Friday, October 30, 2009

Honing Your Mo-Dar Skills

Whether it's the Spirit emanating from the person, the tell-tale garment lines, or the 8 kids-in-tow, I've developed a particularly keen sense of Mormon Radar, or 'Mo-dar' over the years. I find it especially fun to use this gift of discernment while visiting outside of Utah and trying to figure out who's Mormon. I think I can give myself a solid 8-out-of-10 for picking up Mormon signals. For you just trying to build your sense of Mo-dar, here are some items that I've found to be key indicators. I've also included a scoring mechanism that can help beginners. Just add up the numbers, and as the total gets closer to 100, you can feel confident that you've found a Mormon. Anything over 100 is a sure-bet.

Haircut - If the man has a military-qualifying haircut you can usually place that person into one of two groups: a man that is currently in the military, or a Mormon. Score = 20, unless on a military base where it would only be .05

Women's haircut - This used to be a far better marker, but these days if you find yourself staring down a 1850's Prairie-style do, you've most likely encountered an FLDS lady. There are the occasional hold-outs in smaller Utah communities, but it's a dwindling bunch. Score = 1

Kids - This is always a good indicator, especially outside of Utah. Most have long-since-realized that we've reached a fairly good level of replenishment here on the Earth, and adding significantly more people is not in anyone's best interest. Sure, we still have a large portion of Southern Utah and Northern Nevada to populate, but maybe those areas are just best left to rabbits. So, when large families are spotted I generally narrow my sorting to Mormons or Catholics. Scoring starts at 20 for four children, and increases by 10 for every child past four.

Celestial Smile - When looking for this with men, you have to be careful. When I was just starting to hone my Modar skills I'd mistake the common wife-beater tank top for garments unless the wearer was also smoking. So my advice is to look not only below the neckline, but also at the sleeves. No sleeves, no g's. Score = 20 due to ambiguity

Celestial Crack - Unlike the Celestial Smile, the Celestial Crack is a sure give away. This is witnessed when a lady is sitting or bends over. You don't have to be looking directly at her to notice the sometimes-blinding white flash, with today's low-cut waists, results in typically 2-3 inches of 'g' exposure that can be seen from 80 yards out. Nothing identifies a Mormon lady, and mystifies those outside of Utah, more than this. Score = 90

CTR Ring - Well, this is a big one, of course. Many religions have their symbols: crosses, yarmulkes, hijabs, etc. Mormons have their CTR rings. Back in the day, there was only one type of CTR ring available - junky aluminum rings that turned your ring finger green faster than dipping it into Lime Jello. These days, the LDS paraphernalia-hawkers have really zeroed-in on CTR rings. Now you can get these rings in gold or silver and in any language you like. They come with diamonds for the bling-bling crowd, black lettering for the Mormon Goths, glow-in-the-dark letters for reminding you to CTR just before making a mistake you'll regret for a very long time, and my favorite - the, 'Sidewinder Royal Spinner CTR Ring.' Seriously. I couldn't make this stuff up. Score = 80

Participant in 'American Idol,' 'So You Think You Can Dance' or, 'Dancing With the Stars.' Score = 10

Well, those are a few tips to help those building the accuracy of their Mo-dar. I'm sure I missed some others, so please add those markers that have helped you to identify our own.


  1. I don't live in Utah, so the likelihood someone is a Mo is a bit less.
    The other day I was interviewing a potential therapist to work in our practice. I was asking him about groups he might like to run. He listed a few things, and then said something about Covey's 7 Habits. Mo-dar started flashing. I looked down at his knees, and sure enough, there was a tell-tale band that I'm pretty sure wasn't boxers.
    I'm married to a NoMo. When we first got married I'd pick them out in a crowd. It was quite a party trick. But, his Modar is developing quite nicely now.
    Awhile back two women came to my door on a Saturday morning. Husband opened the door and let them in. Turns out they were Jehovah's Witnesses. He thought they were my visiting teachers. He still needs a little work.

  2. I just googled "Sidewinder Royal Spinner CTR Ring". I am...amused.

    Also, you left out the mid-to-lower-thigh garment line. You spot that, it's either a Mormon or someone wearing a cilice. 30 points, since the latter option is pretty unlikely.

  3. Elizabeth - Great stories! While on a mission in South America, we'd frequently be confused with the Jehovah Witnesses who had a large missionary effort. We'd gladly correct the person with, "We're not Jehovah Witnesses, we're Mormons!" Unfortunately, the results were the same.

    LDSnark - Good one! And, I can thank Dan Brown for the memorable image of an albino monk wearing a cilice.

  4. Bishop,

    A few you missed that work particularly well both in and out of Utah:

    1- 40 points if you hear the person’s radio tuned in to Hannity.
    2- 30 points for people who wear pajamas to Wal-Mart or Maceys grocery store.
    3- 5 points for people that have a Romney for President t-shirt, hat or bumper sticker. If they have all three, it is worth 60 points.
    4- For people who have those family stickers in the back window of their car that is worth 25 points. Note: it doesn’t matter how many kids are shown with stickers because those displaying them are young and are just getting started! If one of the family stickers is a dude in a wheelchair add 10 bonus points.
    5- 40 points if it is a pregnant woman carrying another child that isn’t yet 1 year old
    6- Lastly, if you overhear the person mention Obama and Antichrist in the same sentence it is worth 90 points. These people are almost always Mormon.

  5. Monomo - You have some good points. However:

    #2 - Have you ever visited a WalMart in Alabama? I'll leave it at that.

  6. One that gets my Mo-Dar humming: eating out with work colleagues and they order Sprite.

  7. Lisa - Sprite? I don't know why I also find that so funny. I think it's been 30 years since I've had a Sprite.