Monday, September 29, 2014

Overlooked Doctrine of Christ

If you were to ask 30 very religious and active members of the Church what the "Doctrine of Christ" was or included they would likely say things like baptism, and the Holy Ghost.  Which is true. I would venture to say few of them would include "Become as a little Child" as being "Doctrine of Christ".  Verse 40 below will explain why this matters so much.

3 Nephi 11:37-40 

37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.  38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.  40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Jesus taught: Become "as a little child".  Not a "baby".  Not a "child".  Or a "young child".  In Greek the words little child is "mikros mikroteros" and means small in size. What age do you suppose this could be?

I've looked through the Scriptures for some ideas.  They speak of "sucking" child, and "weaned" child.  Moroni was very clear in his directives to not baptize little children which could be associated to infant baptism.  Other scriptures say "A little child shall lead them".  We could perhaps take that to mean "little children" can at least walk.  3 Nephi 17:12 says So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him. We could take that to mean the little children could walk, but perhaps not walk unassisted to the intended destination without "being brought".  Alma says: Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.  So little children would maybe be those who can at least talk a little.  D&C 29:47 seems to give a broader range for "little children".  The phrase could also has various meanings that are not age related. But that's a different post.  

For this post I would say nursery age is a pretty good description.  18 mths to 3 yrs. For some kids the "little child" aspect may extend longer.  I have a 18 month old daughter.  She's a particularly happy little thing.  Almost everyone notices and enjoys it. She can sometimes be a monster and whine, or put on a drama-crying show over having to put on PJ's.  However her native state is cheerful and happy.  It's been a gift to observe.  It has also placed me in nursery at Church a lot more.

Children most generally release negative feelings more quickly than adults. As a parent acknowledging and validating children's worries, concerns, fears, anger or sadness oftentimes allows a child to move on and return to their natural joyful state of happiness.  Little children tend to return to happiness more quickly than adults. I've been surprised to watch that these parenting skills of acknowledging and validating children's worries, concerns, fears, anger, and sadness etc.... work pretty dang well on adults too.

Our life's circumstances force us into adulthood and all its responsibilities. It's easy to forget to be like those little ones who so easily let things go. Who find it easier to forgive than not. Easier to be happy than be burdened. Easier to trust, than doubt. The scriptures confirm that we are indeed to become as little children. This most undoubtedly includes their natural ability to be humble, let go of things, forgive, and be believing.

I wonder if way back in early childhood most of us, too, had a native happy and cheerful state of being? I look at my own life and the things I carry. I let them go for a moment tonight as I saw my daughter do so in her context, and I too remembered that it's simple and possible. Why do I hold on to things? There are10,000 reasons but none of them are any good.  

It's easy to overlook becoming "as a little child".  I get tempted to not let things go.  Tempted to not be believing as a child.  I think adults are tempted to forgo becoming as little children.  Christ's official doctrine reminds us.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Elder Holland Introduces "Meet the Mormons"

The Elder Holland has a few minute video introducing the new Church sanctioned film "Meet the Mormons"

By one point of view this is a fantastic way to raise awareness of the Church.  It goes beyond the 14 million members who may not be a good example to their neighbors.  It gives people a non "preachy" introduction to who Mormons are and what the LDS church is about.  It clarifies (with test groups to prove it) that Mormons are Christian, they are good people, and they deserve respect. It shows what a life can look like and or mean when someone strives to follow the Savior.  It will be a nice uplifting film.  It may not directly preach or proselytize however indirectly it may by bringing awareness and people to the Church.  I get that.  It's never been tried before, it's innovative, and will get people talking.

Here's another view to consider.  It's propaganda. Expensive propaganda. As much as they say they are not selling something, they very much are.  Market research, test audiences, internal research divisions, and social sciences were implemented in the exact same way any other propaganda would be.  Test audiences were utilized as they would be when testing a new technology gadget, or new feature on a cell phone.  Remember how Jesus did this when he tested his Gospel on test subjects and then altered it's content to fit their liking?  Ya, I don't remember that either...

This movie will need portray a very carefully chosen Mormons as a typical "prototype".  The selected individuals will have been carefully chosen, there will need to be carefully selected music, carefully produced and researched visual effects and market tested content to produce a specific reaction in the observer.  Not just any member following the Savior will do.  The research division knows that is not as likely to produce box office numbers sufficient to keep the film in theaters.  This movie highlights things that will get a good reaction.  The research division should be very proud.  Never before has the Gospel had such theatrics.  Perhaps we should be grateful we have such tools to augment and glitter up the gospel.
It was also interesting to note that Elder Holland explicitly stated the church is not proselytizing with this film.  We now have a 5 billion dollar shopping mall, and a full length theatrical film neither of which is intended to proselytize.  I guess this effort falls under one of the other missions of the church?

The church's public image seems is less and less about saving souls, and producing truth, and more about being understood, liked, popular, and viewed as "normal" Christians.  Instead of saving truths, paid professionals are employed to select ideal candidates, perfect music, and content to warm the emotions.  The movie's existence in theaters depends on popularity. It needs big box office returns, not for gain (that's what the mall is for), but for ongoing exposure and popularity.  The tools employed are largely the arm of the flesh.

There are many other views ranging across the spectrum.  I present just a few to consider.  Is this the result of the Spirit? Or polls, opinion tracking, and a paid research department full of professionals?   Some say there is no harm in taking the best of both.  Another view would say the restoration has already been compromised by trusting in the arm of the flesh.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Son and Darkness at Noon-day

3 Nephi 18:24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up.

After coming home from my evening jog I was sitting on the back porch.  The moon kept catching my attention.  It was shining pretty brightly at the time.  The thought occurred to me that the moon does not generate its own light.  It reflects light from the sun. When Jesus taught to let your light so shine before men, he taught the light we should hold up was him.  Not ourselves.  We can perhaps reflect some light, but the light we are to hold up is Him.

The question came to mind "Would you rather journey by sun light?  Or moon light? The sun clearly provides more light for a journey, however the moon provides a critical role for our planet.  Affecting even the tides.  The symbol of the moon is a beautiful one which is a topic for another post.

What I wanted to focus on in this post is the light we follow.  Direct, or reflected.  Oftentimes our leaders become the object to which we look for light in our life.  Eclipsing the true source.  We sometimes look to or focus on them and reflected light.  We in essence hold others up as a light when they are not that light.  The scriptures call this priestcraft, and is related to idolatry. 

2 Nephi 26:29

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

You can see this when religious folks point to themselves or other leaders as the light to follow.  Clearly contrasting with Chris'ts teachings that HE was the light we are to hold up.  Nephi says the priestcraft is done as part of getting gain and praise of the world.  Gain meaning a paycheck or compensation. Praise meaning popularity and notoriety and public image etc etc...

3 Nephi 18:24:

Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.

D&C 95:6 says "They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day".  Walking in darkness at noonday.  How is this possible? One way this could happen would be blocking the sunlight or simply ignoring it.  I don't think this is a physical description of sunlight.  It's a symbolic description of God's light clearly shining in noon day brightness but men ignoring it, blocking it out, or putting something in front of it and walking around in spiritual darkness or using a lesser light.

As we know, our eyes adjust to the amount of light around us.  At night the pupil dilates and allows more light in, which helps, but the night is still dark.  It was intended to be.  Over time our eye adjusts to the lack of  light and I wonder if this happens spiritually as well.  The spiritual light in our lives dims and fades and we think it normal, or forget what bright light is shining from heaven. 

All life on earth is in some way dependent on the light from the sun.  Reflected light can't sustain life on earth.  I don't think reflected light can or will sustain us spiritually either.  We can't put someone else between us and the Lord.  We end up walking in darkness when we do that.  And we don't do others a favor when we hold someone else up as if they were a substitute for the Lord.  We are to hold up our light, and that light is Him.  Since He is the life and light of the world, the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

There is no need to walk in darkness at noon day, but apparently some early church members were doing just that.  I want to avoid that. I do not thing we are somehow exempt from doing the very same things they did.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith has this on pages 237-38:

"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--[applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves."