On Sunday morning of the April 1971 General Conference Richard L Evans gave a highly quotable talk, titled Where are You Really Going? I could quote pretty much the whole thing. John Ruskin’s dream you won’t want to miss, of course, and there’s the wonderful aphorism that today is part of eternity.
So naturally I’m going to talk about a different talk all together.
The talk is Choose You This Day by N. Eldon Tanner. It’s about the personal choice that confronts us. We can follow Christ or not. Much depends on what we decide.
But the most striking feature of the talk for me was Brother Tanner’s digression (?) into why things fail. Nations, empires, institutions, monuments, and greatness all fall down. He quotes Toynbee, the historian who is out of fashion now, and truth be told was out of fashion then.
Toynbee was the great historian of the fall of empires. He eventually became, as a scholar John Riley put it, markedly evangelistic. He concluded that the only thing that could put off the the decay was rebirth, and the rebirth could the only come through the great religions. Indeed, and here I’m quoting John Riley again, eventually Toynbee came to see the rise and fall of empires as something that was valuable mostly because of the great religions it brought into being. So that’s Toynbee’s perspective, and the kind of man that Brother Tanner is quoting.
For Brother Tanner’s purposes, what Toynbee says is is that nations do not need to fall, but they must choose something differently than all their predecessors have. That different thing, Brother Tanner says, is individual repentance. National reformation consist of the many, many individual repentances of the people who make up the nation.
We may doubt that this will happen. If it does happen, we may doubt that it will stick. History does not show us any eternal nations. But individual repentance can stick.
Rome left something behind it. In a small corner of the empire, a baby was born. He lived, he died, and he lived again. His followers were ordinary people, but the miracles they had seen made them more than ordinary. They became missionaries and proselyters like had never been before. Rome fell, but the Christianity that grew up in Rome survived and was eternal.
Elder Tanner’s message is this, you like Rome will fall. Unless there is a Bethlehem in some corner of your heart where Christianity is born and spreads.
|The Mormon Way to Love||http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2015/12/22/the-mormon-way-to-love|
|Avoiding “the destroying angel of domestic biterness”||https://symphonyofdissent.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/avoiding-the-destroying-angel-of-domestic-bitterness/|
|Progress or Decline||http://admin.patheos.com/blogs/soulandcity/2015/12/progress-or-decline/|
|The Mansion and a quote||http://mormonwoman.org/2015/12/22/treasures|