Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Mormon Tapestry

One of my favorite quotes from Joseph Smith is: "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."

I believe strongly that I will be judged by the intent of my heart and my honest effort - not by whether I am able to live any command as well as someone else or accept any doctrine as easily or readily as someone else. I’m not Calvin’s puppet in God’s hands; I’m striving to be an instrument that plays Handel while squeaking like my friends in school learning to play the bagpipes. I might never make truly beautiful music to human ears, but my effort will bring forth beautiful fruit before I die.

One of the difficulties I have seen in my callings at various levels is the tendency we humans have, even those of us who are trying to improve and become perfect, to insist that: 1) my perspective is the best perspective, or 2) my choices are the best choices, or 3) my actions are the best actions, ad infinitum. Of course, I believe that there are certain traits that all “fully believing” Mormons share, but I think that our differences FAR outweigh our similarities in many ways. How else could we produce Orrin Hatch, Mitt Romney and Harry Reid - or the truly unique conglomeration of personalities and opinions that always has constituted the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?

Contrary to popular media opinion, I think one of the most amazing aspects of Mormonism is what an incredibly wide range of strong personalities and opinions it produces / attracts. Perhaps the “correct principles” that unite us are limited, but the result of our self-governance is an amazing tapestry.


Mormon Paleo said...

Fascinating post. However, I believe you misquoted the Prophet. While many people remember the quotation as you present it, I believe the more accurate version is “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” Feel free to google me and check.

The difference may seem subtle, and it doesn't really disagree with your post, but I thought it worth mentioning.

To me, it brings a different meaning in that once I have been taught correct principles, it is my obligation/responsibility/privilege/blessing/unavoidable destiny to govern myself. We're not just allowed or permitted to govern ourselves. We govern ourselves.

Sorry if this is too pharisaical.

Papa D said...

Thanks, mp. You are right; I was typing quickly and mis-quoted it. I will go back into the post and fix that.