Church Canards

When you hear it over the pulpit, it makes you cringe. You know that it isn’t true, but you also know that this will not be the last time you hear it. Somehow, these stories, sayings, or beliefs have infiltrated the Church consciousness (my theory is that many of them are borrowed from “mainstream Christianity”), and we have the most difficult time getting rid of them. Here is my favorite: “As Jesus said, ‘I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.'” Aarrgh!

Here at Times & Seasons, we want to provide a non-violent means of relieving yourself of your frustration. Share your favorite canard. If you don’t have a canard, exactly, perhaps you have a favorite trite story or poem (“Footsteps in the Sand” anyone?). Or the musical number from hell. (No, not that. I’m talking about the song that you just cannot abide.) Share away. We’re here for you.

136 comments for “Church Canards

  1. February 22, 2004 at 8:19 pm

    Does it drive anyone else nuts when they hear a talk ended with, “in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, amen.” This is a talk, not a prayer! If saying Jesus Christ at the end of prayers/talks had any meaning, then maybe I wouldn’t hear this mistake at least once a month (even the first councilor in my ward has this problem).

  2. February 22, 2004 at 8:19 pm

    “NASA scientists proved that Joshua made the sun stand still.” I first this one in Sacrament Meeting years ago.

  3. cooper
    February 22, 2004 at 10:49 pm

    Well, my very least favorite time in church is during Relief Society – the practice hymn. Not only do we have to hear every Sunday “remember a song is a sermon set to music”; but we also have to sing some obscure hymn, the first verse always twice! Arrrgh!

  4. Julie in Austin
    February 22, 2004 at 11:03 pm

    The phrase “we as women.” Whatever follows it is *not* going to be good.

    Julie, the only anti-gender essentialist she knows

  5. Karen
    February 22, 2004 at 11:18 pm

    My personal favorite moment happened a few weeks ago at church where one of our missionaries was giving a talk and said “personally, I think the prophet Benjamin was a little girlie, but I like what he said here…” Wow, managed to diss King Benjamin and “girls” all in one sentence.

    Then I have a whole list of musical number teeth grinders….but they’re almost endearing now. Excessively long violin tuning up…over animated choir directors…and the very best: mormon pop karaoke musical numbers.

  6. February 23, 2004 at 12:54 am

    I’ve taken to looking for times when I can say, “I didn’t say it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it,” such as when I hand back papers and the grades aren’t as high as some expected. One way to destroy such phrases is to use them humorously.

    As for music: I rip my hair out every time I hear someone sing in church as if he or she were a pop star. Once we even had a couple bring their own mike and sound system so they could croon some horrible Mormon piece with lines like “mountains move behind him.” They swayed and looked in each others eyes in imitation of the best lounge acts. But that little vocal flourish in which the singer shifts from one note to the another rather than sing the piece as written (sorry, I’ve been too long out of choir to remember what it’s called) drives me nuts.

  7. Steve Evans
    February 23, 2004 at 1:59 am

    Sadly, the canards I have in mind are held to be doctrine by many — like how wealth or class status are due to “righteousness in the pre-existence.” Saturday’s Warrior, or “I Found My Friend”, anyone?

    I also dearly love discussing people who “really” are Mormons: George Lucas, Howard Jones, etc.

  8. February 23, 2004 at 2:07 am

    Steve, you mean you don’t think my Volvo is a reward for being such a good guy in the pre-existence!

  9. February 23, 2004 at 2:33 am

    I used to laugh, along with many others here in Provo. over frequently repeated phrases in church – especially testimonies. For a while there was even a “testimony bingo” that people used to play.

    However it seems to be that what is important is less the sayings than the feeling and intent behind it. Two people can say the same thing and for one it can be a vain repetition and the other a sincere testimony.

    Now folk doctrines that are erroneous (and sometimes dangerous) are a different thing. The Calvinist like view of wealth is one we’ve discussed here. I like one conference talk from the early 90’s by I believe Elder Ashton who basically said that we are blessed from the pre-existence but that we can’t tell who is cursed and who is blessed. He pointed out that many rich are actually cursed with riches. And when you see the frequent state of children of the rich, it probably is true. (Of course I’d say those living in trailer parks often have at least as bad problems – but that simply highlights Elder Ashton’s point)

  10. VeritasLiberat
    February 23, 2004 at 2:35 am

    “how wealth or class status are due to ‘righteousness in the pre-existence.'”

    I wish I knew what I did in the preexistence to deserve a 1994 Tercel.

  11. VeritasLiberat
    February 23, 2004 at 2:35 am

    “how wealth or class status are due to ‘righteousness in the pre-existence.'”

    I wish I knew what I did in the preexistence to deserve a 1994 Tercel.

  12. February 23, 2004 at 3:39 am

    Note to Cooper: My first musical calling in the church was as Sunday School chorister, back when they had opening exercises. Once I got used to leading music, I looked forward to practice hymns, as that teaching moment was a golden opportunity to introduce new hymns to the ward, a refreshing change from singing the same music week after week.

    My pet peeve are long, rambling speeches at testimony meetings. It is better to concentrate on one or two subjects, explain their connection with gospel principles, and use the standard closing statement, so that other people will have a chance to bear their own testimonies.

  13. February 23, 2004 at 8:42 am

    Clark, for what it’s worth–Rob, everyone’s favorite radical green pacifist commentator, created testimony bingo for Student Review back in 1991. I don’t know if he did it entirely on his own or with help, but I remember when it first appeared in our pages. We immediately knew we were in the presence of genius.

    My (least) favorite canards? Oh, there are many. But if I had to pick just one…it would be the line of reasoning which brings forth such statements (usually voiced in priesthood meetings, most often around Mother’s Day) as “women are naturally more righteous than men” or “I know if I make it to the celestial kingdom it will only be because my wife gets me there” or “I could never be so loving as to make the sacrifices my wife does for our children” or “our greatest duty is to protect the sacred power of women over our homes and children” or “I don’t know why my wife loves me, as I am so obviously unworthy of her.” This condescending, implicitly self-justifying, crummy bit of gender nonsense always sends me into parody mode. (“You think you’re grateful to your wife? Why, if it wasn’t for the heavenly, 24-hour-a-day devotion of my wife to satisfying my every single emotional, spiritual, domestic, and sexual need, I’m sure I would have long since murdered our children and sold their organs on the black market in order to support my heroin addiction.”)

    There’s nothing Melissa hates more than being put on a pedestal. And she’s right to loathe it: the air is pretty thin up there.

  14. Kristine
    February 23, 2004 at 11:23 am

    How about “we’d like to thank the Priesthood for blessing and passing the sacrament/setting up the chairs/directing traffic in the parking lot.” Why can’t we say “men” and “boys”?

    Russell, we also deploy the “naturally more spiritual” bit, usually with the addition of “humble,” when we talk about poor people, especially from developing countries. I think it makes me even more angry in that context (though I can get hopping mad about the Priesthood/motherhood conflation as well)

  15. Nate Oman
    February 23, 2004 at 11:27 am

    Hymns that have not been adequately purged of protestant doctrine. It sets my teeth on edge when we sing “How Firm A Foundation” and get to the part about “what more can He say than to you He has said…” It makes me want to start bellowing “If You Could Hie to Kolob” at the top of my lungs.

  16. Kristine
    February 23, 2004 at 11:30 am

    Nate, I believe I’d like to see that!

  17. February 23, 2004 at 11:52 am

    Nate, it’s a Protestant him for heaven’s sake. And a good hymn too. (Better than “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” anyway.) The church’s music gurus should never have changed the line “You who unto Jesus…” Moreover, we should sing the other verses too:

    When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
    My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine….

    The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
    I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

  18. Nate Oman
    February 23, 2004 at 12:06 pm

    The problem, Russell, is that I don’t consider myself a Protestant. It is a big part of my identity. I think that you are just wrong about “If You Could Hie To Kolob,” especially since it has been put to the music by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

  19. Evan
    February 23, 2004 at 12:51 pm

    A few folks repeated one of the most common canards in their own comments above–the use of the term “preexistence.” When exactly were all the manuals and flip charts corrected to say “premortal life” instead? This one is a tough one b/c it sounds cool and we take the insertion of “mortal,” as in pre-mortal-existence, for granted.

  20. February 23, 2004 at 1:05 pm

    Ooh, that’s a good one, Evan. This is becoming quite a list, and I am beginning to wonder whether starting this thread was a good idea. None of this is likely to make my church-going experience more uplifting!

    By the way, Russell, testimony bingo may have gone pro in 1991, but it existed as an amateur sport long before that. What was it about the Student Review that made you folks think you were the first to do everything cool? ;-)

  21. cooper
    February 23, 2004 at 1:06 pm

    Russell, I whole heartedly agree with your pet peeve (and Melissa’s) about the priesthood. It grinds us to a halt too. In fact just yesterday morning my husband was in the PPI for the bishopric with the Stk Pres. Pres made the comment that “of course women are more spiritually inclined and better at dealing with the spirit than the priesthood…”. Well, my husband, great guy that he is says “wait a minute Pres. I take issue with that statement and if you will look around you there are men hear of high caliber that have no problem with the spirit and listening to the promptings of the Lord”. At which point the Pres was dumbfounded and had no response.

    As you can tell after being in a leadership position for the last 12 years he’s ready for a primary calling (husband).

  22. Mardell
    February 23, 2004 at 1:34 pm

    In our ward our Bishop often tells us how rich people are not going to heaven. To quote him exatly “like those who make six figures.” I guess Kaimi, and I are going to hell as well as most of the general authorities.

  23. February 23, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    “How about “we’d like to thank the Priesthood for blessing and passing the sacrament/setting up the chairs/directing traffic in the parking lot.” Why can’t we say “men” and “boys”?”

    Kristine, I may be asking for it, but what exactly is it about this that bothers you? I’m not quite sure I understand.

  24. February 23, 2004 at 1:58 pm

    “In our ward our Bishop often tells us how rich people are not going to heaven. To quote him exatly ‘like those who make six figures.’ I guess Kaimi, and I are going to hell as well as most of the general authorities.”

    Will those who make six-figure salaries necessarily be unable to go through the eye of the needle, and enter in at the strait gate? I wouldn’t think so. But were your bishop to add a single clause to his statement–“and think they deserve and need to keep all of it”–I would consider him to be making a reasonable judgment about wealth and the obstacles it poses for seeking salvation.

  25. February 23, 2004 at 2:00 pm


    I’m familiar with your bishop only through hearing at least a dozen stories or so.. Me oh my! The Church is extremely true if you make it through a year with that guy. Congratulations.

  26. Kristine
    February 23, 2004 at 2:10 pm

    Russell, esp. with the new music, If you could hie… is right up there with the very best hymns in the book; perhaps Nate and I will have to bellow in unison at you!!

  27. Kristine
    February 23, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    Bob, what I don’t like is that it’s gramatically and doctrinally incorrect to equate males with “the Priesthood.” Men are members of priesthood quorums, and ordained to priesthood office, but they are not the Priesthood–the priesthood is not tangible or embodied.

    Laurel Ulrich wrote a great little essay on the priesthood and its “appendages” and “auxiliaries”–it’s in Maxine Hanks’ book. (Incidentally, I wish somebody would anthologize it in a less threatening volume.)

  28. Kristine
    February 23, 2004 at 2:21 pm

    Oops–should have edited that last. The problem, besides such statements containing a doctrinal error, is that equating maleness with “the priesthood” tends to elevate and privilege maleness, and subtly reinforce the false notion that women have no access to priesthood.

  29. Evan
    February 23, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    I’m not sure to which thread this should be attached, but I think it fits here.

    In a previous discussion about war vs. pacifism (regarding the Anti-Nephi-Lehies), I think that the notion that somehow this is an anti-war tract is also a canard. Specifically, in Helaman 15:9, we are told that the reason they put aside their swords was to avoid sin–not b/c of some pacifist desire.

    This also relates to the R-rated movie thread, where Gordon mentioned that he had chosen to not see them as a means of pushing aside past ideas or experiences that he did not want anymore. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were doing the same thing by burying the swords; they did not, however, deny the next generation the chance to use swords or condemn the younger generation for doing so.

    And, to make this completely circular (or twisted!), this then relates back to common canards–especially those dealing with caffeine and the Word of Wisdom. For some folks, caffeine is prohibited b/c of various statements of leaders. To others, it is part of Mormon folk doctrine, not a real part of the Word of Wisdom. But ultimately it is a choice left to the individual; and the choice I make neither implies a better position on my part nor an inferior (i.e. sinful) choice on the part of someone else.

    Just for Kristine, who is probably wondering where I stand on this due to her DC habit, the Coke that is in the fridge here at work is looking awfully tempting! But I’m working on resisting it (and other carbonated drinks in general) just for health reasons, not some campaign against caffeine!

  30. kaimi
    February 23, 2004 at 2:39 pm


    I don’t know — I thought that the Bishop more or less redemmed himself for the six-figure remarks when he also explained a few months later that listening to country music is against the commandments. (In case anyone is wondering why, it’s because country music makes people drink beer and commit adultery.)

    So, I may have to give up my job (the six figure thing and all that). But at least I attend a church that firmly prohibits members from listening to country music!

  31. February 23, 2004 at 3:11 pm

    Interesting about those “gender canards” Russell. I’ve actually gone the opposite direction. I used to hate all of them but now that I’m married I think there is far more truth to them than I’d admit. I’d never say they are all-inclusive anymore than I’d say all men can’t do housework or take care of children. But I think there is a very different way women approach issues that is quite interesting. How much of that is socialization, how much genetics, and how much premortality I couldn’t begin to say. But while there still are some annoying gender canards, I think that some of the ones you complained against I’d be willing to embrace of late.

    BTW – using the term priesthood to refer to the holders of the priesthood is a standard literary trope. It’s akin to speaking of swords to refer to sword-holders. I’d give you the figure of speech it is, but I don’t remember my Latin too well. It’s listed somewhere here:

  32. Aaron Brown
    February 23, 2004 at 3:44 pm

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned one of the most ubiquitous canards in the Church: The supposed anachronistic quality of the Word of Wisdom in the early 19th Century, which is implied or said to give Joseph Smith definitive “prophetic” credibility, in light of later scientific conclusions. This piece of mythology seems to afflict Mormons of all types.

    Here’s one you all probably don’t know: In certain areas of Latin America (at least in my mission), it is common knowledge that while “café” (coffee) is against the Word of Wisdom because it contains “cafeina” (caffeine), “te” (tea) is similarly prohibited because it contains “teina” (???). It took a long time to convince my companions that there’s no such thing as “teina.”

    How does the story go about that painting of Jesus Christ and the Prophet approaching the painter and letting him know that the rendition really does look just like Christ? (Thus confirming my long-standing suspicion that Christ really was a Nordic Viking!) J

    Aaron B

  33. Greg Call
    February 23, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    Aaron, I was always entertained by all the reasons my missionary companions gave for different WoW proscriptions. My favorite was “Coffee has tannic acid — the same thing they use to cure animal hides. Can you imagine what the stomach of a coffee-drinker looks like!?!?”

    A pet peeve of mine is how when we speak over the pulpit about any past experience, it is always an “opportunity.” For example, “Last week I had the opportunity to ride the bus to work…”; “When I was in college I had the opportunity to take a biology class…” I suppose it an attempt to sound modest or something, but it just annoys me.

  34. February 23, 2004 at 4:18 pm

    “equating maleness with “the priesthood” tends to elevate and privilege maleness”

    Kristine, I like to agree with Clark in that thanking “the priesthood” is a short hand form of thanking “the priesthood holders”. Now, I don’t want to turn this into a men-aren’t-the-only-holders-of-the-priesthood discussion. It is fair to say that when “priesthood holders” is mentioned, it generally refers to men.

    Maybe this is a canard in itself, the women of the Church bearing their testimony of how, “I’m so thankful for the priesthood in my home”. Now, I’d give you a dollar if even one out of ten had any reference to themselves (as opposed to directly referring to their husbands).

    But what’s even more interesting is your argument of “thanking the priesthood” somehow elevating “maleness”. I’m not sure what you’re looking for here. Men primarily run our Church. We live as part of a patriarchal church. I can think of at least a dozen other aspects of this Church, which could potentially elevate maleness much more than “thanking the priesthood”.

    And thus, Russell’s canard of “women being put on a pedestal” comes into play, as we men can’t think of any better way to compensate for the fact that the Church is the way that it is. You women having your Relief Society just doesn’t seem to cut it.

    Getting rid of the phrase “thanking the priesthood” is a far cry from making you feel better, as I understand you (maybe I don’t?).

  35. February 23, 2004 at 4:39 pm

    Aaron and Greg, You are killing me! I am squirming in my chair just thinking about this. Greg’s comment helped me to recall another annoyance: “this day.” In many Mormon prayers, “this day” is used as a substitute for “today.” I assume that this must stem from a speech habit of the early Saints, but I don’t have any idea why it would have started in the first place. Anyone know?

  36. William Morris
    February 23, 2004 at 5:07 pm

    Give us this day our daily bread

    But more likely:

    The end of each tabernacle choir broadcast

    “…this day and always…”

    That may simply be a reflection of early Mormon speech patterns, but it may also have influenced or at least reinforced modern-day speech patterns.

  37. February 23, 2004 at 5:08 pm

    I don’t have a problem with “thanking the priesthood” because it “elevates and privileges maleness.” I have a problem with it because it misrepresents the Priesthood. Joseph Smith has told us that the Priesthood is nothing less than the power and authority of God to create and people worlds. To “thank the priesthood” after the Sacrament sends the message that the Priesthood can somehow be embodied in the 12-18 year old boys that bless and pass the Sacrament trays.

    Elder Oaks gave a great talk several years ago in which he talked about the problems with personifying the Priesthood in this way.

  38. Ryan
    February 23, 2004 at 5:15 pm

    Can it be possible that no one has yet mentioned “Moisture?”

  39. Taylor
    February 23, 2004 at 5:19 pm

    I have prayer canards!
    “bless the hands that made this food”- I always giggle about what would happen to “blessed hands.”
    I like it when desserts are blessed to “nourish and strengthen our bodies.”
    I’ll stop there.

  40. Julie in Austin
    February 23, 2004 at 5:22 pm

    “in our daily lives”

    (do have another, non-daily life?)

  41. clark
    February 23, 2004 at 5:34 pm

    Melissa, I’d be interested in that talk if you could provide a link. As I understand it I don’t see the problem at all. Indeed I think such terminology ought to impact how Aaronic Priesthood holders view themselves. It is exactly this personification of priesthood that ought to be the idea of every priesthood holder. That we all fall short of this ideal seems true. But so long as one doesn’t reverse the relationship (see priesthood as what the holders do) then I think it a very useful and important way of speaking.

    Certainly I don’t think that priesthood is *completely* embodied in any individual. But that seems fairly obvious to most, I think.

  42. February 23, 2004 at 5:37 pm

    I think “daily lives” emphasizes that it is the religion of regular life that is important. It is very easy to think we’d act Christlike when some big decision arises. However the main progress of our lives and the world’s lifes comes in the regular commitment to Christ in the mundane aspects of our life. Correspondingly it is there that often the greatest failures occur.

    I’d say that it is our daily or regular lives where we need the most blessings. Yet those are the places we are most likely to forget God’s hand and forget to lengthen our stride.

  43. lyle
    February 23, 2004 at 5:46 pm

    1. so…when we get more scripture and/or find out that Jesus really did say “didn’t say…worth it”…then what will we canard?
    2. prayers over refreshments…where the blessing for the food/refreshments is forgotten.
    3. any view, esp. mine, that elevates itself as the only way to live the gospel
    4. “sin juice” at BYU
    5. any and all other mormonish words, i.e. levi loving, letsko to the mall, peter PH, molly Mo, Mo, saints/gentiles, stories that needless defend/attack the church’s policy/history on blacks, polygamy, priesthood, Joseph’s account(s) of the first vision, etc.
    6. jokes about serious stuff: i.e. failing to do home teaching until midnight of the last day of the month, mormon funerals are happy events cuz they aren’t really dead, green jello, etc.

  44. Aaron Brown
    February 23, 2004 at 6:06 pm

    Here’s one that mildly bothers me and probably no one else (at least that I’m aware of)… Let me preface it by saying that I mean no disrespect, and it should not be read to signal some deep-seated anti-authoritarian angst on my part:

    I don’t like it when the Apostles make use of the adjective “apostolic” when they give their testimonies. It grates on me for some reason; it sounds slightly pompous, as if one went to the Thesaurus to find a complicated word. Not that the term itself is obscure, but it seems to me an awkward self-reference. It goes without saying that much of what the Apostles do will be “apostolic” in character. I don’t need to be reminded of their “apostolic-ness” like that. Hopefully, the power of their words will come forth through their testimonies, without the need for little reminders of their authoritative stature.

    Strangely, I don’t think I feel the same way about the word “prophetic.” I’m not sure why not. I guess it just doesn’t sound as awkward to my ear.

    Aaron B

  45. William Morris
    February 23, 2004 at 6:16 pm


    I feel the need to repent. I didn’t realize that “green jello” was part of the serious stuff category. I will stop with the jello jokes.

  46. lyle
    February 23, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    lol…exactly. why do we talk of green jello? it isn’t seriously enuff to talk about. sorry…i put it in the wrong category.

  47. Aaron Brown
    February 23, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    I want to tell a fun story. I’m not sure if this fits within the broad parameters of Gordon’s original solicitation for “canards” and “trite stories,” but oh well. I can’t think of any other thread where it would even remotely fit. So consider this an invitation to the T&S pantheon of permanent bloggers to create a new category for which it would be more appropriate. :>

    –Most Awkward Sacrament Meeting Ever–

    A few months ago, an older Korean lady in my ward took the stand to bear her testimony. She was a regular fixture at our testimony meetings. She always got up and talked about some pointless, trivial recent experience in her life that contained enough sordid details to keep half the ward uncomfortable. What’s more, she had a thick accent that was difficult to understand. If you made a conscious effort to try to decipher her ramblings, there was usually no payoff, so most members decided that it wasn’t worth the effort.

    On this particular Sunday, things started off no different that usual. I was ignoring the podium, talking to my wife or doodling on the hymnal. But after a few minutes, I couldn’t help but notice the ever-increasing volume and strident tone of the sister’s testimony. So I couldn’t help but pay attention.

    I think I had a premonition right before it happened. Then it did: She said the “N-word.” Once. Then twice. Then three times. Then again. And again. And again. I think I lost count at about 17. I’m the Ward Mission Leader, and I attend a very ethnically diverse ward — on any given Sunday there may be an African-American member or investigator in attendance. I quickly scanned the chapel, hoping and praying there were none. Everyone had mortified looks on their faces, but there were no Blacks in Church that day. Thank God (literally).

    But it gets worse. It wasn’t just that she was using the “N-word.” It was the context in which she was using it. She was relating a story about a recent ride on a public bus, in which she had an altercation with another passenger (presumably Black himself) and they got into an argument about whether it was O.K. to use the “N-word.” She maintained that it was. He thought otherwise. So in short, not only did we have to hear the N-word over and over again at the pulpit, but in the context of a sermon about “why it’s O.K.” to do so, even presumably when talking to African-Americans.

    Why didn’t the Bishop immediately get up and put a stop to it? He was probably thinking and hoping that she’d stop of her own accord. (Better to let it pass and not make a scene.) But she didn’t. She kept going and going. Finally, the Bishop approached the stand and asked her to finish her testimony immediately. She had this cheesy grin on her face that seemed to say “I have no idea what you’re saying to me cause I’m from another planet.” She kept speaking. The Bishop asked her again. She finally closed and sat down.

    Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. At least it was over. Two other members of the ward had meanwhile placed themselves on the stand to bear their testimonies. As one of them got up to speak, our well-meaning Bishop leaned over to the other — a dark-skinned, ethnic woman in the ward — and said, “Sister So-and-So, I am so sorry about what just happened.” It was as if to say “On behalf of all us non-African American members, I want to apologize to you and all other African-American members for what just happened.” But there was one little problem:

    The Sister was not Black… She was Hawaiian.

    Aaron B

  48. cooper
    February 23, 2004 at 6:53 pm

    Oh Lyle! you just reminded me of my very worst one! Every year I venture forth to Utah for Women’s Conference. Invariably some thought Utahn will ask me where I’m from. The response:”Oh you live in the mission field.” The first time I heard it I was puzzled, then I kept hearing it over and over. Now I just answer “In the mission field”. Like Utah doesn’t need missionaires!

  49. Karen
    February 23, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, Aaron. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. That is possibly the most horrifying thing I’ve ever heard. I really think that Bishops should go through some sort of assertiveness training during stake meetings, where they learn to cut off the inappropriate testimonies earlier and more firmly. Oh, and then after that, maybe some sensitivity training to learn that people who look like they’re not Scandinavian don’t all come from the same place. Just a curriculum thought.

  50. February 23, 2004 at 9:21 pm

    Aaron, I am speechless … almost. I will just say that I hereby ratify your decision to include that story under the Canard thread.

    Cooper, my skin is crawling. I haaaaate that expression. (But don’t tell Kaimi, because I have noticed that he sometimes uses it.)

  51. February 23, 2004 at 9:48 pm

    Cooper, until I’d been in Utah too long, I wore the “mission field” term with pride.

  52. Jedd
    February 24, 2004 at 12:11 am

    Here’s a fun one that anyone attending the Priesthood Session of April General Conference will remember: the obligatory Daylight Saving Time reminder and accompanying quip. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Priesthood Session of April conference generally falls on the Saturday before Daylight Saving Time begins. Near the end of the meeting, the conducting member of the First Presidency unfailingly reminds us to set our clocks ahead one hour, and then goes on to say something to the effect of if you don’t do that, you’re going to be very surprised in the morning, or you’ll be stuck outside the Conference Center in the rain, etc. Everyone laughs dutifully.

    While trite and predictable, I actually look forward to this one each year! It’s part of the whole Priesthood Session tradition.

  53. Jedd
    February 24, 2004 at 12:11 am

    Here’s a fun one that anyone attending the Priesthood Session of April General Conference will remember: the obligatory Daylight Saving Time reminder and accompanying quip. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Priesthood Session of April conference generally falls on the Saturday before Daylight Saving Time begins. Near the end of the meeting, the conducting member of the First Presidency unfailingly reminds us to set our clocks ahead one hour, and then goes on to say something to the effect of if you don’t do that, you’re going to be very surprised in the morning, or you’ll be stuck outside the Conference Center in the rain, etc. Everyone laughs dutifully.

    While trite and predictable, I actually look forward to this one each year! It’s part of the whole Priesthood Session tradition.

  54. February 24, 2004 at 1:48 am

    Ok, I can’t help myself… I have to let out the one that probably irritates me the most:

    “But The Prophet said…(fill in the blank)”

    And, no, I’m not just referring to rated R movies here, take the Word of Wisdom (caffeine), tithing (net or gross), or any other doctrine a certain type of Mormon lives and/or wants to emphasize, and mysteriously, “The Prophet” has already answered the question for us in such a crystal clear fashion, you wonder why Mormons think differently on these subjects.

    1) To whom are they referring? Do they even know?

    2) Even if they do know, can “The Prophet” refer to President Benson (or any other prophet) talking in a priesthood session back in the 80s?

    3) I’m confused. Does “The Prophet” generally refer to Joseph Smith or Gordon B. Hinckley? It’s a toss up; but we know Benson is a stretch. But it sounds so much more powerful with the definite article… It’s not just any prophet; it’s THE Prophet.

  55. February 24, 2004 at 10:17 am


    I don’t have a link to the talk, but the title is “The Relief Society and the Church.” It was published in the May 1992 Ensign, page 34.

  56. February 24, 2004 at 2:05 pm

    Aaron, that is awful! We had a missionary return and give a talk where he mentioned a “porch monkey” who used to badgers the missionaries when they walked by. I thought I was going to pass out. I looked around and no one seemed phased at all. I wondered if I was the only one (except for maybe the 3 blacks there) who knew recognized this as a derogatory phrase.

    I am loathe to hear vain repetitions in prayers. Am I crazy for saying a silent prayer first myself to be guided by the Spirit when I’m about to pray on behalf of a group of people? I don’t think people care a bit about whether those gone this week will be here next week. I don’t think they really are grateful for the building we have to meet in. And I don’t think that 800 calorie desserts will strengthen or nourish my body.

    Nonetheless, not ine Sunday block or activity goes by where I don’t here those things mentioned in prayers (often more than once).

  57. Kristine
    February 24, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    Vain repetitions are hazardous. When I was about 9, I was asked to give the closing prayer on the Sunday of the Primary Sacrament Mtg. presentation. I was so nervous that I went into standard prayer autopilot mode and blessed the food. Ouch.

  58. Nate Oman
    February 24, 2004 at 2:24 pm

    When I worked in the Senate, I used to always cringe when Orrin Hatch would get up to speak. He used numerous subtle Mormonisms (for the life of me, I can’t remember what they were) in his speeches, and I was always half-frightened that he was going to end some peroration with “I say these things in the name of etc. etc.”

    It never happened, however, and I was relieved to later learn that virtually everything that Hatch says in the well of the Senate is written by staff and handed to him as he rushed to the floor.

  59. Kamran
    February 24, 2004 at 2:27 pm

    To “six-figure-income-damnation” comments I add the seminary teacher whose diatribe went so far as to name Jon Huntsman as egregiously wealthy and condemned to hell.

    Will church leaders who use Mr. Huntsman’s private jet be guilty by association?

    How I long for the First Presidency to issue the Proclamation on Adjusted Gross Income.

  60. February 24, 2004 at 2:41 pm

    I have this recurring daydream in which the entire bishopric gang-tackles an erring member as he or she spouts doctrinally incorrect or just plain inappropriate nonsense from the pulpit during sacrament meeting. I know it will never happen, but Aaron’s story makes it clear that gang-tackling might sometimes be necessary.

    “Brother Smith, you go high and I’ll go low.” I would be so very entertained.

  61. Aaron Brown
    February 24, 2004 at 2:54 pm


    When I was in 7th grade, I gave an oral presentation in Speech class, and I closed it with “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” This still ranks up there as one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life. I wonder, has this ever happened to anybody else?


    Like you, I am loathe to hear vain repetitions in prayers. But I loathe even more the possibility that I myself will use them in public prayers. In fact, I am so (over-) sensitive to this, that I actually genuinely dislike giving public prayers of any kind. I’ve been this way since my mission. I feel like there is a particular style of “Mormon eloquence” that is expected, and I cannot make myself employ it (even though I probably know the vocabulary and phrases pretty well). I always enjoy teaching, I usually enjoy speaking, but nothing makes me want to run to the hills faster than being asked to offer an opening or closing prayer. I know this probably seems weird to everybody. But it is what it is.

    Aaron B

  62. February 24, 2004 at 2:57 pm

    Kristine, I read through the talk and I don’t quite read it like you do. The relevant section is the follow:

    Brethren, we know that the priesthood is the power of God delegated to men to act for the blessing and salvation of all mankind. While we sometimes refer to priesthood holders as “the priesthood,” we must never forget that the priesthood is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women, and children alike. Elder John A. Widtsoe said, “Men have no greater claim than women upon the blessings that issue from the Priesthood and accompany its possession.” (Priesthood and Church Government, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 83.) For example, our young women should have just as many opportunities for blessings from priesthood leaders as our young men.

    I’m not sure how that is critical of us calling priesthood holders the priesthood. It just reminds us not to think the priesthood is *embodied* in any individual. As I said, it isn’t doctrinally or grammatically incorrect to refer to “the priesthood” as meaning those who hold it.

  63. Aaron Brown
    February 24, 2004 at 3:02 pm


    According to a Bishop in my stake, our Stake President once related the craziest Sacrament Meeting experience he ever had. Apparently, a number of years ago, he and another Brother had to tackle and forceably remove a woman in testimony meeting who tried to fully disrobe during her testimony (given from the audience).

    Aaron B

  64. February 24, 2004 at 3:07 pm

    Most freakish F&T meeting I’d been to was in the 8th ward here in Provo. (I know a lot here have gone to that ward) A few years back some guy who was clearly a little emotionally unstable went up and for 15 minutes talked about his struggle with masterbation. I honestly don’t know why the Bishop let it continue.

  65. Taylor
    February 24, 2004 at 3:38 pm

    I have answered the phone, “Dear Heavenly Father” and started family prayers, “Hello?” before… Now those are embarrassing moments.
    That MormonAd with the white teleophone and the caption “Need to talk” must have had a profound effect on me.

  66. Nate Oman
    February 24, 2004 at 3:51 pm

    On one memorable sunday in RS in a former ward of mine that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent (and the guilty — you know who you are!) the topic of the lesson was the eternal importance of getting a body. The teacher posed the question, “When do we get pleasure from our bodies?” One sister answered “When I exercise.” EXERCISE went up on the blackboard. “When I dance,” said another. DANCE went up on the blackboard. Then a good sister in the back raised her hand. “When you and your husband both have orgasm at the same time.” An uncomfortable silence. What would the teacher write on the board?

    My wife was in the RS presidency at the time. Within hours the orgasm story had shot up to the stake leadership, and the next sunday the Stake RS Presidency paid a visit to the ward to see what exactly was being taught to the sisters.

    I was SOOO jealous. We never have anything that deliciously outrageous in EQ! (Although there was the one time when an investigator offered an extended defense of polygamy during a class discussion.)

  67. Greg Call
    February 24, 2004 at 3:56 pm

    I hereby nominate that as best Church class comment EVER!!

  68. Kristine
    February 24, 2004 at 4:24 pm

    Clark, that was Melissa you were responding to. (It should be easy to keep us straight; she’s the smart one ;) )

    Taylor, I also once answered the phone “Heavenly Father?” Luckily, it was our home teacher. He didn’t even miss a beat before responding, “well, no, but I’d like to think I’m his representative.”

  69. Ben
    February 24, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    A couple months ago, we had a older African-American sister get up to bear her testimony. She talked about how since she’d joined the church, all of her friends (also elderly) had started dying. She went on to discuss what disease each of them had had, what hospital they were in, and how bad their doctors were. After ten minutes or so, the first counselor (from Trinidad) got up and whispered in her ear. She replied, “I’m AM testimonifying! SIT DOWN!” He sat down, probably from shock. She began rambling angrily, about the white man’s church, how a body couldn’t express gospel truths… He tried again. Worse response. She called him a white man. Several people attempted to help her down, including the Relief Society president, a wonderful woman from the Dominican REpublic (IIRC). She was greeted with some racial slurs. The missionaries were rebuffed as m…f… sons of … It only went downhill from there, for several more minutes.
    She finally sat down. The bishop got up and apologized. Someone else bore their testimony. End of the meeting. But wait, there’s more…

    The Bishop closed the meeting and again apologized. As he was doing so, this woman started yelling from the back row. At that moment, the organist flattend her pedal and starting playing the organ and we all drowned her out. She got up and walked out, shouting the whole way. Apparently, she had stopped taking her medicine, and had had such episodes before. There was actually a police cruiser waiting outside, in case she got violent (though I don’t know what she could have done.)
    Some of our friends later said to us, “When our kids get older, we can say ‘The first time you heard the f-word was over the pulpit in Fast and Testimony meeting.”
    Hearts were touched (pounding actually), sleepers violently awakened, and a good time was had by all…

  70. Ben
    February 24, 2004 at 4:39 pm

    Did anyone notice during the olympics how Mitt Romney seemed to think he was speaking in General Conference? Same intonations, same volume, same style…
    It drives me nuts when people emulate that. If I were speaking to 11 million people (or the 3 or 4 that watch) I would be formal too. Get those GA’s into a sacrament meeting, and they cut loose. Or looser, anyway…

  71. February 24, 2004 at 5:31 pm

    I don’t know how many of you went to the south on your missions, but in one of my areas just prior to my arrival one of the converts came up out of the water speaking in tongues. She’d been charismatic and that was just how she was used to responding to the spirit. Kind of created a bit of a stir.

  72. February 24, 2004 at 5:48 pm

    Clark, before I joined the church, I had been attending a charismatic church. When they told me they were going to give me the gift of the Spirit, I honestly wondered if they expected me to start praising vocally and lifting my hands!

  73. February 24, 2004 at 6:10 pm

    One of my pet peeves is when people say ,”Utah Mormons are more X or less Y.” I tend to think we’re all pretty much the same except for a few unimportant social quirks, e.g. green jello.

    And I can’t stand , “so and so has a sweet spirit.”

  74. lyle
    February 24, 2004 at 6:14 pm

    Nate…since you were there…I’ll believe, but it seems more likely that someone had just seen/read the Weyland novel Charly…where the character Charly says “SEX.” While not as elaborate a comment as the SS comment you heard…I don’t get it why either would be “outrageous.” I agree with critics…MOs tend to be far to gun shy re: talking about sex openly…and seem to treat it as a disease that magically goes away, but is kept quiet, upon marriage.

    Renee said: 800 calorie desserts will [not]strengthen or nourish my body.
    Lyle says: Of course not. 800 calories is inadequate to sustain life. 1200 calorie deserets are much more adequate :)

  75. Randy
    February 24, 2004 at 6:15 pm

    As for answering the phone, my sister once picked up the phone and gave her standard 10 second prayer and then hung up. It only occurred to her afterwards what had happened. Strangely, the person didn’t call back.

    As for most bizzare testimony, a couple of months ago one of our less active members got up to bear her testimony. To provide some context, she is African-American, about 50 years old, and 300+ pounds. She had born her testimony before and was always a bit unorthodox. But on this occasion, after rambling for 4 or 5 minutes, she proceeded to tell us that she was Jesus Christ who had come back to earth in the form of a woman and would destroy Atlanta in 30 days. The look on the faces of the missionaries with their investigators was priceless.

  76. February 24, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    Regarding the sex thing, a friend of mine was asked to give a “dating after marriage” class at last month’s enrichment. She decided to change the title to “romance 101” and her display table (because you can’t have an RS function without a decorated table, you know) had things on it like massage oils, a game called “Foreplay”, and a sheet with website addresses where you could purchase these things.

    I thought it was way over the top for a church sponsored function. I’m relieved that our bishop’s wife and stake prez’s wife weren’t there. And she closed with “I say these things in the name of thy son Jesus Christ. Amen.” I nearly busted out laughing it was so weird.

  77. February 24, 2004 at 6:27 pm


    If you’ll read my post carefully, you’ll note that I did not say that it was grammatically incorrect to personify the Priesthood. “Embodiment” of the power of God, which Elder Oaks rejects for the rather extended reasons that he lays out in the rest of the talk, is what I argued against.

    Announcement for those in the Cambridge area: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is speaking this Thursday at 7:00 in the Longfellow Park building.

    Kris, I just invited Ann Braude, (who went on to rave to the class about Laurel) so if you want to meet her come on Thursday.

  78. lyle
    February 24, 2004 at 6:28 pm

    Again, Renee…I’ll reiterate: why is this weird?

    Sex is Sacred in Mormon Theology. If you can’t talk about eternal progression and an “important part of marriage” in Church…where can you? Sex needs to be a topic broached with respect, but openly, and elevated out of being only a “gutter-mind” subject.

    Most folks laugh, get weirded out cuz they are uncomfortable (i.e. 5th grade sex ed courses) with the subject.

  79. cooper
    February 24, 2004 at 6:54 pm

    Ady your comment “And I can’t stand , “so and so has a sweet spirit.” brings another to mind:

    We’re Californians, not born but bred, so off we go to BYU after high school and encounter the breathy “They’re so special” comment. So we now have an adopted family motto: “We rather be dead than special.”

  80. Aaron Brown
    February 24, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    Lile – a couple months ago I taught the “Law of Chastity” lesson in Gospel Essentials. The elders were scheduled to teach, but once they realized what the lesson topic was, they felt uncomfortable and asked me to teach instead. I really wanted the lesson to rise above the sanitized cliché treatment this topic often receives, but I obviously didn’t want to wallow in a discussion that might inadvertently become titillating. My Devil’s Advocate query “Isn’t obedience to the Law of Chastity too difficult to be realistic?” led to a great discussion, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many red faces in one room. Good times were had by all.

    My deadpan “Don’t you guys have P-Days from the Law of Chastity on Mondays?” question to the elders always is good for a few laughs. Mormon prurience in matters sexual may seem over the top at times, but it’s also fodder for lots of good fun!

    Aaron B

  81. Aaron Brown
    February 24, 2004 at 7:18 pm

    Clark’s and Renee’s comments bring to mind a baptismal service that took place in a ward adjacent to my own. I happened to attend the service where a handful of investigators were to be dunked. By the looks of them and how they were seated, they were not related to each other and did not appear to know each other well, if at all.

    After the first woman was raised from the water, she exclaimed: “Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise Jesus!” This created a certain awkwardness for me, and for many others as well. As Mormons, we just don’t express ourselves this way. The next baptizee entered the font, and I thought to myself: “Oh no. These investigators probably have no idea that the first woman’s exclamations were an anomalous reaction. What if they feel obligated to follow her lead?” Sure enough, I was right. One after another, each of the investigators came out of the water, praising Jesus vocally and profusely. While the first woman was obviously sincere, all of the others’ comments seemed forced, as if they were vocalizing out of obligation for fear of violating an assumed Mormon baptismal norm!

    This is no big deal, of course, but I think it may be an argument for having investigators attend another baptismal service first, before they have their own.

    Aaron B

  82. Karen
    February 24, 2004 at 7:34 pm

    lyle–of course there is no reason for embarrassment when talking about sexuality in a church setting, and it can be done with grace and good humor. But I think that Renee was rightly a little flummoxed by her friend’s presentation. I don’t think that kind of message is necessarily inappropriate if the forum is correct. But enrichment night is attended by more than just married women. There are always single, divorced, and widowed women in Relief Society as well, and the topic can be offensive depending on the age of the audience, painful to those who are divorced, or not yet married, and simply challenging for those who are not in a position to be sexually active because they don’t have a spouse and are trying awfully hard to live the law of chastity. I’m all for being open in a church setting, but not in a bull in a china closet way where making a statement is done at the expense of the audience. So, I guess my answer to lyle’s query is that there are seldom appropriate forums in church for that detailed of a discussion of sexuality.

  83. February 24, 2004 at 8:57 pm

    I’m always embarrassed talking about you-know-what, even to my wife. I’m still not sure how we ended up with all of these children. (I can’t believe I just posted this!)

  84. Kaimi
    February 24, 2004 at 9:31 pm

    The thing is, many people are not comfortable talking about sects. In fact, some people act like they wish sects didn’t exist at all. This ignores the fact that the religious experience in general is inseparable from sects. People should not be scared of sects. Sects can be good, but sects can also be bad. Sects can lead to better understanding of people. And sects will be an important part of all of our progression. So, I think people should not be afraid to mention or discuss sects.

  85. February 24, 2004 at 9:34 pm

    This is the best comments thread ever! I am laughing tears right now. Thanks.

  86. Aaron Brown
    February 24, 2004 at 10:35 pm

    Not that anyone cares, but I just re-read my post — 6 posts up — with horror! Where I said “Mormon prurience in matters sexual,” I meant to say “Mormon prudery in matters sexual.”

    (Of course, maybe LDS prudery is just a cover for excessive prurient interests?) :>

    Aaron B

  87. February 24, 2004 at 11:52 pm

    On the same note of Mitt Romney trying to sound like a GA — my pet peeve is the women during General Conference. Why do they all have to sound like sweet old grandmas? The dripping saccharine makes me sick.

  88. February 25, 2004 at 1:36 am

    Well, since this has become the embarrassing moments thread, here are a couple:

    One time, when teaching Sunday School, I misread a quote with the word “organism”…yup, I said orgasm. My wife thought it was funny, but everyone else seemed shocked. It was an honest mistake, I promise.

    I once was in a branch where a lady, nicknamed “the prophetess” by some members, got up and spoke of the several children she had with Gorbachev. But he, of course, denies it when asked. She was able to squeeze out how the government was after her due to her top-secret information…but the Branch President took her down right after that tidbit.

    BTW- I apologize for the naive question that you intelligent folk have already probably discussed, but do all churches attract strange, borderline insane people? Or just ours?

  89. Randy
    February 25, 2004 at 9:35 am

    Bob, the crazy woman I mentioned about 14 posts up generally only comes to our church on Fast Sundays. When she does come, she often has another (I think Baptist) church come and pick her up when sacrament meeting is over. In other words, she is sharing her “sweet spirit” with at least one other church. Beyond that, in our ward (downtown Atlanta), we get all kinds of crazy people who just move from one church to the next, irrespective of demonination. It may be that our church is unique in attracting “strange, borderline insane people,” but I haven’t seen it. Our ward has been sharing then with the rest of Atlanta.

  90. February 25, 2004 at 10:23 am

    This thread started with a carnard, and although it appears to have veered wildly off course (in a very humorous way), I was reminded by my wife of another common canard: “in the last days, even the elect will be deceived.” Matthew 24:24 reads: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (See also, Mark 13:22; Joseph Smith–Matthew 1:22) My reading of this is that the “elect” cannot be deceived, suggesting that these people have progressed to the point where they are beyond temptation (i.e., their calling and election have been made sure).

  91. Jan
    February 25, 2004 at 10:30 am

    I just wish for that instead of “for all time and eternity” someone would just say “forever.” Or just say “always.” I could be happy with “for a pretty darned long time” even. Why is it always “for all time and eternity?” Oy.

    Isn’t “all time” and “eternity” redundant anyway?

    Also, why is it that returned missionaries (no matter how old they may be) cannot give a talk without relating an experience from their mission? Haven’t they done anything since then?

    As for the rich, I heard the following “rich person” yearly income categorization recently (although not at church):
    $200,000/year – rich
    $400,000/year – filthy rich
    $600,000/year – stinking rich
    $800,000/year – darned rich (OK it wasn’t ‘darned;’ I edited it.)
    $1,000,000/year – evil rich

    Randy, I heard about that happening years ago in Atlanta. Apparently, a local church would send its members to assorted Atlanta LDS testimony meetings just so that they could stand up and preach about how wrong they thought church was. I thought they had given up on doing that years ago. I remember it being big news here in the metro area at the time.

  92. Grasshopper
    February 25, 2004 at 11:23 am

    Not a canard, more along the lines of “Footsteps in the Sand”: The overuse of “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. I was fairly disappointed when Elder Packer used it for a recent general conference talk.

    Another overused (and, IMO, untrue) statement: If you know the Book of Mormon is true, then it follows that everything Joseph Smith and every subsequent prophet taught is true and the Church is true, etc.

    The assertion that polygamy was practiced because there were so many widows and unmarried women in the Church.

    Oh, and women saying “I hold the priesthood every night when we go to sleep”. *rolls eyes*

    I’m always tempted when the person conducting the meeting says, “We’d like to recognize Brother So-and-so from the high council, sitting on the stand”, to add, “…but we can’t recognize him because of the disguise he’s wearing.”

  93. Nate Oman
    February 25, 2004 at 12:02 pm

    “I’m always embarrassed talking about you-know-what, even to my wife. I’m still not sure how we ended up with all of these children. (I can’t believe I just posted this!)”

    Gordon, presumeably your wife knows. You can ask her. That is, of course, if it isn’t too awkward…

  94. February 25, 2004 at 12:22 pm

    Inspired by Jan’s comment about returned missionaries forever referencing thier missions: what is the deal with Thomas Monson’s ward? Judging by the number of stories generated from that ward, he must have been the Bishop for, what, 60 years?

    It seems to me that Apostles relate recent spiritual events only occasionally. Mostly, they give scriptural insights or administrative guidance (some of which has echoes of the peevishness that boils over in parts of this thread). The stories they tell are often from their youth. Is my perception accurate? If it is, why? Are they so busy administering that they don’t have time for miracles? Or are the experiences so sacred that they can’t be shared? (That would be odd, wouldn’t it? To be a “special witness for Jesus Christ,” but not to be allowed to tell your best stories.)

  95. Aaron Brown
    February 25, 2004 at 1:44 pm

    A long-standing irritation of mine is missionaries who say:

    “You know that the ______ Ward is really wealthy. In fact, it generates the highest amount of tithing payments of any ward in the entire Church!”

    I can’t tell you how many wards supposedly fit this category. This probably isn’t a problem in most missions, but here in Los Angeles, I guess the claim seems to have some plausibility in any number of wards. (Never mind that many very high income members pay their tithing directly to Salt Lake).

  96. Julie in Austin
    February 25, 2004 at 1:48 pm

    If we’re getting back to canards (but I like the embarrassing moments better, quite frankly, and you should hear about the time I misread a word as ‘transvestite’ in front of the missionaries and a sweet elderly sister . . .) howabout that the Eye of the Needle was a small gate that camels had to go down on their knees to get through? This one has the distinction of being the only faith-promoting rumor that i have seen debunked in the Ensign. But you still hear it in GD all the time. . .

  97. lyle
    February 25, 2004 at 1:50 pm

    Aaron: really? there is a two-class system for tithe paying? the wealthy pay to SLC directly, while only the poor/middle class are subject to having their financial details known by the local PH leadership? Personally, I don’t believe in privacy and don’t have a problem with my donations being known…by the PH leadership, or any other member in the branch. However…the little ACLU angel on my shoulder feels otherwise…

  98. Aaron Brown
    February 25, 2004 at 1:51 pm

    Grasshopper said:
    “Another overused (and, IMO, untrue) statement: If you know the Book of Mormon is true, then it follows that everything Joseph Smith and every subsequent prophet taught is true and the Church is true, etc.”

    A Bishop of mine, that I otherwise highly respected, once made this claim rather forcefully in Sacrament meeting. Afterwards, I asked him if knowing that Brigham Young made false statements over the pulpit wasn’t also grounds for concluding that any number of President Hinckley’s statements might also be untrue. He didn’t like my question.

    Aaron B

  99. Aaron Brown
    February 25, 2004 at 2:55 pm

    Lile — I’m not saying there’s a formal two-class system. I suppose members of any income level could pay directly. Perhaps this would be treated with greater suspicion by a local Bishop, but I have a couple of family members that have been paying directly for years.

    While you may not believe in privacy, I do, and I certainly understand the grounds for concern. When you’ve been in as many PEC or Ward Counsel meetings as I have, you begin to learn little tid-bits here and there about ward members that I wouldn’t want known about me if the roles were reversed. I presume that most Bishops are competent and trustworthy enough to keep members’ contribution levels to themselves, but you never know.

    Besides, since Bishops are instructed just to ask the question regarding tithing compliance, and not to demand proof or details, in theory anyone should be able to pay direct, regardless of income.

    Aaron B

  100. lyle
    February 25, 2004 at 5:17 pm

    Aaron, right. I wasn’t saying you were…just being provocative. I have never heard of such a practice before…and while I don’t value privacy…that is mostly just a choice that I’ve made in order to get myself ready for/incentivize my behavior for the day when the books are opened and all the secrets are made known. my theory: why wait? Also, not just bishops know about who donates what. Any member of the bishopric/branch presidency is privy to these details; which admittedly, they are good about keeping private. I’ve never heard a complaint/rumor that such details were ever gossiped about.

  101. Kaimi
    February 25, 2004 at 7:55 pm


    One of the very first topics of conversation on this blog was the privacy (or lack thereof) of tithing payments. See, e.g., and .

  102. February 25, 2004 at 8:29 pm

    Aaron, your comment about how missionaries think they know which wards pay the most tithing rings true for me. I served in New York City and the surrounding areas, and I heard statements like that from missionaries about various candidate wards all the time. It cracks me up to know that it’s used elsewhere, too. It kind of reminds me of, “Well, my dad can beat up your dad!”

  103. Aaron Brown
    February 25, 2004 at 8:52 pm

    It’s great to be able to unload all my pent-up, wacky Church experiences on this thread. And as it happens, I’m a bottomless pit …

    –Most Memorable Priesthood Lesson in a Cambridge Ward–

    Shortly after arriving in Cambridge, Massachusetts for law school (having just graduated from BYU), the Bishop of my singles ward gave his annual “Law of Chastity” talk to the Elders’ Quorum. In attendance that day was an elderly gentleman, probably in his 70s, who had a habit of showing up to Church every 4 to 6 weeks or so. He was not Mormon. He wasn’t particularly social. His only purpose for coming seemed to be to argue with the teacher of any given lesson. I’ve forgotten his name, so I’ll call him Bob (for all I know, he still attends the ward).

    The Bishop reviewed the litany of prohibited sexual conduct for the Priesthood (I mean “men” and “boys” – well, not boys), and engaged in the usual line-drawing. Many of us wondered at what point Bob would speak up. It turned out that “Masturbation” was the triggering topic. Bob politely raised his hand, and then launched into a detailed defense of masturbation, complete with his constant assertion that “Men have needs!” He flatly and cynically asked the class how seriously the Church’s injunction could be taken, given what he saw as obvious male biological imperatives. The Bishop calmly and competently rebutted Bob’s argument, occasionally using scriptural references for support. But Bob kept going and going and wouldn’t back down. The Bishop finally decided to pull rank, and he angrily demanded that Bob be quiet, or he would have to leave.

    At this point, I couldn’t help but notice how uncomfortable some of the elders around me appeared. This probably wasn’t what they had come to expect from their Church experience. But there was more to come…

    Just after Bob had been slammed down, and the lesson was about to end, a hand shot up in the back row. The Bishop called on it. The brother (who would later turn out to be my Home Teaching companion) calmly and non-chalantly asked the following question:

    “Now that Church leaders have finally come to their senses with the whole “Blacks can’t have the Priesthood” fiasco, when are they finally going to come around and allow our Gay and Lesbian members to marry each other in the Temple?”

    Jaws dropped. The discomfort in the audience was almost audible. With one brief query, this brother had managed to raise two (if not three) of the most controversial topics in Mormondom, and had done so as an unapologetic advocate and very matter-of-fact-ly. I thought some of my fellow elders were going to faint or explode.

    The Bishop calmly responded to the brother’s claims, expressing his disagreement. The brother replied, “Well, will you at least acknowledge that our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters feel completely marginalized in the Church and that much more effort should be made to make them feel welcome?” The Bishop whole-heartedly agreed. In fact, he agreed so strongly, that he then went into a lengthy monologue about the need to better fellowship Gays and Lesbians, as well as the need to recognize that they are all around us. How did he make this last point? By the following bomb-drop:

    “You all have no idea who is and who isn’t dealing with homosexuality. Why, there are people in this very room right now who struggle with homosexuality!”

    Try to imagine the reaction. Everyone looking around the room, wondering who the Bishop was talking about! (Is it him? Is it him? Will other people think he means me?)

    As the lesson ended, and everyone began to file out, I overheard the following comment, which I’ll never forget:

    “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Utah anymore.”

    Aaron B

  104. February 25, 2004 at 9:34 pm

    My goodness, Aaron! You are a bottomless pit.

    In regards to “If you know the Book of Mormon is true, then it follows that everything Joseph Smith and every subsequent prophet taught is true and the Church is true”, this is actually a much broader canard.

    I’ve had everything from mission presidents telling me, “the gospel is simple, either Joseph saw two personages or he didn’t” to members bearing their testimonies on their favorite commandment with a follow up of, “since (blank) is true, the Church is true”.

    This goes right along with superlative disorder. Whatever we’re talking about has to be the most important or nobody would listen and/or the spirit isn’t felt unless extreme stories are shared, right?

    But, to tell you the truth, this canard doesn’t bother me that much… I cut members slack for this one because I think most of us have done it at one time or another. Hmm… but is that a good reason to cut slack for a canard?

  105. Joel Honea
    February 25, 2004 at 10:26 pm

    How ’bout this one I heard in sacrament meeting a few weeks ago:

    A pilot, during an 8-hour overseas flight, felt a strong prompting to share the gospel with a co-pilot. The conversation continued for most of the flight with a strong spirit. After the flight, the co-pilot thanked the pilot for the conversation, but indicated he wasn’t interested in the Church.

    A few weeks later, the pilot got a call at home. The woman on the other end said, “Are you Captain So-and-So, who flew on the overseas flight a few weeks ago?” The pilot answered that, yes, it was him. She then proceeded to tell him that she was on the flight that day, and she had tuned in to the cockpit channel and listened to the entire conversation about the gospel, had felt the Spirit, and decided to join the Church. She invited the pilot to her baptism.

    Last overseas flight (or any flight with an available cockpit channel) I was on, the only conversations I heard were the very occasional — and brief — talks between the control towers and the pilot. I had a chuckle at this one…

  106. Kaimi
    February 26, 2004 at 1:05 am


    That story is great. Wow. I think I’m going to be laughing at that for a long time.

  107. Melora
    February 26, 2004 at 10:36 am

    My belated contribution….

    It bothers me when lessons skip over the essential aspects of the scriptures or the topic in order to focus on some (usually false) point of trivia. I had a Sunday School lesson on 3 Nephi 11 that was nothing more than a discussion of how many people there were in America at the time (1500, apparently); how long it took for them to feel Christ’s wounds; and the fact that he must bave been really patient and “I hope he didn’t have to take a leak” (this last from the teacher). Is there nothing else we could think about in respect to his visit to the Americas? Besides the question of, who decided there were 1500 people there?

    This extends to testimonies, as well. As firmly as you believe that R-rated movies should be avoided and smoking is wrong, can you really claim that this is the basis for salvation? To hear many talk, those are the essential points of the gospel.

    My Sunday School teacher also ran into Elder Packer while the latter was visiting for the Boston Temple dedication; the teacher told him it was nice to meet him, but he needed to take a leak. Recurring theme in the class.

  108. Ryan C.
    February 26, 2004 at 3:26 pm

    I have found a haven! Thank you all for these canards and stories.

    I recently moved from a very “metropolitan” area to a what i consider a very “rural” area. The change as been very entertaining from a church point of veiw. Not that one area is any better than the other, just that peoples perspectives on life and church are VERY different

    So far the most entertaining talk in in sac. mtg. has been a 70 yr. old man who started his talk my saying “Today I’m going to talk about the word of wisdom. Not the word of wisdon found in the D&C but the word of wisdom found in the Saturday Evening Post and in the Cosmopolitan magazine.”

    He then went on to explain to this very overweight congregation how we all need to lose a few lbs.

    His best example was when he said “How many of you know Jared Fogle? Jared has lost over 100lbs. I won’t say how because the bishop may not want some advertising in church.” He then held up two poster size pictures (before and after) of Jared Fogle (the Subway sandwich pitch man).

    He also mentioned stories from a 1967 Cosmo about some lady losing 150lbs, and another weight loss story from an old Saturday Evening Post.

    This was, by far, the most offensively hilarious talk I have ever heard and my body was shaking the entire time from holding back the laughter. Until I looked over at our unmarried 300+ lb. relief society pres. Who had her chin resting on the pew in front of her and had the most somber look on her face I had ever seen.

    I myself am over 300 lbs, but I new this guy was a wacko, so was able to laugh at him.

    He finished his talk (without one scriptural or religious reference) bye saying this “I don’t know all of your names now but I will in six months because I can see you all in the hallway and just say ‘Howdy Slim!’ I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. SEE YOU LATER SLIM!”

    After sacrament I was lingering in the back of the chapel saying to a friend “I never knew I would get a weight watcher meeting this morning!” As I was really bashing on this guy of course he walked up right behind me, when I turned around and saw that he was standing there listening to everything i said I had no other choice but to just say “HOWDY SLIM!” and quickly walk away.

    BTW – Aaron are you going to tell your knee-to-knee missionary story?

  109. Ryan C.
    February 26, 2004 at 3:42 pm

    The poem “Footprints” one of my favorites!

    Does anyone know the REAL reason there is only one set of footprints at the end?

    Because Jesus and I were hopping together!

  110. Ben
    February 26, 2004 at 4:15 pm

    The alternate version of “footprints in the sand.”
    (Not mine…)

    One night I had a wondrous dream,
    One set of footprints there was seen,
    The footprints of my precious Lord,
    But mine were not along the shore.

    But then some strange prints appeared,
    And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
    Those prints are large and round and neat,
    “But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

    “My child,” He said in somber tones,
    “For miles I carried you along.
    I challenged you to walk in faith,
    But you refused and made me wait.”

    “You disobeyed, you would not grow,
    The walk of faith, you would not know,
    So I got tired, I got fed up,
    And there I dropped you on your butt.”

    “Because in life, there comes a time,
    When one must fight, and one must climb,
    When one must rise and take a stand,
    Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

  111. February 27, 2004 at 12:41 am

    Lyle, in answer to your question about why did I think my friend’s lesson on “romance 101” was weird… Because of the setting.

    Sex is a natural part of marriage. To say that intimacy is important at church is fine and dandy. To say that massage oils can spark up your sex life is best left to girlfriend talk and bachelorette parties. I also wouldn’t talk about specifics in treating hemorroids at church either. Not because hemorroids are something to be ashamed of, but because church is where we discuss incorporating the Spirit in our lives. Doctor’s offices are where hemorroid treatments are discussed.

  112. anonymous
    March 2, 2004 at 5:27 pm

    I’ve some interesting/funny things to share that are close enough to the topic:

    1. Growing up in Arizona I disliked hearing Arizona Mormons castigate “hypocritical Utah Mormons”. I’ve since heard the same diatribe against Mormons in other states and many times here in our Texas ward. My wife is from Utah…so that always makes her feel like a “very special spirit”. Another one I hear less commonly is how wicked BYU is becoming.

    2. Having served my mission in Canada, LDS Canadians aren’t impressed with U.S. missionaries’ U.S. bigotry particularly about the “inspired U.S. Constitution” or claiming to be from “America”…as if Canadians weren’t “American” too.

    3. Two most embarrasing church moments for me was: as a deacon tripping down the stairs while passing sacrament and the bread flying everywhere; and again as a deacon spilling the water into my crotch after the bishop indicated to me that my fly was open. A friend of mine in high school like to call deacons, “geekons”.

    4. One of my missionary companions liked to joke around about blessing the ice cream so that it would turn into wheat in our stomaches.

    5. I loathe the usuals like “this generation of LDS is the most righteous”; “this dispensation will be one of the most wicked times, it’s going to get worse and the divide between wicked and righteous will grow wider”

    6. One of my college buddies liked to recite this parody, “My roomate is true and I love the Church”.

    If you’re really interested in canard-spectacular go to the the annual pageant in Manti, Utah…from Moroni to waving the American flag, you’ll love every moment! Bleh!

    One reason I choose not to live in Utah nor Mormon-dominated-areas like Mesa, Arizona is because of my canard-phobia…too many Mormons in one geographical area leads to what I call social inbreeding to a level that is hard for me to endure.

  113. Nate Oman
    March 2, 2004 at 5:38 pm

    On the lines of the “this is the most righteous generation speeches,” I love the church talks to the youth in which they are identified as among the “noble and great ones” in Abraham’s vision of the premortality. I had a mission companion named Elder Bailey, and we would regularlly remind each other that we were among the noble and great ones in the pre-existences.

    Imagine a large Korean apartment building. The Elders ring a door bell.

    House wife opens door.

    Missionary 1: Anyounghashimnikka, ajumanim, urinun sungkyosa durimnidda. Bideo poidurigo shipsumnida.

    House wife slams door.

    Missionary 2: Elder, you realize that you just introduced us as “sex education teachers who would like to show her a video.” Missionary is “sunkyosa” not “sungkyosa.”

    Missionary 1: Flippin’, fetchin’, shiz!

    Missionary 2: It’s alright Elder. You were still one of the noble and great ones.

  114. March 2, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    Anon, your last paragraph reinforces the very things you oppose in #1.

    It is unfortunate if your wife is lumped in with the stereotypes of Utah Mormons.

    However, there is a reason those stereotypes exist. It’s not like they are a widespread urban legend. It is most definitely wrong to assume everyone in Utah is x, y, or z. However, generalizations are legitimately applied at times in this case and others.

  115. March 2, 2004 at 6:41 pm


    So, should you tell the joke about bus (or apartment) 18, or should I?

  116. anonymous
    March 2, 2004 at 7:00 pm

    Renee, my last comment does not reinforce what I oppose by #1…there is a difference. I don’t generalize about “hypocritical Utah Mormons”…I don’t believe the generalization is true. However, in my experience when there are too many Mormons in one geographical place, the social inbreeding creates a MINORITY of Mormons in a predominantly Mormon populace who are just a little to wacky for me to endure. Fortunately, there are less of them here in Texas than there are in Utah where you can’t seem to be engaged in anything without bumping into Mormonism…or at least someone’s version of Mormonism.

  117. lyle
    March 2, 2004 at 11:47 pm

    ah…come on anon…isn’t it just that you don’t like ‘religious competition’ vs. your own brand of wacky Mormonisn? i hear mine is as catchy as the plague… ;)

  118. Taylor
    March 3, 2004 at 12:07 am

    Nate, a lot of missionaries in my mission wanted to share a “massaggio”, not a “messaggio” with the people who answered the door.

  119. March 3, 2004 at 12:17 am

    Anon, okay the wacky part I can get. And just how is that they managed to string that many brands of wackiness in The R.M. movie? It was ghastly in it’s endeavor to get in as many ridiculous quirks as possible from the naming of the kids to the multi-level marketing to the food storage outta control and then some. Ick.

  120. anonymous
    March 3, 2004 at 9:02 am

    Lyle, the religious competition disturbs me. Why any one should have a different point-of-view about Mormonism besides my own is unfathomable…even my wife! arg! :)

    I do wish though that my recent post about corrupt LDS businessmen in the Dallas Stake under the “Lawyers on the Front Line” thread would get more attention.

  121. March 4, 2004 at 2:19 am

    Hot off the press! My wife got a phone call earlier today from the Relief Society President. The Pres encouraged my wife to do her visiting teaching because otherwise she wouldn’t be temple worthy. The Pres even went as far as to say that she got her info from the bishop… *gasp*

    Now my wife wants to do visiting teaching less than ever before.

  122. Dan
    March 4, 2004 at 8:02 pm

    Worst Mormon canard: Spence

  123. rick
    May 6, 2004 at 4:19 am

    I cannot believe that we haven’t listed: “kind care and keeping”.

    And the pre-sustaining litugy: “We have called the following person to a position of service in the ward and propose him or her for a sustaining vote. When you name is called please stand and remain standing until the vote is taken.” Heads turn. Necks crane. Not there.

  124. May 26, 2004 at 3:40 pm

    Also symptomatic of the cultural myopia that leads to comments about “poor foreigners” being humble and teachable, the one that gets my hackles up is when, especially in Gospel Doctrine exigesis, the explicator assumes that English was the original language of the scriptures.

    To wit: I once heard a Sunday School teacher claim that scripture came from two root words: “scrip” and “ture”. The first, he said, we all understand–it means “writing” (he was thinking “script”).

    “The second root–“ture”–is more troublesome,” he went on, “until you rearrange the letters and notice that they spell “true”. Thus, scrip-tures are “true writings”.”

    Beautiful. What are las escrituras, then, which presumably are read by those more humble and accepting of the gospel than I?

  125. Kingsley
    June 14, 2004 at 7:20 pm

    Ben: If you will close an otherwise serious sac. mtg. talk with “Buttprints in the Sand,” & solemnly sit down, I will send you 20 bucks (it’s all I can afford).

  126. Kingsley
    June 14, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    I know this thread is dead, but I was recently reminded of another LDS canard that I really, really dislike: “C.S. Lewis was as near a Mormon as you can be without actually getting baptized!” No, he wasn’t. Not even close. For his only published thoughts on Mormons, see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, specifically the description of Scrubb’s parents.

  127. Chris Grant
    July 28, 2004 at 11:29 am

    Regarding the much despised “I never said it would be easy; I only said it would be worth it”, how different is that from the following statement made by President Kimball in the October 1977 General Conference:

    “The Lord never promised an easy road, nor a simple gospel, nor low standards, nor a low norm. The price is high, but the goods attained are worth all they cost.”

    As for Kingsley’s claim that Scrubb’s parents in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader were Mormons, there seems to be a fairly strong consensus among (non-Mormon) Lewis scholars that they were, instead, the sort of people lampooned in the 1994 film The Road to Wellville.

  128. August 10, 2004 at 4:41 am

    Lyle: paying one tithing directly to Salt Lake is not unheard of… there’s even a department that handles “payment in kind” — which specifically handles gifts of stocks and securities.

  129. Dan Richards
    August 10, 2004 at 6:29 pm

    Justin Halverson asks “What are las escrituras?”

    I offer the following:


    For more fun with anagrams, go to

  130. August 14, 2004 at 6:24 pm

    We hear praise and support for the Brethren, but never hear a peep about the Sistren.

  131. August 16, 2004 at 12:32 am

    For what it is worth, the first time I ran into someone paying tithing directly to Salt Lake it was because they were hiding that they didn’t make as much money as they felt was appropriate to their station vis a vis the other doctors (who paid tithing normally).

    Interestingly enough, no one cared.

    Though we did have a gentleman, born two centuries ago (and about a hundred at the time of the incident) who got up to offer the prayer and started off thanking God he wasn’t born a … luckily the prayer was short.

    He just died a few years ago, managed to make it from 18xx to 20xx.

  132. Sumer
    August 17, 2004 at 4:27 pm

    I once was in a RS lesson where the subject was Modern Day Prophets. The teacher had prepared on poster board, lists of the things we could do to support our church leadership. Each one was titled “Follow the Profits”. Funnily enough, her husband sold Amway…

  133. Nathan Tolman
    September 3, 2004 at 2:02 pm

    Nate’s story about the sex education teacher/missionary flap reminded me of something that happed to my cousin, who went to the same mission that I did at an earlier time. Before I tell this I need to explain that most Modern Chinese words are compounds of two characters.

    My cousin looses his wallet at Church, so he searches and searches and can not find it, so he decides to go around and ask the members “Ni you meiyou kanguo wo di baopi?” Thinking it meant “Have you seen my wallet (baopi)?” The problem was that pibao (pi=skin, bao=bag) means wallet. Baopi means scrotum. So he went around to most of the ward asking “Have you seen my scrotum?”

  134. Anonymous
    November 27, 2004 at 7:43 am
  135. E. Jahn
    March 8, 2005 at 4:23 pm

    (It looks like I’ve finally found a home! Hallelujah!)

    It looks like this thread has died, but I have to offer the following awkward story:

    I knew things weren’t going to go well when a neighboring stake invited “two or three couples” from each unit in our stake to help plan a singles conference. Hello! It’s the singles program of the Church, not the “couples” program.

    During the weekend, the stake chair and his co-chair switched off in conducting the meetings. All well and good, until she got up to conduct Sacrament Meeting. Not one person said anything, including a High Councilor who was there (maybe he was already asleep?). At any rate, while the Sacrament was being passed, I slipped a note to one of the guys, asking that he pass it to the stake chair. The note basically said that conducting Sacrament Meeting was a Priesthood duty, not for sisters. After the Sacrament had been passed, he dutifully got up and conducted the rest of the meeting, but w/o acknowledging his mistake.


  136. Maxinne (po-Mo spelling)
    December 30, 2005 at 8:29 am

    I don’t blog or do web chat, but have been meaning to drop in on this blog
    for a few months and say hi. I happened to notice this comment and thought I’d
    inquire further. I’m not sure if this is Kris Haglund (whom I know and like very much)
    or another Kristine but in any case I welcome exchange and further enlightenment.

    >Laurel Ulrich wrote a great little essay on the priesthood and its “appendages� >and “auxiliaries�–it’s in Maxine Hanks’ book. (Incidentally, I wish somebody would >anthologize it in a less threatening volume.)

    Can you help me understand what is “threatening” about my anthology? It was prepared with utter sincerity, humility and a deep desire to illuminate women’s actual
    heritage within Mormon tradition (not outside of it). My intent was to celebrate Mormon
    tradition, reclaim it, not depart from it nor devalue it nor decry it in any way.
    I prepared the book with a clear commitment to stay within the boundaries of LDS history, tradition, precedent, theology and doctrine. I specifically avoided straying outside of those bounds, thus declined publishing a number of items and submissions that might be too speculative or in any way extra-Mormon.

    How was this threatening? Maxine Hanks

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