Wednesday, February 1, 2012

As Droves Out Our Windows

Reuters published a fascinating and timely article yesterday, and the opening four paragraphs reminded me of a favorite Richard Bushman quote: "To be credible we must be candid".  After learning about a forthcoming program called "The Rescue" (more on that here), I was heartened the Church may finally be recognizing (at least publicly) the crisis at hand.  An excerpt from the article (which you can read in full here) below:
A religious studies class late last year at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, was unusual for two reasons. The small group of students, faculty and faithful there to hear Mormon Elder Marlin Jensen were openly troubled about the future of their church, asking hard questions. And Jensen was uncharacteristically frank in acknowledging their concerns.
Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are "leaving in droves?" a woman asked.

"We are aware," said Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. "And I'm speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church. They really do know and they really care," he said.

"My own daughter," he then added, "has come to me and said, 'Dad, why didn't you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?'" For the younger generation, Jensen acknowledged, "Everything's out there for them to consume if they want to Google it." The manuals used to teach the young church doctrine, meanwhile, are "severely outdated."


Clean Cut said...

Assuming some readers might not understand my title, I'll just briefly explain that Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in the year 2000 titled "As Doves to Our Windows", in which he quoted early Church leaders who longed for the day that people would flock into the Church "as doves to our windows".

The current trend is of many going the other direction after being introduced to difficult issues in church history (or who otherwise become disaffected for legitimate reasons) leaving the faith in numbers that haven't been seen "since Kirtland" (to quote Elder Jensen) and many others having to dramatically adjust their beliefs in order to remain active.

Anonymous said...

Where to place the blame? On the members for not doing research on the church and on doctrine/teachings outside of Sunday School on their own? Or on the Church leaders for not addressing these issues on a continual basis in manuals and publications? And on the leaders for staying silent on issues as they arise? Or for teaching Bishops and Stake Presidents to tell members with questions to read the Scriptures and pray harder, or to not worry about it, or it isn't important? I think all are to blame, but feel the SLC leadership bears the brunt. I realize the objective of the Gospel and the church is to bring people to Christ. But it is past time to quit sanitizing the history of the church. I think it would also help, in lessons, to compare discovered ancient religious writings to the doctrine to show that Joseph Smith could not have made this stuff up. Yeah, a little more meat. And there is much more that could be done by SLC. JRSG

Clean Cut said...

"It is past time to quit sanitizing the history of the church"

Ditto. I've felt that way for a long time now.

"Yeah, a little more meat"

Again, ditto.

I've lost count how often I've heard the phrase "milk before meat"--the problem though is when we never get around to the meat people start getting really tired of just milk.

And I've worried about how much nourishment is gained in some of our meetings in the past: