Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lesson 27: What Worked?

So, how did Lesson 27 go? What topics led to the most interesting discussion? What pointers can you give?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 27: Good News/Bad News

I have good news and bad news about this week's Gospel Doctrine Underground post(s) on Lesson 27. First, the good news: There is a really interesting post and discussion on the lesson going on at By Common Consent. You will want to check it out.

The bad news: Most of my ideas for a post this week have been addressed by the BCC post. I am not sure what I can add . . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 27: Getting Started

The next couple of lessons deal with the Missouri period, the conflict between the Saints and their neighbors, and the resulting adversity and suffering. Here are a couple of resources on the Missouri period that I found interesting:



I also highly recommend the chapters in Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling that deal with this turbulent time in Church history.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lesson 26: What Worked?

So, I focused my lesson primarily on Thomas Marsh and his ups and downs with the Joseph Smith and the Church. I engaged in more story-telling that I usually do, and did not get a lot of discussion. Everyone seems to know the "cream strippings" story (it did figure prominently in the apostasy lesson), so I think my lesson added some depth and complexity to Thomas Marsh's character and relationship to the Church.

How about you? How did you approach this lesson? What was particularly interesting to your class?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 26: Thomas Marsh

The lesson this week focuses entirely on Section 112 of the Doctrine & Covenants, and the theme is missionary work. In my opinion, the lesson does not really track with the text that well. Section 112 is directed to Thomas Marsh as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. It contains personal counsel and admonition for him, as well as direction on how to lead the Apostles in their missionary labors. The manual, on the other hand, focuses on the sacrifices the rank and file members of the Church in Kirtland made to share the gospel (huh?), the Twelve preaching in England (ok), and the Kirtland saints remaining faithful despite adversity, which is kind of ironic, given the Thomas Marsh back-story.

The Thomas Marsh back-story makes Section 112 pretty interesting. Here was a guy who converted to the Church in the earliest days and rose to preside over the Quorum of the Twelve. He has an interesting relationship with Joseph Smith, taking him on when he thought Joseph was too hard on the Twelve (see Rough Stone Rolling at 298). He flees Missouri during the conflict between the Mormons and the Missourians, and eventually testifies against the Prophet, accusing him, essentially, of trying to set up his own theocratic kingdom on the American frontier. Somewhere in the midst of this is the famous cream strippings story (his wife holds back the cream form some milk she shared with a neighbor, which leads to conflict, Church courts, appeals to the First Presidency, etc). Thomas leaves the Church for almost 20 years, but later rejoins the Saints in Utah and reconciles with the brethren.

To me, this story makes some of the passages in Section 112 especially interesting, even poignant. For example, the Lord tells Thomas that “there have been some few things in thine heart and with thee with which I, the Lord, was not well pleased.” D&C 112:2. The Lord counsels Thomas, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give the answers to thy prayers.” D&C 112:10. “Exalt not yourselves; rebel not against my servant Joseph; for verily I say unto you, I am with him, and my hand shall be over him; and the keys which I have given unto him, and also unto youward, shall not be taken from him till I come.” D&C 112:15.

The one verse that really strikes me is 13. After telling Thomas to teach and admonish the Twelve, he says, “And after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted and I shall heal them.” I wonder if Thomas had any sense in 1837 how this verse might play out for him, how the Lord might feel after him. Twenty years later, after leaving the Church and the Saints, then making his way west, he met with Brigham Young and asked if he could rejoin the Church. A few days later, Brigham Young asked him to address the Saints in a meeting on Temple Square. Thomas said,

My voice was never very strong, but it has been very much weakened of late years
by the afflicting rod of Jehovah. He loved me too much to let me go
without whipping. . . . For if he had not cared anything about me he would
not have taken me by the arm and given me such a shaking. . . . I know
that I was a very stiff-necked man. . . . I want your fellowship; I want
your God to be my God. . . . I have learned to understand what David said
when he exclaimed, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to
dwell in the tents of wickedness."

Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Deseret Book 1997.

Thomas Marsh lived through an amazing, difficult, complicated time. The events around him challenged his faith and led him on a tortuous journey. In the end, it appears that the Lord felt after him and brought him home. Can we hope for anything more?

Does the story of Thomas Marsh make the lesson material more meaningful for you? Or does it just not fit this week? Does Section 112 fit in the lesson this week?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25: The Power of Godliness

Whoo! It has been hard lately finding time to post. I will try to get something out on lesson 25 later today or tomorrow. In the mean time, here is a post I did a few months ago on Priesthood and the Power of Godliness, which also refers you to an old post at Mormon Matters.

I have not read all the references extra-carefully to confirm this, but I think the title of this lesson does not appear in any scripture reference in the materials. Does anyone think that is interesting?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gospel Doctrine 22: What Worked?

Boy, Mormons love the Word of Wisdom! I am always surprised at how the topic gets people going. It seems that every has an opinion - - and a strong one - - on this topic.

Our lesson focused almost exclusively on the what the WOW tells you to do (as opposed to what it tells you to avoid), and on the blessings that result. I tried to talk about some blessings that we don't always think of - - unity, identity, etc. The discussion was lively and engaging. What about you? What did you talk about? What caught your class' attention?