The October 2015 General Conference brought us many uplifting talks, peppered with a touch of scandal, Mormon-style. Scandal 1: Three White Guys from Utah were tapped as replacement apostles for Three White Guys from Utah. (Canyoubelieveit?) Scandal 2: “Ponderize” becomes the New Priestcraft, thanks to the Durrant family. Three White Guys is certainly discussion-worthy, and I’ll probably get to that, but, oh my holy heck: “ponderize?” I’ve been flipping like a fish out of water since I first heard the “word.”
Any half-committed grammar Nazi will tell you that only professionals, like, oh, say Shakespeare, should be allowed to bastardize words, or create them anew. But Brother Devin Durrant, of the Sunday School General Presidency, didn’t get that memo. He wants us to “ponderize,” which means (to him) both think about and sort of memorize (but not really) a scripture a week.
I listened to Brother Durrant’s talk on Monday morning, less than 24 hours after it was given, and I hung tough, in spite of the horrible word, until he uttered the phrase: “Nephi was a ponderizer.” And then I completely lost it.
Ponderizer (noun): a cross between ‘ponder’ and ‘womanizer.’
Of course, President Monson’s Sunday morning admonition that faithful saints refrain from off-color humor flashed in my mind, so I turned off Brother Durrant for the safety of my soul. The reality is, I’m much too irreverent a person to listen to the rest of the talk, but I am reverent enough to know I like the message: choose a scripture a week, think about it daily, committing 20% of that Think Time to memorization and 80% to ponderization. Great idea. Lame word. (Don’t hate me because I murmur.)
Turns out, the word is sort of a Devin Durrant slogan. He recently served as mission president over the area in which I reside, and, apparently, the missionaries all knew the term. Thankfully, they spared me its use each time I fed them. Obviously, it’s a slogan the Durrant family is invested in, so much so, in fact, that Brother Durrant’s son and daughter-in-law were quick to demonstrate their personal investment in a line of Ponderize t-shirts, put up for sale at $17.99, plus tax and shipping.
This created no small stir and division among the people, some crying, “Lo, nepotism!” and others, “Lo, priestcraft!” A scene of great confusion ensued–the faithful contending against the authority–until their good feeling one for another began to be restored with a price drop to the at-cost (also known as the “we-just-wanna-break-even”) value of $4.99. The spirit of contention, however, is not so easily soothed, as the enterprising Durrants quickly discovered.
Within hours, the blue light began flashing over Aisle 666 once again, and the new news out of the Ponderize website was that monies procured would be shuffled into the missionary fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and used to combat Satan’s influence in the world. Ah, sweet irony. Some called this the “we-just-wanna-salvage-our-reputation” value, but I would never be that cynical. Regardless, it didn’t help. Before the holy Sabbath melted into an ordinary Monday, the website was down, and the case nearly closed.
Only one thing remained undone … People who are even more irreverent than I began placing bets: will he or won’t he apologize? Well, of course, Brother Durrant apologized. His formal mea culpa came Monday when he admitted foreknowledge that his son had plans to cash in on his General Conference address. So, in less than 24 hours, Mormons had the wildest, post-conference ride ever, one that whizzed through all the steps of repentance (admittedly lingering a little on the recognition stage) and left many cheering for more. Today, the gamblers among us are choosing sides in the hotly anticipated Durrant v. Oaks Apology Match-up, also known as the Mormon Sorry/Not Sorry Battle of the Aged.
Personally, I wasn’t scandalized by the Durrant family’s “priestcraft.” After all, the church has its own particular (and official) delivery system for the exchange of cash for religious ideas, including those worn on poly cotton blends. We affectionately call this delivery system Deseret Book. And we’re okay with it. Perhaps this is why Mormons will so readily forgive Brother Durrant. We all participate in priestcraft to one degree or another. Anyone been to Time Out for Women? Education Week? Or purchased a platinum CTR ring? My hand’s up.
All teasing aside, I’m happy that Brother Durant owned it. He admitted foreknowledge, admitted it was unwise, and apologized. Huh. I find that a wonderful trait in a church leader and, although I, personally, wasn’t all that scandalized (I was amused), and although I don’t feel I was owed an apology (no way I was going to buy that t-shirt), I’m pleased as punch he admitted he wasn’t sucker-punched, and even more relieved he didn’t try to punch back at the people who called him out, making the sin theirs. (All things are pure to the pure in heart, after all.) So kudos to Brother Durrant for his humble approach to reproach. Keep it up.
Well. You know what I mean.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
Photograph by Toni Allen