Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Same Old Snake Oil

A polygamist fugitive named Warren Jeffs was arrested recently. I notice this news more than others because I was raised as a "Mormon" and even used to be a missionary when I was 19 -21. I am now no longer subservient to any church.

I listen to X96 radio from "Hell" err...Salt Lake (streaming on the web). They mentioned the news, which I had heard on NPR anyway. The morning DJ's there, Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi, are dry, cynical and so much more enjoyable and real to listen to than "honking clown" DJs. They shouted something like "good, no more pliggin". Which is hilarious.

Anyone who asks me about it knows I think polygamy is evil. When the world's male and female population is near parity, polygamy simply means "many lonely men". Nature wants us each to have a mate. I think keeping more than one mate is fundamentally anti-social behavior that, perhaps indirectly, causes a lot of unhappiness and loneliness for others. I suppose not everyone is going to find someone, and life is not fair, but that's where laws and government have a role. It is good that we use our laws to enforce exploitative behaviors. Sure, not even the force of law would help me communicate better with women I like or be more attractive to them, but I like my chances in a country with no polygamy.

Warren Jeffs activities include but extend beyond polygamy.

It is almost uncanny how similar the life and behavior of a cult leader like Warren Jeffs is to that of LDS church founder Joseph Smith. Just a quick rundown. 1) Run your own city and take advantage of people's need for real estate 2) Marry teenagers to old men using social pressure 3) Hold your peers down by claiming exclusive prophetic status 4) Break laws so much of your church business must be held in secret...and so on.

Some Mormon's are stuck in cognitive dissonance about their own history, and would rather attack or review any other fact than those that touch upon threatening their beliefs. Some would rather believe things like "The Rosetta stone is a hoax" than accept that their 19th century founder had mistranslated an Egyptian scroll, for example. Facts, to many faithful, are really malleable or ignorable.

I see my friends or family placing faith in something where the investment of faith is uninformed and it is troubling and sad to me. I want them to have faith in themselves faith in their future but not faith in deceptive information held over them to maintain their loyalty...i.e. their lucrative tithing donations. It's only too bad that church systems are supported by so many people who reinforce eachother's cognitive dissonance and investment of faith in lies or under-reported history.

I agree with my blogging friend, Pete, of http://www.fiddley.com/ who says "I think a faith in Joseph Smith is misplaced by todays mormons...almost nothing about him represents modern mormonism he would not be welcome in today's church".

I don't think it means the LDS church should not exist. It should change, abandon the ridiculous and the irrational and become a community organization that can truly help people cope with their lives, truly care for eachother. Although, maybe they have to use the system they use to have enough power over people to exist, and keep people paying, and chasing that carrot of being "blessed".

Blessed is a fine word for "things are going well" like tires that are "inflated" are blessed with air (haha). But I am not sure a God arranges it or pushes it or causes it. Not that there isn't a God or couldn't be. I think if there is, God created the Universe and maybe IS the laws of physics. So sure you can thank God for every breath...but not just YOUR breaths exclusively.

Yet, as my friend Pete says, " Joseph Smith still didn't know shit about ancient Egyptian".

Religious searching is valid...but Mormons and many people of other faiths, do not search. They stop searching and buy all the stock answers given...so they no longer learn or their learning is stilted and uninformed. When you leave that faith, many great understandings are opened to you. Life can make more sense because you can see it for what it is. But other answers are no longer there...they are still just as open-ended as they are for all mankind until we all learn together what is true of life and the cosmos.

Pete: "It is like getting near the end of a crossword puzzle when you realize half your answers are wrong and you know that based on the latest answers you know are right so then the old ones become obviously false."

It's not easy to have to review your own irrational beliefs, but I would think being free of dogma is much more satisfying. You realize you can determine your own destiny and even make your own metaphor for the unexplained. You can update your understanding regularly to the best of human knowledge.

Mormons would say: "yah but what if God could tell you what is what." I agree that would be fantastic. Trouble is...there is no method of determining whether one man's fantasy is from God or not. That holy spirit is fickle, and tells muslims one thing and catholics another...and really....it is probably an innate human response from social bonding.

So, as the arrest of a Latter-day "Joseph Smith" takes place, if we can all agree that kind of behavior is not acceptable, maybe the church founded over 100 years ago by just such a character is not worth preserving and propogating. Bamboozled people can be humble enough to admit they were wrong and mourn the loss and become full, rational thinking human beings participating in the human experience rather then struggling to deny facts to preserve a fondly held faith that is having a hard time standing up to the cool winds of reason. The only alternative is one we all learned on the playground. Simply cover both ears, and repeat after me "la-la-la-la-la-la".


Rebecca said...

Hey, I followed the link from Fiddley Gomme, where we were "discussing" catty females (which I am NOT. Probably). As for polygamy (more specifically, polygyny), here's an interesting article (which you've probably already read. *sigh*) about the effects on men, and on society in general. http://www.reason.com/rauch/040306.shtml

SumWun said...

Rebecca, this was a great link I had not read before posting this blog. I very much reflects my thinking on the matter, THANKS.