22 September 2014

On Parables

Parables came up a few times yesterday while I was listening to a New Testament class and also in the morning when I was talking to my husband about a recent Mormon Message.  I was explaining what I liked and didn't like about the video and its takeaway, and he asked if there was a Thus We See*, which there clearly was. I wasn't entirely comfortable with it, even though I agree completely with the quote from President Hinckley.  If there had to be a Thus We See, I'd have picked a different one.

So later that evening when we were talking about parables in the New Testament class, I realized that one reason why I like parables is that Jesus usually doesn't tell us how we're supposed to interpret them. Jesus gives us something to think about and discuss instead of giving us answers and solutions.  Parables invite discussion because they're not interpreted for us.  I've sat through more than one lesson where discussion about something was shut down because someone official had given the "right" interpretation. There is very often value in discussion.

These parables without answers, especially from Jesus, are important in another way.  Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable if someone, especially someone in authority, suggests a different interpretation if a formal interpretation has already been offered (even if the person giving the formal interpretation didn't mean it to be a Thus We See).  Because Jesus himself leaves the discussion, thought, and interpretation up to us, I think it encourages us to talk and think about them and hopefully removes some concern about doing that.

So back to the video.  I would love to see this shown in a variety of Relief Societies, or in a place where we can comment, without any Thus We Sees.  Then I'd like to have a good discussion about what different women got out of the video.  There would be lots of different interpretations and messages and I think the thought and discussion would be valuable.  At the very least, the video wouldn't be reduced to either a validation of the sacrifices mothers make or a inadvertent or subtle Mormon Mother Martyr message.

*Mormon, the man we believe complied the Book of Mormon, loved to use accounts of historical events to teach lessons, and you always know what the lesson is because he says, "And thus we see..."  


  1. Oooooh, I think that would be great! I saw the video and I liked it. But I understand that some women took away a different message. So yes, a discussion of a version of the video without its prescriptive message would be awesome!

  2. I really liked the video in a lot of ways. I loved when it showed all the different things she'd done had been worthwhile even though she didn't know how. I just wanted her to say no to the dinner (or at least take it over unbaked) because I thought meeting her cousin was really important too. She just looked so bogged down and sometimes you need more than happy platitudes to fix that.

  3. Agreeing there. I was thinking "drop off a take and bake pizza on the way to the airport!" Because who does not love take and bake pizza? If you get family size there are lots of leftovers!

    (Plus those tri-fold displays take hours, not 10 minutes. And she gave the picky kid Lucky Charms or something, not even toast.)

    I did love all the 'unseen effects' bit. But I hated that she missed her cousin. One friend of mine who really depends on evenings off to preserve her sanity was truly upset by it.

  4. The smug look on picky kid's face was perfectly irritating. :)

  5. It really was. That kid is a great actress in the making.

  6. I'm also wondering about the fact that the mom didn't really do much with her kids in the video (even though she obviously did a lot for them during the day). Most of the focus was on what she did for people outside her family and I'm wondering if that was part of the point- that it's easy as a SAHM to feel like it's only about your family and that you never get a chance to do anything else. It's nice to see a video that emphasizes the importance of being involved outside your family. This is just barely outside her family, of course, but no matter what, she wasn't just focused on her kids.

    But I loved what Ardis said on BCC about the wording of the son's prayer where he thanked God for their being able to get done what God wanted this to do:

    "What made it fall apart for me was that the one thing she needed to boost her own spirits — the thing she had been looking forward to for however long (she'd put it on her calendar! with a big ol' smiley face! and she woke up with a smile realizing that today was the day!) — was the one thing she hadn't been able to do. That prayer thanked God that they'd been able to do everything he needed them to do … which left me with the message that what God needed didn't include blessing this woman with a simple thing that was very important to her. That's a very different message from the voiceover.