Posts Tagged ‘The Little Prince’

“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall ahear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s aheart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their beyes they have cclosed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should dheal them.”

– Matthew 13:13-15

The web is supposedly abuzz about the new site.  Supposedly.  Today, for the first time, I visited the site.  I only went there because I read an interesting article on the church’s new advertising campaign and thought I might as well go and see what the fuss was all about.

I went there to check out a few of the “profiles.”  The “meet Mormons” drop down menu allowed me to pre-select what I was looking for, so I trolled around to see if I could meet someone who might as well be me.  A male, age 25-34.  The first guy I met was named “David Rex” who just happens to be a Mormon “because it’s true.”  He also lives his faith “like [he] mean[s] it.”  The next dude I found was Brandon, who “loves cities” and is “a Mormon.”  He’s also a Mormon because “[his] membership in the church makes [him] happy.”  Another guy is a Mormon because “as [he] makes a correct decision, [he] feels good inside and feel[s] that [he has] made God proud.”  Lastly, I met someone named Michael who had a beaming smile.  I’m a sucker for big, cheesy grins.  He believed in the Word of Wisdom because, according to him, the Lord stated in Section 89 of the D&C that “hot drinks (meaning tea and coffee), tobacco, and alcohol are not good for the human body.”  Go ahead.  Read Section 89 and see if it says all that.  A mix of the favor line rational, questionable understandings about what Section 89 does and does not say, and happy feelings.  Ah, the world is happy this morning.  And, I might joyfully add that it didn’t take much searching to come up with these examples.  Less than 5 minutes provided me with more than enough reading for today.

Though it might be amusing to peruse a few more, that really wasn’t the point of this write-up.  This was mostly in response to a Deseret News article on this new ad campaign.  That campaign is what brought about the new profile pages, trying to connect individual members with individual non-members.  The new Hyde Park, town square, as it were.  The campaign includes billboards, TV, radio, bus platforms and other ways to entice strangers to find their way to and hopefully peruse more than a few of these profiles to see just what makes mormons tick.  While that may or may not be noteworthy, I found the process that brought about this campaign rather insightful.

Just how did the church arrive at this decision to “advertise” itself across a few handfuls of markets in the united states?  Surely it was revelation from heaven, you jest?!  No, not revelation.  There’s a better way to find a way to “advertise” the church:  public perception.  Nice, right!?

Yes, the Deseret News article mentions that this ad campaign “evolved solely from public reaction.”  Scott Swofford, the director of media for the church, likewise used similar wording to describe from whence came this campaign:  “the evolution has been interesting …  for 25 years (the church) has been doing advertising … out of that research evaluating whether the advertising was effective came [the new campaign.”  So, from both the Deseret News and Swofford we find out that this new advertising was an evolution that was 25 years in the making and is based “solely” off of public reaction.  The only comment to the article summed it up succinctly, “Now WE are getting there … ‘Every Member a Missionary’.”  Yes, every member a marketing, advertising missionary that takes 25 years to evolve his or her message to a point where they can bring out a new advertising campaign.  And, no doubt the church correlation department would be rather excited to report that “you will find [the profiles] are very unified in the understanding of what they believe.”  And though it might be fun to celebrate how well correlation has been received, the reasons behind this campaign should get a little more press.

In order to gauge the effectiveness of this campaign, which has increased site traffic to some 300%, one might (like Swofford did) rightfully ask how it might be gauged.  Because, like the Little Prince stated those many years ago, “Grown-ups like numbers.  When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters.  They never ask:  “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?”  They ask:  “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” ” How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?”  Only then do they think they know him.”  That Little Prince may have been on to something with that reasoning, and certainly the church can’t gauge the financial success of this advertising campaign for a few years or so.  Maybe 25.

Swofford interjects with his reasoning that it’s “too early to project” how useful the advertising will be – and truly it is too early for us to see when “seeing, we see not.”  Though I may not be someone who believes in animal cruelty, and though this issue may be a dead horse here in the blogosphere, it nevertheless begs to be discussed.  Whereas biblical and book of mormon prophets came from obscure places, and quite often resisted giving the message the audience needed to hear, now we have opinion polls, focus groups and the like which shapes the very message others see.  As some have mentioned elsewhere, now is indeed the great day of opinion polling and focus group directed marketing.  Image management is everything in this day of deceit and as a result the vision suffers and we’re left to years and years of research to figure out what’s right and how to go about our business.

I’m almost appalled that the vision is so guided by the public that we craft, gear towards and manage “advertising” campaigns based on an evolutionary process that takes 25 years to come to fruition and only then is based solely off the public.  And, yes, the church is even calling it an “advertising campaign.”

Though I have more than a few personal misgivings about Helen Keller, the following quote sums this article up nicely:

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” – Helen Keller

Finishing up that scripture noted above, in Matthew 13:

“But blessed are your aeyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.  For verily I say unto you, That many aprophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them”. – Matthew 13:16-17

May mine eyes see, and my ears hear.  While others may rely on the research and focus groups to show them how to proceed, perhaps we as individuals should take a slightly different approach and seek to have our eyes opened that they might see.

I recently drove cross-country and had the pleasure of listening to a couple of audiobooks.  In fact, I have logged nearly 3,000 miles in less than 4 days of traveling, the sort of stuff that leaves your head in a fog and your derriere sore from doing nothing more than navigating a small steering wheel.  I listened to a total of 5 audiobooks…each of them more or less good, some more so than others, but nevertheless thought provoking and challenging.

In one of these books – not sure which one – a comment was made by a Christian writer (one whom I enjoyed listening to very much, I might add) regarding the gifts of God.  In scripture we find numerous recommendations to seek after various gifts or all gifts.  Here are a few of those scriptures:

D&C 46:8 reads:  “Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived aseek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given…”

1 Corinthians 14:12 reads:  “Even so ye, aforasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual bgifts, seek that ye may excel to the cedifying of the church…”

1 Corinthians 12:31 reads:  “But acovet earnestly the best bgifts…”

These are perhaps three of the most well known verses which discuss this subject, but there are more.  The question I ask is why are we to seek these gifts?  Is it to avoid deception, as D&C 46 suggests?  Is it to edify the church, as 1 Corinthians 14 describes?  Or, is it something entirely different?

An answer to these questions (but, undoubtedly not the only answer) came to me in listening to one of these audiobooks.  For all the utility I find in audiobooks, they are devoid of one thing:  easily obtainable references.  It’s one thing to have a book in front of you and be able to mark passages which you want to go back over later and it’s another thing entirely to have an audiobook which keeps rolling on as you drive through mile after mile of desert and open land.  That is an unfortunate thing when you’re trying to convey a message, to journalize a thought that has come to you.

I have occasionally lamented the noticeable lack of spiritual gifts in today’s LDS church.    Be it the gift of prophesy, the gift of healing, the gift of tongues, the gift of raising someone for the dead, the ministration of angels or whatever it may be, we simply do not have those gifts present today.  Some may argue they are still present, just kept secret from the world.  Some may argue they are still present, but with a membership numbering over 13,000,000, those instances are bound to get lost and restricted to local wards and branches.  That may be the case in some selective instances, but there’s simply no scriptural injunction that I can find which would parallel these explanations.

Even that being said, our definition of “church” is so skewed as to count “members” and “membership totals.”  Calling off these numbers like it’s something to be proud of, something to be recognized for.  I remember serving a mission for this church and proudly claiming just how many members we had, like it was a badge of honor of sorts to be a member of a church which had millions of members across the world.  It’s like those lovely home teaching reports at month’s end where someone in the Elders Quorum or High Priests group will inevitably say it’s not about stats, but we need to report the statistics nevertheless.  So, how many families did you visit this month?  Perhaps next time they ask me, I’ll tally up all the conversations I had that month which had to do with spiritual things, tally up all the people I talked to and lay it on them.  They’ll probably say, “You only have 3 families you need to visit each month, why are you saying you visited 75 families (or whatever the figure I give them is).”  Even then, though, the focus would be on statistics and not relationships.  It sort of reminds me of a quote from The Little Prince.  In that book – a wonderful diatribe about the insane beliefs we adults cling to – we read this insightful question about numbers:

“Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?”. They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him.”

It’s an amazing paradigm, to be sure, and one which has replaced a relationship driven system with a programs – a tithing driven program, a missionary program, a youth program, a young adults program, a primary program, an activities program, a high priests program, a relief society program, a scouting program, a home teaching program, etc.  Programs, programs, programs.  But, I digress.

The lack of gifts in people (especially myself) is indicative of a much larger issue, which was highlighted in one of these books I was fortunate enough to listen to.  That larger issue is this:  we can seek for the gifts (whatever they be) all we want and with all our heart.  But if we seek for the gifts, covet them, go all out to find them, they’ll never come UNLESS we realize one thing.  That one thing is the giver of the gifts.

D&C 88:33 emphasizes this point well by saying:

“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”

In other words, “What’s the point of giving a gift to an ungrateful person, one who doesn’t recognize the gift I just gave him?  He’s ungrateful for that gift and doesn’t even realize from whom the gift comes from!”

The audiobook stated it more along the lines of this (I’m paraphrasing):  Christ is the giver of all gifts.  How can we obtain any gift – no matter how well intentioned – if we don’t come to Christ first?

As simple as that sounds, it’s something I’ve never thought of.  I always thought I could pray for the gift of dreams, visions, healing, etc.; always thought I could seek after them and covet them all without really seeking Christ, without even thinking about Christ and realizing where the gifts were truly coming from.