifer Warren aka the “Love Lift us Up Where we Belong” one-hit wonder may have turned Cocker into the Truman Capote of rock. That duet kept him in the Chicago and Rod Stewart cohort of “never-to-make-it-to-stage-two.” Like Oskar in Gras’s novel  “The Tin Drum,” the infant genius never progresses.

The documentary is not polemical; the gravelly-voiced Cocker is left to the viewer’s judgment.  One thing can’t be debated; Cocker left it all on stage. Every note got his best effort. But, is that enough