On the City of God and the US Consitution

BYU Bookstore is now selling the wacky McNaughton painting that inspired such great poetry here. It’s got a big display on the bottom floor where other art is displayed and sold. This is especially ironic given that the Daily Universe (BYUs paper) just did an article on how international BYU has become. I was trying to imagine how someone from another country would react to a painting of Christ returning with a copy of the US Constitution. Probably like I would to a picture of Christ returning with a copy of, say, France’s Constitution of the Fifth Republic or Uganda’s constitution. It strikes me that giving Christ the US Constitution as aegis is inappropriate. Wildly so.

Let’s explore this a bit.

In Augustine’s, The City of God, he places the narrative of human history in a story of tension between two metaphorical cities he calls, Jerusalem (The City of God, Zion) and Babylon. The narrative is apt and I want to explore it a bit in light of what I see as a growing obsession with divisive politics. I should note that, unlike many in the bloggernacle, I know nothing about politics. That is what allows me to speak with such authority about it. If fact, in previous times one would notice a distinctive glazing over of my eyes if politics were being discussed. The only reason I’ve taken an interest, is a sudden vilification I’ve experienced of late in the political arena. As apolitical as I am, I suddenly find myself embroiled in what can only be described as hostility. There is a bizarre type of American vitriolic nationalistic fervor that seems expressed in McNaughton’s painting.

But back to Augustine. He is writing during the collapse of the Roman Empire in 410 AD. Rome has been an unassailable power for around a thousand years (as Republic then Empire), but it has just been sacked by the Visagoths. This has unmoored everyone and the world has turned topsy-turvy. Some in the Empire think that maybe its fall is being precipitated by the turn to Christianity. The old pagan structures have been replaced and the proper pagan rites are going unobserved. There is a movement to return Rome to its glory by a restoration to its Pagan traditions. Augustine, schooled in the finest classical education of the period, wants to argue (using the stylings of Cicero, and the other Roman patricians and philosophical literati) that Rome’s fall was an inventible result of its preoccupations, and Christianity is the only thing that will save it.

The city he terms Babylon starts with Cain. ‘Cain,’ means ‘full ownership’ in the original he says (I have no idea if this is true, Kevin?), and into human history from the beginning orchestrates an interest in city building and political structure maintenance. These are the interests of the metaphorical city of Babylon. Its preoccupation is ‘the lust to dominate.’ He sees Rome as the greatest incarnation of this idea. This is the principle that drives the city of Babylon.

The members of the city of God (also called Zion), in contrast, are interested in God’s work. He calls these citizens, Peregrinatoio, ‘resident aliens.’ They live in the world, but are not citizens thereof. They are ‘Pilgrims.’ ‘Wanders.’ Their concerns are God’s work. The work of loving their fellow creatures. The work of forming communion with God. Their work is one of concern for others. Redemption.

Neither city has a geographical location, of course, and exist only in the hearts of people. He is careful not to suggest these are dualisms into which people are categorized. He recognizes nuance and complexity. These are poles to which people are drawn to some extent or another.

But he argues our true home is the City of God. The concerns of Babylon cannot be the Christian’s ultimate concern (to borrow from Theologian Paul Tillich). To the extent that the world has become the goal, be believes we are missing our true home.

He acknowledges that political structures are important. He praises the safety he has enjoyed as a citizen of Rome, the educational opportunities it provided, the political climate that allowed crops to be grown and transported, but he also knows that he is not ultimately a citizen of Babylon, but of Zion—and its concerns must be kept in his heart at all times. He compares those who let their preoccupation with the concerns of Babylon to a man who gives his betrothed a ring, but then turns all his attention to the ring: lavishing attention on it, expending his energies on its care, and all the while ignoring his beloved.

Certainly political structures are important. Some are better than others. But when we use the language of the City of God (evil and righteous) to apply to entities such as political structures, which are better referenced as good or better or bad, we have focused on the ring rather than our beloved. To the extent that we worship the City Babylon and its structures and fill our rhetoric with hate and divisiveness and argue that Babylon and the City of God are the same, we have lost sight of important truths and by my lights have fully embraced Babylon.

In all this I find resonance with Joseph Smith’s call to be a Zion people. Those who argue that because of the accident of our birthplace, we have a right to ignore our primary responsibility—love–have turned their faces toward Babylon. There will be no borders in Zion. There will be no America, no Rome, no –ites of any kind. That is why I find McNaughton’s painting so offensive. To imagine that Christ will hold a document, as wonderful as it is, from the city of Babylon, is a mockery of Zion our true home, and conflates the two cities. Christ is the redeemer of the world. The world people!

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I drew on Peter Brown’s Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. 2000. University of California Press, and Augustine’s City of God, for this post.

Comments

  1. In most paintings of the Second Coming, Christ is holding Britain’s unwritten constitution. It always makes me feel very patriotic.

  2. Rob Osborn says:

    Now certainly it has nothing to do with the college professor holding securly the “Origin of the Species” book with Satan breathing down his back?

  3. RJH, notice Pres. Monson holds it in his hand every conference.

    Rob, Totally!

  4. Rob Osborn says:

    BTW, I think I will buy the picture just because I like it’s perfect depiction of the college professor holding his origin of the species book believing it is the only thing that should be taught.

  5. At least the painting provided the inspiration for some really great poetry though.

  6. Matthew says:

    I wonder if BYU also sells this alternate version:

  7. Steve, obviously I’m not a fan of the painting, for so very many reasons. But I think you nicely articulated some of the problems arising from mixing nationalism and religion. Another possible consequence of this religio-nationalism is the loss of empathy for foreign “others.” I think the pejorative rendering of the immigrant in the lower left hand corner is only the beginning of where this type of thinking can lead you.

    Incidentally, if you’re in the mood for a laugh, and promise not to scroll over Davy Crockett, because it’s really vulgar, check out this parody of the painting. http://www.shortpacked.com/McNaughton%20Fine%20Art.htm I like that on many of the founding fathers the commentary is actually their own quotations warning about mixing religion and government and expressing their own religious doubts. Including their images in a painting like this can be interpreted as naieve and ignorant at best, and propagandized lying at worst.

  8. Well, I visited the Louvre today with my family. Such evocative, gorgeous works! And now, at the end of my day in Paris, I look at BCC and you give me this, SteveP. Sort of like an after-dinner burp. With acid.

  9. Exactly, Karen, working internationally (which you do a lot!), and imagining this painting through the eyes of our fellow saints from other countries seems all kinds of moves in the wrong direction for an international faith.

    Margaret! You went to the Louvre today? Oh my, I should have waited a day. This must have been quite shocking.

  10. Could this painting be improved by being painted on velvet?

    Seems highly representative of the 2×4 school of didactic arts.

  11. To the point of your OP, Steve, I say three cheers. Your final lines, “Christ is the the redeemer of the World. The World, people” says it well for me.

    That the Book of Mormon suggests that the Americas are some kind of promised land is true, but the promises of the covenant are made with God’s children, not their lands.

    The thought that an American Latter-day Saint (or a Wasatch Front Latter-day Saint) is somehow more righteous than an Asian or African Saint who is under the same covenants makes my head hurt.

  12. Silliness aside (and for the record, I find the painting extremely silly), I loved this post.

  13. Thanks, Steve, for the great post and for giving voice to the continued connection of great works to our modern life. It is curious to me that a painting that some seem to find inspiring says more about dividing than it does about uniting. For me, the painting is little more than a representation of the current political debate that characterizes all who don’t agree with me as evil. When I see such “art” and hear the cultural discussion, my mind goes to the following words in “The Spiral Staircase” by Karen Armstrong (p. 293):

    “The one and only test of a valid religious idea, doctrinal statement, spiritual experience, or devotional practice [is] that it must lead directly to practical compassion. If your understanding of the divine [makes] you kinder, more empathetic, and impel[s] you to express this sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this [is] good theology. But if your notion of God [makes] you unkind, belligerent, cruel, or self-righteous, or if it [leads] you to kill in God’s name, it [is] bad theology. Compassion [is] the litmus test for the prophets of Israel, for the rabbis of the Talmud, for Jesus, for Paul, and for Muhammad, not to mention Confucious, Lao-tzu, the Buddha, or the sages of the Upanishads. ”

    If McNaughton wants to insert his religious interpretation into the public discourse, I would appreciate his bringing the core of the religion into it as well. Or maybe he has – there is that commandment to kill every man, woman, child, and animal in certain Old Testament villages. That god seems to be at the core of many discussions regarding immigrants and Islam, environmentalists and energy.

  14. Rob Osborn says:

    You guys are missing the point…I believe.

    The picture is meant to represent that Christ is the founder and framer of our constitution- he is responsible for our freedom- he is the author of it. This is the longest lasting constitutional Republic of the world- ever!

    Those who wish to disconnect Christ from the constitution go right ahead but realize that this country is the country that was founded upon the principle of the freedom that Christ offers and is attained and maintained through our constitutional rights. Heavenly Father raised these fine Forefathers to write and sign the constitution. Those who wrote and understood the constitution know that it was no man who penned it but God himself.

    The picture thus represents that our liberties as founded in the constitution is the very word of God. Who better than Christ himself holding it.

  15. Steve Evans says:

    Rob, I think you understand the post better than anyone else here.

  16. I too find this painting VERY disturbing. I remember a member of our bishopric saying how we, in the US, were more righteous spirits in the pre-existence to be born here than those in like Africa. I was shocked when he said this but I do find this attitude quite a bit in Utah Co. We are all God’s children no matter where we are born or live.

  17. Thanks SteveW, and thanks for bring in Karen Armstrong. She is one of my favorites and is always insightful.

    Paul, yes, “not their lands.”

  18. Rink, I’ve heard that too.

  19. Aaron Brown says:

    Evolution’s false
    I don’t care what SteveP says
    Scientists are wrong

  20. Mark B. says:

    I think Rob is pulling our legs. In fact, maybe McNaughton is too. Surely, neither of them can be serious.

  21. Had McFly not saved
    And Biff all the world did rule
    McNaughton in Louvre.

    (shudder!!)

  22. Jettboy says:

    Is the United States a Promised Land, and the place of the New Jerusalem or not? Is the Constitution an inspired document that represents what ALL World Constitutions should aspire to duplicate, or not? Mormons may believe in a Universal Savior, but the United States is and has been of central doctrinal importance. To dismiss that is to ignore our own scriptures.

  23. Steve Evans says:

    Are these all properly framed as black and white questions, or not?

  24. To paraphrase Ed Firmage, the Gospel is universal in space and time. To link it with political institutions is to associate it with the works of men that in and of themselves are finite and ultimately worldly.

    Jettboy, I believe the US Constitution was inspired to allow for the restoration, but as history has taught us, it wasn’t until well into the 20th century before the church and its members actually enjoyed the full benefits of the constitution. At best it is means to an end, and that end does not include an ongoing doctrinal status for it.

  25. 21 – priceless!!

    re: the US as a promised land

    My understanding of the gospel is that all people are given a “promised land” dependent upon their willingness to turn to God. Geography doesn’t matter. We are caught up in the US = The Promised Land simply because so many of us live here and because we believe it (falsely, yes?) to be the setting of the BoM. Isn’t the actuall lesson that as we look to God we are blessed, and when we turn from God we are left to ourselves? Being in the US or Israel doesn’t mean you get extra sprinkles on your ice cream. Sprinkles are available for everyone that wants them.

  26. Miles Rogan says:

    Is the Law of Consecration in the Constitution?

  27. I don’t think the painting is nearly as horrible as some commenters seem to think it is. It seems to me that people are reading a lot of ugliness into it, that I don’t think is really there.

    7- “Another possible consequence of this religio-nationalism is the loss of empathy for foreign “others.” I think the pejorative rendering of the immigrant in the lower left hand corner is only the beginning of where this type of thinking can lead you.”

    The immigrant is depicted amongst the ‘good’ people, on the right hand of God. The artist believes that “there are many good people in America, not all are Christian.” He thinks immigrants are an essential part of America’s history and culture. I’m curious as to how this is pejorative. Where’s the lack of empathy?

    13- “But if your notion of God [makes] you unkind, belligerent, cruel, or self-righteous, or if it [leads] you to kill in God’s name, it [is] bad theology.”

    Look at the values the artist endorses: freedom, love of God, sacrifice, equality of races and sexes. He shows how these qualities are exemplified by Americans and his understanding of the ‘founding principles’ of America. Does this really merit comparison with Old Testament genocide?

    One of the tenets of Mormonism is the belief that the Church is ‘the only true and living church’, and the only one truly led by Christ. Yet the Church also teaches that there is much good in ‘apostate’ churches, and that God blesses and teaches all good people, regardless of their culture or religion.

    We know that a belief in ‘Mormon exceptionalism’ doesn’t preclude appreciation and respect for other traditions. Why must the artist’s belief in American exceptionalism make him uncompassionate, or full of “vitriolic, nationalistic fervor”?

  28. Rob, if God himself penned the Constitution, don’t you think that maybe he could have gotten the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 24th amendment in there the first time? Just asking.

  29. Admins, my comment # 28 is in moderation for multiple links, all to amendments to the constitution. Nothing harmful, really. I promise.

  30. heh, did you guys see the black college student in the left hand corner carrying a copy of the Five Thousand Year Leap? Projection much?

  31. Jettboy, you’re confusing the political entity of the United States with the geographical entity of the New World. You think the Jaredites and Nephites, et al., weren’t living in a blessed land because they lived before 1789, or somethin’?

    Not that I don’t know this comment is a massive waste of time, but sometimes a girl has to say SOMEthing.

  32. Ardis! Every spark of light helps.

  33. Mark B. says:

    The innate horribleness of the painting (besides being just awful art) is the point that SteveP made in the OP–tying the Kingdom of God to any earthly “kingdom” is a huge step down for the Kingdom of God.

    Why would you want to tie something that is eternal and, ultimately, perfect, to the imperfect institutions that man creates? You may as well say (as my father remembers some saying during the 1930s) that the priesthood has a better organization than anything else on earth, except, perhaps, the German army.

  34. Chris H. says:

    Knowing that people like McNaughton think that I am the enemy of all righteousness gives me the motivation to wake up in the morning.

    I just spent the last 7 weeks teaching the total opposite of what this painting stands for. So, the classrooms at BYU are filled with the words of constitutionalism and reason (I think I even made a reference to SteveP), even if the bookstore is selling crazy.

  35. Chris H. says:

    Steve,

    The connection you make between this type of thinking and Augustine is brilliant. Well done.

  36. Thanks, Chris. Maybe someone from your class will bring some reason to the bookstore.

    Mark, great reference. Given the place of evolutionary biologists in the painting, I’m not sure I’d fare well under a system that took this painting seriously.

  37. Chris H. says:

    Maybe, the bookstore has decided that they also dislike pregnant women. This is likely not a good marketing move (there are a lot on campus), but we all know that you can’t trust scientist, liberals, and pregnant women.

  38. I was just thinking, if I ever get pregnant I’ll be a pregnant liberal woman scientist. crap.

  39. That they are selling this in the BYU bookstore makes me cringe a little.

    As a minority (Korean-American), my brief stint at BYU had always been tinged with encounters of very well-meaning but incredibly condescending members when it concerned my ethnicity. Those kinds of students don’t need more encouragement.

    I had always viewed this contemporary type of American exceptionalism tied to the gospel as a form of closing ranks for Utah Mormons who feel threatened (consciously or not) by the fact that their cultural contributions to the Church become more and more insignificant (perhaps that’s too harsh of a word – maybe diluted?) every day as the Church goes more global. I’m confident that this attitude will die out eventually (since you don’t meet a whole lot of Catholics who harp about Rome being the promised land or anything like that these days) but it won’t go quietly into the night.

  40. Lucas Schmogler says:

    The paintings pretty judgmental if you ask me. What happened to “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

  41. I love the tie to Augustine, Steve.

  42. Rob Osborn says:

    Ya, I am pretty sure Steve has really taken the whole “professor holding the book” in the painting a little too serious.

    I think he really does portray in his painting of where he personally sees America going. It is quite obvious that he doesn’t care much for evolution and as such he has placed it alongside with the devil and his advocates but, in reality, that is a great depiction of what America faces in it’s immediate future. We are facing an ever growing front where God is displaced, set aside, in favor of a more humanistic approach where even “morality” will be put on trial as being “religious”.

    I think his interpretation and placement of evolution alongside Hollywood with the Devil standing in back of both of them is about the grreatest depiction I have seen.

    Kudos to the artists.

  43. SLO Sapo says:

    Rob, ya gotta stop with the parody, man. You’re killin’ me.

  44. Rob,
    As a pregnant woman, I assure you that I took it personally, too.

  45. So liberal journalists are bad but conservative journalists are good? Really? Being liberal LDS is pretty alienating. You feel different from the world because your LDS and you feel different from the Church because your liberal.

  46. USA! USA! USA!

  47. “I should note that, unlike many in the bloggernacle, I know nothing about politics. That is what allows me to speak with such authority about it.”

    Brilliant.

  48. Those who wrote and understood the constitution know that it was no man who penned it but God himself.

    We are facing an ever growing front where God is displaced, set aside, in favor of a more humanistic approach where even “morality” will be put on trial as being “religious”.

    Since we’re all saying what we really think, let me just add that Rob appears to have the grasp of history (to say nothing of contemporary reality) of either a second grade bully or a Pixar villain.

  49. Matthew L. says:

    I guess I never considered whether or not Jesus would need a copy of the Constitution when he came again. I just assumed he’d have it memorized.

    Thanks for directing this to me, Chris H.

  50. This portrait is so frightening, it would make a freight train take a dirt road…….

  51. Steve Evans says:

    “the grreatest depiction I have seen.”

    As grrreat as this one?

  52. Tyrone L says:

    Has anyone noticed that all of the non-white historical figures have been relegated to the far back of the painting? I guess that in McNaughton’s version of the Kingdom of God, coloreds still have to take a backseat to whites.

  53. Latter-day Guy says:

    Rob Osborn is a comic genius. Seriously, his deadpan delivery combined with Steve Carrel/Michael Scott-worthy cringe-inducing content… just… wow. A great man walks among us. Reading you’re stuff, Rob, is like trying to look directly at the sun––I am overcome.

  54. How good was comment #1? Pretty damn good.

  55. Nicely done, Steve P. Just opened Ken Miller’s “Finding Darwin’s God” this evening. I have time to read something besides American Heritage assignments….(is Chris H still here?)…now that Spring Term is over. (Honestly, it was the Molecular Biology that ate up all my time. Am. Her. was a breeze compared to that!)
    I’d just like to point out that as a Canadian, probably the WORST day to visit in church in the USA is Independence Day weekend. The first time I endured the testimony of the United States meeting I wondered if I could possibly be a good Mormon if I didn’t feel the same way about the USA. Well, more accurately, I wondered if I was justified in getting that angry in church where I thought ALL were welcome.
    The world is full of oblivious people who mean well. I think the scariest thing about the popularity of this picture is that there are so many willfully ignorant people out there embracing its message.
    I loved the quote from “Mormon Scientist,” about Henry Eyring getting advice from his father, a rancher, before heading off to college. He said “the church doesn’t require you to believe anything that isn’t true.” Well, if you aren’t even going to make any effort to find out what there is to believe or not, you can never take that advice.
    Too many people act like they are more righteous for not thinking or for selectively gathering out the convenient historical facts and sweeping the rest under the rug. I find that extremely deceitful.
    I could be wrong but I don’t believe we encourage people to just read the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and expect to know it is true. I do think we actually expect that people will read it before we ask them to make up their minds. So, if we believe the scripture about knowing the truth of all things through the Holy Ghost, why oh why are we so afraid to use the same method on other writings that could contain truth?! Are we afraid that the Holy Ghost doesn’t know enough about science or what? I doubt it. I think it is just more work than a lot of people would rather put in and they are content to take someone else’s word for it. Remind anyone of trying to live off of borrowed light?

  56. I think that any painting that “requires” the artist to go through and point out each one of its meanings is dead already. Defining every “symbol” in the work eliminates any other interpretation. Even medieval Catholics have a freer range of expression…

    Great post, I am curious in all these discussions about the divine authorship of the American Constitution, why no one brings up that during the Old Testament and Book of Mormon governmental systems of judges were deemed as divine, and yet very little of that system remains today.

  57. Justsayin' says:

    #14
    “This is the longest lasting constitutional Republic of the world- ever!”

    The Roman Republic lasted 482 years…Just sayin’.

  58. ” I do think we actually expect that people will read it before we ask them to make up their minds.”

    Yah, you’re wrong.

  59. -” I do think we actually expect that people will read it before we ask them to make up their minds.”

    -Yah, you’re wrong.

    Well, I guess it is business as usual then. We shouldn’t be surprised.
    Just add one more entry to the list of possible reasons “Jesus wept.” (I’m ready to weep over it and if Jesus really suffered my sorrow that means he would, too.)

  60. First, the Constitution was inspired by God. Second, it was and is not perfect. Third, every nation where the saints of God are free to practice their religion can become a choice land.

    It’s strange to see so many nuanced people taking a decidedly protestant stance on things, and interpreting everything in the painting to be way over the top (“If the constitution is so good why didn’t it have….”)

    I believe God inspired the framers, but directly through personal revelation (whether it was known or not) and also indirectly through the generations of philosophers going back hundreds of years in Europe.

    There is no doubt, that if a city of Zion is ever to rebuilt in the US, and I presume other cities as stakes of a literal Zion would be in other nations wherever free people are permitted to gather, then it is absolutely necessary for private ownership of property and free enterprise. So as the US and other nations drift towards public ownership and/or vested interest of the means of productions I don’t see how it would be possible to consecrate to the church (Lord) what the government is laying claim to. I don’t know if we’re at the point yet where it would make a huge difference, but to me and many we’re heading down that path.

    The US is far from a perfect or ideal nation. And I don’t know if anyone really thinks Christ will return with the constitution. That’s obviously to make a statement that Constitutional principles are important, and many, but certainly not all, of them are of God — who would deny that? The same can be said of other turning points in other nations where the powers that be specifically acted in the interest of the people to lay the ground work for freedom. Why get so worked up over it?

    If you’re in the UK feeling a bit left out, praise aspects of your own history, which left the people more free and able to choose for themselves. It’s a wonderful thing, God is no respecter of persons or nations and desires all to be free to be able to choose him of their own accord.

  61. Are we sure that Rob Osborne is not Aaron Cox?

  62. Mark B. says:

    Actually, I’m putting my money on Ozzy Osbourne.

  63. Chris,

    #61,

    Why get so worked up over it?

    Probably because the purpose of that painting is not to sing the praises of the United States or the Constitution, but to sing the praises of American conservatism at the expense of American liberalism.

  64. Chris,
    I think that the necessity of private ownership and private enterprise in Zion could easily be disputed. I don’t think that Capitalism is an eternal principle and I’m a bit appalled that people would make that claim (the driving principle behind it is selfishness, after all). It does really well in this world, but we know who the prince of this world is, don’t we?

    Aside from that, people get worked up about this painting for the following reasons:
    1. It is crazy.
    2. It is borderline racist.
    3. It represents the most short-sighted, thoughtless, and ignorant aspects of modern reactionary populism
    4. It is being sold at “the Lord’s University”
    5. McNaughton is likely getting rich selling it
    That some people might think that this is what Mormons believe is frightening for some amongst us. For me, its sad. But fun to mock, because it is so easily mockable. Does this make me a fool? Very likely. But the painting proves the same of the artist and how many of us rise above?

    I’ll make you a deal. I’ll never speak of it again (because every time we do, it raises McNaughton’s profile an eensy bit). You don’t have to do anything. Sound good?

  65. 64: Yep.
    31: Ardis, you’re my hero.

  66. John Taber says:

    I just hope it doesn’t end up in meetinghouse foyers, the way Freiberg’s “Prayer at Valley Forge” has. (I’ve been considering off and on writing to the Presiding Bishopric about that one.)

  67. Chris H. says:

    Anyone seen this satire version? Check out the captions:

    http://www.shortpacked.com/McNaughton%20Fine%20Art.htm

  68. Researcher says:

    This is all very amusing, but if you want to complain about BYU bookstore policies, it looks like the store has an online ombudsman.

    BYU Bookstore Sounding Board

    Speak your mind about the BYU Bookstore and its policies.
    The purpose of this Sounding Board is to give our customers a chance to ask questions, make suggestions, and give feedback–anonymously, if desired. Responses will be posted here on the Sounding Board.

    Anyone want to see if they’ll post feedback about their choice of “art”?

  69. 65, don’t think capitalism is an eternal principle either. Capitalism considers greed as leading to the betterment of society. Socialism considers governmental redistribution of goods will make society better off.

    Neither abolishes greed, one outrightly encourages it, the other sustains it. Neither acknowledges the true source of all blessings (not the people, not the government, but God). Where one method improves on one hand, it takes away in other.

    But private ownership seems necessary for the law of consecration to work. To the degree that private ownership gets muddied, I think God will have to bring about some changes in the world. Neither capitalism nor socialism based economies can continue indefinitely, and anyone putting their trust in either of those is making a mistake.

    I personally think one is a better alternative than the other given what we have, and can point to a variety of reasons for it, but I am also aware that no matter way the support has to be tempered with a clear understanding of that systems flaws. I’m ok with someone else thinking the opposite.

    I just do find it said the zeal with which others want to uncharitably go after the painter (deserving or not has nothing to do with it) to be almost a similar strategy to what the critics are supposedly decrying in the painter.

    I personally don’t get too worked up about the politics until I see people on both sides using religion to attack each other. I have my opinions, you have yours, and I’m just going to keep on doing my best without needing to get all snarky or insulted about it.

  70. “I personally don’t get too worked up about the politics until I see people on both sides using religion to attack each other.”

    That pretty much seems to be the point of this painting. It seems to say that in God’s eye, liberals, professors, lawyers and judges = bad; conservatives, founding fathers, and white people = good.

  71. Ya I didn’t word that very well… People will always do their thing. Why fan the flames? I understand I’m taking part in it now too. I just see all of this as adding to divisions in the church. I get the desire to want to purge thinking or disassociate with a certain thought. But how that helps the church become one is beyond me. He’s further entrenched, others are further entrenched… And here I am having the nerve to pretend to be above it all (I’m not I know). Just publically venting frustration, which I suppose this piece is. Vicious cycle I guess.

  72. Chris H. says:

    “I just do find it said the zeal with which others want to uncharitably go after the painter (deserving or not has nothing to do with it) to be almost a similar strategy to what the critics are supposedly decrying in the painter.”

    I am not attacking his style or his manner of his message. I am attacking the message itself. We have done a disservice by attacking Beck, this bozo, Skousen, and Benson for there tactic or lack of civility, when the problem is the content of their message.

    I am sure most Mormons think it is a jolly message. Yippee.

  73. Chris H. says:

    Should be “their tactics”

  74. I’ll take the Sermon on the Mount ahead of the US Constitution as what Jesus will be holding when he comes again. I don’t see this painting when I picture that sermon.

    #38 – Enna, I’m standing next to you in the judgment line, since I believe in the Calvinist judgment method of, “He damns me; he damns me not.”

  75. As a side note, it always has bothered me when people pray for “our troops” in Sacrament Meeting. Sacrament Meeting is a worship service directed toward the God and Father of all mankind, not a place for nationalistic statements – as much as I honor those who serve in the military and lay down their lives for our protection.

    I would far rather we pray for all who serve in harm’s way – across the world – no matter their nationality or religion.

  76. Chris H. says:

    Isn’t this the political savior that the Jews (as we present them in the narrative at least) where looking for. In EQ meeting, we were talking about Chapter 11 on the life of Christ. Somebody mentioned that they could not believe that the Jews did not recognize Jesus as the savior because of all the OT prophesies (this has complications, I think). But, many Mormons are waiting for the Savior to come and to stick it to their political enemies, in other words, to stick it to the Romans. This brings us, again, back to Augustine’s City of Good.

  77. Chris,
    We’re agreed regarding the nature of capitalism and socialism. I’m don’t think that we are agreed regarding the eternal value of private property, but that may be neither here nor there (I don’t think agency is necessarily all it is cracked up to be, but freely admit I could be dead wrong).

    Also, the only things that I said against McNaughton is that he was making money off the painting and that it is being sold at BYU. I leave it to you to decide if either of those is actually a negative.

  78. Mark Brown says:

    That piece of art ought to be sold at flea markets next to velvet Elvis and poker-playing dogs. The fact that it is being sold in the bookstore at BYU makes me want to die.

  79. Mark Brown says:

    On the other hand, guess what? It’s less than two weeks until Stadium of Fire! Is Toby Kieth the headline act again this year?

  80. Chris H. says:

    Nope. Carrie Underwood. Sorry.

  81. Fletcher says:

    Toby Kieth actually put on a pretty good show. It was Larry and Shawn King that stunk it up that year.

  82. Molly_MW says:

    I think Rob Osborn was my seminary teacher.

  83. whynotbeintelligent says:

    Some pretty revolting commentary by the liberals of BCC, but what else is new. Where’s all that “Turn the other cheek”, “We’re truly enlightened” I hear them claim for themselves, it isn’t just all talk now is it?

  84. Rob? Is that you?

  85. whynotbeintelligent

    Why not indeed…

  86. I love how ‘anyone who doesn’t agree with my fringe radically- right-save-the-constitution-agenda is a flaming liberal’ plays out in these conversations. Given that that makes a lot more liberals than we all previously thought, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next election

  87. Cynthia L. says:

    Rob #42:

    “I think he really does portray in his painting of where he personally sees America going. …[I]n reality, that is a great depiction of what America faces in it’s immediate future. We are facing an ever growing front where God is displaced, set aside…”

    Yes we are! I agree with Rob! The painting masterfully portrays the idolatry so prevalent in our deteriorating society, where God is “displaced, set aside,” and in the place sacred things, some want to elevate human-made documents and institutions. Some would even put a flawed, man-made government–albeit a pretty good one–ahead of the Kingdom of heaven, the Constitution ahead of scripture! They think they are the same thing, but they are not and to say otherwise is idolatry. McNaughton captures this perfectly! (if not intentionally)

    So everybody else back off Rob, because he was totally right in that comment. :-)

  88. You don’t have to anywhere close to liberal to find the message of the M’Naghten painting troublesome. (Yeah, I know I misspelled it. It’s an inside joke for the lawyers.)

    And, Chris, in order for the Law of Consecration to work, all God needs is our hearts–our will. After that everything else, including that McMansion you live in/aspire to/despise as great and spacious and the SUV and other, inferior vehicles, in the garate are just so much piffle. (See, Maxwell, Neal A.)

    So, make an argument for private property if you will, but don’t attempt to make a religious argument.

  89. jjohnsen says:

    I don’t know if the two Rob Osborn comments (4 and 14) are parody, but if they are he’s brilliant.

  90. jjohnsen says:

    Nevermind, I just read Jettboy’s comment and realized Rob was probably serious as well.

  91. Persecuted Mormon says:

    89

    I prefer the model penal code’s approach. Just sayin’.

  92. Cynthia and Mark, exactly. I’m not dissing McNaughton’s politics, it’s his politicalization of the Savior of the world, and his political views being put into the context of the Second Coming and the dividing of the sheep and goats along political rather than religious lines. Conservatives and liberals should agree that this is wrong. Had magic-mirror-reverse-McNaughton (say from the Star Trek Original Series evil Kirk switcharoo) completely made opposite who was on the left, and who on the right, and painted Christ holding the Origin of Species, my post would have been the largely the same. I’m sure the painter cannot make sense of this complaint (as jettboy and Rob cannot) because in the painting, the political and the religious are conflated: Righteousness just is and absolutely requires the proper stance in politics. Cynthia! Idolatry. That’s exactly the right word. Idolatry. This painting turns the Constitution into an Idol.

  93. yeah, if you take the stance that Jesus really did write the constitution, it’s more of an insult to Jesus than a compliment to the constitution. I just can’t see God as the author of the 3/5 compromise.

  94. Karen, That is a scary thought!

  95. Anonfor this says:

    I really, really, REALLY wish I had the courage to forward this whole post to my bishop and his family, who read the constitution nightly when they do their scripture study, who base their whole homeschool curriculum around “the teachings of the founding fathers”, and who have managed to convince at least one other family in the ward to do the same.

  96. Rob Osborn says:

    Some of you guys miss the symbolism and read too much “political” crap into it. The reason Christ is holding the constitution document is what he is trying to show. It is not held as if it is a idol.

    Many times in the BOM governement (politics) and religion run hand in hand and cross paths. If one could even think for a moment that God did not raise up our Forefathers for the very purpose of writing a Decalaration of Independence and Constitution then he has removed himself from the LDS religion- or for that manner- from Christianity in America itself!

    It is self evident that our religion teaches that the foundation of our liberty in this country is based almost entirely off of what the Forefathers did in penning and signing the variuous documents that now support the cause of freedom and allow the Kingdom of God on earth to flourish!

    To attempt to disconnetct the importance of the Savior and his work with bringing about our freedom in this country is in my opinion a sad and deterious work, to say the least.

    Also, any attempt to take the Saviors role out of bringing about the constitution of our free country is to deny holy scripture. The scriptures specifically state that the Lord raised men for the very purpose of writing the constitution in support of liberty. The savior is thus very much involved with the politics of this great country. In fact, the Saviors own words state the following…

    “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 101:80)

    So, who established the Constitution? The Savior himself!
    How did he physically establish it? By the hands of wise men whom he raised for that very specific purpose!

    So, be careful what ye say about Christ holding the Constitution as some “Idol”, of the which it is not. It is a document that he the Lord God himself “established” by the hands of wise men raised in the pre-earth life for that very purpose.

    So, for the artist to paint Christ holding the Constitutional document is very very fitting, after all- he is the one who thus established it to come forth for his very work!

  97. Chris H. says:

    The symbolism is political. *%#@(@(#$(($

  98. and we all know that the BofM states quite clearly that its models of government are pure and perfect – each and every one of the many it describes throughout its pages. Lots of chapters and verses say that directly, right?

    Oh, I guess not. Sorry.

    Well, at least it extols capitalism above all other economic systems.

    Oh, I guess not. Sorry.

    Well, at leat it says every word in the Constitution is divinely dicated.

    Oh, I guess not. Sorry.

    I’ll think of something that proves Christ is American.

    Oh, I guess not. Sorry.

  99. Rob Osborn says:

    I challenge any of you to directly discredit Christ from the Constitution and remain faithful to the cause of liberty.

  100. The constitution served a purpose in 1789 but it was an imperfect tool in a bigger project. To have Jesus holding the constitution is problematic for a multitude of reasons. The constitution considered blacks as property and gave no voting rights to women. Do you think Jesus is going to hold the world to that when he comes back? I sure hope not.
    God inspires people but that doesn’t make them perfect. God inspired the constitution, but that doesn’t make it scripture.

  101. Chris H. says:

    Shut up, already.

  102. Rob,
    None of us is saying that the Constitution isn’t at least partly inspired.
    What we are saying is that it is not scripture; it’s a great document, but it is very far from perfect.

  103. And JustMe beat me to it.

  104. Chris H. says:

    #102 was for Rob, not JustMe (who is very cool).

  105. D&C Section 101 vs 80

    80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

  106. Chris H. says:

    I never knew those verses where in the D&C, why hasn’t anyone pointed this out before?

  107. To all those who continue to cite D&C 101: 80, do you keep citing it because you believe it is perfect or because you believe it is comparable to scripture? Or do you cite it for some other reason?

  108. Defenders of the painting (which I am not one) cite it Section 101 because it mainstream LDS thought to think the Constitution of the US as a inspired document. Once one accepts this its easier to swallow a painting like this esp if it feeds into your own political/religious biases. The problem that many at BCC have with this painting is partly a reaction to conservatives in general and particularly US LDS Conservatives who dominate LDS congregations. Its easy to look down on people when you think they are ignorant or uneducated

    I think it self evident that Christ WILL NOT return with a copy of the US Const in his hands. See Revelations and other portions of the D&C to see what the scriptures say about his return.

  109. Re #102, thanks for the clarification – and saying I am cool.

    Re #107 I guess we thought you knew?

    I, personally would rather focus on Seciton 134, particularly this:

    “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government” in v. 9.

    Now that IS scripture.

    Maybe it is reaching, but if it is not wise to mix religious influence with civil government, why would we welcome the idea of foisting civil government onto religion? Inspired as it is, the constitution is still a form of civil government.

  110. Hey, JustMe, the Constitution said nothing at all about blacks being property (it wasn’t until Roger Taney’s and the Supreme Court issued the Dred Scott decision that the Constitution suddenly was found to have said that). And it was completely silent on the qualifications for voters–other than putting suffrage issues back to each state–how else did women vote in many western states, including Utah, well before the 19th Amendment? If you’re going to talk about what the Constitution says, you should read it first. : )

    I don’t have the slightest idea what “discredit Christ from the Constitution” means. But, in response to bbell’s revelation, and Chris H’s surprised rejoinder, I would like anyone to find in that verse any textual support for the notion that God inspired the drafters of the Constitution.

  111. Rob Osborn says:

    Tim,

    When all else fails to convince, we turn to the scripture to convince. At least then it isn’t my word against yours..it becomes your word against Gods.

  112. Mark,
    If the 13th and 19th ammendments were necessary to tell the courts what the inspired constitution actually meant (and I HAVE read it, a lot, and lately) then doesn’t that actually argue the point that it wasn’t perfect and support the position that it shouldn’t be held equal with scripture?

  113. Rob Osborn,
    No one is reading more into this painting than the artist himself, who pointedly created characters who symbolize socialists destroying the country and capitalits who have love affairs with Cleon Skousen. This isn’t simply about the constitution.

  114. At least then it isn’t my word against yours..it becomes your word against Gods.

    Looks like I nailed it with Pixar villain, right down to the vapid, self-important monologuing and the God complex. I’m going to call you Rod Awes-born.

  115. D&C 134:1: “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man.”

    Note the use of the plural “governments” in that scripture.

    It’s time for a new McNaughton painting; this time, he can focus on a different country. Germany, maybe, to celebrate the current diversity in our First Presidency. After all, the German government was instituted of God for the benefit of man. It says so in the scriptures.

  116. “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land,”

    That doesn’t mean it is perfect, by any means. The real purpose is explained by the previous three verses:

    According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
    That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. (D&C 101:77-79)

    That clearly suggests that God inspired the founders to create the Constitution (in part) so that slavery would one day be ended, so that “every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment”.

  117. Rob,

    #97,

    The reason Christ is holding the constitution document is what he is trying to show.

    Exactly what is the reason Christ is holding the Constitution?

    I challenge any of you to directly discredit Christ from the Constitution and remain faithful to the cause of liberty.

    What the hell does that even mean?

  118. “Then in 1517, the Spirit moved Martin Luther, a German priest who was disturbed at how far the church had strayed from the gospel as taught by Christ.” M. Russell Ballard, Nov. 1984

    The fact that someone or something was inspired does not rise it to the level of scripture (as Justme #101 says). Perhaps we should have a McNaughton with Christ carrying the Ninety-five Theses.

  119. 93- “it’s his politicalization of the Savior of the world, and his political views being put into the context of the Second Coming and the dividing of the sheep and goats along political rather than religious lines.”

    I share the discomfort with the painter’s idolization of the Constitution and founders, but I don’t think you can separate politics from religion so easily. Every choice you make as a member of a political society is a political choice.

    We are charged with being ‘in the world and not of it’, but we are also tasked with being ‘anxiously engaged in a good cause’, and to work to make our communities and nations more like Zion. Are you saying that it’s wrong if these efforts manifest themselves in support for and work against various political movements? What do you make of Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign?

    One of the justifications of missionary work is that improves society by reforming individuals and families. I believe that healthcare reform would accomplish the same thing. How is my support for healthcare political, but my support for missionary work isn’t?

    Look at the figures the painter has standing on ‘Satan’s side’. You’ve got Mr. Hollywood and the Lawyer, representing greed and sleaze. You’ve got the professor, the politician and reporter, ignoring God and indulging their own arrogance and seeking to lead others away.

    I think you would agree that, in the Second Coming, people who engage in these sorts of activities would be ‘divided’ from the righteous, just as the wheat is dvided from the tares. It’s alright to speak against sin and evil, and it’s alright to speak against political ideologies and individuals that you think promote sin and evil.

    I think where the artist goes wrong is in the specific labels he uses. Look at his use of the ‘Darwinist’ professor. The painter seems to believe that evolution is a lie, which many of its proponents actively promote in a conscious attack on religion, suppressing evidence to the contrary if they can. You and I would disagree with him about evolution and the motives of the people who support it, but can you disagree that there are arrogant people who purposefully twist the truth to influence others? What if the professor was holding a copy of The Godmakers, or Mein Kampf?

    What if the liberal reporter was replaced by Karl Rove, or Richard Nixon? There are many who believe (as I do) that these men willingly lied and manipulated people to accomplish wicked ends. If I condemn them and their sin, I’m making an unavoidable political statement. I’m also doing the same thing the artist does when he speaks against ‘the liberal media’.

    I think the artist (and anybody who purchases the painting) merits correction, not condemnation.

  120. SteveP,
    That would be a pretty cool artifact if it was from the Reformation Era. This painting will undoubtedly be a pretty cool artifact in years to come as an example of the mix of politics and religion and Mormons. Seriously, it’s the epitome of a lot of things, none of them are holy things–but still.

  121. I challenge any of you to directly discredit Christ from the Constitution and remain faithful to the cause of liberty.

    The US Constitution is a far from perfect document. Christ is not its author. It is not revelation. It is not scripture. It was a collaborative document, riddled with compromise, and not a single person who signed it was satisfied with its final form, but each agreed that it was the only thing they could produce without having to start from square one, that it was the least bad outcome of their months of often acrimonious deliberation and arguing. Not a single participant thought it was a miracle in the sense that it just magically and effortlessly produced itself with all its clauses, sections, principles, and freedoms beautifully and harmoniously aligned. Rather, they thought it was a “miracle” that they produced anything at all and most of the participants headed for a tavern where they went on the equivalent of a frat-house bender on Washington’s tab.

    I’m still true to the cause of liberty, even though the Constitution, in its original form, sometimes is not. You are still entertaining wild, delusional fantasies about the “divine” nature of this document. If Christ saw that someone was making hand over fist in profits by attributing the 3/5 slave compromise to Him, He’d never stop throwing up.

  122. Mark Brown says:

    comment 119, conclusive proof that Jesus inspired the Lutheran church!

  123. Justsayin' says:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    -Article 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli

  124. Jenni, I have nothing against politics and recognize their importance in free society. I think our constitution is wonderful. My complaint is when you use Christ to credential your brand of politics and idolize the constitution as scripture, conflating my faith (which is universal and for all the world) and American based political interests.

  125. “He’d never stop throwing up.” Perfect.

  126. Jenni,

    #120,

    We are charged with being ‘in the world and not of it’, but we are also tasked with being ‘anxiously engaged in a good cause’, and to work to make our communities and nations more like Zion

    Indeed, and I feel quite strongly that this is best accomplished within the liberal philosophy, and that the conservative philosophy falls short on many fronts from accomplishing this very important task.

    What do you make of Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign?

    He was an independent with a liberal streak.

    You’ve got the professor, the politician and reporter, ignoring God and indulging their own arrogance and seeking to lead others away.

    Don’t you see the contradiction with stated scripture? Has not God directed us to seek knowledge? In the vastly important D&C 93, God ends saying:

    53 And, verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures, and to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion. Amen.

    How can you accomplish this goal while at the same time deriding the very individuals and institutions that can give you that knowledge?

    I think you would agree that, in the Second Coming, people who engage in these sorts of activities would be ‘divided’ from the righteous, just as the wheat is dvided from the tares.

    Actually no, I would not agree that those individuals would be divided from the righteous. I have absolutely no idea who will be divided from whom. I cannot make that kind of judgment, and our Savior has specifically warned us against making that kind of judgment.

    You and I would disagree with him about evolution and the motives of the people who support it, but can you disagree that there are arrogant people who purposefully twist the truth to influence others?

    You mean like this idiot painter whose painting we are talking about?

  127. can you disagree that there are arrogant people who purposefully twist the truth to influence others?

    I’m with Dan, here. This is an outstanding description of McNaughton and his painting.

  128. Chris H. says:

    ” At least then it isn’t my word against yours..it becomes your word against Gods.”

    I feel a feet dusting coming on.

  129. Mark B. says:

    JustMe,

    I agree with your main point (and I’m not convinced by Mark D.’s citing of those other verses from D&C 98) that the Constitution is not close to being a perfect document–”wise men raised up” and “suffered to be established” do not rise to the level of inspiration, much less inspiration.

    But, the 19th amendment was not necessary to change any court’s decision about voting rights. It was necessary to override state laws that limited the suffrage to men. The 13th amendment similarly overrode state laws that limited suffrage to white people. So, it was uninspired state legislatures that needed the kick in the pants. (Frankly, they’re still awfully uninspired, mostly.)

  130. Chris H. says:

    Mark B,

    JustMe has recently been trained on the Constitution by one of the leading LDS political philosophers.

    Mark Graber at U of Maryland argues Dred Scott was consistent with the Constitution as it stood in 1857. The Civil War Constitution did little to protect individuals right or to recognize the higher principles of the Declaration. This has change and for the good.

    “The 13th amendment similarly overrode state laws that limited suffrage to white people.”

    15th.

  131. Mark,
    Clearly you have a keener eye for detail about this than I do at the moment. Thanks for figuring out what I was trying to say.
    The 9th article of the constitution does state that there are rights to which everyone is entitled that aren’t specifically mentioned in the constitution and I think that was an important thing to include.
    But, even with all of the care that went into the constitution and the ammendments, it can all be for nothing in a practical sense if appropriate laws are not made and enforced in order to protect all of those rights. The constitution didn’t protect the early saints from persecution and it didn’t protect blacks from Jim Crow laws, either.
    There is a huge distinction between what is legal and what is moral. There is also a huge difference between people who “draw near to [Jesus] with their lips, but their hearts are far from [him].” I have no desire to be part of the crowd that says the “right things” for the “right reasons” and ends up alienating multitudes of people who cannot break through their narrow scope of who gets to be Jesus’ favored ones and are thereby “good.” It goes against the very essence of what the gospel means to me.

  132. Rob Osborn says:

    #120, jennie,

    I don’t believe that the artist is stating evolution in the terms you define. The artist is stating a certain dogma in teaching, specifically- leaving God out intentionally from important matters. Evolution just happens to best represent this trend in teaching. No evolutionary material either allows or admits a Supreme Creator. Evolutionary teaching is completely and purposefully void of God. It is in every sense- a teaching of humanism. Some on here like Steven Peck try to reconcile evolution with God but in his own terms he states that Gods role is only in “allowing it” to happen. This ideaology puts nature (the natural man) as god and not the true God in whom we worship.

  133. Chris H. says:

    Many of us have fallen for this ideology because disagreeing with Rob IS disagreeing with God.

    Steve,

    How many emails has you chair gotten from Rob today?

  134. Rob,
    There is a lot of teaching that does not include God and Evolution is certainly no exception. However, people do not get alarmed that calculus is void of God’s influence. Do we have to acknowledge that God created numbers in order to do math? Can we do math and create formulas without pointing out at every step along the way that God is truly the author of all math? That seems absurd.
    When studying the diversity and complexity of life, Evolution is the theory that makes the most sense. One can study evolution extensively as a scientific discipline without having to include God any more than a mathematician has to include God.
    To accuse all evolution scientists of trying to cut God out of the picture is unfair and divisive.
    Mostly, it is a cheap shot at Steve P, who refuses to be told he has to pick his religion over his science if he is going to be a good Mormon. If there is truth in any part of the theory of Evolution, someday the way it all fits together will be clear. Why be so hostile to those who are using their gifts to study and learn so that they will have a better understanding of how worlds are created? Pursuing that knowledge is not tantamount to elevating the natural man above God and I think you know it.
    Now, play nice.

  135. Mark B. says:

    Yeah, 15. Oops.

    My only point about suffrage was that the original Constitution left it completely up to each state to set its own requirements.

  136. Unfortunately, this artist has several of his paintings in picked up by the church for some of the newer temples. Hopefully, this particular painting will not replace the mural of the Savior’s second coming at the Washington DC Temple.

  137. SCW,

    Are you looking to put this artist on some type of blacklist?

  138. About 15 years ago I was present when an Apostle told of someone asking him when the Church was going to do something about the Constitution. The Apostle replied, “Of which country?” My recollection is that his point was that the Brethren are very aware that this is an international Church.

    Also, I think The Divinely Inspired Constitution, by Elder Oaks, provides a nicely balanced view. Here’s a fun quote:

    “President J. Reuben Clark, who referred to the Constitution as “part of my religion,” also said that it was not part of his belief or the doctrine of the Church that the Constitution was a “fully grown document.” “On the contrary,” he said, “We believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world.” That was also the attitude of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

  139. Chris H. says:

    That talk by Elder Oaks is awesome.

  140. Justme #135 you are my hero. Nicely done. And I can tell you were taught by Jedi masters in both biology and political theory!

    Rob, my Hyundai repair manual is completely devoid of mentioning God too. Another sign of rampant human secularism.

  141. Left Field says:

    Photosynthesis is also completely and purposfully devoid of God. Some try to reconcile photosynthesis with God, but in their own terms; they state that God’s role is only in “allowing it” to happen. I imagine Dr. Peck also teaches this “photosynthesis” theory without mentioning God.

    Who’d want to worship a God who just “allowed” photosynthesis to happen? Surely, a true God would be inside every chloroplast, creating glucose ex nihilo, instead of allowing all those Godless humanistic false theories involving RuBisCo and chlorophyll, and ATP and energy, and that Godless “Calvin Cycle.”

  142. Mark Brown says:

    Here is a list of classes I had at BYU where God was never mentioned:

    History, English, multiple foreign languages, P.E., accounting, Organizational Behavior, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Math, Microbiology, Zoology, Humanities, Geography, and Anthropology.

    I only ever heard God mentioned in Religion classes and in connection with the football team.

  143. Chris H. says:

    Steve, the question is: When you are using that manual are you yourself making references to diety.

  144. “I only ever heard God mentioned in Religion classes and in connection with the football team.” So true. So true.

    Left Field! Exactly.

  145. Chris H. says:

    I talk about God all the time in my classes. But, I teach about social justice. It is all about doing God’s work.

  146. Oy!

    It’s just a bad painting. A really, really bad painting. It’s barely an illustration.

    Yes, the constitution was inspired. Yes, the US was created as a fertile ground for the coming forth of the gospel (on the backs of many, many Europeans). No one disputes that.

    But a bad painting (I still say it would be improved by being painted on velvet) that suggests that Christ’s role in the development of the constitution is His crowning work is offensive to me.

    The inspired development of the US also allows religious freedom not allowed in other parts of the world. Part of that inspired influence also allows the rise of other non-Christian religions, and the right not to believe anything at all.

  147. Rob Osborn says:

    You guys crack me up. Of course we are not going to find mention of God in math class, but then again, math doesn’t deal with the “whys” and “hows” of the origins of life and intelligence and where moral behavior comes from. Ya, pretty bad that because we refuse to aknowledge God in all things, we have to invent a rather absurd story for why we exist and where we came from. Our Forefathers and that generation thought nothing of calling on the Almighty to help solve their problems publicly. The first classroom readers was the Bible itself. People back then realized we got our freedom from God and not from a group of judges or lawyers.

  148. Um, math has everything to do with the origins of life and the whole of all of science.

  149. mmiles,
    You’re forgetting that Rob is right and we are wrong. Just ask Rob, he’ll tell you.

  150. “doesn’t deal with the “whys” and “hows” of the origins of life and intelligence and where moral behavior comes from.” My Hyundai manuel does (see #141). It’s very thorough.

  151. #148 — the first classroom readers were the Bible because they were RELIGIOUS colonies!

    I don’t mean to diminish the Divine role in establishing our country or our universe. But our divinely inspired constitution provides for religious freedom (including the freedom not to be taught the state religion in school). It was THAT bedrock that allowed the gospel to be restored here.

    In a desire to return to that knowledge, let us not insist that all other thought processes be dismissed. After all, ALL truth is from God, whether it’s taught in a math class or a science class. We do NOT need to teach God in the science class, however. (If you DO teach God in the science class, whose do you teach? My Mormon God? Or my Christian friend’s God? Or my Catholic friend’s God? Or my Jewish friend’s God? Or my Muslim friend’s God?)

    Let me teach my children about God at home and in church. I’d prefer that my kids’ science teachers teach science.

  152. I acknowledge God in the scientific process of evolution.

  153. I acknowledge God in process of Calculus.

  154. Lucas Schmogler says:

    I acknowledge God in the process of photosynthesis.

  155. “whose do you teach?” Thanks, Paul (#152). That’s exactly the problem. Luckily the founding fathers were wise enough to provide a backdrop that allowed any religion (including ours), or the lack of belief, to flourish. Fye on those who would try to establish a Mormon (or anything else) Sharia Law. I’m sure the God Rob wants taught in his science classes is his version of God.

  156. Chris H. says:

    “People back then realized we got our freedom from God and not from a group of judges or lawyers.”

    Alright, my idiocy quota has met the limit. Who the hell argues that our freedom comes for judges and lawyers?

    If freedom came from God and we didn’t need society to actually enjoy those freedoms, why would we place such value in the Constitution.

    I am glad that we crack you up, I am in the mood to crack some heads.

  157. Chris H. says:

    I think I need a drink, sorry Steve.

  158. Rob,

    Ya, pretty bad that because we refuse to aknowledge God in all things, we have to invent a rather absurd story for why we exist and where we came from.

    Who invented what? Can you verify the accuracy of the existence of Adam and Eve?

  159. oh, and I acknowledge God in all the laws of physics.

  160. britt k says:

    In the interest of math and religion…I found it interesting reading Berlinski’s “Advent of the Algorithm” and “Tour of Calculus”, both of which I enjoyed. In both books he found and made opportunities to share his athieism. On the flip side I’ve read math books with religion snuck in for word problems and environmentalism or feminism .. it’s amazing how much attitude a math book can have.

    carry on…

  161. I hate text books like that.

  162. Mark B. says:

    Actually, most of the colonies were not “Religious Colonies”–only Massachusetts Bay was settled by the Pilgrims, but Virginia was settled by money-grubbing wanna-be aristocrats who endured their Anglican services on Sundays so long as they didn’t interfere with building up their landed estates in the New World.

    And New York–settled by a bunch of godless heathens whose only interest was in making money.

    I heard God invoked quite a lot in some of my law school classes–usually profanely. I’m not sure if that made those classes more religious or otherwise.

  163. - “I think I need a drink, sorry Steve.”

    Pass right by that caffeine free Coke zero and hit the Coca Cola Classic! You’ve earned it today!!

  164. Steve Evans says:

    Chris H., Daniel, etc., etc., please restrain yourselves. No need for you to take upon yourselves the role of testy admin – I sort of have a lock on that. Simmer down and leave the snarky calls to shut up to the professionals.

  165. Researcher (#69), I just took you up on your suggestion to complain to the Bookstore. I was there just a few weeks ago, and was a bit demonstrative about my feelings (ranting to the air, not to anyone in particular). My wife was able to have a good laugh about it, but I was seriously irked.

  166. Steve,

    I don’t know what I’ve done to warrant that warning. I’ve had only six comments on this thread. I can’t see where I’ve asked anyone to shut up.

  167. SLO Sapo says:

    “Ya, pretty bad that because we refuse to aknowledge God in all things, we have to invent a rather absurd story for why we exist and where we came from.”

    I know this is petty and pedantic, but when someone writes “ya” when they mean “yeah”, I just can’t take him seriously.

  168. Chris H. says:

    Dan, my bad. Sorry Steve, I forgot that I was in the presence of the gods of the bloggernacle. I appreciate being reminded of my own significance. I will humble myself.

  169. Chris H. says:

    insignificance that is…

  170. Steve Evans says:

    Chris H., that is right.

  171. I have to hand it to “Rob Osborne” for keeping up the charade for several years. I still am convinced this is an Aaron B. Cox style fabricated character rather than a real person. But sticking with the charade over such a long time is impressive.

  172. Rob Osborn says:

    Geoff,

    Ha, very funny! You can look me up. I live in [edited by admin] Idaho. My address is [edited by admin]. I won’t give you my ph# just because, but I really do exist.

  173. Rob is a manager at a toilet paper factory there in Idaho. Er, wait, that was someone else.

  174. Rob,
    Thanks for your willingness in proving to Geoff J that you exist. However, being a fellow Idahoan, I know there are enough unsavory folks (Snake River High graduates, etc…) there that posting your home address here isn’t the wisest course of action, so I redacted it.

  175. #148-156: I have put a relevant link in the sidebar.

  176. Left Field says:

    I had a conversation just last week with a nun who teaches in my department at a Catholic university. She said that her God is powerful enough to put things in motion and foresee the outcome. She’s really sorry about your God if he doesn’t have that ability.

    The real question, Rob, is that, given that living things in a population vary, reproduce, and resemble their parents, how does God *prevent* evolution from occuring? And why does he bother?

  177. #163 — On religion in the colonies:

    Yes, the Pilgrims settled in Massachusetts. But the money grubbers in Virginia considered themselves militant protestants, and the Heugenots who joined them there were also religious. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland were all settled by largely religious groups, though not the same groups.

    Even Rhode Island had its origins in religion — that is protesting the overbearance of one religion in MA.

  178. Cynthia L. says:
  179. Cynthia L. says:
  180. By The Rules says:

    D&C 109: 54
    54 Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the anations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the bConstitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.

    D&C 98: 5-6
    5 And that alaw of the land which is bconstitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
    6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the aconstitutional law of the land;

  181. See, McNaughton can’t be right. That quote proves that God prefers aconstitutional law!

  182. “Virginia was settled by money-grubbing wanna-be aristocrats who endured their Anglican services on Sundays so long as they didn’t interfere with building up their landed estates in the New World.”

    Perhaps the BYU bookstore is run by the same folks.

  183. See, McNaughton can’t be right. That quote proves that God prefers aconstitutional law!

    I am absurdly nerdly delighted to understand John C.’s humor.

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