It has been just over one week since the fateful day that a new word was coined for Mormons everywhere. I’ve been pondering ponderizing. I like the idea. Many of my students have been ponderizing since Devin Durrant introduced the curious, yet very memorable term to the Church. I applaud the intentions of ponderizing and her simple and effective application. I am most interested in the opportunity this provides to explore Mormon culture. I want to briefly consider aspects of that culture and provide four recommendations in this post.
End of story right? Not quite.
Within a few short hours—seemingly before the word ponderize had stopped echoing in the auditorium of the Conference Center–ponderize tee-shirts were available for sale at the BYU Bookstore. This is unfortunate. A General Church officer apologizes for the potential gain he and his family could have garnered and drops the venture only to have BYU pick up the idea and run with it. Bad form.
1) I’ve heard many exclaim in the last week, “What’s the big deal? Deseret Book does this all the time.” Point noted. But generally speaking, no matter who sells it, you’re dealing with a business and not a religion. Trust accordingly. And no business is beyond the reach of certain misguided components of Mormon culture.
2) Mormons that live in the jello-belt (Rexburg to San Diego) are consistently faced with opportunities to purchase religiously oriented products. Be discriminating. You need not embrace a business culture that sells the sacred salaciously. Is a “ponderize” tee-shirt that problematic? I doubt it. But I hope that my children and students understand that market forces may incentivize business owners or upstarts to cross certain lines of propriety. If that is the case, save your money, walk away and see the writings of Hugh Nibley for additional commentary. Especially Approaching Zion.
4) Mormon culture does include collusion between the mundane and the sacred. But when you sense that some practice advanced by a Mormon that has crossed a line, don’t judge harshly. Simply vote with your feet and your wallet. Market forces will correct the excessively offensive business enterprises placed before Mormon buyers. More importantly, being judgmental is a far bigger sin than selling a tee-shirt.
These are my general ponderings about ponderizing. Not a big deal but a good opportunity to discuss with family members and friends the power and influence embedded in aspects of Mormon culture. That can be a very valuable conversation regardless of what is silkscreened on the front of the tee-shirt you may be wearing.