Why do we have history-based lessons?

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Ann
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Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Ann » 10 Nov 2013, 23:30

From the Life of Lorenzo Snow

Shortly after Lorenzo Snow was baptized and confirmed in Kirtland, Ohio, a number of Latter-day Saints, including some Church leaders, turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith. According to Lorenzo Snow, this apostasy was fueled by speculation, or, in other words, unusual business risks in hopes of getting rich quickly. Blinded by a desire for the temporary things of the world, people turned away from the eternal blessings of the gospel.


I know I ask a lot of dumb/elementary questions, but why do we bother having lessons about history when it's poor form to bring up any of the actual history? I was just struck today by the pointlessness of it.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Nov 2013, 02:20

The sanitized history often has lessons in it about life. Personally, I think it also continues the deification of our prophets and leaders, however, and encourages obedience to the hierarchy.

It also helps the current saints remember their heritage and roots, which has an impact on their current behavior. For example, I don't know how many times I've heard people tell us its time to buck up and sacrifice now -- look at what the pioneers did!!!! We don't want to be wimps when the pioneers made such big sacrifices to further the interests of the church and their personal commitment to the gospel in the past.
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mom3
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by mom3 » 11 Nov 2013, 07:30

Ann,
I have no idea why we have those lessons or how this one even made it into a manual. I about fell over when I heard it as the lesson introduction today. A large part of me wanted to cheer that we would state something that boldly since we avoid so many other historical issues and pretend they didn't exist. As for why it was there, I think it was intent to warn us and keep us on the narrow road that is set up.

I don't know that it's a bad thing to do, but I can imagine the ideas laid out finding a very narrow judgemental presentation in places. Our wards went pretty well and didn't get too stuck in those weeds, but the potential was there. A few class comments ran borderline to my comfort zone as women were using modest dressing as an example of being pulled by the world and causing many of life's ills. But enough other comments steered the day back to higher ideals and the teacher did a great job in the steering.

But history and LDSdom is a weird combination in my mind.
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mackay11
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by mackay11 » 11 Nov 2013, 08:52

I think that's a very valid point Ann. I really hope the new drive to get things more accurate via josephsmithpapers etc will mean some history actually worth reading.

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Orson
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Orson » 11 Nov 2013, 10:11

In a word, Tradition ...because we have always recounted our history.
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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Nov 2013, 11:28

Yes, because we have a concept of "remember" in our history.

We actually had a good discussion in our HPG, but I am fortunate to be in a ward where that can happen.
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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Roy
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Roy » 11 Nov 2013, 11:44

Warren Parrish, who had been an officer in the bank and had apostatized from the Church, made this statement: "I have listened to him [i.e. Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the AUDIBLE VOICE OF GOD, INSTRUCTED HIM TO ESTABLISH A BANKING-ANTI BANKING INSTITUTION, who like Aaron's rod SHALL SWALLOW UP ALL OTHER BANKS (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins." (Painesville Republican, February 22, 1838, as quoted in Conflict at Kirtland, page 297)

Wilford Woodruff, who remained true to the Church and became the fourth President, confirmed the fact that Joseph Smith claimed to have a revelation concerning the bank. Under the date of January 6, 1837, he recorded the following in his journal: "I also herd [sic] President Joseph Smith, jr., declare in the presence of F. Williams, D. Whitmer, S. Smith, W. Parrish, and others in the Deposit office that HE HAD RECEIVED THAT MORNING THE WORD OF THE LORD UPON THE SUBJECT OF THE KIRTLAND SAFETY SOCIETY. He was alone in a room by himself and he had not only [heard] the voice of the Spirit upon the Subject but even an AUDIBLE VOICE. He did not tell us at that time what the Lord said upon the subject but remarked that if we would give heed to the commandments the Lord had given this morning all would be well." ("Wilford Woodruff's Journal," January 6, 1837, as quoted in Conflict at Kirtland, page 296)
Ann wrote:According to Lorenzo Snow, this apostasy was fueled by speculation, or, in other words, unusual business risks in hopes of getting rich quickly. Blinded by a desire for the temporary things of the world, people turned away from the eternal blessings of the gospel.

I agree that it was speculation but it was speculation organized by the church leadership. JS himself claimed to have received special instruction from God about it. Some people lost everything. I think it only normal that some in this situation also began to question the similarly speculative revelations that promised heavenly riches.

How many would leave the church if TSM did the same today? Would they be justified?
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Life_Journey_of_Matt
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Life_Journey_of_Matt » 11 Nov 2013, 13:26

Roy wrote:I think it only normal that some in this situation also began to question the similarly speculative revelations that promised heavenly riches.
Agree.
Roy wrote:How many would leave the church if TSM did the same today? Would they be justified?
I just can't ever see TSM doing this kind of thing. Prophecy (as in the kind that JS claimed to get about the bank) is just too risky these days.

The first online dictionary I went to has 2 different definitions of prophecy:
a. An inspired utterance of a prophet, viewed as a revelation of divine will.
b. A prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration.


I have not personally experienced any valid prophesying of the "predict the future" kind in my lifetime, which naturally makes me question it in general. And I'm sorry but scriptural accounts of prophesying (Lehi in Jerusalem, Noah and the flood, etc.) do little for me. They seem like nothing more than literary tools to help leaders make people think they need to conform and do what they're told. What I DO believe is that the men we have leading us in our various religions around the world are generally wise, have a lot of good life experiences, are intelligent, and may be very in-touch with whatever transcendent forces for good are at work in this world. In that sense I still hear them out and often find great counsel there.

Now I must say that food storage, emergency preparedness, getting out of debt, living on a budget...these things I view more as common sense and wise counsel than I do prophecy.
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journeygirl
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by journeygirl » 11 Nov 2013, 14:18

Currently I teach a primary class and we are studying D&C this year like the adult sunday school class. I have also been starting to wonder about why the lessons are almost entirely about the history, with a tiny tie in to some actual gospel principle in the end. I sort of feel like church should be about gospel principles more than history. Next year is old testament, and I really hope they don't try to teach those lessons as actual history. I really think most of the old testament is myth. We can certainly learn lessons from myths, but I hope the lesson focus is on the principle and not the "history". I am trying to change how I present the lessons, but it takes so much effort to completely re-write the lessons that I usually don't have time to do it as I would like. Plus I might get in trouble for not following the lesson plan!

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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Nov 2013, 14:51

So follow it by quickly summarizing the key points of the history and then talking about how the principles in the accounts relate to modern life. Problem solved! :D :thumbup:
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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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