Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sunday's RS Lesson

A big "thank you" to Erin for sharing this lesson with us:

My body is ______________________. Media technology is ____________________.

Share what is your body? What are your thoughts when posed with that question? What should you think? What do you think? Is there a discrepancy? Why? What can you do to get what you do think, closer to what you should?

Now let’s look at technology in the media. What did you say? How do you respond? There are of course marvelous aspects – list. And the problems – list.

Keep these things in mind throughout the lesson, and we’ll see what Elder Bednar has to say about both topics. Last May, Elder Bednar gave a powerful talk at a CES young adult fireside. The intended audience was primarily the 20-somethings – but our stake RS presidency has asked that we study and discuss it today. Inspite of the fact that the majority of us are not 20-somethings, this is our opportunity to “liken” his words unto us – and feel exceedingly young in our efforts. J I know that all of us, wherever we are in life, can find depth, meaning, and personal application on some level, from his talk.

Elder Bednar prefaces the body of his talk by explaining that we must seek out and acknowledge the truth – or, in the words of Jacob, “things as they really are,” beginning with the doctrine of our destiny.

Who has #1? As she reads, it please look for what we must obtain as part of our progression towards our divine destiny.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles declare that as spirit sons and daughters of God we “accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize [our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102; or Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49).

So what must we obtain if we want to progress? A body. Why are our bodies so important? What is it about them that made us shout for joy in the premortal existence, at the mere prospect of obtaining them? DISCUSS

Obtaining, caring for, and finding joy through use of a body is part of our Heavenly Father’s plan for us. Let’s go back to what you wrote. My body is _____________. Anyone say a temple? A place where the Spirit of God may dwell within us? How about an empowering gift which allows us to have joy? Not me… but I should have. J

Elder Bednar taught that our bodies are necessary because they give us experiences which we could not have had solely as spirits. Number 2?

“…our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the classroom of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, ‘according to the flesh’.”

We also know that Satan does not have a body. That is his punishment for rebellion. In the New Testament, we read about Satan being cast out of a body which he possessed – and moving into a herd of swine. Bodies are so important, that Satan finds it preferable to be in a pig’s body – than in none whatsoever. Because he does not have a body, his eternal progress is literally damned. He can not progress eternally. He may not have the experience made possible through a body. And so, he works against the Father’s plan, striving to make us miserable, and thereby continuing his rebellion.

How does Satan provide opposition to our Father’s plan in relation to our bodies? DISCUSS

Elder Bednar says there are two main attacks which the adversary uses to beguile us: he tries to influence us to misuse our bodies, and he tries to minimize the importance of our bodies.

In regards to misusing our bodies, he gives the following examples – Number 3?

“When any of Heavenly Father’s children misuse their physical tabernacles by violating the law of chastity, by using drugs and addictive substances, by disfiguring or defacing themselves, or by worshipping the false idol of body image, whether their own or that of others, Satan is delighted.”

We hear about those things often, yes?

But what about minimizing the importance of our bodies? Elder Bednar say this attack of Satan’s is most subtle and diabolical…it is anything that encourages us to put at risk the earthly learning experiences. What does he mean – what could threaten our earthly learning experiences which we obtain through our bodies? DISCUSS

The example he discusses in depth, and the main point of Elder Bednar’s talk, is about technology and the media. He says, “some young men and women in the Church today ignore ‘things as they really are’ and neglect eternal relationships for digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value.” He defines digital distractions, diversions, and detours, as excessive video gaming or online socializing.

Who has #4?
“You may now be asking yourself, ‘But Brother Bednar, you began today by talking about the importance of a physical body in our eternal progression. Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?’ That is precisely what I am declaring.”

Elder Bednar talks about the good aspects of technology which replicates reality – creating, in effect, a virtual reality. He discusses the benefits of surgeons practicing complicated surgeries via computer enhanced “virtual surgery” – where a doctor may learn without actually touching a real patient…or a pilot practicing emergency landings in a flight simulator. Engineers and other professionals might use similar virtual technology. Sometimes, it is a blessing that we have the technology to create extremely realistic “virtual worlds”. It can, and does, save lives.

However, highly realistic virtual representations are NOT always beneficial. What examples can you think of? DISCUSS

If Satan came down and personally asked any one of us to murder, rob, rape, or plunder another sister in this room, would any of us leap at the opportunity? Of course not – so he uses plan B – he gets us to disconnect from reality. It’s only a game, it’s just fun, a way to relax…it’s not real. #5?

“If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes.”

How can technology encourage us to think and act as if in our premortal, bodiless – state? DISCUSS

When we pursue our online or other technological activities, it is easy to lose balance and perspective, and find ourselves spending too much time on activities which distort, confuse, or cause us to forget our Heavenly Father’s plan for us to obtain bodies and experience a person-to-person communication. Elder Bednar even cautions against casual use of ‘pixels, texting, ear buds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of the media and the Internet.’ Who has #6?
“Initially the investment of time may seem relatively harmless, rationalized as a few minutes of needed relief from the demands of a hectic daily schedule. But important opportunities are missed for developing and improving interpersonal skills, for laughing and crying together, and for creating a rich and enduring bond of emotional intimacy. Progressively, seemingly innocent entertainment can become a form of pernicious enslavement. To feel the warmth of a tender hug from an eternal companion or to see the sincerity in the eyes of another person as testimony is shared—all of these things experienced as they really are through the instrument of our physical body—could be sacrificed for a high fidelity fantasy that has no lasting value.”
Anyone want to respond? Has anyone had an experience with this that they’d like to share? DISCUSS

Is technology and the media inherently bad? Of course not – we already discussed the simulations; Elder Bednar reminds us we can do even more – we can learn, communicate, lift and brighten lives, even share the gospel. He says we can – and should – do those things. “But,” Elder Bednar warns, ”I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones.”

What helps you stay connected and engaged in our physical world? How have you helped your children understand this concept? DISCUSS

He gives us the following tools for us to consider as we ponder the concepts in this lesson:
Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, love, and to serve in a meaningful way?

Our bodies are a blessing, designed to help us progress toward our divine destiny as resurrected beings living with our Heavenly Father. Anything which causes us to detach from this part of being human is not of God. Quote #7.

“I repeat and affirm the teaching of the Prophet Joseph: ‘All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him’.”

We are so blessed to be on the earth at this time – to have bodies, and to take advantage of all the good technology can afford us. Elder Bednar says we must not fail to be true to the Lord’s plan. He says that we must recognize and remember that at the same time our leaders are asking us to “raise the bar,” Lucifer is striving “…to ‘lower the bar’ by coaxing us to misuse and minimize the importance of our physical bodies’.” He quotes George Q. Cannon. Quote #8:

“God has reserved spirits for this dispensation who have the courage and determination to face the world, and all the powers of the evil one, visible and invisible, to proclaim the Gospel, and maintain the truth, and establish and build up the Zion of our God, fearless of all consequences. He has sent these spirits in this generation to lay the foundation of Zion never more to be overthrown, and to raise up a seed that will be righteous, and that will honor God, and honor him supremely, and be obedient to him under all circumstances.”

We are able to recognize truth – we have known it for a long time, and as we pray, search for answers, and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as we earnestly strive to be obedient to the commandments of God, that we will see – and embrace – things as they really are. I am grateful for the Lord’s plan for us to have bodies, and pray we will all work to honor our bodies – and in so doing, honor the Lord. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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