Saturday, February 12, 2011

Church Ain’t Radiolab

Is anything more satisfying than a piping hot serving of Radiolab? Brainiacs Abumrad and Krulwich seldom disappoint. Whether it’s the velocity of a falling cat or the brain’s capacity to retain random numbers, they transform the esoteric into the accessible and do it with a grin. I mean come on, would I normally care about how prairie dogs communicate the approach of someone dressed in a sweater? But there is joy, yes joy, in listening to them dissect practically any topic. Radiolab is like healthy mind food. It’s tasty and low cal.

Which brings me to Mormon church meetings. How is that we church goers are content to sit though presentations largely devoid spark and wonder? Are we not co-conspirators in what passes for instruction? And why is that an institution that bills itself as God’s church can't do better than have members essentially repeat 4th grade over and over again? Is it fair to move beyond the question, is the Church true, and instead ask how a true church can be so free of interesting material?

Now I know that people experience meetings differently and that I am generalizing my experience to others. So please feel free to ascribe the above to Sanford world, but I think that my comments may be valid beyond my own experience.

Two weeks ago I attended a ward conference where the stake Sunday School Presidency gave a presentation on improving teaching. The presenter asked who in the audience remembered a great teacher and what made them so good. One person offered her father as an example. She said his technique was to ask questions she didn’t know the answer to. Another person told of a scientist in his ward who invited ward members to his home to discuss how science and Mormonism work for him. A third man said that he had a scout master who took the boys on fun and novel outings. The presenter listened to these stories and then opined that they were great teachers because they followed the spirit. I guess we all hear different things but what I heard was three people saying that their teachers were great because they gave new experiences, new information and challenged their students.

Maybe I have been watching too much CNN, but if the average Egyptians can foment change, why can’t we. Yes, the manuals are mundane and simplistic, yes, correlation dictates the shape of the curriculum, and yes, we honor and sustain our leaders, but pew sitting Mormons are also the church and we don’t need to be a bunch of enablers.

For the record, I know how egocentric and irrational I sound. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Dramatic, yes, but not necessarily wrong. Come on people, speak up.