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Philosophies of Men in Mormon Theology

Posted by nebula0 on March 24, 2009


I wouldn’t take delight in pointing out striking similarities between Platonic and Mormon thought it if weren’t for the fact that a persistent tactic in Mormon apologetics is to accuse orthodox Christianity of being nearly hopelessly infused with these ‘philosophies of men’ corrupting the purity of the gospel.  As that is the case, I want to point out a couple of places in which Mormonism fits better with Platonic philosophy than does orthodox Christianity (see Plato’s Timaeus). 

First of all: creation ex nihilo.  In orthodox Christianity, God creates the cosmos out of nothing and according to his own rules, this is creation ex nihilo.  According to Mormonism God created the universe out of pre-existent materials and according to pre-existent laws of the cosmos, the creation was more of an organization or building.  Now your immediate inclination may be to suppose that the Mormon view is closer to an authentic ancient Hebrew belief and that the orthodox Christian creation is a Greek notion- and that would be wrong.  According to Platonism, the  universe was created by a being called the demiurge who created it out of pre-existing materials and according to pre-existing rules.  Sound familiar? 

Another thing that I would point out is the Platonic notion that as the universe was being put together, there was a sort of life force or soul present in the things created, that this life-ness was present in the things put together before they were materialized.  Now if you know Mormon theology, you know that God formed all things spiritually before they were formed physically.  Compare that to the Platonic concept I just described and now compare that to the orthodox Christian notion that God infused life into the world in a single instant after physical creation.

I’m just saying, maybe the pot shouldn’t call the kettle black too quickly here…

Posted in Theological Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sacred or Secret? and Big Love

Posted by nebula0 on March 21, 2009


One of Mormonism’s common sayings is that the endowment ceremony is sacred, not secret.  The point of this saying is that there aren’t just weird things going on in the temple but rather that sacred truths are being imparted, so sacred in fact that they shouldn’t be discussed away form the sacred locale of the temple.  Obviously this line of thinking does have its rationale and that shouldn’t be ignored, but from the point of view of an outsider the Mormon IS keeping secrets, whether he labels it or understands it that way or not.  The effect is the arousal of curiosity, really, how could you NOT be curious if someone tells you “I’m sorry, but it’s too sacred for me to share what we do”?  Isn’t that just too tantalizing?  which relates to the following incident.

All of this, of course, has been debated in light of the recent decision by Big Love to portray the endowment ceremony on TV.  Outsiders are fascinated to get a glimpse of ceremonies they are not privy to and Mormons disgusted that something they hold to be too sacred to share with outsiders, or even uninitiated insiders, or even insiders outside of the temple, defiled by being shared through a popular HBO series.  This of course raises questions about religious tolerance and television, how far is too far, and so forth.   There is no way that Mormons are ever going to be okey-dokey with a portrayal of any part of the endowment on television, so does that mean that it is wrong to portray it?

Well, the reality is that it was only a matter of time before this was going to happen.  Mormons have lost their minority protected status with the passing of Proposition 8.  They seems like a far too influential group to give special minority rights to, too much money and too much status.  But then again, Mormons have been wanting out of their peculiar people status for the last couple of decades anyway by emphasizing the Jesus Christ in the name of their church and trying to find acceptance amongst America’s born again crowd.  Mormons are generally a people obsessed with respectability and in that seeking have sought mainstream academic treatment, media treatment, and demand to be called Latter-day Saints rather than Mormons.  Their recent re-emphasis of their all important family message led to wide association between the passing of Prop 8 and Mormonism, casting Mormons as sort of arch conservatives with money.  All of this, I argue, led to the inevitability of wide exposure of Mormon rituals.  Why?  Because as soon as you lose that minority status with the mainstream everything is fair game, that’s why.  It becomes okay to talk about funny underwear, endowment ceremonies, Joseph Smith having spirit wives who were already married and all kinds of issues that the liberal oriented media would have avoided to protect a small religious group.

All of that is to say that Mormons, in their quest for mainstream respectability and acceptance, asked for exposure, and exposure they will get.  This is only the beginning.  Here is the bright side Mormons: as America becomes more familiar with peculiar Mormon belief and ritual, it will, over time, become desensitized.  It will become less weird with each exposure and who knows, maybe that will lead to more converts.

Of course explaining the WHY this would happen in mainstream media doesn’t answer the question- is it right?  My unequivocal answer has to be yes.  I respect the right for Mormons to hold their ceremonies sacred and therefore secret, but that compulsion doesn’t cover the spirit of the First Amendment.  I do not agree with those who argue that anything which might offend someone somewhere ought to be avoided, we’d never talk about anything whatsoever that way.  I think we ought to have all the cartoons of Muhammad that we want, all of the misrepresentations of Catholicism which are so rampant in popular media, and yes, show Barb in the robes of the priesthood.  Just as much as HBO has a right to do this, not just legally but ethically, Mormons have a right to dissent, to explain and to boycott the show.  Hurray for freedom.

Posted in Controversial Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

How to Witness to Mormonism

Posted by nebula0 on March 18, 2009


Since I do believe that the theology of Mormonism is fundamentally flawed in a significant way, it makes sense to me to at least explain why I think this way to Mormons who are interested.  I do not go into such conversations with the unrealistic expectation of converting them to trinitarianism, my aims are much more modest, the hope to impart a greater understanding of what the trinity is.  Now that is not what evangelicals usually think when they think of witnessing.  Evangelicals in general are an excited lot, certain of the obvious truth of their position to the point that many become quickly frustrated when others don’t see the obvious aspect of their truth claims.  When dealing with Mormons this leads to disastrous results that you can see on internet boards all over- accusing Mormons of being brainwashed cultists, mocking Mormon rituals, ridiculing Mormon leaders and so forth.  Evangelicals will gleefully take part in these activities with the explanation that they are telling the truth and therefore being loving.

Imagine for a moment if Paul, in a fit of exasperation, threw up his hands and let those at Mars Hill know that they were brainwashed beyond belief and incapable of rational thought because they didn’t agree with his explanations.  Not a pretty picture is it?  Paul, instead, found common ground and patiently reasoned with the people so they at least understood what he was saying.  Likewise, he tells us that for Jews he becomes a Jew and for Gentiles a Gentile in order that he might convert some, that is, he explains things in a way that makes sense for each individual, not that he compromises the gospel message.

So here are my tips for witnessing to Mormons, borne of my experience having been a Mormon and on the receiving end of terrible ‘witnessing’.

1.  Don’t be a jerk.  This seems obvious but let me reiterate: don’t be a jerk.  Don’t take pleasure in trying to cause another discomfort with negative information about things they’ve held sacred or persons they’ve held in high regard.

2.  Understand Mormon culture.  Mormons are often thought of as nice people, that is because Utah Mormon culture prescribes extraordinary niceness and the standard of communications.  So this is especially for you Reformed people out there who liked to be in your face- realize that Mormons will interpret that ‘in your faceness’ not as being bold, but as being rude and whatever you have to say will then be ignored.  If you actually care about communicating a message, communicate in a way that Mormons are willing to hear.  Be polite, even excessively so, and you will find that Mormons will listen to your message without the message itself being compromised.

3.  Do your homework.  If you happen to run into misisonaries  coming to your house, or find yourself suddenly in a conversation with a Mormon friend, you may have to rely on scattered information.  In that case, stick to what you know best, your side of things, and avoid venturing into Mormon territory.  If you think that witnessing to Mormons is something that you should be doing all of the time, do not be lazy and rely on what this and that website tell you.  Take the time to read through Mormon scriptures, attend a few Mormon meetings, read through the literature they use to teach other Mormons so that you understand Mormon language and understand what Mormons hear every Sunday.  That way you will understand what is truly significant to average Mormons and not get on useless sidetracks about whether or not the Journal of Discourses ought to be counted as scripture, it’s just not.

4.  Take the time to learn about different Mormon circles.  This relates to the above point.   Your average Mormon isn’t going to be in the same boat as your apologetic FARMS oriented Mormon, and he isn’t going to be in the same boat as your theologically  liberal Sunstone oriented Mormon, and you may occasionally run into the old school Mormon who hold onto old ideas such as natives getting lighter skin with baptism.  Get to know the way of thinking of these different groups and learn the basic apologetic arguments.  For instance, you may find yourself embarrassed if you aren’t at least familiar with the limited geographical model of the Book of Mormon widely accepted amongst true believers.  It is wrong to insist that “Mormons” believe that Elohim had sex with Mary when only your old school believers will assent to this.

5.  Examine your own motives.  You may have wiggled at some of my above information and said “but it’s true!  Mormon leaders DID teach that natives become lighter and that Elohim had sex with Mary!  that’s right!”.  The point is, will insisting on THOSE issues with average Mormons get them any closer to understanding the gospel?  The point is not about you winning points.

6.  Focus your conversation.  I suggest sticking to theological issues rather than trying to attack the historicity of the Book of Mormon or prove that Joseph Smith had sex with all of his spirit wives.  That is, I suggest sticking to the issues that actually matter- the nature of God, grace, atonement and so forth.  Now it is true, that some Mormons will show some interest in learning about other topics, and if that is so, you should discuss them using discretion, but avoid attacks.  I think of this as trying to talk to someone about a straying spouse, if you go in for the attack straightaway the natural human reaction is to clam up and defend the spouse.  Be patient and kind and avoid casting dispersions on Mormonism. 

7.  On that last note, think of a few things you can admire about Mormonism.  It will help the conversation along if you can admire some things about Mormonism- find some kind of common ground, to set the tone of the conversation as positive.  Likewise, be willing to defend misinformation of Mormonism against others who have an incorrect understanding even if it may seem to them that you are defending Mormonism itself.  It will advertise to Mormons that you have integrity and won’t lie to them.

8.  My last suggestion is to listen.  Do not follow a script.  I repeat, do not follow a script.  Be open to a real discussion, that’s where any meaningful exchange of discussion is going to happen.  You may never know if your Mormon friend was altered by your conversation, but it’s not for you to know, it’s for God to know, but you can be sure that if you are rude, if you are simply throwing out this and that negative statement about Mormonism, you did nothing for the glory of God.  In fact, many Mormons point to the perceived rudeness of evangelicals in general as proof that their messages must not be any good. It’s time to turn that around.

I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for out and out debate, if for no other reason than mutual amusement, but please be honest about your motivation.

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Continuing Revelation

Posted by nebula0 on December 1, 2008


In several ways the Mormon notion of continuing revelation makes sense.  If God is a personal God who cares about us, wouldn’t he want to continue to direct us?  Likewise, if God is at least relatively infinite and us comparatively finite, then it also follows that we have a lot more to learn and God has a lot more to reveal to us about truth.  On many levels this idea has appeal, especially as it is so ordered in the Mormon hierarchy as to exclude the possibility of confusion.  The usual evangelical Christian responses to Mormon continuing revelation and the ‘extra’ scripture that follows is to quote out of context biblical verses that don’t really work for their argument (for instance the verse from Revelation really only applies to the book of Revelation).  Is there a firm basis by which the orthodox Christian world might disagree?

All of those ‘extra’ scriptures Mormons have are ‘extras’ because they tend to have the effect of distraction.  The orthodox Christian story is a rather simple one overall: God creates creatures with the freedom to truly love him back, these finite creatures cannot be united to their infinite God alone, God erupts his finite creation by becoming a creature himself.  Via the book of Hebrews the Old Testament can be seen as primarily a collection of foreshadowing providing many different ways to understand The Event- the incarnation of the infinite God as Christ.  The New Testament restricts itself to discussing the meaning and ramifications of this event to those who had access at least to those who did have first hand interaction with Christ and so it ends.  There is no continuing revelation because The Revelation has happened, at a moment in history, two thousand years ago.  While we can always discuss and interpret and apply The Revelation, The Event, there is no more universal revelation to be had lest it distract from the greatest happening that will ever happen to us until history ends.

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Mormon Epistemology and Faith

Posted by nebula0 on November 29, 2008


Anyone who has encountered Mormon missionaries for any length of time is familiar with Mormon epistemology, that is, the Mormon way of knowing.  In one sense it is an advanced epistemology comparative to the conservative Christian world.  The core of it is simply this: it is not possible to prove empirically or analytically “spiritual truths” (theological claims), these can only be known by a witness through the Spirit and they can be known, not just believed.  One of the first things that Mormon missionaries are likely to do will be to attempt to teach you how to recognize the Spirit witnessing a truth to you.  This is accomplished by linking together a theological claim that they make to some kind of feeling of peace of comfort on your part.  Likewise, if you happen to feel unease they may teach you that Lucifer is active in the world and trying to keep you from the truth.

Through this means a Mormon convert receives their testimony, that is, their grounding belief that Mormon theological claims are true.  From there, it is through experimentation with these beliefs that leads to knowledge through obedience to the obligations that these beliefs carry.  For example, Mormon converts are taught that they are to tithe (give 10% of their income) as a commandment and they must accept this as a precondition to baptism into the Mormon church.  They are told that if they are unsure about this move, to try it out a few times as God promises to rain blessings down on those who are faithful to it.  From here follows stories about those barely scraping by who nonetheless make the sacrifice to tithe and find unexpected checks in the mail.  These sort of blessing experiences combined with many experiences with the Spirit testifying of truths leads to Mormon testimonies that begin “I know this church is true”.

I started out this post with the claim that Mormon epistemology is more advanced than that of the conservative Christian way.  Conservative Christians often think that the existence of God can be proven, as an example, through well worn philosophical arguments such as the Argument from Design.  Most of these amateur apologists (and here I do speak specifically of the non professional) are not aware of the devastating counter arguments to this argument.  They may also be creationists and argue against evolution only for you to find out through the conversation that the Christian in question doesn’t really understand the theory of evolution at all (for instance, how many times have you run into someone who argues that if evolution were true there should be no monkeys?).  The problem is that these conservative Christians have a naive faith in the provability of a myriad of empirical claims that are on very shakey empirical grounds.

Mormons, on the other hand, for the most part have realized long ago that their empirical claims are highly problematic and so have fully retreated into a subjective epistemology because there are so very many empirical Mormon claims that have little to no empirical evidence as a support.  For instance, what solid undeniable evidence is there to support the Book of Mormon claims?  If all you have is an inscription in Yemen and chiasm you aren’t exactly on the warpath to converting thousands.  Similarly, sometimes the empirical evidence is directly contrary, as in the case of the Book of Abraham.

For most Mormons this stuff isn’t a problem because most aren’t aware of the problems in part because they accept Mormon epistemology so don’t bother with things that might possibly disturb their witness of the Spirit.  For those who are familiar and indeed engage in apologetics a dangerous game is entered into.  Such an individual needs to carefully craft apologetic answers in such a way to neutralize the immediate dangers quickly.  Personally, I never could.  To some extent I bought Mormon epistemology knowing as I did that the existence of God, for one thing, could never be thoroughly proven.  I cast the problem as an either or issue- either the matter could be conclusively proven or there was nothing.  It was only later that I realized that exiling my intellect in the matters of faith lead to a tepid and stinking sort of faith, a rot which prevented my whole will from embracing God.

Now I would recommend to all the following thoughts: It is true, theological claims cannot be conclusively proven, however, unless you demonstrate the basic reasonableness of such a claim your religion and therefore commitment to God will be a facade.  If God didn’t want us to use our intellects, obviously we wouldn’t have them and God wouldn’t try to reason with us through scriptures and spokespeople.  If you aren’t sure if a theological claim makes sense, suspend it and investigate the matter.  Receiving a feeling of peace is not an answer since it has no content to show the intellect.  Feelings, emotions have a place in the religious life, yes, but when they are all that you rely on you have put to sleep that part of you which is especially made in the image of God.

Posted in Theological Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why would anyone leave the one true church on the face of the planet?

Posted by nebula0 on November 21, 2008


In light of the debate going on in my “Should I Write the Letter” post I’ve decided to draw this issue out to a new post entirely.  Why would anyone leave Mormonism?  Let me preface this with the fact that hit happens quite often and with so many ex Mormons running around out there there is bound to be a lot of reasons.  Here are some I can think of:

Ones the Mormons tend to emphasize:

– Some kind of bad experience with a member.  Sure, this happens.  Someone treats someone badly and the person becomes bitter and decides to leave Mormonism altogether.

– Inability or unwillingness to obey the Mormon commandments.  I suppose this happens as well but I have yet to actually see it in action.  My guess is that this might be common with Born in the Covenant kids who never believed much to begin with.  Does that really count as apostasy?

– Getting hit up by anti Mormon lies.  It’s true, Mormonism does a bad job of teaching its new members and  then the leadership wonders why it is that so many Mormons are susceptible to “anti Mormon lies”.  I agree, a lot of what is out there does consist of lies, or at least gross exaggerations, but there is usually a kernel of truth to almost all of these anti Mormon ‘lies’ that might cause a Mormon legitimate pause.  I agree, some Mormons jump off the bandwagon rather quickly when they find out that the church history as taught by the Church History Institute manual isn’t exactly, dare I say, honest itself, without bothering to get into scholarly works on the topic to get a balanced understanding.

– Simple obstinance when it comes to obeying the priesthood hierarchy.  This may be legitimate concern for abuse of power or a flat out unwillingness to accept spiritual authority (which may have legitimate theological reasons for future Protestants).

Reasons that may disquiet true believing Mormons:

– Theological disagreement.  Since Mormonism is believed by true believing Mormons to be the one true church on the face of the planet, this may be literally impossible for some to truly understand this motive.   All that I can really do is say- it’s true, some people have legitimate, deep, theological disagreements with Mormonism that have developed.

– Those anti-Mormon lies again, but this time I talk about those Mormons who took the time to carefully assess the arguments in question and came to the conclusion that the Mormon side of things just isn’t right.  One easy example of this is the historicity of the Book of Abraham.

– Social reasons, such as, not giving the blacks the priesthood until 1978 combined with the once widespread belief of the inferiority of the spirituality of blacks; or not giving the priesthood to women, or…  People in this category often have a difficult relationship with the LDS church as they often still in a core way see themselves as Mormons but unable to fully connect with the Mormon community.

What was it for me, you may wonder?  While I had reservations about issues such as the historicity of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, concerns about Joseph Smith’s power trip by the end of his life, concerns about flat out racism in the church, concerns about the role of women… you name it… I still considered myself a Mormon in a basic way and retained some amount of activity.  It was a deep theological disagreement which severed me from Mormonism forever.

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Should I Write the Letter?

Posted by nebula0 on November 19, 2008


I’m beginning to think that the time may come that I may actually write The Exit Letter to my Stake President.  The reason I’m contemplating this turn of events is because I’m also considering “joining” (I’m already a Catholic according to Catholics by virtue of my infant baptism) Catholicism.  It seems appropriate to combine a step like that with an official declaration of my leaving Mormonism.  I don’t feel like I need to make a point or give my former Mormonism the finger or anything like that, in fact, I’m feeling more positive about Mormonism than I have in a couple of years.  At this point I could easily attend a Sacrament meeting with my spouse oh, say, monthly without getting that inner cringing feeling, because I would not equivocate if people asked about my religious status.  I would tell them non Mormon and leave it there.  I’d let them try to convert me with polite quietness on my part.  I wouldn’t try to prove anything.  So I would write the letter to further solidify that position of pleasant neutrality and cut off any remaining reason for which I would have to explain my situation as an ex Mormon.  I want to be simply a ‘non’ Mormon who happens to know a lot about Mormonism and disagrees with the theology.  That’s how I feel these days.

Then again, if writing a letter works against that purpose for an unforseen reason I would want to know that.  I have no desire to cause problems for my family-in-law who are all active Mormons.  They know at the very least I’m an inactive coffee and alcohol drinker and are polite enough not to ask why.  If they did I’m fairly sure I would be nonchalant about it and unless they were interested in a serious discussion quickly move the topic.

So to write the letter or not.  For the first time since declaring myself an ex Mormon I’ve felt the impulse the past month or so to write the letter.  If I do it, it won’t be for many months still.

Posted in My Experiences, Reflections | Tagged: , , , | 49 Comments »

Baptisms for Holocaust Victims

Posted by nebula0 on November 14, 2008


For background on this issue, check out: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27647809/.  I want to add to the article that it’s individual Mormons, not the hierarchy, who are adding the names.

Here are some thoughts that I have about this issue.  Many Mormons I know from experience are willing to go along with such requests to avoid offense but if you were to ask them their personal opinions on the matter they’d think it’s, well, stupid.  That is, most Mormons imagine that if Jews think that Mormonism is wrong, then what possible harm is there in a Mormon doing by proxy work for a dead relative?  Who cares?  To some extent I still agree with this view.  But, that is to misunderstand the importance that words and names have in other religions and cultures.  The words carry meaning and power, and the thought of someone doing all kinds of rituals in the name of a dead loved one is too much for some to accept gracefully.  Imagine for a moment that you discovered that someone has a voodoo doll of you and enjoys tormenting it.  Even if you don’t believe in voodoo dolls, wouldn’t you still feel a little, well, creeped out? 

Explaining to the people involved that relatives will have a choice about whether or not to accept the by proxy works really doesn’t help.  Nothing is going to help.  Mormons aren’t going to give up their religious obligations to the dead and outsiders are going to continue to be offended and creeped out.  That’s just the way it’s going to be.  You can’t be liked by everyone if you claim to believe in the one and only true church on the face of the planet with the only true authority to act in the name of God.

Posted in Controversial Topics | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Now That It Has Passed, prop 8

Posted by nebula0 on November 12, 2008


I must admit to you, this post would have much more moral authority if I considered myself a Mormon so I want to start it off by reiterating that I am no longer a Mormon.  That should make it easier to consider or ignore my opinion, whichever way you choose.  Also, as to my position on gay marriage in general?  Uncertain.

Here are some rather disturbing and disappointing things that have come out of this campaign:

– Orson Scott Card is a whack job.  I am very disappointed as I greatly enjoy his writing, but his commentary about how the government might have to get overthrown over this issue and the way he said it is insane.  Unfortunately it has tainted his writings for me (don’t you hate it when that happens?).  Whether or not you agree with prop 8, I think you can agree he went over the nutso line.

– The LDS church got way too involved in a political matter.  Whether or not the state of California decides to recognize gay marriages is a political issue, and the LDS church by having statements read during sacrament meetings and instructing various local leaders to get members to pledge sums of money (see my earlier posts on this matter).  They crossed the line.  Members shouldn’t be expected to toe the line when it comes to their private votes- there is something for Card to get upset about

– By getting itself so dirty in the campaign on all levels, from SLC hierarchy to local CA leadership, the LDS church has set a terrible precedent that could easily expand into other issues. 

–  Also, it has garnered for itself what I would consider a negative reputation in CA for being those ultra conservatives who all vote in a bloc.  Mormons never did do well with a reputation for bloc voting…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Family Togetherness

Posted by nebula0 on November 7, 2008


I must critique my former brother and sisters in the Mormon faith (perhaps my cousins through my family ties?).  Over the course of my time in Mormonism I began to pick up on a grand underlying assumption about the world: those outside of Mormonism are not truly happy.  More specifically: those outside of The Gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not have truly happy families.  It is this assumption which has allowed the LDS church to see itself as the protector of family values against those cultural mutants, the homosexuals, who would pervert, because the Gentiles (now the ‘non members’)  cannot truly fathom the consequences of the battle which is raging.  This attitude underlies many assumptions about the state of the mission field- dysfunctional families, single mothers, divorces, drugs, premarital sex prevails.  Mormons see themselves as sheltered by wise leaders instituting programs such as Family Home Evening, preaching eternal families and issuing the Proclamation on the Family defining the roles of the traditional family.  All this translates into very real attitudes by Mormons that I encountered, until finally offended.

I wasn’t raised with any religious belief.  Period.  We didn’t talk about God.  I never saw my parents pray.  We didn’t attend church.  The only times I attended church as a child were if my grandparents lured me to mass with promises of candy and toys and that was a rare event.  Take a moment, my Mormon readers, and imagine what my upbringing might have been like.  Be honest, as honest as possible.  Are my parents divorced?  Did I experiment with drugs?  Did I experiment with sex?  How about my siblings?  Did we have terrible fights? 

As I’m sure you could guess by my above line of questioning, my family life was and is unusually happy.  I say all this as a tribute to my parents.  I never saw my parents fight, and I didn’t fight with them.  I never tried drugs despite the temptation and I said my wedding vows as a virgin.  I got good grades, as did my siblings, and I’m the owner of a BS and an MA.  I still talk to my parents frequently and enjoy seeing them.  And all of this was accomplished without Family Home Evening, without family prayer, without church attendance.  This was accomplished because I knew my parents loved and cared about me unselfishly, not only because they said so, but because they proved it through their actions, over and over again.

I write this to honor my parents, above all and to warn Mormons against the too easy temptation to assume that the safety nets of the LDS church provide the happiest possible families.  There are happy families everywhere, without any church.  I do not think the LDS church can claim a corner on the market of families.  Mormon readers, if this idea threatens you, perhaps you ought to reassess what your faith is all about.  If anything I hope this post causes my Mormon readers to think twice before carelessly making statements about who families that do not accept Mormon values are not truly, really happy lest you offend someone with non Mormon, non religious parents (or those parents themselves).

I also offer the thought that just as Mormonism can provide a focus by which families can cohere, the cleaving goes both ways.  Families can be together forever, but only if all the family members are worthy members of the LDS church.  If individual conscience leads a child to another path, the vision of that family unity is fragile and can be easily shattered.  How many of you have sat through a Fast and Testimony meeting to this effect, some family member out of the LDS church, a mother in tears that her vision of family unity could so easily be broken?  If family togetherness and wholeness is so predicated on something as stringent as activity in the LDS church, perhaps that togetherness is a superficial illusion.  I call Mormons everywhere to expand and deepen their conceptions of what a happy family looks like.

Posted in Controversial Topics, Reflections | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »