Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Past Way of Facing the Future

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Past Way of Facing the Future, by Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Do you ever wish for the imagined simplicity of days gone by? To sit on the front porch of the farm without distractions or busy-ness to draw attention?

I do.

But then I realize that I have very little practical skills, and I return to the present. But what about the innovations and ingenuity that occurred in the last 200 years? Ronald Reagan (and Elder Perry) have the following to say:

I do not want to go back to the past; I want to go back to the past way of facing the future.

Although I've been to the Manti temple only a few times, those visits are quite memorable to me. I recall going with my roommate and a friend, where I first heard that the temple's roof was designed as an upside-down boat. At this visit, a temple worker gave us a guided tour of the temple, including an impressive trip to one of the temple's two spiral stairways constructed without a central support (see picture below, which I didn't take, btw).

I made another visit a few years later, now married, with our then one-year-old only child. We enjoyed spending time on the temple grounds building memories.

The pioneer-era temples provide a level of inspiration even above the more modern temples. I enjoyed when Elder Perry waxed philosophical, hearing the following in each room of the Manti Temple:

Look at what we built with our own hands. We had no power equipment. No contractors or subcontractors were involved in the construction, no fancy cranes to lift up the heavy stones. We performed this labor under our own power.

The conclusion of this impressive recounting is the importance of "having a working knowledge of the basic principles." Elder Perry ties this all together:

Embedded in the gospel of Jesus Christ there are eternal principles and truths that will last far longer than the principles of building ships and roofs. . . . You and I both know how important these eternal principles and truths are in our lives. I’m not sure those early pioneers could have faced the perils and uncertainties of the future without them, and neither can we. They are the only true and eternal way to face the future.

We love to imagine living in the good old days (at least certain parts of the good old days!), but perhaps what made the good old days so "good" was the past way of facing the future. I want to employ clever ingenuity as I face problems of today, remembering always the eternal principles and truths that are so important.

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