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Sarah M. Coyne|May 31, 2016 It is truly an honor and a privilege to be here with you today. When I was invited to speak at the devotional, I decided to ask my children what they felt was most important for BYU students to know. My eleven-year-old son, Nathan, said to tell you to not vote for a particular presidential candidate, who shall remain unnamed. My only daughter, Hannah, age eight, has three brothers. She felt that the most important thing to say should be directed at all the men and boys here in the audience in regard to their bathroom hygiene. Hannah and Nathan both offered some pretty sound advice, but I was particularly touched by the response from my five-year-old, Aidan. He said it was important to know that “God is special—and you are special.” I pondered Aidan’s words for some time. How can we know that we are special? More important, how can we know who we truly are? Today I would like to talk about your royal identity. When Elaine S. Dalton was the Young Women general president, she said: Like the king’s son, each of you has inherited a royal birthright. Each of you has a divine heritage. “You are literally the royal daughters of our Father in Heaven.” Each of you was born to be a queen.1 What does it mean to be truly royal and what are the eternal implications of being royal? I study the effect of media on children and families. I just finished a study on the effect of the superhero and princess culture on children. If you have ever been around a preschool child, you know that both superheroes and princesses are very popular with this age group. In fact, many children this age say that they would like to be a superhero or a princess when they grow up. I have been thinking quite a lot about superheroes and princesses over the past few years, and I would like to structure my talk with these two groups in mind. I will mainly be directing my comments on superheroes to the men in the room and my comments on princesses to the women. However, there are many overlaps in both categories, and I hope you can find things that apply to you in both sections. Superheroes I would first like to talk about the fantasy and reality of superheroes. Some of the most popular movies of all time have featured superheroes. Why are superheroes so popular today? Superheroes are pretty cool. We would like to imagine ourselves being able to fly faster than a speeding bullet, see through buildings, or be almost invincible. But there are definitely some fantasies and fallacies that are portrayed by superheroes in popular media. Hypermasculinization Because of your royal identity, you will one day have more power than the most powerful superhero. You have the potential to become limitless. As cool as superheroes are, they are
Barry Willardson|July 14, 2015 Today is July 14. For most it is just another hot summer day, but for those with French connections it is La Fête Nationale, the day that France celebrates its independence. Every July 14 I am reminded of my missionary service in France and Belgium years ago. One July 14 my missionary companions and I watched from the port of Calais as fireworks burst over the English Channel in beautiful celebration of French freedom. This was a wonderful time for me—the last summer months of my mission among a people I had come to love and with whom I had labored to build faith and trust in God. Their faith had been terribly challenged by the ravages of war and other events, but some received the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and have been greatly blessed by its teachings. Faith in God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ is a powerful force that moves souls and nations to look to the heavens for understanding of the purpose of life on earth. For me, some of the most inspiring verses of scripture are those that enumerate the exploits of the faithful, as in Hebrews 11 of the New Testament and Ether 12 of the Book of Mormon. In Ether, Moroni told us that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.1 He then reminded us of the immovable faith of Alma and Amulek, Ammon and his brethren, Helaman’s sons Nephi and Lehi, and the brother of Jared. In Hebrews 11, the apostle Paul wrote of the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sara. Of Abraham and Sara, Paul stated: By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.2 Paul continued: Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.3 Then, referring to all these noble souls, Paul made a statement that captures our attention: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.4 What was Paul teaching us in this passage? Was he saying that these great ones understood that this earth was not their home but rather a stopover on their way through the eternities? This is one of the compelling questions of mankind. Are we truly strangers and pilgrims on the earth and is there more to our existence than meets the eye? Here we live on this small but beautiful blue planet. We each make ou
Diane Strong-Krause|June 2, 2015 When I tell people I am a faculty member in the Department of Linguistics and English Language, I am often asked, “How many languages do you speak?” Or they may react and say, “Oh, I’d better watch my grammar.” While it is true that linguists study language, they study it in many different ways, not just by learning languages or by watching for grammar mistakes. I would like to give you a taste of what some of the linguists in our department and college do. A few of my colleagues study and describe lesser-known languages—some that are spoken in North America, such as the Ute and Salish languages, along with other languages spoken around the world, such as Quichua, Xinkan, and Marshallese. Other colleagues study older forms of language, such as Old, Middle, and Early Modern English, with some examining how language has changed over time. Others investigate the language rules we are taught and which rules are useful to us today. One colleague studies how ambiguity in language—that is, how words or sentences can have more than one meaning—is applied in advertising. Others study how the pronunciation, words, and grammar of a language vary from one region or group to another. Another colleague has dedicated many years to researching the language in the Book of Mormon and constructing its original text. Some use technology to solve difficult and complex language problems. Others use databases containing millions of words to find language patterns, while others look for words and language patterns used by specific writers. Another group focuses on how languages are learned, particularly second languages, with some investigating the best ways to accurately measure proficiency in a language. This research has been applied to a number of real-world problems by supporting language-preservation projects, creating language-frequency dictionaries and academic vocabulary lists, helping missionaries learn languages and assessing their progress, and extracting genealogical facts from texts in a fraction of the time it used to take. These are just a few examples, but as you can see, there is much diversity in what my colleagues study; however, one thing they have in common is that they are passionate about and engaged in their research and teaching. While they have different stories of how they were led to study linguistics, they all have dedicated much of their time and effort to making their unique contributions to our field. You do not have to be a linguist to be interested in language. You may have noticed differences in your own language or in others’ language when you came here to BYU or as you have traveled to different places. Some of you may have taken surveys available online that sometimes quite accurately pinpoint the area of the country you are from. These surveys include questions about how you pronounce different words. How do you pronounce these words: mountain, crayon, caramel? Do you p
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