Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reflections: An Enemy Hath Done This

Adam C. Zern offers his thoughts on Elder Ezra Taft Benson's An Enemy Hath Done This:

“I have mentioned before that Ezra Taft Benson is one of my most admired statesmen.  Elder Benson is an especially unique political figure because he held such prominent office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an Apostle and eventually as President of the Church.  The LDS Church has long endorsed a policy of neutrality toward politics; therefore, to read An Enemy Hath Done This can be somewhat of a jarring experience for members of the LDS Church who confuse politics with principles.  Elder Benson is forthright, blunt, and surprisingly specific—going so far as to endorse and criticize specific actions of government.

An Enemy Hath Done This is a compilation of many of Elder Benson’s speeches and comments circa 1960s.  The compilation was done by Jerreld L. Newlquist, who also worked on the compilation of Prophets, Principles, and National Survival, which Elder Benson recommends members of the LDS Church to read on several occasions.  The fact that the book is a compilation was my least favorite part of the book simply because it lends itself to redundancy between the chapters.

Elder Benson was a serious man who had serious concerns for the welfare and perpetuation of the United States of America.  His powerful denouncements of socialism and communism and the principles that support them can, in my opinion, not be misunderstood.  I’m certain that many members of the LDS Church will be surprised by how clearly Elder Benson lays out the proper principles of governance (the chapter on the proper role of government was my favorite).  I think Elder Benson was ignored by many members of the LDS Church during his day and is especially ignored by many during our current day.  I’m sure it’s easy for many to disregard much of what Elder Benson said regarding government and ideology simply because he didn’t say it in General Conference (although he did say a lot in General Conference that is still ignored) or didn’t say 'Thus saith the lord' or ignore it for some other reason.  However, I think that Jerreld L. Newquist’s comment in the introduction to Prophets, Principles, and National Survival is an appropriate springboard from which to jump into the reading of An Enemy Hath Done This:

‘We should remember that whether speaking by inspiration or expressing personal viewpoints the Prophets are often learned and experienced men of sound judgment who carefully choose their words, especially if speaking to a public gathering.’

An Enemy Hath Done This is a must read for every Latter-day Saint.”

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