The Gleam in Thine Own Eye

June 17, 2012


Post by Joseph M-

I was talking to a friend a few months back, before Romney had the Republican nomination locked up, and he relayed a thought he’d had while listening to Romney harshly criticize President Obama during a campaign stop.  He thought to himself, “I hope President Obama doesn’t think that all us Mormons are like this…”

I sometimes wonder this myself.  Does President Obama somehow think that Romney is representative of Mormons in America?  Or even more specifically: do the American voters think that Romney is somehow representative of Mormons?  I swear my jokes are better than his, and I would never put a dog on top of my car for a cross-country trip.  Additionally, I have a job.

But in the end, maybe we are okay, and maybe we won’t be mistaken for a Mitt-Romney-Mormon.  Let me explain: we all know that Mormons can identify other Mormons by looking at their countenance.  I was reminded of this again today while studying Alma chapter 5 in Sunday School.  Our teacher told a story of how a cashier at a grocery store asked her if she was a member of the Church.  “Yes,” was her answer, to which the cashier explained, “I could tell because of your countenance.”  (Our Sunday School teacher also explained that this happened at Smith’s in Provo, to which I thought, “uh… everyone in Provo is Mormon; this makes it not even a lucky guess, but a statistical certainty.”)

That said, even I have seen this countenance principle in action: I was with a friend at a gas station just east of the Cascade Mountain Range, and she approached a man and a woman pumping gas next to us and boldly asked, “are you LDS?”   (Who does that???)

“Yes – we are,” came the response.

“I thought so!  You just had this glow about you!”  I am not lying.  This really did happen – and a study exists that backs it up.  Here is a link to it, and here is a blog post about the study.  Mormons can tell other Mormons just by looking at their faces.  We have a glow, a countenance, a halo rather than horns.  We have received his image thereupon, and this isn’t just Mormon myth-making or Sunday School speculation.  This is scientific statistical fact (complete with t-tests, r-tests, x-factors, or whatever… I didn’t do too well in that class.)  I’m not certain what makes one look Mormon, but this must be a good thing, right?  (I mean, it is definitely better than those pictures of meth-users in Oregon; I mean, everyone can tell what they are by their pictures as well.)  So ultimately, Mormons do have a glow that shines independent of whatever Governor Romney may do to our image.  However, this whole thing is somewhat ironic considering the “I’m a Mormon” campaign was designed at least in part to show that Mormons look just like everyone else.

Well, this complicated puzzle of facial characteristics doesn’t end there.  Studies also show that Republicans and Democrats have a certain distinguishing characteristics also, and that they’re able to be differentiated in photo line-ups.  Apparently, Republicans seem powerful, and Democrats appear more warm.  Here is the link to a description of the study.  But this really isn’t too surprising; think of Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachman – nothing about them denotes warmth, and Newt’s greasy forehead cannot be mistaken for a “glow.”

But let’s not stop there, for all these studies prompt the inevitable follow-up question: if Mormons are identifiable by their countenances and Democrats appear warm, what does that say about a Mormon Democrat?  I’ve been thinking about this, and clearly we must really have an amazing luster.  I don’t know if it’s on par with the likes of the transfigured Moses, but maybe Edward from Twilight as he’s standing shirtless in the sun?  Just watch the people pull out their sunglasses as you walk by… and when they tell you that they sense something is different about you, or that they are drawn to you somehow, you can explain that this is because you’re a Mormon and because you’re voting for Obama.

Just think of Harry Reid – the supreme example of Liberal Mormondom – (I have his action figure on my desk at work) – and tell me if he doesn’t have a glow like a gleaming lighthouse?  He fights the good fight, shines like a sunbeam, and literally comes from Searchlight, Nevada.  I know what the Primary Hymn instructs, (Trying to be Like Jesus,) but in case that is too high of a bar for me right now, I’ve decided that at the very least I am trying to be like Harry… and we’ll call it good at that.

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8 Comments on “The Gleam in Thine Own Eye”

  1. Kathy Mayeda Says:

    Did your friend’s car (at said gas station, just east of the Cascades) happen to have the same bumper sticker as mine has?

    • Joseph Says:

      hahaha! it depends on if you’re referring to your “i’m voting for obama” bumper sticker! (she didn’t have that bumper sticker) hahaha!

    • John Catto Says:

      You have an awesome brother. Who is he voting for?


    Wow, I don’t know what to think of the existence of a “Mormon countenance.” That has certainly never been my experience. I have only correctly identified a fellow Mormon after observing behavior. For example, many years ago, aboard a flight to Los Angeles, I was seated next to a clean-cut (white) gentleman who was very courteous. I did not think anything of his religion until the flight attendant asked our drink preferences (this was way-back-when travellers were still being offered meals, etc. on flights.) I ordered a Coke & my seat-companion ordered an orange juice. To this day I don’t know why this made me think of religion..but sure enough I asked him if he was a Mormon. He seemed very surprised and responded that he was indeed LDS & a member of the bishopric at his ward in Riverside, CA.

    I’m thinking I do have the “gleam in my eye” or a glow about me. *sigh*
    I cannot recall a time when any stranger has asked if I’m Mormon.

  3. majiir Says:

    No, I don’t think the president thinks all Mormons are like Mitt Romney. He’s led a life where he’s come into contact with people from all walks of life. This has had the benefit of allowing him to see that not every member of a certain group of persons is the same. I’m a Black American who was raised in the segregated America of the 1950s. I am forever grateful to my parents for teaching my siblings and I that not all members of a group are the same, and that one doesn’t project the wrongdoings, or faults, of one member of the group onto all other members. This way of looking at others has permitted me to interact successfully with people from many different racial, ethnic, and religious groups. It also led me to the University of GA in the early 1970s where I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of groups of people who were not like myself. I reared my daughter the same way that my parents reared me, and she is a person who doesn’t make blanket judgments about groups of people. She has truly made me a proud parent! IMHO, it’s all about avoiding stereotypes. One must understand that no group of people is monolithic. Although members of a particular group may share certain physical, religious, or ethnic characteristics, there are discernable differences.

  4. Joseph Says:

    Thanks for the comments – Notso, maybe your airplane friend had more of the glow than what you think? (I really don’t know that religion is necessarily connected to orange juice.)

    And Majiir, I am sure you are right about the president – besides, he does have Senator Reid to look to on this! I love your story!


  1. Navigating This Political Season | Mormons for Obama - July 17, 2012

    […] people who truly aspired to be more like Jesus Christ. The “countenance” described in a recent post is something that even I found easy to spot. I’ve been in Southern California for some time […]

  2. Mormons for Obama Say Kyle Blaine’s Article Doesn’t Represent Them | Mormons for Obama - July 29, 2012

    […] that somewhat muted my whole joke.  (Sorry for my whining here, but please read The Gleam in Thine Own Eye, to see the full post with meta-links.)  Maybe next time I’m quoted, I can suggest […]

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