Monday, August 27, 2012

Who is Mormon Media Reviews? (Part 1)

   It's Me!  My name is Grady Kerr.  I was talking to my sister, Munchie's Mama, and she was saying readers want to know who is talking to them.  She suggested I post a "Get to know you" post.  As I was writing this I found it was getting a little long so I broke it up into two parts.  In this first part I wanted to share with you my background.

   I was raised in Orange County California in the Huntington Beach Stake.  My family was semi-active, but when I turned 8 and it came to get baptized I remember things starting to change.  Most of my primary memories were from that time on.  I come from a mixed family.  My father had two other sons and my mother another.  My 3 brothers are about 10 years older and so I don't think they had the same foundation I did.  My "Irish twin" sister Summer is 13 months younger and was my greatest enemy at that age and my most willing accomplice.

   I have always loved Church and the stories of the scriptures have always come easy for me.  I remember going to my grandpa's baptist church and when they asked who were some of the prophets from the scriptures, I was jumping in my seat ready spout off answers like Nephi and Alma.  The Sunday school teacher was always polite when trying to brush off my answers.  

   I love great stories, which is my I think the scriptures speak to me.  But I grew up with other mediums as well.  We had HBO as kids and a VHS player.  We would record movie after movie on that thing and we would watch them over and over till the tapes got fuzzy.  Growing up, me and my best friend, Jimi Kim, loved Ninja Movies!  We used play "Best of the Best" and I was Alex Grady, played by Eric Roberts, and he was his Asian buddy, Tommy Lee.  Movies were a big part of my childhood.

   In primary I was the kid with the colored shirt who would make fun of the kids who would sing and try.  But when I reached High School I gained a real love for music.  I sing in the school choir and was watching a lot of MTV (back when they played music.)  My first 2 CD's were "Stranger than Fiction" by Bad Religion, and the "Phantom of the Opera" soundtrack.  I found that music helped me feel emotions, could help change my mood, it invited the Spirit, and could chase it away.  Flash forward to the back row of Primary last Sunday and I am in tears watching my 4 year old sing "I'll Walk with You" to his big brother. (for more info why)

   When I turned 19 I chose to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was called to the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission.  It was 2 of the most influential year of my life.  I like to think I worked hard, but I also played hard.  My mission was so much fun and such an experience.  I got to see the Gospel in action.  

   12 months after being home I married a wonderful woman in the San Diego Temple.  My wife Kristie has been a huge support for me and a great example.  Our first date was to the movies and midnight showings were a fun part of our courtship and into our marriage.  

   One of the things I always admired about her is her line in the sand morals.  It is either right or wrong, and she has her mind made up in which side of the line she wants to be on.  Likes clean music and won't watch rated R movies.  Our relationship has caused me to better myself about these thing.  Partly because I see the happiness it gives her keep the Spirit close, and partly because she doesn't want it on the house.  

   We have been married 10 years and have 3 kids.  It has slowed us down, but hasn't put a stop to our midnight showings.  When our first baby was a few months old we took him with us when we saw Batman Begins.  He slept through the whole thing.

  If our second part I will talk about life with kids, being a grown up in the Gospel, and why I started the Blog.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Russell Holmes Middle Blocker for the Men's USA Volleyball Team

   Russell Holmes, Middle Blocker for the Men's USA Volleyball team, is one of the nicest guys you can meet.   There is a reason for that, he's a Mormon.

   Russell's bio tells about his origins. Born and raised in Orange County, Calif., where the U.S. national teams now train, Holmes grew up as a soccer player. As a 6-foot-8 high school junior in volleyball-mad southern California, he was urged by friends to try the sport. Soon thereafter, Holmes realized he could have more of a future in volleyball, so he dropped soccer, but his first sport has helped with his coordination and footwork in volleyball.

   Russell and I went to High School together and hes is an old friend, so I was able to convince him to take some time out from his hectic competition schedule to have a chat with me.

   When did you find out you qualified for the Olympic Team? What was the first thought you had?

That's a Clown Question Bro
"Our team qualified for the Olympics in May 2012 after we had won Gold in the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier tournament in Long Beach. Going to the Olympics was my ultimate goal since I started competing with the national team in 2009. A sense of relief and overwhelming joy came over me to have finally achieved something I had been working so hard for for so long."

   You served your mission in the London England Mission. Is this your first time back? How does it feel to compete in a land you spent 2 years serving in?

"This is not my first time back to London but it is an amazing feeling to be returning again to my old stomping grounds in such a way. It has made a city and a people that are already so dear to my heart that much more special." 

   I've already told you about all the support you are getting back home. Have there been any words of encouragement that have meant a lot to you from a fan during this time?

"There has definitely been an overwhelming feeling of support from family friends and fans from back home. Every individual that has reached out to me in love and support in one form or another has meant so much to me. All these extended words of encouragement are only fueling me to want to perform at my best. So I want to say thank you to everyone for being behind me in this special experience."

   We hear stories in the media about some of the illicit actives in the Olympic Village. How do you keep yourself unspotted from these influences?

"Personally I haven't heard or read much about these rumors. I guess that's just it though. I've ignored and chose not to affiliate myself with such things. It has been that simple. Just like any member of the church or follower of Christ does to keep themselves unspotted from the world by living the gospel, so it is with staying unspotted from these types of influences within the Olympic Village."

   Have you gotten to see any other events while at the Olympics? Have you made any new friends? Is Michael Phelps really a jerk? (You don't have to answer that last one :D)

"I haven't had the opportunity to catch any other events. The thing with a sport like ours is that the competition lasts the whole two weeks of the games. So there really isn't time to go see other events. When we are not preparing and competing on game day we spend our time resting and with family which is also very limited.

The cool thing about staying in the village though is that you do get to rub shoulders with other elite athletes. I haven't necessarily made huge friends with any new athletes but I have had great experiences talking to many of them. There is a great feeling of sportsmanship as everyone exchanges words of praise and good fortune to one another in passing."

   You have played professional Volleyball all over the world. Have any of your old teammates come to compete from other countries? If so, what is it like being on the other side of the net from them?

"For me I enjoy competing against old teammates and friends that I have played with overseas. In fact we play Italy in the quarterfinals coming up tomorrow and I am good friends with Italy's opposite spiker.  I also currently have teammates in Poland. I am always heavily motivated to win such matches because one always enjoys the bragging rights. But this time it is for something much more meaningful and that is the Gold medal. Right now my friend and his Italian team stand in the way of that. So it is only necessary to remove them." 

   Russell we wish you the best of luck in London.  If you want to keep up with Russell you can follow his journey here.  His next game is Wednesday August 8th and you wont want to miss it!

The New Anti-Mormon Campaign

  I am going to depart a bit from my light-hearted commentary on Movies, TV, and Music to speak on something that had been weighing on my mind for some time.  I know some of my readers are of other faiths and you can feel free to skip to something like Family Friendly Netflix Movies or How to Get into The Movies for Free.  But if you stick around i think you will find principles that apply universally. 

   I served my mission in the Bible Belt and anti-Mormon sentiment was every where.  Part of my mission was in Missouri, where there was a law demanding the Extermination of Mormons up until 1976.  I was constantly berated about the false teachings of my church, that I was going to Hell, that everything I believed was a lie.  There was literature and pamphlets devoted to it that were often given to our those who were interested in our message by their family, friends, pastors. I encountered many people who were drawn away from the faith because of these methods.

The Korihor Doctrine

   With the emergence of the "Mormon Moment" these tactics are less effective.  Everyone knows that Mitt Romney doesn't have horns, that Steve Young isn't going to abscond with your daughters, and that Stephen Coveys' day planners aren't trying to brain wash you.  As a result there has begun an emergence of a new type of Anti-Mormon campaign.  I choose to call it the Korihor Doctrine.

   In the Book of Mormon a recurring theme is that of Anti-Christs.  In it's simplest form, the term means any one or thing that counterfeits or opposes the gospel of Jesus Christs.  But is also refers to persons who pretend to represent the gospel of Christs, but are actually against it.

   The Korihor Doctrine teaches that there is no sin, that the teachings of Church leaders are merely foolish traditions.  As I search the Internet for content for the site I often come across other blogs and websites that seem to teach this doctrine.  I am choosing to not list specific sites as I really do not want to promote these types of sites, but I did want to discuss the contents. But I'm sure many of you have seen the sites.

   One Podcast tells stories about Mormons.  I love faith promoting stories about members of the Church so I listened to an episode about a young man struggling with same gender attraction.  His story is very heartfelt and he speaks about his repentance process.  The episode is about 6 hours long and I admit, I skipped around a bit.  Then when you finally reach the end of the podcast though, the whole story flips and he claims that the Spirit told him to leave the Church and he subsequently removed his name from its records.  

   The message finally portrayed is that those who have same gender attractions should feel perfectly justified in leaving the Church.  I think a story like Josh Weed's gives a much better outline of a way to feel happy in dealing with same gender attraction.  His journey might not be the route for all in that situation, but he talks about how he reconciles his faith to his desires.  Which is a very universal theme for all of us.

   Another blog I read today wrote about how masturbation was not a sin, and that the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet no longer condemns it and notes that the updated version removed the word "masturbation." What the writer fails to include is the section that states, "Do not do anything else that arouses sexual feelings. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body."  

   One very popular writer claims the moniker of Mormon in all her books and blogs, but then goes on to teach against everything the brethren tell us.  She then claims to be a victim and will be targeted because she is a feminist and an intellectual.  I know of no Church doctrine that teaches that it is a sin to support women's rights or gain a higher education.  Utah was one of the first states that allowed women to vote and in recent years there have been many General Conference talks advising members of the Church to increase our learning by attending University.  But if you continually speak evil of those who have been selected by the Lord to lead His Church, your membership might be questioned.

   There seems to be a pattern all these sites follow; a tragic story of a member of the church (usually of how they are struggling with sin), a quote or Church teaching that is taken out of context, then how their rationalization removes the feeling of guilt associated with the sin they were struggling with.

Which is why I call it the Korihor Doctrine.  If there is no sin, then there is no guilt. But we learn from the Second Book of Nephi, "And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away."     

How We Protect Our Faith

   One thing I have learned from being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that living the commandments makes me happy.  If your Sunday School is on track, then 2 weeks ago you learned about Alma teaching the Zoramites about faith.  It is one of my favorite chapters because it talks about how we gain a testimony.  More importantly though, it talks about how we keep it.

   Even our youngest Primary children learn that once our seed of faith begins to grow we need to care for it.  A Tree needs water, warmth, light, air, rich soil, and even occasional pruning.  Likewise our testimonies need the prayer, church, service, scriptures, love, and even trials.  When a tree of faith withers it is not because the seed was bad, it is because fail to give it what it needs, or perhaps give it things it doesn't.

   I will be the first one to admit that I don't know or understand everything about the Gospel or Church History.  But what I do know is that when Jesus Christ was on the Earth He established His Church.  That Church was lost from the Earth.  It was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and a Prophet has been called to lead the Church until today when it is led by Thomas S Monson.  I trust that he receives revelation from God on how to lead His Church and how we can live a life centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Most importantly I know that as I have lived these teachings and tried my best to keep the commandments and repent when I fall short I am happy.  

I guess I could identify with Elder Price a bit.

"I am a Mormon, and a Mormon just believes."
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