Monday, October 21, 2013

We Can and Need to Do a MUCH Better Job in Temple Prep Classes

I think we do a grave disservice to members by our refusal to talk about the temple much more openly.

Seriously, just about everything is available to the public now - and most of it has been explained in "faithful" writings.  On top of that, there really isn't very much that is forbidden to be discussed in the actual temple wording. When you listen really carefully and don't credit all the things that individual members say, the only things that are forbidden specifically deal with one very narrow aspect - and I understand not talking about that aspect.

There is NOTHING that forbids me from explaining the entire endowment to my children - or anyone else - in great detail, as long as I am careful not to cross the line I mentioned above. I can explain that it is a play or movie, depending on the location - a presentation of the creation of the universe - of the creation of humans (figuratively) - of the conflict between following God or Lucifer - of the introduction of religion and the need to search for people who speak for Heavenly Father - of the things we need to accept and try to do in order to become like God - of our admission into the presence of God. I can explain that I view it almost all as symbolic - and why. I can talk about the covenants and how I interpret them. etc., etc., etc.

I can go into lots of detail - and I believe strongly that our Temple Prep classes should do so. There is NO solid reason that anyone should go to the temple for the first time and be surprised in any way - and I believe that deeply and passionately. It is one of our greatest failures in the Church, in my opinion - and it is completely unnecessary, given what actually is said in the temple itself.

6 comments:

Bari Cruze said...

Totally agree with you. As a convert at age 21 I felt totally unprepared, and at a loss as to what I was supposed to be paying attention to...Most of it seemed like a traditional Sunday School class with a couple of bells and whistles thrown in. This is not to say that it wasn't a wonderful spiritual experience, but it could have been more MEANINGFUL to me.

Anonymous said...

There is an approved manual for the Temple Prep class that needs to be followed. But when we taught Temple Prep, we often shared personal experiences related to the general concepts in the manual.

And, yes, in our homes we can prepare our children with much more than those generalities, being careful to not cross the line and tell too much.

In the olden days an older sister came to the Mount Timpanogos Temple too well prepared. A well-meaning friend or relative had told her that in initiatory she'd be covered with a shield. Having no temple background, the sister's mental image was a knight in shining armor holding his shiny metal shield in front of him . . . She nearly did not come to the temple because of that.

I remember a BYU Education Week class about the temple that was taught by Lynn McKinley (then BYU religion faculty). Early in the hour a sister raised her hand and told him she was uncomfortable with all he was saying outside the temple about the temple. He kindly told her that everything he had said and would say is in the scriptures.

We (LDS in general) too often link secret with sacred. Yes, there are some parts of the temple that are sacred and should not be shared outside the temple, but there is so much that is NOT secret.

Louann Cruze said...

I made the comment...not Bari.

Anonymous said...

Great post, wish I'd have felt more free to share meaningful and significant experiences with my children. I've even felt conflicted about talking to my husband about temple stuff.Ther eis so much that I wish I could have clarified-we can't even know what is bothering people,I can think of many who have left the church having attended the temple as converts. What we experience in the temple can be perceived as very different from our other taught doctrine, which then may need clarifying. A slightly different point, but there is no forum for those things to be constructively discussed.

Christy said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I am one who does not have a good handle on what I can talk about and what should be left unsaid, but you have given me some good guidelines. The temple prep classes don't do much, from what I remember, other than to tell you that there is a lot of symbolism in the ceremony, which I just did in one sentence.

Jettboy said...

I am of two minds on this. First, I agree that we don't do well with Temple Prep. We need to talk more about the doctrines and scriptures that are directly relevant to the experience. However, it seems we need to ask the question preparing for what exactly? I am opposed to actually talking about the actual ceremonies outside of generalities.

To be prepared is to dilute the function of attending. In theory, only those who are the most spiritually grounded should go. The experience,although grounded in familiar theology, is supposed to be a shock to the system. I didn't realize this until wanting to understand it for myself after the fact. That is when I discovered part of the meaning of the Temple is in the not knowing its meaning; or at least discovering it ourselves. In the end, no one is supposed to leave unscathed from its scandal of unfamiliarity. Like life, we are thrown into the water and told to learn how to swim. Like many other non-modern cultures, its a rite of passage that represents rebirth from children to adulthood. Some survive the transition and some don't. I don't have a problem with that.