Joseph did you know we’s all gonna ride the train? Sometimes when an idea pops up it takes on a life of its own. So it was with the founder of the Mormon faith on that hill long ago. Joseph Smith could not possibly have known how far his ideas would go when he concocted his story of the angel. The idea of golden tablets, Egyptian texts, magic glasses, all blend a story that is, frankly, extraordinary. This article is going to be a mixture of theology, psychology, and just a little common sense, but with a large dose of understanding. You must understand that most people are followers. A few lead. Humanity has to be this way if anything is going to get done. In religion your faith is divinely inspired, and everybody else is evil. Everyone has “the truth.”
“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?” For humans, truth is whatever you perceive it to be right up until that final breath when you suddenly realize you were wrong. God is truth. God is truth because He is the creator, and if he says, “Be,” then it IS. Man can’t do that, but man has a way of saying “truths” over and over, and after a while it becomes man’s truth. . . right up ‘till that final breath.
Joseph Smith had these truths. Now, like Juan says, “I ain’t even gonna lie to you,” there weren’t any tablets in the woods. Swat them bees. Now, when you say that to Mormons they go spastic. I’ve seen them retreat, claiming the tablets were brass, may even have been copper, and the sheets were paper thin. There was no gold in Palmyra, New York except in the banks in somebody else’s name, but there was treasure in the mind of a small boy, and maybe, just maybe, there was an incredible occurrence on that hill. Inspiration is organic. God doesn’t come down and seize the hand of the writer of religious material. He filters it through the human psyche. When I wrote “Sharon” there were some people who claimed that I was inspired. Nope. Just made it up. That’s what a writer does. But if my words light a fire in someone’s mind, who’s to say that’s not a form of inspiration.
Mormons holding onto the golden tablets are like Catholics holding onto the Shroud of Turin. Hey, I was one of those. They ran that bathrobe through radio carbon and it came back bananas. I read all the theories, came up with one myself, sorry, no shroud! People constantly grasp for the tangible to prove the intangible. Jesus told us that no sign would be given. Don’t base your faith on parlor tricks. Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, if thou art perplexed thou understandith not the trick, and it’s all tricks, folks. I followed behind a Catholic “mystic” like a puppy, and she wasn’t anything more than a Tarot Card reader in short shorts. Never said I was a prophet, people.
Have you ever written a book? I have, let me tell you about it. It starts with a single page, and then, as the story develops, it evolves, and actually writes itself. A good story teller can weave a spell. Joseph Smith was such a story teller. It doesn’t matter if he made it up, stole it from some Presbyterian minister, or just found it in a jug of moonshine, the fact remains that he did not transcribe anything from any golden tablets, but he did start something that he, himself had no control over.
Does that nullify the Church of Latter Day Saints? Certainly not. Religion comes in two parts. The religion, and the culture that it generates. When a religion begins it is simple enough, but if it lasts it becomes a “theology.” Theology is refined by “theologians.” Once these guys get involved you’re just screwed. The inspiration, and vision of the founder has long since dissipated, and it must be “revived” or explained, or, God forbid, canonized. That’s where you get holy underwear, funny little hats on Jews, and weird people kissing snakes in Arkansas. Each religion judges truths by what they perceive to be true, i.e. the Mormons can’t have a real temple because only the Jews than have one. Who said? I have seen the Temple in Salt Lake City, and it looked too holy for me!
So, how do you judge a religion? By the culture that proceeds from it, that’s how. Look at Islam, the “religion of peace.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard all about Mountain Meadows, but I also heard about the Mormons getting burned out time and time again, finally fleeing to a salty lake in the desert. They didn’t try to take anything from America, they divorced America! Then, they built a culture that frankly works, magic underwear and all! It was all a lot of fun to burn them out in New York, Illinois and Missouri, but when the attackers of the LDS Church came barreling over the Wasatch Mountains and “John Wayne” was waiting on the other side it was a whole different critter. Nothing like a good ol’ country butt stomping to make you more tolerant of other cultures, huh? I learned a lesson from C. J. Grisham. When you strap on an Ar-15, and stand up, the fat boys all fall down and pray. There’s a truth for you!
I’ve seen all the writing on how ex-Mormons “expose” the church, but the fact of the matter is, they couldn’t make it, while millions of others did. Does that make Mormonism true? Nah, no truer than any other man-made religion. God made man, man made religion. I hear all the stuff about how bad Mormonism is, but some people need patterns in their lives. Have you ever seen a bunch of kids playing with Yugioh Cards? I once made a video showing three little boys playing them, all from different cultures, but the rules of the game transcended the ethnic differences. Religion is like that. That is that “God Hole” I talk about. Man seeks organization, conformity, and answers. All religions put forth theories that seem ridiculous to the outsider. Know them by their fruits. If Mormonism doesn’t work for you then leave. Become a Hari Krishna or something, or make up your own. Recently, on a trip from Salt Lake City to Brigham City I observed the industry all along the I-15 for sixty miles or so. Industry built by a people who came here with nothing but a Book of Mormon and one crazy old man who was tired of getting burned out every time he prayed.
There is no way Joseph Smith knew what would become of his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I don’t know if he ever discussed the Great Salt Lake during his life, but the movement he began evolved into that industry I observed along the fifteen that afternoon. That’s no accident! That is a culture that works for most of its members. I’ve heard that LDS people aree not Christian, or follow “another Jesus.” You wanna see anti-Christ? Look at Islam. When ISIS comes they’ll come for all of us. Those temples in Utah will look a lot better then. “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and two hundred and sixty days.” Joseph did you know we’s all gonna ride the train?