About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

Grading the Pope’s visit so far

Pope Francis is visiting the United States, and he is proving to be one of the most controversial popes of recent times. This is not a bad thing. But the Pope’s grades are are mish-mash: he gets some As and Bs but also a lot of Fs and Incompletes. Let’s take a look.

Dining with the homeless rather than with Washington politicians. A-PLUS. Did Jesus spend his time with the Sanhedrin and Pilate, or did he spend his time with the poor, sick and needy? You know the answer. The Pope leads by example here, and this decision alone makes his trip a success.

Condemning abortion. B. The Pope could have done more to specifically condemn government funding of abortion, but he is sticking to traditional Catholic teaching on abortion, and I think this is mostly a good thing. Of course, the Mormon position is somewhat different on abortion, but the Pope’s reminder that abortion is something to be avoided is a good moral lesson for us all.

Emphasizing the traditional family. A. The Pope gets excellent marks for pointing out that the family is under attack by the secular world. The Catholic church continues to oppose same-sex marriage even though such a view is not popular in Europe and the United States. News flash to liberals: same-sex marriage is still not very popular in many areas of Latin America, Asia and Africa, where the Catholic church is growing the fastest.

Emphasizing the importance of religious liberty. A. The Pope told President Obama that Catholics are concerned about maintaining religious liberty in the United States. Good for him. We should all be more concerned about this.

Compassion for immigrants. B. The Pope gets solid grades for his Christ-like love of immigrants, but the refugee crisis in Europe is not a simple problem that can be solved by Europeans blindly taking in millions of mostly Muslim people, the majority of whom are motivated by economics. Yes, the United States is a land of immigrants, but the United States also takes in millions of immigrants every year, and as much as I believe in the benefits of immigration it must be done in an orderly fashion with clear knowledge that many immigrants do indeed end up getting benefits from the government. The Pope seems not to care about this reality.
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Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘Waking’

This is another installment of the occasional series where I review non-Mormon Mormon movies. These are movies that have some Mormon themes and are worth seeing.

This review is about the movie “Waking,” a romantic drama and fantasy that I found to be charming and inspiring.


And best of all: no nudity or swearing, just an exploration of relationships and true love.

The primary character is Ben (Skyler Caleb). He has been going out with his girlfriend Amy (Tara Erickson) for six years. She moved away from LA, where Ben lives, but has just decided to come back to keep their relationship going. She is a great girlfriend, but Ben is just not in love with her. But he works for her father, so he feels obligations to Amy and to her father.

One day he meets a gorgeous woman named Nadia (Meg Cionni) in a park. And from that moment on, he and Nadia begin to communicate through Ben’s dreams when they are both asleep. Nadia, for example, gives Ben her phone number in a dream, and on a crazy whim he calls that number when he is awake, and it turns out to be Nadia! But most interesting of all, as they talk in real life, it seems that she has been participating in the same dream with Ben. So, even though Nadia has by that time moved hundreds of miles away they have a connection through dreams, and they fall in love during their mutual dreams.

I would spoil the plot to tell you what happens next, but suffice to say that it is romantic and, at least for me, very real.

So here is the Mormon part: Ben feels a connection with Nadia that goes beyond the material bounds of this world. From a Mormon perspective, it is as if he knew her in the pre-existence and was meant to meet her on the Earth. And she feels the same way. When he is with her he feels as if he is “home.”

I know this theme is not particular only to Mormons, but I have met many Mormon couples who feel the same way. They feel like they knew their eternal companion before, and they feel very at home with him or her. It is easy to see Ben and Nadia’s relationship as celestial in nature, and the movie does a good job of portraying what true love should be like.

It was also a surprise to watch a modern movie that explores love without resorting to the common cheap tricks of nudity and scatological jokes. This movie is refreshingly old-fashioned, kind of like Mormons are refreshingly old-fashioned.

“Waking” uses a lot of the romantic comedy conventions. Ben’s friend is the lovable funny guy. There are predictable tense moments as the plot is being resolved. But the acting is pretty good, and the characters are believable. This movie would make a great flick to watch with your eternal companion.

“Waking” is not on Netlix, but is free on Amazon Prime. Check it out.

A caution about Julie Rowe’s book

Please read this story.

To summarize:

Julie Rowe’s book “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” has been added to a list of “spurious materials in circulation” that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is warning its seminary and institute instructors not to use.

“Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her book is not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them,” the warning reads. “The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.”

In the book, Rowe writes of her near-death experience in 2004, complete with visions she claims to have had of the history of the world and the chaotic events of the last days.

A Church spokesman said the following:

Church spokesman Doug Andersen released a follow-up statement to 2News Thursday about the warning to seminary and institute instructors.

“The internal memo does not constitute an official Church statement but serves as a routine reminder to teachers from Seminaries and Institutes of Religion of their responsibility to teach from the scriptures and church leaders,” Andersen said. “People who read her books should recognize that they are personal accounts and do not necessarily reflect church doctrine.”

Sister Rowe responded:

“I agree that the curriculum for LDS church classes should only come from sources recognized by the LDS Church as being authoritative. My story is not intended to be authoritative nor to create any church doctrine. It is simply part of my personal journey that I have chosen to share in hopes that it can help people to prepare for the times we live in by increasing their faith in Christ and by looking to our prophet and church leaders for guidance.”

My take:

As Sister Rowe said, people should look to the prophet and other church leaders for guidance. Regarding apocalyptic events, the prophets have repeatedly warned us to have food and water storage and to be prepared for emergencies. But, most importantly, the prophets have warned us to create Zion in our own homes by reading the scriptures, having family prayer and family home evening, among other things. Members who are looking for guidance from people other than the prophets and other church leaders are likely to be disappointed.

Mayim Bialik on modesty and lack of faith in Hollywood

This interview may be of interest to M* readers.

Actress Mayim Bialik.

Actress Mayim Bialik.

One aspect of Judaism the mom-of-two values is modesty.

“Being a modest dresser, that for me is a certain amount of my religious faith — privacy and chastity. Just because I have a body, doesn’t mean it means to be on display.”

Bialiak dislikes being labeled as “prude” just because she “doesn’t dress the way everyone else dresses.”

“It’s important, especially for children and men and my sons to hear I’m not ashamed of my body, I just don’t feel the need to display it with two tiny pieces of fabric when I want to go swimming.”

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