The idea that there is a department devoted to developing curriculum I found interesting. I decided to e-mail this department and find out a little about them. I asked if they were the correlation committee I've heard of who correlates our material and General Conference talks. I also asked if the positions are paid positions, or if it is a calling in the Church. And just some other basic questions like how many people are on this committee, and just the nature of these departments. I thought at minimum I should be informed of who exactly is coming up with and correlating what doctrine I'm taught, and asked to teach at church. I'll include their response later in the post.
First a quote from the book Eighteen Verses: "To prevent misguided exuberance from embarrassing the Church, which sometimes accompanies the freedom associated with the Spirit, during the term of President David O. McKay the Church adopted a correlation committee to review the content of General Authority pronouncements in General Conference and in publications. It was intended to regulate and coordinate teaching. Some have thought it was carried to far. As one Seventy Lamented :
Since the 1970's, I've seen that drift, where correlation now is telling me, if I write something to get through correlation, "You can't say that.". And I write back and say, "Why?" And they say "Well, because we think this is the interpretation." And I write back and say "You're not the interpreter.".....And that's where we get lost. Today, I see correlation, like the Supreme Court, becoming more and more the originator of the thought, rather than the coordinator of the thought. .... So, while I think correlation is good, I think it's gone past its origin commission." (Prince, Gregory A. and Wright, WM. Robert. David O. Mckay and The Rise of Modern Mormonism. University of Utah Press: Salt lake City, 2005, p. 156)"
Interesting what can happen without anyone really purposefully causing a drift.
Back to the response I got from Salt Lake regarding my inquires into the correlation Department, correlation committee and who is on it.
We hope the following will answer most of the questions from your recent e-mail.1. Correlation Committee
The Church Correlation Committee is The First Presidency and the Quorum of The Twelve. There is a Correlation Department that consists of full time employee that prepares materials for the committee.
2. Curriculum Development over sees the following:
Curriculum manuals are written or compiled by a committee whose members are called and set apart by General Authorities. The committee members are ordinary Latter-day Saints working under the inspiration of their call, although most do have writing and educational experience.
Every quote and story and doctrine presented is carefully researched. Editors at Church headquarters meticulously check and double-check each quote and its source for accuracy. From time to time, lessons are sent to areas around the world to be taught to members and get feedback on how well lessons will work worldwide. This is becoming more necessary as the Church grows around the world.
Staffs of professional graphics designers select artwork, photographs, and other illustrations that relate to the topics of the material. They also design the cover and the layout of the manual of book.
Further review continues with staff and leaders in the Curriculum Development, Priesthood, and Correlation Departments of the Church. Preliminary drafts are also reviewed by auxiliary presidencies and members of the Quorum of Seventy, who suggest further revisions. Proof copies are then sent to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (Correlation Committee) for final review and approval. The material receives a final proofreading and is then sent for translating and printing. This entire process takes several years to complete.
There is so much I could say about many parts of this response. I'll let you read it for yourself and conclude what you want. What has happened with correlation is that nothing that isn't correlated is allowed to be taught by seminary teachers, Sunday school teachers, and if it's not correlated you won't see it in a Church manual or from General Conference. Reliance on the Spirit, and revelation has been replaced by what a committee approves. No where does anyone mention God's approval for the content. Isn't that sort of important? Many topics Joseph Smith taught, like Calling and Election, Second Comforter, being sealed to the Fathers, are not among the list of approved topics by correlation. Some members have barely heard the phrases verbalized. It's sad that doctrine is getting lost, but it's true. If you read the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, vs the Church approved Sunday School manual of his teachings, you'll notice what correlation thinks is vital and what Joseph thought was vital. One saw God, the other disregards the very doctrine of a person coming to see Him and receive promises from Him.
Back to my e-mail response from the department. I guess with a bigger church, you thus need more feedback from surveys? Is that how we ensure God is pleased with our teachings? Survey's? That makes no sense.
More feedback from people around the world it appears becomes the necessary gauge on whether or not you are speaking the words God would have you speak and teaching the correct doctrine. That sounds exactly the way the hospital I work for measures it's success and ensures job security. These are good business tools. You essentially find out if people like your product and then give them the things that are pleasing to them. But since when has God's message from a Prophet EVER been required to undergo opinion surveys, and paid professionals for it to be approved? I guess these business tools work for the Gospel too? It just doesn't sound right.
With so many professionals, and so much proofing by so many different levels, God must be pleased with the content of our curriculum, right? Surly with all that, and a healthy sampling of peoples perceptions, you could almost cover up nakedness. :)
Second thing here about this committee comes from our very own D&C Sunday School Manual. Lesson 42: Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets. Under the subheading: "Section 1. Church Correlation", second paragraph of that subheading. Go ahead and click on that link, and read it for yourself. The church approved manual tells us that we need to "Explain that the purpose of Church correlation is to preserve “the right way of God” (Jacob 7:7)." Interesting statement of purpose when you actually read the verse they cite for why they exist. For your own understanding read it for yourself. The "right way of God" in that verse is what Sherem, an Antichrist, is in support of and trying to preserve. He claims to have the "right way of God" while at the same time accuses Jacob, the prophet, of perverting it. The source for the statement of the correlation's purpose is from an Antichrist. Doh!......