Latter-day Saint Missions: Why These National Reporters Recommend Them

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If they were Latter-day Saints, award-winning journalists and best-selling authors James and Deborah Fallows could have become an elderly missionary couple over the past decade.

In fact, the couple who met on a blind date 53 years ago did something similar: They spent four years working and traveling across the United States in as companions with the goal of learning what works best in American communities.

When they traveled to Provo, Utah on Monday and Tuesday, they compared their experiences of living in China and criss-crossing the United States to write a book and produce a documentary titled “Our Cities” with those of young missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Deb and I feel a special resonance with the experience that many, many people in this building and in this community have,” James Fallows said at the Marriott Center on Tuesday at a BYU forum they jointly presented.

“I just have one final comment that we’ve all been thinking of you while you’re out on a mission,” said Deborah Fallows, a linguist, former stay-at-home mom and writer who worked at Georgetown University and writes for “The Atlantic”, “National Geographic” and “The Washington Monthly”.

“It really is such an opportunity,” she said of the missionary service of young Latter-day Saints:

“You have a secret weapon that other people your age don’t have. You enter into your vocation in these communities and have the opportunity, as an outsider, to see what makes them work. What are the keys here? Who are the people who make these cities grow? And what are they doing? These are lessons you can bring to your communities in your life and apply where you end up living to build the strength of your communities. So we applaud you. We thank you for allowing us to come here. And we encourage you because you are the hope. You are our hope to all.

James Fallows, who wrote for “The Atlantic” for five decades and won both the National Magazine Award and the National Book Award, developed this idea.

“There are related factors, like Deb was saying, of going to a community where you’re not from and having to engage with people who are different from you and learning how they live and reflecting on your way of life,” he said. “It’s a gift. It’s a service that you all do, but it’s also a gift, as Deb said, that was given to you.

He continued:

“For Americans, those of you who have been outside the United States, in our experience, there is no better way to understand both the strengths and vulnerabilities of American culture than to live for a long time in some (other) places, to help you appreciate the things that resonate and unique in a good way about the U.S. You notice the things that most need fixing here. in our role as reporters traveling the country, traveling the world to understand people from different backgrounds, we totally agree with what Deb was saying: you have a secret view that you may not even appreciate about how the world, the functioning of your own country and your own communities.

They asked BYU students to engage in conditional optimism, the idea that American communities could improve if people worked together.

“There are things happening very locally that you can all be a part of when you find the community you want to call your own and pour your heart, your brains, your effort and your vision into creating that ‘beloved community’. “.”

Find the five brief suggestions the Fallows gave to get started in my story on their forum address.

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what i read

I’ve already recommended Garrett M. Graff’s “The Only Plane in the Sky,” a powerful, comprehensive, moving, and gripping oral history of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Graff is back with a new magazine article titled “Woodward and Bernstein Didn’t Act Alone: ​​Without Their Competitors, Nixon Would Likely Have Survived Watergate.” It’s excellent.

Of course, this story reminded me of the time I interviewed D. Todd Christofferson about his role in the Watergate trial. In fact, Woodward and Elder Christofferson spoke together at a Watergate event. You can read their conversation and find a video of it here.

As a huge baseball fan who has spent 50 years reading a lot about the history of the sport, I was surprised I had never heard the story of the man who posed as a player. football and tricked the Detroit Tigers into giving him a tryout during spring training in 1971. Poor NFL player Jerry LeVias, whose man assumed his identity, suffered a backlash at because of the statements made by the impostor in his name. From The Athletic (paywall).

The terrible toll the Broadway shutdown has taken on actors and other employees is why the Tabernacle Choir donated $100,000 to the Actors Fund in December. Now, Broadway News has released leaked data on the economic impact of the omicron variant on a reopened Broadway and its various shows.

In the wings

Fellow journalists James and Deborah Fallows consult during their BYU Forum speech at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.
Brooklynn Jarvis, BYU

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