Saturday, December 24, 2011

End of Year Video

Each year, instead of a Christmas letter, each member of my family makes a video of all the things they did that year. Then they get put together and mailed out. It's pretty awesome.

Here is mine for this year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It is pretty simple to bin my friends into different groups: graduate school friends, FOB friends, Monticello friends, Bible study group friends, etc. The problem with this is that these groups often have very little overlap. This makes me sad at times since I think that all my friends would probably get along if they knew each other, but arranging friend-assimilation is often complicated.

I have tried a few times by inviting people from different groups of friends to events with other groups of friends, but I can't think of a single time that it has worked out. Perhaps the closest thing to success that I've had was my Break-the-Octoberfast/Sober Octoberfest where I invited a few people who were new members of the ward and now they seem to be friends with some of the other people that I invited, but I don't know that I can blame any of that on my pretzels and cider.

However, I realized today that Facebook actually does pretty much exactly what I'm trying to do. I can make muse with my status updates, and all the witty people I know from all aspects of my life comment on my status and other people's comments. It's like a very brief gathering of all my friends. It makes me really happy. Maybe someday I can host a movie night for a few regular commenters. Or maybe I'll just continue to let them hide behind a sort of translucent anonymity, and I can just pretend we are all friends.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


The thank-imony and friend-imony have received a lot of popular press through the years. Probably the number one context is Girls' Camp where allegedly hundreds of teenage girls cry while they talk about how much they love their cabin mates.

Another common testimony that happens though is the calling-mony, where a person stands in testimony meeting and talks about how important [insert stewardship] is. For example, the temple committee chair may talk about how they have been blessed by temple work or the ward mission leader might share an experience they had sharing the Gospel. Maybe the ward clerk will mention how MLS has changed their life. (Though as far as I understand, MLS is primarily a good tool for teaching long-suffering with an emphasis on the suffering part.) This past Suday, we had three people give calling-monies.

At first, I thought it seemed a little funny and insincere. If you are just sharing to encourage people to do their home teaching then maybe you are not sharing because you are moved by the spirit. Then again, if your assignment at church involves a certain aspect of the Gospel, I imagine you are more likely to have spiritual experiences associated with that aspect, and testimony meeting seems like a perfectly reasonable place to share how your testimony is developing.

Also, many callings in the church are associated with encouraging other people to improve their lives and serve others, and the particular testimonies shared this past Sunday were both humble and powerful. Their thoughts were actually highly motivating to change the way I live my life, and therefore they were appropriate and appreciated.

However, I don't think this is always the case. Clearly, testimony meeting is a time to share our personal convictions. I think it is also generally accepted that it is not a time to just talk about how much we love our friends or talk about or recent trip to [jealousy-inducing vacation spot/Church-history tour]. What is OK then for a testimony meeting in terms of content and motivation?