“I’m a Mormon” video of the month: Rock climbing and the gospel

We return from summer vacation with a pair of videos about my favorite summertime activity: rock climbing. Meet Matthieu Bennasar, who heads up an IT security consultancy and escapes the pressure of his job by climbing up sheer, vertical rock faces (it really is very stress-relieving, trust me).

Next, we have a Mormon Messages video for teens. I don’t know if I can ever hear the words “free soloing,” “carabiner,” or “pitch” again without hearing a mental echo of the words in Richard G. Scott’s inimitable* voice, as he narrates an excerpt from his April 2013 conference talk, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness.” It would have been the pièce de résistance to hear him say “Gri-Gri,” but no such luck. Still, this is well worth a watching for the spectacular red rock views.

* Unless you’re the guy who made the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup video.

Each Fast Sunday, we feature a video from the Mormon.org website. We invite our readers to check back each month for a new favorite, and to share these posts with your friends and family. (Previous posts archive.)


  1. Dr._Doctorstein says:

    I have such mixed reactions to these videos…. Sure, the messages are great. It’s wonderful to be family-oriented, etc. But for almost 40 years now climbing has been very special to me, and I’ve long disliked attempts to enlist it in any sort of cause. Maybe I experience that sort of thing as an affront to a sport that has always resisted being a spectacle. Maybe I just have to confess that climbing has become something of a religion for me, with the result that using it as a vehicle to promote a church feels just like using a church as a vehicle to promote, say, a political party. Just feels undignified and wrong. And along with others, I wonder whether the “I’m a Mormon” videos generally convey the message that “My religion is true because I’m cool.” That’s great PR, but like a lot of advertising it piggybacks on some questionable subtext. What I’d really like to see is a video that features a shy, unattractive teenager saying, “I’m a nerd, everyone picks on me at school, I’m always the last to get chosen for softball, and I’m a Mormon.” That would be lousy PR, but somehow strikes me as more Christian.

  2. My dh used to climb a lot when he was younger and, uh, younger. Before I had kids I’d jumar up after him occasionally. I thought the first video was pretty benign and inoffensive, but I really, really wanted to hear his wife say a few words on her opinion of his climbing.

    The second video inspired some rather extreme dissonance. Here’s Elder Scott plodding/pleading “Do…not…solo…in…life…” while exciting backbeat plays under thrilling video clips (had to be shot from a helicopter) of this engaging, athletic hunk soloing up Castleton Tower. The video made it look uber cool while Dear Old Elder Scott said, “Don’t do this, kids.” Of course, we know no climbers were harmed in the making of this video, despite the staged fall. The “secure” climbers (nice helmets) looked like they were on a date, and the intended message didn’t resonate with me. I thought that the first climber was equally as prepared as the second ones, just differently. The free climber took bigger risks, we assume, but it’s possible that the roped climbers’ risk was the same, or perhaps more. Climbing is dangerous, and they were all risking falling to their deaths. Kinda like life. Nothing is 100% secure, yanno?

    My question is, who’s the hotshot free soloist? I’m just not getting the message from The Brethren, per usual. But can you blame me, when they put all that seductive red rock in their video?

  3. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I just liked his French. I could almost understand parts of it without the subtitles.

  4. “What I’d really like to see is a video that features a shy, unattractive teenager saying, “I’m a nerd, everyone picks on me at school, I’m always the last to get chosen for softball, and I’m a Mormon.” That would be lousy PR, but somehow strikes me as more Christian.”

    I really like this thought, Dr. Doctorstein. I’ve been frustrated with the campaign and wished it showed more representative (and less misleading) subsets of Church membership. Your comment and suggestion is probably a more productive response. :)

  5. The Other Clark says:

    I thought the author was going to channel the ghost of James E. Faust to tell us rock climbing is incompatible with the Gospel (https://www.lds.org/new-era/1997/02/on-the-edge?lang=eng)
    “I think my fine young friend was referring to hazardous motorcycling, rock climbing, and other forms of recreation which may involve taking unnecessary risks to produce a challenge or a thrill….Some of you may think that you will discover your strengths and abilities by living on the edge. Perhaps you also think it is a way to find your identity. Your identity, however, cannot be found from thrill seeking, such as intentionally and unnecessarily exposing your life or your soul to any kind of danger, physical or moral. Enough risks will come to you naturally without your seeking them out.”

  6. Yeah I definitely thought it was weird that they were showing a guy who really does appear to have no rope. If I were making a video about the dangers of russian roulette, I would not show someone actually doing it!

    I was so amused by the dissonance involved in Richard G. Scott’s voice talking about climbing stuff that I couldn’t be actually troubled by it.