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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:07 PM

All-American Religion or Reason to Worry? (Mormon Church)

By the way, The Book of Mormon on Broadway is hands down the best play/musical I have ever seen. If you can get tickets, plan a trip around them. I totally lucked out - saw it early in it's run and got tickets way before the prices skyrocketed.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/books/the-mormon-people-matthew-bowmans-timely-church-history-review.html

THE MORMON PEOPLE

The Making of an American Faith

By Matthew Bowman

328 pages. Random House. $26.


By DWIGHT GARNER
Published: January 24, 2012



The best musical number in “The Book of Mormon,” the Tony Award-winning play from the holy fools who created “South Park,” is a fantasia that features Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnnie Cochran, Genghis Khan and dancing cups of Starbucks coffee. Its title is “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.”

This political season, a Mormon hell dream might also feature a grinning Newt Gingrich, who is thus far preventing Mitt Romney, the most prominent Mormon on earth, from a straight shot at the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. As the chorus of “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” intones, “It’s super spooky-wooky!”

Mr. Romney’s political ascendency is forcing Americans to confront their complicated feelings about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as Mormons. Matthew Bowman’s timely book, “The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith,” will no doubt be of service during this debate. Speaking prophetically, I can see bulk sales to book groups in its future.

The question you most want answered about the Mormon Church, put simply, is this: Is this religious institution a cult — “Scientology plus 125 years,” as Jacob Weisberg memorably put it in Slate — or a welcome and recognizably American band of hard-working, cheerful, morally upright citizens? Or is it somehow both? Mr. Bowman, a Mormon with a doctorate in American religious history from Georgetown, weighs the evidence and scampers safely up the middle.

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Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply All-American Religion or Reason to Worry? (Mormon Church) (Original post)
cbayer Jan 2012 OP
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #1
cbayer Jan 2012 #2
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #3
cbayer Jan 2012 #4
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #9
jeepnstein Jan 2012 #5
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #8
jeepnstein Jan 2012 #14
Critters2 Jan 2012 #15
skepticscott Jan 2012 #10
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #11
skepticscott Jan 2012 #12
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #13
Ron Obvious Jan 2012 #6
Angry Dragon Jan 2012 #7
cleanhippie Jan 2012 #17
Angry Dragon Jan 2012 #18
cleanhippie Jan 2012 #19
Angry Dragon Jan 2012 #20
cleanhippie Jan 2012 #26
laconicsax Jan 2012 #21
Angry Dragon Jan 2012 #22
laconicsax Jan 2012 #23
Angry Dragon Jan 2012 #24
laconicsax Jan 2012 #25
jeepnstein Jan 2012 #27
EvolveOrConvolve Jan 2012 #28
2ndAmForComputers Jan 2012 #16
tortoise1956 Jan 2012 #29

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:04 PM

1. I grew up Mormon, and most of my family are still strong believers

For the most part, Mormons are pretty good people. But they're indoctrinated at a young age to be subservient to the church. There's nothing inherently wrong with that until you get to an issue like Prop 8 in California or any of the other social or political issues that effect non-members. Because it was commanded (nay, ordered) by the leadership to support Prop 8, the membership cheerfully dug in to "win the battle". They donated money, their time, etc. to something that was incredibly hateful.

I know several Mormons who are a little more, erm "liberal", in their views, that struggled with supporting Prop 8, but still ended up donating money to and/or voting for the measure. It's this sort of chip-in-and-get-it-done attitude would be great if applied to ending hunger or reducing poverty. Unfortunately, it's usually used for hateful things like Prop 8.

Since Prop 8, I refuse to step foot inside a Mormon church. Even for important family events like baptisms and confirmations, I stay simply to make a statement. When nieces/nephews/cousins ask why, I lay out for them how Prop 8 was so hateful. Their parents don't generally approve, but fuck 'em - they're the ones who supported something so evil.

I even told my parents that since their funerals would be at a Mormon church, I wouldn't be attending. I'm related to several General Authorities (similar to a Catholic Cardinal), and I can tell you that the power structure in the Mormon church is stringently paternalistic and misogynistic and includes quite a few grade A racists. A great number of the GA's are complete assholes that would steal your last dollar if it was done in the name of the Lord (or to line their pocket).

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:17 PM

2. Wow, I had no idea. What do you think of this author's take?

I have known several Mormon's through professional associations. They were uniformly some of the nicest people I have ever met, but I know there's a lot I don't know. The Prop 8 nightmare was a real eye opener for me. My impression had been that they were, as a group, an accepting bunch. I did know of some of the issues with women, which should have set all my radar off.

You, in particular, would probably really enjoy Book of Mormon, the musical. Don't know if you can do it, but I would encourage you to put it on your to-do list.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:38 PM

3. I wish I had the money to see the musical

If only to be able to tell my stunned family that I'd been. They have a serious dislike for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and have since the release of Orgazmo (a movie about a Mormon missionary who works in porn).

Most of the Mormons you meet will be really nice people. As individuals, they're pretty good people. As a group, though, they're pretty distasteful. I would classify it as a quasi-cult because of some of the control mechanisms used. For example, my parents have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in tithes but don't have any meaningful savings. They'll live off my dad's small pension and Social Security and be okay, but they were both good earners who shouldn't have had to choose between a comfortable retirement and donating money to a church that already has billions (literally).

I think there's reason to worry if Mittens is elected. Mormons have temple ceremonies where they swear blood oaths to obey the hierarchy of the LDS church over everything else. I won't get into the details of the ceremony, because there are Mormons among us, but suffice it to say I wouldn't trust anyone who takes the temple ceremony seriously. If you want more info, you can Google it - there's some pretty weird stuff out there.

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 01:05 PM

4. I really appreciate your perspective on this.

The secrecy aspect is probably what bothers me the most. Do people have reason to be concerned that Romney has taken an oath to do what the church elders tell him to do? My reasonable mind says no, but I feel the Mormon Church holds secrets and powers that I am only vaguely aware of.

And your input here seems to confirm that.

As to the Book of Mormon play - even some Mormons have enjoyed it (reportedly). It is an amazing combination of mockery and respect, not just of Mormons but of all religions. I hope they will make a video of it at some point so that more people can see it. It's going to Denver this year and the ticket prices are in the $100's and it was totally sold out in 4 hours.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 07:32 PM

9. I can guarantee that Romney has taken the oath

I can't say what's in his heart, or whether he takes the ceremony seriously, but from all that I've heard, he is a tithe-paying, "temple worthy" member of the LDS church. That usually signals a person who has bought into the system.

This is one of the most distasteful parts of the Mormon faith. To get into heaven, you have to be "temple worthy". To be "temple worthy", you have to pay a 10% tithe (even if you're poor and on food stamps). So, in effect, to gain access to heaven, you have to pay the toll. For some reason, it just sits wrong with me.

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 01:09 PM

5. Very well put.

I, too, have Mormon ties and those concerns about influence the church would have over Romney are real. Isn't Rove one too?

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Response to jeepnstein (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 07:26 PM

8. I don't think Rove is Mormon

If I remember right, he was an Episcopalian, but I could be wrong. My guess is that he hasn't stepped foot in a church in decades other than for political gain.

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 08:34 AM

14. I'm not so sure.

He grew up in Salt Lake City and I'm pretty sure someone told me about him doing his mission trip in Europe. It might have been France.

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 06:44 PM

15. Yeah. Rove is Episcopalian. Which grates on my Episcopal friends. nt

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 07:57 PM

10. Just ask a Mormon

who has left the church about the warmth and forgiveness of their former fellows. About how they're still loved and accepted even though they are no longer part of the body (Not!)

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 08:42 PM

11. Um

I am a former Mormon, and understand exactly how brutal it can be. The shunning, the guilt trips, the accusations of "sin", etc. I went through years of therapy to fix it, so there's no reason for me to ask an ex-mormon about the experience - I lived it.

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Response to EvolveOrConvolve (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 10:28 PM

12. Exactly

That's another side of the Mormon church that rarely makes it into the mainstream media. They love the pictures of the big, well-groomed families, but rarely dig any deeper to show the ugliness underneath.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #12)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 10:34 PM

13. You should see me in my family pictures

I was the dude with the earring, long hair, black Metallica shirt and heavy scowl. My mom always looks a little chagrined in those photos, like she regrets forcing me to some contrived setting that I wanted no part of.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 04:30 PM

6. A religion created in modern times...

A religion created in relatively modern times by a convicted con-man, many of which' claims (American Indians being the lost 13th tribe of Israel, etc) are proven false. Their biggest reason for surviving into the present day being the emphasis on fecundity and unquestioning following of the leader, why this shunning religious cult deserves respect these days is bizarre to me.

It doesn't help that individual Mormons are always so damn nice, the bastards.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 06:59 PM

7. I have looked at the Mormon church as a cult for a very long time

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:01 PM

17. How does one tell the difference between a cult and a religion?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #17)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:13 PM

18. Any religion that claims to know the true path to god and salvation

and then at the same time hides things behind closed doors is a cult.
Any religion that does not open all their doors to everyone and everything is a cult.
In my opinion any religion that does not let the light shine on everything in their religion is a cult.
For if their path is true, they have nothing to hide.

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:24 PM

19. I think that for most people, they tell the difference by the size of the congregation.

Just my opinion, of course.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:31 PM

20. That is like saying the more money you have the better person you are..........

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 08:50 AM

26. I agree

I never said it was how I distinguished the two, just how it seems most others do.

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 12:46 AM

21. Who doesn't the LDS church welcome that the RCC or SBC does?

 

Are Catholics and Southern Baptists cult members?

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 02:40 AM

22. They do not welcome me

For they refuse to open all doors to me
to let me know all of their secrets
to let me know all of their workings

You have to determine for yourself if they are cults

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 02:45 AM

23. Are you being intentionally vague?

 

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 02:53 AM

24. No

Why would you think that??

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #24)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 03:28 AM

25. If it isn't intentional, then maybe you could fill in the details.

 

You know, the little things like what on Earth you're talking about.

They don't open all of their doors to you? What do you mean by that?

Does the RCC open all of their doors to you? The SBC? Any other large religious organization?

Do you believe that private entities should be required to make full disclosure of everything they do to every random person who asks? If so, where do you draw the line?

What entitles you to the access you want?

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 01:36 PM

27. They have closed ceremonies.

Many of their rituals are off-limits to the uninitiated. Unless someone vouches for you from within the LDS you cannot be a Temple Mormon. They have secrets and take an oath to keep it that way. And if you're a "certain kind of sinner" they won't even give you the time of day. They're into recruiting suitable members, not reaching out to the lost. Don't bother to ask them about their core beliefs because all you'll get is a very well-scripted re-direct that extols the virtues of them being such nice people. And they have a Prophet who can and will revise and edit the Bible any time they need to do so, for any reason they see fit. Pay your tithe, keep your mouth shut, obey the prophet, and be nice.

That is a far cry from a board meeting at a local church, or even a Conclave of Cardinals in Rome. I can attend a Catholic mass, or any other service they perform. Yeah, it bugs me they exclude people from communion but that is a far cry from checking ID's at the door. Shoot, I've even attended a Mass at St. Peters. My congregation, non-demoninational, holds board meetings that are not open to the public. We do this when we need to discuss matters of personnel or things of a spiritual nature that doesn't need to be tossed into the gossip mill. It's more a need for discretion than secrecy. The differences between Christian denominations is relatively small when compared to the difference between Christendom and the LDS.

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:03 PM

28. The LDS church excludes a lot of people

For example, I wasn't able to attend the weddings of any of my siblings, because I'm not allowed to view those ceremonies. I'm not "worthy", ie someone who attends church and (more importantly) pays their 10% tithe on gross income.

It's true that I can walk into any Mormon church and attend a service, but the important rites and ceremonies are unavailable to me. It's a fine distinction, but it's there.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 09:51 PM

16. I vote "both."

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 03:06 AM

29. I don't see a reason to worry.

I have lived in Las Vegas for more than 27 years. During that time I have met many Mormons, as well as worked with some. Heck, I have had 3 engineers who worked for me that were Mormon. I won't begin to try to count the number of times we have discussed their beliefs, usually with me disagreeing with them - without being rude about it.

Personally I don't agree with quite a bit of their belief system. However, I have seen nothing in their personal conduct that would lead me to believe that simply being a Mormon disqualifies an individual from higher office. If that were so, then we would have to remove Harry Reid from office, since he is a Mormon.

So, I would have to say that neither of the options is correct.

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