Friday, September 25, 2009

Truth & Conviction: The Helmuth Hubener Story (2002)

Helmuth Hubener was a teenaged German Latter-day Saint from Hamburg, who with the assistance of two fellow young Mormons from his branch, was a surprisingly accomplished anti-Nazi pamphleteer. Though once an apparently contended Hitler Youth, Hubener became convinced of the evils of Naziism by observing their treatment of the Jews and listening to forbidden British radio broadcasts. Recruiting two of his friends to assist him, Hubener composed dozens of anti-Nazi pamphlets which they distributed in fair numbers throughout the Hamburg area. Hubener and his friends were eventually captured by the Nazi’s and Hubener executed, though his compatriots lived to tell his tale.

I admit to being somewhat ill disposed to this story at first, feeling Hubener's tale to have been overplayed within LDS circles in recent years. I can’t help but feel hyping Hubeners story is a way some Latter-day Saints have come to retroactively insert themselves, and their faith into the understandably popular historical narrative of anti-Nazi resistance (in other words, we want in on the righteous indignation too). Truth is most of the relatively small group of Mormons in Germany at that time, like their fellow country men, made no active attempts to resist the Nazi movement. Also some Mormons were Nazi’s themselves, and I’m glade that this documentary addressed that issue. This being said I found Helmuth’s story more interesting that I thought I would, and found him to be a truly impressive individual who showed an unusual amount of courage and conviction, especially given his age. Helmuth’s is not a story of a particularly ‘Mormon’ kind of resistance, but rather of a kind of courage that sets apart valiant individuals from all backgrounds and creeds. Grade: B.

Soon to be a 'major motion picture' with Haley Joel Osment.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some Recent Deaths

Robert McNamara (1916-2009)

A genius organization man who became head of the World Bank, he will always be remembered as a kind of tragic figure for his role as U.S. Defense Secretary during much of the Vietnam War. McNamara later admitted publicly that he was wrong about Vietnam, earning plaudits in some circles and scorn in others. The latest and most enduring image of McNamara is probably that encapsulated in Errol Morris’s 2003 documentary The Fog of War (which also boasts an excellent Phillip Glass score).

Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

The most iconic of all anchormen (take that Ed Morrow). Cronkite was "the most trusted man in America", but was ironically forced out of his job by CBS to make room for Dan Rather (big mistake). A New York Times columnist in his 80’s, Cronkite (a devout Episcopalian) served as chairman for The Interfaith Alliance.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)

The Kennedy sister who helped found The Special Olympics (the latest of which was held here in Boise). Wife of Sargent Shriver, first director of The Peace Corps and 1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate (one of two).

Robert Novak (1931-2009)

He seemed to attract controversy fairly regularly, and whether you love it or hate it, he was influential in the creation of the current format of cable news (so you probably hate him). He did have a sense of humor though and I appricate the title of his last book: Prince of Darkness: Fifty Years Reporting in Washington. Novak died from the brian cancer he’d been fighting for roughly a year.

Don Hewitt (1922-2009)

Another grand old man of the news, only here focused on the production side as the creator of 60 minutes. A major influence on the life of Mike Wallace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm Back

Well its certainly been a while since I posted here, and I’ve missed covering a fair bit of Mormon news, such as new Apostle Neil L. Anderson (another middle-aged white American with a business degree, sorry having a hard time getting excited). Anyway I though I’d inaugurate my return with some links to articles I’ve found in recent months that I thought were interesting:

Hopefully more posts to come soon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Recent Deaths

Larry H. Miller: 1944-2009

A pillar of the Mormon business community, Miller was the owner of the Utah Jazz basketball team as well as auto dealerships throughout the mountain west, he was also the financer of The Work and the Glory movies, and The Joseph Smith Papers Project. Miller got national media attention several years ago when he refused to screen the gay romance Brokeback Mountain at his movie theaters, presumably on moral grounds, while still allowing torture porn like Hostel to play there. Though that is perhaps an unfair thing to remember him for, as he was quite committed to charity and civic involvement in his community. Miller died of complications from diabetes.

Paul Harvey: 1918-2009

Along with the likes of Alistair Cook and Studs Terkal, one of a pioneering generation in radio broadcasting whose life seemed perpetually rejuvenated by his love of the medium. On the radio almost consistently since a boy in 1933, Harvey’s style was all his own, he could be opinionated, but always in a soft style, and his signature phrases and vocal cadence were somehow very endearing .I personally just loved how he’d say: “Stand - by - for Neeewwwzz”. Always old timey .Click this link for the rest of the story.

Socks the Cat: 1989-2009

That was one old cat, he survived both Bush administrations! Probably the most iconic presidential pet of my lifetime (sorry Millie).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Community of Christ Maps

I love maps, I love Church history, so I thought I’d share with you these maps for a yet unpublished history of the Community of Christ Church, graciously shared with us all by there creator, a guy who writes for the By Common Consent blog.

Mormon Super Patriots: Not Always So

The conception of American Mormons as generally very patriotic, yea nationalistic citizens, is for the most part a valid one (Utah I believe was the last state in which George W. Bush enjoyed over a 50% approval rating). But this has not always been so, and indeed the development of the Mormon embrace of establishment America is a strain in the history of the Church that very much fascinates me. Here is a short blog post that focuses on those early years in the Latter-day Saint movement when America was just another gentile nation doomed to the wrath of God.

The Horror of Lady's Bicycling

I am surprised just how familiar this editorial from an 1896 issue of The Juvenile Instructor Sounds. Films, the internet, popular music, I also remember ‘mosh pits’ being specifically warned against in the 1990’s. If it’s a possible direct, or even tangential source of sin, its likely to be warned against in print or over the pulpit by some influential Mormon, some time, some where. I recall as a teenager be warned at a Church camp by an earnest Stake President about the immortality of the film The Horse Whisper, which the average 17 year old is not going to be inclined to see, and even if he did see it, would not likely remain awake the whole time. Yesterday being the 50th anniversary of ’The Day the Music Died’ I can also tell that Don McLean’s American Pie was once morally disparaged at Church camp as well. I tell you the man who gave these warning is in many ways a wonderful guy, but his standards, man. Anyway I can only imagine what George Q. Cannon would say about ward youth swim parties.

January 20th, 2009

I know, I know I’m late with this one, but is it not a bloggers duty to chronicle their reactions to significant events of our times? I think it is, and there has been perhaps no more significant an event since Sept 11th 2001, then the inauguration of the first black president of the United States (Important note: I’m not equating these two events in terms of value judgment).

First a brief note on George W. Bush’s passing from the scene: I will read his book, which I was surprised to hear (from the now ex-Presidents mouth on Nightline no less) that he intends to write. The man will doubtless be a pariah for some time to come, but I have this long held suspicion that he will eventually come to be redeemed in the eyes of the American people, though not necessarily the historians. This is because he stuck by his guns, and presidents who do that tend to be remembered well even if not all that popular in there own time (think Harry Truman). It is this same principle that leaves me with a grudging respect for Woodrow Wilson, despite the fact that he really left a lot of damage in his wake.

The Inauguration was of course exiting, it was kind of like a reunion show for the entire zeitgeist. Al Gore talking with John McCain at the post inaugural luncheon, Colin Powell seated next to Steven Spielberg to watch the ceremonies. The new President gave a 4 out of 5 speech that captured the moment but didn’t have the one great sound bite that Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy had. Plus say what you will about that hat, Aretha Franklin is a national treasure, though we really only trout her out for things like Olympic opening ceremony’s and the like.

Still my favorite moment has to be the comic contrast of 88 year old justice Stevens flawlessly swearing in vice president Joe Biden, while the 50ish chief justice Roberts messes up the mere 35 words he had to say at like three places. Anyway I thought the Inauguration a worthwhile historic moment to take a few hours off of work to bask in. So far President Obama’s polling about a 69% approval rating (a rather striking change of pace from the last 5 years), though to paraphrase Dennis Miller his cabinet could sure use Tax Masters.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Energy Drinks

Like the Phoenix New Times I too noticed this recent Ensign article and thought to myself: “Oh, another new don’t”. This one follows I suppose, some of those energy drinks are worse then coffee, and it correlates nicely with a cultural Mormon rejection of Pepsi and all things caffeine. However the anti-cola disposition has never been formalized, one can still enjoy a Dr. Pepper and attend the temple, the same of course being true of energy drinks, abstention here is a “council” not a “commandment”. However in addition with not being good for your system, Red Bull certainly will not count in your favor when applying for celestial admittance.
What Mormons Like : This is a fun and pretty accurate examination of Mormon cultural eccentricity, of which I am an ardent hobbyist. Especially check out entrees on Mormon names and the setting-up of single Mormons.