A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, July 8, 2013

Charity for the Divine and the Democratic

Presidential candidates have (to seem) to be normal.  There's the famous test of ordinariness that's encapsulated in the question "Do you want to have a beer with..." this person?  (One more reason Romney couldn't be President...*zing*).  In a way, this is a uniquely American idea.  The theory presumes that a ruler is subject to the people, and is one of them.  He (or she...someday!) is a citizen.  In contrast, the Divine Right of Kings to rule emanates from the Gods, and in some cultures, the emperor or king is a descendant of the Gods.

Similar to democratic thought, the prophet of the Mormon church has always been considered an ordinary church member.  Mormons have a "lay priesthood" which means that ordinary church members lead services, administer the church, and run things on a day to day basis.  There aren't professional Mormon priests (although some people do work full time for the church and are paid to do so).

Yet, even though we think Presidents and Prophets as men of the people, we rarely get to meet with them.  We "know" them only through the carefully filtered glimpses we see in the media or in second- or third- hand reports.  I remember when I visited General Conference (the twice-yearly Mormon conference where the Mormon prophet speaks to all Mormons via satellite).  I stood in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle as an 8 year old, firmly convinced that if I could shake the hand of one of the Apostles, I would know the church is true.  It's childish, but I think it's a manifestation of a genuine desire to KNOW our leaders.

That's why both of these recent moments resonated:

President Obama's Fist Bump after the State of the Union

Elder David Bednar and Elder L. Tom Perry (two Mormon Apostles) Fist Bump after General Conference
It's just a simple gesture.  But it signifies that these men are JUST. LIKE. US.  They're human, not divine.  We can relate to them and somehow, we are more willing to listen to what they have to say.  

One of my favorite definitions of the word "charity" is that "Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other."*  I LOVE that - "Charity is expecting the best in each other"!  That's a very divinely democratic idea - hopefully charity can extend to those we believe are divinely inspirited to lead us, as well as to those who are democratically elected to do so.  

* From Marvin J. Ashton's Talk, "The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword," April 1992 General Conference


  1. But of course, when Obama does it, it's a terrorist fist bump! :)

    But I really liked the phrase "resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped" -- that's something I can work on!

  2. I really need to find that quote. It's wonderful. Thanks for sharing.