Returning to Normal

For years now, we’ve had a tradition of going to the theater to watch the Oscar-nominated animated short films.

Last night was the first time in over a year that we’d gone to movie theaters. As we drove to the theater, I was concerned that there were only a few minutes to spare. I knew there would be provisions for social distancing, and worried that the theater might be “full.”

It turned out, we were the only ones in the theater. But we had our popcorn, and leaned back in the dark to immerse ourselves in the show, in a way our home theater (cough) cannot match.

I predict the likely winner in this category will be If Anything Happens, I Love You. If you happen to have access to Netflix, you can watch this short without shelling out for a movie ticket. This jewel is also, in its way, about getting back to normal.

Far too many of us have been caught in a time of painful abnormality (which I suppose is one of the reasons this year’s nominees include the surreal Genius Loci). We’ve often been compartmentalized in our own separate realms, whether frivolous or terrifying (Opera).. And then there was normal life, whatever normal is for each of us, where each day confronts us with our fellows and a need to dig back out from the snows of life (Yes-People). Finally there is Pixar’s version of Satre’s quote, “Hell is other people,” with the promise that Heaven can be other people as well (Burrow, available on Disney+).

The honorable mentions addressed Polynesian legend of the Mahu (traditionally born male but who mature to transcend gender stereotypes, 1 Kapaemahu), fantastical friendships (The Snail and the Whale), and the power of magic (To Girard). Out 2 and Traces 3 were apparently among the ten finalists to be nominated, but were not included in the theatrical release.

It is mind-blowing to imagine the time and energy that goes into creating any of these animated shorts. It will be thrilling for us to watch for the short minutes this category will get during the Oscars ceremony.

And it was delightful to return to an annual tradition we would not have chosen to enjoy a mere month ago.


  1. The film clearly celebrates the idea that these four Mahu were neither male nor female. But, given my beliefs, I see individuals such as John and the three Nephites as plausible sources of the myth. At any rate, several models of maturation see the ultimate potential of a person to be when an individual becomes what is needed, transcending gender stereotypes.
  2. A Pixar short about a man coming out to his parents.
  3. Apparently inspired by the cave paintings of Lascaux

Come Follow Me: D&C 41-44

My blog post for Come Follow Me: D&C 41-44

Excerpt:Kirtland, Ohio. It was the first gathering place for the Saints in these last days. Joseph Smith was promised in revelation that if the Saints gathered there, they would receive the Law and an endowment of power. In this lesson, we see the fulfillment of the first.

When Joseph Smith arrived, Kirtland was the wild west. Many members did not understand revelation, the workings of the Spirit, or the rules by which to live. In the Church’s new history book, Saints, we read the following:

“Some of the Saints in Kirtland took their beliefs to wild extremes, reveling in what they took to be gifts of the Spirit. Several people claimed to have visions they could not explain. Others believed the Holy Ghost made them slide or scoot across the ground. One man bounced around rooms or swung from ceiling joists whenever he thought he felt the Spirit. Another acted like a baboon.” (Saints, chapter 10, Gathered In)

2021 BYU Women’s Conference

Hey there, just coming up for air from the homeschool/crisis schooling/pandemic trenches to fill everyone in on this year’s BYU Women’s Conference.

This year’s Conference will be fully online. There are sessions that are “complementary” meaning you do not have to register to watch them, and sessions that will be behind a paywall. The keynote speaker this year is our favorite and most loved Sherri Dew. Right now her talk is available to be viewed in front of the paywall until April 29th, after which, you have to have a Conference ticket to view.

Click over to the BYU Women’s Conference site HERE, to see Sister Dew’s talk (on the right sidebar in a very tiny player), and to find out more about this year’s Conference.

I know you are praying as much as me that next our faces will be free, the Covid Wars will be over, and we can all enjoy a BYU brownie on campus and enjoy Women’s Conference together, in person.

Follow Women’s Conference on Facebook HERE.

Quick takes: Elder Oaks on the Constitution, the Roberts court on religious liberty, more COVID and Trump hoaxes debunked, and BYUTV will have gay characters

This post will look at a few quick takes from recent events. We start with Elder Oaks’ inspiring talk on the Constitution, which can be read or watched here.

Some key paragraphs:

Despite the divinely inspired principles of the United States Constitution, when exercised by imperfect mortals their intended effects have not always been achieved. Important subjects of lawmaking, such as some laws governing family relationships, have been taken from the states by the federal government. The First Amendment guarantee of free speech has sometimes been diluted by suppression of unpopular speech. The principle of separation of powers has always been under pressure with the ebb and flow of one branch of government exercising or inhibiting the powers delegated to another.

There are other threats that undermine the inspired principles of the United States Constitution. The stature of the Constitution is diminished by efforts to substitute current societal trends as the reason for its founding, instead of liberty and self-government. The authority of the Constitution is trivialized when candidates or officials ignore its principles. The dignity and force of the Constitution is reduced by those who refer to it like a loyalty test or a political slogan, instead of its lofty status as a source of authorization for and limits on government authority.

Please re-read or listen again to Elder Oaks’ very important talk. There have been many good talks by Church leaders on the Constitution, but this is one of the best.

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Come Follow Me: D&C 37-40

My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 37-40


For Joseph and many of the saints, the restoration initially meant just building up a small little set of congregations. Never did any of them consider the vast work that was ahead. In D&C 37, the saints, most living in New York prior to the missionary work to the Lamanites by Oliver Cowdery, were called to the Gathering.

The concept of Gathering partially came from Joseph reworking the book of Genesis, as part of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. While we call it a “translation,” it really isn’t. Joseph didn’t use ancient Hebrew and Greek documents in his rework of the Bible. Instead, he used an English Bible purchased at the Grandin book store. Joseph was less concerned with the language and grammar, and more focused on finding the “plain and precious” things that had been lost out of the Bible. Rather than a translation, it would be a series of refining revelations.