"Ponderize" revisited

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On Own Now
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"Ponderize" revisited

Post by On Own Now » 20 Dec 2017, 11:23

I'd like to explore the response to "ponderize" two-plus years after the event. I don't intend this to be a rehash of water under the bridge, though I will summarize how we got to here. What is interesting to me is how quiet the 'movement' became post-scandal.

In Oct, 2015 GC, Devin Durrant, counselor in the Church's General Sunday School Presidency, gave a talk which you can find on lds.org (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... ontinually) entitled "My Hearth Pondereth Them Continually". In this talk, Durrant proposed a new phrase, "ponderize" which he defined as 80% extended pondering and 20% memorization.

Durrant's talk was actually kind of strange. He was clearly trying to social-engineer the ponderize concept into the LDS lexicon. The talk offered "two invitations". You probably don't remember, but the first invitation was to save money each week. The second was to ponderize. But, the balance was way, way off. When the whole talk is introduced as "two invitations", you'd sort of expect them to have coverage in the same general weight. But Durrant spent a grand total of 36 seconds discussion the invitation to save money while ponderizing garnered eight-and-a-half minutes. Durrant spoke a form of the the word "ponderize" 22 times in his ten-minute talk. The talk is broken down as follows:

Introduction/Statement that there will be two invitations - time 0:41
Invitation to save money weekly - time 0:30
Invitation to ponderize - time 7:33
Summary of first invitation - time 0:06
Summary of second invitation - time 0:55
Closing - time 0:06

As you'll recall, it soon came to light that Durrant's son and daughter-in-law had set up a website to sell "ponderize" merchandise, ostensibly to help evangelize the concept. I've invented a new word of my own: Pevangendise - merchandise used to evangelize the term 'ponderize'. Anyway, t-shirts were listed on the ponderize site at $17.99 and wristbands for $2.99. The timing of the website was especially troublesome. Durrant's talk was delivered Sunday afternoon and merchandise was already available for sale that same day.

A social media backlash ensued. Later that same day, the ponderize website reduced their pricing and explained it would be to cover costs only. T-shirts were now $9.99 and wristbands $1.99. Later still, the original prices were restored, and a statement indicated that all profits would be donated to the Church's missionary fund. By 10:45PM... still on the same day that Durrant spoke in the Sunday afternoon session... the site was taken down permanently. (http://kutv.com/news/local/lds-church-l ... se-website, http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?i ... type=CMSID)

The following day, Devin Durrant issued an apology (https://www.ldsdaily.com/world/brother- ... ntroversy/). In the apology, Durrant indicated that he was aware of the website in the week leading up to his talk: "I was aware that my son was creating a website related to the topic of my talk. I should have stopped the process. I did not. That was poor judgment on my part. Of course, none of the Church leaders were aware of the site."

But the merchandise flap wasn't quite over. Two days after the apology, ponderize t-shirts appeared in the BYU Bookstore for sale (http://kutv.com/news/local/byu-bookstor ... apologizes).

The response:

And this is what gets to the heart of the matter. Even then, there was a definite move away from 'ponderize'. In the above article about t-shirts at the BYU Bookstore, published just four days after the speech, the author indicated that the shirts, "are attracting a lot of attention, but they aren't flying off the shelves." One BYU customer was quoted as saying, "I'm buying it for my girlfriend just as kind of like a gag." In spite of Durrant's attempt to engender a new element of the LDS culture, ponderize began to disappear before it ever got going.

Two years later, ponderize is nothing more than a bad memory for some and a joke for others. I did a bit of a search for ponderize. Here's what I found:

- BYU Bookstore sells no ponderize merchandise.
- Deseretbook has no product with "ponderize" in the title. It does sell a "ponder journal".
- There are ponderize apps available. There are three on the google play store. One has had 10K downloads. There are a total of 167 reviews for these apps. I can only find one on the apple store, but I don't use apple, so I might not be seeing all of them. This app has had a total of 90 reviews.
- Amazon.com sells a book with "ponderize" in the subtitle. It was published by a christian author a little less than two years before Durrant's General Conference talk. This book seems to define "ponderize" as a slightly more active form on pondering. "The purpose of this writing is to provide positives upon which to think or meditate... to 'ponderize'." This 70-page book has an "Amazon Best Sellers Rank" among "Religion & Sprituality" of 1,405,564. In other words there are nearly 1.5M religious books that sell better on Amazon.
- Amazon also sells a journal called, "My Ponderizing Journal" that is a 112-page do-it-yourself ponderizing logbook for LDS customers. The owner writes in the text of their own verse and then their own thoughts. It first appeared on Amazon in June of 2016 and does not have an Amazon rank.
- Finally, Amazon sells a 52-page LDS journal called, "Ponderize! The Scripture Mastery Journal". This work has a printed scripture plus room to take notes each day for seven days on "What have I learned today" (no question mark SIC). Presumably, it contains 52 scriptures to ponderize. Amazon indicates it was published Oct 6, 2015 (the day after the apology, two days after the talk) and has an Amazon rank in "Religion & Spirituality" of 866,023.

I think it is quite fascinating that the collective mind around ponderize has essentially discarded what might have been, and in fact was intended to be, a catchy way to study scriptures. This seems to be in quiet reaction to an unsavory element of the proposal. In other words, in my view, it seems like people in the Church have chosen to ignore it because of the negativity. In a sense, this in a microcosm seems to be true of other more scandalous elements of our culture. Just one example: lots of members steer clear of what used to be a common mantra of no-same-sex-marriage... to the point that the upper leadership has to keep reminding us of their position.

I'm curious to get your thoughts. First of all, does anyone here see a use of ponderize in the wild? Second, what does its quiet rejection tell us about the ability of the Church culture of the every-day member to self-monitor?
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by nibbler » 20 Dec 2017, 12:32

Before all the controversy hit I remember thinking, "Great, now people will be saying ponderize left and right at church and it's going to drive me nuts."

That the phrase was short-circuited out of the gate was a tender mercy, perhaps some shred of proof that there is a god. :twisted: :angel:

We Mormons don't like it when people try to market religion.


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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by Gerald » 20 Dec 2017, 13:14

I always felt it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot. But I'm not into catchy phrases or cutsie acronyms. :roll: (I hate it when people call vegetables "veggies"). So it didn't bother me one way or the other. I would never have purchased such merchandise personally. As far as the word entering the LDS lexicon, I can report from my sector that I rarely hear it. Every once in a while, some one in Church brings it up but most don't. It would be interesting to see what would have happened had the efforts to disseminate the term been more "socially acceptable."
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by Roadrunner » 20 Dec 2017, 14:03

I didn't hear a single reference to ponderize in my ward or stake after the talk. I personally doubt that many quotes from Q70 will have true staying power - it would require coming from a more permanent Q15.

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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by mom3 » 20 Dec 2017, 14:40

We are a weird people - What catches on and what doesn't always stuns me.

It's funny you bring it up, but I did hear it the other day. An older brother used the word as a way to "Ponder" - think deep about scripture. I couldn't tell if it was a slip of tongue that had no connection to the talk or if for me the talk inspired the idea. We in the bloggernacle know so many more details about everything, than most traditional members. I suspect the man in my ward had no idea t-shirts or merchandise were ever involved.

The thing I notice is it's not just this. Elder Kearon gave an amazing talk about Refugee's and it slipped the surly bands of life in less than 6 months. It's one of the reasons I disconnect from conference. I don't mind addresses but we are such a habit people (whatever tide catches us) and off we go.

I sadly wish it hadn't wiped out. It was fresh, trendy, and we could use some scriptural focus. Bible, anyone?
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 Dec 2017, 15:06

I hated it right from the talk itself. I don't do cutsie wording.

I hated it even more when I learned what his son was doing. "Loathed" is not an overstatement.

I hear the word occasionally from some member in my area - just enough to remind me how much I hate it, but not enough to be a bother.

Having said all of that, I have no doubt whatsoever that it would have gone viral in the Church without the "scandal" of the merchandising. We love catchy slogans and cutsie phrasing, but we hate more those things that we allow ourselves to recognize as individual priestcraft. (I chose that wording carefully. :P )
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Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by dande48 » 20 Dec 2017, 22:24

As with any form of "social engineering" or manipulation, calling attention to what it is will break the spell. EVEN if the ends are desirable. People don't like being manipulated.

Religion is primarily an emotional aspect of our lives. It's not logical. This is one of the reasons it's pointless to argue religion on logic. People feel religion, rather than reason it out. And when they discovered the monitization of "ponderize", people felt skepitcal. And following skepticism, they felt betrayed. While the advice might have been good, and the intentions of Devin Durrant noble, the negative feelings from the "day-after scandal" counteracted the good it might've caused.

One thing I wish Christianity as a whole would recogize, is that all trees produce some good and some bad fruit. Even people we strongly disagree with can have good, positive ideas. Joseph Smith's message on the importance of family can still inspire us, even if we are revolted by his polygammy. I think that's what "Stay LDS" is all about.
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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by richalger » 27 Dec 2017, 00:45

I think "tempest in a teapot" summarizes it.

As for me, I have used scriptures as a background to my phone screen since that time. I have found ponderizing an effective help to my study. Sometimes I may do nothing other than ponderize the scriptures I have put around me. That is better than I have done before.

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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by Roy » 27 Dec 2017, 10:19

Thank you Rich.

You help me to realize that there are individuals that may find benefit from such a program and inventing a new word to describe it is not so wrong (Jazzercise anyone?).

The only complaint of some substance is that family tried to profit from their advanced knowledge.

It was neither the Church's best moment nor really rising to the level of "scandal".
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Re: "Ponderize" revisited

Post by SilentDawning » 01 Jan 2018, 13:36

Never use the term. Forgot about it after the apology was issued.

Had my own church-murch experience 20 years ago. Was unemployed, looked for a job in Arizona. there I found out the mission slogan was "the harvest has just begun". i made up a t-shirt with the sun, a cactus and the name of the mission on it. Gave a few away to missionaries to evangalize to their friends with an order form. Orders started rolling in even after I returned to my home country. Then I got a call from someone who was acting on the part of the mission president. Scolded me for selling the t-shirts. The orders stopped.

I learned a long time ago that the church is not a good place to a) conduct business activities b) fulfil my musical ambitions and c) conduct research....i have a story like the one above (ending in failure) for each one of these things.

Ultimately, we are guests in the LDS church. We can pay tithing and be members in good standing, but in the end, we have little or no access to the membership for anything but church related activities, and often that is restricted.

Not criticism, just a form of reality to acknowledge.

I have fulfilled all the ambitions above (business, music and research) in other contexts. It has been much better. Success is a matter of judgment. As I get older, I tend to kill a lot of ideas early because I have learned that certain things just don't work in certain contexts.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

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