Tonight the Church Education System sponsored a satellite broadcast from Temple Square, featuring Elder Boyd K. Packer. As an early morning seminary teacher, I was invited to attend. Elder Packer and Elder Eyring, who introduced him, both made comments to the following effect (paraphrasing): “the world has never been more wicked, and it will not get any better.” I have no reason to dispute this, but why are General Authorities (and, by way of imitation, members) so fond of saying such things?
I can think of a few possibilities:
* This is a warning that we need to be vigilant in keeping the commandments. Sort of a wolf-at-the-door motif. Or, “while it may take a village to raise a child, don’t trust the other villagers.”
* It may be a subtle means of patting ourselves on the back. Like when I complain during a hilly bicycle ride. We might, in a backhanded way, be congratulating ourselves on our righteousness.
* We might be affirming the truth of the scriptures, which foretell all sorts of nasty events for the last days.
All of these seem like possibilities, and, no doubt, we may make such statements for more than one reason. Nevertheless, I find these sentiments depressing. We know that, no matter what we do, the world is going to hell in a handbasket (so to speak). Does anyone act more righteously because they are walking around with that message in their head?
All of this seems particularly strange in a Church that is generally so forward looking and optimistic. The message of the Gospel is a message of hope. We celebrate the progress of the Church partly because we have the sense that we are making a difference. We are making the world a better place! (Aren’t we?)
One potentially salutary effect of hearing these dismal forecasts might be the following: when I reflect on the wicked state of affairs in which we find ourselves, I am inclined to seek comfort closer to home. If I can’t change the world, at least I can change myself, my marriage, my family, or my ward. That must be good.