Friday, April 23, 2010

war in heaven/war in kitchen

Stake President Holman centered his talk on a concept President Boyd K. Packer has taught: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Little Children,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 16)

President Tolman then reviewed the plan of salvation, the basic doctrines about the pre-mortal existence, earth life, and the hereafter. Before beginning this review, and several times during the review, he asked a question along the lines of: “Which of these doctrines helps you understand a behavior that you might need to change?” This was thought-provoking and productive.

He then told us that one of his favorite authors is Carl Broderick, a therapist who practiced in Los Angeles. A wikipedia bio indicates that Dr. Broderick was somewhat of a celebrity and a devout member of the LDS Church, having served as bishop, stake president, and patriarch. President Tolman then shared a story that beautifully illustrated an application of the principle he taught us tonight. Dr. Broderick helped a Jewish clinician resolve a conundrum in counseling with LDS parents attempting to deal with a rebellious youth. The LDS couple originally consulted with Dr. Broderick, but as they lived on the other side of Los Angeles from him, he referred him to the other professional that he held in high regard. Here is the story:

“After only a couple of weeks, I got a call from my friend. ‘Carl, I need some help with this couple you referred to me.’ ‘What’s the problem? They probably just need to loosen up the parental iron fist a little.’ ‘That’s right. If they don’t, this kid is about to run away from home or attempt suicide or do something else drastic. But, Carl, every time I suggest any movement in the direction of loosening up, they patiently explain to me that I just don’t understand their religious obligation, as Mormon parents, to keep this kid in line. Frankly, I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to attack their religious beliefs, but the situation is explosive.’

I thought a moment and then said, ‘Here’s what you do. First, tell them that during the time you have been working with them, you have developed a real curiosity about the Mormon religion. This will serve to get their attention. Then say that there is one issue that keeps coming up when you ask about it that has you mystified. You keep hearing about some ‘war in heaven,’ but you can never quite figure out what it is about.’ ‘That’s it? I just ask them to explain the ‘war in heaven’?’ ‘That’s it.’ ‘Carl, what’s the war in heaven?’ ‘It doesn’t matter; just do what I said and let me know how it goes.’

A few days later he called. ‘Carl, I can’t believe it. I did what you said, and it was like magic.’ ‘So tell me about the session.’ ‘Well, as you suggested, I told them that since I started working with them I had gotten sort of interested in the Mormon religion. You wouldn’t believe the response. Even the rebellious teenage kid promised to give me a copy of some book on the Church with the family picture in the front.

Then I said there was just one thing that kind of confused me about their beliefs. . . . What was this war in heaven? Well, the mom didn’t as much as take a minute to collect her thoughts. In seconds she had launched into some story about a council in heaven and two plans and she gets about three minutes into it and she stops cold in her tracks and gives me a funny look and says, ‘All right, Doctor, you’ve made your point.’ From that moment on they were like putty in my hands. It was like magic.’ . . .

Of course, there was no magic. This good LDS woman simply had the unnerving experience of explaining Satan’s plan to an ‘investigator’ and, in the midst of her explanation, recognizing it as substantially her own version of responsible Mormon parenting as she had outlined it to him the week before. She understood the gospel principle fully; she just had been blinded to its applicability to her everyday challenges as a parent.’”
--recounted by Greg Jones

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