A viewpoint can change things. Consider Sir Thomas More, famous as a model of honesty, integrity and virtue. A man for all seasons and a Catholic Saint.
He is also the man truly responsible for William Tyndale’s being burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English in addition to those he was able to prosecute and burn directly for owning copies of the scriptures in English such as John Tewkesbury.
We tend to reverence Tyndale since he coined most of the new words in the King James Version, and that version of the Bible is about 90% Tyndale’s work (the translators who did the King James, while they were instructed to translate from sources and to focus on literary quality, also took an interest in retaining Tyndale’s work to the extent possible). We also tend to reverence More as heroic, someone who embodies the virtues we all wish we had. At the same time, it is sobering to think how his virtues also were the same thing that led to what we would now see as a sin against God – the effort to keep the scriptures from the people.
More is interesting, because once you’ve looked at him both ways, you can look at Samuel again. Samuel had sons who were rapacious. Imagine if Thomas Monson had some sons that kept their mistresses employed at the Salt Lake Temple, felt free to loot the Bishop’s Storehouse regularly and were employed as judges in Utah who freely (and apparently publicly) supplemented their income with bribes.
As I mentioned before, it is not surprising that against such a backdrop the Children of Israel decided that they wanted a king rather than continuing on with the pot luck of judges – nor is it surprising that when they were warned of where a bad king might lead them they did not see it as so bad. Tellingly, Samuel’s response to this all, when he conferred with God was to see this as a repudiation not of God but of himself. This is not too far different from the early members of the Church who excluded large swaths of public figures from having temple work done because when their flaws were reviewed (such as Sir Thomas More’s flaws), those doing the work just could not see it as appropriate to do it for them.
Of course we know what God told Samuel. The people had not rejected Samuel, they had rejected God. We know what happened in later times, we have the vision at the St. George Temple (usually recounted without the context, which is not an affirmation of the truth of the Church, it is a rebuke against the judgments that were being made — that it was not our place to judge whether or not they had sinned against the light they had, but instead we should leave that to God).
Viewpoint makes a difference. I read blogs, from time to time, that I disagree with because reading them changes my viewpoint (e.g. http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/) – at least some times. How often does your viewpoint change from things you learn and why does it change?
Even better, we have a timely example of this in practice. John Dehlin recently gave an interview. He “was effusively positive about the ad campaign” and in the edited form, his comments ended up provoking this post: http://www.bloggernacle.org/john-dehlin-the-new-go-to-critic-of-mormonism/
Perspective can be vastly altered by editing, which is what historians do. Have you been edited?