It's been a while since I've added to my blog, as I've been preoccupied with a variety of other matters. But a recent article in the Church News jarred me so hard that I had to comment on it here.
The title of the article is Use Proper Sources and it was published in the Jan. 9, 2010 issue of the Church News. The full text can be read at this link:
The search for knowledge and truth is presented here in an extremely negative way, and the author (presumably representing the Church as it appears in one of its official publications) is actively advising its members that there is no need for them to do their own searching, since the Church has already done it for them, and has all the answers they'll ever need.
A woman is portrayed preparing a Church lesson, and has apparently turned to a variety of books and magazines, and the Internet, in an attempt to explore and research the topic at hand. She is described as being discouraged and frustrated, commenting that this was a very "time consuming" process. Her daughter responds to her asking for help by explaining that she needs only to rely on and use the materials provided by the "inspired Church-writing committee." She goes on to say, "Everything you need — and more — is in your manual." The author then says, "But we may be tempted to do more, to turn to unofficial lesson plans, resources and information found in books and on the Internet."
The woman's response to all of this is then summarized with the following:
"Following the advice of her daughter, the woman above turned off her computer, shut the dozens of books open on her dining room table and picked up her manual and scriptures. The frustration she had previously experienced disappeared. She knew the material was doctrinally accurate. She knew its source was valid. She knew it had been approved by the men called to lead the Lord's work on the earth today and that it was what they wanted her to teach."
I find this a chilling article, where the pursuit of truth is actively discouraged, and the intent of the Church to completely control the information availiable to its members is clearly laid out in unmistakable terms. If a Church member were to read something like this in a publication of another religious organization, they would most likely immediately recognize and condemn the clear-cut attempt to control the minds of its members, in an almost 'cult-like' manner. But because it comes from their leaders, it is accepted at face value, with no further critical thinking applied or even needed.
I worry about the effect this type of counsel has on the thinking ability of its members, and most especially the youth. If followed, it would squash curiosity and independent thinking, and create a population of mindless followers. I'm hoping that Church members will read this, and because it is so blatant in its attempt to control their minds and thinking, that it will awaken something inside them, which would then start them asking themselves some very serious questions about the Church.
The search for truth and knowledge seems to me to be one of the most important tasks in our lives, and the Church here, in no uncertain terms, actively discourages its members from pursuing this, directing them instead to accept only those things taught by the Church leaders, who have done all the searching for them.