Quotes of Note will be a recurring series of lesser-known General Authority statements of interest, as conversation starters. I’m starting with a favorite.
“We need to develop the capacity to form judgments of our own about the value of ideas, opportunities, or people who may come into our lives. We won’t always have the security of knowing whether a certain idea is “Church approved,” because new ideas don’t always come along with little tags attached to them saying whether they have been reviewed at Church headquarters. Whether in the form of music, books, friends, or opportunities to serve, there is much that is lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy that is not the subject of detailed discussion in Church manuals or courses of instruction. Those who will not risk exposure to experiences that are not obviously related to some Church word or program will, I believe, live less abundant and meaningful lives than the Lord intends.
We must develop sufficient independence of judgment and maturity of perspective that we are prepared to handle the shafts and whirlwinds of adversity and contradiction that may come to us. When those times come, we cannot be living on borrowed light. We should not be deceived by the clear-cut labels others may use to describe circumstances that are, in fact, not so clear. Our encounters with reality and disappointment are, actually, vital stages in the development of our maturity and understanding.” Elder Bruce Hafen, “On Dealing with Uncertainty”Ensign July 1979. At the time, Hafen was President of Ricks College.
Though I love the whole article, several things strike me in this statement. Briefly summarized, first is the idea of not expecting or waiting on Salt Lake to put a stamp of approval on anything good in the world, and the dual acknowledgement that this entails risk and that there is plenty of good in the world that goes unrecognized by official LDS publications. Second, a recognition that we can sometimes apply simplistic labels, which is ultimately unproductive and perhaps even spiritually harmful.
Really, read the whole thing. He begins with “Early in life, most of us think of things in terms of black or white—there is very little gray in either the intellectual or the spiritual dimension of our perspective.” He also warns of the danger of becoming cynical. His sermon is one of those touchstones in my personal canon.