We Are Not Particularly a Symbol-oriented people

Apr 16, 2014
1 min read

OneClimbs reader, Richard N., posted a portion of this quote in a comment a few days ago. He was kind enough to transcribe the full quote from an audio CD by S. Michael Wilcox.

“Part of our problem is that we are not particularly a symbol-oriented people.

We like prose; well-written sentences laid out so carefully that you can’t misunderstand them. We are not big on poetry; we don’t read very much of it, particularly any serious kinds of poetry.

We like the Doctrine and Covenants. It lays out ideas line upon line, precept upon precept, building upon each previous idea. We’re not big on the Old Testament. It is so large, and it is full of strange things that are going on there that we’re not always familiar with.

We like Nephi. He says, ‘My soul delights in plainness.’ We’re not wild about Isaiah. Isaiah uses all kinds of word-pictures. And he loves pronouns and doesn’t particularly feel it necessary to give you an antecedent to the pronoun.

Now the temple is more poetry than prose. It is more Old Testament than Doctrine and Covenants. It is more Isaiah than Nephi. So our challenge as members of the Church is to learn how to learn through the use of symbols.” (S. Michael Wilcox – House of Glory)

The good news is that you can learn this stuff, and it is very rewarding. I grew up completely oblivious to most of what I know now, and I acknowledge that I am still only at the very beginning of a long journey.

I drive back and forth from Nevada to Texas a few times a year so I’m not a big fan of long journeys. Perhaps thinking about it as a journey is part of our problem. We mark out a “point A”, a “point B” and sigh as we consider the distance.

Why do we do that when we do not even comprehend what lies at “point B”? I’ve found greater peace in just appreciating what I am becoming day by day; is there even a “point B” in eternity?

2 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
mahlerscholarCarlhoneclimbsRichard J. Nobbe III Recent comment authors
  Subscribe to ALL comments  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Richard J. Nobbe III
Richard J. Nobbe III

Here is another gem from S. Michael Wilcox’s talk, “House of Glory.” I’ve been in a transcribing mood lately. And in the mood for food. Specifically Chipotle. But here’s some food for the soul: “The first time I went to the temple, when I came out if you had asked me about the experience I would have said, ‘The symbols of the temple are really different.’ I may have used the word ‘strange.’ It took me a long time and a little more maturity to realize that in God’s wisdom He deliberately made them ‘unique’ – that’s the word I… Read more »

Richard J. Nobbe III
Richard J. Nobbe III

That really didn’t turn out too nicely…I copied and pasted it from a word document. Oh well, the words are correct and in the correct order.


Serendipitously, I belatedly happened on this post quite tangentially (through a search about the temple in the Psalms as a matter of fact). The quote in the main post was great enough, but the additional quote in Richard’s first comment convinced me I needed to find the talk. As luck woutd have it, there is video of a 1999 BYU Education Week talk by Michael S. Wilcox (titled “Blessings of the House of the Lord”) available at the BYUtv website. The direct link is: Blessings of the House of the Lord (1999) Looks like this might be one of the… Read more »