27 February 2013

Here's An Example . . .

Here's an example of why the illiterate can't understand the scriptures.

Last year in our Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine class a sister read this verse of scripture:
Mosiah 19:1 And it came to pass that the army of the king returned after searching in the veins of the people of the Lord. (Were they looking for heroin or what?)
Bless her heart, she's one who constantly says she reads the scriptures but doesn't understand them and marvels at my knowledge and grasp of them.

Well, this is what the verse actually says: "And it came to pass that the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord."

Big difference!! Can I rant for a moment? These good hearted brothers and sisters butcher every verse they read. They drop words, add words, mispronounce words, change words, and just generally make the scriptures unintelligible. And these are the same people who, suppossedly, would be offended at the offer of a literacy class. So we protect their feelings and offend mine!

The Gospel Doctrine class is taught at an elementary level. It is painfully boring for me to sit through it. I learn more on my own than in that class. I have never been to the Gospel Essentials class, nor would I want to as it is taught by another illiterate whose gospel understanding is based on her protestant upbringing. I feel for the newly baptized members in that class.

I enjoy many things about living in Iowa. The church is not one of them. I long to go back to a ward full of literate, educated brothers and sisters.

If the Glory of God is intelligence, in other words light and truth, why can't we have some of it out here in the Heartland? It is no wonder to me that the Branch here has been shrinking for many years. My friend, the YW's President tells that when they moved here about 18 years ago the branch was flourishing with a huge (40 children) Primary and they routinely took 10 or 11 girls to summer camp, the largest group in the Stake. What happened? A combination of factors, but I have to ask, how can a unit grow without literate members and a climate of excellence rather than one of mediocrity?

23 February 2013

Literacy, or the Lack Thereof

I love to read, in fact, I'm addicted to reading. Seriously, I feel incomplete without reading (or writing) something everyday. I learned to read before I went to Kindergarten. When I asked my mom how I learned she told me I'd see a sign, (street, billboard, store front) and I'd ask her what it said, she'd tell me and I'd remember it. I learned to decode words by myself, I think. I don't remember. I do remember learning a few phonics rules in school, but I usually got 100% on spelling tests.

Both of my parents are readers and our home was full of books and magazines. We read scriptures together and my mother read novels to me before bed. I still remember the soothing sound of her voice. She had the ability to read in the car without getting sick (I didn't inherit that trait) and would read to us as we traveled, in the olden days before anything other than AM radios were in autos. My parents subscribed to the Church News from Deseret News and all the church magazines. I read them all. When the magazines were standardized and correlated we continued to subscribe and I still read them all.

Before I got married I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment near downtown San Diego. In the little hallway between the living room and the bedroom was space and I had my dad build me some shelving to fill that space from floor to ceiling. One half of the shelves housed my books and the other half was for food and other storage. One guy I had a date with came over to pick me up and saw those shelves and asked incredulously "Have you read all those books?" "Well, most of them," I answered. He seemed disgusted and said something about it being a waste of time. I didn't go out with him again. When TopDad came over and saw all those books he exclaimed "You like to read too, cool!" I married him.

Our children have grown up in a home where the books shelves are full and there are piles of books all over the place; plus we go to the library regularly. They all can read, most like too, several are addicts like their parents. We subscribe to the Church News and the Ensign, New Era and Friend magazines. (Well, actually our Friend subscription expired and I won't renew it at this time because our youngest is almost 15, and I decided to give a gift subscription to a single dad in our branch.) We read scriptures together and I have read novels to all of the children at bedtime.

We are a literate family. I thought most other church members were like us. WRONG! Not out here in our tiny Iowa branch. Most here can't read very well if at all, and it seems that many who can, don't. There is a preponderance of reading disabilities as well as a lack of desire to improve. It drives me crazy!

As the RS President I suggested to the Branch President that we offer a "literacy class." He put it before the Branch Council for discussion. One suggestion was to call it a "book club" which I thought was a poor suggestion as people who can't read are hardly going to attend a club for readers. Another brother suggested that we must be very careful and sensitive so we won't offend anyone. My little teapot boiled over at that point and I asked "How would anyone be offended by an invitation to a voluntary class to improve their literacy so they could improve their employment skills as well as have a greater understanding of the gospel through reading and comprehending the scriptures, church magazines, and lesson manuals?" What am I missing here? Am I the only one who wants to improve in this life? The matter was tabled for another time.

Here's a little example: I learned to lead music as a child, I think from my dad, and was called to be a Primary chorister when I was still 13. From that time on I took whatever music conducting course was offered in all the wards and stakes I've lived in. I NEVER felt that I didn't need to learn more or practice to get better.

Another example: I was never offended because I was asked/assigned to take a teacher development course, even after having taken it a half dozen times. I figured there was something else I could learn.

The Glory of God is Intelligence or in other words, light and truth. But how can a person gain more light and truth if they can't read? A brother got up to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting and said something like "I've been asked to talk about the Atonement. I don't know much about the Atonement so I don' know what I can say. Now if they'd asked me to talk about NASCAR or football I could talk for two or three hours." (I thought, well there's your problem, you've spent too much time studying the wrong things, buddy.) Then he proceeded to painfully read excerpts from a General Conference address, add his testimony and sat down. He is one who would benefit from a literacy class. His wife types the Sunday bulletin, which is an embarrassment to me with all of its typos, mispellings and misinformation. She likes to read in Sunday School class, but butchers anything she reads so that it makes little sense. It is no wonder that the illiterate don't comprehend the gospel as found in the scriptures.

Has anyone who reads this been involved in a unit literacy class or effort? I'd love to hear about it.

Until next time. Right now I'm going to grab a book and relax.

16 February 2013

Thank Goodness Someone Understands

In a wonderful article over at CNS News Ashley McGuire explains something too many today don't understand. Truth, in whatever sphere it is found, is eternal. Facts may change, but truth doesn't.

For myself, I'm so thankful we (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are led by a living prophet.  I saw in a comment somewhere "beware of false prophets" and wanted to ask the commenter if because he believed there are false prophets if he knew who the true prophet is. Why would the ancient apostles warn of false prophets if there were to be no true ones?

The world does have a true living prophet. He is Thomas Spencer Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ is Latter-day Saints. And he doesn't get to retire until he is called home to God.