This week in Mormon Land: How missions mold entrepreneurs, history-making general authority gets a new assignment

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach a young man in Lyon, France.

The Mormon Land newsletter is a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether heralded in headlines, preached from the pulpit or buzzed about on the back benches. Want this free newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

Sister and Elder Entrepreneur

Having all those doors slammed in their faces on their missions may help open doors for these young Latter-day Saints later in life.

So says Guy Raz of the hit NPR podcast “How I Built This.”

In an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” Raz says one trait successful innovators and entrepreneurs have in common is the “ability to withstand rejection,” pitching their ideas over and over until finally gaining investors.

Change “investors” to “investigators,” and you have described mission life and learning to deal with repeated rejections.

“A lot of Mormons have developed this skill,” Raz tells Jimmy Fallon. Citing JetBlue founder David Neeleman, a Latter-day Saint, the podcaster says these young missionaries “develop this resiliency toward rejection” that can help make them “great” entrepreneurs.

Drink up, Mitt

(Art Lien | The New York Times) Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, momentarily breaks Senate rules by entering the chamber with a bottle of chocolate milk during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. His bottle later was replaced with a glass.

Got milk? Mitt Romney does. The chocolate variety. From the BYU Creamery.

The freshman Utah senator showed up at the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump carrying a bottle of the cold Cougar cocoa.

Trouble is, his drink needed to be in a glass to enter the chamber. So a Senate page later brought Romney his banned brown beverage, The Salt Lake Tribune’s Thomas Burr writes, along with a water chaser.

Clayton Christensen, 1952-2020

(Courtesy photo) Clayton Christensen.

Clayton Christensen, a Latter-day Saint academic, leader and thinker whose theory of “disruptive innovation” became a buzzword in business and beyond, died Jan. 23. He was 67.

“Clay had the ability to not only identify ... new ideas but to articulate and teach them and write about them in ways that sparked hope and innovation and creative energy in others,” Clark Gilbert, a Christensen protégé and president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, told The Tribune.

The Salt Lake City native’s “legacy goes well beyond the books he wrote and the speeches he gave,” added TV journalist Jane Clayson Johnson. “There were countless small moments he shared with thousands of people in which he showed boundless grace. ... He saw the good in anyone and brought out the best in everyone.”

Benjamin Park, a Latter-day Saint who teaches history at Sam Houston State University in Texas, noted Christensen’s outsized influence in the church.

“[He] will be seen as one of the most influential thinkers in modern Mormonism, especially in the education sector,” Park said. “His focus on streamlining education has encouraged LDS university administration to prioritize student interaction, restructure degree programs to more closely align modern business models, and deemphasize research and publications that appear peripheral to classroom aims.”

Born on April 6, 1952, the church’s 122nd birthday, Christensen helped develop the church’s missionary manual, “Preach My Gospel,” and wrote “The Power of Everyday Missionaries.”

This week’s podcast: The accounts of the ‘First Vision’

(Image courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A depiction of church founder Joseph Smith's "First Vision."

This week’s podcast takes listeners to the church’s early days — in fact, the earliest day, the moment that gave birth to the Mormon movement: Joseph Smith’s “First Vision.”

As Latter-day Saints around the globe prepare to mark the bicentennial of this event, the “Joseph Smith Papers” project has released six podcasts that explore through the eyes of historians this reported 1820 encounter with deity.

Matt Grow, managing director of the church History Department and general editor of the “Joseph Smith Papers,” and Spencer McBride, a historian with the project and the host of the podcasts, discuss the various accounts of the “First Vision,” which gave rise to a world religion of more than 16 million members.

Listen here.

Helping China

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A worker at the Bishops' Central Storehouse explains how masks will be used to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in China.

Church President Russell M. Nelson’s personal ties to China — the former heart surgeon performed his final operation there in 1985 — are proving beneficial to providing aid as the Asian nation tries to contain the spreading coronavirus.

Nelson asked his friends in China and learned that Shanghai’s Children’s Medical Center needed protective medical equipment, a news release said. So now the church is sending 220,000 respirator masks, 870 protective goggles and more than 6,500 protective coveralls to that city.

“I have had associations with the good people of China for decades. These are our dear brothers and sisters,” Nelson said in the release, “and we feel privileged to be able to offer some small measure of help.”

Church officials also reported that they are “closely monitoring the situation with the coronavirus and are in regular contact with medical professionals and experts on this issue.”

“While the church does not conduct missionary work in mainland China,” spokesman Daniel Woodruff wrote in a separate news release, “there are more than 67,000 missionaries serving around the world and their health and safety is our top priority.”

Quick hits

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Peter M. Johnson, general authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks at the 189th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019.

Peter M. Johnson, who became the first African American general authority last April and, six months later, the first African American to speak in General Conference, will be leaving the U.S. in July to oversee the church’s mission in Manchester, England, with his wife, Stephanie Johnson, the Church News reports.

• The documentary “Church and the Fourth Estate,” debuting at the Sundance Film Festival, explores the story of a man who was sexually assaulted at an Idaho Falls Boy Scout camp owned by the church.

“Both the church and the Scouts are at fault here,” filmmaker Brian Knappenberger told The Tribune. “I think the church has a sort of pattern of covering up this abuse, of not going to authorities when they learn about this stuff, of sending perpetrators to bishops and having bishops have talks with them to determine if they’ve repented, and then sending them back. And that process is very secretive, often kept in secret from the family of the victims.”

Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff said the Utah-based faith “has zero tolerance for abusive behavior of any kind, and we are committed to addressing these incidents wherever they are found. Protecting victims and ensuring proper reporting is our top priority.”

• Five years after his excommunication, “Mormon Stories” podcaster John Dehlin says he is not trying to turn members into nonmembers.

“I’ve never been trying to pull people out of the church,” he tells FOX 13 news anchor Bob Evans. “I have had as a goal to talk openly about problems in the church and to educate Mormons about the factual history, and sometimes becoming aware of factual church history does lead people out of the church. But that’s not my fault, and that’s never been my intent.”

(Note: The Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.)

• Utah Latter-day Saints — along with Catholics, Protestants and those professing no faith affiliation — overwhelmingly support state legislation that would require clergy to report child abuse, even if the information comes through a religious confession, a new Tribune-Suffolk University poll shows.

Despite the proposal’s apparent support in the pews, it faces opposition from the pulpit. The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, for one, has come out against the measure. The LDS Church, which has said it is reviewing the bill, has not taken a public position on it.

• As part of the church’s continuing effort to emphasize its official name, its Twitter handle, for its nearly 345,000 followers, is now @Ch_JesusChrist.

Temple updates

(Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) This artist's rendering shows the new LDS temple that will be built in Layton.

Groundbreakings have been set for three temples: April 11 in Richmond for Virginia’s first temple, May 2 in Alabang for the Philippines’ seventh announced or completed temple and the second for the Manila metro area, and May 30 in Layton. Utah already is home to 17 Latter-day Saint temples, with six more in the works: Layton, Orem, Saratoga Springs, Taylorsville, Tooele Valley and Washington County.

Quote of the week

(Jeremy Harmon | Tribune file photo) Jana Riess speaks while recording the 100th episode of the "Mormon Land" podcast Oct. 4, 2019.

“The Book of Mormon is, at heart, a single story, an epic thousand-year saga of a family that truly put the fun in dysfunctional. The book’s literary cohesion makes it even more egregious when we ignore its larger context and peel away only those tiny snippets that bolster our [point of view].”

Jana Riess, senior Religion News Service columnist

Mormon Land is a weekly newsletter written by David Noyce and Peggy Fletcher Stack. Subscribe here.