The Lioness guarding the gates... Fri, 04 Jan 2013 06:16:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Of Hobbits, the Zeitgeist and Les Miserables Fri, 04 Jan 2013 05:27:41 +0000 The Lioness Post image for Of Hobbits, the Zeitgeist and Les Miserables

What an insidious thing is this culture amidst which we live. It permeates our environment, and we think we are being reasonable and logical when, all too often, we have been molded by the ethos, what the Germans call the zeitgeist, or the culture of our place and time…People in every culture move within a cocoon of self-satisfied self-deception, fully convinced that the way they see things is the way things really are. –David R. Stone

Before we begin, let me please be absolutely clear that when I am writing regarding these cultural trends, I am condemning the evil, not the people who choose to partake in it.  I am not judging you.  I am not judging any person personally.  I am judging that something is dangerous, and if I sound irritated or snarky, it’s because I don’t like it when a power tries to take advantage of me or my family or trick me into thinking something evil is good.

Please let it be noted: I am not judging anyone who likes, sees, or sings these movies.  In fact, some of them are my greatly esteemed friends.  I still love them.  I still learn from them.  I do not think I am better than them.  This has nothing to do with them or you personally.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I will now embark on a rather unexpected journey…a foray into the zeitgeist which allows many who normally have good sense to let it fly out the window in an attempt to appreciate art and/or the “depth of the human experience.”

It’s funny how I felt like I needed to preface this post by putting some sort of warning for “adult content” or something when I am just describing movies that most Mormons find absolutely wonderful—some even going so far as to say they are pretty sure some of the prophets and apostles will probably or would probably see them.


I am not going to see The Hobbit. I am not going to see Les Miserables.

And it’s not because I am some sort of Mormon Extremist living in the mountains with a shotgun and wearing a jumper and my waist length gray hair up in a tight bun.

And it’s not because I am some art hater or whatever.

Mostly, it’s because I steer very far and clear of the zeitgeist. And if this bizarre phenomena of having people literally defend these movies (especially Les Mis), with a near religious zeal isn’t smack dab shrieking of zeitgeist, I don’t know what would be.

First, and somewhat paling in significance to Les Mis, The Hobbit. Yes, I love the Hobbit in its book form. I have read it multiple times. Will I see the movie? No. Will my kids? Not unless they feel like going against their own belief system (which they do not).

Violence is a part of human nature, and has been part of the history of the world since Cain slew Abel. However, our family understands that having a sensory experience at the theatre with violence is not necessary to our happiness, joy, entertainment, or well-being. In fact, it is often the opposite.

I understand (from my son who is an avid historian), that with full armor fighting, sometimes the most painless way to kill someone would be to behead them, but I don’t have to see it in 3D. You know what, I don’t have to see it at all.

In fact, I think it is safe to say that if no one in the world ever saw a film or stage producer’s portrayal of a beheading, it would be okay. We could still understand and imagine how horrific it would be.

Really, are we that devoid of empathy that we need to have everything played out for us in its fullest gore?

The Hobbit is a story with a lot of Christian allegory. It’s a story that is good. It is literature that is inspiring. Why not see the movie? Especially when it stuck so closely to the book?

What an accomplished man Peter Jackson is. He was able to stick to the book very closely, and yet, his focus on violence subtly changed the meaning of the story—and without realizing it, we have fallen for it completely. And Tolkien’s beautiful messages ring less true, less deeply, because we are looking through Peter Jackson’s eye on the violent…oh, and yes, there is the friendship and admiration for “the simple things,”  but colored red, because we have exposed ourselves willingly to gratuitous violence for the sake of the story we remember from reading the book.

Unfortunately, many of our children have not read the book, and even if they read it after seeing the movie, their mind’s eye will probably take on the focus that Peter Jackson’s did, with the violent scenes replayed in all their glory.

Why do we allow it?  We allow  it because we give into our desire for a pleasurable experience—the desire to see a story come to life without any work on our part. Yes, we can just sit back and be transported to Middle Earth without even having to read or exercise our brains…

Noah Berlatasky said it better than I did:

At the end of Rings, it is ultimately Gollum who, inadvertently, destroys the ring and saves Middle Earth. Mercy is ultimately salvation, and Bilbo’s decision not to use violence is at the heart of the quasi-Christian moral order of Tolkien’s world… [but] the rest of his film undercuts it—and, indeed, almost parodies it.

The scene where Bilbo spares Gollum in the movie comes immediately after an extended, jovially bloody battle between dwarves and goblins, larded with visual jokes involving decapitation, disembowelment, and baddies crushed by rolling rocks. The sequence is more like a body-count video game than like anything in the sedate novel, where battles are confused and brief and frightening, rather than exuberant eye-candy ballet.

Incidentally, it took me some years to come to this conclusion, because, to be honest, I loved the movies. I loved seeing everything “in real life,” I guess.

Which brings me to the latest foray into the zeitgeist of our day—and wow!–it’s a doozy. Yes, the musical now Hollywood movie, “Les Miserables.”

The book (which, sadly, almost no one has actually read all the way through), is beautiful. I have read it more than once. I actually have a few antique editions of the book.

In the book (which, I remind you, I have actually read), a great many chapters are spent on the good bishop. In fact, these chapters are very dear to me, and have taught me much about how to live a Christ-like life, and how to let go of selfishness and to rely on God for all things, as all things are His.

The musical adaptation has very little to say about the bishop. Maybe it just didn’t translate well on stage.  Maybe no one thought it was exciting enough for the big screen.

I don’t need to see the movie to know I don’t want to see it. It’s just part of the zeitgeist. It’s something everyone feels like they have to do. They act almost as if they have no choice but to see this movie.

The sexuality is overt. The focus on the human body is all over the place in the movie (particularly cleavage).

Do we need to see Fantine having sex as a prostitute to understand it? Do we have to actually watch her face as she is having sex (and hear what is going on), in order to understand her plight?

Are we that dull that we don’t “get” that prostitution is devastating without having to see it play out in all it’s titillating tragedy? What kind of voyeuristic society do we live in that this is being hailed as “completely necessary” to the movie by Latter-day Saints (along with the rest of the world)?

Here is a newsflash for Mormons who are under the impression that because you don’t see anything (anything, meaning, I suppose, actual sexual organs and/or breasts), that it’s “tastefully done” or “okay”:  that is simply you rationalizing. It’s not true.

For those of you who have seen the movie, you know exactly which scenes were not okay. Yeah, those are the ones that people say, “didn’t really fit,” “weren’t really necessary,” “were only a few seconds,” etcetera, as they justify watching the rest of the movie because it had Christian themes.  Yes, let’s see Santa Claus having sex with a prostitute on Christmas Day in order to “be moved” by the story.


We are such idiots. How do we keep falling for this kind of garbage?

And consider who we are watching–the character of those playing the characters.  Amanda Seyfried, the actress who portrays Cosette (and later this year will portray a pornographic star in a mainstream Hollywood movie–and to prepare for the part, she watched pornographic films…), said quite a bit in this excerpt from an interview with Vanity Fair:

Despite all the poverty and pornography, it sounds as though she managed to keep herself amused on both shoots. In Les Mis she plays the adopted daughter of Hugh Jackman…

She says he has a wildly inappropriate sense of humour, which she shares. Together they invented alternative story lines that transformed their characters’ tender relationship into something altogether less innocent…“We sexualized everything as much as we could. It was really funny, the moments we could find . . . It’s like every movie has another version, another satirical version of itself.”

So, that’s nice.  Good to know that Jean Valjean is being portrayed by someone who probably has little to no understanding of morality.  Or holiness.  Compare that to what Alfie Boe says about “Bring Him Home”:

It’s a song that has turned my life around,” Boe said. “I’m only one of many people who sing that song, and it’s not the singer, it’s the song, basically. I believe that music speaks for itself; the words speak for themselves.”

He noted that in the stage show, the song’s title is not “Bring Him Home,” but “The Prayer.”

“So if you have that in mind, that you’re actually saying a prayer instead of singing a song; it comes across really well, and that’s the beauty of it, really.”

Asked about the standing ovation after his performance of the song, he said he at first didn’t notice that the people were on their feet and he didn’t hear the applause.

“It’s one of those songs that I lose myself in, because it’s so emotional for me. By the end of the song, I’m in my own world; I’m still sort of praying those words, still saying, ‘Bring him home,’ even after that last note is finished.”

At least Mr. Boe understands that it is a prayer and attempts to conduct himself as such when he is performing it.

I wanted to be able to see the movie, you know. The costumes look superb. The scenery is incredible. The filming amazing. Hugh Jackman is handsome. But, really? Reading the following descriptions of the movie’s scenes makes me wonder just how absolutely sucked into the zeitgeist we as a people are:

  • The song “Lovely Ladies” consists of sexual lyrics.  We see about twenty or so prostitutes dancing provocatively, shaking their backsides and torsos (clothed) and cupping their breasts, showing a lot of cleavage. The scene is very threatening in addition to being overtly sexual. The theme of poor women selling sex is strong throughout the movie. [This is not the main theme of the book, however. Far from it.]
  • Fantine eventually sells herself as a prostitute, and there is a brief scene of her and a male customer having sex. We see Fantine from the front, her dress slowly being pulled off (we only see her shoulders) and then see the man atop her, moving sexually as she cries. No nudity. The actual sexual activity is brief.
  • In the song “Master of the House”, we briefly see a female prostitute atop a man dressed as Santa Claus, thrusting forward and flirting as a man below the bed steals the man’s money. The scene is once again only about 2 seconds long. The couple is completely clothed.
  • A man touches a woman’s clothed breast. A man caresses a woman’s leg. A man lifts up a woman’s skirt using his cane and touches her clothed breasts
  • Several women are shown standing and making invitations to men as they pass (it is implied that the women are prostitutes).
  • A young boy is shot at and then shot twice and he falls back dead (a man rushes to retrieve the boy’s body and we see the boy lying dead with his eyes open). A man jumps off a bridge and lands on a cement wall in swirling water below, killing himself; we see his body wash away with the flowing water.
  • A man urinates into a man’s drinking mug and passes it back to him (we see the stream). A cat’s tail is chopped off (we see the butcher knife come down and the tail separates) and a rat is cut in half (we see blood and gore) and both are thrown into a meat grinder by a man and a woman; they also dump various other objects, including a fake leg, and we see ground meat extruding. A man spits on another man. A young woman spits on a man’s face and he slaps her in the face. We see women mopping up blood left on a street after a battle. A man and a woman are shown being carried out of a party by guards and placed on the street

And this is what some people are saying some of the apostles and perhaps even the prophet might even go to see. Really?  Let me ask you, if it wasn’t Les Mis, and you just read the descriptions above, would you go see it?  Would you take your eleven, fourteen and sixteen year olds to see it?

As far as the violence goes, with what happened in Connecticut, I don’t know how anyone could conceivably justify paying to view a child be shot in cold blood…I don’t understand it. Out of respect to those who have actually lost children recently in this manner, I just don’t get how we can casually say, “well, they do shoot the child and we see it all, but it’s done tastefully, or it doesn’t last for very long, etcetera”.


We don’t. That is what the Spirit is for. The Spirit can actually teach us to understand the true depths of human agony and deprivation—without us ever having to watch it or read it in detail.

And may I remind the reader that fictional portrayals are actually not reality.  They are not the true depths of human agony–only someone’s idea of them.

And that’s the problem with the whole thing. Everything seems so real and everyone is trying to be so “authentic” and then we can’t even tell what is real and what is pretend anymore—because that is what Hollywood is aiming for—a completely pleasurable, sensory experience that feels real but is only someone’s idea of what is real.

For those who simply have to see Les Mis—ask yourself why. In the end, it’s for pleasure. It’s to satisfy a desire to see “in real life” what before you could only imagine.

Oh, some may argue that it will bring people closer to Christ, etcetera. Well, it may. It may cause some to think, “Hey, maybe Christ can save me,” but guess what? If we already know Him, then it won’t help us, because, deep down, the parts of our soul that have been bought by Christ are reeling and shrieking in abhorrence to this.  And we are willingly paying to watch filth and then trying to pass it off as ‘inspirational.’

It could only be inspirational to those who are almost completely unaware of Christ and what He stands for.

Hugo’s novel spoke of the God of Israel, but Hooper’s film speaks of a god “whose image is in the likeness of the world.”

I guess the difference between the classic literature and the movie adaptation will almost always be that the authors knew that some things are best left unwritten and that some of the greatest experiences come from the reader taking the leap to ask a question in their heart and understand the meaning through a universal means–the influence of the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Ghost…while most of today’s filmmakers will always believe that it is their responsibility to leave NOTHING to the imagination and most likely assume that the audience will be completely devoid of anything resembling independent thought for the duration of the movie.

The arguments for these movies are myriad, and I am not going to address them here. If you want to state any of the following, please do so elsewhere, as I feel these arguments are not actually worth arguing over, seeing as how I believe, personally, that they are baseless and, sometimes, verge on ridiculous:

  1. If the Book of Mormon were a movie, it would be even worse…
  2. The Bible has stuff like this in it, too
  3. It’s not that bad because it was tastefully done and is only a few seconds long…
  4. In order to understand the depth of the human experience, we needed to see Fantine having sex
  5. The Santa scene was uncomfortable, but it was only a second.
  6. We needed to see how bad the Thenardiers were to understand the story.
  7. It was artistic…


David R. Stone said:

Seduced by our culture, we often hardly recognize our idolatry, as our strings are pulled by that which is popular in the Babylonian world. Indeed, as the poet Wordsworth said: “The world is too much with us” … In his first epistle, John writes:

“I have written unto you … because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 Jn. 2:14–15).

We do not need to adopt the standards, the mores, and the morals of Babylon. We can create Zion in the midst of Babylon. We can have our own standards for music and literature and dance and film and language…We can live in accordance with the Lord’s moral laws.

And, I may add, we may be inspired, moved, come closer to Christ, and change our lives without the influence of the film version of Les Miserables.

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Reformation Day Giveaway Winner Fri, 16 Nov 2012 00:01:30 +0000 The Lioness Post image for Reformation Day Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Happy, Crazy Life–winner of the Reformation Day Giveaway!

Please email me at guardingthegates @ gmail dot com with your email address, which CD you would like, and if you would like it via Amazon or iTunes!

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More Reasons To Just Skip Halloween “Fun” Fri, 19 Oct 2012 03:56:57 +0000 The Lioness Post image for More Reasons To Just Skip Halloween “Fun”

A toddler made up as Cruella DeVille?  Is this supposed to be cute?  She looks more like Lady Gaga, which is also another popular costume again this year.

Humor is a wonderful thing.

Most great men and women have it in abundance.

I have laughed during General Conference, and delighted as my children have developed clever, witty humor to cope with the stresses of life.  How they define what is “funny” says a lot about who they are.

And, what a culture thinks is “funny” say a lot about what it is.

In the current holiday culture of Halloween, this costume is being hailed as “funny” and “hilarious” and “clever.”  By women.  What it actually is is disgusting.

(But, again, with Stephenie Meyer’s last installment of Twilight with the vampire baby being ripped out of Bella’s uterus by her husband’s teeth–well, I can see why women would be desensitized.)

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Do you want your kids to see this?  Do you want to see this?

Do you realize that people spent $2 billion dollars on Halloween costumes last year?  What a monumental waste, especially if it was wasted on stuff like this.

Here are some other popular costumes for this year.  Some of which may even by “funnier” than the above:

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And for the little girls in our lives (and at church), this is another hot item again for several years running.  Based on the popular dolls:

Monster High Doll


Monster High Costumes

I would highly recommend reading this four part series from my friend and fellow lioness, Happy Crazy Life.  Her road from saying no to this holiday and turning toward the Reformation is beautifully written.  Also, I love what she says about costumes.  I agree completely.



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Reformation Day Celebration and Giveaway! Mon, 08 Oct 2012 02:42:49 +0000 The Lioness Post image for Reformation Day Celebration and Giveaway!

What did they know about the importance of scriptures that we also need to know? What did people in 16th-century England, who paid enormous sums and ran grave personal risks for access to a Bible, understand that we should also understand? –Elder D. Todd Christofferson

I recently posted about an alternative to Halloween–a Reformation Day Celebration.  We first started this tradition a few years ago when our family decided together to stop celebrating Halloween.

A recent perusal online found many non-LDS families celebrating the Reformation as a countercultural fight against the mischief (and, after researching how much money is spent on costumes and candy, I will add–gluttony) of this holiday.

I did find a few LDS resources, the star of which was Chocolate On My Cranium’s  inspired post in October 0f 2011 at Latter-day Homeschooling with amazing  LDS based resources and ideas.

Once again, she has blinded me with her brilliance and given us all inspiration on what we could do. (Yay for Chocolate!)

I did not, however, find much more than that.  I wondered if we, as lionesses at the gates of our homes, could do more to help promote this effort within our own families and communities.

Are any of you up for the challenge?

Hopefully, you are.  And if you aren’t, but can be bribed, I’m doing a giveaway.

I would like to see some posts from my fellow lionesses regarding ideas for an LDS Influenced Reformation Day Celebration.  I have links on my Pinterest board (shown below the blog hop/linky list), to help you get some good ideas flowing.  Just write a post with some ideas, and then link them here by filling out the form for the “blog hop.”   Once you have your link entered, you will also be entered to win one of the following (you choose the one you like):

Christmas Cello, Stephen Sharp Nelson (now of the Piano Guys)


New Life, Paul Cardall


The Lamb of God, Rob Gardner

The randomly chosen winner will have this lovely music delivered electronically via email from or iTunes.

Let’s show the Titus 2 Women that we have something in common in our efforts to counter the culture of Halloween and mischief with light and truth.

Oh, and just a clarification: you do NOT have to feel obligated to link back to this website! I am just doing this because I want people to have some ideas–not to get more “bloggy traffic.” You all pretty much know I don’t really care about that. I am including a post from my other blog to get things rolling, but obviously, I am not going to be in the giveaway!

Some Inspiration:

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Guarding Against A “Zombie Apocalypse” Fri, 05 Oct 2012 13:15:50 +0000 The Lioness Post image for Guarding Against A “Zombie Apocalypse”

A Note To Readers: Current photographs of the zombie trend are included in this article, and are, in my opinion, graphically violent.  They are only visible if you are logged in and registered.  I do believe it is important to see a representative of what is out there in our popular culture, as I doubt you would believe it unless you actually saw it.

If you are reading this article with the expectation that I am taking my cue from the CDC, which recently used government resources to release a tongue-in-cheek novella about how to survive a zombie pandemic in an effort to make emergency preparedness more “fun”–

CDC has a fun way of teaching about emergency preparedness. Our new graphic novel, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic” demonstrates the importance of being prepared in an entertaining way that people of all ages will enjoy. Readers follow Todd, Julie, and their dog Max as a strange new disease begins spreading, turning ordinary people into zombies.

–you may want to quit reading.  As a matter of fact, I not only wish to take the CDC to task for what is, in the very least, poor taste, I want to tackle the whole issue as a major threat to families in our society.

“Oh, come on, Lioness.  It’s just all in good fun.  Lighten up a little.  Give us a break.  At least it’s violence against a monster and not a real person.”

Really?  Because last time I checked, zombies were, according to accepted cultural definitions, reanimated human corpses.  Which is one of the things I find threatening about this “fun” trend that hopefully reached it’s peak at the end of last year, but has now become entrenched in pop culture indefinitely.

Honestly, when my son came home from Sunday School telling me how his teacher had made references to zombies at the tree of life, I thought that it was definitely misguided, but that he was probably just trying to garner “friends points” with the class and raise his “coolness factor.”  I had heard enough funny references to zombies to have it start flashing on my radar, but I didn’t think much about it.  I remembered zombie from old movies and didn’t think they would appeal to my kids at all.

Boy, was I out of the loop.

This is something that we need to be guarding against and we need to understand it for what it is–a threat to the family.  Within the reaches of this “tongue-in-cheek” fad are potently dangerous mixtures of sex and violence, a mockery of the plan of salvation, and desensitization, as it is all played off as nothing really significant because it’s “all in good fun.”

Even by the Centers for Disease Control.

So, when my son came home telling me about how his Sunday School teacher was playing the zombie card for laughs, explaining how the zombies would attack the tree of life in Lehi’s dream, etcetera, I should have been a lot more concerned.  When my bloggy friend and fellow lioness, Shaylee Ann, reported that her congregation was going to participate in a Church sponsored activity where the main even was a “Zombies versus Humans” attack reenactment, I realized that I was behind and needed to figure this thing out.

First, what are we up against here?  Why is this fad so well entrenched into our current popular culture to the point that some children and young adults actually believe that there may in reality be a zombie apocalypse in our future?  (And, no, I’m not exaggerating here.)

The answer is that at this point in our society, children have virtual reality, free time, and negligent adults in their lives who are too consumed with their own problems to care what their children are doing, or hardened to the point that they fully approve and participate in the entertainment right along with them.

Zombies in Books

Pride and Prejudice…and Zombies

A few years ago, I remember reading something that I thought was a joke.  Someone had reworked Pride and Prejudice into a zombie story.  But, no, it was true.  Not only was it true, but in April, 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, with Jane Austen listed as one of the authors…because it was a parody, in which Charlotte Lucas is beheaded by Lady Catherine because she is a zombie…for those who haven’t read the book, a movie is slated for release in 2013.

Zombies in Mainstream Movies and Television

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From 2004′s “Dawn of the Dead,” to “28 Days Later”, there are several movies who seriously approached the zombie theme.  Some of the most dangerous movies, though, were the ones with comedic elements, like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland”, precisely because they appear to be “all in good fun,” so we can just ignore the gore, right?  From a parental review of “Shaun of the Dead”:

It balances laugh-out-loud funny scenes (such as when Shaun is so self-absorbed he doesn’t see the zombies wandering around his neighborhood and then misses the news warnings because he is channel-surfing) with some intense, suspenseful, and yes, very gory and bloody scenes (for example, the zombies attack a man and pull various bloody organs out of his stomach).

I have written before how parody can do a wonderful job of desensitizing us because we somehow think if it’s for laughs, then it’s not to be taken seriously.  How very ignorant we are when we allow parody to corrupt us.

Zombies are on television, too.  AMC’s original series “The Walking Dead” broke ratings records and is back for another season this year.  Not to miss out on the action, America’s Next Top Model will include a zombie photo shoot this season, a mixture of sex and violence that is truly sickening.

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Zombies in Video Gaming

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By far the most chilling aspect of pop culture’s fascination with zombies, video gaming has taken the violence to a whole new level, often combining it with scantily clad zombies (who, for some illogical reason, while bereft of most of their flesh, seem to have ample bosoms), or worse.  Most of the guys at our ward in Utah played the iPhone app version of Call of Duty: Nazi Zombies, which is gross, but tame compared to full-fledged gaming systems offerings.

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In September of 2011, Techland released the video game, Dead Island.  From the screenshots and brief view of the trailer, this is some graphic, graphic violence.  Ironically, the game was released with some controversy, because a coder had hidden the word “feminist” along with a derogatory slur for a woman in the game, and many people were offended because of it.  Wow.  You can kill women in violent ways because they are zombies and no one is offended, but there was controversy over name calling?  What?

Resident Evil recently offered Operation Raccoon City, in which a team fights against zombies and other enemies.  I was absolutely horrified by the realism portrayed in these games.  But, it’s zombies, so it’s not as bad, right?

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Of course, those were rated for “M” audiences.  They wouldn’t possible make zombie games for little children, right? Wrong. Ehow lists some zombie games geared toward kids, like “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” and “Zombie Apocalypse.”

Zombies At Church and in the Community

A Girl Gets Airbrushed For The Community Zombie Walk–All For A Good Cause

Another popular activity these days is to stage zombie walks, or zombie attacks.  Many of these activities and events are sponsored by local governments, community programs, and some, sadly, are even sponsored by the church youth programs.  What is scary is how wildly popular they have become, for example:

…this fall the city of Fort Myers will hold its sixth annual “ZombieCon” art and music festival to benefit the Harry Chapin Food Bank and the Lee Memorial Blood Center, an event which drew 20,000 people in 2011.

So, What’s The Problem?

The most obvious problem is that the idea of zombies is anti-Christ.  Sound a little harsh?  Well, that’s too bad.  It is so anti-Christ, that I am constantly amazed at the Mormon culture’s attraction to this pornographically violent trend.

The notion that humans can be, in some sense, resurrected, without Christ and without agency sounds eerily Satanic to me on a very real level.  Not the caricature of a Christian woman calling everything even remotely popular “Satanic.”  No, this is the real deal.  It’s so absolutely clear who is the author of this idea.

Zombies, are, by their nature, a desecration of the temple of God.  If the body is a temple, then this certainly qualifies as the desecration of one.  What makes matters worse, is that the modern day depictions of zombies allows for only a few ways to permanently kill them–and they involve further mutilation and desecration of the body.

That is not funny.  Having experienced the death of a loved one in real life, my family is extremely sensitive to the holy nature of the physical body and what a true, true gift it is.  We also understand how literal God is when he stated through His servant, “Know ye not that ye are a temple of God?”

It is not something to be taken lightly, nor is this kind of trend something with which we should ever feel remotely comfortable.

The act of killing zombies creates a desensitization in the viewer or participant in a game.  The zombies are humans, often friends or family members.  This is a great way to destroy not only the sacredness of life, but the sacredness of the family unit.  And, it is all justified because the person we knew is no longer fully human, but a “zombie” bereft of agency and acting totally on animalistic, sadistic behavior.

It is interesting to note why a game developer thought zombie games were on the rise:

Zombies, on the other hand, seem more believable – there’s only one cause and one outcome, it makes things simple. And with all the rumors of genetic testing, voodoo zombies, rabies mutating and so on, an actual sizeable part of the population bizarrely believe zombies are an actual realistic threat.

And, of course, now zombies are popular, the fanbase is snowballing with people latching onto popular mainstream shows like The Walking Dead. It’s going to continue to get more popular for a while as more of these shows and products release… right up until Stephenie Meyer releases Twilight of the Dead with glittery zombies and we all get put off.

And, it’s true.  There are many young adults out there who actually believe that a zombie apocalypse is possible in reality.  And, perhaps it is, in a way.

The recent increasing number of zombie like violent acts perpetrated by human beings against other human beings in real life is horrific and vomit inducing.  There was a brief article here (caution: this references some very disturbing news articles), referencing these kinds of behaviors which are absolutely horrific.  How in the world could a modern society, capable of so much technological advance, so much good and so much potential, be even remotely involved in cannibalistic behaviors?

Could it be that life is, maybe even a little,  imitating so-called “art” in this case?  While most people blame illegal drugs  as the culprit, my mother’s intuition tells me something different.  While drugs have a powerful effect on people, are they capable of planting an idea in a person’s mind?  I don’t think so.  I think the idea has to come from somewhere in that person’s experience…Perhaps not.  But, in any case, the power evil spirits (which are real) have when we invite them so nonchalantly into our lives through the “zombie apocalypse” fad is very real.  I wonder how many of these people have played one of these video games, or seen an episode of The Walking Dead.

How many of our children have?  How many children at church have?

The power of this evil can be thwarted by simply giving this cultural trend no room in our hearts or homes or stake centers or ward buildings or government websites,  even jokingly.  If we reject it, good will triumph.  We have been assured that Christ will come again, and there will be, instead of a post-apocalyptic nightmarish world that Satan wants us to believe is coming, instead–one thousand years of peace in which Satan is bound.

We may want to have a talk with our kids about zombies and now is the perfect time, as the popular trend is never more so than during Halloween.  We need our children to understand that it is not something to be taken lightly.

Because it is no joke.

Mormon compiled what he did in the Book of Mormon for a reason.  Admittedly, in the past, I have at times wondered why he would include so much of the depraved violence that took place near the end.  I mistakenly believed that a modern society could not possibly become anywhere near that depraved. Now, I do not wonder.  I have no question in my mind that we, as a culture, are worse.

It is interesting to note that Genesis chapter six does not refer to pornography or sexual perversions (although I am sure they were rampant) as the primary catalyst to the Great Flood.  Instead, it states:

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence…And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them…

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What Do You Know About October 31st? Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:01:07 +0000 The Lioness

What do you know about October the 31st? Here is an infographic explaining the origins of Halloween:

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Of Mischief, Gluttony and Idolatry Mon, 01 Oct 2012 04:03:51 +0000 The Lioness Post image for Of Mischief, Gluttony and Idolatry

We live like kings and all too often act like tyrants, ignoring the poor and the hungry, the orphan and the widow, and our ingratitude pierces kind heaven and causes the angels to weep….and sometimes it happens most on holidays.

Yes, the holidays are upon us.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the three holidays be known as they should be–instead of Mischief, Gluttony, and Idolatry, we could refer to them as Reformation, Gratitude, and Rebirth (Through Christ)?

The good news is–we can, in the spirit of the reformers of old–change the way we celebrate the waning of the year and replace the mischief, gluttony and idolatry that now accompany Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with something of eternal significance.

You may wonder how that could be possible, especially when it is sometimes agonizingly difficult to say no to luxury and overindulgence, especially when all of those things are intricately connected to esteem, value, family and expressions of love.

But, it can be done.

When we decided to break free of the zeitgeist of the decadent society in which we live, and, consequently, some wicked traditions of our fathers (yes, Mormon culture, I am looking at you), it was painful.

We not only had to discern what it was we needed to give up, but what it was we needed to do instead–both equally challenging propositions in the midst of outright persecution and sometimes unavoidable hurt feelings of family members.

It helps to examine the reason for holidays.  The Old Testament Institute Manual gives a good summary of the purpose of holidays:

Almost universally mankind looks forward to its holidays, for they represent a break in the usual rigors of sustaining mortal existence. The Lord Himself has acknowledged their benefit from the earliest times. Knowing that an endless procession of days filled with toil can cause man to become hardened and insensitive to the things of the Spirit, the Lord instituted holidays. The word is important. It means “holy day,” that is, “a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event” ( Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v., “holiday”). Rather than simply designating special days only to break the routine, however, in the Mosaic dispensation the Lord established holy days that would accomplish a spiritual purpose as well. The feasts and festivals were given by revelation to lift the spirit as well as rest the body. Like all other parts of the Mosaic law, the feasts and festivals also pointed to Christ.

Because of the knowledge we have through the restored gospel, Latter-day Saints know that the holy days and feasts instituted under the Mosaic Law have been fulfilled through the death and resurrection of the Savior (with the exception of the Feast of Tabernacles, which will be reinstituted during the Millenium).  However, I found a particular joy in studying the meaning of the holy days and feasts instituted by Jehovah.  It gave me an idea of what a “holy day” is supposed to look like.

With regard to holidays being a break from the routine of work and toil, I look at the current list of official American holidays (most months have two), and the reality that the rising generation who have jobs these days just don’t work as hard and need “mini-holidays” or “perks” at work just to get through a week (see the video clip from  60 Minutes: The Millenials Are Coming), I felt that perhaps it was time to cut back on celebrating.

I have several friends who love to decorate and do fun crafts and treats for every holiday–from Valentine’s Day to Columbus Day to Christmas, it seemed like they are always putting things up and taking things down and there are always the endless baked goods and parties!

Personally, I don’t think our rising generation works hard enough–we certainly don’t need to take a break every few weeks to bake cookies in order to save ourselves from the “rigors” of all the work we aren’t doing.  It seems that near the fall of Rome, the people did more celebrating than working, and I felt like we were heading in that general direction.

Over the past few years, it has become increasingly obvious that our society is becoming completely untethered from any type of morality.  Civilized society is no longer civilized, but maintains a thin veneer of niceness, as long as everyone has what he or she wants.  The problem is, we have too much, we indulge too much, and we celebrate too much.  In ancient Rome, the poet Livy wrote:

For it is true that when men had fewer possessions, they were also modest in their desires. Lately riches have brought avarice and abundant pleasures, and the desire to carry luxury and lust to the point of ruin and universal perdition.

We live like kings and all too often act like tyrants, ignoring the poor and the hungry, the orphan and the widow, and our ingratitude pierces kind heaven and causes the angels to weep….and sometimes it happens most on holidays.

The first part of my journey into celebrating the holidays in a way that would be pleasing to Heavenly Father was to cut out the non-essentials.  A quick look at the origin of our current holidays was helpful in making many of my decisions much easier.

Valentine’s Day? Well, originally, young men would go kill a goat and dress in goatskins and whip young girls with thongs.  St. Patrick’s Day, I discovered in my research, is known as the day in which the highest amount of alcohol is consumed in the United States.  It is also one of the busiest days of the year for bars.  These were easy to cut out of my life.

It gets tougher when the holidays involve family and friends.  We don’t want to go into seclusion, but I didn’t want to cling to gluttonous, spiritually devoid traditions, either.

The first difficult holiday to let go of was Halloween.  When I was a little girl, my dad, a military man, would pull out a map in which he had divided the neighborhood into zones.  We had a certain amount of time in each zone, starting with the most generous houses first.  We were literally on marching detail, and we always came home with the most, best candy.  It was fun, and I loved to dress up in a costume–but I knew, as I studied and pondered, I felt that we needed to let it go, even if it meant not being with friends and/or family on that night.

One look at the billboard’s displayed on I-15 in the heart of Utah Valley will make it painfully obvious that this is not a “holy day”.  The violent gore, the scariness (all in good fun, so it’s okay, right?), the costumes that would make a harlot blush….this holiday is, by definition, anti-Christ.  In its celebration of ghosts and the undead, it denies the resurrection and glamorizes Satanic ideas.  Ick.  Here are some things to consider regarding the origin of Halloween:

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1….Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bone-fires (later called bonfires), where the people gathered to burn crops and animals [and humans] as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

During the Festival of Samhain, which lasted most of the winter, human sacrifices were offered to keep the bone-fire burning.

And more on the origin of costumes and trick-or-treat:

Some trace the origins of present day “trick-or-treat” to Samhain, which was the supreme night of demonic jubilation. Spirits of the dead would rise out of their graves and wander the countryside, trying to return to the homes where they formerly lived. Frightened villagers tried to appease these wandering spirits by offering them gifts of fruit and nuts. They began the tradition of placing plates of the finest food and bits of treats that the household had to offer on their doorsteps, as gifts, to appease the hunger of the ghostly wanderers. If not placated, villagers feared that the spirits would kill their flocks or destroy their property.

The problem was… if the souls of dead loved ones could return that night, so could anything else,human or not, nice or not-so-nice. The only thing the superstitious people knew to do to protect themselves on such an occasion was to masquerade as one of the demonic hoard, and hopefully blend in unnoticed among them. Wearing masks and other disguises and blackening the face with soot were originally ways of hiding oneself from the spirits of the dead who might be roaming around. This is the origin of Halloween masquerading as devils, imps, ogres, and other demonic creatures.

What latter-day saint would want to be a part of anti-Christ celebrations? How can you make a clean twist on a night that proclaims the power of Lucifer and denies the Christ?

Halloween was problematic for me.  I really do feel that the devil has a lot of power on that night, as people openly speak of him and celebrate the symbols of his power on earth.  Truly, there are things that go on during this “holiday” that are truly, deeply Satanic.  I wanted to counter that.  But how?

I really wanted to steer clear of trying to “substitute” a cleaner version of Satan’s holiday at home, but it was tempting to do just that–dress up in costumes, play games, have candy–after all, it would be pretty harmless, right?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was me being a perfect example of taking the world’s idea of fun and trying to clean it up a little and call it holy.

That doesn’t work.

The Catholics attempted to Christianize this holiday by making it All Hallow’s Eve (a night to remember the martyrs and saints), and making November 1 “All Saint’s Day.”  This didn’t really seem to take, but Martin Luther chose “All Saint’s Day” as the day to publicly charge the church with abandoning the Christian faith.  Thus, it is also known as “Reformation Day.”

And that’s when it hit me–why not celebrate the Reformation?

October 31st is a wonderful time to reflect on the Reformation and its importance in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.   Making this a night (with perhaps some wholesome treats), to converse or do a play about Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, John Knox,  and others who played a part in the Reformation would be neat.  Songs could be sung, poetry read, or artwork displayed on this night.

How many of our children have a good understanding of these important men?  A quick search on will show that the brethren have studied the lives of these men.  Wouldn’t October 31st be a great night to do this?  Filling our homes with the spirit would also help to counteract the yuck that is in the world on this night. (See Preparing for the Restoration, Ensign 1999).

When family and friends invite us to parties or trunk or treats, or trick or treating, we explain what we do instead, and, if it is appropriate and we feel moved upon by the spirit, we will invite family or friends to come and join us.  Of course, there is a rule in our house that people who come visit actually come to visit, and they can leave their iPods or gaming systems at home, and their cell phones in a basket located in our entry way.  So, most people choose not to join us for our celebration.

The most important thing to remember is to keep it simple.  Sometimes, out of guilt, we try to overcompensate by having too much of everything.  Keep it simple, and allow the spirit to guide you in creating a truly holy day at this beautiful time of year–something your children can remember and treasure, and then celebrate with their own families in an environment filled with peace and goodwill in years to come!  What a beautiful way to welcome the holiday season!

What Do You Know About October 31st Infographic

Planning a Reformation Day Celebration:

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50 Shades Of…Insensibility Sat, 04 Aug 2012 05:10:35 +0000 The Lioness Post image for 50 Shades Of…Insensibility

Man is the only blushing animal and the only one that needs to. –Mark Twain.

A few months ago, I received a few emails from concerned readers about a new book that was/is apparently all the rage in the feminine community titled, “50 Shades of Grey.” My readers begged me to address the topic, but after cursory research, I thought, “Why? It’s so blatantly obvious that this isn’t okay. Who would ever even attempt to justify this as literature, let alone to an LDS woman of faith?”

Sadly, it turns out that there are actually LDS women who have bought into the idea that reading this book will make for healthier sexuality, a better marriage, blah, blah, blah, blah.

First of all, most of you are probably wondering what 50 Shades of Grey is. You’ve hopefully never heard of it. Secondly, many of you who have perhaps heard of it have no idea of its origin. As most of my longtime readers know, I am very fond of the origins of things. It helps me to understand where they are really coming from so much better.

For those of you who would rather not know, that’s okay. Stop reading. I feel that we are going to hear about it sooner or later, and I’d rather have a well-thought out, loving defense ready if I am ever in the situation of discussing this, er, “book”, instead of being blindsided and speechless.

So, first, let me explain what 50 Shades of Grey is and where it came from before I delve into why I believe it is an outright attack on my family and children and why I need to steer clear of it.

50 Shades of Grey is an erotic book with explicit sex scenes–one every four pages, actually. According to most definitions of hard core pornography, this book would fall into that category. As far as I am concerned (and even the author agrees), it certainly has no literary merit. And by hard core pornography, I mean:

One proposed demarcation holds that soft-core porn generally involves a single adult person depicted in various revealing, but non-violent poses. Under this definition, then, hard-core porn would therefore depict sex acts between persons of any age, including bondage…and so on.

As of August 2012, there were 20 million copies sold worldwide, beating Harry Potter and inching closer to beating Hunger Games, which sold 26 million.

So, trust me when I say that the topic will come up at some point. Especially when the movie comes out.

Where did 50 Shades originate? From a genius author who wants to rekindle marriage relationships? From a brilliant literary mind? No. According to many news sources:

The book, which began as fan fiction of the “Twilight” series, has been called “mommy porn” and “Twilight for adults.”

So, 20 million people spent money on Twilight fan-fiction? Ugh. For those of you who don’t know, fan-fiction is just what it sounds like–stories about popular characters from television, movies or books that are written by fans and posted on the internet.

Wow. So 20 million mostly women just paid a former U.K. television executive who went by the name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon,” (E.L. James’ online persona during her fanfic days), and her publishing company $200,000,000.00 to read badly written erotic hard core pornographic fan fiction based on Twilight? (And that doesn’t include books two and three–wow.)

From a news article describing E.L. James:

She is charming, laughing frequently, about the whole, improbable saga, which started with her seeing the first “Twilight” movie in late 2008.

It is kind of depressing to think that one of the most famous Mormon authors will be known as someone who started a trend in mommy pornography.


Feminists, therapists, alternative healers, television show hosts, grandmas, and soccer moms alike are all embracing this book as a “marriage saver” and newsstands in the U.K. are predicting a baby boom of “50 Shades Babies” over the next year (just what I would love to find out–that I was conceived because my mother had been reading hard core pornography and wanted to act it out with my dad).

I sat in amazement reading how some so-called feminists embrace the submissive relationship in “5o Shades” because the main character consented to it by signing a contract. Really? Signing a contract? You’ve got to be kidding me. How romantic.

You know what is sad? The whole concept of “consensual.”

Unfortunately, the term “consensual” has been completely corrupted. For example, in working with victims of sexual abuse, there is the sad argument by the defense that the five, seven, nine, or fourteen year old consented to the abuse.

Even if the child was supposedly willing, they were not mature enough to make that kind of decision. In the book 50 Shades of Grey, the female character is a 22 year old college student and the male character is a 28 year old billionaire. While they are both legally adults, the female character is inexperienced and naive, while the male character is experienced, jaded and worldly-wise.

I would argue that it was not as consensual as feminists are trying to tell themselves.

And, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not both parties agreed to depraved behavior. It’s still depraved, and it is still demeaning to both of them.

Sadly, the drivel that comes out of the mouths of many talking heads today is that reading this pornography will help marriages. Please. It doesn’t help marriages. It turns the marriage into a parody of marriage and excludes God from the equation. There have been many, many suppositions as to why this book has been flying off the shelves, but I believe I know part of the answer.

Funny, most men who have been interviewed in the articles I have read are uncomfortable with the fact that their wives are reading this book. Which, I think, may be one of the reasons why women like the book so much.

I think that women are sick and tired of men looking at pornography. They are sick and tired of being objectified–of having to dress “sexy” to attract a husband, of having to make sure they don’t even gain 8 ounces, let alone an extra pound, of shaving, plucking, and surgically enhancing in an effort to satisfy their husband’s lustful desires…

I believe this is one reason why many mommies like these books. I think it’s their way of saying to the men in their life, “Fine. You want to lust. Fine. I’ll do it right back at you, and see how you like it. I am sick of this being a one sided thing, and since you won’t quit lusting, then it’s my turn to objectify you.

And I think there is a momentary exultant feeling because they have spent their entire lives trying to satisfy the lusts of men and they have given up trying to change it and they just want to feel a sense of control.

In the end, though, the equation is not lust + lust = equality. Or satisfaction. Or even an okay marriage.

But, some LDS women are buying into the idea.

Yes, indeed, it did not take me more than a few minutes to find a link between LDS women and that insidious book.

[As a side note, I am not too fond of LDS Women Book Clubs as I have seen them thusfar--usually the choices are poorly written fluff and/or popular selections bordering on erotica or extreme violence or crudity. Really, ladies? I know we could have the moral fiber as a people to have a decent book club--if you know of one, please let me know.]

This Mormon Stories group member had this to say:

Our local Mormon Stories group had a women’s book discussion this week for 50 Shades of Grey. We had about 20 women attend and enjoyed food, drinks, swimming, and a great time talking honestly about our sexual experiences, good, bad, and challenging…

…Like some of my friends, I read the books on an e-reader and was glad to take the book to the pool, doctor’s office waiting room, and fitness club without worry that I would be ashamed if people know what I was reading. While I do know a few women my age who read a lot in the Romance genre, most women at this book club were new to it, so the privacy was important for them to explore the adult themes…

…I was impressed at the openness of the discussion in our book group. It was originally intended to have a field trip component where the women would go to a adult themed store…but instead some of us ended up ordering…online.

Our discussions focused on what we liked about the books, what we found unrealistic or similar to our own experiences and how we had overcome challenges in our own sex lives…The book club opened a dialog that is often missing in LDS women’s meetings, a place for us to openly talk about the intimate aspects of our lives with the goal of validating each other and finding ideas to improve our understanding and satisfaction with our sexuality.

While I do agree that often in the past there has been such a stigma with sex that Mormon women did not openly discuss it at all–even with their own husbands and within their families–I don’t think that is nearly as much a problem anymore. As a matter of fact, I think we have gone to the opposite end of the spectrum. I have heard some pretty racy comments in Sunday Relief Society classes (granted, they were in Provo, but still…), and my friends have had similar experiences in their Relief Society meetings.

Also, to be quite frank, I believe that getting information about healthy sexuality from other ladies in Relief Society who may or may not have ever discussed it before reading an erotic book is the equivalent of getting information about healthy sex in a high school cafeteria, or even worse, a random search on the internet. It’s just not that reliable or accurate. Better and more accurate information about healthy sex can be obtained from the CES Student Manual “Eternal Marriage”.

Or, even better, take the class. One such class at BYU Idaho has this resource in their syllabus: Intimacy in Marriage.

See, not that hard. Took me a few seconds to find the link to the Eternal Marriage manual. So, there goes the argument that it is too difficult to find out about sex in our suppressed, oppressed culture (which, really, is becoming more and more an outdated generalization by the minute….or at least by the book release!).

One Christian writer blogged about 50 Shades of Grey and pornography, and had this to say about how it can supposedly “recharge” a marriage:

…Bringing in a false image of intimacy and pleasure and in many cases a demented one leads ultimately to diminishing fulfillment, objectification, victimization, guilt and dissatisfaction…

…It tries to claim that there is a whole world of pleasure just outside the boundaries of His plan. It wants you to think His rules are too restrictive and victorian. It sells the lie that once you liberate yourself from the christian cultural norms you’ll find a supreme intimacy and pleasure that God did not want you to explore because He is mean or insecure or un-fun. But I’ve NEVER had someone say they were glad they got started in porn. Never had a couple say that bringing in outside sex influences caused them to be deeper in love or more content. Yes, there is an initial surge of titilation and excitement. But the harm comes from within.

I agree, and that is why I believe this book is a direct attack on my family and children. If Satan can get mothers to become infatuated with pornography by not calling it pornography, but a “marriage saver,” or softening it by calling it “mommy porn,” then he will be disabling the greatest force that is against him–mothers.

And, for those of us who choose not to read and embrace this, the sisters who do quickly envision a division in our ranks. That’s a victory as well. In the comments section of the Mormon Stories book club post, I found that if anyone disagreed, they were quickly told that they were “judging.”

Unfortunately, I think that most of us will definitely end up in a discussion about this book. The question is, what will you say? How can you respond to the popular argument, found in the comments section of the aforementioned blog:

Jessica F, have you consumed both romance novels and porn in order to develop a solid opinion based on your own experience? If not, I’d say you aren’t really qualified to opine.

Oh, really? I hear this all the time. If you haven’t read the book, your opinion doesn’t count. Well, let me share this bit of wisdom from Elder Oaks (this is a great talk, by the way!):

Some years ago one of our sons asked me why it wasn’t a good idea to try alcohol or tobacco to see what it was like. He knew about the Word of Wisdom and he also knew the health effects of these substances, but he was questioning why he shouldn’t just try them out for himself. I replied that if he wanted to try something he ought to go out in the barnyard and eat a little manure. He recoiled in horror. “Ooh, that’s gross,” he reacted.

“I’m glad you think so,” I said, “but why don’t you just try it out so you will know for yourself? While you’re proposing to try one thing that you know is not good for you, why don’t you apply that principle to some others?” That illustration of the silliness of “trying it out for yourself’ proved persuasive for one sixteen-year-old.

Hopefully, that will give you a resolve and courage to say something. And it doesn’t have to be a condescending, outraged something. It can be a thoughtful, loving something. But a something that is courageous, and perhaps even bold.

Yes, be bold.

Stand up for the ability we have to blush, for heaven’s sake!

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The Hunger Games As A Type of Babylon Thu, 22 Mar 2012 23:41:10 +0000 The Lioness

Is a virtual visit to Panem like taking a trip to Bablyon? This printable is available free for download. Just click to view the larger file.

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Rationalizing The Hunger Games: On Teachers and Turning To Fables Wed, 21 Mar 2012 06:11:55 +0000 The Lioness Post image for Rationalizing The Hunger Games: On Teachers and Turning To Fables

I feel the need to respond to two of my readers regarding the Hunger Games, as it may be beneficial to those who would like to respond to the opposing arguments that they or their children will be subjected to when they admit to not wanting to read (or watch) this series.

First, I must thank Shannon and Josh for taking the time to communicate their views regarding The Hunger Games.  I am grateful for the chance to really examine my own viewpoint and look to see if perhaps I may be wrong.   So, I have thought and pondered.  I love being able to tackle these issues in my own heart!  It’s such a wonderful process of growth, repentance and usually a very humbling experience!

First, Shannon states:

(I apologize; I am going to comment without having read your entire post; a few paragraphs in, I felt we must have read different books, and I had to say something before I exploded.)

I would ask Shannon to consider:  Why did she interrupt me in mid thought to respond before exploding?  Or, in other words, why the intense emotional reaction to a fictional story?

Often, when I feel like exploding over something fictional or not based in reality, I have to ponder whether or not I am reacting in a defensive way.  And, if I am, I have to ask the question, “Why?”  Especially if I feel the need to cut someone off and explain my point of view. (I am very experienced in getting emotional about things!)

Shannon also goes on to say:

…but (and this is an old argument), there is violence in the Book of Mormon, too, and in the Bible…

My first question to ask is, if you want your nine year old daughter exposed to violence in order to understand it, then perhaps you could use the scriptures themselves?  Why not?  They definitely speak to the depth of human experience…and, they contain a history of violent people.

I thought deeply about the justification that if the scriptures are violent, than it should be alright for us to read other things that are violent.

I would like to propose a thought that I had when contemplating this: The scriptures are written by prophets through the power of God.

Is Suzanne Collins a god?  Or a prophet?  If we were to use that line of thinking, I would agree that any record of divine authenticity written by prophets and sealed by the power of the Priesthood would be okay for me to read, violent or not.  If it comes from God, than it follows it is right, as far as it is translated correctly.

These are just some of my thoughts as I am trying to unravel these arguments that seem to be far more sophisticated than I am.

Finally, I will address one more item from Shannon’s thoughtful comments:

The question for me is, is the violence (or sex, or whatever else that is objectionable) depicted gratuitously or glamorously? — And on both counts I say no for Hunger Games.

First, I have to admit that I was not entirely sure the exact definition of glamor or gratuitous, so I looked them up.

Glamor : Any artificial interest in, or association with, an object, or person, through which it or they appear delusively magnified or glorified; alluring beauty or charm (often with sex-appeal)

Gratuitous: not called for by the circumstances, unnecessary, unjustified

By definition, I would have to say that I disagree with Shannon.  I believe the book shows the violence/sex in both a glamorous and gratuitous way.  Yes, there are a handful of sentences in the book stating that the heroine doesn’t want to kill people, but the first book definitely portrays her life in the Capitol as one of absolute glamor.  I would not be surprised to find teens wishing they could be part of the Hunger Games.  In fact, I am sure if I spent a few hours researching, I would find multiple fan sites wherein children are role playing The Hunger Games.  I just don’t want to look.

I was also surprised to find that even after the initial bloodbath in the arena, the heroine is thinking about her screen time.  While Suzanne Collins gives us a sentence or two of “I feel bad,” there are more actions that give the sense that the heroine is somehow enjoying it. (Again, I also think this is a culturally pornographic idea).

And, I must also respectfully disagree with Shannon’s viewpoint that there is no gratuitous violence in this book.  First of all, by nature of her target audience (5th and 6th graders), the violent descriptions are wholly unjustified.  Second, there is no real reason to explain for so long the gruesome death of Glimmer.  In the beginning of the chapter, the death by killer wasps is already explained.  Going into such morbid detail was both unnecessary and, in my opinion, disgusting.

I will concede, however, that the issue of gratuitousness is, in this generation, relative.  There is no way I could win an argument here, and don’t wish to try and “win.”  I just wanted to explain my rebuttal to Shannon’s introspection.

Thanks, Shannon, for getting me to think more about why I feel the way I do about this book.

Now, I will move on to a comment posted by Josh.  This comment really had me thinking, and I would like to post my thoughts, hopefully in a civil and respectful way.  Josh states:

For example, instead of fixating on everything that is wrong with the book, what might happen if we read The Hunger Games looking for good?

The object of my review was not to “look for the good.”  I went into it knowing I would be critical.  It was a critical review.  I just wanted to clarify that so that people don’t think I sit up at night reading books to find what’s wrong with them.  Actually, I don’t have time to do that, anyway.  It may come as a shock to some, but at times, I am actually positive. :)

Along that line of thinking, however, why not examine Hustler or Harlequin romances to look for the positive?  There are actually pornographers out there who insist that some of their works are social/political commentary.  What about Gladiator, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, or American Beauty?  I just think that line of reasoning really doesn’t sit well with me.

I think back to my days at the BYU.  Everyone was crushing on “Forrest Gump”.  I went to the edited version at the Varsity, and I still walked out.  Everyone talked about the depth of human experience, etcetera.  My response was that I don’t need to wade in sewage for 90 minutes to be inspired when I have a wealth of pure light and knowledge at my fingertips as a Latter-day Saint.

Josh then states:

She’s using this metaphor to teach today’s children how to navigate a complex and violent world in a way that lets them retain/reclaim their morality. If we read The Hunger Games in this way, we will walk away uplifted and edified.

Why would we want a Hollywood screenplay writer to teach our children this morality?  I think we can do better than that.  I don’t think they reclaim their morality at all.  There is ABSOLUTELY no mention of God or even a Higher Power other than Katniss in this book.  From certain real life experiences, and from the experiences of thousands and hundreds of thousands throughout the history of this planet, I know that the only way to “reclaim morality” is through the Atonement and the use of a Higher Power.  While Shannon states that Katniss could be rationalized into a mythic Christ figure, I wholeheartedly disagree.  Says the Savior:

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

The Savior did not use violence as an answer to reclaim morality.

Josh then quotes Brigham Young:

If I were to go into the bowels of hell to find out what is there, that does not make it necessary that I should commit one evil, or blaspheme in any way the name of my Maker.

Yes, President Young is talking here about controlling parents who do not allow their children to read novels, dance or play with other children their age.  There is, of course, truth in what he says.   But, considering that he is talking about worldly things in this discourse, I would apply his words regarding worldly things, in this instance to novels and dances, to the current novels and dances of President Young’s time, since he was not speaking to an audience of the future.

Further, I would direct Josh to the words of current General Authorities and Prophets:

In magazines and books, on CDs and tapes, on our television and theater screens is portrayed more and more often a lifestyle that might even rival the excesses of those who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah….

In Moroni 10:30 we read [Moro. 10:30]:

“And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing” (emphasis added).Brothers, sisters, and parents are not as happy together as they used to be. We find less peace and contentedness in our hearts and homes. We do things that later we wish we had not done. Contention raises its vicious head, and when contention is present, the Spirit of Christ departs from us.

Again I say, leave it alone… (October 1993 General Conference, H. Burke Peterson)

And also Elder Maxwell:

To cite another example, how much time does a family allocate to learning the gospel by scripture study and parental teachings, in contrast to the time family members spend viewing sports contests, talk shows, or soap operas? I believe many of us are overnourished on entertainment junk food and undernourished on the bread of life.

Considering that the Saints of Brigham Young’s day did not have 24/7 entertainment in the form of internet, television, radio, ebooks, etcetera–I wonder if he might have a different message for our overly saturated entertainment culture.

And from President Monson, quoting a conference on violence in March 1994:

“A society that views graphic violence as entertainment … should not be surprised when senseless violence shatters the dreams of its youngest and brightest. …

We do not need to read The Hunger Games to view violence and depravity of children and society.  All we need to do is to look around us. You can read  of 11, 12 and 13 year old girls and boys surrounding the death of Hope Witsell, in which after her suicide those who cruelly taunted her to death posted on the dead 13 year old’s Facebook and MySpace:

Even after her tragic death, the bullying continued.

“I knew she had MySpace and Facebook. There were people putting comments on there: ‘Did Hope really kill herself?’ ‘I can’t believe that whore did that.’ Just obscene things that I would never expect from a 12-year-old or a 13-year-old,” her older sister, Samantha Beattie, told CNN.

Or 15 year old Phoebe Prince’s tormenters:

The bullying didn’t end after the death of Phoebe Prince. Several nasty messages were posted on a Phoebe Prince Facebook Memorial Page.

Or we can look to the barbarism of wars that are fully engaged on this planet, to the reality of human trafficking and slavery that exists even in America…we of this generation do not need to read a novel to visit the bowels of hell.

In my children’s short lives, they have seen the bowels of hell–because our family has actively prayed for opportunities to help others.  From giving the abused and hungry a place to stay or a meal or a kind word, they have learned of the bowels of hell from those who have lived it.

Maybe we could do more noticing of the depravity of our own society and helping of individual victims than reading about a fictional, glamorized, romanticized version of depravity.

Finally, Josh’s final argument, and a compelling one:

When we read (whatever we read), we should seek the virtuous. Too many members of the Church today read in the opposite way. They read to seek out sin (so that they can condemn it, but still, sin is what they fixate on, what their eye is single to).

First of all, I would like to know where  all these readers are in the Church who are reading to seek out sin to condemn it?  These “sin fixated” obsessive compulsive judgmental people?   I have yet to find one LDS book reviewer who fits this description (unless, of course, you are meaning me…).  The Hunger Games is the first book I have ever read that I knew going in would be bad–but, since I could not find one negative review, I felt that maybe I was wrong, and maybe I was being too “judgmental”.

I wasn’t seeking sin.

On the contrary, I was hoping that the two violent descriptions I found would be the only ones….I was completely unprepared for the culturally pornographic depictions of violence and nudity….especially in light of the lack of depth and the shallowness of the story.  It read like a glorified screenplay, and I was not surprised to learn that Ms. Collins majored in Dramatic Writing and is a screenplay writer.

And Josh’s conclusion:

Our reactions to books tend to reveal less about the books themselves and more about the people reading them. If we walk away from a book like The Hunger Games uplifted and with a new awareness of morality, we are clearly a certain kind of reader. But if we walk away sickened and judgmental, we’re clearly a different kind of reader. I’d like to become the former.

I would ask you to replace The Hunger Games with American Beauty, Gladiator, or any number of pornographic/violent books, and see if it still feels right to you.

I close with the words of Paul:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
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