I’ve been exposed to Mormon beliefs for a long time. Having been a writer for a while, and, on a Texas, national, and even international scale, I take a more or less detached view of not just LDS, but most organized religion. While I would not challenge anyone’s personal belief se,t I take two steps back, and cast a jaundiced eye toward McReligion. I also mix in a good old portion of just plain common sense. Being a Catholic in a former life I understand that all faiths have certain things peculiar to that particular faith, so I would never challenge my friend Doc Greene in his faith because a one on one relationship with Jesus is never bad.
So why does Mormonism rub me the wrong way? As a secular humanist, why would I get mad listening to them rattle on? Lies and inconsistencies! There is a vast gulf between accepting things on faith, the resurrection, virgin birth, miracles, and such, but when you are confronted with stories that confound common sense, especially when these stories can be blatantly disproved you must question the force behind the belief set. The debate between religions is always the same. My invisible guy in the sky can whip your invisible guy in the sky. Theology is man’s feeble attempt to explain the unexplainable. When the dots don’t connect I ask why, and when I say ask why I’m asking from a Biblical and psychological standpoint. When you discuss their faith from the Bible Mormons will twist it. When you are a secular humanist, but try to work from a Biblical foundation, and combine this with an understanding of the makeup of the human mind their tactics begin to unravel rapidly and it always ends in a big argument.
I’m a big student of Penn and Teller. The intricacies of magic amaze me. Moreover, the rules of magic are foundational. Look here, don’t look there. People will see what they expect to see. The human brain is conditioned to fill in the blanks to connect events in a normal fashion drawing upon what it has seen before. The biggest rule is that if something mystifies you, then you just don’t understand the trick. Teller has a routine where he drops quarters into a metal bucket. You hear the coins, therefore you see the coins. At one point he removes the glasses from a member of the audience and dumps two quarters into the bucket. I’ve been to Vegas, I’ve seen the quarters. This is impossible! There are no quarters. You hear the sound, and your eyes, and brain fill in the blanks. Mormonism was founded during something called the magical world view. Everybody held to an understanding that there was this unseen world that defied the natural laws of the universe. Angels were everywhere, witches brewed potions that would cure cancer, seduce comely young girls, or bring wealth. Snake oil salesmen were on every back road, hundreds of offshoots of religion were started and this mindset continued right up until Harry Houdini pulled the plug in the ‘20’s.
People want to believe. People grasp onto anything that makes life a little bit easier. Nobody wants to die, and if they have to they want a friend in court to make it smoother. When a belief set originally designed to achieve these ends suddenly makes life harder it becomes wrong. Good folks go to heaven, ok. Don’t hurt folks and help neighbors, fine. Eat fish on Friday or die, wrong! We’ve all done it. I was a Hail Mary Catholic. Actually the faith didn’t do me any harm, and all my kids are devout. Maybe I can play that card at the Pearly Gates. Because people so want something the door is open to charlatans and flim flam men. The more desperate the person, the more they forgive inconsistencies. Most Christian arguments are over words, not events. From Methodist to Catholic, all accept that Jesus walked on water. Only one hints that He may have had three wives and a flock of kids, and if you draw this admission out it will make a Mormon very upset. Like many of the offbeat ideas this one falls away when you use a little knowledge of history, and logic. Jesus was a Rabbi. Rabbis are expected to be married. If He had been married the Gospels would have just said it. No slander! If Jesus weren’t married, and had an affair with Mary Madeline He would have never been crucified, He’d have been stoned. . . for adultery! With the Temple priests looking for anything to silence this upstart preacher don’t you think they would have seized on that? Perfect solution, and would have discredited Him to the entire population.
You’ll never get this up front from one of them. When challenged with the above logic, they will fall back on a convoluted theology that would perplex a Hippy! This happens in most cases. Sometimes it really is just the particular one you’re talking to, but most times it is because you’ve stumbled upon something they didn’t want to leak out of the Temple. When you hear the current “Prophet” speak it really is generalizations that expound the basic truths of Christianity, but as you dig deeper you will find that there is an entire sub culture just below the surface, available to only the most worthy, and those secrets are only for the select.
As you may have heard, Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, farm boy extraordinaire. Soothsayer, prophet, and author of the Book of Mormon. Of course he claims he didn’t write the book of Mormon, he only transcribed it, or rather someone named Oliver Cowdery did, Joseph having his head buried in his hat glaring at a “seer stone” for inspiration at the time. This remarkable work was sent to publishers who openly rejected it. Slowly, but surely the origin of the text began to emerge. According to the spin, the words came from a series of golden plates, inscribed with some sort of ancient language. In the box were two stones, that when used could translate the words into, you guessed it, the King’s English 1611! Supposedly a bunch of disgruntled Jews came to the new world, split into two factions, i.e. Rabbis and Wild Indians, there eventually was this war, and one Moroni wrote the whole story down on gold, buried it, where it remained until young Joseph was led to the site by the same Moroni, who was by then, an Angel!
Save your fork, folks, this gets better. First let’s look at reality. And Mormons, I do apologize, but when I see stupid, or a spin, I just call it like it is. Let’s continue. Farm kid, no money, one pair of shoes, digs for buried treasure finds a pot of gold. This is where psychology works in. He didn’t sell it? He found about thirty to sixty pounds of gold and didn’t rush to town with it because he was so overcome with the Holy Ghost? If you believe that have I got a bridge for you and it’s on sale! If he’d found one gold Double Eagle he’d have ran, not walked, to the nearest bank and cashed it in. Now people, that’s a fact, ok? I don’t care how you slice this cake it is still tootie fruity. I was a poor kid. If an angel let me to a treasure like that, I would have knocked him in the head and felt real bad all the way to the bank! Long story short, it never happened. First off, where did so much gold come from? Across from the Mormon Temple in Utah is a shop, and in that shop is a replica of the “golden tablets” in lead, a metal of comparable weight to gold, and all the Mormon Jocks come over and pick that up! Fact! Prospectors in the California gold rush, after working years, would end up for barely enough gold to fill a tobacco sack. The big money was later in commercial mining, and even then the amount was not all that great. Joseph Smith did not find thirty to sixty pounds of gold. This was a spin to explain the dubious source of the Book of Mormon.
The language on these plates was “Reformed Egyptian.” Two problems. These people were orthodox Jews. Orthodox Jews don’t write anything in Egyptian. Did someone say, “Passover?” Jews believe Hebrew is the language given them by God, and Egyptian is the language of slaves. But Joseph was so good at this translation stuff that he later purchased a scroll from a traveling snake oil salesman, proclaimed it to be the “Book of Abraham,” and after long study, translated it, whereupon it still appears in Mormon literature although it has now has been deciphered by scholars as being the burial book or book of the dead of some Egyptian fat cat that has nothing what so ever to do with Abraham, either patriarch or president! Combine that with plain old investigation. Now, these folks landed somewhere in Mexico, but when you try to nail them down on the exact location they get all sketchy and move the landing around considerably, so suffice to say it was somewhere south of San Antonio, Texas. From there they prophesied their way across the south, up the midcontinent, all the way to New York, and didn’t leave even a grocery list written in the same language. When I challenged a Mormon on this he told me the language on the plates was given to Moroni only for said plates and was forbidden to normal man. Yeah, right! And Marie Osmond is a virgin, too! Well, being from a Catholic background I’m cool with perpetual virgins, but I digress. Also, if they were so tangled up with the Indians then how come Geronimo didn’t acquire the ability to write in said code? See how the dots don’t connect, and I haven’t even got theological yet.
So, anyway, due to disappointing book sales, Joseph goes to plan B, which is start a religion. Good gig if you can pull it off, worked for Mohammed. He begins to baptize folks in the Father, Son and Holy Plates, and works his way all the way to some county jail in Illinois where the populace moved the issue, and Holy Joe to a higher court. He was later reincarnated as Hugh Heffner whereupon he found another pot of gold that he translated and named “Playboy” and the rest is history.
Enter the Mormon version of Biggie Small, Brigham Young. Brother Brigham led the children of Mormon into the desert to a salty lake and proclaimed that it was the place. That was not the place, California was the place, but I’m not a prophet, so what do I know? I’m told that they developed a huge salt industry there, and they may have. They dotted settlements and towns all up and down the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake, and did pretty well. The Prophet also married everything hot and holler from a teen age girl to a horse collar, but God told them not to marry so many women at one time and as a result they got statehood. Eventually they evolved into a recognizable religion, but friends and neighbors, they cook the books!
Not one foundational belief follows anything Biblical, and they can dig until blood runs from their upraised palms but they will never find one “seer stone” proving one syllable in the Book of Mormon. I’m not going to bore you with particulars but I’ll give you the foundational flaw in Mormonism. Get your pads out, there will be a test later. The story of heaven, according to them is there was a council in heaven. The Devil, and Jesus (being brothers) both submitted a plan for mankind. Satan said that he would subject with complete, unquestioned discipline and rule, and that the spirits would come to earth, suffer through, and return to “Heavenly Father” none the worse wear. Jesus said free agency was most important and that man should be free to choose his path, later to be judged and admitted or not, to the reward. Well, God voted for Jesus. Now, Mormonism is absolute control of believers. From beer, to haircuts, to women, even coffee. Whose plan are they following? Earth shaking theology from beautiful downtown Austin.
Hitler said that if you repeat a lie often enough that eventually it becomes true. It is true that some things are taken by faith, but even Mohammed wasn’t stupid enough to claim he found gold, and this was very wise of him considering what he had to deal with. There are so many invariable holes in Mormonism it defies logic, but if you ever debate a Mormon you’ll understand. They lay layer upon layer, then resort to lies, then just get mad, and the shouting match begins. If you employ the Bible they fall back on, “As far as it is accurately translated,” and never forget, Joseph was one hell of a translator!
What harm do they do? You have to separate Mormon theology with Mormon culture. What people believe vs what they do are two different things. There’s not much wrong with faith, family, and mom’s apple pie. The problem is the psychology. Since their teaching goes so against human nature eventually a lot of Mormons become disillusioned. There are no real answers in their faith, only Mormon answers, and those answers “evolve.” Black people are suddenly acceptable. Of course they say that blacks always were, they just had to hold back a bit. Uh, the other churches make their bones converting all people to their faith. They also shun polygamy. They DID that. Brother Brigham and his seventy-two virgins. Oh, my bad, wrong religion. But he really did that! The Muslims still do, and don’t lie about it. Also, consider the theological answers. The Bible took over a thousand years to write, with many authors. I’m a writer, people, and I’m telling you the Book of Mormon was contrived by Joseph Smith, and that’s cool, just don’t base your life on a Superman comic book.
Eventually Mormonism will fade away. Oh, they’ll cook the numbers. With their baptism of the dead they pick up lots of members. Tried to pick up six million Jews just after WW II. And they put these numbers on the books! Their missionaries bang doors all over the world with a set formula designed to enter more names on the roster, but Mormonism is suffering the same thing all patent leather churches are. Declining membership. Free thinking, non-denominational congregations are surviving, while the “old school” flavors are being weeded out. Most converts do not understand the foundation of Mormonism because they didn’t understand the faith they just left. They hear the sound bites, talk to the missionaries and at the proper time, just watch the quarters drop into the cup.
A Simple Ol’ Boy From Austin: Quarters in a Cup http://simpleoldboy.blogspot.com/2015/10/quarters-in-cup.html?spref=tw
Simple Ol’ Boy From Austin