The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced major changes to its magazines for adults, teens and children.
Two longtime publications, the English-language Ensign and New Era, will disappear, and members (or anyone, really) will be able replace their current subscriptions, or sign up anew for the following:
Liahona • A global magazine featuring adult-level articles about the gospel. It will replace the Ensign, which non-Mormons frequently confused as a magazine intended for newly graduated Midshipmen.
For the Strength of Youth • Basically a new New Era. It will provide material to help keep Latter-day Saint teens around the world on the straight and narrow.
The Friend • Although keeping its current name, the new version will supposedly appeal to children of other cultures and languages as well.
When I was a kid, it was called The Children’s Friend. I don’t recall much about the content, only that, when rolled up, it made for an excellent whacking tool if I was caught coloring the eyes of Jesus red and drawing horns on general authorities.
Although I haven’t read current issues of the Liahona, I know it was seen as a magazine intended for members of all ages whose primary language wasn’t English.
Note: The word Liahona comes from a Book of Mormon reference to a compass that operated on a state of faith rather than magnetic poles. If the Nephites were being quarrelsome — which seems likely, given how they ended up — the Liahona would spin erratically and fail to give direction.
Liahona is, I believe, an ancient Nephite/Aramaic/Hebrew/pig Latin word meaning “where the hell are we?” Anyway, it reportedly steered the Nephites to the New World and eventual genocide.
Clearly, I haven’t given heed as much as I should to church publications. It’s probably because they’re just a knockoff of church.
Twenty years ago, when hard-copy magazines were the only way to get these articles, I was assigned as my ward’s magazine specialist. It was my job to sign up subscribers.
As church jobs go, it wasn’t a tough one. Most people at church felt obligated to subscribe. Becoming bored, I proposed to the bishop that I be allowed to publish Mormon-specific magazine knockoffs like:
God & Ammo • Which caliber does the Lord prefer for concealed carry?
Prayboy • Find out the turn-on and turnoffs of the Helpmate of the Month.
Better Temples and Gardens • Turn your backyard into a personal visitor center grounds.
Reader’s Digress • Anecdotal faith stories and lesson suggestions.
Sister MS • How one can be Mormon and a feminist.
It would have been an enormous task because this was before Al Gore invented the internet. Not only would I have to call for submissions but also find a way to get the magazines printed.
It was a killer idea, but the bishop said unto me “nay” and the idea was abandoned. I’m glad. I would have ended up publishing “Sports Excommunicated.”
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.