Well-known comedian Jeff Foxworthy is the host of the Game Show Network’s game show “The American Bible Challenge” – a program where people of different Christian faiths compete in a test of their knowledge of the Bible. In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Foxworthy commented,
Well, most of our contestants are pretty knowledgeable and I have a lot of friends that can quote a lot more Scripture than me. But as a whole I think that previous generations were probably more knowledgeable than ours. We have way too many distractions these days.
To make the challenge of the game a little more interesting, instead of ordinary prizes, Foxworthy decided to give the winners a financial reward that they could use to better their communities. The third season of the show, which premiered on 22 May 2014, is a little different in that the viewers will have an opportunity to learn more about the contestants – where they are coming from, and why they are competing.
Three Mormon Moms Take On the Challenge
Among those who will be competing this season is a team of 3 moms. What is so special about these moms? Jill Davidson Mason, Deborah Dushku Gardner, and Heidi Glyn Barker are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) – a faith which many people do not consider to be Christian. They will be playing for the charity which Gardner and Barker co-founded, One Heart Bulgaria.
There are many people who debate that Mormons are Christian because they use other volumes of scripture in addition to the Holy Bible. One volume of scripture in particular is the Book of Mormon which they testify is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Because of this, there are many people who believe that Latter-day Saints (as they are properly called) consider the Book of Mormon to be more important than the Bible, and for the most part, do not use the Bible in their personal study and teaching. However, the Bible is always mentioned first when referring to the “Standard Works” of The Church of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Mormons believe:
The Holy Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing Spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.
The Holy Bible is well named. It is holy because it teaches truth, holy because it warms us with its spirit, holy because it teaches us to know God and understand His dealings with men, and holy because it testifies throughout its pages of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“It’s a little bit crazy. It’s kind of a mix between ‘The Price is Right’ and ‘Jeopardy,’ “Gardner told UPR. “There’s a lot of jumping around. You would think that a Bible trivia show would have some reverence to it, but it’s not. It was just an amazing experience.”
Gardner and Barker had previously served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bulgaria and were mission companions. After returning home from their missions, they wanted to continue to help the country that they had come to love, and so they co-founded One Heart Bulgaria, an organization that coordinates services to 28 orphanages in Bulgaria. Gardner shares some of her story in an “I’m a Mormon” video which was publish in May 2011, and on her Mormon.org profile.
Some people may consider members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a rather “peculiar” or strange people, not only because of some of their beliefs and practices, but because of their devotion to their faith. Devout Mormons, as they are often called, believe that their religion is more than just a Sunday religion. It is something that they uphold and practice every day of their life – at home, at school, in the market place, in the work place, or even in the public square. Wherever they may be, the doctrines and principles that they are taught are a guiding force in their personal life, as well as in their dealings with others.
Living the Life of a Latter-day Saint
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ live normal, busy lives like most other people. They go to work each day, go to school, attend college classes, do grocery shopping, and take care of their homes and families, as well as any other tasks that may be required. As such, each member of the Church gives of their time differently. Depending on life situations, some may be able to sacrifice more time than others. Nevertheless, by comparison there are few Christians who give of their time like Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Smith, the first Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) in Lectures on Faith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” Although members of the Church do not sacrifice everything that they have, most willingly give of their time each week to attend Church meetings, perform their Church callings, and participate in activities and service projects.
An Approximate Breakdown of Time Sacrificed
Exactly how much time an average Latter-day Saint sacrifices in performing church, family, and community service can only be approximated.
On a daily basis, the average Mormon may spend only a few minutes reading and studying the scriptures. A full-time missionary, however, spends up to 2 hours per day studying the scriptures.
During the week, some LDS youth attend early morning Seminary classes for one hour prior to the start of the regular school day. Other LDS youth, depending on their location, may have Seminary included as part of their school curriculum.
Sundays are divided into three one hour blocks of instruction to include Sacrament meeting, Sunday school, Relief Society for women, Priesthood for men, and Primary for the younger children. There are also other church meetings to attend depending on a person’s calling. It is not uncommon for Stake Presidents, Bishops, and auxiliary presidents to spend up to 20 hours or more in their church callings, whereas someone else in a different calling may spend less than an hour. The time that is spent in a particular calling includes, but is not limited to: leadership meetings and training, presidency meetings, interviews, lesson preparations, planning and attending activities.
• Young Women/Young Men activities: 1-2 hours at activities; more spent individually on Personal Progress and Duty to God requirements.
• Scouts: 1 hour per week at activities; more spent individually fulfilling requirements.
• Primary Activity Days: 1 hour
• Family Home Evening: 1-2 hours
• Date Night: 1-4 hours; many local church leaders have encouraged a weekly date night for married couples.
A report by Utah Valley 360 also outlines how Latter-day Saints may spend their time on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis:
• Home Teaching/Visiting Teaching: 1-2 hours (depending on the number of families a person has been assigned)
• Weekday Relief Society Meetings: 1 hour
• Child of Record Baptisms: 2 hours
• Scout camp outs: 2 days
• Parent/Children interviews: 5 minutes to 2 hours
• General Conference: 10 hours (four 2-hour General Sessions, one 2-hour Priesthood Session and one 2-hour Women’s Session) held in April and October of each year.
• Youth Conference: 1-2 days
• Girls Camp: 3-5 days
• Scout Camp: 3-6 days
• Pioneer Trek: 3-5 days
• Stake Conference: 2-6 hours (2-hour general session, 1-2 hour adult session, and other leadership training sessions.
Latter-day Saints also give of their time to attend the temple which could constitute two to three hours per endowment session. The amount of time spent in the temple during each subsequent visit will depend on such factors as travel times, wait times, and what ordinances a person is planning to perform during their visit. Temple ordinance workers serve approximately 6 hours per week for several months or maybe even years.
Latter-day Saints are also service minded people, and could spend anywhere from an hour to 20 hours or more in providing meals for those in need, helping families to move, cleaning church buildings, and assisting in humanitarian efforts.
They also spend a considerable amount of time doing genealogy work. Some may spend only a few minutes each week doing family history research, and others may spend several hours per week depending on their schedules.
As there are no paid ministers in the Church, members are called on from time to time to give a talk/message to the congregation during Sacrament meeting, or other church meetings such as ward and stake conferences. Some members are also called upon to teach various classes. And so, preparation time must also be calculated into the equation.
Missionary service is another major part of the Church with males starting at the age of 18 serving full-time for two years, and females starting at age 19 serving for 18 months. A retired couple may serve a mission for a period as short as 6 months or as long as 2 years. Missionary Presidents and their wives serve for 3 years, and Church-service missionaries usually serve approximately 8 hours per week for 6 months to 2 years.
Latter-day Saints are Willing Servants
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ sacrifice their time in many ways, not out of obligation, but because they believe that when they are in the service of their fellowman, they are in the service of God. Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “Our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen.”
Leopold Anthony Stokowski, one of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th Century who is best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra, said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” And the famous German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven, stated, “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”
These acute statements without question could be used to accurately describe the delightful music that people the world over experience whenever they hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform. Through their melodious sound, a listener is transformed into a virtual Picasso as he is able to paint beautiful pictures on the canvas of his mind which gives vitality to what he hears.
Those who love this music will be pleased to know that the world-renowned, 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir has announced their summer 2015 concert tour. Accompanying the choir on the tour will be 68 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square. Their repertoire will include everything from Bach and Broadway to American folk hymns and spirituals. Ron Jarrett, president of the choir, has commented, “There is nothing quite like hearing the choir live in concert. We love going on the road to connect with our audiences on the Eastern seaboard who will experience the pure joy music can bring to the hearts and minds of its listeners.”
The tour begins on 24 June 2015 and concludes on 7 July 2015 with stops in Bethesda, Maryland; New York City, Saratoga Springs, Bethel Woods, New York and Boston, Massachusetts. Tickets are now on sale for the concert to be held in Bethesda. More information about specific dates, venues, and ticket prices can be found by visiting the choir’s website.
The word “bilingualism” may be defined as the ability to speak two languages fluently, or the habitual use of two languages. Being able to speak more than one language, or to at least be conversational in a language other than the one learned in childhood, can prove to be advantageous in several ways.
The Advantages of Being Bilingual
Henri Delacroix, a French psychologist stated, “The individual’s whole experience is built upon the plan of his language.” The ability to converse in a different language opens up many windows and doors of opportunity for an individual not only in an economic sense as The Economist emphasizes by stating that “being at least bi-lingual could increase the average American’s retirement fund somewhere in the ballpark of $67,000 over the course of a career,”  but as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof so adequately pointed out, it also allows a person to have extraordinary cultural experiences.
Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguist, brilliantly stated, “In the lives of individuals and societies, language is a factor of greater importance than any other. For the study of language to remain solely the business of a handful of specialists would be a quite unacceptable state of affairs.” And Frank Smith, Psycholinguist, Professor of Education and author, stated, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
The State of Utah Sets a Precedent in Bilingualism
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof stated,
Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City, is an example of a city mixing together with different languages — largely because of the high concentration of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who served missions abroad — and it’s something young people should pursue. 
He also points out that language diversity alone is not what sets Utah apart from most other states, but rather, it is language diversity intermingled with a “wealth of international experience,” which he notes is in short supply in the American higher educational system. He further stated,
One of the aims of higher education is to broaden perspectives, and what better way than by a home stay in a really different country, like Bangladesh or Senegal? Time abroad also leaves one more aware of the complex prism of suspicion through which the United States is often viewed. If more Americans had overseas experience, our foreign policy might be wiser. 
According to the University of Utah, there are more than 130 languages spoken in commerce in Utah on a daily basis, making Utah a center for both trade and global companies. Thus, it is not uncommon to find the state listed at the top of Forbes list as one of the best states in which to conduct business.
Perhaps it was Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language who stated it best when he said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world. If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.”
Elaine Bradley is the drummer and backup vocalist for the Provo, Utah, based rock band Neon Trees. The band released Habits, its first full length album in 2010, and since then, their first single “Animal” has reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Alternative Rock Chart. The band released a second album in 2012, and have publicized that a new album will be released on 22 April 2014. The album is called “Pop Psychology.” The band has also planned a tour of Europe and North America, with the tour ending in Salt Lake City, Utah on 16 June 2014.
An Early Love for Music
Elaine says that she has always been a performer. One of the things that she enjoyed doing when she was a little girl was making tapes and pretend to be a radio DJ complete with songs, stories, and commercials. She is the youngest of seven kids and grew up with older siblings playing music constantly. She recalls being exposed to the music of Led-Zeppelin and Depeche Mode at a very early age. She recalls that she and her siblings enjoyed singing together, and they often sang Depeche Mode harmonies while doing the dishes. She further recalls that one of her earliest musical memories was from kindergarten, sitting on the bus, staring out the window and singing “You’re The Inspiration” by Chicago to herself. When she was 7 years old, an older brother gave her a tape of Led Zeppelin which she listened to over and over again.
She actually became interested in playing the drums around the age of 5, and her parents bought her first real drum set for her thirteenth birthday. She recalls:
I became enthralled with the drums at an early age. I think I was about five when I started banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons. I would ask my parents for drums frequently, but they thought it was a phase that would pass. After several years, and tireless begging, they bought me a Sears’s drum set. It was a bass, snare, floor tom, hi-hat and crash (tiny splash cymbal mounted on the bass drum). I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Frankly, I wasn’t very good, but I played it all the time. Within a year, that little set was destroyed. Then my parents bought me my first real set—a black Tama Rock star with Paiste cymbals. 
During her freshman year in high school, she formed a band with some of her friends and she played the drums and sang “until we could find a drummer.” Eventually a drummer was found, and Elaine moved to playing the guitar. She states,
It was during this time period of not playing the drums that I became better at them. That may sound weird, but it’s true. I would listen to and watch our drummer, and then I would air drum to everything in the car or at home. I learned to think of drumming in a way I hadn’t before—as an equal instrument, capable of evoking feeling just like bass and guitar. 
Mormonism and the Pursuit of a Musical Career
In a 2011 interview with The Mormon Women Project, Bradley spoke about her childhood and admitted that although she grew up a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there were many years when she rebelled against the teachings of the Church. She became more fascinated with attaining worldly riches through a career in music, and eventually became involved with drugs. She stated, “I went down the wrong path and stopped thinking about God and the church because I knew that if I did, it would mean something, and I would have to change something,”  Concerning her youth and being a member of the Church, she has commented:
Growing up, I never liked being Mormon. I remember sitting in Primary and thinking, “I wish I didn’t know this. Why was I born into this family? My friends are so much luckier than I am because they don’t have all of these weird rules.” I was a rebellious kid. I remember singing “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” and thinking it was really preposterous because I didn’t want to be called on a mission. That said, I think I felt that way because I knew that the gospel was true. There was this nagging feeling that it was true mixed with my desire for worldly fame and fortune. Growing up, I felt within me this collision of two distinct worlds. I didn’t really make peace with that tension until I was 21 and maybe even to a certain extent until recently.
I remember having a conversation with my mom in high school. We were driving in the car, and she said to me, “I know you want to be a rock star but what if Heavenly Father were to say that’s not what He wants for you?” I told her point blank that I wouldn’t listen. I wasn’t willing. I had the erroneous thought that Heavenly Father did not want me to be happy. Whatever I wanted, He would tell me to do something else just to spite me. Somehow I got the impression that Heavenly Father was laughing at me from heaven. So in response to that fear, I just ignored Him. I always knew that God was there. The gospel made sense to me and spoke to me on a certain level but at the same time it made me angry. I wanted to be ignorant. During high school one of my biggest complaints was that people in the church were not cool. It was very disappointing for me that most of my friends were outside of the church, and most of the people in the church were people I didn’t want to hang out with. Of course, this complaint was just a cover for my fears about God judging me. In general, it was a really difficult time. 
It wasn’t until she was 21 years of age and had a discussion about religion with her boyfriend who was a Christian that Bradley finally realized the importance of having a relationship with God. In her recently released “I’m a Mormon” video she explains:
I remember I started researching what the Bible was all about, just very fundamental topics. And so I remember being so surprised and excited that there was this Jesus Christ who was my Savior. So that created the natural desire for me to want to stop drinking. There was never a moment where it was like, ‘This is the last time.’ It just kind of stopped. 
Bradley later served an LDS mission to Frankfurt, Germany. Today she continues to live according to the teachings and the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ. As a band, the members of Neon Trees have agreed to refrain from drugs and alcohol. “I really try to include God in my decisions about music and the band. I ask him to open doors or close doors as necessary. I kind of keep an open heart about it, “she said.  In the video she also stated, “I find that I feel so much better, and so much more myself, when I follow the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than I ever did when I didn’t care about what they were.” 
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