Sunday, September 25, 2011

Understanding Power

Several months ago, my husband and I were watching Raiders Of The Lost Ark. (This is the Indiana Jones film where Nazis want the Ark of the Covenant so they can use the power of God to take over the world. Really.) We have a discussion about how idiotic it was for the Nazis to assume that they would be able to use God's power however they wanted.

When I was kid this movie didn't really strike me as ludicrous. It was just an exciting story about something familiar. Now it does. It isn't that the story is so far fetched, (although it is a little ironic that Hitler would want a Jewish religious symbol.) According to the History Channel (which is 100% accurate and never EVER spins the truth to make it more interesting) Hitler really did try to acquire relics of religious and historical significance.

I guess he wanted to gain allegiance from various groups by possessing items they held as sacred. You know, "Look, I have the Ark of the Covenant. That means God approves of me as the leader of the world." It was likely more about manipulating people than supernatural power. Or was it? I guess we will never really know.

As I said, what really struck me about the movie was the total misunderstanding of God and his power. I have wondered if others have the same attitude about such objects. Let's use the movie as our example.

The Nazis in the movie seem to think that they can harness this power and use it to destroy their enemies. They site examples of the Israelites defeating relatively superior armies with the help of the Ark and reason that it will do the same for them.

"It". As in the Ark of the Covenant itself. Not God.

What a strange and sad view of the world! How odd that they might put faith in an object rumored to possess power but not in the being said to have put it there.

Many people, even religious people, share this view, at least in theory. There seems to be a separation between God and His power on earth as if He left some powerful items here while He went to do more important things. There also seems to be no acknowledgement of worthiness.

To the Latter-Day Saints, God's power is referred to as priesthood. D&C 121:36-37 says
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. (emphasis added)
This chapter explains further the effects of power, that man tends to get crazy when he gets a little authority. It also sets out proper guidelines for using the priesthood, not to overcome and control but to teach and persuade and guide.

With this guidance on the use of God's power, the idea that Nazis could have used it to take over the world is laughable. It is obvious that there was no threat of success in that venture.

I know that their are real dangers in the world. The Nazis of  World War II caused plenty of damage and were a serious threat to peace and freedom. I won't speculate on the possible reasons for their successes. But there is real power in this world. God's power. If we know what it is and how it is used, we will not be deceived.

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