Why do we have history-based lessons?

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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, 15:03

I wouldn't so much mind the emphasis on history if I felt it was a complete and unbiased history. As it is, it seems the CES picks and chooses what they want to say based on what is going to paint the history of our church and its anointed leaders in a completely positive light. And they don't even stop at picking and choosing what they want to present. They then make unfounded claims and interpretations about the things that happened. For instance, from one of our lessons about the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, a passage was read from Our Heritage that made me cringe:
The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, wrote to Joseph Smith, insisting that the city council members stand trial before a non-Mormon jury on a charge of causing a civil disturbance. He said that only such a trial would satisfy the people. He promised the men complete protection, although the Prophet did not believe he could fulfill his pledge. When it appeared that there were no other alternatives, the Prophet, his brother Hyrum, John Taylor, and others submitted to arrest, fully aware that they were guilty of no crimes.
Now everything before the last comma seems like a fairly unbiased historical account. I believe full-well that Joseph completely doubted the ability of Thomas Ford to protect them from those who wished Joseph harm. What is completely unnecessary, IMO, is the last statement, "fully aware that they were guilty of no crimes." Regardless of governor Ford's intentions, Joseph and the other leaders were en route to stand trial for the "civil disturbance," which if I'm not mistaken was linked to the destruction of Thomas Sharp's printing press. Now, my beef is that Joseph MAY have been innocent, but he never stood trial so we don't have court documents or the official arguments from either side. Basically, we have no business saying Joseph, Hyrum, John, and the others were "guilty of no crimes." Were they innocent of their brutal murders at the hands of an angry mob? Absolutely! However, that's not what this statement claims, and I think it's a prime example of the whitewashing that has deeply damaged my trust in the CES.

And hence, the reason I also currently dislike our emphasis on (biased) history in our lessons.
Last edited by Life_Journey_of_Matt on 11 Nov 2013, 16:48, edited 1 time in total.
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turinturambar
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by turinturambar » 11 Nov 2013, 15:39

This lesson (about the Kirtland anti-banking society) was a bit painful for me to sit through. Luckily we didn’t get too much into the details of the CES inspired account. I remember reading in Rough Stone Rolling that there was some shady stuff going on that may have involved the prophet. I couldn’t remember the details, but I do remember thinking that those who left the church as a result of this failed prophecy, and the very real financial hardships that this caused. In considering the historical circumstances, I think any fair-minded person would question Joseph’s prophet hood in the face of such a dramatic disaster. Then again, perhaps we expect too much from God – that is, that if we covenant with him and keep commandments that he will protect us from bad judgment and the storms of mortality. It wasn’t just the Saints in Ohio who faced this massive financial challenge. The entire country was awash in bank failures, and subsequently endured over five years of a depression and rampant unemployment.

The Lorenzo Snow sermon suggests that many of the Saints got caught up in a financial bubble that was based on speculation, and that this was motivated in great part by personal greed. I can totally understand this after having lived through both the dot COM burst, and the inflated housing market bubble that burst in 2008. I’m sure we all know people who were caught up in the excitement of these two bubbles.

In any case, this part of church history may not be the best example to teach what they intended to teach. This might be a result of the difficulty of finding enough material to base lessons on from the lives of each of the prophets with the material they have to work with. I don’t know.
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Ann
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Ann » 11 Nov 2013, 19:42

I don't know all of what Lorenzo Snow said in Logan. But I think it's interesting that it's the headnote to the lesson that says people "turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith." The quotes from Lorenzo Snow's address seem centered on the spirit of speculation which "swept over the hearts of the saints. . . and many fell." So the manual portrays the reaction of Kirtland saints to personal financial ruin as rejection of Joseph Smith/everything good and right. But you could take LS's comments as a caution against ALL who speculated, and that certainly included JS who, if Rough Stone Rolling is accurate, promised that "every brother that would take hold and help . . . .should be rich." (p.332) And he apparently lost more money than anyone else.

We seem obsessed with loyalty to Joseph Smith. Really grates on me.
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mackay11
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Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by mackay11 » 12 Nov 2013, 12:13

Ray Degraw wrote: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'm all for remembering our history. It's the misrepresenting I have problems with.

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

Post by Roy » 12 Nov 2013, 12:18

turinturambar wrote:Then again, perhaps we expect too much from God – that is, that if we covenant with him and keep commandments that he will protect us from bad judgment and the storms of mortality. It wasn’t just the Saints in Ohio who faced this massive financial challenge.
Yes, we do both then and now. It was a terrible time to start a bank (or anti-bank). We also expect more from prophets perhaps than any mortal man could fulfill. This is especially true of our sanitized collective portraits of JS.
Ann wrote:I don't know all of what Lorenzo Snow said in Logan. But I think it's interesting that it's the headnote to the lesson that says people "turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith." The quotes from Lorenzo Snow's address seem centered on the spirit of speculation which "swept over the hearts of the saints. . . and many fell." So the manual portrays the reaction of Kirtland saints to personal financial ruin as rejection of Joseph Smith/everything good and right. But you could take LS's comments as a caution against ALL who speculated, and that certainly included JS who, if Rough Stone Rolling is accurate, promised that "every brother that would take hold and help . . . .should be rich." (p.332) And he apparently lost more money than anyone else.
Exactly! At the very least, he used his position as Prophet to help convince investors. There was a financial incentive. It was Joseph that chose to stake his prophetic credibility on this business venture.

It would seem that, here as in other areas, Joseph seems to believe his own message.

There was also some serious comingling of church assets and smith assets that continued at least until the martyrdom (and we think we have concerns about financial transparency now?!?!). Part of the difficulty between Emma and BY was about how to disentangle the two.
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Nov 2013, 12:38

I'm all for remembering our history. It's the misrepresenting I have problems with.


I agree.
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journeygirl
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by journeygirl » 12 Nov 2013, 17:06

Ray Degraw wrote: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:
Yeah, I think that will have to be my approach more. It takes a while to develop a teaching style, but sounds like a good one for me.

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Heber13
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Re: Why do we have history-based lessons?

Post by Heber13 » 14 Nov 2013, 11:10

I like it when teachers make me think in class, not just read the manuals.

I think there is value in teaching us principles for our day by reviewing history, and then trying to think what I would do in those situations. Or what would Lorenzo Snow do in my situation?

If the history lessons are not making people think about their faith, I don't think there is value in teaching them.

Good teachers ask more questions and guide the discussion of the class...not stand up there thinking they have all the facts. Even the manuals don't have all the facts.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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