Mormon myth made flesh


Growing up in a well-to-do suburb of Salt Lake City means several things for your Mormation. For instance, stories about being the only kid at a high school who was a member honestly make no sense to me. I may have intellecutal knowledge about that but definitely no experiential knowledge (to crib Talmage). Another thing that the geographic situation means is that few, if any, of testimony meeting offerings are heterodox. We get a lot of reasonable testimonies, a few people who just want to share stories, and so on, but we really lack the hardhitting false doctrine. (Note, this is because it's a combo of well-to-do, read educated, people and an area with a high percentage of Mormons. When my sister was living in Springville, she had the joy of learning that the Church's veracity varied on such matters as where the meetings were held. Seriously. After the wardhouse's renovations, the first meeting was a fast and testimony. Several people commented on how nice it was to be back in their chapel where they could feel the spirit again.)

My ward here is typically pretty bland when it comes to testimonies. However, yesterday we had a real treat. This guy got up and started with "This month has been the hardest one I've had in a really, really long time." This statement always frustrates me because I'm a gossiphound and really want to know what made it so bad. No, honestly such a blanket statement could mean a host of things: from all my family were killed in a drug bust to I didn't get the job I really wanted. It's vague and not in the good nouvelle vague kind of way.

So, he then goes on to say, "Then my friend shared with me a quote. I think it comes from the scriptures. It goes, 'I never said it would be easy, I only said it'd be worth it.'" I've heard jokes about this, but I didn't know it could actually happen. Granted, he's a convert (a Jew nonetheless) and may not be overfamiliar with LDS scripture. However, it doesn't even sound Biblical. I don't know why this story can't die. Plus, he said that it's really helped him to put things in perspective.

Let's back up. You're purporting to believe that your life, however terrible it may be, is equal in difficulty to the Savior's Atonement? Woah there, Messiah complex. That's a bit over the top isn't it? And besides, if you did want to compare yourself to Christ (a dicey proposition at best), why not use an actual quote, like say "let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt"? It's not only more doctrinally sound, but it's actually from the Bible.

Barring that, we could rely on Joseph's lament and proclaim "all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good". Now, the last time I was falsely imprisioned, treated roughly and being forced to hear about people who have given up everything to follow my testimony being driven forth from the homes once again, this scripture really spoke to me. As you can probably tell, I don't like it when people liken this scripture to themselves either. There seems a bit of hubris involved in making your trials out to be as bad as cruxificion or 19th Century frontier jails.

Hopefully someone will take the time to draw aside this well-meaning convert and explain to him the foolishness of his ways. I'd do it, but I don't think I could do it in a manner that would really welcome him with open arms into full fellowship in the gospel. I'm definitely not the kind of friend our leaders tell the new members they need. Or maybe I am, and we just need a different type of convert.


Robert said...

i've always found the opposite of that quote to be true for my life: it's pretty damn easy, but not really worth it.

Katya said...

I've always interpreted the "never said it would be easy" pseudo-scripture as being a statement from Christ, not about him. I've also seen posters and other graphical ephemera which would seem to reinforce that interpretation. (Of course, being a pseudo-scripture, it's awfully hard to cite sources.)

If that's the case, then the speaker isn't comparing himself to Christ at all, so I don't think you need to accuse him of a Messiah complex.

That aside, I still don't understand what you have against "likening the scriptures to our own lives." What's wrong with trying to draw comfort from a message that was intended for someone else, even if that person was in greater duress? If God numbers the hairs on our head and marks fallen sparrows, why shouldn't we think He cares about even our small difficulties?

alea said...

What was Christ refering to? What is the "it"? Is it not his condescension/atonement? I agree that those who like it put it into Christ's mouth. Unless it's given as an assuagement (like life is going to suck, but it's worth it). I've understood it as the former, but I have a history of misunderstanding these things.

I have a problem with the likening only because the vast disparity of the duress. Obviously Our Father cares about our small difficulities, as evidences by the scripture you interlarded. Why not use that one? Well that, and I'm just a brat.

Petra said...

I'm glad Katya said something; I didn't want the argument. Don't be such a brat. Did you listen to Elder Keith R. Edwards' talk in General Conference? It made me think of this post.

alea said...

nope. I fell asleep Sunday afternoon. I'll read it online to see if I need chatisement.

Katya said...

What was Christ refering to? What is the "it"? Is it not his condescension/atonement? I agree that those who like it put it into Christ's mouth. Unless it's given as an assuagement (like life is going to suck, but it's worth it).

I think that "life is going to suck, but it's worth it" is exactly the interpretation that most people take. That interpretation also makes sense in terms of the original testimony. You're welcome to a minority interpretation since, again, this is a pseudo-scripture we're talking about, but it's not fair to criticize the masses for usage that is perfectly consistent with the most common interpretation.

alea said...

I think my main beef is that it's a pseudoscripture when we have perfectly good scriptures which convey God's care over His children. And the fact that the statement is actually contrary to Jesus' promise that his burden is easy and his yoke light.

But, really, it doesn't matter that much. I'll never tell this guy that I disapprove. I'll just whine to others about it.

Petra said...

Whoa, wait, I just read your comment again, a little more closely. You've been interpreting "it" to be His atonement? No wonder you're so perturbed. I, like Katya, have always thought "it" meant life, Church membership, adhering to the principles of the gospel, etc. Honestly, you and your crazy minority readings.

(Now, see, I've never liked that phrase because it's contrary to the whole "my burden is easy, and my yoke is light" thing.)

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