I suspect that if I were still a believing Mormon in church classes, I’d have to go insane just as a coping mechanism. The lesson manual they’re now using for Priesthood and Relief Society is ‘Gospel Principles‘, a manual originally intended for new converts. As I remember, the chapters were, shall we say, spartan. How are long-time members coping with this? Will they go mad from repetition? Then again, don’t underestimate the Mormon capacity for boredom absorption.
Now how would I have approached teaching this kind of a lesson as a Priesthood teacher? I might have thought, sure it’s a little sparse, but nothing we can’t fix by bringing in some interesting outside sources. But even there I’d have been stymied; you’re not supposed to use them. Let’s peek in at a fictional Relief Society teacher, and see what the Brethren have in mind for its flock.
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.
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.“
[L]eaders 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.
Oh, dear. Seems people have been using the Internet to get information, and finding out things that the folks in Salt Lake don’t want you to know. Those who want to control minds need foremost to control information, and this is part of an attempt to do exactly that.
The tone of this article needs to be read to be believed, but the last paragraph is a good indicator.
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.
Something I realised after teaching Sunday School for many years was that the whole process was essentially stagnant. It was frustrating: I believed in eternal progression, but it was not to be found in church meetings. When I was younger, I thought that eventually I could graduate to — what? moving mountains? At uni, I could delve more deeply into topics of interest and there was always more to study. But at church? Delving into early Mormon history was just asking for apostasy, and who cared enough to delve into the Old Testament? Eventually I realised that there was no higher level. The quest for spiritual knowledge had plateaued, as far as earth goes, and it seemed to me the fault of the religious system. There was just no ‘there’ there.
In hindsight, it makes sense that going over the same books over and over would leave one with that cyclical feeling. The religion couldn’t really offer any answers past ‘goddidit’, and that doesn’t take long to explain. This was a source of profound disappointment for me at the time, but now I’m glad to have escaped that useless hole that I kept digging myself into.