You already know that I like to blog about work and also about religion. Well, today I’m going to do something a little bit dangerous and compare my church to the law firm I work for.*
So, LDS women participate in this program called Visiting Teaching. Each woman is assigned a set of visiting teachers, two other women in the congregation who are supposed to check in with you at least once a month to make sure all is well and good. They might share an uplifting message with you. Or bring you candy. Or just call and let you know they’re thinking about you and available if you need a ride/babysitter/person to vent to. In turn, you’re responsible for doing the same thing for one or more women yourself. It’s nice.
To be clear, I didn’t always think it was nice. When I turned 18 and moved out and two older girls started stopping by my dorm room and boring me to death squealing over their impending weddings, the whole system looked like forced friendship. [And you know pretentious college students hate nothing more than insincerity.]
I felt the same way about it that I felt when the firm I worked for now assigned me a mentor. Shouldn’t this happen more naturally? I don’t even think my mentor likes me. Why didn’t they assign me one of the women in my practice group, anyway?
As you might have guessed, my feelings about both my visiting teachers and my work mentor have changed as I’ve realized the benefits of interacting with people who I wouldn’t normally gravitate toward: namely, the spiritual, intellectual, and social growth that comes with having my ideas challenged and the strength that comes from having a broader support system.
Now that I’m in Chicago, I finally have a visiting teacher that doesn’t consider feminism a dirty word. But we still make very different life choices and I’m glad to have her in my life forcing me to consider that even good feminists come in different shapes. My work mentor and I like the same music and restaurants for brunch, but we value radically different things about our jobs. And he’s taught me a lot about a side of the firm (like office politics and, um, money) that I never would have thought about otherwise. And as long as I think someone can teach me something, it doesn’t feel insincere to make conversation for an hour every month.
And with that, points to the person who can identify the reference in the title of this post.
*I say dangerous because it draws attention to the fact that both are big, wealthy institutions. [Hey, at least you can’t say I’ve got my head in the sand.] I’m not going to write at this time about all the wonderful things my church spends its money on or defend the less-than-wonderful things that some its members choose to spend their money on [I’m looking at you, Prop 8], because this isn’t that post. In fact, I think this might not even be that blog. If that’s something you want to talk about, we can have a conversation sometime.
I know what you mean. I often don’t like being forced into friendships but with visiting teaching and with things like group assignments in college, I’ve often ended up enjoying meeting different people than I would normally interact with. It always surprises me!
Just finished reading that Time article…way too long. There’s two things I think that were left out. First, the LDS church was not always so financially stable. Lorenzo Snow had to teach extensively about tithing because they were about to lose everything to the US (again). Also, the centralization of funds in the church works. I’m pretty sure that the amount of tithing the members of the Marshall Islands put in does not counterbalance the missionary work, the cost of church buildings, and the cost of subsisted temple trips (it’s $700 per person just to fly to the Laie temple alone) or YSA conferences ($200-500 per person flown in). But, that’s how tithing works. You give what you have and you get back what you need. That’s an important difference in many places (..Majuro).
I realize that this isn’t what this post was about, but I just felt that the article was lacking.
I wish I had visiting teaching…I see it now as evidence of an effective, self-sufficient congregation.