All we like sheep

October 4, 2009    By: Jacob J @ 2:39 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Despite my propensity for nonconformity and insubordination, I did my best to assimilate when I went on a mission. I followed a lot of rules, even most of the ones that seemed unnecessary. However, sometimes my contumacious nature could not be contained.


One of the things I rebelled against was the encouragement to memorize. Much of the scripture memorization seemed to stem from a lack of creativity and depth in scripture study. After reading the stories a bunch of times, some missionaries seemed unsure as to how to proceed, so they started memorizing. Probably that is not an entirely charitable interpretation, nonetheless, I felt like I could spend my time much more profitably studying rather than memorizing.

No one really gave me a hard time about not memorizing scriptures, but I did get some jazz about not memorizing the discussions. Every now and then some companion or zone leader or AP would ask me how my memorization of the discussions was going and I would reply honestly. Not only had I not memorized the discussions, I was opposed to anyone doing so. I thought it was generally a detriment to teaching, rather than an aid. I remember arguing that we should be tailoring the message to the person we were teaching, not reciting a canned lesson. I argued that we should know the outlines of the discussions like the backs of our hands, but that we should put them into our own words, tell stories from our own lives, and follow the spirit when teaching.† I received a fair amount of resistance to these dangerous ideas, not by everyone, but not uncommonly either.

Fast forward to present day. They have since scrapped the discussions and introduced Preach My Gospel which emphasizes personalizing the message and teaching by the spirit. I am constantly floored by talks and lessons in which adults get up and talk about how we used to do a terrible job with flip-charts and memorized discussions, but now our missionaries are trained to do a far superior job in their teaching. I want to stand up and say “Oh, so now you get it. Why did you give me so much crap on my mission!”


In a related story, when I am prophet, you can expect to hear me stand up at the beginning of a Sunday session of conference to announce that the after Eliza Dushku offers the invocation, the choir will stand and sing Amazing Grace. I am sad to report that I have had several arguments with ward members about the appropriateness of this classic hymn. Some people feel compelled to come up with some justification for why it is not in our hymnal, even if they reasons they come up with are stupid.

But, mark my words, once I give official sanction for members to love Amazing Grace by adding it to the hymnal and having MoTab sing it at general conference, it will quickly become one of the most beloved Mormon‡ hymns.

Feel free to share any of your favorite things which people currently oppose like sheep, but which they would embrace if official sanction were given.


† Of course it is true that memorizing does not preclude those things, but I would argue that neither does it appreciably increase them. I served with companions who had memorized all the discussions and they would frequently recite whole paragraphs in their teaching. I didn’t find this to be particularly effective, even if it was perfectly acceptable.

‡ Obviously I mean that it will be beloved by Mormon people, but I’ll also change a couple of random words in the hymn as we are wont to do. That way we’ll be able to call it a Mormon hymn and when we sing it with gentiles we can have the “saints and angels” experience we all love at Christmas time.

66 Comments »

  1. I took nearly a year to memorize my foreign-language discussions because I was so busy learning other stuff. I figured, we never taught anyone a 4th discussion anyway (Europe), so my study time was better spent with the New Testament and other things :)

    Comment by Nitsav — October 4, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  2. This version?

    Comment by Matt W. — October 4, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  3. 1) Wearing colored shirts to church every now and again to beautify and add variety to sunday worship.

    2) Not wearing loud mutlicolored shirts and ties every week which does nothing but demonstrate you want to look like the model on page 2 of September’s GQ magazine (This is mostly aimed at Single Warders)

    3)Joseph Smith wasn’t kidding when he repeatedly said we don’t have a creeds

    4) We really can benefit from learning about science, history, and even…gulp…philosophy.

    Comment by Riley — October 4, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  4. Addendum:

    5) Stake High Councilmen can end their talks early.

    Comment by Riley — October 4, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  5. Well, I like Amazing Grace, and also Just As I Am. But Jacob, I’m not sure you fully understand God’s love. Don’t you know that mercy cannot rob justice? And that God’s choicest blessings are reserved for those who keep the commandments?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — October 4, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

  6. I totally agree with you about memorizing scriptures. It’s like Jesus said to the Pharisees—and I quote: “You scripture memorizers are nuts-o.” (Well, something like that.)

    I have to wonder though why you would ask Sister Dushku to say the prayer. Aren’t we supposed to keep our eyes closed during the prayer? Seems like a total waste—or a total distraction.

    Things we oppose like sheep but wouldn’t if officially sanctioned:

    1) scripture written in real English—and I mean the English we actually speak
    2) beards (not that I would grow one)
    3) sitting during a “rest” a hymn
    4) doing away with the impromptu filler at the end of sacrament meeting or class just to make sure we fill the full hour

    Comment by BrianJ — October 4, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  7. Wine.

    Comment by mondo cool — October 4, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  8. I’m fine with including Amazing Grace in the hymnal but don’t make me sing that yawner often please.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 4, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  9. Matt,

    I am a sucker for punk versions of anything. I expect, however, that it would go something more like this:

    I am a fan of the African version:

    and the folk version. Maybe we could get Gladys to spruce it up some.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 4, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  10. Just to clarify: I actually don’t know a blasted thing about wine (other than it is made from grapes), but I’m pretty sure think it would be embraced if official sanction were given. Coffee & tea, too. No?

    Comment by mondo cool — October 4, 2009 @ 5:40 pm

  11. Riley, I think your prop 1 would catch on if sanctioned, but I don’t think you have much chance on your prop 5.

    BiV, lol.

    Brian, Yes on prop 1, that would be awesome. I don’t think your prop 4 will catch on. Unbelievably.

    Geoff, what if you get to clap?

    Comment by Jacob J — October 4, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  12. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    Comment by Don — October 4, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  13. Matt, I like Amazing Grace. One that’s in the hymn book (How Great Thou Art) I just have a bad taste in my mouth about. Too much Billy Graham I guess. When you’re prophet, I expect Tripartite Existentialism to come into vogue big time. OD 3.

    Comment by WVS — October 4, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

  14. WVS, I’m taking your conflating Jacob and I as a HUGE compliment.

    If I were an apostle on track to be the prophet, I’d eat a lot more fatty foods.

    Comment by Matt W. — October 4, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  15. I’m holding out for the option of using written prayers in public and the sanction of written prayers in private worship.

    Comment by Toria — October 4, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

  16. Maybe something like this?

    I’m holding out for the option of using written prayers in public and the sanction of written prayers in private worship.

    Well, don’t hold your breath. I personally pray the Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office). There are a number of versions out there from Catholic and Anglican sources. It takes a little while to get used to (with all the page flipping), but learning to chant the psalms and being able to partake of a liturgical calendar has been great. (I adapt it slightly by saying my own extemporaneous prayer in place of the written collect; the psalms/hymns/readings help to prepare one for prayer, I find.)

    The version I use can be purchased here.

    An online version (sans chant) can be found here.

    Comment by Latter-day Guy — October 4, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  17. Oops. Sorry about that. I must have been talking and typing at the same time – or something.

    Comment by WVS — October 4, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  18. I hate amazing grace for some reasons I can’t explain, maybe because its awkward. It is sort of in the same category as crosses.

    Comment by BigD — October 5, 2009 @ 1:03 am

  19. It’s always the goats in your own land that fail to recognize your prophetic qualities.

    For my part, I would expand the canon of sacrament meeting appropriate musical instruments.

    Comment by Peter LLC — October 5, 2009 @ 3:32 am

  20. We had to memorize the discussions in Boliva, and then never used them in real discussions, because Bolivians don’t use nor understand such big words. IOW, it was a waste of time, and really not worth the frustration and struggle. Why did we do it? Probably because everyone else in the world was doing it.

    Sometimes you have to just ask: does it make sense? Am I using my time in a productive and quality manner?

    Comment by Rameumptom — October 5, 2009 @ 6:37 am

  21. We did not memorize the discussions in the Philippines, but were encouraged to teach them in our own words and just memorize the basic outlines. And not to be cocky or anything, we could teach circles around most “Preach my Gospel” missionaries. There is something to be said for being proficient at standard set of lessons rather than having to invent new ones every time. And I think the missionaries are missing since they’ve lost the commitment pattern.

    Comment by Matt W. — October 5, 2009 @ 6:55 am

  22. No commitment pattern? Was it replaced with something or does anyone know why it was scrapped?

    We didn’t memorize the discussions so much, but we were required to have them with us and to at least refer to them in our teaching. At one point we were told to read them word for word, but, no one really did that. I like the preach my gospel concept. I hope it’s working for the missionaries.

    Comment by Ian Cook — October 5, 2009 @ 7:12 am

  23. I love How Great Thou Art… it’s my favorite of the hymns. And I like Amazing Grace, too. From what I was told once, the church always wanted to include it in the hymnbook, but was refused the right to by the copyright owner of the arrangement.

    If that’s true (and it may not be, as I’m pretty sure the song is in public domain), then people’s aversion to it may be because they think the church disapproves of it for some reason (perhaps because it implies a “saved by grace only” kind of thing). If that’s not true, then maybe the church does have a problem with it.

    I do think the hymnbook could use some freshening up… there are many great songs, but a lot that never get used, or if they do get used, they’re kind of clunky to sing and forgettable.

    Comment by Eric Herman — October 5, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  24. For my part, I would expand the canon of sacrament meeting appropriate musical instruments.

    I would make people more aware that many instruments are already appropriate instruments to use, if used appropriately. I understand there was a ban on certain instruments like guitar many years ago, and that some instruments like brass and drums may still be a no-no, but the “guitar ban” was officially lifted many years ago and a message from the First Presidency several years ago encouraged people to use more creativity and diversity in selecting special musical numbers for Sacrament Meeting. A lot of people don’t know that, though, and still consider guitar as completely inappropriate in any use.

    Comment by Eric Herman — October 5, 2009 @ 7:49 am

  25. Thanks for that info, Eric, as guitar was one of those that I had in mind. As a former euphonium player, I would like to see broader acceptance of brass instruments as well, but I’ll settle for more guitar (and cowbell).

    Comment by Peter LLC — October 5, 2009 @ 8:01 am

  26. A bishop I once had played guitar on a few occasions in sacrament meeting. It was very good, and very spiritual.

    Comment by Ian Cook — October 5, 2009 @ 8:17 am

  27. I hate it when we only sing one verse of a hymn, and would ban the practice if I had the power to do so (it’s akin to saying, “we will now close with a prayer, but due to time constraints will limit it to 20 seconds”)

    Comment by rp — October 5, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  28. rp: I like it when we sing only one verse of the closing hymn and especially of rest hymns. In fact, I’d make one-verse rest hymns mandatory, and there are some hymns I’d cut down to one verse right away (e.g., Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, Ring Out Wild Bells, Hie to Kolob).

    Jacob: I thought of another one while getting dressed this morning: I’d make it fully acceptable for members to make their own garments.

    Comment by BrianJ — October 5, 2009 @ 10:46 am

  29. And I think the missionaries are missing since they’ve lost the commitment pattern.

    I’ve got to admit, the commitment pattern was actually very useful. Whenever I use the phrases from it on the missionaries and they don’t know what I’m talking about, I feel like they really are missing out. Discover the concern, Elder!

    Eric Herman, can you point me to the message of the FP where they lifted the guitar ban. It seems to be in force where I live. Incidentally, did they lift the electric guitar ban as well, or just classical guitar?

    I was recently working on an a cappella arrangement of What a Friend We Have in Jesus, which is another protestant hymn I really like. I am not sure if the harmonies I have in mind will fly for sacrament meeting, but I’ll probably never finish it anyway.

    BrianJ, That is a good one and I’m sure it would catch on with a lot of people. My dad has been saying for years he just wants to buy a standard JC Penny white tshirt which keeps its shape and take it to the distribution center to have marking sown into it. The quality control on garments (wildly varying sizes etc) is pretty annoying.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 5, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

  30. The quality control on garments (wildly varying sizes etc) is pretty annoying.

    +1

    Comment by Peter LLC — October 5, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

  31. BrianJ (#28),

    Many years ago at the Manti pageant, I thought it somehow appropriate that the pageant presented the mob as attacking the jail immediately after Joseph asked John Taylor for one more round of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”. Once wasn’t enough?

    Comment by CS Eric — October 5, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  32. Brian J: I thought of another one while getting dressed this morning: I’d make it fully acceptable for members to make their own garments.

    Wasn’t that how it used to be – one could get a pattern from the Relief Society? That was stopped in the 1980′s I think. Still, apparently one can contact customer support and request a custom construction of the garments.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  33. 1)Brigham Youngs Teachings
    2)People actually giving testimonies and not sermons during fast sunday.
    3)Anti literature or Iffy History
    4)Colored shirts of course!

    Sitting with a rest hymn – love that one.

    As for the mission,
    I never sat down to memorize 1 scripture my whole mission. Supposed to do 1 a week but didn’t. I didnt find the need to as i remembered the important ones by repetition of reading them over and over again and i always had the scriptures on me. I could recite the information without giving direct perfect quotes well enough.

    As for preach my gospel it has been increasing the missionary efforts and effectiveness by a lot.

    I think it went from a nationwide average of 20 new investigators to 1 baptism to about 20 – 4? I think that is right. But either case it helps the missionaries understand things a lot more in depth. Though I wasnt around for the flip charts.

    Comment by Curtis H — October 5, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  34. re garments: the shape is bad, but the material is far worse. I would love some garments that don’t suffocate me when I hike or bike.

    Comment by BrianJ — October 5, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  35. I memorized literally hundreds of scriptural passages on my mission. I found it very useful then and still find it useful today.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 5, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

  36. baaaa!

    :)

    Comment by BrianJ — October 5, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

  37. Curtis H,

    I’m not sure I’m following your suggestions. You want to bring back Adam-God? Even when Brigham was teaching that as the prophet he couldn’t get people to believe it, so I’m not sure it fits the bill. I have never understood all the people who want “testimonies only” during testimony meeting. What are you looking for on that one? Anti literature?? I assume you mean you’ll take away the stigma from reading anti stuff? I guess that would be okay, but certainly not on my list of things I am interested in.

    Geoff,

    Well, if you’re going to make the comment, at least tell me what is useful about it while you’re at it. For the record, I ended up with several passages of scripture memorized just in the process of studying those passages in depth over the course of multiple weeks. I never sat down with the intent to memorize though. I’m interested in why you think it’s worthwhile though.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 5, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  38. There are probably some contexts where having certain scriptures memorized is desirable, but for the most part, Jacob J, I agree with you. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said “Why should I memorize, when I know how to read?” Or maybe it’s just me, and I appeal to Twain for gravitas.

    I honestly don’t remember being told to memorize much on my mission. Oh, it may have happened, but somehow I missed it, which suggests it wasn’t considered a big deal in my mission, relatively speaking. Had I been beat over the head with this, I’d have experienced angst about it (I had angst about EVERYTHING), and I don’t recall doing so.

    But here’s the thing: When you’re teaching in a foreign language, and you’re teaching a lot of discussions as I was, you inevitably end up more or less memorizing the lessons anyway. Speaking in your “own voice” is a good idea, but you don’t really have an “own voice” in a foreign tongue for most of your mission. So the memorize/don’t memorize distinction is probably largely moot for lots of elders.

    AB

    P.S. The only time I’ve found myself wishing I’d memorized more scriptures is in the Bloggernacle, when a theological debate becomes quite text-focused, and I don’t feel like I can participate as skillfully as I’d otherwise be able to, if only I had reams of text branded into my brain.

    Comment by Aaron Brown — October 5, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  39. AB,

    You make a great point about the difference between foreign and native language missions. You can probably tell I went to an English speaking mission.

    Or maybe it’s just me, and I appeal to Twain for gravitas.

    Love it.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 5, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

  40. Jacob,

    In answer to your question: To me memorizing scriptures is like memorizing great musical licks. When you are in the middle of improvising they are there to be utilized when the muse hits you and they make for a much better solo/sermon.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 5, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  41. In my mission, the commitment pattern had devolved into a manipulation technique.

    I don’t lament its passing. Bring it back when the bulk of our missionaries will use it righteously.

    Comment by JimD — October 5, 2009 @ 9:11 pm

  42. Eric Herman, can you point me to the message of the FP where they lifted the guitar ban. It seems to be in force where I live. Incidentally, did they lift the electric guitar ban as well, or just classical guitar?

    Ah, no chance to find that at the moment… I’ve got just a few minutes here waiting to catch a flight here. It was not the FP that removed the ban; it was specifically something in one of the handbooks where it listed approved instruments, and guitar was on there. Or maybe it listed unapproved instruments and guitar wasn’t on there. Anyway, I’m on the ldsmusicians e-mail group and that was specifically quoted and discussed in detail a couple years ago. I’ll try to plow through the archives and find that later… But as I recall, whatever it was had been changed… previously guitar was forbidden, apparently. But the thing is that a lot of people don’t know that that’s been changed and still consider any use of guitar in Sacrament meeting a no-no.

    The message from the FP was was more of an encouragement to use the spirit and be a little more open (at least, that’s how we interpreted it… they didn’t put it that way, of course) when providing special musical numbers. But again, I’m only remembering from what had previously been discussed, and can’t quote anything specific.

    I’ll add the specific here later once I have a chance to find them…

    Comment by Eric Herman — October 6, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  43. Well, here’s one of the parts… From the Church Handbook of Instruction:

    Music in Church Meetings

    Organs and pianos are the standard instruments used in Church meetings. If other instruments are used, their use should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting. Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting.

    So it does not specifically say that guitar is not appropriate… only brass and percussion.

    Comment by Eric Herman — October 6, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

  44. Link to what Eric quoted here.

    And a specific question on Guitars here.

    Comment by Matt W. — October 6, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  45. To Latter-day Guy in no. 16:
    I too find the idea of set prayers appealing, at least to some degree. The various prayer books with which I am familiar are orderly, often beautifully phrased, and thorough. Are not the antecedents to Christian liturgies to be found in the temple worship of ancient Israel?
    David R.

    Comment by David W. Robbins — October 6, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

  46. I memorized the discussions in both Italian and French. I’m grateful that I did and was required to do so. Had it not been required, I wouldn’t have done it. As it was, it was instant vocabulary and instant facility in language.

    I never taught the discussions word-for-word. But I always had ready-at-hand messages that had inspired me and that I knew in exalted Italian and French. I loved comparing the translations and how they differed and how they reflected different understandings and expressions of the same concepts.

    I memorized all of the scriptures. I hated it at the time, but I’m glad that I did. I memorized them in two versions of the Bible and in Hebrew and Greek respectively. I’m glad that I did. Instant ability to call to mind important scriptures and have them sink into my soul with nuances of different languages.

    I found that often those who had some rationalization for not putting in the work required to learn the lessons by heart simply lacked the commitment — and failed to see what a gift they had been given. Not all — but many.

    I find written prayers to be appalling. It is like reading a Hallmark with “I love you” to my wife. What is the point?

    I like Amazing Grace. I don’t like the Calvinism implicit and explicit in its lyrics.

    Comment by Blake — October 6, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  47. Let me clarify. I memorized all of the required scriptures. I actually know an individual that has memorized the Old and New Testaments. I’m not claiming any such thing.

    Comment by Blake — October 6, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

  48. Alright, I’ll bite. Where do I find this supposed “explicit” Cavinism in Amazing Grace?

    Comment by Jacob J — October 6, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

  49. I find written prayers to be appalling. It is like reading a Hallmark with “I love you” to my wife. What is the point?

    I’ll ask the receptionist. She’s a devout Catholic and keeps a well-worn prayerbook at her desk, so she’ll probably have an answer. You might not buy it, but “even an argument that isn’t dispositive is worth giving and considering.”*

    *Blake on October 6th 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Comment by Peter LLC — October 7, 2009 @ 5:06 am

  50. Card has an article on his views of music and sacrament meetings, Sacrament meeting not only place to enjoy sacred music. Somewhat relevant to a lot of the discussion.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 7, 2009 @ 7:31 am

  51. I did memorize on my mission, but only near the end. You know, to finally get the scriptorian awards. And then wouldn’t you know it, the new mission president actually told me he’d rather that I’d spent more time reading instead…

    I decided against memorizing any more scriptures – ever – after my mission. I noticed that during study, I sort of bleeped over every passage I’d memorized. It had the same effect as marking passages, which I had given up for the same reason. I don’t want my brain to assume that I understand something deeply just because I’ve memorized or marked it.

    I have a feeling this wouldn’t apply to scriptures in a foreign language, though.

    Back to the original post’s question: Amazing Grace in the hymnbook would pretty much do it for me. It would indicate that the focus of Church teaching had swung farther toward the grace side.

    Comment by The Right Trousers — October 7, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  52. Jacob: Alright, I’ll chew for ya:

    Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
    That saved a wretch like me.
    I once was lost but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.

    T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
    And Grace, my fears relieved.

    How precious did that Grace appear
    The hour I first believed.

    Through many dangers, toils and snares
    I have already come;
    Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
    and Grace will lead me home.

    The Lord has promised good to me.
    His word my hope secures.
    He will my shield and portion be,
    As long as life endures.

    Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.

    When we’ve been here ten thousand years
    Bright shining as the sun.
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’ve first begun.

    Grace changes the heart, brings belief and changes the nature from a wretch with no mention of doing anything to receive or accept or even do anything at all.

    Peter LLC: yeah, let’s hear it. I’ve gone to lots of Catholic masses and while there was a lot I liked (I always do my best to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve), I really dislike the wrote answers in the mass and the wrote prayers. They strike me as beyond impersonal and disgenuine in the sense that they don’t represent the expression of the one praying, but of someone who prayed for another. I’m open to the possibility that others genuinely find great solace and meaning in written prayers — they’re just not meaningful to me.

    Comment by Blake — October 7, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  53. Blake,

    It is a song about grace, so the fact that it focuses on grace and not works is hardly an explicit endorsement of Calvinism. I can just as easily (and wrongly) claim that the hymn Do What Is Right explicitly rejects the importance of grace since every verse is about doing the right and never about God’s grace. Furthermore, at the very best, you can claim the lyrics imply Calvinism; there is nothing resembling explicit Calvinism. There is not a line in the hymn I can’t sing with feeling.

    The author (John Newton) was a Calvinist, but was consistently moderate in his Calvinism and is on record as hating “high Calvinism” and favoring Arminianism in some respects. At any rate, if we reject hymns because we disagree with the author on theology, we’ll have to rip out a whole bunch of hymns from the hymnbook, so I’m sure you wouldn’t go so far as suggest that.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 7, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  54. To their credit, at least orthodox Calvinists do not believe that anyone will be saved without repentance. For all its peculiar weaknesses, Calvinism has some particular strengths as well, notably the recognition of God’s hand in all things, an emphasis on gratitude, patience, forbearance, divine providence, and so on.

    This is my favorite Calvinist hymn, written by an English poet, William Cowper, who was indeed deeply troubled by some of the implications of high Calvinism, but was a faithful believer nonetheless:

    God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.

    Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sovereign will.

    Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flower.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

    The second verse there is didn’t make it to our hymnal, for relatively obvious reasons. A great hymn nonetheless.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 7, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

  55. Jacob: At any rate, if we reject hymns because we disagree with the author on theology, we’ll have to rip out a whole bunch of hymns from the hymnbook, so I’m sure you wouldn’t go so far as suggest that.

    Yup, you’re right about that.

    Comment by Blake — October 8, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  56. Why the hell do you use a word like, “contumacious” in this post. Kind of destroys your point about the fallacy of memorizing and teaching by the spirit, rather than by dull rote.

    So why did you do it? Why??? WHY???

    Hey – speaking of missions, a few years ago I started to write a novel based on mine and put down some pretty good stuff.

    An then I started combining some of my experiences with photos and now it is turning into a non-fiction book.

    I am sure it will take me a few years yet, but once it is done, I think you will all take note.

    Comment by Bill of Wasilla — October 16, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  57. Oops…

    there was supposed to be a “?” at the end of the first sentence. There should have been a third, “why,” too, and it should have really be emphasized.

    And I should have added one more line:

    “Perhaps some of you will even be in it.”

    That would have got you excited.

    But I forgot.

    Darn.

    Comment by Bill of Wasilla — October 16, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

  58. Oops… oops…

    the first “be” should have been, “been.”

    I wonder how many more of these I can do?

    Comment by Bill of Wasilla — October 16, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

  59. Mark D.,

    All six verses appear in the previous LDS hymnbook, so either someone developed more delicate doctrinal sensibilities, or the verses (2 & 4) were cut for length as happened in many other cases. (such as High on the Mountain Top, O God, Our Help in Ages Past, The Lord is My Light, Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, and Know This, That Every Soul is Free, among others.)

    Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting.

    So it does not specifically say that guitar is not appropriate… only brass and percussion.

    Actually, it says most brass and percussion are not appropriate, which leaves open the possibility that there are instances where some might be appropriate. I have participated in many such instances.

    I have no problem with Amazing Grace in the hymnbook, but there are probably 100 great hymns I would include, and it would only be somewhere in the middle of that list.

    Finally, why would anyone want to sit during the hymns. In most other churches people stand for all the hymns, not just an intermediate hymn. Congregations and individuals sound much better if they are standing, since most people’s sitting posture is not conducive to proper singing.

    Comment by Bill — October 17, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

  60. Tell it, Bill. I like what you have to say.

    Comment by Hunter — October 17, 2009 @ 10:45 pm

  61. why would anyone want to sit during the hymns

    Because I’d rather sit than stand. Because I don’t really enjoy singing. Because I have a child on my lap. Because most of the congregation isn’t trained to sing to the degree that they actually would sound better whether sitting, standing, or lying down.

    Comment by BrianJ — October 17, 2009 @ 11:13 pm

  62. I don’t stand up half of the time. It’s not like they kick you out if you don’t stand up for the hymn.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 17, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  63. Why the hell do you use a word like, “contumacious” in this post. Kind of destroys your point about the fallacy of memorizing and teaching by the spirit, rather than by dull rote.

    Hmm, you lost me on your logic here. How does it destroy my point to use the word contumacious? To answer your question, I used the word because I think it is a great word and it means the thing I needed a word to mean for that particular spot in my sentence. (Incidentally, the context makes it abundantly clear what the word means even if you are unfamiliar with it, so I don’t think it’s much of a speed bump for the non-vocabularian.)

    Comment by Jacob J — October 18, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  64. I used the word because I think it is a great word and it means the thing I needed a word to mean for that particular spot in my sentence.

    Hehe.

    Weird — that’s usually why I use words too! (Like for instance, in that last sentence I went with “use” because it means the thing I needed for that particular spot in my sentence.)

    I was a bit baffled by that #56 comment. Was Bill in Wasilla taking a whack at humor? I chose to assume so…

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

  65. So, Jacob, where have you been lately anyway?

    Comment by Mark D. — October 18, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  66. Today on the O’Reilly Factor he made “contumacious” the word of the day and said it came from a viewer via email. I can only assume that viewer got it from this post.

    Mark D, nowhere special, just busy.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 26, 2009 @ 9:35 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.