Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Your Grandfather’s Melchizedek Priesthood Manual

Your Grandfather’s Melchizedek Priesthood Manual

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 30, 2009

The lessons in the manual for weekly Melchizedek Priesthood quorum study in 1953 are so unexpected, at least to me, that I didn’t think you’d believe me without a scan. Here are the cover, the preface, and the table of contents.

Whaddaya think?







  1. Wow. Pretty heavy on apostacy.

    Was this the manual prior to ‘Rational Theology’?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — January 30, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  2. Ardis:

    It might be very interesting to do this on a regular basis. It’s been my impression (from various sources) that the Church was far more serious on educating its members on scholastic gospel issues up through the 60s than it is today. Recall that the 1957 MP Study Guide was “An Approach to the Book of Mormon” written by Hugh Nibley — and having read it a few times, I can tell you that it wasn’t watered down compared to his other BofM writings.

    I think we might be collectively surprised at the detail and scholastic nature of these study guides, just as the table of contents for the Relief Society Magazine during this era shows a lot more intellectual rigor and variety than you see in the Ensign nowadays. For that matter, I’m sure the Improvement Era does as well; realize that most of Nibley’s Book of Mormon scholarship was first published in the Improvement Era.

    As recently as the late 1970s, the Ensign was publishing good stuff by Nibley (his ‘Enoch’ series) and others, but then the magazine seemed to shift to exclusively to ‘inspirational’ work and sociological issues. Nowadays, when I pick up the Ensign, I usually read the First Presidency message and skim the rest. Frankly, I even find BYU Magazine more interesting reading (and with far better and more appealing graphic design). In some cases, it’s even more inspirational; there’s a wonderful article in the latest issue by Elder Holland on “Lessons from Liberty Jail”. I think the Church is doing its membership a disservice by shunting almost all thoughtful LDS scholarship to periodicals (BYU Studies, the various Maxwell Institute publications, BYU Magazine) that most members aren’t aware of and have no ready access to. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 30, 2009 @ 7:37 am

  3. Wow, I had forgotten that Barker’s book was the MP manual. I wonder, does this simply reflect the personality of the President of the Twelve at the time (contrasted with later presidents), or did it involve broader trends of boundary maintainence with which the brethren post-1970 have felt uncomfortable? I recall listening to a Hugh B. Brown tape on my mission that was probably from the 50s or 60s, where Brown was almost shouting in the Tabernacle about the apostasy.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  4. Caesaro Papism. Wowee.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — January 30, 2009 @ 8:14 am

  5. The title itself is very interesting and implies a certain (very limited) age group on this blog. I am not very old myself, but those manuals are far from my grandfather’s PM as I got them from my father.

    Personally, although I miss the rigor, it isn’t a surprise that things have been “dumbed down” since. There really isn’t much “gospel” in those books. Hugh Nibley is one of my favorite apologists, but he isn’t (in his writing) a very deep theologian. On the other hand, currently the way things are taught don’t inspire me that much and wish for a return to Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie teaching levels. Sunday Schools are bland even for an “Orthodox conservative” like myself.

    Comment by Jettboy — January 30, 2009 @ 8:21 am

  6. This trend parallels a trend outside the church in schools, newspapers and literature as well. We don’t learn to read Latin phrases, study Greek mythology, or know how to diagram sentences.

    Of course, it was replaced by other things made available through technology; Television, recorded music, internet (and blogging), etc. My 10 year old can remember all the abilities (stats) on his Pokemon cards, but not how to spell the word “neighborhood.” My daughter can operate any hand held electronic device, but doesn’t know the difference between an infinitive and a prepositional phrase?

    This kind of academic study of religion is lost on most people. It may have nothing to do with the church leadership.

    Comment by BruceCrow — January 30, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  7. Whoah! I’m just blown away at all of the detailed topics of this manual. Wow. I took a rigorous course on History of World Religions at BYU and we didn’t cover more than half of these topics.

    I agree with BruceCrow, though. I think a quick glance at an article in, say, Time magazine would reveal a much more erudite approach than today. So, I don’t think the current “dumbing down” is limited to Church periodicals.

    I would love to see more of these through the years.

    Comment by Hunter — January 30, 2009 @ 9:04 am

  8. Eric, I just checked the catalog. John A.Widtsoe’s Rational Theology was used as the priesthood course of study in 1915, and by one of the older MIA groups in 1926-27 and again in 1932. There are European language translations published by the various missions throughout the ’50s, so I’m guessing that it was used there at that time.

    bfwebster, I couldn’t agree with you more about the scholarly aims of many, many articles in the earlier magazines. We remember the really good ones (like Nibley) and refer to them as the standard. But at the same time, I’m noticing that many articles that were then-cutting edge in sociology, archaeology, and scientific studies of all kinds, are painfully dated today, not just in their language but in their content. Still, because I think that our understanding of even basic gospel principles like faith and repentance can be greatly deepened by examples from history and by academic studies, and because I believe that adequate and accurate articles can be written to be within the reading grasp of all of the Ensign’s target audience, I struggle to be loyal to the church magazines when they don’t include such articles. /murmur, murmur/

    David, I was counting on you or someone like you to actually answer those questions, because I share them!

    I can’t even pronounce half the words on the title page, Michelle, much less know what ideas and controversies they concern.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  9. “It was impossible to treat this subject completely [the Apostasy] in the thirty-five lessons already considered.”

    [still shaking my head in disbelief]

    Comment by Hunter — January 30, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  10. My paternal grandfather was a high priest in 1953. The next time I see him, I’m going to ask him about this.

    Comment by Hunter — January 30, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  11. Jettboy, it would be interesting, I think, to do a survey of the blogs to see who the “typical” blogger is. I would guess that Keepa skews a little older than many, but don’t really know. This manual would have been in use by my father’s generation, too, but he himself had not yet converted. And I also agree with you that as interesting as a manual like this is, there isn’t much overt “gospel” in it. If I were more familiar with its subject matter — really, I don’t know much more than the standard one or two line general reference to the apostacy that makes it into our current manuals, and I have a hunch that if I knew more about it, I would have even greater understanding and appreciation for what Joseph Smith restored.

    True, BruceCrow. Sixty years may be a short piece of eternity (and seems shorter the older I get), but that does allow plenty of time for methods to change. Personally, I try to take advantage of new technology, but I insist on the value of the humanities and will have to be dragged into the modern world with my finger nails still clawing at the old way of appreciating the arts and history and language study!

    Me, too, Hunter. Insert here yet one more acknowledgement of my unbelievable good fortune in being able to spend so much time in the library looking at the old copies, because I don’t think there are going to be new copies anytime soon.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  12. I think too that perhaps the trends from serious, scholarly lesson manuals to our current curriculum might also be due to those called to teach. I sat in on EQ a couple of weeks ago and the lesson was really shallow. The teacher, a good guy, just didn’t have the background to get too in depth. I just don’t think many EQ and Sun School teachers are equipped to handle more scholarly topics.

    I agree with bfwebster that many members are shut off some scholarly work. And this is to our collective detriment. For example, I mentioned somethings to my in-laws that I had read in Rough Stone Rolling about JS. They seemed shocked that it didn’t conform to the “orthodox” view we have of JS. (They hadn’t even heard of RSR).

    Comment by Steve C. — January 30, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  13. “I took a rigorous course on History of World Religions at BYU…”

    I do not mean to attack Hunter at all, but I think that BYU’s World Religions course cannot, by any standard, be called rigorous. As I recall, the course requires one text which is co-authored by three BYU Rel. Ed. professors. A course which purports to cover World Religions really can’t be rigorous if only one, non-peer reviewed, BYU-published, text is read. Right?

    Comment by oudenos — January 30, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  14. Oudenos, we might be referring to two different courses. The one I took was taught by a non-LDS professor, and he used his own text (written by him). And it was “rigorous” in the sense that it was hard for me, i.e., I’m not the brightest bulb in the box. [grin]

    Comment by Hunter — January 30, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  15. I’m looking at the following year’s manual. Lesson titles include:

    “The Religious Philosophy of Augustine” (3 pts)
    “Monasticism” (2 pts)
    “The Development of the Papacy” (2 pts)
    “The Reformation, Martin Luther” (3 pts)”
    “The Reformation, Zwingli and Calvin”

    Some of the titles suggest that their purpose is to refute these movements (well, I suppose that is the purpose of the entire series, but the titles here are more explicit):

    “The Inconsistencies in Augustine’s Doctrine, His Attempt to Answer Them”
    “The Conception of Salvation Changed”
    “Changes, Were They Development or Apostacy?”

    Still, class members would theoretically become aware of major figures and schools of thought that most of us are ignorant of.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  16. Others know much more about this than I do, but I would guess correlation has played a part in the transition from manuals like these to what we generally use today.

    (And please, nobody read into my comment any anti-correlation rant because none was intended).

    Comment by Christopher — January 30, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  17. I’m the only one who gets to rant about anything here, Christopher — so by definition, yours is not a rant. 🙂

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 11:07 am

  18. I only learned who James Barker was last year while going through some old books in a piece of furniture that had belonged to my wife’s grandparents. The sold their house and moved into a care facility in late 2007, and Grandpa passed away a year ago. He was William Barker, a nephew of James.

    Ardis, sometimes you should post on things not somehow connected to my family. You know, just to be fair to other Keepa readers!

    Comment by Ben Pratt — January 30, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  19. I remember stopping to chat with Hugh Nibley one summer afternoon in 1977 or 78 while he was out in front of his house watering the lawn in a very irritated manner. He had just received word that serial publication of something he had written on Enoch in the Ensign would be halted in mid-course, because, he said, the editor could not understand it.

    I suppose that’s my concern about the 1953 lesson manual. Most of the brethren using the manual would not have much background in history or ideas, and it would be an unfortunate thing to commence study by reading apologetics, which often tend to distort to make a point.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — January 30, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  20. Ben, you’ll have to stop being related to everybody under the sun before I can follow your suggestion.

    Stephen, I’ve been reading through the manual today, and you’re right. The “Purpose of the Lesson” statements are things like “To show that Augustine’s false doctrines of God and grace lead to a selfish idea of salvation for self with little regard for the salvation of others — the cause of atheism” and “To show that monasticism is neither Christian in its origin nor in its ideals, and frequently led to abuses.” That smacks of the anti-Mormon-cult sermons given by “experts” in other churches today.

    We shouldn’t assume by the lesson titles that these are scholarly, intellectually rigorous, or even necessarily entirely accurate. Just different. Repeating my characterization from the original post, these lessons are “unexpected.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  21. The Church itself and even MP quorums were very different in 1953 than they are now. Back then, there were relatively few MP holders who hadn’t been born in the Church – or, at least, been members for quite some time. There was little need to translate the manuals into numerous languages. I could go on, but the point is that the Church still was quite isolated, and the MP still was quite exclusionary at that time. As mentioned by someone already, it also reflected the personalities of those who were inclined to make sweeping statements about issues and define everything in minute detail.

    Don’t get me wrong; I would thoroughly enjoy something like this as a published work for personal study – or even something like it as a MP prep class. I could see it being a nightmare in many modern quorums, however – especially those in which Bloggernacle denizens would feel compelled to correct the material and the authors’ views. 🙂

    Comment by Ray — January 30, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

  22. Mulling it over the past couple of hours, I think another problem we have is that many of our interpretations of history, such as the Apostasy, are based on old, antiquated historical paradigms that have changed as our knowledge of the Middle Ages has expanded. Interpretations from the 1950s perhaps need to be updated or changed altogether to correspond with new data. Again, most of this would be beyond most EQ, HP, RS and SunSchl teachers.

    Comment by Steve C. — January 30, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  23. I thoroughly enjoyed brother Barker’s book, (I was not a HP in ’53), having been partially raised a Roman Catholic during my childhood. (I left Catholicism at 9 1/2 of my own volition. My German Lutheran mother had no objections.) RE: #4 The term “Caesaro Papism” is quite accurate. It was Julius Caesar himself that adopted as one of his honorific titles, “Pontifex Maximus”. After the fall of the Roman Empire the same title was appropriated by the bishop of Rome, (the “first among equals”), and remains to this day one of the principal titles of the Pope. The point was not lost on the citizens of the former empire; the Pope was equal (actually, from their theological perspective pre-eminently superior) in power and authority to the pagan Roman Emperors.

    Comment by Velikiye Kniaz — January 30, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  24. Ray – another aspect that limited to number of people who attend MP quorum classes was that this was well before the block meetings. Few investigators knew when Priesthood meeting was let alone attended. And some members wouldn’t even bother going.

    Comment by BruceCrow — January 30, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  25. BruceCrow: Those were the days when you could skip MP quorum classes. 🙂

    Comment by Steve C. — January 30, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  26. Hugh Nibley is one of my favorite apologists, but he isn’t (in his writing) a very deep theologian.

    Jettboy: I thoroughly agree, though as I’ve said elsewhere, I have some questions as to whether there exists a “Mormon theology” at all, though that may be more of a semantic quibble (and doesn’t dismiss, say, Blake Ostler’s excellent work). I don’t read Nibley for theology; I read him for context and understanding of the scriptures, as well as the regular pointed jabs at how far we all fall short of living up to Zion’s standards.

    “But at the same time, I’m noticing that many articles that were then-cutting edge in sociology, archaeology, and scientific studies of all kinds, are painfully dated today, not just in their language but in their content.”

    Ardis: I likewise agree, but I suspect the same could be said for most publication in 1952, religious or not, putting out such articles. The point isn’t whether the articles are dated nearly 60 years later; the point is the types of topics that they covered, or at least attempted to. I look through the table of contents above and realize that I couldn’t talk intelligently about many of the topics covered. I do agree that there has been a scholastic shift among LDS scholars regarding the Apostasy, so I’m sure that at least parts of the manual above are dated, but how many Latter-day Saints today even have a basic understanding of the chronology of Christianity beyond “the Savior, the apostles, the apostasy, the reformation, the restoration” (covering 1800 years).

    I don’t mean to sound too critical of the Ensign, and I appreciate their openness in addressing topics such as divorce, homosexuality, pornography, and so on. But I very much dislike the direction their graphic design has gone — it’s very condescending and feels like a grade school reader, and I feel as though IQ points are slipping away while I go through the issue — and the decline in scholastic content has been for the worse. Stephen Taylor’s meeting with Nibley is probably a good microcosmic reflection of that trend’s initiation. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 30, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  27. Is it possible to find copies or, at least, photo copies of these manuals? If not, can just anyone come to the library and see them? If the library, which library?

    Comment by Kristen Schulzke Chevrier — January 30, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  28. Ardis, I’ll work on that! 🙂

    Gone are the days when a supermajority of Church members were raised in the Church and had a sound understanding of basic doctrines. Now there seems to be a perceived need for more basic instruction both in Sunday School and RS/MP.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — January 30, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  29. bruce, I hate the Ensign graphics with a hatred so pure that I’ve refused for several years to look at a paper copy. I use the online text. You’ve described my reasons very, very well.

    Kristen, the Church History Library in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City is open to everyone — patrons need to show picture ID to get past the security guard, and you have to fill out a one-time form to get materials from the closed stacks (the form basically says you agree not to damage the materials), but after that it’s like playing in a candy store. A lot of these manuals are on the open shelves and can be photocopied (5c per page); if you want copies of something from closed stacks, you have to request it, wait a couple of weeks, and pay 25c per page.

    The library holds copies of all the old manuals and all the old magazines, and they try to collect copies of everything written by or about the church. The archives (located in the same room as the library) preserves old church minute books, correspondence to and from church leaders, photographs, funeral sermons, old tithing records, immigration records, realia (Duty to God awards, Primary bandlos, kits and models and all the stuff you remember from when you were a kid), you name it.

    The library/archives will be closed for about three months this spring, beginning in the middle of April, because they are finishing a new Archives building across the street and the staff will need that long to transfer and organize the materials in their new space. Right now, they’re open Monday 8-4:30, and Tuesday-Friday 8-5:30. Come on in!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  30. Steve C.#12 wrote:

    I think too that perhaps the trends from serious, scholarly lesson manuals to our current curriculum might also be due to those called to teach. I sat in on EQ a couple of weeks ago and the lesson was really shallow. The teacher, a good guy, just didn’t have the background to get too in depth. I just don’t think many EQ and Sun School teachers are equipped to handle more scholarly topics.

    I agree with bfwebster that many members are shut off some scholarly work. And this is to our collective detriment.

    A good part of the problem, as we have mentioned before, is because of the correlation program and the directives that teachers are not supposed to add anything not in the lesson manuel. Often, if they do, they get chastized by the bishop or stake president.

    It reminds me of a time I was the ward Family History Rep. I convinced the bishop that I needed a classroom and needed to teach a course that lasted one year. I was having a lot of success and interest when I was contacted by the high councilman over Family History. He told me I couldn’t do what I was doing. In essence, I was informed that I had to teach the recommended ten week course, just enough to get people interested in doing research, THEN, if they wanted to learn how to do research they could go to the local Family History Center and be taught how to do the research. My job was only to convert them on doing family history, not teach them how. I told him that was why many people I knew had taken the ten week course several times and still didn’t have a clue what they were doing.

    Thankfully, my bishop agreed with me and I was able to teach the way I wanted (with frowns from the stake) and a couple of my students are still very much involved in doing genealogy research today.

    Comment by Maurine — January 30, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

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  32. Ardis quips (#29), “with a hatred so pure . . .”

    Sounds like the perfect title for a novel (which, perhaps, Ardis can write this spring while waiting for the Church History library/archives to re-open).

    Comment by Rick Grunder — January 30, 2009 @ 10:26 pm

  33. What should the novel be about, Rick? Who hates what, and why? These are the questions that plague me in the night …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 30, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

  34. That’s interesting that these lessons were so rigorous. I wonder how that meshes in with what I’ve heard from older members of the church. I had heard that back in the 1940s and 50s, the church didn’t emphasize the scriptures as much as we do now. Daily scripture study was not urged as strongly as now. People would not bring scriptures to church or quote them during talks as much as now. Have we replaced the rigor of these old manuals with study of actual scripture?

    Comment by Sara R — January 31, 2009 @ 12:03 am

  35. bruce, I hate the Ensign graphics with a hatred so pure that I’ve refused for several years to look at a paper copy. I use the online text. You’ve described my reasons very, very well.

    It’s not just the graphics; it’s the typeface, line spacing, and other layout factors as well. I spent five years as chief software architect for a design-oriented desktop publishing system, working closely with a internationally-known typography and an outstanding corporate graphic designer. A tiny bit of what they know rubbed off on me (mostly because I was architecting a system to implement it). I suspect the intent of the Ensign design is accessibility to the lowest common denominator, but that should frankly be reserved for the Friend and, to a lesser extent, to the New Era. The Ensign really should look like something for adults, and it doesn’t.

    Off of soapbox. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 31, 2009 @ 12:22 am

  36. Uh, “internationally known typographer“. 🙂 ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 31, 2009 @ 12:22 am

  37. Ardis:

    You say the Barker manual should not be assumed to be very intellectual. However, Hugh Nibley’s priesthood manual from the same basic time period, “An Approach to the Book of Mormon,” was extremely intellectual.

    Also impressive, but from a few decades earlier, was B.H. Roberts’ “The Seventies Course in Theology” (vols. 1 and 2).

    Although modern manuals concentrate on basic gospel themes, they have their intellectual qualities and are full of citations. However, the manuals cited above are much harder hitting.

    I suspect that the need to translate manuals into dozens of different languages has had an impact on content and variability.

    Comment by S.Faux — January 31, 2009 @ 5:17 am

  38. Ardis.

    Uncle Hugh had a problem because most of what is purportedly his is sketchy lecture notes or second-hand quoted matériel. I am grown very sick and don’t remember good, I’m so sorry, but that is what I have been told about Uncle Hugh. Most of the archived information is taken from lecture notes that his family and friend frantically gathered as they realized that he was slipping away and everything would be gone from that brilliant but haphazard mind.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — January 31, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  39. Ardis,

    What I meant to say is that I believe even Hugh’s FARM publications came about in much the same manner. He refused to write things down, other than his lecture notes. The books are redactions and transcriptions from some of his classic lecture series at BYU.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — January 31, 2009 @ 7:25 am

  40. How heartily I agree with the comments about the Ensign- layout and content have both been ‘dumbed down’ in recent years, no other phrase for it. I read it solely online now.

    I found some copies of the ‘Millennial Star’ from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s whilst clearing up recently. (when a branch closed down, no-one seemed to know what to do with these, so they ended up in my home. Sadly I couldn’t keep them all, so just kept a representative sample). One of the 1950’s editions contains the full financial breakdown of Church accounts for the previous year- unheard of now. There are monthly lessons for ‘Ward Teaching’ and ‘Home Sunday School’, along with a featured Apostle and a talk by him. Engagements, marriages, births and baptisms for the whole country are listed too! Also pictures of every single missionary as they arrived or departed.

    By the end of the 60’s and just pre Church Magazines, adverts have crept in. A cassette player for £23!!!

    Adverts notwithstanding, the content of the lessons is certainly more challenging than we would expect today.

    There’s also a beautiful photo of the Bradford Ward RS in 1895, with sisters named, in one of the magazines.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — January 31, 2009 @ 8:13 am

  41. Nibley definitely had a theology. It was in many ways problematic but it was quite interesting. A lot of his work is quite dated now and some outside of his areas of expertise was bad. Unfortunately the FARMS collections includes the good and the bad. Some are firesides while others are from the Improvement Era. I think one should always read him with a skeptical eye though. It’s wrong to say that bad stuff was just rough notes though. Tinkling Cymbals is highly problematic with a lot of things he’s arguing against now standard in faithful LDS books like Rough Stone Rolling. (Although the interview he did for the old Student Review that mentioned that book is interesting)

    Of course Nibley was an academic and he least of all would want his work to be taken dogmatically. It’s unfortunate that people sometimes take it as anything but a first step that needs refined rather than some text that should survive the test of time unmodified. Nibley was about progression not stasis.

    As to the manuals I’m mixed. Certainly they engaged in meatier topics but they also neglected the practical. And ultimately the gospel is practical. Further these analysis, especially of other faiths, usually are just embarassingly bad or one sided. I’ve not read this one in particular. But I’m not sure it’s wise to grapple with a subject purportedly in a critical fashion when really one’s just aping dogma in a naive fashion. It may come off like your engaging the gospel in a more rigorous fashion whereas really you’re doing the opposite.

    While I have some issues with the way the current manuals are done after reading quite a few manuals from the 40’s through the 60’s I’m actually pretty glad they got rid of them. One thing to keep in mind when looking at these manuals is to ask who is going to be the teacher and who is going to be the students and what is the class really going to learn.

    Comment by Clark — January 31, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

  42. I think #21 and #24 have outlined major reasons why we don’t have this anymore. We’re an international Church with a significantly lower denominator (so many converts, so much diversity, heterogeneity of population, etc.). It just isn’t possible to deploy this as an MP manual anymore.

    And remember, this is all prior to SWK’s edict to simplify the Church publications when he was the president of the Church — so that remote stakes and wards could avail themselves of the needed information.

    Are we worse for it? Only if you believe that we need more doctrinal meat and less inspirational content. I think the Church has matured to the point that we need more inspirational content and less of the “facts”. (As a mission prez of mine once put it — knowing all of this stuff is really cool, but it won’t save us or help our families.)

    The Church has evolved. The membership has evolved. Our leaders have evolved. It’s really cool to know these materials are out there, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that we’re any worse off for the current approach.

    Comment by queuno — January 31, 2009 @ 11:30 pm

  43. (I wonder if the priesthood membership was at that time any more diligent in reading the priesthood manual than they are now…)

    Comment by queuno — February 1, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

  44. queuno, I think you’ve summed it all up — cool to know, marginally useful in a gospel setting, and largely unread in practice.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  45. Someone once said about Nibley, that the Church is really grateful to know his work is out there, but few really wants to sit down and read through it.

    I think this is an area where SWK’s influence indelibly changed the Church — a focus on doing, not knowing. And yes, we even have “I am a Child of God” as a cultural emblem of that mindset.

    We’ve become a doing Church, more than a knowing Church. Not that we don’t “know”, but that we’re more focused on “doing”, and and that’s OK.

    (That said … I want to find a copy of the book…)

    Comment by queuno — February 1, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

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