Reader Question Box #5: “what’s tmi for a sacrament meeting talk”

Reader Question Box is a series where we answer questions that show up in our website traffic monitoring statistics as Google search terms that led people to us. Copious oddities are to be found in the search term logs, and some worthwhile questions. (In case you missed our previous editions: #1, #2, #3, and #4)

Question: “what’s tmi for a sacrament meeting talk”
Answer: Sometimes it is best to learn by example, rather than explanation. I could describe to you what TMI for a sacrament meeting talk would be, but it would be so much more instructive to just get many examples, and I’m sure our readers have them!

Question: “how to keep a mormon from drinking beer”
Answer: Does this question need answering? It shouldn’t be difficult. But for reference, here’s Amri’s definitive work on the topic: How to Not Drink in a Bar.

Question: “homemade chastity”
Answer: I don’t know what this means, and I don’t want to know.

Question: “church of jesus christ of latter day saints stance on marriage and masturbation therein”
Answer: The juxtaposition of those last two words is hilarious–who uses words like “therein” when talking about masturbation? Don’t worry, dear reader, Stapley’s got you covered with the relevant policy history.

Question: “polygamist dating sites”
Answer: If isn’t taken, somebody should register it quick and cash in on this.

Question: “can garments touch the ground lds”
Answer: Evans answers all your practical garment concerns.

Question: “hugh nibley hard rock addicts cut into the classical”
Answer: No, I don’t think it was Nibley who argued that drug addicts who listen to hard rock would eventually cut into the market for classical music CDs to such an extent that they would be on the brink of bankruptcy. Pretty sure that was Joseph Adam Smith’s treatise “Wealth of Musicians.” Hope that helps.

Question: “what percentage of the population of israel was demon possessed in jesus’ day?”
Answer: I’m sure Kevin Barney has the answer to this, to within +/-0.2%. However, before we ask him, I thought it would be fun to have our readers guess. Closest guess wins a Nauvoo tourist postcard autographed by Kevin Barney (subject to rules and conditions that may change frequently and at any time).

Question: “can child wear polo shirt to sacrament meeting”
Answer: You know what, a child can wear whatever you want them to wear. Buying mini-adult “church clothes” for very small children, which will only be worn once a week and thus worn as few as 6 times before they’re grown out of, is a really expensive undertaking. Happy and clean, in that order, are the only things I think matter.

Question: “can i get a question on cynthia l’s reader box question?”
Answer: I suppose by indulging this person I am just encouraging this.

Question: “why my career is lawyer?”
Answer: Perhaps because the copyeditor career didn’t work out. Newspapers are a dying breed.


  1. Steve Evans says:

    Epic lolz.

    The garments touching the ground is an interesting question, because garment practice in this regard has clearly shifted over time. Like many others, I was instructed to respect the garment and to not treat it as I would commonplace clothing or underwear, and as an illustration I was told how some people never let it touch the ground, etc. I suspect this is going slowly by the wayside, though I admit I did the same during my mission (as did a large percentage of my mission companions) and for some time afterwards. The arrival of children and their accompanying endless loads of laundry have forced on us some harsh realities pertaining to the privileged treatment of clothing, however.

  2. Anonymous today says:

    Quote from a testimony: “I’m so grateful that all of our children were conceived through the garment of the holy priesthood.”

    I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I’m out.

  3. By the way, the answer to the poll is 3.16%, according to my Bible Code analysis. You’re welcome.

  4. #2: Thank you, Anonymous. That is truly the exemplar of TMI for a sacrament meeting talk.

  5. “Who uses words like “therein” when talking about masturbation?”

    Mormons and lawyers are the only people who use “therein” in that way. Therefore, the query probably was typed by a perma at BCC.

    #2 – Now I have to go wash out my brain.

  6. Steve Evans says:


  7. Anonymous today says:

    The image required much fasting and prayer to blot from my mind, Ray.

  8. “When I was a prostitute/drug dealer…” as an opening line of a talk/testimony, always gets everyone’s attention. I wish I could say I was making those up, but I’m not. It’s usually in a talk about how grateful they are for the church & its teachings but TMI! I also remember sitting in the choir seats with a stake youth choir when a man was called on to spontaneously bear his testimony at stake conference. He started with, “I’ll never forget the day my blood test came back HIV positive…” You could have heard a pin drop! When he sat down, the whispering began amongst the youth as the entire congregation looked on. No amount of shushing from the other youth leaders and myself quieted them. I’m pretty sure that was the last spontaneous testimony the stake presidency ever requested.

  9. Ah, but you see, number 8, those who give only generic testimonies are also ridiculed. (Some) people want to hear the gory details, so they can say they actually didn’t!

  10. So, I really like the option to “follow” without having to submit a comment to get the little box-thing checked. But, 46 fellow blog followers, is it possible to unsubscribe from the inevitable 200 comments that may ensue?

  11. We had a ninety-plus single sister get up to bear her testimony about the time that the Iraq War started, and she began to go on and on about the nice man on the TV (for some reason I got it in my head she was talking about Elder Holland on BYUTV, but no). As she went on she said something like she hoped he was still single in the afterlife (basically calling dibs on him). It became slowly apparent that she was talking about Anderson Cooper. (Couple of problems there, sister.) That’s my baseline for TMI–lustful thoughts from the geriatrics.

  12. Not sure if it’s a personal TMI, but a high councilor talk went into the nitty-gritty details of various sexually transmitted diseases to show that it’s beneficial to your health to live the law of chastity. Funny thing is that they guy wasn’t even a doctor, and one would not have expected such a clinical set of descriptions from him. Scott B and gst can corroborate.

  13. Sharing a story about how you unknowingly insulted/offended/hurt (I have no idea which best applies) a fellow sister and called her to apologize while sharing tears of sadness (because it’s obvious this unknown sister had to process her feelings before willing to be in the same room as you again) and claiming it as the spirit comforting you to know that you’ve been forgiven; well, that just might be a tad bit of TMI.

  14. Excellent.

  15. Scott B. would have to *go* to church to corroborate. I therefore claim troll.

  16. Nick Literski says:

    He started with, “I’ll never forget the day my blood test came back HIV positive…”

    I think this is only a problem if the person goes on to talk in explicit language about frogs. (BOMM reference, for the uninitiated…)

  17. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    One of my mission comps was just chillin’ in his garments in the MTC, writing in his journal in the MTC dorm hallway, sitting on the floor. A straight arrow missionary walked up an chastised him, telling him that garments should never touch the floor, just like an American flag. That made my mission comp mad.

  18. observer fka eric s says:

    The issue of masturbation is a touchy one. Over the years, it seems like the topic has been handled differently and with different intensity. There is no way to massage over the issue. But I suspect there are people who would like to manipulate it into a stiff or ridgid guideline. It must be very hard to be in a position to have to discuss this stuff with people. It seems like it is on people’s minds a lot for some reason.

  19. observer fka eric s:

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. What’s your point?

  20. Eric, maybe BCC could get Nate Onan to write a guest post on the subject.

  21. #11: Bob, who doesn’t have a crush on Anderson Cooper! Though she’s going to be disappointed if she’s holding out for him.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    #17 “like an American flag” !!

    I don’t think you’re supposed to wear American flags and stuff ’em into a Mister Mac suit with bike liner pants. But I’m a recent citizen.

  23. Steve’s right–American flags are not for wearing. They are for playing.

  24. From a real testimony meeting in Missouri in the last month:

    “So I was in the bathroom, sitting on the throne, and that’s the last place you want to have a stroke, because they find you dead on the throne in the bathroom, and sure enough, that’s where I had my stroke.”

    Same brother once regaled us for 10 minutes on his recent trip to the ER for a nosebleed.

    No no, he’s not as amusing as it might sound.

  25. #24 – That’s why I wish sometimes we didn’t have to cross the river into IL to attend church – although it is interesting to hear the occasional MO-bashing that happens in a predominantly IL ward. Yeah, there’s some history involved.

    Disclaimer: I absolutely love my ward – but the IL vs. MO dynamic is fascinating.

    I enjoyed the time the evangelical visitor stood up and condemned everyone in the congregation for believing something other than the Bible (then walked straight out of the testimony meeting), but that doesn’t fit the TMI topic.

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    When I was a youth a guy who was in our ward only a short while gave a sacrament meeting talk that for some reason was totally focused on his time at BYU, and how he wasn’t an RM and girls would only go out with RMs. So he went into intricate, clinical detail on how he gamed the system. He found a place that sold scoop neck tshirts, and he would put rubber bands under his pants on his legs just above the knees. Then he described how when he was on a date invariably the girl would caress his legs, ostensibly as a romantic act, but in reality checking for garment lines. Satisfied by the rubber bands, she was happy to, um, continue the date.

    I swear that was the entire tenor of his talk. We teenage boys were quite attentive and taking notes, but I’m pretty sure the adults were none too pleased that that was the main sacrament talk that day.

  27. A guy bore his testimony and told about how he was so grateful for his wife’s medication and how it helped to stabilize her and probably saved his marriage, and what a great blessing it was even if it did kill her libido. I (and half the congregation) couldn’t help but look to see how his wife was handling it, but fortunately she seemed just fine.

  28. The real question is how many people are possessed by demons today

  29. Or on this blog?.. we’re all a little weird here, so that’s hard to say, Mr. Xingfu…

  30. Mr. Xingfu, my numerology approach gave 3.16% for Jesus’ time, as I mentioned above. I haven’t run the calculations yet for our time, but I’m assuming it has something to do with 66.6% and/or the numerical equivalents of the letters O-B-A-M-A. Or maybe his birthdate. I’ll have to get back to you with the precise result.

  31. F&T meeting in our ward is like group therapy. Gets C-R-A-Z-Y.

  32. A man in my ward has gotten up two or three times in the last year and half and told the congregation that he had to “learn how to love [his] wife again.” And he spent many years NOT loving his wife. He also berates his “disobedient children” from the pulpit. And last month he started with “I think this is the perfect opportunity to air my dirty laundry.” Luckily, that didn’t go AS horribly as it could have. I’ve also been told that he has confessed in EQ that he struggled for years with a porn addiction. It’s terrible. My husband now just gets up and walks out of the chapel when this guy gets on the stand.

  33. Anon too, because there's a few readers from my ward. says:

    32 – I knew someone from my ward would post about that. hahaha! I cringe and find a distraction in my children (not hard) when he gets up there.

  34. So the golden rule to distinguish what is and is not appropriate for talks (and hopefully to solve the poor soul’s question):

    If you’ve heard it, or any variation of it, during F&T–it is not appropriate.

  35. We had a guy who bore his testimony every month, with something better each time.
    One month he told us that he always sits in the back by the door in case a GA comes in late.
    Another month he told us about a mission president who had been very sick for a long time, and had a great many priesthood blessings, but he asked to give the president a blessing anyway. With his blessing, the president was completely healed.
    The best month was when he went on and on about being a temple worker, and how “he loved it when they said” a very long statement in spanish (which he repeated in full). “In English, the phrase is,” and began speaking the lines you say at the veil. The Bishop got up to whisper in his ear, and then the man said, “I guess you aren’t supposed to say those words outside the temple.” A TEMPLE WORKER, ladies and gentlemen.
    The last time I saw him, he related as story of being injured and having a “French-speaking” female guardian angel take care of him. No, not a nurse, a guardian angel.
    There’s a part of me that misses hearing those.

  36. #2)
    Anon, please tell me that you are making that one up, or that you actually did not hear that in person but instead it was an urban legend.
    That has got to be the mother of all TMI in a church setting.

  37. Anonymous today says:

    Sonny, I wish I were making it up….

  38. #27 – “but fortunately she seemed just fine.” That sounds like some pretty good medication

  39. #38. ARGH. I spent a full 10 minutes trying to come up with that punchline and just couldn’t word it right, then gave up. Thanks.

  40. When I was a teenager I remember that an older man got up and gave a long explanation of how he’d married his (much younger and very pretty) wife so that she wouldn’t get deported, but now he wanted her to go to the single adult ward and find a more appropriate husband. She had apparently refused by pointing out that she was married and she was going to honor that. So now the man was enlisting the ward’s help in finding his wife another husband.

    I recall it was fun to watch the bishopric squirm.

  41. There’s a woman in our ward who brought her then two-week old baby to church in a three-piece suit, dress shirt, vest, jacket, tie, shoes, the whole she-bang.

    As for my baby, up until this month (he’s 11 months old), he wore a singlet and no shoes. Because there’s only one time in your life you can get away with wearing a leotard and sneakers to church (I think. Maybe I should do a search on this), so I figure, live it up little man.

  42. I should clarify–there were a couple of weeks when he first started walking where we added the shoes to his get-up. But once they start walking, I think it’s time to enter the realm of the pant-ed.

  43. Anything involving bodily fluids, personal visitations by demonic beings or marital strife should be TMI for the pulpit.

  44. I am absolutely loving this series! So hilarious :)

  45. I sat through a play by play of one man’s concussion and resulting surgery a week or so later. It included a detailed description of the coagulated blood that was extracted from his head.

    Same ward (Provo family ward) had a guy that got up each month clutching the hymnal and spoke about “The FIRE STORM!!!!!11!!” that we would each endure in our lives. I don’t recall anything doctrinally false in those Stormimonies, but the bishop always seemed uncomfortable.

  46. Thank you for this one tonight. I laughed so hard I cried. I wish I could offer something juicy, but nothing tops #2.

    As for sacrament meeting taboos, I might add spontaneous musical numbers. Though I find them surprising and entertaining, I think they are generally, frowned on (especially if you aren’t getting your music pre-approved…) I remember one special fourth of July testimony meeting when a man in Jacob Lake stood up and said he couldn’t say his feelings better than Lee Greenwood could, and then busted out into a full length rendition of “I’m proud to be an American.”

  47. Ahhhh, Lee Greenwood. (warning: gratuitous use of 9/11 imagery in hokey photoshop compositions) [0:09 just classic; fantasizing about the next electoral map at 2:17; 2:29 um just speechless]

  48. Glass Ceiling says:


    That is painfully hilarious! I live watching the congratulation in such moments…how they just freeze, trying to pretend it’s all normal and OK.

  49. I just remembered a couple of great ones from the Baltimore Ward:

    “And that’s why we have to start using condoms, every chick, every single time….”

    “Pray to your father if he’s passed on. Let him know how you’re doing, and ask for his guidance….”

    “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of Our Holy Mother Mary, Amen.”

  50. The problem with describing TMI is everyone has to be anonymous says:

    We had a sister in F&T tell about the time she had a dream where Satan was trying to push her down the slide. I’m always prepared to be a little amused when she gets up.

  51. #25 @Ray

    Disclaimer: I absolutely love my ward – but the IL vs. MO dynamic is fascinating.

    Huh. I’m over here on the other side of the state rubbing shoulders with Kansas, so I only get to entertain myself by passively aggressively taunting evangelicals.

    See, after the conception through the garment of the holy priesthood, nothing else compares. But there was this one woman who laid her hands upon her sick washing machine and gave it a blessing.

    I must admit that my ward was trained by its last bishop (erm, I decided I didn’t live in that ward for a few years) to only bear testimonies of past conference talks (that might have been after the bishop’s wife had confessed to being able to see spirits), so now that we got a new bishop (and I live in that ward again), F&T’s pretty dry.

    #40 @Stina

    Aww, that’s kinda sweet. On both their parts, actually.

  52. @51: “my ward was trained by its last bishop…to only bear testimonies of past conference talks”


  53. Not a sacrament meeting, but an LDS funeral, where the son of the deceased said (exact quote) “My father was a seething ball of anger”. Mom was sitting on the front row, and didn’t bat an eye.

  54. Kevin Barney says:

    How does one bear testimony of a conference talk, I wonder?

  55. Best. Series. Ever.

  56. How does one bear testimony of a conference talk, I wonder?

    Very carefully.

  57. StillConfused says:

    How about family history sagas? Like the great-great whatever who walked out on his family or the bastards (literally) in the family line. I never know what I am supposed to do with that information.

  58. I want to throw in a vote for impromptu musical numbers. I grew up in a small rural ward, there was one sister who would at least once a year sing the song she wrote. Just one song, she ever wrote, it was about Christ. It was probably not such a bad song, lyrically, though bluegrass isn’t my thing. If she had it sung by someone who had any hope at ALL of carrying a tune it might not have made us cringe each time.

  59. Speaking of funerals, I went to the funeral of a friend whose adult children had no clue what was appropriate. They had a space of time set aside so anyone who wanted to get up and speak, could.

    One daughter got up. She told of a time, when she was younger and she and her mother were horseback riding (the mother/my friend was crazy about horses). They rode through a field that was loaded with butterflies. The daughter asked, “Mom, why are there so many butterflies?” The reply was, “Because they like sex.”

    (Seriously, knowing my friend, I should have known this was NOT going to be a touchy-feely moment.)

    I think the bishop was glad to have that funeral over with. (That wasn’t the only … um … “church-inappropriate” comment, but it was the best one, and the only one I remember clearly enough to repeat.) Personally, I found it entertaining, and more “real” than many funerals I have attended.

  60. There really needs to be a “like” button or a “thumbs up” button on this thread.

  61. When a renter gets up and tells the ward that the owners of her house (who are also in the ward and at the same meeting) decided not to renew her lease and that they were inspired to do so because she hadn’t paid her tithing — that’s TMI.

  62. Mommie Dearest says:

    I wonder if it might not be such a bad thing for people to get their freak on a little more in our meetings.

  63. Mommie, um, I’ll have to disagree.

  64. Abby Normal says:

    @60…I second that!

    One F&T meeting in our ward stands out above all the rest. A gentleman who was not a regular attendee stood up and related a story about his time in prison. I don’t remember all of the details leading up to the climax but the story ended with him looking out the window and seeing a break dancing squirrel. The congregation sat there in stunned silence for a couple of minutes after he sat down.

    The best part of one of these types of experiences is watching those sitting on the stand squirm!

  65. This thread is literally an answer to prayers. I am withdrawing off a prescription med (no not a narc) and was about to come out of my skin. Thanks.

    My current bishop is a reformed drug dealer, so that won’t stun my ward. #2 is one of the most awesome tmi things ever said. I attended a f&t in Navuoo and was strongly disappointed that the Bishop started the meeting with the quote about appropriate testimony material. I bet that ward really gets some freaky testimonies.

    My mom is a volunteer EMT in our little town. It just didn’t work for her to wear a dress and heels to a car accident, so she wears her uniform (cargo pants, boots, polo) to church when she is on call. One Sunday a sister testified about the need to dress according to her standards for church. It was very clear she was taking about my mom and the officer who came in full gear to church. Guess who called 911 a couple of Sundays later DURING CHURCH because her husband was having a heart attack? I love how the Lord works.

    Have you heard the fast meeting song by Robert Lund? Great song

  66. Cynthia,

    I don’t visit your blogs and post acrimonious comments. I expect that you would extend the same courtesy to me.

    “I’m assuming the school where you teach statistics has some biology courses. I think if you’re going to run a site called “Mormons and Science,” you would do well to take one or two.”


    Dave Collingridge

  67. Steve Evans says:

    “I don’t visit your blogs and post acrimonious comments”

    “I don’t occasionally visit your blogs and post acrimonious comments.”

    P.S. your blog sucks. Like a Dyson. Honestly, it’s a big cyber-turd.

  68. I remember one testimony meeting at BYU where a fellow student told us how much his BYU biology course bothered him, with all the talk about evolution and such, but he held on to his testimony and didn’t believe a word of it. I’m not sure if that qualified as TMI, but it was certainly inappropriate.

    Unfortunately, that testimony is evidence that even a biology course or two won’t necessarily change the minds of those who are willingly ignorant/stupid. Sorry, Cynthia–even if he took your advice, I think Dave C. would still be a lost cause.

  69. I’m pretty sure “homemade chastity” comes from here.

  70. But JonJon, that post is about sewing your own lingerie, and lingerie is supposed to cause *more* marital relations, not chastity! See, if we take a look at the suggested designs…..oh. Oh I see. You are correct.

  71. So, I looked at Dave’s blog, and I see nothing wrong with it. He’s entitled to say whatever he pleases there.

    Play nice, guys. This thread is supposed to be light-hearted, not bashing each other (speaking to all of you, including Dave).

  72. #26: Kevin, I’ve heard of a few unendowed men doing that at BYU, or just telling YW they’ve stopped wearing garments, after their mission. The last one made some YW work at trying to “rescue” such lost “RM”‘s.

    It was very clear she was taking about my mom and the officer who came in full gear to church. Guess who called 911 a couple of Sundays later DURING CHURCH because her husband was having a heart attack? I love how the Lord works.

    Payback can be soooo fascinating.

    “I’m so grateful that all of our children were conceived through the garment of the holy priesthood.”

    I’ll skip the suggestive joke a former HT gave along this lines some years ago…

  73. When I was at BYU-Idaho (when it was still Ricks), we had a regional conference, and Elder Holland was the presiding GA. For what I believe was the closing prayer, the woman giving it began going on about how grateful she was for her husband, her kids and grandkids, all the blessings she had in her life, etc. The prayer was probably a good 5-10 minutes, with next to nothing about the conference we had just heard or that applied to the congregation as a whole. I admit I peeked, and there’s Elder Holland staring at the woman like she’s lost her mind.

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