In the past I have heard people complaining about “Theological Twinkies,” several of which I am sure you are familiar with. The idea being that these stories are beneath us in some way because they don’t come directly from the scriptures or because they are overused. For some reason, people who use these things to help themselves feel the spirit or understand the gospel are to be condescended to because they don’t understand just how useless these stories are.
While I appreciate the concern, especially when the twinkies are teaching something that ain’t doctrinal, I am somewhat disturbed about the dismissal with which we treat people who like these stories. There is an us and them tendancy here that I don’t like. Sure, we may be able to see the holes in whatever version of the “Bridge” story we are hearing for the twelth time, But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t spiritually moving for the person who is sharing the story. Sure, Pres. Monson might tell the same stories over and over again. But that doesn’t mean that “The Touch of the Master’s Hand” can’t inspire someone lost in sin to repent.
I suppose what most people find offensive about twinkies is that they seem to dismiss the complexity of the gospel. God had no choice because the train was headed for the broken bridge. If it seems tough, don’t worry it will be worth it. These answers have some explanatory power, but they can also some across as cheap sentiment; a way to convey an emotion without actually experiencing it. I am sure that when undergoing some trial, the last thing I would like to be told is that it will be worth it.
I am a big believer in 2 Nephi 31:3:
For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.
As I see it, God recognizes that there are many different people and many different understandings of spirituality. What works for me, wouldn’t work for someone else and vice versa. Therefore, God can and will use twinkies to help those it whom it will help. I don’t think anyone argues with that.
Instead, my question is: does the identification and categorization of twinkies do anything but fan the flames of our own pride? While writing this I caught myself falling into the same “twinkie” them vs. “real-gospel” us idea that I have been complaining about. How do we account for people who approach God and the Spirit in ways that are foreign to us, in ways that we may consider beneath us? If nothing else, it certainly indicates that I (who cop to having this attitude occasionally) have got a lot to learn.
Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I do like the occasional Michael McClean song (just to further establish my own hypocrisy in all this(and occasional poor taste)).