Readers’ Forum February 1, 2006


    Graceful sensationalism

    If someone were to make a stark, honest movie about three weeks of my full-time mission experience, it would probably consist of (excluding eating and sleeping): 30 minutes of tracting, 40 minutes of biking around contacting people, 15 minutes of studying and 35 minutes (if that) of powerful spiritual experiences. Richard Dutcher did not make “States of Grace” to inform an LDS audience as to what a missionary’s life is like. As with all good art, the sensationalism was intended. I cannot imagine being inspired by a piece of art that was completely void of sensationalism. Even God, when choosing what to include in scripture, includes only highlights of events and speeches.

    The difference between Dutcher’s film and the average Hollywood garbage lies in the purpose for being sensational. To a degree, they overlap (both use sensational stories to keep the viewer’s interest). But unlike “Bond” or “Matrix” movies, there is nothing glorious about the violence contained in “Grace.” There is nothing titillating about the fornication in Grace. Nor was there, as I recall, a single swear word in Dutcher’s movie.

    Jon Ogden


    Run to see ‘States of Grace’

    I agree with my colleague Cynthia Hallen on many things, but not with her negative assessment of “States of Grace.”

    Run, do not walk, to see this film. It is the most moving film I have seen in many years. The acting is first rate, the story line gripping and the visual images powerful. Unrealistic? Maybe in minor details, but stories aren’t stories if they merely describe the details of reality. Most good stories are unusual – that’s why they interest us.

    Predictable and stereotyped? Only superficially. Mr. Dutcher has used situations and characters we think we already know to come to profound conclusions about the nature of sin, repentance and forgiveness.

    Sentimental? Only if you consider the display of intense remorse at one’s sin to be false or exaggerated emotion. Finding oneself in the depths of despair and turning to the Savior is not a false emotion, it is the gospel of Christ. And embracing the repentant covenant- breaker is real compassion, not a clich?.

    The film does not condone sin. The characters get to experience the real consequences of their mistakes. The film makes a powerful statement about the need we all have at times for the Savior’s mercy and the forgiveness of others.

    This is an important LDS film, probably the best one we have yet seen. Go see “States of Grace.” Then draw your own conclusions.

    Devin Asay


    Ponzi or Social Security

    The Jan. 31 article, “Students solicited in illegal schemes,” states: “Ponzi schemes, sometimes called pyramid schemes, are get-rich-quick fraud programs that are mathematically doomed to fail. The schemes promise an unrealistic return of money invested, but the method of returning the money is by taking it from new investors to pay off the old investors. Eventually there will not be enough new investors to pay off the money that has already been invested …”

    Minus the 12% daily return rate, this sounds a lot like our Social Security system. Participation in one will land you in jail, while abstinence from the other will also win you a stay in a concrete cell. Hmm.

    Gary Saunders

    Laguna Hills, Calif.

    Expensive married health

    I’m a male student here at BYU and I’m required to have health insurance. I got married like many students do, and when I did the bill for my health insurance policy jumped up $396 more a year. Now this policy only covers me and not my wife. It has gone up $396 more a year for her as well. We would save about $800 a year if we decided to not get married and just co-habitat. The BYU health plan puts monetary penalties against married students. Not only is this discriminatory against married students it also discourages anyone planning to get married to postpone their wedding until they graduate. They do this so they don’t have to pay a discriminatory marriage fee to BYU health plan provider. It doesn’t make sense for married students to pay more than single students do for the same health plan. Furthermore, studies show that married people are generally happier, healthier and live longer than that of their single counterparts. BYU health plan provider is criminal for marriage discrimination. What has our culture come to when penalties are given to the core of the fundamental unit of society?

    Joe Fuller

    Greenville, S.C.

    Provo earthquake safety

    I would like to thank BYU geology professor Ron Harris for his enlightening presentation to the school district and city council on earthquake risks in the Provo area. In his presentation, Professor Harris stated that most of Provo’s schools do not meet the 1985 seismic code. Following this presentation, the Daily Universe reported that a board member said “this information is incorrect.”

    In response, I would like to say that while there has been some discussion in the district as to whether 1985 was the watershed year (over the last 50 years, there have been several changes to seismic provisions in building codes), Dr. Harris’s statement nevertheless stands: most of our buildings do not meet the 1985 code, because they were built before 1985. More importantly, in my opinion, whichever year is the critical one (if there is one critical year) no building can be automatically guaranteed to meet any code.

    If Provo School District’s upcoming bond passes, it will begin the process of hiring structural engineers to look at its buildings. Once we learn the brutal facts, I am hopeful that we can begin the process of upgrade, retrofit and, in some cases, replacement of our buildings. Nothing is more precious than the lives of our children. Thanks to Dr. Harris for opening our eyes to the fact that in an earthquake, Provo will look more like Turkey than California.

    Sandy Packard

    Provo School Board

    Quick marriage correlations

    While I agree that marriage should be taken seriously, I feel that Mr. Peters (Jan. 30, “Giving marriage more time”) has ignored some important statistical points. Recent studies indicate that the divorce rate for temple marriages is, at most, 20 percent, significantly below the 50 percent national average. If we are rushing into our marriages, it does not seem to be causing divorce.

    Is the detriment manifested in marital happiness? The percentage of LDS men and women aged 24-41 who rated their marital satisfaction as pretty happy or very happy was at least 90 percent. If we aren’t taking marriage “seriously enough” and are going “straight from high school graduation to the temple,” it doesn’t seem to be affecting our happiness. As a convert to the Church who was engaged three days after my high school graduation, I experienced more pressure here to break off my engagement than in an overwhelmingly secular Massachusetts.

    One year into my marriage, I am as satisfied now with my decision to marry as I was then. In the US, on average, couples wait a long time to marry and have one of the highest rates of divorce. Instead of outlining “correct” marital timelines, we should respect the righteous decisions of others to marry.

    Elizabeth Forbes

    Acton, Mass.

    BYU’s primary concerns

    I am writing in response to Kyle Blodgett’s Jan. 27 comments on the supposed wrongful stance of Brigham Young University’s application process. Kyle made a statement that BYU should quit the practice of religious profiling if “BYU is a university whose primary concern is truly scholarly prestige and notoriety.” This could be true if it was in accordance with the Brigham Young education. However, Mr. Blodgett, the primary mission of Brigham Young University is “to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.”

    Stephen Dent

    Salt Lake City

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