Disgraced

Both the Republican leaders of the Utah Legislative Senate and House were forced to resign this year.  The Senate leader because of a DUI.  The Representative leader because of a sexual relationship with a minor many years ago, which he paid $150,000 campaign money to buy her silence.  In connection with the latter scandal, the church-owned Deseret News was aware of the sexual misconduct eight years ago, but kept silent until other news of the matter became public.
 
The problem with any political machine owning a state is the same everywhere.  It really does not matter if that machine controls the city of Chicago or the State of Utah, the result is the same.  People do “favors” for the insiders, and the public suffers as a result.
 
Utah’s reputation as “the reddest of red states” is well deserved.  The competition to fill these seats for the two involved in the scandals is internal to the Republican Party.  The result of doing so will not be unlike what has long been the case here in Utah, where only one side controls everything.
 
Both of these men were Latter-day Saints.  They are victims of the corrupt political domination every bit as much as the public has been.  Without a healthy opposition party, there is no real check upon misbehavior and excesses. 
 
I’ve always thought that opposing views and people speaking their mind is healthy.  Without some criticism of a person’s plans and ideas you simply get a chorus of “yes men” chanting how inspired or worthy or good all ideas are, no matter how flawed or foolish.  Utah’s two fallen leaders are “family men,” one of whom was known as a champion of “family values.”  It’s almost as if he had shopped with focus groups to know what words to use to get elected, without any regard to what was within his heart.
 
Now is the great day of opinion polling and focus group directed marketing, in which the substance of any group of political leaders is always hidden behind the carefully crafted message intended to market image. Indeed, image is everything in this day of deceit.
 
So, choose your leaders carefully.  They will all sound the same.  It will not be the vocabulary which will distinguish the evil and corrupt from the true and good.  It will only be what lies within them that will differ.

Popularity or Persecution?

A recent trend with Latter-day Saint scholars has been the publishing of several books that try to make Mormonism seem like Protestant Evangelicalism.  I do not believe the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is much akin to anything in Historic Christianity, and thankfully very different from Protestant Evangelicals.  It is instead a return of Primitive Christianity as found in the New Testament.  That is quite a different thing than what Historic Christianity has become, and almost altogether alien to Evangelicalism.  

I believe the Church will advance only by acknowledging the differences, explaining them and showing what great things Historic Christianity has lost.  Unless we have something different and important to offer, there is no reason for anyone to become a Latter-day Saint. 



The opening statement of Christ to Joseph Smith in the First Vision ought to be the point we most emphasize.  It was the many defects with Historic Christianity and its creeds which provoked the Lord to open the heavens again and start this great, final work.  When we neglect that message, and try to seem like another brand of Protestantism we are neglecting the only reason for our Church’s existence.

I know it is not up to me.  And I do not challenge the right of the leaders, whom I sustain, to make decisions.  But, if I could make a scourge of ropes and drive the social scientists out of the Church Office Building, I would.  I think opinion polling and focus group results are worse than meaningless, they are misleading.  It is an exercise in followship, not in leadership.  If you see a trend through polling, and jump in front of it, that does not make you a leader.  It makes you a clever follower.  

I suppose this post is nothing more than proof of my tendency to err in judgment.  But it is an honest and well meaning error which isn’t being tried by the Church at present.  When it was tried, in the early years, the newspapers railed against us, editorial cartoons mocked us, mobs persecuted us, and in turn the Church grew in numbers so dramatic that a single set of missionaries sent to England baptized nearly 7,000 converts.  The distinction caused by the persecution was valuable. Certainly not in a public relations sense, but very much in a “harvesting of souls” sense.

Sharp distinctions give the disinterested a reason to consider our message.  Persecution attracts the honest who want to know why the persecution is happening.  Joseph believed, and history has proven that persecution is the heritage of the righteous.  Its absence may not really be a good thing.  The cost of trying to avoid it is at the expense of forward progress. This is evidenced by the decrease in convert baptisms we see at present.



I have never seen any statement in scripture affirming that becoming popular in the eyes of the world was good or desirable.  On the contrary, I see the Book of Mormon listing that as one of the great evils.  (See e.g., 1 Ne. 22: 23.)