Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Questions of the Heart—Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity / Lloyd

This is a blatant plea for money. My son, Ben Abbott, has written and performed in a one-man play called "Questions of the Heart—Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity." It was his honors thesis while a student at UC Berkeley in theater. The link below is his crowd funding effort through IndieGoGo, and there is an explanatory video with it.

Get Ben to the Fringe!

People have asked if it is anti-gay or anti-Mormon and it emphatically is neither. It brings up intelligent questions while sympathetically portraying both sides. Ben is straight, happily married, and a faithful, life-long Mormon. Also, since he's an actor, many of his closest friends are gay and lesbian and he loves them dearly.  When Ben made his proposal at Berkeley someone told him, "You are probably the only one who could do this with no agenda." Here is another link of an interview he did at the time he first presented this play: 

Now this play has been accepted at both the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and the Indianapolis Festival, which is a huge honor. But he needs help getting there. If you think this is a worthwhile endeavor, please support him and enable him to go to these two festivals with a donation of whatever amount you feel comfortable giving.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Videos of High School Students Receiving Mission Calls -- Background Details / Lloyd

The following video is "A compilation of pictures and videos of the 2012 Davis High School graduates (Kaysville, Utah) who have decided to serve LDS missions."

Videos from other High Schools are found on YouTube at:

Background Details to the Videos
Recently many of us have viewed on the Internet and Television videos of young men and women reading letters from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) calling them to serve missions with assignments world-wide.  

This is the first in our lifetime that Mormon missionaries have received calls to begin their missions immediately upon graduation from High School and as early as their 18th (Young Men) or 19th (Young Women) birthdays.

On 6 October 2012 during a televised General Conference of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson announced without prior notice lower age requirements for missionary service. Following that conference session a press conference was held to give background, clarification and answer questions from a surprised media.

An enthusiastic response among young men and women to the change in age requirements was immediate and achieved a current constant rate of 1,400 missionaries called per week, compared to 600 per week previously.

Administrative planning and support to new missionaries has to be as dynamic as their response to serve.

Angola Luanda
Argentina Comodoro Rivadavia
Argentina Posadas
Arizona Gilbert
Arizona Scottsdale
Australia Sydney North
Bolivia Santa Cruz North
Botswana Gaborone
Brazil Curitiba South
Brazil Fortaleza East
Brazil Juiz de Fora
Brazil Natal
Brazil Piracicaba
Brazil Santos
Brazil São Paulo West
California Bakersfield
California Irvine
California Rancho Cucamonga
Chile Santiago South
Colorado Fort Collins
Ecuador Guayaquil West
Ecuador Quito North
El Salvador San Salvador East
Georgia Macon
Ghana Accra West
Guatemala Cobán
Honduras San Pedro Sula West
Idaho Nampa
Idaho Twin Falls
Illinois Chicago West
Japan Tokyo South
Kansas Wichita
Korea Seoul South
Liberia Monrovia
México Cancún
México Ciudad Juarez
México Ciudad Obregón
México México City Chalco
México Pachuca
México Queretaro
México Reynosa
México Saltillo
New Zealand Hamilton
Nigeria Benin City
Ohio Cincinnati
Oregon Salem
Papua New Guinea Lae
Perú Huancayo
Perú Iquitos
Philippines Cavite
Philippines Cebu East
Philippines Legaspi
Philippines Urdaneta
Ukraine L'viv
Utah Salt Lake City East
Virginia Chesapeake
Washington Federal Way
Washington Vancouver

  • How many missionaries does the Church have serving currently? -- 64,373
  • What is the average number of missionaries being called per week now?  -- 1,400 per week since 1 January 2013
  • What is the current percentage of elders and sisters being called -- For calls made since 1 January 2013, 57% are elders, 36% are sisters, and 7% are seniors.

Commenting on these official Church statistics , one observer suggests:

The Church may call as many as 70,000 missionaries in 2013 if it continues to perpetuate the average of 1,400 missionary applications per week for the entire year. This may result in the Church surpassing 100,000 missionaries serving by late 2013 or early 2014 and necessitate the organization of dozens of additional missions for 2014.

After all the numbers are analyzed, the extraordinary value for the young men and women who accept the call to serve and also for those who receive them is inestimable.

We know this from our experience. I served a mission in Guatemala; Judy and I have brothers who served in Brazil - Japan - South Africa - Spain. Our sons and daughters, including husbands & wives, served missions in Argentina(x2) - Brazil - Germany(x2) - Tacoma, WA - Spain(x2) - Ghana. These have been life defining.  And our first grandchild receives his call this summer. This is exciting.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Favorite Family Movies / Judy

It's time for more movies! You might be more aware of these, unlike the last batch, but this is a list of movies that are just plain fun and enjoyable.

In no particular order, some personal and family


1. Enchanted April

We'll start with my very own favorite. It's about four women in London in the 1920's who rent a villa in Italy for the month of April and how it changes their lives and also the men in their lives. One critic said it was like taking a mini vacation in Italy. Some people say it's too slow, but that turns out to be part of its charm.

2. The Butcher's Wife

This one is about a clairvoyant who lives with her grandmother on an isolated island. She sees a butcher from New York who is there on vacation, and marries him because she thinks she's seen him in her dreams. They return to the city and she influences everyone around her, sometimes in spite of themselves, and in turn finds the real man of her dreams. For some reason it didn't go over too well with the critics, but it's one of our family's faves.

3. Noises Off

For anyone who's ever been in a play or has seen one, this is for you. We follow a traveling theater group from final rehearsals to opening night to the tour. Eventually, what is going on backstage is much more exciting than what's happening out front. It is hilarious!

4. Tortilla Soup

A family drama that's also about food. A widowed Mexican-American chef has three adult daughters who are trying to find their own way while staying connected to the family. The story is delightful, but the scenes about meal preparation are stunning. You go looking for something to eat immediately.

5. Waking Ned Devine

An Irish gem that I think you'll love. Ned has just won the big Irish lottery, but it's such a shock that he dies. His friends decide to fool the lottery investigator so they can all share the money, in Ned's name of course.

6. Return to Me

When we showed this to my dad, he said, "I guess they can make movies like they used to." I hesitate to tell the plot because it's sort of unbelievable, but the acting, especially by the supporting characters,  is  wonderful and makes you believe it. A happily married woman loses her life in a car accident and her heart is transplanted into a young woman who would have died without it. When she meets the widower, they fall for each other at first sight. (See what I mean about the plot?) Still, it's funny and charming and another one I highly recommend.

7. Joe Vs. the Volcano

I'm afraid Tom Hanks thinks of this as one of his failures, but we absolutely love it. It's fun and a little silly, but it's also got some great lines and images. It's about a working stiff who hates his job. Then he learns he only has a short time to live. Adventure ensues.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Essential Hard Edge in My Life / Lloyd

Hard-Edge Painting (June Harwood, Bull's Eye, 1965)

 Abstract Expressionism (Jane Frank, Crags and Crevices, 1961)

The writers of two articles in the magazine Art in America, Feb '09, expressed concerns that artistic truth has been seriously compromised in their areas of expertise. Their comments illustrate the need and difficulty of identifying a reliable standard of truth in our life.

I have found such a standard in the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you can view the most recent General Conference of the Church via the internet Here.
honest brokers

In "Revision Number Five: Quality," Dave Hickey notes that art critics have failed to address the quality of art pieces, to be "honest brokers" regarding certain artistic verities. They subordinate their training and professional insights to market forces--whatever the public will pay, that is the value.

Why? Because they don't want to offend art dealers and thereby lose their advertising profits. Consequently, art critics have failed to educate the public about artistic merit. In the current economic down turn, when art buyers especially need to understand cultural and economic value, the "great art is diminished by the junk that surrounds it." The only way to shakeout the junk is for art critics to expose themselves to financial risk and take a stand on value.

reportorial truth

In "The New Real: Photoids," Peter Plagens points out that ". . . pre-digitalization, there was in force a bedrock assumption that what appeared in a photograph once materially existed in front of the lens of the camera that took the picture. In theory, the images in photographs existed before they were taken."

But now with digitalization, "The surface of the art that the machine produces can be printed so precisely that there's no trace of retouching. . . Nowadays, it's not just possible, but increasingly standard operating procedure, for some photographs to be majorly fictive while maintaining their customary insinuations of reportorial truth."

[To better appreciate the significance of Plagens' assertion that we can no longer just accept photography as truth in the traditional sense, consider the Dartmouth College study of mischief done in its exhibit at "Photo Tampering Through History."]

This concern about truth is not just academic. I feel uncomfortable and incomplete unless I am in contact with a "hard edge." I can't systematically define what I mean by a "hard edge;" it's just the term that seems to describe what I feel when I find something I trust.  Clearly David Hickey and Peter Plagens feel that important truths in their lives have been greatly diminished, and that makes them uncomfortable.

hard-edge feelings that help me
keep oriented

Here are examples of a "hard-edge" that bring comfort to my life.

At night I can sense Judy's presence just across from me; and without having to touch and disturb her rest, I can feel her warmth and reality. When I'm in a dream state (not always pleasant), Judy's presence is an important mooring to reality.

I can place my back up against the firm sea wall and hear and feel the wonderful continuity of waves rolling in and receding, rolling in and receding — punctuated by gulls and little kids running and laughing up and down the beach.

When I've passed through the veil in the temple I find Judy and other family and friends to hug in greeting. And in the Celestial Room of the Washington DC Temple I walk round the room touching through soft slippers the design sculpted in the carpet. This physical hugging and touching seem to strengthen my contact to the spiritual dimension of my temple experience.

I have come to recognize promptings, feelings whispered so quietly but so surely. After 68 years of ignoring some and heeding others and having to deal with the consequence of each choice, I've come to recognize their certainty.

When I was an in-patient on the psychiatric ward of our community hospital, remembering the hard-edge feelings listed above got me through the especially hard times. They were the realities I used in working my way back to productive functioning.

hard-edge painting versus
abstract expressionism

Just before writing this post I searched "hard edge" on the internet and learned that Hard-Edge painting was a style attributed to certain painters in California beginning in the late 1950's. It was a reaction to the abstract expressionism that was dominant in New York and featured sharp delineation of color and shapes. You can see examples of the two styles above.

I find abstract impressionism more interesting but feel a greater sense of certainty in hard-edged painting. Each week on Sunday I find it helpful to renew my focus on family and basic values and beliefs, the certainties in my life, before meeting the more abstract and challenging demands at work.

Featured Post

Have a Baby / Lloyd

It was customary in our mission for missionaries to review their patriarchal blessing with the president. During my interview the mission...