There is no place that really explicitly states my least favorite myth, but you see evidence of it everywhere. There is the "hanging by a thread" prophesy. There are things about this being an elect generation of youth. There is our persistent isolationism, coupled with the idea that everybody knows and cares about what we are doing. There is the notion that, in spite of the fact that BYU has a restrictive honor code and limited draw for big-time non-LDS football stars, it should have a perpetual top-25 (even top-10) football team. We think that we are chosen.
Perhaps I am still thinking about the foreordination posts from last week. Perhaps I am just tired of being a bit of a freak to people who think they know everything about me (JP's excellent post reminded me of many high school religion conversations). Maybe I've been engaged in Bloggernacle navel gazing too long. It just seems like if there is one group in the country that is absolutely certain that God likes us more, it is us.
There may be plenty of reasons for this feeling. We do believe that God blesses us on a regular basis individually (Elder Bednar's recent "tender mercies" talk is an excellent example of this notion). We also believe that blessings are somewhat dependent on our behavior. Since we behave well, and since our "pioneer ancestry" behaved well, it is possible that we believe that we have stored up sufficient good behavior to guarantee God's blessings on us.
This is the kind of thinking that got Israel overrun with Assyrians and Jerusalem destroyed by Babylonians and Romans. Chosen-ness does not mean that we are God's special task force, ready to step in whenever an area needs a spiritual beat-down. Chosen-ness doesn't mean that God will spare you because of how wonderful you are and how much more he likes you. If we are chosen, an idea that I am not entirely ready to grant, the kind of special treatment we receive is not the kind you want.
Let's take a look at a people whom we know were "chosen": The Israelites. There were the aforementioned Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans. There are the years and years of anti-semitism, oh, and the Holocaust.
The chief sin behind all the earlier events seems to be pride (I won't speak of the Holocaust, because God hasn't discussed the Holocaust). The Israelites were convinced, because of numerous escapes in the past, that God really would protect them no matter what, that they really were the special ones. It is this tendancy that I see in modern Mormonism and it scares me.
You may say, "It is different for us, we have modern prophets." They had prophets speaking to them up to and including the moment that the invaders began to tear the temple down. You may reply, "But those people didn't listen to their prophets." According to the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah was an advisor to King Zedekiah. The King chose to ignore his advice and you know the rest of the story.
I am not saying this to engage in fear-mongering. I hope that God chooses to spare us the kind of judgment that he has thusfar laid out on his chosen people, the Jews. Nonetheless, so long as we feel that we are already sufficiently righteous, sufficiently blessed, or sufficiently chosen, we face that same danger.
Getting back to Elder Bednar's talk (what with Conference this weekend and all), the lesson that we should learn from God's blessings isn't that we are chosen, it is that he loves us. No one receives any more or less of God's love by earning it. It, along with all of God's good gifts, is freely given to all who ask sincerely (and some who don't). If we are blessed, it is to remind us of our dependence on God and, thereby, to humble us.
This chosen thing. It worries me. Especially since we seem to believe that our isolation is what makes us chosen (much moreso than righteous acts). If you think the manner in which the Mormons will save the constitution will be with some sort of military coup or minority vote, I don't know what kind of constitution you will be saving. If you think it will be our shining example of goodness that we lead people to make the decision, then I'll need to see more goodness and less of the kind of thinking that brought Jerusalem down.
If we are chosen, if our wealth and our knowledge was intended to set us apart from the world, then our goal is to open ourselves up to others, not cut them off as dead weight. We shouldn't be a tower in the sky, forcing others to climb over each other to get to the blessings we enjoy. If we are meant to be lofty (an imputation that I might dispute), we are at least intended to stretch all the way down to the ground. There is room in our tower for all and as many doors as there are people wanting to get in.