28 October 2007

One Hundred Percent Perfect

This weekend was our stake conference, and I confess I found it rather frustrating. Our stake president has recently commenced a program called "100% for 100 Days." The program is for all members of our stake to be 100% perfect in the following goals from the institution of the program (Sept 17th) until Christmas:

  • Individual and family prayer
  • Individual and family scripture study
  • Acts of love and compassion to spouse
  • Date with spouse
  • Family Home Evening
  • Sabbath observance at ward of record
  • Magnifying of calling
  • Fast and payment of tithes and offerings
  • Temple attendance
  • Home and visiting teaching

Now, as several talks pointed out in stake conference, this program really isn't anything new; it's simply a recording of all of the Sunday School answers, the daily/weekly/monthly demands that being a faithful Mormon makes on our lives. These are in essence the things we believe will increase our spirituality and sensitivity to the Spirit. (Though I'm disappointed they left out keeping a journal, but never mind.)

I have no problem with the actual substance of the program. My problem is in the presentation--this program is unmerciful, unforgiving, un-Christ-like. The goal is not "see how much you can do" or "see how much you can improve," but "do it all or fail." That was how it was presented in every talk in stake conference.

My problems with this program are:
  • It doesn't allow for any repentance. If you miss a day of scripture study, your 100% is gone. Too bad, you lose, good day, sir. It portrays our spirituality as a fixed state rather than a process. There's no change allowed in this program.
  • It doesn't allow for different starting levels of personal growth. The stated aim of the program is to help us achieve greater spirituality. But for some people, this won't even be a stretch, and for some, it's too much at once.
  • It doesn't allow for personalized goals. Although I'm glad the program doesn't go so far as to state how long our scripture study ought to be, it sets a definite bar of what is good enough, which could lead to apathy for doing more (because you already meet the baseline). What if something vital to my spiritual growth isn't on the list?
  • It doesn't allow for grace and the atonement, by making us think that if we can do these things, then we are good Church members. While there's definitely a correlation, I don't think this is an "if and only if" condition.
Now, I realize that Christ commands us to "be ye therefore perfect." But if this was the way He demanded it, there would have been no atonement given, because those who didn't do it perfectly would have completely failed. I'm just hoping and praying that this program is a set-up to teach us we can't do everything, and that it will end in December with a massive fireside on grace and the atonement.

But it probably won't.

As a matter of full disclosure, I must say that my husband and I are not 100% perfect. We didn't get around to our home/visiting teaching last month and occasionally we miss our prayers or scripture study. However, we have been attending the temple more than monthly. In my estimation, we're doing fine great.

Thoughts? What do you think of such a program?


Cathryn said...

I'm with you. Strange focus--where is Christ in this program?

Which, actually, is perhaps my biggest criticism of the way we worship as a people sometimes. But that's another story...

Katherine said...

Agreed. Strange. I'm interested to hear how it goes...

Paradox said...

I can't say that I like it any more than you do. Our stake conference is in two weeks, and I might just pray that "Be ye therefore perfect" is quarantined to Utah. Especially since I'm a recovering perfectionist; the messages would be the most counter-productive thing I could possibly hear right now.

Kiskilili said...

I find programs inflicted from above problematic for all the reasons you outline so well. There's no room for grace or personal needs, and the program seems to stand in implicitly for genuine spiritual development (which may or may not result). I just don't believe our relationship with God can finally be "programmed," as though we were computers or robots.