I have very mixed emotions about a remake of a movie that was so much more than an action thriller when it came out.
There’s no getting around it; we perceive the world through filters that help us efficiently process new information. Though flawed they are remarkable useful. We’re not limited to a single filter either, and much like an experienced photographer we can choose the most appropriate filter for a given situation. But more likely than not we have a trusty, everyday, point-and-shoot version. Sometimes it’s off kilter, but we capture some semblance of the moment. When deciding which primary filter to use, a little self-awareness goes a long way; it should be intentionally chosen and aligned with our greatest priorities.
I recently read about a group of LDS Democrats who met (congregated?) at the Democratic National Convention this past week to affirm that their political positions are consistent with their religious convictions. It is understandable that Mormon Democrats would feel obliged to show solidarity during this particular election cycle, and I applaud their efforts. But politically active Mormons on either side of the political spectrum should be careful of their choice of primary filter. Are we disciples of Christ filtering the political world through a spiritual lens or a political animal using our religion to justify our politics?
To hold a philosophy, political or otherwise, that is consistent with scripture is demonstrably insufficient. Though it’s unlikely that either party has a platform perfectly consistent with every Gospel principle, most of what’s contained in each of the recently published party platforms could be defended on scriptural grounds. It doesn’t make someone evil, stupid, or heartless to accept an opposing platform.
If your greatest priorities are political, by all means choose a political filter. But own it. Don’t preach Gospel principles from a political podium to persuade me to your cause. Be open to the fact that someone else might be doctrinally comfortable in a different political camp.
My dad used to say, “don’t let ideology trump theology.” Not bad advice. We’d avoid a lot of contention if followed.
After someone recently tried to convince me that Harry Potter was as good an example of literature as anything, I turned, for the first time to the pages of Herman Melville for comparison. There was none. For all her superb story telling, J.K. Rowling doesn’t come close. In the first few lines of Moby Dick you’re swept away to a salty reality that feels true in every sense. You long to escape the tyranny of the shores and embrace a mortal challenge in a much more visceral way than you want to watch Harry escape the Dursley’s to attend magic school.
The port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that’s kind to our mortalities. But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship’s direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder through and through. …
All deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore.
Sometimes a question is the best response.
Answer: I am a true solipsist. (Gorgias)
Question: So why tell me?
A: There is no truth. (Gustave Flaubert)
Q: Is that true?
A: Knowledge is unknowable. (Francisco Sanches)
Q: How do you know?
A: It is irrational to assume that tomorrow will be anything like today. (David Hume)
Q: So you learned to speak, read, and write because…?
A: All cultures are equally valid. (Franz Boas)
Q: Including those that teach that all other cultures are invalid?
A: Truth is created, not discovered. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Q: Did you just make that up?
A: There is no free will. (Baron d’Holbach)
Q: What makes you say that?
You see, every one of the “answers” above follow from valid, methodically reasoned logical arguments. But these narrow conclusions cannot stand beyond the boundaries of the premises that lead to them.
It is the duty of the rich Saints every where, to assist the poor, according to their ability, to gather; and if they choose, with a covenant and promise that the poor thus helped, shall repay as soon as they are able.
It is also the duty of the rich, those who have the intelligence and the means, to come home forthwith, and establish factories, and all kinds of machinery, that will tend to give employment to the poor, and produce those articles which are necessary for the comfort, convenience, health and happiness of the people; and no one need to be at a loss concerning his duty in these matters, if he will walk so humbly before God as to keep the small still whisperings of the Holy Ghost within him continually.
– Brigham Young, General Epistle, 1847