Aug 7, 2007

Doctrine Vs Practice

The correct way to do something versus the artistic way to do something comes up a lot even in the trade publication I work for (see you aren’t supposed to end your sentences this way). And it often causes a great deal of grief. I realize fussing over journalistic speak and proper English speak is not going to affect (or is that effect) the fate of the free world, but it can cause bad feelings between coworkers. So someone with the proper authority (usually the publisher) has to decide the way it goes.

I thought of this when I had a funny missionary moment recently at a single’s (or is that singles’) event. I took a nonmember friend to a game night. One of the games was a funny version of musical chairs. Using temple garments was hysterical to me because although my friend had a vague idea of what that was, she really had no concept of what it meant, nor of course did she have any. I think on a personal note I wouldn’t have used that in the game anyway. But I digress (as writers so often do). At some point in the evening, we split up into groups by numbering off. We got a duo of iron rodders (hope you get the reference). Ultimately, they made the game miserable by following the rules to the extent that it really wasn’t any fun. Even funnier to me was at the end as we were walking out, she asked why we had a picture with two gods in it. I was a bit puzzled until she showed me the first vision. I reminded her that we believe Jesus and Heavenly Father to be separate personages. She looked at me and blurted out "But clones?" I had to laugh. I said well that's how that artist protrays them. I don't actually know since I haven't had the privilege of "seeing" either one of them.

Which brings me (I hope) to my point today. Balance! We see so little of that today. Some things are doctrine in the writing world and in each specific genre. Like subject/verb agreement, but much is left to practice. I’m reading Jesus the Christ (again) since we are studying the New Testament. The way he wrote (well, that’s discluding [see I made up a word] the words he uses I have to reference in the dictionary) is too flowery for me. He uses six words, whereas today we might use two. But Talmadge’s doctrine is on target, his practice is decidedly different from today’s.

Which is more important? On surface, one would immediately say doctrine. And that would be a true statement sort of. Because what do you determine to be doctrine? And who decides that? Something to consider in our writing.


  1. Enjoyed your blog, Terri. The clones part made me crack up.

  2. Good question, Terri. In writing, exactly what must be conformed to as docrine? and where can we exercise our agency? I often think of how Mark Twain was banned in many libraries, yet he's listed among the 'greats'. The Christian reformers, had their very lives taken because they dared to be different. The Harry Potter books are horrifying to many a good Christian because they teach 'witchcraft' while yet others see nothing sinister, but merely a thrilling struggle between right and wrong, with 'right' winning.

    I'm not sure I understand just what you mean by 'balance'. But if it means using care in exercising our agency, reaching out in love to everyone, being slow to condemn, and judging only insofar as we are called upon to judge, then I'm all for it.

    But when we KNOW what's right, if we deviate, then aren't we out of balance? Just a thought, but thanks for prodding me to think.


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