General Authority apologizes for “ponderize” website

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One talk from general conference caused controversy among some church members after a website selling merchandise based on a theme from the address was discovered.

On Sunday Oct. 4, Devin G. Durrant, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, gave a talk in which he challenged church members to “ponderize.”

Memes with the coined term "ponderize" are all over Facebook. The T-shirts and wristbands on ponderize.us sported the question, "What's your verse?" (Facebook)
Memes with the coined term “ponderize” are all over Facebook. The T-shirts and wristbands on ponderize.us sported the question, “What’s your verse?” (Facebook)

In his address, Durrant said he made up the word and defined “ponderize” as 80 percent pondering of scriptures and 20 percent memorizing. He mentioned that the ponderize practice is not new to his family.

Twenty-four hours later Durrant posted an apology statement on Facebook. He stated that a week before the talk was given, his son created a website, ponderize.us, for which he bought the domain one week earlier.

The website offered T-shirts and wrist bands promoting the “ponderize” message.

“I was aware that my son was creating a website related to the topic of my talk. I should have stopped the process. I did not. That was poor judgment on my part,” Durrant’s post said.

A Facebook page called Ponderize Weekly, which is no longer active, started receiving negative feedback for the website’s creation. Some church members argued that a General Authority’s family was capitalizing on the term for monetary gain.

Once the backlash began the website creators lowered the cost of the merchandise to cover domain costs. Then the costs returned to their original price and the creators announced that all proceeds would be donated to the church missionary fund.

Despite that announcement, the website was taken down permanently on Sunday evening.

Michael Laws, a BYU student from Boise, studying exercise science, heard about the controversy in his psychology class when his professor brought it up.  Laws said he googled “ponderize” right away, though he doesn’t find fault with Elder Durrant or his son.

According to Elder Durrant, the definition of ponderize is 80 percent pondering and 20 percent memorizing. Durrant publicly apologized on Facebook for the website his son created to make a profit off the term. (Facebook)
According to Elder Durrant, the definition of ponderize is 80 percent pondering and 20 percent memorizing. Durrant publicly apologized on Facebook for the website his son created to make a profit off the term. (Facebook)

“I understand where his son was coming from, trying to get it more out there as a way to publicize general conference,” Laws said. “He probably didn’t think it would get this much backlash. I don’t think he had poor intentions, I think just maybe it wasn’t thought out very well.”

Another BYU student, David Monson from East Greenwich, Rhode Island, wasn’t bothered by the website created by Durrant’s son.

“To me he’s an entrepreneur riding a wave of interest,” Monson said, “as did Deseret Book did with the ‘I’m a Mormon, I know it, I live it, I love it’ shirts. It’s capitalism. If he didn’t do it, Deseret Book or someone else would.”

It’s not uncommon for Pinterest-worthy quotes or memes to pop up on social media after conference sessions.  After Ann M. Dibb spoke in the 2012 October conference, her quote regarding her devotion to the gospel, “I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it,” was everywhere. It even appeared on T-shirts in the BYU bookstore.

An app called Ponderize has already popped up to help members keep track of scriptures and stay motivated, in addition to multiple Facebook groups where members post the scripture they have chosen to study each week.

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