Stating the Obvious: The World

In the current unhappy state of online Mormon discourse, stating the obvious is sometimes controversial, and for that reason all the more necessary.

For example: it is not uncommon for online Mormons to lament other Mormons’ use of “the world” as a catch-all phrase for all that is in opposition to God, his kingdom, his commandments, and everything else of good report. Doesn’t such divisive rhetoric represent an obstacle, they ask, to better relations with right-thinking people? And doesn’t it represent a failure to grasp how the world is becoming a better place? Can’t we just stop talking like this? Maybe that’s how they talk back in Utah, but in our city that’s not how it’s done.

The obvious answer is, No, this isn’t just Mormon usage; it’s part of the basic rhetorical toolkit of Christianity, and hard-coded via the scriptures into many basic teachings. If you need a dozen examples, keep reading; if not, you can jump past the bullet points.

  • Modern revelation about the temple: “Now here is wisdom, and the mind of the Lord—let the house be built, not after the manner of the world, for I give not unto you that ye shall live after the manner of the world.”
  • Modern revelation about Sunday worship: “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.”
  • Modern revelation about the Atonement: “Behold, I, the Lord, who was crucified for the sins of the world, give unto you a commandment that you shall forsake the world.”
  • Modern revelation about inequality: “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.”
  • Modern revelation about the world becoming worse: “Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity.”
  • New Testament scripture teaching enmity toward the world: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”; “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
  • Paul’s disdain of worldly wisdom: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”
  • Paul’s injunction to resist the world: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
  • The words of Jesus about himself: “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”
  • The words of Jesus about truth: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
  • Some pointed words from Jesus about his relationship with the world: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”
  • Jesus’s description of his teachings: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
  • Jesus’s description of his kingdom: “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

It is true that as Mormons we are not entirely dependent on scripture or tradition, and it’s quite possible for modern prophets and apostles to provide new guidance and create new space for interpretation. I think that contrasting righteousness with “the world” has some decent apostolic and prophetic precedent, however.

I am skeptical that deleting the parts of scripture we don’t like is a productive approach to religious practice, and taking that approach with the rhetoric of “the world” distorts both Christianity and Mormonism. We are the people whose key historical act, after all, was to take the commandment to go out of the world entirely literally.

It’s necessary, however, to state a few more obvious things.

The scriptures and Mormon usage have multiple discourses about the world, including positive and optimistic ones. The idea of building Zion is one highly optimistic view. It’s reasonable to look for the right balance between these discourses.

In actual practice, the Church has always engaged with the world in many different ways, even while taking rejectionist approaches in others. We were supplying forces to the U.S. Army at the same time we were leaving U.S. borders.

The world is a wonderful place. And it’s a horrible place. If you do not recognize its horrors, then you have closed your eyes to the kind of wanton genocide that crops up around the world periodically, among many other things. Your local world has its own beauty and its own horrors.

We can’t get rid of pessimistic discourse about the world without rejecting important parts of Christ’s message and Church teachings, but it is up to us to figure out how it applies and what to do with it. Ignoring it is both lazy and hazardous.

The concept of a wicked world can be cognitively and morally useful. It’s often easier to observe behavioral norms than to determine the right choice in a murky situation. When everyone else in the office or at school or on the Internet does something, it can be useful to have a cognitive model to avoid the overhasty conclusion that whatever everyone else is doing must be right. That in itself makes “the world” worth hanging onto.

27 comments for “Stating the Obvious: The World

  1. Stephen Jones
    March 8, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I believe “the world” is appropriate for devotional writing or when speaking to a group of believers such as in Sunday School. In such situations we often use scriptural terms because they have a shared meaning in the group. However, on the internet, there is a diversity of beliefs and assumptions. On the internet, “the world” is a lazy platitude; it lacks precision needed for debate or intellectual discourse.

  2. Jared vdH
    March 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I think the bigger issue is the tendency to interpret “the world” as anything outside of the Church and therefore everything outside of the church boundary as suspect and inherently wrong or evil.

    But that’s not what those scriptures you cite are saying. We need to have a more inclusive view of righteousness and “the righteous” that can include good people of the world that may not be Mormon or may not be Christian. In my view the split between “the world” and “not the world” is not some bright line defined by baptism. That doesn’t mean the concept of a wicked world doesn’t exist for me, but instead that the wicked world is not always what I assume it to be.

  3. Lazuli bunting
    March 8, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    I think the scriptural use is different from colloquial use in Sunday meetings in that the scriptures seem to be using the term synonymously with either the Earth or mortality. In Sunday School, it is often used synonymously with people who we don’t like it who are different from us. It devolves in conversation from a complex symbol of the limitations of being human to a shorthand for insider-outsider status, and is often used as a way to criticize others. I’ll never forget the relief society lesson where the teacher made two columns in the board to write the traits of women of the world vs. women of God, and the superficiality and spirit of meanness that permeated the discussion as class members called out the names of actual women to be put into the worldly category. That kind of tribalism that so frequently rears its ugly head is not at all what I see reflected in Christ’s use of the term the world.

  4. Andy Hardwick
    March 8, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I believe the world is anything that pulls us away from Christ Anything that does the opposite is not part of the works and is useful no matter where it came from We as members are the ones who often put those fences up I believe that Heavenly Father’s view is much more expansive and inclusive

  5. Kristine
    March 8, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    The irony of castigating one’s fellow Saints for not being sufficiently tribal as a way of making sure that the tribalism that is tearing “the world” apart fully infects the body of Christ is kind of rich.

  6. Tim
    March 8, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    In my ward, it seems that the “World” is simply anything ward members don’t like. Hollywood, professional football players who kneel for the flag, and gay people are “the World.” Guns, wealth, and Donald Trump are not “the World.”

    It’s too often an “us vs. them” perspective that has little to do with the term as actually used in the scriptures.

  7. Brian
    March 8, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    OP: “The concept of a wicked world can be cognitively and morally useful. It’s often easier to observe behavioral norms than to determine the right choice in a murky situation. When everyone else in the office or at school or on the Internet does something, it can be useful to have a cognitive model to avoid the overhasty conclusion that whatever everyone else is doing must be right.”

    Let’s change this around a little to reveal another possibility here: The concept of a wicked world can be cognitively and morally detrimental. It’s often easier to observe behavioral norms than to determine the right choice in a murky situation–which is lazy and hazardous (quoting the OP’s own words). When everyone else in the office or at school or on the Internet does something, it can be useful–though damaging–to have a cognitive model to think at worst poorly of them and at best suspicious of their actions and thus avoid the overhasty conclusion that whatever everyone else is doing must be right–and also avoid the work and growth required to become charitable, independent beings.

    I’m not sure who this post is directed at specifically (it seems sort of like a straw-man attack, but perhaps he has something specific in mind) but it seems to address the readers and those he argues against as naive, and his point is “obvious”–completely unaware itself of the negative psychological effects of such a stance. Also, to me, the many attempts at hedging in this OP fall flat in relation to its main thrust: an “us versus them” worldview should be continued, without defining who the “them” is: just other people, who we should be suspicious of–evidenced early on in the supposed ignorant and whiny “online Mormons” versus the “other Mormons.”

    I get it, there are dangerous ideas out there and Mormonism is infected by tribalism. So, we should highlight that even more and praise it? Because without it, it’s not possible to have “important parts of Christ’s message and Church teachings?” It ignores so many other possibilities: For God so loved the world . . . for example.

  8. March 8, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Hard teachings are hard. They make us uncomfortable.

    Stephen, I don’t think the division between devotional vs. online discourse will work here. It would put us in the awkward position of saying, “Well, Jesus presents a pretty black-and-white view of the kingdom vs. the world in the gospel of John, but we don’t talk about it in polite society.” There are probably right and wrong ways to use that rhetoric both at church and online.

    Jared, sure, misapplication is a problem, as are overconfidence and faulty assumptions. I don’t think “the world” in contemporary Mormon usage is a catch-all for everything outside the church, though. We don’t say, “My dentist is of this world.” It’s used, perhaps still over-broadly but more specifically to mean things that are in conflict with church standards, as in, “Teenagers are becoming more susceptible to worldly influences about the acceptability of tattoos and piercings,” for example.

    Lazuli, better check those bullet points again. We may not like them, but we’re stuck with Christ contrasting the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. It inspired a long tradition of Christian writing on the theme of contemptu mundi. The teacher’s pitting of one column against another may have been in poor taste, but the basic rhetoric has excellent scriptural precedent.

    Andy, in scripture and in General Conferences addresses, you’ll find both expansive and starkly dualistic views. Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between them; unfortunately, we have to wrestle with both.

    Kristine, I’m not castigating you for being insufficiently tribal, at least not this time. I’m castigating you for calling unscriptural and defective something that has ample scriptural precedent. It was Jesus who first defined the Body of Christ in contrast to the world, so it won’t do to treat it as something done only by ignorant hicks.

    Tim, I don’t know about guns and no one yet dares bring up the current political situation at church, but wealth has always been part of “the world” in my experience. You know, church members too involved in worldly things going boating and jet-skiing on Sunday, that kind of thing.

  9. Stephen Jones
    March 8, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Jonathan, I agree that there are right and wrong ways to use the rhetoric of the world. And I don’t think we need to shy away from talking about it online. I just struggle to see any right way to use it online with a diverse audience. The term is an easy-to-grab but ultimately blunt instrument. I think there are more effective ways to talk about the scriptural connotation of “the world” without having to use the scriptural term with folks who don’t necessarily believe in the scriptures.

  10. Brian
    March 8, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Billy Corgan’s use of the phrase can’t go unmentioned can it? Seems in line with scriptural usage. Don’t build houses after the manner of vampires; be not conformed to vampires; my kingdom is not of vampires; the wisdom of vampires is foolishness, etc. Though it doesn’t work as well with Jesus being “crucified for the sins of vampires, . . . [so] forsake the vampires”–not sure how that usage works at all, even.

    Anyway, even in the scriptures mentioned in the OP, the phrase “the world” is very broadly applied to different groups and ideas in different situations–sometimes just “all of humanity” other times “those who don’t accept me” and still other times “materialism” and even “temporary stuff”; thus, decontextualizing and codifying the phrase is, indeed, problematic.

  11. Lazuli Bunting
    March 8, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I don’t at all know what to do with your suggestion that my difference in opinion from you is because your teachings are hard. Such an argument can be and often is used to get us to bury our consciences and accept things that rightly make our spirits recoil. My litmus test for determining if a teaching is difficult for me because I have work to do to bring my life in line with Christian ideals or if it is difficult because it is not ennobling or beneficial to my spirit is to think of Christ’s admonitions. Give everything you have to the poor and follow him. Yeah, now that’s a hard teaching. It feels entirely different on my conscience than your teaching does.

    You can make a case for the scriptural use of “the world,” and we can talk about what any given scripture is really getting at in its evocation of the term. What Brian said is accurate–it is used differently in each situation. I re-read the bullets, as you so helpfully suggested, and I maintain that many of them use the term to indicate the earth or mortality, and in cases where it’s something else, the meaning is still much deeper and much more applicable to every human heart and the struggles and conditions that come with life in a mortal plane. What happens at church on a weekly basis, however, is an entirely different beast.

    I’m afraid you will not convince me that when my fellow church goers imprecisely proclaim with a certain glee that the people of “the world” will be destroyed, that they are exercising Christian charity. I always want to say: What do you mean, “the world?” Do you mean my neighbor, Bob, who isn’t Mormon? The one who looks after my dog when I’m out of town and takes his kids to volleyball practice? Do you mean my gay coworker, who is always so nice to me and makes me smile on hard days? Do you mean my dear brother who left the church but loves me? Because those are always the kinds of situations in which the term is used. Seldom, if ever, have I heard it used to talk about genocide, slavery, sexual exploitation, manipulation, spousal abuse, violence–none of the truly evil things I see in the world that Christ rightly opposes and calls us to oppose. It’s, as you said yourself, people jet-skiing on Sunday.

  12. Luke
    March 8, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    “The concept of a wicked world can be cognitively and morally useful. It’s often easier to observe behavioral norms than to determine the right choice in a murky situation. When everyone else in the office or at school or on the Internet does something, it can be useful to have a cognitive model to avoid the overhasty conclusion that whatever everyone else is doing must be right. That in itself makes “the world” worth hanging onto.”

    I would take this a little further and argue that the cognitive model is not just helpful, but essential. However we define “the world”, it’s always there and we cannot avoid being a participant. The cognitive model of christian discipleship reminds to consider a different perspective (aside from what the we physically observe) as we participate.

  13. Loursat
    March 8, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    The issue is not whether there is wickedness in the world; claiming that others want to entirely toss out that scriptural concept looks to me like a straw man. (I might change that opinion if you show us what specifically you’re responding to, Jonathan.) The real issue–the interesting issue–is whether the contemporary Mormon trope of invariably increasing wickedness is helping us or hurting us in the work of building Zion.

  14. Kristine
    March 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    “Kristine, I’m not castigating you for being insufficiently tribal, at least not this time. I’m castigating you for calling unscriptural and defective something that has ample scriptural precedent. It was Jesus who first defined the Body of Christ in contrast to the world, so it won’t do to treat it as something done only by ignorant hicks.”

    Can you point to some place where I did this?

  15. March 8, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Stephen, I tend to agree that talking about “the world” is very much insider discourse, and going online presents complications. There ought to be some way to manage insider discourse online, and this establishment defines itself as a place for inside discussion, but there’s always friction when insider discourse is also open.

    Brian, I’m a plebeian whose knowledge of Billy Corgan is one song deep. Give me a link or a title and I’ll look into it. In any case, it seems to me that already in the NT, usage of “the world” is already codified in many of the ways you mention. I don’t think we can just dismiss a consistent part of Jesus’s teaching as problematic. It’s there, and we need to figure out what to do with it.

    Lazuli, “hard teachings” is a term sometimes used to refer to teachings of Jesus that are provocative in their simplicity, like telling rich people flat-out that they can’t go to heaven. It wasn’t meant to refer to my ideas or yours or anyone else’s but his. Sorry for the confusion.

    I don’t think it’s true at all that the term “the word” is simply being used differently in every verse. In the verses I mentioned, the usage is fairly consistent, and it doesn’t fit “mortality” or “earth” or a vague “struggles of every human heart.” It doesn’t make sense for God to command human beings to forsake or remain unspotted from mortality or earth or the struggles of human hearts. Likewise it doesn’t make sense for Jesus to say that he was hated by mortality or earth or the struggles of human hearts. The usage that does make sense in these and the other cases is “the world” as a shorthand formula for “sin, temptation, and people who promote and revel in sin and reject Christ’s message.” This isn’t a novel interpretation on my part. You are quite correct, however, that it’s possible to apply this usage in overbroad or misleading or inopportune ways.

  16. Brian
    March 8, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Jonathan,

    “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” begins “The world is a vampire . . . ”

    If I didn’t quote of these, then it is okay, as far as what you have in mind, but still . . .

    “Now here is wisdom, and the mind of the Lord—let the house be built, not after the manner of the world, for I give not unto you that ye shall live after the manner of the world.” So, world here means sin? Very difficult for me to see.

    “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” Meaning, all of humanity.

    “Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity.” Umm . . . simply refers to all of humanity.

    “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” People’s thinking in general. Not necessarily sin at all.

    “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” Very easily relates to temporal things. Necessarily refers to sin?

    “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” Eternal nature of Godhead.

    So, that’s six of the thirteen. I don’t think we really need to trot out all of the references to the ‘world’ here, but clearly it’s usage is not homogenic. Yes, I understand that people use the phrase ‘the world’ as referring to ‘other people and idea, not us’–but such broad strokes can also clearly be problematic.

    Bottom line, sure, sometimes the scriptures use the phrase ‘the world’ to broadly apply to evil–but even then, it could refer to ideas or people or certain people in certain activities–but, as you note, that it’s still possible people are using the phrase in broad or inopportune ways. I will go so far as to say, even dangerous ways. The problem is that people generally aren’t very careful with the words and phrases they use, or the implications of those words and phrases. So, yes, there might be a reason for some push back when the phrase is used. Especially when applied to people and not specific ideas.

    Christ plenty of times talks about not finding fault with others, etc. So, yes, there are conflicting ideas about how to perceive and interact with other people on this planet. I don’t think people are just trying to throw out the problem of evil. But they also don’t have to see the evils of the world as the sole motivation for good or Christ, which your OP seems to suggest at the end.

  17. Martin James
    March 8, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Clearly, any unbiased worldliness test would show that the fundamentalist sects of Mormonism are closer to Christ than the LDS sects of Mormonism.

  18. Clark
    March 8, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    It seem world is a tricky category – in the world but not of the world. Are we talking specific actions? Inner judgements that might differentiate two identical behaviors? World is one of those categories so close that it seems obvious yet that same closeness makes it hard to elucidate what one is saying?

    I’m loath to say much. I feel a gut intuition – almost an unconscious grasp – of what is worldly but at the same time a recognition I’m not going to start up some Mormon monastery which would seem an abborgation of our duty to be in the world.

  19. J Wilson
    March 8, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    I missed your point. What is it that is so obvious that people are missing? The term “world” is pretty nebulous. The idea that “world” is getting worse is not a well-evidenced idea either. Yes there is lots that is good and bad in this world. I don’t think anyone necessarily disagrees.

  20. March 8, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Jonathan, the pushback you’re getting suggests that your clear reading of the term isn’t clearly a correct one.

    And I think that pushback is right. Decrying the “world” without defining the “world” is an exercise in futility. In its clearest reading, it’s tautological: the world is that opposed to God.

    You’re definitely right: there is vast evil in the world. That vast evil doesn’t necessarily constitute the “world” though; it requires you to define it as such. And for the majority of your readers–the majority of internet Mormons–the world around us (which, frankly, is almost certainly not “the world” of scripture) is better, safer, and more moral than it has ever been.

    Which is to say, I disagree with you. Yes, “the world” (meaning that which is opposition to the Kingdom of God) is definitionally and tautologically evil. But the world (meaning the place we live and the people we interact with) is clearly not. And it’s important in discussions–in person or otherwise–to be careful that we indicate what we’re talking about. Otherwise, we’re talking past each other, and your condemnation is at best rash.

  21. Jerry Schmidt
    March 8, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    All I know is how tweaked other Mormons act when I call the conference center “the great and spacious building.” Oddly, people were tweaked when I referred to the office building I worked in as part of a finance company “the great and spacious building.”

    Maybe context does matter.

  22. March 8, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Kristine, you seemed to take it personally, so I assumed you had, but if not, then today we’re both castigating each other for things we haven’t done.

    Brian, it turns out I am familiar with that song, I just didn’t realize it was Smashing Pumpkins. Pretty decent song. As for my post, my point is primarily about usage: “the wicked world” can be tiresome and overdone, but it’s good scriptural usage. As it’s a regular part of scripture and church teaching, we should keep it in our conceptual vocabulary and apply it at the appropriate times. I quite agree with pushing back against misuse, but the pushback is: the concept doesn’t fit here, and not: Jesus would never say that.

    Sam, this isn’t my personal reading. See for example Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary on “World”: “The moral world includes people indifferent or hostile to God, the God-hostile environment generally, and in the widest sense, corruption and evil summed up under the general term ‘the world.’ If the people of the world can be spoken of as ‘the world’ in a neutral sense, ‘the world’ can also refer to the subclass of indifferent and hostile people who reject God and his ways.”

    I certainly agree that the world we live in has become a much better place in many ways, and I’m not arguing otherwise. That observation is also not recent; I heard someone make it in a Sacrament Meeting or fireside talk around 30 years ago, and I doubt it was original then. But an observer in 1st century Palestine could have also pointed at any number of signs of scientific, philosophical, and technological progress, and yet Jesus engages in stark rhetoric about “the world” in John. What are we to make of that? Demand that Jesus define his terms? A more thoughtful response would be to think about the world and “the world,” and see if maybe there’s something to what he’s saying.

  23. Lazuli bunting
    March 9, 2018 at 1:11 am

    “What are we to make of that? Demand that Jesus define his terms? A more thoughtful response would be to think about the world and “the world,” and see if maybe there’s something to what he’s saying.”

    That’s entirely reasonable. We think about and discuss what, in each unique instance, Jesus could mean by that term. Because he does use it to mean various things. Otherwise, this would be a flat contradiction:

    “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only before son.”

    I think if we are thoughtful about it, we will find that it mostly doesn’t mean “those people over there.” It means some condition or struggle that is common to mortals, and thus a thing we would all do well to examine in ourselves rather than pointing at in others. In this verse, for example, we get more if we read the world as those traits and tendencies we face as humans that keep us from realizing that God is within us: fear, jealousy, the desire to always have more, hatred, etc.

    “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

    And when it does seem to refer to people, the point is often something else entirely. Here, Jesus isn’t making some point about the world and who or what it constitutes. He’s saying that sometimes in this life, people will hate or misunderstand you, and he knows what that’s like. You’re not alone.

    “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

  24. J Town
    March 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    I find it both interesting and predictable that your post has met with mainly negative responses. Or that many folks responding seem to dislike the interpretation of the “world” as set forth in the OP but are very comfortable interpreting the words of Christ as being opposed to what you’re saying.

    I agree that much of what you say is fairly obvious, but I don’t think you’re going to find a sympathetic audience here. “Well actually…” responses seem to be the norm unless one is espousing some esoteric, counter-intuitive reading of scripture.

  25. Jerry Schmidt
    March 9, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I have heard the term “lone and dreary wilderness” used in LDS circles to refer to life on earth in its temporal state. My personal reluctance to spend lots of time in the great outdoors aside, I find the earth, as a whole, neither lone nor dreary. But, I accept this statement as a fairly accurate description of how a couple of humans, having just departed from an environment not only not hostile but having met their needs daily, might observe the earth in its natural state, particularly missing other humans.

    I do not take this depiction entirely as is, nor do I consider it entirely metaphorical, but rather something incorporating both. In similar thinking I view the scriptural use of “the world.” As Einstein pointed out, depictions of various phenomena are usually relative to the observer. I believe many such scriptural terms as “the world” or “lone and dreary world,” are relative to the observer.

    If this is simply restating the general theme the conversation is converging on, please forgive me.

  26. Rainy
    March 10, 2018 at 10:03 am

    “I find the earth, as a whole, neither lone nor dreary.”

    Because great men and women have granted is modern civilization. Pack up your Stone tools and spend 7 days in the inspiring world using only those and let me know what you think. If you’re still alive….

    It’s pretty dang dreary out there.

    I get the point of the essay. The disagreement it just grumpy counter culture Mormons that like to go on ad nauseum in church about Utah culture and church culture etc, while their “3rd world” brothers and sisters in the pews are struggling with real issues.

    As a related thought to this worldly stuff, I think Adam being made lots over the whole Earth in garden, Satan claiming in world that he’s actually the God of this world, and Eve being the mother of all living on this world (Adam the father of all on the world) all makes for some interesting viewpoints on the world.

    There’s definitely something to be unpacked there. Some of the world belongs to our mother and father, in which we all share an inheritance of as brothers and sisters. And equally the devil lays claim to this world and all who are in it.

    These old stories are richer with meaning than we imagine.

  27. sch
    March 15, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    I think that attacking the “world” goes a bit deeper. Of course it suggests that we are living amongst hideously evil moral cretins. But there is more than just that. It also suggests that the “world” has nothing to offer us. We have nothing to learn from those uninspired, gift-of-the-holy-ghost-lacking, beer-drinking, drug-taking, non-family-valuing, empty vessels around us. We stand ready to pull them up to our level, but we would never stoop so low as to learn something from them.

    Of course this is over-stating it, but disdain for “the world” can have this effect. We must balance our Olympic-level world-shunning with the phrase from the 13th Article of Faith about seeking after anything that is “of good report” or “praiseworthy.”

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