Sophistication on the Cheap

You’re sitting in Gospel Doctrine class, and Brother So-and-So is going off on one of his weekly, mindless rants. As usual, his comments are sanctimonious, self-important and theologically intolerable. He must be destroyed! But alas, you can’t afford to respond with too much venom, lest your outburst be interpreted as over-sensitivity or as an awkward airing of your personal “issues.” That just won’t do. Better to offer a non-chalant, off-the-cuff rebuttal that seems polite and effortless, but that serves as a rhetorical bullet to the head.

To aid you in your efforts, it helps to have at your disposal an extensive repertoire of Mormon Intellectual Buzzwords (“MIBs”). Employment of one or more of these terms will shatter your opponent’s point because — if for no other reason — no one will have the slightest idea what you’re saying! But your indecipherable comments will ring with erudition, and that’s all that really matters! So on to my question…

Maybe I’ve left out some other choice contenders?

Aaron B


  1. Kingsley says:

    A few Sundays ago in my student ward, our GD teacher said brightly, “You know, the more I’ve read of the so-called philosophers on love, the more I know they were full of it.” I raised my hand & asked, “Which philosophers did you have in mind, & which of their writings,” establishing myself as the ward intellectual without using even one of the words suggested so far. (Our teacher, by the way, after a long, painful, red-faced silence, said Plato & “Neech.”)

  2. Kristine says:

    Also try: christological, neo-orthodox, dialectic, reify, salvific, soteriology, theomorphic (or theomorphological, if you want to be *really* obnoxious and make Strunk & White roll in their graves!), heterodox, cosmogeny…

    Hey, this is fun!! (but it would be even more fun in German, where you can just string 8 or 10 of those words together–that’s why everyone thinks Hegel and Heidegger and Schopenhauer are so smart :))

  3. By the way, the thread in question at Sons of Mosiah is “When Does a Blog Get Too Big?”, dated May 20. There — enough self-promotion…

    Aaron B

  4. Aaron Brown says:

    Good point, Kingsley! Asking for specific sources is a great way to improve your intellectual cachet, and the risk to your own reputation is minimal to non-existent! If the teacher later asks: “Why? Which one’s have YOU read?” you could even get away with saying “none,” and he’d/she’d still look like the bigger idiot.

    Aaron B

  5. I like “orthopraxy.” Probably too easy, though.

  6. I voted for hermeneutics, but any of the following will help you sound more intellectual and less coherent (I promise that I have used these at least once in my GD class): ontology, apotheosis, cataphatic, nag hammadi, gnostic, arian, etymology, hermetic, Q, J, E, P, D, trito-Isaiah, aetiology, mythopoeic, deutero-Pauline, Pelagian, henotheism, monolatry, Chalcedonian, and the all time number one way to sound more intellectual without offending anyone…”Hugh Nibley said…”! (I have actually never used that last one).

  7. Kingsley says:

    If she had asked me, I would have certainly said none except a little Kierkegaard, & he doesn’t seem “full of it” so far. However: intellectual reputation aside: it’s discouraging that if you hear the word “intellectuals” in Sunday School, 99.9 percent of the time it’ll be in a negative context. That’s why I like to press for specifics: Which intellectuals, what did they do, etc. People have got to understand that far more people have apostatized because the bishop forgot their name than because they got too involved in Philosoph 101.

  8. Julie,

    No need to blush, in your case. However, you really should read my story about ESCHATOLOGY on the blackboard, over at Sons of Mosiah. I’m sure your lesson turned out much better than the one I relate there.

    Aaron B

  9. Julie: why apologize for teaching/educating?

    Taylor: can you discuss Q-D during Sunday School without being either laughed out or outed? just curious…

    I’ll second Kristine’s nomination of: reify. Love it.

  10. kaimi:

    i think you just made yourself the prime blogger with that one. :)

    i’m such an easy target to rebut, that if anyone else could top you…they would have. sorry…no big wordz for mi today. :)

  11. Lyle,

    You clearly don’t understand the hermeneutics of Aaron’s post; indeed, the epistemological nature of the ensuing discussion shows the eschatological foundation of this question, while your response is merely ex nihilo, and is not even chiastic!

    How’s that for a one-sentence rebuttal that uses all five mega-words, and also calls my opponent a fool? Can anyone here to better than that? Come on, I dare you . . .


  12. lyle- no one has ever complained! I think that the key really is doing it in the right spirit.

  13. No room in there for ‘gestalt’?

  14. ontotheology…how could I forget!

  15. Julie in Austin says:

    Um, (blushing), I teach Gospel Doctrine and had the word EPISTEMOLOGY on the board in big letters this week before anyone came in. (In my defense, I went to great lengths to be sure everyone understood the idea before we talked about it.) (still blushing)

  16. Kristine says:

    You can even sing your response:

    “Eschatology, I am doing it, my eschatology…”