Friday, July 31, 2009

An anniversary, and the return of the testimony glove

So this blog is officially one year old today.

Looking back through all the posts, i find it interesting that the one that got the most comments, including some from people who just popped in to disagree with me on that topic and then disappeared completely, was on the rather bizarre phenomenon of the “testimony glove”. (The link should pop up a new window with my post on it. You may want to read it to provide context.)

I just think it’s interesting that such a cutesy item can be the source of such vehemence, both against it (that’d be me!) and for it (i’ve found a “testimony of the testimony glove” written by the person who claims to have invented them).

I still maintain that the whole “testimony glove” is harmless enough, except that it gets taken way too far when we start recommending that people use things like that as a cheat sheet for testimonies. Testimonies are supposed to come from the heart—any claim that there are “five essential elements of a pure testimony” (yes, that’s a quote) and that testimonies should stick to those misses the point, really—outside of a couple of rather technical uses, a testimony is a statement of what the utterer avers to be fact. In Mormon contexts, this is something you aver to be fact because the Holy Spirit has given you a witness of it. Full stop.

And creating a crib sheet for things that are claimed to be essential is dangerous, i’d argue. If the speaker knows the five things on the testimony glove to be fact (God lives, Jesus is God’s son, Joseph Smith is a prophet who translated the Book of Mormon through divine inspiration, we’re in the true church, and the church is led by a living prophet),* then that person should call that their testimony. However, if the person knows other things that aren’t on the testimony glove to be true (say, that priesthood keys have been restored, or that angels minister to humans, or that the book of Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations from God,** or that having love for each other is a good thing in God’s eyes), that’s still a “pure testimony”, no matter what the testimony glove may say.

The really interesting thing about the comments i got from my earlier post on the testimony glove is how (politely) vehement some of the responses were that the testimony glove is a good thing. (Sidebar in response to a comment i got off-blog: Just ’cause an idea appears in the Friend doesn’t mean it’s divinely inspired, you know?) One of the memes seemed to be that we have poor models of testimony-bearing in testimony meetings, so kids need a cheat sheet of sorts. Though i disagree that children need a cheat sheet for testimonies (a testimony in testimony meeting is supposed to be at least semi-unscripted, after all, since it’s supposed to be delivered when the Spirit moves you to deliver it, not when you’ve planned out what you’re gonna say)—and particularly that full-time missionaries don’t need one, or at least shouldn’t—i can understand the urge. However, the testimony glove does two things wrong in relation to this: It misdefines what a testimony is, and it wrongly limits the sorts of things that ought to appear in testimonies.

And yeah, as a couple commenters noted, travelogues and thankimonies can be annoying, but when they’re very short and used to illustrate a deeper point, they actually work. The people in your ward don’t do that? Fine. Start modeling better behavior, don’t hand out scripts. Is that so hard?

Well, for some people, apparently it is.

* I’d argue that some of these are wrong, in minor though not unimportant ways—for example, the church is not led by a living prophet, it’s led by Jesus Christ.
**I suppose some could argue that this one is subsumed within the Joseph Smith one—but if so, why would the testimony glove be needed to remind people that the Book of Mormon was translated via prophetic means?

Friday, July 24, 2009

A thought for Pioneer Day

I have no pioneer ancestry—at all—but i’ve often had people tell me that i have a spiritual pioneer ancestry, ’cause my parents were taught by people with pioneer ancestry.

You could actually play that game with pretty much anyone in the church—if they weren’t taught by someone with pioneer ancestry, they were taught by someone with pioneer ancestry (or if their teachiers didn’t have pioneer ancestry, they were taught by someone who did…and so on).


You know, i like this idea, i just don’t think it goes far enough. My parents were taught by someone with pioneer ancestry, who was taught by someone with pioneer ancestry, who was taught by someone with pioneer ancestry, and so on until you get to someone who was taught by someone from upstate New York (who was, if you want to take it even further, taught by angelic ministrants and deity).

So much for everyone in the church ultimately having a pioneer ancestry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What’s an abode, then?

Some things you hear in church just make you want to say “Um, dude?”—like the sacrament speaker who took the line in the scriptures that Jesus can “abide” with us and claimed that that word doesn’t mean he can “live” with us, it means something much, much stronger (though that was never defined, oddly enough). Um, dude?…

Friday, July 17, 2009

On evidences of apostasy

Today’s entry is semi-inspired by spending time in Kirtland, Ohio last Sunday with three different Latter Day Saint Movement churches, though i’ve thought it for a long, long time:

So what’s up with this widespread Mormon point of view that all the arguing amongst the existing Xian churches during the Second Great Awakening is proof that they were in apostasy? Given all the different Latter Day Saint Movement churches right now, and the doctrinal differences and occasional open disagreement between all of them, wouldn’t that mean we have proof that we are all in apostasy right now? I mean, if you’re gonna use the one, you have to be ready to be skewered with the other, right?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Diminishing returns?

I feel like i’m hearing more and more people in church saying that the role of the father in the family has been diminishing in recent years.

Recent years? I’d say the role of the father has been diminishing since humans decided that the best way to deal with a pair-bonding society was to do the hunter-gatherer thing, really.

Friday, July 3, 2009


What is it about Mormons and pianos?

With only very, very rare exceptions, the only homes i’ve ever been in that have pianos (a) have at least some of the same occupants as were there in the 1950s, and/or (b) have Mormons in the household.

I, for one, find this weird. (Of course, i have to admit to not really liking the way pianos sound, even when they’re perfectly in tune, which is rare for an in-home piano.)

I know this blog doesn’t have a wide readership, but surely those of you who do read have some sort of collective wisdom on this one.