Devotional: Monson Calls for Buttoned Collars

Rexburg, Idaho — Speaking to students at Brigham Young University, Idaho, LDS church president Thomas S. Monson emphasized the need for modesty and spiritual cleanliness, two virtues he said had nearly been lost in today’s so-called modern world.

Citing the poet A. Egbert Doggerel, Monson stated, “Truer words were never spoken than these:

“It matters not if I’m hale and keen
If my heart and soul remain unclean!”

The prophet spoke of his dismay at lax dress standards among some members of the church. “I am certain that our dear Heavenly Father looks down upon his children with perhaps a glint of tear in His eye, as He sees so many disregarding the prophetic counsel against slovenly and immodest dress.”

He reminded those in attendance of the inspired counsel of President Gordon B. Hinckley in pleading with the fair daughters of Zion to display only one earring on each ear. “Somwhere in the heavens, President Hinckley is smiling in the knowledge that so many have taken his words to heart.” But, President Monson intoned gravely, “There is much room for improvement, particularly among you priesthood holders. Are you living up to the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood? Are you conducting yourself with the modesty and dignity that befits someone with your holy calling?”

He then spoke of a troubling trend among the brethren of the church. “I have spent many nights on my knees, praying for guidance as to how I can help the brethren overcome a serious problem. I speak, of course, of the unkempt and often askew collars of our dress shirts. Many are the times when I’ve sat on the stand in a priesthood meeting and found my spirit troubled by crooked collars. Often the collar doesn’t even cover the tie wrapped around the neck. And, difficult as it may be to believe, some brethren cannot even be troubled to button the top button of their shirts. Surely the Spirit is grieved when the brethren of the Holy Priesthood take such a casual attitude toward their responsibilities.”

The prophet spoke of the great promise in the Book of Revelation: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5). “Brethren, do you imagine that you will be able to stand in the presence of the Lord with a crooked collar or slovenly tie?”

In His wisdom, the prophet said, the Lord has provided a way for His sons to reach their full potential: buttoned collars. “It is but a small thing the Lord requires: merely two buttons, one on each side of the collar. Keeping the collars buttoned will ensure that you are neat and clean both inwardly and outwardly. My beloved brethren, I plead with all the force of a loving heart that you will return to your homes and make immediate and prayerful changes to your wardrobe.”

President Monson said that he had been inspired by a visit to a ward in McDermott, Nevada. “Here were the brethren arrayed as mighty warriors, all with buttoned collars, all neat and inspiring. Hearts were gladdened, spirits were lifted, and collars straightened.”

Student reaction was immediate. “I went home and threw out all my old, unworthy white shirts,” said Gareth Jensen, a junior from Tempe, Arizona. “I have decided to choose the right, and if that means buying button-collared shirts, I will not shirk.”

Tyler Roarke of Redding, California, expressed his desire to follow the prophet with “exactness”: “The prophet said we should get buttons on either side of the collar, but when I got my new shirts home, I noticed they had a third button in the back of the collar. I’m a little worried that I may be looking beyond the mark.”

Apostle David Bednar hailed the response of the students. “These young men and women know what is important in life, and they are a shining example to the world. One young woman I spoke with broke off her engagement because the young man said he didn’t know what the big deal was about buttoned collars. I’m sure she will be glad for the eternities that she saw the true measure of his faithfulness before she became unequally yoked with him.”


20 Responses to Devotional: Monson Calls for Buttoned Collars

  1. skepticalalways says:

    Funny. Problem is this sort of parody is too close to actually happening.

  2. Jenny says:


  3. Camille Biexei says:

    Hah. April Fools! Sort of. A wee bit too close to the truth.

  4. Renee says:

    I had actually read this post (from an older entry) several months ago and sent it to my husband, son, and son-in-law. They didn’t catch that it was a parody and replied back to me about how ridiculous and silly it was for the prophet to be praying and pleading with the Lord for help. They did believe it was possible, especially with Bednar’s supposed comment. Funny stuff.

    • runtu says:

      I was too busy to write something new, and I figured this had been around long enough that it would be new to most people. As you say, the scary thing is that it’s totally believable. There’s very little difference between this and the “one earring” thing from a while back.

  5. Craig says:

    You had me for a minute too. I had a bishop who would always “jokingly” chastise grown men who wore anything other than a white shirt to church. “Brethren, the Lord’s workers are white collar not blue collar!” Followed by annoying laughter.

    The funny thing about the earring talk, Pres. Hinckley gave a version of that talk here at a regional conference prior to its wider publication to the church. It was much lower key than what ended up being published. When I saw the published version, I was kind of surprised because the things he said at the regional conference that kind of softened the blow were gone.

    • robinobishop says:

      Wherever you wander Craig, you’re expected to follow social graces of the culture you frequent, or hazard the consequences. All the tantrums won’t change cultural norms.

      • runtu says:

        I’m not seeing a tantrum. How strange that a member of the church can make fairly benign statements about church dress standards, and you take it as a tantrum. Oh, well, it just confirms that you try very hard to find things with which to take offense. That is a sad way to live your life.

  6. Cathleen Hansen says:

    My brother-in-law sent this to me as an actual talk the Monson had given! I read it to others as actual, not knowing it was a joke or parody as you call it. How can you be so cruel. I had no idea who you were and thought you were being serious. I am no longer a mormon. I gave that cult 60 years of my beautiful life! It has been a very painful exodus out. I find no humor in that! The least you could do is not assume everyone knows you are an insincere jerk who makes fun of others pain,and post that first before you post your parody! Now I’m the fool for sharing what I thought was truth! You are no different than them with your garbage. I won’t be following you now. I just signed up. Unsubscribe me.

    • runtu says:

      I’m sorry you thought a silly April Fool’s joke was cruel. It was not intended to be so.

    • Ray Agostini says:

      Cathleen, John isn’t an “insincere jerk”. The first clue to the fact that it was a parody should have come with the reference to “the poet A. Egbert Doggerel”. But maybe you don’t know John as well as I do.

      I’m sorry that it affected you in that way. John has had his own arduous journey, and maybe someday you should read his book, “Heaven Up Here”, if you haven’t already.

      I wish you the best, Cathleen.

    • robinobishop says:

      There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs… begins.
      Isaac Hayes

      When a nonMormon (in the comment above) is offended, the intolerance certainly flashes true. Curiously, I wasn’t offended at the deception.

      I am mostly surprised that having posted it as an aspiring (or is it expired) writer, you concealed the true authorship in your copy. Now that would offend.

      • runtu says:

        It takes an especially cynical soul to label a silly April Fool’s post intolerance, bigotry, and deception. Please, do yourself a favor, and let go of the bitterness. Life is too short.

      • robinobishop says:

        Before you came along with the copy, it was written as satire, not April foolery; Isaac Hayes is correct.

      • runtu says:

        And satire is also not bigotry and intolerance. Interesting that you would quote Hayes, who had no problem with South Park’s brutally cynical satire of Mormonism; he complained only when they satirized his own religion.

      • robinobishop says:

        There’s nothing bigoted or intolerant about their portrayal. In its brevity the information provided was necessarily incomplete. I found it boring, personally. The stereotyping was a necessity for background. Those of us secure in the faith take it as a matter of course.

    • Sherry M says:

      Cathleen, you need to get a grip. I, too, am no longer active in the church, and I knew this was satire the minute I started reading it. Sadly, Monson’s mind is small enough to have actually wasted his time saying something like this. After all, he was a great admirer of Cleon Skousen, an extremist of the worst kind.

  7. Ray Agostini says:

    I have to admit that this had me LOLing.

    One talent John has is to lift spirits through really funny satire, no matter which side of the “divide” you’re on.

    • runtu says:

      Thanks, Ray. I hope you’re doing well. Life’s been busy here, but I’m happy and content. I’m glad you saw the humor in what I thought was a harmless bit of April Foolery. Can’t please everyone, I guess. Take care, my friend.

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