Bad advice, good advice


This week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will seek to allay fears that his Mormon faith is a negative attribute. I assume he will do well.
However, I saw several news reports leading to his address that included unsolicited advice for the former Massachusetts governor. One was particularly bad.
A Republican strategist on CNN recommended that Romney tell the nation that he belongs to a “large, mainstream Christian” denomination.
Surely Romney and his close advisers are smarter than that. The road to the White House is not paved with attempts to convince the more conservative evangelicals that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints squares with widely held descriptions of orthodox Christianity.
Better advice would have been to talk about commitments to fairness, honesty and generosity common to his faith and that of most Americans.
But this political “expert” spouting bad advice got me to thinking about how much stuff we all have to sort through in life.
When the computer age was developing in the 1980s, I commented in a small group about how we would soon be learning new skills and reviving our old typing fingers. A retired educator quickly assured me that only a few experts would actually use computers on a daily basis for the benefit of us all.
Learning computers would be a waste of time for most of us, he explained. I wonder how many desktops or laptops he has owned since offering that great insight.
One of the important disciplines in life is discerning, with God’s help, what advice to heed and what to ignore.
There are perhaps more advice-givers in the realm of religious faith and practice than any other arena. Maybe Jesus sensed that when he urged his followers to be wise as serpents while being gentle as doves.

5 Comments

  1. John Pierce wrote:
    ((One of the important disciplines in life is discerning, with God’s help, what advice to heed and what to ignore.))

    That statement relates to the notion of mature adults being reluctant to re-balance, including their spirituality, from time to time recently discussed in another post. Perhaps a reason is because getting it wrong (heeding poor advice) has consequences.

    Recently there has been some emphasis on “story telling” or telling one’s story. That seems to be a version of “testimony” to me. Such testimony/story telling usually references a salvation experience followed by a deeper experience at some later date. In essence that is acknowledging that during the interval(s) between those experiences, we were getting it partially wrong. The deeper experience is an instance of re-balancing. At those times we shed some hindrances and experience more of the Holy Spirit. Part of the Christian process is a continuum of becoming better balanced.

  2. JP: I want to accent the intro to your thought for today.
    Robert Parham has one of his best pieces ever, up at his http://www.ethicsdaily.com about Romney’s dillemma with HBee in Iowa. Says Romney is in a conundrum where Kennedy only faced a riddle in 1960.
    I think Robert does the distinction justice.
    Even deeper in the discussion between Baps and the LDS is my guidestone for all this, Harold Bloom’s comparison of the LDS to the SBC takeovers in Bloom’s great 93 American Religiion.
    Loosely falls back to my quote of the week from No Country for Old Men: “Point bein even in a contest between a man and a steer the outcome is not certain.”
    Prescott is good for me. I could use a little more balance.

  3. Thanks for the feedback. I erred in the timing of Romney’s speech on religion (now corrected), but my point is the same.
    Learning what advice to accept and what to reject is vitally important in all areas of life.
    Robert Parham gives good insight into how some politicians use their religious affiliations (and/or the affiliations of their opponents) for religious gain.
    So do the polls coming out of NH (where Romney’s less church oriented neighbors have him in the lead with Huckabee a distant fourth) and Iowa (where the evangelicals seem to respond well to Huckabee’s “Christian leader” designation).

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