Morality for Youth Film Involves Youth, Leaders, in Defining Moral Standards
Morality for Youth is a movie with a powerful message. Better still, the message doesn’t end when the lights go on or the video machine clicks off. In fact, that’s when the real learning begins.
Back in 1977, when the film was being planned under the direction of the General Authorities, it was agreed that the subject must be handled sensitively but in a way that would make a difference. Richard Hart, manager of audiovisual materials for the Church, was a member of that initial planning committee. “We all admitted,” he recalls, “that one motion picture could not make a major dent in the problem of sexual morality. What was needed was an overall effort beginning in the home and extending through the organizations of the Church.”
The final production was designed as a personalized teaching tool and utilizes the concept of group discussion to reinforce the film’s message. A six-page user’s guide accompanies the film suggesting “ways that stake presidents, bishops, youth advisers, teachers, and parents can use the film to help youth (1) understand the Lord’s standard of morality; (2) accept and desire to live that standard; and (3) learn how, with the Lord’s help, they can keep themselves morally clean and help others stay morally clean.” The pamphlet, prepared by the Curriculum Planning and Development Division, provides parents and leaders with suggested discussion questions which will help young people to relate events portrayed in the film to standards of sexual morality.
Brother Kenneth Derr of the Curriculum Department explains the rationale behind such an approach. “Many times we’ll go watch a motion picture that has a very structured message; then, when it’s over, we go home saying that it was a very moving experience. For many this might be true. But for others, they have had neither a spiritual experience nor a learning experience. If, on the other hand, we take a film that is a little more open-ended, that presents some discussion opportunities and ideas, and then we create, in print, something which helps the parent or leader to structure those ideas under the influence of the Spirit, we are encouraging a spiritual experience to take place. The film itself provides the vehicle, or the catalyst, for that to happen. I think that’s where media can be very effective in the Church.”
Morality for Youth is a major effort to introduce such an open-ended structure. The film chronicles the adventures of a group of young Latter-day Saints on a day-long river trip, complete with rapid-running and its inherent dangers. That evening around a friendly campfire, the bishop reviews the day’s challenges and compares them to life’s experiences and temptations in the area of sexual morality. The young people then share their own ideas about how they can stay morally clean. Included in the movie are taped interviews of young Latter-day Saints sharing their varied observations, as well as taped remarks by President Spencer W. Kimball.
In designing the film, the planning committee felt that the Lord’s standard had been explained very carefully by President Kimball (see “President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 94; New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 38), so they didn’t want to duplicate that. They wanted to identify the Lord’s standard of morality, but do it very briefly. The real focus of the film is to have viewers make the commitment to live the Lord’s standard. The idea is that if a person can control his feelings and be wise in the friends he has and the places he goes, then he can stay morally clean.
Jayne Malan, a writer and former Young Women general board member assigned to work on the film, recalls that “We had to search for a long time to find a vehicle to accomplish our purpose. Years into the project, we read President Kimball’s New Era article on morality and were impressed with his observation that youth of the Church are traveling oceans which to you are at least partially uncharted, where there are shoals and rocks and icebergs and other vessels, and where great disasters can come unless warnings are heeded. (New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 39.) That was what triggered our minds,” she says, “and this concept of a river trip evolved. Once we hit upon the vehicle of the message, then it really began to catch fire.”
The film’s river sequence is dramatic enough to catch the attention of any viewer. Some twenty youth from Provo and Salt Lake were recruited as cast members. Their assignment was to raft down a segment of the Snake River between Jackson and Alpine, Wyoming—and smile.
“Bless the hearts of those kids who were on that river trip,” says Jesse E. Stay, the film’s producer. “It was in the fall, and so cold up there. The wind was blowing at about fifty knots, everyone was soaking wet, and it was a miserable time. But they just played their parts so well, and hung in there for the two or three days they stayed, making that seven-mile run several times each day—not to mention letting themselves be tipped over in the boat.”
Sister Malan feels that the river metaphor is exciting and convincing without undermining the film’s central theme. She reflects on the challenges to this project:
“The biggest problem of all was, how do you talk about immorality without making it look glamorous? Even talking about it raises the interest level, and then you run the risk of experimentation. You don’t want to visually portray immorality—but you’ve got to trigger in the viewers’ minds something that is going to make them understand that certain actions are not worthy or righteous. So our big challenge was dealing with a subject this delicate, and doing it in a tasteful way that would not offend either parents or the young people.”
What the film tries to do is to encourage conversation on the subject of morality between youth leaders and the youth, and particularly between parents and youth. Parents and young people who see the film together should find it easy to do just that by talking about what the Prophet says in the film.
Brother Stay emphasizes that the prophet’s remarks are central to the film’s impact. “President Kimball has been so direct and so straightforward in saying what the Lord’s standard is, and to present the Lord’s standard, and the standard of his church, as undeviating. It’s not a faded and outworn garment; it’s the same now as it always has been, and it doesn’t change with the times. That’s the kind of message we hope will come across in the film, and we hope that as a result of seeing this, parents and youth leaders and young people will be freer to talk with each other about this subject.”
At a special fireside held December 5 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and broadcast by satellite to some 500 U.S. locations, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency addressed youth and young adults of the Church, and the twenty-two minute film was shown. Distribution of the film will continue to be implemented through priesthood channels. In a letter to executive administrators dated 19 August 1982, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve outlined the authorized procedure for use of “this important teaching aid”:
“1. Executive Administrators are encouraged to show the motion picture in area councils prior to December 31, 1982. Regional Representatives are then encouraged to show the motion picture to each regional council.
“2. Following instructions by the Regional Representative, each stake president should implement the film in his stake. It should be shown to all parents and adults working with youth. Parents of youth should be encouraged to use the motion picture or the filmstrip in family home evenings. It should then be shown to the youth either at a stake or ward fireside where the stake president or bishop presides.
“3. The motion picture or filmstrip may then be further implemented in Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women, seminary and institute, youth Sunday School, Relief Society, and Melchizedek Priesthood lessons.”
Those responsible for designing and producing Morality for Youth are realistic in their evaluation of the film’s impact. “This film,” says Brother Derr, “will not give the young people or the leaders everything they need or want.” The most important factor in using the film successfully, he believes, is the follow-up discussion. “The film and user’s guide together comprise a real teaching tool.” He suggests that while the film may be shown initially to a large group, “the ideal is to get the youth in small discussion groups to promote discussion and interaction. The most important discussion group is parents and children in the home.”
Brother Hart adds that “As people call in from the field, their response is almost always that the discussion after the film is more important than the film itself.” He explains that the discussion can be suited to individual circumstances:
“Bishops are to show it to ward leaders and parents and teach them how to use it. Obviously, the discussion you’d have with a Laurel class would be different than a discussion in a deacons quorum—and that’s why the discussion is so important. The user’s guide is designed so that parents, leaders, or bishops can adapt it to the level of their audience.
“I would think that the people who have the best experiences with this film,” he continues, “are those who treat the subject of changing behavior and making a commitment to the Lord’s standard of morality, rather than simply showing the film. If they focus on the broader experience, and see the film as a tool for doing that, then they’ll have a marvelous experience. But if they focus on the film, they’ll fall short.”
He stresses adequate preparation on the part of leaders and parents. “There are so many people,” he says, “who are accustomed to not even previewing a film before they show it. But if they’re not prepared with this particular film, having previewed it and studied the user’s guide, they will not be prepared to ask appropriate questions afterward.”
Members of the film’s planning committee feel that parents and leaders who show the film without a follow-up discussion will be missing the opportunity to positively affect the lives of the youth whom they have a responsibility to teach. Those who allow the motion picture to take the place of a mother and a father sitting down with their son or daughter and having an in-depth discussion will have robbed both themselves and their children of a beautiful experience with the Spirit. Used effectively, the film can take viewers to a higher level of spiritual experience.
As its title suggests, Morality for Youth is geared primarily toward young people in the Church. Yet its theme is of vital importance to all members of the Church, whether they are young or not so young. Hence, it is recommended for use by Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and Relief Societies. The film should be viewed by adults in two contexts—as a vehicle to teach their children, and also as instruction in basic principles that they should understand for themselves. The principles are the same for both youth and adults.
Producer Jesse Stay’s feeling about the film is that “it will strengthen the good young people of the Church in their resolves, and it might be helpful to those who have gone astray. President Kimball says in the film, ‘We love you; there is a way back.’ The reality of repentance is part of the message.”
The youth who have viewed the film thus far have been very receptive and grateful that something of this nature has now been done.”
The filmstrip version of Morality for Youth (VVOF3878) is available for $2.50 at the Salt Lake Distribution Center; 16mm copies (VVMP2483) cost $80; video cassette copies in VHS (VVVH0089) or BETA (VVVB0087) formats are available for $34.95. (The video cassette will also include four additional films: The Restoration of the Priesthood, Families are Forever, For the Strength of the Hills, and The Seattle Temple: The House of the Lord.) Users’ guides for Morality for Youth (PXIC0810) are available for $.20 each.
BYU Announces $100 Million Goal
Brigham Young University’s President Jeffrey R. Holland took the occasion of BYU’s annual Homecoming and President’s Club Banquet to announce publicly “what we have been privately working on for more than a year—a $100 million capital campaign entitled ‘Excellence in the Eighties: The BYU Campaign for Academic Achievement.’”
President Holland explained that “over a five-year period, the first of which is nearly over, we intend to add $100 million to the resources of Brigham Young University in our pursuit of the moral and academic achievement becoming a university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
He indicated that “even in this very depressed economic time,” the university has received nearly $15 million since work on the project began just over a year ago. Allocation of the $100 million, according to President Holland, will be as follows:
“$25 million is needed for the faculty”—to provide endowed chairs, establish visiting professorships, and encourage in-service faculty growth.
“$15 million is needed for students”—our other great area of concern. Out of BYU are coming young men and women who have a deep spiritual commitment, a sense of direction, a willingness to look beyond the hills just ahead. But their education isn’t free. More money is needed for endowed scholarships and grants.”
$55 million will be funded for university programs to support faculty and student goals—“programs that range across the entire spectrum of our educational offering from art to zoology, programs that enhance learning and lift our view of human life.”
$5 million will be used to take BYU’s message to the world. “We need to publish and distribute our best manuscripts, develop curriculum that can be administered beyond the borders of the campus, send our performing groups literally around the world, and use improved techniques and technology to tell the BYU story over land and sea.”
The university’s Board of Trustees, said President Holland, provides a maintenance budget for the university; any “qualitive improvements,” however, will be largely dependent upon the school’s own development efforts. “We are determined,” he said, “to fulfill our prophetic destiny of becoming ‘among the greatest universities in the world.’”
President Holland emphasized that “the Board of Trustees has felt to endorse this campaign and to encourage all individuals and organizations who are in a position to do so to give their financial support.”
Those wishing to receive additional information about the campaign should contact the Development Office, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602.
Church Fund-raising Office Has New Title
The First Presidency has announced that the Development Office, the Church’s fund-raising arm, will now be known as LDS Foundation.
Headquartered on the Brigham Young University campus, the organization will continue to operate according to its established goals and purposes. “We will continue to encourage and facilitate voluntary philanthropic contributions to the Church and its related organizations and activities,” said Donald T. Nelson, foundation director. He added that the foundation would also continue to emphasize higher education, “in which the need for financial assistance goes beyond the availability of tithing funds.”
Brother Nelson pointed out that “LDS Foundation normally does not receive tithes or other contributions intended for local wards and stakes. It does, however, receive many other kinds of contributions, including gifts in kind (such as equipment, livestock, and art work); real estate; stocks and bonds; and cash. Many different kinds of trusts can be established through LDS Foundation which permit donors to receive an income for life. The corpora [principal] of these trusts go to charity—the Church or one of its institutions—after the donors die.” He added that because of federal and state tax laws, individuals who make such gifts receive important benefits in return, such as special tax deductions, exclusions, and exemptions. “These benefits lower the taxes that otherwise would be paid by them or their estates,” he said.
Since the establishment of the fund-raising organization, millions of dollars in direct and deferred gifts have been raised. “About half the contributions,” said Brother Nelson, “have come from nonmembers who are impressed with the power of Church programs to improve mankind’s spiritual and physical condition.”
J. Alan Blodgett, managing director of investments for the Church, will serve as chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. He will be assisted by Dee F. Andersen, coordinator of the Office of Church Planning; Henry B. Eyring, Church commissioner of education; Bruce C. Hafen, president of Ricks College; Jeffrey R. Holland, president of Brigham Young University; Donald T. Nelson, foundation director; and Harold F. Western, associate commissioner of education-finance.
The organization began in 1966 as the Office of University Development; its primary purpose was to raise funds for Brigham Young University. Then in 1971 the First Presidency created Church Education Development to direct and correlate fund raising for all Church schools. In 1973 the First Presidency again expanded the organization’s charter and changed its name to the Development Office. Finally, in January of 1981, the office was placed under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric.
Triple Combination Published in Italian
For the first time, thousands of Latter-day Saints who speak and read Italian can obtain the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price in one volume. The new Italian triple combination was published in September 1982.
In previous years, these three latter-day scriptures have been available in Italian under separate covers. According to Poul Stolp, area materials management manager for the Church in Europe, the text of the Book of Mormon is the fourth edition in Italian (1982). The text of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price is the second edition in Italian (1981).
Although not exactly the same as the 1981 English triple combination (it retains the former index, footnotes, and chapter headings), the Italian three-in-one does contain sections 137 and 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants and also Official Declarations 1 and 2?, Brother Stolp explained. It also includes, in Italian, the latest version of the Articles of Faith in the Pearl of Great Price. The newly published volume was printed in Frankfurt, Germany, the center for printing Church materials for Europe.
A major figure in the work resulting in the Italian triple combination is Pietro Currarini, Italian translation supervisor in Livorno, Brother Stolp said. After completing most of the work on each of the three scriptures, Brother Currarini submitted his revision to other staff members for review. The work was mostly one of revision, not retranslation.
Approximately 3,000 copies of the Italian triple combination have been printed and are available at the Church distribution center in Milano, Italy. Cost is 20,000 Italian lire. Members and nonmembers in other areas can obtain copies by ordering them through local distribution centers. Those living in the United States and Canada can obtain copies through the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104 ($20 per copy; stock no. PBMI4041IT).
Policies and Announcements
The following items appeared in the November 1982 Bulletin.
New Motion Pictures and Filmstrips. New motion pictures and filmstrips are now available in the following formats at the Salt Lake City Distribution Center.
The Restoration of the Priesthood contains the message of the restoration and is a sequel to the motion picture The First Vision. It helps both members and nonmembers grasp the reality and significance of the restoration of the priesthood and the Church. A filmstrip version (VVOF3889) is available for $2.50. 16mm motion picture copies (VVMP2472) are available for $75.00 each.
Morality for Youth states the Lord’s standard for morality and provides parents, priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers, and seminary and institute teachers with a springboard for discussion with youth to help them stay morally clean. A user’s guide is enclosed. A filmstrip version (VVOF3878) is available for $2.5; 16mm motion picture copies (VVMP2483) are available for $80.00 each. Instructions on how to use this audiovisual product are to be closely followed and will come through your Executive Administrator and Regional Representative.
Videocassette 8 contains the Morality for Youth and The Restoration of the Priesthood motion pictures. It also contains three other motion pictures: Families are Forever; The Seattle Temple; The House of the Lord; and For the Strength of the Hills. VHS copies (VVVH0089) or BETA copies (VVVB0087) are available for $34.95 each.
Safety Precautions in Use of Copy Machines. Wards and stakes must use caution in placing and using spirit duplicator machines. The chemical methanol used in the fluid for these machines is extremely toxic and can cause illness and blindness. Those responsible for this equipment should check its location to ensure that adequate fresh air and excellent ventilation are available. Please heed the warnings printed on the machines and on the fluid container.
Wholesome Entertainment. Church members should seek out wholesome, appropriate entertainment. Such entertainment may include that which is provided by professional performing artists or theatrical groups who uphold Church standards of morality and decency. Performers who provide wholesome entertainment in accordance with Church standards should be encouraged and patronized.
The following statement has been issued by the First Presidency regarding the upcoming National Safety Sabbath, to be observed next month:
“We are pleased to endorse the efforts of the National Safety Council and to join with churches across the nation in observance of National Safety Sabbath February 11–14, 1983.
“Reports of tragedies which could have been prevented are the cause of grave concern. Statistics show that approximately 100,000 deaths and 10,000,000 disabling injuries are results of accidents each year. The most common threat to life and well-being in the home is not crime and violence, but home accidents.
“We urge members of the Church to take proper precautions, to observe safety regulations and careful conduct in order to preserve the sacred life and health which have been given to us.
“Safety Sabbath is an appropriate time to teach safety principles to the young, and to take inventory of safety measures in homes and automobiles. The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 12,000 lives per year would be saved by the use of safety belts in cars. Prudence in the use and storage of power tools, hand tools, medicines, chemicals, and flammable materials can prevent needless death and personal harm.
“We join with the National Safety Council in urging all to observe reverence for the sanctity of life which has been given. We counsel members to heed safety responsibilities in the home, at work, and on the road. We recommend to all members the example of Jesus Christ whose love and concern for his fellowman guided his actions, that they might be for the benefit of others.
“It is our prayer that members, through many small efforts, will make this world a safer and better place in which to live.”
President and Sister Kimball celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary on November 16. They were married in 1917. The couple observed the occasion by receiving family and friends at their Hotel Utah apartment, where Sister Camilla Kimball continues her gradual recovery after hip replacement surgery in October.
Elder Sterling W. Sill, 79, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, is recovering at home following open-heart surgery in early November. He underwent a quadruple coronary artery bypass graft at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.