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?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 22: The Word of Wisdom

Adherence to the Word of Wisdom may be the defining characteristic of Latter-day Saints for most of the world. Ask someone who is not a member of the Church about Mormons, and they are likely to mention, before almost anything else, that we do not smoke or drink alcohol.

Most of us are pretty familiar with the history of the Word of Wisdom. Received in 1883 in response to tobacco use in the School of the Prophets, it was not observed as a commandment until 1851. Even before that, however, it was a centerpiece of Mormon culture.

For most of the past 50 years, the Word of Wisdom has been riding high. The wisdom of the Word of Wisdom was reaffirmed time and again, as study after scientific study confirmed the health benefits of abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, red meat, etc. Mormons told themselves that this was evidence of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. After all, how could he have known back in 1833 what science would demonstrate over a century later?

But science isn’t always backing up the Word of Wisdom these days. The health benefits of red wine, and now coffee, are being touted. I am often surprised to hear less committed and even fully active members of the Church ask if I think the Word of Wisdom will be relaxed in light of recent scientific findings.

I think the Word of Wisdom is about health. But I do not think it is only about health. I think it is about obedience and commitment. I think it about wisdom, both in avoiding unhealthy and problematic practices, and in gaining spiritual knowledge. But I think one of its most important purposes is the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post- - the indelible imprint it has made on Mormon culture. Observing the Word of Wisdom gives members of the Church a common life experience that is very powerful. It bonds us together and sets us apart from the rest of the world. Maybe it bonds us together by setting us apart. It is one of the central ways that you know that you are a Mormon, and that the Mormons around you are part of your group. It is one of the things that makes us a people.

So, what do you think of the Word of Wisdom? What, if anything, does recent health science data say about it? What does it do for you? For your family? For the Church? Is it important, or overemphasized? Why?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 21: What Worked?

OK, I thought the lesson on the the signs of the last days was kind of hard to present in an interesting way. That said, I actually thought some of the ideas in the manual were kind of good this week. I will try to include some of them in comments later.

But how about you? What worked in your lesson? How did you present this material?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lesson 20: What Worked?

I did not teach last week, but attended the lesson. I think lesson 76 offers some very interesting and challenging ideas. Our lesson, however, was very straightforward. It had some nice thoughts, but nothing too far below the surface.

How about you? What was your lesson like? What resonated with you? With your class? How would you do it differently?