Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mormon vs. secular - the meaning of life

The LDS Church is very proud of how it answers the question "why are we here?" Mormons totally know what it's all about:


"Pick a side, breh!"

Life, dear brothers and sisters, is one big test. Heavenly Father wants us to prove to him that we can make the right choices while in our mortal bodies (hint: choose the right, y'all!)

Here's how it works: Heavenly Father gave us free agency on earth in part so we could experience the joy of being wrong from time to time in order to learn how to be right all the time. God wants us to be perfect, just like he is, but that requires a fierce trial of our faith (God's very into testing our fidelity, BTW).  Part of that trial involves an invisible host tempting us and trying to deceive us. We have to figure out when those devils are speaking to us. See, God wants us to make mistakes so we can learn, BUT he also hates mistakes because they're either totally below him or just down right evil (he refers to many human shortcomings as sin) and won't let anyone around him who makes them. So what he did was make a law that it's OK to kill a perfect someone (in our case Jesus) to somehow make up for all the bad decisions we're responsible for. So we're responsible for learning to being better but mostly just responsible for learning about Jesus and being grateful to God for killing him sacrificially to himself for us. In other words, he needs to know that we are smart enough to accept the Atonement for all the mistakes we've made, and we do that by being baptized and then joyfully sitting in church for three hours on Sunday and various other long hours throughout the week.

Sign us up for team Most High God!

It's not too hard to see why someone might not get on board with this plan right away - mostly because that whole vicarious sacrificial atonement part makes absolutely no sense. Satan (our spirit brother formerly known by his Latin moniker, Lucifer) was one of those spirits who didn't like God's plan, and - even though God's plan clearly called for a bunch of rebellious spirits to trip up the non-rebellious as best they could - somehow he was too fucking stupid to realize that by not accepting God's plan he would totally become the sorry ass evil spirit to plague the children of men. So this totally fucking stupid Satan made his own ludicrous plan, in which he would somehow force everyone to behave themselves by somehow denying them any kind of autonomous control of their thoughts and actions (we don't have any more specific details than that) so we'd never make mistakes and all be perfect so God wouldn't have a problem with us being around him after we die. The problem is no one can learn and be happy with someone else making all their decisions for him or her.

Satan's sad evil drone clones.

Now we come back to where we started, according to Mormon thought, to be happy we must make our own decisions. If you don't believe it, just look how unhappy people are under dictators! So make your own choices, learn, and learn to be happy. Just make doubly goddamn sure you believe killing Jesus magically liberates you of your every sin and weakness, get baptized, become a member of the One True Church, pay 10% of your gross income to the Church, attend your weekly Sunday meetings, eat enchanted bread and pretend it's Jesus meat, drink enchanted water and pretend it's Jesus blood, think how the Brethren tell you to think, find another Mormon of the opposite sex who does all of the above, marry that person of the opposite sex in the House of the Lord, have sex, make babies, and teach them these marvelous truths... because otherwise God's going to be pissed and he won't let you hang out with him ever again!


What's that? You don't like how this is panning out? It doesn't sound meaningful enough? It sounds downright arbitrary? Really? Well what does the secular world offer you here? Is it any better? What according to the secular thought is life all about? I'll tell you: NOT MUCH!

Lame! You stole this from Jesus!

Waaa! You're so persecuted!

Secularist think you can make up your own meaning of life! They actually think you have the ability to come up with your own reasons for living! It's absurd! Find your niche and thrive in it, they say. Where would such absolute autonomy over your own life come from? Why not just accept and conform your life to Mormon meaning of life? It's easier and guaranteed to make you a god.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mormon vs. secular - human origins

When it comes to the big questions, Latter-day Saints think they're particularly blessed with satisfactory answers, especially because (and we all agree on this) science doesn't have the answers to big the questions. So let's compare and answers a bit. Once again the questions are:

1. Who am I and where do I come from?
2. Why am I here?
3. Where am I going?

To the first question Mormons answer that you are a child of Heavenly Father - he begot your spirit the same way your parents here on earth begot you (sexual intercourse) - and as a child of a god, you have the potential to become a god. Actually, Mormons dig back even farther than that. They believe that before we were spiritually begotten of the Father we existed as intelligences. Intelligences are understood to be eternal and (obviously) capable of being organized into spirits and spirits into people and people into gods. In fact, God the Father, according to Mormon understanding, was once a mortal man, who was previously a mere spirit child (one of billions or trillions?) of another God, who had begotten him at some point through a very mysterious manipulation of intelligences (sex). What this all means is that we are all "gods in embryo", as we say in the Church. THAT'S WHO YOU ARE!

But saying you're a god is little more than a statement of fact with no sustaining evidence. It's equally logical to say we're all potential vampires waiting for our big bite. I have no evidence for vampires other than the numerous testimonies offered by others and I consequently have no material understanding of what vampires are either. A more sustainable claim made by scripture is that we are dust waiting to happen. This is a material fact. We make dust constantly by shedding skin cells and when we die our bodies will dry and crumble and be spread in part as dust. The knowledge that you are a future pile of dust is much more meaningful than imagining you might one day be a god because you actually have references for what death and dust are. We have little to no reference for understanding what a god is or where one comes from, only a few arcane verses from a very questionable book of scripture.

It's also important to note that most of what the LDS Church focuses on is not so much who you are as what you are. You are a child of God. Whatever that means exactly is essentially left up to you to decide. Science on the other hand is much more concrete. We are members of the only remaining hominid species on the planet, we're very closely related to great apes, but we likely share a common ancestor with all life on earth. Science connects us all with billions of years of genealogy, not a trite affirmation that God's your Daddy. It gives us something concrete to hold onto (DNA). But it still doesn't tell us who we are.

When it comes to discussing the question of who we might be, the Church prefers to state (without much by way of explanation) that we are all unique consciousnesses (a spirit) that will exist forever and ever. The secular world, instead of blowing off the question with a simple dogmatic sentence, has considered various possibilities for millennia and ask for more time to careful explore this complicated subject.

Which answers do we prefer? Which ones feel more genuine? Which ones most deserve serious contemplation? Religious conjectures? Or ideas based on material fact?

"My face? I was born like this. Or maybe Satan did it..."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mormonism has 'the' answers

Growing up in the LDS Church I was taught very early on that we had the answers to all the big questions. You know the ones I'm talking about - THE big ones:

1. Who am I?
2. Where do I come from?
3. Why am I here?
4. Where am I going?

For those of you who aren't LDS or have somehow forgotten the answers, they're simple:

1. You are a literal spirit child of the Everlasting God! who loves you and has a Plan for you!
2. You came from God's presence...
3. to be born into a physical body and prove your faithfulness to God by living according to His desires and commandments.
4. Sometime after your physical death your body will be made immortal and reunited with your spirit. Then you will be judged and assigned to your eternal kingdom - a brilliant and golden sun, silvery moon, a tiny wink of bronze or the cold obsolete of pure darkness.

I have no doubt that these answers have lifted the fog of existential confusion from your heart and mind and you're now ready to move forward in life with undaunted assurance of God's love and your place in the Universe. Please contact your local LDS missionaries for further light and knowledge.

Hang on. A big blond family? You guys have to be Mormon already.

No? That's strange, usually the Spirit confirms these words of truth in the hearts of the sincere. This is a bad sign. You might be a two-faced piece of shit destined for Outer Darkness. Believe me, the above answers all make perfect sense when you grow up hearing them every week in church.

Repeat it enough and hopefully it will become second nature.

So what seems to be the problem? Are you maybe wondering what a god is and how he procreates to produce literal spirit children? Maybe you don't quite understand what a spirit is. Or maybe you're skeptical of how this information came to our knowledge in the first place. If this is the case, we can tell you that God has a body of flesh and bone (but not blood for some reason); that he has sex (a lot) with a goddess (or two) that we're not allowed to speculate on or talk about; that a spirit is eternal (but only after conception or birth or something) and, believe it or not, physical somehow (but we don't know how and don't know any specifics); and that we got all of this from a very reliable source named Joseph Smith. It doesn't get any clearer or logical than that!

On to where we come from, you might be wondering where God is. That answer is easy: Kolob! Where's Kolob? Um... we don't need to know that, actually. Why should anyone believe God has a physically restricted presence? Because Joseph Smith said so, duh! Is this star or planet named Kolob found within our Universe? Probably. Why wouldn't God reside outside of Creation? Why is he summer homing on a planet he made? Um... It's nice there. Hm...

The important thing is the present though. What you do right now in this life is crucial! You've got to let God know you're on his side! Because he doesn't already know if we are or not? No, because, well, we can switch sides at any time, you know? Because... Satan! But doesn't God know the future already? Doesn't he know if we'll one day succumb to Satan and forsake him? ...Well, sure, probably, but we don't know that. We fricking fought a war with Satan and his followers while still in the presence of God about whether or not we'd follow God's Plan which was to let us live mortal lives in general ignorance. We chose the Plan, that's why we're here enjoying our bodies and all the rebellious spirits, like Satan, will never get a body. Wait! You're saying we already chose to follow God and helped him conquer Satan before we were born? Definitely! So how the hell does God not already know that we chose to follow him? Why are we taking a second fidelity test? Does God not trust those who fought for him? Hey, whoa! Not so fast! That wasn't a real test because it didn't involve faith! No? No, we were living with God, so we had a perfect knowledge of him, not faith in him. We had to be born on earth to learn to develop faith. Why? Because that's the way God likes it. Oh dear god.

Hey, man, how's God going to know whether or not you deserve gold? Because he knows everything already and because I helped him fight off Satan. No, but God has to judge your faith in Him! Which wasn't required when I chose to fight a war for him? Nope. So why did other spirits fight with Satan if they knew God would win? They were just stupid assholes, man. Ah, obviously. So tell me about this super-sunny, magically awesome kingdom. What's so great about it? Yes! Now we're talking! The Celestial Kingdom is the best! You get to live with God forever and YOUR WHOLE FAMILY! Why would I want that? Is God really funny or something? Does it matter that no one in my family would ever believe anything you're telling me here? Will my brother still be a wife-beating dick? You don't understand! Remember how we're all God's literal offspring? Well, the Celestial Kingdom is where we grow up to be full-blown gods! We will make worlds and universes and have billions or trillions or more babies (think how much sex that is!)! We'll have tons of power and glory and love and it'll be so great FOREVER! Uh, yeah, no thanks. Bye!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Satan a la mode

The Book of Mormon was profoundly unfashionable for it's time when it comes to considerations of the devil; in the midst of a non-committal vogue, it dives headfirst into making assertions about the unknown. Follow the bracketed links to see how Joseph Smith and the Gold Plates boldly put Percy Bysshe Shelley (and his ilk!) in his place. 

There may be observed in polite society a great deal of coquetting about the Devil, especially among divines. They qualify him as the evil spirit [Mormons too (because God didn't give him body): Mosiah 4:14, Mosiah 2:37]; they consider him as synonymous with the flesh [sometimes, but mostly the Devil uses the flesh as a wicked joystick: 2 Ne. 10:24, Mosiah 16:3, Mosiah 16:5, Helaman 7:15]. They seem to wish to divest him of all personality [whatever! Satan has a personality and it's horrible: 2 Ne. 28:22, Alma 30:60, Moroni 7:12]... Hell is popularly considered as metaphorical of the torments of an evil conscience [No way, Satan's a real dude not our pained psyches: 2 Ne. 2:17, Alma 30:53, Jacob 7:18, 3 Ne. 18:15] and by no means capable of being topographically ascertained [OK, so Mormons don't know where Hell is (maybe Outer Space/Darkness) but they certainly know it's physical: 1 Ne. 14:3, 1 Ne. 15:35]. No one likes to mention the torments of the everlasting fire [um...: 2 Ne. 9:16, 2 Ne. 28:23, Jacob 3:11, Jacob 6:10, Mosiah 3:27, Mosiah 26:27, Alma 12:27] and the poisonous gnawing of the worm [try 'dragon' or 'monster', buddy!] that liveth forever and ever [2 Ne. 9:16, 2 Ne. 9:19, 2 Ne. 9:26, 2 Ne. 26:22].  (From Essay on the Devil and Devils, 1820.)

In other words, if you're doubting the literal existence of Satan, his angels/devils and Hell, YOU HAD BETTER RECONSIDER! THIS SHIT IS REAL!!

"Ouch! Ouch! Ooouch!!"

Don't doubt that this is one doubt you'll be eternally sorry you never doubted! Neither popular opinion nor careful research can save you.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Making good men better

Growing up I remember hearing a David O. McKay quote quite often (#25):

To me this sounded like a proof of the Church. What we have makes better people, therefore we are the One True Church of God on Earth. It also sounded like a justification for staying Mormon even if the Church weren't true. Why abandon the fiction if it leads men to self-improvement? I preferred to see this statement as wise, prophetic council for a true prophet of God...

That is until I looked up "make good men better" on the Internet and learned that this little motto has been lifted from the Freemasons! (It's not the only thing Mormonism has borrowed.)

If the prophet's just getting his material from the Freemasons, what the hell are we doing in church instead of attending our local lodge? We might as well go to the source, right?

Here's your conspiracy handshake picture of the day. TOTAL FREEMASON HANDSHAKE!!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Heavenly messengers!

 "Whoa shit, guardian spirit dude! I wasn't even gonna touch 
your golden treasure, promise!"

As Mormons, we believe that Joseph Smith got his knowledge and authority from the Highest of Authorities, yea, even the Kings of the Most High: God the Father and Jesus the Father (first just the Jesus and then the both of 'em - it doesn't matter...).

"Joseph, they're all self-righteous assholes. 
And BTW, watch your fuckin' language around us."

But let's be honest, does that seem like a sufficient trump card for when others question your authority? Not when you don't even bother telling your family and followers that God the Father has spoken to you face to face. Instead Joseph dropped other names like Nephi/Moroni (he couldn't keep them straight at first), John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John. Only after he exhausted his some of these more recognizables he dropped the Elohim bomb on a few people. After that I'm sure it was easy to throw out that you've had special visits from the likes of Moses, Elijah, Elias, Paul, and just about everyone else worth meeting from the Bible and The Book of Mormon.

 "Touch touch... touch touch touching. Sooo much touching. Never enough touching..."

The early saints eventually got tired of trying to discuss scripture with Joseph. He wasn't even pretending to pray about issues and wait for a revelation, he'd just shut people up with a "Fuck you! How would you know what Paul's trying to say in that verse anyway? Well I've fucking talked with Paul, so screw you!" It was enough to get anyone to stand down.

Hooray for made up Bible folk!

However, now that Joseph's dead and we can all get a word in, let's reflect for a moment on all these heavenly visitations Joseph claimed to have had.

Considering his direct contact with so many heavy hitters, why did it take him so long to figure out so many Gospel principles? What kinds of empty conversations was Joseph having with his heavenly messengers? Why did it take so long for polygamy to get some rules? All these visits and no clarifications that Joseph needed to ask for Emma's permission? Why did the temple endowment show up so late in the game? What's all this "line upon line, here a little there a little" business? When you're enjoying frequent visitations by all these incredibly important individuals, how can we honestly believe that they wouldn't spell things out very carefully and clearly in a short time rather than spread out Restoration through an extremely muddled communication model of prayer and trial and error?

If I listen to my heart I have to say this all sounds like total bullshit, and that is why I must doubt my doubts.