A partial list of my Mormon failures, annotated.

Aged 1 month. With my Anglican relatives in attendance, I am blessed at church. Years of my parents claiming that they had not joined an American sect were undone when someone decided the congregation would sing America the Beautiful.

Aged 6 years. My first Primary talk on immorality and eternal life. The older kids laugh. I do not know why.

Aged 7 years. I tell my Gentile neighbour that he is going to hell because he doesn’t go to church. His parents tell my parents that unless I stop Bible-bashing, we can’t be friends.

Aged 8 years. My post-baptism state of blissful sinlessness is shattered exactly one hour after my baptism when I punch a friend on the arm.

Aged 9 years. For a school project, I write that I will one day be buried with the “Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price and will rule over worlds as a priest after the order of Melchizedek.” My teacher consults the manual on how to deal with children who belong to cults.

Aged 14 years. I put Sprite in the sacrament cups. Not all of them, mind you.

Aged 16 years. I read the Miracle of Forgiveness and realise that it will indeed be a miracle to ever get forgiveness for all the horrors I have committed. Still, I keep committing them.

Aged 16 1/2 years. I begin dating a nice Mormon girl. I spend a year wishing I was 21 and married.

Aged 19 years. I enter the MTC and serve a mission in Austria. My family and the church spend $50,000 for each of my baptisms.

Aged 21 years. I extol the virtues of my missionary service in a job interview. I don’t get the job.

Aged 22 years. I am heckled during a sacrament talk for using the word “Mormons” rather than “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Aged 22 years. I become Teh Presiderer. Presidering FAIL.

Aged 24 years. I am asked to teach Institute in Oxford and move the class from the chapel to one of the colleges. The Town students accuse me of Gown elitism and boycott the class.

Aged 28 years. I begin Mormon blogging and share my posts with friends and family. Utter silence.

Aged 30 years. I start pinching my baby daughter during Sunday School so I can take her into the corridor.

Aged 32 years. I organise an elders quorum party at a local Indian restaurant. No-one shows.

Aged 33 years. Still no high priests quorum meetings for me.


  1. Nice.

    I remember by first post-baptism sin as well. I got mad and hit my little brother.

    Also, I always joked about putting Sprite in the sacrament cups, but never actually did it. My idea was to spike just one cup in the tray, and then watch everyone’s facial expression as they drank, to try and figure out who got the Sprite cup. Did you get in trouble, Ronan? And if so, did you cite D&C 27:2?

  2. Did you get in trouble, Ronan?

    There were four Teachers and we had plausible deniability. We spiked about three cups.

  3. Steve Evans says:


  4. I want sprite in my Sacrament cups, actually, Diet Coke–but it’s not very inconspicuous.

  5. Steve,
    I hoped you’d remember. It’s not poaching, it’s flattery.

  6. Of course, in order to successfully apply D&C 27:2, you’d have to spike the cups “with an eye single to the Lord’s glory” . . .

  7. Mark Brown says:

    The 9 year old Ronan was pretty cool. I wish I had been that audacious at that age.

    Did it really take you thirty years to figure out the baby pinching trick?

  8. Steve Evans says:

    I loves ya Ronan. I too discovered The Miracle of Forgiveness at age 16, alas perhaps too late as I had already discovered The Miracle of Teenage Abuses.

  9. StillConfused says:

    The Sprite one is very funny. I am prohibited from sugar — was it Diet Sprite or the real deal? Crap, I would have had to spit out the real Sprite. What would have been the religious significance of that??

  10. But where are the annotations? I see no footnotes here!

    If this is all you can come up with for failures, I’ll be shining your crown and calling you master soon enough.

  11. Real Sprite. Or maybe it was 7Up.

    Matthew, the comments are the annotations, obviously.

  12. Steve

    That’s way too close to the Miracle of Teenage Self Abuse.

  13. My mission president told us about how they had put distilled vinegar in a few of the cups. Quite the reaction.

    I so love Indian Food and have to travel a good forty miles for the nearest restaurant.

  14. I expect to have my youngest in college (he’s almost 3) before I see the inside of a HPG meeting, if ever, which means I’ll be almost 10 years away from retirement. I’m quite content where I am…

  15. Curious- how did you resolve the Oxford institute dilemma? At the ivy I attend there is currently the same tension arising…

  16. LOL! Sprite in the sacrament cups! Oh wow!

  17. Awesome. The secret to a successful turnout at EQ activities: ribs. And though I know it is a British invention, I love me some Chicken Tikka Masala. I would have shown up.

  18. Rameumptom says:

    I have a friend, named Joel, who used lemonade in the sacrament once. On another time, he felt the water was to warm, and so placed the trays the night before in the freezer. How was he to know the stake president was going to visit that Sunday, and would not be amused at crunching his water?

    As for still not being a high priest, I invite you to move to my ward in Indy. I’m sure, as high priest group leader, I can arrange it….

  19. John Mansfield says:

    “My family and the church spend $50,000 for each of my baptisms.”

    Please elaborate.

  20. My family and the church spend $50,000 for each of my baptisms.

    Your family and the church spent $50,000 for you to call sinners to repentance so they will be left without excuse. ;) Actually, I prefer to think of it as an investment in good blog posts in years to come. The investment was obviously well worth it.

  21. This is a “partial” list? Will there be more forthcoming, Ronan? Say yes (with a British accent, of course).

  22. Since Ronan went on his mission 14 years ago, I’m sure the cost was standardized. $50,000 over 24 months assumes the mission costs about $2100 a month. Austria might cost $4000 a month, but certainly not $6000 a month.

    So Ronan had two baptisms in Austria, since he did use the plural “baptisms”.

    Or maybe Ronan bought some really nice Austrian souvenirs…

  23. I start pinching my baby daughter during Sunday School so I can take her into the corridor.

    You really need to get called as a clerk, where you can have a legal excuse to blow off at least a third of your Sunday block…

  24. queuno,
    Something like that.

    We carried on at the college.

    You can read Steve’s original list.

  25. I would go to your Indian food party.

  26. John Scherer says:

    I think that I can make a list this long of my own Mormon failures and I’ve only been a member for five years.

  27. Ronan
    I served in Austria, too.
    19- I think Ronan’s point is that you don’t baptize a whole lot in Austria. In fact, my parents paid all that money so I could get really good at bearing my testimony. Still worth it.

    Incidentally, Ronan, if you haven’t seen the film “The Errand of Angels” (some type of BYU) production) you ought to check it out. It’s about sister missionaries in Austria, and boy did they hit the nail on the head- I suspect maybe one of my former companions wrote it.

  28. meggle,
    I just watched the trailer on YouTube. Interesting. Not sure about the use of a dowdy, fat German sister opposite the impossibly gorgeous American though.

  29. I remember a TR interview when I was chained to the clerk’s office, where the counselor made some snarky comment about never seeing me in SS. I whipped out my clerk to-do list and offered to trade with him…

  30. I’ve never read, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. I don’t really plan to.

  31. Really? Not one person to the Indian restaurant! I’m a Provo-ite and I would have been there before you! :-)

  32. There seems to be some strong love for Indian cuisine here on BCC today. I, too, would have been there for that EQ activity. Do all Mormon bloggers love Indian food? Is there a higher rate of Indian food loving among Mormons who blog over the general Mormon populace? It is these questions to which inquiring minds want answers!

  33. Serving in Austria is worth every penny. I’m leaving here Friday and I miss it already. I served in Arkansas. We ate squirrel and rabbit (really). No Winerschnitzel. You’ve lived a lucky and magical life. Your two Baptisms in Austria still stand as the record!

  34. Curry survey for the next poll!

  35. John Mansfield says:

    So, $50,000 per year to maintain a missionary companionship in Austria, a country where the per capita GDP (PPP) is $45,800, compared with the U.S. where it is $39,300. I suppose the difference is that Austria’s poverty rate is 6% and for the U.S., it is 12%. More options for cheap, lousy living in the land of opportunity.

  36. My Mormon Failures are all really pathetic actual failures. Yours are all cute!

    I’ve always been too scared to read Miracle of Forgiveness…

  37. John M.,

    You may have your numbers flipped. U.S. GDP per capita is about 45,000 and Austria about 39,000 PPP.

  38. American missionaries paid standard fees for missions before the rest of the world did. I served from England in England and my mission was roughly $1200 a month. Plus there was an initial fee associated with kitting out for the mission. Not that this may be the case for Ronan though.

  39. Confession: I pulled that $50k figure from my hat, so please worry about it no longer. I seem to remember that the office elders figured out the mission budget and divided it per baptism. The number was high. Beyond that, I’m talking rubbish as usual.

  40. #38:

    My Mormon Failures are all really pathetic actual failures.

    Indeed, this would be a lot more interesting (and depressing) if it went along these lines:

    Aged 29: I begin cheating on my wife in violation of my temple covenants, repeatedly.

    Aged 30: I stop paying tithing.

    Aged 31: I subject my kids to constant and pervasive physical and emotional abuse.

    Most of those people don’t write lists for blogs. It’s being written in heaven.

  41. tesseract says:

    oh great. now i can’t stop thinking about aloo gobi and samosas.

  42. John Mansfield says:

    Frank is right. I got confused which CIA World Factbook web page was which.

  43. John Mansfield says:

    Clarifying further, I had the GDP numbers switched. The poverty rates are as a stated—twice as high in the United States as in Austria.

  44. Mansfield, USA is a big country usually on the leftish side of world maps. Austria is the landlocked one kind of wedged into the middle of Europe. Hope this helps.

  45. …Aged 33 years. Still no high priests quorum meetings for me.

    33? You’re a freaking baby, of course you’re not a high priest. I’m 44 and still serving in the EQ Presidency, FWIW…

  46. Tony,
    I am a baby.

  47. Definitely going to “Cuisine of India” for lunch this week now. Good buffet for $6.99.

  48. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before; but even LDS grandpas appreciate a little spike every once and a while.

    1. Fill up a cup almost to the top with non-caffeinated soda.
    2. Look both ways.
    3. Top it off quickly with Mountain Dew.

    Does the Miracle of Forgiveness cover step by step transgressions like this in Southeast Idaho?

  49. Steve Evans says:

    Todd, people are going to notice if the cups are green.

  50. Ronan (re:28)- yeah, that was a bit rude, huh? Still extremely entertaining. Spoiler: the tough looking German ends up being very wonderful, and beautiful American must eat humble pie.

  51. I have to agree that I don’t really see these as failings. You’re like the guy who says in a job interview that his greatest weakness is that he “works too hard.” Now, if you had put vodka in the sacrament cups, or filled the bottoms to the brim with water, or at least jumped mission boundaries, we’d have some things to talk about here.

  52. i.e., filled the bottoms of the sacrament trays to the brim with water…

    That one’s mine.

  53. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Age 20 – I learned to play Halo on my junior companion’s Xbox. I also learned that goldfish meant for the same comp’s piranhas counted as “pets”, not “food”. The piranhas were also deemed “pets” as well.

  54. I’ve never read, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. I don’t really plan to.

    Then the truth about Bigfoot will forever elude you.

  55. Thomas Parkin says:

    re: Miracle of Forgiveness. It’s a cultural artifact. Even Pres Kimball regretted it. It helped people at the time, and frightened others. More light and knowledge have now come into the world. … but I , at least, finally did get why being forgiven was a miracle …

    per anum cost of Elder Ronan’s mission: $50,000
    additional cost of Elder Ronan’s women and whisky problem: $37,500
    worth of a soul in God’s eyes: priceless

  56. Curry?

  57. I think your age 9 fail is the coolest Mormon FAIL ever.

  58. Thomas Parkin says:

    Can someone edit out that last paragraph of mine? I don’t want that nonsense on my permanent record. BCC is forever tempting me to be flippant. :/ ~

  59. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Tanduri chicken!!!!

    My first Indian food was in Bavaria.

  60. Peter LLC says:

    For anyone interested in Ronan’s real failings, I have certain inside information I will sell to the highest bidder, including photos and notes from zone conference.

  61. Thomas Parkin says:

    thanks invisible hand

  62. I am heckled during a sacrament talk

    During the talk? Wow. Tough crowd.

  63. Best laugh I’ve had in awhile, thanks! Yeah, 9 year old and 14 year old Ronan were the best! My kids asked why I laughed and I had to tell them the Sprite story…

  64. I have owned a copy of the Miracle of Forgiveness for years (it was a gift), but I haven’t dared read much of it (I did look up Cain).

    I loved reading the biographies of President Kimball a few years ago. Reading about the stark juxtaposition of light and darkness in the life of an apostle of his era (maybe any era) was very interesting. One minute he was sealing young couples in the temple. The next appointment might well be counseling someone with very severe sins. It was a very busy and stressful life. He seems to have literally worked himself to death (though dying at 90 doesn’t seem to be an early death).

    If I ever get called to be a bishop, I plan to read it. In the meantime it sits menacingly on my shelf.