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I find it interesting how quickly I am counseled by the Lord. When I make a mistake, I frequently find out quickly what it was I did wrong, and what I need to do better. Perhaps He deals with me thusly because were it any other way, I would forget, move on, and put the action behind me. This pattern would be unproductive for my spiritual growth, I think, because I would not learn from my mistakes and become more able to “be perfect”.
And so, I am usually immediately counseled. When I do something wrong, I soon come across a quote, statement, thought, or scripture that almost always has direct application to the event in question.
I thought I’d share today’s counsel. Today during Sunday School the classes for Gospel Principles and Gospel Doctrine were combined into one. I was excited to have more people in the classroom and hopefully participate in a good gospel discussion. Instead, upon entering the room I found a TV/VCR set at the front.
The video displayed for our viewing was “Johnny Lingo”.
While I’m a fan of this movie, and find it entertaining to watch (maybe once every few years or more), I felt like I was in primary. People were rowdily talking amongst themselves, and I was looking around to see if there would be refreshments afterwards.
I chose instead to study my scriptures while the movie was playing. This was hard to do with such little light in the room (all the lights were turned off) so I left and went to the foyer to study.
I didn’t want to appear like I was exiting on a high horse, so I made as discreet an exit as I was able. I did notice a few people look at me as I left, and wondered with curiosity what their thoughts were.
When I came home, I was looking up some quotes on the internet and found this page by BYU professor Jeffrey Marsh (who was my instructor for my favorite class I took at BYU: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith) that served as my counsel:
3. Living Gospel principles is like walking a tight-rope with a balance-beam in hand.
If we under-do principles we could fall (that is, if we are too lax, too loose with things that really matter most, we’ll come up short). If we over-do principles, we become manipulative, critical and coercive of others (that is, if we wear our halos too tight, instead of our spirituality being dignified and an edifying experience, it becomes awkward and even offensive.
I had a student in class years ago at a university, who felt that to be spiritual he had to live all the mission rules after he got home. He couldn’t distinguish between “mission rules” – temporary guidelines to protect the missionaries – and “gospel principles” which are eternal. Among other things, he wore a suit every day, because that’s what he had done in the mission field. His misunderstanding of what it meant to be spiritual led to a holier-than-thou attitude that offended and ostracized others.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks once gave an example of how even good desires, if taken to extremes, can have negative spiritual consequences:
Reading this quote, I got the impression that it was wrong of me to leave the class. I did so in the spirit of making better use of my Sunday School time. I thought that what I was doing would be more appropriate for Church worship than watching “Johnny Lingo” would be. While part of me fully resonates with the quote above, part of me still disagrees with the choice to show such a video to mature individuals who would most likely gain much more out of a productive gospel discussion. Instead, laughs and giggles were shared while quoting “Mahonna, you ugly!”
The rebuke I feel in having read this quote deals primarily with my attitude in making the decision to leave the classroom, rather than the action itself. I don’t think the action of leaving was all that wrong. I definitely think that thirty minutes of scripture study is more appropriate for class time than is watching the video.
What would you have done?