A robber broke into a house one night. Suddenly, a voice called out to him from the darkness, "Jesus is watching you.”
The robber froze. After a few moments, the voice returned. “Jesus is watching you.”
Confused, the thief searched the house and found a parrot. He asked the parrot, “Are you the one who’s been talking to me?”
"Yes," said the Parrot, "I'm Peter."
The man scoffed under his breath. “What type of idiot names a parrot Peter?”
The parrot answered, “The same type of idiot that names a Rottweiler Jesus.”
Speaking of parrots . . .
Yesterday I taught Elders Quorum and accidentally called "ministering" by its old name, "home teaching."
I didn't realize my mouth had betrayed me (muscle memory?) until the EQ President used the proper term. (At least I am not old enough to still be calling it "Ward Teaching," right?)
Can youteach an old dog new tricks?
After I apologized and received the quorum's forgiveness for my misspokenness, I began to think about another name I haven't been able to shake―Mormon.
When I was a little kid, I used to listen to a cassette tape called "I'm a Mormon," which had a very catchy soundtrack for "I'm a Mormon, yes I am."
Something was amiss (many of us sensed) when President Nelson told us in 2018 that we shouldn't use the term "Mormon" when referring to the Church or its members.
"When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan."
(Russell M. Nelson, "The Correct Name of the Church," October 2018)
"Who Am I? 24601!"
For the past couple of years this "cancelling Mormon" thing has nagged in the back of my mind like a melody I can't place.
As I have pondered it, I have asked myself what a "victory for Satan" really looks like, and whether this qualifies?
Does the Lord really get upset when we call ourselves "Mormon?"
In my attempt to "get understanding," there are a few things that still don't add up for me.
Problem No. 1: "Melchizedek" is used as a nickname for the Priesthood of God itself.
The use of nicknames in this dispensation is well established. As we all know, the "correct" name of the priesthood is "The Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God" (D&C 107:3).
Isn't using the name "Mormon" for the Church analogous to using the name "Melchizedek" for the priesthood? (And Mormon is easier to spell, too!)
But if we apply President Nelson's logic, would it be a "victory for Satan" to remove the Savior's name (or in this case, title) from the priesthood?
I mean, the priesthood is greater than the Church. We can have the priesthood without a church, but we can't have a church without a priesthood.
The priesthood is without beginning of days, whereas the Church is a recent creation. The priesthood endures into eternity, whereas the Church is a product of this earth-time.
So, should we stop saying "Melchizedek" Priesthood, too?
Problem No. 2: Aren't we supposed to refrain from using the name of the Lord too frequently?
So why was the priesthood given a nickname?
Because "out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called the priesthood after Melchizedek" (D&C 107:4).
Hmmm. But if we use the full name of the Church all the time, aren't we actually showing a lack of reverence and disrespect to God? Won't we be violating the principle established by the Lord to "avoid the too frequent repetition of his name?"
(Kind of like how the Jews believe his name is too holy to be spoken, substituting instead HaShem ("The Name") or Shem HaMeforash (“the indescribable Name”).
Problem No. 3: The Lord's Church (i.e., the "Church of the Firstborn") does NOT include his Proper Name.
I guess cancelling "Mormon" seems a little silly, showcased by the fact that the name of the Lord's church, or Church of the Firstborn, does not contain his given name.
Well. So the celestial saints belong to a church that does not bear his name? Yes. "They are they who are the church of the Firstborn" (D&C 76:54).
If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not exist in the celestial kingdom because its faithful members have all matriculated to the Church of the Firstborn―along with the faithful of previous dispensations into one fold, one church with one Shepherd―then how does this constitute a "major victory for Satan?"
Problem No. 4: The Lord had no problem with calling his Church the "Church of Enoch."
The Lord acknowledges the faithful saints who belong "to the general assembly and church of Enoch" (D&C 76:67) in Enoch's day. So . . . His name isn't there, either.
Does any of this add up?
Problem No. 5: Things can have more than one name, and names can change.
1830: The "correct" name of the Church was originally "the Church of Christ" (see D&C 20:1, which states, "The arise of the Church of Christ in these last days").
1836: Then Sidney Ridgon comes along and loves the term "latter-day saints." So the Church is called "The Church of Latter-day Saints."
1838: Finally, in 1838 Joseph received Section 115 which states, "For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (D&C 115:4).
There was no question after that about what the Church was to be called. But the Lord never stated that the name was to be used exclusively.
In fact, the Saints and leaders at that time adopted and used the name "Mormon," too.
Joseph Smith is credited with writing the editorial in the Times and Seasons in 1843 which celebrated the name "Mormon" (see, Times and Seasons, May 15, 1843).
Joseph Smith is famous for saying he'd be as happy dying for a Methodist as he would a "Mormon."
Problem No. 6: Previous Prophets had no issue with the name "Mormon," so this is causing spiritual whiplash.
Does anyone else remember the "I'm A Mormon" campaign under President Monson?
Does anyone else remember the "Meet the Mormons" movie?
How could the Lord be okay with the nickname "Mormon" between 1830 - 2018, but suddenly change His mind (when He is the same yesterday, today and forever)?
President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
"The Mormon church, of course, is a nickname. And nicknames have a way of becoming fixed. I think of the verse concerning a boy and his name:
Father calls me William, Sister calls me Will, Mother calls me Willie, But the fellers call me Bill.
"Anyone who comes to know the man Mormon, through the reading and pondering of his words, anyone who reads this precious trove of history which was assembled and preserved in large measure by him, will come to know that Mormon is not a word of disrepute, but that it represents the greatest good."
(Gordon B. Hinckley, "Mormon Should Mean 'More Good,'" October 1990)
So what is really going on here?
Whoops, I Missed a Spot
In the Church's revised Style Guide quoted by President Nelson in his 2018 talk, it states "the full name of the Church is preferred."
So let's look at two strange examples of how the Church has complied with President Nelson's mandate.
Example 1: The rebranded church web-address does not contain the name of the Church either.
What? We must be kidding.
In response to President Nelson's talk, the Church moved away from www.lds.org to . . . wait for it . . .
Huh? Surely they would not leave out part of the "full name" of the Church, right?
But they did! Our new web address is NOT the name of the Church the Lord gave in 1838.
This is especially bizarre considering that Elder Nelson in 1990 stated about the name of the Church, "Note that the article "The" begins with a capital letter. This is an important part of the title." (Russell M. Nelson, "Thus Shall My Church Be Called, April 1990).
No "of Latter-day Saints," either. (Which is funny because Elder Nelson said, "A saint is a believer in Christ and knows of His perfect love." Id. Oh well, who needs "Latter-day Saints," anyway?)
So . . .
I guess the new internet domain name does highlight Jesus Christ more than lds.org, so that is something.
Example 2: The rebranded name of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does not point to Christ.
Waaait a minute. If this is about focusing on Christ, then why didn't we include Him in the name of the Choir?
The old "Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
Now we have . . . wait for it . . .
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square
(1) The name of the Choir was never revealed by revelation, so there's no problem changing it into anything we wanted, right?
(2) The old name did not have "Jesus Christ" in it, and therefore it did not bring attention to Him, which seems to be the whole point.
(3) The new name does not have "Jesus Christ" in it, either, and therefore does not bring attention to Christ.
(4) But the new name does discard that troublesome word "Mormon."
1. From the change of the church's web address, we know that the actual, full, revealed name of the Church is not the issue. That is a red herring.
2. From the change to the Choir's name, we know that focusing on Christ is not the issue. That is a also red herring.
3. It appears this whole exercise is simply to scrub "Mormon" everywhere we find it (except, of course, from his book).
The Trademark to "Mormon"
Before we go any further, let me explain the difference between a trademark, a patent, and a copyright.
1. A Trademark is a word or slogan or logo (like Toyota).
2. A patent protects the invention of machines and processes (like a new way of hardening rubber for tires).
3. A copyright protects an artistic expression (but not an idea). Like the Harry Potter books or the soundtrack to "I'm a Mormon."
In the United States, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) governs the issuance of trademarks.
The Church no longer holds the copyright to The Book of Mormon because it has entered into the public domain.
In 2003, the law firm Kirton McConkie attempted to trademark the word "Mormon" for the Church, giving it sole rights to use the term in "religious services, namely, operating places of assembly for worship and gatherings; ministerial services."
However, the US Government refused to grant the Church the trademark to "Mormon."
(What would happen if Pepsi lost the trademark to its brand? Or if Coca-Cola couldn't protect its name from copycats and musical theater playwrights?)
Generic and Merely Descriptive
The government said the term "Mormon" was generic and "merely descriptive of the identified services" and therefore ineligible for trademark protection.
The USPTO trademark examiner issued a rejection letter called an "Office Action," but offered this passing compliment: "The term "MORMON" is well recognized in the United States as one of the great religions."
After years of legal wrangling, the Church abandoned its attempt to trademark "Mormon" in 2007 (although it did receive a separate trademark relating to "educational services").
I'm a Mormon?
Personally, I do not believe these legal trademark issues had anything to do with President Nelson's decision to scrub "Mormon" from our lexicon, as evidenced by the fact he has been teaching these things for 30 years.
In April 1990, then-Elder Nelson gave a talk called, "Thus Shall My Church Be Called." His views have remained unchanged since then.
So what has changed? Well, 30 years ago Elder Nelson was unable to persuade his other Brethren over to his point of view (as evidenced by President Hinckley's gentle rebuttal six months later in the October 1990 General Conference).
But now, as President of the Church, he no longer needs their consent to implement policies he believes to be correct.