Date: December 07, 2017 04:19AM
We have had a number of parallel experiences.
I taught in RS, also. Like you, I would start with the dry-as-dust manual lesson, and then supplement it with material from back issues of the Ensign, other LDS material, and even use stuff from religious people in other faiths: Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom, Sir Thomas More, etc.
I do remember struggling not to giggle when an old ewe who had married into LDS royalty (and NEVER let anyone forget it) bleated "Who's THAT??" when I mentioned Sir Thomas More. I said that he was the central character in the movie "A Man for All Seasons," and that he had been executed by order of King Henry VIII. Most of the sisters knew who he was, and got the point. (Sir Thomas is one of my heroes.)
But every one of the examples I used - LDS or not - reinforced the point of the lesson I was teaching, and I always felt that I delivered a good product. Those were the days when I was still a believer, but I thought that Mormons were too insular, and needed to be exposed to outside thinkers. I genuinely believed that I was exposing them to a larger world, one that they needed to hear about. And I tried very hard.
After one of the best lessons I ever wrote, the RS president came to my house and basically ripped me a new one for failing to keep my lesson reduced to the pitifully tepid material in the manual.
I can remember defending my lesson: "But don't you see, I got their attention! I got them to ask questions, to discuss things, to THINK!"
She gave me a steely glare and said, "They aren't there to question. They aren't there to discuss. They aren't there to think. They are there to learn the Gospel."
Until then, I hadn't realized that "the Gospel" and "thinking" were mutually exclusive.
Something very cold slithered into my heart, and I realized later that my "testimony" had just died. After that day, my journey "out" took about two weeks.
I am sorry now that I never told that woman that she was the main reason I left. She broke the shelf. The rest is history.
I stumbled across RfM at about that time, and I can't tell you all how much you have done for me, over the years.
And C12, my sister, I think you have been here at least as long as I have. (As have many others.)