Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Thinking Has Been Done

Somebody shared this article with me. Here it is, in its entirety, with my own off the cuff comments {in blue italics}.
A woman sat at her dining room table, buried in dozens of books and magazines. She looked discouraged. Her daughter asked if she could help. This little story strikes me as made up. There’s nothing wrong with made up examples…when they’re clearly labelled such. This just irks me.
The woman said she was preparing a Relief Society lesson. She told her daughter she didn't know how she could possibly "boil down all the information" she had collected for the lesson. The process, the woman acknowledged, was both time consuming and frustrating.
The daughter looked surprised.
"Why," she asked, "are you trying to boil down information? An inspired Church-writing committee has already done that for you." Oh yes, the thinking has been done. No need to do it yourself. Thinking is what? Too hard? Too dangerous?
The committee's work, the daughter continued, has been approved by the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. It has been translated into dozens of languages and sent around the world. It corresponds with the lessons and information taught at the same time to other auxiliaries and quorums in the Church.
Now the woman looked confused.
"Everything you need — and more — is in your manual," the daughter said.
As Church members, we are asked to prayerfully prepare Church lessons and activities. We are to seek personal revelation from the Lord and study Church materials and instructions. We can counsel with our presidencies or committees and seek advice from priesthood leaders as we strive to meet the needs of those we serve. The scriptures are an invaluable resource.
But we may be tempted to do more, to turn to unofficial lesson plans, resources and information found in books and on the Internet. DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! OMG! THE INTERNET, BEWARE! “Don’t read anything not from the Church! It’s anti-Mormon!” They’ve been playing that card for years. But I love that they’re tightening their grip and, as illustrated in this article, saying to not consult anything EXCEPT the manual {the recently dumbed down manual for 2010}, not even books from Deseret Books! Not even the history of the Church or the Journal of Discourses! HAH! I can bet why, too! BECAUSE THERE IS SOME REALLY MESSED UP STUFF. You read the real history of the church {and I mean, from Mormons, not just non and ex-members} and you learn stuff they won’t teach you in Sunday school. It’s true, what they say about “studying your way out of the church,” it happens quite a lot. What does it say about an organization that discourages people learning about its history? What does it say that there are people who set out to seek knowledge {often so they can affirm their testimonies} and the knowledge they gain sends them running? Many TBMs would say they have something wrong with them, that their testimony isn’t strong enough, that they need to have faith…when what they need to be asking is this “what did they learn?” The problem isn’t with the people, it’s in the knowledge they gained.
Sometimes, the material might seem like an easy solution to meet the time-consuming demands of Church service. Other times it might feel like a way to spice up a lesson or activity.
But leaders and teachers in the Church do themselves and the people they serve a disservice when they turn to unofficial — not correlated — materials in the planning of lessons and activities. Translation: Leaders and teachers in the Church do THE CHURCH a disservice when they turn to unofficial—not correlated—materials in the planning of lessons and activities.
Correlation is an inspired effort overseen by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to simplify the programs of the Church and unify Latter-day Saints in faith and doctrine.
Since the early 1960s, Church members have seen the results of more than four decades of correlation efforts, established to:
Maintain purity of doctrine. Translation: Bury the stuff the Church would rather we not know about.
Emphasize the importance of the family and the home. Translation: Appear more mainstream and focus on milk, not meat.
Place all the work of the Church under priesthood direction. Translation: CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL.
Establish proper relationships among the organizations of the Church.
Achieve unity and order in the Church. Translation: Squash dissent. Silence questions.
Ensure simplicity of Church programs and materials. Translation: BORE THE MEMBERS TO TEARS.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said that correlation is a process "in which we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation — and do it all under priesthood direction" ("Lesson 42: Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, 243).
Today, the correlation process helps ensure that materials published in the name of the Church — carrying the Church logo — are scripture-based, doctrinally accurate and appropriate for the intended audience. “Appropriate for the intended audience?” Am I the only one who finds that kinda creepy? That’s the kind of thing most people use to describe making sure a movie or book is OK for a child to enjoy…it is certainly not the kind of thing I’d expect in reference to mature adults who should be capable of thinking for themselves. All Church publications are planned, prepared, reviewed and implemented under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.
Following the advice of her daughter, the woman above turned off her computer, shut the dozens of books open on her dining room table and picked up her manual and scriptures. The frustration she had previously experienced disappeared. She knew the material was doctrinally accurate. She knew its source was valid. She knew it had been approved by the men called to lead the Lord's work on the earth today and that it was what they wanted her to teach. Following the advice of her daughter, the woman above turned off her brain. The frustration she had previously experienced disappeared. She didn’t have to face the prospect of learning unpleasant things and struggling to make sense of them without losing her testimony. Besides, it would be less time consuming to just teach what the men wanted her to teach.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his October 1999 general conference address that as he traveled the Church he had been pleased and impressed with how Relief Society and priesthood lessons were presented and received.
"However," he added, "I have sometimes observed teachers who gave the designated chapter no more than a casual mention and then presented a lesson and invited discussion on other materials of the teacher's choice. That is not acceptable.
"A gospel teacher is not called to choose the subject of the lesson but to teach and discuss what has been specified. Gospel teachers should also be scrupulous to avoid hobby topics, personal speculations, and controversial subjects. The Lord's revelations and the directions of His servants are clear on this point."
Elder Oaks asked Church members to be mindful of President Spencer W. Kimball's great instruction that a teacher in the Church is a "guest."
Quoting President Kimball, Elder Oaks said a gospel teacher "'has been given an authoritative position and a stamp of approval is placed upon him, and those whom he teaches are justified in assuming that, having been chosen and sustained in the proper order, he represents the Church and the things which he teaches are approved by the Church. No matter how brilliant he may be and how many new truths he may think he has found, he has no right to go beyond the program of the Church'" (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Gospel Teaching," Ensign, November 1999, 78). STOP. READ THAT AGAIN. If that quote came from a South Korean government official, or a radical Muslim, or any number of people would anyone hesitate to take issue with it?
President Thomas S. Monson said there is peace that comes from teaching with the spirit of obedience. Oh, yes! Just like a dog, who when obedient to his master, is rewarded with food, and shelter, and the occasional game of fetch. Yes, let’s be like animals. Let’s not use the brains we’ve been given to think for ourselves. Pray, pay, and obey. Because, don’t you know, the rest of the world has no peace? We atheists, especially, are miserable.
"As we teach others, may we follow the example of the perfect teacher, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," he said. "He left His footprints in the sands of the seashore but left His teaching principles in the hearts and in the lives of all whom He taught." (Thomas S. Monson, "Examples of Great Teachers," Ensign, June 2007.)
The Church — through its inspired correlation program — has given us official sources of information to help us prepare lessons and plan activities. Instead of turning to unofficial books and Web sites, let's use those sources.
It’s amazing how the same organization that gives us the song and dance about the glory of god being intelligence is the one working SO hard to keep its membership from USING intelligence. The thinking has been done. Not all truths are useful. OBEY! Teach what we tell you to say. Turn of the internet. Put down the book. Only gain the knowledge we WANT you to gain.
But, mostly, I just feel bad for the members who have to sit through these dumbed down, repetitive lessons. I’ve certainly got better things to do on Sunday morning.