glurge (GLURJ) n. A sentimental or uplifting story, particularly one delivered via e-mail, that uses inaccurate or fabricated facts; a story that is mawkish or maudlin; the genre consisting of such stories.
Not a day goes by that I do not get some sort of email glurge from a relative, old friend or ward member. Usually, the stories are designed to inspire patriotism, sentimentality for years gone by, or religious devotion. As a missionary, I noted that several of the elders were prone to sharing Mormon glurge in talks, especially since the Spaniards had never heard these threadbare stories imported from the US. This was well before the term “glurge” was coined (and before the internet was even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye). You may have heard some glurge from the pulpit recently.
My favorite glurge-gone-bad story was in an area with a few faithful members, recently converted from Catholicism. One of the elders was giving a talk on the Savior. To illustrate his point, he spoke in the first person about his “brother” who had taught him everything and given so much for him. When he got to the part of the “story” where “they took my older brother and crucified him,” the entire congregation, who were taking every word of his story literally, all quickly and in unison made the sign of the cross as murmurs of “Aye, Dios mio” rippled across the congregation. To this day, if you mention that Elder’s name in that branch, people will say, “Did you hear what they did to his brother? He was murdered, crucified just like Jesus, in cold blood.”
Is glurge good or the root of all evil? Why do people feel compelled to glurge? Here are some reasons I am a glurge-hater:
- It purports to be true, but it isn’t. Can people not tell the difference?
- It is emotionally manipulative.
- Glurge sometimes conceals much darker meanings than the moral overtones suggest (according to Snopes anyway). For example, a boy believes he will die if he agrees to a blood transfusion. Where are the parents here? Did they forget about him in their rush to save their other child?
Another time, I was in Relief Society when the sister teaching recited a well-worn Paul H. Dunn chestnut. This was not long after he had admitted that this story among others was a fabrication. The sister, with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice, testified that the best thing about this story was that it was “all true.” She paused for effect and repeated that statement. My hand shot up (I know, I know, rude), and I politely pointed out that Paul Dunn had admitted that the story was a fabrication, a story he wrote for emotional effect. To my surprise, she looked right through me and simply ignored what I said and kept on testifying of the truthfulness of the story. Never let it be said that some people aren’t courageous in testifying!
While Mormons certainly do not corner the glurge market, religious glurge stories are often retold by different religious groups by changing some of the details. Here are a few examples of glurge you may have heard:
- Teen befriends a new kid at school, unwittingly preventing his planned suicide.
- Child with ailing brother tries to buy a miracle at a pharmacy and meets the doctor who can help him live.
- Boy agrees to transfuse his ailing sister thinking the procedure will kill him.
- Child badly injured in an accident is comforted by “birdies,” his description of angels. This story was originally recorded by Lloyd Glenn, who is LDS; however, the story has since been highjacked by other Christian sects who have taken out the elements related to temple service and made the “birdies” angels vs. departed souls waiting for temple work. As a true story, it is not glurge, but as altered and retold, it qualifies.
- Paul H. Dunn’s story about a serviceman saved by the Book of Mormon in his pocket was a retold glurge from another denomination with a Bible in his pocket. In both cases, the bullet came to rest on a meaningful scriptural passage.
- Patriarchal blessing to a Down’s Syndrome child who then temporarily has his handicap removed following the blessing.
- Japanese pilot converted because he was unable to bomb the Hawaii temple.
- Del Parson’s “red robe” portrait of Jesus was re-done several times based on eye-witness accounts or confirmed accurate by various leaders (or alternately a child whose parents were killed in a car accident).
- LDS Missionaries were miraculously saved from the 9/11 attacks on the WTC.
Even more great examples can be found here.
So, what do you think? Is glurge inspiring and good? Or is it soul-killing evil in inspirational story form? And, have you heard any good (or bad) glurge lately?
**This post was originally written & posted in May 2008. When I posted on Mormon Deepities at BCC, some of the comments reminded me of this, so I decided to revisit this topic.