I really want some comments here, because I am close to forming an opinion and I need to get some feedback. What I really wanted to title this post was . . . .
You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!!??!!??
But I thought that might show my opinion was set in stone, when I really do want to hear some arguments on the other side.
A little background first--my mother's ward is a normal mix of older and younger women, lots of kids of all ages, and a fairly active Relief Society, so Enrichment attendance is high. Like a lot of wards, when the Enrichment format changed, they started a book club. I've never really patronized the RS book clubs--mostly it has been a timing problem. I've also been careful to never advertise any book club I was a part of in church.
For one thing, if you start talking about it at church, you give an open-ended invitation. I don't know if this is always a good thing. My book club in Texas nearly imploded when we had 15 people show one week. Also, that first book club was started with the idea that we would try to look outside church-genre books to read things we weren't used to and that were worth discussing; books you grew richer for having read. We also read some just for fun books. I've always felt pretty strongly that if it is a church-sponsored book club, you had to be VERY careful what you read--church books, squeaky clean YA literature, or old classics, that kind of thing
Anyway, my mother calls the other day to tell me the book club in her Relief Society is reading TWILIGHT.
This is where my brain exploded. I think this is wrong on so many levels:
a) Just because the author is LDS doesn't mean this book was published by an LDS publishing house, who, for all their other faults, do at least try to publish things within the parameters of LDS doctrine.
b) If this is happening in RS book clubs even across Utah, this is going to mean loads of money for Mrs. Meyer. After all, the waiting lists are a mile long and if you want to read it this month you have to buy it.
c) Other than a brief discussion on agency if you are really stretching, there is nothing in this book really even worth discussing. (The Logan book club--not church affiliated--did read this and our discussion much more revolved around "Why do women like this kind of thing so much?")
d) The book is about VAMPIRES for crying out loud. Even with Meyer's rather clever twist, and Twilight being much less gothic in tone than New Moon, it is just freaky subject matter.
e) The whole icky tension sleeping NEXT to my boyfriend but not WITH my boyfriend thing because I'm Stephanie Meyer and I do have to maintain a minimum level of chastity here scene ought to exempt it forever from mention in church.
f) With the whole wide world of really wonderful books out there, is this really what RS should be reading? The word is ENRICHMENT.
So, while I'm unloading all my grievances on Plantboy, he counters with, "Well, isn't the purpose of the new Enrichment program to socialize; to come up with focused activities that women really want to attend?"
That is the sound of my mouth open and nothing coming out of it. I didn't really know what to say to that. It is the same "argument" we use to have when I was on the YW board. Is mutual primarily spiritual or primarily social? If you say spiritual, you plan activities that don't attract nearly as many girls, but they are wonderful for the ones who come. If you say social, you pack in more kids, but what do they really take away besides some fun? Should they be taking away something more? And the social activities often alienate kids who aren't as socially adept. So the compromise is a combination of the two, which is what usually happens.
But my real question is: Can't activities be both? Can't we increase sociality and spirituality at the same time? If reading and discussing books is something that can "enrich" us, then can't we choose books that will enrich us spiritually and socially?
I must admit, over the past two months I've been pretty grouchy about the whole vampire book love among LDS women, but I actually liked Twilight. New Moon was entertaining enough, although I must say that afterward I felt kind of dark--suicide, a city of vampires preying on stupid tourists, her misguided attempts at throwing some religion into the narrative, werewolves who maul their girlfriends, months upon months of depression--there is just a lot there that doesn't led itself to cheerfulness.
Anyway--lets get some feedback here so I can try to get a clearer idea of how I feel about things: The point of church activities? Is a book club, particularly a church-sponsored one, obligated to be more than just pure entertainment? Do share.