Wednesday, September 01, 2004

More Instructional Falsehood...

Inspired by Jason's comments on etymology and instructional falsehood, I started to remember some (what I call) “faith-promoting lies”. My favorite is the prophet Joseph’s supposed comment that if we could see the glory of just the telestial kingdom, we would kill ourselves to get there sooner. No one seems to have a reference for that one.

I hope that the recounting of such fables wouldn’t weaken one’s belief that miracles are real. Can one be guided to the truth by inspiring half truths? I feel that the difference between a testimony and an anxious belief of incredible tales is the manifestation of the spirit. For me, the myths serve a comedic purpose. I would be interested to hear some of your favorite faith-promoting lies, including prophetic misquotes, gospel gossip, and unexpected appearances of any of the three nephites.


At 9/02/2004 09:53:00 AM,

Truman Madsen once told J.D., Jason and I that Joseph Smith's famous quote (hijacked by Stephen Covey), "I teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves" has no original source.

At 9/02/2004 10:48:00 AM,

WHAT?? You're trying to tell me that my cousin's friend's dream about a card catalog, or my sister-in-law's neice's dream about people wearing green aprons inside of bird cages are myths? Next thing you'll tell me is that Steve Martin and Jewel never got baptized. Please, if I don't have this....

Chris - Very interesting. I've never seen a source for the J.S. adage, but never heard it disputed.

So now I can tell people that my friend once heard from his former BYU philosophy professor that J.S. didn't teach people correct principles.

At 9/02/2004 12:20:00 PM,

Check out:


At 9/02/2004 12:24:00 PM,

To follow the pattern, I should give a very different version of what Truman Madsen told me and JD and Chris (and three people present that Chris's account didn't mention were Ann Madsen, Dean Roggia, and Melody #2, whose name is somewhat like that fantastic Brother of Jared, but if I wanted to be cool I would say that there was a large indian-looking guy who was about to tell me his name, then he was forbidden to speak it)...but Chris told it all pretty well.

I haven't read up on it, but there is no contemporary account for the J.S. teaching that the Constitution of the US will hang by a thread. I think the best source is John Taylor in the later 19th C. Hmmmm.

Doug--you hit on the weakness of oral law in a time where people are very concerned about sources and hidden agendas. I can say I heard T. Madsen say that, but did I do his years of research and do I have his legions of people emailing him "cool stuff" they find? Nope. I just got it from him off the cuff. And now you, who have been graced by the testimony of me and Chris--and JD could jump in here too--have even less to rely on than we do. Hearsay is the term (I think), and I know anyone who has completed the law school course in Evidence that I have just begun may want to rip my use of that word into pieces. But oral tradition is really problematic, especially in a time where we have so much written, documented, approved and footnoted sources.

At 9/02/2004 01:02:00 PM,

"I haven't read up on it, but there is no contemporary account for the J.S. teaching that the Constitution of the US will hang by a thread. I think the best source is John Taylor in the later 19th C. Hmmmm."

So, is this hearsay about hearsay?? :)

At 9/02/2004 03:01:00 PM,

What's up with the GREATEST GENERATION idea? (A talk by SW Kimball, I believe). Seminary teachers everywhere are spreading the image where angels will hush in awe (or bow) when we walk the halls of heaven. Do you think they'll want our autographs, too? (Do we sign with our new name?)

At 9/02/2004 03:23:00 PM,

Doug: your comment sets me off into Jason Story Time. For better or worse:

I was a rookie Elders Quorum president at BYU, and the instructor in a lesson mentioned that mythical story about a hush falling on the hosts of heaven when they learn that we lived in the days of (fill in the blank current prophet). I had heard that it was baseless, because with my own ears I heard my own mission president read a letter from President Boyd K. Packer refuting that story, saying he didn't write it, and he doesn't believe; and his brethren didn't write it, and they don't believe it either.

But within 3 seconds, much before I could decide how to tactfully deal with that, the hand of a Nemesis shot up from the back row, and proclaimed like Michael the Archangel on the banks of the Sesquehanna, "THAT IS FALSE DOCTRINE!!!" The quorum errupted into about 20 different conversations/debates about the veracity of the story, and the rest from that point on is kind of blurry to me because I was so angry. If I remember right, the teacher took it well (the lesson was about not being offended, and I think he made a joke about getting to put his doctrine to use).

From the point of view I had then, I would rather have one hundred feel-good falsehoods by well-meaning teachers (who incidentally, focused not on the specific and unknown goings-on of the celestial kingdom, but rather on the capacity and need for faithfulness in this generation--which President Hinckley reiterates often) than one instance of a quorum member taking upon himself the authority to "call out" the teacher as proclaiming false doctrine (and, implicitly, therefore serving the purposes of evil).

If I can summarize, I think it is better for an entire elders quorum to dwindle in benign faith-promotion than for one elder to be a total ass.

At 9/05/2004 09:32:00 PM,

I've been asked to add my third, confirmatory witness to Chris and Jason's account of Truman G.'s "insubstantiation declaration" concerning the "good principles... govern themselves" adage. I do, indeed, vouch for their recollection of Truman (who is, as we all know, the unspoken of '13th Apostle' mentioned in "L'Apocalise di Baruch," a book beloved by a certain bald Roman Jew who shall remain nameless).

On other notes, another of my favorite apocryphal quotations is "I never said it would be easy... I only said it would be worth it." In fact, I was sitting in a missionary discussion TODAY, and a missionary said to the person we were teaching-- "And you remember what Jesus said-- I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." I almost chuckled out loud, but refrained myself, so as not to be the proverbial assenine elder, as Jason so eloquently described those who refute vicious doctrines with an even more vicious spirit.




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