The Mormon church has rolled out the new priesthood and Relief Society class curriculum, which it argues will eliminate boring, predictable lessons from manuals.
Instead, we will have “discussions,” an assertion I find encouraging because real discussions require at least something over which ideas may differ, even if only slightly.
“1. a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints.
“2. a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.”
Pay close attention to the word “opposing.” Where I come from, this mean that a discussion does not require everyone to agree. It even encourages the expression of various points of view.
It’s tricky. By not sticking to the lesson manual, things can go awry. People being people, it wouldn’t take much for a lesson on the atonement of Jesus Christ to wander into politics.
Brother Snort • “Speaking of atoning, Trump never atoned for grabbing women!”
Instructor • “I don’t think that’s what ...”
Brother Hamhocker • “You mean like that skank Hillary never atoned for Benghazi?”
Instructor • “Guys, please ...”
Chairs get thrown, the door gets slammed, and possibly someone is missing an ear. The “lesson” ends in a closing prayer that includes “bless that we all got something out of the lesson and please take us home in safety.”
This might be the road we’re headed down with the new “discussion” model. Last Sunday, I was pulled out of the ward library and into the high priests’ class.
Instead of sitting in orderly rows, the better to be instructed, we were now seated in a large circle resembling a huddle, a group of crime scene gawkers, or even a bunch of identically dressed cannibals planning to wolf down someone.
By removing the symbol of authority or power of an instructor standing in front of a class holding the manual/oracle, the circle seemed intended to put everyone on a more level playing field.
Nevertheless, I was instantly suspicious. The seating had changed but the look hadn’t. Correlated dress fairly screams correlated thinking, which in my experience always means the discussion is over before it starts. If you don’t think so, you’ve never been in the military.
But I’ll take encouragement wherever I can get it. A discussion about “love thy neighbor” might allow for broader and deeper examination into just who in the ward might be in need of some extra neighborly love.
However, the same discussion — this time with my participation — would rapidly descend into something like me posing the concept of loving our neighbors by seeking ways of making their lives better. Right?
Group • “Amen.” “I agree.” “Sounds good.” “Excellent point, Brother Kirby.”
Me • “OK, so who is going to shoot that #$%@! rooster the Petersons have that’s against city ordinances? I say it should be their home teachers, but I’ll do it if that’s what it takes to shut the son-of-a-batch up in the morning.”
I don’t plan on things getting this far out of hand. As I have so often been told, it’s not fair for me to ruin it for everyone else.
Maybe during the third hour I’ll just stay in the library and “discuss” important gospel points with myself. I can still argue, but nobody gets hurt.