Friday, October 31, 2014

Polygamy - empty explanations


In addition to God needing believing babies, the early saint's apparently needed learn some shit the hard way.

Church leaders taught that participants in plural marriages should seek to develop a generous spirit of unselfishness and the pure love of Christ for everyone involved. (See here.)

Why was polygamy the preferred didactic method for teaching "the pure love of Christ"? I have no clue. Back in Jesus' day his approach was telling people to give all they had to the poor and not judging and stuff like that. The Church seems to be suggesting that God doesn't really care or want us to understand his motives.

Like the participants, we “see through a glass, darkly” and are asked to walk by faith. (See here.)

The only real important thing is that we believe God will give us something for our efforts:

They believed it was a commandment of God at that time and that obedience would bring great blessings to them and their posterity. (See here.)

We view our current polygamous practices the same way.

[T]he Church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. (See here.)

In other words, we don't know what the fuck we're doing or why exactly we're doing it, but we trust it's from God and we trust that he'll sort all this shit out even though it's absolutely absurd. Considering all the sealing combinations we've tried out (and the probability that many of those sealed souls won't even make it to Celestial glory), it's safe to say the tapestry of eternal families we've woven will look something like this:


Keeping sealing, dear Saints, but whatever you do do not stop to consider the idea that Joseph Smith made this all up so he could take advantage of several women (and girls).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why God requires polygamy 2

So why? Why polygamy? The three new essays released on lds.org all make sure to bring up Jacob 2:30 right away.

The Book of Mormon identifies one reason for God to command it: to increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to “raise up seed unto [the Lord].” (See here.)

God declared in the Book of Mormon that monogamy was the standard; at times, however, He commanded plural marriage so His people could “raise up seed unto [Him].” (See here.)

Church members viewed plural marriage as a commandment from God, an imperative that helped “raise up” a righteous posterity unto the Lord. (See here.)


So the answer is: BABIES FOR JESUS! I'm not sure why God needs babies so badly when there are plenty being born all the time. What makes children born "in the covenant" so much more valuable than all the others. Shit, why's he need children at all? They don't even make money to pay tithing. Are children the only people who believe in god stories anymore? No missionary work? Just baby-making sex? Can't God encourage some inter-tribal adoption? 

"Hold on a second, sugar, let's let the pregnant ones catch up."

If God needed babies so badly why didn't Adam get a few hundred wives instead of just little old Evie? Why didn't Noah's boys fill the Ark with God's most fertile? Why didn't Nephi and his brothers have a shit ton of sister wives? Why didn't Jesus' mighty twelve just hang around in harems all day instead of going out and preaching? Why didn't Joseph have any children with his 30 plus wives? Why did Brigham only have a couple more children than he had wives? Why do we see that polygamy fails to produce more children than monogamy?

Does God suck at math? Or was Jacob wrong about the divine purpose of polygamy?

At least Lot had two daughters to rape him instead of just one.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dallin Oaks criticized


Dallin Oaks is your typical authority-touting type. He was a Utah Supreme Court justice which for his fans means he's smart and level headed, but for the rest of us means he's used to being "right" and having the final say on everything. I suppose I wouldn't be too bothered by that if he didn't say such horrible things all the time. I cannot have faith in such a man.

HE'S ALL ABOUT CENSORSHIP:

“Some things that are true are not edifying or appropriate to communicate. Readers of history and biography should ponder that moral reality as part of their effort to understand the significance of what they read.”

HE USES SATAN TO SCARE PEOPLE FROM FACTS:

“Satan can even use truth to promote his purposes. Facts, severed from their context, can convey an erroneous impression.”

HE WANTS US TO BE BLIND FOLLOWERS OF THE BLIND:

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan - it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost on e his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."

HE HAS NO REGARD FOR OTHER CULTURES. Seriously, who thinks Africa has one unifying culture? It's bad enough we think Mormonism has only one culture, but Africa, the continent? Holy shit.


HE'S A TOTAL HOMOPHOBE. Some of the most horrible things he's had to say recently have to do with homosexuality and the gay rights movement.

AND HE'S A HYPOCRITE. The man runs around yapping about how marriage is between one man and one woman and yet he's got two spiritual wives.

What ever happened to honesty and unconditional love?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Get 'em young

God likes his vessels young and tender. Joseph Smith, for example, was (according to LDS Church speak) an innocent, uneducated young lad of only 14 who couldn't possibly have known the ways of the world. That's important for us Mormons to believe because it's an example of the way God works. He took something weak but pure and made it strong! That's the kind of generous god we worship.


So is it any wonder that God commanded Joseph to marry a girl "several months before her 15th birthday" (OK, more than one actually)? We all know how strong these chosen teen brides (OK, there were a lot more than just two) became, right? I mean, they were pivotal in the highest ordinances revealed to Joseph! No?


I guess being shuffled about like chattel in life only to be completely swept under the rug after death and then dredged up only reluctantly because you're a major liability might not feel especially great.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why God requires polygamy

The LDS Church did something big. It finally opened up to discussing its lesser-known polygamist past. Congratulations, Mormons. Truly and sincerely.


But I do have a few questions:

1. What is inherently righteous, holy or godly about plural marriage? Where is the divinity in this principle?

2. Why is polygamy part of the Gospel Restoration? What does it have to do with the Fall, the Atonement and the Final Judgement? How does it fit into the salvation of humankind?

3. What good did plural marriage accomplish either for God or Joseph or any of his wives or anyone else involved in a plural marriage or the Mormon community in general or humanity at large?

From what I can tell the article offers no answers. Why not?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

WoW - Abiding wisdom


You might think that getting some dietary guidelines from God would be a pretty big deal and that believers would readily conform to those guidelines out of their simple love of righteousness, and yet in the years following the revelation now called the Word of Wisdom few, if any, dietary changes took place in Mormonism. Even Joseph regularly ignored the wisdom of the revelation he himself received. Isn't that strange?

It took the LDS Church until 1921 to more or less figure out how it wanted to interpret the Word of Wisdom and make adherence to it a requirement to enter the temple. That means it took 90 years to figure this shit out, nearly a century before Mormons decided God might really be on to something. Isn't that incredible? It seems to me that God really could have cleared things up at any time, like anytime during the eleven years of Joseph's life following the initial revelation.


Why didn't people take this divine counsel more seriously? Why didn't the Church leaders understand it sooner? Were all of the prophets up to Heber Grant leading us astray? Are we being led astray now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Virtue of abstaining

In the LDS Church we grow up admiring Joseph Smith for his unwavering courage and astonishing moral strength because at the age of seven he declined to drink alcohol as an anesthetic before undergoing bone surgery.


But we also grow up failing to address his willingness to imbibe alcohol as and adult, including the day he was killed.


Rather than consider what this might mean about Joseph's character, let's reflect instead on what this says about LDS culture. Why can't we be honest with ourselves about Joseph Smith's behavior? Do we think that his drinking in adulthood shows a fallen man, someone who was stronger as a seven year old? Does Joseph's drinking undermine our faith in the World of Wisdom? Will admitting that he liked alcohol somehow give members the green light to start drinking? Why can't we be honest?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

TEMPLE SECRETS REVEALED!


I wasn't sure I'd live to see this day though I often dreamed it would come. The Mormon Newsroom has finally revealed to the world the faith's secret temple garb, from underwear to baker's hats. (Here's the YouTube link.)

video

Frankly I'm amazed. Way to go Newsroom! I don't doubt for a second that you released this information out of a pure desire to be open and forthright with the world and not because you're hoping to catch up with the many other people who have already been controlling the online discussion about (not to mention entered the production of) these things for years.

My only complaint is how you frame the explanation of garments and temple clothes. You point to religious clothing worn by other faiths as though everyone thinks those clothes are totally awesome and not at all weird. If you're goal is to say "Hey, look! We've also entered the masquerade of bad fashion ideas people shouldn't make fun of!" then all you've really accomplished is making Mormons look like Johnny-come-latelies. If you think you're somehow going to convince the rest of the world that Mormon temple garb is better than every other religion's, I doubt this video will do the trick.

Oh, wait! And there was also that line in the video about "echoes to antiquity" found in temple clothes. Why didn't you mention the much more recent echoes as well? I'm sure the general public would also love to hear about the Mormon connection to other once secret robes.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fashion trends



God doesn't give a shit about what we mortals might think is cool. God tells us what is right and we adjust our thoughts and behavior to match his righteousness. End of story.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Color Purple


I read Alice Walker's The Color Purple when I was in high school. I had heard praises for the book from somewhere and so when I ran across it on a teacher's shelf I asked to borrow it. I was disgusted by it from the first page to the last, but I couldn't put it down.

Why was I so utterly disgusted by it? I was scandalized by the sex and horrified by the domestic violence. But most of all I was furious about how it spoke of God and religion. I found it blasphemous and I couldn't stand it.

So why was I so enthralled and read in two days? The narrative and writing style were recognizably compelling. And so were the arguments against God and male privilege.

The Color Purple made me recognize some of my doubts (which is why the Church doesn't recommend such reading) - doubts I buried as best I could, even though I knew deep down that I agreed with so much of what the author was saying.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

False witnesses


For those wondering how to gain a witness of the Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon and the LDS Church, consider the teachings of Boyd Packer:

It is not unusual to have a missionary say, “How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would that not be dishonest?”

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!

This is the fake it till you make it strategy recently endorsed by Neil Andersen. It's supposedly that easy. All you have to do is want a spiritual witness really badly to the point that you start telling people you've had one even when you haven't and eventually you'll grow so comfortable repeating it that you might actually think you had one. Sound convincing?

I think it sounds like bullshit. Is this how apostles gain their "special witness"?


I also think it sounds a bit like bearing false witness, which happens to be one of the ten "thou shalt not"s. What does that commandment say again?

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Damn. It's "against they neighbor" not "to thine self and thine neighbors". I guess bearing a false testimony about Joseph is OK then.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Neil Andersen criticized


For any of you who have ever doubted Joseph Smith because of something you've read online or from uncorrelated material, please read or listen to Neil Andersen's recent Conference talk. His strategy of quoting Joseph Smith about himself, reading a crazy-ass quote from John Taylor and offering up brainwashy methods of "gaining a testimony" should be enough to make you wonder if he's sincerely illogical or carefully hiding something. I can't help but think that his talk will ultimately do more harm to members' testimonies than he could possibly imagine. (And he's showing much love when he categorizes dissenters as Judases.)

Why will it harm members' testimonies? Because, as in the case of the Church's anti-science stance, Neil's argument requires that you reject study (as least anything you study that the Church won't like) and favor ignorance instead. In this case instead of repeating "I don't know" to ourselves we're supposed to repeat Joseph's false history to ourselves until we believe it. A testimony like that can only be protected by plugging your ears and shutting off your critical thinking.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The "M" word


I have to admit I get annoyed whenever I see Mormons become defensive over the use of the word "Mormon". You see comments pop up like "That's not the name of the Church!" "Why don't you do your research!" or "It's just a nickname btw!" Getting the name of the Church wrong or referring to its members incorrectly means everything that uninformed individual said is incorrect and probably anti-Mormon. Never mind that latter-day saints do in fact refer to the Church as the "Mormon Church" and don't colloquially refer to members of the Church as saints. They only very rarely refer to members as saints and when they do it's typically heard in the expression "the early saints" which is kind of weird considering that those "early" folks were pretty sure they were all latter-day and shit.

Members of the LDS Church call themselves Mormons, I promise. We can say "Mormon" but everyone else had better mind the "M" word! But I have to admit that as an active member I definitely thought it was a smart move when the LDS Church started insisting more and more that people use its official name. (Although I also thought it would have made more sense had they  emphasized that they had wanted to be called the Church of Jesus Christ, not the LDS Church, but whatever.)

Who cares? What's the big deal? All groups have insider-outsider language, right?

Probably, yes. What I found (and still find) disturbing, however, is the way in which Mormons look for tiny mistakes in the things outsiders say in order to dismiss their arguments while going to great lengths to dismiss or ignore mistakes and inconsistencies made by their leaders. The tradition goes all the way back to Joseph Smith (but I don't believe Tom's had the same kind of slip ups as Gordon).

Jesus warned against this scenario (if you're into Jesus).

Why is this OK? Why do the prophets get a free pass on bad information while everyone else gets hosed for simple and often superficial mistakes?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's not hero worship, Fiona!

It seems Henry had some words for the Fiona Givens this past Sunday.

Our white knights serving and protecting.

Don’t take lightly the feeling you get of love for the prophet of God. Wherever I go in the Church, whoever the prophet is at the time, members will ask, “When you get back to Church headquarters, will you please tell the prophet how much we love him?” That is far more than hero worship or the feelings we sometimes have of admiring heroic figures. It is a gift from God.

I don't understand what Henry's saying here. I don't. What I think is happening hear is Henry's trying to correct the Church's best selling authors Terryl and Fiona Givens. He doesn't explain at all how he understands hero worship, what he thinks it means, what examples of it might be, whether or not it has a place in the LDS Church, etc., but, as you may know, Fiona is very concerned about the way Mormons revere their leaders. It doesn't seem Henry has any idea what she means by the term "hero worship". But who cares? Since when did prophets and apostles have to understand the lowly member? All they have to understand are the ways of God and all we have to understand is that love for the them is a gift from God (probably because the vast majority of Church members have never met them and never heard them speak outside of the context of the Church and they have no basis for their affection of these leaders), which must be good because God only gives really awesome gifts

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

All testimonies great and small

Conference is a wonderful time of contradictions, like this one.


Easy, Dieter! You might want to review major Church headlines from the past six months. I'm pretty sure I can direct you to a few kinds of testimonies the LDS Church apparently doesn't have room for. And it's not hard to think of others.

So what are you talking about? Are you trying to tell Russy B. something?


Maybe what you mean is that the Church doesn't care as much about members' testimonies as member behavior. "Believe what you want, brothers and sisters, but keep it to yourself if We don't like it."

Monday, October 6, 2014

First Conference meme

Jeff wins! This is the first Conference meme I ran into this weekend.


It's a blend of an Old Testament story and a nice hymn. We get Cain's damnable denial of having any responsibility over his brother Abel (I thought the message was that WE ARE OUR BROTHERS' KEEPERS) and the dutiful words of a hymn about sharing (which is powerful because it teachers that WE ARE OUR BROTHERS' KEEPERS).

Jeff, are we not our brother's keeper? As an apostle, if you are not your brother's keeper, what the hell are you?

Russ Ballard criticized

Here's a little something from the internet about Russell Ballard's recent Conference address.


I'm not 100% cool with this meme. I don't like how it decontextualizes Russell's metaphor. I also think his metaphor is ridiculous. Insisting on life's dangerous rapids is a scare tactic. He's essentially saying "life might be good now, but don't leave the Church because the rapids will surely getcha!"

Then again, this meme might be okay if we move onto his second water vessel metaphor. Stop and think about who exactly is powering "the Old Ship Zion".

Friday, October 3, 2014

General Women's Conference

'Tis the season for the parade of boring, self-important general LDS meetings. Here's a silly little something from a fellow named Joseph Rawlins.


Here's Feminist Mormon Housewives' live blog about how the meeting went.

Tom Monson criticized


The first teachings that come to mind when I reflect on the messages of the current LDS prophet, Thomas Monson, have to do with being present in others' times of need and carefully attending to the duties of service. I don't find much fault in any of that. I think it would be wonderful if we all tried to pay more attention to others and offer whatever assistance we are capable of.

But Tommy's also said plenty of bullshit. Here's an example that fits nicely within the general scope of this blog:

Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.


Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: “I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.”


May you ever frame your life with faith.


Did you catch all of that? The appeal to tribalism? The denigration of agnosticism? The plea to stop thinking critically about natural history, scripture and Church history? The encouraged distrust in science? This is God's message to us today? This is what he wants to tell the world? Not a fucking chance.

Take the time to doubt brother Tommy, dear brothers and sisters, if only for a day or two.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mr. Satan


"The biggest lie Satan can sell you is that he doesn't exist!"

I know you don't have to sit through LDS meetings to hear this frightening warning. No matter where you hear it, the point is clear: you had better not stop believing in Satan. That muthafuckahz the real thing! And he's scary as shit!


The horns are maybe more symbolic than literal, it's true, but let's just take a moment to recognize that many, many people have had visions of a Satan with horns and wings. They're tradition at this point, and Lord knows we Mormons love tradition.


And the folks who love Satan most really prefer this more traditional approach.


Now consider for just a moment how badly Satan wants you for himself.


Terrifying! Of course, Mormons know better than the Church of Satan (those satanist assholes have totally been deceived), they know he doesn't look like a goat or have horns or wings. He looks like us, for he is our spirit brother born of our Heavenly Parents. Some say he looks a bit like Barack Obama. Others think he's white.


More important than what our fallen brother looks like is what he wants. Satan wants you to suffer, brothers and sisters. He wants you to be fucking miserable for all eternity because that's exactly the kind of heartless, bodiless bastard he is (that's right, he was too rebellious to be given a body). He tempts and torments you at all times setting traps and waiting for you to fall into sin. I don't even like to think about his evil ways.

"Taste my happiness, y'all mothafuckahz! We got this!"

Good thing other people have thought about it for me. Take Bible scholars for example. These dudes have looked very carefully at the use of the Hebrew word satan (שָּׂטָן), which means "adversary", to understand where Satan comes from. As it turns out satan is a term that describes a variety of human and celestial beings who in some way create opposition for someone else. The Devil (meaning  "slanderer"), Great Lucifer the Fallen, the Father of All Lies, doesn't come onto the scene until hundreds of years later on in the tradition of satans when the Hebrew tradition was able to absorb more of the dualism from surrounding religious traditions, at which point Satan, Yahweh's mortal enemy, was born into the world. Here's a brief explanation in video form:


So where does this leave us with regards to a scary bogeyman named Satan? Do we trust Joseph Smith's tweaking of the Christian tradition or do we recognize the tradition has untenable origins and that we've been caught up in one of the longest running ghost stories on earth today?


Pay attention to how frequently our prophets, seers and revelators use the "because Satan" argument. Why should we find that argument convincing?