Thank you for interest in supporting Raising the Bar and supporting Latter-day Saint families who are striving to live higher standards! We are grateful for your help and excited to work with you more.
The modules below have been designed with resources that will equip potential coordinators of Raising the Bar with a foundation in the gospel, missionary work, current issues, standards as well as a better understanding of what it means to “build Zion.” While every resource included herein is not “perfect,” they are some of the best we have found and are based in the scriptures and inspired teachings of the Presidents of the Church. If you have any concerns or questions, please reach out to me (Hannah Stoddard, firstname.lastname@example.org). I would be more than happy to hear your concerns and input.
What is the vision behind “Raising the Bar”?
“The Lord has told us that we live at the most wicked time on the most wicked earth. In other words, if we feel comfortable or at ease with the modernist culture (movies, music, diet, fashion, language, literature, parenting philosophies, schools, etc. etc), we must think again. . . .”
I grew up hearing my dad make this thought-provoking comment to his children during family scripture study, to families who came for counsel and advice, to neighbors who wanted to know why our family was “different” and many other friends who came and went through the years.
When my father was in his teens, he would study the teachings of the Presidents of the Church for hours each week. This intensive study continued after his mission as he searched for old, dusty volumes at Deseret Industries even with his tight funds as a college student. His journey for answers prompted him to lead his family on a road less traveled when it came to entertainment, education, parenting, and so forth. Growing up, we (his children) were taught to lead by example. My father loved to quote President Joseph F. Smith who taught that instead of “tearing down” the “houses” (meaning the lifestyles, beliefs and practices) of our neighbors, we should instead build a “better house.” This “better house” would draw those seeking to abandon their mud huts for a mansion built on God’s principles.
“We have no need to tear down the houses of other people (using this expression as a symbol). We are perfectly willing that they should live in the homes they have erected for themselves, and we will try to show them a better way. While we will not condemn that which they love and cherish above all other things in the world, we will endeavor to show them a better way and build them a better house, and then invite them kindly, in the spirit of Christ, of true Christianity, to enter the better dwelling. This is the principle, and I wish to impress it upon you this morning.”Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pg. 322
Over years of working with a wide variety of individuals and families, I’ve discovered that “building a better house,” demonstrating a better culture by the way we live and not being ashamed for others to see the light, the hope and the beauty of holiness, is one of the most powerful ways to teach others.
The vision behind Raising the Bar is creating a place where Latter-day Saints are permitted to “build that better house” both by sharing how they are “raising the bar” and being inspired by the example of others. This is done through social media posts, blog articles, in-person events, webinars and so forth.
Why are members not allowed to criticize or debate standards in Raising the Bar?
When our family lived in California, we were friends with members of the Pentecostal faith. Our friends did not feel comfortable with dancing of any kind. Not the square dance, not the Virginia reel, not English country dance . . . nothing. Our family, on the other hand, had a very different standard. In fact, my dad loves to dance and our family believes it is an art that can and must be redeemed as part of the Restoration. In spite of our differences, however, we found common ground with our Pentecostal friends because we were both seeking to raise the bar. Each of us had chosen a higher standard because we knew the Lord was not comfortable with the worldly, lustful, degenerate, inappropriate dance infiltrating our culture. Instead of severing our friendship because we saw dance differently, we respected and learned from one another because we shared the same goal.
Sadly, our culture today is extremely negative, argumentative and arrogant. Anyone who has participated in a slightly controversial discussion on Facebook knows that it can quickly turn ugly. Everyone who is striving to live higher standards has experienced mockery, belittlement, or ridicule. After being humiliated, scorned and hurt, many of the best people I know have left these circumstances scarred and afraid to speak. It hurts to stand out, to be “different.” Many of the best people I know are terrified to lift up their “light on a candlestick,” they are afraid to share who they are and what they believe. This must change.
Raising the Bar is a place where, ideally, everyone will feel safe to live according to the dictates of their conscience without fear of being ridiculed. The common ground behind all Raising the Bar members should be that we believe in being “better” and are striving to “raise the bar.” Each person is at a different level and applications can sometimes look different depending on the circumstance. However, by each building a “better house” and learning from others, we can all come closer to understanding and living Zion principles.
Civil discussion and debate are healthy and important. Therefore, we have created a group for that purpose: Remaining True to the Restoration. Please move all discussion and debates there and encourage others to do the same. Raising the Bar is a place for sharing, finding new friends and celebrating the joy and healing that comes from living higher standards.
Module 1 – Raising Higher Standards
Henry Van Til said “Culture is religion externalized.” How do your personal standards reveal what you truly believe and worship?
- *Watch Time Changer.
Module 2 – Refinement & Nobility
Where have the days gone of refinement, dignity, grace, honor and nobility? Today our dress is often sloppy, our language careless, our deportment is clumsy and our homes are in disarray and disorder. The Israelite influence in Great Britain introduced etiquette that expected men and women to exemplify good breeding, refinement and poise. Standing or sitting in an erect posture was encouraged while slouching was frowned upon. Loud laughter was unseemly. Men and women were first introduced and thereafter followed rules of decorum that ensured respectability and civility. Sadly, Britain eventually lost its Christian foundation, leaving only the dead form of “etiquette” remaining and even this was eventually lost. Part of our responsibility is to restore a lost culture of etiquette and nobility. The honorable aspects of chivalry and noblesse oblige must not die. One of the strengths of Jane Austen’s novels is her ability to capture a glimpse of inward honor and nobility, as opposed to simply outward, dead form. The movie, The Inheritance, is also an excellent portrayal of refinement in the hero and heroine.
- Watch The Inheritance (1997)
- *Watch Sense & Sensibility (1995, starring Emma Thompson)
- *Watch Emma (1996, starring Kate Beckinsale)
- *Watch Persuasion (2007, starring Sally Hawkins)
Note on The Inheritance: We watched the version of this movie distributed by Feature Films for Families. It later came to our attention that this was an edited version. All other distributors and sellers carry the uncut version. The edited parts included various slang phrases and mild crudeness. While we generally discourage watching “edited” movies, as the morals of the producer can never be completely removed, in this case the Feature Films for Families version helps eliminate detraction and leaves a better spirit. If you can find a copy of the Feature Films for Families version, that’s great! Otherwise, just watch the version available on ZionTube: https://josephsmithfoundation.org/the-inheritance-1997/
Module 3 – Music
Every feeling, every emotion that can be felt by man, can be expressed through music. Can it be that while we have been immersed in this medium, we have been seduced and distracted to forget its power for good or evil?
- Read “Music: The Forgotten Language of the Heart.”
- *Watch Pop Goes the Music (Available for purchase or contact us for Raising the Bar training link.)
- Participate in a 2-week challenge. (For two weeks, commit to eliminating all music that has a backbeat, off-beat or soft or hard rock. Free playlists with alternative music are available here.)
- Attend one in-person music training class. (Contact Hannah Stoddard for details and schedules.)
Module 4 – Latter-day Christian Persecution
In the Book of Mormon as the coming of Christ drew near, the humble followers of Christ were persecuted and mocked both by individuals inside and outside of the Church. Some were even martyred for their faith. In our own day, we see striking parallels. The rise of Christian persecution around the world is increasing at a frightening rate. It is important for us to be aware of how other brothers and sisters are suffering and enduring for the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we sit comfortably in our own homes in relative peace and security. Additionally, studying the examples of persecuted brothers and sisters provides a new perspective on how to endure persecution, how to stand as a witness of Jesus Christ in all things and what it means to consecrate our lives to the Lord as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- Watch China Cry.
- *Watch Tortured for Christ (Supplement with Torchlighters: The Story of Richard Wurmbrand. This is an excellent animated video for children as well as adults.)
- *Watch The Printing.
Module 5 – Consecration & Mission
“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.” Doctrine & Covenants 64:33-34
The following module contains several films and books on Christian men and women who consecrated and sacrificed their lives to building the Kingdom of God. While studying their example, note the difference in the divinely appointed missions given Mother Teresa as opposed to Brother Yun, William Tyndale, John Tanner or Eric Liddell. In spite of significant differences in their missions, they all share one common theme: consecration of time, talents, careers, aspirations, wealth and resources to building the Kingdom of God.
- *Watch Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor (1997).
- *Watch Mother Teresa.
- *Read The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun.
- *Watch On Wings of Eagles.
- Watch God’s Outlaw.
- Watch Treasures in Heaven: The Story of John Tanner.
- *Watch The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. (May be supplemented with Torchlighters: The Story of Gladys Alyward. This is an excellent animated video for children as well as adults.)
- Read Lectures on Faith #6.
Module 6 – The Prophet Joseph Smith’s Mission as Dispensation Head
- Read statements compiled in “Latter-day prophets testify of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s greatness”
- Read patriarchal blessings given to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
- Read “Messiah ben Joseph: Jewish Traditions and Legends of a Latter-day Restorer.”
- Watch Zion’s Camp.
- *Select at least one of the following compilations of personal recollections and stories of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s life. Read Remembering Joseph or They Knew the Prophet.
- Read “‘The dominant [Church history] narrative is not true . . .’ LDS scholars encourage new history, new policy, new Church.”
Module 7 – The Gathering of Israel
- Read “Are members of the Church literal descendants of Israel or merely adopted? Why is it important to understand that we are literally of the House of Israel?.”
- *Watch Hidden Bloodlines: The Grail & the Lost Tribes in the Lands of the North.
- Watch Quest for the Lost Tribes.
- Read “A Scriptural Search for the Ten Tribes and Other Things We Lost” by Joseph Fielding McConkie.
- Listen to Steven M. Collins audio, “Israel’s Lost Empires — The Lost Ten Tribes.”
- Watch Nephites in Europe.
Module 8 – Modernist Secularization & Battlelines
- *Watch IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.
- *Watch Captivated: Finding Freedom in a Media Captive.
- Each family and individual has a mission, what is yours? (See “Battlelines” page to spur ideas and conversation with your family or friends.) http://josephsmithfoundation.org/battlelines/
* Task may require purchasing a product to complete.
You have completed all of the modules. Well done!
Raising the Bar Standard Categories
Family Projects, Mission & Vision
Children (male & female)
Grandparents & Extended Family
Fashion & Dress
Media & Movies
Nature Appreciation/Natural vs. Artificial
Order & Cleanliness
Technical Skills/Career/”Ready for Real Life”