Thursday, September 29, 2011

Richard L. Bushman: Honorary Passionate Moderate Mormon

I was not able to attend this lecture, but I read a report from Peggy Fletcher Stack in the Salt Lake Tribune. Professor (Brother) Bushman is right on my themes of moderation and political tolerance that should be coming out of Mormonism. He may even be a bit more optimistic about all this than I am. But I welcome the voice.

He is the author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. This is a great biography, some have characterized as "warts and all," while I see it more as a fascinating, true story of a real human being who many millions, including Bushman and yours truly respect and honor as a prophet of God. Read it. I heartily recommend it.

One of the best parts of this is that I nailed my prediction (or hope) of what I thought the content of this talk would be. I commented on an announcement for this lecture on, the Mormon History Blog:
Reminds me of a time a friend and I were called into the Stake President’s office because of our respective callings at the time to counsel with him on some questions of faithfulness to the church relating to protest against the government of a nature I will not discuss (Ardis’s rules and all). My buddy was joking because the three of us were from very different political perspectives. The Stake President very solemnly stated that if the Elders of Israel were to save the Constitution it would be because of the likes of us (implying the very different political persuasions).
I know Bro. Bushman’s a lot smarter than I am, but I just wonder if it could be an inspired message similar to that of my old Stake President.
I wish I could tell more about that story, but I much prefer to honor confidences in ecclesiastical counseling sessions. I can only say that I have no idea what the politics were of my then Stake President. I assumed he was a traditional, mainstream, conservative Republican. He knew my political persuasions, and my other friend in that meeting was a non-partisan of libertarian leanings. We discussed things bluntly yet respectfully and the President took our perspectives into consideration. I have no idea how the situation was resolved. Yet I did see a practical application of what Bushman was suggesting - that in a church counsel, views can be openly expressed with mutual respect - and this discussion was even about political philosophies and activities!

I still have some hope that political moderation will prevail among us Mormons. Maybe even because of us. Bless you, Brother Bushman! Maybe we will save the Constitution after all.

And bless Ardis of, too! She is beginning a new series on historical church publications that tend towards a more "liberal" political or economic view than some of the current dogmas that seem prevalent, even if not officially doctrinal, in the present day.

Here's a link to Bushman's talk:

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