Religious objects connect to God in a material world

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  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Aug. 8, 2011 3:26 p.m.

    My wife has a small china cup with the Norwegian words meaning "good boy" on it. It was given to her great-great grandfather when he was six years old and leaving Norway to travel to Utah in 1860. He and his family were in the last handcart company to walk the Mormon Trail from Omaha to Salt Lake, and that cup went with them. The cup is not worshipped, but it is a reminder to our family about the faith that took some of their ancestors from Norway to Utah.

    In the midst of all the things that remind us of so many other things, including our houses, our cars, our clothing, TVs and blu-ray discs and smart phones and digital game systems, having a few material things that remind us of God and of good people is hardly idol worship or otherwise unworthy. My guess is that the people criticizing Mormon material culture are not wearing loin cloths and living in a cave, but have their own personal icons.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Aug. 4, 2011 7:49 p.m.

    To Another Perspective,

    How special for you.

    It is still priestcraft, even by your definition.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 4:07 p.m.

    Wow, I must be one of those idol worshipers. In my living room alone I have two of my favorite pictures of the Savior and the Salt Lake temple. Throughout my home. I have pictures of the Savior or various temples. What makes a difference is that I do not worship any of these artifacts. I never burn incense before them, nor do I ever consider them as things to pay homage to as gods. They are beautiful pictures, and I love to have them in my home.

    Are we not to always remember the Savior, to keep His comandments which He has given us? What better way to remember the Him than to keep pictures of Him in our home. It doesn't matter what the Savior looked like when He was on earth. We have no viable pictures of Him and that's ok. Just looking at pictures of the artist's portrayal of Him reminds us of Him. Isn't that what really matters, that we always remember Him?

  • SpanishImmersed Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 3, 2011 2:46 p.m.

    I remember when I took my Sunday School class of 12-year-olds on an art tour of our meetinghouse! There were 12 portraits on display that we visited, and had the students tell me their impressions and feelings about each. That was a lesson on reverence for the chapel that I will long cherish. The visual materials that adorn our buildings and homes are an important element of worship.

  • Another Perspective Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    I M LDS 2 | 12:51 p.m. Aug. 3, 2011

    Your statement is presumptious, or you don't know the definition of priestcraft. A person who makes money at religion isn't necessarily practicing priestcraft. For this to be priestcraft, making money must be the sole reason for their involvement. A person practing priestcraft doesn't care for the "sheep".

    I once thought as you, until one day I studied the subject and found my definition and the definition given didn't match.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    I don't know why the LDS booksellers' association doesn't just be open and honest and call themselves the Priestcraft Association. Why mince words?

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 12:38 p.m.

    What a sad commentary on religion. Makes one think that religion is about one thing really, Money.

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Aug. 3, 2011 12:26 p.m.

    cjb -

    I agree with your last post. It reminded me a bit of a line in the new movie 'Cowboys and Aliens'. When the Preacher is comforting a man who had lost his memory, he said something like, 'God doesn't care about what you did, son. He cares about what kind of Man you are'. If the teachings of holy writ aren't put into practice, of what worth are they? And if we 'fool' ourselves, thinking we're 'good' because we go to Church, but fail to treat others appropriately, our attendance at church doesn't matter much.

    For me, religious objects remind me of important lessons learned. To worship them would be blasphemous. Having them around reminds me of my goal - of who I emulate and what type of man I want to become. After all, that's what's most important.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    re Abeille | 9:10 a.m. Aug. 3, 2011

    If the religious object is merely a reminder and not the focus then okay. When they become the focus, or when religious practices that are of little value become the focus, they can act to decieve people into thinking they are good when they are not. There are so many things religions require, its easy to never learn or to forget those other things that are the important things.

    Kids who don't swear, who attend church, who have religious pictures in their home, probably think they are righteous and that their families are too. Yet if they make fun of others at school, or are unkind they aren't. If their parents don't teach them right, they aren't either.

    Many religions teach so much, its hard to see what is really important, and if a person neglects the few things that are really important, they can still think they are good people because they do so many little things they learn at church, that really don't matter all that much. All I am saying is to recognise what is really important, and then to put those things first. Easier said than done.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 12:04 p.m.

    There is a story about President Hinckley that applies. A primary teacher of 8-year olds knew one of his daughters. She called the daughter and asked, where was President Hinckley baptized? The daughter didn't know and called her dad. President Hinckley asked, who wants to know? The daughter explained and President Hinkley wouldn't tell her where he was baptized saying, "They'll make a shrine out of it!." And it's true. It's nice to visit some places and see some things, but most Latter-day Saints are far from considering them holy artifacts or places. There are some that come closer, like the sacred grove, the Liberty Jail, and the Carthage Jail. However I think that LDS would be well advised not to go too far in that directions. They are continuously promised they can have their own sacred experiences through the Holy Ghost in their own way. The other artifacts and historical items may actually distract and detract rather than add.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    re Monsieur le prof | 8:51 a.m. Aug. 3, 2011

    "Also, I think your definition of "true" patriotism is politically correct pablum, self-serving, and one of your own devising. Webster's will give you a better one. So will a visit to your local Veterans' association meeting".

    Politially correct? So what if it is, or so what if it isn't? This definition of patriotism is either correct or it isn't, this is the only thing that matters.

    My own devising? Yes it is, What passes for patriotism with most people, and is wanting, so I came up with my own definition. People seem to think you can do good to your country, and at the same time mistreat the people that make up the country. That is wrong. The country (for the most part) ...IS... the people. Unless you are doing right by your neighbor, you aren't serving your country and you aren't patriotic. Period.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Aug. 3, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    @carabaoU: You mean that long-haird white guy adorning my childhood home was not Jesus?

  • AZRods Maricopa, AZ
    Aug. 3, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    Michael, I think that saying that "Mormons go overboard in their homes because we are not filling that need elsewhere" is a broad and presumtive statement.
    One that, from hundreds of LDS homes that I've been in over the years, is far from accurate.
    Sadly, people make further false judgements as a result of such assumptions.

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Aug. 3, 2011 10:48 a.m.

    Interesting thought, Mr. De Groote. It might also work in reverse, in a sense. For example, what if someone were to dig up my house a millenia from now? The lack of certain religious artifacts, coupled with the religious artifacts found in my house, might identify my religious beliefs. While the Cross is an important identifier in most Christian denominations, as it identifies the sacrifice Christ made for us all, I have none in my house. However, you would find numerous Bibles in my house (at least one for each member of the family), as well as multiple pictures of an image representing Christ.

    carabaoU - You ask if a particular painting really looks like Christ. You also ask about the possibility that the artist used a random person in the street for the painting. In all honesty, that is totally unimportant to most of us. Again, we don't worship the image in the picture itself. We worship the Son of God. We worship and (try to) emulate his example. However, there's no denying that imagery is a powerful tool that reminds us of sacred lessons.

  • Michael De Groote
    Aug. 3, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    McDannell told me that, basically, you can't escape from material culture. It is what human's do -- they create things. A book of scriptures, for example, is material culture. Notice that Bibles are usually put on the best paper, with leather covers. Some people mark their scriptures. In other religions, the very idea of writing on scriptures or putting them on the floor is unthinkable.

    A person looking at the LDS, for example, might examine the different material ways that the Book of Mormon was printed. Compare the common paperback copies with the Angel Moroni of the Book of Mormon to today's copies. Look at the type of art used in churches. What type of architecture? Look at visitor center and museum displays. What is being sold at religious bookstores?

    Riess told me the lack of art and objects in LDS Chapels may lead to much more being done in LDS homes. "Mormons go overboard in their homes because we are not filling that need elsewhere."

    I wonder what people can tell about a person's religion by the things they have and use versus what they write and say.

  • carabaoU Moab, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 9:53 a.m.


    I agree. And talking to pictures or statues is just plain silly and looks like idol worship. Lastly, what evidence is there of what Jesus actually looked like? You might think it is Jesus, but it could be some random guy an artist saw in the street or local market.

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Aug. 3, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    cjb and DeltaFoxtrot -

    I thank you for your comments and understand what you're both saying, but I disagree with your conclusions. Many religious objects remind us of our commitment to God and to others. For example, a wedding band on your finger might remind you of the promises made to your spouse at the time of marriage. For children, a 'CTR' ring on their finger reminds them of lessons they've been taught in Primary, to always 'Choose The Right'. For those of us LDS members that have received our endowment in the temple, the garments we wear remind us (daily) of the promises we made to God. There are pictures and paintings in our house that remind me of various principles of the gospel. These religious symbols are a reminder of the lessons I've learned and the joy the gospel brings into my life. And, although I'm a Latter-Day Saint, I know that many others of different faiths feel the same way about religious objects (The cross, worn as a necklace, comes to mind). I worship none of these objects. But they do serve as a reminder to me of many divine lessons I've learned.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 8:51 a.m.

    @cjb: I agree with you remarks about connecting with God, but disagree in your statement that religious objects are an obstacle, unless one is worshipping idols. A picture of Christ or the temple or a statue of the Christus in one's home can/should be a gentle reminder of our dependance on God and Christ's Atonement for us. Sometimes, we need to be reminded.

    Also, I think your definition of "true" patriotism is politically correct pablum, self-serving, and one of your own devising. Webster's will give you a better one. So will a visit to your local Veterans' association meeting.

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    Hmm... anyone else read that "Thou shalt not make any graven image or any likeness..." part?

    A lot of this religious symbolism is right on the verge of idolatry.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 3, 2011 6:43 a.m.

    In large part, religious objects are an obstical in connecting with God. Connection comes through meditation, reasoned prayer, resolving to live the golden rule and even secular learning.

    Religious objects provide a diversion.

    Similarly flagwaving and bravado is often is a diversion to true patriotism. Which is living the golden rule, educating yourself and being willing to step up when needed and doing the right thing. Driving a gas guzzling SUV with a flag on the antenna is not patriotism.