The Curtain Draws on Seminary

My year as a Seminary teacher ended today. This job is one reason among many that I have been absent from T&S for the past month or so. The time demands on an early morning Seminary teacher, when added to having a full-time job and trying to raise five children … well, let’s just say that this was not an easy year for me. Next week is Seminary Graduation, but I will be out of the country, so we had our own little graduation party today. One feature of today’s class was reading some of the funny comments that had been made during the year (dutifully recorded by my daughter). Below is a sampling …

• When a young man and young woman were asked to role-play Adam and Eve in the Garden, the young man asked, “So, will we be in full costume?”

• When discussing the story of Noah’s ark, I asked, “What does a dove represent?” One of the students responded, “The Holy Ghost,” which prompted another to ask: “So…is it bad if we shoot one?”

• Another student comment re Noah’s ark: “What if there was some kind of hard core swimmer who was just floating on his back for 40 days?”

• And the same student on Noah again: “So the flood was, like, a massacre…”

• On the Tower of Babel, a student observed: “You know, in today’s day and age, with all the translation systems, language would never be a problem, so in theory we could build a tower up to heaven and God couldn’t stop us!”

• Again on the Tower, the same student: “Hey, if you want to do well in your Spanish class, go build a tower. And now look you’re speaking Spanish!”

• Bro. Smith: “How do you gain knowledge?”
Student: “You take it from someone.”
Bro. Smith: “You mean you steal it?”
Student: “yeah…”

• A student summarizing the lesson of an unidentified OT story: “Before you date a girl, make sure she’s not related to you.”

• Bro. Smith: “Why do the priests make an atonement?”
Student: “Maybe they do something…significant…of some sort…”

• A student on priestcrafts: “Well what if he took the money to do good things? Like buy a new staff or something?”

• Bro. Smith: “Why do the general authorities tell us to get out of debt?”
Student: “Cuz we might shoot one of our creditors.”

• Student contemplating the fate of those who are not lifted up at the Second Coming: “You know if you think about it, the earth is a sphere so we’d be cooked rotissery style — plenty of time to get underground.”

• Our Seminary classroom is next to the rear exit of the church building. Whenever someone one of the two doors, we hear them. That fact prompted this conversation:
Student A: “Hey what was with the door? I heard the airlock about a minute ago, but no one came in…”
Student B: “Maybe it was the spirit…”
Student C: “Yeah, leaving.”

• When the students learned that the Levites were not considered a tribe in the same way as the other tribes, a student remarked, “They’re kind of like Puerto Rico….”

• On Gladys Knight: “Did she ever convert the Pips?”

• Student in response to my observation that we probably shouldn’t be laughing at something in the OT: “We’re not laughing AT God, we’re laughing WITH him.”

Reading this, I think I am actually going to miss teaching Seminary.

8 comments for “The Curtain Draws on Seminary

  1. Kevin Barney
    May 29, 2004 at 12:22 pm

    This is priceless, Gordon.

    I get asked to substitute seminary once every two years, whenever Isaiah comes up. So, like clockwork, I expect a call from a panicked early morning seminary teacher, both during the BoM year and during the OT year. This year was no exception. So I taught two different seminary classes within the last couple of months. And I must say, they were nothing like yours. Our kids were like the undead; utter zombies. I don’t recall being that way when I attended early morning seminary many years ago, but maybe I perceive it through rose colored glasses.

    So how in the world did you manage to elicit that amount of interaction with your students at so ungodly an hour? You must have had a really good group of kids…

  2. May 29, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    Kevin, You are right about the kids. We have a group of very smart youth who enjoy mixing it up. I withheld most of the comments that were not related to the OT, but we had another list just as long of those.

    Funny that they should call you in for Isaiah. I found the hardest part of the year to be all of the prophets after Isaiah. With the exception of Daniel and Malachi, every lesson seemed to be the same: you wicked people are going to be scattered by the Assyrians/Babylonians, but God will ultimately gather you back together, provide a Messiah, and forgive you. Obviously, this is important stuff, but you cannot play this same note over the course of 30+ lessons with high school students and hope to retain their interest. Someone needs to take another shot at the OT curriculum.

  3. Kristine
    May 29, 2004 at 9:27 pm

    “Someone needs to take another shot at the OT curriculum.”

    cough cough hrmJulieSmith cough cough

  4. Julie in Austin
    May 29, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    Yeah, Kristine, after spending 3 weeks on the daughters of Zelophehad, there wouldn’t be time left for those minor prophets to get boring!

  5. Kristine
    May 30, 2004 at 3:03 pm

    Well, yeah, and 4 or 5 weeks apiece on Huldah and Deborah, not to mention Miriam. A couple of days on Abigail, a month on Esther and Ruth, and poof! there goes the seminary year :)

  6. Sheri Lynn
    May 31, 2004 at 12:01 am

    ::laughing almost too hard to type::

  7. June 1, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    If you want to wake up the kids and you’re teaching them about Isaiah, have them read the chapter about Rabshakeh and explain what the Assyrians did to cities they conquered. That might cause them to stir a little — especially the rhetoric Rabshakeh used to cast fear into the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It’s pretty awful material but it might get some students interested enough to really pay attention. Sort of the same way seeing Titus Andronicus got me interested (as a high school student) in Shakespeare.

    Just a general comment on the OT curriculum:
    The OT curriculum in general doesn’t really do the Old Testament much justice. I guess if we want seminary students to get some instruction about each canonical work, we have to do one canonical book a year — but when one considers the various sizes of books that are used, and the depth of the material that is involved, that approach doesn’t really make sense. I think if there were a deeper analysis of shorter texts (or sub-books within the Bible, Book of Mormon, etc.) that the students might develop better tools for studying scripture and might not be bored or listless. Then again, maybe I’m too optimistic.

    I still remember people regularly attending early-morning seminary (in NY) in their pajamas. We weren’t always the best students either.

  8. Gary Cooper
    June 1, 2004 at 7:16 pm

    Daniel B.,

    Amen, Brother! And the same could be said for the typical text of any class (Gospel Doctrine, seminary, etc.). The way I handle this, is I see my manual as a general outline. If I think a particular book needs more time, I won’t hesitate to pick up where we left off in the next class time. Some lessons have more to teach than others, so it generally balances out, unless you’ve got two lessons in a row that both have a ton of good material. Somehow, I’ve noticed the Spirit gets through (I teach Gospel Doctrine now, but have taught early morning seminary before, and loved it), so you just do the best you can. I have noticed that sometimes the manuals focus on areas that I just don’t see as being as important as other areas that we don’t focus enough on, or are even completely ignored in the manual. Oh well, the “great caravan rolls on.”

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