Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

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Elder Ballard: Mormon Culture Warrior

Posted by Andrew on December 18, 2007

Submitted by: Andrew

A cultural revolution is underway in Mormondom, and Elder Ballard is at its front. Okay, so maybe that’s way too melodramatic of an introduction, but I’ve been reviewing some of Elder Ballard’s recent General Conference talks and I’ve been struck by how often he directly urges improvements in Mormon culture. Consider these quotes:

Eliminating Narrow-Mindedness and Exclusivity

Occasionally I hear of members offending those of other faiths by overlooking them and leaving them out. This can occur especially in communities where our members are the majority. I have heard about narrow-minded parents who tell children that they cannot play with a particular child in the neighborhood simply because his or her family does not belongto our Church. This kind of behavior is not in keeping with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

. . . I believe it would be good if we eliminated a couple of phrases from our vocabulary: “nonmember” and “non-Mormon.” Such phrases can be demeaning and even belittling. Personally, I don’t consider myself to be a “non-Catholic” or a“non-Jew.” I am a Christian.

. . . if neighbors become testy or frustrated because of some disagreement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or with some law we support for moral reasons, please don’t suggest to them—even in a humorous way—that they consider moving someplace else. I cannot comprehend how any member of our Church can even think such a thing! Our pioneer ancestors were driven from place to place by uninformed and intolerant neighbors. . . . If our history teaches us nothing else, it should teach us to respect the rights of all people to peacefully coexist with one another.

(M. Russell Ballard, “Doctrine of Inclusion,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 35.)

Easing the Burdens of Church Leaders and Members

The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. . . .

. . . What is most important in our Church responsibilities is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed. . . .

. . . [E]liminate guilt. I hope it goes without saying that guilt is not a proper motivational technique for leaders and teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must always motivate through love and sincere appreciation, not by creating guilt.

(M. Russell Ballard, “O Be Wise,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 17–20.)

Tempering Our Missionary Zeal

The most common request we hear is a fairly simple one that goes something like this: “Tell me a little about your Church.” The key word here is “little.” They are not saying, “Tell me everything you know and then send others to tell me everything else.”

. . .[W]e need to remember that there is a difference between interest and mere curiosity.

(M. Russell Ballard, “Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 25–27.)

Why are these aspects of Mormon culture of particular importance to Elder Ballard? In his most recent General Conference address, Elder Ballard mentioned that he serves on the Church’s Public Affairs committee. Perhaps his participation on that committee has given him greater exposure and sensitivity to how Mormons present themselves to the outside world. Elder Ballard’s guidance demonstrates that a healthy dose of self-analysis can prevent us from slipping into the false assumption that “All is well in Zion.”

4 Responses to “Elder Ballard: Mormon Culture Warrior”

  1. aainsworth said

    Comment originally submitted by: David

    Excellent point. Especially relevant given Elder Ballard’s recent comments on the need to engage new media.

  2. While recently hometeaching here in Augusta, Georgia, a home-teachee (from Utah) referred to Georgia as “the mission feild.” This always cracks me up. As if missionary work only occurs outside of the Utah state boundries.
    I appreciate Elder Ballard’s comments because his bottom line is-make a true friendship with your neighbor’s, born out of a desire to be friends, and good things will follow. Instead of be nice to someone and then maybe they will become a mormon, and if they aren’t interested, stick with your mormon friends.

  3. Matt said

    I find tremendous irony in the fact that Ballard makes such wonderful statements in his Doctrine of Inclusion only to encourage the Mormon church to pour money into advertising to (1) encourage narrow-mindedness about gay marriage and (2) become the uninformed and intolerant neighbor against gays that he so strongly discourages.

    Allowing others rights does not impinge on your own rights! Gays aren’t allowed temple marriage; that’s fine, that’s up to you. Why does civil marriage matter to you? Allowing others rights does not impinge on yours, but by being selfish and intolerant, it is easy to impinge on other’s rights.

  4. Pirsey said

    This topic is quite trendy in the net right now. What do you pay the most attention to when choosing what to write ?

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