A Conversation with my Catholic Husband on the Word of Wisdom


“Did you see your Church just officially banned green tea?”

“And vaping. That’s days-old news.”

“Mormon news isn’t real to me until the Washington Post covers it.”

“Fair enough. The best take I’ve seen so far is Jana Riess’s.”

“The Washington Post agrees:  they quote her. The Word of Wisdom is ‘not necessarily a slam-dunk in terms of clarity.’ That seems accurate.”

“The problem is our cultural norms surrounding the Word of Wisdom have strayed so far from its literal text that we’re all left wading through layers of shame and confusion.”

“You know what Jana or you or some other sassy Mormon feminist should do? Write a Rachel Held Evans style book: ‘A Year of Word of Wisdomhood.’ It would be hilarious.

“I’d get excommunicated.”

“For exploring the original meaning of your own scripture?”

“The book would encourage members to become beer-drinking, farmers-market shopping, vegetarians!  Deseret Book and red-state Mormon bishops would ban it in three blinks.”

“Wait, beer is in the Word of Wisdom?”

“Yes — let’s read it!”

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground …  and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.”

“And farmers market hippies?”

“All wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man. Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”

“Huh. What else is in there?”

“Start at the beginning and find out!”

“A word of wisdom … not by commandment and constraint…”

“NOT by commandment? Isn’t following the Word of Wisdom a temple recommend requirement?”

“Yes. But if you confess you love steak and don’t shop at farmer’s markets the Bishop will laugh at you.  Moving on…”

“That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.”

“Wine is not good, except for the Sacrament? I’ve been to your meetings. You don’t even use grape juice. You use water!”

“Yeah, we jettisoned the wine. Supposedly it’s because of some random story where God warned Joseph Smith that his secular enemies would poison the alcohol, but I don’t think we actually switched until like 1905.”

“And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.”

“Pure wine of the grape of the vine of your OWN MAKE!? God just commanded you to open your own winery!?”

“There were nineteenth century wineries and distilleries founded by Mormon pioneers. A whole bunch of early Prophets drank from them. They got abandoned in the early twentieth century when the Prohibition movement stepped up nationwide and the Church decided to make the alcohol ban universal for ordinary members.”

“But seriously. God just commanded you to found a winery.”

“Technically I don’t need a full winery. I could just smush grapes in a teeny barrel in my basement.”

“Which you could only use for the Sacrament. How? Slipping it to the teenagers on Sunday morning won’t work. And you’re a woman. You can’t bless it.  You don’t have the Priesthood.”

“I could probably conscript a liberal Mormon guyfriend into consecrating it for me.”

“So now you’re plotting to operate a winery and spin-off Sacrament Meeting in our basement? I think you just founded a cult.”

“Like I said, writing this book would get me excommunicated.”

“Well, if you’re going to hell or outer darkness or whatever anyway, you might as well go all in. You should mass-market the wine to other literalist members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!”

“I don’t think there’s a market for that.”

“Of course there’s a market. Every single ex-Mormon would buy one bottle just for the hilarity of it. All we need is a label. What should we name our wine?”

“Mormon Heresy?”

“Of Our Own Make?”

“Fruit of That Tree?”

“Mingled with Scripture?”

“Oh! I know! I know!”


“D&C 89!”

dc89 (1)



  1. sarah_jwh says:


  2. There’s a market. Amen to it all.

  3. I love the name of the wine!

  4. Some Remnant type Mormons wrote a how to for other Mormons to make their own wine https://www.amazon.com/Wine-Your-Make-Mormon-Book-ebook/dp/B079ZRGVZT

  5. Love it.

    In my family, we like to tell the story from my great great grandfather’s journal about how he and the other Elders went out together for a beer after their Elders Quorum meeting in Southern Utah. Things have certainly changed over the years.

  6. violadiva says:


  7. I was always taught growing up that green tea was forbidden. As for vaping, I’ve heard Bishops banning that for a while now.
    I’m also okay with the fact that we’ve drifted from the original text. What I’m not okay with is the lack of a paper trail of official statements documenting the drift. Sitting in Sunday school and constantly hearing “the text says this, but we now want that to mean that.” Is very frustrating to me.

  8. Okay, I admit that was hilarious.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    My favorite was “Fruit of That Tree.” (Your husband’s Catholic-tinged commentary on Mormon things is consistently hilarious.)

  10. UshallBcot says:

    Intoxicating. I want more.

  11. Funny stuff, Carolyn. Near the top of my wish list is an update to Sections 89 and 132. Until that happens, good-natured midrash like this will keep me from getting too down about it.

  12. Clever, clever, clever!

  13. Like

  14. Re: Sacrament wine: I used to live in Baja California Sur, and while there I joined the neighborhood fronton (a form of raquetball) club. To balance out the physical we would have a social every few months with a pot luck meal and lots of refreshments. Most of the refreshment was some form of alcohol but plenty of soft drinks too. One of our members was a Catholic priest and he brought a few bottles of Sacrament wine to one of these socials. Everyone knew I was Mormon and didn’t drink so I was surprised when I was offered a glass of this Catholic wine. It turned out that it was non-alcoholic and Padre Luis explained that the wine is bottled specially for the Church at a winery in Northern Baja and none of it is fermented. I don’t know if this is universal or just in the Baja and didn’t question Padre about the reason for changing. I didn’t particularly enjoy the wine but the bottles were empty at the end of the evening.

  15. I love you two.

  16. *Aged several months short of 15 years.

  17. AK Transplanted says:

    There’s already church-owned farms, and I swear I saw a video once on the World Report showing them growing grapes… LET’S DO THIS!!!!!

  18. The Church has huge grape vineyards in the California Central Valley: https://www.deseret.com/2009/9/13/20376783/saints-pick-grapes-bless-lives

    Just a thought.

    Love your wit Carolyn. You two are hilarious.

  19. Sorry. Not my taste in humor. Seems pretty stupid.

  20. nobody, really says:

    I clearly remember one of those firesides as a youth where the YM/YW presidencies would, in desperation, pick any adult who had served a mission and ask them to come show slides of “the mission field”. One sister had served a mission in either Virginia or North Carolina, and had photos of herself sitting on a tobacco planter, next to the Primary President, planting tobacco on a Church Welfare Farm. My heathen brothers and I found this hilarious and had a multitude of questions for our seminary teacher on Monday.

    My favorite missionary companion had a dad who firmly lived by the “of your own make” rule, figuring that if he could make it himself, it was within the law. Problem was, he had a PhD in Chemistry, so there wasn’t much he couldn’t brew. This eventually led to the purchase of a used mass spectrometer and other equipment for the manufacture of synthetic opioids for the mob….

  21. Grateful my Catholic father did not resemble your husband. Not my idea of amusing or tasteful. But millenials seem to have little sense of good taste so I should not be surprised.

  22. Kristine N says:

    I love this so much.

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