Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And They Pay Him for This Stuff?

My wife left the Ensign (the church's monthly publication for adults) on the kitchen table on Sunday and so I read it to see if it had any useful, inspirational tidbits I could use to improve my life. What I found was shocking.

Click on the title of this post. I dare you. I double dog dare you. But be warned that the contents are graphic and may cause your head to explode. Or they may put you into a catatonic state. It's this month's First Presidency Message. It's what God has revealed to you through one of his prophets, seers, and revelators.

If I've scared you off let me summarize for you.
  • Christ set an example that we should follow.
  • A New Testament quote about Nathaniel that's supposed to teach a lesson. Not sure what the lesson is since he never explains.
  • Asks several questions: Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than yesterday? Will I be closer tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better?
  • Choose the family way. Supports this with an anecdote about a father who bought a boat. Asks GA for name advice. Advice is to call it the "Sabbath Breaker." Another anecdote about a boy who learned to pray from his mother and her example. Another anecdote about handing out flowers on Mother's Day as a deacon. This taught him a great lesson: when a person gives a flower the fragance lingers on the hands of the giver.
  • Under the heading "Giving Our Lives in Service" he opens with the example of God giving his Son who gave his life. We should give our lives in service.
  • Gives King Benjamin quote about being in the service of God when we are in the service of man.
  • Must have faith and trust not in our own understanding.
  • Then awkwardly segues into a really wierd anecdote about a French widow giving him her husbands war medals on his mission and then giving them another member with the same last name years later at temple dedication with the injunction to do genealogy on the family name.
And that, folks, is how we become our best selves.

This man has a tremendous platform to influence lives and this is the best he can do? The article is barely coherent. I'm to believe he is a prophet, seer, and revelator and this is all that God manages to squeeze out of one of his highest servants?

This is a big reason why I didn't continue going to church as many people do after they realize it's probably not true. There's simply nothing of substance there. This First Presidency Message is like a musician playing a sequence of random, yet harmonic and pleasing, chords on a major scale. The chords are meant to resonate and be pleasing, but they really don't fit together into a cohesive whole or carry any deaper meaning. Sort of like elevator music for the soul. I think that members are intended to read an article like this and feel good because the right notes have been pressed. But if you were to ask them what they learned you'd probably get a blank stare.

The Mormon church offers all kinds of trite, nice sounding ideas, but it is short on how to translate those ideas into meaningful action that will improve your life. Instead you are stuck an endless treadmill of meaningless busy work and left wondering why you don't feel good about it.


Equality said...

Excellent post, Bull. I think for me this is what set me on my journey into NOMhood and disaffection. GBH has been "Prophet" for more than ten years. I have yet to find someone who can point out to me a single prophecy or revelation he has received and communicated to the saints that conveys any inteeligence, light, or knowledge beyond that which is available to anyone who knows his way around the self-improvement section of the local Barnes & Noble. Get out of debt? Suzie Ormond can tell me that. Be clean and neat and success will follow? Mulloy's Dress for Success. Be kind, courteous, etc.? Emily Post. Spend time with family and put family first? James Dobson. Follow the Savior? Every Christian preacher on earth. What use is a prophet who doesn't prophesy?

Joseph's Left One said...

I am so glad you put that down on paper. My nevermo colleague and I recently watched a Monson conference address that could be summed up as "be nice," which would have been more concise and coherent.

People are giving 10% of their income to be shoveled baby food. Unbelievable.

Bull said...

I'd have been satisfied with much less. I actually don't expect a prophet to tell the future or shell out transcendental truths. I think the true value would be to give me insights that would help me be a better person and live a happier, more fulfilled life. In other words, I'd expect them to be on par with or surpassing the self-help gurus you mention. I got more out of Covey's 7 Habits book than I ever got in a church class or listening to a church talk.

Sean Beall said...

The First Presidency have been phoning it in for years. I wouldn't be surprised if some poor schmuck wasn't assigned to just take random statements and paste them together into a message.

Bull said...

And my parents still eat it up and love it. They'll send me photocopies of conference addresses to "help me" and I read them and wonder what in the world they see of value in it. It's just vapid.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Cookie cutter parents. My parents do the same thing. wow. You think some priesthood leader told them to do it???

Equality said...

I think the reason TBMs send Ensign messages has a doctrinal basis. They see you as having a lack of faith. The Bible says faith comes by hearing the word of God (and you could quote from Alma chapter 4 for the same principle). They believe the words of the prophets are the words of God. Hence, if they send you the word of God and you read it, your faith will increase and you will regain your testimony. There is a certain logic to it. Of course if either premise 1 or premise 2 is faulty, it may not be effective.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Equality... nice logic... my mother does not think that way unfortunately. She probably cried during one of her interviews and somebody told her that sending the Ensign would save me... Thankfully, I was able to get her to quit sending me the whole magazine. (I canceled it several times)...she now sends me articles once in awhile.

Sideon said...

Great post, Bull. Your critique is bang-on and forthright.

Can you cancel the subscription to Ensign? That sounds like letting an open bottle of poison into your home.

Bull said...

Let's just say that I pay the bills and won't be sending in the subscription renewal this year. So, unless the wife does it or the church sends them for free (fat chance) then they'll stop coming.

Rebecca said...

Great post! Even my sister-in-law, who is still Mormon, says that church lessons are just about warm fuzzies rather than actual substance. When she tries to bring up something substantial in Relief Society she mainly gets blank stares. What a waste.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Sideon... open poison...LMAO