Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fast and testimony meeting

Today was fast and testimony meeting. The first few testimonies were about our new prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Then in succession, two girls around the age of 6 got up to bear their testimonies. The first testified that she knew that Gordon B. Hinckley was a true and living prophet of God. The second young girl testified that she knew that Heavenly Father had died on the cross for us. I don't quite know what to think about this. The girls were sincere and spoke to the best of their knowledge, but both the statements were incorrect. I wonder if bearing testimony is more about what we think rather than what actually is. I don't know.

14 comments:

kframpton said...

I always had a had time doing that. I was never sure if it was my "testimony" or if it was the "testimony" that everyone told me I had. Still confused aboutthat today...

Maybe your "testimony" should be what you feel, but people want to hear what you know.

jupee said...

Do six-year-olds know the difference between what they think and what actually is? Does anybody? Knowing that there is a living prophet and that somebody died on the cross for us are the important things, right? The who is just details. Unitarian Universalists believe the same things. They covenant to affirm and promote (in addition to 5 other things) that: 1) everyone has the right to engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning (i.e., access to a true and living prophet); and 2) justice, equity, and compassion in human relationships (i.e., we can be forgiven for our sins). Sing with me now . . . from a distance, there is harmony, and it echoes through the land . . . from a distance, you look like my friend, even though we are at war . . . . from a distance I just cannot comprehend what all this fighting is for . . . . from a distance . . . hmmmmmmmmm.

Sanford Barrett said...

To kframton - I think a testimony is what you feel. But isn't what you feel the same things as what you know? Or least isn't that the case for many people. And is that not a valid and perhaps fulfilling way to live your life? I can’t do it but it seems to work pretty well for many people.

To jupee - you say "Do six-year-olds know the difference between what they think and what actually is? Does anybody?" That is the money question. As for those girls, what they said was the truth as they knew it. It was real for them when they said. In fact, it may have been a greater reality for them than most things I say are for me. As I get older, I think my truth statements are less convincing to myself.

Kfram said...

I could also be that a testimony at that age, is what people have told you to believe, and since they are "sponges" they believe it. But as you grow older you don't always "believe" what you were taught, but what you really feel...not sure if i make sense.

Anonymous said...

I think there are at least a couple of things going on here. These young girls were almost certainly attempting to express thoughts that they had been taught, and had been taught were appropriate expressions for fast and testimony meeting. Maybe their imperfect level of understanding and expression is appropriate for their age, or maybe we can teach them better. Who knows?

But what is going on in the pews? What does it mean to the church and individual church members that Pres. Hinckley has died? Is he any less a "living prophet?" In what ways? And does it matter whether the "living" prophet is Gordon B. Hincklet or someone else? Why?

And while it is certainly Christ that died on the cross, is he in some way or ways our "Heavenly Father?" (See, for example, Mosiah chapters 7 and 15). And is it possible that God (the Father) in some way experienced death as he atched Christ suffer and die there?

I usually (but not always) enjoy fast and testimony meeting because the occassional (frequent?) quirky expressions of fatih make me think about things in ways that Gospel Doctrine class might not.

Anonymous said...

(I'm back). I guess what I am trying to say is, a testimony is what you feel about what you know, or think you know. But what you think you know might help me decide what I think I know, even though we know different things, you know?

Rubymainia said...

Who is " Anonymos "

Sanford Barrett said...

Anonymous said

Maybe their imperfect level of understanding and expression is appropriate for their age.

I think that is absolutely right. I think we all have an imperfect level of understanding, whether we are 6 or 76. We testify based upon our understanding. When I was young, I was one of those kids that would stand up and testify. I knew, to the best of my knowledge, that what I testified to was true. But now as an adult, I haven’t stood up in testimony meeting for many years because I’m no longer sure about what I know. Does that mean I didn’t know then what I thought I did? I don’t think so. It was knowledge for me then even if it isn’t now. I realize this is probably illogical but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Anonymous points out that the girls' comments could be construed as being close to accurate. I don’t disagree. I knew what the girls were trying to say even if what they actually said was not quite accurate as I saw it. But I guess my point is that it doesn’t much matter if their comments were accurate or not. They were true to those girls at that place and at that time.

Fifthgen said...

I think we grapple to put "testimony," an inherently abstract concept, into words. It is a lot like "knowing," and "believing," and "feeling," but is precisely none of those things, really. Without getting totally mystical here, it is spiritual enlightenment which alters the way were perceive the world (and beyond, I guess). I think Pascal said something like, "The heart has ways of knowing that reason cannot know." I understand that to mean that spiritual "knowledge" and intellectual knowledge are two different animals. We use the vocabulary of intellectual knowledge because we just don't have a very good vocabulary for spiritual knowledge.

Anonymous said...

The kids, much like many of the adults who take the microphone on fast sunday, are merely reciting platitudes and shibboleths learned from conditioning. Nothing much more complicated than that.

Rubymainia said...

Who is anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Rubymania, you ask too many questions.

The Gooch Goddess said...

I just have to say I am completely against children bearing their testimonies, unless they walk their little selves up to the front because they want to and say what they want to say, without being coached. It may be something they feel at the time, but I think mommy and daddy's approval may have a lot to do with it as well.

I agree with you however on what you feel may be what you know. If you didn't know what you were talking about, you wouldn't say much about that subject because you had no passion about it. Isn't passion a feeling! :) I know that when I am passionate about something I can't keep my mouth shut because I want to share it with everyone. I feel this way because I know what I feel. How was that?

Sanford Barrett said...

Gooch Goddess says

I just have to say I am completely against children bearing their testimonies, unless they walk their little selves up to the front because they want to and say what they want to say, without being coached.

The testimonies which keep me awake in fast and testimony meeting are the ones where you listen and say to yourself, wow, did I hear that right. The crazier the better as far I’m concerned. I get tired of hearing the same old same old. I want to hear about someone having lunch with one of the three Nephites or someone’s prayer to find a missing hamster being answered. And kids -- I like listening to them because they have a tough time sticking to the script. The say some pretty wacky stuff. But I agree that it’s cheating if a parent has to whisper what to say in their ears.