Several incidents this week have pointed my thinking toward that of Idol Worship. My wife is reading through the Old Testament and we often discuss the on-going problems with idol worship we read from its pages. In those cases, the worship was a substitute for the one true God. One of the great lessons of the Old Testament was God was simply trying to get His people to worship and follow His Commandments.  To me, it is one of the ever-present themes.

Church Leaders have spoken out against idol worship of various kinds since the beginning of the Church. For example, this Conference Talk from 1976,  The False Gods We Worship. In the talk, President Spencer W. Kimball laments, “the enticings of Satan and his servants and joined with those of “the world” in lives of ever-deepening idolatry. In his examples, he uses physical possessions, time, and believe it or not, the elements of war, “ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance.” In fact, his next sentence is even more remarkable:

“When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

There are many other talks and article that address this issue. I wanted to touch on these two.

  1. LDS Church Buys Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript.
  2. NFL Players kneeling during National Anthem

LDS Church Buys Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript.

Printers manuscriptLast week, when the news broke about the Church acquiring this manuscript, it was not a big shock that they did it. The Church has been in the market to retrieve as many historical items as it can. So much so, it got taken advantage of a number of years ago from Mark Hoffman selling his forgeries to the Church, A very well know story.

While, in my mind the acquisition was not a shock, there was a shock associated with the purchase—-the price $35 Million.  The largest price ever paid for a manuscript. The Church tried to soften the blow by stating the money came from private donors.  As the story unfolded, it appears the price was part purchase, part bailout for the Community of Christ, who appear to be having financial difficulties.  Reading through the reader comments in the various news stories, there was the quick criticism of the Church for the purchase as the money could have been used for good elsewhere.

However, my shock would not end there.  In our High Priest’s Group meeting this past Sunday, the instructor brought up the purchase, but not the price. It appeared that many heard about it, but not the price. When the price was announced, there was general shock within the room.  Many could not believe that the Church would spend that kind of money, even private donor money.  There were the cries of “What do we need that for?”, “We already have pictures of it, and, “That money could be used for good elsewhere. Look at the hurricane victims.” Yes, my normally conservative HP group was dismayed that the Church would do that. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Afterwards, I was discussing with one brother about this concept of Idol Worship. That the Church seems to reverence these items a bit too much, because now that they bought it, it will be held in an airtight vault and never to see the light of day, except on rare occasions when someone is permitted to study it.  We do have very high-resolution images published as part of the Joseph Smith Papers.

Oh, and if the Church has elected to pay for it itself, it would not have made a dent in its funds.

NFL Players kneeling during National AnthemUnited_States_Flag7

Let me say at the outset that I am in favor of NFL players or anyone else expressing their first amendment rights in whatever peaceful way they choose.  I prefer the kneeling to just sitting because I think the kneeling is more reverential, yet is different than standing.  It makes a point. However, what we seen is a rather disgusting display of “I’m a patriot and you’re not.” being played.

That somehow, automatically, people that exercise their first amendment rights in this way are less American then someone else.

In fact, this played out in a heated conversation I had over Facebook. When I stated that I thought that they should not play the National Anthem at sporting events since we do not play it at other events, one of the people, said “If you don’t like this country, you can leave!” It went quickly downhill from there.

I am concerned about hyper-patriotism, a condition where some folks wrap themselves in the flag, but do not know how our government functions, do not vote and have no idea who represents them.  That they worship the flag rather than reverence what that flag represents.

Don’t get me wrong (though some will anyway), I respect the flag and the National Anthem (performed it more times than I can count). But I do not worship either.

I worship the ideals that created this country, that we try to live daily. We have continually failed over the years, but the great American experiment goes on striving to “form a more perfect union.”  There seems to be an on-going lack of respect for opposing points of view. Look what is happening on College Campuses, where student and teachers shout down those they oppose and in some cases, people get violent.

This is unacceptable in this country that has a history of free speech, in spite of how foul and disgusting it may be to us.

And yet, to some, the mere notion of not saluting the flag or not standing for the National Anthem is tantamount to treason.

So , two questions:

  1. Does the LDS Church regard its historical artifacts as false idols?
  2. Have the Stars and Stripes and the National Anthem become false idols as well?