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John: screenwriter, movies, Hollywood, Yale, intellectual, literature, Mormon.

Hi I'm John

About Me

I grew up on the east coast in Washington DC; after graduating from Yale University, I moved to California to pursue a career in screenwriting. My wife is an opera singer; we do not have any children yet, but plan to in the near future.

Why I am a Mormon

I was born into a family with a mother who is Mormon and a father who is not. While my mother gave me a strong upbringing, grounded in the faith, I ultimately needed to decide for myself if I would continue living it into adulthood. That decision reached an inflection point with the decision of whether or not to serve a full-time two-year mission for the Church when I was 19. Though I had many questions about the Church, something inside of me knew that serving a mission was something that God wanted me to do. I was called to serve in Rome, Italy, where I learned Italian and spent 10+ hours per day out on the streets conversing with people about life's big questions, and the answers found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those conversations, coupled with prayerful reading of the scriptures, carried a strong conviction to my soul of the truthfulness of the doctrines that I was studying and teaching. Jesus taught, "If any man will do His will, he will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Through living the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have come to know of its truthfulness. I have experienced profound, rich, meaningful blessings in my life. Not a day goes by that I do not thank God for his hand in my life. Living the Gospel fills my life with a deep sense of meaning. I feel a partnership with God in bringing about something marvelous. Being a Mormon fills me with comfort and resilience in difficult times, and even fills otherwise mundane moments with a great sense of peace, vision, and hope.

Personal Stories

How can your talents and gifts bless others?

I write material intended for broad audiences, in the epic-adventure vein of LORD OF THE RINGS and GLADIATOR. I love stories about heroes; stories about men and women in extraordinarily difficult situations; stories that involve sacrifice, faith, loss, redemption and triumph. While the themes are intense, I aim to deliver the stories in such a way that they are accessible and entertaining. In some ways, it is a strange thing, having felt directed to live my life as an artist. I have struggled with the feeling that perhaps it is a selfish thing and that maybe I should have become a doctor like my parents or my sister and spend my life helping others. I've come to conclusion that the creation of art is its own kind of service, so long as it is a genuine expression of the deepest, most authentic part of myself. To serve in any capacity requires a free surrendering of oneself to the needs of others. I believe that storytelling has an immense capacity to lift others up, to entertain, to instruct, to inspire. Worthwhile stories communicate truth, and can feed the human soul's continual need for it.

Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?

I pray throughout the day, both alone and with my family. My wife and I pray each morning and evening, seeking to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives, to understand his will, and to counsel with him in those things we need and ask for his help in reaching the goals we set together. Our prayers range from everything from the mundane to the sublime, from asking for protection as we travel the crazy California freeways, to strength in enduring without complaint the things we don't like about our day jobs, to helping us develop our artistic abilities, to having the opportunity to use those abilities, have them bear fruit, and ultimately allow us to support a family on them. We also pray whenever we feel that we have lost the spirit in our home, whether it's from a movie that had something distasteful in it, or some upsetting interaction we had with someone. Prayer helps us feel closer to each other and to Heavenly Father. I also pray when I've done something that doesn't feel right and which I feel I need to repent for. Prayer is as foundational to my relationship with my father in heaven as regular communication with my wife or business partner is to my relationship with them. It is an integral part of my life.

How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?

The Book of Mormon teaches me how God interacts with man, both on an individual and a large-scale level. Once, I went through the Book of Mormon with two highlighters, marking with one the actions taken by the characters in the book, and with the other God's actions in response to the character's actions. By the time I was finished, the book was a sea of red and blue, instructing me how I could expect God to react based on a great spectrum of human behavior. On a more gut level, the power of The Book of Mormon comes simply with the spirit that the book carries with it. Anytime I read even a few verses, I cannot help coming away feeling uplifted; more impermeable to the distresses of the world; closer to God.

How I live my faith

I have a strong faith in Jesus Christ; the Church presents no end of opportunities to put that faith in action. Some days, that means visiting families in my congregation at their homes and sharing a brief message from the scriptures together; other days it means driving downtown to teach Sunday School to the inmates at the federal prison; others it involves interfaith work. One of my church responsibilities involves building bridges between our church leaders and leaders in the community, including local business, education, government and religious leaders, in order to understand the community's needs and see how our leaders can direct the church members they lead to meet those needs through service. Beyond formal church service, I also live my faith simply through living. Being a Latter-day Saint is a 24/7 commitment. It influences the clothes I wear, how I treat my body, how I think about others, and how I think about God. I live my faith through daily scripture study and prayer; I live it in the tone of voice in which I speak to my wife; through the regularity with which I try to stay in touch with my family members across the country; through the attitude I take to my job, and through a million small things every day. I live my faith by striving to be guided by God in my actions, remembering that life has a meaning and living in accordance with its purpose. I feel my weaknesses regularly, but also know that God has provided a way for me to overcome them and return to him.