10 quotes from Elder Holland’s BYU Education talk on the value of religion in today’s society
For several years now, I’ve been able to attend Education Week at Brigham Young University and write articles for the Deseret News highlighting the interesting things that are taught and shared.
For whatever reason, I’ve never attended the Tuesday devotional, which usually features an apostle or high-ranking leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So when they announced Elder Jeffrey R. Holland would speak, I made it a priority to be there. And it was awesome.
As a member of the media, they gave me a sweet (even cushioned) seat on the floor, close to the podium. I was even handed a copy of Elder Holland’s talk moments before he and his wife emerged from the tunnel to sit on the stand. I felt so fortunate to be in that position. The Marriott Center was packed to the gills, 17,000 strong, and I was so close I could read the teleprompter with Elder Holland.
The most important and memorable thing thought was the message that Elder Holland shared. Essentially, he said, religion is, and always has been, an important part of the social fabric of a society and the moral state of one’s soul. He titled his remarks, “Religion: ‘Bound by Loving Ties.'” I’m not going to recap the whole talk, but wanted to share 10 quotes that impressed me. My thanks to BYU and Jaren Wilkey for the photos.
1. “Religion is that which unites what was separated or holds together that which might be torn apart, an obvious need for us, individually and collectively, given trials and tribulations we all experience here in mortality.”
2. Quoting Will and Ariel Durant’s “lessons of history” — “There is no significant example in history of [any] society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”
3. “We should be genuinely concerned over the assertion that the single most distinguishing feature of modern life is the rise of secularism with its attendant dismissal of, cynicism toward, or marked disenchantment with religion.”
4. “Yes, in more modern times individuals can certainly be ‘spiritual’ in isolation but we don’t live in isolation; we live as families, friends, neighbors and nations. That calls for ties that bind us together and bind us to the good. That is what religion does for our society, leading the way for other respected civic and charitable organizations that do the same.”
5. Whether called secularism, modernity, or “existentialism on steroids,” such an approach to life “cannot answer the yearning questions of the soul nor is it substantial enough to sustain us in times of moral crises.”
6. “I do wish to make the very general observation that part of this shift away from respect for traditional religious beliefs — and even the right to express those religious beliefs — has come because of a conspicuous shift toward greater and greater preoccupation with the existential circumstances of this world and less and less concern for — or even belief in — the circumstances, truths and requirements of the next.”
7. “If we are not careful, we may find religion at the margins of society rather than the center of it, where religious beliefs and all the good works those beliefs have generated may be tolerated privately but not admitted (or at least not encouraged) publicly.”
8. “That is why religion matters. Voices of religious faith have elevated our vision, deepened our human conversation, and strengthened both our personal and collective aspiration since time began. … Where would be be without the sights and sounds of religion?”
9. “Beyond the social, political and cultural contributions that I have been focusing on today, I testify that true religion is infinitely more than that — it gives us ‘peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come,’ as the scripture phrases it.”
10. “Only in the living of our religion will the preservation of it have true meaning.”