Chapters 6 to 12 of Helaman highlight what Mormons have come to call the “pride cycle” — the cycle from righteousness and prosperity to pride and wickedness to suffering and to humility and repentance, leading back to righteousness and prosperity. Its a fascinating concept, one that I’m afraid we use too often to describe the world and others, and too little to refer to ourselves. I mean, when was the last time you asked yourself where you were in the “pride cycle?”
To explore the cycle a little, I discovered the following poem by E. Henry Webb, which contrasts one part of the pride cycle (Babel’s pride) with the gathering of the Saints.
By the time this poem was written, Webb was a local leader in his native England. Born in Gloucestershire in 1808, he was one of the earliest English converts, joining in March 1840. He serves as a local missionary in his home area and held leadership positions in the local conferences (equivalent to today’s districts). A little more than a year after this poem was published he immigrated to Utah and then went on to California, aligning himself with the RLDS Church in 1861. He was active in that movement in Sacramento and San Francisco until his death in 1883.
by E. H. Webb
- Can this be home, where day by day,
- Oppress’d, I wear the hours away?
- Can this be home, where lonely night.
- Prepares me for the toils of light?
- Does ought this land possess, endear,
- Or fond remembrance chain me here?
- Midst all thy scenes I lonely sigh;
- Brethren, you can answer why,
- The home of Saints is home to me;
- And home without them cannot be.
- I find no home in Babel’s pride,
- With wealth so great, and fame so wide,
- With scarlet beast, and whore’s attire,
- Which kings and courtiers so admire;
- Her daughters, who with harlot grace,
- Abound so much in every place,
- Have lost the charm they had on me,
- With saints alone I wish to be;
- The joy, the bliss, their presence give,
- Is home, in which my heart can live.
- Will God observe my anxious sigh,
- And answer prayer bye-and-bye?
- Will he to me this blessing give,
- The home in which I long to live?
- Zion is where I sigh to be,
- The home of Saints is home to me.
- There shall the past and future meet,
- Angels shall Saints as brethren greet,
- God shall blessings on us shower,
- And render blissful every hour;
- Yea, resting, spread his guardian shade,
- To bless the home that Saints have made.
- Zion indeed a home will be,
- With plenty, holy, glorious, free.
Millennial Star, 15 January 1847, p. 30-31
Webb sees England as being in the pride and wickedness portion of the cycle, and describes his homeland as full of Babel’s pride, and With wealth so great, and fame so wide. After painting England in such terms, Webb goes on to present a contrasting picture of life in zion, the kind of description that might come from the righteousness and prosperity part of the cycle. He suggests that in zion “Angels shall Saints as brethren greet,” and that “God shall blessings on us shower.”
Given these high expectations and Webb’s subsequent move to California, perhaps the difficult conditions in Utah didn’t meet his expectations for righteousness and prosperity. I wonder if dashed expectations like that might also be part of the “pride cycle?”