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The other day I went to a wedding reception for one of my cousins. While we were waiting for the stars of the show to arrive, a man dressed in a white shirt, dark suit and tie walked up to my family. I had brought my sister, who isn’t very familiar with the Mormon, or LDS church other than the few conversations we’ve had and the times she has attended church to see our kids get blessed (dedicated) when they were babies.
When the nice gentleman arrived, he introduced himself to us and we started talking. My sister asked him how he knew our cousins and the Mormon lingo started to fly. He said: “I’m their Stake President and their hometeacher…and also their friend.”
My sister looked at him as if he had spoken a foreign language and said something to the effect of “well that’s great!”, and the conversation pretty much ended there.
After he walked away, I explained what a Stake is in the Mormon church, home teachers, and also what a Stake President is. It made a lot more sense to her afterwards. I thought it was strange that he would introduce himself as the “Stake President” rather than his name, but that ‘s a different conversation.
That conversation, along with a recent talk in church caused me to reflect on Mormon culture and how we have conversations with each other that other groups would be very confused by, even though we are all speaking the same language. For those of you who are not Mormons, but occasionally come in contact with them, or know some of therm, I thought a little Mormon Lingo 101 may be useful.
The words and phrases I’ll share are from personal observation as a member of the LDS, or Mormon Church for over 25 years. The definitions I’ll cite from Mormonwiki.com. Also, there are a couple of other bloggers out there who have written about this too, so feel free to visit their sites. The ones I visited are: Minorproblems, Lightplanet, and an LDS forum on LDS.net.
As I was digging around, I came across a lot of Mormon lingo, so just for a little fun, I’m going to have this post be Mormon Lingo 101 and subsequent weeks will be Mormon Lingo 201 for a bit more advanced Mormon lingo including abreviations on some of the terms I’ll site here, followed by Mormon Lingo 301 that is mainly found when one is serving a mission for the Mormon church.
Mormon Lingo 101
Mutual: Mutual is the term members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use to describe a weeknight activity sponsored by the Church for teenagers. Mutual got its name because it is supposed to encourage “shared experiences in which there is mutual respect and support for one another” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 187 emphasis added).
FHE: Stands for Family Home Evening. It is a family night held weekly in Mormon households and Monday is the evening set aside for families to pray, play, and read scriptures together.
Ward: A geographical boundary designated for Mormon congregations. Typical size is 300-500 members.
Stake: A grouping of 7-9 Wards.
“feeling the Spirit”: Phrase Mormons use referring to communications received from God leading them in their lives.
“I know (fill in the blank) is true…”: This is a phrase very commonly used during fast and testimony meeting (see definition below). Mormons frequently get up and share their witness of “knowing” something is true when referring to a strong conviction of something (usually referring to prophets, the Book of Mormon, etc.)
Mia Maid: Name given to young women ages 14-16
Beehives: Name given to young women ages 12-14
Laurels: 16-18 year old young women
Priest: Male members ages 16-18 who have been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood
Teacher: Male members ages 14-16 who have been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood
Deacon: Male members ages 12-14 ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.
Bishop: Leader of a Ward (the equivalent of a Pastor)
Stake President: Leader over the geographical Stake
Relief Society: Womens organization for ladies 18 years old on up. They work together with the Bishop to help members in the ward in need.
Relief Society President: Female leader of the relief society. The bishop’s “right hand man” so to speak for helping needy members of the ward.
Home Teacher: Each male member of a ward is assigned a “companion”, or another male member. These two companions are then assigned 3-5 families in the ward to visit on a monthly basis to share scripture with and assist in other ways as needed by the families they visit.
Visiting Teacher: Female members of the Relief Society are assigned companions and go visit other sisters in the relief society to give spiritual and temporal help.
Baptisms for the dead: Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.
Getting a blessing: LDS male members who have the Melchezedick Priesthood can give blessings. They lay their hands on the heads of those seeking a blessing and, as guided by inspiration from the Holy Spirit, speak the words God would have the person seeking the blessing hear.
Active Member: A person who actively attends all or most of their church meetings and who holds a Calling
Inactive Member: A person who is a bapstized Mormon, but who doesn’t attend regularly or hold a Calling
Calling: A job, or assignment given to a member of a ward as inspired by the leaders of the ward or stake such as teaching the youth or children on up to being the Bishop or Relief Society president.
Bearing a Testimony: Sharing one’s witness, or conviction of something spiritual in nature
Testimony Meeting: Monthly meeting where Mormon members have an “open mic” and can get up and share their witness of something spiritual.
If you are a Mormon, you will probably think of many more things regarding Mormon lingo. Keep in mind, this is the first post that includes very basic Mormon phrases and words unique to Mormonism. I have 201 and later, 301 coming in the next couple weeks for the fun acronymns and other phrases that Mormons use when talking to each other.
If I missed any basic phrases or words, or if you have any insights, feel free to leave a comment.
I was emailing Mormon Heretic who also contributes over at the Wheat and Tares blog and he had a great idea about a Sunday Devotional. So giving credit where credit is due, this devotional idea is actually inspired by his email. I thought I would start sharing an evening thought each Sunday about an insight from the week or something I learned in Church.
Receiving Revelation from God
Each Sunday, the men’s group has a 1 hour meeting during the third hour of church right after Sunday School. The group I am in is called Elder’s Quorum.
Today the discussion was on how to recognize and receive revelation from God.
One comment that was made stood out to me. The Elder in our group shared an experience where he felt that as long as we are doing “all the right things” we will be in the position to receive revelation from God. According to him, the “right” things included going to church, reading scripture daily, praying, and trying to be perfect essentially in word and deed.
I argued that while doing those things is good, God can and will give revelation to anyone based on how He views them and feels that they will respond after the revelation is given and received.
We see in the scriptures (i.e. Paul in the Bible, Alma in the Book of Mormon) where people who were complete sinners who were in complete rebellion towards God. Yet they received revelations in the form of visions from God. These examples blow the theory out of the water that we need to be doing all the “right” things to receive revelation. Once they received the revelation, they opened their hearts completely to God and were humbled.
I shared a personal example of when I was off track and in rebellion towards God and received a dramatic revelation that changed my life. This is the main reason why I attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church).
To be fair to my friend in Elder’s Quorum, I have also received revelation when I was doing all the “right” things such as praying, scripture study, church attendance, etc. and I do think that when we are trying to tune our lives in with God, we will be doing those things. However, some people who haven’t experienced communication from God are also entitled to revelation from God and God will choose who He wants to reveal truth to. Just because we are doing all the “right” things doesn’t necessarily guarentee that we will receive revelation.
What are your experiences with receiving and recognizing revelation?
In one of my recent posts on a CNN interview with former members of Mitt Romney’s congregation, a reader asked me if we as Mormons enjoy all the media coverage.
I’ve seen people both excited about it, indifferent about it, and others who don’t want the Mormon church to be too exposed (as written about in the Washington Post article earlier this year).
I thought it would be interesting to gauge how readers feel by having a poll to see where people from around the country (and world) feel about Mormons being in the media so much. Take a few moments and record your thoughts on the poll below:
On this blog I write of the Savior’s love, forgiving others and applying Jesus’ atonement into our lives. Many of you have also commented and shared insights and stories of how Jesus’ love has affected your life as well.
The video clip is an example of the miracle of Jesus’ atonement at work in the lives of two men. One of them is the father whose 3 children including his pregnant wife, were killed by young drunk driver. It isn’t often that I am moved to tears, but I was when I watched this interview on Glenn Beck t.v.
Put what you are doing aside for 20 minutes and watch this because it will change your life.
A few years ago I wrote an article on how I was able to overcome anxiety and depression without using medication. At the time, I didn’t realize how many people struggled with either anxiety, depression, or both.
Since I wrote that article along with some other ones, people have emailed me, called me, or just talked with me about their struggles with anxiety and depression. When I started receiving so much feedback, I decided a great way to get the word out would be to write a book on the topic.
Over a year ago, I started writing a book on my experiences with overcoming anxiety and depression. What I thought would be a short process ended up being about a year in the making. Editing the book and finding a publishing company was another endeavor that took almost as long.
Long story short, I finally finished the book and am excited to share it with you or anyone else you think may be able to benefit from overcoming anxiety and/or depression.
The book includes my personal story along with several resources to help guide people to learn how to cope with and eventually overcome anxiety and depression.
Feel free to visit Amazon.com and check out the book. I arranged a “Look Inside” feature so you can read some of it. Click on the image below to check it out:
People are always curious about Mormons and what they believe, especially recently with Mitt Romney in the headlines. He usually shys away from talking about it. Personally, I wish he’d talk about it more because it would show his personal side of how he may have helped people.
This report is a little old (April 2012), but I thought it was a good report on people’s experiences with Mitt Romney as their bishop.
A couple years ago, I wrote a post titled Does God Want Us to Be Rich? In that article, I concluded that as long as our hearts are first, placed on building the kingdom, then strengthening our own faith, and then the lives of others, that God does indeed want us to be rich. I also share an experience where God blessed me with a lot of money at that time as a result in putting Him first.
The other day, someone left a comment on that post that they, as a Chrisitan have faith in God and a desire to earn $180,000 to bless the lives of other people. They then asked the following question:
…can we ask for something specific (say $180,000)? Will God honor that request, or will He wait until we’re ready to receive it because He doesn’t want us to squander it?
I’m not God, so that is a heavy question since God knows the intentions of their hearts. However, from my experience, God can answer specific prayers and the more specific the better. It depends on a few things such as 1. If it is His will 2. If their hearts are ready to receive it 3. If they are willing to put in the work and effort to raise it.
Those are my thoughts, but I’m confident that many of you who read this can further help with this question. What experiences or advice do you have?
I read a very interesting article on a teacher who is non-Mormon that taught a college course in Germany on Mormonism.
She discussed the attitudes of many of her students when she brought up the topic of Mormonism. Having been a missionary in Germany nearly 20 years ago, I wasn’t surprised to hear some of her examples such as Mormons being cultish, blasphemis, Mormons are only interested in other people to convert them, and so on. One stereotype I hadn’t heard, but can see why they said it was Mormons being overly concerned about money. The kicker was when she said a missionary came in and told the class God brought the Berlin Wall down in 1989 because East Germany was willing to allow Mormon missionaries into the country.
As I removed myself from looking at that situation from a Mormon perspective and put myself into the situation of one of the students, I can completely see where the stereotypes come from. Many of us as Mormons appear cultish in that we clump together and don’t associate with people of other faiths. If we do associate with them, we try to proselyte to them and if they don’t accept, we dust our feet off and move on.
Regarding the money stereotype, the scriptures always talk about obeying God and then being prosperous. Perhaps we put too much emphasis on the being prosperous part and not obeying God part.
Finally, I feel there is also a sense of Mormons feeling they may be a bit better than other people in other faiths since we’re in the “one true church” and all good things that happen in the world are a result of the good Mormons (as alluded to by the missionary in the example).
I hear Mormons scoff and complain sometimes at the fact that people have these stereotypes towards us, but maybe we are the ones who create those stereotypes.
If you are like me, there have been times in your life when you have prayed for an answer over and over and it appears that no one is listening. Sometimes you may wonder if there is even a God at all. Sometimes you may wonder if the Divine experiences and revelations you have received were something contrived by your own mind, or not. Some may feel they haven’t ever felt God’s love in their life due to terrible circumstances. If you feel that God isn’t answering your prayers, ther is a great talk by Neal A Maxwell, former Mormon apostle: “Thanks be to God“.
Here’s an excerpt taken from the talk:
Yes, even in our prayers, we can, unintentionally, ask “amiss.” (2 Ne. 4:35.) No wonder humility is such an everlasting virtue. For us to accept God’s “No” as an affirmative indication of his love—rather than a lack thereof—and as a signal that we have asked amiss, this is true humility!
How often have you and I in our provincialism prayed to see ahead and, mercifully, have been refused, lest our view of the present be blurred?
How many times have we been blessed by not having our prayers answered, at least according to the specifications set forth in our petitions?
How many times have frustrating, even gruelling, experiences from which we have sought relief turned out, later on, to have been part of a necessary preparation which led to much more happiness?
“And now when Alma heard this … he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.” (Alma 32:6; italics added.)
How many times have we impatiently expressed our discontent with seemingly ordinary and routine circumstances which were divinely designed, shaping circumstances for which, later on, we were very grateful? Alas, have there perhaps not also been those times when we have been grumpy with God or, unlike Job, even “charged God foolishly”? (Job 1:22.) How many times, naively, have we vigorously protested while on our way to a blessing?
Therefore, our faith in and thanksgiving for Heavenly Father, so far as this mortal experience is concerned, consists—not simply of a faith and gladness that he exists—but also includes faith and thanksgiving for his tutoring of us to aid our acquisition of needed attributes and experiences while we are in mortality. We trust not only the Designer but also his design of life itself—including our portion thereof!
I really like this quote because many times in my life I’ve prayed for something I think I wanted and God was patiently waiting for me to be ready to receive it.
For example, I prayed for a number of years to meet a good lady to marry and start a family with. However, whenever I met a lady who I thought would be good, I felt God was telling me to wait. Sometimes I would try and force a relationship against the will of God and of course the relationship wouldn’t work. It wasn’t until I humbled myself and realized I had some personal issues with feelings of abandonment and anxiety that I needed to overcome that I realized God was being merciful to me (and the girls I had been trying to force things with) by not giving me the “green light” so to speak to get into a serious relationship. After I had dealt with overoming my feelings of anxiety, depression, and abandonment (which you can read more about in detail here), did God place a lady in my life.
What experiences have you had with feeling that God wasn’t answering your prayers, only to find that He really was listening?