Mild Sacrilege To Celebrate Sanderson

oathbringer_cover-finalPioneer Day may be Mormonism’s most distinctive holiday, but Brandon Sanderson Book Launch Day is a close second.

November 14, 2017.  It’s a floating holiday; the exact date changes each year, but Sanderson is prolific – fans know that at least one Tuesday a year, they’d better plan ahead to storm the BYU Bookstore gates, take mid-week vacation, and lock themselves with snacks in a cozy be-fireplaced room. It may be days before we re-emerge.

This year is particularly important.   This year, Brandon Sanderson Book Launch Day celebrates a Major Launch.   Behold Oathbringer, the latest behemoth installment of The Stormlight Archive (earlier novels: The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance). [Read more…]

Bigs, Ranked

Do you ever feel like Big Industry is just out to get you? Like all the dang time? Steve and I sure do. And trust us–there are a LOT of Bigs out there to beware of.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Peace and Love to Charlottesville

I love Charlottesville.  For nearly a decade, Charlottesville has been my favorite retreat from the chaos of big cities.  I have family who live, just barely outside of cell-signal range, in the breathtaking rolling hills west of town.  My fiancé, Brad, attended – and I seriously considered attending – the University of Virginia Law School.  I love visiting.  I’ve explored its romantic colonial streets; hiked its peaceful mountains; day-dreamed about living there forever.

But this year Charlottesville has become a flashpoint for racial tension.  After years of studied discussion, the City Council voted in February to remove confederate statutes and rename two confederate-honoring parks.  (One of those parks, Stonewall Jackson park, was built after the city in 1914 seized land from private citizens in order to destroy a burgeoning black community.)  The parks have since been renamed, but plans to remove the statute stalled when the City was sued under a state law protecting historic monuments.  A month ago a small KKK rally at Justice Park (formerly Stonewall Jackson park) was overwhelmed by a thousand counter-protestors.  When a “Unite the Right” group applied for a permit to hold a further rally, they had to obtain a federal court order protecting their right to free speech.  Counter-protestors again rallied to flood the streets.

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Trek Re-Enactments We’d Like to See, Ranked

It’s summer! It’s time to dust off the pioneer clothes! It’s time to walk some miles with carts! It’s time for well-intentioned stake leaders to pretend to be a mob and wake you up in the morning with gunfire! It’s time to explain in Sacrament meeting that you “get” your pioneer ancestors now! It’s TREK SEASON!

Steve and I were thinking about this and considered what sort of Trek Re-Enactments we’d really like to see.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

How would Jesus play board games?

I love board games.  I have for my entire life.  The more strategic, the better.  I’m not sure whether it’s because my family and friends consist of nerds, boring adults in their 30s, or Mormons, but they all play along with my obsession.

(Pictured: my game shelves as of 2 months ago.  They’ve grown since then.)

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Useless Bloggernacle Topics, Ranked

Angel As is so often the case, Steve and I were recently pondering the truly important questions of life, like whether it would be better to be a vampire or pirate. Anyway, with that issue settled, we moved on to deciding where all of you people waste the most time on the Mormon internets.

As always, these rankings are authoritative.
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Presses, Ranked

Do you have an idea, but you’re so slow in getting around to it that you feel sort of stupid continuing it? But you also can’t convince yourself to let it go, so you do it anyway? That’s sort of how I feel right now. A few weeks ago, Steve and I decided that the Time Was Right for a ranking of all the important types of presses in this world. It was an appropriate revelation to seek, given the other announcement around that time. But shortly after we received our inspiration, disaster struck–things at work went crazy and caused me all manner of stress and distractions, and our once-timely ranking was forgotten. By me, anyway. But Steve never forgets. He never, ever forgets, people.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Things We’re Doing to Avoid Thinking About Donald Trump, Ranked

Are you tired of Donald Trump? Tired of hearing about him? Tired of reading about him? Tired of arguing about him with your weird Uncle Rick? Yeah, same goes for me. And Steve, too. But also tired of coming to the realization that being tired of it isn’t an option, because it’s important? Yeah, us too.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Things Mormons Would End Up Doing in Westworld, Ranked

Do you watch Westworld? I don’t, but Steve does and he says it’s great and he’s never wrong (I guess?). It’s about a place where there are human-looking robots that are available for people to hunt or kill or do whatever to without consequence. SOUNDS FUN. Even though visits to this place aren’t technically forbidden by the TR questions, it seems pretty clear that it’s not a place for the devout Latter-day Saint. But would a Mormon even have fun there, anyway? Steve and I considered this question, and the answer heavily depends on what you’d call “fun.”

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Diluted Mormon Versions of WWJD?, Ranked

I’ve always felt like the only thing we lack as a church is a really great acronym that would immediately communicate to everyone inside and outside the church how cool we are and how great it is to be a part of us. “Your abbreviations are so hip and efficient! Do you have a pamphlet I can read?” This is an area where I feel like evangelical Christians have clearly outdone us. It’s not too late, though!

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Forms of Being Broke, Ranked

Apparently there are some super-boring videos on the YoobTube these days in which some LDS Church leaders are overhead using the term “Church Broke.” This has inevitably led to much speculation about the true meaning of the term, and Steve and I decided the time was right to seek revelation on the matter. Unfortunately, the inspiration didn’t clarify the phrase in question, but instead just highlighted many other forms of being Broke that we humans are likely to encounter during our mortal sojourn.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

U2 Albums, Ranked

It is GENERALLY true that Steve and I are of one mind, not just with respect to the revelations we receive pertaining to Things, Ranked, but also with respect to the Rankable Things we seek revelation on. But every now and then, one of us feels the (probably unrighteous) desire to pursue our own agenda, and we end up ranking things that clearly have nothing to do with our personal salvation. For example, earlier today, Steve decided that U2’s discography needed to be ranked.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Alternative Expressions to Great and Abominable, Ranked

You ever just get a hankering to rank stuff? Yeah, Steve and I got that hankering last night. And we surrendered to it. Big Time.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Encountering Mormonism on Route 66

IMG_3884(This post isn’t really a Fourth of July thing, except that there’s something distinctly American about Route 66. So we’ll go with it.)

We talked about taking a Route 66 vacation this summer. After all, we live in Chicago (and Route 66 starts across the street from the Art Institute!), and it ends in L.A., just north of my parents’ home. But with this year’s Every Kid in a Park (which, btw, if you have a kid who just finished fourth grade and you haven’t enrolled yet, I don’t think it’s too late), we switched to a visit-National-Parks trip.

Still, our National Parks roadtrip ended up overlapping briefly with Route 66—we were going to Petrified Forest National Park, which is on historic Route 66, and we decided to stay in nearby Holbrook, in Wigwam Village #6.[fn1] [Read more…]

Rough Draft Commandments, Ranked

Ranking stuff in sets of 10 seems normal and natural for us now, but that’s because we have thousands of years of conditioning that all started with the very first list of Stuff, Ranked–the 10 Commandments. Since Moses went up the mountain, mankind has continually ranked things in sets of 10 (though most of these rankings are non-authoritative and therefore wrong). But you probably didn’t even know that the 10 Commandments were actually the result of a negotiation between God and Moses; God wanted to give more commandments; Moses didn’t want to carve too much stuff in rocks. That’s right, folks–the 10 Commandments are just a compromise of divine counsel and human laziness. Had Moses not been so adamant, we would have had a much longer list of commandments, and the history of ranking stuff would have been fundamentally different. Steve and I aren’t sure exactly how many commandments were in the original draft, but we know it was at least 21. We also don’t know whether revealing these missing commandments causes them to be binding on all mankind for the rest of eternity.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

People in the Book of Mormon, Ranked

You know what is a pretty good book of scripture? The Book of Mormon. It has some great gospel teachings in it. You know what else it has in it? People–lots of them! Some people in the Book of Mormon are really important, and some people are sort of forgettable. You’ve probably wondered who is the most important, and Steve and I sought revelation on this very matter.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Codes, Ranked

After the snot-nosedness from some of the commenters last week–suggesting that The Process is somehow non-revelatory in nature–Steve and I decided that you’ll no longer be treated with clear insights into how stuff gets Ranked. Anyway, all of the talk recently about Honor Codes led us to seek inspiration on the true ranking of Codes.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Councils, Ranked

We’re going to give you a peek into The Process today: How stuff gets ranked. I’m going to lift the veil of secrecy and show the names of who lists what, and how we hash out our differences, with time stamps and everything. You won’t be disappointed.

As always, these rankings are authoritative. [Read more…]

Things About Candy That Make Me Mad, Ranked

It’s been a long time since we ranked stuff! I apologize for that! With our ranking muscles kind of flabby, Steve and I had a pretty hard time ranking stuff today. Here are some of our failed efforts before we finally found our stride today:

  • Things That I’m Stressed About, Ranked

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Stuff I’d Buy If I Won The Lottery, Ranked

Because we know you’re all playing the LotteryBall tonight, Steve and I thought we’d put together a short list of what we plan to buy when we win tonight.

As always, these rankings are authoritative.
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Are Mormons Anti-Modernists?

As the Ammon Bundy headlines continue to dominate the news cycle, many have been wondering whether these views are inherently Mormon as the Bundy clan claims or if Mormonism encourages these types of attitudes.  While this episode has a libertarian theme, which may or may not relate to the question of anti-modernism, I wanted to revisit a post I wrote in 2013 about the anti-modernist streak that seems to be emerging in various faith traditions, including Mormonism.

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How Many Days It Will Take Until It Feels Okay To Crack A Joke Again, Ranked

As always, these rankings are authoritative.
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Once I Was a Beehive in Chicago

beehiveGod’s Army came out my senior year at BYU. And it was a revelation. Fifteen years later, I can still remember the impact of seeing a movie, an actual real live movie, about my people, about my experiences. One that took those experiences seriously.

At the time, I was studying English, with a focus on creative writing. And I was thinking seriously—or, at least, as seriously as I could—about Mormon art. I mean, there was plenty of kitsch, plenty of inspiring-but-not-artistic stuff out there. But Richard Dutcher created a Mormon movie without the kitsch, something quality.[fn1]

After I graduated, though, and moved away from Utah, Mormon filmmaking had almost zero impact on me. Some Mormon cinema was great—I have New York Doll sitting in my DVD collection. Some of it wasn’t. Most of it I never saw, because it never came to New York or Chicago, where I lived. So I was excited to hear that Once I Was a Beehive was going to make its Chicago debut on Friday, October 30.  [Read more…]

I Have A Question: Can You Break Commandments in the Holodeck?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!

Your questions have been burning a hole in our inbox. We must answer.

If I’m walking across the BYU campus in the morning when the national anthem plays over the speakers, do I really have to stop walking and put my hand over my heart?

[Read more…]

Authenticity: Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?

It’s a common claim among participants of Mormon internet groups that people feel they cannot be themselves at church or can’t say what they think for fear of being ostracized.  They feel they are discouraged from being honest or authentic, that they would be rejected if they disagreed with the party line or articulated a non-conforming viewpoint.  Certainly many examples have been given of individuals who were viewed suspiciously for sharing unpopular opinions openly.  These are complaints that they feel they must be inauthentic to be accepted. [Read more…]

Police Beat Roundtable XXVII

To protect or whatever

The 27th installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Steve Evans: We’re back! And I need to warn you guys that I’m going to be interspersing some lyrics from #Hamiltunes

GST: I don’t know what that is.

Steve: KEN DOES! All right. Let’s get this Spruce Goose off the ground. I call Police Beat my Spruce Goose because I collect my urine in empty milk bottles, just like Howard Hughes. Just FYI.

Ken Jennings: show me all the blueprints
show me ALL the blueprints
show me all the BLUEprints

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I Have a Question: Will Lame Talk Intros Ever End?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!  We can’t do this column without you.  Actually, I guess we could.

You can drop three hymns from the hymnbook, and you can add three hymns in their place. Which do you drop/add and why?

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I Have a Question: How do you get banned from speaking in Sacrament meeting?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!

What would someone have to say during a talk or testimony to get escorted off the stand and not allowed to speak again? I’m not talking blatantly speaking against the church or preaching false doctrine, but here are some hypotheticals: Talking too candidly about their own transgressions; outing another ward member on a serious transgression; direct MLM pitch over the pulpit; threatening to physically harm President Obama (I wonder if this one has occurred and gone unchecked); quoting an R-rated movie … with the attendant R-rated language.

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On Internet Rumors

These last couple days, there’s been a thing going around on Facebook. Maybe you’ve seen it. Some anonymous poster’s friend’s relative is high-up in the Boy Scouts and has the inside scoop on why the BSA allowed gay leaders, knows that the church is going to leave BSA, and knows that it’s going to be over gay issues, not in the interest of gender fairness.

And with that description, you know it’s not true, right? Like, it’s as credible as those email forwards your uncle sends every election cycle (frankly, whether your uncle is liberal or conservative, because what really matters is, your uncle’s crazy, amirite?).

And yet, people are credulously sharing and believing it. So, as a public service, and in the interest of not getting email forwards or seeing these kinds of things on Facebook, a quick review of how to evaluate the plausibility of internet rumors:  [Read more…]

Church-Hacker #18: Stick to the Manual (Margins)

After a four-year hiatus, it’s time to reboot the Church-Hacker series. For those of you who weren’t here four years ago, everyone’s input is welcome, and this series is simple: We post ideas that you can try in your ward or calling to make the meeting block more spiritual or more engaging.

Routine can become rut, and after a lifetime of sameness, even very small changes to The Way Things Are Done can make people sit up, put their phones away, and pay more attention in lessons and meetings. Church-Hacker hunts for those small ideas that can have an outsize impact.

And now for this week’s idea:

[Read more…]