Most mormons — especially LIBERAL mormons — don’t do their home teaching. In view of this plight, we at BCC offer you a remedy: a home teaching visit from Ronan and myself, through the miracle of the Internet, delivered to your home (on the last Sunday of the month, of course). Through us, the teachings of the First Presidency will permeate your screen and fill your whole house with light. Additionally, we will report back to the Church all of your family problems (abuse, apostasy, intellectualism, etc.), so that your local councils will be up to date. Please email your personal family problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On with the show!
Brother and Sister Nacle, thanks for having us into your home. I love being here, because it’s always so welcoming. What’s this on the mantle? Johnny won a track and field award? Well, that’s terrific. I’m glad that Ronan and I were able to see you after Sacrament today to arrange a visit – somehow I can never seem to find you guys after Sacrament, so it’s great we could touch base. I don’t see any copies of the Ensign around – is it under the issue of Sunstone over there? Well, no matter — I’ve brought one for _all_ of us to share. Isn’t the Ensign great? I love reading the words in it.
This month’s message is a collection of thoughts from President Hinckley, entitled “Inspirational Thoughts“. The first thing that leaped out at me about this compilation (other than the thought, “when will they start writing messages specifically for the Ensign?”) was the sheer geographic diversity of the quotations: Russia, the Ukraine, America, Jamaica, Japan, Iceland — there has never been a president of the Church with this kind of global reach and constant attention to all parts of the globe. Why do you suppose that is? President Hinckley’s travels aren’t necessarily correlated to strong LDS presence in those countries. In my mind, I think it’s part of a message of a new, global church, and a willingness to show, as much as possible, the decentralisation of the Gospel.
Anyways, the message from President Hinckley hits a number of different points, addressing temples, faith, family, loyalty and the future of the Church. At first glance, there isn’t any overarching theme, which makes presenting as a lesson to you somewhat difficult. We can’t read all of them to each other, that would take too long. So, our home teaching lesson this month is partially a test: which aspect of the President’s words do we find most important? Which is most useful?
I take it back — there _is_ a commonality to the message’s excerpts: except for the conclusion, they are all injunctions. They are all the words of our leader to us, asking us to take some kind of action. In my mind, this is something of a rarity in a First Presidency message; not that we’re never asked to do things, but it is rare for the entire message to be nothing but a series of counsel. In some ways, this is compelling: it reads like a “must do” list from the President’s various advice. Others may be put off by this compliation concept, which distances the reader by the very nature of being nothing “new”, while at the same time containing no exposition. Message to the Church: the commitment pattern is gone. Deal with it.
Ronan: [nods appreciatively]
Here is what I found most important: the emphasis on family relationships. President Hinckley doesn’t explicitly limit this to a nuclear family concept, which is interesting, but the message remains the same: “The only things you will take with you, when all is said and done, are your family relationships.” This is the pinnacle of our message as Mormons, and the President combines the message of family priority with an overall rejection of materialism. In this way we see a great opposition with purely ascetic worship or say, a Buddhist perspective: for Mormons, those bonds of family are not chains to this earth, but links to heaven.
When I read President Hinckley today, I am hit with the impression that he has changed and mellowed considerably over time. I remember listening to him in general conferences and Ensigns in the past, and I used to find him somewhat frightening, although I can’t say why. He was a powerful person, involved in several first presidencies, essentially running the Church over several decades. But now as I think of him and of times I’ve seen him and heard him speak, my viewpoint has totally changed: he is a kindly, humorous man with no guile. What has caused this change? Have I changed, or has he?
Ronan: I agree. Shall I say the prayer?