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  1. It seems only the most naive members now believe the leadership is a Prophet in the truest sense of the word. For example most people I know will never use the term prophet even in LDS company, but rather say president, but that does not mean we can’t enjoy and promote the good aspects of the culture.

    1. I agree. I always feel uncomfortable when I see parents whispering to their children in testimony meeting. I actually haven’t seen it done in quite a few years which is totally refreshing!

      As my kids get older I just hope they feel they can be as authentic as possible in sharing whatever it is they believe. (The same goes for me too!)

      1. When a child’s testimony includes “true church” claims, I translate it to mean that they love their parents and family, nothing more. – I frankly wish the child would speak the later instead of the former; it’s more accurate and truthful toward the child’s meaning.

    2. Perhaps “only the most naive members” believe church leaders are prophets, but I think that most members are naive. I certainly was on this point, despite being a reasonably intelligent person. “Follow The Prophet” was one of my favorite Primary songs; now I despise it.

  2. Brent, when you were talking about your oldest daughter and her relationship with church you were describing my daughter almost exactly. Her issue is not so much about what she wears but with the the content of the classes. Her most recent frustration is with Sunday School. With the change in the age of missionaries they have made the oldest youth Sunday School class mission prep instead of studying the scriptures. She plans to join the peace corp and serve the immediate needs of people and was sort of sneered at for that desire.

    Most Sundays she chooses not to go to class at all and spends the last two hours sitting next to me in the Primary room while I play the piano.

    1. Isn’t it sad that something so worthwhile like Peace Corps is dismissed by many LDS as infinitely inferior to a mission? Having served a mission, I strongly feel I would have accomplished more good in the world by joining the Peace Corps.

      Good for your daughter. We need more young people like her, and fewer of those who think that an LDS mission is actually helpful to the world.

      1. Blorg’s comment struck cord with me; I too wish that Peace Corp (and similar venues) were given higher status in Church circles. I personally feel that more LDS member conversions could come via Corp service plus more meaningful memories for the missionary, a win-win.

    2. The Peace Corps, that’s great. . . it’s interesting that we often view handing someone a BoM as more important than working to give them clean drinking water, food, or shelter. . .

      1. Could you imagine if we sent all of our missionaries to poor countries to do service? We could seriously put a dent in world hunger.

        1. Pablo is on target. I cry to think of the many unproductive hours of traditional missionary work that could be traded for direct service, plus learning and applying smart agri-methods, wells and water pumping, and skills to help our kids get practical knowledge toward a college science degree on their return.

  3. This podcast came at a great time for me because I just spent the weekend struggling with this issue. I had to teach sharing time and the lesson was about following the prophet. The suggested object lesson was to have one child hold a picture of the prophet and jump or stomp or whatever they wanted to do and everyone else had to follow because they were following the prophet. I had a hard time with that object lesson, but I did it anyway because I didn’t know what else to do, and they are kids and will enjoy the activity for the fun of it more than actually getting anything out of it. Then I tried to steer the rest of the discussion the way I wanted to. It’s really hard to know how to teach the next generation in a different way than you were taught. I’m glad that I am in primary right now instead of Sunday School or relief society. I feel like an infant in my own spiritual awakening right now, so primary is a good fit for me. But sometimes I don’t know how to teach these children. It is especially hard for me because I have two of my own children in there and I am beginning to teach them in a different way. I don’t think it will work to teach primary the way I teach my children at home. People in my ward are already beginning to think I am a heretic. They will not put up with me brainwashing their children too. The reality of it is that I want to teach the kids to think critically so that their learning isn’t simple brainwashing. But how do you teach primary children that when the prophet says to jump, you don’t have to blindly follow just because the prophet said to? You can think about it and work it out with God on an individual level.

    1. Jenny! That is a tough one!! My son had to give a talk on that in primary last week. So I had to do some creative writing… here is what he read: “The prophet is the president of the church. He tries his best to lead our church in the right direction. We can always find out if what he says is good for our lives by thinking, praying, and doing. In our last conference president Monson said we should be tolerant to others. This means we should love others even if they are different than us. I am thankful for president Monson.”

    2. But yes you have to walk a fine line. I think if you stress love A LOT and all the time, you can sail through without hitting the tough topics.

      1. Pablo, thanks for reaffirming my own thoughts. That’s actually what I did with the rest of my lesson. I found quotes by Pres. Monson about love and tolerance. What you wrote for your son’s talk was awesome! I hope you don’t mind me plagerizing some of it for my daughter’s talk this Sunday.

    3. Jenny, thx for sharing your teaching example. The missing piece should come a few years later, teaching about leaders’ fallibility, teaching that leaders do their best, often give correct advice but some incorrect slips through. (Hey,.. same with parents, school teachers,..)

    4. Thanks for this comment. That object lesson really is a problem. . . I suspect that if Joseph Smith had been in primary, he would have objected to it. There are so many things wrong with it. . .

  4. It is both refreshing and fascinating to hear about Aimee’s happily unorthodox family. It is useful to see models of progressive Mormonism that is healthy and functional in the family context. Thanks guys for the enlightening discussion1

  5. “Covenant by ambush” perfectly describes how I feel about growing up in the church. Now, I am trying to delicately communicate to my parents and in-laws that it is not a given that my son will be baptized (he turns 8 in August). That it is a choice that he gets to make is obviously not an assumption they are operating on- instead the assumption is that he will of course be getting baptized.

    I’m extra sensitive to this because I absolutely feel that this culture of intense pressure was and is harmful to me, no matter how pleasant and idyllic my childhood was otherwise. With a pleasing, peace-making personality, I ended us being that person who “knew” the church was true, simply because the personal consequences were too great to admit otherwise. I still can’t bring myself to be completely honest with my parents for fear of disappointing them. Which is why I have the exact same desire for my kids as Aimee– that they will know that I love them, in or out of the church.

    Thanks for a wonderful discussion!

  6. Dan,
    I was hoping to donate to mormonmatters podcast, but there is no hyperlink for it. How do I donate to this awesome podcast?

      1. Thanks, so much, Justin! Don’t know what was going on with the site. We somehow lost our normal blog “theme” and those donation buttons went away, the categories at the left appeared, and the sort of more elegant look the site had has died. Working on restoring to its former look and features! (Was waiting to write you back about the buttons until all fixed. Really appreciate you donating!)

  7. Dan, can you post the blogs that were mentioned by your guests. In particular the one with the best and worst talks. I’d like to look those up.

  8. This was a super helpful podcast for me and loved hearing all of the perspectives the panelists offered. I appreciated hearing Aimee’s approach to parenting and the home she was raised in. It’s so refreshing to have a conversation where it doesn’t have to be all or nothing and there is room and flexibility to keep figuring out where you are individually and as a parent…that will be a life long journey.

  9. Great discussion! I especially enjoyed Aimee’s insights. 🙂

    Regarding the stage coach analogy – one of my favorite responses (and I can’t remember where I heard this) is to remind people that there’s actually a cliff on both sides. There is danger in being too strict, conservative, etc. and it can be harmful to get too pharisaical or fundamentalist about rules/doctrines.

  10. Great podcast. The concerns and questions raised are very similar to mine, only I come at it from a different perspective. I am the father of a five year old son, and a non-member who has been interested and involved with Mormonism since childhood (story published in Dec. 2007 Sunstone, as “Among The Mormons: My Journey As A Liahona Christian”). I appreciate many things about the LDS church, and feel that regardless of social, historical, theological issues, God does speak to me through this tradition (amongst others). My wife and I almost were baptized five years ago, but cancelled due to the hurt and discipline experienced by members/friends who respectfully questioned the Church’s position on California’s Prop. 8. After thinking our LDS “member moment” had permanently passed, recently our family has been regularly attending a very welcoming ward and our son, Danny, is loving Primary. We appreciate the many positives there. Just the simple, Choose The Right message that he hears repeatedly does cause him to evaluate choices he makes at home. The overall kindness and happiness he experiences is very valuable. It is cool to see how Danny really loves the missionaries and looks up to them. As adoptive parents we value a worldview that reinforces our belief that God chose our son to come into our family, although in a different way. But, we are indeed concerned about the Follow The Prophet message (I do think that this can sound like brainwashing to non-LDS folks), the “true church” programming, and gender role messages. While we appreciate the strong moral foundation of the Church, we are concerned about messages he might receive later about sexual purity, homosexuality, etc. I don’t need to go through the whole litany. Most have been mentioned. It’s just somewhat different as our family considers stepping into the Church with these concerns. At the moment we just say we are “Christians choosing to worship with Mormon Christians” and seem accepted in the ward in that context. Anyway, thanks again for a quite thoughtful podcast.

  11. I was so excited to hear Paul bring up the ValueTale series. I was raised on the series and we have read them with our kids since they were little. My kids love the books and often will bring up these historical figures and their associated story/value. As Paul mentioned they are also great in providing both male and female role models. I would recommend these books to anyone trying to focus on Values rather than religious dogma.

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