A So-Called Case Study

KC KernMormon 9 Comments


1. called or designated thus

2. incorrectly called or styled thus

Two definitions: one is fairly generic, the other carries with a challenge towards an allegation.

The word ‘so-called’ appears reasonably frequently in church publications, and grammatically, it almost invariably appears before a noun or a noun clause. With a little wildcard searching, we can get a sample of what official church sources qualify with ‘so-called’.

Here’s a short list of some of my findings. The left column contains the noun or noun clause, and the right column identifies the source and context.

Some of the results are innocuous and meaningless, but I’m sure you’ll note some that are a bit more emotionally or politically charged.

acceptable motion picture Pollution of the Mind
alternative lifestyles Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil
business Gambling
chat rooms Rise Up, O Men of God
Christian scholars Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ
Christians A Disease Called Pride
Christians The Pattern of Our Parentage
churches Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts
experts of political science Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet
friends Who Is a True Friend?
friends Fun and Happiness
gays and lesbians Topic Definition – Homosexuality
golden years This Is the Work of the Master
high or prominent callings in the Church The Empowerment of Humility
home teacher To the Home Teachers of the Church
incompatibility Spouses Should Do All They Can to Preserve Their Marriage
individual freedoms What Seek Ye?
Infancy Gospels The 40-Day Ministry
literary erotic fiction Addicted to Romance Novels?
maka-fekes True to the Faith
minor sins That Thy Confidence Wax Strong
music Your Greatest Challenge, Mother
needs of women The Relief Society
‘no-fault’ divorce Forgiving Others
old values The Faith of the Pioneers
opportunity for self-development Mother, Catch the Vision of Your Call
personal matters In Opposition to Evil
problem of overpopulation “There Is the Light”
prophets Hear the Prophet’s Voice and Obey
real life The Clean Voice of Youth
restraint CES Fireside for Young Adults
revelation of social progress Continuing Revelation
rights of those who would contaminate with smut and destroy all that is precious and sacred Pornography—the Deadly Carrier
scholar “”Be Not Afraid, Only Believe”
solutions Constancy Amid Change
stars Movies and Television
teacher Increasing Our Effectiveness in Home Teaching
the good life Satan’s Bag of Snipes
ways of the world A Great and Noble Heritage

I’m going to refrain from providing any analysis to my findings. I’m much more interesting in seeing how you will react to this list. Any surprises? Do these terms, which the Church identifies as “called or designated thus” or “incorrectly called or styled thus” tell us anything about our teachings that we don’t already know? If so what? If not, does this list shed any light on anything?

Comments 9

  1. I stopped reading at “Mother, Catch the Vision of your call” when I read the context: “Earning a few dollars more for luxuries cloaked in the masquerade of necessity—or a so-called opportunity for self-development of talents in the business world.” Hadn’t heard this one before. Referring to a woman having a career as a “so-called opportunity for development” is demeaning. This talk was published in the 1970s, so I’m chalking it up to a bygone era.

    Cringed when I read the quote by GBH (who I really miss) that said “so-called gays and lesbians.”

    Honestly, I wish I hadn’t seen this list. It makes us seem smug and self-righteous. When we use the term “so-called,” it has a tone of disdain, doesn’t it?

  2. Post

    Chorister, I think the term certainly does have a tone of disdain. I recently heard it used in a fireside, and I was struck by the passive-aggressive overtones it carried. That’s what prompted me to find out in what other church contexts it has been used.

  3. In general, I find that if we take these phrases alone, then yes, they do burn the ears. And Elder Packer’s quip is admittedly unnerving (more his efforts to set what men do against what women do rather than the phrasing itself).

    But that said, I don’t know that we can conclude too much from these examples. This phrase is used an indicator to discuss how secular society often uses terms. In a sense, it’s simply setting up a dialogue. By leaving out this phrase, it would sound even more ridiculous or even worse, more insensitive…

    Packer: “If you follow that pattern, you will not be preoccupied with the needs of women.”

    Faust: It is not the…“revelation of social progress.”

    “Earning a few dollars more for luxuries cloaked in the masquerade of necessity—or an… opportunity for self-development of talents in the business world”

    They’re suggesting that these things really are counterfeit versions of the real McCoy…decoys, actually. One can disagree with their argument…but I’m not sure we can fault them for their efforts to distinguish what they see as genuine from what they also see as counterfeit.

  4. From the above linked BKP talk “The Relief Society” in the Ensign in 1998: “You sisters may be surprised to learn that the needs of men are seldom, if ever, discussed in priesthood quorums. Certainly they are not preoccupied with them. They discuss the gospel and the priesthood and the family!

    If you follow that pattern, you will not be preoccupied with the so-called needs of women. As you give first priority to your family and serve your organization, every need shall be fulfilled, every neglect will be erased, every abuse will be corrected, now or in the eternities.”

    I’m not sure whether he’s saying the “so-called” as a disclaimer to “needs” (meaning they are thought to be needs but aren’t really) or is it referring to “needs of women” (meaning they are thought to be women’s concerns but are really that of humans in general).

    The statement above, like much of the talk, is hard to swallow, although the caveat “or in the eternities” sure does cover a multitude of sins.

  5. Pingback: A So-called "Post" | Zelophehad’s Daughters

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