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What's in a Name? the Recent Change in Church Magazines


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I’ll say at the outset that I am in no way privy to what guided the thinking of the Brethren in making the just-announced changes to the Church magazines structure. What I offer here is my own conjecture, nothing more. 
 

In seeking to unify its magazines for adult Church members worldwide, the Church leaders were faced with a choice of two names that have been in use for many years: Ensign and Liahona. Each name is highly appropriate and rich in meaning and association with the doctrine and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. Either choice would have been a good one to perpetuate as the brand for the globally unified publication for adults in the Church. I will explain why I think the choice the Brethren made was somewhat more appropriate given the role of the publication at this time in the history of the Restoration. 
 

The name Ensign, of course, is drawn from the prophecy in Isaiah that in the latter days the Lord would raise “an Ensign [or banner] to the nations” and assemble the outcasts of Israel. This refers directly to the gathering of Israel that has been going on since the dawn of the Restoration and the preaching of the gospel of Christ in its purity in all the world in preparation for His Second Coming. 
 

The Liahona, of course, is the name given to the marvelous instrument that guided and directed Lehi’s colony in their journey and functioned commensurate with their faith and diligence. 
 

We are blessed to live in an age when much progress has been made in the gathering of Israel and the establishment of a global presence of the Church of Jesus Christ. There is much work left to do, of course, and the Church periodicals play an important role in the furthering of that work. But is that their primary role? 
 

It seems to me that they are directed more particularly to established members of the Church, they who have embraced the fullness of the gospel, entered into covenants and are striving to endure to the end. The Church magazine for adults aims to guide and help them in their resolve. To the extent it succeeds in that aim it is worthy of the name Liahona. 
 

We live in an age of rampant sophistry and shifting values that daily assault the faith of the Latter-day Saints and endeavor to “interrupt their rejoicings.”
 

For an example of this, we need only consider the climate that has made necessary the issuance of “The Family: a Proclamation to the World.” When this was first published, some of us wondered about the need for it. The statements in it seemed so self-evident at the time, almost to go without saying. As time has passed, and as we consider the stark contrast between the  attitudes and practices now embraced by society and the values championed in the family proclamation, we can clearly see how important it has been to have that document in place. 
 

I admit I am saddened to see the retiring of the name Ensign. Under that banner, the magazine has been a cherished and valuable influence in my life over the past 50 years that the magazine has been published under that name. But for reasons I’ve expressed above, I approve of the name change and look forward to what the magazine has to offer with its global unification under the name Liahona. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

Rebranding is what corporate executives do when they have nothing more imaginative to do.

That's not reassuring when even the Church name usage, logo and usage of Mormon have been updated in recent years.

 

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46 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Of course, there is another, more pedestrian, consideration that comes to bear. “Liahona” is the same in any of the languages in which the new magazine is published; “Ensign” would require translation. 

That and most non-english countries read the Liahona already and that’s currently probably a larger Chunk of the church’s population. So why not Choose the name we’re (as a whole) most familiar with? 
 

with luv, 

BD 

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As used to the name Ensign in American English as we are, it may seem unreasonable that the name is being replaced; however, the Liahona has been used as the title in Non-USA countries for many years.  More countries of the world are familiar with The Liahona than The Ensign.  The church has really tried to consolidate efforts/work product to reduce costs, reduce translation time, and reduce duplication of resources.  I don’t find it to be an unreasonable change.

Edited by 2BizE
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7 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

Rebranding is what corporate executives do when they have nothing more imaginative to do.

I know we all love the exciting stuff, but the Church was due for some un-imaginative but needed updates, and I'm glad that is being given attention to.

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I am wondering how many church members actually need to order the hardcopy of the church magazines since they are available online for free?

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7 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

Rebranding is what corporate executives do when they have nothing more imaginative to do.

This is not a rebrand. Liahona is the name of Church magazines around the world. 

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Just heard this tonight! I'm going to miss The Ensign, but I bet it will be pretty much the same magazine.

I was living in the UK back in 1970ish when the church magazine for the British Isles, the Millennial Star, was discontinued and replaced by The Ensign. The Saints in the UK were not best pleased with this, but I'd say they survived the experience.

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1 hour ago, Stargazer said:

Just heard this tonight! I'm going to miss The Ensign, but I bet it will be pretty much the same magazine.

I was living in the UK back in 1970ish when the church magazine for the British Isles, the Millennial Star, was discontinued and replaced by The Ensign. The Saints in the UK were not best pleased with this, but I'd say they survived the experience.

Several countries had uniquely named Church magazines. About that time, the various names were retired and they all became the Liahona. The Swedish language magazine, for example, was named Nordstjärnan (the North Star). That name lasted until well after I returned from my mission in 1976. 

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47 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Several countries had uniquely named Church magazines. About that time, the various names were retired and they all became the Liahona. The Swedish language magazine, for example, was named Nordstjärnan (the North Star). That name lasted until well after I returned from my mission in 1976. 

While on my mission in Austria I remember the German language magazine, Der Stern (the Star), which was printed in Switzerland. All the German speaking members took it.

stern.thumb.jpg.76071a323bee2c1bb1971873ad1b2c70.jpg

Edited by JAHS
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I’m still trying to get used to the change from “The Improvement Era” and now they go and do this?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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4 hours ago, JAHS said:

While on my mission in Austria I remember the German language magazine, Der Stern (the Star), which was printed in Switzerland. All the German speaking members took it.

stern.thumb.jpg.76071a323bee2c1bb1971873ad1b2c70.jpg

I remember this from my mission in Germany! "Der Stern" = "The Star"

There was a potential for confusion, though, as there was (and is) a weekly news magazine in Germany called "Stern" ("Star").

Stern-cover-18-February-2016.jpg

Edited by Stargazer
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On 8/17/2020 at 1:58 AM, Stargazer said:

I remember this from my mission in Germany! "Der Stern" = "The Star"

There was a potential for confusion, though, as there was (and is) a weekly news magazine in Germany called "Stern" ("Star").

Stern-cover-18-February-2016.jpg

As names of periodicals go, the word “Star” is fairly common in them — at least in America. Offhand, I can think of the Kansas City Star and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 
 

And as already reflected in posts by you, JAHS and me, it has been common in names of Church periodicals that lasted from the early days to the modern day (the Millennial Star, Nordstjärnan and Der Stern). And in the.very early days of the Church, we had the Evening and the Morning Star. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

I’m still trying to get used to the change from “The Improvement Era” and now they go and do this?

Interesting to look back on those days. The four magazines in the Church during most of the 20th century were founded and sponsored by what used to be known as the Church auxiliary organizations, to wit:

— The Children’s Friend grew out of the Primary organization. Initially, it was directed not to the children so much as to the leaders and teachers who taught them in the organization. It evolved into a magazine aimed toward children. 
 

— The Instructor was the Sunday School magazine. It was initially called the Juvenile Instructor and was something of an in-service publication for leaders and teachers in Sunday School. The word “Juvenile” was attached to it, because at first, the Sunday School organization served children only. It was somewhat of a parallel organization to Primary in that respect. Later on, adult classes were added to Sunday School, the word “juvenile” was dropped from the name of the magazine, and it became more general in its reach. 
 

— The Relief Society Magazine, of course, was the organ for that time-honored women’s organization. 
 

— Even the Improvement Era, the magazine for all adults and even older youth in the Church, did not start out with that broad of a reach. It began as the magazine for the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Associations (YMMIA and YWMIA). Hence the word “improvement” in the name of the magazine. 
 

The revamping of the magazine structure in the Church 50 years ago was a move toward centralization. No longer would the magazines be the proprietary organs of their respective sponsoring organizations. Rather, they would serve the needs of the Latter-day Saints more broadly and generally. Thus were born the Ensign, New Era and Friend, followed by the consolidation of the various international magazines under the Liahona banner. 
 

Similarly, this latest revamping of the magazines is a move toward greater unification and consolidation. It bespeaks the dynamic nature of the Church administration that adapts with changing times and needs, even as it remains true to the mission and goals set for it by the Savior, whose church it is. 

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3 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Interesting to look back on those days. The four magazines in the Church during most of the 20th century were founded and sponsored by what used to be known as the Church auxiliary organizations, to wit:

— The Children’s Friend grew out of the Primary organization. Initially, it was directed not to the children so much as to the leaders and teachers who taught them in the organization. It evolved into a magazine aimed toward children. 
 

— The Instructor was the Sunday School magazine. It was initially called the Juvenile Instructor and was something of an in-service publication for leaders and teachers in Sunday School. The word “Juvenile” was attached to it, because at first, the Sunday School organization served children only. It was somewhat of a parallel organization to Primary in that respect. Later on, adult classes were added to Sunday School, the word “juvenile” was dropped from the name of the magazine, and it became more general in its reach. 
 

— The Relief Society Magazine, of course, was the organ for that time-honored women’s organization. 
 

— Even the Improvement Era, the magazine for all adults and even older youth in the Church, did not start out with that broad of a reach. It began as the magazine for the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Associations (YMMIA and YWMIA). Hence the word “improvement” in the name of the magazine. 
 

The revamping of the magazine structure in the Church 50 years ago was a move toward centralization. No longer would the magazines be the proprietary organs of their respective sponsoring organizations. Rather, they would serve the needs of the Latter-day Saints more broadly and generally. Thus were born the Ensign, New Era and Friend, followed by the consolidation of the various international magazines under the Liahona banner. 
 

Similarly, this latest revamping of the magazines is a move toward greater unification and consolidation. It bespeaks the dynamic nature of the Church administration that adapts with changing times and needs, even as it remains true to the mission and goals set for it by the Savior, whose church it is. 

Here's a list of all of the church-related publications:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latter_Day_Saint_periodicals

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The Ensign magazine died a long time ago anyway. I remember when I started reading it back in the 1970s. It's content then was mainly doctinal and historical, with some articles many pages long. Every page was utilized, with tightly spaced wording and photos or artwork that really supported the articles. And then it changed. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, until I realized the words were now spaced almost double, allowing shorter articles to replace longer ones, without making it look like the magazine was now smaller. Then, over the years, self-help articles began to appear, replacing the historical ones and opinion pieces replaced doctrinal ones. Then came articles directed to younger members and children, even though they had their own magazines. Photos were replaced by cartoon graphics and so on. Take a look at the latest Liahona and you can see what we will be left with; pages with games and pages to color, and of course these days the obligatory two or three articles dealing with sexual matters. I used to read the Ensign magazine a lot, even subscribing long before I became a member. Now I find myself not even taking the time to download a PDF or to read it online. I know there are a lot of new generation LDS who will applaud all the changes and the ending of the Ensign. I would mourn the passing of such a great magazine as the Ensign, but as I said, it really died a long time ago.

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5 hours ago, darkrats said:

The Ensign magazine died a long time ago anyway. I remember when I started reading it back in the 1970s. It's content then was mainly doctinal and historical, with some articles many pages long. Every page was utilized, with tightly spaced wording and photos or artwork that really supported the articles. And then it changed. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, until I realized the words were now spaced almost double, allowing shorter articles to replace longer ones, without making it look like the magazine was now smaller. Then, over the years, self-help articles began to appear, replacing the historical ones and opinion pieces replaced doctrinal ones. Then came articles directed to younger members and children, even though they had their own magazines. Photos were replaced by cartoon graphics and so on. Take a look at the latest Liahona and you can see what we will be left with; pages with games and pages to color, and of course these days the obligatory two or three articles dealing with sexual matters. I used to read the Ensign magazine a lot, even subscribing long before I became a member. Now I find myself not even taking the time to download a PDF or to read it online. I know there are a lot of new generation LDS who will applaud all the changes and the ending of the Ensign. I would mourn the passing of such a great magazine as the Ensign, but as I said, it really died a long time ago.

You may be correct but I haven't really seen any significant change.

The change to "Liahona" is a rebranding effort, and likely acknowledges the international church.  Someday the Church will be governed by the descendants of Laman and Lemuel, I predict.  George P. Lee saw the concept, quite flawed though it may have been.

Edited by Bob Crockett
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5 hours ago, darkrats said:

The Ensign magazine died a long time ago anyway. I remember when I started reading it back in the 1970s. It's content then was mainly doctinal and historical, with some articles many pages long. Every page was utilized, with tightly spaced wording and photos or artwork that really supported the articles. And then it changed. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, until I realized the words were now spaced almost double, allowing shorter articles to replace longer ones, without making it look like the magazine was now smaller. Then, over the years, self-help articles began to appear, replacing the historical ones and opinion pieces replaced doctrinal ones. Then came articles directed to younger members and children, even though they had their own magazines. Photos were replaced by cartoon graphics and so on. Take a look at the latest Liahona and you can see what we will be left with; pages with games and pages to color, and of course these days the obligatory two or three articles dealing with sexual matters. I used to read the Ensign magazine a lot, even subscribing long before I became a member. Now I find myself not even taking the time to download a PDF or to read it online. I know there are a lot of new generation LDS who will applaud all the changes and the ending of the Ensign. I would mourn the passing of such a great magazine as the Ensign, but as I said, it really died a long time ago.

I agree. Reading old Ensigns (1970s - 1980s) is definitely more towards the "BYU Studies" end of the spectrum. Articles where you can actually learn stuff. Now it's almost full-Watchtower.

Edited by cinepro
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2 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

You may be correct but I haven't really seen any significant change.

The change to "Liahona" is a rebranding effort, and likely acknowledges the international church.  Someday the Church will be governed by the descendants of Laman and Lemuel, I predict.  George P. Lee saw the concept, quite flawed though it may have been.

In not very many more generations, probably nearly everyone will be so descended by reason of the geometric nature of descendancy. So your descendants of Laman and Lemuel will likely be just as fully descended from the British and European colonizers of the Americas — or the non-colonizers, for that matter. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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On 8/16/2020 at 3:43 AM, Scott Lloyd said:

I admit I am saddened to see the retiring of the name Ensign. Under that banner, the magazine has been a cherished and valuable influence in my life over the past 50 years that the magazine has been published under that name. But for reasons I’ve expressed above, I approve of the name change and look forward to what the magazine has to offer with its global unification under the name Liahona. 

Isn't/Wasn't the Liahona just another copy of the Ensign with a different cover page?  Or vice versa?  Same magazine basically just called by 2 different names on the cover pages, Ensign in America and Liahona everywhere else?

Getting rid of one makes logical sense, since the one remaining is pretty much the same thing.  I had the Ensign delivered to our home years ago, for many years, but now I just access everything over the internet.  

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4 hours ago, Ahab said:

Isn't/Wasn't the Liahona just another copy of the Ensign with a different cover page?  Or vice versa?  Same magazine basically just called by 2 different names on the cover pages, Ensign in America and Liahona everywhere else?

Not quite.   I think there were some differences in content between the Liahona and the Ensign.  Distribution of the two magazines is also not split between the US and the rest of the world as the UK at least gets the Ensign too.  

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4 hours ago, Ahab said:

Isn't/Wasn't the Liahona just another copy of the Ensign with a different cover page?  Or vice versa?  Same magazine basically just called by 2 different names on the cover pages, Ensign in America and Liahona everywhere else?

Getting rid of one makes logical sense, since the one remaining is pretty much the same thing.  I had the Ensign delivered to our home years ago, for many years, but now I just access everything over the internet.  

 

42 minutes ago, sheilauk said:

Not quite.   I think there were some differences in content between the Liahona and the Ensign.  Distribution of the two magazines is also not split between the US and the rest of the world as the UK at least gets the Ensign too.  

The Liahona has differed somewhat from country to country. Typically, it has carried selected and translated content from the Ensign, New Era, Friend, even the Church News, plus “local pages” produced in the respective countries. 

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