Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bad seminary teachers (Part 1)

I think I had more than my fair share of bad seminary teachers. Maybe it is a problem worldwide; one was a professional seminary teacher in Utah and one was just a lady called from the ward when I lived overseas.
First of all, shouldn't the fact that there are professional seminary teachers raise a red flag? I'm not saying it's priestcraft, but it's probably the closest thing we've got to it. I guess the Church justifies it by paying these teachers as little as possible. It can't be priestcraft if the teachers are mending their pants with duct tape and shopping at the Bishop's Warehouse.
Anyway, this professional seminary teacher, let's call him Brother Duncan, was a very nice guy. He had just returned from his mission and was still in that super-excited mode. Unfortunately, he also was super-credulous and taught us every Mormon Legend story ever photocopied by an Elder as God's revealed word.
Seriously. I just found out last month that Red Robe Jesus is NOT a spitting image of the Savior, Japanese fighter pilots did NOT try to bomb the Hawaiian temple, and God did NOT destroy a laundry for displaying garments. Ok, I knew that last one had to be fake, but still. The disturbing part of this is that we were 14- and 15-year-old kids and these outlandish tales were presented to us not as stories, but as facts and in the same breath as our Old Testament reading.
These are just some of the better-known legends. He told us dozens more that haven't yet been debunked on a website. I have to admit that I felt a little betrayed when I discovered how full of it he had been.
I don't blame Brother Duncan (well, maybe a little); he just let his enthusiasm get the better of what little judgment he had. But why put someone so green in charge of hundreds of kids, and then even pay him for it? It just doesn't make any sense.

2 comments:

m said...

The disturbing part of this is that we were 14- and 15-year-old kids and these outlandish tales were presented to us not as stories, but as facts and in the same breath as our Old Testament reading.

i really am failing to see a substantive difference between mormon urban legends and the stories of the old testament. i think it's just as outlandish when seminary teachers teach things like the flood really happened and it covered the whole earth, because we believe it was the earth's baptism and also believe in baptism by immersion. if just the tip of mount everest had been out of the water they would have had to do the whole thing over again.

NFlanders said...

Good point, m. I guess there are a couple of differences for me that make Mormon Legends worse than Biblical Literalism.
First of all, these legends are objectively false. Flat out fake. At least there is a chance that some events in the Bible are literally true.
Secondly, it is easier to become educated (later in life) about the controversies of the Bible. Any amount of poking around will reveal that a great number of Christians don't believe everything in the Bible literally, and that this can be consistent with Mormon faith.
There is no way to refute a made-up story about a Patriarchal blessing where the Lord protects a valiant angel by giving him a mentally-handicapped body. These things, if thought to be actual points of doctrine, can really skew your beliefs.