Monday, November 28, 2011

Book suggestions

I like Kelly's idea to get back to the original meaning of this blog/chat group.  I want to read and discuss great ideas again!   I suggest we start with Notwithstanding My Weakness by Elder Maxwell.  OR Spiritual Lightening by M. Catherine Thomas.  OR The Lonesome Gods (because I'm reading it right now and dying to discuss it all with good!).  OR Whatever anyone else wants to read right now.  OR we could take a chapter each month from the new RS book and discuss it.  That might be fun,too.  Okay...enough of my ideas.  LOL

Friday, November 18, 2011

Misfit and other things

I happen to have a little extra time this week, so I'm going to go ahead and write a little about this post. But then I think it would be nice (and I think it's time) to leave Misfit for awhile and talk about something else. I'd love to read a book from our list again. I know the holidays and busyness are coming up, but if we schedule a due date of mid-January??? What do you all think of that?

Before I get to this particular Misfit post, I want to tell you something. Last night I was at the stake leadership training for YW and the camp director was there to make the first announcement for girls camp next summer. And she said, I kid you not, "our theme this year is 'Who Am I' from Dr. Suess". I just about died - that was the LAST thing I was expecting. Grrrrr. And a bunch of women went, "ahhhh, cute!" Lucky for me, I have an in with a member of the stake presidency, so on the way home last night I had a serious complaint session with Josh about the inappropriateness of that theme. I knew he would agree with me, but I'm hoping that he'll really push the Stake President to make them change it. He said that his understanding is that they let the girls choose it - those girls who are going for their last year, who basically run camp. I'm going to keep making a fuss about it, because I think that's ridiculous, and I think a better example should be shown to the Young Women about what the focus of Camp is. And i think they should have gotten it approved before they announced it.

On to Misfit. I'll be brief.
First, I think Twilight is lame. I'm disappointed in Stephenie Meyers interpretation of a "chaste" relationship that goes against all counsel by our leaders. I think Mormons get over-excited about having "one of us" go mainstream and assume anything written by a fellow Mormon is quality. Blech. It's not. Much as I like Orson Scott Card's books, they disappoint me also - I can't help wondering if he really thinks the Savior would approve his use of strong language. Shannon Hale, a favorite author, also wrote a book, "The Actor and the Housewife", that goes against my feelings of what is an appropriate relationship for a married woman with a member of the opposite sex. Let's be real. She should never put herself in that position - no matter how "platonic" that relationship is. Lame.

Second - on the photography thing. It's absolutely a disgusting business. I'm making no comments on what people do in the privacy of their own home, but as a business I think it's inappropriate. I do know from one of the current matron's assistants at the Oakland temple that inappropriate dress has long been a problem at the weddings there. She said it is far too often the mother of the bride who is pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable and right. So there you have it.

Anyway, I'm off to be a productive wife and mother. I hope. ;-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sum Up and New Assignment

To sum up: we think, in general, that YM and YW is not where testimony is found but a place for social interaction with other youth. We also feel, in general, that a lot of service should take place in our youth programs and that we should try to maintain the highest possible standards at all youth events. We also feel, in general, that a few over-the-top youth speakers are a good thing because adolescents are primarily emotional beings and that is what reaches them.

I feel like I am laying down the parameters of a new organization or something. My recap leaves much to be desired. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses--it gave me a lot to think about.

Here's the next assignment. Read this and comment.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh, a few comments I forgot

Scouting: I think Mother's force their children in most things they do, Personal Progress, Faith in God, Scouting, everything--it just takes more work with teenage boys. I think the Scout program is a good program, but I had friends that exemplified the best of it--they weren't overboard wackos but they really worked and learned to get their Eagle Scouts. (Thomas N. and Matthew F. for example). I hope my boys are like that.

Time out for Women: Gag--my friend payed for me to go to one and it was lame. Maybe because I had bronchitis at the time. But still my overall impression was that it was lame.

And that's all I can remember right now that I forgot.

Introducing Natalie my neighbor

Natalie summed it up much better than I did in all my ramblings. So I made her come write it down.

Activities associated with the church that are more for entertainment than learning definitely have their place. There is something to be said for building positive, uplifting, emotional experiences that are closely connected to the gospel.

And that in short was her opinion, (which I share) based on the limited amount of info that I told her from all these discussions.


I am currently ignoring the dishes on the table, the laundry, the mending, my homework, etc., to respond. I skimmed through the Youth post by what's her name freaky lady, and then skimmed through the bulk of your responses. But I really have to make this brief. Here's my opinion.

EFY: Went, loved it, would definitely send my kids. However, I wouldn't expect much more than a fun camp. EFY is not responsible for teaching my kids the gospel, but why not EFY instead of band camp, or science camp, or other youth camp program?

Music: I can't stand Christian music of any sorts (except maybe instrumental hymns). My brain almost rotted out of my head in Florida where Christian music made up a 1/3 of all the stations. I feel the same way about listening to Delilah. Or any preachy, annoying person on the radio. Like umm, Glenn Beck. Ugghhh. I can't stand country either though, since 9/11. Too much "America is the Universe" type songs. Basically, give me Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer any day. I guess I'm heretical according to Pyshco-lady. I will say though, I don't listen to most contemporary pop music either, I can't even tell you one Beiber song. And while it was cute to hear Elena sing, "Shake, Shake, Shake!" (Metro Station) to the radio, I never downloaded it and added it to our CD music because of the lyrics, and I find much of pop music inappropriate.

John Bytheway, Deseret Book, and the like: Funny once in a while, I've never really liked that sort of a thing much. Deseret Book in it's entirety I've always thought was a bit overwhelming and Andrea and I have long disparaged their authors, like Anita Stansfield etc, but I also don't like Janette Oke, or any books like that at all really--so is it really Deseret Book, or is it I simply would prefer to read nonfiction books about lost cities in the Amazon? And if John Bytheway can get through to even a few teens, then what's the harm? I love Brad Wilcox's books about maturation and I use it to teach my children and his talk is the one talk I remember from EFY.

Facebook: I am friends with a few of Leo's YM from back in the day in Chicago, and yes they post hugely inappropriate things, however, I don't find that at all surprising as only two of the YM in our ward were allowed to take the sacrament and they were deacons at the time. I personally just don't want to know that much about the youth's lives and most posts are song lyrics or stupidity. I only have so much time to waste.

Youth Conferences: I only remember two, one was lame, the other fun (temple trip to Cardston from ND). Again I feel the same way about them as EFY, socializing is a good thing when you're out in the sticks like ND. I had a blast at all our stake activities. But then there were only about 45 youth and no really big cliques (how could there be in a stake that small?) Did I have spiritual experiences there? Not that I recall, although again, I don't think YC should be where I gain my testimony. It did help uplift me and support me to just go out and have friends with common beliefs, which is basically what I think Relief Society does for me now.

Girls Camp and Testimony meeting: One particular girls camp, the leaders had us all gather and told us that Ogden and Hill Air Force Base had been bombed and they weren't sure if our parents were okay...etc. We all knew it wasn't true, but there were still girls bawling and carrying on, and we were supposed to write letters to our families, and well, Amanda C. (remember Ands, she was bit of a goth) and Rachel (Ands -your cousin) and I sat snickering away in a corner. And basically were glared at the whole time by our leaders. I was 13 or 14 at the time. I'm telling this story to simply to make the point that I've never been the type of girl to bawl hysterically in that type of situation (okay, Andrea, I know I bawl hysterically fairly regularly but not in those situations). I think the most impressive testimony I ever heard at girls camp was a girl who said she wasn't sure if she had a testimony, but she was trying to find out (her honesty impressed me--because I felt the same but didn't have the courage to say it). I either avoided bearing my testimony or simply said something short and to the point. But I know a lot of girls who really seemed to find it all inspiring and faith building.

And now on to YM and YW's in general: I don't know what to say. My experiences are very varied. Personally, in YW's I was always jealous of the YM who seemed to get to do more--hiking, camping, ACTIVE things. I didn't have a bad time in YW's though. Leo was in the YM's presidency in Chicago and only 3 YM came, and the rest were on drugs (literally) and had serious immorality issues. But this is where I'd like to know more about Ms Psycho-lady's study and statistics. Where are those statistics from? The whole church? The US? Utah? I just skimmed so maybe I missed it, but that makes a big difference. Our ward was a Spanish speaking ward in Chicago and entirely composed of converts, who were mostly illegal immigrants, and lived in brutal neighborhoods. I'm amazed even three YM came. (See, this is where demographics come in, the Hispanic population across the US is booming, also baptismal rates for Hispanics is also very high--yet Hispanic culture in many ways is at odds with Mormon values of modesty and strict following the rules. It's more like mañana, mañana and dotting the i's doesn't matter. It's going to take a while, probably a few generations for that to change. But I think it will.)

As for my experience here in Provo as a YW leader, well again, it was the Spanish ward, mostly illegal immigrants, mostly converts, and yes, we had huge issues with our YW (16 and under, older than that they didn't come anymore) with immorality, modesty, etc. However, have you taken a recent gander at Latin culture? The girls were horribly immodest but dressed pretty much the same as their culture at large, and like I said, most of these girls were converts, it takes a while most of the time for principles to sink in, especially when the mother's dressed the same. And as for a huge budget, we had $600 for the entire year, YC and YW's camp included. The YM had $300. Ummm, overspending was not our problem. And painting fingernails did result in our biggest turnout for a weekday activity. Good or bad? At least they were there and not at their boyfriends' houses.

So, what did I teach or plan for activities? First, I tried to get the president to actually have a meeting once a month to plan activities. That took several months. Then yes, we catered to the girls to try to get them to come while throwing in a activity from the YW Personal Progress on the side, so that maybe they might think about accomplishing something useful.
Lessons on Sunday were much better, when I just had the MiaMaids (2 sisters made up my class), I was entirely frank with them ALL the time. Basically, you have to know the gospel is true or none of it matters. They'd ask me deeper questions sometimes and I always took the time to discuss with them what I knew or what I didn't know, no matter what the topic was. That's what I wanted as a teenager. I also think that those girls are already making huge decisions in their lives (relationship-wise anyway) so I think they ought to be treated like adults and given more, not less information. (I know this is somewhat contradictory, I mean, they are being irresponsible, but still those decisions they're making will affect them forever, so why treat them as children? If they chose to do things which are adult in nature, they should be treated as adults.) Which is a point that carries across to all YM and YW, I think we don't give them enough information. And how can we expect any depth of learning to occur if all we ever do is cake walk around things??

I've actually been thinking of this article lately. And it really bothers me. Basically it talks about how the new adult age is 22-25 not 18 or so like it used to be. Really??? What a bunch of babies. That's my inflammatory rhetoric for the day.

Here's my plan for raising my kids. I'm going to move to Argentina, put my kids in a private Catholic school, and tell them that they belong to the only true church and that they need to act according to it's teachings, and not misbehave and ruin the example they could set for all their Catholic friends and nuns and such, and thus force them to stand out and stand up for their beliefs. Hee. Hee. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme, but honestly, my biggest fear for my children is not if they paint fingernails every week in YW's but solely that they'll be sheep and just follow trends and friends, in or out of the church.

And now that I've spent two hours here with very poor grammar and probably didn't make any sense, I need to go do some work. Chao, amigas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

couple more thoughts

re: facebook---I don't really use facebook (I have an account and accept friend requests etc., but don't go on there much---mostly because it was causing me to dislike/lose respect for a lot of people I had otherwise liked; people write stupid things on facebook! :)) and haven't interacted with the YW on there.  I don't really see a need for it.  However, texting is something I've used with the YW pretty often.  I didn't have texting on my phone and had rarely if ever used it before this calling, but now I have it and love that way of getting in touch with the YW (those who have their own phones, which isn't all of them).  They respond fast and it's easy.

re: not telling them they are "the greatest generation"---totally agree, in fact I gave a lesson recently on how they aren't the greatest generation. :)  Not in those exact words (though I did use that as an attention-getter)---but I did talk about the fact that they need to actually BE great, and do BETTER, rather than just think smugly how "chosen" and special they are.  I also gave a lesson after camp about how spiritual experiences mean nothing if we don't follow them up with action (I referenced the talk by Elder Holland, "Cast not away therefore your confidence"---awesome talk) and how often after times of emotional/spiritual high, we can experience temptation and trial which we need to get through by ACTING on what we felt and were prompted to do.  Oh yes, and all of us have the girls call us by "Sister ___"---that's a rule from our bishop anyway, but I endorse it!  So I guess I am on the same wavelength as some of you.  You may now send all your wonderful daughters to be in my YW group. :)  I really like your Miriam, Andrea; when will she be 12?  She's  only 8 or 9 maybe?

re: Andrea's comment "My hysterics come from my deep maternal insecurities. What am I doing as a mother to help my children develop testimonies turns into an agonized, "Help me here--it takes a village!!!" Instead of receiving that support I am explaining to my children why the speaker's clothes are not modest and why no, it is definitely not okay to say that, and why are they having a party in primary on the Sabbath????"---I have felt this too.  I think I always tend to feel like I'm more competent than other people (prideful, I know; I'm trying to fight it) so I get especially impatient when people seem inefficient or sloppy or lazy or too worldly or whatever.  But one more thing that just occurred to me.  When I hear stories of other wards' youth programs (like the ones Misfit cites), or other "horror stories" people tell about their ward activites, crazy bishops, etc., I often feel depressed and worried about the future of the church.  But with my own wards, even though sometimes I get annoyed with various people or think they are doing things the wrong way (like I think my stake president is kind of weird and he is always coming up with these strange policies, etc.)---I generally don't get that overall depressed/helpless/hopeless feeling.  Like, I look around in ward council in my ward now and I feel optimistic, like there is no problem we can't solve together, because I KNOW all these people are there because they love God and want to serve Him and do what's right.  I feel like we might individually make mistakes, but we will learn from each other and keep each other in line and the ward will progress.  We talk ALL THE TIME in that meeting about how to better share our testimonies, how to become like Zion, how to deepen the YWs' testimonies, bearing powerful testimony as part of our lessons, how to keep our YM firm and make them better missionaries, etc.  We're all on that same page.  It's just very reassuring and makes me less inclined to panic about the future.  So I guess it could be
a.) I have just been lucky to be in exceptionally good wards where the horror stories don't happen, and most ward councils would NOT give me that reassuring feeling
or b.) my wards are pretty typical, and the panic comes when you are hearing about vague, generic "other people" and you don't actually KNOW those people.  But if you did know them, you would know their good as well as their bad qualities, so you wouldn't be so horrified.  You would think, "Oh that Sister Johnson, I can't believe she thought it was a good idea to have an American Idol party, but she does love the girls and I love the way she makes them see how fun marriage can be" or whatever.
What do you think?  Wrong?  should I be more alarmist?


I have this little thing written on a scrap of paper in my wallet but absolutely no reference...

"Opportunities to serve lead to spiritual experiences, which leads to committed members".

This is supposed to be a reactivation tool, but I think it applies to all ages and stages.
from kelly  If they really want to be there, they will rise up and meet the standard.
Yes!  I just wanted to say I agree with this.  We don't need to "dumb down" our youth activities for those who may or may not be coming anyway.  Love it!

from Andrea The worst part is that with leaders trying so hard to be friends the cliquishness and meanness of the girls escalated rapidly and dramatically.
Thus my fear of Facebook and leaders being "friends" with their youth.  For some reason that has bothered me that youth and leaders  are "on Facebook" together.  Is that weird to anyone else?  One leader said they liked it because when a YW doesn't show up she can look on Facebook to see where she was.  Why not just ask her?  Marilyn, have you seen a benefit with Facebook in your calling?  Do you use it?  I just wonder.....

from Andrea (I do agree with Misfit that we talk too much about how great our youth is without any great behavior to back it up.)
I recently recognized this in my own home with my almost 12 year old boy (gasp!!!).  There comes a time when the youth just start expecting the blessings of being older (entitlement) without having more work and responsibilities to show for the extra blessings they get.  They're praised for being amazing when they're just acting with mediocrity.  I, too heard how wonderful I was all growing up from leaders and parents I think it created a fear of making mistakes in my life.  Thus, I look to the talk by Elder Robbins, What Manner of Men (and Women) Ought Ye to Be when praising my children and raising them with confidence in themselves (not false adoration for being so wonderful and also criticism when they fall below my false expectation as well).  I don't know if that makes sense or even applies to what we are saying, but it's what came out of my head just now. :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Spirit

From Kelly: When it comes to our youth and what we need to do for them, I feel very strongly that doing our part to bring the Spirit to a lesson/activity is what makes the difference. I think as leaders we need to bear real testimonies, not fake ones because the lesson told us to. The kids can tell the difference, and they sit up and take notice. The Spirit is the key.

I think what used to be sufficient in the past (the things that we did as youth) are not necessarily going to be good enough when we raise our kids. Infrequent family and individual scripture study and occasional family home evenings are not going to cut it.

AMEN!!! You said what I was trying to say but failed to say. What we have done in the past will not be sufficient in the future. That's what I feel. I'm just not sure about the implementation part. However, Kelly mentioned bringing the Spirit in with us and it reminded me of something I think is critical. When I was in YW (so glad that torture is over), I had at one point the most remarkable YW's president. She was older, she was single, and she took care of her handicapped brother her whole life. She was amazing. Every single lesson she gave she started and ended with her testimony. Elder Eyring has called us to repentance on this issue saying, something along the lines, that we need to bear testimony more. Not just say "I feel" but say, "I testify." I'm kind of squirrely about it, not being very comfortable with emotions.

Back to the point. This YW president did more to help me strengthen my testimony than any seminary teacher or speaker or anyone besides my mom. Every single Sunday I felt the Spirit. Every single lesson was focused on Christ.

Then she was released and we got a new set of leaders who wanted us to call them by their first names so they wouldn't feel old (blah) and planned fun activities and presented very entertaining lessons on Sunday. It was so depressing. The worst part is that with leaders trying so hard to be friends the cliquishness and meanness of the girls escalated rapidly and dramatically.

Maybe the answer is very simple and Kelly already stated it. Maybe the answer is that we have to be focused on bearing testimony--often, sincerely--and preaching, teaching, and declaring Christ to our youth.

And by not letting the youth call you by your first name. Such a pet peeve of mine. BE THE ADULT. Sorry. Lost control there for a minute.


Thank you for teaching repentance to your girls. As the "good girl" in church, I found it impossible to talk to my Bishop about a problem I was having even though I knew I should because the leaders and Bishopric heaped so much praise upon my head for being such a good girl that I couldn't burst their bubble. Nobody should be put in that position. Nobody is perfect--especially not the youth!!! (I do agree with Misfit that we talk too much about how great our youth is without any great behavior to back it up.)

Everyone needs to know they can repent.




You all pretty much covered everything that I think.  I just have a few comments.

First of all, I am surprised at the huge youth budgets.  I remember being in a bigger ward and the FIGHT for money that went on every year (and how much money we were getting - wow!).  Now in a tiny branch/ward we hardly even turn in receipts because we know the ward budget is minimal.  Seeing tithing funds used for non-essentials bothers me.

Misfit's problems with EFY and Youth Conf. are lame.  I loved my experiences and consider them as vital.  That is where I found out that I wasn't the only one in the world with my beliefs.  My stake activities were the monthly times when I didn't feel like a total pariah.  Even if socialization was the only thing happening at that event, it was still good for me to be there.  Is the music overly emotional?  Yes.  Did it support me as I went through rough times in high school?  Again, yes.  Listening to MoTab wasn't cutting it. 

Andrea, I totally share your deep concern about us failing our youth in helping them develop their testimonies.  In my opinion, it is a HUGE problem.  I remember what our young men's program was like when I was in Mutual.  Let's, basketball...and, oh yes, more basketball.  Not really testimony building.  Also, remember when the new dance cards/standards came out?  Our leaders had a blow up fight in front of us about those.  Our young men's president wanted us to pander to the lowest common denominator (which included his son), while the young women's president thought we should aim for the higher standard.  Honestly, if we had lowered our standards those kids wouldn't have come anyway.  If they really want to be there, they will rise up and meet the standard.

This year at Girls' Camp my husband came back from "testimony" meeting just horrified at the thanktimonies/therapy session that went on.  But the Stake President thought it was beautiful.  I think he felt like these girls are living so ALONE.  So many of them are the only members in their families and they are struggling to live the Gospel in a world that's constantly telling them that they are wrong and that the abusive/alcoholic families that they're from are the best that they can hope for.  Sometimes those emotional meetings are what get them through.  It might not be ideal, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.  Different perspectives.

Do not get me started on the Scouting program, where a man leaves his family one or two weekends a month to help the young men.  What about his daughters, small children, and pregnant wife?  If that does not interfere directly with family unity and activities, I don’t know what does.

I do think that sometimes Scout Leaders put the program before their families.  They should not be giving up vacation time (as my brother in law and my husband have done).  It's a support program.  Not the be all, end all.

When it comes to our youth and what we need to do for them, I feel very strongly that doing our part to bring the Spirit to a lesson/activity is what makes the difference.  I think as leaders we need to bear real testimonies, not fake ones because the lesson told us to.  The kids can tell the difference, and they sit up and take notice.  The Spirit is the key.  

I think what used to be sufficient in the past (the things that we did as youth) are not necessarily going to be good enough when we raise our kids.  Infrequent family and individual scripture study and occasional family home evenings are not going to cut it.  
Misfit's stricter than I would be, but in her long lists of inappropriate activities there weren't any that I thought she was going overboard on.  Do these things really happen?  Dr. Suess themed Girls Camp?  How lame.  Activities based on Reality Shows?  Again, lame.

So Julia, Marilyn and Andrea - an enthusiastic yes to everything you said in your posts.

Julia's Much too long response once again....

Though I have definitely asked myself some of these same questions (like, what is the real purpose of being an Eagle Scout when all I see are the MOTHERS frantically running around to "help" their boys finish??), I still don't think it is Misfit's (or my) place to question the youth program leaders as a whole when these are church sponsered, Brethren decided programs (though I've done my fair share of complaining about the scouting program itself). Nor have I seen the types of things Misfit obviously has seen...or at least, not to the extent or in such quanitity (there was once a YW mother/daughter Fear Factor and I do remember one friend sharing with me that in her lesson on Eternal Marriage she used Twilight in her lesson???????). Yes, there are things out there to be concerned about, but for the most part I have seen good-intentioned people doing good things with the youth. I would also agree with Marilyn that these warnings could be applied to all age-groups in the Church. Have you seen the home teaching #s lately? Not that it's about numbers, but the lack of #s does show there could be a lack in heart as well.

So, here are my rambling thoughts (BTW - I do have to say these posts have taken me away from my children far more than any church activity or any "learning for myself" activities lately...hahahah, love it!):

I do not think the problem lies with church lies with THE FAMILIES! Mother and Father are primarily responsible for the nurturing of their children. We all know/agree with this, but when I see the youth programs fail is when I see the parents behind the scenes not doing their part, thus proving that it's not the programs entirely at fault.   Even Elder Gene R. Cook once gave us permission to "skip" church activities if they don't meet family needs. In his book, Raising a Righteous Family Unto the Lord, he told about how his family missed several ward functions in a row. One of the leaders (maybe the bishop?) came up to Elder Cook expressing concern that the family wasn't doing well...when in reality they were doing much better because they hadn't attended the event.

The foundation must be there, or must be built afterward. Too many youth have cried in Nauvoo and thought they had a testimony. The leaders think the same way.
This reminded me of a talk by Lili Anderson entitled Three Realms of Law, Light and Life (much better reading than Misfit's stuff IMO).  In there she says:
 Many of you young women may have noticed that almost every year at girls’ camp are some girls who seem to come primarily to give the leaders grief. They break rules, they don’t show up when they’re supposed to, etc. But on the last night of camp, at the “testimony bonfire,” they often bear testimonies that seem quite sincere and emotional. They may say things like “I love my mom and dad, even though I don’t usually do what they say. I love my sister, even though I treat her badly. And I love all of you, even though I was a jerk all week.” You can see the puzzled expressions around the campfire wondering if such expressions are genuine, not wanting to be skeptical but neither wanting to be naïve. Personally, I believe the feelings expressed in such moments are sincere because the Spirit can touch anyone who is receptive. Nevertheless, in many cases, those spiritually charged moments pass quickly and are not followed up with the “trenchwork of the terrestrial.” It becomes very important then for us to be able to distinguish between solid, consistent progression toward the celestial and what we might term “the natural man on a good day.”  (bold added)

A testimony is most likely to be forged in the everyday activities and teachings of a family, not at The Event. In many ways, the youth program when operated in this fashion is actually attempting to take the place of the family, not support it.

THUS the family is where the foundation lies.  If the foundation is strong at home, it doesn't matter what the activities are as long as they are within the standards of the Church (Handbook, For Strength of Youth, scriptures, etc.).  We need to be careful not to be prim, stoic and serious all the time either. 

And to answer Andrea's question So how to advance the valiant ones without losing the ones who are along for the ride?  I don't remember the exact quote, but I believe it was Marion G. Romney who said that youth are ready and wanting the doctrine.  They don't need the fluff and the distractions from the spirit (see Teaching No Greater Call).  I also believe that the Spirit is the Spirit.  Emotion is not always the Spirit.  "The fruits of the spirit are love, peace, joy...."  If the activity provokes good, long-lasting effects, great. 

Developing talents and appreciation for cultural arts. [This one would be very hard to do without going against the standards of the church]
There are actually some very wholesome cultural arts events that can and should take place within the standards of the Church.  Cultural arts is not taking them to the latest #1 movie at the theater.

One last thought on EFY and whatnot.  I have been to Education Week (an event sponsored by the Church) and I have been to Time Out for Women (a Deseret Book sponsored event).  What a difference!!  Though I was touched by some of the stories and thoughts shared at Time Out for Women, most of it seemed to be a promotion for those speaking and their products.  It was a "stir their emotions" type meeting.  I have gone back and forth on the EFY thing.  Sure I think it's good.  I went to one and had a blast when I was 15!  Is it necessary for my children to go in order to gain a testimony?  Heavens no.  I have a friend who loves John Bytheway and he generally makes me cringe a bit because of the Mormon hero status he has seemed to acheive.  Whatever.  But, if he's the one to get my struggling youth back on track, he may become my hero as well.  :-) 

It all goes back to where the foundation needs to come from and Sister Anderson sums it up so perfectly I want to repeat:  It becomes very important then for us to be able to distinguish between solid, consistent progression toward the celestial and what we might term “the natural man on a good day.” 

P.S. (because I can't stop "talking")... I am concerned that the youth may not be learning leadership skills and youth leaders are getting more stressed out than needed because the leaders are doing all the work the youth should be doing.  My own soap box topic.  And this whole topic has made me want to evaluate better what activites I "make" my kids go to vs. letting them choose.  What if you let them choose though and they go to none of it?  Church is obviously not an option....but what about the rest of it?

Slightly More Alarmist

So many people, youth and adults included, have reported church-sponsored activities and classes that are not only directly in conflict with the mission of the church, but, at times descend into idolatry, lewd conduct, and sexual innuendo. While I have some issues with the youth programs, I have never seen that in any of the wards I have lived in.

The problem is, the people are so immersed in our society’s culture of pornography that they cannot understand what a “wholesome recreational activity” is, nor can they understand the doctrine of the church. It is quotes like this one that makes you want to smack her. I'm pretty sure I can understand what a wholesome recreational activity looks like, thank you.

There are many speakers who have a following, and make their living off of speaking to the youth. This would be known as priestcraft. I just can't accuse John Bytheway of priestcraft. Sorry. There is some "emotional manipulation" going on, I suppose, when any professional speaker speaks. However, that doesn't make it bad. I remember a Michael Mclain (sp) fireside I went to as a youth and I cried and he had us sing the last song together and sure, you could call that emotionally manipulative. However, the message was a good one and doctrinally sound and if we did get all emotional and want to be better--that was a good thing in this case.

And I resent her wandering around referring to things as "priestcraft." I am sure she thinks the "Who Is Your Hero?" series is priestcraft, but I love it. My children love it. It connects the gospel to my children's own lives in a meaningful way. If the man didn't accept payment for his labors he wouldn't have time to create those books because he would be too busy earning money a different way. I think people should be paid for employing their talents. That is just one example. Most of what is sold at Deseret Book is worthy of nothing more than adding fuel to a large bonfire (Anita Stansfield anyone?) but I still don't think the writers of the junk are committing priestcraft by creating the junk (except, perhaps, Anita Stansfield :)).

Youth Conference: She has some good points with this one. The budgets are huge. When I was a YW we went river rafting for one youth conference. It was AWESOME, but now as an adult I can appreciate the price tag.

The events themselves are usually tacky, shallow, and emotionally manipulative…not to mention doctrinally incorrect.
This is in reference to youth conference. In my experience as a youth, the youth conferences I attended were fun, but not really valuable. We had the testimony meetings and whatnot, but mostly the girls worried about looking good for the boys, much candy was inhaled, and nothing really spiritual was learned. However, I know that when my parents lived in NoDak, they put a ton of effort into their youth conferences because the youth who attended were spread over three states. They always attended the temple, there was always a speaker (more priestcraft) and it wasn't just about the socializing. So while not every youth conference is perfect, I still think it can be used effectively to build up the youth and help strengthen testimony.

Too many youth have cried in Nauvoo and thought they had a testimony. The leaders think the same way. This is a sticky issue. Yes, people can cry because the whole ambiance supports crying. However, feeling the Spirit usually is an emotional thing. Just because women are crying when they bear their testimony doesn't mean they don't have a testimony. Crying does not equal a testimony but it does not mean that you are not feeling the Spirit. My goodness I'm being convoluted--I just think you cannot judge whether one is sincere or not. Plus, I'd rather a youth have a less than sincere attempted spiritual experience than another "let's paint each other's nails" activity.

A testimony is most likely to be forged in the everyday activities and teachings of a family, not at The Event. In many ways, the youth program when operated in this fashion is actually attempting to take the place of the family, not support it. I agree--testimony is most likely to grow at home. However, I don't see the connection between her first true idea and her second assertion. I don't see the youth programs trying to take the place of the family. I see them trying to do whatever they can to keep our youth engaged with the gospel.

There was a time when my son was “supposed” to go on a retreat to a vacation cabin several hours away. Okay, the story she told that started with the sentence I just posted where she didn't send her son on a church outing really bothered me. 1) Why was there an activity planned just for the presidencies? Shouldn't activities that involve that much $ involve more boys? And if they are going to plan that activity, it should have been 95% about learning how to be effective presidencies, which did not sound like the case.

2) Why do we have to work so hard to "sell" our activities to the youth. The leaders shouldn't have to bribe our youth with great food and fun, fun, fun all the time. I'm not saying activities shouldn't be fun, but we are pandering to the lowest common denominator all the time and reinforcing the idea that "youth won't come if it isn't fun." Really? When was the last time someone tried??

3) HOW DO WE FIX THIS?? How do we focus on the essentials while still keeping attendance high? It comes back to parents. The parents who really believe the gospel have their children at the activities. The ones who are really laid back about the whole thing might not. So how to do advance the valiant ones without losing the ones who are along for the ride?

Not only are we personally seeing youth fall away from the church, there is an even bigger problem. We are seeing youth who go to the activities, participate in programs, go to the Events, go on temple trips, make straight A’s, look great, do service, and do not have the fire of the covenant burning within them. Here's where I a going to be slightly more alarmist than Marilyn. I think that this quote by Misfit is 100% correct. Why aren't they being converted? Is it the fault of the family? Is it wasted time in youth programs? Is it the natural effect of moral relativism in the rest of the world? Has it always been like this and I just wasn't paying attention? How do we provide enough opportunities for our youth to feel the Spirit that they learn to recognize it?

In order to reclaim the youth, there must be a willingness to put “away the strange gods from among [us] and serve the Lord.” Then will His soul be grieved for us, and He will then deliver us. Here's where you are going to call me crazy. Ahem. This is NOT something I would say in church--just so you know. I think the second coming is going to be within my children's lifetimes, or in my grandchildren's time at the very latest. *Awkward silence.* Okay, okay, I get it. I am not some crazy loon predicting because I think I know anything. I just can't imagine the world getting much more wicked and I can't imagine the people in the church getting much more polarized. There have always been those in the church that walked their own line, but now it is ridiculous.

For example, clothing companies started by Mormons for Mormons that do not have ANY MODEST clothes in their whole establishment despite that being their justification for existing. Coarse language everywhere you turn. The Twilight phenom. The rise in pornography use amongst those who have attended the temple. The push to accept homosexuality. Etc., etc.

Back to youth programs. What are the leaders of the youth doing to offset the worldly influences? Is it enough to paint each other's nails? Is it enough to do one service project a year? And if it isn't (and I don't think it is) then how can we change it without writing off the kids who will truly only come if it is "fun."

Okay, I sound hysterical. My hysterics come from my deep maternal insecurities. What am I doing as a mother to help my children develop testimonies turns into an agonized, "Help me here--it takes a village!!!" Instead of receiving that support I am explaining to my children why the speaker's clothes are not modest and why no, it is definitely not okay to say that, and why are they having a party in primary on the Sabbath????

Maybe I'm paranoid and too focused on minutia?

Regardless of my own issues, I think we need to step up our programs to keep our youth.


Okay--I agreed with everything you said Ju (except, I really don't read much anymore--I ignore my children when I do). The problem is not everyone who reads "you--not them" understands it the way you do. Enter the 5 pillars and blah blah. If it is just about women continuing to learn, to grow, to develop, and to tell their children how wonderful it is to learn, then great. But when you are telling moms that they need to graduate from your made-up university to be truly educated then it isn't just semantics anymore.

But, as we've noticed before, semantics does cause me cause for concern with TJEd.

(and i agree with this)

I have had to learn a LOT about not judging people since I moved to this tiny town I live in.  We have the weirdest of the weird when it comes to members here.  I think only San Francisco, with it's higher LGBTQ population, might be weirder.  ;-)  But I've learned to appreciate that even people who don't live the Gospel the way I would want to live it, still have lessons to teach me in so many areas.  In fact, I like living with these less-than-perfect people BECAUSE of the lessons I learn.  Sometimes I get frustrated when they don't live the Gospel or run the Church programs the way I think they should (I can identify with Misfit there), but always it comes back to a lesson in humility for me.  I'm not perfect, either.

Also, I just wanted to say: this (above) is awesome.  I totally agree.  I think there are weird people/Mormons everywhere (sure, Utah County/Utah in general has idiosyncrasies, but I think they are usually exaggerated and overblown by those looking to find them) and the challenge is learning to not only love but also LEARN from those you think are weird.  And to realize they actually are acting in the way that makes sense to them, just as you are doing in the way that makes sense to you.  And to be humble.  So hard to do consistently for me---it seems like as soon as I learn it in one area, I forget and become prideful again in another area.  Even with this discussion about Misfit Cygnet, I need to step back from the "Stop judging, Judger!" attitude I'm prone to adopt.

The Youth

Aaa!  So much I want to respond to, and also to bring up/ask about.  This is the time where I really wish we could just get together and talk---although, writing is nice in a way because I can actually think out what I'm going to say and say it (unlike talking, where I often get interrupted/forget my train of thought/etc.).  And I've been dealing with either cleaning up after throwing-up kids, or racing up and down trying to PREVENT having to clean up after throwing-up kids (every time my 2-year-old makes a tiny sound, she gets raced to the bathroom . . . which she really gets annoyed with)-----SO I am extremely RELIEVED to have a moment to sit down and type (the kids are napping) but I am also frustrated that I don't have MORE time.

Ahem.  First of all, I like and agree with much of what's been said here about mothers learning (but also not having to, like, be in school---like Andrea said---I think she said it perfectly) and inspiring their kids, but it doesn't have to be formal and it can be individualized for your family.

And that polygamy article was probably the single best, most enlightening thing I've ever read on the subject.  THANK YOU for posting it.  I loved it, found parts of it very detailed/hard to follow and want to study it more, but I really want to share it with everyone I know now.  We can discuss specifics more later if you want . . . but wow, really interesting dissection of D&C 132.  Wow!

And also, Andrea, don't get too excited because I don't think I live THAT much like Misfit Cygnet, but there are a few similarities, but like I said our reasoning is quite far apart  . . . anyway, we can get to that but first I am being DISCIPLINED and writing about the topic at hand: Youth Programs.

So, all I can go on here is my own experience.  And what my own experience tells me is that she is WAY overreacting, but that her concern is not totally unfounded.  Maybe I've just been lucky to be in really good wards?  Because I've NEVER seen anything even close to as bad as what she describes (Halo parties? etc.) and that leads me to believe that they are a lot rarer than she thinks.  I WOULD be concerned if I had seen tons of examples of this, but I just haven't.  Also, I am currently the YW president in my ward and so I (maybe unfairly) feel a little defensive---like, she acts like all the leaders ever think about is helping the girls have fun! and be popular! and sexy! etc.---and I can say for dang sure she's wrong about that.  We study and pray and agonize and worry and plan and try our VERY VERY HARDEST to help the girls feel the spirit--develop their own testimonies--learn useful skills--and oh yes, also have fun and enjoy being with each other.  And sure, I am totally willing to admit we fail sometimes, and there is a lot more we could do, and my own shortcomings in being insecure or feeling self-conscious and wanting the girls to like me etc. DO make the activities I plan less-than-perfect sometimes.  I know that, and I pray for help with it all the time.  I felt totally inadequate to this calling when I got it almost 2 years ago, and I still do.  Maybe someone more organized and more capable and less, whatever, would be better at it than I am, but the calling has blessed  my life and I love it and I take it seriously.  and I think it's a bit arrogant to assume that MOST PEOPLE don't do the same with their callings.

So, these leaders that always do cute handouts and crafts, and misfit thinks they are leading the youth to Babylon?  I am less sure.  I am not a fan of the cute handout/cutesy saying/etc. myself (as is probably apparent to you)----but I don't necessarily think God is condemning those methods either.  Sometimes the youth need different things in order to be reached by the spirit.  I feel the same about EFY.  I never went to it, I would not send my kids to it (although I would not say no automatically . . . if they wanted to go and paid with their own money) because that sort of cheesy-emotionally manipulative stuff drives me crazy.  Definitely, I want my kids to see the gospel more deeply than that.  But do I think EFY is priestcraft and is undermining true testimonies in our kids?  NO I do not.  I think different methods work for different people.  If a sentimental tear-filled meeting can pique a YW's interest and make her think, "maybe God IS real" . . . then who am I to condemn it?  When I was a YW at girls camp I bore my own stupid cheesy "friendimony", tried to drum up tears because it seemed more "sincere," etc.  I cringe thinking back on it.  But I also learned deep gospel lessons that have stayed with me.  I felt the spirit, it was TRULY with me though my own actions were not necessarily "deserving" of the spirit . . . I believe God sent it to me because I was young and trying and seeking him and he wanted to encourage that, even though I was not studying and understanding the gospel the way I would do later as an adult.  And I'm sure the same principle holds true now, God encourages me even when my attempts are halting and inadequate, because he knows I am on a journey towards better things.

To sum up: There is so much more to the gospel than sappy music and John Bytheway.  Of course!  I will attempt to expose my YW (and my own kids) to deeper doctrines, to pure truths, to non-emotionally-driven gospel study (like that excellent polygamy article Andrea posted), etc.  But I will also refrain from freaking out about how our youth are so worldly because they want to do an American Idol contest or they want to make Proclamation on the Family hairclips or whatever. :)  I think having FUN (yes, even watching football or making occasional non-spiritual crafts or going boating) can also bring to pass the purposes of God.  Just as it can in my own family.  I will be the first to admit I don't always have the best-prepared FHE lessons, but our family spends a lot of time having fun together and I feel super good about it when we do!  I feel like we are making memories that draw us closer together and make us a team; happy people who like each other and who feel a lot of hope and optimism about the future.  I think having fun with the youth can serve the same purposes.  Not to replace their families, not at all, but just as a supplement.

---(digression, sort of:  I am the youngest in my family and when I was in HS my two oldest brothers were married, the other was in college. At that time I really, really hated FHE at home with just my mom and my dad.  I didn't talk much to them anyway, certainly NEVER about "emotional" things like boys or deep feelings or whatever, and while that was I'm sure my own fault in a lot of ways, it wasn't something I knew how to change.  SO, my parents would want me to spend "family time" sometimes, and I just resisted it like crazy.  On the other hand I had a best friend who had younger siblings and a VERY CLOSE family.  They did stuff together ALL THE TIME, and if I wanted to hang out with my friend I often had to go with her whole family.  They let me tag along on so many things---I went to Russia with her family, and another time Germany, I had FHE with them, I went camping with them, etc.  I loved her family and their openness and in many ways felt closer to her parents than my own parents.  We had a lot of great, deep conversations and I learned a lot from them.  I try to pattern my own family after them in some ways, although of course I also emulate my own parents.  I just wonder, what if my parents had said "OUR family is the most important thing, you may not spend time with THEM at the expense of US."  They would have been doctrinally correct perhaps, but I would have resented it so much and perhaps not had anyone in my life I could talk to about the deep things.)

Okay, here is my FINAL summing up.  Sorry to be so long-winded.  I think Heavenly Father is way more involved and clever in the way he saves his children than we sometimes realize.  He works through multiple and varied channels in order to reach us.  As that polygamy article reminded us, we are just custodial parents and our children are really HIS children.  So he has a plan for them.  He can and does teach them and touch their hearts through us, their parents.  But he also lets them learn from imperfect YW leaders, wildy popular EFY speakers, sappy Mormon Pop music, self-important and know-it-all returned missionaries, enthusiastic but misguided seminary teachers, etc. etc.  He reaches them at firesides---camp---pioneer trek---testimony meetings---progressive dinners---volleyball games etc.  We just NEVER KNOW.  We do the best we can, we use our specific talents and focus on our "pet" projects while we are in the calling.  I try to do what I am good at and care most about.  For example, I think the most important thing is emphasizing the possibility of repentance.  From ANYTHING.  It's NEVER too late.  Other people might feel like teaching that is dangerous: "what if they minimize the seriousness of sin? they will just think they can repent and they won't try hard enough to avoid sin in the first place."  Okay, fine, but I have to emphasize what I know most deeply.  Then someone else comes along who may have totally different things to teach.  The kids will be led to those who can teach them what they need.  And we have to be humble enough to realize that those things, the things we aren't as passionate/knowledge about, are valuable too.  I bet Misfit Cygnet would have a lot to offer as a YW president; like Andrea said, that frankness is sometimes very refreshing.  But I don't see it as The One Lonely Voice of Truth in a Chorus of Babylon, either.  If Misfit has really seen YW leaders glorifying immodesty and sex and violence etc. (she would say, maybe, "They are doing it unwittingly---but still doing it"), but they are TRYING to do their best in their callings----well, then  I think the Lord is STILL using them the best he can.  Not to say we shouldn't strive for more with our youth.  Challenge them more, expect more of them, do less spoon-feeding.  Yes.  But  we are supposed to strive for more with EVERYONE.  We should do better with our RS lessons, Elders Quorum lessons, outreach to the needy, etc.  I don't find any EXTRA cause for alarm with the youth.

Have to go pick up kids from school so I'm publishing this . . . hope it makes some sense :)

trust the process

one more thing...I agree with Kelly about the Trust the Process thing.  It goes along with the blanket answer when a child asks what's it like in heaven and we say, "just gotta have faith."  What?  That makes no sense to the child.  Hate the "trust the process" comment.  :-)

Continual Education

I don't think we disagree as much as you might thing on this topic, Ans.  I just re-read what I wrote about the YOU principle and realized it wasn't very clear (I did write it close to midnight last night, forgive me).  Your example with Rangers Apprentice is what I'm saying.  YOU read the books first and then got your child to read them.  It wasn't a "Hey, I hear these books are good" or "look this book is on a classics list so it must be good and so YOU have to read it."  No, that's not what I'm saying.  I believe in continual education for women.  Period.  Andrea is a well-read individual.  Many, many, many mothers do not have that background from their younger years and I  agree with what Kelly said...
Reading DeMille's book opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities, and also made me realize that I had a whole lot of learning left to do in areas I'd never even known existed.  I was SO steeped in the conveyor belt mentality (to use DeMille's phrasing) that his book was huge for me.  Since then I've read so much.  I appreciate DeMille for opening my eyes.  (bold added)

That is how I see this principle fits.  As I said before this principle is not an excuse to take time away from your children, your responsibilities at home, or even time away from your husband...and this, sadly, is what many of the "TJEd Followers" have done or feel like they MUST do.  I recently picked up A Well-Educated Mind by Susan Bauer (or Jessie??)...which a basically a Well-Trained Mind book for parents/mothers.  I don't see anyone knocking her ideas down.  This is all just a promotion for mothers continuing to educate themselves.  I've seen too many women who, when their kids leave the home, don't know what to do with themselves because they stopped learning or are too scared to venture out of what they just did the past 20-30 years.  I don't want to be that way.

I have at times felt "guilty" for making time to read in my days because other mothers have said they don't have time  (my own self-imposed feelings there).  Well, I'm sorry.  I read.  I love to read and make time every day for that for myself.  That is what I am doing to further my education (that and responding to these lovely conversations!).  :-)

Point is...I think it's more of a semantics thing that bothers you than the actual idea of educating yourself and using that knowledge to inspire your children. 

TJEd and Moving On

I disagree with Julia about the inspire your kids by educating yourself. What does that even mean? You, not them. What the? I know the DeMille's try to explain it through copious amounts of ambiguous writing, but I just can't agree with it.

Let's look at a classroom *gasp--not the conveyor belt* for a second. Teachers don't teach students by teaching themselves. They don't inspire students by demonstrating that they too are learning (at least, not at the early ages). They inspire students by being excited about learning. That's all you have to do. I convinced Miriam to read the Ranger's Apprentice series by sneaking around the house (in full view, I thought Cowen was going to die from laughter, funny kid) and saying secret words to my imaginary horse. Was I learning anything? No. Was I inspiring? Heck, yes. She's halfway through the fifth book and loving them.

That's what I don't like about TJEd. They started off with some great ideas, especially--don't waste time with worthless books. But after that, they went a little crazy.

When children are older, you can start pointing out things like, "Wow! I've never had to plan a dinner for that many people. I sure learned something new." But really, I don't see much point in that either. I was perfectly happy to believe my whole life (still do) that my mom knew EVERYTHING. That was inspiring. I wanted to be just like her and know everything too (ha--I know so little by comparison it is scary. For example, how do I get rid of this new infestation of fruit flies? I'm scared to call and ask her because she'll ask how it got started in the first place, and then I'll have to explain about the grapes Em stuck under her bed, etc.).

Point: you can be inspiring just by using the knowledge you already have. Kids DO NOT have that knowledge already. They notice things like that. It's inspiring.

Off my soapbox.

Now--read this post about youth programs and we'll discuss. Kami--you have to chime in her since you've been in YW more recently than me. Love to hear all of your perspectives. Also--we'll get to the way she lives because now I am dying (in the most dramatic way) to know what Marilyn meant when she said she lives a lot like Misfit for different reasons. But that, dear group, must wait until after the youth programs. See--sometimes shocking things spark discussion. It is just painful to read.

take 2

Why, oh why, do we have to be having a fascinating discussion when I am in the midst of high-maintenance company???  So not fair.

First, Andrea, I've been humbled, repented, and am ready to choose the right.  ;-)

I have realized something about myself recently, which is that when I am evaluating a program like TJEd or other things, I tend to intuitively drop the stuff I don't agree with, without every consciously acknowledging it to myself.  So then when I'm asked to explain myself, it's harder for me to do and I have to stop and put some thought into it.

So a couple things I want to clarify.  I don't really care that the DeMille's are using TJEd for a business.  That's their right.  What bothers me is the inconsistency of having "principles" followed by things (seminars,books,college classes, etc) that you have to buy in order to be following the "principles" correctly.  I don't think I truly verbalized that to myself until recently.  I just know that I decided long ago that the 5 Pillars of Greatness thing was a waste of my money since I could just as easily read good books without mailing in an essay to a stranger.  You know?  That is one of the lamest things.

Also, the cult-like following disturbs me.  Not that there's something evil about TJEd itself, just the attitudes of the "followers".

As Julia pointed out, I also hated the idea that my mission shouldn't be my home and family, and that saying it is, is a cop-out.   I actually read that somewhere from some TJEder and that really bothered me.  I don't want another MISSION right now - the idea only made me feel like some sort of slacker, until I decided to ignore it.

I agree with you all that we can still get good from TJEd, no matter what sort of person DeMille is.  I know I have.  Since I knew NO home-schoolers ever until Hannah was four, I had no idea what sorts of options were out there.  Reading DeMille's book opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities, and also made me realize that I had a whole lot of learning left to do in areas I'd never even known existed.  I was SO steeped in the conveyor belt mentality (to use DeMille's phrasing) that his book was huge for me.  Since then I've read so much.  I appreciate DeMille for opening my eyes.

One of my little peeves has always been how much time Rachel DeMille spends doing this.  I have poked around on some of the TJEd websites and stuff and it seems like she must be ALWAYS online.  I have to wonder how you can help your children get educated when you're busy running a business, responding to emails, moderating yahoo groups and facebook pages, etc.  Oh, and her phrase that she repeats like crazy in one of their CDs to "trust the process".  She first started using that phrase when her oldest was about 11 - too soon in my opinion to expect your following to "trust the process" since you haven't even gone through it yourself yet!

And now I have to move on from TJEd for a minute, so I guess my Andrea-induced repentance didn't stick.  ;-)

As for Misfit and her attitude, I have had to learn a LOT about not judging people since I moved to this tiny town I live in.  We have the weirdest of the weird when it comes to members here.  I think only San Francisco, with it's higher LGBTQ population, might be weirder.  ;-)  But I've learned to appreciate that even people who don't live the Gospel the way I would want to live it, still have lessons to teach me in so many areas.  In fact, I like living with these less-than-perfect people BECAUSE of the lessons I learn.  Sometimes I get frustrated when they don't live the Gospel or run the Church programs the way I think they should (I can identify with Misfit there), but always it comes back to a lesson in humility for me.  I'm not perfect, either.
I don't want to be like Misfit and see so much evil, sorrow, and worldliness in the people around me.   She keeps talking about the importance of judging evil, but that's a tricky thing to do in a Christ-like way.

A couple months ago I replied to one of Misfit's posts and suggested that she take a more diplomatic tone.  She was actually really nice and promised to do that.   I don't think that her aggravating tone is the way the Savior would want us to communicate, which is basically what I told her in my comment.   She's always saying she appreciates (polite) honesty, so I thought I would tell her how I felt.  ;-)

I would love to know what you all thought of her post on youth programs.  REALLY made me think - especially remembering that the youth should be with their families, first and foremost, and if you are taking them away from their families for a church function, you better have a darn good reason!  Worthwhile, uplifting activities are vital!  I also agree, and think, that we are not helping our young men enough to prepare for missions in the young men's program.  I talked to Josh about this - he's currently responsible for our stake youth as part of his calling.  Definitely things to think about.
First of all, it is so funny to me how so FAR on one side or the other people are on this issue.  I could go on and have this same discussion about politics, parenting (spanking or no spanking, etc), homeschool vs. public school, etc...etc...etc... So, to me, this TJEd is no different than any other philosophy than others. 

Example:  Years ago I read A Joyful Mother of Children by Linda Eyre.  It  revolutionized my way of thinking as a mother.  I suddenly wanted to read everything by the Eyres and wanted to be just like them.  I read another book of theirs and loved it.  Then I tried another and was completely turned off by it.  I didn't then go swear off the Eyres as horrible people and say that I was never going to follow anything else they said.  Plus, neither of them have any professional degree in parenting (correct me if I'm wrong), so who makes them the experts anyway?  They, too, went on to publish curriculums for "Joy Schools" (which any mom could do if they put some thought into it)...yes, a $$-making venture.  And started a website with value-parenting ideas and whatnot...another $$-making venture.  It's what people do!!  You take what you want, what works for your family, and move on.  People do get very wrapped up in TJEd on both sides of the fence and I don't get it.  This is why I resisted the making of or being a part of a "TJEd group" here where I live.  Why does TJEd bring out all-or-nothing attitude in people?

Misfit in General
I do not like her style.  I will not condemn her the way she condemns others (though I'm tempted), but I will say that "contention is of the devil" and so to say things for argument's sake just might put her on the same side as those she's criticizing.  :-)  In general, I just stay away from her blog.  I do agree with Andrea that we do walk on eggshells sometimes with these sorts of topics (and in church culture) which is why I love Sister Beck...she is not an eggshell walker, nor is she acerbic.  :-) 

What I do agree with where Misfit is concerned...She said:
We don’t need TJED moms starting Princess Academies, sponsoring trips to Costa Rica to help the poor, or any of that. We need moms who will be at home, focused on their children....Distract the mother. Prey on her insecurities in her attempt at educating her children at home, and then get her completely focused on herself.

I have to admit, some of the TJEd stuff has made me feel this way.  That my mission is somehow outside the home rather than in the home.  I have felt the need (and will say desire) to do the 5 pillar stuff...the same way I felt I needed to rearrange my house with the right bookshelves and closets to have a true TJEd home AND the same way I thought I needed to have a chore system just like the Eyres.   I latch on, realize I'm crazy and take from it what I can.  It's me.  And thankfully, all the TJed stuff is just too expensive and not worth my $$.  :-)

Another disturbing thing is the fact that nearly all people who are following the TJED methodology label themselves as “TJEDers” or “TJED Followers”. They brand themselves in this strange fashion, and then become nearly religious in their adherence to this “belief system.”

I do dislike labels.  I dislike being part of a group and feeling like I can't veer off or be different than others who are part of the same group.  I dislike being exclusive.  And I do think there is a major unhealthy following in the TJEd circle. 

I have always been leery of the $$ schemes.  Not the original seminars, per se...that makes a bit of sense to me.  But the extra things...the books that continue to come out (The Student Whisperer?????  Lame!) and the Leadership seminars (LEMI).  Just seem lame to me and a way to make $$$.  

Disagree with Misfit:
So it’s you, not them. You need to study and get your Depth Phase and your 16 Pillars and your Levels of Leadership and your two towers, and then you will be qualified to teach your children? Meanwhile, they are just supposed to watch you doing this and get “inspired?” What a load of baloney.

This, I have come to believe, is a misconstrued take on the You, Not Them principle.  I think everyone on this blog would agree that women should be furthering their education.  Does that need to with formal degrees, or through TJEd 5 pillars or George Wythe?  NO!  But it is vital for our children to see their mothers stretching themselves in whatever they are learning, be it through their calling or an outside class or whatever.  Going back to that first quote though...we all need to careful that what we are doing is not taking us away from our families more than is necessary.  This is how I take the YOU not them principle:  let your children see you learning in some way, set an example for them in what you want them to be doing.  This does not mean you need to pull out the Saxon math books or feel guilty that you're not pulling out the Saxon math books just so they will miraculously be inspired to learn math!!  But it does mean that we do need to show them the process of example and WITH them (not separate from them).  DeMille says himself, "start learning and  pull them along with you."  I think that last phrase is much skipped over. 

Once again, please keep comments brief and as unemotional as possible. 

I'm sorry, but if you're going to post things on a blog to stir emotion, do not put this line on your post! 

Last Thought (I hope, as I'm sure you do too)
I have gone back and forth on the TJEd thing myself.  I think the 7 keys are great when focussing on the positive aspect of them, not the "nots."  A friend of mine read this book and said, "You mean, everyone doesn't think this way?"  I had to admit that this book was a good thing for me to get away from doing things just because everyone did them.  Does that make sense?  Not everyone thinks this way  (as Andrea does).  The same way as when I read 7 Habits of Highly Effective people or Dave Ramsey stuff.  It's great , but it's common sense to me and so it doesn't do much for me.  Using parts of the TJEd stuff has given me and my family some direction, given us some great ideas to implement and try, given me permission (so to speak) to read on my own (without neglecting my family to do so). 

On the flip side, I think there has been created a TJEd conveyor belt of sorts and a culture of elitists and a mentality of "your stupid and will not raise intelligent children if you do not do it our way" (which is totally opposite of what TJEd proposes to teach).  Again, why is there such a stir?  Is it really that bad or really that good?  It's just a philosophy, isn't it?! 

While We're Chatting

what do you make of this article on polygamy?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Other TJEd article on Misfit

I was looking through Misfit's blog (addicting in a strange way) and found she had a new TJEd post that I liked much better than her first one as it addressed more of the implementation concerns rather than the founder's instability concerns.

Anyone else read it?

Misfit Again

I am going to call Kelly to repentance now. Kelly, there are several other Misfit articles I want to discuss here, so no skipping around. Stay focused.

Ha. That was fun.

On to the matter at hand. I have to agree with Marilyn, Kelly, and Autumn about Misfit's general tone. However, I also find it refreshing sometimes. There is a lot of pussy-footing around issues in the world/church, and while I think sheer abrasiveness for abrasiveness' sake is unnecessary, it also caught my attention and made me think. I don't know if a gentler, more humble tone would have done that in quite the same way. On the flip side, I don't think many people who follow TJEd would be open to hearing her viewpoint because of her tone. You shouldn't alienate your audience.

As for TJEd, I have also read much of the materials and thought about the principles and pondered applying them in my homeschool. Eventually I decided against it (even though Julia calls me a closet TJEder) because of the BLATANT DISHONESTY of telling people that their own education is inadequate (playing on all homeschoolers' insecurity about doing the best thing for their children) and that they only way to get an adequate education is to spend lots of money getting a degree from a non-accredited school. Lots of moral self-satisfaction, I suppose, that you now are truly educated, but a complete waste of time and money otherwise. Perhaps Oliver DeMille is a wonderful person, but his "university" is a scam--there just plain isn't a nice way to say it.

I do, however, disagree with Misfit about if something is a lie than it is all bad. Marilyn put it perfectly so I don't need to rehash it. My concern is that the good in TJEd is thought of as TJEd goodness instead of being recognized as obvious good teaching practices (although there are plenty of bad teaching practices put forward as well) that many other people have also advocated. I also get bugged by the cult-like adherence of some of its followers. But again, just because I disagree with some of the teaching practices doesn't mean I have to disregard the obvious good in TJEd--like reading classics and recognizing that small children don't need to be pushed academically.

So . . . my closing remarks. I agreed with some of what Misfit said, but her whole premise--that because Oliver DeMille is a bad person you should avoid TJEd like the plague--is faulty. While I have many concerns about TJEd, her concerns are not mine.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Agree with Marilyn

I am too lazy to look up the quote, but Brigham Young basically said that whether it be found in heaven or hell, if it is truth, we claim it as our own. The scriptures also say that by their fruits ye shall know them. What are the fruits of TJED? I have personally read TJED, the home companion, leadership education, attended two seminars, listened to a couple of cds, flipped through the kimber curriculum books, and read a couple of books written by people who follow TJED ie A House United by Nicholeen Peck (amazing!) and The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff. Every single one of these books I felt the spirit while I read them and found amazing things in them that have improved my life. Also, every single woman that I know who is following TJED is reading classics and writing, improving their education, trying harder to be better mothers, getting involved in politics to promote freedom by returning to the constitution, becoming more self sufficient through gardening, food storage, learning skills like weaving, sewing, etc. and trying to become debt free. All of these things are GOOD. These fruits say to me that TJED is not evil. This lady is crazy. Also, since when did making money become and evil thing? Dave Ramsey said on his radio show that people tend to see money like a pie--they think there is only so much to go around. He says money is more like a river--the more there is the farther is flows and the more people's lives it touches. Entrepreneurship is a good thing!


Your thoughts echo my own.  I've been reading Misfit Cygnet for awhile.  I have gotten so frustrated that I've sworn off reading her...but then I relent and check back in, and find that she's written something that I so totally agree with that I keep on reading.  My husband and I both follow her blog.  We are either really annoyed with her attitude (you're right in that what she calls satire is NOT satire - it's self-righteous condemnation a lot of times), find her totally thought-provoking although we disagree, or actually (surprisingly!!) agree with her.  It definitely varies.

As for TJEd, I thought she had some valid points to make.  As someone who's done quite a bit to research, attended a couple of their seminars, read a few of the books (but definitely not all), and knows some people personally who were peripherally and directly associated with the George Wythe College/University (one was a teacher there), I can tell you that she's not all wrong.  They do have some problems.  They are trying to make money off of this.  A lot of the "educational truths" here are for income, in my opinion.  I don't know that they are being dishonest on purpose. The blog post she references about George Wythe defrauding a lady out of money is not entirely accurate.  If you continue on the blog she cites, and read through the comments, there is more information to give a better picture.  I don't think she read the comments - or else she went looking for information and only saw what she wanted to see.

I thought her post about BYU Football was lame.  I thought her post about problems in our youth program were fairly accurate.

As for TJEd...I think people who adhere to it are a little too...I don't know how to say...strict in their adherence?  They equate TJEd truthfulness with Gospel truthfulness and act as though they are one and the same.  They are not. 

Misfit's very judgmental.  I don't know how she can stand to live in a world with so many sinners, actually.  :-)   But sometimes she judges correctly (in my opinion).  Sometimes I think she skirts the line of apostasy...kind of like her ranting about ESPN when you know it had to be approved by at least some of the Brethren.  Either that, or they leave people to govern themselves and are willing to take the consequences of that - however it plays out for the Lord's University.  They never have said that they wouldn't have to approve this stuff if only we could live a higher, football-free law.  I think she makes weird assumptions sometimes.  I'm not a huge football fan - I enjoy an occasional game because it's fun.  But I don't think it's evil, nor do I think that all football players are fornicating drunkards.  One of my good friends quarterbacked for BYU and I KNOW he wasn't.  But she considers them all evil.

But we're talking about TJEd.  I think there is some good there.  I have taken what I have found to be beneficial to my family and used it.  It's huge in Utah - particularly among the Utah County homeschoolers (largest base, I think), and so I think she comes up against it a LOT...people who think it's the One, True Way to homeschool.  That would be frustrating.

As for her post, she included a link that talks about the hebraic way of educating...THAT was interesting reading!

and a postscript

Ok, I've spent a long time reading some other posts on that lady's site, and now I'm confused.  I am still often bothered by her writing and her tone.  She calls it "satire" but I find nothing witty or ironic in it---just heavy-handed and didactic instruction from what appears to be her lofty perch of "I-know-better-than-you."  But . . . then there are posts I totally agree with, think are well-written, and admire her thought process in.  And there are still others where I find I am nearly identical to her in practical application---i.e. our family behaves much as hers does---but for drastically different reasons.  So I really don't know what to make of her.  I guess I can take the good and just pass over (what I think is) the bad---much as we are supposed to do with anything we read---and which is the whole reason I disagree with her assertion that we should avoid TJEd like the plague. :)  What do you ladies think?

I am annoyed

Okay, Marilyn here spouting off about something I know nothing about . . . forgive me . . . but you did ask . . . :)  So as I recall, this is the same lady who wrote about how cheering for basketball player Brandon Davies is the same thing as cheering for fornication (or something)---and she lost all credibility for me then.  I don't home school and I haven't even READ "TJEd" but her tone really rubs me the wrong way, as it has in other posts she's written.  She reprimands other people for not being "orthodox" enough, basically, and calls them out for various "deviations" from her idea of "the true way"--- whether it's not listening to the spirit in choosing education, daring to find any value in words from a "liar," finding something to commend in a person who says they're sorry, etc. etc. etc.  Excuse all the scare quotes, but as I said, this really annoys me.  Even though I find validity in some things she says, her know-it-all-posing-as-'oh-yes-please-disagree-with-me-because-it-shows-independent-thought'" attitude seems to me the opposite of an honest seeker of truth.  She asks for thoughtful comments and then administers a gospel-catchphrase-filled beatdown of anyone that disagrees, disregarding any spiritual promptings they claim to have felt as "deception from the devil."  She seems to enjoy her position as the one who "stirs things up", seeing herself as some sort of modern-day Cassandra, but I think it's actually pretty easy to offend people in the name of "telling it like it is", and I don't find her particularly thought-provoking.  I also take issue with her cavalier labeling of "apostates" "liars" etc.---as if she is the ultimate judge of such things---and then her argument to anyone who says contrary: "Don't blame me!  I'm just telling it like it is!  Your anger is proof of my correctness!"

Grrrrr.  Furthermore, I disagree with her fundamental premise in this post: i.e. that if something "comes from a liar," it is fundamentally flawed and no part of it can be good.  Since when did perfection (or even righteousness) in the messenger become a requirement for a true message?  Dickens, Moliere, Dostoevsky, and thousands more would---by her measure---be unfit for reading and we couldn't learn anything from them.  Who cares if the TJEd guy told a lie (or in her words, "is a liar"); I don't think that means that everything he then teaches from thenceforth should be discarded lock, stock and barrel.  Has she ever read the Doctrine & Covenants?  How about section 91 on the Apocrypha:

There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly;
There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are ainterpolations by the hands of men. . . Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him aunderstand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the aSpirit shall obtain benefit therefrom.
So, here we have something which by God's own words contains "MANY THINGS THAT ARE NOT TRUE"---and yet we are told we can benefit from it through the spirit's enlightenment.  So I guess while I shouldn't really have a dog in this fight, not having even read the dang book as I've said---still, I'm going to be on the opposite side of anyone who thinks we have to be perfect before we can bring something true or beautiful into the world.  I don't think we have to do a character analysis of the author of everything we read---we can read their ideas and judge them on their own merits, take what is good, discard what is bad, just as we are supposed to do IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES!  Oh, and yeah, I hate MLM too, but again I don't think that qualifies me to set myself up as a judge of everyone who has participated in it.  I have no doubt some of them are deceptive and maybe some even defraud others but that's no reason to tar a huge swath of people with the same brush.

Ahem.  Please forgive me if I've been too hasty.  I don't read this lady's blog often (as I said, I encountered that Brandon Davies post and immediately dismissed her as someone so far from me in opinion that I could never enjoy reading her) so perhaps I am unfair.  And for all I know her specific TJEd criticisms have some basis in truth.  It's her tone and her attitude I take issue with (and yes, also her writing style).  I look forward to reading your thoughts and please don't hesitate to tell me if I'm totally off-base here; these are simply my gut reactions!

Thomas Jefferson Education

Hello Folks!
I've discussed this blog post with Kelly already and then Andrea suggested we make it a discussion topic on this blog!  I'm sure there is plenty we can all say about it...and I'd love to sort through my own feelings on the topic as well.  So everyone please read and we can discuss!  :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shinichi Suzuki

I've been studying up on the Suzuki music method out of curiosity...I hear so much about it but I never really knew much.  I found some books online that were either about him, or written by him, but our library only had one - so that's what I've been reading.  Utterly fascinating.  The book is: "Ability Development From Age Zero".

Sadly, I forgot until I was almost done reading to put page numbers by my quotes...don't know what I was thinking.

** Have children give a weekly (musical) performance for Dad and family.  Have Dad clap!  Dad should request another performance the following week.  (This is to motivate your young children to keep practicing.)

**"The ability to concentrate for long periods of time can be nurtured".  Start by presenting fun tasks which he can do.

How to teach your child a skill
1.  Begin as early as possible
2.  Create the best possible environmnet
3.  Use the finest teaching method
4.  Provide a great deal of training
5.  Use the finest teachers

** Daily pray for your child
"A prayer is when you whisper the hopes of your heart".
"The real heart of a parent is prayerful".

** "Watch the actions you inspire in your child through your attitude.  Respect them.  Speak pleasantly" (as you would someone else's kid).

** "The heart that feels music will feel people.  If we listen to the music of Bach or Mozart, we can feel the hearts of Bach and Mozart in their music.  Maybe at first only the melody is understood, but after continuous listening it is possible to understand all of the religious, sensitive, overpowering personality of Bach...This is the beauty and wonder of music".

** "I have concluded that anger is unnecessary in human life.  Practice not being angry instead of developing an ability for anger".

** "If a child is brought up to have a beautiful heart and wonderful abilities, with love for others and the happiness of being loved, then the mission of a parent is ended.  The way (to make a living) will open up for the child later.  Parents need not worry whether or not their child will succeed".

**  "Having great ability means having a deep and great ability of the heart".  (regarding musical ability specifically) pg 59

** "We do not have to become professional musicians...If, as a person works at playing the violin well, he develops the talent to overcome any difficult problem by working, then the talent will be born to accomplish even the hardest problems easily."  pg 62

**  "A real meaning of sophistication is to be sensitive to another person's feelings, and have respect for their point of view".  pg 63

Later, Suzuki talks about the importance of parents in education and how it is ultimately their responsibility.  He thinks it is stupid when a school asks parents for their cooperation.  He said that is backwards...the parents should be asking the school for their cooperation in the education of their children. 

Some of the things that I didn't agree with Suzuki about -
From what I can tell, he pretty much goes with the Tabula Rasa view of children and says that it is mainly environment that shapes their later proclivities.  He says you can't say that a five year old has a "gift" for music without taking into consideration the experiences that they have had for the five years leading up to the discovery of this gift.  While I agree that children can be taught many things and talents can be developed (not every talent has to be inherent from birth) - I do think that we come to earth with different personality traits and talents already part of us.  He applies this same theory to raising a good child - it's all based on how the parent interacts with their child that will determine what sort of adult the child turns out to be.  While I don't agree with his underlying assumption, the way he describes we should interact with our children was interesting and made me feel like I could use some more work on the subject.
He gives an interesting example in how our attitudes shape our children:
If the mother says, "Take a bath while the water is still hot", she is more likely to be obeyed than if she says,  "The water is hot, so hurry up and take a bath, or else!".  
Ok.  I get it.  Stop being grumpy.  ;-)  I'm trying!!!

And while I'm on the blog.  It is in my memory that someone here (one of Andrea's sisters????) is currently living in Switzerland.  Is that right?  Because I'd like to speak at them.  ;-)  My husband, sister, brother-in-law, and my parents are going to be in Interlaken for a week next summer.  We're staying at the Hotel Victoria-Jungfrou.  I'm wondering if you have any tips for traveling, must-see's, etc.  None of us speak German, and I'm hoping that won't be a problem.  I'd also like to see the Swiss Temple if we have time, and I'm wondering how far away that is and what the best way to travel there might be.