Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

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Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by nibbler » 07 Jan 2021, 10:15

I wanted to start up thread(s) on the weekly "Come, Follow Me" lessons. The lessons this year are on the Doctrine and Covenants, which may be harder than other books of canon because of the D&C's proximity to some historical issues.

I'm also being a little selfish. I'm sure I'll be on the hook to teach some of these lessons and after looking over the first month of lessons I'm struggling a bit to find something of value in the provided material. I'd like to get some help finding the babies in the bathwater. I'd like to find faith promoting things in the official materials, any sources that can provide additional context, or in stories from people outside of church that support principles being taught in the lesson.

Lesson 1: Doctrine and Covenants 1

I didn't get much out of the lesson material. Many talking points were focused on establishing the church, leaders, and the D&C as authoritative sources for the voice of the lord. There's also language in the material (and D&C) that uses fear to motivate. Those talking points don't do much for me, so it's a hard lesson for me to find some nugget to extract.

Visiting the text of D&C 1:
Doctrine and Covenants 1:2 wrote:For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.
We might interpret this verse as threatening if reading from the perspective of god being vengeful (the word "escape" and the surrounding context certainly steer people that direction) but there's a different meaning when reading from the perspective of a god being more loving. God will make sure to interact with everyone, no one is insignificant in god's eyes.
Doctrine and Covenants 1:25 wrote:And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
Have we strayed from this as a church? Maybe we've gotten better recently but I believe there's a case to be made that we've tried to hide past indiscretions by whitewashing and correlating history. We lose valuable lessons when our mistakes are hidden or masked from us. In these verses, failing to own up to our mistakes means missing out on additional wisdom, instruction, blessings, and knowledge.

(cont.)
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by nibbler » 07 Jan 2021, 11:44

Joseph Smith-History 1:1-26

Lesson 1 also covers a section of Joseph Smith history. There are several takeaways, two specific ones:

1) The traditional, and that's how you know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the church is true.
2) The lord still interacts with people in our day and he will interact with you.

It's easier for me to focus on the latter. Maybe taking a similar approach as Kate Holbrook took in the very beginning of her talk during BYU Women's Conference 2020:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pl9LhG ... Conference

The lesson references being "in possession of the facts" that appears in the first verse of JSH. I think that's one of the challenges of our day; 100 people can look at the same fact and arrive at 100 different points of view. It's even more complicated these days because we have the tendency to believe that we're in possession of the facts while other people are in possession of "facts" (meaning the information they cite aren't actual facts).

This also follows some recent changes to the handbook to seek information from reliable sources.

Note: Please don't turn the discussion political or try to point out how you have the facts and others don't, that's not the point of the thread. It's just an interesting dynamic, the fight to not be misunderstood or the fight to correct others.

The lesson briefly touches on there being at least four accounts of the first vision. The lesson also states a few conclusions:

"Although these accounts differ in some details, depending on the audience and setting, they are otherwise consistent."

During a lesson, would it be appropriate to try to create some space for people to arrive at a different conclusion? For example, "Some people feel that the differences are in more than just the details and that the differences are enough to make the accounts inconsistent with one another. Can we make room for people that arrive at that conclusion?"

Which dovetails into the last section in the lesson. "I can remain true to what I know, even if others reject me." We often think of that rejection coming from people external to our faith community, but there are people that are rejected by their faith community. I suppose the answer is the same, remain true to what we know. I just mention it because it's an alternate way of presenting things... it's not always the world that attacks. It's often us that do the attacking.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by Heber13 » 08 Jan 2021, 10:21

Thanks for prompting me to review the lesson. It's good for me to skim.
At the end it says:
Improving Our Teaching
Help learners liken the scriptures to themselves. The same truths that inspired the early Saints can help us face our challenges today. As you teach the Doctrine and Covenants, help class members make connections between the Lord’s messages to Joseph Smith and what the Lord might say to them personally.
What applies today? I like the discussion of weak and simple things. All of us can move forward with faith, even if imperfect. Even if faith is weak or small or simple.

Joseph had doubts. And he worked through them.

Things in Joseph's world were not great. There were problems, and mobs, and people hating people....church people. There was strife. He wanted to find something better.

Youth can be scared in these times when the news has so much going on. They need hope. D&C has some stories of being humble, while hoping for a zion and better things in the world. And being called by God to stand up for truth.

Those thoughts come to me.
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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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Jan 2021, 11:55

I had thought before about doing a thread like this especially because it could perhaps help some of us here better navigate SS where the majority of people probably think differently. Alas, time restraints and plain laziness have kept me from it, so kudos and thanks Nibbler.

For the record, and I did it the same way last year when the text was somewhat more palatable, I do not read the stuff from the Come Follow Me manuals. I only read (or listen to) the text of the scriptures themselves and interpret them for myself (which I think is part of the the premise of Come Follow Me). I also do not read the introductions to the chapters/sections, I only read the scriptures themselves.
During a lesson, would it be appropriate to try to create some space for people to arrive at a different conclusion? For example, "Some people feel that the differences are in more than just the details and that the differences are enough to make the accounts inconsistent with one another. Can we make room for people that arrive at that conclusion?"
Depending on the audience/ward maybe. It may also depend on whether the class is an adult or youth class, or perhaps even a YSA ward as compared to a regular ward. My ward might take to this idea given the right approach and the right supportive people being present. As the teacher I could clue those people in ahead of time so they would be prepared to come to my support if needed, or I could have one of them bring it up (or even present on it) and then offer my support. Or I could just take my chances or decide not to do it at all if I perceived I didn't have supportive people. That does go along with your next thing:
Which dovetails into the last section in the lesson. "I can remain true to what I know, even if others reject me." We often think of that rejection coming from people external to our faith community, but there are people that are rejected by their faith community. I suppose the answer is the same, remain true to what we know. I just mention it because it's an alternate way of presenting things... it's not always the world that attacks. It's often us that do the attacking.
It's not always the world who attacks and maybe not even usually. Often I think situations like this can be us vs us and I think the opposing side of us doesn't necessarily get that they might be offending someone else. In some cases the offender wouldn't care that he's being offensive, but I think mostly it's out of ignorance and not intended to be offensive.
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."

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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by nibbler » 11 Jan 2021, 06:04

Doctrine and Covenants 2; Joseph Smith—History 1:27–65

From the manual:
The Holy Ghost can teach you every time you read the scriptures—even scriptures you have read many times before. So be open to new insights and inspiration.
I've found this to be the case. Revisiting scriptures we've read several times already can still give new insights because we've had more experiences and we're in a different life circumstances than we were in the last time we read them.
It had been three years since God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in the grove, but Joseph hadn’t received any additional revelations since then. He began to wonder about his standing before the Lord. Like all of us, he had made mistakes, and he felt condemned by them. Yet God still had a work for him to do.
I believe this is a common sentiment in the church, that we feel condemned by god when we don't feel like we're getting revelations or when we're passed up for callings. The orthodox answer is to repent but that answer doesn't always work. None of us is perfect, there's always something we can repent of, but I've both felt scrupulosity firsthand and seen evidence of other people at church suffering from it. There's a balance to be found.

Also, no one is perfect. If perfection were the bar, none of us would clear it. Feeling like you're not receiving revelation or being passed up for a calling are not signs of divine disfavor.

I believe this characteristic is present in human nature but is fed by the prosperity gospel that's preached at church.
When we take part in God’s work, we can expect to face opposition and even persecution, just as the Prophet did. But we can also have faith that the Lord will make us instruments in His hands, just as He did for Joseph.
I'm not a big fan of evoking the persecution angle. I don't believe looking to persecution for validation is healthy.
2 Nephi 2:11 wrote:For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.
Emphasis added. All things. When we take part in god's work we can expect to face opposition. When we take part in "the adversary's" work we can expect to face opposition. There is opposition in all things.
What can you learn from Joseph’s example about what to do when your actions are not consistent with the work God has called you to do?
This question in the manual makes me nervous. I spent far too much of my life beating myself up for not fitting the cultural mold, believing that my feelings were the result of not being consistent with the work god called me to do. Here I'd point out that there's the work god calls me to do, and there's the work that (fallible) people tell me that god wants me to do. I spent too much of my life listening to the latter.

The lesson also covers D&C section 2. Understandably there's a focus on temple ordinances, but it does go into other ways people turn their hearts to their family. I'd probably try to spend most of the time during this lesson to talk about ways to serve family and I'd probably also spend time widening the traditional LDS definition of family.

Family doesn't have to be limited to mother, father, children. Family can be anyone we love, anyone we care about. I'd also point out that theologically we're all related if you go back far enough. Everyone we see is family. How can our hearts be turned to the stranger?
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Jan 2021, 08:47

Re-reading/scripture insight: Can't argue with that and I think many of us have had similar experiences (and perhaps not just with scriptures).

Regarding our imperfections and repentance, I think Joseph is a great example of one who demonstrated true repentance. I think in the church it is so common to conflate penance (which is not necessarily part of our theology) and repentance which simply means change or willingness to change. In his writings (and particularly in the PoGP version of the founding of the church) Joseph never indicates that he does months or years of penance or self punishment. Instead, he does what many in the NT did - he simply asks God and God simply forgives. I mentioned elsewhere that I am reading the new Givens book (All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between) and I think in makes some great points in this respect. I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but I love the opening paragraph of the book which I will try to come back and quote another time. I should note that I know from reading Rough Stone Rolling (and other stuff) that Joseph didn't really consider himself a prophet after the FV, that came after Moroni's visits. Joseph considered the FV to be a private experience meant for him and rarely talked about, and most early church members didn't know about it.

I'm not a big fan of the persecution complex either, and would try to ignore that part (but it would likely be brought up by an adult class member if time/opportunity permitted).

Opposition: I don't think opposition comes solely (or even mostly) from "the adversary." I believe a main purpose of life is for us to experience pain that we might know joy (among other things) and the opposition is a necessary part of that learning/experiencing process. We likewise need sickness to appreciate health, turmoil to appreciate peace, and darkness to appreciate light.
What can you learn from Joseph’s example about what to do when your actions are not consistent with the work God has called you to do?
I alluded to this earlier - what Joseph did was turn to God and ask forgiveness. I don't think we need to do anything more than that.

Lastly, I agree with you about turning our hearts toward our families. I think it has way more to do with what happens here and now than completing family history and temple work (and I say this coming from a family that is extremely dysfunctional). We are indeed all literal and spiritual brothers and sisters in more ways than one.
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."

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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by nibbler » 18 Jan 2021, 07:17

January 18-24: D&C 3-5

This lesson is more difficult for me to extract anything useful from. Maybe, "Be sure to save your school project often and be sure to keep backups on different devices."

The manual offers these talking points:
  • Trust god rather than fear man
  • Serve the lord with all our heart
  • Gaining a witness of the BoM
  • This generation will receive god's word through Joseph Smith
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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by Heber13 » 18 Jan 2021, 21:44

What is meant by "this generation"? Has that generation passed? What about today's generation?

So, I would think it does not necessarily mean we hear God's words exclusively through JS. God's words come to us in many ways, right? Which also includes JS.
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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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by nibbler » 19 Jan 2021, 05:57

It comes from D&C5:10. That's an interesting point. Although the verse doesn't use the word exclusively, I think we often read that word into the verse. Joseph Smith is "the prophet of the restoration" and the classic interpretation is that he restored "the fullness" of the gospel, so we keep deferring to him and revelations he received. The modern day focus seems to be to seek new interpretations and inspiration from old D&C revelations to provide direction as opposed to seeking revelations off the more beaten path.

The verse could alternately say, "But this generation shall have my word through you and several other other people;" and not lose meaning. Joseph Smith will still reveal god's word but the Dalai Lama will too, Pope Francis will too, Russell Nelson will too, etc.

Maybe the "this generation" thing has less to do with appointing a single mouthpiece for a specific time period and has more to do with the reach the words will attain. My kid might say something truly inspiring but people in my house are the only ones that heard it. A stake president may say something inspiring during stake conference, but the people in attendance are the only ones that heard it. In contrast, JS, the Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis enjoy a much larger audience, impacting a "generation."

That section of the manual asks, "What does Doctrine and Covenants 5:1–10 teach you about Joseph Smith’s important role in our dispensation—and in your life?"

"This generation" likely means "dispensation" from the perspective of the team that wrote the manual. That word isn't in D&C 5. I think dispensations is an idea we built up to legitimize the restoration, give people the confidence that the church won't fall away, and to elevate JS to the likes of Moses, Peter, Abraham, Noah, etc.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
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Re: Come, Follow Me D&C: 2021 January

Post by Roy » 19 Jan 2021, 10:10

nibbler wrote:
19 Jan 2021, 05:57
"This generation" likely means "dispensation" from the perspective of the team that wrote the manual. That word isn't in D&C 5. I think dispensations is an idea we built up to legitimize the restoration, give people the confidence that the church won't fall away, and to elevate JS to the likes of Moses, Peter, Abraham, Noah, etc.
Fascinating. I had never looked at it like that. Exploring the lenses through which I see the world help to remind me that my perception is always several steps removed from objective reality.
"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

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