Week in Review for December 2–6

In the News

Signature Books NewsIn 2012 a BYU spokeswoman stated that caffeinated beverages were not offered on campus because there wasn’t a demand. This week the Salt Lake Tribune reported that an enterprising group of students saw a potential business opportunity and began delivering caffeinated soda directly to customers anywhere on campus. If the students prove there is a demand, it may be interesting to see if BYU changes its policy or calls for a full ban based on a stricter interpretation of the Word of Wisdom than the LDS Church takes.

Forbes magazine announced that Brazil has a new “almost” billionaire in LDS member Carlos Wizard Martins. Whatever currency you count it in, it is a lot of money (he is worth a billion Brazilian reais, worth about half a dollar each). Martins saw a need to teach foreign languages to Brazilians, who underperform even Americans, only 3 percent of Brazil’s population speaking English, for instance. A positive-mental-attitude enthusiast who attended BYU, he founded the Wizard language school in 1987 and, to show his commitment, legally changed his own middle name to Wizard. Over the course of twenty-three years, he built a polyglot empire with 2,600 classroom locations, 20,000 teachers, and 800,000 students in fourteen countries. His biography, Carlos Wizard, has become a best seller in Brazil.

The Salt Lake Tribune ran a story by Peggy Fletcher Stack about the experiences of early returning missionaries, otherwise known as ERMs. Most experience guilt and feelings of failure. Some suffer because of well-meaning but insensitive comments by ward members. About 1.5 percent of serving missionaries come home early for a variety of reasons, and with the numbers of missionaries skyrocketing from 58,000 to 82,000 recently, the church is expected to face a mounting challenge in this area. The article discusses strategies of addressing the issue.

On the Blogs

On the Mormon Discussions forum, anonymous Mormon detractor Doctor Scratch posted his annual “Top Ten Happenings in Mopologetics, 2013” (his term for Mormon apologetics). Starting at number 10, he named Mike Ash for spending the entire month of October at Costco locations around Utah peddling his book Shaken Faith Syndrome alongside the salsas and chocolate-covered macadamias. Scratch’s top ten included a number of recent developments at the Maxwell Institute, where they shredded back issues of the FARMS Review (9) and terminated the most vocal staff members. Number 1 was former FARMS Review editor Daniel C. Peterson checking the list of registrants for his tour to Israel and Egypt against church records (through “a friend who is a bishop”) to see if Wang Chung was really a Mormon bishop or a liberal spy. Wang Chung is an 80s rock band. It is apparently also the pseudonym of a long-standing liberal Mormon bishop.

Entertainment

The popularity of the Book of Mormon Musical continues to spread. In a recently posted YouTube clip, two Glenelg High School students hit it out of the park singing “You and Me.” Other recent YouTube offerings show performances of Book of Mormon hits to large audiences in Liverpool, Monterrey (Mexico), and elsewhere.

—Signature Books staff (John’s on vacation)