Mormon News, December 14–18

In the News

Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk last week to the BYU Management Society on the meaning of Christmas and the nature of Jesus’ mission. But it was a few words Mormon Newson Christmas cards that Oaks also posted to his Facebook page that garnered attention on social media. After saying that “today it is difficult to find a Christmas card that features a religious image or a religious message,” Oaks offered a breakdown of the Christmas cards he received, saying only 24% were “traditional”—that is, they had an image of Jesus and a religious message. Oaks also complained that the words “merry Christmas” had been supplanted more frequently by “happy holidays.” The apostle’s words signaled his entrance into the so-called war on Christmas, the annual tradition of people complaining that Christmas is being marginalized and others retorting that using phrases like “happy holidays” is simply polite because not everyone celebrates Christmas or believes in Christ.

On the Blogs

Julie Smith wrote last week on the increased rhetoric in the church around the family and her belief that this ever-present focus is hurting Mormonism. The church she joined a little over twenty years ago focused, she wrote, on the Book of Mormon, scripture study, helping others, and a three-fold mission of perfecting the saints, proclaiming the gospel, and redeeming the dead. Smith said that this intense focus “is starting to feel like idolatry to me. It often feels in church settings as if The Family is more important—more emphasized, more loved, more fussed over, more worshiped—than God or Jesus Christ.”

The blogger smallaxe, writing at Faith-Promoting Rumor, tackled authority and obedience and called it Mormonism’s “sacred cow that must be domesticated.” After sharing anecdotes about Mormons who said they would sacrifice their own child, a la Abraham and Isaac, if asked to do so by Thomas Monson, smallaxe looked at some of the problems with authority in the church. “Authority has become more than a preeminent value, it has become untouchable and the basis for determining what is ultimately right and good. It has become the sacred itself and those with authority have become the totemic bearers of the sacred.”

In Books

David Pace will read from his acclaimed novel, Dream House on Golan Drive, Monday, December 28, at 5:30 p.m. at the Park City Coffee Roaster near Kimball Junction. Dream House on Golan Drive is available in paperback and Kindle editions.

Ben Park has his annual post reviewing the year’s best books and articles up at Juvenile Instructor. He reviews several books and offers his insights into their importance and concludes with his own awards for the best books and articles of the year.

News update by John Hatch