Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Love Affair with the Middle Initial

This post is (mostly) tongue-in-cheek.

If you take a look at the list of current General Authorities you might notice a lot of middle initials.  I loaded these names from March 4, 2013 into a spreadsheet and summarized it below.

Almost 80% of General Authorities use a middle initial.  That's the clear preference for naming convention.  You have a few odd balls that like to use the first initial and middle name (L. Tom Perry, for example).  It appears the true renegades are those that use their full name.

Out of 99 General Authorities, only 9 of them don't make use of a middle name.  Some of these men are not American and may not have the same naming conventions or customs with respect to middle names, thus, that number might be a little inflated.

I'm not sure where this custom originates or why it has become so popular.  At times, it seems scarily close to official practice.  Each year, during ward conference, the ward clerk is asked to prepare the list of names and sustainings.  During the three years I was the clerk, each year the stake would send us a list of instructions.  One item on the list was to prepare this list with the appropriate names, "formatted as first name, middle initial, and last name."  I'm not really sure why it was so important that the names be in this format.  And I thought it was kind of stupid to mandate the format every name should be read.  So I never followed it.  Instead, I took the time to ask everyone whose name appeared on the list how they preferred to have their name read.  (That didn't stop one bishopric member from telling me that if the stake presidency designated a format for the name, we should sustain our leaders by following the you can imagine, I ignored him too).

Despite the instructions from the stake, whatever list I gave to the stake presidency they were happy to read.  And I was always happy to allow people to choose how they were presented to the ward for sustaining.

But I'll always enjoy the words of another bishopric counselor I worked with when I asked him how he'd like his name read.  He told me to use his first and last name because he wanted "to go against the Church's love affair with the middle initial."

1 comment:

  1. How would you categorize my name? Albert O Jarvi (Notice there is no period.) :) I think it would be really fun to go by my middle name and have someone read, "We'd like to sustain A. O Jarvi as..."