Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Advanced Placement

  I am bored with church curriculum.  The same Sunday School lessons every 4 years, the same questions, same answers (go to church, read your scriptures, say your prayers).  Even Relief Society and General Conferences are usually re-hashings of the same things.  It is unstimulating and, to be honest, getting to be annoying.
   I don't have kids, but I remember what it was like to be one.  Not to brag, but I am fairly bright, and as a kid got bored easily because stuff was too easy.  Did my mom say "Well, you seem to be uninspired by 2nd grade, but sometimes you forget to dot your i's and cross your t's, so I think I'm going to send you back to kindergarten until you can master that 100% of the time."?  No, of course not.  That's absurd and condescending.  
   Yet, that's what I feel LDS, Inc is doing.  Gospel Principles is great for investigators and converts.  Heck, sometimes, it's even nice to have a refresher course. But every week? Every meeting?  Frankly, if the reason we are stuck repeating the same lessons is because we're not doing the basics enough, then there's never going to be anything but the basics!  If there's one thing church consistently teaches me, it's that I'm not good enough. Not praying enough, or sincerely enough. I don't fast enough, or read enough, or study deeply enough.  Not enough, never enough.  If God is waiting for members to be perfect in their mastery of the basics to give us more knowledge, then we're never going to get it.  People screw up, or don't have time, or prioritize differently.  And that's fine, because we're in a state of progression.  But I fail to see how going repeating lessons every 4 years helps us progress.  How often have you sat in Sunday School hearing (another) lesson on tithing, and thought "Wow. That is a new way of thinking about it! I never knew/thought of that before! I'm so glad I came?"  If you're anything like me, then probably not very often.  Part of the problem might be the prohibition against using anything but the scriptures and conference talks to fill out a lesson.  That's an issue for another day.  And it's not like I'm against progression.  But I do take offense to people that don't know me telling me what I *should* work on, because in their limited experience, most people have to work on that.  I want progression to be my choice, in my time frame.
   The gospel has some interesting doctrine and has the potential to answer many questions (where did God come from? What, really, is the deal with homo/trans/pan sexuality? Tell me about the mother-God figure.), but all that is labeled "Deep Doctrine" and is only rarely alluded to, if at all.  I find it almost insulting that the same answers (and questions!) used in Primary are used in adult Sunday school.  And that answers to most non-basic questions are "Well, we don't really know."  or "What do the scriptures say?"  
  If I had a kid who was bored in school because things were too easy, I would either put them in a higher grade, talk to a counselor about gifted classes, or provide an after-school alternative that is more academically rigorous.  If not change schools entirely, or home school.  So why isn't God (or LDS, Inc) doing that?  Why isn't there a gospel think tank where people submit questions and get answers rooted in doctrine?  Why isn't there an optional ADVANCED GOSPEL class that people can choose to attend?  Why is all we hear how we're not doing enough of the basics, and as such, are only allowed small knowledge?  What about those who have mastered the basics?  
   It's almost like the church is subscribing to a Bush-era "No Child Left Behind" gospel policy.  Until everyone gets it, no one gets any extra.  Those of us who are craving more knowledge, or deeper discussion, are left like Oliver Twist; holding our porridge bowl and asking "Please, sir, can I have some more?"  And the spiritual Mr. Bumble looks at us in shock and outrage, as if he can't imagine someone with the gall to want more than just watery gruel.  But you know what? I'm starving. 

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