Hepeating the Covenant Path

Benjamin Keogh is in the final throes of a masters in Theology at the University of Glasgow, currently writing his dissertation on conceptions of atonement in Johann Arndt and Immanuel Kant. A native of Scotland, he and his wife have three kids who are looking forward to “daddy’s big essay” being completed.




  1. Not a Cougar says:

    Benjamin, color me unconvinced in this example. If a relatively a 70 used the term in a talk in 1993, I strongly doubt we’d be talking about the term afterward. I’m not saying we don’t dismiss women’s thoughts and statements in this church. On average, we absolutely do, but I think this is much more of a “celebrity setting a trend” situation (ala the Kardashians) than “hespeaking.”

  2. Not a Cougar says:

    “a relatively unknown 70”

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Not a cougar is correct.

  4. It’s plausible to me that it’s President Nelson’s position rather than his gender that makes us pay attention when he speaks. But of course his position also isn’t totally separate from his gender either. When only men can ever fill that position (and adjacent positions), our tendency to listen more to authority has the same effect of depriving us of women’s voices and insight.

  5. In other words, it’s kind of telling that two women who held arguably one of the highest positions that women can hold in the church are considered the equivalent of “a relatively unknown 70.”

  6. it's a series of tubes says:

    Nothing unique about Mormonism here.

  7. All I know is that ‘covenant path’ is in a dead even race with ‘ministering’ when it comes to overused terms Mormonism.

  8. I’m not sure how telling any of this is, despite being sympathetic to the concept (but not the term) of “hepeating,” as seen in the useful example posed in the Bustle piece.

    Pres. Nelson’s role as “the” prophet skews everything here. It would be much more compelling if, say, the “relatively unknown 70” from the comments above, or even a member of the presiding Bishopric or Sunday School Presidency were able to popularize an idea that originally came from a woman of power in the Church. I could just as easily see a Presiding Bishop coining a term that failed to stick, and a President of the Church later popularizing it by emphasizing it during his tenure.

  9. I’m also interested in seeing what happens with President Nelson’s talk at Women’s session, since his snippet on how all adult women are mothers is essentially a hepeat from Sheri Dew in the 90’s.

    However, IMHO the biggest hepeat of all time was Elder Patrick Kearon’s “Refuge From the Storm.” As the OP says, hepeating I think says more about us a community then the person giving the talk. Elder Kearon gave a great talk. I would love to see him as an apostle some day. Like Elder Uchtdorf, the guy almost oozes charisma. However, Linda K. Burton essentially gave the same talk the week before at women’s conference. (Not to mention the whole session was pretty groundbreaking in focusing on that topic, using video and the most diverse choir I’ve seen at any conference session.) What has surprised me is that even on progressive leaning blogs Elder Kearon tends to get quoted while President Burton seems to get forgotten. People I talk to recall “that one talk given on refugees” and I’m like “what one talk? There was a whole session dedicated to refugees.” Anyway, rant over.

  10. Also, it seems like a stretch to say that the failed dissemination of a term buried in Elaine Cannon’s book is representative of some sort of injustice. Was this an influential book? I mean that sincerely: I’ve never heard of it, just as I haven’t heard of almost all of the other books published by both male and female leaders of the Church through Bookcraft and other LDS friendly publishers. My hunch is that which these books produce solid revenues, relatively few of them actually get read. Is the notion of “covenant path” in the book? Based on the (Google Book?) snippets in the post it looks like the term is ancillary to her larger project. Doesn’t that make a difference? Is it accurate to say we say that she was promoting a concept that was rejected by her faith community on account of her gender?

  11. Maybe the women’s families should have sold T-Shirts and tchotchkes on the internet after the talks. “I’m on the covenant path!” #ponderize

  12. Not a Cougar says:

    JKC, yep!

  13. Well, to take one relatively recent example, the family members of the second-counsellor of the general Sunday School presidency were so confident that the word ‘ponderize’ would catch on, that they set up a website selling ‘ponderize’ merchandise one week before the GC talk was given.

    This isn’t an example of ‘hepeating’. But it is an example of the influence of even ‘relatively unknown’ GC speakers using catch-phrases (or in this case, a made up word) that later become popularised (excuse the pun). Is it worth mentioning that the speaker was male?


  14. Not a Cougar says:

    JKC, I also don’t hold myself up here as some paragon of equality and equity. I honestly can’t name a single member of the General Relief Society, Young Women’s, and Primary Presidencies from memory even though several spoke just this weekend. Of course being self-aware about my shortcomings doesn’t excuse them and I’ll try to do better.

  15. Perhaps a better analysis could be made of women who have significant prestige over a period of years within the LDS community. Sheri Dew has made statements which have reverberated within the LDS community.

    But comparing any LDS figure’s influence with that of a living prophet’s is inherently flawed.

  16. Not a Cougar, that wasn’t directed at you, personally. I think that’s not far off from how most members of the church see the leadership of the church. The fact that female leaders are rotated out on a regular basis while the 12 are in for life reinforces this.

  17. I hate to be a grammar prude, but in your last paragraph you use the term, “…begging the question…”, …”. It is a common mistake to use “begs the question” for “raises the question”. Here’s a good definition of “begs the question”:

    1. to use an argument that assumes as proved the very thing one is trying to prove
    2. Loosely — to evade the issue

    Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition.

  18. That’s not really a grammar issue.

  19. Great comments, I appreciate the engagement.

    Not a Cougar: No worries on your unconvinced colour! I don’t doubt there is a (fairly large) “celebrity setting a trend” element to this. That does however play into the same larger point that the piece is trying to make: our focus is far too much on the source of an idea, or a term, as opposed to its content. That, in my opinion, leaves us at a great detriment. We miss so much good.

    Dean: Agreed that the failed dissemination of a term buried in an obscure book being representative of some sort of injustice is a stretch. For the overall point, of source over content, Elaine Dalton’s first use in Conference, and 11 of the first 15 uses being from women is more pertinent. What Cannon’s does do though is depict a snapshot in time. Together these snapshots reveal a pattern over time that I think is interesting, and the emphasis in each—forged community—I think is really worthwhile. Listen to Conference or search for the term on Google though and you would never know. That might be a little more telling.

    Old Man: Perhaps a better analysis could be made that way, this one just happens to be topical. The purpose is not really to compare any LDS figure’s influence with that of a living prophet, rather they are used as (an admittedly provocative) example of our tendency to prefer source over content. I’m interested in why that is.

    AJ: Appreciate the correction of my incorrect term usage!

  20. it's a series of tubes says:

    Someone should release my earlier comment from the moderation queue due to having a link in it :)

  21. I don’t want to detract from the overall point, but I do want to gripe* about one thing: when we take things that are not necessarily gendered, but are perhaps more common in one gender than the other, and then make them a gender issue, we get dangerously close to sexism. Over-explaining something to someone who already knows is rude in any context, regardless of gender. There’s no need to call out an entire gender for it, as though it’s ok when the genders are reversed or that all men do it. Taking up too much space on the bus is annoying no matter the gender of the perpetrator; there’s no need to call out men only for manspreading, even if men are more often the offenders. Same goes for terms like throwing like a girl, tiger mom, s’mother or any of the creative feminized terms for gossip I’ve heard over the years. Genderizing bad behavior doesn’t do any of us any good.

    *I considered ironically using a different term–one that starts with a B–but thought better of it.

  22. I first remember hearing “covenant path” from female leaders. It appears in multiple talks from women, especially around the time of the first General Women’s meeting/session. March 2013 had a BYU devotional from Rosemary Wixom literally called “The Covenant Path.” Linda K. Burton covered it in September 2013. It was a major part of the first Women’s Meeting in March 2014 (even appears in the Deseret News headline covering the meeting). A 2015 Church News article notes it as a phrase Wixom used for years. https://www.ldschurchnews.com/archive/2015-06-27/covenant-path-42785

  23. @JKC improper word choice is most defiantly a grammar issue ;)

  24. I just wanted to acknowledge the irony of such a concept as hepeating being promoted by a person named Nicole, while I heard about it from a person named Benjamin.

  25. …series of tubes: You made my night posting the commercial.

  26. ” It is, rather, that the idea has been accepted and ran with . . .” The idea has been “accepted and … ran with”?? Well, you can be certain that that’s one locution that I’m not going to appropriate, no matter the sex of the writer.

  27. Don, it really doesn’t matter, but if we’re being pedantic, “begs the question” is perfectly grammatical. It’s a usage error, but it doesn’t violate the rules of grammar.

  28. Billy Possum says:

    JKC: It really doesn’t matter, but we could say that the technical, philosophical usage of “begs the question” does not appropriately take an object or a nominative phrase like that following it in the OP. Something either does or does not “beg the question,” full stop. I can’t speak to sense 2, but at least as to sense 1, this is both a usage and a grammar issue (though it is widespread, and perfectly acceptable outside careful discussions about argumentation).

%d bloggers like this: