Behold! A Little Fact’ry!

It’s almost Conference time again, and although it has only been six months, I can hardly remember what was said in April. Perhaps Conference talks would be easier to remember if they were set to music. It seems appropriate to set them to the music of hymns, since Conference talks and hymns both inhabit that space of being sorta kinda but not really completely scripture.

I’ll start with an easy one. Here’s a singable version of then-Elder Boyd K. Packer’s classic “To Young Men Only,” given in the Priesthood Session of October 1976 Conference. Sing to the tune of “Behold! A Royal Army.”

Behold! A little fact’ry
Is in you; it begins
To make a sacred substance,
But opens you to sins.
Your fact’ry will run slowly,
And when it makes too much,
It opens a release valve:
This valve you must not touch!

Tamper not! Tamper not!
Do not touch that release valve!
Tamper not! Tamper not!
If tempted, sing a hymn!
Tamper not! Tamper not! Tamper not!
Your fact’ry lights keep dim.



  1. Last time I checked this is one of the talks removed from It is no longer printed as a pamphlet either. Interesting…

  2. Isn’t Ziff a dude?
    For some reason I was thinking of the tune to High on the Mountain top, that didn’t work. I had to listen to the actual music. If anyone else was like me and not familiar with that title, it’s the song that goes victory, victory, victory.

  3. jc, this talk is definitely on, as linked to above. It doesn’t appear to be printed in the archive of conference talks (and I think it wasn’t printed in the Ensign at the time, due to its subject matter), but you can definitely download an mp3 and listen to it.

    Not that I’m in favor of removing it from — the thing to do with embarassing history isn’t to erase it. But if the church wanted to hide or otherwise disavow this talk, they could certainly do a better job.

  4. This is almost as sacrilegious as Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred.” These topics may provide ephemeral giggling and chuckling, but believe me, this topic is no laughing matter.

    Have you not read Proverbs? “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4. Sperm truly are the oxen that lead to the increase of the crops. Think about this further in the context of Isaiah 1:3: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib,” as well as Deuteronomy 22:10 (quotation omitted). This is further clarified in Deuteronomy 25:4: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

    Don’t you see? The scriptures say we should NOT “muzzle the ox;” instead, the oxen treadeth the corn, which is then harvested. We should be teaching young men that the oxen will tread out the corn in due course, as nature would have it. We should then harvest this corn, preserving it. If we do not, won’t we one day cry out like Samuel of old, “Whose ox have I taken?” (1 Samuel 12:3). So let us go forth, “that our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.” (Psalm 144:14). If we do this, we shall be as the prophet of old, who allowed his oxen to accumulate on him as the dew of heaven, even he who “did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:33)

  5. How could this possibly be ANY clearer unless ye are truly “stiffnecked and uncircumcised?” (Acts 7:51). This is the paradigm:

    Oxen–>Corn/seed–>dew–>unruly hair—>scratching fingernails (Daniel 4:33)

    Honestly, I am surprised any of this is new; I learned about this when I was a teenager. Check out a FARMS review or Oxford dictionary or something. Is there any other possible paradigm to explain these scriptures?

    Proverbs 15:17 (“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled OX and hatred therewith.”)

    Proverbs 7:22 (“With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an OX goeth to the slaughter…”). Modern science confirms that the vast majority of ox will be slaughtered in their journey.

    Isaiah 30:24 (“The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.”)

    Exodus 23:12 (“Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine OX and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.”)

    Isaiah 66:3 (“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man”)

    1 Timothy 5:18 (“For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”)

    Numbers 23:1 (“And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams.”)

    Job 24:3 (“They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.”) Why else would this sacrifice have been so great?

    And yes, we can’t forget about the “ox in the mire” – nobody in their right mind would want their ox in a mire. That’s not where it belongs.

  6. Love it, Ziff! How about this for a second verse, inspired by the PotF?

    The chicken patriarchy, with jacket, shirt, and tie
    Values its sweet women but wants them to comply

    Its ranks are filled with males, from 12 to older ages
    Who praise the fairer sex as needed appendages

    Men preside, men preside, though women are their equal
    Men preside, men preside, that means they are in charge
    Men preside, men preside, men preside
    And love their appendages


  7. There’s no easy way to say this. I’ve done more research, and it appears that the word “ox(en)” does not refer to gametes after all. Apparently, “ox” are beasts of burden, similar to cows or bulls. It really puts these scriptures in a whole new light, and gives these scriptures much more coherence. Please, please recognize ox for what they are, and don’t let anything I previously said on the subject lead you astray. My prior comments were in error.

  8. I’m glad you can have a fun time, but please realize that many young men, like me, were so affected by good ol’ Elder Packer’s several talks and pamphlets, as well as the predominant idea from that era that masturbation caused homosexuality, as to have many difficult mental challenges, including being in the suicide ward as an adult aged 49, in large part because of the whole idiotic thing. Not so funny when you think of it from my life, perhaps.

  9. Kevin – I don’t think the church handles this issue well at all. People outside of mormonism, including physicians and mental health professionals, are incredulous at how much suffering people go through due to the guilt placed on them in our LDS culture for behaviors considered normal by those outside our culture. The same could be said for many other sins, such as pornography, homosexuality, smoking, alcohol, etc. etc. etc. Yes, these are behaviors that probably chase away the Spirit, but we often punish ourselves for them far more than I believe God would find appropriate.

    I am sorry for the suffering you have experienced. I went through much depression as well in my youth due to guilt and feelings of worthlessness over this issue. I literally felt like I was a son of perdition, and that no redemption could be possible for me. How misinformed I was!

    I wish it were more common in our culture to openly acknowledge that we ALL are sinful, that we ALL are fallen and hopelessly lost, that we ALL have sins of scarlet that only Christ can cleanse, and that in spite of our mistakes, God loves us and will bless us as we try to become better people–no matter how long that process takes. Every single one of us is a wretched, abominable creature, yet at the same time an embryo of something divine. As terrible as the wretched part of us is, the divine is potentially even more powerful. We can be assured that one day, if we keep trying and putting faith in Christ, the divine will conquer.

    God bless you, Kevin, for your honesty and courage. I believe He loves all of us, including you, and will abundantly reward you for your trials and effort.

  10. I’m sorry, Kevin. It wasn’t my intent to laugh about your pain, or the pain of others hurt by this talk. I was trying to highlight the absurdity of the talk.


Comments are closed.