Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why People Leave the Church

I usually go to church on Sunday. Not every week, but most of the time. That's a change --- my not going. Throughout my adult life, I have attended almost all of the time. I didn't today. I have gone less lately. There was an early morning, stake-sponsored priesthood meeting at 7:30 AM. I didn't really get up early enough to get ready for it, and even if I had, I probably wouldn't have bothered to get ready for fear it would disturb my sleeping wife. She had said she didn't intend to go to church last night, and she was sleeping soundly. Anyway, I didn't get up for priesthood meeting, and then I didn't get ready to go to the block session, either. And it wasn't just because I couldn't for fear of waking my wife, or because she wasn't going. Mostly, it was because of what was on the agenda.

The stake had indicated its meeting was focusing on communication between boys and fathers. They did so by sending out an e-mail with a link in it to a short video on the subject. In the church-produced video, one talkative boy was gabbing almost without stop to his father, who was listening, and trying to get a word in edgewise. They were painting a fence. Next door, another father was busy doing his thing, and his son was busy playing video games or something. Bottom line, they weren't talking, they weren't communicating, and it wasn't a good situation like the other situation was supposed to be. In the next scene, the other father and son are washing one of those avant-garde vinyl fences together, and the boy asks his dad why have to do it, observing that it doesn't seem to need it. Anyway, I took the message to be that the other father had taken a lesson by observing the first father and son painting the fence and the father listening to his son and then being able to communicate with him.

Several weeks ago, maybe even a couple of months ago, a brother in our ward was scheduled to give a lesson to the combined priesthood and relief society. He had announced that it was about why people leave the church. I responded to his e-mail, being my typical smart-alecky self, and suggested that rather than him tell us or referring us to some apostle telling us, that it might be a good idea to invite somebody who has actually left to come and say why they did so. Well, it created kind of furor since I had disseminated my suggestion to the same recipients as the original e-mail had gone to. The session was canceled, and somebody else taught something totally different that week. I don't know why it was canceled --- nobody ever said that I recall, but I have an idea it might have had something to do with the furor I created, but I'm not sure. And, perhaps, I'm being egotistical to think anybody cares what I think or do.

Anyway, some days ago, perhaps even a week or so ago, members of the group got an e-mail from the group leader that this same guy was on the schedule to give this lesson on why people leave the church again. The group leader suggested that there wasn't anything to prepare, and that we should just show up. A few hours later, the guy himself sent out e-mail to everybody, telling them they should read a talk by an apostle (Bednar) on why people leave the church --- bottom line, they're offended and ought to get over it, because they are robbing themselves of blessings --- but that there would only be time for his lecture, and there would be no time for questions or a discussion of the topic.

The irony in the situations seemed too stark for me to cope with, so I didn't go. In the first message -- the stake one --- communication is touted as so important. In the second, any outside communication will not be tolerated.

So, I guess I need to get over the offense I took, and quit robbing myself of blessings.

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