Saturday, January 21, 2012

Seminary Centennial

An early group of Seminary students
We're celebrating the centennial of LDS Seminary this week! Seminary was one of my favorite Church activities as a teenager. I loved meeting up with my friends every morning before school - probably because there were so few LDS kids in my school. And I learned a lot too, I guess.

Living in the South, there is no such thing as Seminary during your school day. There aren't even seminary buildings. A lot of kids in those days had to do home-study Seminary (which sucks), but I was lucky because my Bishop did not believe in that program - he insisted that our Ward have an early morning program. So we did. At first we met at a lady's house who lived what seemed to be about 100 miles down a dirt road way off in the sticks. That was interesting, but it was a little impractical. Then they finally moved it to the Church building, which was a better setting, but was still a 30 minute drive each way. Sometimes it was a challenge to get out of Seminary and make it to school on time, but it worked out for the most part.

What I remember most about it all, though, were my friends. Our Ward encompassed about 5 counties, and only a couple of my Seminary class mates actually went to my High School. I think there were like 3 LDS people in the whole school. So it was a real treat to be able to see all my friends every morning. We had a really great, tight-knit group. I think what made us so close were the sacrifices we had to make to be members of the Church. Kids in Utah and other LDS population centers have no concept of sacrifice. We had to do it every day - getting up at 5AM, driving 30 minutes to the Church each way. And it wasn't just for Seminary. Everything was harder. The closest Temple was 14 hours away. You were lucky if you got to have one Temple trip a year to do Baptisms. Home Teaching routes covered 5 Counties, and sometimes you would drive for an hour trying to visit a family, only to find that they did not keep the appointment or wouldn't answer the door. It just make you tough to have to endure all that; it made you stronger. The kids who were active were ACTIVE. We were committed. That was the point in time when Spencer W. Kimball was the new Prophet, and he challenged all the boys to serve missions. Almost every boy in my Seminary class did, and I think the Seminary program is what got us there. Its a great program.

Here's a brief history of LDS Seminary:

 ■ 1912: The first Seminary class is held at a home near Granite High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. Thomas J. Yates was hired as the first teacher and taught afternoon classes to 70 students.

 ■ 1920: Seminary enrollment was 2,982.

 ■ 1925: Seminary enrollment was 8,527.

 ■ 1926: President Heber J. Grant initiated “collegiate seminaries” which would later be called LDS Institutes of Religion.

 ■ 1938: There were ninety-eight functioning seminary programs in the following US states:  Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

 ■ 1950: The early-morning seminary program began in California. The first early-morning seminary classes were taught before school in Church meetinghouses near public schools. Seminary enrollment was 28,677.

 ■ 1962: Early-morning seminary was introduced to Finland and Germany (a total of 34 students) in response to requests for programs outside of the U.S. and Canada.

 ■ 1967: The first home-study seminary classes begun in scattered rural areas for students are held in Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois.

 ■ 1975: Seminary enrollment was 183,670.

 ■ 1980: Sequential Scripture Teaching, the program to use the four books of scripture (Old Testament, New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants) for the four years of seminary, was introduced emphasizing the importance of using the scriptures in the lives of students.

 ■ 2010: Seminary enrollment was 369, 373.

 ■ 2012: 100 year anniversary of LDS Seminary.

Friday, January 13, 2012

JiM Unveiled

Anyone wanting to know what a Journey Into Manhood weekend is like, this is a good read:

 Tim Cox - My Journey Into Manhood

Participants in these weekends are required to sign non-disclosure agreements, so I was a little surprised someone would write such a detailed account, but here it is. While the author is definitely going in as a skeptic intent on revealing the "secrets" of the experience, I think one can get a good idea of the approach being taken and some of the more controversial parts of the program.

My earlier impressions (based on private feedback) that this was a combination of corporate retreat team-building type activities and emotional bloodletting are largely confirmed. Some of it actually seems kind of creepy - some of it not. All of it includes a LOT of drama. But of course, this is only one person's perspective on the experience. I have friends who have attended who say they actually got a lot out of it.

Here's the People Can Change website. Read the story yourself from both sides of the aisle and draw your own conclusions...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Was Ann Romney Risqué?

Ann and Mitt in their younger days

I ran across a post on another blog recently that seemed to fit in nicely with my recent rant on Latter-day Pharisees. You can read the original post by Mark Brown here , on Feminist Mormon Housewives. In reference to the picture above, this is what Mark had to say:

Look closely at the accompanying picture of Mitt and Ann Romney in their younger years. Then realize that a young woman wearing that dress in 2012 would be thought of as slutty and unfit for decent (Mormon) church society. She would be turned away from youth conference, youth dances, EFY, Mutual activities, and classes at BYU. This is beyond peculiar; it is fanatical extremism, and boneheaded stupidity.

Yes folks, I am in hearty agreement with Mr. Brown on this issue. To take it a step further, I read another story by a mother of a 4 year-old girl who was lectured by a lady in her Ward for letting her daughter wear a sleeveless sun-dress to Primary! This girl is little more than a toddler, folks! And to put the icing on the cake, there was a recent article in the Friend that talked about and reinforced the exact same twisted idea.

Thanks for the great article, Mark. I like that phrase "boneheaded stupidity" -  B.S. for short! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Switching Gears

OK, its now official. I am a Democrat. The switch from my loyalty to the Republican party has been gradual until recent election antics pushed me permanently over the edge. I guess the straw that broke the camel's back was the Iowa caucuses and the firm realization that I didn't like ANY of the Republican nominees - they're just plain creepy! Huntsman probably comes closest to being acceptable.  Nor do I like the platform that ANY of them are stumping on. Its a return to the Dark Ages, as far as I'm concerned.

That being said, I'm not particularly enamored with the Democrats either, but in the absence of a legitimate 3rd party that espouses a healthy, moderate plan for this country, I feel like I'm left with no alternative. I forsee a rocky road ahead...