We are nearly to the end of another year. 2016 has been particularly difficult in terms of how divided our nation is and our congregations are. As I think ahead to the coming year, aside from personal New Year’s Resolutions, I think there are a few things we need to work on collectively as a church. These are traits that require balance. Right now, we’re a little off balance on these things–not completely toppling over–but just leaning a little too far to one side.
Finding a balanced approach would go a long way toward accomplishing the mission of the church and inviting more people to come to Christ. One aspect to the threefold mission of the church (OK, technically 4 now, but still) is that it requires balance between impulses. Without missionary focus, the mission to perfect the saints would ultimately lead to our extinction as our purity filters continue to ratchet upward. Without our mission to perfect the saints, we would cease to have a unique “value prop” as a church, to be distinguished from other sects in a way that is productive and changes lives. We would add members by diluting what it means to be a Mormon. As for redeeming the dead, I guess we’d forget about the afterlife and the rich legacy of generations that came before us, our role in the ongoing saga of humanity. I mean basically since genealogy isn’t my jam I have kind of done that already. I too lack balance.
For each item I’ve been thinking about, I’ve phrased it in terms of where the trait has become excessive, the way we tend to lean right now. A little bit of course correction could mean the difference between landing on the moon or spinning into the cold darkness of outer space. Balance is always hard to maintain, but systems like to return to the median.
Things we could do with less of:
1) Wars on political correctness.
Being too blunt and unfiltered isn’t a virtue. Deliberately giving offense is bad manners. In Luke 17:1 Jesus says “Wo” unto those by whom offenses come. Being tone deaf or making racist remarks doesn’t make you Christlike. If you think you are just saying what everyone is thinking, maybe a higher virtue is not to think it. You might want to check that impulse. That’s not to say that we haven’t erred as a society at times by making others “an offender for a word,” or making things increasingly difficult to say without offending others. Terminology does change with generations. This is particularly difficult for older generations who have progressed through many different socially-acceptable terms for the same groups of people; terms that were once the “enlightened” thing to call a group are now considered negatively charged. We should have a little more patience for terms, which do come and go in and out of fashion, but also quit dealing in harmful stereotypes and ask that others do the same. It’s time for us to become more educated than stereotypes, to know more people of other races, religions, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and cultures, to care about their concerns, and to use terms–with respect and inclusiveness–that those being referenced prefer rather than making up our own terms for them. The “war against political correctness” is often just self-justification for bad behavior.
2) Blaming the victim. Attacking the people we’ve offended as being thin-skinned isn’t valuable. Telling people that they could have prevented the bad things that happened to them isn’t always true, and it’s not empathetic. We should be mourning with those that mourn, not heaping more trouble on them with our disapproval or morality lessons that are really just designed to make us feel better. Telling yourself that others’ misfortunes are deserved may make you feel better and more in control of your own success (which is often just luck), but it won’t make you a better Christian, and to someone experiencing hardship, it can be downright painful as well as untrue. Job illustrates the human obsession with assigning blame when bad things happen to good people. The fact of the matter is that bad things happen to all people. And good things happen to all people.
3) Prizing intuition more than information. Following the spirit is great. It’s wonderful to have spiritual insight and faith, and even to rely on those things. But we also believe that the glory of God is intelligence, and that we should be educating ourselves and gaining in knowledge and intelligence. We wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who had no medical degree or successful track record of experience but rather relied on hunches and theories. Why do we sometimes seem to prize whatever people claim as spiritual intuition so highly that we don’t temper that with actual knowledge or research or experience? The spirit, personal revelation, intuition–these are the things that should fill the gap once we obtain knowledge and information. Otherwise, we run into a situation where people try to force stupid, unworkable ideas simply because they didn’t ask any questions, read a book, talk to other people to get input, take a class, etc. Sometimes people “rely on the spirit” to avoid doing the heavy lifting. When Joseph Smith wanted to tackle his own translation of the Bible, he first attempted to learn Hebrew. He may not have achieved scholarly levels of learning, but he valued the principle that first you become educated, then you intuit. And when Oliver Cowdery tried and failed to translate, he was told it was because he didn’t first study it out in his mind. When we don’t use our brains, we tend to get crummy revelations. We don’t ask great questions until we know to ask them.
4) Authority fallacies. Romans 2:11 and Acts 10:34 both talk about God not being partial or playing favorites. We should have basic respect for all people, not just those in positions of authority. Special respect for those in authority is a privilege that is earned, not a right. We can respect the mantle while recognizing that the individual is never going to be able to fill those shoes. Respect for authority shouldn’t come at the expense of basic respect for everyone, nor should it come at the expense of one’s conscience or our ability to reason morally. We’ve created a church culture in which the merit of an idea takes a backseat to which general authority said it. General authorities and apostles and high ranking church officers have said contradictory things, wrong things, and downright stupid things from time to time. They are the arm of flesh; they are not God. Part of respecting the mantle is recognizing the difference between God’s authority and man’s.
5) Mistaking one’s relationship with the church for relationship with God. Relationship with the church is easier to measure in a lot of ways, and also easier for other people to judge. But that’s exactly why it’s a distraction and something we need to get past to be able to have an actual relationship with God. Relationship with the church is fraught with the same things all human relationships are: competition, score-keeping, human errors in judgment, hurt feelings, misunderstood motives, bad advice, and so on. This is why Jesus cautioned that when we do our alms to be seen of men, we have our reward. Instead he taught that we should do good in secret so that God (only) could see. And yet, that doesn’t mean that churches have no value–they are a great way to find opportunities to serve others and to work together in good causes. It’s another way to find people who are supportive, who want to help you and who need (sometimes) to be helped. But we often forget that the church isn’t the moon; it’s the finger pointing to the moon.
6) Same old answers. We need some fresh answers that are based on lived experience, not just repeating the same old stuff we hear over and over. Too often, our lesson manuals consist of asking the same exact questions and repeating the same answers, like a formula for success: pray, read your scriptures, go to church, like it’s some endless loop. We’ve correlated the manuals, but we don’t have to correlate the discussions, too! We need more thoughtful answers, and ideally some teachers who are willing to ask more thoughtful questions, to engage with doctrine in careful, provocative ways that actually change our thinking. We go to church to wake ourselves spiritually, but too often the repetition in our discussions makes the experience deadening rather than enlivening.
7) Worshiping the ideal. This is about lacking diversity by giving privilege to married, straight families with many kids and a SAHM but still plenty of money rather than including diverse people into our idea of our congregation and what being a true disciple of Christ looks like. We too often see the divorced or single or gay people as broken and flawed or partial people, but that’s just because we haven’t envisioned how to include them as they are without forcing them to fit the only mold we preach. It seems that sometimes we don’t want them to be visible because they remind us that our doctrine doesn’t really work for them. Their mere existence points out where we as a people fail, where our worldview fails. It’s like how people are not comfortable talking to the bereaved at a funeral. It’s not because we don’t care, just that we lack the skills to know what to do or say, especially if we haven’t been in the same situation. It’s time we stop seeing the differences (which are based on the false idol of an ideal that nobody really lives anyway) and start finding the common ground we all have, our desire to learn to be better, to learn to serve others, to be part of the congregation.
8) Perfectionism. This tendency is related to the last one, but it isn’t exactly the same. This is more about admitting fault and being authentic with each other vs. hiding our flaws. Church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints. When we go to church and nobody is ever vulnerable but they all appear to be perfect, smiling, happy people, we know we aren’t really getting the whole picture. That’s not to say church needs to be an AA meeting either, but perhaps a place where it can be a mix–where we can talk about real things like making mistakes as parents or children or having a setback at work, or being depressed, or getting divorced, or having doubts. Sometimes people don’t want to reveal their imperfections because they aspire to callings, they want to be seen as leadership material or as one of “the good ones,” or they simply don’t want to be the subject of gossip or to become a ward project. If everyone were a little more honest about their flaws, I suspect it wouldn’t be a drawback because we’d see that everyone is lacking and that every “perfect” family or person we see is no such thing. Perfectionism isn’t the same as striving to be perfect, something we are admonished to do in Matthew 5:48. Perfectionism is about fear of failure, fear of being viewed negatively, and a desire to avoid making mistakes that can lead to accomplishing less.
9) Revering age. Wisdom doesn’t always come with age. Sometimes age arrives all by itself. Even without wisdom, listening to old people can be valuable because it should cause us to question our own cultural assumptions by seeing their cultural assumptions that feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar to us. We are steeped in our own assumptions, too, just as old people are a sort of time capsule of their era. But let’s not fool ourselves–just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s more valuable than something new. Young people are the future (and present) of the church, just as old people are its past (and present). We also need to listen to those younger generations. There are some anti-youth sentiments in addition to some pro-elderly sentiments at times. We tend to think children should be taught but not to teach, that they should behave the way older generations did even though the world is a very different place in many ways. Sometimes our advice to rising generations assumes that the way things used to be is always better when it’s often not. Younger generations can also teach older generations about things like consent, technology, anti-bullying, taking responsibility for the environment, living below our means, gender equality, etc. Each generation is in part a reaction to the generation that preceded it, a correction of that generation’s excesses. If we don’t listen to the rising generation, we venerate the bad things that are simply familiar about our own generation.
10) Valuing “hard things” for their own sake. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. Instead, we should seek ways of working smarter, not harder. It seems that our go-to solution is always more meetings that are often dull and administrative, asking people to give more time. We believe that the more we double down on difficult things, the more committed people will be to the church, but we overlook the energy drain that constant volunteerism creates. Everything we say yes to means we have to say no to something else. In a lay clergy church, we need to be wise about how we exploit those human resources. We need to deploy resources that are underutilized and not overwork the same ten people. We need to find solutions that boost energy rather than draining it. One gap is that we continually ratchet up the requirements for callings. When we require a priesthood holder, we’ve eliminated over 50% of the possible labor force. When we require a temple recommend holder, we’ve eliminated another large population. When we require an adult, we overlook the possibility of assigning one of the youth. Other hard things we seem to prize for their sheer difficulty: the 3 hour block, early morning seminary, trek reenactments and 24 month missions as the norm for men. We seem to believe that dialing down any of these is going to result in a huge loss of character. Maybe it will lead to saying yes to even better things!
Status quo is always preferred by those whom the status quo benefits. There is always a group of people privileged by keeping things the same. But church should be for afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, not just comforting the comfortable and telling the afflicted to hit the road if they don’t like it. Some status quo and stability is important to keep an institution afloat. You can’t have so much radical change that you lose your core constituency. But that doesn’t mean your core constituency is your only constituency nor that they are so inflexible and brittle that they will depart due to progress; thanks to a tendency toward authority fallacy, we have a remarkably flexible core constituency when change is signaled from above.
If we want to grow as a church (add people) we need to grow as church members (afflict the comfortable). Status quo is the path to death by attrition (or in a church’s case, attrition by death–as older generations die off, so do membership numbers).
- What traits do you think we need more or less of in the church right now in order to strike the right balance?
- Do you think the tri-fold mission of the church keeps us balanced? Why or why not?
What traits do you think we need more or less of in the church right now in order to strike the right balance?
You captured some good ones to ratchet back on (I especially like #10). I personally would like to see us as a church and as individuals back off a few meetings and focus more on giving Christ like service to those outside the ward and anonymously when possible. It seems to me that we do too much of our “service” focused on our own ward. That does build unity, but I don’t think Christ would focus just on that.
Do you think the church’s tri-fold mission of the church keeps us balanced? Why or why not?
Once again, I would say that a 3-fold mission of the church keeps us focused almost always on the church. That is why I think the 4th mission was added as recognition that we need to serve outside the church. I personally think the missionaries should spend more time giving service and they will be more effective than knocking on doors all day long. Where I live, the mission has improved in this area, but I think we could do much more.
Great post Hawkgrrrl (as usual).
Amen to that HH-most of the time the church service required of my family has been pointless, other than teaching and HT/VT. And I’ve often thought had the missionaries and members been more serviceable that the church here in the UK would have grown far faster. We’re not much inclined in the UK to have conversations on the street about religion, or on our doorsteps, but most people are aware of other’s needs and like an opportunity to make a difference. We could have led out on that I think.
Almost any given stake meeting is a waste of the energy of all concerned-could be done by letter with maybe a bi-annual meeting to get to know faces.
Also, more focus on the Saviour at Christmas and Easter might draw in those interested by Christian festivals but without affiliation, an increasing demographic here.
There are many guiding principles in the Church that have not been exercised to their fullest potential. Because results are not seen quickly enough, many believe the solution is to change/discard and try something else. My former church was in flux; dropping this and changing that. One member called it “change for changes’ sake”. For example, their system of tithing has undergone changes twice in two decades and has not produced an increase in filers; only 20% of the total membership do and they’re the elderly.
As old and worn-out as the Pray/Read Scriptures/ Attend Church etc. seem to be, do we believe the membership has done as much as they can with it?
“Revering age”? How about revering youth? All the lessons, programs and policies are geared for young families. Singles wards have age limits – if you can’t get married when you are young, then get out. Lessons are always about teaching your children. What if you children are long gone? As the daughter of aging parents I watched my very talented parents get put out to pasture once they retired. Even something as simple as our mistaken belief that if you keep the Word of Wisdom you will be healthy. Anyone over about age 40 knows that isn’t true.
“This is about lacking diversity by giving privilege to married, straight families with many kids and a SAHM but still plenty of money rather than including diverse people into our idea of our congregation and what being a true disciple of Christ looks like.”
Preach! Married privilege, especially for straight couples in ‘traditional’ gender roles is a major stumbling block for the church itself as well as its members. Crossing over those lines enriches all parties. As a single woman in a married church, I’ve been surprised by the depth of connection I feel with my sisters who are infertile. We share our status as outsiders in a church that continually reminds us to want what we cannot have. Just knowing not to ask each other prying questions is enough sometimes.
Lily: Interesting point about the focus on young families. And yet, we do privilege age to the degree that 100% of our leadership is geriatric. There isn’t anyone in that group that would be barred from living in Del Boca Vista’s senior community or from ordering off the Denny’s senior menu. That’s privileging age! But I do agree that we also focus on young families in our local congregations. Perhaps you’re right that there’s a local preference for younger people (with their energy and kids to attract and build a youth program), but at the leadership level there’s a dearth of young people with their modern perspectives.
The lack of acceptance of diversity is a big problem. I would add diversity of understanding. You did a blog about different personality types. In the Church we value only the obedience/loyalty types and they make up less than half the population.
The age one is strange; I am 68 and have served on bishoprics, hp group leader etc all my life. The last 10 years I have not been asked to give a talk, have taught one lesson and am presently a temple cleaning supervisor which my wife does most of. The only aged people we respect are GAs. I think as it says in 3rd Nephi the retirement age for Apostles should be 72, but I would like 80 as an interim, which would allow Uchtdorf a few more years, and perhaps as Prophet. The Prophet should be chosen on merit, not age.
All are alike unto God, black and white, bond and free, male and female, gay and straight. The church should not be discriminating against anyone in any way. Women should hold the priesthood, and gays should be treated as others.
I have a different understanding of Matt 5;48 I believe the Saviour is telling us to love perfectly.
I again think 10 is a misunderstanding taught in the church Abraham 3: 25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; there is not a full stop but a semicolon which means the thought is connected
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and ….they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
We are not being tried, except to see if we will keep our second estate, no other trials, self imposed or otherwise will benefit.
of course my ideas are also not well received in the church at present: diversity?
I loved this post.Hawkgrrl, you always have such good insights. I agree with all the points you made.
The lgbt lifestyle is deadly to the body and soul. I would urge that you rethink your support of this
Hawkgrrrl-I agree with most of what you’ve said in this post, but wanted to make a couple of points to be considered.
You wrote, “Church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints.” This is true. Therefore, your list of ten traits of sinners is part of what occurs in a hospital for sinners.
What is the best way to deal with your list of ten? The best way is to “pray, read your scriptures, go to church”. When church members follow this loop with real intent, they make progress because they can tap into the things of the Spirit.
In my experience, the biggest problem we have in the church are those members who follow the Lord at a distance instead of up close. They are usually the ones who create the problems associated with your list of ten.
The scripture refer to the idea of “real intent”. Real intent is absolutely required to acquire the things of the Spirit. In your list of ten, you referred to “general authorities and apostles and high ranking church officers have said contradictory things, wrong things, and downright stupid things from time to time.” Mistakes made by church leaders at all levels are usually done with real intent. These kinds of mistakes are far different than those made with evil intent. I have learned that Heavenly Father will intervene at the appropriate time in the lives of those who have suffered with a real intent mistake made by his leaders.
Heavenly Father has made it abundantly clear that He will reveal His will to the prophets, fallible though they be.
Back to the counsel to pray, to read your scripture, go to church. If this is done with real intent then those who do so are referred to as the righteous. The scriptures teach that the righteous are favored. Those who are favored are required to serve all mankind as best they can. They are not the ones who need your list of ten, it is those church members who fail to qualify as righteous that your list of ten applies to. Now some who read this will jump on the last sentence saying the righteous make the same mistakes as those who are not righteous. True, but they have the Holy Ghost to teach and correct them. They will repent while others will make excuses and accuse.
I think everyone who reads this can think of those who are favored of the Lord. They are the salt of the earth. I think every Ward in the church has a few of these kinds of members. They are the ones to keep your eye on and strive to emulate.
Ronkonkoma, The way many LGBT’s are treated is a deadly to their body and soul. I would urge that you rethink your opposition to this.
I guess the acceptance of diversity and usefulness of older people varies from place to place. I don’t live in the intermountain west, and we’ve had single and divorced people serving in bishoprics and relief society and YW presidencies with nary a word. We’ve always had unbaptized kids in our Primary. In one family the mom came to the conclusion that she was a lesbian and got divorced, but came to church whenever her kids gave a talk.
As for older folks, we are all encouraged to serve missions and if it was a foreign-speaking mission, you are probably getting calls and emails from the mission president in your old area. An article in the April 2016 Ensign noted, ” Mission presidents are encouraged to find couples who can meet needs in their mission….” And of course single sisters can serve a mission at any age. And retired folks may also be asked to serve another mission in their own area, working with the church’s addiction program, supporting a local institute program or working as a consultant for Family History. Not to mention being asked to serve as temple workers. It’s great that all these new temples are being built, but when more than half of the staff goes off to the new temple, it can be a challenge.
I think that the pray-read scriptures thing can be old and tired if it is recited by rote. But at the same time, it is the only path to revelation and spiritual growth for members of the church, and should not be denigrated. It comes across as very different when someone shares their meaningful experience with prayer. And of course we should feel free to share other answers as well, even mentioning things that work from other faith traditions.
I have been despondent since the recent USAmerican presidential election. I have read “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson, which talks about how the everyday people in a nation could gradually decline to fear and act from their worst nature. Then it dawned on me that I could specifically pray for the new administration and that the harm they wield is not too widespread or permanent. That gave me such comfort and healing.
Yeah, go ahead and laugh. But for me it had great meaning. And nothing would have brought me to that point but prayer.
“it is the only path to revelation and spiritual growth for members of the church (pray-read scriptures).” This isn’t true. Prayer and Scriptures are great ways to connect to diety, but far from the only ways.
“It seems that sometimes we don’t want them to be visible because they remind us that our doctrine doesn’t really work for them. Their mere existence points out where we as a people fail, where our worldview fails.”
I think your points 2 and 7 are heavily related, and I think there’s a strong element of perception creating the reality. It’s true that we preach the ideal at church a lot, and it’s true that our lived reality rarely matches it, but that’s what an ideal IS. Teaching the ideal is supposed to influence people choices, so they don’t miss out on what they might have if they make good choices. Saying we shouldn’t preach the ideal because “some people aren’t going to get those things anyway and you’re just going to make them feel bad” doesn’t make sense to me. And preaching the ideal isn’t the same as blaming the victims who for no fault of their own aren’t going to get it (at least in this life). A lot of people, including active church members, do miss out on what they could have had because, or at least partially because, of their choices, and those are the people that the church can reach.
I think the main reason for having the church is for the members to strengthen each other in the Lord. While providing comfort and a sense of belonging is part of this, motivation to increase one’s resolve to act and be better is a more important part, because it can actually create change. I read posts complaining about the church’s emphasis on protecting the family or emphasizing the ideal (because these things are just hurting those who hurt) and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s like people with diabetes, emphysema, or thyroid problems complaining that doctors are always telling people to lose weight, get more exercise, and quit smoking. No, their problems aren’t solved by those things, and their problems (generally) weren’t caused by not doing those things, but those things are still the ideal and, when properly applied, are still beneficial even for them. Just because they need their own personal treatment plan shouldn’t cause them to resent the general health advice.
It seems like it’s a done deal. Though I to am not liking it, what are some possible songs and lyrics the choir might sing to make a difference?
Oops, posted to the wrong blog. Sorry
Jared: Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think we actually agree more than we disagree. On the question of church leaders saying wrong things while having “real intent,” I would say it’s due to lack of thoughtfulness on certain topics–in other words, when do people say stupid, indefensible things? When they hold unquestioned assumptions. Not questioning those assumptions leads to saying things that aren’t well thought out. It’s not having “real intent” or “mal intent” so much as just assuming you are right about something when you’re not. And yes, to your point, everyone does it sometimes. Being wrong is part of life.
On the issue of giving the same answers over and over, you’ve hit the nail on the head by saying that the issue is members who keep God at a distance. That’s why I believe we need more personal experiences being shared–which is the opposite of just reciting the old “pray, read scriptures, blah blah blah” answers. It’s easy to recite a list of church-prescribed solutions. It’s far more rare to hear someone share a personal experience of doing those things and how they helped. The former is what we need less of; the latter is what we need more of. So I think you’re right in the diagnosis.
Wreddy or not: LOL, Joanna Brooks had an awesome starter list of ideas on FB.
Thanks, Angela. I’ll take a look.
I loved your post above, and I am sorry I didn’t say that when I apologized above.
(I did see that someone had suggested “I Have Two Little Hands.”)
As an example of how the diversity thing varies from place to place, and judgments may be in our own head rather than those of others:
When I was in an RS presidency, a young family with three children moved into the ward. Before the start of the RS meeting, I stopped by and asked her what brought them to town. She said simply “School.” I asked her who was going to school and what program. She said it was her, pursuing a doctorate. When she told me the major, I mentioned we had to introduce her to another sister in the ward who was faculty in the same college, although not the same department. And then I went on to greet the next newcomer, not giving it a second thought.
She told me later that it was such an amazing experience for her. She had been having nightmares about that moment, when someone would ask her what her husband was studying….and instead she got acceptance and support.
It took zero effort on my part. All I did was listen to her rather than making any assumptions. But it made a huge difference to her.
I would add: holding a meeting for meeting’s sake.
This is how I would describe many leadership meetings, particularly at the stake level.
There is little substance or real training or real discussion of issues that occurs at these meetings—most resemble every other church meeting. Family time is precious. Don’t take us way from our families just to listen to another talk that we can hear every Sunday.
As for the pat answer to pray, study/read scriptures response it presupposes the person
hasn’t already done that and shuts down the conversation. Furthermore, people can and do receive different answers to study and prayer.
Good post. But if the church rids itself of these 10 things, it also will rid itself of its claims to authority, because many of these ten things are the direct of result of claiming to have the authority of God, especially Number 4.
To believe that the authorities are prone to the mistakes of human nature while still believing that they actually have God’s authority to lead His only true church is a transitional state between being mistaken about religion and coming to understand the truth. The mistake, as you clearly point out, is the belief that the leaders are infallible. The truth is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not what it claims to be.
To occupy this middle ground is fine, but you should understand that while it feels really liberating to be standing there, it is only the first step in true liberation.
I’ve been there myself. I too said things about there being a difference between our relationship with God and our relationship with the Church. This is what we tell ourselves when it is too scary to acknowledge that our relationship with the Church is making us very unhappy. This distinction is simply a life-line, a psychological trick we play on ourselves when the cult programming is still too strong to fully break, or the pressures of friends and family is still too intense.
The culture of Mormonism IS the doctrine of Mormonism playing itself out. People like to say the church is perfect, but the members aren’t. Yes indeed. But show me your church without your members. What do you have? An empty flowchart. This is no different for every church that exists. But not every church claims to be God’s only church, and that makes a lot of difference.
Just like works without faith is dead, a church without members is dead. It doesn’t exist. That is why the Gospel message isn’t about a church at all. It is about a Way. Churches can point us to the Way. Or they can hijack us on our journey along the Way. Those churches which claim to be God’s only church (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholicism, Iglesia ni Cristo, Mormonism, etc) are hijackers. They don’t hijack airplanes. They hijack souls.
If the Church truly pointed you to God, they would lose your loyalty forever. The goal is not to show you the way to God, but to show you the way into itself.
Naismith: Great story!
Hi John, I always ask myself what possible pleasure there can be in telling a kid that there is no Santa. They grow up and learn that in their own time.
Yes, they do. Or they have the kind of experience that I did. I believed in Santa against my own reasoning simply because my mother continued to tell me that there was indeed a Santa Claus. This happened until the 4th grade. In the 4th grade, the teacher asked the entire class to stand up if they still believed in Santa. I stood up, along with one other soul. The teacher then ridiculed us in front of the entire class for still believing in Santa at that age in our lives. This is a true story. I’m not making it up. And she was a really cool teacher every other day of that school year.
My wife and I decided not to lie to our kids at all. We never told them that their gifts were delivered by a fat man in red who owns flying reindeer. We taught our kids truth.
Sometimes, we will continue to believe lies just because influential people around us continue to tell us to believe lies. Sometimes, we need a really cruel 4th grade teacher to snap us out of it.
I might be thought mean, but my husband I always told our children that Santa was a game that grown-ups liked to play with their children. They were ( and still are at 16 and 19) more than happy to play.
That is a nice way of putting it. But a game isn’t a game if one group of players are being led to believe that the game is actually reality. That is something else altogether. At best, that is called a prank.
Of better yet…it’s called a “con.”
I always had mixed feelings on the Santa story. I like Hedgehog’s idea.
I like hedgehog’s approach. Most child psychologists would agree that promoting the Santa stories–or any other positive cultural myths–to young children does no harm whatsoever. Children younger than age 7 or 8 naturally live in a world of magical thinking populated by monsters, superheroes, and imaginary friends. At the appropriate age, they start to outgrow magical thinking and realize that Santa isn’t physically real with no harm done. I think the moral lessons in the Santa myth–a kindly old man who delivers presents to all the children in the world–far outweigh any parent’s fear of “lying” to their children. In short, stop projecting adult “problems” onto little children. Let them hang onto the magic for as long as they can.
Watch the video of parents telling their kids Santa isn’t real. These are some pretty sharp kids. 🙂
“Let them hang onto the magic as long as they can. ”
Are we still talking about Santa Claus here, or have we transitioned back into a conversation about Mormonism?
John “a game isn’t a game if one group of players are being led to believe that the game is actually reality”
O certainly. One reason for my actions was the sheer frustration I felt age 6 at not being able to get a straight answer on the topic Santa of from my own mother.
I would like to see less of a relationship between a young man’s self with and whether or not he serves a mission. Young men in the church are all too often led–intentionally or not–to believe that they are worthless if they don’t serve missions. This evil ideology is reinforced by supposedly well-meaning youth leaders who tell them and the young women of the ward that no self-respecting LDS young woman would ever consider marrying anyone who wasn’t an RM. Young men are taught from the earliest ages that missionary service is every young man’s responsibility, regardless of his desire to serve, or lack thereof (contrary to D&C 4, which indicates that the only qualification for missionary service is the desire to serve). Is it any wonder that the rate of inactivity among young men in the church is so high?
and, my son received major pushback from adults in our ward when he chose not to go to
BYU. Needless and sad to say, my son allowed thoughtless and ignorant people to end his relationship with the church. The “cookie-cutter” culture/mentality can do great damage.
But I don’t think leaders really care because they view the cookie-cutter approach as very successful.