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Investigating Mormonism from many different angles

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Posts Tagged ‘mormons’

Some Recent Thoughts about Mormonism

Posted by nebula0 on October 28, 2009

Well folks, in case you haven’t guessed I haven’t thought a whole lot about Mormonism for a while now.  It has been over 2 years since I have been to a Mormon church, and I nearly thought we’d fall off the radar when we moved (someone, however, tattled us out).  Nonetheless, as I have been reviewing some of my comparative religion literature along with Christian history I thought about Mormonism vis-a-vis other religious traditions and I came to realize a couple of things through comparison.

In Hinduism there are 4 main yogas, or paths, by which one can become enlightened.  The most popular path is called bhakti yoga, the way of love or adoration of God.  By many Hindus, Christianity is regarded as an exemplar of this way.  Through total love of God adherents are able to turn from ego and progress spiritually.  Likewise, one way to approach God is Sufism is through a similar all out adoration of God.  Out of this tradition love poetry has been created.  I probably needn’t tell you about the emphasis on love and personal relationship with Christ (whom the Hindus would regard as an avatar of God) in Christianity, and how establishing the relationship is the way to salvation in evangelical thought.

How does this compare with Mormonism?  Mormonism doesn’t include a concept of the truly infinite, and therefore doesn’t include a notion of utter dependence.  It is the latter, I argue, which inspires the way of devotion which I describe above.  The idea that it is God who is the source of existence itself creates a relationship to God in which the finite worshipper finds himself swallowed up into God as the essence of Being itself.  In Mormonism, every individual is immortal, apart from God, at the core of his being.  God, in Mormonism, is to be loved, of course, but it does not inspire the sort of total love devotion that religions of the infinite God can command.  Whether this is good or bad is not the point of my argument at all, that is for you to decide.  What Mormonism has instead is a religion of covenant.  God is a sort of way shower, to show the individual how to succeed, helping him to do so at every step as humans need help and guidance.  In Mormonism, God is a literal and figurative Father figure, and the love and devotion shown by God most approximates the love and guidance shown by good human fathers than any other religion I am aware of.  As good human fathers, Heavenly Father is patient, knowing that we are but little children, and sacrificing. 

I believe that this distinction can explain much about the differences between Mormonism and many other world religions, particularly orthodox Christianity.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Coffee is Good for You

Posted by nebula0 on August 24, 2008

Yes, it’s true.  Congratulations coffee drinkers of the world, it turns out that coffee is good for the average person.  It reduces the risk of Parkinson’s, colon cancer, diabetes, cavities, dementia, increase short term memory, increases cardiovascular health and more (check out http://men.webmd.com/features/coffee-new-health-food for an example, one of many articles on the topic).  What does that have to do with Mormonism?  Well I imagine one of the better known things about Mormonism is that Mormons do not drink coffee or tea.  Many Mormons will use this commandment, actually first received by Joseph Smith as a ‘word of wisdom’, hence the Word of Wisdom revelation, as evidence of medical foresight a century ahead of his time.  This is because it has been commonly assumed that coffee must be bad for us.  I figure this is because coffee is good, cultures all over the world like it, and it enhances mood and energy, and you know how some of those medical researchers are such killjoys, if it seems too good to be true, by God, it is!  The result was many studies on coffee all trying to look for coffee’s seriously damaging effects.  They found some for certain people, for instance, pregnant women should really cut back and those with high chloresterol need to be careful.  Also if you are loading up your coffee with sugar and cream all bets are off.  But other than, imagine their disappointment when they found astounding health benefits.

Okay, so what does this mean for Mormonism?  Does it mean that the Word of Wisdom isn’t so wise after all?  Maybe, it all depends on how you want to look at it.  If you are attached to the notion that the Word of Wisdom is an astounding medical document showing a health plan far ahead of Joseph’s time you run into two troubles.  The first is that the Word of Wisdom is not unique for Joseph’s time, at all.  The idea that ‘hot drinks’ or coffee and tea might be bad for the health was popular in 19th C America, as was promoting a vegetarian diet.  After all, look at the Seventh-day Adventists’ health code coming out of the same century.  The second difficulty is that modern science doesn’t agree.  We all know the health benefits of a glass of red wine and green tea by now, well, throw coffee into the mix too.  So if Mormons want the Word of Wisdom to be meaningful, they need to switch focus from the health issue, which opens itself up for the critiques of modern science, to the idea that it is simply a commandment and that is that.

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

Gay Marriage Hypocrisy

Posted by nebula0 on August 22, 2008

You may be aware that the LDS church has taken an official stance, from the first presidency (prophets, seers, revelators- no small thing there), to be against gay marriage.  They’ve gone so far as to have an official statement read in Californian sacrament meetings to the effect that Mormons ought to work against gay marriage in defense of ‘traditional’ marriage.  This may seem like run of the mill to you, after all, Mormons are closely identified with conservative, traditional, values.  But not so fast– little more than a hundred years ago Mormons were sorely persecuted in large part due to their practice of polygamy (or plural marriage, as they prefer to call it).  Isn’t it ironic that a religious group which used to base so much of its identity on its practice of polygamy, that is, defying the marriage norm, is now acting as champion of ‘traditional’ marriage?

This is another example of Mormon disconnect to its past identity.  As I spoke about in the previous post Mormons used to understand their Mormonism in large part due to their participation in a concrete society.  They had a land that they worked, they had their own peculiar way of life which either involved practicing polygamy or identifying with it, in which the LDS church was the biggest law of the land.  Now all of that has changed, Mormons do not migrate to Zion, they stay where they are, and their identity is now based on moral codes and rigorously enforcing the Word of Wisdom (avoiding coffee, tea, tobacco).  They’ve embraced this new way of being Mormon so fully that they don’t see the log in their own eye when they when they come so strongly against the possibility of widening our limited notion of what marriage ought to be in order to point out the speck in the eye of their neighbors.  I cry foul.

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