Which is your favorite song from “The Book of Mormon”?

Chino put a link to the cast recording of God’s Favorite Musical in our sidebar a while ago, but I didn’t take the time to listen to the songs until people here started discussing them. My new advice: don’t wait!!

Listen first and vote, before reading my opinion.

OK, done?

A lot of them had me going “Wow, fantastic! And so true!” But it was listening to “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” that made my whole youth and childhood pass before my eyes. Standing there, happy to supportively sing “my best friend…” while somebody Awesome! (in the spotlight) sings his heart out about serving God. And it didn’t hurt that it kind of reminds me of ’80’s pop, and of “Humble Way” from God’s second-favorite musical.

Anyone else find that these songs bring back memories?

Moral Nostalgia and the Movies

This post was inspired by A teenager speaks on new movie standards.

In her recent discussion of the current state of movies, and particularly award winning movies, Camila B. states that she is concerned about “movies throughout the decades and the negative changes that I have noticed.” She then goes on to lament that “the corruption viewed daily by millions of people is disgusting.”

The remainder of her post is pure nostalgia for the “good old days” when “movies portrayed beautiful messages, filled with great acting and baroque orchestral pieces that penetrated deep in to your core. These movies brought laughter with wit and romance with subtlety; they brought morality. It saddens me that we have lost that throughout the years.”

She closes with “My only request is to come out of a movie theater without feeling awkward, confused, and dirty. I would love to feel refreshed and glad to have watched something that has inspired me for once. For now, Ill just stick to the movies of previous decades until something new comes along.”

After reading her post, I am left to wonder, 1) should I really believe the word of a teenager about what was or wasn’t true in the world of movies and entertainment “throughout the decades,”, 2) is moral nostalgia part of human nature, or is it more a function of social and religious conservatism, 3) really, no uplifting movies in the past 5-6 years of her short life, and 4) what is about the movies that gets Mormons all tied up in knots?

What is moral nostalgia? It’s simply the view that life and society was more moral in the past than it is today. Unfortunately, moral nostalgia simply isn’t true. It’s not true of society in generally, and it’s certainly not true when applied to Hollywood.

Movies have always pushed the boundaries of what is socially acceptable even the 40s and 50s, those days of social conservatism that so many Mormons wish they were still living in.

Consider the following list of movies, all of which were nominated for best picture in the 40s and 50s (winners in bold, controversial themes in parentheses):

All About Eve, A Streetcar Named Desire (homosexuality, nymphomania, and rape), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (homosexuality, frank sexual dialogue),The Apartment (adultery, suicide), A Place in the Sun (murder, using sex to advance ones social standing),From Here to Eternity (beach sex scene), Anatomy of a Murder (rape/murder).

All of these movies were controversial to some degree or other, because of content that was felt to be outside of social norms. Yet, today they are considered fairly mild, even by Mormon standards. In 1939 censors even pushed to change the line, Frankly my dear, I dont give a damn. Yet, Camila and other Mormons forget this, because the movies appeal to their sense of what is moral, at this time.

A few years ago there was a great discussion here about the nature of sex and violence in the movies (Rated R ‘just for violence”). And just this week a discussion about the use of F-word in The King’s Speech at Wheat and Tares (The Kings F#!$@ Speech). While these discussions don’t rely upon moral nostalgia to make any points, they do reflect the importance of movies in society. As well as the importance of choosing the movies we, and our children, subject ourselves to. They simply reflect how movies affect us in the here and now.

That’s the beauty of movies (and other art); no matter when they were created, they can have an effect upon our present. And that’s what’s wrong with moral nostalgia and the movies, we project our current morals and standards on movies of bygone eras and say, “Look! These movies are uplifting and contain nothing objectionable. Why can’t they make movies like that anymore?” But we forget that morals and standards have changed, and that in 50 years people will look back at The Black Swan and say, “They don’t make movies like they used to, do they?”

(n.b. Kuri, a frequent commenter here, posts his own rebuttal of Camila B. as well.)

Happy Birthday, Deutschland!

On a sunny winter day of 1985 or 86, I was waiting in the entrance of the Nuremberg train station when an elderly gentlemen with an Austrian accent addressed me: “When I see how beautifully Nuremberg has been rebuild, I feel encouraged that one day our Germany will be united again too.”

That was an extraordinary thing to say in 1986, especially to a perfect stranger. Clearly, the gentleman had been a supporter of the Nazi regime and yet I couldn’t hold the sentiment against him. He was so sincere, full of awe, hope, and humility. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Deutschland!”

The Day I Sang about the Latter-Day Glory with the C of C and with the Polygamists

Wherever people talk about Mormonism, you always hear about the fundamentalist Mormons: the polygamists. On the LDS-interest Internet there’s tons of discussion of modern-day polygamy usually in a hand-wringing what should be done about them kind of way. Naturally, I was glad when I finally got the opportunity to meet some real-life fundamentalist Mormons, and listen to their perspective.

I was at the Sunstone Symposium, and merely attending the panel by/about the polygamist community was already interesting. Then blogger Bored in Vernal told me she was thinking of attending the Sunday services of the Apostolic United Brethren. Personally considering that I haven’t been to church since I graduated from BYU seventeen years ago it would never have occurred to me to request an invitation to any kind of church services, let alone a polygamist church service. However, when a friend of mine is planning such and adventure and is fishing around for a companion, I am so. totally. there.

Meanwhile, the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) invited all of the participants in the Sunstone Symposium to their Sunday services. Since my brother was practically part of the C of C delegation, I was personally invited. And by a stroke of good fortune, the C of C services were scheduled for Sunday morning, and the AUB services for the afternoon so I could attend both! Continue reading “The Day I Sang about the Latter-Day Glory with the C of C and with the Polygamists”

Emil, Is It You?

My mother Gudrun Bachmann was born on June 9, 1939. When World War II begun with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, she was less than three months old. When Germany surrendered on May 9, 1945, she was one month shy of her sixth birthday.

Besides a treasure trove of family stories from aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents and older siblings, my mother possesses remarkable childhood memories reaching as far back as before her second birthday.

Tonight, I want to tell you about my granduncles Theodor and Emil Fritz who perished in the battle of Crete on May 20, 1941.


My mother told me that my grandmother had confronted the director of the Office of Racial Policy (Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP) in Stuttgart and told him: “Why don’t you just exterminate the entire German people. After so many centuries, there is no one left who does not have Jewish blood.”

My granduncle Emil had been arrested twice on the street because he did not appear to be “Aryan.” The first time, Emil had dressed up as a fiddling gypsy while fundraising for the Winterhilfswerk, a charity of the propaganda ministry. I do not know the details of the other arrest. Perhaps, it was sufficient to be short, dark haired, and dark skinned to be suspicious. Continue reading “Emil, Is It You?”

Oldies but Goodies: Testimony of a Dissident

A while back another blogger asked me to submit an essay about my Mormon experience. Probably, for good reasons he changed his mind and never published it. Since it is already written and might shed some light on my argument at Times and Seasons, I might as well publish it myself. It might help some people to understand where I am coming from.

Testimony of a Dissident
When I grew up in the seventies and eighties, Church was a liberating experience. My mother converted when I was six. My father never joined the LDS Church and refused permission for me to get baptized until I was fourteen. Since the prohibition was never sufficiently justified, it only stimulated my aspirations.

I was an enthusiastic Mormon, walking five miles to get to Church when I couldnt afford public transportation. Except for my younger brother, I was the only Mormon in my school. Everyone knew about me because I was a Mormon for a reason. Probably the best indicator of my commitment to the Mormon cause was my role as a joint teacher in the conversion of over thirty Germans, which contributed to the creation of another ward. Continue reading “Oldies but Goodies: Testimony of a Dissident”

Walk With Hellmut

Some of you might enjoy a virtual tour of the city of Saarbrücken, my last home before I came to the United States:

Max Ophuels Preis_Trailer_2009 from LICHTFAKTOR on Vimeo.

Located at the French border, my father’s house was literally five minutes walking distance, and the high and low German language border, Saarbrücken has had a tumultuous history. For centuries, it has been a hot spot of Protestant-Catholic and Franco-German conflict.
Continue reading “Walk With Hellmut”


There is a reason why retention approaches zero.
There is a reason why people can study their way out of the Church.
There is a reason why a large percentage of non-American return missionaries seem to leave Mormonism.
There is a reason why the United States remains the only western democracy that does not grant equal constitutional status to women.
There is a reason why our gay children are more likely to harm themselves than our straight children.

The Reality of It All

I don’t watch a lot of t.v. When I do watch t.v., I don’t watch a lot of reality shows. In fact, the only one I watch with any regularity is The Biggest Loser on NBC. American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother–can’t stomach any of those.

Lately, though, I’ve started watching snippets of Dancing with the Stars. This season especially so because Marie Osmond is one of the stars.
Continue reading “The Reality of It All”

Conference, Ex-Mo Style

I know this image was posted on here earlier. But I had to use it again. I don’t know why, but this image spoke to me as I thought of my post for today. It takes the edge off of the nostalgic ennui that I feel in the fall when I think about the upcoming LDS conference. I remember what I left and why when I look at it.

I am attending the 2007 Ex-Mormon conference this year. I am looking forward to the social interaction as well as the presenters and their talks. I am mostly reminded of LDS General Conference in the fall because of the way the air changes, the shadows elongate; in the fall I am reminded of home.

I slept in back then. Ten in the morning was borderline early for me. Nine was downright brutal. But Sunday morning I would awaken to the sounds of the Tabernacle Choir and my mother accompanying them in her vibrato voice from the kitchen.

I could already smell the roast she browned in preparation for the Sunday dinner. She and my dad turned on every radio and television in the house, so no matter what room they were in, they could hear the choir or the speakers. It was like 3-D stereo, coming from above, below, and from every room. Continue reading “Conference, Ex-Mo Style”