[Editor's Note: The whole "men don't socialize" theme that emerged in my last post deserves a follow-up. With the help of some of the comments from my previous post, I thought of a way for LDS men to get together a few times each year. Guys, after you read this, please submit some comments with potential activities/topics that you would find interesting. Ladies, please also comment on both the "skills" and "skillz" that would be helpful for your hubbies to learn. You'll understand the differentiation between the two in just a bit.]
The Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment program (a.k.a. "Don't You Dare Call It Homemaking") of the LDS church is outstanding. It provides the adult female members of the church an opportunity to get together four times a year to learn important skills, grow as individuals, apply the gospel, and strengthen their friendships. While one of the four annual activities is traditionally centered on celebrating the birthday of the Relief Society, the other three meetings look something like this:
February: Appreciating the Creation
Activity: Build a bird feeder
May: Fostering Self-Reliance
Activity: Plant a garden
August: Protecting Your Family
Activity: Make a scarecrow to frighten away the magpies that were attracted by the bird feeder you made in February and are now eating the garden you planted in May.
While the activities and lessons are truly beneficial, the social aspect of Enrichment is also one of the more important functions of the program. But do LDS women really need another formal opportunity to socialize with each other? In my last post I commented about the abundance of women-only book clubs, candle parties, girls nights out, scrap-a-thons, walking groups, etc. Women are very social creatures and would undoubtedly make the opportunities to get together happen, with or without structured church programs. Developing formal programs to encourage women to become better acquainted is like Ned Flanders offering C. Montgomery Burns a $10 bill. Does Mr. Burns really need it? Of course not. But will Mr. Burns take the money? Absitively posolutely, neighborino!
When you really think about it, maybe there should be more Enrichment-type activities for the men of the church. It could even have a really catchy name:
The differences in the way some men and some women approach home and visiting illustrates why socially-focused male programs might be needed. When it comes to visiting teaching, The Normal Mormon Wife has told me on more than one occasion, "We went visiting teaching today and after the lesson ended we just ended up talking with Marsha for two hours! I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock. But then we just kept talking for another half an hour! We had such a blast getting to know each other better. I can't wait to go back next month!"
While visiting teaching visits can can last longer than William Hung's singing career, some men ask questions like, "If I go home teaching at 11:45 p.m. on July 31st and the lesson lasts until 12:15 a.m. on August 1st, could that count as my visit for both July and August?"
The Menrichment program would teach fewer Martha Stewart "skills" and more Napoleon Dynamite "skillz". It sounds like some wards have these types of programs, as explained by Jon-Michael in his comment to my last post: "In my old stake, they put on a Super Saturday for guys every March. Classes included, plumbing, drywall repair, (and) computer repair...among other things. It would end outside in the parking lot with a massive barbecue of hot dogs, hamburgers and male bonding." Cool. Very, very cool. Sure, you could go to a Home Depot Saturday instructional course or watch "This Old House" to learn some of this stuff, but it is the male-bonding-with-church-members facet that makes Menrichment so intriguing.
While bonding with my fellow male church members would be fan-diddily-tastic, I would still want to learn some practical, useful, cool stuff. If I designed the program just for me, it would offer insights into these confusing life lessons that I have not yet learned:
-How to unclog a drain after Liquid Drano fails to do its job.
-On a weed whacker, how to thread the stupid replacement string through the stupid "bump feeder" so that the stupid thing stupid works. Stupid!
-Effective techniques to prevent your heart from stopping and your head from exploding when the A/C repairman says, "Your entire air conditioning unit is shot. You need a new one. They cost between $5,000 and $10,000". (I'm still throwing up in my mouth right now and having night tremors after hearing that exact phrase earlier this summer.)
-How to balance a sleeping infant in your arms while freeing up your hands to type on the computer or hold a PS2 controller.
-Three semi-intelligent phrases that I could utter while looking under the hood of a broken down car. You know, something like, "It looks like it could have been the overhead gasket...wait...nope the gasket still looks sealed. It was probably just vapor lock." I don't care if I even know what I'm talking about. I am just tired of looking under a hood and only being able to say, "Hmmph!" (On a side note, I took Auto Mechanics 101 at Ricks College my freshman year to at least learn some basic, useful auto information. On the very first day of class my teacher showed up and said, "I've been teaching kids how to fix cars for thirty-seven years. I'm retiring at the end of the semester and this is the last class I'm ever teaching. So you know what? I'm teaching you guys the gospel instead!" I guess he really wanted to be in the Religious Ed. department, but could never shake his "grease monkey" reputation. To this day I don't know what the catalytic converter does. I want my $312 plus "garage fees" back!)
Now I'm not attempting to start some underground movement here to try to get Menrichment into the Handbook of Instructions, but some of these things could definitely be done at an Elder's Quorum or High Priests level. So, ladies and gentlemen, if Menrichment were to exist, what topics would you have it cover?
Please share your comments. It would be fan-diddily-tastic to here them.