Orson Scott Card

[pages not numbered]G.A.  1. Abbreviation for General Authority: “Do we have a G.A. at stake conference this time? 2. Nickname used by missionaries for the Catholic Church: “The reason we don’t baptize much here is because everybody belongs to the G.A.” (See great and abominable church.)

gathering  The practice of separating the Saints from the world by bringing them to live together at one place where they can build a perfect society that will be an example of godliness to everyone, as was done in Jackson County, Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and Provo, Utah. Nowadays the Saints are told not to gather anymore. except at BYU during football season.

genealogy  The study of your ancestry in order to link up with someone famous in the Church, or, failing that, to link up with an active family that already has your genealogy done for you.

General Conference  A twice-annual television mini-series with a continuing cast which Mormons watch while cooking dinner, doing needlework, or sleeping.

gentile  1. Anyone who isn’t a member of the Church, including Jews. 2. Anything that isn’t LDS: “After I graduate from BYU, I’ve decided to get my master’s at a gentile university.” 3. Anything deliciously worldly: “Let’s go down to the disco and do some gentile dancing.”

get married in the temple  All you need to do if you want to have a perfect marriage.

glory of God is intelligence, the  In their humility, Mormons generally avoid seeking after glory.

go back to Jackson County  What all Mormons expect to do someday, even the ones who have never been there.

golden contact  Someone who does the Mr. Brown parts of the discussions correctly the first time through.

golden plates  Mormon wrote his rough drafts on tin, but switched to gold for the final copy to make sure people would pay attention.

golden question  “What do you know about the Mormon Church? Would you like to know more?” A question Mormons regularly ask non-members, but rarely think to ask themselves.

good business sense  What it is when a Mormon store owner starts his Christmas sales in September, prices his goods higher than their value, or uses beautiful women in his advertising. (See crass commercialism.)

go on a mission  What you do in order to have the best two years of your life.

go to the temple  What Saints in Manila save up all their lives to do, and what most Saints in Salt Lake City are just too busy to do this month.

great and abominable church  1. All those who love the world more than they love God, regardless of what church they outwardly belong to. 2. In common Mormon usage, the Catholic Church. Catholics and Mormons disagree on practically everything. For instance, Catholics have an infallible pope, have always meddled in politics, and worship saints, while Mormons have an infallible prophet only get involved in politics as private citizens, and worship Donny and Marie.

great and spacious building  1. A symbol for the mocking world in Lehi’s Tree of Life vision. 2. A common nickname for the skyscraper at 50 East North Temple in Salt Lake City.

greenie  A missionary so new in the mission field that he still believes his district leader is always inspired, people are eager to hear the gospel, and his girlfriend will wait for him.

handcart  What Mormons picture themselves pulling across the plains when they go back to Jackson County.

Happy Valley  Utah Valley. Protected from the world by a ring of mountains, blessed with fertile soil, with well over 90 percent of the population Mormon and Brigham Young University the valley’s largest business by far, the place is indistinguishable from the city of Enoch. If it weren’t for a few humanists, cynics, and Democrats, it would have been translated years ago.

harmony  What Latter-day Saints used to believe they ought to be in-with their leaders, their families, and their fellow Saints. In recent years, enlightened Saints have come to reject the idea of harmony, in which many different melodies work together to create music, and instead understand that the Lord prefers plainsong, in which all the voices endlessly sing in unison.

higher criticism  The ridiculous, atheistic notion that in passing through the hands of many scribes and translators, the scriptures have become altered, with many plain and precious truths left out and ideas of men added in by later writers so that you have to study the scriptures in their historical and literary context in order to understand what they really mean.

History: A collection of faith-promoting stories about dead people, whether the events actually happened or not.

“All you need is a pinch of this …
and a pinch of that ….”

history  A collection of faith-promoting stories about dead people, whether the events actually happened or not.

homemaking The art of removing all evidence that anyone lives in your house.

homemaking  The art of removing all evidence that anyone lives in your house.

home teachers  Two priesthood holders who are responsible for making sure you cannot watch the end of the television program you have been waiting all month to see.

hope  A level of certainty that is stronger than suspicion and weaker than belief. It means you are in doubt but you want it to be true.

hot drinks  To normal Latter-day Saints, tea and coffee; to fervent believers, everything containing caffeine, including ice-cold colas; to fanatics, everything that contains caffeine and every drink that is served hot.


humanist  1. To a Mormon puritan, a member of a godless conspiracy to supplant the truth of the scriptures with the obscene or atheistic teachings of men. Humanists believe in things like evolution, relativity, philosophy, and art-as if anything discovered or made by human beings could have any value in the eyes of God. If stamping out humanism means rejecting every work of science, philosophy, or art since Plato, we are well rid of them. 2. To a Mormon humanist, anyone who believes that God has created mankind with a godlike potential and that people should therefore try to discover truth through their God-given powers of reason, experiment, and observation, as well as through studying the scriptures and receiving revelation. Humanists accept as valuable, things like evolution, relativity, philosophy, and art-for God is pleased when mankind discovers truth and creates beauty, even if many mistakes are made along the way.

humble  1. (adj.) Some Mormons are so ashamed of their fellow Saints that instead of being proud to be asked to speak in church, they feel humiliated, and say, “It makes me very humble to stand before you.” 2. (verb.) Whenever someone who is young or poor or of lowly calling shows signs of uppity initiative, it becomes the duty of some older or richer or more prominent Saint to lovingly cut him down to size. This is only done out of charity: “He needed to be humbled.”

humility  A precious liquid that many Mormons carry with them; strangely, no matter what container it is in, it is always deep, never shallow.

immortality  A gift that Mormons believe will be given to everyone from the greatest prophet to the most notorious murderer-which rather dilutes the honor. If Mormons are right, a lot of unbelievers will be surprised; but if they are wrong, no one will be there to be surprised, not even Mormons. (See also eternal life.)

Improvement Era  The For many years, the official Church magazine and the best Church wide advertising medium. Its official publication role has been taken over by the Ensign; its advertising role has been taken over by BYU Today, the alumni magazine.

inactive  (See active.)

inheritance  A permanent stewardship. For instance, the inheritance of the meek is the earth. Mineral and water rights, however, will be retained by a Church holding company named Bonneville or Deseret or Zion’s.

Inspired Version  The popular name for an edition of the Bible that includes sections of Joseph Smith’s inspired revisions of the Bible and Joseph Smith’s marginal annotations. In doctrinal arguments, always remember that if you can’t find a certain doctrine in the Bible, you can always claim you read it in the Inspired Version.

instructor  In a priesthood quorum, the referee.

investigator  Someone who suspects there are exciting, powerful truths in the gospel somewhere, despite the missionaries’ best efforts to stick to the discussions.

iron rod  In Lehi’s vision, the figure for the word of God. In the fog of ignorance and error, the iron rod leads straight to the tree of life. Of course, the iron rod also leads directly away from the tree, depending on which way you follow it.

jack Mormon, Jack Mormon, jack-Mormon  Originally a nonMormon who consistently befriended the Church, now the term means a baptized Mormon who doesn’t come to church or keep the Word of Wisdom and isn’t even embarrassed about it.

Jackson County  The former location of the garden of Eden. Now it’s part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. If Adam had just held on a little longer, his property would have been worth millions.

jay dubs  The Saints’ oddly affectionate nickname for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the other nineteenth-century American religion that matches our missionary zeal throughout the world. It is the secret dream and dread of every Mormon missionary to meet a jay dub head on in open battle-much like the feelings of the average knight toward a dragon. It would be nice to slay one but even nicer never to meet one.

Johnston’s Army  An expensive military expedition sent in 1857 to quell a Mormon rebellion that wasn’t taking place. Ever since, Mormons have suspected that the federal government was not their friend.

journal  Every Latter-day Saint keeps a journal. In the average journal, the first entry is three pages long, the second is one paragraph, the third is a single line, and the fourth was never written.

Journal of Discourses  A mammoth collection of speeches by General Authorities in the nineteenth century, containing many doctrines that were never taught in the Church. As a safety measure, it was once suppressed by the Church, for several once-bright people had gone mad trying to make all the old-time apostles’ statements fit within the same gospel. Today, however, there is no fear of ill effects from publishing the Journal of Discourses, for only Fundamentalists, anti-Mormons, and historians ever read it.

keys  Something that only prophets, apostles, and meetinghouse custodians are permitted to have.

Kimball, J. Golden  A legendary General Authority whose irreverence and profanity were a constant delight to the Saints and a constant embarrassment to the Brethren. The Saints loved him because he didn’t seem to be pretending to be something he wasn’t; the Brethren were annoyed at him because they didn’t understand the words.

Kingdom, the  In the old days, the Saints thought the kingdom of God would fill the whole world through their sacrifice, hard work, cooperation, charity, and righteousness. That didn’t work, so now we’re just going to buy all the land.

knowledge  The ultimate level of certainty, much stronger than faith. It means that you have had faith in something so long that you can’t remember ever thinking about it and you certainly don’t intend to start now.

Kolob  The star or planet “nigh unto the throne of God.” Also an investment company, a pharmacy, a petroleum firm, a real estate office, and an insurance agency.

Sister Missionaries

lady missionary  Until recent years, disobedient women who weren’t married by age twenty-one were permitted to go on missions as a sort of penance. Now, however, many parents encourage their daughters to go on missions before they marry, out of the strange belief that if a period of total dedication to the service of the Lord is good for boys, it will also be good for girls. Elders usually hate to have lady missionaries in their districts because they are distracting, they need special treatment, and they work so hard it makes the boys look bad by contrast.

lamanltes  What Mormons call Indians. (See savages.)

last days  The terrible time when Mormons will actually have to eat all that wheat and honey and powdered milk they’ve been storing all these years.

laurels  What no one in the Church is permitted to rest on.

laying on of hands  What missionaries are not allowed to do with members of the opposite sex.

Lectures on Faith  What you are likely to get from your bishop if you confess to him that you are having doubts about some action of the Brethren. Let a portion of thy Spirit be with us. An act of vivisection earnestly desired by a majority of those who offer invocations in Church meetings. (See Prayerspeak.)

liberal Mormon  1. As perceived by a conservative Mormon: A Mormon who wants to pervert the gospel to fit the doctrines of men instead of waiting for the Brethren to receive revelations. Liberals talk about being guided by the Spirit but usually find that the Spirit is telling them to espouse currently fashionable American liberal causes and ideas. 2. As perceived by another liberal Mormon: A Mormon who believes that the Lord won’t give you any answers unless you ask him intelligent questions. Liberals believe that a Saint should be sensitive enough to recognize truth and humble enough to accept it whether it comes from the Brethren or Boethius, Newton or Nietzsche.

lineage of Cain  What black people used to have that kept them from being able to hold the priesthood or get married in the temple.

loud laughter  Something to be avoided except when a General Authority makes a joke during a talk.

magnify your calling  To do what needs to be done without waiting to be commanded. Not to be confused with going off half-cocked. You can easily tell the difference: If it worked, you magnified your calling; if it didn’t you went off half-cocked.

Mahonri Moriancumr  If that were your name, you’d go by “the brother of Jared,” too.

manifest it  Upon hearing these words, raise your right hand quickly and put it back down again before the man at the pulpit says, “Those opposed, if there be any.”

Manifesto  An official statement of policy by Wilford Woodruff, accepted by the Saints in General Conference, that suspended the practice of illegal plural marriage in the Church. Now Mormon beliefs about polygamy range from horror stories about oppressed women to wistful remarks that begin, “When polygamy comes back again … ”

Many are called, but few are chosen  The words Mormons use to console themselves when they are stuck with cleaning up after the quorum party all alone, even though six other people promised to help.

millennium  A thousand years of genealogy, temple work, proselytizing, and filling out reports, a prospect that can make wickedness and destruction look downright enticing.

ministering angel  Second-class citizens of the celestial kingdom.

mission  The front line in the Church’s struggle to overthrow the world and replace it with the kingdom of God.

missionary  A Saint who has put on the whole armor of God, even though it’s heavy, out of style, and three sizes too big.

Missionary Training Center  Survival training for Mormon missionaries.

mission field  The entire world north of Rexburg, Idaho; south of Mesa, Arizona; and east or west of Salt Lake Valley. In the mission field, Mormons are quickly tricked by the devil into departing from the true gospel, but recent move-ins from Utah are always willing to help them get back to the ways things are done in Zion.

Missionspeak  A pidgin English build around the root word flip and employing snatches of dozens of other languages. While the origins of words in Missionspeak are easy to trace, long conversations remain untranslatable even by the most accomplished linguists. Missionspeak seems to be a whole new turn in the history of language: an idiom that is used to convey raw emotion without communicating anything that could be called “meaning.”

mob  A group of people whipped into such a frenzy by evil leaders that they are incapable of reason or empathy in their urge to destroy an innocent victim. Not to be confused with groups of concerned citizens who are so inspired in righteous indignation by defenders of morality that they have no further need of discussion or delay in their crusade to destroy the forces of sin.

Mormons  People who believe: 1. That a small family is one with only four children. 2. That if they ever get in real trouble, one of the Three Nephites will help them out. 3. That the only difference between them and God is a few years of training. Mormon Standard Time Ten minutes after the appointed hour. Mother in heaven The mother of our spirits, who after years of anonymity has developed something of a fan club among believers in the ERA.

mother in Zion  The position a Mormon woman is given as a reward for good behavior in her teens. As a mother in Zion she has the privilege of changing thousands of diapers, drying gallons of tears, spraying Bactine on hundreds of scrapes, washing millions of dishes, and reading The Little Engine That Could out loud until she can recite it backward. All she has to do to remain in this enviable office is keep herself lovely, youthful, and enthusiastic enough that her husband stays interested in her.

Mountain Meadows Massacre  An unfortunate incident in which John D. Lee, a master of disguise, dressed up as dozens of Indians and single-handedly wiped out all the men, women, and children in a wagon train of Missourians passing through southern Utah.

mouth  When a group of priesthood holders take part in the laying on of hands, only one of them, called the “mouth,” speaks for all. Those who have had their necks nearly broken by the weight of twenty-eight hands on their head have wished for many mouths and only one hand.

mouthpiece  Someone who speaks someone else’s words. The prophet is the mouthpiece of the Lord; many speakers in Church meetings are the mouthpiece of Golden Nuggets of Thought and Minute Sermons.

Negro question, the  (obsolete)

Nephite  A white and delightsome person who always gets rich whenever he is righteous, and always gets proud and wicked whenever he gets rich, and always has some disaster befall him whenever he gets proud and wicked, and always repents and gets righteous whenever a disaster befalls him. Fortunately, while Mormons today always get rich when they are righteous, they never get proud and wicked when they are rich. Therefore they are safe from disasters.

New Jerusalem  A vast new city that will be built before the Second Coming. Prophecies have it that the Lamanites will actually build the city. They’ll have to. The rest of the Saints will be too busy selling real estate, maternity insurance, and recorded talks by General Authorities.

New Era, The  The official Church magazine for Mormon teenagers, from which young Saints learn that if they are righteous they will always be happy and never have a bad case of acne.

Noah  A man who found out that you should plan for everything in your year’s supply.

"... No amount of success in the home can compensate for the failure to win the MegaCorp. account ...."

“… No amount of success in the home can compensate
for the failure to win the MegaCorp. account ….”

nonmember  Someone who has lived in Salt Lake City for fourteen years and still hasn’t met his neighbors.

non-Mormons  People that you’re supposed to convert to the gospel—but in the meantime don’t let their children go out with yours.

no other success can compensate for failure in the home  The doctrine that as long as it’s Church work that keeps you away from home, your children will be all right.

oil  Normal Saints keep a small bottle of consecrated oil in the medicine cabinet at home. Fervent believers carry one with them always, just in case a miracle is needed. Fanatics use theirs so often they keep running out, and then ask you ifthey can borrow some of yours. When you admit you don’t carry any with you, they look at you with such disappointment that you feel like turning in your temple recommend.

one-third of the hosts of heaven  All the spirits in the preexistence who didn’t have the guts to try to make it back to heaven without someone forcing them to be righteous. Bishops whose ward members can’t seem to get anything done without constant supervision should console themselves that Satan has to work with followers who have even less initiative.

only true  A synonym for my. For example: The only true church = my church. The only true ward = my ward. The only true way of picking cherries on the welfare farm = my way.

organist  During boring parts in sacrament meeting, it is the organists duty to “accidentally” lean on the keyboard or step on a pedal. The startled congregation usually can’t get back to sleep for ten or fifteen minutes.

Orthodox Mormon  A Latter-day Saint who has twelve children, a garden, a years supply of food and supplies, every book with a General Authorities name on the cover, and a subscription to the Ensign, New Era, and Friend. The orthodox Mormon man has no debts, his wife does not work outside the home, and his house and yard are cleaned up and fixed up. The orthodox Mormon woman has clean, obedient children, a house full of artifacts made on homemaking day, and a perfectly satisfied husband. There is no Mormon product that the orthodox Mormon will not buy, no acquaintance who has not heard about the gospel, and no doctrine or story told in a Church meeting that he or she does not believe. Orthodox Mormons would give up anything, including life itself, for the gospel; and being utterly teachable and meek, they will inherit the earth. (See radically orthodox Mormon.)

osmondize  To give something such a slick, polished surface appearance that no one will notice there isn’t any substance underneath.