Correlation Gone Mad!

April 18, 2006 | 52 comments
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BCC is hosting an all-star panel of academics on questions relating to correlation. Talking about correlation reminds me of a time from our history when doctrinal correlation efforts were incredibly restrictive. The prophet explicitly came out and restricted all preaching, Church-wide, to just a couple key doctrines. Apparently, it stayed that way for years, but it seemed to work out pretty well.

Intriguingly, this Correlation program was followed by a period of rising inactivity and outright rebellion among the youth, which some have postulated we have now and should be linked to current Church correlation. The official record of that era attributes this iniquity the rising generation’s difficulty understanding and believing the doctrines taught them by their parents. And that their unbelief made it so they could not understand, leading them to sin. So is this because of Correlation, or because the youth were simply succumbing to temptation? They had not consecrated themselves in the way their parents had, so perhaps they were a softer people.

We actually have a revelation on that rising apostasy, and God doesn’t link it to the Correlation program; the Lord appears to be rather happy with the institutional Church and the prophet. He links the problem to those who will not repent. There is no effort to change the preaching, but rather a “hard-liner” approach of flushing out those who sinned, encouraged others to sin, and refused to repent. Apparently it worked.

Does this tell us that our current Correlation program is perfect? Surely not. Those were different circumstances and that prophet did what God wanted him to do for those people. I don’t know that any of us knows how best to run this great, sprawling, worldwide Church. And no matter how it is done, there will be people who gain and lose from the different institutional choices made. We hope and pray that God continues to inspire the relevant leaders, and even the relevant bureaucrats, to run the modern Church as God would have it be run. (For we walk by faith, not by sight.)

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52 Responses to Correlation Gone Mad!

  1. J. Stapley on April 18, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    I see the point that you are making, but I believe that it is fundamentally flawed by your asserting that your first reference equates to our modern Correlation program. Instead of a substantive commentary on Correlation in today’s church we have a series prooftexts designed to quell discussion by equating all the institutions actions to the will of God. I am an ardent believer in the Church, but I would disagree with the equation of the missionary excesses of the past to Alma, and so have no compunciton to disagree with you here.

  2. Randy B. on April 18, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Lest the “all-star panel of academics” be seen as poor company to keep, it may be worth remembering President McKay’s comment expressing his concern that Elder Harold B. Lee was taking correlation too far:

    “It is easy to understand how the Apostasy took place in the early days.�

  3. I Love BCC! on April 18, 2006 at 1:13 pm

    Given that BCC’s roster of permabloggers is inhabited solely by “all-star academics” (some of whom apparently even have superpowers!), it seems natural that their panel would consist of same.

  4. J. Nelson-Seawright on April 18, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Frank, this is a tricky analogy. I think it’s probably true, for the most part, that our church in the Correlation era teaches nothing but repentance. But that was probably also true, in the relevant sense, during the pre-Correlation era. The difference isn’t really whether we teach Christ’s gospel or not — which is what your cited scriptures are about — but rather whether we ought to get the script for our teaching of that gospel directly from the Spirit ourselves or mediated by a committee in Salt Lake City.

    Also, there is absolutely no evidence that internal rebels preaching against the church are the cause of inactivity in today’s church. No such group is really readily visible, and even if it were, the inactive members are too widely dispersed around the world and often too little connected with church social networks to be easy prey for such preaching.

    In fact, I don’t really see any points of contact between the Book of Mormon period you cite and Correlation. Instead, this seems like a purely rhetorical manuever intended to out-orthodox the BCC thread — much like George W. Bush’s tactic of describing Jesus Christ as his favorite political philosopher during a Republican primary debate in 2000.

  5. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    J. and Randy,

    I am not equating, I am comparing. Equating would be crazy because the two programs aren’t the same. I already specifically disavowed any claim that Correlation today is perfect, but let me do it again for those who missed it, “I am not claiming that Correlation is perfect!” :)

    But yes, in both cases, there was a top-down effort to control what was taught to the members, and Alma’s church, to me at least, appears to have been quite restrictive in doing that.

    J., You claim that this is quelling discussion, but I thought I was starting one (hence the comments are open). So, for example, should we compare Alma’s baptisms to how the Church baptizes now or has baptized in the past? Sure! It could be very instructive!

    Randy, As for President McKay’s statement, was this a private statement or a public one? I think that makes a big difference.

  6. J. Nelson-Seawright on April 18, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    Frank, there’s no evidence that there was a top-down effort to control how members were taught in Alma’s church, only a top-down effort to make sure that members were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ve always made that effort in our church — before, during, and probably after Correlation. So the analogy seems to fail. Are you perhaps reading more into the Mosiah statements than a control over doctrine? You see a control over teaching technique and circumstance, which is central to Correlation, but I can’t find it. Where do you see this point of analogy?

    In other words, the comparison you’re making seems to be one in which there is only difference, and no similarity. Not usually a helpful kind of comparison…

  7. Randy B. on April 18, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Frank, more later, as I am working against a deadline, but to your question, the comment, as you would expect, was not “public” in the sense of being made during general conference or something. The comment instead was made in conversations with his counselors. It may be worth noting that the comment (apparently) was not made to Elder Lee.

    Beyond that, your public/private distinction may be relevant to the manner in which such things are discussed, but I don’t think it says anything as to the underlying merits or demerits of the critique itself, which seems to be what you are driving at in your post. But perhaps I’m misreading you. Certainly won’t be the first (or last) time. Feel free to set me straight.

  8. A. Non Amous on April 18, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    New convert here so forgive the ignorant question, please…What’s correlation?

  9. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    JNS: “Also, there is absolutely no evidence that internal rebels preaching against the church are the cause of inactivity in today’s church.”

    I was not making this claim, I was just noting the outcome of the story. Of course, if there were such groups, I am not sure how we would necessarily know. I suppose we would look to the prophets to tell us.

    JNS: “In fact, I don’t really see any points of contact between the Book of Mormon period you cite and Correlation.”

    really? none at all? You don’t think Alma was imposing restirctions on what was to be taught in a way that might be useful to think about when we discuss current restrictions on what we teach? You don’t see that both discuss attempts at homogenization across the Church (though on very different.scales, since the Nephites were so small)? You don’t think both periods were characterized by actual or claimed rises in Church inactivity among the youth?

    JNS: “Instead, this seems like a purely rhetorical manuever intended to out-orthodox the BCC thread”

    I don’t know what this means, but I think it means you are saying I am donig a bad thing with bad motives. If so, I disagree.

  10. Mike on April 18, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    My take on Correlation is that it was a response to mistakes and excesses in the past. Rather than correct specific problems, such as spending too much money on buildings, institutional regulations and controls were put into place that were suppose to solve all these problems. Undoubtedly, some level of correlation was needed, even David O. knew that and served on some of the early committes. But how far to take Correlation? That was always the question. Did we go too far?

    Part of the process of Correlation was bringing the Q. of the 12 Apostles back into control of the church. The auxillaries had grown too big and extravagant and could not be transplanted very well as the church began to expand out of the intermountain area. This raises the question: When did the Apostles loose control, if they ever had it? The answer comes when one looks at the time in history when the auxillaries were born and grew to maturity. Don’t be confused by the fact that the Relief Society had its origins in the 1830’s; it never functioned very well until many decades later.

    The auxillaries came of age during the struggle over polygamy and the decades after the Manifesto when many of the leaders were still dealing with it. Others may not be able to connect these dots but I see Correlation as a back lash from polygamy days and the damage it had on the leadership of the church. Polygamy seriously weakened the leadership, correlation is an attempt to strengthen it. Auxillaries were caught square in the middle.

    In both cases (polygamy and correlation) the women and children paid the heaviest price. The big loosers in Correlation were the Relief Society and the Sunday School and Primary.

  11. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Randy,

    Thanks for the response. You are right that my question does not speak to the merits of the case. His statement is apropos and conveys his dislike (at that moment) about some aspect of something Lee wished to do in Correlation. I have not read the context so I really don’t know more than that. And in that sense, it becomes a question of comparing this private remark to what later prophets actually believed, in their day, the Lord wished to have done.

    It is perfectly fair to object that one disagrees with the choices made, but, and I hope I am not misrepresenting President McKay, audience matters. What a prophet says in private, but refuses to say in public does not, upon his death, become license for us to trumpet about. President McKay understood the difference between public and private commentary quite well.

    But one should not infer that I am claiming that I know whether or not said discussion at bcc should or should not happen on the basis of a doctrine of public commentary. I don’t. It is not my job to tell people what to do. I am just pointing out the way I understand Church discourse.

  12. J. Nelson-Seawright on April 18, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Frank #7, let me make a few quick responses.

    I’m glad that you agree that the Alma the Younger story isn’t terribly pertinent to modern conversations about the inactivity crisis; that’s some common ground between us, which can only be a good thing. Something else you said was interesting, though: “[I]f there were such groups, I am not sure how we would necessarily know. I suppose we would look to the prophets to tell us.” I would propose that we could also use the evidence of our own senses; you and I are both members of the church, so these groups would be preaching to both of us and telling us to rebel against the church. I haven’t ever experienced this, which is very partial (but to me meaningful) evidence that such a conspiracy doesn’t exist today.

    “You don’t think Alma was imposing restirctions on what was to be taught in a way that might be useful to think about when we discuss current restrictions on what we teach?” Nope, I really don’t agree with this summary; Alma required that only the gospel of Jesus Christ be taught. That’s a stricture that’s been in place every day since 1830 in our church. Correlation goes way past that, specifying how things should be taught, not just that only the gospel be taught.

    “You don’t see that both discuss attempts at homogenization across the Church…” Well, every time anyone inside the church opens his or her mouth to comment on doctrine or policy, an attempt at homogenization of the church is taking place. So every incident in church history and in the scriptures fits the bill. But since Alma was only homogenizing in the sense of requiring everyone to teach the gospel of Christ, while Correlation homogenizes programs, modes of teaching, worship schedules, music, and even clothing, there seems to be a major difference in kind.

    “I think it means you are saying I am donig a bad thing with bad motives.” I don’t think you have bad motives. I think you are trying to defend our community against a perceived attack, which I would certainly count as a good motive. But I also think you’re trying to achieve that good motive via what seems to me to be a problematic strategy: a somewhat questionable scriptural analogy to suggest that a conversation about how best to build our community is illegitimate.

  13. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    JNS,

    Fill me in on what you are calling “how” and what you are calling “what” of doctrinal teaching. Alma restricted preaching to faith and repentance only. It seems to me that it implies a narrow focus on faith in Christ, and repentance of sin. Do you see this as behaviorally the same as preaching anything related in some way to the gospel?

  14. J. Nelson-Seawright on April 18, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Frank, faith and repentance is the gospel. The very many things we hear in church that don’t connect to these two themes aren’t, in my view (and in the view of Christ in 3 Nephi), the gospel at all. The Correlated church in practice teaches a lot of things that aren’t the gospel (I’ve heard a lot of self-help philosophy and time-management ideas during sacrament meeting talks, haven’t you), and I’m sure that the pre-Correlated church did the same. But the instruction to teach the gospel is quite different from the instruction to use Sunday School next week to talk about Numbers 11-14 and 21:1-9 (but not, say, Number 16, which is bad, I guess), emphasizing avoidance of murmuring, heroic resistance to doubt and pessimism in the Lord’s work, and the importance of looking to Christ and living. This message is certainly a gospel-themed one–especially the last part–but it’s not the only way of teaching faith and repentance. Correlation isn’t an instruction to teach only faith and repentance as the gospel; that instruction has always been active in the church. Instead, Correlation is an instruction that, on April 23, 2006, everyone will teach faith and repentance using a specific set of General Authority quotes about Numbers 11-14 and 21:1-9.

  15. john f. on April 18, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    This discussion needs to be correlated with the BCC discussion. It’s difficult to manage bouncing between the two blogs to follow it.

  16. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 18, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    I would propose that we could also use the evidence of our own senses; you and I are both members of the church, so these groups would be preaching to both of us and telling us to rebel against the church. I haven’t ever experienced this, which is very partial (but to me meaningful) evidence that such a conspiracy doesn’t exist today.

    J (#12),
    I HAVE run into this more than once, at different gradations. There are those in the Church who use their insider status to preach their own doctrine. Some remain in the Church but spend their time and energy trying to convince others that the Church really isn’t true. There are others who have their pet hobby doctrines that they try to pass off as ‘The way” and, although, perhaps not rebelling completely against the Church, they are looking beyond the mark and potentially pulling someone else into false beliefs. The only way to guard against any degree of apostasy and/or false doctrine is to stick with the doctrine and what the prophets have said. This is the goal of correlation — not to squelch discussion but to keep our teaching focused to maximize opportunities for the Spirit to bless us. Much discussion is just distraction, and the Spirit can’t work unless doctrine is brought back into the picture. The older I get, the more convinced I am of these principles.

    “Because we need the Holy Ghost, we must be cautious and careful not to go beyond teaching true doctrine. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth. His confirmation is invited by our avoiding speculation or personal interpretation….One of the surest ways to avoid even getting near false doctrine is to choose to be simple in our teaching. Safety is gained by that simplicity, and little is lost.”
    Henry B. Eyring, “The Power of Teaching Doctrine,� Ensign, May 1999, 73

  17. Randy B. on April 18, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    “You are right that my question does not speak to the merits of the case.”

    Really? I thought that was surely at least one of the points of your post. After all, you set out what you believe to be an example of “correlation” (a debatable example, as JNS demonstrates) from the Book of Mormon and then note that this effort “seemed to work out pretty well.” Perhaps this is just a throw away line. But if so, I am not sure I follow what the point of your post is. It doesn’t seem to be a discussion of whether we ought to be having this discussion. (“But one should not infer that I am claiming that I know whether or not said discussion at bcc should or should not happen on the basis of a doctrine of public commentary.”) But if it’s not form or substance, then what exactly is your point?

    A final thought. You say, referring to Pres. McKay’s concern over correlation, that “And in that sense, it becomes a question of comparing this private remark to what later prophets actually believed, in their day, the Lord wished to have done.” Well sure. But this only works, of course, if you believe that every aspect of modern day Correlation is divinely inspired. I suspect that even staunch defenders of Correlation would not go that far. Which brings us back to whether the current system could be improved and how me might communicate our thoughts in this regard. But I suppose I should go back over to BCC for that discussion as those issues apparently are not the point of your post.

    (But again, perhaps I am just missing this. I’m happy, as always, to be corrected.)

  18. Dan Richards on April 18, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    A. Non Amous (#8)

    from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

    “In 1960, the First Presidency directed a committee of General Authorities to review the purposes and courses of study of the priesthood and auxiliaries. The work of this committee laid the foundation for present-day correlation efforts. The committee identified the purposes of each organization from its inception, traced its expansions and changes, and reviewed its courses of study and activities. On the basis of the committee’s recommendations, the First Presidency established three coordinating committees in 1961—one for children, one for youth, and one for adults—and a coordinating council that directed the activities of the three committees. The council and committees, each headed by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were to correlate the instructional and activity programs of priesthood quorums, auxiliaries, and other Church agencies.

    By 1962, the Church had organized its curricula and activities around three groups: children, youth, and adults. In 1965, it introduced a Family Home Evening program with a study manual for families to learn gospel principles and values in their homes. By 1971, the Church had reformatted its magazines by age group rather than by organization—Ensign for adults, New Era for youth, and Friend for children.

    In 1972, the First Presidency created the Department of Internal Communications to plan, correlate, prepare, translate, print, and distribute instructional materials and periodicals. As part of this reorganization, the First Presidency created the Correlation Department and placed all organizations, curricula, and periodicals under the direction of the priesthood.”

    more here

  19. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    Randy,

    Yeah, I think I threw you off track. When I said my question did not speak to the merits, I meant my question of whether McKay spoke publicly or privately. My comment was focused on this issue of public vs. private. As I said there, President McKay making a private comment does not actually, in and of itself, justify me making the same comment publicly, if you see what I am saying.

  20. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    JNS,

    1. m&m noted that she has had different experiences than you. So it goes. I don’t find my personal experiences to be incredibly informative about other’s experiences in the Church, especially when it comes to evaluating other’s intents. I didn’t, sorry to say, agree that Alma was not pertinent to modern inactivity. I don’t know if it is or not.

    2. “Well, every time anyone inside the church opens his or her mouth to comment on doctrine or policy, an attempt at homogenization of the church is taking place.”

    Yes, and when prophets do it, that is different than when I do it. So I think the parallel can be drawn rather tighter.

    3. “while Correlation homogenizes programs, modes of teaching, worship schedules, music, and even clothing, there seems to be a major difference in kind.”

    Indeed, as I hoped I made clear, I am only talking about doctrinal correlation. There is nothing here about road shows.

    4. Turning to the main issue, let me make some claims in various forms and you see which ones fit what you are saying:

    A1. All Churches have the same requirement—teach the gospel

    A2. alternately, teach nothing but the gospel

    Do you have a scripture in mind for this?

    B. The scripture in Alma says only faith and repentance were taught , which we should take as shorthand for 3 Ne. 27’s wonderful discussion of the gospel.

    C1: But Alma does not impose any restriction on how or what material I can use to teach the gospel. I could teach plural marriage, Mountain Meadows Massacre, polyandry, Joseph was a deeply flawed man, Alma hates dolphins, the Yankees are a chosen team, etc. And all of this would be okay as long as I felt it to be preaching faith and repentance and “the gospel”.

    C2: Alternately, Alma did have authority to look at what was taught and impose restrictions, and this is why it says that “Alma did regulate all the affairs of the Church�. And the reason it mentions repeatedly that only faith and repentance were taught was because Alma was actually imposing restrictions on how one teaches the gospel. Indeed he was eliminating material he felt did not do that sufficiently and supporting other material that he felt did.

    D: C2 is what the modern Church does as well. Correlation, broadly defined, includes more than this, but I am mainly concerned with doctrinal correlation of preaching.

    I am fine with A1, and willing to believe that A2 holds though I don’t know. I think B sounds reasonable. Obviously I think C1 is wrong and C2 is right, so I’m happy to hear how you reformulate C to something you find acceptable.

    One thing I think I have learned already is that, as I think over the curriculum, the Church is largely trying to focus on the gospel in a reasonably narrow way. So I no longer am convinced that Alma was more restrictive in that sense than we are today. We appear to be aiming for something similar to what they did (if, in fact, one can take faith and repentance to include the elements posed in 3 Ne. 27).

  21. Frank McIntyre on April 18, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    #8– A few decades ago, the Church started imposing more symmetry across church units in the way things were done. One of the many reasons for this probably had to do with the growth of the Church throughout the world, such that there were obvious benefits to some standardization of Church manuals and programs and so forth.

    This affected lots of different aspects of the way people interacted with the Church and is a favorite hobby horse of a few people (not neccesarily anybody commenting here) as being the cause of somthing bad. THus, wahtever benefits there were, they feel were exceeded by some other set of costs of standardization. In the extreme, some think Correlation should be changed or abolished in some specififed or un-specified way.

    Other people, like me, are not convinced that the naysayers are sufficiently informed about God’s will or sufficiently able to determine the net effect of the program to say whether or not Correlation was a net gain or not. This makes me, I think, a naysayer naysayer.

  22. Razorfish on April 18, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    “A few decades ago, the Church started imposing more symmetry across church units in the way things were done. One of the many reasons for this probably had to do with the growth of the Church throughout the world, such that there were obvious benefits to some standardization of Church manuals and programs and so forth.”

    Any large (especially global organization) has to centralize and impose more symmetry into its organizational structure and delivery of services to survive in any recognizable or “brandable” format. The McDonalds analogy is appropriate – every where you go to an LDS church “it feels the same.” Even testimonies and prayers become very similiar, with consistent wording, phrasing, etc. Finally, as members we begin to act, talk, and behave very communally in a culturally consistent way. Careful putting that case of Coke in shopping cart in case Bro. Jones sees you in the checkout line.

    In many respects the movement of correlation is good for the many reasons explained and necessitated above. But it also has some significant negatives in terms of elevating the simple and consistent above the interesting and creative aspects of our worship experience.

    An example of correlation gone mad is the Ensign magazine. Can anyone else relate to this too? I truly enjoy reading the 1st Presidency message, but the rest of the magazine is worthless. So called faith promoting stories and examples of some gospel principle in action (tithing etc) are so overdone, exagerated, that they become turnoffs. I’d much rather read or study some obscure (but interesting) Church history tidbit on my own time, than read some “faith promoting story” that likely has more fiction than non-fiction content.

    Let’s give it up for the powers of correlation in our curriculm and overall discussion, but could someone also please leave the shaker of salt on the table in case my food needs a little flavor.

  23. meems on April 18, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    If the correlation thing started happening almost 50 years ago, and then got into full swing 30 years ago, why the big to-do now? Has something happened recently that has gotten people into an uproar? (aside from the RS/Priesthood manuals being the same, which is borrrrrring….)

  24. Bill on April 18, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    “I truly enjoy reading the 1st Presidency message, but the rest of the magazine is worthless.”

    Even the 1st Presidency message is often recycled these days.

  25. TMD on April 18, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Umm, actually the Ensign played a key role in my coming to know and understand the church, and it was and is very much a good experience. Those faith promoting stories were in fact the point of introduction through which I came toward the church.

    Also, for those friends of mine who were curious about the church, the Ensign provided a useful and efficient way of introducing them to the church; they were very much impressed by it (one still went to study at Rome/PGU for holy orders, another to Lutheran seminary, though).

    And to be honest, I’ve always thought of correlation as our protection against the crazies (of all sides) and the damage they can do in a congregation (and I’ve seen some of this). What some see as ‘pepper,’ others see as heresy, annoyance, beside the point, or trivial hobbies. Correlation makes the lines clearer and brighter, and unties all under the priesthood. All in all, good things.

  26. TMD on April 19, 2006 at 12:21 am

    um, should be unites all under the priesthood.

  27. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 19, 2006 at 12:33 am

    I agree, TMD. And actually knowing someone on the committee and understanding how the committee works (in groups, always seeking the Spirit) has given me that much more confidence in Correlation.

  28. Frank McIntyre on April 19, 2006 at 7:50 am

    Razorfish, you’re right that some standardization is really beneficial. As for the Ensign, some of it does little for me, but I like the recent feature where they print old classic talks by GA’s. This is probably why recycling First Presidency messages does not bother me in the least. I like old talks.

    And, as TMD and M&M point out, the Ensign is a real boost for others. So now we’re back to trying to compare losses and gains across people, which can be incredibly frustrating.

  29. Nate Oman on April 19, 2006 at 7:57 am

    J. Stapley and others: It is patently ridiculous to accuse Frank of trying to squelch discussion on a thread that he has created for purposes of a discussion and where you are free to vocally disagree with him. You may believe that his interpretation of scripture is mistaken, and you are free to say so. This, however, would mean that Frank is wrong, but would harldy mean that he is trying to squelch discussion. Disagreement is not censorship.

  30. J. Nelson-Seawright on April 19, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Nate, there are forms of speech that do intend to squelch discussion. In the comments, Frank has made it clear that he was not engaging in such speech, but the initial post seemed to some readers to have the intent of making people who would discuss pros and cons of Correlation look unfaithful to the scriptures. For believing Mormons, that kind of accusation is typically intended to end discussion — whether or not a comment thread is available for discussion. So I would agree that it is false in this instance to accuse Frank of trying to squelch discussion in this thread. But it isn’t patently ridiculous in general to make claims of that kind.

  31. Frank McIntyre on April 19, 2006 at 11:41 am

    JNS,

    Saying something is not consistent with a given scripture surely is not a sign of quelling discussion. It should, in fact be the heart of many of the discussions we have, as we decide whether or not such a case could be made. As I recall, a fair number of your posts center around noting what things you think are consistent or inconsistent with certain scriptures.

    Far more quelling of discussion is when people refuse to discuss!

  32. Paul Mortensen on April 19, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Like most commenters here I think correlation has had both positives and negatives.

    First, the positives: I like the fact that I can come to T&S and other sites and get Julie’s, Jim’s, and others’ takes on the current and future lessons and I think it benefits the Church because we are able to take the subsequent discussions into our local wards. I like being able to call up my parents, siblings, and member friends and have meaningful gospel discussions because we all studied the same sciptures that week. I think it helps to moderate the effect of the “crazies” as others have said.

    Now, the negatives: Lessons, by design, end up canned and mostly boring. I have the GD manual residing on my Palm and I use it for my own personal scipture study. What value is added to my experience if I show up on Sunday and have the same tool I used for my self preparation recited to me in an official forum? By severly limiting the source material available to instructors the Church guarantees that only those who come to class ill-prepared benefit from being in class.

    Mostly, I find Correllation, as we see it now, to be an anachronism made largely unnecessary by today’s information technology. Twenty years ago it may have made sense from a financial standpoint to generate canned lessons and narrowly define source material becuase paper was the medium of information exchange and that medium was expensive to produce and transport. Today lds.org allows the Church to distribute vast amounts of data very cheaply– in fact, all Correllation materials are available there for free to the user. The web also permits members to access thousands of other tomes not owned by the Church at a marginal cost of zero (either to themselves or the Church). The Church, if it so chose, could change the curriculum without materially affecting the primary goal of Correlation (one doctrice taught) but refusing to adapt to modern technology adds fuel to the fire burning inside those who feel that Correlation represents a power-grab by a bunch of old guys who feared becoming irrelevant. I can imagine a five page lesson manual that listed nothing more than scipture passages and a suggested reading list that would still conform to the “One Doctrine” model but would allow instructors to better adapt lessons to the needs of the local congregations. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see such a program until the generation currently in their 30s and 40s takes over predominant leadership of the Church.

  33. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 19, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    By severly limiting the source material available to instructors the Church guarantees that only those who come to class ill-prepared benefit from being in class.

    I wholeheartedly disagree. The lessons are designed to foster discussion, which means that, in the ideal, people come prepared with thoughts and applications of the scriptural principles and you discuss them. If a teacher gives a lecture, then, yes, things can get boring. But we deliberately don’t have a lot of material because the purpose of the lessons in both SS and RS/Priesthood is to have discussions. That’s part of the reason teachers are encouraged not to get fixated on “getting through” the lesson, but instead to let the Spirit guide and facilitate discussions that bring different viewpoints onto the table. No amount of preparation would cancel out the potential benefits that come from a lesson that works the way it should. Just because it doesn’t always work that way doesn’t mean something is wrong with Correlation — it means teachers haven’t learned how to facilitate the lessons effectively. There is no need for “adapt[ing] lessons to the needs of the local congregations.” The pose-a-question-based-on-a-scriptural-principle-and-discuss model is quite applicable anywhere.

    BTW, I think it’s important to remember that Correlation is comprised of a variety of people, most of who are not “old guys.”

  34. Paul Mortensen on April 19, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    M&M:

    What evidence do you have that the lessons are designed to foster discussion? I’m looking at the GD teachers manual right now. While it contains questions intended to initiate class discussion it also contains the “correct” answers to those questions. Ultimately if no one in the class comes up with the “correct” answer the instructor is going to have to deliver it for the class. In essense the lessons generate a self-contained discussion– a conversation with only one voice. That’s no discussion. One of the justifications that I’ve heard for Correllation is that it helps facilitate growth of the Church. If the primary goal of Correllation is One Doctrine, then how does a discussion model further that goal in locales where the congregations are comprised primarily of new members?

    Your discussions model is fraught with problems– primarily in the form of opening the floor to the moonbats of the church– that Correllation was designed to avert. In the last twelve years I’ve been a member of 11 different church units throughout the South and Midwest and my experience has been that far-out doctrine typically comes from the floor and not from the podium. Apocryphal and widely discredited stories come from the floor, not from the podium. Bigotry and ignorance are preached from the floor, not from the podium. A lot of the negatives Correllation attempts to avoid become manifest in the discussion model. So once again what is the value of Correllation as it is currently instituted? What prevents the Church from changing to the more liberal model I propose above?

    Regarding my reference to old men, which of the fifteen men that comprise the leadership of the Church would you not classify as “old”? Because Hinkley is approaching 100 does that make anyone under 80 “young”? Not that I think “old” is bad, but I would not have trusted my dear departed grandfather with formulating or even understanding a teaching policy centered around electronic distribution of information.

  35. Frank McIntyre on April 19, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    Paul,

    The Correlation committee is not just comprised of members of the quorum of the twelve. I believe this was M&M’s point.

  36. Dave on April 19, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    Paul, I would agree that many lessons would benefit from teachers pulling in some additional material for their presentations. But I think most teachers are free to do that already. I don’t see how the manual — correlated or not — prevents them from doing so … if they have the time and energy to do so.

    I think the manual is designed for the busy teacher who has an hour or two (possibly on Sunday morning or even in Sacrament meeting, yes we’ve all done that before) and is actually happy to use a “canned lesson,” enhancing it by (1) her own comments and commentary added if time permits; and (2) good comments from the floor.

    On the general topic of LDS Sunday School style, it is already very dialogue- and question-oriented, much more so than other denominations. For better or worse, I don’t think manual changes are going to affect that.

  37. DavidH on April 19, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    My recollection may be wrong, but it seems like the gospel doctrine Sunday School manuals from the late 1980s/early 1990s were more question focused (not as good as Jim F’s or Julie’s questions, but not bad), but when the decision was made to teach the youth and adult Sunday School classes from the same manuals, the current manuals, with specific answers listed and particular activities listed were created and/or first used for gospel doctrine. Any one else have a similar recollection, or are there any historians of Sunday School manuals reading this?

  38. Robert C. on April 19, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    I agree with Dave in #36 that one purpose of the GD manuals is to highlight points from the readings that would likely be most interesting and relevant for a GD lesson for a wide cross-section of church members. Esp. with the OT, I think many members and teachers feel initmidated by the material. Although those with an intellectual predilection enjoy the open-ended thought-questions that Julie and Jim post, my sense of most members is that these type of hard questions can be frustrating and overwhelming.

    A frequent problem I’ve seen in GD lessons is teachers trying to cram all the material they’ve prepared into the lesson. In this sense, I believe less is more.

    Also, my sense of the manual is that the number of open-ended questions without any answer provided outnumbers the questions where an answer is suggested (and I think such answers are only meant as a suggestion for the intimidated teacher described above).

  39. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 19, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Paul (34): Perhaps if more teachers read the introductory info in their manuals the lessons would go more as they should. The “discussions model” is not mine,

    Evidence:
    From the OT manual:
    Encouraging Class Discussion
    “You normally should not give lectures but should try to help class members participate meaningfully in discussing the scriptures. As class members participate, they more effectively learn about the scriptures and better understand how to apply gospel principles. Seek the Spirit’s guidance in deciding which questions to ask, how to organize them, and how to develop them. Class discussions should center on matters that help members come unto Christ and live as his disciples. Redirect discussions that do not accomplish these purposes.

    “Scripture references are provided to help you and class members find answers to most questions in the scriptures. Answers to some questions will come from class members’ experiences.”
    (You can read more in the intro.)

    From the Wilford Woodruff manual:
    Conduct Edifying Discussions
    The Lord revealed principles of effective teaching when He said, “Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege� (D&C 88:122). The following guidelines may help you encourage and conduct edifying discussions:

    • Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost. He may prompt you to ask certain questions or to include certain people in the discussion.

    • Help participants focus on President Woodruff’s teachings. Have them read his words to generate discussion and to answer questions. Politely redirect discussions that begin to stray from the topic.

    • Testify frequently of the truths that are discussed. Invite participants to share their testimonies as well.

    • As appropriate, share experiences that relate to the principles in the chapter. Encourage others to share experiences as the Holy Ghost prompts them to do so.

    • Do not talk too much. Encourage others to share their thoughts, ask questions, and teach one another.

    • Do not be afraid of silence after you ask a question. Participants often need time to think or to look in their books before they share ideas, testimonies, and experiences.

    • Acknowledge all contributions to the discussion. Listen sincerely, and seek to understand participants’ comments. Express gratitude for their efforts.

    • When participants share several ideas, consider asking someone to list the ideas on the chalkboard.

    • Do not cut a good discussion short in an attempt to cover all the material you have prepared. What matters most is that participants feel the influence of the Spirit and grow in their commitment to live the gospel.

    Good questions can lead to thoughtful learning, discussion, and application. At the end of each chapter in this book, you will find helpful questions in “Suggestions for Study and Teaching.â€? Refer to these questions often. As needed, you may also develop your own questions. Prepare questions that will lead members to search, analyze, and apply President Woodruff’s teachings, as shown below….

    There is more flexibility in these lessons than I think most people realize. I have loved teaching and found the manuals to be more than sufficient for a great discussion. And discussion is a wonderful experience…the teacher simply facilitates to make sure things stay on track and to make points here or there.

  40. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 20, 2006 at 2:39 am

    The Correlation committee is not just comprised of members of the quorum of the twelve. I believe this was M&M’s point.

    Thank you for helping clarify. I will add to that comment. The Correlation Committee itself is not comprised of any of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve. It is overseen by a few of them. Most of the people on the committee may not be 30, but they are certainly not “old.” And because I speak to a member of the committee quite regularly, I can tell you that we should all have great confidence in what they do; they are truly guided by the Spirit. Are mistakes ever made? Sure. Nothing’s perfect because no one is perfect. But there is a divine purpose in all of it, and I think we can trust that.

  41. Paul Mortensen on April 20, 2006 at 10:22 am

    M&M

    The power grab to which I referred was not made by a bunch of old men on the correllation committee. It was made by the old men who comprise the leadership of the Church. The correllation committee is the manifestation of that power grab and to imply that the committee operates independently of the Quorum is disingenuous and misleading.

    I also think you are attributing to me sentiments that I do not hold. Overall, I like the idea of correllation and I think the benefits far outweigh the costs. I do think the model currently in use is outdated as a result of difficulty in teaching old dogs new tricks.

    You still have not addressed the problems with your proposed discussion model. If the One Doctrine is the primary goal of Correllation then how is that accomplished by opening up discussion to the moonbats of the church? Are you making an argument that GD and EQ/HP/RS lessons exist to discredit moonbats in addition to teaching gospel principles?

    When I go to church I want to learn something new. How does that happen if my source material is restricted? Now, you may respond that I might be able to learn something new in the course of discussion but that becomes problematic for the reasons I listed in #32. Everything that comes from the floor cannot be trusted. As I mentioned before, my experience is that a lot, not most, but a lot, of what comes from the floor is not doctrinally or factually based. I’ve sat in classes and heard commenters relate items as fact that I know to be false (and so does the instructor) that never get corrected. I’ve heard GAs misquoted and it never gets corrected. If I can’t trust what I hear how can I learn? And what about the impact on members who spend a lot less time studying the gospel and are unaware that a lot of what come out of the peanut gallery can’t be trusted? How do you unring that bell without inviting contention in class? Is that a problem a teacher should even have to invite by opening the floor to discussion?

  42. Hiram Page on April 20, 2006 at 11:53 am

    In the midst of this conversation there is too much denigration of people who occupy the fringes of normative opinion. Perhaps it is this very intolerance of those who think differently that lands us in a sterile wasteland of Church education. I remember quite fondly what it was like to hear some of the most unusual stories and theories promulgated in Church classes. There were always those who would disagree and give their perspective. This kind of ongoing dialogue makes the Church experience richer, and at the very least more interesting. In recent memory one of the only useful Elders Quorum lessons I had was the one interrupted by a visiting Baptist who was honest but not antagonistic about his differences of belief. Just hearing a different point of view was like a ray of sunshine poking through the gray clouds of boredom and dry liturgical lessons.

    Sure, we can blame Correlation, but then we can also look our collective mirror and realize that a big part of the problem is a general intolerance for people some of you are calling “kooks” or “moonbats”. I once thought that the authoritative sounding doctrinal pronouncements of Elder McConkie were so refreshing because I was hoping that someone would just tell me how it is. I was a child then. As an adult I learned that Elder McConkie was sharing his opinion, and sometimes doing so in a way that did a great deal of discredit to him as a Christian. The very idea that there was an in depth and detailed “right answer” that we would be getting from a human source was damaging to us as a Church. In *my opinion* we are much better off loosening up and enjoying the diversity of opinion in a world that is full of uncertainty.

  43. TMD on April 20, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    HP: Perhaps you’re moe tolerant of those on the fringes because you’ve not had GD teacher (with an MD and a lot of credibility in a largely uneducated rural ward) teach as church doctrine (and have none of the far less educated class members) speculate about israeli politics having direct correlation to the book of revelation. Or have a lesson taught about vampires and the church, as if they were real. Or have the Gospel essentials class, overrun with people who should be in GD, turn into a serious and complicated debate about whether or not being in the Celestial kingdom is desireable. Or have a teacher vent about a friends experience with a chastity commandment and church discipline half a century ago (though the friend was did not think it nearly such a negative experience). Or have an GD teacher (of recent Utah extraction) teach everyone that eventually polygamy would be re-established, to the detriment of all not participating. Or have the Relief Soceity angry and bitter for months over the attempts by the choristor to either not sing hymns with non-gender-neutral pronouns, or change all ‘he’s to ‘she’s when they refer to Heaven Father. At very least, these incidents (which happened over three different wards) drove away the spirit. Generally they led to contention and division as well. Be on the fringe all you want in your private study and faith life–just please don’t demand that you be allowed to take the rest of us with you. If correlation limits the degree to which this happens (and since all of these things happened in the last 10 years, it’s not working perfectly), the I am all for correlation!

  44. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 20, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    When I go to church I want to learn something new. How does that happen if my source material is restricted?.

    I think this is perhaps where we will end up talking past each other, and where I think you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If you look at how Church meetings are handled and how our curriculum just is, it’s easy to see that we are not at Church to “learn something new.” We are there to refresh our spiritual batteries, to renew covenants, and to refocus. We are there to share our experiences with the gospel and to strengthen one another’s faith. “Learning something new” can be done on one’s own time, in one’s own way. If you will notice, there is very little emphasis on “what happened” in the manuals and much more focus on “how can we apply what is in these scriptures/stories/principles?” This is deliberate and has tremendous potential for good. It also makes the curriculum applicable worldwide, which is something we should be concerned about. It’s impossible to create a curriculum that allows everyone to “learn something new” intellectually, because we are all at different points in the knowledge-gaining-process, and because we also have different interests and faculties. But anyone who has a testimony can share “what the gospel means to me” vis-a-vis different gospel principles. THAT is what our church classes are for.

    As for the “discussion model,” I repeat that it is not mine. This is the way our curriculum is set up. I am not denying that problems can arise, but discussions can usually be redirected. I think how questions are asked makes a big difference. I have seen the beauty of this program, and it can work wonderfully.

    Are you making an argument that GD and EQ/HP/RS lessons exist to discredit moonbats in addition to teaching gospel principles?

    I don’t know how on earth you can pull that out of what I said (or, more correctly, what the manuals say!) The lessons exist to let us come together, wherever we are on the path, and discuss how the gospel can be applied and helpful and a source of strength and peace. It is to help us share with each other, to knit our hearts together. Sometimes it is to give us opportunities to exercise charity if things don’t happen quite as they should. But it’s not where we go to play “top that” on what each of us knows (or to sit bored because we aren’t “learning something new”). Talking about application of gospel principles puts us more on equal ground because we are all striving to apply the gospel. From Sacrament Meeting on, if we can share how gospel principles and truths have helped us in our lives, the Spirit can reward us richly. There is a big difference between being lectured to and being invited into someone’s heart a little.

    As I mentioned before, my experience is that a lot, not most, but a lot, of what comes from the floor is not doctrinally or factually based. I’ve sat in classes and heard commenters relate items as fact that I know to be false (and so does the instructor) that never get corrected.

    This is, in my experience, the exception and not the rule. And, in your example, if you heard something false, why didn’t you or the instructor gently point out the doctrine so that person could understand? No matter what teaching methods are used (unless the teacher simply bowls everyone over and allows no discussion — and then we have to rely on the teacher’s doctrinal “rightness,” which isn’t always sound either) then there is always the chance of comments that are doctrinally off. So, that is an opportunity for someone to lovingly teach the doctrine. We each have to take responsibility to know the doctrine and to help keep it pure — and to show love and patience for those around us.

    And, again, if the focus is on “how does this help you in your life?” I think it is less easy for false doctrine to creep in.

  45. DavidH on April 20, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    I think the solution to the “moonbat” problem is an easy one, and one in whose direction we are heading:

    All gospel doctrine classes will be taught by satellite broadcast directly from Salt Lake City. Occasional responses from class members can be sent via email, which will be read on the air (after the class member’s answer or question is reviewed and corrected by the correlation committee).

  46. Hiram Page on April 20, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    TMD (#43): It certainly sounds like you have had a colorful Church experience. I have had one too. I guess we have just emerged with different takes on the problems and benefits of those experiences. Most of the things you are describing are the kinds of issues that can be dealt with by people exercising the courage and understanding to discuss things openly and calmly. There will be times when leaders need to intervene in order to bring things back down to earth, but in general I find it healtier to have the discussion than to sit there bored or silently seething.

    I should say that one of my opinions, with which you will probably disagree, is that too much is made out of avoiding contention. It seems to have been taken to the point of people avoiding disagreement at almost all costs. Personally, I don’t believe the Spirit is so touchy as to vacate whenever someone disagrees with someone else and is open about it. Expressing feelings, even those we often consider negative, are vital to developing honest relationships. If we hope to become communities of any depth, we have to be willing to risk communicating in our disagreement as well as our shared perspectives. As it stands now, I don’t consider my ward to be much of a community at all. Now I find most of my meaningful interaction takes place outside of LDS circles.

    Yes, there must be some limits. I don’t like the idea of people hi-jacking the hymns to make personal doctrinal points. Nor do I think that Gospel Principles is the place to discuss which heavenly body might be Kolob. This is where a little assertive leadership goes a long way.

    What we have now is so far in the other direction of the pendulum swing, however, that either little thought is required to answer, or a Herculean amount of effort is required to couch whatever point you want to try to make in inoffensive, and practically inscrutable, rhetoric. I usually just bring something to read these days. I recall one snarky fellow in my Aaronic priesthood quorum (we’re talking 1980s here) who decided to answer everything the same way: “pray, fast, and attend all meetings.” There is a lesson to be taken from his humorous practice. Even kids were getting sick of this 20 years ago.

  47. Hiram Page on April 20, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    “All gospel doctrine classes will be taught by satellite broadcast directly from Salt Lake City. Occasional responses from class members can be sent via email, which will be read on the air (after the class member’s answer or question is reviewed and corrected by the correlation committee).”

    How delightfully Orwellian! If anyone dares to say anything off-script, they can be excommunicated via an instant messaging ‘Court of Love.’ LOL.

  48. KLC on April 20, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    m&m, I admire and appreciate your steadfast and reasonable tone, both here and on the music thread.

  49. forresta on April 20, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    DavidH, I remember the lessons you’re talking about. When I’ve been lucky enough to be a Sunday School teacher (I taught Seminary for a few years too, but I wouldn’t call that “lucky”), I’ve had entire lessons where I’ve been able to do nothing but ask questions, listen to discussions between the students, ask more questions, listen to more discussion, rinse, wash, repeat, then bear testimony at the end.

    These are the best kind of lessons – you just have to ask the right questions to get discussion going without letting things spiral out of control. The Spirit seems to know all the right questions . . .

    m&m, your question “how does this help you in your life?â€? brings to mind some questions that always seemed to encourage good discussion among students: “So what?”, “Why did you come here and spend an hour of your time learning this?”, and “What are you going to do about it?”

    I think I shocked some newcomers to my Sunday School and Seminary classes with these . . . (note: I was very careful not to aim these questions at anyone in particular).

  50. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 20, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    forresta: I love those kinds of lessons! Your list of questions reminds me of what we would go back to a lot (I introduced this idea when I was first called to teach Gospel Doctrine):

    President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and himself a master teacher, has a question he often asks when we have made a presentation or given some sort of exhortation to one another in the Twelve. He looks up as if to say, “Are you through?� and then says to the speaker (and, by implication, to the rest of the group), “Therefore, what?�

    “Therefore, what?� I think that is what the Savior answered day in and day out as an inseparable element of His teaching and preaching. His sermons and exhortations were to no avail if the actual lives of His disciples did not change.

    “Therefore, what?� You and I know that too many people have not made the connection between what they say they believe and how they actually live their lives.
    Jeffrey R. Holland, “Teaching, Preaching, Healing,� Liahona, Jan. 2003, 13

    Sigh…this is making me miss my SS calling….

    KLC: Thank you for saying that. :)

  51. Kimball L. Hunt on April 22, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    Re (my fellow “dane”) Paul Mortenson and (the likewise obviously Mo) Hiram Page and (then) David H on, ahem, moonbats such as myself at church:

    When I’ve visited my local ward for the total of a half-dozen times within the last several years, I’d be sitting there in gospel doctrine class intently listening to the instructor. Who, in utilization of the Socratic method, would tend to call on me* to respond to some philosophical question to help to elucidate whatever point within his lesson. And inside I’d feel very uneasy, thinking to myself: “Should I say, ‘Well, if you take what you are teaching to be The Authoritative Word of Diety . . . ‘ and, then, for me to try and wing it? Or should I take a moment to try and figure out the next point in his lesson that his Socratic question is trying to pull out from his class and try in the best way I can, while still being true to my ideosyncratic way of thinking, to deliver that?

    But the option I always chose was the 2nd one, with my then giving as SHORT of answers as I could get away with and just praying I wouldn’t be called on much! lol; however, here in Times & Seasons I’m getting at last to explore option “el # -o uno”——- !
    __________________________________
    *Oh: And although I’ve never been exed I’d nonetheless decline the many invitations I’d receive when I’ve visited to pray, afraid I’d launch into some heartfelt offering as, “God, thanks for people everywhere and their conceptions of truth … ” blah blah blah; ah, the perils of being Universalist!

  52. Kimball L. Hunt on April 22, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    g. wesley (over in the Nate’s thread about the new chair in Mormon studies at Claremont) seems to me to have made mention of how one particular gnostic threads of the many formed within a gestation period, such as within Mormonism during the Nauvoo period, for this one thread to then become canonized as authoritative in a subsequent period of order and imposed orthodoxy.

    Then, over in the Julie’s thread concerning supplentation of the King James Version in the Church, DKL brings up the fact that the brilliant apostle James Talmage had prophesied that records of the Lost Tribes would in these last days come forth, Talmage’s saying he believes these tribes hidden somewhere en mass and not just dispersed. Well, when I was eight years old my primary teacher asked us (And, Primary was taught on a weekday back then … ), Where could these Lost Tribes be? And she proceeded to theorized it possible for the earth itself to be hollow and for the Ten Tribes to be found in a separate livable place WITHIN the earth, which would be given light by some kind of glowing orb found in at the very core (I swear to you!)

    I was talking to a friend the other day who isn’t Mormon but who hold to a mixture of beliefs he’s culled from books and the internet . . . only to hear him give to me this very same “hollow earth” idea with people living there (albeit with his making no mention of Lost Tribes).

    And as he’s talking to me, I felt the same way listening to him as I would these days in Mormon Sunday School. So, my response to him were, first, ironically: “Hmm. I must have missed that class in college in Physical Science.”

    But then switching to Universalist mode and so, casting about for possible archetypes, I said, “Why not just have people exist in another dimension then?”

    To which my friend M_____ said, “Yes! In another dimension!”

    To which I replied, “Well, if it’s in another dimension, why even have the image of the earth being hollow then? Can’t there be multiple dimesions even on top of the earth?”

    And then after M_____ had walked away, I mulled over his premise and remembered the parallel that the Greeks had indeed conceived of an afterlife held wherein departed sould would be taken across the river Styx to some type of existence to be found WITHIN the earth; but then, again, in the New Testament, Christ likens such pagan imagery to the fate to a ever-burning hell whereas those who believe in Him are to be bodily resurrected into a renewed earth.

    However, in a theoretical Mormon Sunday School class that’d be covering the resurrection, I’d just rather not go through all of this! And instead I’d just pray I wouldn’t be called on (while interior-ly I’d be all about trying to fathom whatever the Christian take on such eschatologies without having to commit to it or any other one exclusively– )