Monday, April 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

"For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an 'ism becomes so involved in reaction against other 'isms that it is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive, constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities."
- John Dewey

Here, then, is something that might guide us, until it becomes an 'ism itself. Let us call it, antiism. Never before has the double-i looked so good, certainly not since Hawaii was discovered by Napoleon in 1924. I'm not saying let's purge the suffix "ism" from the language. But we could be like those people who continue to surf even though they lost both legs in a shark attack and now have to use a special surfboard with molded stump-slots. We realize that we will never actually "surf" again, but persist in the evolution of a new sport (sturping?) that is more humble and interesting than the original, not to mention more difficult, if somewhat less graceful.

'Isms should be like lawnmowers: useful but ultimately disposable. And even though your neighbor's may be shiny, rusty, fast, slow, gas, electric, push or ride, at the end of the day, it still does basically the same thing. I'm not talking about relativism. I'm not saying all lawn mowers are equal. I'm talking about the recognition that transcendence probably won't be found in any human interpretation of a reality that is hemmed in by geography, history, or biology. And that goes for Mormonism as well, as a historically situated institution on earth. As a mediator between me and the divine/ideal (yes, I believe in a God of parts and passions, I've just got a bad jargon habit), it's the best thing going right now. It is a bright repository of divine revelation. It is a tool of maximum efficiency. But if the circle is "Truth", then it is still inside of the circle. It is not the circle itself.

It's good to be inside the circle. It's expansive and humanizing. It keeps us connected us to the people and ideas around us, and makes for a lot of beautiful improvisation.

Don't ask me where this post came from. I must have swallowed a lotus flower last night.