|(Source at footnote 2)|
Let’s take a recent example. During this season, a picture of a wide-eyed baby was profiled on the cover of a ward bulletin with the words: “We miss something if we don’t see Christmas through a child’s eyes.”2
As usual my perpetually questioning mind3 immediately challenged those words as my memory flashed back to decades of witnessing the grip of Babylon on religious observance4 and children’s expectations.
Are we too prone to spout platitudes? too quick to say, “Isn’t that precious,” without ever “proving the words”? Have we fallen into the trap of idealizing things that are not ideal?
WHAT does a child see at Christmas? What do we introduce infants to before they can even process meaning? How much pretense do we stage as we tack brief “Nativities” onto “sugar-plum” programs? Or troop children through reenactments after we have primed their minds to be anxiously engaged with the “promised appearance of Santa”?
WHO becomes more central for most children—the most important person to ever live OR a fictional Santa who never will live, though we swear to the children that he does? We tell fantastic tales—that this red-attired, “gift-giver” flies with a sleigh and reindeer; that his corpulence pristinely descends and ascends through narrow chimneys, and on-and-on. Do we really think such fabrications are harmless? Do we imagine that false symbols, faux parallels, and commercialized substitutes have no consequence?
What have we acculturated children to focus on and expect? a Santa who gives them stuff—endless, fashionable, hot-item, market-tested stuff—manufactured and mass-marketed by the profiteers of Babylon? And in the hours and days that follow “Santa’s delivery,” how many times do we hear the children query each other with that inevitable, comparative, déjà vu question: “What did you get?”?
So what is this pictured infant seeing? What is that unknown image in those wide eyes? Is this child’s first Christmas encounter one of confused wonder at the wonders of a commercialized world?5 And in the years thereafter, do we set them up for the prolonged focus and wonder of “What am I going to get?”
Our Christmas culture reminds me of a 10-year old boy’s comment about our Easter culture. “I really like Easter,” he said. “The candy part; not all the religious stuff.”6 If he and most other children were equally frank about Christmas, they might confess: “I really like Christmas—all the gifts and candy parts; not all that religious stuff.”
Yes, we are counseled:7
Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 9:22);and to be
as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 3:19);but there is a vast difference between these aspects of a child’s nature and the “me-mine” traits that we nurture at Christmas and that the Apostle Paul put away:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 13:11).Now to a final few questions: When we read criticisms of our traditions, do we become reflexively angry or do we open ourselves to reflection? to pondering possible truths and consequences? to considering how we might become the peculiar people that God desires? to changing our ways to reflect more of His ways? to rejecting incorrect traditions that distract and deflect us from the true light and life of the world?
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (New Testament | Ephesians 4:14).
1. Book of Mormon | Mosiah 1:5 ~ I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
Book of Mormon | Alma 3:8 ~ And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.
Book of Mormon | Alma 9:16-17 ~ For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land. And at some period of time they will be brought to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers; and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.
Book of Mormon | Alma 17:9, 15 ~ And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct. … Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance.
Book of Mormon | Alma 19:14 ~ Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth.
Book of Mormon | Alma 21:17 ~ And it came to pass that the Lord began to bless them, insomuch that they brought many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, they did convince many of their sins, and of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct.
Book of Mormon | Alma 23:3 ~ And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and all his household; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked traditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.
Book of Mormon | Alma 24:7 ~ Now, these are the words which he said unto the people concerning the matter: I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers.
Book of Mormon | Alma 25:6 ~ For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.
Book of Mormon | Alma 26:24 ~ For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as stiffnecked a people as they are; whose hearts delight in the shedding of blood; whose days have been spent in the grossest iniquity; whose ways have been the ways of a transgressor from the beginning? Now my brethren, ye remember that this was their language.
Book of Mormon | Alma 47:36 ~ Now these dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information of the Nephites, yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God.
Book of Mormon | Helaman 15:7-8 ~ And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them—Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.
Book of Mormon | Helaman 15:15 ~ For behold, had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have dwindled in unbelief because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have dwindled in unbelief.
2. “Christmas through a child’s eye”s: LDS Media Library: https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/wixom-quote-christmas-1187968?lang=eng&category=
3. New Testament | 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ~ Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
4. Particularly the excessive, obsessive collection (to the tune of thousands of dollars) of Christmas décor, especially the display (and storing) of hundreds of “unique” nativities—from miniature mice to Disney characters and everything in between and beyond.
5. New Testament | John 8:12 ~ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 16:9 ~ He [Christ] is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
Book of Mormon | Alma 28:14 ~ And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.
Book of Mormon | Alma 38:9 ~ And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.
Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 9:18 ~ I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 11:11 ~ And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
Doctrine and Covenants | Section 11:28 ~ Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world.
Doctrine and Covenants | Section 34:1-3 ~ … behold what I, the Lord God, shall say unto you, even Jesus Christ your Redeemer; The light and the life of the world, a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God. …
Doctrine and Covenants | Section 93:8-9 ~ Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation— The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
7. New Testament | Matthew 18:2-4 ~ And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
New Testament | Mark 10:14-15 ~ Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
New Testament | Luke 18:16-17 ~ But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 11:37-41 ~ 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. 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. 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. 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. Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth. [All bold emphasis added.]