I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never-"
"You lie," he cried
And ran on.
Thank you for writing. I will state again that I enjoyed our evening
discussion and receiving your nice note. It is through the honest
exchange of ideas, through give and take, through speaking and
listening that each man grows. By hearing your thoughts, and
listening to them, I learned and grew.
I mentioned that Stephen Crane is my favorite poet. Have you ever
read any of his poetry? Like your note beseeching me to read the Book
of Mormon to find spiritual insights, I offer the same challenge back
to you. I have the public domain text of his work on my site (and
links to his society's web page). You can link here
to read my Stephen Crane pages in entirety.
He is a rather obscure author that lived during America's civil war
(most famous for his novel "The Red Badge of Courage").
While I find his fiction and novels mildly interesting, I found many
of his small biting snippets of poetry extremely challenging and
insightful to my developing intellect and reason. They served as a
catalyst to help me better understand myself and others during my
personal time of adolescent spiritual awakening.
One of Crane's first works to affect me is shown above.
I first read this poem in high school, an age where a normal young
man seeks the meaning and purpose of life. I was not attending
"seminary" six days a week, predestined to fulfill a
"mission", constantly barraged with testimonials of the
"correct" definitions for the meaning and purpose of life
and the "proper way" to recognize that I had received it. I
was allowed to seek these very personal lessons in my own way and
from my own divine sources. I read A LOT of literature (yet have
never had time to read the Book of Mormon). I will encourage you to
read the poetry of Stephen Crane with the same enthusiasm (and
probably the same success) that you encouraged me to read the works
of your favorite author, Joseph Smith.
This particular verse was an early insight for me, revealing first
the notion that in future years I would often see things that others
could not (or would not) see for themselves, and second the fact that
a man will not be thanked for pointing out the futility of another's
hopeless efforts. Some would say this verse specifically applies to
any attempt for open exchange on the subject of religion with a
Mormon (or for that matter, any charismatic evangelical).
I often encounter others that consider my words "lies" when
my words are simply insights from a perspective that they themselves
do not or cannot possess. But the speaker in Crane's poem does not
seem to express any personal anguish that his advice is unheeded or
any need to pursue that advice beyond his simple passing comment. The
speaker seems able to serenely accept the fact that others will
righteously pursue a folly, that he will be attacked for his effort
to help; and to be satisfied that he did his part simply by trying to
save that man from foolishness. The man doing the
"accosting" is definitely not a missionary in deeds or
attitude. He is simply doing God's work as the opportunity is
presented to him.
The willingness or necessity to pursue the pointless task of
convincing another, of fixing something that is not broken, is a
behavior that is drilled into young men before they are sent off to
do missionary work. I am not talking only about LDS/Mormons, but any
religion. I was forced one recent Sunday to sit and listen to an 8
year old stand at the pulpit of my Methodist church and proclaim his
personal testimony that Jesus had spoken directly to him and called
upon him to accompany his parents on a mission to convert the
residents of Honduras to a particular sect of Protestant
Christianity. Of course, his parents stood behind him and beamed with
pride. The poor child sincerely believed the words he spoke (and who
knows, they may even have been true). But when that family arrives in
Honduras, they will be in a foot race with an LDS missionary, and a
Jesuit Catholic, a Baptist, a follower of Islam and a Jewish
Is that what "Jesus wants"? What would Jesus do?
I'm sure you've read about the Inquisition and the Crusades. You know
well about the Intifada and Zionism and Jihads, the IRA and
Orangemen, all acts of terror played out in the name and honor of
God. From Joan of Arc to the Martyrs of Nauvoo, it is a basic truth
that more hate, more death, more wounded feelings, and personal
misunderstanding have come from disagreements about the earthly
manifestations and human interpretations of that force which each
antagonist individually considers to be the representation of
Those that do not kill or pester for their God, most certainly
exclude or deride. And like it or not, Mormons are on that list. Like
the woman that would go to bed with a strange man for a million
dollars but not twenty, we've established she's a whore and are now
only negotiating price. There is no philosophical difference between
any religion that practices exclusionary and derisionary love, only a
matter of degree. There is more in common between the exclusionary
sacred rites performed in locked-up Mormon temples and the deranged
acts of Middle Eastern subway bombers than any saint of these latter
days will admit. And all of this dehumanizing of unlike people of
unlike perceptions is done in the name of God's love, to
"save" those misguided souls from the loss of access to the
one most holy, the one whose very premise is forgiveness and perfect
love. Jesus bent over backward to open the temples to the masses,
forgave the Romans, and preached his message that any man need only
accept him to receive his love. Did your "prophet" proclaim
or pervert that all loving promise?