Jack [out of] the Box

Joy has asked me several times during the last couple of months if I was going to (ask to) be released from Primary at the end of the year. Metaphorically, it was like asking who I would vote for in this week’s election: the lesser of two despicables.

I was given a survey. One of the questions asked how I thought I was doing as a teacher. I gave myself a 1 on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being best. There were other questions, including what things I [patiently endured]: the lesson material. Overall, negative.

I was pulled out of sharing time to have an interview with the Primary President and Bishop. I was asked to give a prayer. I asked which kind and was told a “normal, opening prayer.” I gave a stereotypical, vain prayer. After a brief, positive comment, President asked me why I rated myself a “1” as a teacher, as the children loved me…. After pausing to collect my thoughts, I began with a rhetorical question: “what is the endgame?” She then interrupted me, “I don’t want to play games.” She also commented that she didn’t want to play some kind of Socratic dialogue.

I tried two additional times to continue to answer the question, but was interrupted each time, once with the comment, “I don’t like the spirit I’m feeling here.” It was difficult to argue that point. In retrospect, I haven’t felt that oppressive a spirit for many years now — not since the time that I felt (a very physical pressure) my heart being crushed within my chest. The Bishop interrupted and asked me how I felt about my calling and if I wanted to be released from Primary (placed in italics because it is referenced again near the bottom of the post). I noted that it would take hours to answer such a question. After, again, pausing to gather my thoughts, I began by bearing my testimony of my love for my Savior, my Father, and for their gospel. I don’t know if they felt The Spirit at that point, but I did. I began by expressing the pain that any father feels when their family is in pain, giving some details regarding Joy and each of my children to make the point. It is noteworthy that the Bishop and President each have adult children that are far from the center of the LDS Church. I began to use this as a basis for two distinct issues talking first to the point of the failure of having believed and taught false doctrine for 40 years, but was again interrupted. The Bishop wanted to get to the bottom line.

He commented that he had heard rumors that I was teaching outside the bounds of the provided materials and asked if I could limit my teaching to the age-appropriate materials provided by the Church. I responded that my testimony of my Savior and His gospel could not be contained within a box.  Shortly thereafter, Bishop told me I would be released at the end of the year.

I would not be writing this if I had been able to let this go over the last four days. I am hoping that after actually answering the questing, here, I can move on. So, why did I give myself a “1?” (note: this is a rhetorical question, not Socratic teaching :- )

Each time I check to see if the children are actually learning anything, all I see is failure. I usually start each lesson by asking the children about some content from the lesson taught the prior week by my companion teacher. Sometimes, during the lesson, I will also ask questions from lessons earlier in the year. These are not tough questions. For example, this last Sunday I asked if they could tell me what the main topic taught the prior week by Brother P (the first counselor in the bishopric, was substituting for the Primary president’s husband; hint). They couldn’t remember. To the largest degree, they never can. We have all kinds of measures we use to make ourselves feel good about our teaching. Are the children reverent, do they feel loved, did they have an emotional experience (I’d like to use the actual words about feeling the Spirit, but that presumes they, or we know the difference), etc? As for me, I feel oppressed that they seem to be learning more false doctrine or the doctrines of men then they do the gospel as taught in the scriptures.

This brings me to the other difficulty regarding the question above about my Primary calling: where would I go (channeling John 6:67)? The idea of joining the religious society in priesthood, Gospel Doctrine and/or Gospel Essentials is anathema to me (if you don’t understand the oxymoron, you don’t understand how I am playing with this word). It relates directly to the pain mentioned earlier. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a single member of my immediate family, including spouses (present or past) that isn’t deeply afflicted by the content and atmosphere of these meetings/classes.  What then? Join the hall dwellers? Leave after sacrament meeting? Because of the changes to the ordinance, I don’t take the sacrament in this meeting, so why even go to that? With such an attitude, can I learn anything? If I don’t feel the Spirit, can I desire anything? Sociality? G*d forbid! Where does G*d want me? If I can get past my selfish desires (needs?), what can I do to be His servant and help others in those environments?

I guess I have eight weeks to get myself together.

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