Atlantic Monthly’s 100 Most Influential Americans of All Time

The latest Atlantic Monthly’s cover story is “The 100 Most Influential Americans of All Time.” I was delighted to see that an amazing 28 of them are LDS, if my assessment is correct. And two of them were LDS before they died: Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. (OK, so my tongue-in-cheek comment does express a hope that many people have accepted the restored Gospel since passing away, a hope based on the LDS teaching of missionary work going on in the spirit world and the rather unusual concept of “baptism for the dead.”)

Joseph Smith came in at #52 and Brigham Young at #74. Joseph was just behind Margaret Sanger. Interestingly, both envisioned a world in which there were no poor. In Joseph’s world, that goal would be accomplished by building up a Zion society in which all shared freely and lived selflessly. Margaret’s vision would be achieved by eliminating the poor and unwanted through abortion and eugenics. I prefer Joseph’s world over Sanger’s.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

15 thoughts on “Atlantic Monthly’s 100 Most Influential Americans of All Time

  1. Personally, I don’t like either world. I don’t think I should have to give what I have worked hard for, to someone who doesn’t work as hard. You reap what you sow. If you work hard and make good decisions, you will be fine. If you are lazy or make unwise decisions, I shouldn’t have to subsidise you.

  2. You know Rick, your comments have been so consistently negative that I don’t think you should call yourself “Bishop.” You of course may and will do as you like; however I think it’s in poor taste.

    You don’t get to decide who is lazy and who is a hard worker. You don’t know what is in a person’s life that may make finding or keeping work difficult. Our brothers and sisters do not and should not have to show us a certificate before we aid them.

  3. Actually I agree with Rick, in spirit. But I think “shar[ing] freely and liv[ing] selflessly” is a somewhat misleading description of Zion.

  4. If you are lazy or make unwise decisions, I shouldn’t have to subsidise you.

    This is something I really wrestle with. On the one hand, it’s clearly unfair that people should freeload, but on the other hand I’m sure glad that Christ didn’t author the above quote…

    In the end, all I’m sure of is that we (people in general) are woefully underqualified to render judgement in this area (and most others, too).

  5. Property ownership was an important part of Joseph’ Zion. Also, was was principle of that a man work, as he is able, for his needs.

    Remember that an oz. of prevention is worth a lb. of cure. Better to subsidize someone with thier needs from the beginning then to reap the social problems of an unequal society later.

    Also, I think we should be careful about the “I worked for it, therefore I deserve it” attitude.

    And finally, lets not forget Mosiah 4:17

  6. gnThis is an issue that I too have struggled with and though I can agree to a certain extent, I find the comment that you reap what you sow in this instance a bit simplistic. For example, my husband works for a nonprofit organization. It’s a 24/7 job that serves others which he is very dedicated to. He is a talented man who made excellent grades in school and honestly could be sucessful in anything he wanted to. Going in we knew we would be sacrificing income for more instrinsic rewards and though he makes a decent living, it’s not what he could be making in the private sector. While I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to “subsidise” us for the decisions we made, I object to the stereotype that our income level is a sign of a character flaw or that those who have more materially are more productive people. These issues are are way too complex to judge in blanket statements.

  7. Do we “deserve” anything, even the air we breathe?

    Remember Mosiah chapter 2–if we gave everything we have, we would still be unprofitable servants.

  8. Bishop Rick ,

    In my opinion compared with systems such as socialism and communism, where you are compelled to give of your time and goods by the order of men and/or government; the beautiful thing about the gospel based precept of sharing what we have and giving to the poor, is that it is given freely from our own hearts under the guidance and influence of the Spirit.

    I have been grateful to have received help when my family had need, (probably due to our own foolish decisions,) and privileged to give what I could when we had better times.

    Free-agency in action.

    King Benjamen’s talk in MOSIAH 4:17-26 has a lot to say on this subject.

  9. I absolutely concur with the most recent Anonymous post.

    I had a roommate once who had the gall to claim that because a man was rich, he could therefore make a greater contribution to the kingdom.

    Perhaps in terms of money, but that’s about it. Have we forgotten the lesson of the widow’s mite?

  10. Wow, let me try to address each of these comments one at a time.

    proud daughter of eve,
    I wasn’t trying to be negative here, just voicing my oppinion. Sorry for striking a nerve.

    The handle “Bishop Rick” is just a lame attempt at humor (sounds like bishopric) nothing else. I don’t think I shouldn’t be compelled to change it simply because you’re opinions and mine do not always match.

    You are right, I don’t get to decide who is lazy and who is not, but I do get to decide where my hard earned resources are spent, and I will make that determination, not you, or anyone else.

    That statement is definitely something that I would say, not the savior, and never intended it in other way.

    anon 5:11,
    We should absolutely be careful with blanket judgements. My statement was a general statement, not a blanket one. Of course I would help (and have helped) family members in need. Some of them just needed a boost to help them get ahead. Others were not so deserving, but I helped anyway because they are family. In both cases I used my free agency, neither decision was forced or pressured, which is the part of of the Law of Consecration that I disagree with.

    anon 5:45,
    I agree, the statement was simplistic, but you are assuming that I think the decisions made by you and your spouse to be unwise, and I don’t, and I never equated wealth or status with worthiness in my post. The 2 of you sound like good honest hard working people (who don’t seem to need any assistance either). The comments were targeted at those that inherently take advantage of the situation before them, not people like you.

    Walker I,
    So you don’t think that you deserve even the air that you breathe? Sad. That’s all I can say.

    The law of consecration is very much like communism in its purest form, so I’m not sure what the comparison is there.

    You hit the nail on the head. Free Agency is not a law that you are coerced into obeying. That is the difference. I don’t have a problem helping people. It is when free agency is taken away that I have a problem.

    The Law of Consecration failed because it was being used to create a Zionistic society (IMO). The exact opposite must occur for it to be successful. The LoC can only succeed in a Zionistic society, but cannot create it.

    Walker II,
    I agree with your asessment as well. I never said or meant to say that wealth=morality or standing or increased ability to contribute.

  11. Sad, but true, mon amie–if we accept King Benjamin’s speech as scripture, then everything we do/have/claim to do amounts to nada–“filthy rags”–other than a token of our faith. So do I deserve to live every day? Only because God says so.

    Nor was I implying that you were one of these money mongers. A little residual heat here, it’s true.

  12. Actually any system that includes personal responsibility is eugenic to some extent. In fact, polygamy is very eugenic though it is a positive rather than a negative eugenics.

  13. I believe that you cannot live in a Zionistic society unless you have the heart and the desire to serve one another as equals. That is why we are not there yet. Sure, we make feeble attempts at Christmastime when our hearts soften a little. Or, as Bishop Rick says, when we feel obligated enough to help members of our own family. In reality, to live in a Zionistic society, don’t we have to be of the mind that we are all family, truly brothers and sisters? I know, that at this point, we all make foolish decisions once in a while. Unfortunately for some, those decisions can hurt financially. I cannot say that I give much to beggars on the street, even at Christmas. That may be my “foolish decision”.

    To live in a Zionistic Society, it seems to me that a person will have to be awfully close to living a Christ-driven life. What do you think will be expected of us in heaven? Maybe you assume there will be no worldly possessions, but we do know that our attitudes will follow us into the next world. If, and that is a big IF, we can get to a point where we can help those around us without even thinking about it, let alone long enough to decide whether they are worthy of it, then I believe we will be ready to live in a Zionistic Society. If we live by inspiration, and that is a tough thing to do, then we can be directed to help someone. And if that person is lazy or undeserving, I believe that the Savior will know how to deal with them.

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