what to say when
Recently I saw a (small maroon) book with a title like “What to say when: answers for latter day saints”. I’ve searched popular search engines, online book retailers, LDS church publisher websites to no avail. So I can’t post a link.
But I thought it was an interesting idea/concept. It had gems of wisdom including what to say when your friend’s son doesn’t want to go on a mission (“it’s probably better that he doesn’t go, it doesn’t help anyone to have someone in the mission field who doesn’t want to be there”). Or when a friend in her thirties gets married (“don’t say congratulations, as if she’s fortunate to have finally caught a man”)
Perhaps this will mean fewer people will think it’s a good idea to cut off your apostate relatives and bear your testimony to them all the time. (kidding)
As a socially awkward person myself, I can understand the appeal of such a book. Most people don’t want to deliberately offend someone else.
It just gives me pause. Why would such a book be necessary? What is it uniquely about mormons that would make such a simple question/answer book worthwhile? Do other religions have such books? Granted, if you type in “what to say” to an online book retailer, there are plenty of examples.
To my mind, I think there is a great deal of rigid thinking in parts of mormon culture. There is a lot of pressure (Seth or others here may argue with me) to go on a mission, get married, have children, etc.
So it’s only natural (a part of life) that many people don’t fit into this paradigm. And thankfully, it’s no longer seen as a person’s “fault” that life happens as it does. And in our society, it’s much more common for people to talk about who they are, why they’ve made the choices they have – what they struggle with. I think at one time, this was not as common. But now it is much more common.
Maybe someone has realized that judgmental thinking/responses are not terribly helpful in such situations. (Example: well, you should just force your son to go on a mission or, to someone suffering from depression, you should pray more and read the scriptures). Such responses might have been quasi-socially acceptable at one point, but they are increasingly ill advised.
But I wonder if there’s something unique about mormon culture to look for a church sponsored or church book for this. Growing up, in my family, we didn’t read or listen to typical Christian themed books or music. I can’t say why exactly. Some ward members did, but it wasn’t terribly common. This has probably changed in the past few decades. There was this notion that even though they were Christian or religiously themed, they still weren’t totally acceptable. And they could even lead someone on the “wrong path”.
I think there’s a reluctance (still) to look outside of the LDS sphere for answers. This is a vast generalization of course, but I think there is a great deal of fear involved with studying history, losing one’s testimony and looking outside the bubble.