Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Light-mindedness

I have been reflecting a lot lately on the scripture,
"Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings." (D & C 88:121)
I have particularly reflected on light-mindedness.  There are several places in our worship that we are reminded to cease from all our light-mindedness.  What does that mean and how do I apply that to my life?  Light-mindedness could be not being serious enough, involving self with irrelevant things and also things that are not of eternal consequence.

Thinking about this is perhaps why I am led to be apart of the Babylon/Zion discussion.  There are several of us  in Bloggerland who are discussing in depth the principals of Babylon and how it is deceptively creeping into our lives.  Some of these influences are evil , but some are not, they are just distractions.  Therefore we are sometimes beguiled into thinking that as long as they are not bad and the prophets haven't expressly forbidden it than it is okay.

These Babylonian devices that keep us from doing the things we ought to do cause us to be light-minded.  So perhaps the discussion could include the following questions. Is watching this movie made by LDS people causing me to be light-minded?  Is reading this book that happens to be by an LDS author causing me to be light-minded?  Is listening to this music causing me to be light-minded? And so forth.... Heavenly Father is merciful and has given us another clue to help us see clearly. He has commanded (commandments and covenants being our protection against the Evil One) us to avoid all light-mindedness.  In this way we have another tool to help us decipher the treachery that exists around us.

In studying though I needed more knowledge on what is involved with light-mindedness.  Is it okay to laugh? To have fun?  The institute manual for the Doctrine and Covenants was a tremendous resource.  Here are some quote from the prophets on light-mindedness. 
"The Lord has called upon us to be a sober-minded people, not given to much laughter, frivolity and light-mindedness, but to consider thoughtfully and thoroughly the things of his kingdom that we may be prepared in all things to understand the glorious truths of the gospel, and be prepared for blessings to come...
Joseph Smith said,
"I believe that it is necessary for the Saints to have amusement, but it must be of the proper kind.  I do not believe the Lord intends and desires that we should pull a long face and look sanctimonious and hypocritical.  I think he expects us to be happy and of a cheerful countenance, but he does not expect of us the indulgence in boisterous and unseemly conduct and the seeking after the vain and foolish things which amuse and entertain the world.  He has commanded us the contrary for our own good and eternal welfare."  (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, Oct. 1916)

"The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out.  Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search unto and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity-thou must commune with God.  How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. 

"How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations-too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of his will, from before the foundation of the world!"  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 137)
I remember several years ago that the Leadership of the Church read a letter over the pulpit that asked the Saints to get to the temple more.  They suggested that we would need to give up many of our recreational pursuits but we were expected none the less to become a temple going people.  When I ponder on this I think they were asking us to give up some of our light-minded behavior so that we could commune in our temples.

In the Last Days I think it especially vital that we keep our focus on Christ and His teachings.  As we do this we will not be distracted and drawn into things of light-mindedness.  I have been taught many times that The Parable of the Ten Virgins is not a parable about 5 members and 5 non-members.  Nor is it a parable about 5 less-actives and 5 actives.  It is a parable about 10 active, recommend holding members of the church.  When I contemplate this parable in this manner it is sobering.  Why were the 5 virgins lacking in oil?  Was it because they had become distracted and had forgotten to fill their lamps?  Had they been distracted with light-mindedness and gone off not because they were evil but simply because they were distracted?


I find that catch myself being distracted too much.  I am light-minded.  I am not always contemplating the vast expanse of eternity and communing with God as Joseph Smith taught.  I think that it is very difficult to be fully engaged all the time.  That is why we have the opportunity to repent and try a little harder to be a little better every day as President Hinckley asked us too.  As I try harder I feel the Spirit more clearly to alert me of the light-mindedness out there.  I can more clearly discern the fiery darts that seek to destroy me and my family during the last days.  As I do so my lamp can stay lit day by day and I can be prepared for the day the bridegroom comes.

13 comments:

buzy bee said...

I soooo agree! It is like so many things in our lives, It is all about balance....Sister Beck talked at a regional conference meeting a few months ago about mothers being a lioness at the gate to decide things that are Most Important, Needful and just good. Reminded me a lot of Elder Oaks...Good, Better, Best. We need to choose whom we will serve; God, others, family, self, the world.
A friend shared something they use in their family to Get Joy J...Jesus first
O...Others Second
Y...Yourself last.

I am hoping to post soon what I learned from my Martha and Mary class...so good about giving the Lord our VERY best.

Thanks for your inspiring post

rneweyfamily said...

It's interesting that you wrote this. This same topic has been on my mind also. Thank you for your insites.

Just Lara said...

Somehow I just can't imagine Jesus Christ sitting around laughing it up with his buddies. I'm trying to teach my children and myself that "joking around" is not appropriate. Jokes usually involve making fun of someone and/or lying and then saying, "Just Kidding". We all know people who can't seem to have a conversation without everything that comes out of their mouth being a joke or "funny". They are exhausting to be around.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

I can see what you are saying here but one must be careful to not swing the pendulum to far to the other side. There is time for fun and laughter and joking and play. Even the Prophet Joseph displayed this throughout his life. One example:

"William Allred, who played ball with Joseph many times, recalled an instance when someone criticized the Prophet for indulging in play. To answer the criticism Joseph told a parable about a prophet and a hunter—clearly explaining his own philosophy about the relationship of play to work. As the story goes, a certain prophet sat under a tree “amusing himself in some way.” Along came a hunter and reproved him. The prophet asked the hunter if he always kept his hunting bow strung up. “Oh no,” said he.

“Why not?”

“Because it would lose its elasticity.”

“It is just so with my mind,” stated the prophet; “I do not want it strung up all the time.” (William G. Hartley, “Joseph Smith and Nauvoo’s Youth,” Ensign, Sep 1979, 27)


A couple of articles that talk about the jovial nature of the Prophet Joseph will add helpful insight in what constitutes light-mindedness and what does not. I recommend reading

The Looseness of Zion: Joseph Smith and the Lighter View

Joseph Smith's Athletic Nature

Just found those articles the other day as I prepare for Seminary to begin in a couple of weeks.

To me being involved in wrestling (or sports in general) can be irrelevant to the eternal scheme of things but to Joseph Smith it was a necessary tool for relaxation even while there were those who criticized him for not being serious enough (including his brother Hyrum).

Sorry for the long reply. :D

Lisa said...

Thanks!

Mr. Smith said...

Interesting that Joseph used the term "amusement" as it reminds me of a talk from Elder Holland (I believe), probably about 15 years ago now. He asked the members if we understood the root meaning (etymology) of the word amusement. As I recall, it was "a diversion of the mind intended to deceive." Elder Holland then continued by stating that's largely what our amusements of today (~15 years ago... how much more, now!) have become, deceptive, diversions from the things that really matter.

Case-in-point: This morning I observed the First Presidency and the Twelve enter the S.L. Temple, greet an occasional individual, wave, smile, and occasionally heard a few whistle (while still outside). Some came through the tunnels, others the "baptism" entry, others the front, yet I could discern a visual change in their decorum, posture, and face as they approached and entered that holy edifice. Though they each remained visibly happy, cheerful, with joyful countenances, yet there was no trace of perceptible light-mindedness.

Can we - should we - have fun and be happy? Of course. We're commanded to do so. But we must maintain reverence throughout our lives, including during "playtime." That's not inconsistent with sports or other physical activities, but it does necessitate we be mindful of the commandment to remember Him, always.

Shanny said...

It's an interesting conundrum isn't it....We are not to be lightminded but there are also the stories about Joseph Smith being a playful man and the subsequent counsel to not be long faced and serious-to-a-fault.

I tend to think, light mindedness mostly refers to having respect and reverence for things of a spiritual nature and being a thoughtful, considered, respectful and responsible people.

It surely is something that each family has to work out for themselves, indeed each PERSON has to work it out for themselves. We can conform perfectly on the outside but how truly religious are we on the inside? As the primary song goes... ♫Reverence is more than just quietly sitting...♫ How deep are our thoughts and feelings as we partake of the sacrament? How sincere is our service in our callings? How charitable are our hearts and thoughts to the sisters in our ward? Are we simply doing things to be seen of other members to be doing it? Are we just trying to tick the daily checklist without having real intent in our actions?

These questions can only be honestly answered in the hearts and minds of each individual. Becoming truly converted is a process that often others cannot see. But the Lord looketh upon the heart He see's it all.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

So many good thoughts! There is a need to not be extreme either way. As I reflect I see increasing numbers of conference talks directed to us pleading with us to ponder more, unplug, detach and stop the busyness. As I've reflected I've realized that I have thought just because I'm not as light-minded as others but not as serious as others that I'm okay because I'm safely in the middle. But is society's present middle where we should really be? Or am I to indeed look peculiar?

Mortality is a time to find joy, love and happiness. In the past I have substituted those feelings with artificial things.

I should have clarified more completely that I do see a difference between entertainments/amusement and wholesome recreational activities as suggested in the Proclamation. I do believe they are two different things. Thank you Mr. Smith for pointing out the word origin for amusement. I think there are many wholesome recreational activities we can engage in. I think laughing and family baseball would most definitely be at the top of the list!

Unfortunately I think that in the past I have tended to have sought amusement/entertainment as a way to "forget" any current battles, or as a way to tune out for a while my time in mortality. I have personally found that I certainly need activities that build me by recharging my emotional and physical batteries, but they shouldn't be a means to forget who I am and what I am about. I still need to always have that life line of the Spirit open to me, always communing with me to heal and bless me.

As I pursue activities I can recognize if the Spirit is still with me teaching me. If He is than I can know that I am not pursuing a light-minded activity.

Thanks again for so many wonderful insights! What great thoughts.

Joyful Saint said...

The purpose of our life is serious. The act of raising families is serious. The cause of Zion is serious. These things are not to be looked upon lightly. They need much serious contemplation, they must not be set aside for things of a lighter nature.

BUT we must do these serious things with happiness, with laughter, with a sense of humor, with joy. How else are we to survive mortality with our Divine Nature intact?

Chocolate, Thanks for the link to the speech on Joseph Smith. Loved this talk. Sometimes I wonder what principles from the old "discourses" are eternal principles that we now ignore at the peril of losing blessings compared to what are merely sanctimonious remnant of a Puritan culture.

Just Lara, you probably wouldn't like my husband.

Cassandra said...

Thanks for posting these thoughts. I need to ponder this topic more. :)

Marni said...

Mary Ellen Edmunds did an excellent talk at Women's Conference in 2004, and in it she talks about the difference between being lightminded and lighthearted. There is a difference. http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=8584

Think of President Hinckley, a perfect example of lightheartedness. I can see the Savior sitting and laughing with him. But yes, there are kinds of humor both would avoid - crude, negative, mean.

"Men are that they might have joy." There are times when I joy in being quiet, reverent, and pondering, and there are times when I joy in being full of delight and happiness and laughter.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Marni-I love the thought of "light-hearted." I think that is great. Pres. Hinckley was the perfect example of that. Thanks for your thoughts.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Oh wow! I looked up the talk Mr. Smith referred to and it is the exact same one my cousin quoted on her blog this past week but about self-control.Sanctify Yourselves. Funny how that happens. :D

It is interesting that Joseph Smith would use that term "amusement" in a positive way given the etymology. Though looking it up in Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary the meaning is slightly different, much less mild, than how Elder Holland defined it today. And though Noah's gives the etymology it doesn't say anything about diverting or deceiving. We keep the dictionary handy because words have changed so much in meaning from Joseph Smith's time.

And speaking of meaning of words I really like the difference between lightminded and lighthearted that Marni pointed out. From Noah's 1828 dictionary:

Lightminded: unsettled; unsteady; volatile; not considerate

Lighthearted: free from grief or anxiety; gay; cheerful; merry

Sis. Edmunds talk is wonderful!