My undergraduate degree was in the very lucrative field of socio-cultural anthropology, with a double major in Latin American Studies (tagline: “Oh! So…what are you gonna to do with that?”). One of the four things that I learned and still remember from my anthropology degree is that almost all cultures transfer beliefs through some type of myth. Bear in mind that the word myth doesn’t necessarily equate to untrue.
Mormons also create myths, though I must admit that some of them make me cringe. When people tell these myths, they get so adamant that they’re true: “No, seriously! My boyfriend’s dentist heard it from his cousin’s bishop, so it has to be true!” I’m sure some are based in reality, but some are so obviously made up that it makes we think many Mormons lean towards being gullible. I think that we really want them to be true because they help affirm our faith to some degree.
Here are some of the most popular myths/legends I’ve heard. I do question the veracity of many of them, but I’m not saying which. Okay … I question the veracity of any myth involving the Three Nephites.
• Yoda from Star Wars was based on Spencer W. Kimball. (see here)
• The corner towers of the Salt Lake Temple were built perfectly as elevator shafts, though no one knew why they were supposed to be built like that at the time.
• The three Nephites warded off a serial killer from inviting the sister missionaries into his house. Police found this out when they caught him later and he said he didn’t invite them in because "I was scared of the three huge Indian warriors that were standing behind them."
• Missionaries leave their garments running in a washing machine at a laundromat. When they come back the owner has mocked them by putting the garments in the window with an offensive sign. The mission president dusts his feet off on the laundromat and the next day it burns to the ground.
• One of the three Nephites appears in the back seat of someone’s car at Point of the Mountain and tells them to get their food storage together (because, you know, that’s how God typically reveals important doctrine to us).
• My personal favorite: The missionaries visit a remote branch of the church and find women passing the sacrament. They tell the branch president that women can’t pass the sacrament because they don’t have the priesthood. The branch president apologizes. The missionaries come back several weeks later to find the same situation. When they again admonish the branch president, he says “No, it’s okay Elders – I gave them the priesthood!”
• Bonus personal favorite from BYU: A couple on a first date was driving out of the canyon in a snowstorm. It’s slow-going so the girl asks the boy to pull over so she can relieve her bladder on the side of the road. She decides to sit on the bumper to do her business and subsequently freezes herself there - like the tongue on the pole in A Christmas Story. Of course, the only way to unfreeze herself in time is to call her date out of the car and have him pee on her to get her unstuck.
Anyone else have a favorite myth they want to share?
This post was originally published November 8, 2011.
A-Dub currently lives in Portland, Oregon, but grew up in the Midwest. After a mission to Argentina and a degree from BYU, Aaron received an MBA from the University of Washington. Consequently, he is a data-driven corporate sellout who thinks the government should generally mind its own business. A lifelong Mormon and former counselor in a bishopric, Aaron feels that the eccentricities of Mormon culture should be made fun of as much as possible, that the main point of the gospel is to be like Christ and help others, and suspects that – whether openly or covertly – everyone likes Neil Diamond. He and his amazing wife have two boys.
Image credit: simpleinsomnia, modified by Scott Heffernan (used with permission).