Conference Terms?

As I have gone through the Conference Addresses pulling together references to the books mentioned, I couldn’t help but also look for a few other things, including terms that might become common among Mormons–words and phrases that could be added to Mormon Terms. So I’ve compiled a list of phrases that stood out in the addresses I read.

I’m not suggesting that these have actually become “Mormon Terms” per se, merely that they are unusual phrases, that might be connected culturally to Mormonism, and which haven’t yet had (at least in my experience) wide circulation among Mormons. In the past phrases like these have caught on and become widely used by  Church members — phrases like “Lengthen Your Stride,” “Faith in Every Footstep” and “The Plan of Happiness.”

Of course, because of the nature of identifying these phrases, I have no idea whether or not I got all the possibilities. I’d certainly be interested in what phrases or words others found. Or whether you think any of the phrases below have any chance of entering the Mormon vernacular.

Of course, most of these won’t make the Mormon vernacular. Even so, I think they are interesting, and may give some insight into our culture:

  • Sunshine Moments–moments when you feel the influence of the Spirit.
    (Vicki F. Matsumori, Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit, Saturday Morning Session)
  • Diligent and Concerned at Home–role of parents in the home–from D&C 93:50
    (David A. Bednar, More Diligent and Concerned at Home, Saturday Morning Session)
  • Strenuous Strugglers–those who struggle to learn and accept truth–from a talk by David O. McKay.
    (Jorge F. Zeballos, Attempting the Impossible, Saturday Afternoon Session)
  • Boys of the Lord–rowdy boys who become faithful
    (Yoon Hwan Choi, I Love Loud Boys, Priesthood Session)
  • Warm fuzzies–feelings one gets from serving others, and soft physical items meant to represent those feelings
    (Thomas S. Monson, What Have I Done for Someone Today?, Sunday Morning Session)
  • What Have I Done for Someone Today?–question we might ask ourselves each day, based on story of Jack McConnell, founder of Volunteers in Medicine
    (Thomas S. Monson, What Have I Done for Someone Today?, Sunday Morning Session)
  • An Easiness and Willingness to Believe–state of heart or mind that leads one to easily accept truth
    (Michael T. Ringwood, An Easiness and Willingness to Believe, Sunday Afternoon Session)
  • Moral Discipline–“self-discipline based on moral standards.”
    D. Todd Christofferson, Moral Discipline, Sunday Afternoon Session)
  • Moral Certainty–“certainty based on moral standards.”
    D. Todd Christofferson, Moral Discipline, Sunday Afternoon Session)
  • Mind the Gap–to pay attention to the gap between the letter of what we are asked to do and the spirit of what we are asked to do.
    (Barbara Thompson, Mind the Gap, General Relief Society Meeting)

25 thoughts on “Conference Terms?”

  1. Warm fuzzies is fairly prevalent already, but based on LDS Twitter and blog responses, my guess is that it’s going to become a bit of a “thing” for awhile.

  2. “Warm fuzzies” is indeed prevalent, but just as much outside of the Church as within. “Mind the gap” has also been hijacked by any number of secular artists, which makes it a poor candidate for getting traction in the Church.

    The only ones I see getting any mileage are “sunshine moments” and “boys of the Lord” (the latter mostly as a euphemism on the order of “sweet spirit”).

  3. I think the ultimate conference term is “supernal”. Where else but in LDS general conference is this word ever used?

  4. Nice piece, Kent. I’m guessing most readers are aware that “mind the gap” is the friendly warning posted prominently around BART stations, reminding riders not to trip over the small gap between car and floor when exiting BART cars.

  5. Good point, KLC. I dubbed “supernal” the SAT word of conference on AMV’s Twitter stream.

    A search of LDS.org for the word brings up 200 results. I couldn’t figure out how to just search conference talks — it used to be easy to do that with the old interface. Hmmm.

    Okay, I filtered to just bring up results from Church magazines and that brings it down to 130. Based on a quick survey of those results suggests that the word has steadily increased in usage from the 1980s through the ’90s and in to the ’00s.

  6. I’m guessing most readers are aware that “mind the gap” is the friendly warning posted prominently around BART stations, reminding riders not to trip over the small gap between car and floor when exiting BART cars.

    I’d always associated it with the London Underground.

  7. .

    Yeah, I’m trying to remember seeing that exact phrasing in BART but I can’t. I’ll ride it Saturday. I’ll check.

    (Incidental linkbomb, The Fob Bible’s prologue uses the word supernal. Because it, like Conference talks, is practically scripture.)

  8. So does the next edition of my Speculations series, which will most likely be out sometime next year in one of the Mormon journals.

  9. (Incidental linkbomb, The Fob Bible’s prologue uses the word supernal. Because it, like Conference talks, is practically scripture.)

    Yes, indeed it is.

    I first heard the term “warm fuzzies” in 1982 at girl’s camp and it quickly became ubiquitous in and out of the church. At least when I first heard it, it had a story and a sock puppet show to go with it.

    Also, in his novel Byuck (which I loved, by the way), Th. used the term “hot chocolate table” as a poke at those who don’t want to get too close to the edge of sin and thus will not say “coffee table.”

    I would like to point out that in the late ’80s at BYU, this was ubiquitous and in fact, I overheard a sister in my ward (here in KC) use it relatively recently. She even said she won’t use the term “coffee cake.” This isn’t a new cultural construct, but apparently drifted out of our vernacular.

    Which reminds me that I need to get out my Karen Voss book again.

  10. I think “tender mercies” has already got some traction in Mormondom, although I don’t think it was said at this last conference.

  11. Excellent observation, Marjorie. I hear it fairly often in testimonies, sacrament meeting talks, and comments during EQ and Sunday School.

  12. .

    Yeah, Bednar definitely made a splash with that one. Of course, he totally stole it from the Bible.

    His pickles didn’t last as long as I thought it would.

  13. “Even” is a conference term that stands out to me.

    As in: “AMV is an awesome blog; ‘even’ the greatest Mormon arts and culture blog ever!”

    People who don’t sit in the red velvet chairs every six months just don’t “even” like that!

  14. IIRC, my first encounter with “warm fuzzies” was at a YMCA Camp, central Indiana, circa 1984, where I was a counselor. The cliche-ness of the memory made me roll my eyeballs at the mention in Conference. But I suppose it only has that effect on folks of a certain age. Which, I would guess, most members aren’t.

  15. p.s. The warm fuzzies are missing their counterparts: Cold Pricklies.

    (Which probably belongs with “Hardened Hearts”. Which definitely seemed to be a theme this time around.)

  16. Ha. Yay wikipedia. “A Warm Fuzzy Tale” by Claude Steiner, a specialist in Transactional Analysis, originated the memes Warm Fuzzy and Cold Prickly back in 1969.

    Do you think President Monson meant to endorse Transactional Analysis?

  17. .

    I know that story — it was in those old Especially for Mormons books — each volume in a separate bright color.

    It’s like a weird primitive version of the Care Bears.

  18. Moral Certainty, particularly the variant Moral Certitude, has wide coinage outside the Church in the field of leadership ethics.

    “Tender mercies” has wide outside use also, but in the antithetical sense. You do not want to be left to them as they are usually associated with Attila the Hun, the Taliban, or persons of like disposition. I would be willing to promote an LDS adaptation of the term to describe High Councilman Sundays. 🙂 Sort of the Green Jell-O of Torture.

    — Lee Allred

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