* File this under "Well, THAT's Obvious" Happy Moms Put their Kids to Bed Earlier
* Lego Nativity Set Instructions? Yes, please!
* Another BYU Devotional that gave me a lot to think about. Why We Must Be Wholeheartedly Holy. I especially liked these points, as it made me want to examine my own ideas and philosophies and see how I might change my own thinking to be more in line with God's:
During the two decades I have been teaching the Old Testament, I have found that for most of us it just seems weird when we read about ancient Israel’s struggles with idolatry. We cannot imagine why they would stop worshipping Jehovah and instead worship things carved from wood or stone or molded from metal. We ask ourselves, “What were they thinking? What is wrong with them?” Yet I have found that we should never ask ourselves, “What is wrong with them?” Instead we should ask, “What is wrong with them and me?” If ancient Israel struggled with something, surely we struggle with it as well. We should not ask ourselves if we struggle with the things that tempted them; rather, we should askhow we do the same thing.
I have also found that we can more easily answer this question when we come to a more accurate view of exactly what ancient Israel was struggling with. I believe we are wrong when we think they stopped worshipping Jehovah and started worshipping other gods. While some did stop worshipping God, most kept worshipping Him—they just added the worship of other gods. They worshipped Jehovah and Asherah or Jehovah and Anat, Ba’al, Chemosh, Molech, and so on.
The problem is that everyone around them was doing this. Their neighbors had gods that they focused on, but they were also willing to adopt new gods as they encountered them. As Israel drank in the culture around them, it seemed only natural to keep worshipping Jehovah but also to worship the things their neighbors worshipped. Most likely many of them felt just fine about doing this because they continued to feel quite devout toward Jehovah. . .
Now that we know ancient Israel was worshipping both the true God and false gods at the same time, our task is, as I said earlier, not to ask ourselves if but instead how we do the same thing. I believe there is no doubt that we all worship more than one god. For some of us, instead of worshipping both Jehovah and Ba’al, we worship Jehovah and footba’al. For others it is video games, material possessions, or a whole host of other things. Yet over the last twenty years, as I have tried to observe the ways in which we struggle with idolatry, I have become convinced that on the whole we struggle with one kind of false god more than any other. We tend to worship the ideas of the world, and, like those who pull on the waterski rope, we don’t even realize we are doing it.
The problem is that the world has been shouting its ideas at us loudly and incessantly from the time we were very small. We encounter these ideas in our schools, from kindergarten through college. We are inundated with them as we read newspapers, watch TV and movies, or listen to the radio—and in a hundred other ways. Many of the concepts we encounter are harmless enough, but most of the time we are not very careful in sifting through the ideas we hear, and I am certain we have all swallowed a lot of fallacious and dangerous ideas without even realizing it. . . . We drink so heavily from the well of the world’s influence that such influence can become part of the fabric of who we are without our even realizing it. And so we keep pulling on that waterski rope and wondering why our spiritual legs keep going out from under us.
Of late, several of our leaders have spoken of the danger of trying to simultaneously worship the worldly god of tolerance and follow the true God’s teachings of right and wrong (see Dallin H. Oaks, “No Other Gods,” Ensign,November 2013). Perhaps I can add an illustration from my own classes. Back when I regularly taught world civilization courses, we would discuss the cultures found in ancient Mesoamerica. A small part of our time was spent discussing the violent rituals of human sacrifice that the Spanish conquistadors encountered there. As I tried to frame a discussion about these violent acts and their effect on cultural interaction, I often asked my students what they thought about the horrific rituals we were discussing. I found that if I asked about the ritual practice, it was quickly condemned. But if I phrased the question in terms of what my students thought about this element of ancient culture, I was lucky if even one student would speak negatively of it. My students had been taught so regularly and thoroughly that we must be tolerant of other people’s cultures that they could not bring themselves to say that human or child sacrifice was a bad element of culture.
Now, I believe the Bible is fairly clear on this point. A number of passages make it very plain that God finds this practice completely unacceptable. Yet too often my students could not quite commit to this gospel truth because it conflicted with the ideas of the world that they have been immersed in since their youth. Without realizing it, they had begun to struggle with trying to worship Godand the ideas of the world at the same time. If they had a hard time condemning human sacrifice, I can only imagine what else the world had convinced them that they should not call wrong. The ways of the world were surely affecting their ability to fully see things the way God wanted them to. Insightfully, President Boyd K. Packer warned that the virtue of tolerance could become a vice in just this way (see "Covenants,” Ensign, November 1990)."* Like a party for your ears, enjoy these three stunning videos with beautiful music:
My husband and I were good friends with the director of this choir and his wife back when we were first married. He was a science guy back then, who later decided to go into music. I think he made a good choice! Plus, the visuals on this one? Stunning!
Piano Guys with Placido Domingo singing Silent Night
Beautiful Rendition of "O God, Beyond All Praising"