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Standing for Nothing

Rebecca L. from Lehi, Utah, writes:

I wonder what it is that keeps people from standing for what they believe. Is it a fear of being labeled un-Christian? Being too concerned about what other people will think about you? Not wanting to rock the boat? Not wanting to offend anyone? How do you know when you should let your voice be heard and how do you do it a way that is firm but compassionate?

Kathy says:

What an interesting question! Let’s create a fictional character named Lucy, and make sure her mom and grandmother teach her that it is never polite to call attention to herself. Let’s make her mother a standard shrinking violet who feels it is not ladylike to be unpleasant, which to her means confrontational in any way. Lucy’s mother, Lacey, always defers to Lucy’s father. Even if she has information that he does not, she would never dream of contradicting him, no matter how amiably. To her, that simply would not be polite.

Just to keep it interesting, let’s give Lucy an Uncle who is impossibly rude and combative. Let’s make him a compulsive liar.

Lacey: “Good morning, Thomas. How nice of you to stop by.”

Uncle Tom: “It is a horrid morning, thanks just the same. And you look ridiculous in that dress. Where did you find that rag? And get that mutt off me! I’ve half a mind to go back for my rifle.”

Lucy might grow up believing only a sociopath would ever speak her mind in public. She has had no model for managing conflict politely or effectively.

I don’t think we would want to depend on her to be our advocate if a persuasive speech were needed. And many of us were raised in a similar culture.

To generalize from Lucy’s example, I believe social conditioning has helped us to be very cautious about calling negative attention to ourselves. “Going along with the crowd” certainly has its place in the arsenal of species survival tactics. For most of us, it is a high risk behavior to stand alone in opposition to the group. Many of us associate that sort of thing with some of the most obnoxious people we know. Who wants to be like that?

I think it is devilishly difficult to know, often on the spur of the moment, when our ethics require us to take that risk. It’s understandable that most of us simply don’t make that leap. We might deeply regret it afterward, but I believe the social conditioning in most cases is very strong.

That’s why so many of us prefer to write a letter to the editor, or a personal letter to the person with whom we disagree. Can we be sure our opposition is right, or righteous? Can we be so confident that we dare to appear obnoxious to those who do not share our perspective? Will it do any good? Will the good outweigh the harm?

Usually the damage is greater than the gain. Persuading others to change cherished beliefs is quite an art and a science. It’s a situation that lends itself to careful research, intense prayer and thorough preparation. My hat is off to the person who will jump to her feet and cry foul with no forethought, because she feels she needs to set the record straight. I might think she is both obnoxious and mentally disturbed, but I still admire her courage. If, like Alison, she is bright, articulate, charming, prepared and polished (especially if I happen to agree with her) then she is a hero.

I hope such heroes will hasten the day when we can bring our conflicts into an open forum with courtesy and compassion, and get things resolved without months or years of infighting, hurt feelings, incomplete information and prolonged squabbling.

Meanwhile, perhaps the best we can hope for is trying to make sure our facts are verifiable, our tone is not obnoxious, and there is some hope that our speech will do more good than harm.

Alison says:

Kathy’s first paragraph blew me back about 20 years to my days as a BYU student. There I sat in a marriage preparation class taught by a popular professor whose name has been changed to protect the idiotic. During one day of lecture, as was his tradition, he invited his wife to speak to the class. It was this particular day that had me running for cover. While I did not copy the quotes verbatim, I will relay to the best of my recollection the actual words that stunned me.

As Dr. Wife proceeded to indoctrinate the class on how to be a good wife, she told us (a) she never questioned her husband’s decisions, (b) if she knew her husband was about to make a mistake she never told him so, and (c) when he found out that he was wrong, she never revealed that she had known it all along.

I often wondered what kind of strange sadistic game this was. Did she just privately revel in seeing her husband flounder around doing dorky stuff, when she could have saved him the pain?

OK, so get your jollies however you want, but can we please refrain from making this some kind of doctrinal requirement for “good Mormon women”? Where’s the ack emoticon when you need it?

So, first, just let me say that I do not believe that being a “good Mormon woman” requires you to shut up and do what you’re told. But it seems fairly common for LDS women to believe that being pious requires us to eliminate any hint of being firm, outspoken, or strong. And heaven forbid we should be opinionated! Blaspheme!

At the core, I have no remotely satisfying answer for this question. I struggle with it daily. Over the past years I have come to feel that one of the most important things I can personally do in my life, is to speak up against evil and stand up for those who are being harmed by those who disregard good. But this can be such a consuming things, as there truly is evil all around, just as there is good.

What is the good of having standards if they are only allowed to sit quietly in the corner, being sure never to inconvenience anyone? Why claim a value set, if we only dust it off when we are personally persecuted, but allow it to lie fallow when it’s “only” someone else who is taking the heat? Isn’t this how every playground bully from the “Bob” I dealt with for a decade up to Hitler operates? By depending on the silence of everyone else who “just wanted to get along”?

How do we find balance between knowing when to shut up and “leave well enough alone” and when to risk everything for the cause of truth and good and to protect the innocent?

I’ll bake brownies for the first person who can give me a complete answer to that one.

{ 51 comments… add one }

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 8:13 pm

    Grace in Auburn, New York, writes:

    Well, Alison, I don’t think I’ll be getting your reward with this answer, but I wanted to talk about my recent experience standing for something.

    I write a weekly column on mental health issues for our local newspaper. A couple of weeks ago, I chose to write about the psychological implications of getting a tattoo, and how it is considered self-injurious behavior. I told my readers that no matter how they wanted to white wash it, a tattoo is an indication of a psychological war within. I went on to talk about how dark tattoos are, no matter how “luminescent” the ink seems to people. I really wanted to talk about how dark they are because of the evil spirit that emanates from them, but this was not a religion column.

    The responses were 40 ?2 against me. I got called every name in the book, including bigot, discriminatory, arrogant, conceited, intolerant, ignorant, stupid, a bad psychologist, and more. Every filthy word that mankind knows were added into the mix. One even had the audacity and arrogance to say that since her body was one of God’s temples, she was only decorating it! She could not see how prideful it is to think that God’s handiwork needed embellishment. My editor only loved that the column was getting so much response. She even said she might write an article about a tattoo party that went on last week (an overnight party where everyone got as many tattoos as the “artist” could do between midnight and 7 a.m.). You can bet she will use far more than the 600 words I am allowed each week.

    I have had to point out that I did not predict the size or strength of the psychological war within, only its existence. The more tattoos you have, the more evidence we have of that war, but not necessarily evidence of the size of the war. Some wrote to say that they had no war whatsoever, that their children do not fear them or other people with tattoos (sadly, they have already taught their children to accept self-injurious behavior as a “normal” part of life).

    I have told many people that no one is totally free from some psychological war within. The war may be huge, and it may be more like a disagreement in size and scope. But the battle goes on. If it were not so, then we would be either living during the Millenium, or we would somehow become totally immune to the temptations of the devil (i.e., perfect!).

    On the other hand, one of the two supportive respondents is a chiropractor in town, who runs a total health clinic right smack in the middle of downtown Auburn. She not only publicly defended me, she has privately invited me to speak at a total health seminar she will hold in a couple of weeks. I’m astounded. I’m also afraid that if she advertises my involvement, there will be people who come with the sole purpose of disrupting the affair via loud protests.

    This has been quite stressful for me, because I now fear that people will recognize me from the lousy picture of me (with long hair) that always accompanies my articles. I am sure I am going to find myself getting verbally abused in public, and maybe even physically abused. There are people at work who have tattoos. I’m sure that they are wondering if I am negatively judging them, or are they thinking that I can “psychoanalyze” them from just a few moments of interaction? (Believe it or not, many people think that is possible. It’s not, of course.)

    The stress of this, coupled with some stresses at work where I’m also fighting to stand for something (which I cannot share at this time), has really been difficult on me. I’m in a constant slight-asthma state from the stress, I don’t sleep well, and I find myself fearing what I will find when I open one of my e-mail accounts (the one associated with the column). I know the furor will eventually die, but it is not an easy wait.

    As time goes on, and we all see the ways in which the world is increasingly more wicked, we can be sure that it will become more difficult to withstand the backlashes. I don’t think the answer is to shy away from the issues. I think it’s to fill our spiritual reserves so full that we have plenty upon which to rely. The closer we become to our Father in Heaven, the greater the capacity we will have to truly stand for truth and righteousness.

  • davidson April 21, 2008, 12:29 am

    Alison, here is your complete answer, and I expect my brownies by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

    When to keep silent and when to speak? The answer is: LET THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDE. There is no other answer. Standing for something sometimes means speaking. Standing for something sometimes means NOT speaking. Every situation will be different. The gifts of the Spirit pertaining to the tongue can include speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, and holding of tongues. They are all important gifts. Firm opinions spoken in a marriage and in other relationships may not always be a sign of strength; it may also be a sign of weakness, selfishness, or pride, since we are not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient enough to provide totally objective correction. I figure it is my job to raise my children. It is not my job to raise my husband. He had his “raisins” from a wonderful mother. We make an effort to respect each other. I don’t agree with everything he does, and he doesn’t agree with everything I do. I also don’t tell him what to do, and he doesn’t tell me what to do. If he asks my opinion, I offer it. I also ask for his opinions. If I were to force my opinions on him, he would stop asking for them and stop respecting them.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat. There are as many answers to what a good Mormon woman is and does as there are answers to what a beautiful woman is and does. There is room for variety.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 21, 2008, 8:36 am

    Of course that’s true, but the truth is it’s always true. And if that’s the only reasonable answer, it’s the answer to everything and we can just stop talking and stop going to church and stop listening to conference and stop reading the scriptures and even stop thinking because the answer is ALWAYS to follow the Spirit.

    To me, I guess, that is the given for Mormons. But we still do the other stuff–and I think we’re supposed to. Maybe because the Spirit is best as giving direction to someone who has done the other stuff first and even practiced and made mistakes and learned from them.

  • davidson April 21, 2008, 2:25 pm

    Only one hole in the theory. If a person were truly following the Spirit, he would not be able to stop going to church and stop listening to conference and stop reading the scriptures and even stop thinking, because the Holy Ghost would never direct him to do that. That’s a truth that is always true, which makes the other idea unsustainable. But it was interesting. :smile:

  • Alison Moore Smith April 21, 2008, 3:20 pm

    Ah, you must have missed Elder Poleman’s talk about a decade ago. :smile: (BTW, I did skip church the week before conference with the Spirit’s guidance–or at least tacit approval. Have you really NEVER done so?)

    I think you’re actually putting the cart before the horse–or something.

    I believe we have church meetings NOT because they are eternal, salvational doctrines (do you still go do junior Sunday School?), but because they are one of the means by which we learn to become more like God, learn to discern, learn to reason, learn to apply doctrine, etc. And they are those that happen to be employed today.

    In truth, we only NEED those vehicles BECAUSE we are imperfect at spiritual cognition. If I were in tune enough to never err, JUST by following the spirit–assuming that the Spirit is actually willing to confirm all knowledge to me–there would be nothing more to learn from fast and testimony meeting.

    And, if we do NOT assume that the Spirit is simply going to poof knowledge on my head because I’ve attained some magnificent level of righteousness (which, apparently, none of our prophets even obtained), then ASKING other humans for input and ideas is, in fact, a reasonable, acceptable–maybe even divinely expected–step in finding solid solutions to problems.

    This has come up before a few times, but probably not for a while. Although a reminder to follow the Spirit is always in order, I think it is a GIVEN for Mormons. It doesn’t prohibit–and shouldn’t cut off or minimized–discussion, reason, and sharing of ideas.

    For example, why do we have lessons on all sorts of topics? Couldn’t we just say, “Everyone think about charity. [silence] Now FOLLOW THE SPIRIT!”?

  • east-of-eden April 21, 2008, 4:55 pm

    Couldn’t we just say, “Everyone think about charity. [silence] Now FOLLOW THE SPIRIT!”?

    Sometimes when I’m sitting in meetings that seem to go on and on and on, I wish this could happen. Then I want to say what I really feel about these meetings and pick fights with the bishop becaue I’m feeling ornery, but I don’t because I know the fall out would be too great.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 21, 2008, 5:01 pm

    :rolling:

  • Ray April 21, 2008, 5:50 pm

    It takes an excellent meeting to be better than no meeting.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 21, 2008, 5:53 pm

    Another :rolling:

    I had one bishop who actually recognized that. Yes, he was a jewel. (Gosh, he’s also the guy who called me to be RS president, so he’s also very, very wise. :wink:)

  • davidson April 22, 2008, 8:01 am

    Are your views broad enough to accept another perspective? (Hmmmm. Shall I dig myself in deeper? These people already think I’m a holier-than-thou Molly Mormon. If I’m already in deep, is deeper a negligible matter of degree? Hmmm. Thinking out soft. :smile:)

    I love going to meetings in the Church. Boyd K. Packer quote aside, the Savior said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Can you imagine how He feels about Saint-complaints concerning meetings in His church? Of course we have an obligation to MAKE them good meetings, and to meet only when it is truly necessary. A lot of business can be conducted through phone calls or the Internet. But we have the necessary meetings at His direction, even though the design of meetings changes over the years, as Alison mentioned. I think Boyd K. Packer is a man who must plan his time carefully, and he wants to attend meetings but feels that we need to make them effective if we have them, so precious time isn’t wasted. I agree with him. I didn’t always love going to meetings. I grew up thinking Church meetings were probably the most boring things in the world. When I was in high school, President Kimball made one of his characteristic blunt statements that changed the way I thought about things. He said, in essence, if you are bored in church it is because you are boring, and you haven’t made the effort to invest yourself in the meeting. Kind of knocked me for a loop. So, I decided to experiment with his idea. I told myself I was going to listen ESPECIALLY well to the “boring” speakers. I decided that I would improve my concentration by never taking my eyes off the speaker’s mouth, and I would do as the prophet suggested and pray for the speaker who was “boring.” (‘Course, that’s easier now that I’m not wrestling kids in the foyer, but even when I had a whole quiver-full of restless kids in Sacrament meeting, it was helpful to try to watch the speaker’s mouth, and I explained to the kids that I would like them to be quiet because I really wanted to hear what the speaker had to say. I let them know it was important to me, and that their irreverence was making it so I (and others) couldn’t hear what we wanted and needed to hear.) I have listened to some speakers who weren’t exactly polished, but I have learned that EVERYONE who speaks in a Sacrament meeting, every “dry councilman” or person who teaches a Sunday School or Primary or Young Women’s class has something of worth to say.

    Yesterday our youngest Beehive was the youth speaker in Sacrament meeting. She has always been small for her age, and she has a speech impediment. The girls her age make fun of her and brush her off. She had a lot of difficulty reading the talk she had prepared, but as I listened carefully, I learned she was saying good things, true things. And she was scared to death. (We’ve all felt that way about giving a talk, haven’t we? Okay, most of us.) I try to sit close to the front. I try to smile some encouragement to the speaker and give him or her the feeling that he or she can talk right to me and there is someone who would be glad to hear what they have to say (because I am! That’s really how I feel.) I also try to catch the person later and tell him or her what I learned from or enjoyed about the talk, sometimes accompanied by a hug, if the person is the sort who would not be put off by a hug. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they appreciate seeing a friendly face in the audience when they are so nervous and scared. I know I appreciate seeing one when I’m giving a talk. That’s a vulnerable position to be in.
    So, shoot me. I enjoy church meetings. It’s three hours a week I really look forward to, and I’m always sorry when it ends. I firmly believe you ought to stay home from Church when you’re ill, especially if you’re contagious, but for any other reason, I think the Spirit wouldn’t offer “tacit approval.” Maybe just “tacit.” (Who is it, actually, that would encourage you to stay home from church?) Just my point of view.

  • Ray April 22, 2008, 9:20 am

    davidson, I actually agree with what you said. Some Sundays, I attend up to 7 hours of church – and I have attended 8-9 hours more than once. I love it. I am a Church geek.

    The reason I love the quote I added above is the focus on how important meetings are and the responsibility we have to make them better than anything else that the members might do instead. Our meetings should be wonderful feasts – far and away the best option for those who are expected to attend. If they become “just meetings”, we have failed in our duties to the attendees. Thus, “It take an excellent meeting to be better than no meeting,” puts the onus directly on us to make sure our meetings are excellent.

    J. Reuben Clark once said, “There is no church meeting so unimportant that it cannot start on time; there is no church meeting so important that it cannot end on time.” I believe this means that it is up to us to value our meetings so much that we make them as effective (in every way) as possible – recognizing that other aspects of our lives are important, as well, and not robbing Peter to pay Paul, per se. Our meeting should start on time, and people should be excited to get there and not miss a minute; they should end on time, and people should wish they could go longer – thus inspiring excitement to get to the next meeting on time and not miss a minute.

  • davidson April 22, 2008, 9:28 am

    Loved everything you said, Ray. I’ve never heard the J. Reuben Clark quote before, and I like it. It’s a keeper.

  • marathonermom April 22, 2008, 10:55 am

    Davidson, do NOT apologize for being a striving, committed Saint. I think you’re a warm, wise and wonderful woman, and I wish I were more like you! I am still in the kid-wrangling phase of church attendance–mine are 11, 8, 4, and 2. So church isn’t always a soul feeding experience, much as I wish it were. Honestly, there are weeks that I know I’m only there because it’s the right thing to do! I never knew sacrament meeting could be an aerobic experience until I had kids. :bigsmile:

    We had a fabulous bishop in a previous ward whom we simply loved. But he always let fast and testimony meetings run waaaaay over time because he didn’t want to deny anyone the opportunity to share their testimony. I appreciated the sentiment behind it, but I did not like being held captive every Fast Sunday for an extra 10, 15, even 20 minutes with squirrely kids!

  • davidson April 22, 2008, 11:58 am

    Hugs to you, Marathonermom. You are a sweetheart.

    Okay, okay, I left a meeting once, and it wasn’t because I was being led by the Spirit. I was angry. Week after week (or should I say weak after weak?), I took my three year-old, two year-old, and baby to church, along with the two older girls, only so I could leave meetings I really wanted to be in to walk the foyer and try to get some cooperation from my little ones. Every time I left Sunday School, which was held in the chapel, I was upset about what I was missing in the meeting AND what I saw outside the meeting. The bishop was in one foyer, farming with his neighbor. The Relief Society president and her cohorts were in another foyer, sitting in comfortable armchairs, rehashing their water-skiing trip that week. The Primary president was standing in the hall gossiping with her counselors about one of their Primary teachers, (saying some pretty mean things, actually.) This happened week after week; it wasn’t a special occasion. I suddenly just got mad! (That’s what I get for looking around, instead of straight ahead at the Savior.) If leaders were too important to be in their meetings, what was I doing there, fighting babies in the foyer? They were all friends, that group–all about the same age, all popular leaders in high school, now all cliqued together in permanent leadership positions in our ward, and it seemed they never could outgrow their stupid little high school games. Two of them were my visiting teachers, and when they came visiting teaching, they would sit in my house and talk and talk to each other about the parties they’d had in their homes and the times they went out to dinner together. I never could get a word in edgewise, so after a while, I didn’t try. Then they’d get up to leave, chuck my baby under the chin and tell me how fat she was, and walk out the door, still talking about the things they were going to do next, to which I was not invited.

    In my heart that Sunday, I told them all to go to hell. I took my babies and went home and sat on my bench outside and cried. (I repented of my lousy attitude a few weeks later.) That was really a hard time in my life, so I empathize with mothers and fathers who feel that way.

    And a few years after that, I read the Savior’s admonition to Peter, “What is that to thee?”, concerning concentrating on and judging what others were doing, instead of what I could choose to do. It was actually kind of freeing, to realize that I didn’t need to be concerned about others’ bad choices. The Savior still loved them and would take care of them and lead them along when they were ready and willing to be led. My saying something at that point wouldn’t have accomplished any desirable thing. We are all works in progress.

    I wrote a poem at the time. Of course, it was cynical, and it wreaks of depression and self-righteousness, but it was really a mirror of how I felt then. Nobody else got to see it, but it helped ME feel better, in a sick and twisted sort of way. :smile:

    VISIT FROM ABINADI

    Abinadi? Abinadi? Oh! I remember you!
    You’re that Book of Mormon prophet who was very blunt (but true),
    who knew that right was right, and so, was not afraid to say
    that things were awful in the Church and shouldn’t be that way!

    Please come with me, Abinadi; there’s something you should see.
    I know it won’t agree with you. It never does with me.
    Just pass right through the chapel now, and out this wooden door.
    I’ll show you what the “leadership” thinks meeting time is for.

    That brother in the suit and tie? who’s speaking of his farm?
    He’s Bishop of the ward, and feels there really is no harm
    in skipping Sunday School each week to stand around and chat
    about the price of grain, and if the beef are getting fat.

    Abinadi, there isn’t time to reason now with him.
    We have a group of “leaders” who are gathered in the gym.
    They’re women leaders of the youth, but, sad enough to say,
    the only place they’re leading them is down and far away.

    Just why should younger people feel that Sunday School is wise,
    if “leaders” skip the meetings right before their very eyes?
    That isn’t all. Just down the hall is where the children meet.
    I hope you’ll stay a minute. Relax and have a seat.

    Don’t search the room for “leaders”, for they won’t be there at all;
    they’re busy spreading gossip, and it’s zipping down the hall.
    The children won’t be quiet now, or sit there reverently,
    for children often tune out words and live the things they see.

    Just one more place, Abinadi; the foyer on the end.
    The people there are “leaders” who are quite exclusive friends:
    Relief Society, high councilors, and bishoprics of past;
    they meet there every Sunday, and they really have a blast,
    discussing water-skiing and the parties they have had.
    Abinadi, I try and try, but still I feel so bad!
    I’m out here with my baby, not because I want to be,
    and sometimes I’m discouraged by the “leadership” I see.

    I know that you were brave enough to risk a death by coals
    to say what needed to be said to careless, heedless souls.
    Abinadi, I wish that I could turn the time to you,
    so you could tell the “leaders” what is wrong with what they do.

    I’m just a nameless member, not a “leader” or a martyr,
    and anything I do or say would make my Sundays harder,
    so I will just forget, and try to do what I should do,
    and look to leaders I can trust, Abinadi. Like you.

    (Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. Even reading it now brings back those years of thick, heavy depression. I’m glad to be through that phase of my life. It much more pleasant to seek the good in people.)

  • kiar April 22, 2008, 12:59 pm

    dude, I would hate to be on the recieving end of one of your poems! they are great, to the point and shall I say completly blunt! you rock!
    I went through a phase were I really did not want to be at church, and sat in the hall with my bouncing kids, and then irony of ironies, I was called into the Primary Presidency as the second counselor. Like I don’t spend enough time with my kids, now I have to deal with other peoples crumb snatchers too? I have come to appreiciate the wonder that is Primary, and have to deal with a cliqueish myself. The presidency before me consists of a set of sisters, (one the pres the other the sec) and a a member of the bishopbrics wife. They had all been there for awhile so have thier own routine down pat. Add to this that the pres and first counselor see each other every day and discuss the issues that we should be discussing in our mtgs, and have everything tidy and bundled up when we get to our mtgs on wednesdays. I just get told what decsions have been made, and that is that.
    I love these sisters dearly, they are wonderful and fun, and so great for the kids. but sometimes I feel like a fifth wheel, and wonder why I bother to show up or try to add input.

  • east-of-eden April 22, 2008, 2:07 pm

    Well to clarify…I don’t mind Sundays, and the three hours of the block — although I will admit by the third hour I am on the downhill slide, but on the rest Davidson, I will disagree with you (please don’t take it personally, and I don’t think your a Molly for loving meetings either). I’m talking about meetings where NOTHING gets done, everyone sits and talks most of the time about everything and nothing, no assignments are made, no follow up is given. This is where I hate my time being wasted. For example, my DH and I are ward missionaries. Every month our SP has mandated that the ward missionaries hold a seperate ward council with the ward council to discuss missionary work. So for over a year, the WML, never planned anything, or talked about his karate studio — the bishopric did NOTHING to help this brother plan better mettings. Now, the current WML is way better, but still, there is barely an agenda, no assignements made, no commitments given, no follow up other than to say, “How is so and so doing.” Never mind that most of the ward council doesn’t even bother to show up, so it’s the bishopric, the WML and myself and my husband. I’m sorry, but I can’t call a meeting good, where I feel my time is wasted, and when I express my opinion to that fact, I am promptly put in my place and chastised about not sustaining the church leadership by a priesthood holder — which is not true, I do sustain them, I just don’t think I have to agree with them all of the time on every last little thing. When the times have come that my DH and I have been in charge of the meeting, we’ve had a good, planned out agenda, a small lesson from Preach My Gospel, assignements made and the meeting has been kept to a reasonable time, less than 45 mins. I think if memebers on the ground really did take time to effectively plan, and realize that “magnifying a calling” does not mean holding a meeting, and do as Packer and the other GAs have councled us to do,things would be better, but until I see that in action, I will have my doubts about meetings.

  • east-of-eden April 22, 2008, 2:08 pm

    but sometimes I feel like a fifth wheel, and wonder why I bother to show up or try to add input.

    I think you should tell them how you feel, I’m sure they are not even aware of how excluded you feel. There is nothing wrong with advocating for yourself.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 22, 2008, 3:40 pm

    Posted By: davidsonI love going to meetings in the Church.

    I do, too. In Boca, at ward council, the bishop instituted Lingo Longer by saying, “Alison’s always here for at least an hour after church, we might as well give her some company.” My presidency meetings were always LOOONNNGGGGG.

    But MY preference isn’t the point. Or yours. The truth is, the “consolidated schedule” was created to have LESS meeting and travel and MORE family time–and it has actually resulted in almost DOUBLE the meetings.

    Aside from that oddity, the current meetings often ARE a waste of time because leaders aren’t prepared, haven’t created an agenda, don’t know how to run an efficient meeting, don’t know how to keep on track, spend half the time socializing (me!), don’t have a real purpose, etc.

    My bishop, the jewel, did this:

    Used the phone whenever possible (this was pre-standard-email). Called NECESSARY meetings. Respected the time commitments and families of others–that is, he made his meetings brief, efficient, well-organized, and on point. THEN he would allow all who needed to leave, leave. THEN he would hang around and let those of us who needed more socialization or discussion, do that, too.

    Can you imagine how He feels about Saint-complaints concerning meetings in His church?

    Your statement seems to assume an answer, but I don’t. I think if meetings are taking people away from family or other obligations unnecessarily that he doesn’t mind the “complaining.”

    I have listened to some speakers who weren’t exactly polished, but I have learned that EVERYONE who speaks in a Sacrament meeting, every “dry councilman” or person who teaches a Sunday School or Primary or Young Women’s class has something of worth to say.

    Hang on. I think you’ve leapt to an erroneous conclusion. Did I miss anyone saying that they were too sophisticated or righteous or spiritually advanced (or whatever) to learn from a meeting? That is what it seems you’re implying. But no one said any such thing. I do see such things often on other, unnamed blogs (particular with regard to the apparently horrid Ensign), but haven’t seen it ever said in seriousness here.

    I firmly believe you ought to stay home from Church when you’re ill, especially if you’re contagious, but for any other reason, I think the Spirit wouldn’t offer “tacit approval.” Maybe just “tacit.” (Who is it, actually, that would encourage you to stay home from church?) Just my point of view.

    Could it be…SATAN? :shocked:

    Honestly, I think you have to be very careful about having such a specific and narrow view. It’s not about Molly Mormonism. It’s about being reasonable.

    The last time I stayed home, with utter on-high approval, I wasn’t sick at all. But my child was. I have also stayed home when I was ill.

    I have missed church in order to assist a woman my husband home taught in Boca who had an emergency (not life-threatening in any way or even physical). I have missed church when a dear friend has a crisis and needed desperately to talk to someone who loved her.

    I gave birth on Sunday and, sadly, missed church that day. I have also missed church on a few other days I was hospitalized or in severe–although not contagious–pain.

    A man in my student ward refused to pull over on the way to church to help a distressed driver saying it would “break the Sabbath” and he’d miss church. His wife pled with him to stop. The bishop told the man he was being a Pharisee and that God would rather have him serve another than sit on his behind in a pew in such a circumstance.

    My sister misses all or part of church every week (depending upon their current schedule) because the broadcast of The Spoken Word is recorded on Sunday morning. The same is true of all the MoTab, the cast, the crew, the ushers, etc.

    Most of the hospital, police, fire, hotel, hospital personnel also miss church on frequent occasions.

    President Hinckley missed church at LEAST on the Sunday afternoon he flew to South Florida. Likely dozens of other times due to his travel, too.

    As a general rule, I “always” attend every meeting I’m supposed to attend. I go to ward parties and almost every optional meeting as well. But I don’t think meetings are the most important thing on God’s agenda, either, and I think he might often approve of missing them.

  • jendoop April 22, 2008, 8:35 pm

    Please remember the most important part of church is partaking of the sacrament. It is my understanding that often the First Presidency and the Twelve hold meetings where they partake of the sacrament together in the temple. I would assume one of the reasons this is done is because of that meeting’s great importance and the fact that many of them may miss their own ward sacrament meeting because of their responsibilities. (There is specific reference to this meeting in the Spring 2008 BYU magazine in an article by President Monson titled ‘Guideposts for Life’s Journey’)

    As far as MoTab, in my ward growing up there was a member of MoTab who was given permission to always attend the latest meeting block so he would never have need to miss his most important of all meetings, sacrament meeting.

    One day we may not need meetings but it is not in this life. So it seems beyond the point to discuss at length that one day we will be so awesome as to not need meetings. Meetings are about communication- with the spirit, with each other, even with ourselves. We will always need communication.

  • davidson April 22, 2008, 8:49 pm

    Kiar, it’s too bad your presidency doesn’t recognize what a valuable asset you are. You have so much to offer. Thank you for your kindness to me.

    East, I’m sorry you’ve had those experiences with council meetings. I see your point. My husband used to attend Scout meetings where all they talked about was bear encounters! He really had a hard time going to those. I think council meetings are like these threads. We kind of wander away from the topic because we’re friends and we’re used to thinking out loud together. It takes a good leader to keep a meeting on track without offending, but I think it is worth the effort. Some are just pretty unskilled at having an “excellent” council meeting, usually from lack of training. And those who should train worry about offending. (Ya know? People have been known to walk away from church because they get offended over things like that. I’ve heard my husband agonize over how to correct and train without causing difficulties in relationships. It’s a pretty tough line to walk, and I feel for him.)

    Alison, I just don’t know what to say to you. I’ve had the feeling that you disapprove of everything about me! You make the quiet little jabs at me, and don’t want me to take it personally, but then you make assumptions about my assumptions, and you take it personally. What’s a girl to do? I’ve tried to be friendly to you in the past, and I feel like I’m getting nowhere. I’m sorry if I rub you the wrong way. Frankly, sometimes you rub me the wrong way, so at least we’re on even ground. I apologize for my misdeeds. My great hope is to be your friend.

    Okay, I said it wrong. I wasn’t explicit enough. What I was trying to say is that the Spirit would never give a person permission to stay home from church simply because he or she didn’t feel like going. I recognize that there are good reasons why people stay home. I’m not as unreasonable as you imply. I’ve stayed home from church when I was sick. I ‘ve stayed home from church when a child was sick. I’ve stayed home from church because I was in the hospital or at home in pain. Last week I was late to church because a friend was crying and needed to talk. I love and respect the people who work on Sundays, not because they need the money but because they are in responsible positions of service. The uncle I loved so much whom I stayed with while I went to school worked almost every Sunday, because he fed the missionaries at the MTC. I recognize that General Authorities and others must travel. I am thankful the Lord looks on the desires of the heart and not just on the attendance roll.

    Okay, what do I have to do to call a truce? I wave the white flag. I wish we could just start over and be friends.

  • agardner April 22, 2008, 10:26 pm

    I enjoy my Sunday meetings, but will admit that I think our bishop goes way overboard on other meetings, and even in taking Sacrament meeting too long (he often gets up after the speakers to add something and we end up there another 5-10 minutes).

    What is hard for me right now is that my husband is in the bishopric and they are meeting from 7 until around 10:30-12 (yes, 12 midnight) every Wednesday, and from 7 am – 9:45 am on Sunday mornings, not to mention the meetings, tithing, etc. after church. This means that dh is spending pretty much from 7:00 a.m until 6:00 p.m. (most weeks) at the church, and every Wednesday night for at least 3-4 hours. This is his third time as a counselor in the bishopric and it’s never been like this before. I’m really frustrated by it! Problem for me is that I can’t see what is being accomplished, and of course he can’t talk about most of it, and yada yada yada. I just don’t think it’s necessary.

    Do you know what he (bishop) started doing? Holding a “pre-BYC” meeting the week before BYC. My friend is in the YW presidency and told me that these pre-BYC meetings are taking 2 hours! Yikes.

    I’m really trying to be the good supportive wife and ward member, but I just can’t see where this is very effective meeting management. Both the bishop and 2nd counselor have their children raised and out of the house, but all my kids are under age 9! They never see their dad between his work and calling.

    Not trying to be bitter, and I know I have to repent for feeling this way, but you ladies are my outlet to vent, since none of you know me “in real life”.

  • agardner April 22, 2008, 10:31 pm

    BTW, I forgot to comment about people mingling in the halls during Sunday meetings. Davidson, I really appreciated your comments. I think it’s fantastic that we have friends at church and that we want to socialize with one another when we see each other on Sundays. However, I don’t think that’s the main purpose. Having been in primary for most of the last 10 years, I don’t know much about how Sunday School and RS work nowdays, but “back in the day” I really enjoyed the lessons and the learning that took place. I think half my ward sluffs those meetings! I went into the overflow area on Sunday to grab some hymn books for Primary, and there were at least 15 people standing around in various groups chatting – this was right towards the end of Sunday School (long after the area should have cleared from Sacrament meeting). It really made me sad because I miss those meetings a lot since I never get to go to them.

  • kiar April 22, 2008, 11:09 pm

    oohh That makes me mad too! if they can’t find it in themselves to go to Sunday school, let them volunteer so that those of us stuck inthe black hole can get a little bit of Sunday sustanence! I wanted to implement a plan were the teachers in Primary could attend Relief Society at least once a month, but the bishopbric vetoed it. Oh well, I guess they figure women in Primary don’t need to be spirtually fed.:fierce:

  • Ray April 22, 2008, 11:17 pm

    agardner, how assertive is your husband? Would he feel comfortable talking about the meeting issue with the Bishop – or the High Council rep for your ward – or the Stake President? I have a hard time with the Wed night meetings, but the pre-BYC meeting . . . Wow! That should be addressed, plain and simple.

  • Tinkerbell April 22, 2008, 11:29 pm

    I hope I have time to read all of this thread tomorrow. It looks interesting.

  • naomlette April 23, 2008, 2:45 am

    I’m whispering this to you because I don’t want to thread-jack. I’m totally with you on Primary being the black-hole of church. I’ve been praying for months to be released, and even talked to the bishop about it, but nothing so far. I’m trying to enjoy it and do a good job, but GAH! Sunday is not a day of rest and spiritual renewal when you are in Primary! My solution is to let the older members teach Primary. They are the ones who enjoy the little boogers so much.

  • east-of-eden April 23, 2008, 7:43 am

    I forgot to comment about people mingling in the halls during Sunday meetings

    We call this the Gossip Doctrine Class, it’s well attended in our ward too!

  • Ray April 23, 2008, 9:33 am

    Another fwiw: I view the Gossip Doctrine Class as a failure of leadership. That’s blunt, but it’s my take.

    There are very legitimate reasons for some people to be in the hallways temporarily, but the situations you describe should be addressed lovingly and directly by the SS President – each week until it is resolved. If it persists, it should be addressed by the Bishop – again, lovingly but directly – even if it has to be over the pulpit where lots of people are involved. I have seen the result firsthand in our current ward – both in reverence in Sac Mtg and in Sunday School and RS/PH attendance. Handled gently, it can change – and the change can be a wonderful thing.

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 9:34 am

    Gossip Doctrine Class! HA! Love it! Can’t wait to tell my husband. Thanks for the chuckle, East.

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 9:36 am

    You posted while I was posting, Ray. Thanks for the good ideas. I’ll pass them on.

  • east-of-eden April 23, 2008, 10:14 am

    Another fwiw: I view the Gossip Doctrine Class as a failure of leadership. That’s blunt, but it’s my take.

    Agree totally, and it contributes to the terrible reverence problem in our ward — I don’t think you are being blunt either, just honest. Every year at tithing settlement the bishop asks what they can do for us, and I always ask, “Can you please do somthing about the reverence in the ward in general, the hallways during and after church, the people milling about during classes etc.” He and his councilors have said over and over that they don’t want to offend anyone so they say nothing (which is sort of their general style of leadership, do and say nothing). I guess they have had people tell them “We will stop coming to Church if you do such and such”. So I don’t know what to say or do other than to try and be so patient with the chatty-patties in the ward and try to be as reverent as I can be, and attend a class and socialize or take care of business at other times. I’ve been in wards where I’ve seen the SS pres, bishopric etc, go up to people and ask them to please find a class to attend. It worked and with in a few weeks people were in class and the reverence level was better.

  • agardner April 23, 2008, 3:01 pm

    agardner, how assertive is your husband? Would he feel comfortable talking about the meeting issue with the Bishop – or the High Council rep for your ward – or the Stake President?

    Ray, that is the question of the week! :-)

    When the first midnight meeting happened, I was furious! Well, first of all, I was scared. I had gone to bed at 10;30 and woke up at midnight with no husband in bed. I tried his cell phone, no answer (but he does not get good reception at the church so I wasn’t too freaked out about that). Tried the number at the church, no answer. My fear was that they had gone to visit someone and had either been in an accident or crossed an angry apostate. We live in a very spread-out ward with a lot of forest areas and swamps and I thought, “Gee, he probably went to visit someone and ran the car off the road into a swamp and no one has any idea!”.

    So, I went and looked for him! They were in the parking lot talking! This was 12:15 by that time. I just drove by, went home and back to bed, and dh came in about 20 minutes later.

    We were forgiving of that one, because the bishop was new and I figured it must just be that there is a lot to do…but when it kept happening it has become more and more of an issue for me. But now he has been in for over 6 months, and it’s definitely the norm, so I think I should say something.

    I honestly don’t think my husband would. He is very much trying not to rock the boat, as he has some other issues with the bishop’s leadership style but is trying to be a good counselor and be forgiving of human shortcomings. However, I’m not as nice, and am quite likely to say something here very soon if it doesn’t change.

    Funny little dynamics…our high council rep is one of my husband’s employees, and the bishop works in the same building but in a different capacity. I think dh is also trying to keep things peaceful at work!

    Oh, I could go on and on about some weird stuff in our ward/stake, so I’m not sure how it all would be handled even if one of us did say something.

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 3:25 pm

    Ah, hugs to you, Agardner. It gets so sticky, the people problems. It’s so easy to sit here and say, “Yeah, you really need to talk to him,” but when you’re in the trenches, it’s so much harder.
    The ramifications of speaking up are never completely clear, and the ripples could spread out to cause a lot of problems in other areas, including your marriage. But in light of Elder Ballard’s recent talk, your concerns as a young mother are not minimal, either. I think the General Authorities are talking about being considerate of the women in their lives more than they ever have, and so I know in which direction they would lean. Maybe that Bishop doesn’t realize what it’s costing you, though, and since you don’t speak up, he must feel it’s okay. I guess the trick might be to be completely rid of animosity and accusatory tones, if and when you do ever feel inclined to talk to him. Just tell him your concerns and ask him in a friendly way how it would be best to handle them. And if necessary, give him a copy of J. Reuben Clark’s statement from Ray! That was a great one! Might be a great way to start the dialogue in a personal interview.

  • jendoop April 23, 2008, 5:55 pm

    Agardner I think your bishop would be sad to learn this is such a hardship for you, I bet if you went to him not just with the complaint but other ways for their counseling to take place he’d be open to it.

    Posted By: davidson I guess the trick might be to be completely rid of animosity and accusatory tones, if and when you do ever feel inclined to talk to him.

    By Jove I think she’s got it!

    You’ve got to speak up!
    That doesn’t mean being rude and abusive while claiming its ok because you’re right. Tact is SOOOOO important. We are all in the church to learn, sometimes that learning has to take place in conversations where specific issues are discussed. If people aren’t willing to admit they could change a few things they’re in the wrong church. It is scary that there is a bishop out there who is not willing to confront issues that are a problem.

    My recent branch president was a great example of this to me. In my presidency I had a very angry counselor who felt she should have been called as president instead of me (that would have been just fine with me). It was really hard to work together. He showed me in practice these steps:

    1st- teach the doctrine publicly and watch for change.

    2nd- teach the doctrine to a smaller group in which those who need correction are sure to be included (ie FHE, Ward council) and watch for change.

    3rd- In a very compassionate and loving way have a one on one discussion with the person, discussing many issues and listening to their concerns, not just addressing the major issue, then again watch for change. (this step involved having the same conversation with every member of the presidency)

    4th- in my situation this would have been the release of the counselor where she would have been given a new calling that would help her learn the issue at hand.

    Thankfully it never got to that point. She was amazingly humble after the 3rd step, she came to our presidency meeting and apologized. Because she brought those issues into the open I was able to express my love and understanding for her and apologized for the misunderstandings we had. It brought us closer and taught us both many lessons.

    Maybe the final step in the plan to remedy Gossip Doctrine Hour is to call the worst offender as the teacher or Sunday School Pres.

    My regrets to those of you who have spoken up and gotten no where, it can be difficult to continue to sustain when your very real concerns are disregarded.

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 6:21 pm

    Wise stuff, Jendoop. Thanks for telling us.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 23, 2008, 7:31 pm

    davidson, I still don’t hate you. :smile: I just disagree.

    First, I’ll address your point. I never said that the Spirit would tell us to stay home from church “just because we felt like it.” (Although I don’t rule that out, it’s sure never happened to me. I do think we have to be very careful to make declarations specifically about what the Spirit will and will not say, outside of authoritative counsel.) I simply said that there are lots of times the Spirit might dictate staying home after you said it NEVER would. I think there are lots of times and circumstances when that could–and do–happen.

    The whole reason this discussion diverged was because you said, “The complete answer… is: LET THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDE.”

    And I said, I thought that was a given, but is NOT the “complete answer” and should not cut off discussion because otherwise there would be NO POINT in going to meetings. No, I didn’t mean there would be no point in taking the sacrament or doing ordinances, etc. –things that generally happen AT meetings. But there would be no point in going to Relief Society if THE COMPLETE ANSWER was to “let the Holy Spirit Guide.” Because, as I said, you’d go into class EVERY week and they’d teach nothing and discuss nothing because there would be nothing more to say than, “Let the Holy Spirit Guide. Answer complete.”

    But the church model is very different. Conferences, manuals, magazines, they are full of scriptures, stories, personal experiences, testimony, etc. All of which, apparently, are to HELP us discern and HELP us make wise choices and HELP us hear the Spirit. The Ensign, for example, doesn’t just say, “Visiting Teaching: Let the Holy Spirit Guide.” or “Tithing: Let the Holy Spirit Guide.”

    So, while I appreciate the reminder to follow the Spirit, I don’t think that we’re expected to use that as “the complete answer.”

    Let me give you an example. One of your first posts was addressing the night problems with your husband. We all did what we could to help, console, give resources, etc. Right? But what if we had just said, “Well, davidson, follow the Spirit.” The answer would have been valid. I mean you ARE supposed to follow the Spirit in all things, right? But I’m guessing it wouldn’t have helped much. You already live a life trying to follow the Spirit, but you still have the problem to deal with.

    I hope that makes sense. We should all follow the Spirit. Agreed. But let’s still openly discuss issues and solutions, etc.

  • partone April 23, 2008, 8:00 pm

    Grace, did you have more problems for what you said? I’d like to hear more about what happened.

    Davidson, I think that’s a good answer, but since we’re always supposed to do that I don’t think it’s going to help. We still talk to experts or read books or look for advice or help from people we trust.

    The article made me think about lots of personal issues and times I’ve kept silent when I should have spoken up and the opposite also.

  • partone April 23, 2008, 8:04 pm

    Sorry I didn’t keep reading. Yea that’s what I was trying to say that letting the holy spirit guide is something we always do but we need other help also.

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 9:17 pm

    Ah yes, but you assumed that when I said, “Let the Holy Spirit guide”, I meant to exclude attending meetings and reading the Ensign and talking with people we love and trust. In all fairness, I never said that, or even thought it; I think you assumed it. I’m a big fan of all the ways in which the Spirit can speak to us, including through other people. (I’m really uncomfortable doing this, continuing to try to defend my position. But since we’re seeking to understand each other, it’s probably a good idea to press forward. I appreciate your trying. You have also given me the courage to keep trying.) I have no trouble with discussing, within the confines of a marriage, changes that could and should be made, but it has to be worded so carefully. I have trouble with the idea that woman is there to save her husband from his own stupidity, or a man is there to save his wife from her own stupidity. That’s all I’m trying to say. You thought the wife who spoke in your religion class was idiotic. I think she was thinking carefully about how unkind words in a marriage might do more harm than good. I think she was offering respect to her husband, admitting that he was a grown man, not some child who needed to be corrected, recognizing that if he needed correction, the best correction might come from a divine member of the Godhead. I also felt that you were saying your relationship with your husband was up-to-date, and mine was an out-dated mess. (Maybe you WEREN’T saying that, but it felt like it.) It’s not a mess; it’s just different. More than one way to skin a cat. We actually communicate very well. And I do depend on the Spirit to convey to him things I want him to know, in addition to that. To illustrate, there was the conversation I had with my sister, which I told you about on another thread. The thing I had been praying my husband would do better was to take more responsibility for having Family Home Evening, being the leader the Brethren keep insisting the father ought to be. My sister had wanted the same thing from her husband, but she had been yelling at him about it! I told my sister I had just been praying that my husband would catch the vision. He knew it was something he was supposed to do; I didn’t need to tell him. I make it a point not to nag him about things he already knows he should do. Nobody likes that! I respect his right to be fallible. He also doesn’t nag me about things I know I should do, like losing weight, keeping the house cleaner, etc. His real approval means so much to me, as I know mine does to him. At that point, my husband, who had been working in the garage and couldn’t hear us, walked in the door to make a sandwich. The conversation with my sister was discontinued. As he was walking out the door with his sandwich, he said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about this. I need to do a better job of organizing and leading family home evening. I’ll take care of it for Monday night.” (And he has taken care of it ever since.) My sister’s jaw dropped open. He COULDN’T have heard us talking. He was in the garage using loud power tools. That was a good way for US to resolve that problem, and it might not have happened if I had set out to “correct” him. I know him. He would have dug in his heels and resisted with all his might.

    Your example about my night ordeal was a good one, Alison, and I know you remember how uncomfortable (and grouchy) it made me to plow that whole thing up. I freely admit that the Spirit spoke something to me through all of you that I had not been able to arrive at through the Spirit on my own, so your observation was valid. I will be eternally grateful.

  • Tinkerbell April 23, 2008, 9:28 pm

    This was interesting to read. Thanks everyone. I was thinking about something related to this on Sunday. As YW President, I rarely attended Sunday School because I was always getting stuff ready for YW. I know, I know – get ready before church. That was hard when I had to go to both ward council AND ward welfare each month right before sacrament meeting and be pregnant or nursing. I was never a YW Pres when I wasn’t pregnant or nursing. But, it was really important to me to be ready for YW on the hour so that the girls could come in and get started. I always had the birthday basket ready, the announcements ready to hand to the Laurel President, the music ready if we needed to practice a song. Our current YW President (good woman) attends Sunday School and is always late to YW. She never has anything ready. Sometimes the youth get out before Gospel Doctrine, so they spend that much more time in the hall. This Sunday, our YW President was 10 minutes late while the rest of us were sitting in there (I have a 14 month old and my husband is in the Bishopric, so I am not making it to Sunday School much now either). We never start our lessons before 3:30! It is really aggravating to me that we always have to cut out half our lessons when so much time is wasted pulling things together at the beginning.

    I appreciate her desire to be in Sunday School. But, I also think it does a disservice to the youth to get started so late.

    We had a similar situation in my old ward when I was in the Primary Presidency. As soon as sacrament meeting got out, primary kids would run down the hall and into the Primary room. It was mass chaos for the first 5-10 minutes. We decided that we needed to work on reverence, so a few leaders would leave at the beginning of the closing song in sacrament meeting to be ready in the Primary room. As the children entered, the piano would be playing and whoever was conducting would be standing in the front with her arms folded. It made a HUGE difference in the reverence.

    I guess my point is that sometimes I think that our callings and duties do warrant missing other meetings (or parts of meetings) if it benefits the people we serve (although I am not advocating chatting in the hall).

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 10:19 pm

    Good points, Stephanie, and very well said.

  • jennycherie April 24, 2008, 5:15 am

    Posted By: RayThere are very legitimate reasons for some people to be in the hallways temporarily, but the situations you describe should be addressed lovingly and directly by the SS President – each week until it is resolved.

    I will tell my husband!! You know, I am fortunate in my current calling (SS teacher) and with the age of my kids to not have a clue who is ever in the hallways during any meeting. I think I spend a rushed 60 seconds down the hall as we try to hit the chapel before the end of the opening hymn (or a leisurely 90 seconds if we actually arrive a few minutes early), another rushed 60 seconds back down the hall to the SS/RS room immediately after Sacrament meeting and then another brisk walk after RS to the Primary room to collect my kids before they take off and other than that I don’t see the halls at church. I truly have no idea *who* might be in the hall during any of our meetings but I have noticed, as far as SS attendance goes, that every time there is a quick reminder from the pulpit to quickly move on to SS classes, attendance in my class goes up. Now, it seems like we shouldn’t have to be reminded every week but it seems to take almost constant reminders. . .but even better than the reminder, in my opinion, is seeing our ward leaders—all very busy–attending and participating in SS. They don’t all make it every week, but *most* weeks the leaders are *mostly* in SS. I think that makes a huge difference. Our bishop and his counselors frequently attend and contribute to SS as do the EQP, HP group leader, YWP and RSP. Sometimes there will be urgent ward business that cannot wait, but having their example of SS attendance is *so* important.

    That being said, my husband is the SS president and is *so* frustrated both by the number of people who are in the hall AND by their response if he tries to gently steer them towards SS.

  • jennycherie April 24, 2008, 5:20 am

    Posted By: east-of-edenI’m sorry, but I can’t call a meeting good, where I feel my time is wasted,

    one more thought–I think that it is *good* to be dissatisfied with ineffective, time-wasting meetings. If we do not have discontent over things that are not good, why would we ever change them? It was sitting through hours long presidency meetings with very little accomplished that made me *insist* on curtailing presidency meetings (1 hour maximum/week) when I was in a position to do so. east-of-eden, I would love to come to any meeting you are in charge of because there is no doubt that it will be well-organized, efficient, and well worth the time spent. Hopefully, with your influence, the meetings you attend will begin to improve.

  • east-of-eden April 24, 2008, 7:38 am

    I don’t know if my meetings are great, but life is busy enough with out having to go and sit around while all the people in the meeting chit-chat about everything under the sun for an hour before the heart of the matter is gotten to. I guess, I go wanting to be uplifted, taught, and feel like my time was well spent, so when I have the chance to be in charge, I run the kind of meeting I’d want to attend.

    I know we joke about the 14th Artcile of Faith “We believe in meetings, if it can turn into a meeting we will attend it bla, bla, bla” but sometimes that is just not very funny after a 40 hr work week and a sinus headache. I sometimes think, and this is just in this ward, that some of the men like to spend their time in meetings, so that they can avoid their responsibilites at home, which saddenes me because I’m friends with their very tired and frustrated wives.

    Anyway….

  • jennycherie April 24, 2008, 9:15 am

    Posted By: east-of-edenI don’t know if my meetings are great,

    In that case, let me refer you to the answer:

    Posted By: east-of-edenWhen the times have come that my DH and I have been in charge of the meeting, we’ve had a good, planned out agenda, a small lesson from Preach My Gospel, assignements made and the meeting has been kept to a reasonable time, less than 45 mins.

    THAT makes a great meeting–agenda, lesson and assignments packaged and ready to go in under an hour. Look it up. I’m sure it’s in the dictionary under “great meeting”. :wink:

  • Alison Moore Smith April 24, 2008, 9:43 am

    Posted By: davidsonI also felt that you were saying your relationship with your husband was up-to-date, and mine was an out-dated mess. (Maybe you WEREN’T saying that, but it felt like it.).

    I appreciate your post, but have no idea where this came from. When did I address YOUR marriage at all? If you note, this article was written almost two years ago–long before I met you. So, honestly, it wasn’t referring to you at all. Not sure how it could have seemed that way. :confused:

    Something stood out in your post. Please understand that I’m NOT trying to sound mean, it’s just an observation about approaches. So, now I AM referring to your situation specifically, but I hope you won’t take this as a personal attack. It’s something that we’ve had entire columns about in the past.

    I do realize that different approaches are acceptable, but I found it odd that you were saying that NOT telling your husband about your concerns with was a good path–while at the same time you WERE telling your sister about your concerns about your husband. To me that is backward, or at least partly wrong-headed. Maybe kindly telling your husband your concerns won’t be effective with your particular husband, but why would telling your sister be OK?

    Anyway, I’m not trying to start something up. I guess I think it’s more FAIR to speak to your husband directly about your concerns than to just pray and tell your sister. If my husband was bothered about, for example, my weight, and didn’t say anything to ME, but told his BROTHER, I would seriously die of embarrassment and think he was being disloyal to me.

    I appreciate all the comments here. Particularly about those who might have legitimate reason to leave a meeting. The example of the bishop in the foyer reminded me of that, too. It’s certainly possible that he was inspired to fellowship that particular member at that particular time, even just with friendly chat. Seriously. But in meetinghouses with many wards, you often simply cannot set up rooms PRIOR to church. Your only choice is to leave a few minutes early or deal with the chaos.

    Another example, when Sam was Sunday School president, he was in charge of those quarterly teacher training meetings. Yawn. Well, yes, he is a great, interesting, well-prepared teacher–no matter what he’s teaching. But his quarterlies were the best I have ever seen. Well prepared, relevant, brief, directed specifically to the ages of the teachers. He has this way of really making the best of such time.

    Did I mention that he’s cute, too? :bigsmile:

  • east-of-eden April 24, 2008, 10:03 am

    :cry:Thanks Jenny!

  • Tinkerbell April 24, 2008, 10:06 am

    We’ve had awesome Sunday School teachers in my ward. There are rarely people standing in the hall chatting (who don’t have small kids). Even people with young kids want to be in there because the lessons are so good. (I did go to Sunday School for the year before I got called to be YW President).

  • kiar April 25, 2008, 8:19 am

    I agree! sorry I have taken so long to reply, I have been dealing with my munchkins and their many issues! I have been in Four Primary Presidencies, in three different wards, and have been involved somehow since I graduated from YW. I am only 29, but I am frankly burnt out, and have no idea what is going on in “grownup land”. I have run into the same obstacles in every ward, with attempting to make Primary not such a black-hole! I have approached every bishop and Pres. about having at least one Sunday a month that the sisters in Primary could go to RS. I have been shot down every time. Arggg! I get told, “well thats not how the program works, and the sisters need to be in Primary. Eventually they will get released, and can attend RS.” Umm, we have one sister that has been in Primary for 10+ years!

  • naomlette April 26, 2008, 11:19 pm

    Our last PP was PP for several years before she was released! And she told me when we were called that she was a “lifer”. I have no idea why bishops and presidents would shoot such a fantastic idea as you have, down. When all the sisters in my Primary had to go to RS because of the visiting teaching roundup they do every year, I was amazed at how happy they all were! HUGE sighs of relief were being breathed by all of us. And the poor men (our ward has couples teach Primary) all looked so dissapointed. :sad: What I would do is, arrange with another sister who may actually want to sub in Primary occasionally to sub for you once a month, or once every two months or so. If you do that and are confronted about it, say that if they want a Primary teacher that is happy to be there, that is what you need to do, or else be released.I was told me when I was called to Nursery (my fourth time) over a year ago that they release teachers fairly quickly. Well, I got released from Nursery, but called to Sunbeams! AUGH!!! That doesn’t count you know! :tongue:

  • kiar April 27, 2008, 10:01 am

    hee hee! nope it sure doesn’t! I don’t know why either, I have never been able to get a straight answer. We do have a set of teachers, that since they are both new to the church, are allowed to trade off Sundays, but they have been members less than 2 years. We did sort of sneak around it by giving our sisters a “free pass” for Christmas. they are allowed to get a substitute for a Sunday they choose so that they can attend RS. So far, no one has used it, but they are always teasing us about it!
    I understand that we need to “fulfill our callings” but when you get so many people that are burnt out, and need to have some spiritual uplifting, and all we get is “go back to Primary, sorry I know you have 4 kids, but you get to hang out with them for more time of the day then you already do… ect” and the RS forgets you exist, it gets a little blarg!
    I have had so many people not recognize me, because I go straight from Sac to Primary, that I have been here almost 2 years, and people are still asking me if I am a visitor. Yikes!

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