A certain people had coin-operated hips. When they hit their full growth, a small metal box would appear on their side with a slot to insert coins. When they wanted to bend, they would have to insert a small coin. A dial on the box would wind up to 30 minutes and then tick down.

They all believed that frequent use of the hips was good for joint health.  It was one of those things that “everyone knows.”  So they all carried coin pouches around, used the coins frequently, and would loan each other coins on need.  If someone weren’t using coins much, there would be talk and maybe some benevolent counsel on how to get back in the habit.

Another people had the same device, but rarely used it.  They just put up with the inconvenience of not bending.  They had adapted to some extent.   All their shelves were high, for instance.  But the inconvenience was still real.  They expected it, though, and those few who frequently used coins were admired but not emulated.  If a man ran out of coins, no one would lend him one.  It was a luxury, not a need.  Imagine a relative who lost his job asking for a loan.  You might give him cash for food and rent.  You wouldn’t give him cash for his country club fees.

In another land, no one had the device.  Their hips were free.  But one day, one man alone developed one.   It was unfair.  No one else had to pay.  Each month the expense would be noticeable! So he often tried to avoid paying to bend, or forgot to bring coin with him.  The result was that over time his hips became stiffer and stiffer.  He slowly became less able to bend even when he inserted a coin.

Another man in that same country also came down with coin-operated hips.  His dial was broken, however.  There was no upper limit on how much time he could buy.  A surgeon who examined him told him that a cure would cost him thousands of dollars.  The man paid it, naturally.  He needed to be able to use his hips.

SPDI has been doing some thinking about big things and small things (see his post and especially his first comment here).

We say that the elements of the gospel are faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  And enduring to the end.  Taken as a whole, enduring to the end is one big, heroic thing.  But it is composed of thousands of small acts, spread over tedious years.  It would be easier in many ways to do it all in one gulp.

Whether repeated acts are tedious or not depends a lot on our expectations and our societies’ expectations.  Society can encourage and discourage.  The society of the Church is healthy.  It it set up to encourage and expect many of the thousands of little things that need to happen as we grow.

But no mortal society, not even the Church, can address every little thing that needs to be done.  There are too many, for one.  There are too many steps between where we are and our destination, for another.  A society necessarily has to be some kind of composite of the people who are in it, which means that we in the Church can help each other along in the beginning stages and some distance down the road, but eventually we will all come to less beaten paths if we walk far enough.  To progress further, you have to become extraordinary.  You have to become the kind of person who is more fully an actor in their own life, who possesses a sovereign imagination, who is part of a society that includes the Father, the Son, the Spirit, the dead, and the angels.


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