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Friday, February 24, 2006 

The Children are not the Future

I was going to write a post about my niece, Madison. She is 10-ish, homeschooled, highly intelligent, and, currently, sticking bugs in boxes for a museum. I caught a ride with her this morning. She carries a notebook around her everywhere in which she writes down discovered facts from children's books about animals, which she also always carries with her. While we waited for our ride this morning, she was idly teasing her cat with a spare telephone cord. I was struck by the beauty of the moment and I was determined to write about how much more focussed and in control of herself she is than I was at her age, about how the future is our hope.

The problem is that I don't believe that anymore, nor do I believe that the Book of Mormon teaches that. We have a standard definition of "hope" as "wishful thinking," nice when it comes through, not terribly surprising when it doesn't. We're not supposed to get our hopes up, but if we do, it is because we are still innocent or blissfully naive. Adulthood is apparently accompanied by the destruction of hope.

This is a crass, shallow form of hope. It is beneath grown people. How dare we blithely accept the desecration of our hope and then pin our hopes on children, who have hopes and dreams of their own. It is the replacement of hope with idol worship. We shouldn't worship our children, as they are just people like us. We would certainly prefer it if they were better than us, but there are no guarantees. If nothing else, finding our hope in others entails losing our hope in ourselves. It is not humanity for whom we must hope, it is ourselves.

In any case, what I understand to be true hope is not easily discarded. In fact, it appears to have quite a hold on a person. To quote Moroni:
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4)
I don't claim to be abounding with the hope sufficient to keep me anchored in all of life's storms, but it is a powerful idea. Much greater than "wishful thinking", at least.

In particular, I am drawn to the order of events here (these thing are not always presented in this order, but I find the order significant here). Hope follows faith. In fact, hope here appears to be much more closely akin to knowledge. Not intellectual either, but rather the sort of bone-deep, experiential knowledge that Paul got on the road to Damascus or Joseph Smith got in a New York wood. I don't know that similar experiences are necessary for the hope/knowledge; I do know that a similar certainty is. And it is promised to anyone who cares to try for it.

It is, perhaps, a peculiarity of Mormonism that, at times, it stops talking in metaphors. There is a God who knows us and wants to be known. In that, I take hope for me and for anyone else who wants such.

Posted by John C.

This is completely unrelated, but I was powerfully moved by a movie recap the other day and I wanted to share it with you all. There is a lot of cussin' in the recap (including some of the big, bad words) and it will spoil the move (Serenity) for you if you haven't seen it, but I thought that the thing was beautifully done and that it explained what was so great about the movie. Click here to read it.

John C.,

I have nothing to add, I just wanted to thank you for this post. Very well done!

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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