Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smitten? Really?

Yesterday I took S-Boogie to a practice for the Primary program at church. Little Dude and I waited while the children practiced. One of the songs the children sang was "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet," and a pair of lines in the second verse stood out to me:
The wicked who fight against Zion
Will surely be smitten at last.
I understand that this song was written in the 1860s, when the LDS church had recently been chased, by threat of extermination, out of the United States. I can see the need for a persecuted minority group to feel that God is on their side, that he will punish their enemies. A hundred and fifty years later, though, now that the church is an international organization with millions of members, even more millions of dollars, and some pretty jaw-dropping political power, I find this verse rather terrifying. Particularly considering the fact that, by many definitions, I am among "the wicked who fight against Zion" and that's my daughter up there singing that. Shouldn't you be teaching these children that, I don't know, the wicked will one day be overcome by our love for them and come to accept the truth of a God who cares as much for them as he does for us? Instead you're teaching them that God--a God who, by the way, is known more often than not to exercise his will through the hands of his followers--will smite these people, who are also his children? Do you suppose it's time to rewrite that verse? Or maybe just choose a different song?

That said, the Primary Program was today and, apart from that bit of dissonance, I enjoyed it. S-Boogie and her classmates all mumbled their parts into the microphone adorably, sweet voices sang about a faith that adds meaning to their families' lives, and an endearing lack of appropriate intonation made just about every line spoken over the pulpit amusingly unintelligible.


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Anonymous said...

I've always thought that that particular hymn is a vitriolic little song.

Word verification: anstnzoo. Really.

B.G. Christensen said...

Thanks for popping by, R.E.II.

And thank you, Ugly Swan, for popping by. It's a happy day when I get a comment from the Ugly Swan.

Mimsy Buttons said...

Well, they say "smitten" and not "smite" which means you're capable of interpreting "smitten" in terms of "I'm smitten with you". i.e. those who fight against zion will develop a big crush on the church.

B.G. Christensen said...

Ooh, I like that. I have already had crushes on several Mormons throughout my life, so it's only logical that I'll develop a big crush on the church itself sooner or later.

TK said...

I see Mimsy has already expressed my line of thinking. I don't see your example of being overcome by the love of God, and the word 'smitten' in the song as necessarily opposing each other. I think God will go with whatever works. :) I don't doubt that love would be His first choice, too.

B.G. Christensen said...

If love is the church's goal, TK, and I don't doubt that it is, I think they need to work on better ways of communicating it.