IDAHO FALLS – Religion and politics are two of Mike Winder’s favorite topics, and he’s written multiple books weaving the two subjects together.
EastIdahoNews.com spoke with the former Utah legislator and lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2021 about his book “Presidents & Prophets,” which highlights the interactions between church leaders and U.S. presidents over the years.
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His latest project identifies gospel principles found in popular Hollywood movies. “Hidden in Hollywood: The Gospel found in 1,001 Movie Quotes,” tackles topics such as death, family, miracles and forgiveness as discussed in classic and contemporary cinema. Each chapter is devoted to a different theme and Winder ties it all together with his own commentary and references to similar statements made by leaders of his faith.
Winder tells EastIdahoNews.com the book’s most-quoted movie is “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” from 2019.
“Mr. Rogers is full of good wisdom, is so quotable and Tom Hanks always delivers good lines, so that one had a lot,” Winder says.”
Animated films like “Pocahontas” and “Prince of Egypt” are prominently featured as well, along with “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” and the Marvel superhero movies.
Some of Winder’s favorite quotes come from characters he describes as “the wise sage” like Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars,” or Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid.”
Winder also found a few surprising sources of inspiration that ended up in the book.
“‘Fast and the Furious’ has quotes about prayer that you wouldn’t have expected,” he says. “You never know where you find a good little piece of wisdom.”
“Hidden in Hollywood” was years in the making and something he and his 15-year-old daughter, Grace, did together. He’s enjoyed turning what’s been his favorite “Sunday afternoon hobby for years” into a book.
As they watched movies together, they’d take note of profound statements in a Google spreadsheet and comb through scriptures and the LDS Church’s website to find gospel quotes that aligned with that principle.
“That was the skeleton that we drew the book from,” Winder says. “Movie quotes are always fun because they’re little snippets of inspiration, but sometimes they don’t mean to be. Putting them in a gospel context is a fun way to look at it.”
Winder’s love for his faith started when he was a boy. He remembers learning to read as he followed along in a book called “Scripture Stories for Beginning Readers.” Years later, an experience former church President Spencer W. Kimball shared about reading the Bible cover to cover inspired him to do the same.
By the time he was 12, he’d read all of the church’s standard works (The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price).
His interest in the scriptures was the subject of two of his books, including “Guy Stuff in the Scriptures” in 2014 and “Favorite Scriptures of 100 American Leaders” in 2019.
Winder’s first book was a biography of his third great grandfather, John Winder, who in the early 1900s was a member of the First Presidency, the church’s highest governing body. John served as a counselor to then church President Joseph F. Smith (nephew of church founder Joseph Smith).
John Winder was the original owner of the Winder Dairy in Millcreek, Utah, which has been in operation since 1880.
John was actively involved in politics, a tradition that continued with subsequent generations. In 2010, the Deseret News reported 10 members of the Winder family have held public office in Utah over the years. Mike stepped down last year after three terms as a state representative.
Millcreek became Utah’s newest city in 2016 when voters approved the creation of a municipal government after years of suburban growth. It was officially incorporated on December 28, 2016 at 9:30 a.m., according to its website.
In January 2023, the Millcreek City Council unanimously approved Mike’s appointment as the new city manager.
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“I have enjoyed my 14 years in elected office, and I will dearly miss the great people I served within the legislature,” Winder told the Millcreek Journal. “However, I love local government and as Utah’s newest city there are tremendous opportunities at Millcreek. I’m excited to continue my work with the amazing team and community here.”
Winder met his wife, Karyn, when she was a student at Ricks College in Rexburg. He and his family visit eastern Idaho often. They love Yellowstone National Park and seeing the Gem State’s view of the Tetons.
To buy the book, click here. Those wanting an autographed copy can reach out here.
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH WINDER IN THE VIDEO ABOVE.