Well, shake it up, baby, now (Shake it up, baby)
Twist and shout (Twist and shout)
C’mon C’mon, C’mon, C’mon, baby, now (Come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (Work it on out)
A few weeks ago I volunteered to “teach” (a.k.a. lead discussion) in our High Priests Quorum from “Chapter 3 Cultivating an Attitude of Happiness and a Spirit of Optimism (Gordon B. Hinckely, Ch. 3 • GBH, p. 69–80).” I come out of that experience twisted. Were I in a more pedantic mood, I would include detailed citations and examples, but I won’t. Instead, there will be a rather immature set of gross generalities. :- )
I understand why it is that it is preferable for the leaders of the LDS Church to keep things simple. The church is multinational with many members who speak little to no English and/or have little to no education. It is therefore not at all surprising that the compilers of this lesson would select from President Hinckely’s talks — here specifically referencing talks given to more sophisticated audiences such as BYU Hawaii and BYU Provo — supporting concepts that could be similarly redacted and thus simplified. What I don’t understand is the way this quorum of well educated individuals responded to other quotations I found from President Hinckely that were more advanced and more on point with the topic, in some cases from within the same citations. I told them at the onset of the lesson that I was going to raise the level of the discussion to that which I thought President Hinckely might use specifically for this audience. Generally, they weren’t happy (based on body language / facial expression). At one point, one individual went specifically to the lesson material to quote a quote of a quote having no scriptural or perhaps even spiritual foundation (except for the possibility that one would argue either that all things are spiritual, or that it was elevated to such by having been quoted by the President of the Church).
Misinterpretation of Scripture
I have no problem with President Hinckely having redefined the word meek to include a focus on gratitude. I have my own operational definition for the word that I prefer. I don’t even mind that he didn’t pay attention to the fact that the word meek used in the referenced scripture is mistranslated; a better word would have been gentle/kind/tender and would therefore have had little to do with gratitude (this is part of the reason I searched out and used the much more powerful gratitude language used by GBH in the closing paragraphs of the conference center dedication, among other quotes). What bothers me here is that whoever organized the lesson material ignored these details. Maybe they didn’t ignore them, perhaps they were oblivious to them. I don’t know which is worse.
Avoidance of Scripture
Yes, this lesson material is on President Hinckely. So, the focus would be on the things he taught, right? Consistent with the above presumptions is the idea that it is far easier to present material from modern men than it is scripture. Does this create a new form of catechism? In this case, we actually have a scriptural snippet skimmed from what is perhaps the most profound sermon ever taught. It was certainly topical. The bothersome part is the implicit application of the principle that scripture from a modern prophet is more important than scripture from an ancient prophet, even if that ancient prophet happens to be the Savior of mankind teaching His culminating, perhaps even ultimate sermon.
I don’t regret all the time spent preparing and all that was included therein. I regret not being able to share much of it. I regret not being able to share the more important parts. We seem to be quite comfortable moving along with the slowest member of the herd of several million. I regret the feeling that I make these men uncomfortable. For example, I shared the relatively recent experience discussing the scriptures with my home teacher and our feeling immersed in the Spirit for over an hour and a half. I testified about the beauty of learning how to have — not the occasional, not the tag your it — the constant companionship of the Spirit, and of following the commandment to look unto the Lord in every thought (D&C 6:36). I testified about the beauty of worshiping together with a group dedicated to seek that same Spirit together (not LDS). I testified that there is no greater joy. Based, again, on body language and comments made, this was not appreciated.
This is all so twisted. Work it out? I could scream.