"I was suddenly frightened. It seemed to me that I heard the voice of God–and that it issued from a creature whose own voice I had also heard–and it was the voice of an obscene child."~ Peter Schaefer's Amadeus.But Mozart was not really god's instrument he was a man like any other with a gift or a natural born and cultivated talent. To Salieri the fact that his flawed man was so talented was a slap in the face and cause for a declaration for war against god and a quest to silence his instrument.
I was reminded of this story as I read the Salt Lake Tribunes article on Ezra Taft Benson. The article pointed out how one of the LDS church's more colorful figures was deeply flawed. For those of us who are now on the outside this was no surprise. His follies have been documented his grandson and it is well known that he is the one character in Utah that is responsible for our single party system of government.
Benson was not the first colorfully flawed religious leader where there was a belief that his position/authority/talents were god given. In LDS lore there are the characters of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Smith was a know treasure hunter, philanderer/polyandrous man who criminally destroyed a printing press and started a couple of rebellions and then died in a shoot out while attempting to escape from jail. Young was a racist polygamist with a thirst for blood atonement who is credited with the orders/environment that resulted in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
It is not just LDS leaders who are flawed and leave as their legacy scandals. The Catholic Church has a rich history of scandals which include the Spanish Inquisition, incest, and organized crime. The Evangelicals have Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, and Kent Hovind. The list includes extra marital affairs, tax evasion, homosexual relationships and fraud.
If you ask the faithful they will excuse the behavior of these supposed men of god. The will say when they are doing good in the world it was inspired of god. What about their less inspiring moments? Well... they were not acting as prophets or men of god. They were acting as men.
Which is exactly my point. In each case these supposed men of god rose to power by making claims they could not prove. They maintained power through manipulation and either lost power through scandal or their fraud became apparent after their death. It takes incredible mental gymnastics to engage in the cognitive dissonance that is required to follow these leaders or to believe their works are inspired once you know how flawed they are in character. Yet the faithful write checks, invest time and energy and bet their salvation on the word of men. Even if that man is "the voice of an obscene child."