A Zen Buddhist/Freemason friend of mine has put together some great posts of “Best and Worst Bible Verses.” I have been trying to convince him to make the series into one of those daily calendars. Would it not be great to wake up in the morning and read: “Happy shall they be who seize your infants and dashes them against the rocks!” (Psalms 137:9)?
With his blessing, here are some “best and worst” Mormon quotes. To keep it balanced, each best and worst will come from the same person in LDS history. The intent here is not to “speak evil of the Lord’s anointed,” and I value being able to look back at our missteps with a little humor. I am sure when I review my life someday, there will be plenty of ill-advised quotes to assemble. Looking at our blunders with openness and not getting defensive about them are, in my view, attributes of godliness.
David O. McKay
“Although, I do not care much for a negro, still I have a warm spot in my heart for those beautiful singers.”
“There is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this Church that the Negroes are under a divine curse.”
“Children are more influenced by sermons you act than by sermons you preach.”
Bruce R. McConkie
It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church which was the most abominable above all other churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization.”
“I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform.”
“I believe in Christ; he stands supreme! From him I’ll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: ‘Ye shall obtain.’”
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man mixes who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self security. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”
Are there other quotes, best or worst, that stand out to you? If you share one, please try to keep with the dissonant nature of the post.
Why is it often looked down on to recognize our blunders? I have had a few leaders in my church life admit past mistakes or prejudices, and if anything my respect and admiration for them increased. I realize that a lot of us value the “warts and all” version of history, but some get defensive in trying to explain it or rationalize it away, or suppress it, lest it damage someone’s testimony. Debate is one thing, but defensiveness is a form of contention… and we all know what contention is. 🙂
When Edward Kimball was writing his father’s (Spencer W. Kimball) biography, he was told that “the story of a life should be told candidly, ‘warts and all.’ His concern was that there should not be unfair emphasis on the warts.” That is a challenge I think, to give weight to but not overemphasize the bad, and also not to “canonize” (i.e. hold them up as more than human) our leaders (something I once heard Elder Maxwell warn against in a fireside). In that spirit, I will put out some posts in the future regarding best and worst in history, politics, speculation, teachings, etc.
We all make mistakes, we all have a lot growing to do in some areas, and most of us occasionally say things we later regret. In that light, I think it is a healthy and non-defensive stance to recognize the flaws along with the greatness of ourselves, and our leaders. May we all work on focusing on the good, but recognizing and being non-defensive about the bad.