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Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 10 Dec 2014, 06:43
by Gerald
Would you feel the same about the Joseph Smith story (First Vision and Golden Plates, for example) if it was a good story, leading to a good organization to serve others, but totally made up story? Or would you not be able to have faith in the church unless those things really happened?
Heber,

Good question. I think the situation is a little different. Christmas is one small part of Christianity, an event if you will, albeit an important one. The first vision provides the linchpin for our entire faith. If the first vision is simply made up, I think that does seriously affect the credibility of Mormonism. That said, I have experienced much that is good from being LDS. If I were to discover incontrovertible evidence that the first vision was false, I still wouldn't regret the experiences associated with it (mission, marriage, etc) even though it has been a source of pain from time to time. Nowadays, I view most stories (historical or modern) I hear in Church rather skeptically and tend to view them as great stories but not automatically accurate. The truth is generally more complex. But just like Christmas, our religion's complexities, ambiguities and absurdities don't keep me from seeing what is good and appreciating the memories associated with it.

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 14 Dec 2014, 06:01
by SamBee
For me there are two clangers in the Christmas narrative firstly the slaughter of the innocents - Jews remember their persecution all too well but not this; secondly the completely contradictory genealogies in Matthew and Luke.

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 15 Dec 2014, 10:37
by Heber13
Gerald wrote:The truth is generally more complex.
I think that is a very important point to understand, when looking at things in a balanced way.
Gerald wrote:The first vision provides the linchpin for our entire faith.
I agree. It is more than an event, it is a cornerstone of our faith.
We have basic cornerstones on which this great latter-day church has been established by the Lord and built, “fitly framed together.” They are absolutely fundamental to this work, the very foundation, anchors on which it stands. I should like to speak briefly of these four essential cornerstones which anchor The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I mention first the chief cornerstone, whom we recognize and honor as the Lord Jesus Christ. The second is the vision given the Prophet Joseph Smith when the Father and the Son appeared to him. The third is the Book of Mormon, which speaks as a voice from the dust with the words of ancient prophets declaring the divinity and reality of the Savior of mankind. The fourth is the priesthood with all of its powers and authority, whereby men act in the name of God in administering the affairs of his kingdom.
- Gordon B Hinckley while 2nd Couns in 1st Presidency, Oct 1984 Ensign
Perhaps the similarity between the birth of Christ and the Christmas story, and the First Vision, is that they did truly happen, and because truth is generally more complex, how it happened, the events around it, how it was remembered, how others interpreted the importance of the meaning behind it....well, there could be many things that aren't historically accurate because they are trying to convey a message or meaning...not tell a play by play list of events.

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 17 Dec 2014, 17:36
by Roy
I was driving to work this morning listining to christmas music and thinking about this thread.

The message of Christmas is amazing. That God (even LDS non-trinitarian doctrine considers the pre-mortal Jesus, Jehovah, as a God in his own right) should condescend to come to earth as a helpless babe. To experience all the temptations, limitations, pains, and hungers of the human condition. And then to die taking upon him all our wrongdoings and sorrow if we would but turn to him (not because he wanted to but because there truly was no other way).

The story of the first vision is less amazing (or perhaps that is just my own cynicism shining through).

God & Jesus show up to answer a young man's sincere question. So far so good. And declare that all religions are abominations in their sight. :? This same young man starts a church with some great ideas and some lousy ones as well. Lots of rules develop that are presented as commandments that must be followed in order to remain in good standing with the church and God. Currently to believe in the first vision tends to imply that you are locked in with the LDS church as the way to heaven with any other path being insufficient, lessor, found wanting.

It just doesn't seem as full of meaning and wonder to me. If it really happened then the LDS church seems to be the way to go wether I like it or not. If the Christ story never happened it is still touches my soul and inspires me about love and human potential.

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 17 Dec 2014, 17:57
by LookingHard
I am in a bit of a funk over Christmas. Usually it is a nice warm time to take some time off work, visit with friends and family, (over) eat, and just enjoy life. Even last year when I had a bit of my FC going on, it was still nice. This year I have zero ill feelings about it, but I am just not into it. I don't want any gifts (I am going to ask my parents, in-laws, etc. to just donate to a few charities instead). I think some of it was some intense stuff at work up until Monday of this week.

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 18 Dec 2014, 08:07
by nibbler
Roy,

When I first head about the first vision my first thought was (is that enough mentions of the word "first" in a sentence or what?!?!):

God still speaks to us today.

That can still be an important takeaway. You just have to kind of ignore all of man's interpretation of the event.

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 19 Dec 2014, 14:01
by Heber13
LookingHard wrote:I am in a bit of a funk over Christmas. Usually it is a nice warm time to take some time off work, visit with friends and family, (over) eat, and just enjoy life. Even last year when I had a bit of my FC going on, it was still nice. This year I have zero ill feelings about it, but I am just not into it. I don't want any gifts (I am going to ask my parents, in-laws, etc. to just donate to a few charities instead). I think some of it was some intense stuff at work up until Monday of this week.
I hope your work is going OK, LookingHard.

I just couldn't shake the feeling this morning on my way into work, how I LOVE this season. I love the Christmas Spirit. I know it is not an actual spirit...it's an idea, collectively held by others. I love reaching out to do nice things for people, holding doors open, and giving compliments. We finished work conference calls today with our German office, and ended the call with wishing pleasant thoughts and joy and saying "Merry Christmas" to everyone on the call (really...we were all happy we get the next couple weeks off of work...woohoo).

I know the details of Christmas are sketchy. I know it is all symbolic. I realize I could do this and be nice to people and give them gifts in the middle of March and make a year round nice thing.

But everyone joins together celebrating it now. So I join the Christmas spirit and do it along with the tradition, because it is good and makes me happy.

In many ways...these feelings apply to my thoughts on the church and it's truth claims, and what God is. I still find ways to make the story work for me, and I join my ward brothers and sisters in making good things happen. I love to hear wonderful Christmas stories if anyone has some to share.

Merry Christmas everyone...I hope this New Year is a good one, better than the last one!!

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 19 Dec 2014, 15:12
by LookingHard
Thanks Heber. I am doing better already now that I am off (ie - only working half-days :-) )

Re: Do you Believe in Christmas?

Posted: 25 Jan 2018, 14:23
by AmyJ
I don't know yet.

Technically I can't "not believe in Christmas" for another 10 years or so due to having children with a 6 year age gap.

I am still a great believer in New Year's, the first day of school, and the first spring clean of the spring - all opportunities to prepare to change for the better/have a new start... :D