Consequently, I found myself looking through the temple preparation manual to find out what this critical material was that she needed to learn. I already know it is of no particular value.
The lessons in the manual are an interesting example of our modern teaching. It lacks truth. It is technically correct, but lacks the spirit which gives life. It reads like some committee was given the task of writing seven lessons on the temple and, not understanding the temple in the least, diligently faked their way through it.
It is dreadfully boring, because it lacks the spirit which gives life.
This is something we do not understand, that a sentence which may be technically more or less correct can be lifeless. We should read D&C 50 more. The Lord objected to the teaching of some of the Elders. They were reading the scriptures when they taught, but not reading them and teaching them by the power of the Holy Ghost. Consequently, they were reproved. Even the scriptures are lifeless if not read by the power of the Holy Ghost. And a man who cannot read the scripture by the power of the Holy Ghost cannot be trusted to write a sentence by the power of the Holy Ghost either.
The temple preparation manual tries to cover its back by quoting authorities frequently. But it is obvious that the people who wrote the manual cannot taste truth for themselves. It is like having aliens snatching random bits from a radio broadcast from earth arriving at their planet. The manual authors simply grab quotes about the temple at random without distinguishing which statements are profound, and which are not.
The manual tries to impress upon us that it is offering gospel teaching by the authority of those people it quotes, rather than by writing by the light of inspiration.
This is wrong.
Those things go together, incidentally. The manual authors cannot write a sentence about the temple by the light of truth themselves, and they also cannot tell the difference between a statement about the temple that is profound, and one which is not. Having not the light to write a statement of truth by the spirit themselves, they also cannot discern which statements carry that same light most powerfully. Thus they are left to simply choose quotations of other men by the elegance of the wording, and by the calling of the speaker.
Our classes are tediously large portions of feasts prepared by chefs who can neither taste nor smell.
Thanks to other men, the manual authors had learned about Brigham Young’s statement on the endowment, which makes it into the lesson. But then they choose at random, or maybe by the elegance of the wording, for the rest of the fair that they have to offer. They seem to have picked out some scriptures from the topical guide, and thrown those in as well.
And there is nothing in what they compiled that is preparation for the temple, except insofar as they warn people that there are covenants that will be made and that worthiness is required.
But what is there is certainly not “temple preparation” in any sense. It is not epic. They may as well have been writing a manual about the Revelation of St John for all the insight they have to offer. It may as well have been a “Revelation of St John Prep” class for all that it has to offer concerning the temple.