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.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Marriott Center this week as part of BYU Education Week. (BYU Photo)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the Marriott Center this week as part of BYU Education Week. (BYU Photo)

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.

This was the view from my seat, more or less. (BYU Photo)

This was the view from my seat, more or less. (BYU Photo)

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.

Elder Holland spoke about the importance of religion in our society. (BYU photo)

Elder Holland spoke about the importance of religion in our society. (BYU photo)

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.”

A view of what Elder Holland saw as he looked out over the crowd. (BYU photo)

A view of what Elder Holland saw as he looked out over the crowd. (BYU photo)

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.”

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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?”

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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.”

1608-44 523 Education Week Elder Holland Devotional August 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 842

1608-44 533 Education Week Elder Holland Devotional August 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 852

1608-44 521 Education Week Elder Holland Devotional August 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 840

 

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Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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