This Won’t Make It Past Correlation!

John Nilssonchurch, faith, Happiness, Mormon, Peace, religion, spirituality 22 Comments

Our quote this week is from another church manual predating Correlation. Who wrote this, and why would the Correlation Committee disapprove?:

Just what is the function and role of religion in one’s life? Let us suggest an experiment.  Take a piece of paper, divide it into two columns, place a plus sign above one and a negative sign above the other.  On the basis of your experience with life to-date list in these two columns respectively a) those things which have brought you most satisfaction in life and b) those things which are frustrating and destructive to fine living. In the positive column you may choose to list such things as health, economic security, achievement, friendship, love of folks, integrity, service.  In the negative column you may list ill-health, poverty, failure, hate, jealousy.  When your two lists are complete, ask yourself these questions: 1) Has my religion helped me to realize more fully these life-building elements? 2) Has my religion helped me to avoid or to partially eliminate these life-destroying elements? You will probably find, as many Latter-day Saint students who have tried this experiment do, that their religion has played a constructive role and produced happiness in their lives, more so than they had heretofore appreciated.

Comments 22

  1. That’s actually an interesting exercise, and I could see a lot of well-meaning teachers using it today. However, from a leadership perspective I could see how this would be discouraged, because if the Church was not working so well for someone it kind of emphasizes that religion is failing them. I think the current correlated view would be that if the LDS religion is not working for you, YOU are the one with a problem and you need to align yourself with the Church in order to fix it.

  2. John, I have a hard time seeing how this would not make it past correlation – especially if it was an apostle who said it.

    My guess: N. Eldon Tanner (If that’s correct, I can claim divine intervention, since I have no idea.)

  3. The problem (in my opinion) is not a concern that the church wouldn’t measure up. The problem is the philosophy that the ‘function and role’ of religion is to ‘play a constructive role’ and ‘produce happiness in their lives’. This is a rather humanistic view that leaves the church looking more like a social club or support group rather than the kingdom of God on earth.

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    I think you mailed one of the big reasons this would correlated out of today’s lesson manuals. There are so many. The biggest reason I think this would not make it in today’s curriculum is religion is here presented as a means, not an end. How dare we puny mortals presume to judge the works of God from our miniscule vantage point?

    There are more reasons this quote is problematic. Anyone?

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    Justin got it right! It’s Lowell Bennion!

    Bill’s comment is in line with my thoughts on the matter entirely. The human-centered religion isn’t one that I see much in evidence in manuals today, although it is the predominant approach in the life of many Mormons.

  7. John, my biggest problem with the quote is that there are too many members who see “living the Gospel” as the equivalent of a laundry list, checklist already – and this might reinforce that perspective. In general, however, I do think it’s a good thought exercise for many. After all, if the Church isn’t helping you become a better person, you really do need to do an evaluation of the central issue and change something – either your actions / expectations or your church attendance. However, I don’t think that would keep it from passing correlation – unless someone thought it might encourage people who are disaffected to leave as a result of doing such an exercise based solely on their reaction during a particularly difficult struggle.

    I think this quote would resonate with many members (including in correlation), since I believe there are many people who think like this already.

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    Jim Rice? Funny.

    The quote is from Lowell Bennion’s 1940 Institute of Religion manual, The Religion of the Latter-day Saints. It’s a student-centered text which starts with the assumption that the college environment challenges religious faith and spends time dealing with the proper place of religion in a well-rounded student’s life. It gets more interesting from there.

  9. re #8

    “After all, if the Church isn’t helping you become a better person, you really do need to do an evaluation of the central issue and change something – either your actions / expectations or your church attendance.”

    Is it always your fault if you’re not becoming a better person and never the church’s? That certainly simplifies things when it comes to deciding about guilt, failure, etc.. Of course deciding who or what is the church and how it or they have influenced a person might be another matter.

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  11. “I think I’ve been called a tool but I forget the context.”

    This is by far the funniest reply I’ve ever seen in a comment on MormonMatters. Ever.

    (I hope it was intentionally funny)

  12. #12 – GBSmith, I meant to say that if the church isn’t helping you become a better person it’s either your fault OR you need to stop attending and find something else that will make you a better person – that it doesn’t always make everyone a better person. I’m sorry the meaning didn’t come through; I knew what I meant, but reading it again I can see why you took it as you did.

  13. I have been broke (given my last .17 away) and had no place to stay. At the same time I was probably the most happy I had ever been because I knew I was doing the will of our Heavenly Father.

    I also made 5,000 a week two years ago and I was miserable. The only difference was following the will of God. Go figure. 🙂

    I now make $7.50 an hour and I am pretty happy again. I have a job where I can study the scriptures 6-7 hours a day, I make my house payment and I have enough to eat and a loving wife. What else do you need?

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    Hymns are fine, they’re poetry. The assumption is blessings come from God, so that’s cool. Where is God in Bennion’s quote? Look carefully…

  15. I’ve looked carefully John, and I think I see your point.

    Opening sentence = role of religion

    This is the part I was not seeing as connected (even though it is in bold print 🙂 ). Without reading the entire lesson, however, it is difficult to say whether Bro. Bennion meant for that statement to be tied directly to the last sentence of THAT paragraph. As a bold print heading, it could have been tied to a conclusion a few paragraphs down–AFTER the college student exercise. As to looking for God in Bennion’s quote, I would also assume that somewhere in his lesson there is a tie to God and religion, although it is not mentioned in THIS paragraph. If ONE paragraph out of a LESSON on religion indicates that one may find that living a religion plays a constructive role in achieving happiness, it doesn’t seem out of place to me. My patriarchal blessing essentially tells me the same thing.

    Is it the job of the correlation committee to take each paragraph and read critically as if it would be used as an independent quote? Thanks for the quote and discussion. It does seem like the phrase “my religion” used to be thrown around more before the days of emphasis of the church’s Christian commonalities.

    Hawk–the three hymns I would miss least if we never sang them again: I Believe in Christ, How Great Thou Art, and Scatter Sunshine. (And if “A Child’s Prayer” was in the hymn book, I would put that on my list too).

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