Greatness Only in Him…

“Some years ago I began to observe a rewriting of history that served to diminish the admiration and stature of the hero’s of the past. With partial truths and fabricated facts — philosophers, sociologists, and power grabbers of the modern age spread ill conceived ideologies by reducing the statures of the great pioneering men and women, prophets and patriots, who under the inspiration of our God established a culture and ethic to usher in the greatest expansion of freedom and agency the world has ever known. With those we admire diminished so were diminished their inspired teachings and the guiding principles established in scripture and by compact. I daily observe the result of these and continuing efforts to lead astray the recipients of the greatest gospel light and human freedom. I invite all to turn away from the philosophies of men and the worship of self-promoting idols of flesh and turn unto the Lord our God for truth and peace. Only in Him will true greatness be known.”

Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 28 February 2024

Monica and I once visited Thailand, a place of beauty and spiritual people. We enjoyed a wealth of wonders and culture worthy of our time and expense. One exception was a tourist attraction in Chiang Rai called Wat Rong Khun, better known to visitors as the “White Temple.” I preface my comments by saying that I have a great deal of respect for followers of Buddhism. I have visited Asian countries on several occasions and have multiple times been exposed to people and places of Buddhist faith. I have found in most cases for the people to be genuine and kind in their values and in their service to their fellowman. I have also found a sacred peace in Buddhist places of worship. To the contrary, in this so called “White Temple” I found no semblance of peace and nothing sacred.

Wat Rong Khun, better known to visitors as the “White Temple,” February 2020.

While it was an amazing looking structure, it was no temple. Although it had some features of a Buddhist temple, in reality it was no real tribute to Buddha or faith, rather a monument to pop-culture. It is a contemporary, unconventional art exhibit in the pseudo-style of a Buddhist temple. My interpretation is that this was the antithesis of any good that can come from an individual worshiping in a temple, the House of the Lord or any place of worship for good meaning followers of faith. I believe the architect of this atrocity was meaning to say that yesterday’s pop culture is today’s religion, and therefore today’s pop-culture will be tomorrow’s religion. That is a wicked philosophy, one built on lies by the father of lies.

A partial interior view of White Temple wall decor, extensively decorated with pop-culture images of all types, February 2020.

A prophet named Jacob instructed his people of the real source of religious corruption and the end result of following after him. Jacob referred to “that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness,…” that we might as well “…become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:9).

If Satan cannot persuade us to worship him, he will instead urge us to see light where there is darkness, truth where there is lies. He will persuade us that religion is but a fancy for the weak minded and that feelings of the Spirit are simple excitement, emotion or anxiety. Down this trail of despair he will sear our hearts that the Spirit will penetrate no more, works of darkness will become common and even accepted as good or correct, and secret combinations will prevail until our commitment to the adversary will be more covenant than simple weakness.

More White Temple pop-culture displays, February 2020.

Jacob well described the works of the adversary and the response of the foolish in our day. “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish” (2 Nephi 9:28).

It is wonderful that to combat Satan we have our loving Savior Jesus Christ who has provided an “infinite atonement” (2 Nephi 9:7) that we might be rescued from that “awful monster” (2 Nephi 9:10) who, for hate’s sake, would drag us down to hell. We can escape his chains. We ought to rejoice and as Jacob, the younger brother of Nephi said, “lift up [our] heads forever” (2 Nephi 9:3). There is so much for which to be happy. We, who know and follow God’s laws, have a Redeemer, and so do those who have not the law, but would live it still if blessed to receive, for He “satisfieth the demands of His justice upon all those who have not the law given to them” (2 Nephi 9:26), for Jesus Christ came “into the world that He may save all men if [we] will hearken unto His voice” (2 Nephi 9:21) when He calls unto us.

A portrait of the Savior by Jon McNaughton.

Oh, how marvelous is His infinite atonement that reaches below all things in full measure, that we may be saved from the poor decisions of our agency, if we but look beyond ourselves and the popular things of the day to see and embrace His truth and His light. Pop culture is not God’s culture, campaign deceptions of would-be princes contain not the truth and greatness of the Prince of Peace, and we need to beware of clinging unto these as if they are. We need to watch for Christ and wait for Him that we might be His people, for as Jacob said, “For the people of the Lord are they who wait for Him” (2 Nephi 6:13). That is how we can identify as His disciples, for we are His and we wait.

Now, let us not go unto the false idols of the world, but let us “pray unto the Lord continually by day, and give thanks unto His holy name by night. Let [our] hearts rejoice” (2 Nephi 9:52). Let us seek to help and pray for those who would stray. The Redeemer’s all reaching atonement will provide mercy for the lost and salve for wounded, for “many shall be afflicted in the flesh, and shall not be suffered to perish, because of the prayers of the faithful” (2 Nephi 6:13).

Monica and Danny Malcolm at the Oakland Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, May 11, 2019.

Once more, let us go not unto the worldly for our faith, nor see truth and inspiration in hollow shells of pseudo-dynamic figures or brilliant white monuments to men, where inwardly darkness is throughout. Rejoice that we may enter into the temple of our God, where in white we may worship and do His work, atoned unto purity. There is great hope for us because of our Lord, for there is greatness only in Him, and in humility we are the recipients of His greatness. My friends, “cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life” (2 Nephi 10:23). Let us choose eternal life with true light and greatness together. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.