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I have been a subscriber to the Church News for a long time. Living out in the so-called mission field, it was a weekly touch point with my roots and the heritage I claimed. On occasion, I would see a name or a place that brought back memories of my younger days and the somewhat idyllic visage I held of the dry, dusty desert in which I was born.
For many years, the Church News was delivered wrapped in plastic and folded such that the religious content was not easily recognizable. Now things are different. The Church News comes wrapped in Mormon Times; a weekly periodical that not only expands the coverage of events of the church but also carries within its pages the proper Mormon-sanitized advertisements from places like LDS Travel and The Missionary Depot.
This week’s (August 7th, 2010) front page ad from Mr. Mac touts “Testimony tested, Wool and Wool Blends, Solids and Stripes, Stretch arm holes, Reinforced seat and crotch.”
In another prominent position, the half page advertisement on the back page encourages you to “start saving today” at Zions Bank. I am not sure what their tag line means: “We haven’t forgotten who keep us in business.” Does this refer to the bank’s origin as a ‘sacred’ institution or to its care of the riches of modern-day Mormons? Inside you can find more advertisements encouraging you to buy genealogy software, or expand your years supply, even your very own ‘title of liberty.’
As I pondered the situation, the weekly arrival seemed to speak in symbolism. Much like the Church News is now wrapped by the messages of buying and selling, so was the temple at the time of Christ where convenient merchants ringed the facility proffering their ‘church approved’ doves, lambs and other emblems required in religious acts.
Have we fallen victim to the same rationalization as the moneychangers in the temple? Have we deemed it acceptable to wrap the ‘good news’ of the church with tempting offers of merchandise? Many of you will scoff and scorn at this idea. Why shouldn’t the Church News be wrapped in an ad for Zions Bank? It’s simply how we operate in these modern days. This serves as a reminder to me that there may be many rites and rituals we perform today that may not be acceptable to the Lord.
Should we be concerned by the continual encroachment on the sacred by that which is profane and worldly? Should we be concerned when the message of the church is wrapped by the message entwining testimony and a reinforced crotch?
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
2 Nephi 28:21