Tag: Word of Wisdom

Happy(?) Repeal Day!


The Twitters tell me that 80 years ago today, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, thus ending Prohibition.

Whatever you think about Prohibition, it’s probably worth noting the Pres. Grant was not a fan of its end. In fact, he addressed the end of Prohibition—and Utah’s role in ending it—at General Conference in 1934. Here’s an (annotated by me) excerpt of what he said:

Literary DCGD #22: Because We’re Mormons


The word of wisdom is strongly connected with who we are as Mormons—it has become as much an identifier as pork is for Jews and for Muslims. We emphasize the importance of this teaching in lessons like the current Gospel Doctrine lesson (#22), and we teach it to kids almost from birth. But while section 89 was received by Joseph Smith in 1833, it really didn’t become an identifying characteristic of Mormons until past 1900 and, as I understand it, was only included among the Temple recommend questions in the 1950s. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that it was early in the 20th century that we first have songs for children, like the following poem, that encourage keeping the word of wisdom. In this poem keeping that commandment is not only encouraged, it explicitly says we keep it as part of our identity; Because We’re Mormons.

An Un-natural ‘Natural’

The Last Natural by Rob Miech

A review of The Last Natural: Bryce Harper’s Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever by Rob Miech. Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2012. 356 p. Review copy courtesy of the publisher.  The title ‘The Last Natural‘ packs a lot of meaning and connotation into a few words. While ‘natural’ clearly refers to the inherent talent that Bryce Harper seems to have, there are a few other connotations, at least in baseball. Since Harper arrives at what might be considered the end of the “steroid era,” it could be a kind of pessimistic reference to Harper’s eschewing drugs since ‘natural’ can also mean pure or unchanged. It could also be a nod to Bernard Malamud‘s novel The Natural, perhaps the finest work of fiction about baseball and the source for the Robert Redford film of the same name.

I Have a Question, 1891

These questions and answers are from the Juvenile Instructor of 1891. Some of them appear in columns headed “Editorial Thoughts,” some of which are explicitly signed The Editor, marking them as the work of George Q. Cannon.

When is Sin Tax a Sin?

The new tobacco tax in the United States took effect yesterday, which tripled the amount of tax collected on each pack of cigarrettes, and probably raising the cost of a pack to as much as $9. The tax is the single largest increase in tobacco taxes in history. For an LDS audience, this probably seems all fine and good. You aren’t likely to complain about a sin tax if you aren’t committing that sin. And, to be honest, its hard to imagine a sin tax that LDS Church members would be particularly vulnerable to (perhaps ice cream?) But even if we aren’t vulnerable, isn’t there a limit to sin taxes?

Galen, Holmes & Hot Drinks

One of the odder bits of Mormon interpretation is the strange life of “hot drinks.� These are the actual beverages forbidden by the Word of Wisdom. As we all know they have come to mean coffee and tea with hot chocolate and Diet Coke forming border cases for some, and no one really objecting to herb tea or hot cider. What is going on here?

Wheat for Man

Okay, we’ve previously touched on a number of Word of Wisdom topics: medicinal marijuana, chicken marsala, meat eating. And we all know about the tobacco and alcohol part. But what on earth are we to think of the strange grains list? In case you had forgotten it, D & C 89:16-17 reads:


The baptismal interview was proceeding smoothly. “Do you drink coffee?” asked Elder Jones. “I quit,” replied Janey with a smile. “Alcohol?” “No, I don’t.” “Do you use tobacco?” “I haven’t done that for years.” “Do you use any illegal drugs?” “Hmm, not since Monday — just kidding. No, I don’t.” “Okay, just one more Word of Wisdom question. Do you eat meat sparingly, and only in time of winter or famine?”

Chicken Marsala

I hear conflicting statements about the propriety of using alcohol in cooking. For example, chicken marsala, which is one of our family’s favorite dishes. Some members say that alcohol evaporates during the cooking. I am sure that at least some of the alcohol evaporates during cooking. At the same time, I am doubtful that it all evaporates. I also hear that some de minimus amount is probably allowable, since homemade bread contains trace amounts of alcohol (from the yeast fermentation) and that’s a Mormon staple. Again, I’m not sure of the veracity of this tale. Does anyone know of an official statement about this? Alternatively, does anyone have information to support or discredit the Mormon myths about cooking with alcohol? What think ye?

Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke

Perhaps nothing outwardly sets Mormons apart from the rest of society more than our adherence to the Word of Wisdom. And for insiders, as someone once said on this site, the Word of Wisdom just *feels* important. I’m far more likely to offend the Sabbath day, forget a fast, skip hometeaching, use inappropriate language, break the speed limit, or commit dozens of other sins of omission and commission than I am to join my friends sipping tea at a Chinese restaurant.

Medicinal Marijuana, the Word of Wisdom, and the Nyquil Exception

The Word of Wisdom instructs us to avoid certain harmful substances. Present-day leaders have told us that we must avoid illegal drugs as well. However, a general exception is made for drugs prescribed by a doctor. In addition, there is, in my observation, a widespread belief that over-the-counter medicines such as NyQuil are permitted to be used for valid medical reasons (despite containing substances such as alcohol). This makes me wonder: What about medical marijuana? May a church member take medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor? And if it is not prescribed by a doctor, could the perceived right to certain types of (word-of-wisdom-violating) self-medication — the “Nyquil exception” — also allow a church member to use marijuana?