Monday, September 24, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 2

This post was first published on The Ink Ladies blog on September 12, 2007. It has been edited for relevance.

Here's my recap of the rest of the classes I attended at BYU Education Week .


On impulse--which it turns out, was related to the theme of this class--I joined a line in the Wilkinson Center and attended the second day of Kevin Hinckley's class, Was It a Prompting, or Just Me? Being Led by the Spirit. The session was entitled "Recognizing Your Spiritual Gifts."

This was another of those popular classes. You line up, you slowly move forward, and if you're lucky, they number you off as possible attendees. I was almost the last person admitted to the inner sanctum of the Actual Presence and didn't have to go to the overflow room. Only the couple behind me also slipped into the room. I sat on the back row of a massive room, so I'm sure I won't be able to identify Bro. Hinckley in a lineup, but there it is.

Basically, Bro. Hinckley said there are three reasons why LDS people filled with the spirit second-guess themselves about whether they are receiving a spiritual prompting or coming up with their own idea. He reminded us that nine times out of ten, our first impressions are correct, so if we're thinking the idea is coming from outside ourselves, it probably is. We should follow those promptings in order to walk in the light. Unfortunately, we often betray our impressions by justifying, rationalizing, second-guessing, and doubting the answers we receive.

Why don't we know what we're feeling?

1. We comparision shop. How does so-and-so get their spiritual impressions? Shouldn't we also? Do we insist that must be the correct way for us?

2. We misunderstand what to look for or feel. Elder Mark E. Petersen stated that the revelation to Oliver Cowdrey that includes the famous "stupor of thought" was for OC, not for the general membership of the Church! We won't necessarily get such a stupor if a thing isn't right for us.

3. We can be confused by Not-Quite-Divine answers. Elder Packer says Satan may try to deceive the very elect, but he can't duplicate the feeling of Gratitude that comes with an answer. Such a prompting may bring terror instead. That's a sure tip-off.

The four personality types--Talkers, Doers, Thinkers, and Planners, will each receive spiritual impressions in ways unique to their style of being. We need to assess who we are and what our likely gifts are to appreciate how to use them.

Daniel C. Peterson's class on Wednesday was "What You Should Know About the Qur'an." One word describes this whole series: fascinating!


Douglas C. and Janice Kapp Perry presented a class on The Many Miracles of Music. I attended the class on "Music Sustains Us in Times of Trial." Sister Perry noted her long battle with a strangely crippling condition and last year's stroke. She pointed out that both the Savior and Joseph Smith turned to the comfort of a hymn in their last hours. She sang a couple of her songs, and told how they came to be written. One was "The Test." The first verse was written in honor of the last specialist she consulted about her crippled hand, a blind physician who did more for her attitude than her bodily ailment. The second referenced her condition. The third verse was written for a cousin who had just lost his wife.

Bro. Peterson's class was entitled "Sunnis, Shi'ites, Sufis, Wahhabis, Taliban, and the Rest: Who Are They and What Do They Want?" He pointed out the differences between the sects and their guiding principles, and curled my hair more than once. He also pointed out the harmless factions.

I spent much of Thursday hanging around with author buddies at the BYU bookstore, buying waaaay too many books.


On Friday, I spent the morning in the dorm, working on my book. Then I got out and attended two classes and a musical performance.

Bro. Peterson's class wound up with "The Rise of Islam in the West: Threat or Opportunity?" He pointed out that there is a sizeable Christian population in the Arabic world. Since Muslims are under threat of death if they leave their religion, the Arabic Christians are the most likely people to be proselytized first, by missionaries who were Arabic Christians and converted to the Gospel.

I caught Gracia N. Jones's last class in her series on An Unequivocal Testimony: A Descendant Looks at the Sacred Mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Reviewing the Involvement of His Family in the Restoration Story. (Such long titles!) Friday's offering was "Discovering the Legacy of Emma and Lucy: Mothers--Widows--Friends."

Sister Jones is a direct descendant of Joseph Smith through his son, Alexander. She has done extensive research about her ancestors, which was necessary because Joseph Smith being the Prophet of the Restoration was not mentioned during her childhood. She mentioned several fun facts, including that Emma was left-handed, and that Lucy was the curator of a museum in her home. For a quarter, you could see the mummies and other artifacts that her son, Joseph, had acquired.

The final event I attended was the musical, "The White Star." Though it was nicely performed, I don't see it becoming one of the classics of LDS theatre.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Provo, Utah. The company coming and going in the car was splendid, and I plan to attend next year, August 18-22, 2008. Perhaps I've intrigued a few of you enough that you'll show up, too.

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