Share Goodness: Part 3

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In part 1 and part 2 of this series on what’s good in the world, I shared shows, songs, and books I find positive and uplifting. Here is part 3.

Movie

The Book of Life, directed by Jorge R. Gutiérrez. The movie is beautifully animated and has a number of positive messages. It is a colorful presentation of aspects of Mexican culture. I appreciated the presentation of the eternal importance of family. Some of the images in this movie are potentially frightening. There are also challenging thematic materials and violence.

The movie is available to purchase in a number of formats. The soundtrack is also pretty great.

Music

Stand by Me – lyrics by Charles Albert Tindley. I love Seth Avett’s simple version of the gospel song.

Hang On by Guster. Many people struggle with mental illness – some mild, some severe. This song by Guster is about clinging to hope when all around is dark. If you feel like you can’t go on, hang on and seek appropriate medical or psychiatric care. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a website dedicated to dealing with mental health issues (mostly from a spiritual standpoint).

Lullaby by Peter Breinholt. The version sung with the One Voice Children’s Choir was recorded to raise awareness and money to help support Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to helping rescue enslaved children.

Books

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful novels ever written. The setting is South Africa during Apartheid but the overarching theme is sin and redemption.

Here are a few quotes from the book I enjoy (to save myself time, all were taken from Goodreads):

“Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering…. I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi. For our Lord suffered. And I come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering. For he knew that there is no life without suffering.”

“The Judge does not make the law. It is people that make the law. Therefore if a law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the law, that is justice, even if it is not just.”

“I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good for their country, come together to work for it.
I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they [white men] are turned to loving, they will find we [black men] are turned to hating.”

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

Share Goodness: Part 2

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In part 1 of this series on finding and sharing what’s good in the world, I shared shows, songs, and a book I find positive and uplifting. I share more in this post.

Shows

Cinderella (2015). This live action retelling of the classic Disney animated film is beautifully written, filmed, and acted. I love this movie. One of my favorite lines is a repeated theme throughout the movie: “I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind.” That I will be kind and that my children will be kind is a recurring petition I make in prayer.

Music

It’s Good to Be Alive by Regan Rindlisbacher. The delightful song is catchy and uplifting. It’s one of my family’s favorites. Her song is “about having a positive outlook on life, looking for the beauty in the world, and cherishing relationships with those we love.”

Handel’s Eternal Source Of Light Divine (officially known as Ode for the birthday of Queen Anne). There are a number of lovely recordings of the song; here is one I enjoy. The lyrics are a prayer for birthday peace.

Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone performed by BYU’s Noteworthy. This is a cover of Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace (Noteworthy’s cover is the better version, in my opinion). I love the purity of the presentation and the power of the music.

Books

The books I’m posting fall in the self-help category. That’s one of my least favorite book categories, which is why these books are notable (I actually like them).

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen. Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He’s currently one of the most influential thinkers in the business world. The book has application to just about anyone of any age but will not be particularly interesting to anyone younger than 16. The book is “full of inspiration and wisdom, and will help students, midcareer professionals, and parents alike forge their own paths to fulfillment.”

Bonds that Make Us Free: Healing our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves by C. Terry Warner. This is not an easy read and won’t be of much interest to many people younger than 18 (and probably isn’t of much interest to most people 18 and older). If you want the shorter, more digestible version read Leadership and Self-deception: Getting Out of the Box, released by the Abridger Institute. Bonds that Make Us Free is the better book but is quite technical. The book provides guidance on “how we betray ourselves by failing to act toward others as we know we should — and how we can interrupt the unproductive cycle and restore the sweetness in our relationships.”

Share Goodness: Part 1

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I’m starting a new occasional feature on this site that I’m calling “Share Goodness”. This is taken from a social media campaign encouraged by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another inspiration is one of the slogans of BYUtv: “See the good“. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we accept truth and goodness from any source: “Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” (Joseph Smith)

Rather than protesting what is bad, I believe in supporting what is good. After all, the Savior went about doing good (Acts 10:38). Instead of hearing, seeing, and saying no evil we can hear, see, and say good things. I hope to share some good things to see, hear, and read.

For the first part of this series I want to share a handful of uplifting songs, books, and visual media I’ve enjoyed recently. All are appropriate for families (at least my family), although some might be best for preteen and older. I won’t really provide reviews, I’ll just list things my family and/or I have enjoyed.

Shows

There are three I’d like to recommend with this first installment.

My family and I loved watching Random Acts on BYUtv. The show is described as: “Whimsical and heartwarming, BYUtv’s original hidden-camera show highlights the good in humanity through surprise service projects and pranks with a purpose.” If you haven’t watched it, watch it today.

The second recommendation is the show Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. The show is targeted to 8-13 year olds but is enjoyable for the whole family. I like it as much as my kids (maybe more). This is produced by Amazon and is available to view with an Amazon Prime subscription. It is also available to purchase. We haven’t watched all 3 seasons yet but really enjoyed the first.

The third recommendation is Just Add Magic, also produced by Amazon. The show is geared towards 8-13 year olds but has something for the whole family. It is available for purchase or is included with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Music

I could list hundreds of songs but I’ll start with two.

“The Ground, Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria too” by Ola Gjeilo. Here’s the link on Spotify. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed it as part of Music and the Spoken Word on January 11, 2015.

Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin. Here is the Spotify link. A lovely cover by two musicians I enjoy (Peter Hollens and Malukah) is on YouTube (and is available to stream and purchase). The lyrics for the song Baba Yetu are the Swahili translation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Books

I could list many good books I’ve enjoyed (although not all are appropriate for this site). I’ll start with The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling and her sister Brooke S. Passey. It’s an uplifting book full of positive messages. This one probably isn’t appropriate for (“interesting to” is probably a better term) kids younger than 10-12 but I strongly recommend the book for an interesting and unique perspective on the entertainment industry. Lindsey deals with some serious materials (her struggle with an eating disorder, for example), which is why I think it’s probably best for teenage and older individuals. I will, however, strongly encourage my children to read it (or listen to it, I have a copy of the audiobook) once they are teenagers.

Note: I did one post like this three years ago but it was focused just on sacred music. My hope is to continue posts like this where I share good (uplifting) books, songs, and visual media (movies/shows) I’ve enjoyed for years or just started enjoying. I won’t rate or rank anything I post. Most will be randomly selected and thus not posted in any particular order.

Love At Home

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One of the saddest things I’ve seen recently in a TV show or movie was during an episode of The Cosby Show. Two of the sisters have a disagreement and start fighting. I know many people watch that and laugh at the ridiculousness of it but it brought me to tears. There is nothing I find more disheartening than discord in homes. Seeing or hearing families fighting, arguing, or yelling at one another in anger is always profoudly disturbing to me.

I understand getting angry and annoyed but anger is almost always ugly. People have a difficult time thinking clearly when angry. Things are said or done that normally would not be said or done. Those less-than-thoughtful words and actions then exacerbate the problem, creating a feedback loop that can degenerate into something more hideous – a terrifying chimera of anger, distrust, and hate. Not all anger devolves into this, certainly, but our homes should be temples of peace and love and kindness rather than battlegrounds.

Our homes should be places of refuge and safety. Our homes should be full of kindness, service, and love. When we become angry and vent on family members, when we allow anger and fighting to enter our home, we drive away the Spirit of God and in essence desecrate the temple that should be our home. Anger and fighting have no place in our homes. The great prophet king Benjamin taught us to not:

“suffer that [our children] transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:14-15).

I’ve been married for more than 10 years. Not once have my wife and I fought. We’ve only rarely disagreed about things. I cannot even recall (should I even want to) a time when I was annoyed with my dear wife. I try to not do things or say things that could annoy my wife. Marriage is a sacred relationship; temple marriage, in particular, is founded upon covenants of righteousness and consecration. What this means is that everything we do should strengthen our marriages. One of the key things we can strive for and have to strengthen our marriages is unity. There is little my wife and I value more than unity as a couple and family. This leaves no place for anger or fighting. We need to be kind and gentle in all that we do.

We have been commanded to “Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another.” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:23). This leaves no place for arguing or fighting. If we want our children to be kind to one another we need to be good examples for them, which means we need to cease responding in anger to them. One of the best ways to reduce bad behavior is to encourage good. Jesus taught through the words of Isaiah that “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (3 Nephi 22:13). Peace in our homes and hearts comes when we are taught of the Lord. Peace comes through testimony and the Spirit as we strive to follow Jesus.

I started this post this morning and then after stake conference watched a new Mormon Channel music video that I feel is appropriate here.

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen [Video]

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This is outside the normal range of posts on this site but in the spirit of Christmas and because I enjoy good music I want to share a new version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen I discovered. It’s performed by Postmodern Jukebox, a fabulously talented group of individuals. The arrangement is far from traditional – the whole thing just works perfectly though.

Merry Christmas!

Music Moment: Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg

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I love music. I spend hours each day listening to music. This also means that I am always looking for new good music. This is one reason I love modern music tools – iTunes Store, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and many other sites – they help me discover and love new music. While I appreciate music from most genres, I particularly enjoy classical (including modern classical music, meaning movie soundtracks), religious, acoustic (e.g., folk, bluegrass), and alternative/indie music.

Some sacred music that I’ve been enjoying is by Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg. You can visit their website here. I just discovered their music within the past month on Spotify, a free (ad-supported) music service that started in Europe but is now available in the U.S. Three of Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg’s albums are available on Spotify. You can also stream their music on their website (where there are links with purchase options on CDBaby and iTunes). Both Geslison and Groberg live in Utah (both are afilliated with BYU).

I’ve greatly enjoyed all their albums that I’ve listened to so far. Their arrangements of hymns are peaceful but not boring – that’s a difficult balance to achieve. While each arrangement is interesting, none comes across as flashy. That’s an approach to arranging that I appreciate with sacred music because it is easy to over-arrange hymns, making them something less than they were meant to be – songs to glorify God. While that can be done with flashy and showy music (e.g., many of Bach’s or Handel’s sacred works), there is something to be said for keeping hymn arrangements worshipful. Their music is perfect to turn on Sunday morning to help remind of the purpose of the Sabbath day. It’s also great to turn on whenever else you need a boost of calm (I’ve turned it on at work as background music too).

Most of the arrangements are played using piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, bass, fiddle, or flute (or a combination of those instruments). A few have vocals.

My favorite album of theirs is Emma’s Hymns, a collection of some of the hymns Emma Smith included in the original 1835 hymnbook for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the melodies are slightly different than how we sing them today (in such cases, they provide both melodies). On this album, my favorite song is Emma’s Lullaby (that link will play the song but please visit their site and purchase their music if you enjoy it and are able to afford it; I am not being paid to promote their work, nor have I been given their music – my site is non-commercial – I believe in supporting musicians, particularly LDS musicians, who make good music that I enjoy. This encourages them to make more beautiful music).

Kudos to Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg for wonderfully arranging the hymns of the church.