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A prophet is a prophet, but Fig Newtons are fruit and cake

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I'm wondering if I've taken intellectual skepticism a little too far.

I was speaking with my father about a week ago as the MLB trade deadline approached. As many of you may know, I'm a devoted supporter of the finest club on earth, the St. Louis Cardinals. We both agreed that the Cards need an outfield solution for the future (and for the next month or so due to massive injuries), but that there simply weren't many options on the board. Names discussed (quite hopefully) were Moises Alou and Wily Mo Pena, while the more realistic options included Aubrey Huff and Raul Ibanez. But the Mariners weren't selling and the Devil Rays required a pound of flesh, three can't miss prospects, and thirty pieces of silver for their trinkets. I then uttered a phrase that I would almost laugh at if I heard it from a member of the Church:

"Well, Dad, we've gotta trust Walt (Jocketty, the St. Louis general manager). He's never led us wrong before."

A brief recap of Mr. Jocketty's midseason deals:

1997: Brought Mark McGwire to St. Louis for T.J. Mathews, Manny Aybar, and another prospect. Mac not only was a crucial (if oft-injured) part of two winning teams (2000 and 2001), but increased revenue and injected energy into a Cardinal team that had really hit the skids after the unexpected success of 1996. Plus, he convinced Cardinal Nation that the Cardinals intended to win.

1998: Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre to the Rangers for Fernando Tatis and Darren Oliver. People forget that Tatis was a monster in 1999 and 2000. In '99, he hit .298-34-107. In 2000, he hit .253-18-64 in part time duty, despite numerous injuries that would eventually be his downfall. Stottlemyre would never again be a factor. Clayton always sucked. Even though Tatis didn't really pan out, he got more for cheaper.

2000: In my view, the most significant single-season impact: Jocketty sent a pittance to Baltimore for Will Clark, who was languishing with 9 HR on the deadline. Clark ignited St. Louis as a replacement for the injured Mac, hitting over .340 with twelve homeruns in August and September. He was the protection for Edmonds when the two biggest run producers (Mac and Tatis) were injured.

2001: Jocketty deals an unhappy Ray Lankford for an unhappy Woody Williams. The Padres get a washed up outfielder (my favorite player ever by the way) and the Cardinals get a productive starter for three and a half years.

2002: Polanco, Timlin, and Bud Smith for Scott Rolen. If it weren't for occasional injuries, this would even be more lopsided (although Polanco has turned out well).

2004: Larry Walker for pennies on the dollar. A big help down the stretch and he may yet be productive in September and October.

A great track record in a middle-market city. But he's kind of made a few boners as well. For example, dealing Dmitri Young for Jeff Brantley. The inability to resolve second base for five years. It's never been a strong point at all. The failure to get pitching help in 1999 or in 2003. There have been issues, although I think Jocketty is the best GM in baseball east of Billy Beane.

So why am I writing this? First, I want to praise Walt to people other than those that have to deal with me every day. But mostly, I want to call attention to a significant difference in the way that I see Walt and the way that I see the Church.

I trust Jocketty nearly absolutely in matters dealing with the Cardinals. I didn't like the David Eckstein signing, but I didn't complain much, because Walt knows best. I could have done without some other decisions that he's made. But I'll defend him against any and all criticism.

Now, I basically trust the prophet in matters of basic doctrine. But that's about it. Whatever he says about politics or ear piercings or any number of other diversionary topics is basically disregarded in my mind. If all commandments are spiritual in nature, I can't really establish those spheres, can I?

Somebody on M* said that you should wonder if you're really inspired if you're constantly being driven to be an exception. I don't see any reason to reject that logic out of hand, although I think the purpose of that argument is to inspire conformity more than to inspire inspiration. But, hey, that's a decent point. Shouldn't you at least wonder what's wrong if what works for most everyone else never works for you?

I'll go ahead and ask a question of you all that I find interesting. Would you listen to the prophet no matter what, in whatever sphere he is speaking? Or do you draw lines like me? Discuss.

Is there a problem when I'd criticize GBH's views of doctrine much more extensively than I'd criticize Walt's (correct) decision to stand pat at the deadline?

4 Responses to “A prophet is a prophet, but Fig Newtons are fruit and cake”

  1. Blogger Pris 

    Yeah, for what the D-Rays wanted in return for Huff, it's a good thing y'all didn't pick him up. BTW, the M's were selling outfielders, just not Ibanez--they sent Winn to SF. (And how 'bout those 'Stros?)

    On to the questions:

    1) Clearly I'm not going to espouse the party line. In matters not relating to hard doctrine (which, if the prophet is The Prophet, he should be taken completely seriously) I think it's okay to draw lines. Like, the Prophet, in a non-Prophet capacity, is like a father or older brother or teacher: take his advice seriously (he has more life experience than we do, and his prophet capacity may seep through a bit). If the Prophet says, "don't get a tongue stud" I'm going to say, "Why?" and try to figure it out. It factors into my decision but, in the end, it is my decision.

    2) If we're going to draw a GM-Prophet similarity, I'd say that the Prophet's decisions are more comparble to "drafting a high school player" than "midseason trade." With the trade, there's a lot of data you can analyze, you've seen the player perform in the major leagues (context), etc. But drafting a high school player is much much more guess work.

    Life doesn't have all that much data by which to pre-judge the Prophet's advice. How much does getting a piercing matter? I don't know, and the only way to is to assume that the Prophet (like a scout) has some information we don't have.

    (We'll see if Walt made the correct decision. I wouldn't be suprised if the Cards aren't the NL representative this year. Clearly the NL West is impotent, so the Cards will make the NLCS. But check out their non-division record (36-27; 9-10 v. East) and things get interesting. If the Astros and Braves keep up their trends from the last month, and the Cards aren't 95% healthy, I don't see the Cards playing in October.)

  2. Anonymous Anonymous 

    "Prophet" today is a word used to refer to a position in the Church hierarchy and not to a relationship with God. I think a prophet must teach about things related to appearence, for instance, because it has to do with the sacredness of the human body (unless we consider those stupid counsels on wearing white shirt and tie or not growing a beard - but these are not taught in General Conferences or official publications as far as I know). There are perhaps a few itens I think a true prophet wouldn't be interested in talking about (as I try to figure out what items the only one that comes to my mind is sports!:)

    For me it is not a matter of topic/field but what is being taught. Even in terms of doctrine I feel myself obligated to seek the guidance of the Spirit instead of trusting entirely on the views of the President of the Church or anyone else.

    In the April 2003 General Conference, Pres. Hinckley stated that the invasion of Iraq was a right decision and a continuation of the war in heaven. I completely oppose his views on this not because politics has nothing to do with religion and therefore GBH is not qualified to give his advice or opinion on it, but because his statements were wrong in terms of doctrine. It is a matter of doctrine. And all the revealed doctrine we have in the scriptures don´t support his views.

    The mantra "follow the prophet" is not part of the original doctrine of Mormonism and there are lots of statements by Brigham and others, for example, dealing with the necessity of receiving revelation and confirmation instead of just believing. "Follow the prophet, don't worry and be happy" became a "doctrine" in the times of Heber J. Grant. He said:

    "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." (Heber J. Grant, speaking to Bishop Marian G. Romney, quoted in Conference Report,Oct. 1960, p. 78)

    Here are some interesting quotes on the issue as taught by BY.

    "What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." (Brigham Young, JD 9:147)

    "How often has it been taught that if you depend entirely upon the voice, judgment and sagacity of those appointed to lead you, and neglect to enjoy the Spirit for yourselves, how easily you may be led into error, and finally be cast off to the left hand?" (Brigham Young, JD 8: 59)

    Just my 2 cents. I am sorry if I wrote too much.


  3. Blogger D-Train 

    Good words, Antonio. My issue is not with whether to unquestioningly obey (we're both agreed that this won't be happening), but with how much presumption to give the prophet. Should I evaluate his words as I would consider things I hear in class or at work? How much leeway should I give him? In short, how much of a gap in opinion or knowledge should trust in the prophet make up?

    And shoot, given the length of my ramblings, I could never complain about a long comment. I love it when folks speak their mind. Hope you come back around.

  4. Blogger Rolo 

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