The New Era 2.0

January 1, 2009 | 70 comments
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The Church has a new website for youth, launched today.

Thoughts?

(It makes me feel old. But I’m not the target audience, now, am I?)

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70 Responses to The New Era 2.0

  1. queuno on January 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I’ve asked my almost-YW daughter to review it. I’ll post her comments later…

  2. Rob Perkins on January 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    It gave me an EFY-Provo vibe.

  3. William Morris on January 1, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    That’s essentially what it is, Rob. The Web site is meant to tie in to a DVD the Church produced for use in stake and ward New Year’s Eve activities. Details here.

    That’s why there may not be as much context at the Web site as a random Web surfer might expect.

  4. Sue on January 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I kinda see what they were going for… I think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s good to see the church working to establish more of an online presence. I think it would be great to incorporate more of the stuff kids like – social networking aspects, maybe a monitored area where LDS kids could blog.

    That said, the third video down is simply painful to watch. The kids are supposed to be all hip (I guess?) break dancing and stuff, but the lyrics to the songs are just – ow. Ow. “There are a million places we could be tonight, where the feeling’s alright … …if you feel like all you say is no, don’t let go… we will reap exactly what we sow, when we say no…” CATCHY.

    And the dialogue in the talking parts? “So of course we’re abounding in good works.” What kid talks like that? Yikes. Not exactly establishing a ton of youthful credibility there.

  5. Hunter on January 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I have only quickly perused the new website. (Thanks for the heads-up, Julie M. Smith.) As someone with a calling in the youth program, I’m just happy that finally a website exists. This is a good move by the Church.

    Now, to go check out the painful videos that Sue mentioned…

  6. Hunter on January 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    OK, I’ve spent a little more time watching the videos. Yes, there are cheesy moments, but the production value is so high, that I think (hope) that the viewers are not turned off. (I understand that the videos are from last night’s satellite broadcast.) In sum, a big bravo to the organizers for trying to present something trying to make being a Church member seem like a good, happy experience. (You know, for a Church run by a bunch of out-of-touch senior citizens [wink], this is pretty remarkable.)

  7. Kent Larsen on January 1, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Did anyone see the DVD?

    As I understand it, the DVD was sent to all English-speaking stakes for use in New Year’s Eve activities. I caught the end of it when I went to pick up my daughter from the ward event last night.

    My rating: A BIG THUMBS DOWN!!

    It was quite cheesy and bad — heavily scripted, stilted and artificial, it seemed like something that someone in his or her 70s would think was cool. I’m in my mid to late 40s and it seemed out-of-touch. My daughter (who loves 7th Heaven, and is therefore susceptible to cheesy) thought it was way too cheesy.

    I think it will actually turn off many kids on the fence about the Church.

  8. Kent Larsen on January 1, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I guess I should add, so that I don’t sound too negative, that I do think the intent was right. The DVD was awful, but if they had something good, it could actually attract many non-members and those on the fence.

    I hope they work on it. Maybe let the kids in the video actually say what they think instead of having them give memorized lines?

  9. namakemono on January 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    re #7 “the DVD was sent to all English-speaking stakes ” – only in the USA and Canada, I think

  10. Jeremy on January 1, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    There seems to be a trend here in church media efforts: high production values, but iffy script/content.

  11. jeans on January 1, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I’ll be watching to see if my teens adopt the widgets for their Facebooks or not. Hmm. They look a little girly, my sons might not go for them.

    I like that the featured article focuses on the church in Haiti, that’s cool.

    The title logo should link back to the mainpage, but it doesn’t – you get hung in a loop once you scroll to the right. The designers had a little too much Fun with Flash.

  12. Jeffrey on January 1, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I am appalled by the comments from Jeffrey R. Holland regarding the value of human life below the value of belief in the Church. It saddens me that youth will consider their own lives expendable should they fail to live up to the new bar of being a believer set by an apostle of Christ! It is an inexcusable abuse of trust and authority to manipulate the emotional and mental well being of kids who one day will falter and look back on this occasion and recall that faltering is worse than dying. What a horrible message. Unfortunately the vulnerable and innocent youth will take the words to heart and try to live up to this new level of perfection, only to set themselves up for failure. The consequences will be truly tragic!

  13. Gina on January 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I watched the DVD and would have been really turned off by it as a teen. My daughter was horrified!

  14. Ray on January 1, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    #12 – Citation, please.

  15. jeans on January 1, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Gina, why horrified?

  16. Sue on January 1, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Ray, I think he’s talking about the first video on the site, where Jeffrey Holland is quoting a play about Joan of Arc by Maxwell Anderson:

    “He has her say, in his play, as the flames begin to consumer her legs and to rise at the stake – he has her say, ‘The world can use these words. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and yet they give their lives for that little or nothing. One life is all we have, she said, and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it is gone. But to surrender what you are and live without belief is more terrible than dying, even more terrible than dying young.’ Well, my young brothers and sisters, that is essentially my New Years message to you tonight, a message from me, from the leaders of the church, from a teenage young woman of 600 years ago. One life is all we have, and our happiness will come in living it the right way, for the right reasons – reasons that are eternal – reasons that matter in this life and in the next. Now, we don’t want you to die, and we surely don’t want you to die young, but there truly are some things worse than dying. In Joan of Arcs words tonight, that would be to live without belief, to surrender what you are and to live contrary to what you know or should know to be true.”

    And then he goes on to talk about being steadfast and immovable and being an example.

  17. Jeffrey on January 2, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Sue, that is precisely what I was referencing. Since when do Apostles quote Catholic saints? It’s very disturbing.

  18. Bean421 on January 2, 2009 at 12:11 am

    The youth in my ward really enjoyed the production. In part, I believe because they knew a few of the actors. I applaud the effort and can forgive the cheesiness.

  19. Ray on January 2, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Thanks, Sue. That quote is very different than the summary version in #12.

    I have some problems with the way it could be interpreted, but quoting from a Catholic Saint doesn’t bug me in the slightest.

  20. Geoff J on January 2, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Jeffrey,

    If you find that quote appalling and disturbing I can only assume you are easily appalled and disturbed. It seems quite innocuous to me.

  21. Kent Larsen on January 2, 2009 at 12:43 am

    I’m fairly sure that #12 is referring to the talk that Holland gave in the beginning of the DVD. My daughter thought the talk was pretty good — better than the rest of the DVD — but she didn’t mention the statements #12 mentioned.

  22. Alison Moore Smith on January 2, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Most of the youth in my ward were in attendance at the filming. Haven’t seen the DVD, but I didn’t hear a single negative from anyone who attended. They absolutely RAVED about the event.

  23. Hunter on January 2, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Jeffrey, I’m curious to know what you thought about an apostle holding up a young female (i.e., Joan of Arc) as an example? As a father of three young daughters, I loved it.

  24. Carrie LC on January 2, 2009 at 2:36 am

    The Performance 3, Photo 5 looks like, “Heil Hitler”. Maybe they shouldn’t have included that one in the photo gallery….

  25. Osama B. L. on January 2, 2009 at 5:07 am

    “but there truly are some things worse than dying” and ” Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and yet they give their lives for that little or nothing.”

    These are true words spoken by true people of the divine. I agree whole heartedly that some beliefs are worth giving our lives for, in fact, we might even be better off if we give our lives for the cause. Think of the rewards for those that do die for the cause. I could not agree more.

    - Osama B. L.

  26. Andrew S. on January 2, 2009 at 7:49 am

    These production values are…REALLY….good. I was quite impressed with the videos and the site as a whole. Kinda sickly sweet and I doubt teenagers will go for it (I wouldn’t, but then again, I’m probably atypical)…but just look at the production values!

  27. jjohnsen on January 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

    They should have spent more money on some good writers.

  28. Brett on January 2, 2009 at 10:57 am

    It’s a step in the right direction. While the Church has been doing a good job upping its online presence, it’s still way behind other Christian churches. They should definitely integrate the New Era into a website instead of sending people back to the official site with it’s bland corporate branding. They also need to add some more social features on the site. Why not ask for volunteer submissions for a youth blog?

    Also, it would be cool if the design of the site was a bit more edgy and grungy and not so fresh looking. Ask any graphic designer and they’ll tell you the vintage/grunge look is totally in with young people.

    Finally, in re: the music. When will Mormonism end their love affair with Disney power ballads? The music from this program was sickeningly sappy and if I and my friends were still teenagers, we would have been completely turned off. They should have hired Jars of Clay or some other Christian rock band. The music and lyrics are way better.

  29. Dixie Watson on January 2, 2009 at 11:42 am

    The whole thing reminded me of that scene in Bubble Boy where the neutered ethno-diverse cult kids do a Mass Moonie on Bubble Boy and sing their freaky 80′s song, “Bright and Shiny”. Isn’t it odd to Mormons that their propoganda machine will hold up a variety of different races and cultures in their funky magazines and media but the total heirarchy are just a bunch of old white guys, white guys, white guys, white guys, white guys, white guys, white guys, and a few token nicely placated “elect ladies”? There’s some CULT-ural diversity for you.

    Watch the video again ladies and gentlemen. It’s not just cheezy, it’s downright creepy. Don’t make your kids get sucked in deeper. Run, Run, fast as you can.

  30. Kent Larsen on January 2, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Brett (28) wrote: “Why not ask for volunteer submissions for a youth blog?”

    Because you would need the manpower to correlate the submissions.

    But, I agree with you on the design and quality issues, and especially the music.

    IMO, The impulse to correlate and script everything is a large part of the problem. We wouldn’t want anything outside of our control, for fear that something said might be wrong or easily criticized.

    BUT, Dixie is just wrong in suggesting that this means “Run, Run, fast as you can.” The annoying design choices, lack of real diversity (I kind of felt embarrassed for some of the kids in the production, they looked like tokens put there just for their race), poor music choices, etc. don’t mean that the values behind all this are wrong.

    Dixie is right that things like this do make us look cult-ish.

  31. rbc on January 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    My cable TV provider groups religious channels in between local and sports related channels. Occasionally I will glide through the religious channels on my way to the more important sports related channels. The videos posted on this new website reminded me of what I see on the evangelical channels: the youth concerts, the overlyeager kids repeating rehearsed lines and the group chanting.

    Every summer we send our kids all over the country to EFY and they always have a great time and come home super enthused. If this is what they are getting at EFY, I may have to rethink this summer’s travel plans. (And I’m feeling like a failure as a parent that my kid can’t see the cheesy almost manipulative nature of these kinds of presentations. My kids love EFY.)

    I agree the website is a step in the right direction to reach the youth of today. They just need much better content on the videos: make them more Mormon and less evangelical.

  32. DR on January 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I had the opportunity to review the videos online yesterday and my first impression was – ‘cheesy’. As I continued to watch I realized however that as the world becomes more and more willing to accept that which is immoral and impure that which is moral and pure will be regarded and viewed as ‘cheesy’.

    Is it manipulative? Absolutely! If we don’t create, or ‘manipulate’ these experiences the world will certainly be creating other experiences for them. You don’t think missionaries are manipulative in creating an atmosphere where the Spririt can be present. Is it evangelical? Absolutely! But what is wrong about smiling and rejoicing when you are doing what is right – scripted or not, truth is truth.

    What is wrong with being cheesy!

    My hat is off to the Church for once again putting together a first rate production. I hope they continue to be bold in this way and continue to improve upon what they have done.

  33. Brett on January 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    @ rbc Completely agree how evangelical the program looked. I live in Tulsa, so we have a ton of stations that play this sort of stuff. I usually watch it to make fun of them and give thanks that our church doesn’t do crap like that. I guess I can’t give thanks any more.

  34. Kent Larsen on January 2, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    @DR (32):

    Nonsense. There is no conflict whatsoever between moral and pure and avoiding “cheesy.” Being “cheesy” doesn’t come from being moral and pure. It comes from being insincere and expressing ideas poorly, using trite words and phrasing.

    What is wrong with being “cheesy” is that it comes across as insincere and inept. It turns off the audience who can see through the insincerity to people being told to say what they are saying instead of saying what they really feel in their own words. They see people desperately trying to hide the feelings they have that they think are “negative” or “uncomfortable.”

    You want a counter example? Try Barak O’Bama. Like or dislike him, his speeches are not cheesy, but in the hands of someone who is less sincere, they might come across as cheesy. If they used more cliches and more stilted wording, they could easily be quite cheesy. And if you listen to what he is saying, the message isn’t all that different from what most of us believe.

    Another example are the talks we hear at General Conference. They are usually very sincere, well-delivered and well-thought out. They don’t come across as cheesy. It is no accident, I believe, that my daughter said after seeing the DVD that she liked Elder Holland’s talk better than the rest of the DVD!! GET THIS. SHE LIKED THE BORING TALK PART BETTER THAN THE SO-CALLED FUN PART!!

    The message isn’t the problem. Its not morality and purity that are cheesy. Its HOW it is delivered.

  35. Ray on January 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    All I really care about is if it works. We’ll see how the actual intended audience reacts.

  36. Kent Larsen on January 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    You’re right, Ray. How well it works is the key.

    But how you measure whether it works or not is also important. In Mormondom, I’m afraid that the faithful will show up almost no matter how poor the product is, if the General Authorities ask them to. So if you are measuring by gross number of users, it may seem to work.

    IMO, this should be measured on the margins — by how well it is accepted among those on the fence about the Church.

  37. Rob Perkins on January 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve long been of the opinion that the miracle in the Church isn’t that it grows or prospers or does any good in the world at all, but that it does so in spite of its members’ best efforts to help it along.

    #33 I think you pegged why this sort of thing makes me uncomfortable: I don’t feel a lot of affinity for the part of the American subculture that keeps alive the most false and degrading memes about Mormonism, in order to use them to keep their own people from being attracted to it. That stuff on Qubo and channels like it give me the screamin’ willies. Everything except “Veggie Tales”.

    Even so, I know teens who will respond strongly to this sort of production, pay the one or two dollars for the CD (or just download ‘em all) and swoon, swoon, swoon to it for all the years of their youth. I figure that this production was designed to reach a certain kind of young person, and that there are piles of that sort in the American West.

    Oh, and it sure beats those circuit fireside speakers from the ’80′s, wandering around Mormon-land warning us all about the evil backmasked messages in pop music.

    #31 I think EFY is what you make of it, honestly. If the kids enjoy it, let ‘em go, I say. Then sit down afterwards and deconstruct the manipulation with them and help them to choose the right on its own terms. It’s what I plan to do; my daughters are already very interested in the cheese, and they love Disney power ballads more than any other kind of music.

  38. Rob Perkins on January 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    #30 — If all they had to draw from was the population of the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas for their performers (likely themselves volunteers), then that tokenism you see was not tokenism, it was the racial makeup of the area.

  39. Gina on January 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    My daughter was horrified by the phoniness. She felt embarrassed. She was worried that more of this type of stuff was headed her way in future “productions.”
    I think a little more reverence and sincerity, not wooden, over-rehearsed lines might have saved everyone involved a little dignity. Those on the fence will not be drawn by this presentation. Those already in the “choir” may soak up this type of “preaching,” but those who already feel marginalised may just walk away. One can be moral and righteous without being creepy and overbearing. I don’t have any problem with promoting moral values and encouraging youth to strive for righteous living. Why cheapen the meaning of the message by sugar-coating it and trivialising it?

  40. Hunter on January 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    One other thing not to be forgotten: The DVD/Conference Center production was, in the end, a New Year’s Eve event. Certainly one of their goals was to compete for the other events that the youth could have been at that night. So, I say forgive a little of the over-the-top-ness, or cheese – when viewed in the context of a New Year’s Eve celebration, it’s not so awful.

  41. Jeremy on January 2, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I was gone over the break, but I highly suspect that when I debrief the young men in the teachers quorum I supervise on Sunday, I will find that the ones who dig this stuff are the ones I wasn’t worried about anyway; several will have received it with their standard, resigned snark, and those on the fringes will feel even more culturally isolated from the church we’re trying to keep them connected to.

  42. Raymond Takashi Swenson on January 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Re #17: Please note that Peter, Paul, Matthew, Luke and John are all “Catholic Saints”, yet we have no problem at all honoring them and quoting them at great length, since they lived and wrote the New Testament. We should also remember that Article of Faith declares that the Latter-day Saints seek out and embrace virtue and goodness wherever it can be found, regardless of the associations the authors may have with other religions. So Mormons love to quote C.S. Lewis, even though he was an Anglican. In this way, we distinguish ourselves from some “Evangelical Christians” who want to shout down Glenn Beck for sounding like a redeemed Christian, because they don’t want to know that anyone who is not in their particular faith community can have any understanding of the redeeming message of Christ. For them, their own salvation is cheapened if Mormons can get it too.

    In the vision recorded in D&C Section 76, Joseph Smith made clear that there will be innumerable good Christian people who will be redeemed in the Terrestrial Kingdom through the atoning power of Christ, receiving every element of heaven as they conceive it. In the vision of the spirit world in D&C 138, Joseph F. Smith made it clear that many of those good Christians will in fact be receiving the gospel in its fullness and inherit the Celestial Kingdom. So the fact that a person lived such an exemplary life that he or she became a Catholic Saint in no way disqualifies him or her from eventually becoming a Latter-day Saint. If exaltation can come to politicians like the Founding Fathers (who appeared to Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple), it is certainly an option for Francis of Assisi and Jean D’Arc, Thomas Aquinas and William Tyndale. We should remember modestly that the Church of Jesus Christ has been in continuous operation since 34 AD in the Spirit World, and that the Restoration was replanting on earth the Church and authority that has never ceased operating in the Spirit World for some 2000 years. We are just a branch off the main operation of salvation, which will gather in far more people than we can reach, with the limitations of language and limited religious freedom.

  43. Jon W. on January 2, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Raymond thank you for #42. I think those who forget now a days that many people in history, including many missionaries, Joseph Smith and many many others sacrificed themselves for their belief. It is a requirement of faith that we be tested. Even to death. I do not think this is somehow shocking or surprising.

    While I am far from a teen, I would be very discouraged as a parent if I had to “deprogram” my child who went to a church event. I might, at times, need to correct some comment but rarely would I see that as an issue of “programming”. Honestly, if your kids enjoy EFY then maybe it is because it is not really that bad? It might be cheesy but what is the church to do? Come out with a Stryper type heavy metalesque Mormon rock band to play at general Conference? That would pack the kids in… maybe give out a free Big Mac as a church did in California if the kids came to church and STAYED AWAKE.

  44. Sue on January 2, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I understand the urge to give the church a break – they’re doing their best, they’re really trying (as though this was a skit that some poor overburdened activities committee director dreamed up in her spare time). But the church is a massive organization with a lot of resources. They pay people to write this stuff. Is this really the best we can do?

  45. Sue on January 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I think comparing EFY to the music/script in this video is very unkind to EFY. This isn’t cheesy, it’s just badly written. There’s a difference.

  46. Brett on January 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    The song and dance in the Youth program reminded me of this: http://www.spike.com/video/christian-pop/3032029

    The only thing the youth program lacked was some power popping and locking for the Lord.

  47. Jeremy on January 2, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Then you weren’t paying attention, Brett. There was indeed some popping and locking for the Lord. And it was about as tastefully incorporated as the black kids tapdancing in “An Affair to Remember.”

  48. Rob Perkins on January 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    On a lighter note, may I congratulate those who mentioned “Love Shack”, for finally unseating the other earworm chewing at my brain, namely Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. I appreciated it.

  49. William James on January 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Haha, I don’t know whats more offputting: the cheesiness of the videos or the ridiculous pooh poohing comments on this thread. I really enjoyed the melodramatic comments of the “if we had videos like this when I was a youth, it would have been the end! Oh the shame!” variety. But I also enjoyed the “oh wow, can you believe the gall of that renegade Elder Holland, who had the nerve to tell those impressionable youth that being true to God is more important than life itself. The outrage!” Yeah, cuz Christ himself didn’t sacrifice his life on principle.

    Its a good effort, and I applaud the Church for the effort. Is it cheesy? Of course. Are there worse things for impressionable youth than cheese? Absolutely. But as to the “how does it appeal to the fence-sitting youth litmus test,” if youth are going to be turned off to the Church because of cheese overdose, then, frankly, there are bigger problems that need to be addressed. But what type of audience are we trying to appeal to anyhow? Isn’t it likely that there are just as many struggling youth out there who are simply longing to belong to a peer group where they feel accepted, cheese notwithstanding, than there are those who are frustrated because the Youth program doesn’t satisfactorily appeal to their sophisticated intellects?

  50. Jeffrey on January 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    This presentation is simply a form of hypnotic suggestion. People in an emotional state are very susceptible to this kind of manipulation. Holland is placing the suggestion that losing your belief = death. Later in life, days, weeks, or years – think about it. When a person starts to think about losing their belief, when they start to doubt – their mind has already equated losing belief with death. The result will be great fear, anxiety, they may even get sick over it. Being LDS they will say “Of course” it all makes sense, it’s just what the apostles have told me would happen.

    It gets even worse. They are all told that you can’t be happy outside of the church. If the first thing that happens when you question the LDS dogma at all is pain, anxiety, fear – this just reinforces this idea that happiness is only found in the church. Most people will turn back immediately and no longer question since that brings on such bad emotions. This is a way of totally manipulating the youth through hyptnotic suggestion. It won’t work on everyone, but a good enough percentage to make it well worth the effort.

  51. Jeffrey on January 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Here’s all the proof one needs about the power of hypnotic suggestion when people are in an emotional state and susceptible to manipulation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOEKdaXIEHc

    The church has patented its unqiue emotional advertising strategy and called it Heartsell!

    http://www.bonneville.com/?sid=582&nid=32

    The same tactics were used on the youth who participated in this conference.

  52. Jeffrey on January 2, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    In teaching children, animals, adults – whatever, we can chose positive reinforcement, or negative reinforcement.

    This is the worst of all worlds. THey are setting these kids up so that they never feel they are good enough. They should expect to be judged by other kids, by their bishops, by their parents and by themselves.
    The threat of straying off the path is ever there. One gets the feeling that if you do stray off that path – you would be better off dead. There is no place for you in the Church. This sets up all sort of internal fears.

    The result is Negative reinforcement. The threat of negative reinforcement. The actuall punishment comes from each of us. We are our own torturer. We self inflict the mental pain and anguish because this is what is being taught here. Unless somehow we can be perfect.

  53. Jeffrey on January 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    If we think about “what if the Church might not be true” the suggestion is planted that we would be better off dead – mental pain, anxiety, sickness – it’s stan he’s working on me. “The CHurch is true, the Church is true, the CHurch is true” MUST READ BOM, MUST READ . . . it’s true, its true – there now I feel a little bit better.

    THis is a really twisted setup. You must watch out for your friends. THey will be watching out for you. Keep them from going astray (tell the Bishop), ridicule them if they dare to mention anything like multiple first vision stories.
    If you ever do commit a serious sin – you are done. There is no place for you here. That’s the tone of this DVD. Screw up and you might as well be dead (this will help the suicide rate) or at least leave the Church – oh, wait, they are kids they can’t they are stuck being shamed – back to the suicide watch.

  54. Victor on January 3, 2009 at 1:10 am

    This is my first visit to this site, and I think my last. I think it would be more appropriately called “sunstoneonline.”

    Elder Holland is RIGHT. There are worse things than dying. There are a LOT of things worse than dying. The phrases “Give me liberty or give me death” and “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country” come to mind.

    But Martyrdom isn’t the point of the talk. He says we all give our lives for something. For some, that thing is of amazing value, for others that thing is nothing at all. Life is worth living for the gospel’s sake, and the gospel is worth living for life’s sake.

    I believe it. Like Elder Cowley said “I’m just that simple.”

  55. JA Benson on January 3, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Seriously Victor. You are playing the stereotype. You are looking for someone to offend you so that your mind can remain closed. Scary thing an open mind ehh Victor. As a frequent vistor and very occasional commentor I can assure you that Times and Seasons is farely moderate. You find a few on the left and a few on the right and most folks are in the middle. What you will find that is interesting about the Times and Seasons community is polite, diverse in opinion, conversation.

    As for Sunstone. Have you read it recently or have you been to a recent conference? A pretty normal crowd there too. In fact this summer in SLC they had a session about how to reach Generation Y. The suggestions proposed in that session are pretty close to this new website for the youth.

    BTW My #2 son was in attendance and thought it was ok.

  56. TT on January 3, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    One major problem: doesn’t work on the iPhone!

  57. willf on January 4, 2009 at 2:45 am

    #2 I got more of a “High School Musical”/Disney performer/David Archuletaesque vibe. My 12-year-old daughter gives it a thumbs up.

  58. willf on January 4, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Phew – after reading some of the over-the-top criticism on this page I’m glad the internets weren’t writed yet when “My Turn on Earth” came out.

  59. willf on January 4, 2009 at 2:52 am

    I mean really, did some of you get passed over during the auditions or something?

  60. M W on January 4, 2009 at 3:50 am

    The youth in our stake were not informed ahead of time that they were going to watch the Holland portion of the DVD.
    They met at one of the building, socialized while playing Rock Band/Guitar Hero or some such.
    Then, they were shown the video. Those kids with electronic toys/phones/iPods promptly ignored it. Then, the youth went right back to “Ozzy Osborne” on Rock Band, as one of them put it. There was nary a mention of the DVD for the rest of the evening.
    We are in a fairly typical N. Cal. stake, just for reference. The overall feeling from the youth I’ve talked to was that it was a waste of time, and that if they’d known what they were in for, they would’ve shown up late.

  61. BronwynJT on January 4, 2009 at 8:38 am

    I’m confused about J A Benson’s post #55. What did Victor say that was so over the top? Was it another poster, perhaps, that she meant to excoriate?

  62. Billy Destura on January 4, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Hopefully the youth realize this is NOT the best the Church has to offer. It is simply a means to an end, an appetizer. The best the Church has to offer is the pure gospel of Christ, as found in the standard works and the words of living prophets. If this website brings the stragglers into the camp and they can find the true banquet table on their own, it is a good idea in the long run.

    Like J. Reuben Clark said, we don’t have to whisper religion in the youth’s ears. The kids want it strait up, undiluted. I can appreciate why some youth were turned off by the production. Not all LDS youth need to be entertained while being edified. I was certainly that way as a teenager. There were occasions where I rolled my eyes at certain EFY gimmicks and CES personell acting like stand up comedians instead of teachers of the gospel.

  63. Cameron on January 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I think some of you are too worried about certain aspects of teenagers growing up. As a teenager I experienced all of these hokey things, but I could not deny the Spirit. If the Spirit confirms things to them, and they eventually act on those confirmations, they’ll be fine in spite of all the silly stuff.

  64. Ayman al-Zawahiri on January 4, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    #25:
    Long time no see! I always suspected you were a T&S lurker.

  65. Craig M. on January 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I’m a frequent lurker and just read this thread. Is it being moderated? Some of these comments seem unusual for a T&S discussion. Hopefully the moderators will take a second look and a few of these posts.

  66. willf on January 4, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    #60 – Rock Band and Guitar Hero… I’ll never understand the fascination with spending hours learning to play a pseudo-musical-instrument when people could actually learn invest their time learning to really play a musical instrument. Maybe it will at least be a gateway drug for some people to get them interested in the real thing.

  67. Andrew on January 4, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Ok, we just watched this for a fireside in my stake.

    The youth were underwhelmed. One of the kids leaned over to me and said, “this is like ‘High School Musical’ in church.”

    As for whether or not “it works,” I’m sure it will speak to the youth who are already very active and involved. But the youth who are on the fence or in danger of going in active, I have a hard time believing that it will appeal to them.

    The whole thing was bizarre. There was definitely a megachurch vibe to it.

  68. Glen Dutcher on January 5, 2009 at 8:26 am

    #30. Your (and my former) cult began looking cultish long before cheesy dvd’s came along.

  69. claire on January 5, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    #63 re: the spirit.

    I actually am not convinced that having wholesome fun is The Spirit. Or meeting some fun kids at a stake dance is The Spirit. I suppose those warm, fun feelings could be described as something like the spirit of fellowship, etc. But far beyond the hokey cheese factor, I think the most unsettling thing was the many times this idea was reinforced to the youth.

  70. Robin on January 12, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    I am serving in my third YW Presidency, two which were in the inner city and one in the country. With a background in communications and television news, I agree the church is passed due on getting up to speed with the media and utilizing its power for good – I connect quicker with my youth through facebook in a given day than any other method – however, that DVD is not in touch with the three different groups of youth I have worked with. It would only go over well with my beehives and that is it. It was too fake-Disney Channel/High School Musical-ish. I was very disappointed after all the hype that that was what we received. We (both YM/YW leaders) are still undecided on how or if we will use this DVD.