Write my talk for me

I know what most of you are thinking:  "BCC is such a profound fountain of wisdom, a stellar source of religious insight, and a crucial pillar of my faith!  I can’t believe I get to read it for free!  It seems too good to be true!"  Well, guess what.  It is too good to be true.  For there’s a catch.  All BCC commenters are required to perform periodic community service for us permabloggers.  (It’s all laid out in the fine print of our comments policy, folks.  I promise.  If you’d have just read more carefully, you’d already know that.)

So here goes.  Today’s task is relatively simple:  You need to help me write the talk I’m giving this coming Sunday.

My wife and I moved into our new ward a few weeks ago, and we have just been asked to give two 8-10 minute Sacrament meeting talks.  My wife will probably drone on and on about how we met and how wonderful I am (all lies), which forces me to have to say something substantive.  As always, I’ve been given a topic:  I must speak on Matthew 6:33, which reads as follows:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

As every good Mormon knows, the leeway one has in speaking about "the topic" is pretty broad.  As long as I use the word "kingdom," I’m probably within the boundaries.  But this just makes my job harder:  Figuring out how to approach a topic is 90% of the work (at least for me), and there are too many different directions I could go with this scripture.  Thus, I’m soliciting your help.

What should I talk about?  More to the point, what would you like to hear from a speaker in your ward that never gets said?  Surely originality is always a plus in a sacrament talk.  I don’t want my audience to get bored.  What can I say that would meaningful, thought-provoking, uplifting, and non-obvious?

Penny for your thoughts.  Thanks in advance.

Aaron B

Comments

  1. I say teach it in context. Tell them that as long as they keep the commandments, they don’t need to worry about food storage, life insurance, etc., because god will provide it.

    But your Bishop is probably thinking of the verse in a symbolic context. My question is, symbolic of what? What are “all these things” that will be added unto us if we seek the kingdom of god and his righteousness?

  2. I agree with Eric: tell everyone to become homeless for Jesus! That’s probably what the text originally meant, no?

    Or you can go in the prosperity gospel direction and point out that one good way to tell how faithful someone has been in seeking the kingdom is by how rich they are. Also a useful insight.

    If it were me, I would talk about this in conjunction with the Law of Consecration. But that’s just playing on my own set of obsessions…

  3. Kristine says:

    Strike a blow against idiotic gender stereotypes in the church–*you* give the introductions talk, and let your wife do the substantive one.

  4. Julie in Austin says:

    what Kristine said

  5. I also concur with Kristine and Julie — give the Primary President’s talk, and let your wife be the G.A.

    In terms of substance? You could fill your talk with examples of how you have chosen god over mammon. Then people will hate you for being arrogant.

  6. Who says anyone has to give an introduction talk?

    If most women choose to give such a talk, it’s because they’ve chosen to – because those are the kind of things they enjoy talking about. Not because they’re forced into it through the male-dominated system that has oppressed them into giving a specific kind of talk. Sheesh.

    Anyone can give a substantial talk anytime they want.

  7. Julie in Austin says:

    “And the winner for most sexist quote of the year goes to . . . (drum role) . . . Eric Russell (scattered applause, some hissing) for ‘because those are the kind of things they enjoy talking about.'”

  8. What Kristine and Julie and Steve and Eric said.

    So what if they put her name first on the program, just get up and say they got it mixed up.
    What are they going to do, stop you, and have a bishop’s court?

    I resent that I can’t give the opening prayer in church. My husband says the priesthood is supposed to open the meeting. I think that’s bunk. It ruins my meeting because I’m nervous the whole time.

    I also resent having to sign my name second on the tax return. I go along with it because maybe we won’t get the money, but it bites.

    Oh, crap! I sound like a feminist!

  9. Eric Russell…tsk tsk…

  10. Kristine says:

    Eric, you’re sort of right. I’ve never given an extended introduction to our family as a talk, but I have been *asked* to give such a talk in every ward we’ve ever moved to, while my husband has been assigned a specific, doctrinal topic to address. It is only true that no one is forced to give such talks if you do not believe there is any force behind cultural expectations. I’d argue that if you’ve grown up as an LDS woman, and a member of the bishopric asks you to “introduce your family and bear your testimony,” there is significant force behind that request, and that assigning yourself a real topic and giving a substantive talk is a significant and often difficult act of resistance to that force.

  11. Julie,

    I understand. But it’s not nearly as sexist as saying that the woman has been forced to say those things because men and the social order dominated by men has forced them to do so.

    Kristine,

    I realize there may be some social pressure to introduce your family. But I think most people, including the Bishopric, would appreciate it if the wife spent no more than two minutes on it and then moved onto something more substantial.

  12. I’ve never been asked to give an introduction and bear my testimony. How lame.

    I’d probably go with how we need to put God above everything else and the various blessings that come when we do.

  13. Aaron,

    Just a thought–and I don’t know how meaningful or uplifting it is–but I would like to hear someone address the issue of blessings that come from sacrifice vis a vis motivation for making sacrifices. For example (and this is admittedly an oversimplification), we are promised that “all these things will be added unto [us]” if we “seek first the kingdom of God.” Is it not, therefore, possible to seek the kingdom of God specifically for the promised “all these things” instead of (or in addition to) for the kingdom itself? And if that is the motivation, is that “wrong” or merely mercenary? We often talk of making sacrifices without expecting the blessings, but if the blessings are promised, why should we NOT expect them? Does the attitude in which we make the sacrifice (be it letter-o’-the-law perfect) affect the doling out of the blessings?

  14. “I’m really nervous. When the bishopric asked me to speak last week, they gave me the topic of seeking the kingdom of god. Webster’s dictionary doesn’t have an entry for that, so I’m kinda screwed in terms of content. Amen.”

  15. Amen to that. A women in my parents ward I was visiting spoke about keeping your eye on the prize….that we will accomplish more and be more able to function and make little successes in the meantime (note the analogy of keeping your eye on the road ahead while driving instead of an eye each fixed on the road barrier and semi on either side of you and you’ll come out alive.) Perhaps not so deep, but I liked it which may tell you something about myself.

    And who wants to write my talk about the Legacy of Joseph Smith for this Suday? Any takers?

  16. You definitely need to tell them how happy you are to be in the ward and awesome it was to ride you bike in the Fremont solstice festival last weekend.

  17. a random John says:

    Aaron,

    I agree that you should do the intros. That way you can’t have your wife say that you went to Harvard. Either you have to say it (and look like a pompous *** to some people) or leave it out.

    As for the talk itself, I will repeat what I have said here recently. It was roundly ignored the first time, so I assume it will be again.

    So…

    “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

    I think that one aspect of this statement (and others in the scriptures) is that the purpose of Christ-like living isn’t to obtain blessings. If you live righteously without regard for the consequences for yourself then blessing may come, but the blessings themselves shouldn’t be the goal. Developing Christ-like love (charity) towards others is the goal.

    Good luck with your talk. I hope you post the text of it, or even better the text and an mp3, here for our education/entertainment.

  18. Julie,

    Enough of this doctrinal blatherskite. Why don’t you tell us more about how you and your husband met, now?

    :P

  19. John,

    But (to take it a step further), isn’t the goal exaltation? And wouldn’t that count as a blessing?

  20. Aaron,

    Here’s your opening paragraph.

    “Matthew 6:33 reads: ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ We can learn important lessons on the application of this verse from the many and diverse experiences of post-Manifesto polygamists.”

    You should be able to take it from there . . .

  21. Annegb,
    I was just reading the Handbook last night about this very thing and it said that both women and men can give prayers in Sacrament meeting. It didn’t specify who is to give the opening/closing prayers. If it says any such thing I couldn’t find it. What you’ve experienced is probably something your bishopric has decided to do.

  22. Mark Simmons says:

    Rusty,

    In my last ward a few months ago I printed the ward program a few minutes before the meeting, designating the wife to give the invocation and the husband to give the benediction. Prior to the opening hymn the bishop asked for the husband to give the invocation instead. I didn’t know why this was done, whether it was tradition, bishop’s preference, or stake or general direction, but in any case that ward never has Sisters offering the opening prayer in sacrament (I’m not in that ward anymore).

  23. a random John says:

    Athena,

    Is that really your goal? That is certainly God’s goal for us. However, I think that if you focus on the result rather than the process you might end up in a Luke 17:33, those that seek to save their lives will lose them type of situation.

    Here’s an example: When taking a class, should you seek to learn the material or merely study to pass the test? Having done both in during my schooling I can tell you which is superior.

    Shouldn’t the goal be to have charity and obey the commandments? To learn to be Christ-like for its own sake? I think that examining your own motives is an important part of this life. Mine have changed over time.

    I admit that the natural consequence of the goals I have stated would be exaltation, but that shouldn’t be your primary concern, especially given that you can’t achieve it through your own efforts.

  24. Mark Simmons says:

    Funny, one could draw the conclusion that I don’t attend that ward anymore because of that incident. No, I’m not protesting, I moved.

  25. If I’m not mistaken there was a letter a couple years ago that delineated that the Brethren were to open the peeting with prayer. It’s been a couple of years, though, so I may be mistaken.

  26. Sarah, #15, easiest talk of all time. Just pick your favorite idea in the gospel and point out that Joseph Smith taught us everything we know about it. Then you can happily recycle your favorite talk from the past.

  27. Randy B. says:

    J, I’d be curious to see that letter. In my former ward, we asked women offer opening prayers all the time. I think this is (at least today) a cultural artifact.

  28. a random John says:

    The only sacrament meeting prayer rule that I am aware of was more of a guideline to not ask a couple to open and close the meeting as it makes single people feel left out. Instead people were to be selected more or less at random (or as inspired). That might have been local to my ward though. We certainly violate that guidline several times a month.

  29. John,

    I would have to say that yes, exaltation is among my personal goals–even though this discussion is not necessarily about my personal beliefs.

    Certainly, as you say, this is God’s goal for us, and since it is, he’s given us instructions on how to accomplish it, and sent His Son to take care of that part that we cannot do ourselves (after all we can do,etc).

    Yes, we ought to learn the material, not just try to pass the tests, but this wasn’t really my position. Let me clarify, if I can: It says in the syllabus that an “A” is promised if we learn the material AND pass the tests. Provided that both parties learn the material AND pass the tests (ie, have charity, keep the commandments), is the one who did it without regard for the grade really so much better than the one who muddled through with his or her “eye on the prize?”

    I think there’s no question that we tend to favor the selfless attitude of paying tithing or having charity without any regard for promised blessings, but the fact remains that we ARE promised blessings, and sometimes it is the promise that things will get better that enables us to make the sacrifices. My question is, what is really so wrong with that? Why would we be promised blessings if we were never supposed to think about them? We’re promised blessings a LOT. Why?

  30. You could talk about how that scripture relates to free agency. How our choice, to seek the kingdom of God or not, determines our lifes path and hopefully leads to eternal life.

    From Pres. Monson conference talk called “Choose you this day” (Oct 04)

    “All of us commenced an awesome and vital journey when we left the spirit world and entered this often challenging stage called mortality. We brought with us that great gift from God—our agency. Said the prophet Wilford Woodruff: “God has given unto all of His children . . . individual agency. . . . [We] possessed it in the heaven of heavens before the world was, and the Lord maintained and defended it there against the aggression of Lucifer. . . . By virtue of this agency you and I and all mankind are made responsible beings, responsible for the course we pursue, the lives we live, the deeds we do.”

    Brigham Young said, “All must use [this agency] in order to gain exaltation in [God's] kingdom; inasmuch as [we] have the power of choice [we] must exercise that power.”

    The scriptures tell us that we are free to act for ourselves, “to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.” 2 Nephi 10:23.”

  31. As I thought about my assigned topic, I wondered if I could find a way to distill it into a single word that would have a definition in Webster. Because some topics are hard to fit into just one word, I thought that google might be a better place to start. On my very first web search, I found an article with the pointed title, “What does the Bible say about money and wealth?” All too often, in LDS culture, our views on the role of wealth in life are shaped by assumptions that we have adopted from American culture, which the author Edward Luttwalk describes as “The Three Rules of Calvinism.” Fortunately, the Bible and the Book of Mormon suggest alternative, healthier views of the proper role of wealth and prosperity that can make a big difference in how we live our lives and the joy that can we receive and share along the way.

    In my talk today, I will try to illustrate the difference between these points of view on seeking and using wealth by sharing real-life stories from people who have decided to base their lives on the scriptural plan instead of the cultural plan.

  32. a random John says:

    Athena,

    If you want to worry about the reward that is fine with me. I actually think that not worrying about the reward is part of the point of Luke 17:33 and the scripture at hand.

    And yes, the student that learned all the material is better than the one that merely studied for the test. Which one would you rather hire? Note that there is a difference between studying the material covered and preparing for a specific test.

    This reminds me of a story that a co-worker tells. He was standing in line at graduation, getting his math degree. One of the people in line was complaining about how hard it was to memorize the proofs for the final. The response was, “You memorized a proof?” “Of course, what else are you supposed to do?” Math geeks find this story funny in the extreme. Obviously this resulted in a passing grade, but do you really want a mathematician that would even think to memorize a proof?

  33. John,

    I think perhaps that you are deliberately misunderstanding me. My example above specifically states that both students have learned all the material.

    Apart from that, do you have any answers to offer in repsonse to my questions about why we are explicitly and repeatedly promised blessings?

    And please, kindly refrain from the accusatory “you”–this is an abstract (and friendly?) discussion, not (as I mentioned once before) necessarily a manifesto of my personal beliefs.

  34. Athena,

    “is the one who did it without regard for the grade really so much better than the one who muddled through with his or her “eye on the prize?”

    This is a great question. And I think the answer is: it depends. If you’re talking about overdetermination, I would say no. If person B still would be the exact same person without having an “eye on the prize” then there’s no real difference between person A and B.

    At the same time, if the “eye on the prize” is the motivating factor, then yes, they’re different. Charity is a complex thing, but as it is the “pure love of Christ” I believe that it must contain pure altruism. It is unconditional love with no ulterior motivation – even one’s own salvation. Thus charity itself cannot be motivated by anything but charity for its own sake. If one has accomplished that and then has an “eye on the prize” on top of that, that’s fine.

    “We’re promised blessings a LOT. Why?”

    Another good one. I think the question is actually tied up in the much larger issue of “why does god do half the things he does?” But in this particular case, I think that it’s because blessings are what most people respond to. It’s better to obey than not to, and thus god uses the promise of blessings to get people from the disobedience level to the obedience level.

    All the while, it remains true that doing the right thing for the right reason is much greater than doing it for other reasons.

  35. It’s a big deal to my husband. He’s not necessarily chauvinistic, but somebody told him that was the rule and he’s not breaking it. What a stupid rule.

  36. thanks roasted tomatoes. just what topic to pick, so many choices.

  37. Context is always nice when preparing a talk about one little, tiny scripture:

    If you examine this whole chapter 6 of Matthew, Christ is telling his disciples to refrain from hypocrisy and from focusing on appearing to be righteous. He tells them: don’t trumpet the fact that you’re being charitable, don’t stand in the street saying prayers so others see how righteous you are, don’t moan and groan when you’re fasting. In effect, stop focusing on physical life everyone else can see and start focusing on the inner spiritual life only you and God can see.

    His lecture is to stop spending time worrying about what other people think of you – how you look, act, dress; how much money you have; how big your house is; what kind of car you drive; whether you’ve got one boat or two; how materially successful and “righteous” you are – and start worrying instead about what you think of God and how you can serve and love all of God’s children, not just those you’re trying to impress.

    Oh – and your wife could give this talk and you could do the family introductions in abject humility so nobody would consider you to be going against Christ’s teachings :-)

  38. Eric,

    Thank you for your post–I agree with you entirely, especially in regard to charity consisting of pure altruism.

    I also agree that promises of blessings seem to serve as a motivation to overcome a kind of spiritual inertia, but I think, too, that most of us have not yet reached pure altruism (is charity not, after all, at the end of the long list of “and add to that” virtues?), and I don’t see that thinking about the blessings while we’re working toward gaining all those virtues is contrary to obedience.

    I think perhaps that once we reach what we’re working for (on all the various levels of growth), one of the blessings is that we won’t think about blessings anymore.

    Sorry for the long and probably incoherent sentence. Mainly I just wanted to say Amen. :)

  39. Aaron Brown says:

    Kristine — I like your idea. In truth, the Bishop’s counselor invited us both to speak on Matthew 6:33, but he later suggested that if one of us wanted to talk about ourselves instead, that would be fine. Perhaps the sexist assumption was my own. That said, I’ll float this idea to my wife, but she probably will prefer that I take on the work of preparing a “real” talk. Or, she may threaten to incorporate casual remarks about “the Goddess,” in her talk, scaring me into insisting on giving the substantive talk myself. We’ll see.

    random John — You’re so right that mentioning Harvard inevitably makes one look pompous and self-important. (Of course, saying “went to school in the Boston area” does too, albeit in a different way). I was actually planning to tell my wife not to mention this, and a few other things that always have the effect of making me too memorable (my sky-diving trip in Cuba, etc.)

    Also, I like your topic idea, and will probably incorporate it in some way.

    Stapley — How did you know I was at the Fremont Summer Solstice extravaganza last weekend? I wasn’t on a bike, though. I did get into a cool argument with the anti-circumcision activists though. I was going to blog about it, but it seemed to peripheral to anything “Mormon.”

    Thanks for the ideas, folks. Keep them coming.

    Aaron B

  40. N Miller says:

    Athena

    I agree. Promised blessings are there becuase God wants to give us something, probably as a reward, for doing things right. As a father, I give my children rewards for doing what I ask of them. Does it affect my love for them? No. Does it affect what I want them to become, yes, but not in completeness. If I want my son to enjoy the blessings of cleanliness, I will reward him while he is young to intice him to keep his room clean and pick up after himself. As time moves on, if he hasn’t learned the art of cleanliness, I may start to put consequences in place. Eventually, however, as he continues to clean his room and put away his things, he will start to feel the way I do about cleanliness. As he does, he becomes what I wanted him to become. Would it happen without the rewards (blessings)? Maybe, but I think that I know how my son works and I think that our Father above knows how we work as well.

    Would it be best to not do it for the rewards? Sure, as discussed by Oaks (and another topic in the bloggernacle on this issue) we are not saved because of the blessings we receive, we get saved becuase of what we become. If God uses blessings to get us to realize what is important, are the blessings so bad? No, becuase they are the means in which we start to understand what God wants us to become.

  41. a random John says:

    Athena,

    I am sorry to have offended you. My point was that I am expressing my own opinion but you are free to take it or leave it. It certainly isn’t too be seen as a pronouncement of gospel truth. In saying this, I don’t mean to be unfriendly. Exactly the opposite, I mean to give you plenty of room to disagree, and even to educate me.

    As for me “you are deliberately misunderstanding me”, it was my example, so I get to set the rules, right? :)

    Maybe I should add more detail to make it very clear. For example, in high school we had teachers that taught AP classes. Some of the teachers prepared us explicitly to pass the test. They would teach us methods that while useless in the wider world were great shortcuts for the test. For example, you could take the calculus-based AP physics test without knowing any calculus at all! The goal was to pass the test. Subject that were lightly covered by the test weren’t learned, even though they arguably belonged in the course.

    Guess what? Everybody passed.

    Other teachers would teach the course in order for us to learn the material. Passing the test was of secondary importance. They explicitly did not teach shortcuts that were useful for the test but useless outside of it. People ended up knowing a lot of stuff that they didn’t need for the test.

    Nearly everybody passed.

    Now guess which courses people were more prepared for when they got to college?

    My point is that I think the process and attitude are more important that rewards. Getting a reward might be why you start this journey, but I don’t think that it will be your goal as you accomplish it. If you start out with the Celestial Kingdom as your goal, and then you realized that you have if develop true charity to reach it, and you do develop it, you won’t be thinking about how great it will be to live in the CK when you are helping someone or making some sacrifice. You will simply being doing it out of love, not with hope of a reward. If you are still doing it for the reward maybe you don’t really have charity?

    Again, at first what you do is important, but later, why you do it is important as well. If your motivation is noble but ultimately selfish then have you developed charity?

  42. a random John says:

    I think perhaps that once we reach what we’re working for (on all the various levels of growth), one of the blessings is that we won’t think about blessings anymore.

    I think that sums up what I was trying to express nicely!

  43. danithew says:

    I don’t have time to read this whole thread and someone might have written this suggestion already … but I’ll just put it down.

    Our last Utah ward got rid of the whole intro portion of (wive’s) talks by having introductions to the speakers printed on the back of the programs. It was a great idea and it worked well. Of course it was a bit of a pain in the neck (a few extra phone calls) for the person doing the programs … but hey, magnify your calling!

  44. John,

    Synthesis! (phew…I didn’t think I’d be quite so called out on my first post ever. I’m shy and was almost hoping to be ignored!)

  45. a random John says:

    Athena,

    No need to be shy. We’re here to learn from each other, and from Aaron.

  46. lyle stamps says:

    Penny first, thoughts latter.

  47. Aaron B.,

    As long as you are striking a blow for gender equality, you should go for the knockout punch.
    Begin by saying that you were asked to speak on Matthew 6:33, which contains the word “Kingdom”. Then say how you find this term to be sexist and offensive, and you will instead talk about the Queendom of God.

    Spend 10 minutes speculating about what the church would be like if we had female bishops and male RS presidents, then conclude by bearing your testimony of Mother in Heaven.

    You could then look forward to many years of happy service as the assistant ward bulletin passer-outer.

  48. Mark: or a fun disciplinary court.

  49. Aaron Brown says:

    Mark,

    I actually thought about focussing on the Queendom, but in my mind, my talk plays out a bit differently. I actually rip off my white button-down, revealing a rainbow-colored t-shirt, shout “Celebrate Diversity,” and sing the rest of the talk in my best Barbara or Liza voice. Maybe I’d even throw in a few gratuitous “Dyke Power!” shouts here and there, except that might be a tad too controversial.

    Aaron B

  50. Aaron Brown says:

    Lyle, will you take a credit card payment over the phone?

    Aaron B

  51. Aaron: I’ve been blind. The answer is simple. Use the gift of tongues while you give the talk. Then the onus for creating meaning and coherence is on whoever has to translate it.

  52. Mark N. says:

    We can learn important lessons on the application of this verse from the many and diverse experiences of post-Manifesto polygamists…

    Either that, or dancing around Adam/God is always good, too.

  53. D. Fletcher says:

    When I joined the Manhattan First Ward in 1983, Bishop Cottam often had men speak first, and then the women. One of the more beautiful talks I ever heard was given by Bishop Cottam’s wife Doris when he was released as Bishop. Sigh; it was a wonderful ward, a place that really made you want to believe.

  54. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

    Then reprise to the beginning of the sermon, where he gives the beatitudes.

    If we seek first the kingdom of God, then will faith, peacemaking, meekness, comfort (etc.) be added to us.

    We need to serve God to receive his reward, not find ourselves serving God to access Mammon. The first leads to salvation. The second is the route to dispising God and losing our souls.

  55. I’d definitely take an opportunity like this to speak on the mormon view on wealth and how our scriptures teach us one thing while our mormon culture teach us another. A good reference for this sort of thing is found in the entire book of Hugh Nibley’s entitled, “Approaching Zion.” I’d use D&C6:7, 3Nephi 6:15 and other verses like it. You could have a heyday with this topic if you take it in that direction.

  56. quandmeme says:

    Rather than clarify the talk I will point out an issue that has confounded me for several years. The reason this comes up is the strength of the language preceding verse 33. “Take *no* thought…” The BofM corollary of this section is in 3 Nephi 13:25 et seq. Here it is clear that it the disciples who are to apply the “take *no* thought approach as this whole section is addressed to them. The switch for one audience to the other is not textually clear in the Matthew account, but I think it is an acceptable answer to the strength of the language.

    So why is this still troubling? If it is a commandment to the disciples/apostles then perhaps it illustrates an underlying principle that I should focus on. And so the question is to what degree. Yes, Utah culture has taken this too literally, “I pay my tithing, therefore I can still buy a great and spacious home and the Lord will provide” (I’m new to this group but I assume it is common knowledge that Utah purportedly has the highest foreclosure rate in the country), but where is the middle ground? Is it greed/relying on the arm of flesh to expect to use my efforts to provide for my family beyond Matthew 6’s (1) eat, (2) drink, and (3) clothing—do I simply lack faith? I don’t feel that if I were to go law school instead of going to grad school to become a seminary teacher—intending to “add these things” by works instead of faith, I would be turning my back on the underlying principle.

    So, because of this problem, my choice would be to quickly become sidetracked by a quest for that balance as it applies to members not called as the apostles were to exclusively/primarily dedicate myself to the ministry. I would try to balance the underlying principle of “where your treasure is” with ideas from Jacob and King Benjamin. I agree that Nibley’s strong indictment of Utah Mormons is a good source for pithy quotations but would be more comfortable with conference talks.

    But still, its about balance and those are very boring talks to listen to.

  57. a random John says:

    quandmeme,

    What grad school would you go to in order to become a seminary teacher? CES is notorious for encouraging employees to get more education in anything but what you think would be applicable to teaching seminary. Most of my seminary teachers got MBAs and Phys Ed degrees. One institute teacher has a PhD in theology and he had fought CES every step of the way to get that degree.

  58. quandmeme says:

    Aaron B, I am struggling to restrain myself from addressing the sub-thread of whether blessing should motivate our choices and goals. Could I suggest that you start a new discussion on it? I have an Ayn Rand meets D&C 130:21 thought that I’d like to get reactions to.

  59. Aaron, be sure that your talk includes the something like the following from Reverend Lovejoy: “…and so when Eliphaz came down from Mount Hebron bearing figs, he offered them to Mohem, who you will remember is the father of Sheckhom. And to Hazar on the occasion of their matrimony, much in the same….”

  60. Exactly what Stephen M. said. Exactly. Not knowing the context, (being really lame about scripture stuff these last couple of years) I had hoped that the scripture might be saying, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and you will receive it.” Turns out that’s what it says. Sorta.

  61. Aaron Brown says:

    Looks like our talks have been postponed until a week from Sunday! Hooray. Now I’ve got another week to prepare …

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Aaron B

  62. Hey, I agreed with Ann. Neat. I’d always hoped to find a spot in common (or two).

  63. annegb,
    Start putting your name first on your tax return. Nothing says you can’t.

  64. When I was a teenager, I loved hearing the introduce ourselves part of a talk. I especially liked the “how we met and fell in love.” What do teenagers see of dating? High school relationships and tv and movies. They already know their parents story.
    Its nice to hear someone else’s story. Even if I can pick out which marriages will fail, just from the way they tell their falling in love story……at least, from the way the man tells it.
    I predicted Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s failure from the very first interview after their engagement. Even a 9 year old could tell Charles was not in love with his fiancee.
    Oh, and my one Sunday School teacher? His BYU dating stories definitely taught me how not to date and choose a marriage partner.
    But plenty of other stories are just fun to hear, you know?

  65. Skip the family introduction. You have 10 or 15 minutes to preach the gospel. Use it to preach the gospel, not to tell cute little stories about how you fell in love and are living happily ever after.

    And, to really improve your talk–don’t use that damnable word “share”. If you have a testimony, bear it, declare it, but get rid of that mealy-mouthed sharing of it.

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