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A couple of weeks ago we had Stake Conference (this happens twice/year and is a regional meeting when Mormon congregations gather together within a geographical region to listen to various speakers). One speaker who stood out to me was a young lady named Kayla. What stood out to me was her funny and enthusiastic attitude as well as her fresh approach to the Gospel. She described having grown up as a Christian and then leaving the faith for a while and then recently having an experience that led her to the Mormon faith, and having a relationship with the Lord once again. As she told her story, I witnessed the Holy Spirit come over her and it touched my heart deeply and I wanted readers of this blog to hear her story as well.
After the conference, I asked her if she minded if I asked her a few questions for readers and she was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. The rest of this post includes my questions and her answers.
Why did you decide to join the Mormon church rather than the church you were raised in?
I’ve been waiting to write this for a while now, but I laughed out loud when reading a comment on this post , so I thought it was time to share my thoughts on the issue with music in the Mormon church.
When discussing the issue of Mormon church meetings lasting so long, one of the comments was:
…my friend has a full-fledged band in her Methodist church. Where the (heck)’s (he used a different expression) our band! I wanna band!
After reading this, my thoughts went back to when I was 21 years old and just home from my LDS mission to Germany. I had been asked to sing in church so I sang my own arrangement of the hymn “Beautiful Savior” on the acoustic guitar (playing guitar isn’t normally done in LDS churches, so I thought it would be a good thing to add variety to the worship).
I felt very moved when preparing for the song and also singing the song. When playing the song, I didn’t go crazy on a blues scale or put a pop flare into it. I simply did a simple picking and strumming pattern and played it softly and worshipful. I truly felt the Holy Spirit when singing and playing the song during church. After the meeting many people came up and mentioned how it had moved them too. However, when the bishop approached me, he had other things to say. He whipped out the bishop’s handbook (this is a handbook issued by the LDS church President that has guidelines and policies about how to conduct meetings in church and other issues leaders need to deal with) and was polite about telling me that I sounded good, but that sacrament meeting wasn’t a place for guitars (even though the book doesn’t explicitly state that).
I disagreed with him and I still do.
I have family members who attend various other Christian denominations including: Anglican, Foursquare, Presbyterian, and non-denominational. I have been to their services when their band is playing songs and the congregation joins in. The argument I have always heard against a full band in church from Mormon leadership is that guitars and drums drive away the Spirit. However, when I have attended their church I have felt the Spirit during songs with a full band just as much as I have with the traditional organ-accompanied hymnals we hear in Mormon or traditional Christian churches. Plus our kids pay more attention and enjoy it more as well!
The official policy from the latest Mormon Church Handbook states the following about music selection for sacrament:
Organs and pianos, or their electronic equivalents, are the standard instruments used in Church meetings. If other instruments are used, their use should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting. Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting.
I can understand not wanting percussion, although do not completely agree with them that drums are less worshipful. I’ve been to meetings where drums are played and there is definitely a more worshipful experience with the drummer and congregation compared with what you usually see in Mormon meetings where people are half asleep as they play a slow hymn and fight kids during the song.
Where I do agree with the Mormon leaders’ philosophy on music in church is that before the Sacrament (Communion) it is appropriate to play reflective music. This should be a very reflective time. However, once the Sacrament has been conducted the other songs that are sung during the meeting can be upbeat with various instruments, I think.
Finally, I am a member of a band in our local Stake. We play songs that relate to pioneers, Jesus, scriptures, missionaries, and the gospel in general. The songs we play the range from very slow to very upbeat. I feel a closeness to God as I express my praise through music and many other people have expressed how close they feel to God when listening to us as well. We use a full band and I think there wouldn’t be a problem playing our stuff in sacrament meeting with most of the songs we perform. Although they are more upbeat than hymns, they are worshipful.
I do not believe that God only listens to organ music. Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven if that’s all we heard up there!
So in conclusion, I share the same sentiment to a certain extent with the comment on the other blog:
Where the Heck is our band? I want a band in church!!!
While I was talking with one of my family members, they mentioned that some Mormons were baffled with the fact that Romney had lost. Especially since signs had been pointing towards the fulfillment of some parts of the “White Horse Prophecy”. (For those of you not familiar with this prophecy, it is described in detail here). They felt our constitution is “hanging by a thread” (as do I in many respects) and all signs were leading towards Romney winning.
Since the “White Horse Prophecy” is so en grained into Mormon culture, it seems that any time a Mormon does anything significant in politics, many Mormons jump on the bandwagon of wondering if the prophecy is about to be fulfilled.
I feel that there are flaws with this way of thinking. First, the prophecy has not been cited as something definitely prophesied by Joseph Smith. Secondly, there is not a clear definition of what is meant by the “constitution hanging by a thread” and how the elders will participate in saving the constitution. I get a feeling that Mormons assume it means a Mormon in the White House, but the prophecy does not state this and is rather vague in defining exactly what role the elder will play.
Even though there are flaws in the prophecy, and LDS public affairs has even publicly denounced the prophecy, I’m sure that many Mormons will still hold this “prophecy” to be true merely based on the fact it has been told so many times and become a part of Mormon culture.
That being said, let’s have a little fun. Now that Mitt Romney is out, who do you think will be the next Mormon politician to be dubbed as the Elder who will fulfill the White Horse Prophecy?
I’m having a hard time coming up with anyone. Jon Huntsman is probably out of the picture. Marco Rubio was a Mormon in his youth, but is now a Catholic….is there anyone in the foreseeable future that you can think of?
Romney’s win in the debates last week and his surge in the polls is seen by many political analysts as something unprecedented in US Presidential history, this late in the elections. For those who support Romney, this is inspiring and an amazing feat. and has charged many conservatives up around the country. Those who do not support him are also inspired to try harder and are also charged up more than before to support Obama.
Since I am a conservative, Mormon Republican I obviously lean towards Romney and associate with mostly people who are of the same opinion. Being somewhat of an “insider” so to speak, I’ll share with you some of the things I’ve seen and heard among Mormons leading up to and after the 1st debate that lead me to believe the majority of Mormons feel God helped Romney win the first debate.
1. People sharing their “testimony” of Mitt Romney
For those who are not familiar with the monthly Mormon “Fast and Testimony” meetings, I’ll briefly describe what they are. On the first Sunday of each month, Mormons fast usually from food and water, for a day and use the money they would have used to pay for food and donate it to those who are less fortunate. During the “Fast and Testimony” meeting in church, Mormons are encouraged to stand up and share their “witness” or “testimony” of Jesus and the gospel.
Although discussing politics in church isn’t a normal occurance, I have heard some Mormons getting up recently and testifying of how God is leading Mitt Romney and praising Romney for being such a good man.
While I do not condone testifying of men at the pulpit, I appreciate that people are excited for a potential leader of our country who they feel is a righteous person.
2. Fasting for Mitt Romney
For those who are not familiar with the Mormon concept of fasting for someone, I’ll briefly explain. Occasionally, Mormons will unite in prayer and fasting to pray for a person who is sick, a situation to improve, etc. The concept is that through fasting and meditation, one comes closer to God and the powers of Heaven are brought down upon the person or situation.
A week or so before the debates, I received a Facebook message from one of my fellow Mormon friends. She had joined a group to fast for Mitt Romney before the 1st debate so God could lift him up.
Judging from the historical leap in the polls Romney had after the debates, it is nothing short of a miracle. I think many Mormons believe that through prayer and fasting, Romney shined in the debates.
3. Putting Romney’s name in the temple
In Mormon temples, there is part of the endowment ceremony where people come together joining hands in a circle and pray for a list of names of people who are in need of help. The names are written down on little pieces of paper and put into a box and prayed over in general terms, not individually by name.
One of my friends was telling me that his parents, who are temple workers, saw Mitt Romney’s name on the pieces of paper numerous times as they were emptying the prayer box after the temple ceremony.
He then shared with me that he and many others feel that God helped Romney win the debates because of the prayers offered in his behalf in the temples prior to the debates.
While I do not have hard data, I do get the feeling that most Mormons feel that Romney was lifted up by God to help him win the debate and put him ahead of Obama currently.
I am also aware that those who do not support Romney feel that Romney cheated and lied his way through the debate to beat Obama. Those who support Obama also feel that Romney didn’t really do that great, it’s just that Obama did so poorly that Romney looked better than he is.
In order to gather some hard numbers on this issue, feel free to take the short poll below and as always, feel free to leave a comment.
Congratulations on completing both Mormon Lingo 101 and Mormon Lingo 201! You are now ready for the advanced stage of Mormon Lingo. These are words and phrases that the average Mormon probably hasn’t heard unless they served a mission, or have been around a Mormon affiliated university like BYU or Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). After completing this section, you will be ready for the final exam!
Mormon Lingo 301
MTC: The Mission Training Center. This is a center where missionaries go to prepare before they serve on their full-time missions. Missionaries study culture, language, scriptures, and how to teach for 3 weeks if it is a non-foreign mission and up to 12 weeks if it is a foreign mission.
GA: Stands for General Authority. General Authorities are the main leaders of the LDS church consisting of the Quorums of the Seventy, the Twelve Apostles, and the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors).
Flirt to convert: I wouldn’t say this is an every-day LDS phrase, but it was one that missionaries jokingly used when on a mission. I heard it at BYU (Brigham Young University) as well. They used it in reference to flirting with a non-Mormon of the opposite sex to entice them to join the church.
“I never said it would be easy…I only said it would be worth it”: This was a phrase used in a picture with Jesus (see below) that I don’t hear much anymore, but frequently used to in the ’90s. It is actually a quote by Mae West and is nowhere to be found in the scriptures.
“comp”: abreviation of ‘companion’. Missionaries are assigned to have at least one companion on their missions, which is why you see them walking two by two on the streets.
“greeny“: brand new missionary
“dear john” : Letter sent to missionary from their significant other while they are on their mission letting them know they are breaking up with them.
“mish” : abreviation for mission…one would use this in the phrase “So where did you serve on the “mish”?”
“dad” : On a mission, each “greenie” recieves a trainer as their first companion. Missionaries would refer to this first trainer as their “dad”.
“grandpa” : The trainer of a trainer on the mission.
“AP’s or APES” : On a mission, the Mission President has two missionaries who are his right hand men in over-seeing the 150 or so missionaries assigned to that particular mission. They are called assistants to the mission president. Usually, rather than saying “assistant to the president” when referring to them, missionaries will call them “AP’s”. Occasionally, I’ve heard them referred to as APES…like the monkey.
“mission mom”: The mission president’s wife
“I killed him”: Term used when your companion goes home from his mission
“I was born in…”: Area where you started your mission
BYU: Usually people know this as Brigham Young University. However, I’ve occasionally heard people jokingly say it actually means “breed ‘em young university” because people get married so young there.
BRT : On a mission, when speaking with someone for the first time missionaries are trained to find common ground with them to build a relationship of trust. The shortened accronymn for this is to simply “BRT” with a person.
Split : The situation of a missionary companionship working with two local Elders and splitting up to cover two simultaneous appointments, also refers to the local Elders that assist in such endeavors
White Bible: White Missionary Rule Book
Congratulations for completing Mormon Lingo 101! You are now ready for Mormon Lingo 201! This will include words and phrases that unless you attend a Mormon church for awhile, you probably won’t hear all on the first Sunday you visit. Please review the list and if you add any additional indermediate Mormon phrases in the commentary, you will recieve bonus points on the final exam!
Mormon Lingo 201
The “Bish”: I usually heard this phrase when I was attending BYU, but it is a shortened term for “bishop”.
RM: Returned Missionary…someone who has been on a mission and has come home
EQP: I usually heard this term referring to the Elders Quorum President (men’s leader) when I was in college as well.
G’s or Holy G’s: Mormon are known for wearing “holy underwear” or “magic underwear” as many in the outside world call it. Inside the Mormon church, I’ve heard people refer to the garment as “G’s” or “Holy G’s”. This isn’t a common term and many Mormons would probably be offended by it. This is almost worthy of Mormon Lingo 301, which will be coming next week.
Peter Priesthood: A “goodie-goodie” Mormon boy that never does anything wrong and plays by the rules.
Molly Mormon: Same as “Peter Priesthood” except the girl.
Jack Mormon: A Mormon guy in name only. A Jack Mormon probably hits the bars, drinks, parties it up hard and may or may not go to church.
Motab: Abbreviation for “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir”
Sweet Spirit: Someone (unfortunately usually a girl) who is very nice, but unattractive
DTR: At BYU people who were dating, but it appeared not to be going anywhere (i.e. marriage) would sit down and have a heart to heart discussion on “defining the relationship”. Are we just friends, make-out partners, or is this for real? DTR is the acronymn for ‘defining the relationship’.
NCMO: Stands for Non-commital make-out. Happens all to often at LDS colleges.
BMW: I’ve heard Mormons jokingly call their station wagons back in the day “BMW’s”…or Big Mormon Wagons to hold all their kids.
CTR: This officially stands for ‘Choos the Right’ and there are cool rings that many Mormons wear to remind them to always choose to do the right thing in every situation (click here to learn about the history and see an image). I’ve also heard Mormons jokingly refer to CTR as meaning “Chase the Rich” “Corrupt the Righteous” and “Close the Refrigerator”.
PPI: Personal priesthood interview. Usually a leader in the Mormon church such as an Elder’s President will have an interview with members of his quorum to see if they are on track spiritually and this is abbreviated as having a “PPI”.
Mormon Standard Time: Mormons are usually just slightly late to their meetings and this is referred to as “Mormon Standard Time”.
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.