Richard D. Poll
"A Liahona Latter-day Saint"
In early 1994 the distinguished career of Richard D. Poll, historian,
professor, writer, husband and friend, came full circle. His
Liahona/Iron-rod dichotomy, borrowed from the Book of Mormon, had
entered the lexicon of Mormon thought almost 30 years earlier in his
landmark essay "What the Church Means to People Like Me" (Dialogue
2:4, Winter 1967). His "Pillars of My Faith" sermon in Sunstone called
for committed LDS worshipers and writers to join a mighty Christian
chorus "in which almost all the singers hear the dissonant sounds of
the alternate voices as polyphonic enrichment of the message of the
gospel music." For people like him, "neither dogmatic fundamentalism
nor dogmatic humanism provides convincing answers to life's most basic
questions." He defined history as "human strivings to discover divine
realities." Like Paul, Richard Poll lived his life as part of the
leaven that "leaveneth the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9), offering his
Liahona questioning in the spirit of "charity, humility, persistence."
In a time when men and women are being called sinners for a word (or
many words); when the terms "alternate" and "dissident" are being
redefined as sinister; when some seek apostasy, while others have
apostasy thrust upon them, Richard Poll's calm, reasoned,
compassionate voice rings with a clarity that will live on in our
hearts and minds.