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Hi I'm Mahonri

I'm a national award winning playwright, a wanna be screenwriter, a theatre producer, a Dad, a Husband and... I'm a Mormon.

About Me

The most distinctive thing about me, I suppose, is that I write plays. I have some possible screenwriting opportunities coming up (a form and medium I hope to cultivate my ability in), but most of my produced work has been in the realm of theatre. I have had over 15 of my plays produced so far, and the subject matter certainly they address has a range to it... everything from historical dramas, to high fantasy, to "anti-absurdist" comedy, to mythology, to modern tragedy, to biographical plays, to an adaptation of Sleepy Hollow... but in almost all of them I consciously or unconsciously find a way to affirm my most cherished beliefs, whether the play is religiously oriented or not. Currently I'm trying to hone and focus my writing talent and am nearly finished with my first year of a Dramatic Writing MFA program. While working on my graduate degree I am also trying to juggle being a father, a husband, a calling in the Church, engaging in writing projects, and running a theatre company from long distance. It's been a challenge, but very rewarding. I'm a big fan of literature, art, comic book heroes (the X-Men are a personal favorite), C.S. Lewis, history, film, BBC period dramas, board games, current events and Doctor Who. I love playing action figures with my son, snuggling with my daughter, going out on the town with my wife, spending time with friends and having enough alone time to contemplate, write and read.

Why I am a Mormon

I told a friend lately that I live between a rock and a hard place. On one side of my life, I am a dedicated Mormon, on the other side I work in an increasingly secular field of theater, film and literature. There's tensions from both sides. I get a lot of questions from fellow Latter-day Saints about the seemingly impractical (and some would say hostile to the faith) life of a writer. On the other side I get a lot of hesitancy from fellow theater artists once they hear I'm Mormon (information which I happily volunteer). To me, however, the two are connected at the hip and there is no contradiction. I find life full of meaning. Often complex meaning, full of depth, breadth, and nuance, even seeming contradictions, but meaning nonetheless. Both my faith and my art are the ways I observe and connect that meaning. I have many experiences that have shown to me the meaning, beauty and truth in Mormonism. I love the Bible, especially the love, grace and compassion shown by Christ in the Gospels. I believe full heartedly in the Book of Mormon. I am an avid student of Mormon History and have a deep respect for the early Mormon pioneers, especially for the courage of Joseph Smith; the sacrifices of Emma Smith and her children; the dedication of early prophets and pioneers like John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Eliza R. Snow, Jane Manning James, Elijah Abel, and my own ancestor Alvin Franklin Stewart. Intellectually and theologically, I find deep satisfaction and belief in Mormonism. However, if it weren't for the witness of the Holy Spirit, that would all be just noise and nonsense. It's through spiritual gifts too sacred to detail here that I have received a witness of the reality of the Restored Gospel. It's one of Mormonism's chief doctrines that God continues to communicate to humankind on a deeply personal level. I can tell you from personal experience that's true. Revelation has not ceased and today is still a day of Miracles.

How I live my faith

Currently I serve as a counselor in my ward's (congregation's) Elder's Quorum Presidency (Being an "Elder" means you have a ceratin level of priesthood in the Church). I've loved getting to serve in this capacity--I organize the teachers who teach our Elder's Quorum and make visits with the Presidency to Elders in our Ward. I love the contact with people in my Quorum and their families that this calling has given me and the personal touch it allows. But I feel like my responsibility as a Latter-day Saint reaches far beyond the boundaries of my ward. I aim to be a friend to humankind and, through my writing, through my work in film and theater, and through my personal interactions, touch people for good. All people deserve our love--I don't care whether a person is atheist, Catholic, Baptist, Hindu, Jewish or Muslim--the Book of Mormon teaches that "all are alike unto God": God loves each of us, "black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." God doesn't care about the color of your skin, God doesn't care about your gender, what he cares about is your heart, compassion, and character. I aim to live my life in that way, where I will treat people with the special care that the potential divinity in them calls for. As the apostle John said, "God is love." I also believe that being a father and spouse deserves special focus in my life. My wife and children are of vital importance to me and I will defend them, I will love them, I will sustain them in their own goals and in their own faith. My faith compels me to strive to act in love, tolerance, compassion and understanding. That is how I try to live my religion.

Who founded Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

I have studied Joseph Smith's life in quite a bit of detail--I'm an avid Mormon History buff--and there is a lot of biased and inaccurate information out there about Joseph Smith. I've tried to study him fairly and with an open mind. He was the first one to admit that he had flaws, that he wasn't perfect. And I agree with that assessment. Yet when I look at the totality of his life, what he sacrificed for his revelations from God, what love he showed to others in his faith and out of the faith, and what his teachings and actions were able to accomplish-- I can't help but have the deepest respect and love for Joseph Smith. He was a friend of all people and a friend of God. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

In my field, I have encountered some very personal, prejudiced behavior towards me because I'm a Mormon. Fortunately, this is becoming less of an issue as I encounter more liberal hearted, wonderful people who want to understand Mormons beyond offensive stereotypes and broad misinformation/misinterpretation. The word "cult" is an ugly word that can be flung around to create prejudice towards any group of people--the early Christians were considered a "cult" to the Romans, for example--so it makes me rather upset whenever I hear anyone use that word to describe us or any other religious group. It's demeaning, it's bigoted, and should not be used so flippantly in public discourse. People have theological differences, and we'll disagree on points certainly, but that is never reason to belittle some one's faith in such an ugly and offensive way. Show more Show less

Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?

I know Church members who are Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans. It's true that many cultural Mormons tend towards the more conservative, but as a political moderate, I have found it very encouraging to find Mormons of all political stripes and across the spectrum. The Official Church does not endorse any single political party, but rather encourages members to vote by their conscience. Thus in the public, political sphere we have politicians who are as different as Mormons likes Harry Reid (Democratic Majority Leader) and Mitt Romney (Republican presidential candidate). Show more Show less

Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?

The early Church was actually very much in support of moderate feminism. Mormon led Utah was the second American state to allow women to vote. Brigham Young encouraged women to become doctors and professionals, and stated that he would support of woman for president. Joseph Smith told the Church's female organization, the Relief Society, that he aimed to make them a "kingdom of priestesses." The Church today continues to value the contributions of its women members in the Relief Society, in the arts, in politics, in business (the Church owned Deseret Book's CEO is a woman, Sheri Dew), in the family, and in the public sphere. And women's role will only grow and progress throughout the eternities, as Mormons are promised in the holiest of places. Show more Show less

What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?

Despite conflicts with the homosexual community on theological grounds, I have found the Church's recent efforts to lessen homophobic attitudes helpful. There's still a wide divide between the Church's position and what the homosexual community is striving for, but the increased talk of love, of tolerance, and of increased understanding from Church leaders has been very encouraging to me. Show more Show less