I taught the lesson in Elders' Quorum last week--it was the last chapter of the Teachings of George Albert Smith book, "Righteous Living in Perilous Times."
In the lesson, President Smith makes brief reference to old prophecies about changing weather: the seas will become tempestuous, he says, and great tornadoes will fall across the land unless mankind repents.
During Smith's tenure as President of the Church during the late 1940s, scientists would have dismissed this kind of thinking as pure religious superstition. Primitive magical thinking. What does human pride have to do with the weather? they would have asked.
Six decades later, our science has changed. An overwhelming majority of scientists today agree that when human restraint has fled, storms and droughts and floods and fires are our pride and power's price.
Now: the Book of Mormon warns against excess and conspicuous consumption. The Doctrine and Covenants warns against inequality and heedless use of wealth. Modern day prophets have counseled in clear and concrete terms about living within our means and avoiding debt, about growing food locally and managing our resources well.
And when the vast majority of human beings disregarded all these warnings, scientists began to release quantitative data to suggest that the weather was in fact destabilizing as a result of human activity.
I don't mean to suggest that the end of the world is coming tomorrow. Or in four days, four decades, or four hundred years.
I'm just wondering...with so many witnesses that we need to live more simply, why are we still so slow to repent?