My least favorite quote

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
Euhemerus
Posts: 322
Joined: 14 Oct 2009, 15:56

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by Euhemerus » 19 Mar 2010, 05:44

Ray Degraw wrote:
"When the brethern have spoken, the thinking stops."
That saying was never stated by an apostle or Prophet in a public setting as direct counsel, and it's opposite has been stated over and over and over again, so I wish it would die. We hang on to SO much that simply isn't accurate or reasonable or right - sometimes, ironcially, just so we have a whipping post. If the Church shouldn't hang on to air-brushed portrayals of past leaders, then we shouldn't hang on to stupid statements that obviously aren't pure doctrine or scripture - and we can't demand others drop them as "good quotes" if we aren't willing to drop them as "bad quotes," since, in reality, they were never actual authoritatively delivered quotes.
The quote came from the Improvement Era in June 1945. It created quite a stir at that time as well.

The entire quote is
When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God. (Improvement Era June 1945 Ward Teacher's Message
Frankly, it's a freakishly cult-y thing to have printed in a group's own material. And, appropriately, as Ray has pointed out it was NOT said by a prophet or apostle. In fact, this little gem apparently made it through the filtering process without the knowledge of the upper leaders of the church. It was so controversial that a minister from the First Unitarian Society wrote a letter decrying it. When President George Albert Smith learned of this he wrote a letter decrying the message as well stating that
The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not "prepared" by "one of our leaders." However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed.

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church...
Needless to say this was clearly some over-zealous TBM who had forgotten the words of Brigham Young indicating that such people who rely on others this way will NOT make it to the Celestial Kingdom. Nevertheless, as you have aptly demonstrated it has made it's way into Mormon culture. Let this show at least part of the reason why Mormon culture is the way it is (i.e. it's not all the fault of the leaders).
Don't believe everything you think
- bumper sticker I saw one day

User avatar
bridget_night
Posts: 881
Joined: 02 Mar 2009, 12:15

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by bridget_night » 19 Mar 2010, 06:31

I apologize for this and will be more careful in the future.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Mar 2010, 06:39

It's OK bridget. My comment wasn't meant as a complaint about you. It was just an expression of frustration that so many members think that quote actually was said by an apostle or Prophet - that it actually has worked its way into the mindset of some members. I really think VERY few members actually believe it, relatively speaking, but it's such a stupid idea (as you correctly stated) that I wish it simply would die.

I'm glad we were able to talk about it here; I just wish we didn't have to do so - that everyone understood the background.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
bridget_night
Posts: 881
Joined: 02 Mar 2009, 12:15

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by bridget_night » 19 Mar 2010, 06:47

Thanks Ray. I do believe it is important to get our information right. None of us would like what we have said or written to be mis-quoted or taken out of context. That has happened to me actually after my book came out by people who did not like what I had to say. So, I do want to be more careful. Besides, if our goal is to know the truth so we can have a testimony based on reality, then we need to get our facts right. So, actually, thanks for pointing it out.

User avatar
Euhemerus
Posts: 322
Joined: 14 Oct 2009, 15:56

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by Euhemerus » 19 Mar 2010, 06:55

bridget_night wrote:I apologize for this and will be more careful in the future.
Oh, no worries, it wasn't directed at you. I was attacking the quote, not you. Sorry if it came across that way.
Don't believe everything you think
- bumper sticker I saw one day

User avatar
Euhemerus
Posts: 322
Joined: 14 Oct 2009, 15:56

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by Euhemerus » 19 Mar 2010, 06:59

bridget_night wrote:Thanks Ray. I do believe it is important to get our information right. None of us would like what we have said or written to be mis-quoted or taken out of context.
No, you're totally fine. You did not take it out of context, or mis-quote anyone. I mean it was printed in the Improvement Era! You have stated the quote as a representation of what was printed in official church material. Nothing wrong with that on your end.

The problem is that that message was not sanctioned by the Brethren, and in fact, was stated by the Brethren to be an erroneous representation of church position even within its own material.

I think it's a very important lesson to learn here, namely that even official church material does not necessarily represent the message the Brethren are really trying to convey.
Don't believe everything you think
- bumper sticker I saw one day

User avatar
SMiLe
Posts: 27
Joined: 23 Feb 2010, 13:24

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by SMiLe » 19 Mar 2010, 08:19

The problem is that that message was not sanctioned by the Brethren, and in fact, was stated by the Brethren to be an erroneous representation of church position even within its own material.
Based on my original post, it should not surprise anyone that I too dislike this quote. Unfortunately, this seems to be one of those areas where church culture has gained a life of its own and is held to the same standard as doctrine.
We must turn all this about. We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over.
- N. Eldon Tanner, “‘The Debate Is Over’,” Ensign, Aug 1979

Having this quote repeated by the first counselor in the First Presidency and printed in the official church magazine carries a lot of weight in our culture and gives it tacit approval. So, while I agree with Ray that I would like this quote to go away, I don't hold any hope that it will.

SMiLe

User avatar
Bruce in Montana
Posts: 280
Joined: 02 Jun 2009, 16:14

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by Bruce in Montana » 19 Mar 2010, 15:42

Certainly Church leaders have made statements, and continue to, that should have been thought out better.

On the other hand, one of my favorite conference talks, which goes a long way in distinguishing between the gospel and the Church, has never even been read/seen/heard by many. It was a talk by Elder Poelman back in 1984...here's a link. I think it's very beautiful and to the point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcM7koDc-jg

Unfortunately, the brethren thought it a bit "meaty" and marched his butt back in the tabernacle the very next day...had him re-give a very edited (that means changed completely) version of the talk, added a "cough track" and that version became the version that was published in the Ensign and entered into Church archives. Fortunately, people were beginning to have VCR's in 1984 and the talk is preserved.

I think he makes some wonderful points that are much more meaningful than short little quotes that we seem to hang onto.

I thought someone might enjoy it. My 2 cents..
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16842
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Mar 2010, 19:22

I don't have any particularly good feelings about that exact quote, SMiLe (mostly because it is SO easy to abuse and mis-apply) - but it's also a very different quote than how it usually is re-stated - and it is true at a fundamental level. There is a HUGE difference between, "When the Prophet speaks, the debate is over," and, "When the brethren speak, the thinking is done." The mutation of the first to the latter is instructive - and very typical of what happens to far too many people.

Simply put, when the leader of any organization speaks in his/her authoritative voice, the debate really is over. Individual members of that organization can continue to believe whatever they choose to believe, but the "debate" is over. Reasoned discussions can occur in most cases among individuals, especially privately, but the "debate" is over. If that wasn't the case, no organization would accomplish anything, as production time would give way to debate time. Think about it: Water cooler time is not productive time - even though it is fine in small doses.

That is very different than forbidding individual thinking or eliminating disagreement entirely - especially based on a loosely- and ill-defined term like "the brethren".

I go with the preponderance of statements, in most cases, and the minority opinion in some others - based on whatever I feel the Spirit has whispered to me. I just don't waste time "debating" things (trying to convince others of the superiority of my viewpoint) that directly contradict what the current Prophet says. I don't like losing battles, and I'm not arrogant enough to assume that I see the long-term vision and implications of things better than the Prophet does. That doesn't mean I agree with everything the current Prophet has said in my lifetime - but it does mean I don't openly try to turn those things I see differently into a debate.

I just don't have the energy or inclination to do that. I have WAY more important ways to spend my time - like blogging. ;)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
SMiLe
Posts: 27
Joined: 23 Feb 2010, 13:24

Re: My least favorite quote

Post by SMiLe » 22 Mar 2010, 14:51

Hi Ray,

I want to be sure to clear up a possible misunderstanding. I agree with what you have stated and would never personally debate something a prophet has said with another member. In fact, I wasn't even thinking that as I posted the quote. I have spent so much time debating myself over issues that I some times wonder if I am mentally okay. So, just so you know, I read that quote and immediately assumed that it was the mental debate that it was referring to and never even considered that it applied otherwise. Sorry about that...

SMiLe

Post Reply