Category Archives: Cultural Arts/Music/Dance

Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” [Alexandre Dumas in his masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo (completed in 1844).]

For some, sorrow is the teacher of this sublime language; for others, a storm is the teacher. Some in our family have been taking major tests and qualifying exams this year. For some, success is quick. For others, success will come later than expected or preferred. For everyone in our family, life has explained to us in new ways the importance of this sublime language. Here are more of the words in the language to which Dumas refers:

Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

Storms teach. But the master teacher is what we see as we look into the storm.

Quote from Time 1:00-2:03 of a clip of the birthday toast from “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), on YouTube below (or entire movie, with or without subtitles.) :

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header, Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Bonus photo, “Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) And Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Imprisoned In Château d’If” —www.
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www.
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—
  • Photo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”—www.

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“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

What Parenthood Has Taught Me About God: How He Relates To Me, How I Relate To Him

One of my sons just became a father. Words cannot describe how happy he and his wife are. His hopes for his son are unbounded. It started me thinking about my relationship with God.


Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise...

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise…

Over the years, life has taught me that God wants me to come as I am. He wants me to learn to be happy regardless of my circumstances, problems or pains, successes or failures. If I’ve got mud on my face, He’ll take me that way. If it will make me happier, He hands me a washcloth. While He may not care about the mud of dirt, He wants me to avoid face planting in the spiritual mud, and He patiently stands by and welcomes me back each time I’ve hit the mud puddles again. Importantly, He expects the same of others around me, encouraging those with ears to hear to welcome me back as well. As I receive the washcloth over and over, eventually I can teach myself to face plant only when there’s a good reason (like when it’s actual mud of dirt and there are grandkids around who need to be taught by example to love playing in the mud).

Father working with son in gardenI have learned that God wants me to let go of my past, to let go of the ungodly, unrighteous things I’ve done when I was pushing Him away, when I was singing not His song but rather my own discordant one. He wants me to be comfortable showing up, participating with gusto, practicing over and over, without putting on a false front or prettying myself up first. I can come and sing, mud, sour notes, and all.


Sunday-go-to-meetin' Clothes For General ConferenceMore importantly, I really think that God also wants me to put my best foot forward. When I don my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, I show respect for God by putting on the best that I have, whatever that is for me.


father and three of his children work together to wash a carMost importantly, God wants me to keep on keepin’ on. He doesn’t want me to get stuck.

He doesn’t want any of us to get stuck.

father dances with his daughter in their homeThe enemies of God try to convince me that I can’t improve or shouldn’t improve, that I’m a lost cause, that there’s simply no use in trying, that it’s silly to learn the dance and sillier still to try to hear the music. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. Real life begins when I decide to progress, to progress continually, to progress towards Him. God wants me to get off my duff and to get moving in His direction. And according to His principles. He wants me to know that He’s beside me, as I learn to improve, as I learn the joy of the dance. Joy isn’t an emotion; it’s a decision. As I keep practicing with joy in my heart, God is especially thrilled when I go beyond just the dance steps and start to hear the music. How sweet the sound!

father in Portugal sits with his children in their living room to read from the scriptures togetherSo open your mouth and prove how people can change. I’ve changed. My family has changed. We all can change. We all can keep changing. For the better.

God wants to lift us up. Let Him.

We are all His children.
What may we do today to show up, act like His children, and join in the dance?
What may we do today to improve?

father in the Philippines plays with his daughter while she is on his shoulders

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Bonus Materials:

1. “Times when families laugh together are among the most precious times a family can have.” —Mister Rogers

2. Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”:
Watch/download at the link or via YouTube below:

3. Read, watch or listen: Wilford W. Andersen, “The Music of the Gospel”, Apr 2015 LDS General Conference.

4. Read, watch or listen: Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Indonesia, playing with a water buffalo friend with rays of sun through foliage”—
  • Photo, “Sometimes Life Takes Us By Surprise…”—www.
  • Photo, father-working-with-son-in-garden—www.
  • Photo, Sunday-go-to-meetin’-clothes-for-general-conference—www.
  • Photo, father-and-three-of-his-children-work-together-to-wash-a-car—www.
  • Photo, father-dances-with-his-daughter-in-their-home—www.
  • Photo, father-in-Portugal-sits-with-his-children-in-their-living-room-to-read-from-the-scriptures-together—www.
  • Photo, father-in-the-Philippines-plays-with-his-daughter-while-she-is-on-his-shoulders—www.
  • Photo, “Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud”—; Morgan Treacy is an outstanding Irish photographer, acclaimed for his sports photography and especially for his action shots of rugby
  • Photo, “Proud New Dad”—from private collection

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Proud New Dad

Proud New Dad

Burning Lessons In The Brain: A Child’s Formative Years

The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.

Kid On TractorI grew up on a farm in Missouri, and many of my early lessons were about work. Mowing the fields by tractor took half a day, but it reduced the chiggers when we ran to the pond to swim each afternoon. We spent three hours each morning weeding the gardens; somehow, despite hating it, we learned that the painstaking care itself seemed to make the vegetables taste better. We’d sit in the yard for hours to shell peas, snap beans, or strip corn of the cob, and Mom would have us singing the whole time to pass the time faster. It was in the home that I learned the sweet rewards of self-imposed hard labor.

Dr. Glenn J. Doman wrote on the importance of creativity and breadth in early childhood experiences:

“The newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of an empty … computer, although superior to such a computer in almost every way. … What is placed in the child’s [mind] during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. … If you put misinformation into his [mind] during [this period], it is extremely difficult to erase it.” Dr. Doman added that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years. [How to Teach Your Baby to Read, Dr. Glenn J. Doman, (1963), Pages 43-45.]

In an article entitled “A Day at the Beach”, Arthur Gordon tells how one of his early lessons was the importance of family time:

Swimming After The Work Is DoneWhen I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say, “No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.”

When he came back to the table, Mother smiled [and said,] “The circus keeps coming back, you know.”

“I know,” said Father. “But childhood doesn’t.” [A Touch of Wonder (1974), Pages 77-78.]

The blessings of starting early at home are real. Close families don’t emerge overnight. It takes work, and it’s all worth it—They grow up, take responsibility, and start families of their own. And by so doing, they learn some of the sweetest lessons life has to offer, such as, a child’s future is worth every sacrifice:

The hearth at home is the heart of learning. I’ve learned for myself that lasting lessons are learned at home.

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Life in the Woods at Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond

Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond

Bonus Materials:

1. Gordon B. Hinckley stated

The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.

2. Read, watch or listen to Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times”, Apr 2005 LDS General Conference.

3. Read, watch or listen to Robert D. Hales, “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty”, Apr 1999 LDS General Conference.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, kid on tractor—www.
  • Photo, swimming after the work is done—www.
  • Photo, “Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond”—From personal collection
  • Photo, “Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!”—From personal collection

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Make Way for Ducklings! & kids!

Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!


Selfless Gifts, Simple Gifts

When I think of Christmas stories of being selfless, I don’t have any personal stories of great import. That may be a good thing. I think of fairly normal things. Like when I was in college and got a bunch of friends together to walk the halls of retirement homes singing Christmas carols and sharing cookies, simply because my family had always done that, and I missed it. Service was just a part of our upbringing.

Or my first Christmas when I lived in Argentina, and the culture was so different — December falls in summer on the other side of the equator, so I had a decision to make. Would I choose to focus as did many North Americans on the fact that there were no Christmas colors (such as red & green), no carols, no decorations, few Christmas trees, no gift giving (since gifts are given two weeks after on Day of the Three Kings, January 6), few Christmas stories, just beer and fireworks? Or would I instead choose to focus on the fact that Argentine culture simply differs from mine, that people celebrate differently than I, that I should go and enjoy the dancing, learn to love polkas and chacareras as much as they, see beyond differences between Papá Noel and Santa Clause to see the similarities their roles represent, and just sit and enjoy the eating and talking and eating and talking ’til the wee hours of the morning? Enjoying cultural differences was just part of my upbringing. So was deciding to love other people as they are. As I made the less fleeting decision, I made their experience my experience, made Argentines my family, made their stories part of my family story. And now I miss those times, actively miss the differences, sorely miss the people.

I think one of the best things I can do at Christmas is to learn to get outside of myself and make the season not about me but rather about the people around me. If it’s about me, the season may be frenzied and unsettling. If it’s about others, I may find my days merry and bright.

My mental and spiritual state can be independent of the culture, the geography or the weather. I can bring my own mental snow, mental flocking, mental glowing white candles. I have learned that a white Christmas isn’t just an ideal; it’s a state of mind.


Other selfless Christmas stories below. Enjoy!

A young boy gives selflessly to another child in need:


John Rhys-Davies retells the story of Luke Chapter 2:


John Rhys-Davies explains the importance of the Christmas story:


Cloverton Hallelujah: Love the chords, and I applaud the holiday lyrics which magically upgrade this gorgeous ballad with Cohen’s discordant words into something we love to sing. Thank you, thank you, Cloverton, for the wonderful music!

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the video with audio muted:

I love the changes in the lyrics, and I find this verse particularly meaningful:

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah


The first gift of Christmas wasn’t from a store. What does love mean to you? Life? Peace? Or hope?

(Or watch/download same video at link.)


From our family to your family — This season and always, may you have many selfless moments and simply find magic in these moments!

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family


What’s In It For Me?

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

Why religion? How about all this God stuff? If he exists, why would a god be concerned with us? What’s in it for me?




Women from around the world share thoughtful answers. I especially like what the mother from Haiti has to say: “The Holy Temple”

In Oklahoma, a close friend of mine said Yes to being my assistant as I headed our local priesthood quorum of adults. In the preceding years, Scot had not been attending a church of any kind, and he hadn’t been sure what he thought about God. He worked as a laborer, he was quiet and unassuming, humble and meek, and he certainly didn’t seek out any chance for God to be concerned with him. He was in constant pain, caused by pinched nerves in his lower spine, yet always bore a sincere cheerfulness that made everyone smile. I knew him to be a hard worker and a good man, saw his skills as a husband and as a father, and wanted him to work by my side as we went about the work of watchcare of others. As we made personal visits to the brothers in our quorum, helping them to bless their families, together we learned a lot about priesthood leadership, and I loved working with Scot. It was wonderful to see him grow over time in his confidence in approaching others, in the way he made spiritual and leadership decisions, and in his understanding of how God was truly concerned with him. Scot was a perfect example of never asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Here’s what my niece has to say about her experience at a prestigious university in the mid-West. She has learned not only the importance of religion but also the importance of not asking what’s in it for her:

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend who was surprised and a little baffled at all the time I spend “socially” with Church. True, there are lots of activities and events that I would consider social, but I don’t consider Church (or rather, Christ) to be my social life—It’s my whole life, and everything else is an appendage to it. Christ is why I go to school, Christ is why I go to work, Christ is why I do the things I do (or don’t do some of the things others do). It changes my perspective, and I then see more than earthly potential and temporary influences of even the smallest things. It’s not always easy; I’m far from perfect, but I know it’s true.

Here’s what President Uchtdorf teaches us, including what he calls the central question for the selfish person, “What’s in it for me?”:

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It’s an effort for once and for all. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.)

And from President Oscarson on feeling these things down deep:

We often refer to the scripture that “where much is given, much is required.” I believe that a close corollary to this is that “where much is required, much more will be given.” In other words, if we expect more of our youth, they will step up to the challenge, and I do believe that we need to require more of them. We need to step up our teaching so that our youth do more on their own to understand the doctrines of Christ and the reality of the Restoration, and we need to find a way to motivate them to write these things on the “tablets of their hearts.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, Annual Seminaries and Institutes training broadcast on establishing greater expectations of our youth.)

To me, religion is of vital importance. I have taught my adult children to move beyond questions like, “What’s in it for me?” I have learned that I am happiest when I focus not on serving myself but rather on serving others.

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

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Bonus Materials:

“Glorious”, with lyrics by David Archuleta (well worth 2:53 of your time)

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “2010 Earthquake in Haiti”—
  • Photo, “Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief”—www.
  • Photo, “Watchcare Isn’t Complicated: Three Women And Watchcare Of Others”—www.

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Watchcare Isn't Complicated-Three Women And Watchcare Of Others

Watchcare Isn’t Complicated: Three Women And Watchcare Of Others

Beyond Dirt, Beyond Opposition, Beyond Bullying

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Bullying begins early, especially when faith is involved. My friend who shoved my face in the dirt was one of many. In elementary school and junior high, when kids learned I’m Mormon, they would often ask how many moms I had. I remember wondering how much they really knew about the birth process.

I have Muslim friends, Catholic friends, Jewish friends, friends of many faiths, all with experience getting their faces shoved in the dust. Gritty, tough, beautiful faces.


Dirt and faith go together. Opposition, criticism, and antagonism are companions to truth. Whenever the truth is revealed with regard to the purpose and destiny of mankind, there will always be a force to oppose it.

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

When our son Kevin was three or four years old, an older sibling had a soccer match after a week of rain. At the side of the field was a narrow 25-foot-long puddle. Kev quickly learned that if he ran and threw his body on the ground in just the right way, he could slide the entire length of the water. Before long, the families around us began to watch Kevin instead of the game. One photographer mom missed her son’s only goal of the season as she focused her lens on Kev. “Gotta set priorities. Look at that face!” she said, kept snapping shots, and gave us copies of her images later that week.

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Years later, Kevin’s face was again caked with dirt, this time from the dry dust of Tijuana, made a bit muddy by the ample sweat of his brow. He loved working closely with friends from Mexico as they labored to teach the truth. At one point, weeks of opposition and criticism were taking a heavy toll. His close friends were truly discouraged, and it weighed heavily on his heart. Kev decided to rip his bedsheet in two and scribbled on his Title of Liberty, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children”, and fastened it upon the end of a pole. He called his flock of fellow laborers together to encourage them and, in his strong voice, shouted in Spanish, “Whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and promise with me that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.” After signing the rent cloth, Kevin invited them to sign. They all did. And their courage was restored. People started really talking with these young men once again, sharing feelings down deep and listening to them, as the weeks of opposition and antagonism evaporated, leaving only the local dust on their tired, smiling faces.

Look for the biggest dust cloud billowing above the most dirt, and you’ll find that it’s being kicked at someone standing for the truth. Sometimes, no one stands with them.

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny many defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited very clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”—Joseph Smith

Bullies will always assemble themselves. Why? Because someone is teaching the truth, and the truth will always be opposed. Time to labor harder, time to work smarter, time to smile that feel-it-deep-down smile…

Two men looked up from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars.
—Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Defying Opposition

Defying Opposition

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Bonus Material:

Many of these thoughts are inspired by Lawrence Corbridge. Read, watch or listen to his entire address, “The Prophet Joseph Smith”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

A Father's Gift, Liz Lemon Swindle

“A Father’s Gift”, Liz Lemon Swindle

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange”—www2.
  • Photo, “Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja”, from private collection
  • Quote, “The Standard of Truth,” Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, Volume 4, Page 540, from the Wentworth Letter, just before the Articles of Faith
  • Quote by Dale Carnegie, www.
  • Photo, “Defying Opposition”, from private collection
  • Painting, “A Father’s Gift”, by Liz Lemon Swindle. Swindle tells us that this tender painting portrays the love of three fathers. Our heavenly Father entrusted the twins to John and Julia Murdock. When Julia died after childbirth, Brother Murdock entrusted them to Joseph, who brought them to Emma. Emma had just lost her own twin babies within hours of their birth. Joseph and Emma loved and raised the twins as if they were their own. See www. Dave adds: To me this painting is about how a loving God follows opposition and trials by restoring smiles.
  • Painting, “Hope”, by Liz Lemon Swindle.  See www. Peter and John were no strangers to criticism and antagonism, which had cost them dearly. Swindle teaches us about illustrating a tender moment just before their faces learn to smile again:

When Mary came to the tomb, she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She ran to the disciples crying, “They have taken away the Lord…and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Peter and John immediately ran to the tomb.

What did they think as they ran? Were they simply curious to see for themselves? Did they fear, like Mary, that their enemies had stolen the body? Or did they remember His promise, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”?

The decision that faced Peter and John that Sunday morning is the same decision that faces each one of us today. Will we doubt? Will we hope? Or will we know that He lives? I know that He lives.

  • Photo, “Smiles After Opposition”, from private collection

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Hope, Liz Lemon Swingle

“Hope”, Liz Lemon Swingle


Smiles After Opposition

Smiles After Opposition

Recipe List For Fun And Greasing Great Conversations? Our Family’s Answer.

oceans-shell-on-beachReader Question: Dave, can you please provide a list of recipes that your family has enjoyed over the years? Food is really important to our family since we all love to eat, and it’s a wonderful part of our family get-togethers. What dishes would you suggest? Family Answer: Thanks for your question. Sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather an answer to your question, we talked to our adult kids, and here’s the list that we gathered. Note that this will be a living list, a living post, that we will add to over time as we remember other recipes or find new ones that we wish to include. For us, food is a delivery system for scintillating conversation. It helps us all to see through to the hearts of people. Here’s the MormonPanorama Recipe List of dishes our family have enjoyed for years. You are welcome to try them out beforehand and judge for yourselves (great excuse!).


  • Dogh: Yummy national drink of Afghanistan—One of my favorites





Extended recipe list from MormonPanorama — A post with additional space in order to include recipes that don’t have their own webpage. What we were looking for in recipes for our family as they grew up:

  • Dishes that were delicious and fun.
  • Foods that are healthy, that build up and uplift. None of our recipes include coffee, tea or alcohol.

We hope this answers your question, greases many a great conversation, and helps you understand us better and how to become a more effective family. And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family


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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, ocean-shell-on-beach—www.
  • Photo, ocean-slanted trees—www.

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Nutella's Secret Unveiled

Nutella’s Secret Unveiled