I was originally going to post this on facebook, but I decided to post it here because it’s a kind of interesting little situation that I can kind of relate to.
During this fall’s General Conference, Devin Durrant gave a talk about this concept called “ponderizing” and really sought to draw emphasis to the word “ponderize” and the many ways you could use it to study and learn scriptures. But soon after that talk a website appeared promoting “Ponderize” merchandise, uh oh!
At first glance, this looks pretty bad. Here’s a guy who gives a conference talk and uses that sacred platform to promote t-shirt and silicone bracelet sales. It seems really shallow and priestcrafty (that’s a new word) on its surface.
Personal product placement in conference talks is bad form, in ANY form. He did apologize though and is probably kicking himself for not considering all of these implications.
I thought the talk was going to be cheesy at first, but when I saw the kid with the scripture verse on her lockscreen I said, “Man, that’s actually a great idea.” So I’ve got one on my lockscreen right now. I was even thinking of writing a post about a cool way to do it and I probably still will.
I do like the “ponderize” concept though, and I’m probably going to continue using this strategy to memorize scriptures or keep anything important on the tip of my mind. Pondering and memorizing aren’t exactly new concepts, but combining the two and providing some neat ways to incorporate it into your busy life is great (phone lockscreen? Genius!).
Personal experience balancing product promotion and position.
I do make money off of LDS-based products myself, take my LDS Symbol Cards for example, and StevesBackpack.com where I sell some shirts. I don’t have a problem with it because I’m not holding back anything essential to people for a price. You can live without my shirts (and many do, I’ve probably only sold about 10), and you can live without the cards. I spent years designing and collecting the information, but then I put it all up for free at LDSSymbols.com long before the cards were ever printed.
The problem is where you have a captive audience and you use your authority in that position to market for personal profit. That’s what it appears happened here. No matter how innocent it is, it just looks really bad.
I make it a point to never try and capitalize on personal projects at church or in talks or lessons. That can be hard when people are struggling with something and professionally, you provide a solution for it. I just bite my tongue though and figure it’s better to miss a few potential users than tarnish a class with what could be perceived as product placement.
Years ago, however, I did offer LDSJournal.com as an option during a presentation to a Relief Society class. I debated quite a bit with myself if I should bring it up. To be fair, I have many times refused to bring it up for that reason, but in this class where I was trying to show people how to keep a consistent journal, I justified including my site because I presented it along with other options.
I can see how these things happen, you are wanting to help people and share something you think is really cool, but it can come off a little self-serving when viewed from the outside, especially when it’s a conference talk.
So I’m giving Brother Durrant a pass this once, I doubt he or anyone else will ever try anything remotely close to this again. It’s also a great teaching moment for others. The ponderize site was up for maybe a few hours and now it’s gone, so really, no harm was done.
Bro. Durrant gave a fun talk with an interesting application that I think is a great solution that could work for many people. Heck, I’m doing it and I love it and all I’ve done is put a scripture verse on my phone’s lock screen. I like the combining of ponder and memorize, I like the idea behind it. I’m a little sad that this situation has cast shadow over something good, but I don’t care, if it works for me, I’m using it.
It’s given us a lot to ponderize.