Aaron C Brown once offered to provide a service for LDS related entities to help them avoid embarrassing gaffes after a string of them were in the news.
Since then there have been more in the news. Deseret Book signed up Afterglow and their music has been on the radar again.
I’ve avoided links to the LDS.org mishaps.
But what could we do to avoid gaffes like this?
Don’t get me started with all the DEs in the hymnal. Heck, “The Spirit of God” alone has several with the “fires burning”, “angels coming” and “the Lords extending”. It’s enough to make a nun blush.
We even took a perfectly lovely Christmas carol and changed up the words to include “While Isreal spreads a broad”. No wonder the early saints jumped on the polygamy bandwagon, all those subliminal messages about sexual conquest they sung multiple times a week during church.
What could we do to eliminate problems such as this? Turn away from the oversexualized modern entertainment industry that causes the Ben churchgoers to see sexual references that just aren’t there.
The modern entertainment industry has an open and stated agenda of promoting substance abuse and wanton sexuality.
Modern Hollywood creates sexuality in even the most mundane phrases and activities. Whether a character in a show is watering flowers our reciting a phone number, it is turned into a sexual reference.
Unfortunately, an impressionable public has begun to imitate what is shown on television and movies. Is it any wonder that people raised on this kind of entertainment see sexual references even in the titles of sacred hymns?
This is not a laughing matter. The irrefutable fact is that wanton, uncontrolled sexuality does have harmful effects for both the individual and society. Shame on those who make light of this harm.
The point of a double entendre is to use completely neutral words in such a way as to convey a sexual meaning, usually with some degree of subtleness, grace, and wit. There is not a verb, adverb, or preposition that hasn’t been pressed into such service. The innocence of the actual words is key to the art, and turning the words into sexual synonyms is missing the point. Some are really fond of those usages, though, throw subtleness out the window, and automatically find a sexual meaning in everything they hear or read; most of these later turn 14 and get over this enthusiasm. A few never do get over it and giggle inside whenever they hear the word “bottom.” There isn’t much to be done except to be resigned knowing that every audience has a few eternal 13-year-olds taking everything you say the way they like best.
Wow! After reading this I feel less guilty about finding the 1993 version of the temple video mildly erotic. I was an innocent 19 year old BYU student who had probably seen less than 10 sets of boobies during my life when I went through the temple for the first time. Seeing Eve in the garden with essentially a sleeveless dress but knowing she was ‘ahem’ naked below the neck made my imagination whirl. I wasn’t the only one because this very topic came up in my MTC district.
Back to the original topic – I thought the hymn “Savior stay this night with me” was a little weird until I became slightly more mature. As John Mansfield pointed out this tendency is unavoidable.
DEs aren’t a new thing. Both The Divine Comedy and The Decameron, paragons of pre-Renaissance literature, are chock full of them. Shakespeare employed them masterfully. And the Bible… loaded with them.
DEs are useful as a way to poetically communicate normal human behavior without resorting to crass or rule language. Think of it as a way to preserve the sacredness of sexual behavior, kind of like avoiding the overuse of the name of divinity.
So ubiquitous is the practice because of its utility, unintentional DEs are bound to happen. So when the do notice one, just smirk and move on.
Bored children have spent so many sacrament meetings turning through the hymn book and adding the words “in the bathroom” at the end of all the hymn names. When they become teens they may change it to “in bed”. You can’t stop it.
TIL that the lambda symbol is used by the gay community. First I heard of it.
JCS, aren’t you yet tired of this misanthropic charade? I know I am.
Did not think of that! Now I am….
When I was in 9th grade seminary, our teacher told us that he would add “under the bedsheets” to the title of every hymn. Sacrament meeting has never been the same.
Why avoid them? They’re delightful. It’s also fun to remember all the hymns and children’s songs that have had to be changed to excise the word “gay.” Anyone else remember what used to happen “when Grandpa comes?”
I love these! I have previously referred to them by saying “And the Tobias Funke Award Goes To …” (named after the character on Arrested Development who is always accidentally making really bad double entendres). A post I did on this topic in 2017: https://wheatandtares.org/2017/09/12/and-the-tobias-funke-award-goes-to/
Here’s one more example from April of this year: https://twitter.com/hawkgrrrl/status/1382227236611231748?s=20
My favorite examples of this have been:
– BYU and BYU-I censors “blurring” out things they find problematic, but accidentally this blurring makes the thing look as if it is hiding actual nudity! (There was an image for Sense & Sensibility with the women’s chests blurred out, so they looked TOPLESS, and there was an image of a man hiking in tan shorts that BYU-I blurred out, so he looks like he’s hiking PANTSLESS.)
– The one from April that I retweeted above was classic (“filling the holes” that were once filled by sex)!
– There were some modesty posters at BYU telling female students to get “on your knees” to be sure their dresses reached the floor, but of course, the image and words just sounded like something you would see on a different college campus, not a good look for BYU.
As I pointed out in my 2017 post, this is like the Nine Dolphins image. If you show the image to a child, someone with complete sexual innocence, they see nine dolphins leaping. If you show it to an adult with sexual experience, they see two lovers.
Thumbs down to any English speaker who utters the word “rendezvous” (as in divine) from the pulpit.
As an MTC foreign language teacher, I once accidentally said the word for the male organ in class..
This stuff never gets old! Reminds me of when I was young and my sister and I would make up words to hymns to stop our boredom. The one that always incited laughter was “As to our lips the cup, Gently we press” We would sing that in a suggestive voice while winking at each other. That got even our Dad laughing. Of course there was “Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing” sung with lyrics ending in “The Mormon Church is Dead” instead of “The Old Gray Goose is Dead”. Not necessarily a DE but good for a laugh. I made the mistake once of singing it to a friend who was related to President Hinkley and it didn’t go over very well. I honestly shocked her! I have plenty of others that my sister and I still get a good laugh from. Our reputation as teens was that we were kind of “wild” girls. Apparently that reputation still follows me to this day.
@Angela C, the “fill the holes” gaffe was what I thought of too. That one isn’t really even a double entendre. The fact that no one thought twice of publishing that phrase in an explicitly sexual context was absolutely ridiculous and calls into question why anyone in their right mind would rely on that group for advice about sexuality.
I agree that to some extent double entendres are unavoidable and we should laugh and move on and not worry too much. But some are bad enough that they just make Mormons look absurdly naive and we really should avoid them.
Angela C: I had to google “nine dolphins” thanks to you. Dang
JCS I love it when you chastise us, it’s so hot!
Time for some blasphemy.
What did Adam say when he was asked to tend to Eve’s needs?
We will go down, Jehovah.
Ok. So I’m going to hell…..
@JLM Jehovah did ask for a report …
I used to pointedly sing “How Firm a Foundartion” and “Abide With Me, ‘Tis Eventide” to a particularly prudish girlfriend of mine. She laughed but did not become any less prudish.
In the 90s the Deseret News had billboards all over to encourage newspaper subscriptions.
In bold letters they declared:
“Everyone has a price. Ours is 33¢.
DE, or just a straightforward admission?
My husband and I play the game of adding “in bed” to the end of the fortune in fortune cookies. It is often hilarious. So, now I have anew game of going through the hymnal and adding “in bed”. Thanks for the suggestion for avoiding boredom. This old grandma needs more entertainment in sacrament meetings.
I had a college English professor that I really liked, and just before I graduated, I heard he was retiring early. Since he was only in his 50s I thought it a little odd, because I had seen how much he loved teaching. So, I went to talk to him and he leveled with me. Some self righteous Mormon parents had gotten all bent out of shape because he explained Shakespeare to their innocent babies. Yeah, he was pretty angry because the dean called him on the carpet and told him to stop. His crime was pointing out references to homosexuality, by saying that this word had a double meaning as a particularly crude word for a gay person and that term was a crude word for male anatomy and it turns out that Midsummer’s Night Dream is pretty obscene. So, if Shakespeare liked his DEs, and put lots of them in his plays for the enjoyment of the King of England, it strikes me as a bit prudish to go out of our way to avoid them. Lighten up people, they are funny.
Oh, they make Mormons look naive? Well, Mormons ARE naive, that is part of our charm, as long as it is an innocent naive and not prudish naive. When we get all prudish then we are just obnoxious and holier than thou and we start sounding like JCS. Sex is great and as long as we don’t abuse it or others, then we should learn to laugh about the fact that, yes sex is everywhere, and we all know it so why pretend otherwise?
So, rather than going to great efforts to avoid DEs, we should just learn to laugh at ourselves and avoid becoming prudes.
Shakespeare’s not the only one, although his works can be very bawdy. Austen has a few worth consideration:
The delightfully worldly Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park criticizes her uncle and his acquaintances in the British Navy by saying: “Certainly, my home at my uncle’s brought me acquainted with a circle of admirals. Of Rears and Vices, I saw enough. Now, do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat.”
We are told about the deceased, feckless son of the Musgrove family in Persuasion that: “His sisters were now doing all they could for him, by calling him ‘poor Richard,’ been nothing better than a thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead.”
Really interesting topic. Thanks for bringing this up. I didn’t know what the slang term “afterglow” even was before reading this. But inevitably, we can’t predict what new double entendres are going to emerge, nor can we expect church leaders to be fully acquainted with all the double entendres out there. Some may have been in existence for a while, only marginally, but for some reason have grown in popularity. Urbandictionary is a great resource that must be researched when coming up with names, slogans, and titles.
Church PR probably has to have someone full time doing research on terms not to use, and to regularly brief the leaders, to avoid embarrassments.
But some things just emerge and you have to change. For all I know a person with my very same name could be a crazy serial killer whom police find, arrest, and make national news out of. I think I would legally change my name if that happened.
Good Lord JCS – who exactly made us this way? Why is it that we have such a strong sex drive? The animal kingdom also is driven by mating and it’s rituals. And here is the kicker, if we are faithful and suppress these feelings sufficient enough to keep us worthy, what is our eternal reward? Eternal Godlike SEX! Get off of it man. I can’t speak for everyone, but hiding my sexual feelings and desires from my wife really screwed me up. I had to pretend I wasn’t interested in sex, pretend that I wasn’t attracted to women, pretend I didn’t masturbate and watch porn. Once I told her and we had open conversations about it and I quit hiding it all, it all went away. Our sex life increased ten fold both in quality and quantity. Your worldview is insane.
To answer the question, I actually think having Aaron Brown review their stuff isn’t a bad idea. Maybe they should hire Ben Spackman, Jonathan Stapley, Ardis Parshall, our very own Mary Ann and other great assets the church has to review their manuals while they are at it. You can’t expect a bunch of naive, innocent minds to catch something like how single people can fill their holes.
Ridiculously off topic, but, hawkgrrrl, you might enjoy https://www.youtube.com/c/DrOctaviaCox/videos Lots of context for Austen’s writing and the culture it emerged from and represents.
Run it past a panel of eighth graders. They will find the dirty stuff every time. I teach eighth grade math and boy if I had a dollar for every time I had to say “…the number after sixty-eight.”
This week in my community newspaper (SW corner of Salt Lake Valley)- pun unintentional I’m sure…
“ambiguous language such as “well-groomed” and “modest” have been removed from the policy wording. The new policy gives more autonomy to school administrators to make specific decisions for their own student bodies…”
This reminds me of the cartoon showing a psychiatrist showing a bunch of ink blot photos to a patient, who says: ‘Whattya mean I’m a sex pervert? You’re the one showing me all the filthy pictures!”
I did write to the Deseret News editors. I pointed out that “Everyone has a price” implicitly means to do something illegal, immoral, or unethical. I asked which they were advertising themselves to be/do for 33¢ on their billboards.
In their reply, they told me they didn’t think it means that at all, and suggested that I have a dirty mind.
It reminded me of a story I heard attributed to a Supreme Court justice (that he told, not that he did):
A company president invites his administrative assistant into his office. He asks her if she will sleep with him for a million dollars. She blushes, ducks her head, and says yes. Then he asks her if she will sleep with him for $100. She slaps him and asks, “What kind of a woman do you think I am?” He answers, “We’ve already established that, now we just need to agree on a price.”
That’s what she said.
Huh huh, huh huh, hey Beavis, he said __________.
On “Alpha Con,” I didn’t notice the lambda (hey, Aquaman wears one as his belt buckle!), but
(a) Do normals realize that “alpha” is incel slang for a dominant, non-incel male? And the poster shows all these strapping young men!
(b) If you’re trying to sell something, maybe avoid the abbreviation “Con.”