In Praise of Elder Packer: ‘Let Them Govern Themselves’

Aaron R. aka Rico General Authorities, LDS, Leaders, Mormon, theology, thought 41 Comments

It might just be the posts that I read, but Boyd K. Packer is not the most popular of Apostles in the Bloggernacle (or perhaps among liberal Mormons more generally).  I acknowledge that this is a speculative impression.  At the very least, I have heard Elder Packer criticised at Sunstone and on the Bloggernacle on a few occassions at least.  I was therefore surprised to find one of his sermons published in full in an issue of Sunstone.  The talk was insightful, challenging and thought-provoking.  As a result I wanted to reproduce some of his comments here that I found most interesting and/or  inspiring.  The address was originally given March 30th 1990, to a Regional Representatives Seminar.

‘In recent years [Church Leaders] might be compared to a team of doctors: issuing prescriptions to cure or to immunize our members against spiritual diseases. Each time some moral or spiritual ailment was diagnosed, we have rushed to the pharmacy to concoct another remedy, encapsulate it as a program and send it out with pages of directions to use.  While we all seem to agree that overmedication, over-programming, is a critically serious problem, we have failed to reduce the treatments. It has been virtually impossible to affect any reduction in programs.  Each time we try, advocates cry to high heaven that we are putting the spiritual lives of our youth at risk. If symptoms reappear, we program even heavier doses of interviews, activities, meetings, and assessment’

‘The whole correlation effort, which took about twenty years, followed that course and much was accomplished. The habits for moral and spiritual health were defined. The scriptures were prescribed as the basic nourishment. The curriculum, loaded with spiritual nutrients, was developed but we did not allow time for it to work and we failed to close the pharmacy or even effectively control it.  We now have ourselves in a corner.’

‘The hardest ailment to treat is a virtue carried to the extreme. We cannot seem to learn that too much, even of a good thing, or too many good things, like vitamins taken in overdose, can be harmful. In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church.’

‘Both Alma and Helaman told of the Church in their day.  They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity.  Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today.’

‘The patience of the Lord with all of us who are in leadership position, is not without limits.’

‘The most dangerous side effect of all we have prescribed in the way of programming and instruction and all, is the overregimentation of the Church. This overregimentation is a direct result of too many programmed instructions.’

‘It is not that any one thing we have been doing is wrong, for we have acted with the best of intentions. Some of us remember when President Kimball saw the outlay of curriculum and the vast display of printed material. He said he was frightened, “We have done it all with the best intentions.”‘

‘Latter-day Saints will come to depend upon the Lord instead of upon the headquarters of the Church.’

‘Matters with deepest doctrinal significance must be left to married couples and to parents to decide for themselves. We have referred them to gospel principles and left them to exercise their moral agency.’

I acknowledge that this is one side of the story, but it is a real dimension.  A facet that I appreciated seeing from Elder Packer.  I think there is much here which is of value, and has led me to think deeply about my own participation in the Church and my response to it and the programmes offered by it.

My questions are these:

Is there anything of value in his remarks?

Given that this was presented nearly 20 years ago, have we seen Elder Packer’s counsel followed?

Comments

comments

Comments 41

  1. Like the Jews in Christ’s day, many LDS seek to have every “issue” clarified in writing by the Church leaders, caffeinated non-coffee or tea beverages being a prime example and one that we recently explored. Elder Packer has been consistent over the past twenty years in preaching about how individual members can receive direction in their lives directly through prayer and seeking the Holy Ghost. (see http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-775-2,00.html ) Since 1990, the First Presidency has issued a letter directing local leaders to decrease the number of church meetings on the Sabbath and you can see that many of the same principles have been covered in different ways during the World Wide Leadership broadcasts held during the last decade. With the temple building period of the last decade and the generational effect that this will have over the next 40 years in Church members’ lives scattered over the globe, the future of the work of the Lord continues to brighten despite the carping of apostates and non-believers who have taken issue with the teachings of BKP.

  2. I’m not sure what he means when he says “matters of deepest doctrinal significance must be left to married couples and parents to decide.” Something must be missing here. Otherwise, it seems to suggest that if you’re not married or a parent you are not capable of deciding things. But I like the tone of what he is saying. Maybe we can stop looking to the church to tell us what movies to see, or what to believe about some important aspect of science or what we can do on a Sunday afternoon or whether we can drink a coke once in a while. How refreshing!

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    I also think he is giving counsel regarding the role of the auxiliary programmes on the family. It seems to me that he is trying to suggest that families should decide what they should do with their time and what they teach in the home, rather than it being all planned for them.

    I do believe that what E. Packer wants to see, as highlighted in this instruction is in some ways in tension with the position any leader is in. Because leaders are expected to do something, or changing something, and this often takes time. In once sense therefore the more you want to do the more time it will take and the more people you need to involve in that. Therefore I think what is interesting about E. Packer’s remarks is that he in on sense saying lets be careful about what we try and do. lets think carefully about what effect a certain thing will have and whether it is worth the time spent doing it.

  4. Wow! This is the most reasonable thing I’ve heard from him. I’m a parent with 3 teenagers. There are so many church programs, school, sports, etc., that we feel overwhelmed. It is hard to get any family time. I’d love to see the church scale back on all their programs. We live in Utah and here most the active LDS families send their kids to EFY, youth conference (sometimes it is away, sometimes just local), girls/scout camp, etc. It is hard to have kids get a summer job when they need time off for all that plus family vacation/reunions.

  5. I’m not sure I trust Sunstone to accurately reproduce the text of Elder Packer’s remarks to a Regional Representatives training session. I’d like to know the provenance of the transcript. Was it officially published (by Elder Packer or the Church) or is this a bootleg transcript?

    Assuming the transcript is accurate, yes overprogramming is a danger. Correlation does have the potential for cutting down on curriculum and program overload, but I’m not sure that has really been high on their list of priorities. The problem with “let them govern themselves” is that when push comes to shove, some local leaders and some general leaders are simply not willing to let that happen.

  6. Thanks very much for posting this because now I can stop feeling guilty for having all of these same thoughts myself, and can now cite a GA to backup these sentiments if anyone ever challenges me for having them.

    This talk answered a number of persistent questions for me:

    Do the GA’s expose themselves to honest, critical self-analysis: Yes

    Do the GA’s recognize the Church has become over-regimented and over-programmed? Yes

    Do they recognize the regimentation and programming only ever seems to increase and never decrease? Yes

    Have they felt like they needed to do something about it? Yes

    Have they felt there are entrenched institutional barriers that make it difficult if not impossible to effectuate the needed changes? Maybe so.

    Not sure how I ever missed this talk. Maybe it’s time to subscribe to Sunstone? 🙂

    Also, can somebody post a link to this talk so we can read it in full?

  7. DMI DAVE # 7 – “The problem with “let them govern themselves” is that when push comes to shove, some local leaders and some general leaders are simply not willing to let that happen”.

    It is more complicated than this, as cited Packer (1990) recognises that theses programs were initiated through good intentions, life will always present problems that we want to fix.

    The important thing is to let go of old out of date programs, this is were on a local level we struggle. like Psoriasis which is an autoimmune disease causing an over production of skin before the body can shed obsolete skin cells properly.

  8. Yes, yes, please post a link to the talk.

    Thanks Rico for pointing out this lovely talk. I count myself among those who generally cringe at Elder Packer’s words and wait for the onslaught of conservative authoritarian remarks. But alas, as in the past, I must correct my aberrant views of the GAs and try to understand them and their unique position. This is a breath of fresh air and I have new understanding as AA has pointed out.

    Thank you thank you!!

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    #5 – I am not sure if you have ever read the talk you are refering to but the tone is v. different from what you suggest. I actually think that is was an interesting way of teaching reverence and respect to a culture that seeks to have everything written down. I actually see that talk as fitting with his comments in the one cited here.

    #6 – I get the impression that there is still alot which the Church puts on for people. I wonder whether this needed for some but not others. The problem where I live is that because we do not have many people pressure is put on people to attend when they don’t need it.

    #7 – Good Point – Apparently this was available from his office as an official transcript. I agree that some are not willing. But it is also sometimes that people care, and that there way of caring is by trying to channel everyone through a gate they see as important.

    #8 – I agree with all you points: the link is here:

    https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/index.php?option=com_mira&Itemid=35&searchword=let+them+govern+themselves&filter=pdf&searchphrase=all&constraint=title

    #9 – Agree.

  10. President Packer continues to preach the same message–that the programs and procedures are some times over emphasized at the expense of the gospel. From this summer’s mission president’s seminar as reported in the Church News (not yet republished in Sunstone):

    “‘It is a new thought to us across the Church that we are not to be duplicating the Wasatch Front out there with the number of buildings and the congregations and the large audiences and activities that go on and on,’ he said. ‘We are to establish the gospel.’

    “President Packer counseled the mission presidents not to be unsettled if they do not, say, bring a new stake into the Church during their tenure.

    ”If you have congregations of people in branches, and the gospel is being taught, and they are understanding it, then you have done what you are called to do. Building the Church seems to center around buildings and budgets and programs and procedures, but somewhere in the midst of it the gospel is struggling for breath. Get that fixed in the minds of your elders.'”

    http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57557/Church-advances-as-missionaries-perform-labor.html

  11. My feeling from reading that exerpt is the church knows it cannot prescribe solutions for everyone in every situation, but faithful members trying their hardest to be exact in obedience to the prophets want reassurance that their deeds are exactly understood and there is no room for error, for fear of God’s judgment if they misunderstand.

    It is a prideful trap I think one can easily trip on…trying so hard to be exact in obedience, that it becomes natural to become judgmental of others and disapprove of others’ actions. It is a good analogy with medications…too much of anything can be bad and the side of effects of medications or program fixes should be clearly understood.

    Which is a better virtue for the church to teach: Tolerance and love, or exact obedience and shunning sin? There is no one answer…it is situational and so we should be more open-minded to allow parents to dictate for their families what the right remedy is for their situation, and not be so sure our “true path” from our perspectives is the only for everyone in every situation.

    I’m currently struggling with a small situation in my ward and the standards set for youth…and surely wish youth leaders would stop hammering my kids on rules and look past what is printed as a rule and become more interested in the worth of individuals. Less rules…more principles, please!

    My favorite Packer quote (paraphrased from memory): The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.

    People should be focused on the doctrines, not the rules and actions.

  12. “I count myself among those who generally cringe at Elder Packer’s words and wait for the onslaught of conservative authoritarian remarks.” Same here; however, I have heard that he is a Democrat. Even so, his remarks are often conservative in that they are inclined to restraint and resisting change within the church (e.g. “unwritten” talk).

  13. This is my favorite Packer talk. But what has changed because of it? In my opinion not much because of two ingrained attitudes that fight back any attempt to trim and downsize.

    First, like the mantra of cutting government expenses, everyone is for downsizing in the abstract but violently opposed to it when cuts intrude on their own lives. My activities are vital, my meetings are vital, my programs are vital. But the other guy? His activities and programs and meetings definitely should be cut.

    Second, we have created a church culture that values busyness. Going to meetings and holding activities and creating programs have become visible measures of our committment and testimony. Nobody is going to go out on a limb and suggest that maybe quarterly leadership meeting not be held, or that PEC can be skipped this week because nothing new has come up, or that early morning seminary be cancelled when the high school has a short day that begins two hours after seminary ends.

    Sadly Elder Packer and the general leadership seem to have taken the attitude that the changes and downsizing and streamlining that he so eloquently described in his address should come from the bottom, but that just ain’t going to happen. This is one area where the GAs have to lead by example, and when they do I’m sure we will all have no problem following that lead.

  14. Also, it is hard to reconcile the wisdom of that Packer talk with the new Duty to God program for our YM that was added on top of the existing Scouting program.

  15. Regarding the question of whether anything has changed since this talk was given 19 years ago:

    I seem to recall a few years ago in Priesthood GC session, Pres. Hinckley stated they had just completed a thorough review of all the Church’s programs and structures with an eye toward maximizing efficiency, but that in the end, they determined there was no fat to trim (my words paraphrasing at the end there). So perhaps despite E. Packer’s feelings that there’s fat to trim, he is in the minority.

    I also recall that one of the first First Presidency letters under Pres. Monson was an instruction that speakers in Sacrament meeting should not ask members of the congregation to turn to a specific passage of scripture. This example of issuing instructions for what to some might seem the most minute or trivial details of Church affairs might symbolize the approach that E. Packer disagrees with. And the fact that Pres. Monson was in the First Presidency consistently before becoming President may indicate that his approach is more favored, or at least is able to have more influence.

    I also thought E. Packer’s remarks were interesting because they provide an explanation for a phenomenon that is so often bemoaned in online discussions, which is that the doctrine and teaching in the Church has been “dumbed down” to emphasizing the importance of a few actions, such that the answer to every question in class has become: “pray, read your scriptures, and go to church.” E. Packer’s remarks suggest this is not an accident or coincidence, but the intentional result. I see that in his remark that they first determine what they believe are the habits for moral and spiritual health, and then work backwards from there to develop curricula that emphasize the importance of those habits.

  16. Considering these remarks with the changes that were made to the RS program a few years ago, that was an intentional streamlining (going from monthly Homemaking meetings to quarterly with “special interest groups” that are optional and smaller). That was a positive change. I’d like to see a move to a 2-hour block as another positive change, and we could fit more wards into a building if we did that.

  17. #18; 2 hr blocks?
    My father was branch president in a small branch struggling to stay alive for lack of activity. He actually got permission from SP for a trial period to only hold 2 hr meetings. It worked, activity rate went up, enough that eventually they could go back to 3 hr full block of meetings and were considered to become a ward.

    I go back to my prior comments, some things work under special circumstances, and there should be flexibility allowed for special circumstances.

    However, many times you see missions go through these cycles. Less strict presidents allow missinoaries more liberties in how they do their work to allow the spirit to work. Then after a time, the mission seems to get unruly and disobedient, then they have to bring in a strict president to “clean things up” – and the cycle continues.

  18. I don’t want to be an accomplice to a threadjack on 2 hour blocks, but I don’t see that happening because I think it’s well demonstrated and observed that one of the things that is most crucial to maintaining members’ weekly activity is callings, and when you cut away that third hour, I think you inevitably cut away a lot of callings.

  19. I would love 2 hour church. My Sunday’s are SO much more peaceful and spiritual now that I am released as YM president. My family time is 1000% better after I was released. My calling was worse for me than where I am now. I think there should be a provision in our church for people who just want to come and enjoy the fellowship of the saints without feeling like they have to do more and more and more and more…

  20. Mormonism, currently, is a lifestyle. It’s much more than just a religion. No R-rated movies, no alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, drugs, modest dress, read scriptures each day, write in journal, fulfill calling, do geneology, one-earring in ear (for women), go to all the meetings, etc. etc.

    I think part of the overregimentation is what feeds this lifestyle which becomes an outward manifestation of spirituality (not unlike the Pharisees I might add). I would like to see Mormonism do better at giving me increased spirituality (transcending the physical self), and stop dictating the minute details of my life.

    I think the leaders have made some attempts to do this (I can remember talks in which this was emphasized) but for each action/talk that seeks to emphasize this, another one comes along that does the opposite. In some sense that’s good as it means there is still leeway given to the GAs to talk about what is most important to them. But in our culture (particularly in Utah), it has become the norm for so long it will likely take a concerted effort to get the Saints to understand that they ought not to be commanded in all things.

  21. Go to the LDS official site and plug in “Gospel Hobbies” in the search engine. Choose the 2nd “Our Strengths can become our Downfall” by Elder Dalin Oaks, Ensign 1994. This article contains a relevent quote from Elder Packer.

  22. I agree that 2 hour church is unlikely for the same reason that Andrew cites (and we ahve a ward of 60 people which does put pressure on people). I think people can choose their own level of commitment to a certain extent, but I also think that the pressure to move outside of ourselves, and even our family, is a good thing.

    #22 – I admit that E. Packer’s remarks are not the only type of discourse regarding these issues but I think it is important to remember. Moreover the candor with which he says that the Church needs to repent and is in danger of apostasy is refreshing in that it focusses on the leaders and not individuals who do not ‘believe’. Also, the problem for the Church is that the culture seems to suggest that increased inner spirituality is a product of those outward manifestations. If you do not emphasise the outward stuff we would perhaps move into a more mystical type narrative, which may alienate alot of people. Perhaps they could blend it abit, but none of the 12 seem very new-age type religionists to me.

    #16 – I thought DTG was used in places where they did not do scouting like in the UK.

  23. From a brief review of the article, it seems a key motivation to the streamlining of programs is the move to funding programs by tithing (1979)and therefore concern as to whether the church could afford it at that rate of increase. this might be an answer as to why many would see little change 19 years later, looking at the published UK account between 2005 – 2008 we are in a very healthy position plenty of finances to cover our current programs and others.

    the cost of EFY in the UK might change all that, there is already talk of returning to fund-raising and calling upon members to pay a potion of the cost.

  24. For all of his talk about “streamlining” the programs of the Church, the opposite seems to be happening. It’s almost like people try to “one-up” each other by coming up with something new.

    Examples in my experience:

    – I recently served as YM president. 65+ youth. 20-25 priests. It was hard enough getting a reasonable portion to even show up with school, sports, jobs, girlfriends, etc. Then they add the whole DTG program. For the majority, it’s like trying to pull teeth, after the teeth had already been pulled out trying to get them to Eagle scout. And then I went to a presentation around General Conference time from the YM presidency where I was told that I really needed to add Venture scouting to the mix, and get them to form a “crew” with matching T-shirts, etc. I felt guilty about not doing that too. When people claimed that it was hard enough just to get the kids out, we were told that this was an “inspired” program and what we were supposed to be doing. So I basically just ignored it. Sorry. And now that all is said and done, the same kids are on missions (currently 19 people from our ward out on missions), going to college, serving as student body presidents, serving as seminary council presidents, getting full-ride athletic scholarships to college, etc. And guess what, many of them never got a single merit badge. Many never got DTG. We certainly ignored Venture scouting and all of that. We played laser tag. We had Xbox parties. And to this day, I consider them all my very good friends. And luckily we had a great bishop who also realized that the main point of doing something on Wednesday was to have fun so that when you taught them on Sunday, they listened. And it worked.

    – The one-up process also continues in more subtle ways, an example of which was referenced above. GBH mentioned that he liked one paid of earrings in women. By then next conference, this was one-upped with a story about a guy who broke off an engagement because a girl had 2 sets of earrings. How sad.

    – The are many others.

    In spite of the lip service of Elder Packer’s remarks, I think the trend in the church is on outward programs and appearances – even for all of the lip service towards developing inner spirituality. It’s hard to keep up with the outward appearances, however, and in my opinion, that is what Utah leads the United States in per capita use of anti-depressants. And I think we’ll stay there until the Church starts asking LESS of it’s members. Let them have some downtime to enjoy their families, to enjoy life, to enjoy nature around us, to just sit and meditate or ponder Christ – not always running from here to there trying to fulfill callings and worry about the minutae like how many earrings someone has or what color shirt they wear on Sunday or if they got their DTG or are a member of their Venture crew.

  25. Aaron, I believe that DTG is the program for YM where there is no church sponsored scouting but several years ago the program was introduced to North American wards in addition to Scouting. Like Mike S said, creating a whole new program with goals, milestones and awards in addition to the Scouting program is hardly my idea of streamlining the church.

  26. #26; Mike, good words, thanks for sharing that. Your comment that leaders came to you saying you “needed to add a Venture program” is a great example of how leaders are looking at the programs and not the needs. Why add more? What is the purpose of the Venture program, when we are focusing the 14yr olds on DTG and preparing for missions.

    I think sometimes the added layer of stake oversight creates more of what seems like a need for a program when it really just adds complexity to the wards trying to keep up with all the youth activities.

    Less meetings, less programs = more service and practicing the gospel principles.

  27. #26 Mike: Just a big ditto to your remarks. I was a YM leader and YM pres. for over a decade. The whole point of the budget is to give the boys experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have on their own, and the point of the activities is exactly what you said: to create enough of a relationship between the boys and the leaders so that for 1/2 an hour or 45 minutes they’ll actually take you seriously on Sunday morning. Everything else is just a big steaming pile of male bovine feces that the higher-ups use as indicators. The indicators indicate nothing. I heard over and over how if a boy gets eagle he’ll go on a mission, so we have to make sure he gets eagle. Loving, supportive, faithful families get kids on missions, and the kids from loving, supportive, faithful families will participate in whatever we decided to throw at them. We could dump scouting and use DTG, or FFA or 4-H for that matter….because it wouldn’t matter as long as we were giving them the opportunities I mentioned above. Anyone who thinks that scouting is a magical, silver bullet for youth development that was specifically placed by God in the mind of Baden Powell so the Mormons boys would have they key to personal, manly development…..well, I think those folks need to build a fire to get their IQ up to room temperature.

  28. MikeS-

    I understand your point, but a lot of teens are having plenty of Xbox parties and playing laser tag with their friends, that they don’t need more of it on YM night. I have appreciated YM leaders helping the YM to focus on someone besides themselves, having them serve others and learning the value of it. As far as getting their Eagles, it has been a huge benefit to our YM to work on projects for those who are less fortunate and feeling the satisfaction from doing that. It is hard enough trying to find things for teenagers to do to learn and understand the value of work and of thinking of others in our instant gratification world, so I think you need to realize that the Scouting program and DTG program are working well in other wards to help YM develop positively and to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

  29. The ultimate goal of any well-run Church program is to prepare us for something else. For the YM, as an example, the Aaronic Priesthood is to prepare them to receive the MP, enter the Temple, serve missions, enter into a Temple Marriage, become a worthy husband and father, serve in the church and lead his family to exaltation. Same for Scouting and the DTG program. to the extent it does not do that, the leaders are doing it wrong. The scouting program and DTG overlap a great deal and parents are expected to participate with their son in both. many do not and leave it to the leaders to do. This is wrong and the parents are not living up to their end of the bargain.

    The same is true of all church programs. They are supposed to have a gospel purpose. If they don’t, then they do not serve a purpose at all.

    But nothing substitutes for having the gospel working in our lives as the Savior intended it to.

  30. Heber, your comment echoes my thoughts on the real value of stake organization in the 21st century church. I’m not sure the stake organization adds much value to modern wards but it does add complexity and drain leaders.

  31. Andrew A – I agree about the importance of callings, but that can be mitigated by ward size just as easily, and 2 hour blocks allow for more wards to meet in the same building without anyone having to go super late (such as past 4pm).

  32. I found Elder Packer’s talk here to be full of good information, but nothing new. We’ve been hearing GC addresses for a while now about reducing activities and programs. An immediate example is how RS cut Enrichment/RS Meetings from monthly meetings to quarterly meetings and now to no defined set number of meetings. I haven’t see that to be effective in my ward, since we don’t just have quarterly meetings – we have twice-weekly meetings! There is a craft night for every week in the month, along with an FHE RS Group, a Recipe Group, a Workout Group, a Nutrition Group, a Family History Group, and others! I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, since it helps with fellowshipping and sisterhood. However, since there must be a RS counselor present at these “meetings,” it does make for a lot of program attendance for those three sisters.

    I can’t comment on the discussion of YM/YW having neither gone through the program nor been a leader. However, I have seen duplication programs in other aspects of ward and stake leadership. (It should be noted here that I am on the East Coast – far from Zion). We had one particular bishop who would develop a new program every time there was a need. For instance, he saw that the new members didn’t understand the purpose of Home Teaching and Visit Teaching. He then set up a “mentoring” program AS A DUPLICATE TO HOME TEACHING, where certain men were called to be mentors to new members to teach them how to HT. These weren’t new HTing companions – oh, no. The men also had their HTing companions and HTing routes on top of their mentoring companion and route. And that was just the highlight; I can’t tell you the other diverse programs that were invented in that ward.

    That Bishop is now in the Stake Presidency and we are starting to see evidence of new duplicate Stake-wide programs. He also at Stake Conference gave the admonition to avoid Facebook, as it is the tool of Satan, citing Elder Bednar’s talk on the need for moderation in the internet. Reminds me of what was said above about the talk on one pair of earrings, vs. the next talk on dropping your sweetheart over it.

    My point is that talks like these haven’t really disseminated into a reduction in programs, in my experience. Its almost as though they let a cat out of a bag with introducing programs as a way to heaven, and now they see the cats getting in cat fights and are saying, “That was a bad idea. Get back in the bag. Get back in the bag.” Nothing is going to happen that way.

  33. Jen:

    Just so you don’t get the wrong impression – we did a great deal of other things as well. We did service projects. We went to temple square. We did baptisms for the dead. Etc. I also agree that those things are very important. However, my argument is that I didn’t need a Venture scouting program or a DTG program to do those things. To be honest, I also didn’t need the LDS Church to do those things. If I was in charge of any youth group, I would still emphasize being a good person, serving other people, being honest, being thankful, etc. My whole point is that we don’t need all of the silly programs to teach our youth to be good people. The programs mostly just create guilt in the leaders and youth who don’t feel they are doing what they should unless they do everything. I felt bad as YM president for a bit, until I basically just ignored those things and focused instead on teaching the kids the principles of the gospel and of being a good person.

    And while many of my activities were a bit nontraditional (including the method of paying for them out-of-pocket – our budget would be blown in one night of laser tag), at the end of the day as I mentioned above, they ended up good kids, going on missions, etc. And on a personal level, our relationship was such that when a few of the priests had an extra ticket to a midnight premiere of a new movie opening, rather than call another friend, they invited me and we had a great time. I don’t know that hounding them to meet another DTG requirement would have built that same relationship.

  34. I’ve just attended some training on the church welfare program and the church employment program. It does seem like there is streamlining. The new web based church employment program has the potential to save a lot of volunteer hours and reach an even higher number of participants.

  35. Paul Toscano has a beautiful essay on the ‘Grizzly Bear’ in Sacrament of Doubt. I highly recommend it. But then again, the bloggernacle is more about subjective, anecdotal evidence than thought-out published work, so most of you will just argue that Paul was ex’d, Packer’s rep for being a jerk is unwarranted and leave it there. *sigh*

  36. #28&32 – Your comments about Stake and Ward dynamics are interesting. With organisations like the High Council, they seem to have such little effect but do seem to be very draining on resources. Perhaps one set would be to minimise stake level callings, and have committees of joint ward leadership that organise stake level stuff if they want and need it.

    #34 – I agree that the ideas about streamlining are not new but there are some interesting thoughts about the church needing to repent which are unique. I think if we want to see streamlining in the way you recommend we need to ensure that leaders are aware of the changes they can make to suit the needs of an area. So if HT/VT need to be combined let them do it etc?

    #37 – Firstly, I think I acknowledge in the opening post that Packer is not always that popular. Secondly, I think it is unreasonable to assume that E. Packer is always as unyielding or unkind as people make out because it is highly unlikely that he would ever be able to assume the position he has without some redeeming qualities as a person.

  37. PackerHater – #37

    Paul Toscano’s portrayal of the ‘Grizzly Bear’ is one that is by his own admittance biased, and despite his very wordy arguments it carry’s very little actual weight. his attempts of character assassination is fuelled by negligible misinterpretation at best.

    Paul does make some valid points; however these are few and far between. I agree that BKP sometimes struggles with the most appropriate analogies but so do most of us, and no one can create the perfect allegory to cover every aspect of the gospel and our experiences in one go. i.e Paul cites ‘Spiritual Crocodiles’ as an example as to how BKP focuses on avoiding sin rather than receiving forgiveness from Christ. it is a good analogy for avoiding sin it does not try to be the ‘model of ‘everything’.

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