Don’t read this book – Not even once!

Not Even Once

According to a commentator on Rational Faiths:

In the book, Tyler, a boy who is new in his ward, is invited to a kids’ clubhouse filled with candy and games supplied by the kids’ Primary teacher, Sister Croft. Tyler gains entrance to the club only by passing a test of ordering lemonade rather than coffee, tea, or alcohol at an imaginary restaurant and promising never to “break the Word of Wisdom, lie, cheat, steal, do drugs, bully, dress immodestly, or break the law of chastity. Not. Even. Once.”


This same message isn’t just being taught to 8 year old children, but to 18 year old adults in the MTC:

“Sister Nelson then gave a wonderful talk on obedience. She said, ‘Being obedient will save you. Obedience brings blessings, EXACT obedience brings miracles. YOU want to be the missionary that the Mission President can send to ANY area, and that area will flourish. BE TOTALLY FOCUSED on the Lord, Jesus Christ.  NOT EVEN ONCE should you be disobedient. BE EXACTLY OBEDIENT’.

It is not only non-Mormons who object to such a message, but many faithful LDS Church members too.  Some of them have even started a petition to remove the book from Deseret Book‘s shelves.  On Amazon (where the book has only 1.5 stars) several readers have left poignant reviews:

As an LDS clinical psychologist I strongly recomend you steer your children away from this book. This teaches children all the wrong messages from authority figures whose time would be better spent teaching them about unconditional love and forgiveness. I cannot stress enough how damaging this message about attainable perfection is. There are many developmentally healthy books out there that are appropriate for children. This is NOT one of them. Steer clear!  (Kristy Straubhaar)

I wonder if Sister Nelson includes Prozac on the list of things Tyler should try not even once. Because when poor Tyler grows up and feels so guilty and depressed because he’s a human and makes human mistakes he’s going to be needing a lot of counseling and pharmaceuticals to help him feel normal if he takes the message of this book to heart. This book is embarrassing, completely disregards the Atonement of Christ, and should never have been allowed to be printed. (Believing Mormon)

Not only is this book against common sense it is also against early Mormon doctrine:

Brigham Young says that when he was young someone wanted him to sign a temperance pledge. He believed in temperance, but he refused to sign the pledge. “Even then I said, ‘I do not need to sign the temperance pledge.’ I recollect my father urged me. ‘No, sir,’ said I, ‘if I sign the temperance pledge I feel that I am bound, and I wish to do just right, without being bound to do it; I want my liberty’; and I have conceived from my youth up that I could have my liberty and independence just as much in doing right as I could in doing wrong. What do you say? Is this correct?” – Journal of Discourses, 225.

[Continuing with Ration Faiths’ commentary:]

The problem with Sister Nelson’s book is that it is evil. Satan wanted to shepherd everyone to heaven by coercing us to perform correct actions, regardless of our intentions. Version 2.0 of Satan’s plan replaces hard coercion with soft coercion: a lonely Tyler agrees to obey the commandments so he can be accepted into a group, and the other kids get “jars of pretzels and popcorn and candy” from Sister Croft “as long as we keep the promise.” (Sister Croft will surely buy each of the kids a car if they go an a mission, too.)

Missing from this story is the central element of Christ’s teaching and atoning sacrifice: love. What if Tyler wants to follow the commandments because he loves other people so much that he would not want to hurt them by lying, cheating, stealing, or bullying? What if Tyler chooses to live the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity because he loves God and wants to show his gratitude for God’s gift of a body?

… One of Jesus’ most transformative insights is that spirituality is an inside job. At a time when righteousness was equated with exact observance of rules, Jesus taught that God is concerned not so much with our actions as with the motivations behind them. There are only two commandments, and they are both love.

Although some Mormons feel this way, there are certainly other who agree with ‘Sister’ Nelson, as can be seen from these comments on the Salt Lake Tribune:

“I love it, it’s just like real life. When my daughter was five she couldn’t join our neighborhood club either, but according to all the other little girls that’s because she wasn’t a Mormon and was therefore going to hell.  I wonder where five year-old’s get such wonderful odd thought’s and exclusionary behaviors?” (Utah101)

“This is the attitude that makes me hate going to church. Every talk. Every lesson. Every testimony is concluded with, ” . . . and think of all the blessings you’ll get!” It makes me think almost everybody at church is what I like to call “Commandment Prostitutes”. It makes me wonder if God told them to do something and promised them nothing in return, if they’d bother to do it. I guess that those who cannot think for themselves have been hearing about getting more than they give for so long that they can’t help themselves. Still makes me sick to think that the only way to worship God is to count how much He’ll give you.

“The other day my son was asked by one of our neighbors why he wasn’t at church the previous Sunday. We had been out helping another of our neighbors get their yard ready for a truckload of sod that was coming (earlier than planned) the next day and they weren’t ready for it. His reply made me proud when he said, “While you were at church learning about how to act like Jesus, we were out actually doing it.” (Constitutionist)

One LDS commentator liked the book to a parable:

“Once upon a time there was a group of people who wanted to be better than everybody else. They forgot about weightier matters of the law such as love, humility, and Grace and began looking beyond the mark.

They decided to form a club, an elite group of people who were better than the rest, detached and separate. They called themselves the prushim (pharisee) because they were superior to lesser mortals.

In order to meet where nobody else could meet they build a Great and Spacious Tree house, up above the other people where only the select few could meet.

They decided to name the Great and Spacious Tree House, Rameumptom, and whenever they would gather there they would talk about how thankful they were that there was nobody else like them and how thankful they were that they didn’t believe in the Grace of Christ.

What they didn’t understand is that everybody thinks they are better than everybody else, and the only way to be truly unique is to be humble.” (arkad01, Rational Faiths)

The question is now – how will win?  Concern Mormons and common sense or an LDS Church leader’s wife?  My fear is that the children will ultimately loose.