Teaching Trainwrecks

This post first appeared, in somewhat modified form, as a comment on an old T&S thread back in 2004.

“Bob” was a gentleman in his 80’s who attended my Los Angeles ward. He was an endearing old curmudgeon, famous for coming to church dressed in these frilly, over-the-top outfits that looked like bad promwear from the 1970s. Bob was even more famous for his strident, dogmatic comments during church classes which were so out of left-field that they were actually a source of comic-relief for the class, rather than a source of offensiveness. Bob seemed to enjoy the attention that his obnoxiousness brought upon him, so it was a win-win situation for everyone involved. A number of years back, Bob really wanted a teaching calling, and the Bishop decided to oblige him. He was made an Elders Quorum instructor.

Bob’s lessons were absolutely, mind-numbingly dreadful. Despite constant reminders that he should teach from the manual, he would rarely do so, even though in his mind, he WAS doing so. If he ever did try to read a paragraph from the manual, between his bad glasses, his propensity to lose his place, and his refusal to let anyone else read, it was an unmitigated disaster. Furthermore, he spent hours and hours every week preparing elaborate outlines that he would put on a giant-sized notepad and which he would draw on with a marker throughout the lesson. The lessons (and the notepad) were incoherently organized (despite his sincere attempts to organize them) and they always managed to be about the same thing. No matter what the lesson topic was, Bob spouted out the same gospel clichés and strident Mormon Doctrine quotations. The lesson could have been about anything from “charity” to “fasting” to “food storage,” but every single time, within 5 minutes we were hearing about how “the Glory of God is intelligence,” “Man can be saved no faster than he gains knowledge,” and other assorted nuggets of non-sequiturness.

It didn’t take long for everyone in the class to treat Bob’s lessons as invitations to snooze or engage in personal scripture study. Occasionally there were moments of humor, but for the most part everyone tuned out as soon as the lessons began, and since Bob was oblivious to what his audience was doing, no one felt they were being rude. This probably went on every third Sunday for a year. The only real awkwardness came when a visiting member or investigator was in attendance. In those situations, someone had to pull the visitor aside and apologize for Bob, explaining that his lessons were more for his own benefit and sense of accomplishment than for the students in the class. Needless to say, lots of opportunities for substantive, edifying and spiritually enriching class experiences were wasted.

Alas, all good things must eventually come to an end. One Sunday, Bob entered Elders Quorum in an unusually agitated state. He began his lesson, and informed the class that despite his best efforts, and countless hours of reading and thinking, he simply could not make heads or tails of the material. He had thus come to a firm conclusion, which he shared with us:

Jesus was confused. Jesus simply didn’t know what he was talking about.

The scriptural passage which troubled Bob was Matthew 4:19:

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Bob insisted. “I AM NOT A FISH! I’m a human being!”

The class tried to convince Bob that he had missed the point of the scripture, but in vain. Bob would have none of it. So the class discussion continued, with Bob explaining to us the biological differences between humans and fish, and the rest of us trying to assure him that we understood those differences, as did Jesus, presumably.

But Bob was just getting started. He then offered an analysis of Matthew 5:14-16:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

“I AM NOT A LIGHTBULB!” Bob screamed.

Again, numerous class members tried to offer helpful clarifications of the passage. A heated conversation ensued. Some members of the Quorum were visibly upset. (Not me. I was in the back row, practically falling out of my chair).

Suddenly, the bell rang. The class had ended before it could degenerate any further. The Elders Quorum President decided shortly thereafter to release Bob as an instructor. Unfortunately for me, this release was not well-received by Bob, so I got to hear about his various conspiracy theories involving the Bishop for many months afterwards. Nevertheless, his release was definitely the right call.

I must say I do look back on Bob’s lessons with fondness, particularly his last one. But I think there’s little argument that Bob had absolutely no potential to progress as a teacher. Class members’ potential to be spiritually edified by his lessons was also virtually nil. The Bottom Line: Some people simply don’t have the talent, nor even the potential talent, to become effective teachers.

What are your favorite teaching trainwrecks?


  1. Julie M. Smith says:

    I love a teaching trainwreck as much as the next person, but this story bothers me. My guess is that Bob had a mental disability of some sort–the inability to understand metaphor and organize material makes me think of FAS–and so I couldn’t enjoy this one.


  2. Possibly Asbergers (sp) syndrome. It sounds like his heart was in the right place and he meant good, he simply couldn’t see subtleties. I hope he found his comfort zone.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    That was hilarious. Bob sounds like a classic cantankerous curmudgeon.

    Actually my favorite teaching trainwreck occurred just a few weeks ago — were you there for that, Aaron? When the homeless person had a total breakdown in the middle of my lesson?

  4. I had a YW teacher who would take our (small) Laurels class to Mervyn’s DURING SUNDAY CLASS TIME when something was on sale that she wanted. We’d all just hop in her car. She didn’t want to run the risk of said item running out in her size–usually bras. The Sunday ads came in the newspaper and she’d bring it along. Best teacher ever. She was older and stylish and an obvious rule breaker. Cleo, if you’re out there, you were always my favorite.

  5. Mark Brown says:

    Setting: The Sunday Michael Jordan made his comeback with the Chicago Bulls. The game was scheduled to start at the same time as YM class.

    That was when I first discovered that TVs from the church library are capable of picking up network channels.

  6. There was an elder that for a while was stuck in a threesome in the same house where I was staying. Seven elders in one house. The threesome decided they desperately needed a break, so they foisted this guy off on me and my companion for a while. We had an appointment out on the edge of the city, so we hauled him along.

    The guy we were teaching was by standards there, one of the most golden investigators we’d ever seen. He drove a cab (meant he had a job and a car), had stolen a copy of the Book of Mormon from a Marriott hotel room, and had read the Bible, Quran, Book of Mormon, and several dozen other religious books. He was convinced the Book of Mormon was true, and asked us to bring a case of books so he could give them out in his cab.

    We showed up with this elder in tow, and proceeded with the 1st discussion. We talked about how God loves us and wants us to be happy, this elder talked about Heavenly Mother. We talked about Christ and His love for us, and this elder brought up how Jesus was married. We talked about Joseph Smith and the First Vision, this elder started in on polygamy. We answered questions he had about the Book of Mormon, this elder brought up how Joseph Smith had bought a traveling sideshow full of mummies and pulled scrolls out of their bodies, and used those scrolls to create the Temple ceremony.

    The poor investigator finally shook his head and said, “This just isn’t what I thought it was going to be. I’d prayed about you guys and knew I needed to have you here, but this just doesn’t feel right. I gotta trust my gut, because Jesus don’t steer me wrong in my gut.”

    While walking down the street after the appointment, this elder made the comment “Well, I guess the Lord didn’t want him to get baptized.”

    Only time I ever punched a missionary. Laid him out, too. He never brought it up again.

    I later convinced him to sell bone marrow for a local hospital study. Best revenge I ever had.

  7. I later convinced him to sell bone marrow for a local hospital study. Best revenge I ever had.

    Michael, FTW!!!

  8. Revenge is a dish best served through a 6 inch needle into the pelvic bone!

  9. #6,

    And now we know why that guy was in a threesome. Wait that sounds bad.

  10. I don’t know if this counts, but I had a totally uncontrollable 14 year old in a Sunday School class when I was first married. I didn’t have very good classroom management skills then, and he made it just about impossible for any of the other kids to learn. One day he showed up in a full-head gorilla mask. I decided to just ignore it and act as if he was just like any other kid in the class. It actually worked for a couple of weeks. He didn’t participate much, and was generally better behaved and less disruptive. But then his parents figured out that he was wearing the mask to Sunday School, and brought that to an end. He went back to being totally uncontrollable.

  11. Biggest trainwreck I’ve encountered was a relative of mine, a struggling alcoholic, teaching GD. He showed up to church half in the bag and after making loud, obnoxious comments throughout sacrament, proceded to teach GD. Berating several commenters in the class and calling one woman a ‘moron’ was just the start (a couple of his assessments were spot on – in vino veritas?). It was horrific and humiliating then, but pretty hilarious in retrospect. I’d hate to have to show up drunk to church to tell people what I really think of them…

  12. We had an EQ instructor once who used to berate the class weekly for a perceived failure to read the lesson material prior to coming to class. He mentoned it every time he taught, so it got kinda old and a little offensive.

    Then, one week, he pulled out all the stops. He got up to teach and asked a question of the class designed to test if anyone had read the material. When no one answered (mostly due to the fact that none of us really liked him or his lessons and were just enduring them) he threw a fit. He started yelling at the class and called us all kinds of gospel-oriented names and said he would not teach a minute longer if we weren’t going to do our part. Then he stormed out, slamming the door.

    There was a minute or two of complete silence while we all looked at each other and wondered what we should do. Go after him? Disperse? Bear testimonies? Read from the manual out loud? The EQ Pres finally got up and started trying to apologize for the teacher, saying that he believed very strongly in class participation, etc.

    Suddenly the guy walked back in laughing and saying the whole thing was a great joke designed to jolt us into doing more to prepare for class. None of us laughed. We hardly listened to the rest of the lesson. He was released the next week.

  13. There was this guy in my parents ward who was the sort of person that gets on your nerves anyways, but one instance stands out. This thrice divorced man, teaching a class on eternal marriage asks the twice divorced man in the front row “So Bro. M. what did you do to ruin your marriages?”

  14. @12 Can you give us some examples of gospel-oriented name calling? That could come in handy!

  15. I later convinced him to sell bone marrow for a local hospital study.

    I’m so glad this story had a happy ending. I was ready to punch the guy.

  16. Can you give us some examples of gospel-oriented name calling?

    I suppose you can always call someone a Moron, and claim you’re referring to the B of M land mentioned in the book of Ether.

  17. It was more the kind of thing that Jesus uncorked on the scribes and pharisees. He called us hypocrites for showing up to church and acting all pious when we hadn’t done our reading.

    Instead of just releasing him, I think the EQ Pres truly wanted to have him killed, but, you know, it could have been traced back to him.

  18. I don’t know if it fully qualifies as a trainwreck, but one year I was home from college attending my mother’s gospel doctrine class and a woman made a the sort of comment that teachers just try glide over without getting distracted or making too big a fuss. My father’s hand shot up and my mother, I assume looking for something more relevant or accurate, called upon my father. Dad began his response with, “That is the stupidist thing I have ever heard.”

    I don’t remember the rest of the comment, but the look on my mother’s face was the most shocked I have ever seen before or since. For the rest of the lesson, and the ride home, smoke was practically pouring out of Mom’s ears. I have no first hand knowledge, but I suspect a muzzle has been placed on Dad as we are back in the same ward and similar comments now are confined to more private venues. Although this may be a result of Dad sleeping more…

  19. Ty, I’ve heard this story before. Recently. I suspect one of your parents shared it with me at Sunstone, or something like that. Funny stuff.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    No 4 WendyP, when I was YMP I regularly would sneak off with my priests for runs Slurpee runs to 7-11 or donut runs to Dunkin’ Donuts. Nothing is better for bonding with young men than a little rule breakage.

  21. Molly Bennion says:

    #18 Muzzling isn’t possible. Must be “sleeping more.”

  22. For a while when I was deacon or teacher age we had an eccentric old couple as our Sunday school teachers. The husband was goofy, sweet, short, and rolly-polly, and the wife was tall, large, gruff, and short-tempered. They regularly veered not only from the manual but from the gospel. On more than one occasion she announced some speculative or spurious doctrine, and said “That’s the truth. Know how we know? IT’S IN THE BOOK OF JASHER.”

    She also spent one lesson explaining to us, most of whom knew next to nothing about sex, how Jesus’s conception was the result of literal divine intercourse.

    After that couple moved away they replaced them with a semi-active woman who would go to the grocery store during sacrament meeting so that the donuts she brought to Sunday school would be fresh.

  23. There was one unit on my mission where the Elders’ Quorum lesson every week always deteriorated into discussions about evil spirits.

    One week we had a very important investigator visiting. An entire family had come (by surprise), and we were crossing our fingers that nothing crazy would happen in priesthood to freak the father out. The lesson topic was “fasting,” which seemed safe enough, and the second counselor in the branch presidency was teaching, so we felt pretty good about our chances.

    After about five minutes, however, he made one of the greatest gospel segues of all time when he pulled out this gem: “And when you go to cast out evil spirits, you must go fasting.” Class participation picked up notably, as everyone in the room seemed to have a story to share about evils spirits.

    Then the district president got up. Finally, someone’s going to rein this thing in, we thought (naïvely). His first words: “There’s something that I want everyone here to understand. There are two kinds of evil spirits, the peaceful ones and the violent ones,” which he proceeded to describe. At least he imposed some order on the situation.

    Strangely enough, the investigator and his family were baptized anyway. Shortly thereafter he was called into the district presidency. Classic.

  24. When I was teaching the 17 yr old Sunday School class, I insisted everyone have scriptures in class–either their own or a library copy. One day the bishop’s daughter came to class without scriptures and was angry when I sent her to the library to get some. Two days later I was visited by the bishop’s counselors who had a new calling for me–correlating and stapling the 4-5 page monthly ward newsletter. I politely declined the new calling but nearly broke a leg as I raced for my SS manual and turned it in to the brethren.

  25. One time, I heard a story from someone who will not be named that in her young womens class, they decided to set a goal to bring some inactive friends to Church. This person’s classmates all had friends who were inactive and would have loved to bring them anyway so with the extra push they made the effort and got one to come.

    That Sunday, in front of the inactive girl, the teacher praised the girls who brought inactive friends to Church for their goal and told them they would be blessed for their efforts. The inactive friend stands up and asks pointedly, “That’s why you’ve all been nice to me?” and walks out.

    The incident was not isolated in her ward. Another time, a friend brought two inactive friends unprompted. The teacher, talking about blessings in general, said, “And H will get blessings for bringing her two inactive friends.” The friends looked at her suspiciously while the trying-to-be helpful girl rolled her eyes.

  26. Peter LLC says:

    He called us hypocrites…

    Hey, that sounds familiar.

  27. As a missionary, we were working with a young part-member couple – the sister was less active, the husband not a member. They were very welcoming and friendly, but it was uphill work getting them to concentrate on spiritual matters and not just chat.

    One evening we visited them as arranged, only to discover the home teachers had beaten us to it. The couple welcomed us in nonetheless. The senior companion was a big, blustering oaf of a man who wanted to talk about Heavenly Mother, the three degrees in the Celestial Kingdom (as opposed to the three degrees of glory), and more deep dodge than you could shake a stick at. After suffering this for more than an hour, we politely rose to leave. The home teachers did the same and the junior companion, a recently returned missionary, offered us a lift back to our flat. We gratefully accepted as it was getting late (for missionaries). No sooner were we in the car than he said with a huge grin, “Bet you were cringing throughout that, eh?” and favoured us with Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on the car stereo all the way home.

    We did try, but I don’t recall ever teaching that couple again.

  28. I remember having one particular mission companion who simply didn’t care about the work. We were teaching a discussion to a family, and I was telling the Joseph Smith story to the family – and during this my companion was making funny faces to try and get the family to laugh. Kind of hard to teach and bear testimony in that situation.

    Afterwards I went back directly to our apartment, called the mission office and told them I couldn’t work with him.

    Later on in the same area, after he had been transferred – I found him in my area. He had somehow convinced his companion to come to our area on a p-day, so he could visit one of the member girls (15 years old) from that ward.

  29. The sincerest prayers I have ever offered have been when I have a investigators or non-member friends at church. I would say, “Please bless so-and-so that they won’t say anything too stupid.”

    Personally I don’t understand why anyone in a leadership position puts up with dreadful teaching.

  30. My brother brought a nonmember friend to YSA fireside once. It was a small group, only about 10 of us. When somebody started talking about Kolob the muttering from all over the room was audible — “Shut up, shut UP!”

  31. Bro. Jones says:

    Amusing anecdotes aside, I consider any class where a teacher reads straight from the manual to be a miserable trainwreck. I’m not saying guided by the manual, I mean reading word-for-word from the manual. It’s boring, unedifying, and I cringe at the idea of any non- or less-active members being in the congregation. Really, there’s a story about the Rameumptom in the Book of Mormon for a reason: vain repetitions do not bring us closer to God or to each other.

    I’ve even been in classes where the teacher was reading the directions out loud. As in saying, “What did Moses learn here? Have the class discuss their own experiences of learning from the Spirit.”

  32. #22 – I doubt it was the same ward as yours, but I was in a ward several years ago with a man who managed to work the Book of Jasher into a comment for just about any SS lesson.

  33. When I was a teenager we fed the missionaries a couple of times a month and it always yielded some good entertainment. If we can count their messages at the end of dinner as teaching, I’ll relate one of my favorites:

    Missonary A (MA): Well, thank you so much for dinner. Can we share a message before we go?

    Missonary B (MB), in a whisper: Elder, I believe it was my turn to share a message.

    MA, looking slightly uncomfortable and smiling nervously: Well Elder B… sure.

    MA hands his scriptures over to MB who takes them and begins to flip rapidly through the pages.

    ***several minutes of awkward silence punctuated by MB mumbling incoherently to himself***

    MB, to MA, again in a whisper: What did you do with it?

    MA: Do with what?

    MB, volume increasing: You know what, you always do this!

    MA: Elder B, maybe you could just pick a scripture to share.

    MB, shouting: You’d like that, wouldn’t you!

    MA, reaching for the scriptures, and still smiling nervously: Sorry, maybe we should just go.

    MB, still shouting: Why can’t I ever share the message!

    MB, now standing: How dare you? You always try to make me look bad!

    MB storms out of the dining room, my father quickly follows to make sure he doesn’t look for a weapon.

    MA, nervously: Um… I’m not sure what’s going on… thanks again for dinner… I’ll just go look for Elder B.

    MB, walking back in with father behind him looking puzzled: Thanks again for dinner, it was wonderful.

    MA quickly ushers MB out the door.

    Mother, to father: What did you say to him?

    Father: Nothing, he was washing his hands in the bathroom. I asked if he was okay, and he said yes, smiled, and walked out.

    Best missionary message ever.

  34. jimbo jones says:

    Used to have a GD teacher who would regularly sprinkle his lesson with comments like, “I have longed to teach you the deeper things of the kingdom, but the Spirit has constrained me because you’re just not ready” or my personal favorite, “You cannot imagine how much more difficult the trials of Satan become when you are praying to have your calling and election made sure.” We always paid attention since we didn’t want to miss a good line.

  35. “Amusing anecdotes aside, I consider any class where a teacher reads straight from the manual to be a miserable trainwreck. I’m not saying guided by the manual, I mean reading word-for-word from the manual.”

    I had teachers in nursing school do that. Every lecture was them reading highlighted paragraphs from the textbook. It was horrible.

    When I lived in Virginia, there was a family that sort of owned the ward and they had their own doctrines that were way off base that they would teach in Sunday School and RS. The first few weeks were sort of shocking, but then we sort of got used to it, but investigators were definitely uncomfortable about it. Right before we left, the patriarch of the family was called to be the bishop and the ward just fell apart because he was so focused on the family doctrines. It was really unfortunate.

  36. @kelsomom (2),

    There’s got to be some kind of mental issue at work here, but it’s probably not Aspergers. I’m an Aspie myself and from what I’ve read about the condition and experienced with my similarly-affected co-workers, people with Aspergers tend to be very quick to pick up on linguistic subtlety and nuance and are often fascinated with language from a young age. Metaphor is not a problem. And we’re far better at making puns than neurotypical folks.

    Rather than get hung up on a metaphor like “fishers of men,” someone with Aspergers is more likely to pick apart whether the way they fished in Galilee influenced the early apostles’ proselyting strategy–did Peter in the book of Acts find the faith to put his net down on the other side of the boat, or was the boat of the early Christian faith so overburdened with fish that it could barely stay afloat, and so on–but he might not understand whether or not it would be appropriate to share a tangential detail like that with the class and thus derail the lesson. And did you notice how off-topic this post is? That’s Aspergers for you.

    Maybe Bob had a more severe kind of autism, or maybe he’d just gone senile. Either way, it’s a sad story.

  37. Fairchild says:

    When I was a Laurel, I had a Sunday School teacher who was a cop. He regularly spent the first 20 minutes of class telling disgusting stories about work. This irritated me and felt like a waste of time and showed his lack of preparation. I guess he thought he was being cool and bonding with the guys, but I was not impressed. Finally, the last straw came when he told us some story about going to a “titty bar.” I had had enough and got up and walked straight out the door without a word or a glance. I went straight to my mom where she worked in the nursery and just hung out with her. Next thing I know, here comes my best friend. She had walked out after me. Then, our best guy friend shows up. He had walked out to.

    My best friend insisted we tell the Bishop even though I thought it would be a waste of time, like he would care what a bunch of teenagers thought. The Bishop listened to us and expressed his support of the teacher which did not surprise me at all. Well, the teacher ended up quitting and never taught us again. Apparently he said, “When they start leaving, that’s when I’m done.” Whatever. I always thought he owed us an apology! And yes, I was a Molly Mormon Laurel!

  38. When I was 16, we had a fairly young (mid-20s) Sunday School teacher. He would spend the first 15 minutes of class talking football with the boys. My best friend and I (not being interested in football) would chat with each other. This went well the first couple of Sundays, but one Sunday I guess he got tired of us talking at the same time, and so (instead of asking) he threw a chalkboard eraser at me. It smacked me on the stomach and got chalk dust all over the (dry clean only) dress I’d borrowed from my sister. And then he told us to be quiet and continued talking football.

    I wish I’d walked out. But I didn’t. At the end of the lesson (he eventually got to teaching), he looked straight at me and said, “It won’t do any good to complain about me to your dad.” (My father was the executive secretary or the ward clerk at the time.)

    I talked to my dad anyway. The very next week Brother B. was in the (hastily-organized) teacher improvement class for 12 weeks. And then he was assigned a different class.

  39. Natalie K. says:

    I don’t have too many teachers that stand out as terrible, but I’ve seen a few speakers that were quite embarrassing.

    One of my more memorable F&S meetings was when one woman got up, already weeping, to bear her testimony of Joseph Smith. She said she wanted to sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” because it was his favorite.

    So she did. And she was sobbing the entire time. And completely tone-deaf.

    I sat through the first verse just cringing internally, saying to myself over and over again, “This is a really important spiritual moment for her. She really feels this strongly. Good for her for not being ashamed to bear witness.” But when she started into the first verse, I had to look down at the floor to hide my grimace.

    I think I was probably covering my ears by the time she finished ALL SEVEN VERSES.

  40. Natalie K. says:

    *That should be, “when she started into the second verse, I had to look down at the floor to hide my grimace.”

    <– needs to proofread.

  41. I was the engineer of the wreck. I have always thought that the scripture about devils wanting to shake your hand was beyond the pale. I could tell that Joseph put that in the D&C because it was really neat but… really. The lesson was on three sections in the D&C, this one and the one about the Glory of God is intelligence, which I really love.

    So I start out by saying the lesson was going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Bad choice of words, and spent 1/2 hour of the lesson ducking bullets until I made an effort to move on to the sublime. Why did I not apologize sooner? At one point in the lesson I said something like: the room has become bright and a man clothed in light is standing before me, and I say, -before this interview is going any further, you have to shake my hand- ? Won’t happen.

    I must be Asburger to have misperceived the class so much.

  42. Jennifer in GA says:

    Not so much a teaching trainwreck, but I was in a very small Singles Branch where one brother felt the best way to share his testimony every month was by rapping it, complete with beat boxing.

    Unfortunately, Fast Sunday was always the best attended Sunday because we always had a pot luck dinner afterward.

  43. More F&S stories. There’s one guy in a ward in Tucson who gets up every week and gives a sermon-style testimony. (It’s fairly obvious he’s gunning for bishop.)

    The best part is that it’s usually a bit off. And there have been multiple occasions when the Bishop has had to stand up after him, thanking him for his testimony, but saying that it’s not quite what the gospel teaches.

    My husband isn’t a member, and we’ve gone before (I’m no longer in the ward) just for the entertainment value. I mean, we go to visit my old friends. Yeah. That’s it.

  44. Adam Greenwood says:

    Bob is not a TRAINWRECK. He is a HUMAN Being. Trains have WHEELS.

  45. During an EQ/HP joint lesson on fasting and fast Sunday, one of the old guys asks whether it was okay to have sex while fasting. That would have been okay, but a few of the class members had very strong opinions on the subject and were eager to share and debate.

    Lesson was derailed but it was still quite fun.

  46. Natalie K. says:

    TStevens, 44…..

    That’s an interesting question, I’d never thought of it before. What conclusion did the class reach? :)

  47. I am in the same boat as I have never thought about it before (or since), but my assumption that no one else did either was wrong. A visitor in the ward that Sunday had a theory that involved a Jeffery R. Holland talk that almost made it sound as not only was it okay you probably weren’t keeping the fast if you didn’t. He had the most authoritative tone so I figure he won, but when I got home my wife wasn’t as convinced about the requirement part.

  48. …not only was it okay you probably weren’t keeping the fast if you didn’t.

    I can hear the collective groan of anguish from the single adults in Kevin’s celibacy post from all the way over here.

  49. Since we’ve moved to Fast and Testimony meetings, my father’s family, when they aren’t insulting their fellow ward members, love to tell the story of the man in their ward who got up on a slow fast and testimony meeting and said something like, “Well, since no one has a testimony to bear, I thought someone might like to know that my bull is up for studd.” What amuses me the most is how funny an octogenarian, former bishop etc. finds the retelling of this story every time.

    My mother doesn’t find it funny, once while bringing her non-member mother to a fast-and-testimony meeting someone thought selling Amway from the pulpit might be a good idea. Grandma is still a non-member.

  50. Just remembered the greatest trainwreck I was ever at. There was a regional Boy Scout encampment near Kirtland Ohio on the early 1980’s and the featured GA speaker was Elder George P. Lee. His talk consisted of a series of shouted, challenging, contrarian rhetorical questions. Unfortunately we as young men did not understand that we were not supposed to answer so the hundreds of Scouts were shouting back answers. If I remember he was trying to open up for us the real reason we go on missions by shouting out plausible answers and then shooting them down. Something like “Do you go on a mission for God?” And then the Scouts en mass replying equally loud “YES!” Only to have him shout back “NO!” Then he would try to shout why but his reasoning was lost on us young guys. The awful part of it all was he never switch techniques for the whole 30 minutes, even though none of us got the rhetorical part or what he was trying to do was clearly not working.

    The next day all the local church leaders spent time in each camp trying to explain what Elder Lee was really trying to say and how we needed to generally avoid bringing it up when he spent 1 on 1 time with each troop.

  51. Not a trainwreck because literally everyone but the missionaries thought it was the great way to teach. On my mission there was this EQ teacher who literally just read the manual. Well they come on a lesson about teaching. (This was the old manuals from the late 80’s) So he’s reading it and no one is talking. He comes to a paragraph about how to put things in your own words, encourage discussion and the like. He finishes the paragraph, says “well we sure do that here” and then proceeds on to the next paragraph. (I wish I could find the manual to find the exact paragraph) He said this utterly without any sense of irony or satire. My companion and I were trying SO HARD not to laugh.

    The other nightmare was an Elder who at Zone Conference for his testimony got up, went to the chalk board, and started expounding on Kolob and fac. 2 from the Book of Abraham. Wow. Bit of a nut to say the least.

  52. Is Bob a symbolic creation that represents man’s attraction to Chicken McNuggets?

  53. My favorite trainwreck was when an inspirational video salesman canvasing the ward rebuked me during an EQ lesson when I suggested that there is more to the Word of Wisdom than medical materialism. I watched his right arm twitch under great strain as he attempted, partially successfully, to restrain himself from rebuking me with his arm held to the square.

    Poor Bob, though, if he’s a real person.

  54. Bob is a real person. I had lunch with him over Thanksgiving weekend last year. He still attends Church regularly, and is still trying to get me to go into business with him (a longstanding project of his).

    I apologize to those who found this post offensive (both in the comments, and communicated off-blog to me). I personally didn’t see the humor in it as entirely at the expense of the mentally-challenged per se, but rather as a product of Bob’s antics combined with a bad decision (to put Bob in front of a classroom) that could and should have been changed immediately, but wasn’t. That said, I’m sure I have a tin ear for what passes as offensive these days, as many prior posts of mine probably illustrate. :)

  55. Disruptive child in CTR class refusing to sit down, poking the other students, etc. . . I look right at him, “Let’s play the reverence game. Whoever’s the most reverent WINS!!!” At which point he starts goose-stepping around the room shouting, “REVERENCE! REVERENCE! REVERENCE!”

  56. oh we’ve added s&t meeting…my favorite mission f&t meeting was what my companion and I referred to as the UFO meeting. There must have been some sort of tv show about life on other planets, because a good 5+ people bore their testimony of this fact.. My companion and I each bore our testimony in between -trying to get things back on track..then a little boy bore his testimony at the end, very simply and that helped as well…but oy.

  57. At an Area Conference in my mission a teenager had been asked to speak on missionary work and he proceeded to tell everyone how he explained to a non-member friend that the holy ghost felt like you did after having a BM (you know, number 2). I am completely serious. I think Marvin J. Ashton was the visiting general authority.

  58. Two come to mind for me. The first was my senior year of high school. The bishop had called a recent convert to be the early morning seminary teacher! In the first class she took the Lord’s name in vain at least three times. She was released that same week.

    Same ward, we had a brother give a talk in sacrament meeting about how we all needed to love and embrace Satan, as that was the only way that we could overcome him. A very uncomfortable, very long talk that left almost everyone speechless.

  59. At an EQ at BYU we had a lesson from Holland’s (?) talk titled “The Inconvenient Messiah.” The lesson was derailed for A HALF HOUR (I watched the clock to make sure) while the elders argued over whether or not it was convenient or inconvenient to follow the commandments of Jesus. With reasons and explanations and all that. Nobody raised their voice that I can remember, no shouting matches, just a complete derailment of the lesson right after it started.
    I swear this is true.

  60. Last Sunday of 2009, we’re visiting my sister’s branch in BFE Texas. Small branch. GD teacher who’s been teaching *13 years* (after awhile, I think you begin to believe your own schtick).

    They were done with the lessons in the regular 2009 SS rotation, so the teacher decides to preach on Revelations and the signs.

    The meeting devolves into Obama-is-a-Muslim, the EU and UN are signs of the apocalypse, Orrin Hatch is a sign of elders called to save the Constitution, a Rammell-esque discussion of the White Horse prophecy, that the baptist preachers don’t know what they are talking about, etc.

    My favorite part was the brother in the first row (a former baptist preacher) trying to correct the teacher’s instruction.

  61. I do remember a talk (not so much a lesson) from my mission, where on Easter Sunday, a brother drew nail marks on his hands, stood at the pulpit with arms outstretched and hands open, and recited, “I am the Resurrection and the Light”, etc.

    I seriously felt that the entire congregation would be struck down, but our investigators (who later got baptized) said that it was the most spiritual experience of their lives.

  62. Wow, queuno. Kinda reminds me of the young woman in one of my mission areas who knelt down in front of the Sacrament table during the meeting and began praying aloud to the Virgin Mary.

  63. I remember a very graphic and detailed lesson in Sunday School when I was about 15 about the law of chastity that our teacher ended with “and that’s why there is no place in the Celestial Kingdom for prostitutes, because they break the law of chastity for a living.”


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