Interesting Site: Urban Legends Repository

We all hear members who say “well, you can’t do X because there’s a letter from Spencer W. Kimball on it . . .” It’s an interesting problem — how to treat statements of dubious provenance such as ostensibly-from-the-leaders, no-longer-publicized statements. A related issue is finding out if these statements even really exist.

A church member named David Bowie (no, not the rocker) has an interesting online collection of “Disputed Mormon Texts” — texts that may seem to be urban legends. Thus far, he has verified a few as authentic (like the 1910 statement on evolution) and a few as fraudulent probably incorrect (like the “Prophecy of a Catholic Priest”). Others, including purported official statements about birth control, decaffienated coffee, near-death experiences, and oral sex, remain in his “unverified either way” camp. It’s a fun place to see some common “are-they-official?” disputed texts.

19 comments for “Interesting Site: Urban Legends Repository

  1. a few as fraudulent (like the ?Prophecy of a Catholic Priest”)

    This is not so clear, actually. Even Pixton, who wrote the paper debunking this prophecy, doesn’t go so far as to call it fraudulent. He attributes it to diminished recollection on the part of Jacob Spori, the originator of the story in 1893. I am presumptuous enough to critically evaluate Pixton’s own paper over at BCC (scroll down if you want to see what I wrote–Steve, I can’t seem to link to an individual comment over at BCC).

  2. Bowie, probably, is the same non-rocker that teaches in the Linguistics department at BYU. I think he has also been involved in the study of the dialect called Utah English (at least some of which consists of the study of General Conference addresses), where famously Fork is realized “Fark” and Milk may be realized as “melk”–if I remember right.

  3. Jason,

    My father is from central Utah, and I can tell you his dialect caused me great consternation on one particular occasion.

    He and the neighbor dad were sitting at the dining room table one day when I was around 13 or so. Dad asked me to go out on the back patio and pick up the card. I went out the door and search the patio over for a card, not finding one. I went back in the house and told dad I couldn’t find a card on the patio. He pointed out the window and said again, “the card”. I went back out, looked around, and came back empty handed. I again asked what card, to which he replied, in a rather aggravated tone “the extension card…!”.

    I dutifully went out, wrapped the extension CORD around my arm, and brought it in the house.

  4. Reminds me of when I was teaching organ students in Utah and one lady was proud that she could now play the C-card with her left hand!

  5. When I was on my mission in Norway, I had a missionary companion from Springville, Utah who pointed out to me that the Norwegian word for milk (which is “melk”) is pronounced the same way in English!

  6. Even though it looks like he hasn’t updated it for a while, should I write him and tell him the 1912 letter on Adam-God is authentic? It’s part of the Journal History minutes under Feb. 14, 1912, addressed to President Samuel O. Bennion, Independence [Missouri]. Bennion was president of the Eastern States Mission for about forever (25 + years).

    Also, from the Anthon H. Lund diaries: [April 8, 1912; Monday.] Had a large special Priesthood meeting in which the declaration was made that the God we worship is not Adam but the God that Adam worshiped in the Garden.

    Seems Adam-God was a concern at the time.

  7. Re David Bowie, he’s given up his gig at BYU and moved on to the University of Central Florida. I must say that he had the coolest haircut of any BYU professor in its history.

    A recent paper of his is entitled:

    Early development of the CARD-CORD merger in Utah. American speech 78:31-51.

  8. I’m glad those old issues of Dialogue are available somewhere online now. I can pitch the musty old copies I made at the BYU library several years ago. A good related article in Dialogue on that subject was “Conflict within the Quorums: The Orson Pratt Brigham Young Controversies”. You get to see how the two worked out their different speculative theologies. Orson was pretty outspoken against Brigham’s statements on the subject.

  9. I must say that he had the coolest haircut of any BYU professor in its history.

    You should have seen it when he was an undergrad. I asked him to substitute in Gospel Doctine once when the subject was Abraham and Isaac. He started off the class by reciting the lyrics to Highway 61.

  10. I just have to interject and say how smart and cool David is and how kind he was when I had a gigantic crush on him in 1988 (I was 14; he was 18 and did not have a reciprocal crush). We’ve been friends ever since. If you have a chance to talk with him, you’ll be fascinated. If you have a chance to have him cook for you, take it and enjoy. If you can get him to guest blog (I don’t know if he blogs, though), it would be a hit around here.

  11. Let me second Ana’s endorsement of David. I’ve known him for more than a decade and he would bring *tremendous* assets to T&S.

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