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Portfolio: Mark J. Sanderson

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Writing/Research

CO-AUTHOR at Latter-day Chiasmus

chiasmus_family_cover_FINAL_smallAfter helping my dad publish his scholarly writings for several years, I developed an eye for identifying chiasmus, an ancient poetic style that is prevalent throughout the Bible. One day, while sitting in Sunday School, I noticed elements of a chiastic pattern in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a prophetic declaration released in September 1995. I showed my dad what I had found and he was able to use his highly trained eye to identify and diagram chiasmus throughout the entire document.

Excited by what we had discovered and enlightened by the new insights we had gained, we decided to share our findings in an e-book, A Chiastic Analysis of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. In process of writing this book, we identified several additional examples of chiasmus in the writings of modern prophets, so we also launched a blog, Latter-day Chiasmus.

Our hope is that, through our writings, more people will see the value of a chiastic approach to studying the words of the prophets. One major benefit we have identified is that chiasmus serves to reinforce the meaning of a particular passage, making it virtually impossible to misinterpret a prophet’s message.

Here is a list of our articles, so far:

New Beginnings: David A. Bednar’s Facebook Chiasm (16 January 2017)

• Teach Us How To Pray: Chiasmus in Brigham Young’s 1867 Dedication of the Salt Lake Tabernacle (3 January 2017)

• The Faith Necessary To Persevere: D. Todd Christofferson’s Three Facebook Chiasms (30 December 2016)

• To Be Honest, To Be Kind: Chiasmus in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Christmas Sermon”  (21 December 2016)

• The Happiest People You Will Find Anywhere: Quentin L. Cook’s Facebook Chiasm (4 December 2016)

• I Am One Of His Witnesses: Chiasmus in Bruce R. McConkie’s “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane” (22 November 2016)

The Mountain of the Lord’s House: Chiasmus in the Salt Lake Temple Dedicatory Prayer (12 November 2016)

To All the Kings of the World: Chiasmus in the 1845 Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles (31 October 2016)

• Nations Cannot Endure In Sin: Chiasmus in Ezra Taft Benson’s “A Message to the World” (14 October 2016)

• He Lives: Chiasmus in “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (12 October 2016)

Peace Is That Which We Seek: Chiasmus in Thomas S. Monson’s “We Never Walk Alone” (5 October 2016)

• His Answers Will Come: Robert D. Hales’ Facebook Chiasm (8 September 2016)

• To Love As He Loves: Chiasmus in Henry B. Eyring’s “Our Perfect Example” (8 September 2016)

• I’ve A Mother There: Chiasmus in Eliza R. Snow’s “O My Father” (29 August 2016)

• Like Doves to their Windows: Chiasmus in Orson Hyde’s Dedication of the Holy Land (29 August 2016)

• Facilitating Our Growth: Chiasmus in Dallin H. Oaks’ “Opposition In All Things” (13 July 2016)

• The Downfall of Nations: Chiasmus in Joseph Fielding Smith’s “The Law of Chastity” (11 July 2016)

Seer Stones: Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Facebook Chiasm (5 July 2016)

Courageous Things: Chiasmus in Russell M. Nelson’s “Becoming True Millennials” (5 July 2016)

The Complement of the Priesthood Powers: Chiasmus in J. Reuben Clark’s ‘Our Wives and Our Mothers in the Eternal Plan’ (27 June 2016)

• The First Vision: Chiasmus in “Joseph Smith—History” (27 May 2016)

I Love Trees: Chiasmus in Gordon B. Hinckley’s Description of the Conference Center Pulpit (26 May 2016)

• My Witness: Henry B. Eyring’s Facebook Chiasm (26 May 2016)

• The Standard of Truth: Chiasmus in Joseph Smith’s “Wentworth Letter” (13 May 2016)

Chiasmus in Howard W. Hunter’s “The Great Symbol of Our Membership” (28 March 2016)

Books I Recommend

Below is a list of books I have actually read cover-to-cover and have found to be worthwhile for one purpose or another. Eventually I’ll include excerpts and a brief review of each of them. Also feel free to suggest books for me to read in the ‘reply’ section at the bottom.

1. The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker

sevenbasicplots_cover“The hero or heroine is he or she who is born to inherit; who is worthy to succeed; who must grow up as fit to take on the torch of life from those who went before. Such is the essence of the task laid on each of us as we come into this world. That is what stories are trying to tell us.” (p. 702)

One of the most insightful, profound, and widely applicable books I’ve ever read, The Seven Basic Plots is an investigation into the archetypes of stories and what they tell us about life, human nature, and social change. Advertising centers around stories and ultimately how a product/service can fit into and enhance an individual’s life story (or chapter therefrom). This book informs us about the big picture of stories and where our true ending is aimed. Knowing this, advertisers can better strategize and more effectively persuade individuals to want to buy their product/service.

2. Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Words by John Man

gutenberg_cover“Now the possibility existed of addressing directly anyone, anywhere — in theory, everyone who could read — if only they could be reached and spoken to persuasively.” (p. 256)

Man’s hypothesis in this book (and its companion, Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World) is that written communication has had four major “turning-points,” where it “flicked to a new level of speed and outreach.” The four turning-points are 1. the invention of writing itself, 2. the invention of the alphabet, 3. the invention of printing with movable type, 4. the coming of the Internet. In reading these books I started seeing parallels between the turning-points and realized that a solid predictor of the outcome of our current turning-point (the coming of the Internet) would be to study the outcomes of the others. The general pattern that emerged was an increase in individual empowerment —  writing empowered the elites who had time to master the craft; the alphabet empowered ordinary people by simplifying the craft; movable type empowered more people to publish their thoughts to a wider audience; and the Internet is empowering anyone with the courage to launch into cyber space.

3. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

walden_cover“Instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.” (p. 18)

An opposing, differing, or unique perspective is usually worthwhile to seek and consider. Thoreau provides such with humor, wisdom, and matter-of-factness — to the point that you’d prefer saving time by walking across the country rather than wasting time working for a few months to pay for the train ticket. His nature descriptions are also poetic and beautiful and provide a nice mental escape from urbania any season of the year.

4. The Man Nobody Knows by Bruce Barton

mannobodyknows_cover“Generalities would have been soon forgotten. But the story that had its roots in every-day human experience and need, lives and will live forever. It condenses the philosophy of Christianity into a half dozen unforgetable paragraphs. The parable of the Good Samaritan is the greatest advertisement of all time.” (p. 143)

Whatever your views of religion, the growth and staying power of the world’s great religions is nothing short of impressive. Bruce Barton, one of the founders of BBDO, examines the attributes and life of Jesus from a business/advertising perspective and discovers techniques and methods worth emulating in the modern business world. The ability to create buzz, the skill of connecting with an audience, and the use of condensed, simple, and sincere language are just a few of the building blocks of advertising that Jesus mastered.

5. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

lastchildinthewoods_cover“A kid today can likely tell you about the Amazon rain forest — but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude, or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move.” (pp. 1-2)

A level-headed attempt at recalibrating the environmental movement that has become increasingly political over the past several decades. This book, which was recommended to me by the assistant director of a wildlife refuge in Texas, informed my Master’s Report and my general approach to green advertising.

6. Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

7. Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker

8. The Advertised Mind: Ground-Breaking Insights into How Our Brains Respond to Advertising by Erik Du Plessis

9. Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy and the New Science of Desire by Martin Lindstrom

10. What Kids Buy and Why: The Psychology of Marketing to Kids by Dan S. Acuff

11. In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age by Patricia Cohen

12. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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