A recent blog referred to a concerned bishop whose ward members talked more about Twilight and Harry Potter than about Jesus and gospel principles between Sunday meetings. Comments on this blog made me think of recent messages my own bishop has delivered to our ward family. Among other things, we’ve been warned against the dangers of online porn and of living beyond our means. Since they miss my own shortcomings, I really don’t object to these messages. It’s a relief to sit smugly while others squirm about a) accessing the Internet for vicarious moral transgressions, or b) shopping addictions (for less erotic persons).
I don’t even mind when the bishop talks about food storage although three Clorox bottles of water in my storeroom will definitely not provide sustenance for George and me in the event of a global meltdown. With any luck, natural death may deliver us before “the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
But in the highly unlikely event that the bishop should ask my advice for admonishing our ward, what topic would I choose? Definitely not one of my favorite sins. Forget about forbidding R-rated movies and trashy television shows like Desperate Housewives. Give me a positive message. I want to hear the bishop counsel his flock to do things I enjoy.
How about suggesting family read-aloud time? Granted, I no longer have children at home to read to, but my grown children still talk about enjoying the adventures of hobbits, Pippi Longstocking, Swiss Family Robinson, even Odysseus. And they all grew up to be, not only avid readers, but adults with a lively interest in the world and empathy with people outside their own ethnic-religious circle. I suspect Huckleberry Finn and Jim had as great an impact on their moral development as Helaman’s stripling warriors
And let’s not limit it to families. I’d like to see our bishop admonish us adults to spend time getting acquainted with people outside our Mormon circle through wider reading. For starters how about memoirs from other cultures? A few suggestions I’d make are: Angela’s Ashes (Catholic Ireland), Dreams of Trespass (Moroccan family life), The Spider Eaters (Maoist China), Bread Givers (Jewish immigrants), The Road to Mecca (a European Jew’s conversion to Islam), Dust Tracks on the Road, (African-American), The Woman Warrior (Chinese-American) and Reading Lolita in Tehran (Iranian). These are stories of people we will never meet in sacrament meeting, but their acquaintance will enrich our lives.
If you know my bishop, pleases let him know I’m ready to help. I’ll even contribute a recommended, age-appropriate list if our bishop choses to promote family read-aloud time.