Being Muzzled!

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Being Muzzled!

Post by bridget_night » 31 Jan 2010, 11:53

At the combined meeting of Priesthood and Relief Society today, our Bishop gave the lesson. He taught a lesson on how to be a good teacher when you teach a class in the church. Well, first of all, he is not a very good teacher himself, and second of all, most of the lesson was on not teaching anything outside of the manual, or 4 standard works or Ensign. It was felt like he was saying to not so your own thinking and to stick with strict church doctrine.

Well, I was finding myself getting really annoyed because I felt like we as members were getting more and more reigned in and muzzled as to what we should think or say in our callings. So, after the meeting I went to talk to the bishops wife, who is my visiting teacher, and whom I also worked with for a year as VT coordinator. She is also the Relief Society President. I like her alot and so I did not want to be too confrontional. I just said that I had some issues with what the church was asking members to do in regards to sticking strictly with church doctrine and the manual when teaching a lesson. I told her that I have had almost every kind of teaching calling in the church ( 2 year mission, GD teacher, GP teacher, RS teacher, youth, primary) and I have mostly teach from the manual, but have also used outside commentaries and resourses outside of the 4 standard works. I told her that I have heard GA's quote Billy Graham and Mother Teresa and other good books. I said that the 13th article of faith teaches that anything that is praiseworthy or of good report, we seek after these things. Plus, her husband had mentioned in his lesson today that we are told to seek for personal revelation on how to teach our lessons. Also, that I did not believe that a GA was anymore inspired than any other good member of the church.

In order to not get any more confrontional I said, I am sure that some members do get carried away when they teach so that they may teach false doctrine or lead members to become survialists out in the mountains and perhaps this is why they feel they have to narrow the field. She like that answer and I did say that I knew it could be a problem, telling one teacher it was alright because we trusted them to stick with good outside material and another that they were going overboard, so they are reigning everyone in. So, I think I handled it well, but I have a difficult time now getting frustrated with feeling that you are really not allowed your own inspiration or thinking in your callings anymore. Especially, when a discussion had just come up on one of my lds gay families online groups that a GA emeritus, Harman Rector, had given a lesson in a fireside to parents and their lds gay children. Apparently, Br. Rector (whom I know from my mission) told this group that they should just get married to the opposite sex and they would overcome it. It was very upsetting to the group as this GA did not even know that the church does not recommend or teach that anymore. So, it is very difficult for me to feel like we as members are being muzzled by GA's who are so falliable themselves.

So, have any of you had to deal with this and do you think I handled this alright with the bishops wife?

Thanks, Bridget

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by MWallace57 » 31 Jan 2010, 13:02

Dear Bridget,

I know that we all have to deal with the "information explosion". When I was young, we were just taught to avoid Fawn Brodie's, No Man Knows My History and Jerald and Sandra Tanner. (Anti-Mormon literature does have a certain dark spirit to it.) Well, it was easy. Our local library didn't even carry a copy of Brodie's Book! I was what you could call a very naive Mormon . . . . . . then I was called to serve as a Campus Missionaries at Penn State University for 1 year. The big argument was over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the missionaries where not ever allowed to read the amendment. That's right, we were not allowed to read anything other than the scriptures, certain authorized church books and our missionary discussions and pamphlets. Needless to say, we had a very difficult time relating to the students, answering their questions and even appearing to be relevant to their experiences.

Now, I read everything that is well researched and prepared. Anti-Mormon literature and blogs are generally garbage and are usually full of fallacies - waste of time. I focus on the scriptures and books that were written by those who would have lived in the time period of interest and those who may have known the Prophet(s).

I think that the Church recognizes the enormous amount of misinformation circulating on the internet and they know they can't control it. Furthermore, many people are using LDS Church copyrights illegally to make their information appear legitimate. Honestly, some of these people put up webpages that look indistinguishable to Church sites. I think that the only safe thing to do is stick to what your Bishop said. You and I may have done enough research to know when we see false info, but many members won't have that savvy.

Hopefully, you will have plenty of material for each lesson. The scriptures are so rich and full. Just add your personal testimony and allow others to bare their testimonies. The Spirit leaves when you start to teach any other thing and the lesson will invariably regress to football if allowed to drift.

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by just me » 31 Jan 2010, 13:57

Yeah, just imagine...according to D&C we are supposed to just use the spirit to guide our meetings! Almost makes it sound like the format should be fairly fluid.
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He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by MWallace57 » 31 Jan 2010, 15:27


Let the Spirit guide your meetings. Personal testimonies should always be included as part of the lesson. It seems that when another person is baring her testimony, that is when the Spirit testifies to my Spirit. Whatever the lesson is, take a moment to bare your testimony and allow others to share theirs.

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by Cookie » 31 Jan 2010, 15:36

bridget_night wrote:...I felt like we as members were getting more and more reigned in and muzzled as to what we should think or say in our callings.
I had a conversation with my mother-in-law about this very topic not too long ago. She has been “called” to lead Primary, but regularly gets “helpful tips” from the leadership in her branch. In theory, God has inspired church leaders to call individuals to their posts, correct? Now, unless they think God has made a mistake, you should be allowed to teach by the Spirit’s leading. A God that created this wonderful universe we live in is not a God-in-a-box. I believe He can use the lowest of people (and even things like songs, literature, and then why not objects...) to lead and inspire His people.

Anybody can read from the assigned texts and tell the learners to “turn to page 220 in your manual”, but there’s a reason why people are called. Personal relating and revelations has been replaced by four walls and a cookie cutter.

I think if we allow for greater flexibility and diversity in our teaching styles and content, we can tap into a greater spectrum of the unique gifts and experiences God gives each of us.
"If you want your dreams to come true, don't sleep." ~ Yiddish Proverb

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by Cadence » 31 Jan 2010, 16:12

I teach whatever I feel like in High Priests Quorum within reason. They have no sway over me. The only thing that can really happen is to get released. I personally believe stifling thought is a dangerous thing. People should always be exposed to more than one point of view or opinion.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by Curt Sunshine » 31 Jan 2010, 19:06

I want teachers to teach, not necessarily to challenge everyone - and that's a fine line. Most problems occur when teachers who undertand something (or think they understand something) insert it into the lessson without any understanding of what it will do to some of the people in the class.

I'm a teacher by training and inclination and education, and it's brutally hard to teach in such a way that everyone understands AND nobody misunderstands. Honestly, I think the Church wants to do whatever it can to make sure nobody misunderstands - and that carries an effect of limiting what can be taught in a group setting. I personally would prefer to be challenged intellectually, but I know LOTS of members who don't want that and don't need that - so I accept the watered-down lessons we often get and try to participate in an uplifting way.

Am I being muzzled? No. I am choosing intentionally to muzzle myself - since charity suffereth long and is kind.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by Orson » 31 Jan 2010, 19:21

That is another way to look at it Ray. I think it's important to look at subjects from as many angles as we can come up with. I find it kind of interesting that I could imagine Ray saying something more similar to the other comments on the subject at another time. Always stretching us, thanks for that Ray!

I can only say: yes I agree! I think everyone has made excellent points. The truth is you can't please everyone all the time, so all you can do is your best. For me "my best" would include some nugget that most of the class had not thought of in quite the same way before. In most cases I think that can be accomplished without straying too far from the "lesson" -- so ... um, ... yes, I agree! :?
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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by Konvert Kid » 31 Jan 2010, 22:06

I have a suggestion; lets just not have 5th Sunday lessons. I came out of Church today ready to kill. Our bishops lesson was different. He told us what the wards goals goals to be it was all worked out in % and decimals. My husband an I should convert 3.2 friends this year. How do you get .2 % of someone and have them still be your friend. I have a meeting with the Bishop to discuss this on Wednesday.

My vote on the Muzzle question is, many people need one. I had a teacher teach that if you drank Coke you couldn't go to the temple. There were several of us eager to tell her that they sold Coke (decaf) in the temple vending machines. I have also noticed that with a little work you can present some interesting concepts from the Standard Works.

Sorry to vent about something other than Muzzles but I feel much better.
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Re: Being Muzzled!

Post by nightwalden » 01 Feb 2010, 01:41

What lesson manual did your bishop teach his lesson from? Also, auxiliary presidencies are supposed to choose something to teach once a month.

I have a different perspective. I believe that the purpose for meeting together is to learn from each other. I definitely get more out of people sharing their personal experiences and perspectives than anything else. When I give lessons I don't go to outside sources but I want to share what I think about what we're discussing and I want to induce other people to share what they think.

At the same time, the worst teacher that I have seen largely ignored the manual and just wanted to share his theological theories. It was not a discussion; he lectured. And he would state things as if they were truths and I often completely disagreed with them. It was horrible. I was cornered once and with him present was asked how I liked his lesson. I said I didn't like it and told his why. It had no effect. The next time was the same except he asked 2 leading questions during the lesson instead of 0 questions.

I think everyone has their own personal tastes as what kind of teaching they like best. I think a lot of people like and benefit from using outside sources. But I am not one of them.

I can't believe that your bishop thought that this was a pressing issue that needed to be addressed in your ward. If he has a problem with the way someone is teaching he should just release them.

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