After last night’s political discussion, I read this in my daily reading:
Doctrine and Covenants 23:1
Behold, I speak to you, Oliver, a few words. Behold, thou art blessed, and art under no condemnation. But beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation.
Doctrine and Covenants is a book of revelations given to the prophet Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as mormons. This specific revelation was received in 1830, in behalf of a number of people that wanted word from God on their duties and how well they were performing them.
Anyway, this struck me in light of the political discussion I had with Eric and Jo because it describes one of the root causes of religious fundamentalism as it relates to politics. We talked a bit about the Jimmy quote from a week back. (For some reason the words came out in a Jimmy Carter voice too. Don’t know why exactly.)
So the way I’m looking at things, the tendency to see ourselves as superior for our proper relationship with God and others as inferior or subhuman for holding to different religious beliefs or not holding to any religion comes out of pride. Thing is, while President Carter cites this in reference to conservative fundamentalism, it’s just as possible for progressives, moderates, and liberals to espouse that same pride. “We’re enlightened religious folk, not like those crazy (inferior, subhuman) fundamentalists.”
The only refuge I can see for people of faith is to seek after the doctrine of their faith. In the case of mormons, ponder and try to understand the doctrines of Christ as he taught them directly and through his prophets through the ages. There may be tensions that need resolving (how do we provide for the immediate needs of the poor while helping them become self-sufficient?), and we have to be careful not to play salad bar–taking up only the doctrines (or interpretations of them) that are most comfortable to us or that our fears tell us to embrace.
It’s a tricky path, and like when following anyone, it can be easy to lose the way for the features of the road or the people along the way. But as we work at getting closer to the destination, and sincerely and authentically ponder our progress and path… we’ll make it.
We can all fall victim to pride, not just whatever “them” we feel like talking about. Pride knows no party, no economic status… as someone once said, it’s the universal sin.
Fortunately, we’ve still got choice. With enough care, with enough humility, we can keep ourselves out of pride’s cycle.
Just wish it weren’t so tricky sometimes.