Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diploma's, a Degree of Glory?

The following picture is displayed on various walls of the University of Utah LDS institute.  Sorry for the glare.  It reads "A Degree of Glory You can Have in this life"  It features an Institute of Religion diploma. 

I'm attending an institute class with a coworker who's not a member but wanted to learn about the Book of Mormon.  He said for me to choose what class to take.  Since The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, I chose that class.  We've been to a few classes now.  I asked today if he liked it, and he responded "neither like it nor dislike it".  Although I hadn't said anything or given any visible sign of anything, he commented after class that he could tell I wasn't enjoying class all that much.  He said from his perspective almost all of the students give off the same unfulfilled impression I was giving off. This lead to a very interesting discussion about what we are being taught in the class.

The words of the poster substituted the scriptural form of glory for worldly achievements and signatures from men.  Implying that diplomas are all that are possible in this life.  Worldly degree's have no glory and no salvation to confer or offer.  Now I realize it's advertising and it's cleverly mixed with some scriptural language.  But it also struck me as reflective of our cultural beliefs.  Scripture authors experienced God's glory and presence in this life.  Rather than teaching that, we tend to imply that such things are not possible in this life, and therefore getting a diploma is the next best thing.     

At some level the play on words in the poster is funny marketing, but it begs the question of what we are marketing and for what purpose.  Hopefully we never fall for the suggestion that worldly diploma's (or even LDS institute diplomas) equal glory, and that we needn't look towards or believe that anything else is simply not possible in this life.

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