Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sutton's Law & Sinners

Willie Sutton (1901-1980)
As a medical student I was impressed with an approach to diagnosing medical problems known as Sutton's Law. Briefly stated, it says that we should consider the most obvious solution to a problem first.  So when an elderly man with diabetes and hypertension gets crushing chest pain while shoveling snow, you should order tests to check for a heart attack rather than a workup for a broken rib or muscle strain.  It's pretty much common sense (but you'd be amazed at how often common sense gets tossed aside when an inexperienced medical student first starts seeing patients). It has served me well for many years.

One would think that Sutton's Law is named after an astute medical educator that had a knack for dropping memorable clinical pearls that students could remember.  In reality, Sutton's Law named after a bank robber.  Willy Sutton was a career bank robber with multiple heists in the 1930's and 1940's using a variety of clever techniques, disguises and ingenuity. In 1952 he was arrested for the final time and sentenced to a 30-120 years sentence and sent to Attica. It's is said that while being led away to prison, a reported called out saying 'Willie, why do you keep robbing banks?'  Willie's reply became the foundation of Sutton's Law: 'Because that's where the money is.'  Ever since, experienced doctors go where the money is when ordering diagnostic testing and medical problem solving. 

Athough Willie Sutton denied ever saying his famous line that became known as Sutton's Law, it's clear that 'going where the money is' is a principle that has been applied for many years. It works for medicine and can be applied to other problems as well--even the gospel. The Savior is the single best example of the use of Sutton's Law to rescue sinners.
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matthew 9:10-13
The Savior's love of the 1 was enough for him to leave the 99 and go off and rescue.  We have many contemporary examples of this. It is Sutton's Law the sends tens of thousands of missionaries into the world and in places that would make mothers carry on like Pharisees (if they hadn't captured the vision). President Monson has emphasized the need for us to rescue those that are lost. Such undertakings are inconvenient and frequently take us out of the safety of the fold, where we are in our comfort zone. Yet the rescue itself brings such great joy to the 1 as well as the shepherd. 

Earlier this year I read Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Father Gregory Boyle. He is a truly inspiring person that has spent his life putting Sutton's Law in action: go where the sinners are. Father G didn't just call the sinners and outcasts to repentance from the sanitized walls of his parish, he joined them in their barrio. He  ate with them, he served them, he lifted them and loved them in all their all of their weakness.  He knew them by name. 

As impressive as his boundless compassion, is Father G's sense of balance in being surrounded by sinners yet remaining true to the faith. For us ordinary people (with a similar charge as Father G), we are wise to pay close heed to the counsel that advises us to avoid the contaminating influence of sin:
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 2 Corinthians 6:17 
But as we do, we must not forget the practical wisdom of Sutton's Law.  Our ability to rescue and reclaim those that are lost and alone is severely compromised by just hanging out at the church.  We need to go where the money is.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Omertà & Modern-Day Gadiantonism

This year's Book of Mormon curriculum has taken us through the sordid works of the band of Kishkumen, more popularly known as the Gadianton Robbers. They were the bane of Nephite prosperity and peace. It was an entity that was purely predatory, the epitome of selfishness; it contributed nothing positive to Nephite society.  

It would be difficult to create a comprehensive list of the attributes of Gadiantonism in a few lines, but the 6th and 7th chapters of Helaman offer some insights on what they were and what made them tick. "Their hearts [were] set upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up above one another; therefore they began to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain (Helaman 6:17)."  They also sought "to be praised of men, yea, and that they might get gold and silver . . . they set their "hearts upon the riches and vain things of this world (Helaman 7:21)." To facilitate this they "did enter into their covenants and their oaths, that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed  (Helaman 6:21)."

I have often thought about the extent to which Gadiantonism persists in contemporary culture. In the last few weeks, I've been confronted by Gadiantonism in a place I never expected to see it: the corrupt underbelly of the professional cycling peloton. 

Lance and Big George as they 'protect and preserve' 
Though he never tested positivethe cycling world has been flooded with evidence that Lance Armstrong not only cheated to win, but that he was also the mastermind behind the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by most of the members of his teams at US Postal and Discovery Channel. This included use of EPO, testosterone, cortisone, autologous blood doping (and heaven only knows what else). Virtually all of the who’s who of US cycling have been implicated: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Tom Danielson, etc.  In all likelihood, this barely scratches the surface. 

The secret combinations of the Gadiantons are remarkably similar to the back room drug deals, code words and network of collaborating conspirators that have enabled the likes of Armstrong and his band.  Like the Gadiantons of old, they invoke omertà (the code of silence) on all they lure in, and viciously punish any that try to come clean. Armstrong’s merciless destruction of anyone that opposed him is legendary. Truly, there is no honor among thieves.

It is of little comfort to those of us so disillusioned by his deceit to watch as his charity scrambles to distance itself, and his sponsors flee like rats from his sinking ship.  Yet even as his world comes unhinged, Lance Armstrong remains shockingly arrogant, unashamed and unrepentant. His defiance and determination places him in the rarified company of those that can persist in their lies in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

It is hard for me to look at all the good Lance has done through his foundation and not wonder about the degree to which self-interest motivated him. After all, it gave him everything he could have dreamed of: fame, fantastic wealth and the praise of men.  Though some of this may change, I have no doubt that he will still find a way to come out on top—just like he did on the roads of France. He is not one to back down from challenges.

Yet in the end this is much more complicated than whether or not he deserved his Tour de France wins. That everyone around him was cheating would certainly make it hard for Lance not to follow suit. Things get even more complicated when you think of all the cancer survivors that now live because Lance cheated. The occasion still provides an opportunity for everyone to question why we do what we do, and where our own pride and selfishness factor in to the equation.  Do we justify the means because of the ends? How often do we do good things to assuage guilt over things we’re ashamed of?

His doping notwithstanding, Lance is still one of the best cyclists of the modern era (we can say pretty confidently that they were all cheating). Though I credit Lance for the good he has done, I find his dishonesty and lack of humility unbecoming. For him to think that he can hide his dark deeds forever is misguided. We are advised to take note ourselves. No secrets remain secret forever.  Ultimately they all see the light of day.

Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (Luke 12:3)

And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.  (D&C 1:3)

I would love to see Lance come clean.  He has the capacity to do so much good—I’m confident he will. But to begin, he must pacify his unconquerable spirit and turn his back on Gadiantonism once and for all. There is still time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Of Glitter & Gold: Tolkien v. Shakespeare

"All that glitters is not gold". It's a well-known aphorism in the English language.  The origins of this phrase are apparently quite old, dating back to the 12th century when a French theologian, Alain de Lille, said: "Do not hold everything gold that shines like gold."  The phrase appears in many other works, including The Cantebury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer* and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.**  The most famous use of this phrase is from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (Act II, Scene VII - Prince of Morocco). 

All that glisters is not gold
Often have you heard that told: 
Many a man his life hath sold,
But my outside to behold: 
Gilded tombs do worms infold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old, 
Your answer had not been inscroll'd.
Fare you well, your suit is cold. 

Two examples of fouree aruei.  Fouree (from a French word meaning 'filled') are counterfeit bronze coins that have been dipped in gold.  They have the appearance of a legitimate gold aureus, but are worthless. The gold plating of the upper coin is fractured and flaking off and has worn off the high points of the coin below.

Top: Maximinus II (305-309 AD)
Bottom: Severina (270-275 AD)

Shakespeare would say buyer beware. You're prone to be duped--as with a shiny fouree that is, in reality, a worthless bronze fake dipped in a thin layer of gold.  It's good enough advice. As anyone that has bought fine jewelry from a flea market can attest, just because something looks valuable, doesn't make it so.  There are powerful subliminal forces at play in the human brain that make us prone to conclude that shiny, glistening or fancy equals valuable. We are even more likely to pounce if we think we're getting a great deal.

The insights of Shakespeare et al notwithstanding, I find J R R Tolkien's twist on this common aphorism even more fascinating.  As we meet Strider in The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien foreshadows a greatness that is not apparent in his outward appearance. 

All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost; 
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken, 
The crownless again shall be king.

The Corbridge hoard and jug, 160 AD
Corbridge, Northumberland, U.K.
British Museum, London (another Big Reid iPhone photo)
Another coin hoard photo! These 160 gold coins were kept in a jug with 2 bronze coins wedged in the neck to conceal them. The jug was buried under the floor of a Roman house. The weight of the gold broke the bottom out of the jug when it was lifted, revealing the gold. A great day for an archaeologist just got better. 
At first blush, Shakespeare and Tolkien seem to be saying the same thing.  Yet I see fundamental differences. Fail to see the truth in Shakespeare's wisdom and we are vulnerable as we place value on something that is worthless. This costs us in terms of time, money and a wasted effort in the pursuit of a counterfeit. Failure to see the truth in Tolkien, and we devalue that which is of great worth. It is far more tragic to pass by something of inestimable value that we fail to recognize because of it's plain exterior. This is like dismissing a corroded old jug stuffed with gold that is concealed by an ordinary bronze coin. 

What is so profound about Tolkien's perspective is that's it's talking about people, rather than things. When the Lord chose David from amongst the sons of Jesse, he taught Samuel this very principle: 
"for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
Imagine if we could look at ourselves and others and see gold where nothing glitters--if we could see not what man sees, but what God sees.*** 


* Chaucer: "But everything that glisters like fine gold is not gold, as I've often heard it told; and every apple that is fair to eye is yet not sound whatever hucksters cry." [The Canon's Yeoman's Tale (Chapter 49:243-246)]. It seems likely that Shakespeare was expounding on Chaucer given the similarity of the quotes.
** Cervantes: "All the glitters is not gold" [Part II Chapter XXXIII] and "All is not gold that glitters" [Part II Chapter XLVIII]. 
*** See the October 2012 talk by President Thomas S. Monson on this topic here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Invictus: To Tame the Unconquerable

Armstrong Clan Motto: 'I Remain Unconquered'

My recent post (An Unconquerable Spirit) has me thinking of a poem that has ever inspired me. Invictus was penned in 1875 by the English poet William Ernest Henley.  As an adolescent Henley was afflicted with tuberculous osteomyelitis (tuberculosis of bone) in his lower extremities.  He was told that both his legs would need to be amputated below the knees to save his life. He agreed to amputation of the left leg at 12 but repeatedly refused the second amputation. He spent much of his early life hospitalized and chronically ill. Eventually with the assistance of Dr. Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery, Henley was able to recover and enjoy a vigorous life until a fall from a railway carriage induced a relapse of his tuberculosis and ultimately his death at 54.  

Though plagued by ill-health and disability from an early age, Henley was highly acclaimed and reasonably successful in his life. Henley's theology was that of an agnostic; he was much more interested in the humanist movement than in organized religion or Christianity. And, in an era were people looked to God for rescue, he maintained that the harnessing the power within was sufficient to tackle anything that life could throw at you. 

Invictus is a Latin term for unconquerable, unvanquished or undefeated. Henley's poem is a window into his own spirit of invictus that was shaped by his irrepressible determination and self-confidence. Without doubt, this is part of what gave Henley the willpower to overcome years of illness, despair, and misfortune.  Even a small measure of his spirit of invictus would serve us all very well. 

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
- - - -
There is a certain machismo and that comes from the 'never surrender and never back down' mentality that embodies Invictus. I suppose that in this regard Henley was generations ahead of his time--the era of self-help is firmly ensconced today. But the precosciousness of Henley's popular poem raised some eyebrows in the Christian communities of his time. Enter Orson F. Whitney. Born in Salt Lake City, he was a journalist, historian, poet, academic and politician. He also served as an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a devout disciple of Jesus Christ, he took issue with the spirit of invictus that suggested that a 'do it yourself' mentality was all men really needed.  His poetic rebuttal,The Soul's Captain, is masterful. 
Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931)
The Soul's Captain

Art thou in truth? Then what of Him
Who bought thee with His blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood,

Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but Him could bear--
That God who died that man might live
And endless glory share.

Of what avail thy vaunted strength
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree,
Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee?

Free will is thine- free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that "head unbowed,"
Small part of life's great whole,
And see in Him and Him alone,
The captain of thy soul.

- - - -
There is no doubt that the spirit of invictus embodies a courage and determination that is valuable in taking on the world, and the challenges it will throw our way.  But to place all our hopes and dreams in self is risky. Most people are simply not prepared for disappointment and failure on the scale invoked by the consistency of our own failings. Though time teaches us to expect others to disappoint us, we never get over our ability to disappoint ourselves. To be so completely invested in the spirit of invictus is futile when we are--from the outset--so flawed. This is especially true when we have a loving Father in Heaven who is perfect (Matthew 5:48). He stands ready and waiting to bless us, comfort us and lighten our burdens as soon as we ask (Matthew 7:7-11). Taken to extremes, the spirit of invictus would persuade us not to ask.

The perspective of Elder Whitney is crucial in recognizing that there are some things we can't do for ourselves. On our own we are hopelessly flawed and simply can't change this without a Savior. Though Henley's spirit of invictus is laudable, to be healed we still must turn to Christ, tame that unconquerable soul and surrender our sword to Jesus Christ--the Captain of our soul.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hymenaeus et al and the Shipwreck of Faith

Shipwreck on Tubbataha Reef, Philippines

This weekend, President Boyd K. Packer gave a powerful talk on the storms and tempests that could shipwreck our faith. He reaffirmed the critical role of those in in the safety of the harbor to guide home those in danger's way. Elder Quentin L. Cook also spoke of the reality of shipwrecks of faith that exist in the church today: those that once believed are somehow lost and become spiritual cast aways. These are friends who with us experienced a mighty change of heart and sang with us the song of redeeming love, but now no longer sing (Alma 5:26). So often they separate themselves from the healing balm of the gospel that they so desperately need to be well.

There is no shortage of these sad stories. Yet with surprising frequency, we read of similar stories in the church anciently. Hymenaeus (whose name stems from Hymenaios, the Greek god of marriage) is another one of those obscure characters tragically referenced by Paul. Hymenaeus was an early Christian from Ephesus, and though an adversary of Paul, became useful as a bad example for instructing Timothy.

It seems that Hymenaeus, along with Alexander his associate, saw their faith shipwrecked, and found themselves delivered unto Satan (with the hope that they would learn and return to the fold).
18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenæus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20
I find the NIV version very instructive:
Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.  1 Timothy 1:19 (NIV)
The sad story of Hymenaeus, though short on details, demonstrates a number of red flags the we can take note of to guard our own faith from shipwreck. In the face of the tempest, abandoning our faith in Christ is like tossing a life-preserver to the deck because it feels restrictive. As we abandon the one, and cling instead to rationalization, we set adrift our conscience, making us a ship with no rudder in a great storm.
16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus;
18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.   2 Timothy 2:16-18
There is some thought that Hymenaeus, and Philetus (a Greek name that means beloved) were early adopters of what became Gnosticism since they believed the resurrection had already transpired and there would be no future resurrection. But before their apostasy, they fell victim to something seemingly more banal: babblings. The NIV translates "profane and vain babblings" as godless chatter. Not surprisingly, those that over-indulge become increasingly ungodly. Depending on the intensity of these babblings, they may lead to the abandonment of faith, conscience and become blasphemy and overt opposition to God. Paul describes such indulgences as gaggraina (gangrene) which will spread uncontrollably in the body of the afflicted, but also spreads in the body of the church. Alexander, the coppersmith (presumably the same fellow mentioned in 1 Timothy 1) is a good example if how the gangrenous babble corrupted others to the point of apostasy and becoming openly adversarial to the teachings of the apostle Paul:
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  1 Timothy 4:14-18
The blogosphere and blogernacle both hold great potential as tools to strengthen the church and reach out to those that have not yet found it.  It also holds the potential for nourishing and encouraging godless chatter and a tendency to treat things that are holy in a profane way. The other day, I stumbled upon a blog by a cast away that seems to relish in the misery of his own shipwreck.  His blog is the embodiment of toxic godless chatter. It's spirit of anger and contention feel like the front of a great storm on the horizon: dark, ominous and depressing. I wish I had the energy to engage him. I don't and won't. Like Nehemiah, I have bigger fish to fry. Perhaps being delivered to Satan will teach him and motivate him to come back to the fold. This weekend I was instead impressed that it is far better for me to cherish the safety of the harbor. Rather than focusing on the wind and the waves, I prefer to focus on the lights that line the harbor--they are still burning.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Benjamin Franklin's Enduring Wisdom

Ben Franklin as conceived by Mr Brainwash
2012 New Oxford Street Exhibition, London
(I think Ben would find great humor in this)
Photo Credit: Big Reid's iPhone

This year's endocrinology meeting (AACE) took me to Philadelphia. Great meeting. Great city.  We had the chance to visit many of the 'typical' tourist sites while there and enjoyed them all (there is no shame in admitting you are a tourist when you truly are a tourist).

One of the larger than life Philadelphians was Benjamin Franklin, and we saw plenty of his legacy. During a break between sessions, I took a moment and scrolled through my phone's quote generator app.  I couldn't believe the number of a profound sayings credited to BF.  Here's just a few:

"Well done is better than well said."

"I saw a few die of hunger; of eating a hundred thousand."

"God heals and the doctor takes the fee."

"The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance."

"A good example is the best sermon."

"Experience is the best teacher, but a fool will learn from no other."

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing."

"Genius without education is like silver in the mine."

"God helps those who help themselves."

"The things that hurt, instruct."

"A virtuous heretic shall be saved before a wicked Christian."

"Clean your finger before you point at my spots."

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of."

"If you would be loved, love and be lovable."

"To err is human, to repent divine, to persist devilish."

Franklin Bust by James Pennison
Arch and 4th Street Fire Station
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Franklin Institue Rotunda
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo Credit: Big Reid's iPhone

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mormon's 'Great and Terrible' Leitmotif in 3 Nephi 8

Leitmotif associated with Siegfried
from Richard Wagner's opera Siegfried - The Ring of the Nibelung
The concept of a leitmotif is a musical or literary theme that becomes associated with a particular person, place or  idea in a larger work.  Wagner is one of the earliest classical composers that used this.  Perhaps the best contemporary examples are John Williams' use of leitmotif in Star Wars (here for a great example).

The Book of Mormon holds many examples of literary leitmotif. In the case of 3 Nephi 8, Mormon uses 'great and terrible' (or sometimes these words individually) as a leitmotif throughout the chapter:
  • great doubtings and disputations (verse 4)
  • great storm (verse 5)
  • great and terrible tempest (verse 6)
  • terrible thunder (verse 6)
  • great and terrible destruction in the land southward (verse 11)
  • more great and terrible destruction in the land northward (verse 12)
  • exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth (verse 12)
  • great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people (verse 23)
  • great were the groanings of the people (verse 23)
  • darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them (verse 23)
  • 'O that we had repented before this great and terrible day' (verse 24)

Mount Rinjani Eruption
Lombok, Indonesia
Perhaps a goal Mormon's use of this theme was an attempt to unify the message of his life's work of abridging the Nephite record. The writings of Nephi show surprising literary sophistication in the opening pages of the Book of Mormon by his repeated use of word images and symbolism (probably a post unto itself).  For example, Nephi used the very same terms to describe 'the great and spacious building' of Lehi's dream (1 Nephi 12:4-5; 2 Nephi 26:3), 'the great and abominable church'  (1 Nephi 13:4-6; 1 Nephi 14:15-17and the 'great and terrible tempest' that threatened Nephi's ship while sailing to the Promised Land (1 Nephi 18:13). Nephi tagged these events and ideas with the word great or the phrase great and terrible. Nephi subsequently linked them to things such as the pride of the world, the church of the devil or personal apostasy.  Finally to complete the message, he links this unrighteousness with the eventual outpouring of the wrath of God in great and terrible ways.  It seems that Mormon took notice.

I think it no small coincidence that the pride of the people was the proximate cause of their destruction at the time of Christ's death (3 Nephi 6:14-16).  After many warnings and opportunities to repent and return to the Lord, his wrath was unleashed in great and terrible ways--just as Nephi and Samuel had foretold (here for an awesome article that explains this event geologically).  Mormon was undoubtedly reiterating the prophecies of earlier prophets that had foreseen this great and terrible dayNo doubt, he also used similar words as Samuel (Helaman 14:20-27) and Nephi (see 1 Nephi 12:4-5, 2 Nephi 26:3), who had seen it before it occurred.

Mormon may have also been tying into Hebraic ideas of the attributes of God. Today we find it a bit ironic to find 'great and terrible'  as terms associated with God (here for my post on The Fierceness of God).  Daniel prayed to "great and dreadful God" (Daniel 9:4) and David praised God's "great and terrible name" (a name which was simultaneously holy; Psalms 99:3).   Perhaps these were fitting for a God who fought their battles, destroyed their enemies and poured out his wrath on the unrighteous. For those that experienced that fateful day in 3 Nephi 8, few would disagree with Daniel or David.

Mormon's "great and terrible'  leitmotif therefore represents God's unrestrained wrath on those that have hearts hardened by pride and an unconquerable spirit that refuses to believe, and never understands and never bothers to repent or come to Christ. Though the day could be viewed as great in goodness because of the ministry of the Savior to the survivors, it was mostly a very bad day that was great in terribleness. What made it greatly terrible was the hardened hearts of the people that wouldn't believe and could not be converted. They simply never repented and ran out of time.

I think that if Wagner or Williams were asked to score Mormon's leitmotif it would be loud, dark, and somewhat chaotic . . . not the kind of music I prefer at all.