Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Over a month since my last post. Crazy, even I'm surprised that I could keep my strongly opinionated blogging voice quiet for that long...

A good friend of mine mentioned a blog of a guy we both know. I asked him what topics he discusses and he said that he just talks about things that happen to him...what? That caught me off guard for some reason. My friend pointed out that my blog deals with issues and this guy's just deals with what he sees and thinks about what his kids are doing, etc. I thought about that off and on over the next couple weeks. I realized that I am someone who comes across an issue then mulls it over until I can feel comfortable with it. There is only 2 issues that I have had to "put on the shelf." The rest I have an answer for, some stronger than others. I guess this is what makes me so opinionated. I think I've already worked it out and it makes me quick to give an answer if anyone ever asks or wants to know.

I guess I haven't felt strongly enough about any one "issue" lately to spend time working out its various nuances. With no meat to chew on I haven't been inspired enough to post about any one subject. Here are some things that I have been thinking about though:

1-My favorite post (because it was the most soul searching and educational one for me) was my post on "Supporting Your Leaders." In it I discussed the often heatedly debated subject of prophetic infallibility. The post doesn't perfectly detail out my thoughts on this subject, and I don't want to spend the long time here that it would require. There has been one problem for me though, I have wanted to find a scriptural example of a prophet making a mistake (to me leading the church astray and saying something incorrect, even doctrinally, are two different things).

As I did my personal study and thought about potential examples I couldn't think of any. Just the other day I think I finally found one. In 1 Nephi we read of how he breaks his bow. Except for Nephi, everyone in his family including the prophet of their people, Lehi, begin to complain. Lehi is so out of line that he was "truly chastened...[and was]...down into the depths of sorrow." Rather than being an infallible prophet and leading this people, the future church of the Americas, forward correctly he messes up. He murmurs to the point that the Liahona no longer works for him. Nephi could have pointed out that his father wasn't leading the people appropriately, started a movement and steered the ship back onto its truly correct course. He would have been right, right?

Instead of committing the proverbial ark steadying he came up with his correction of the problem (broken bow problem, not the repercussion problem of murmuring*) and humbly asked the leader of the people, "Whither shall I go to obtain food?" Not a perfect example, but two key points. A) He focused on the issue and B) he gave deference to the leader. I'll compare this with those who strongly felt like the priesthood should be given to all worthy males before the prophet had come to this decision. Note: I'm not saying that denying that before was necessarily the equivocation of the church leadership. If you felt strongly that this policy should be changed it would be better to reverently discuss reasons why with leadership and give deference to them on how it should be handled. I'm sure there are holes in this comparison that need to be worked out, but it was similar enough for me to have a greater appreciation for the section of scripture.

2-I just finished the book Empire, by Orson Scott Card. It's set in the modern day and is about a civil war that starts in America between the Liberal Left and the Conservative Right. I REALLY liked this book, not so much for it's story, but for it's point. You have to swallow a few big pills to accept the story. Nevertheless, I especially liked the last chapter where the author gives a postlogue about how the country is so polarized between the right and the left. Each side has a set of beliefs and if you espouse one you have to hold religiously to them all. He hates that and that is the main bone that I have to pick with politics today. I hate dealing with hard core Republicans and hard core Democrats. Why can't I be pro-environment yet anti-abortion, or pro-gun but anti-fully automatics, pro-evolution but pro-religion? If people ask me my political stance I say "Moral Conservative." I'm even semi-pro choice (FYI, just like the church I might add, but that statement is surprising to many people). Furthermore, why can't we discuss things we disagree about without hating each other?


Holman House said...

I too really liked that post you did. It brings to mind something a friend of mine said the other day:"The Catholic church has a pope that is infallible, but no one believes it. The LDS church has a prophet that is fallible, and no one believes it." Makes me smile.

I like your example of Lehi and ensuing actions of Nephi.

Here are a couple of other incidences I wanted to share of possible mistakes or examples of human error from the scriptures.

- Jonah. We are all familiar with this story
-Nephi. I'm not sure I really understand what his "sins" were, but several times he calls himself down for sin.
-Jarom. This is just an idea, but I think he displays a human tendency that may be a weakness. He writes at the beginning of his account that he is only going to do genealogy on the plates, and not write prophesying or revelations. Why? Because the plates are small. Why doesn't he just make more? Not exactly sure, but I wonder if it's because he has these plates that Nephi made by his own hand, and they are sacred, and he places perhaps too much value on them because Nephi made them. He could add more, and it seems he had things he could write, but the emphasis is on previous prophets and what they created. What if this is like us placing too much value on things like the handbook, and overlooking the sacred value of what is ON the plates (bofm).
Alma-see Alma 29. He tells us he is a sinner. He desires to "be an angel" and "cry repentance unto every people". Now isn't this a righteous desire? in vs. 4 he states that God grants unto men "according to their desire", so why does he sin in this? He has had a decree from God, which is a foreordained purpose, so he knows the will of the Lord for him, and yet he desires something else. He had an amazing experience when he was converted, I wonder if he wants to deliver such experiences to other people. In vs.9 he tells us the will of the Lord for him, and he recognizes that following that fills his soul with joy. Desiring more than this is sin, he tells us.
-Ether. See chapter 2. in vs. 14 the Lord rebuked the brother of Jared for three hours because he "remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord".

Just some ramblings. I've been thinking lately about prophets and infallibility too. Growing up I thought that the prophets in the BofM were perfect. They were probably like our prophets today, men called to be prophets.

Anonymous said...

You claim to be a "Moral Conservative." What does this mean? I've heard of the dichotomy between those who claim social or economic conservatism (both of which seem to be moral issues). Typically when someone says: " I am a social conservative," it is code for :"I vote based on the abortion issue." From your posts, you don't seem like that type, but more like a situational conservative picking and choosing the most pragmatic means to a desired end(and I don't intend that derisivly). With a blog entitled "conservative cake & liberal icing," you would think we'd see a post where you lay out your underlying political philosophy.

Carson Calderwood said...

Moral Conservative is, as you probably assume, a term I made up to describe my political stance and point out that I am not a traditional conservative.

As I said in my post I do not hold to several of the traditional conservative notions (ie-anti evolution, NRA all weapons for all people, all abortion in all instances is wrong, etc.) and I do hold to several liberal views (ie-environment {which is not a new stance for me like it is for many others, and I do not believe in mankind as being a cause of global warming, though we do need to reduce the pollution that is blamed for causing it}, freedom of speech, equal rights, etc.).

Basically, the term emphasizes my conservative hold on moral issues while accepting a modern approach to issues like equal rights. Yet, that conservative base keeps me from "looking beyond the mark" on equality and freedom issues.

I googled "moral conservative" and found a great definition for it on the first ranked link that was funnily enough on Alan Keyes' political homepage, who I have met and liked...

Your statement, "With a blog entitled 'conservative cake & liberal icing,' you would think we'd see a post where you lay out your underlying political philosophy," is reminiscent of something I heard a while ago and have been thinking a lot about lately. This was that religion has been replaced with politics as the moral impetus and discussion framework for modern society. Does being a liberal or conservative imply primarily a political stance?

Anonymous said...

As always, I enjoy your musings, and with them your comments afterward. I agree with you that for many people politics has filled the vacuum formerly occupied by religion - something has to guide our human need to feel that we are moral. By inquiring about political philosphy, I did not intend to ask for political registration or affiliation. As you insinuated in your original post, that's part of our problem to begin with. I'm curious to know what is the guiding principle(s) that allow you to cross partisan boundries to pick which policies you'll support and which you'll disavow. How do you balance personal freedoms (agancy in LDSspeak) with the need to protect and provide for society as a whole. This type of balance (or social contract) poses the question on which our current form of government is supposed to have been based:
"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before." (j.j.rousseau)
The problem is "political", but not in the partisan sense we now use the term.

Carson Calderwood said...

I understand the dilemma and have thought about it a lot...is it better to lose a couple battles to win the war and give your support to the partisan side that most closely resembles your personal stance in our bipartisan system?

The ideal answer for me would be to have history repeat itself. When one of the two main parties does not adequately meet the needs of the top two majorities, another party rises to the top to fill the void. I wish a new, more centralized party of "moral conservatives" would arise and push out either the elephants or donkeys.

Anonymous said...

So you would advocate political revolution? I'm curious as to what eventualities and situations would have to fall into place to effect the type of power shift you and Thomas Jefferson describe.

I want to question two other points in your original post:
1) Under what circumstance can a prophet make doctrinally incorrect statements without his followers astray? (I'm not questioning whether a man can make mistakes and still be a prophet)
2)How, what and why do you "put things on a shelf"? I've heard this before in LDS circles and have never quite understood it. Does this mean that you refuse to think about a topic or question it in your mind? Or does it mean you admit to not knowing the answer at this point? Is it something you feel you don't need or want to know? Is the answer for some reason unattainable? What would have happened to every other question for which you now have an answer if they too had been relegated to your shelf. I'll admit that there are things I have thought about a great deal, and at the end of the day I just have to say "I don't know." Is this what you mean by a shelf? (Some people place things on a shelf so that they are more visible and not less. As people come into your house they see what you have on your shelf and talk about it.)

Carson Calderwood said...

Revolution is a tricky word. Political evolution is more in line with what I would want.

1-the conclusion that I have come to is the following: over time prophets may make false statements, both big and small, but they won't make so many that they take the road down the apostasy path. If blacks and the priesthood really was one of these mistakes, it would be the largest and you would have to go down the spectrum a ways before finding the next biggest. Others might include not having women be truly equal partners as they are today, but that has always been a forward progression from the beginning rather than any steps backwards.

2-I only put questions "on the shelf" for issues that I really want an answer to, but can't get one. How were intelligences formed is a question I don't have an answer for, but don't care either. There are only two questions that I have "put on the shelf." This subject of the priesthood ban start and the delay in it's termination is the first. The second subject is that of polygamy. We don't have much first hand information, and most of the first hand stuff was given many years after the fact so it is hard to know anything about that issue, but if the Lord only starts it for the reason listed in Jacob 2:30 then why were there some marriages that were not for procreation, if there were?

Rees said...

Why can't I be pro-Florida, yet anti-BYU?

Rees said...

In my previous post, I forgot to paste my comment. That shows you what Football extremism can do to a person. Too much of anything is not good.

My comment is to the point:
Why can't I be pro-religions, yet against religions practicing politics from the pulpit? Here's my example:


Carson Calderwood said...

Too funny. I think there is a law that makes BYU and Fl mutually exclusive. You can't like both, only one or the other.

Religion/politics is more difficult ;-)

I think it is a spectrum issue...

A) On one hand a church would have to step into the political arena if there were to be an amendment that would keep them from being able to practice a certain aspect of their religion.

B) On the other end it is definitely wrong for a religious organization to become a lobbyist with financial backing on all issues for one of the two sides of our political system.

Where does this issue you cite fall on that spectrum? The church definitely thinks this issue is wrong so there isn't a problem with them speaking out about it. Proactively asking the members to go out and vote against the resolution...I'm not sure about. I could make an argument for both sides and therefor don't have a strong opinion as to what I would do if I were in charge. Good thing I'm not.

Carson Calderwood said...

In case anyone is still following...this person states better what I was thinking about the need for the church to not be totally uninvolved with politics. I'll break the thread up into parts so that it will fit as a comment: