Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Last semester I taught one section of Spanish 101. At the end of each semester the students are encouraged, but not obligated, to do an evaluation of the course. A couple of days ago these evaluations were made available to me. I was shocked at the differences in the responses. Some students couldn't seem to say enough good about the course, the teacher, and so forth. A couple of students couldn't seem to say enough negative things about the course and particularly the teacher.

After finishing reading the comments, I couldn't help but think, "Did these students go to different classes?" They clearly didn't, but in a sense they did. Their experiences were very different even though they sat in the same room at the same time every day for the whole semester. Why? I figure that each individual has their own set of values, ideas, experiences, etc. These things influence how we perceive the world around us.

So what does this have to do with the Church and the "strong reasons" of our critics? Well, often when reading about some dissatisfied (ex-) members of the Church and the experiences they believe they have had, I find myself asking "What Church did they go to? Did they attend a different Church?" I think that often people who become dissatisfied with the Church have had experiences that affect how they interpret the world around them. Like my Spanish class, it may not be that anything is wrong at all. The Church is true and good, but some people may not recognize it as such because of their personal experiences that skew reality for them.

I think I have learned that I need to be more patient with those who are critical of the Church. I don't believe they are right, but surely I don't always understand why they may feel or think the way they do. It's best not to judge them as individuals even if we're confident their ideas are wrong. I will always try to address the issues without attacking individuals.

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