|The Three Wise Monkeys, by Tumi-1983|
Now this idea perhaps seems a little bit ridiculous at first, and it's easy to cast Milton aside as a dirty old man seeking to justify his ways. After all, the Doctrine and Covenants tells us to seek learning from the best books, and the prophets have encouraged us to use discretion in choosing which films to watch. But what if I were to tell you that this doctrine was preached in the early days of the LDS church? Brigham Young, for example, wrote in Journal of Discourses 2:93 (cue obligatory JoD eyeroll and sigh):
Shall I sit down and read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants all the time?” says one. Yes, if you please, and when you have done, you may be nothing but a sectarian after all. It is your duty to study to know everything upon the face of the earth, in addition to reading those books. We should not only study good, and its effects upon our race, but also evil, and its consequences.
If that's not enough for you, then Joseph Smith's words from Liberty Jail ought to further prove the presence of this idea within at least early LDS theology (and if one blogger's assertions about Pres. Faust are true, then in more modern times as well). Smith's words are as follows:
Thy mind, O Man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost Heavens, and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of eternal expanse.
|Paradise, by Lucas Cranach the Elder|
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so,. . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.Now, I don't want to be misunderstood as saying that personal censorship is wrong or that viewing 'evil' media is an important part of coming to know God. I personally don't watch most movies because of violence, and I don't keep books if I find that they have too much questionable material. But what I am suggesting is that maybe this idea isn't so far-fetched after all, and maybe Milton was on to something, even if he wasn't able to express his ideas in ways that are entirely comprehensible to us or his peers. I think in the end, Milton really did see this as a reasonable argument in favor of open licensing, and in light of the evidence that I've tracked down in favor of the idea within my own religious belief, I have to acknowledge that I see where Milton is coming from to some extent.
What are your thoughts on censorship? Is it a sign of top-heavy, oppressive government, or is it a necessary part of any integrated society?