Education Weak

About 30,000 people got smarter this week. I’m referring, of course, to all the BYU students who fled campus to avoid the onslaught of Education Weekers, none of whom know where they’re going and all of whom walk slow.

Education Week is a time for Latter-day Saints to come together and find answers to such important spiritual questions as, “Could you tell me where the ballroom is?” and “Where the fetch am I supposed to park? Freakin’ Timbuktu?”

Dozens of classes are offered on a wide variety of subjects that relate to Mormonism and the Mormon experience. It’s impossible to attend them all; here are a few from the catalog that you might have missed.

“Two Wrongs Make a Right: Using J. Golden Kimball as an Excuse to Swear.” Elder Kimball, or “the Swearing Apostle,” best known for his colorful language and for the hundreds of stories about him, approximately 1/80,000th of which are true, is also an example to all Latter-day Saints who desire justification for their own potty mouths. (“If a man who swears can be a general authority, then swearing must not be so bad.”) The class also teaches of lesser-known sinful figures in LDS history, such as Orson J. Jensen, “the Shoplifting Apostle”; and LaVerl Christensen, “the Seventy Who Always Broke the Speed Limit.”

“I’ve Told You a Thousand Times: Exaggeration in Mormon Living.” Learn classics like, “Movies that are being rated ‘G’ today would have been rated ‘R’ 20 years ago” and “If an employer has to choose between an Eagle Scout and a non-Eagle Scout, he’ll hire the Eagle Scout.” The class teaches that documentation is unnecessary, as long as you state your position authoritatively.

“The Un-Calling: How to Write So That People Will Think You’re a General Authority.” Focuses on using just the right terminology and line of thinking to get yourself quoted in sacrament meeting more often than the scriptures, and to have people everywhere referring to you as “Elder” or “Sister,” even though you’re not a general authority and never claimed to be. Team-taught by Stephen E. Robinson and that “Work and the Glory” guy.

“It Seemed So Real: Letting Your Dreams Help You Sound Like a Crackpot.” Nothing spices up a Sunday School class like someone telling about a weird dream they had, especially if it contradicts existing doctrine. Are you a visionary, or just a wack-job? Leave that for the class to decide!

Other Education Week classes being offered: “No Cheerios in the Chapel: The Lesser-Known Teachings of the Living Prophets,” “Jello Salad: How Much Fruit is Too Much?,” “An Outcast in My Own Ward: What If I Don’t Care About BYU Sports?” and “The Colon: Our Favorite Item of Punctuation.”

My first official "Snide Remarks" column for The Daily Herald! And it's hopelessly insular: If you're not Mormon, you won't get a single joke in this column. Sorry.

One of my favorite things about J. Golden Kimball is that people call him "the Swearing Apostle," despite the fact that he was never an Apostle. He was a Seventy. There's a huge difference, as any Mormon can tell you; to you non-Mormons, it's approximately the same as the difference between the President of the United States and the governor of North Dakota.

By the way, "that 'Work and the Glory' guy," Gerald Lund eventually DID become a general authority.

And another thing: The bit about citing crazy dreams in Sunday School class is reminiscent of something I wrote for a Daily Universe "Snide Remarks" column -- a column that never got published, in large part because of jokes like that.

Education Week truly is a grand event, where about 30,000 Mormons from all over the world descend on BYU campus (school is not in session then) to take classes on a huge range of subjects. Seriously, there's everything from homemaking tips to interpreting Isaiah in the Old Testament. There are classes for teens, too. My parents and a few of my siblings go every year, and they love it. The classes, from what I understand, are generally both informative and enjoyable, which seems like an odd combination.

This column upset people, which is not hard to do in Utah County. I don't know the details; all I know is the editor liked it, but he warned me not to walk through the Circulation Department for a few days, because they were none too pleased with me. I guess people were canceling subscriptions, or threatening to, anyway.

In the meantime, though, about 30 "Snide Remarks" fans sent the editor e-mails, expressing great delight in the reappearance of the column. I was very grateful for that.

The column ran on a Friday; in Monday's mail came this hand-written letter:

Mr. Snider, Education week is a good time for the Latter-day Saints to come together and learn, not just the answers to spiritual questions, but, also many right and good things about helping marriages, raising children, taking care of the elderly, how to help in community service, how to understand and help our teen-agers, how to study and ponder the scriptures, how to make time for service for others, how to prepare for troubled times, how to live in the world but not to induldge in worldly enticements, how to care for the handicapped, and many other wonderful topics given. The teachers are very well qualified to teach each of the subjects offered, and many are professional experts in their field. [You'll notice that to this point, I agree with absolutely everything she has said, and my column gave no reason to think otherwise.]

I, and I'm sure many more, are highly insulted that you would attack, belittle and make sarcastic remarks of such a good thing as Education Week, and the desire on the part of those are willing to spend time and money to learn better ways to help themselves in different situations. [Not sure which part of the column insulted the people who go to Education Week, other than to say they walk slow, but OK.] The people who attend are polite and cheerful as they attend classes. [Again, not sure why she thinks I would disagree with that, but OK.]

If you have nothing better to write about than to attack something good and wholesome, I suggest you re-evaluate your own values and opinions on what you choose to make public.

[couldn't read the first name] Jensen

My first official angry letter from someone who doesn't like humor, in response to my first official Daily Herald "Snide Remarks." I was pleased to receive it.