Busy in the Beehive

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lotsofgray
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Busy in the Beehive

Post by lotsofgray » 15 Oct 2017, 22:57

It’s always been a thought I’ve had that all of the auxiliary activity required of members is a way of keeping members busy so as to remove any time to actively investigate and grow their testimonies.

Between seminary, mutual, Sunday block, and whatever other meetings or assignments the Ward throws at one that there ain’t much time to “read, ponder, and pray” anymore or otherwise develop an individual testimony of the gospel (i.e. Not “the Church”)

Just my observation



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nibbler
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by nibbler » 16 Oct 2017, 05:57

A few things come to mind:

1) Local leaders in my area are currently very preoccupied with the youth retention rate. From their comments and concerns I think that they genuinely believe that participation in all of the activities you mentioned are the way a person gains a testimony of the gospel. Their line of thinking is that if the youth aren't doing those things then they will not gain a testimony... or alternatively if they aren't doing those things it is evidence that they do not have a testimony.

I'm not saying it's correct, I'm just speculating based on my observations of what they believe to be important.

2) Yes, there are a crazy amount of programs in the church. I'll get on my soapbox for a while.

Today I'm in a position where I view the programs of the church as optional. They are programs that may or may not benefit an individual and people should be able to select a program or programs that fit their needs. I don't feel like leaders share this opinion. From the way the programs are presented, it feels like the programs, all programs, are a requirement. High school age kids have to go to seminary, if they don't there's something about them that needs to be fixed. Men in the church have to home teach, if they don't there's something about them that needs to be fixed. People need to get a lot better at doing genealogy work. etc., etc.

Most members might intellectually agree with the statement that the church was made for man, not the man for church; but it doesn't feel that way when it comes to how we go about implementing church programs. My experience has been that if there's a program there's a desire that all partake, regardless of fit. E.g. We don't do a good job with scaling programs to meet the needs of members in a small branch, we find it's far easier to give everyone two and three callings.

3) The church doesn't adapt to society very well. Maybe a dozen programs were awesome in the day when members could only work during the daylight hours and there was nothing to do after the sun went down at 4:30PM in the winter. Maybe the programs were people's only social outlet. Fast forward a few decades and society has moved to a place where we have to multitask to get everything done, and that's before church programs enter into the equation. With technological advances work follows people around 24/7, the people with children find that there's some activity or task that requires their attention at every turn, decades where inflation greatly outpaced a worker's compensation can mean two jobs. Suddenly life got a whole lot busier for everyone... and that's before you factor in the first church program/activity.

But the church culture didn't change with the changing times. We could do online seminary but we don't, gotta come in at 4:30AM. Why? Because that's the program! So much of the 3rd hour of the block feels redundant but we do it. Why? Because that's the program!

4) Earlier I mentioned leaders believing that the programs are how people develop a testimony and how they use participation in programs as a barometer to tell who does and doesn't have a testimony. That brings me to another point. Culturally we want to measure other people's testimonies. You can't measure someone else's testimony by letting them remain silent and off the radar doing "creative free time" spiritual growth. With the way things are organized the leaders know where to "help" people because our tells for requiring help come in the form of who is and who isn't participating in the programs. Things like seminary attendance, Sunday block attendance, HTing, that can be measured. Things like personal study and spiritual fulfillment are much harder to measure externally.

Don't get me wrong, the measuring isn't all bad. Like I said, it can be used to help leaders know where to best send their limited resources.

5) I've been complaining a lot in this post. Back on topic. Another busy in the beehive apologetic. If you're busy doing churchy stuff you don't have time to sin. I'm just throwing this one out there to give another alternative to motivations behind keeping people so busy.

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LookingHard
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by LookingHard » 16 Oct 2017, 06:15

Welcome lostofgray (not sure if that means you are old like me :lol: or are seeing more things in shades of gray rather than black and white).

I certainly would agree with you there is a bit of that. Just yesterday my schedule was
Leave at 8:00 am
Attend meeting from 8:30-10:00
Arrive home at 10:30 and leave for church at 10:45
Return home from church at 2:15
Eat and take all info from early meeting and prepare for next meeting
Leave at 4:30 to attend meetings from 5-8.
Arrive home at 8:30, spend 2 hours typing in all info from 2nd set of meetings.
Go to bed about 15 minutes later.

And I just counted - 18 prayers yesterday!

Wake up at 4:40 to get my kid up and to make breakfast before he goes to seminary.

Now this is a bit unusual as we are planning a bunch of the 2018 calendar and our planning was disrupted about a month so we are under the gun.

But before I throw the church under the bus and jump in the drivers seat and hit the gas, I do admit that the work we do in the church often brings us close to others and can build friendships and give some meaning in life. Those are important things. I just listened to a podcast yesterday that was talking about how middle aged guys have a REALLY hard time making friends - especially if they move.

I know that in contemplating stepping away from the church, even out here in the "mission field" I have zero close friends outside of church. I do have some at work that I could probably invest more time in.

I would really like if we could take the 3rd hour and make it more of a social hour of some sort. Many of those relationships could be started there instead of endless presidency meetings.

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LookingHard
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by LookingHard » 16 Oct 2017, 06:25

In reading nibbler's comments, my business training just yells, "your organization is suffering from 'this is the way we do it' syndrome." One way to get out of that is to empower and encourage those lower in the organization to come up with alternate ways of operating. The church has had some of that in the past. YSA wards and Primary were started at the lower levels. We seem to have a top corporate culture that is fighting against any grass roots efforts.

And it seems to me that the ones at the very top, the Q12, have a very hierarchical structure and the "junior" apostles are very much junior. I look at Elder Chistopherson being asked to do the interview defending the Nov 2015 policy. He called his gay brother and told him that he had to do this and that he understood if his Gay brother had to sever the relationship that he understood that.

And I keep hearing lots of comments about how Elder Oak's talk saying the the Proclamation on the family was 100% inspired was given to signal to the junior apostles that they had better not be considering going soft on the gays over the next decades. He was working to make it harder to overturn in the future by elevating it to revelation.

Roy
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by Roy » 16 Oct 2017, 11:30

I do not think that the busy work is intentional to not let us have study time.

I do think that the busyness of the LDS church tends to overwhelm our social life (replacing most non-LDS friendships with LDS ones). I find it most sad that it is even difficult to maintain friendships from different wards. A few months after we moved wards we went to our original ward X-mas party as well as our new ward x-mas party. It was VERY uncomfortable. We only moved 5 minutes away!
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Reuben
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by Reuben » 16 Oct 2017, 16:09

Roy wrote:
16 Oct 2017, 11:30
I do not think that the busy work is intentional to not let us have study time.
I think similarly about anything with a negative side. The negative side is almost never intentional.
Roy wrote:
16 Oct 2017, 11:30
A few months after we moved wards we went to our original ward X-mas party as well as our new ward x-mas party. It was VERY uncomfortable. We only moved 5 minutes away!
What made it uncomfortable?
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Oct 2017, 17:44

I think the motives almost always are pure and honest. Yes, we have way too many meetings, but I believe the VAST majority of leaders believe they are striving for the good in what they do and ask.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by SilentDawning » 16 Oct 2017, 19:34

My experience tells me that if you feel a need for more RPP (reading, pondering and prayer) you should make time for it. The church can't do nuthin to stop you. Even if that means scaling back your service.
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Beefster
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by Beefster » 16 Oct 2017, 20:32

If I'm going to be completely honest, the church has not done a lot for my social life. It's true my best friend is also a member, but I don't think it's the activities in and of themselves that built that friendship.

We lived on adjacent streets. It wasn't the activities so much that enabled us to build a friendship; it was the time in the car to and from mutual and seminary. That relationship didn't really form until high school. Even then, I wouldn't say we were best friends at the time. It wasn't until we went on missions and then became roommates that we really became best friends.

In high school, my closer friends were other guys in my engineering classes and the people I played D&D with and the friends I did "Montage" with (it was a variety show at the beginning of the school year every year). True, the friendships did not go deep, but none of them did at that time in my life.

All throughout this time, the church did very little to truly bring me to Christ, despite all it tried to involve me in. I learned plenty of life skills from leadership to wilderness survival, but it was not converting me. I saw the activities and commandments as checkboxes. I did not think critically of what I was taught. I did not realize that there wasn't much Jesus being preached over the pulpit. There was a lot of "Choose the Right" and not a lot of "Amazing Grace" and I accepted this as gospel fact. I thought salvation came because you did the right stuff often enough. Jesus was barely part of the equation and repentance was icky.

First year of college, the church did very little for me socially. I lived off campus, meaning I was one of about 3 freshmen and one of the few pre-mission guys in the ward. I did not fit in. My roommates were pretty cool though and took me along to things every now and then. Second semester I went to the dorms and wallowed in loneliness and early signs of my depression. I found more happiness in My Little Pony at the time (yes, I was a brony) than being social or engaging with the church as it filled the pathetic void of meaning in my life. I began doubting and hiding my doubts from others.

My sister got married, left the church, and then I went on a mission.

Up to this point in my life, I can say that the church programs were a complete failure at converting me (and perhaps even at making me a better person), despite having some impact on me socially. I learned plenty of things, but it was all academic and unemotional. I was not invested.

I can't say the same about my mission. Through a series of good companions with wonderful perspectives, I came to truly begin to understand who Jesus really was and why he matters. I began to see the beauty that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it is found everywhere, especially in the missionary lessons. Missionary work holds a special place in my heart to this day because it pointed me in the direction of Jesus Christ and his endless grace and mercy.

So far, we're 1 out of, what? 10? 20? church programs which were successful.

Okay. Now back to BYU. By pure luck, I made friends with an awesome group of girls (plus a few guys). Yeah, sure, we were in the same ward, but that wasn't the reason we became friends. No. I met them and became friends with them walking home from Divine Comedy tryouts (which I did on a whim with no expectation of success; they just watched) and realizing that we lived in the same apartment complex.

YSA wards, in and of themselves, have done very little for me socially. They have done very little for me spiritually. I fortunately was lucky enough to have 4 bishops in a row (since the mission) who have not made a big deal out of my masturbation issues: no not taking the sacrament or revoking TRs. FHE doesn't make me a better person. Institute feels like a waste of time at worst and "just more church" at best.

The only social success I can attribute to church activities was meeting my first GF. And guess what? That was from a grassroots-y activity, not one of the standard activities. When we were dating, we'd usually just meet up at the activity and then do something else instead. The social aspects tended to overwhelm both of us, mostly her.

People seem to care about you in the context of church activities. Maybe they do for real. But I don't feel much connection. I haven't since my first post-mission YSA ward. Was it the church that made that ward great? No! It was the people!

So my conclusion: it isn't the programs that do anything; it's the people. If the programs give a reason for the right combinations of people to come together, well, that's fantastic. But in comparison to other means of being social, the church does not do any better. If anything, it does worse because it draws us into all-Mormon enclaves where we lack perspective and stagnate in our own cultural filth.

This is not to say I never had any good times at church activities. A good chunk of good memories in my life come from church activities, from awesome Halloween parties to week-long canoe trips. If the goal is to have fun and form memories, they have succeeded.
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nibbler
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Re: Busy in the Beehive

Post by nibbler » 17 Oct 2017, 05:13

Beefster wrote:
16 Oct 2017, 20:32
... I learned plenty of life skills from leadership to wilderness survival, but it was not converting me. ...
Wilderness survival? At church? You must have been given a calling in nursery.

You sound a lot like me. I ping high on the introvert scale plus I have social anxiety. For me the hardest part of the church experience was the programs. I muscled through because the church was true and by extension the programs and it was up to me to adapt, get to a place where I enjoyed those things. Didn't work in the long run. I was blind to how aspects of my nature, the introversion and social anxiety, factored into the overall church experience.

While there's always room to set goals to change aspects of our natures I reached the point where I didn't try to fight it as hard as I once did. Being more accepting of myself helped a little. I decided that there was nothing wrong with being a hermit, finding ways to feed my spiritual side in solitude... which will contradict what I'm about to say.
Beefster wrote:
16 Oct 2017, 20:32
If the goal is to have fun and form memories, they have succeeded.
What if that's the gospel? Fun/fond memories, forming deeper bonds with family and friends; not doctrines, dogma, or religious adherence.

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