Now swallow hard, and read the story. I expect there’ll be flinching, but make it all the way through.
And after that, discuss the following questions (and feel free to propose your own):
- What kind of drifted-away-from-someone friend rushes home from college for a weekend for no other reason than to, essentially, lecture their friend about a choice they made (and about something where the one rushing home hasn’t been faced with anything relating to the choice they’re giving the lecture about)?
- What kind of non-Mormons get engaged after two months of knowing somebody, and then get married one month later (even in the early 1970s, when these events allegedly happened)?
- Speaking of which, does anybody else doubt that these events actually happened? Hmmm, maybe i ought to rephrase that so that i can get an accurate count: Does anybody think that this actually happened even close to precisely as narrated?*
- It asks: If you were Emily’s friend, what would you say to her? I’m assuming you mean other than “Congratulations! Have you registered for gifts anywhere yet?”
- They read their vows while a flute played softly in the background? Filthy, dirty hippies!
- Did anybody else notice that when Emily surprisingly [sic!] stayed active in the church, she got called as assistant librarian? In the context of the story, does this feel utterly dismissive to anyone else, specifying that she got called as an “assistant” something?
- Emily, as a child, had wished that her non-member father would be able to baptize her, she wasn’t sure whether her father would go to Primary daddy-daughter parties with her, and he went golfing rather than attend her seminary graduation. Um, did the old Sesame Street “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” song start going through anybody else’s mind? the first of those is a religious thing. The other two are just being involved in your kid’s life. Her father wasn’t a problem because he was a non-member, he was a problem because he wasn’t a fully involved father.
- So neither Emily’s husband nor father could give her child a name and blessing. Fine. But what’s up with her heavily-sobbed “Who is going to bless my baby?” They had home teachers in the 1970s, right? I’m pretty sure they had bishops. I mean, this is the ward she grew up in—she had to know somebody!
- Interesting assumption in this story, that “member of the church” means “worthy holder of the Melchizedek priesthood”. Hint: Those two sets are not identical. (And there are a lot of non-members i know who i believe are more worthy than a good number of holders of the Melchizedek priesthood i know—but that’s a somewhat different topic, really.)
- And finally, could the word choice throughout the story have been any more horrifically loaded? If your answer is yes, please describe in some detail, ’cause i can’t come up with anything.
- No, strike that, this is the and finally: This young women manual was written in 1992 (with a bit of a revision in 2002), and it was old-fashioned even then. Its outdatedness shows. Badly. Seriously, folks, if the youth programs are really all so important, isn’t it time we fixed stuff like this?
* One change that the church has made to its publications in recent years (that i approve of most vigorously!) is that all stories like this must be at least closely based on real-life events. Back in 1975, though, when this story appeared in the New Era, there was no such requirement.