It Was How You Delivered It


In today’s episode we are going to hear a story that I like which was told by sister Okazaki. “A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a high school commencement. When the students heard that the Relief Society person was coming, they thought, ‘Oh, do we have to listen to a Relief Society lady? My gosh!’

When I walked in, all of them had their Walkman units with them because there was a Utah Jazz game that night. The parents came in with their Walkmans, too. I thought, ‘I’m going to have a really fun audience!’ Then I thought, ‘I know about kids.’ In our little village, we boys and girls always played together, so I was just as good at marbles or yo-yo tricks as the boys. So I thought, ‘I’m going to tell these kids a thing or two.’

I had brought my yo-yo, and I started out my speech by saying, ‘You know, all you young people here are graduating and going into the world. Sometimes people look at you and think that the only things you’re good for is to just walk the dog.’ And I went across the stage, ‘walking the dog’ with my yo-yo. Or ‘rocking the cradle,’ and I would do that with my yo-yo. ‘But do you know what I think? You’ve got to go “around the world,” and you have to use your “silver bullets” making choices and doing the things that you know best to do, and fighting evil and whatever is happening in your life. That’s what you ought to be doing instead of letting people think that you can only walk the dog.’ And those kids clapped. They clapped and clapped. I didn’t see any more Walkman earbuds. They listened, and five times when I was talking, they burst out clapping; and at the end, they stood up—parents and all—and gave me a standing ovation. So when I walked out with them I said, ‘Who won the game?’ They said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. We didn’t listen.'”

Interviewer: “It wasn’t the message. They had heard the message before. It was how you delivered it!”

Okazaki: “That’s right.”

Dialogue, Spring 2012, pp. 129-130

I want to quickly relate this to our church experiences. Sometimes it can feel as if our meetings are boring and sometimes we feel we do not get a great deal out of it. I would just simply say that I believe that there are things that we can do to help with those experiences and to help it be much more enjoyable. Whether this comes from evaluating our approaches, or whether when we are teaching we seek to authentically reach people in ways that can speak to them, I believe that by doing so we can have much better experiences at times when our expectations may have been holding us back.


What Other Authority Can It Be?


We are at a fascinating period of Mormon history, where various questions are rising in the minds of many members of the church. One hot button topic is the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood. I will not speak very much about my own feelings on this issue, although I feel that these issues are much more complex than many want to describe it. Because of these complexities I feel that it is absolutely appropriate to be having these types of conversations.

In speaking about some of these issues Dallin H. Oaks said that “President Smith said again and again that women have been given authority. To the women he said, “You can speak with authority, because the Lord has placed authority upon you.” …We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be?”

This question in regards to the authority in which women are working in the church is fascinating to me, and I was excited to hear Elder Oaks provide us with such an interesting talk for us to ponder.  I had believed for a while now that Women who have been endowed had priesthood authority, and it was interested to hear Elder oaks Share that idea as well. My main point is that in thinking about various issues, I feel it is important for us to be humble, teachable, and not afraid of the questions, as perhaps there is much that the Lord wants to show us that we need to be ready to hear.

Taking the Scriptures Literally

This year we are currently studying from a manual filled with teachings from President Joseph Fielding Smith. Often when this man’s name is brought up in more liberal Mormon circles, many conservative stereotypes are thrust upon him, perhaps validly in some cases and in others not necessarily. For many years I saw him as the anti-evolution / “I have all the answers” guys, which strongly lowered his credibility for me. This was easy for me since I am a young whippersnapper, and for some reason it is often easier to ignore seemingly crazy statements from past leaders, then it is do to the same thing with those who currently lead us. However the more that I study his words, more the credit I want to give him. I was raised in the church by people who had incorporated strongly conservative messages into their interpretations of the gospel, and one example of this is that many who I learned from took the scriptures in an extremely literal fashion. They took every piece of the bible as well as all of our scriptures as being exactly how things are, and little interpretation was really allowed. As I have studied more about Joseph Fielding Smith I have found quotes from him that oppose some of these lines of thought, which honestly came as a bit of a shock to me. One really interesting quote from him said  “Even the most devout and sincere believers in the Bible realize that it is, like most any other book, filled with metaphor, simile, allegory, and parable, which no intelligent person could be compelled to accept in a literal sense.” I share this for two reasons. One to show President Smith in a light he is not normally shown, and another to express the need and beauty that comes from recognizing the allegory and symbolism in the scriptures. I think these are important messages to share.

Man, His Origin and Destiny

I was sitting in Elders Quorum at my singles ward. Most of the men with me were college students; some graduated and have started businesses. A few of them were in the medical field, and even some were involved with scientific investigation. The well intentioned instructor stood before us all, and began to share with us teachings that he had obviously heard many many times. He taught about how those in the world have their theories, but luckily we have the truth and can know what the real answers to our questions are.

He went on to teach that evolution was an example of these flawed theories of man, and that because we had “Man, His Origin and Destiny” by Joseph Fielding Smith, we could know that this “Theory” was completely false. .. I simply sat there and listened, as did everyone in my quorum. I knew that he was wrong, and I knew what the official position on evolution was, but I said nothing.  David O. McKay did say something about this when he said “On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position. The book “Man, His Origin and Destiny” was not published by the Church, and is not approved by the Church. The book contains expressions of the author’s views for which he alone is responsible.”

I wish I had spoken up, because I think that so often we focus on what some individuals have said or done, potentially abandoning valuable concepts and principles and ignore the context around those original statements. We need to be careful in evaluating the statements of leaders.