Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4673
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by nibbler » 02 Jun 2021, 05:55

I go back to asking, what's the moral of the story?

The moral of the story can give hope.
The moral of the story can teach a Christlike attribute.
The moral of the story can be to prove that the church is the one true church.

I get a lot of the third and very little of the first two at church.
The first two can have universal applications. The third really only matters if you're looking for a true church... and we do a lot of the third in church even though everyone there supposedly has found their true church.

Depending on how presented, the same story ("true" or "false") can be used to teach a different moral. Take the first vision for instance. I couldn't tell you how many times I've heard the story shared to teach that the church is true. It's only recently that I've heard official communications from the church use the story to teach, "...and god will listen to you too." Same story, different takeaway.
If ever I should wish for a retreat, whither I might steal from the world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.”
― Washington Irving

Minyan Man
Posts: 2069
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by Minyan Man » 02 Jun 2021, 08:34

Personally, I go back to Paul H Dunn. Can I tell any story in a SM or SS lesson as long as my goal is to motivate or inspire alone?
I can't go back in time & talk to Joseph Smith. I accept his version of the 1st vision or I don't. For now I accept it.

There was a time when I gave a Sacrament talk & in the talk told a story about Oliver Cowdery. (It was very "motivating".)
After the meeting, a Sister (who I respect very much) asked me for my source for the story. It was the first & last time anyone
did that. I went home, reviewed my talk, looked at my sources & found I was wrong. I felt terrible. I couldn't go back to the
future (like the movie) & correct my talk. I did talk to the Sister & apologized for my mistake. It wasn't intentional.

Paul H Dunn intentionally told stories to motivate & inspire. I'm not going to repeat what he said. But, for example, if I
gave a sacrament talk & said I won the Congressional Metal of Honor & in the process, gave the heroic story how I saved
the lives of my squad during a battle in Viet Nam, yes it's motivational. Yes it's inspirational. But, it's not true & I know it.
Even if I tie it into scripture or a gospel principle, it is wrong, IMO.

I believe that we don't do enough to challenge members for sources, when they give a talk or lesson. At the very least it tells
them, someone is listening & you are accountable.

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4673
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by nibbler » 02 Jun 2021, 09:20

Paul H. Dunn was the subject of many Paul H. Dunn's stories.

He didn't tell a story about a Saint Louis Cardinals baseball player, he told a story about being a Saint Louis Cardinals baseball player. He didn't tell stories about war heroes, he told stories about being a war hero. It seems like at least a portion of Paul H. Dunn stories had the goal of creating a mythos surrounding Paul H. Dunn.

What if we told the same stories aimed at motivating people and made the players in the stories anonymous or clearly stated upfront that it's a story, not an event?

I've heard several general conference talks where the speaker tells a story about "a friend" when it's pretty clear that they're relating a personal story.

But to answer the question, yes. Faith promoting stories can be dangerous. Anything can be used for good or ill and often the outcome doesn't even follow the original intent.

We have to ingest water to live, but ingesting too much water can be very dangerous and ingesting a very small amount of water in the wrong way can be very dangerous. Faith promoting stories can be similar, they can help or hurt, it's largely circumstantial.
If ever I should wish for a retreat, whither I might steal from the world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.”
― Washington Irving

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7553
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by DarkJedi » 02 Jun 2021, 10:27

Minyan Man wrote:
02 Jun 2021, 08:34
Personally, I go back to Paul H Dunn. Can I tell any story in a SM or SS lesson as long as my goal is to motivate or inspire alone?
I can't go back in time & talk to Joseph Smith. I accept his version of the 1st vision or I don't. For now I accept it.

There was a time when I gave a Sacrament talk & in the talk told a story about Oliver Cowdery. (It was very "motivating".)
After the meeting, a Sister (who I respect very much) asked me for my source for the story. It was the first & last time anyone
did that. I went home, reviewed my talk, looked at my sources & found I was wrong. I felt terrible. I couldn't go back to the
future (like the movie) & correct my talk. I did talk to the Sister & apologized for my mistake. It wasn't intentional.

Paul H Dunn intentionally told stories to motivate & inspire. I'm not going to repeat what he said. But, for example, if I
gave a sacrament talk & said I won the Congressional Metal of Honor & in the process, gave the heroic story how I saved
the lives of my squad during a battle in Viet Nam, yes it's motivational. Yes it's inspirational. But, it's not true & I know it.
Even if I tie it into scripture or a gospel principle, it is wrong, IMO.

I believe that we don't do enough to challenge members for sources, when they give a talk or lesson. At the very least it tells
them, someone is listening & you are accountable.
Agreed, and this is where my original thoughts regarding truth come in. I haven't given up on truth, I've simply recognized that stories in scripture aren't always true. It could be argued that Paul H Dunn did harm others with his untrue stories, and in particular the family of the person which brought to light the idea that some stories were fabricated or at least exaggerated. That certainly relates to the original post and the podcast because the premise of the podcast and apparently the book is that we should question if everything we hear at church is true, and it gives some tools for doing so. Going with your closing statement, I totally agree - we don't do enough questioning/challenging. "Oh, seagulls came and saved the crops, how nice! What a miracle!" when that's not exactly what happened (seagulls did come but the crops faced far more challenges than some katydids and the impact of the seagulls seems to have been minor as the seagulls left and the katydids remained). "Wow, what faithful women to grind up their fine china for the sake of making the temple beautiful. I'm not sure I could do that, but if the prophet asked then I would!" when in reality what was used was mostly already broken china from the town dump.

I once (and only once at this level) saw a challenge to something that was taught in a fifth Sunday lesson. It was prior to the 2016 election using the quote attributed to ETB about voting for the lesser of two evils meaning you still voted for evil. The presenter was a senior missionary, and the lesson was more about following the prophet than the election, and of course ETB probably didn't say that and if he did it was not a public statement and not as a prophet. She really did lay it on thick, though - "This was a prophet of God who said this! Shouldn't we take it to heart?" Afterward I did see someone go talk to her. She subsequently sent an email to the ward explaining her error and got up in testimony meeting the next week and apologized. I thought that was huge of her to do that because I think most people would likely have taken the advice, either recognized they were wrong or not, and moved on without further comment.

(Side note: I've never really gotten the Benson quote anyway - I always feel like I'm voting for the lesser evil and sometimes there's not a huge delineation there.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Minyan Man
Posts: 2069
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by Minyan Man » 03 Jun 2021, 14:44

This was an interesting article related to what we've been talking about.
I've heard this story myself many years ago.

https://www.ldsliving.com/Did-Brigham-Y ... dium=email

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7553
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Jun 2021, 15:29

Minyan Man wrote:
03 Jun 2021, 14:44
This was an interesting article related to what we've been talking about.
I've heard this story myself many years ago.

https://www.ldsliving.com/Did-Brigham-Y ... dium=email
I was already keenly interested in the book, this article piqued my interest even more.

I too have heard the Salt Lake temple elevator story and even fairly recently. I had also heard the barge story. These are the kinds of things that concern me, and are the premise of the OP (although as stated earlier I do like the direction the thread took and it's OK we departed from the limitation of the OP scope).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roy
Posts: 6434
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by Roy » 07 Jun 2021, 08:51

From the article:
Historian Steven C. Harper noted, “Assumptions are not knowledge, but often those who hold them do not discern the difference.”
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Minyan Man
Posts: 2069
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by Minyan Man » 10 Jun 2021, 07:40

The book came out today. I just downloaded it on my tablet.

Again the title is:
Real vs Rumor

By: Keith A Erekson

I hope it's good.

User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 721
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 12 Jun 2021, 07:40

This discussion and makes a lot of sense to me. Since much of church history was white washed in the past, what annoys me now is that many members of the church, even many General Authorities, don't believe a it was wrong to do this. Some people have used the teaching of line upon line, precept upon precept. But I really believe that relates to gospel teachings, not church history.

User avatar
LDS_Scoutmaster
Posts: 287
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 23:30
Location: SoCal

Re: Could faith promoting stories be dangerous?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 12 Oct 2021, 15:44

Hi all, been lurking a bit as of late, it's been hard for me too find things and topics I'm interested in discussing.

My first thought was along the lines of Paul h Dunn, I was serving a mission at the time he was exposed and I know it was hard thing for many of the missionaries especially a particular sister. At the time it was one of those how could this be? And eventually put it on a shelf that everyone has their agency and even in his high position he had the agency, mixed that in with leaders never leading the church astray etc

I tried to find the podcast for that book and it is no longer on the ldsliving site. And Keith's site is just a link back to the original. Does anyone know if any additional links? Google had none.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

Post Reply