Improve This Shining Moment

My Relief Society is implementing a weekly “spotlight” so we can get to know each other a little better. The questions, emailed in advance to the featured sister, are as follows:


1) What’s your family nickname?

2) What’s your favorite food?

3) What’s your favorite color?

4) Where have you lived?

5) Married/children?

6) When did you come to know that the Church is true?

7) What calling have you had that blessed you the most?

8) What’s your favorite scripture?

9) What are your hobbies?

10) What’s a goal you have set for yourself?


Aside from numbers 5 and 7, they’re all questions you would ask of Primary children in a similar scenario. If we’re going to do this exercise, why not make the questions a bit more thought-provoking? Surface-level prompts like the above will do little toward helping us connect with our sisters. (I just can’t imagine anyone seeking out the Spotlightee after the Relief Society lesson and exclaiming, “No way!? I  love Mexican food, too!!”)

I understand wanting to steer clear of potentially fraught or too-personal topics, but surely there must be some middle ground between “What’s the most emotional, heart-wrenching thing you’ve ever experienced? Please describe it in great detail” and “What’s your favorite color?” (favorite color!)

For example:

  • If you could meet any female historical figure, who would you choose?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
  • If you could choose your next calling, what would you pick and why?
  • Outline the perfect day in ten words or less.
  • If you could time-travel, when and where would you go first?
  • Do you consider yourself more introverted or extroverted?
  • Aside from scripture, what book has influenced you the most?
  • If you could instantly master one skill, what would it be?

I would have magnified the crap out of this task, is what I’m saying.






…What’s that? Why yes, it would be fun to hijack this post with a list of unusable subversive questions, too! Unusable subversive questions such as:

  • Net or gross?
  • What’s your favorite way to spend Stake Conference Sunday?
  • What do you personally do, on a daily basis, to defend The Family?

And that’s as far as I got because Steven Peck came along and in five minutes eclipsed anything I could have ever come up with in a hundred years of brainstorming. This post belongs to him, now.

1) Who is your favorite character in literature? Suppose you had to dress like them for a year. Would you like that?

2) Imagine you lose your memory and are recruited for a year of international intrigue. Who from the ward would you pick as your romantic partner before your memories were restored and life returned to normal? (Bishop keep an eye on these answers!)

3) Suppose an angel directed you to kill a ward member’s dog. Who would you choose and how would you do it?

4) Describe your daily work as a short Klingon play that does not in any way refer to what you do for a living.

5) Imagine an evil dictator takes over and picks random people to be executed on TV, but the person chosen gets to pick the means. What would you choose? (Remember this is to be a spectacle so use your imagination!)

6) Suppose you were assigned to pick a book for someone about to be trapped on an island for a year, someone from the ward that you really don’t like. What book would you choose?

7) What is your least favorite idea from Freud? Why do you think you picked that? Does that imply anything about the way you were raised? Why do you suppose you are hesitating in answering this question?

8) Who is your favorite anchor on Fox News?

9) What is your favorite color (if you are a woman) and football team (if you are a man)?

10) What is one idea you learned in seminary that you think may be wrong? What would you correct it with? Who do you think could really correct it? Why do you think it hasn’t been corrected yet?


One more:


You are high in the mountains with a broken leg and without a fire on bitter winter night. As the physicist you were with departs to go get help, she tells you that given thermodynamic considerations she has calculated there are only two ways you will live to see the dawn: 1) To cut up and crawl into the grossly bloated rotting carcass of a nearby buffalo, or 2) to drink the contents of a thermos she brought full of coffee, whiskey, and tea. It also contains a poison that will require drinking this concoction for one year. Which do you choose?


Your turn!


  1. Alternate title for this post: “Indominus Peck”

  2. I would pay money to see the Jensen/Peck sketch comedy hour.

  3. When was the last time a beggar put up his petition in vain to you? Follow up: How do you think Jesus feels about that?
    Scouting obviously has run out of ideas and is looking for a new merit badge topic. What would you pick and are you willing to be the advisor for said merit badge?
    The Stake Youth leadership has come down with severe gastrointestinal issues. Instead of cancelling the monthly youth dance, you have 3 hours to plan and $500 to decorate a cultural hall into something amazing. What is the theme going to be and who will help you pull this together?
    The very talented Brown family moves into your ward with 5 or more pianos. Who in the ward is assigned to tell them that multiple pianos are not covered under a standard EQ moving agreement?

  4. Favorite literary character–I’m gonna have to say Jack Aubrey.

    Dress like him for a year? YES. I’d even insist on wearing the bicorne hat in the old-style athwartships fashion favored by Captain Aubrey, even after most officers switched to the fore-and-aft configuration.

  5. I think #6 falls under “potentially fraught or too-personal topics”. It’s assuming a lot, I think.

  6. “You are high in the mountains with a broken leg and without a fire on bitter winter night.”

    Whose broken leg, and why am I carrying it around? Is it meant to be a snack to keep up energy?

  7. I’m with Karen: I would pay real cash money to see the Jessie Jensen/Steve Peck comedy hour.

    Gold, Jerry, gold!

  8. A question I’ve actually used in a “getting to know you” activity in church before:

    If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

    It’s amazing what you can learn about someone by their answer to that question.

  9. This was a good read. It also made me think that questions about someone’s saddest moment could work. Think: Humans of New York. I would love, love, love if people I sat in Relief Society with were asked Human of New York style questions. I am pretty sure we would all increase in charity.

  10. I agree with Sarah. #6 is more than potentially “fraught.” I’m one of “those” people who separate the “Church” and the “Gospel.” One is simply a vehicle for learning about and living the other. When someone says, in Testimony Meeting, “I know the Church is true” it is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. The Gospel? Yes. The Church? Too many humans involved to be pure enough to be “true.”

  11. “Net or gross?” — When you applied for your house loan, did you answer that loan application question about your income by using the Net or Gross?

  12. “If you could be a man instead, how great would that be?”

  13. Blessed day, I would love to see this survey answered.

    What’s your best guess for the number of chairs under the stage at this moment?

    How many times have you violated the “this kitchen is for warming, not cooking” commandment in the church kitchen?

    What was the worst thing you’ve ever brought to a potluck? What was the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten at one?

  14. What was the first sin you committed after exiting the waters of baptism? Was it worth it?

  15. ^ Fighting with my sisters in the car on the way home, a spat that ended with Corinne jeering “Oooooo! You’re not perfect anymore!” and me in tears. So no.

  16. @Rachel “This was a good read. It also made me think that questions about someone’s saddest moment could work. Think: Humans of New York. I would love, love, love if people I sat in Relief Society with were asked Human of New York style questions. I am pretty sure we would all increase in charity”

    YES YES YES. I adore HONY and his capacity to see beyond the initial impression. I have thought a lot about his work and how cool it would be to do a portrait series just like this of everyone in my ward (who wanted to participate). Currently his series in Iran has been so enlightening as this is a country (much like UT) where the predominant religion is also the predominant culture and yet the answers and stories are helping me to see beyond my initial first impression of the scarf!
    Not sure that my ward would go for the idea, but maybe I should suggest it. As a way for all of us to get past our initial judgments and really start to see our fellow ward members as humans, as our brothers and sisters.
    I can’t speak for others, but I know that this is my biggest flaw and the hardest thing for me to correct. And as this is human nature, I don’t think that I am alone.

    Anyways, rambling like always. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who contributes to this place and gets my brain thinking. It really does help me stay sane while living in the Valley. :)

  17. I think my RS had the same questions you listed first, but some additional ones as well. One I remember asked something like “Who would you most like to be stranded on a desert island with?”

  18. Thokozile says:

    Why does it not ask for your occupation??? For the stay-at-home moms, it will be a test to see if they were listening to Sister Oscarson’s talk about motherhood at career day.

    For the subversive list:
    -Which apostle do you hope will be the next to die and who would you choose to replace him?
    -Which hymn or other song lyrics did you humorously misunderstand as a child? (“Teach me all that I must stew…”)
    -If the practice of polyandry were reinstated, which two famous people (living or dead) would you choose to seal to yourself?
    -If you could hie to Kolob, would you?

  19. liz johnson says:

    I think I would pick “The Scarlet Letter” for the person trapped on the island. One, it implies that they’re being banished to the island for something that they did. Two, that book is way too long and full of more run-on sentences than my 8 year-old’s monologue about Minecraft. It would be the perfect burn, really.

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