Is “compassion” a significant idea in Latter-day Saint thinking?

Is “compassion” a significant idea in Latter-day Saint thinking? August 18, 2019


Snow Canyon SP  I'm fond of it.
Snow Canyon State Park is just a few minutes from where I’m currently sitting.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


A quite unfriendly correpondent has challenged me.  Why, he — I presume it’s a “he” — demands, did my recently re-posted column on compassion deliberately exclude my own faith?  Isn’t it because I feel no obligation to be compassionate?  Isn’t it because I’m unrepentantly, indeed self-righteously, mean and vicious?


Well, no.


Apparently, he missed or forgot about my recently published introduction to Volume 32 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


“Compassion as the Heart of the Gospel”

Abstract: The Greek philosopher Aristotle, clearly one of the world’s great geniuses, created the concept of the “unmoved mover,” which moves “other things, but is, itself, unmoved by anything else.” This label became the standard Jewish, Christian, and Muslim description of an impersonal God — a God without body, parts or passions — a concept that has, for nearly 20 centuries, dominated western theology, philosophy, and science. The problem for thinkers in these religious traditions is that the God depicted in the Bible and the Qur’an is plainly personal. A careful review of the Bible and modern scripture reveals a “compassionate, feeling” God. Numerous scriptures confirm that God, in fact, “feels more deeply than we can even begin to imagine.”


The essay may, of course, be very poorly done — I have no illusions at all that my anonymous correspondent won’t dislike what I wrote — but it pretty clearly does suggest that compassion is an important idea in Latter-day Saint doctrine.  Or, anyway, that in my mind it is.




Whew.  That’s threatening.  Will I be obliged to give up what several of my critics maintain has been my career of mean-spirited hatefulness and seething rage?  Will I need to at least appear to be a decent human being?


Those two articles — both written by me — would seem to suggest such a conclusion.  (What was I thinking?  Why would I have written such self-incriminating pieces?)


Fortunately, though, I’ve just found an article in Christianity Today that I can twist and distort and misread and abuse so as to justify my alleged personal preference, demonstrated over a long and nasty life, for viciousness, cruelty, and hurtfulness:


“Why Niceness Weakens Our Witness: I can’t follow Christ and also succeed at being nice.”


That’s not really what the author is trying to say, of course.  But who cares?


Posted from St. George, Utah



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