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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 12:09PM

I think this was just part of the Mormon rumor mill but on my mission, missionaries were saying Monson had the whole Bible memorized and that he had a photographic memory.

Has anyone else heard this? Did he have any above average grasp of the scriptures or doctrine as compared to other apostles?

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Posted by: Mr. Inactive ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 12:21PM

I doubt Monson is the Hollywood equivalent of Denzel Washington's character in the movie "The Book of Eli". The idea is quite laughable.

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Posted by: brandywine ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 12:32PM

I heard the same rumor on my mission. Did you serve in Santa Rosa, CA? :)

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Posted by: lue ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 12:48PM

I have heard this too and haven't been on a mission.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 07:31PM

Did you not go on a mission to Santa Rosa, CA?

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Posted by: lurking in ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 04:28PM

A true "photographic memory" has never been shown to exist, so no, Monson probably doesn't have one:

Whether he's memorized the entire Bible by heart? I don't recall hearing that, but it does kind of sound like a Mormon "urban legend."

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Posted by: 123 ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 04:50PM

I'm 45 and my Grandparents used to tell me back in the early 1980's that he was amazing because he had memorized the Book of Mormon and then crossed the border into East Germany and wrote it all down so they could access the book. I actually mostly believed that shit when I was 12.

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Posted by: Chump ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 04:54PM

I believe this story was actually shared in conference, but I don't think it was the BoM. I thought it was some leadership manual or something. In actuality, it was probably a pamphlet.

If there's any truth to all the stories he shares, he must have a pretty good memory. I'm less than half his age and I have a hard time remembering stuff that happened last week.

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Posted by: Chump ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 05:03PM

To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson tells one particular story of his dedication to helping Church members receive all the blessings of the gospel. Church manuals were not allowed into the country, so President Monson memorized the contents of the Church’s General Handbook of Instructions. After arriving in Germany, he asked for a typewriter and began to type up from memory a workable copy. About 30 pages in, he took a break to stretch and walk around the room. He was startled to see, sitting on the self, a German version of the General Handbook of Instructions. How it got there, no one was certain. Needless to say, he was very well versed in the handbook for many years.

Not quite the same as memorizing the BoM. It doesn't sound like he memorized anything. He probably had a written or memorized outline and was just winging it.

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Posted by: 123 ( )
Date: October 01, 2015 12:11PM

Like everything else, an urban legend based on some fact that was completely blown out of proportion! Thanks for finding that

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Posted by: Chump ( )
Date: October 01, 2015 01:50PM

Either way, what's the difference between smuggling in a German copy of the handbook and typing one up for use in the country? He was called to break the law of the land, right? Shouldn't he have turned in or destroyed the copy he found on the shelf?

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 11:26PM

and compare it to the original?

Probably not.

I doubt that in such a situation he would have typed out a verbatim transcription from a perfectly remembered text in his head.

He would have familiarized himself with the headings, the important rules and exceptions under each heading and then typed out that information (paraphrasing where necessary).

Something like:

Heading: Procedures for Baptism

Followed by a set number of key guidelines: (1), (2), (3)....

Referring to a heading would help jog the memory concerning the guidelines relevant to that heading, which for an experienced church authority would to a large extent be second nature anyway.

Monson was really good at building up his legend.

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Posted by: Levi ( )
Date: October 01, 2015 01:29PM

It was probably his name.

Never been a big fan of his.

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Posted by: HopefulHusband(nti) ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 04:55PM

haha! the funny thing about that story is I'm sure people believed it and retold it....but can you imagine how many months it would take to hand-write the scriptures?

you'd cripple your hand trying to do that in a few weeks....

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Posted by: lurking in ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 05:03PM

I wonder why Nephi didn't memorize the "Brass Plates"s before leaving Jerusalem, instead of, ya' know, having to decapitate Laban before he stole them.

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Posted by: Armand Tamzarian ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 06:18PM

I think he was more like, "I helped a bunch of widows, so the church is true!" *high fives*

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Posted by: L Tom Petty ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 06:58PM

As a young bishop he was able to memorize all of the telephone numbers and addresses for the widows who lived in his ward boundaries.

Quite a feat for young Tommy.

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Posted by: ApostNate ( )
Date: September 30, 2015 06:59PM

I was told as a youngster that monson had the entire BoM memorized as well. And that he would memorize his conference talks n not read them from the prompter. Back then, just like now, I didn't care.

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Posted by: MCR ( )
Date: October 01, 2015 12:27PM


My dad counted cards when he played Black Jack. Does that count?

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Posted by: poopstone ( )
Date: October 01, 2015 01:22PM

I remember being taught as a young mishi from one of his quotes somewhere (that's how my perfect memory works, lol) that if a missionary will memorize one scripture a day for each day of his mission he will develop a photo graphic memory. I tried it, it didn't work :(

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 11:33PM

But memorizing exercises do improve one's ability to memorize quickly. Most things memorized on an ad hoc basis go into short-term memory, though, so they also are not retained for long.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: September 08, 2019 12:02AM

It depends how your brain learns. My best friend has a BSEE and MSEE. But I find myself explaining the simplest concepts of electronics to him because the knowledge didn’t stick at all. Cramming is not the same as learning. That is a hole in the accreditation process.

Monson loved the church and it showed. He didn’t have contempt for the rubes, as it seems some of the others do. So it’s possible his high interest level helped him learn long passages verbatim. That’s the kind of CEO you want in a company.

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Posted by: pollythinks ( )
Date: October 01, 2015 03:39PM

I have a cousin who worked for the church all (his/her) life, and very closely with the top brass.

My cousin told me that Pres. Monson has a photographic memory.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 11:35PM

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 11:42PM

Eidetic imagery is apparently a closely related phenom.

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Posted by: MarkJ ( )
Date: September 08, 2019 10:22AM

It is not unusual for Muslims to memorize the Quran. In fact, that is how they claim it was transmitted without errors from the time of Mohammed.

I'm uncertain, however, on the connection between memorizing something and enlightenment.

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Posted by: Shinehah ( )
Date: September 08, 2019 11:03AM

The one thing Monson had memorized was the combination to the electronic lock on the refrigerator where the Diet Pepsi was kept in the Church Office Building.

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Posted by: robinsaintcloud ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 12:51PM

I used to have a photogenic memory............well, it was just a picture of a brain, but I liked it.

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Posted by: shylock ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 01:22PM

There are a few people that have extremely near perfect memories, but they are high on the autistic spectrum disorder... so Monson could of been an idiot savant.

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Posted by: Eric3 ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 07:19PM

A nevermo perspective: most people would spot this as "fanciful tales". And would be surprised that it was ever taken seriously, even among the faithful. Given there's zero evidence, and this wasn't way long ago or far away, many people knew the guy, e4tc.

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Posted by: Chicken N. Backpacks ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 10:57PM

Well, he was in publishing, so at least he knew a lot about words.

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