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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:52 PM
Original message
Making Fun of Mormonism
Everyones doing itplanets! tablets! underwear!but is it really so clever?

December 5, 2011
By Max Mueller

Sacred underwear, baptizing holocaust victims, gods of their own planets.

When some of Americas most celebrated pundits and public intellectuals talk about Mormons, these are the images that are summoned. Ironically in this Mormon Momentsignaled by a hit Broadway musical, polygamous housewives on TLC, and of course two Mormon presidential candidatesMormons, long considered quintessential outsiders to mainstream American culture, today find themselves at the center of the American zeitgeist. Yet it is the Mormons supposed theological weirdness that is the centripetal attraction.

As Joanna Brooks has noted in these pages, the New York Times recently featured Harold Blooms musings on how a President Romney would govern a country, and a planet, from which he would in the afterlife depart, becoming the god of his celestial body. More planet talk happened just last week on the Chronicle of Higher Educations Brainstorm Blog. Michael Ruse, philosopher of biology, asserted that it is legitimate not to vote for a presidential candidate whose theology is totally barmy. We can become gods with our own planets! No coffee and tea is bad enough. But the underwear! In October, in a column called Anne Frank, a Mormon? Maureen Dowd offered (via Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens) the full rundown of Mormon weirdness, from Joseph Smiths uneasy reputation to the Jewish dust-up: the posthumous baptism of Jews.

Casual assertions of knowledge about Mormon theology have dismayed longtime scholars of Mormonism. UNCs Laurie Maffly-Kipp recently told me that while seeming to archly critique the evangelical and atheist attacks on Mormonism, Dowds column in particular represented one pithy stroke of ignorance masquerading as informed opinion.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/5462...
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
1. mormon superstitions and myths are no better or worse than christian ones. And mormons are not
Edited on Mon Dec-05-11 08:55 PM by msongs
christians. how do I know that? cuz the southern baptist church says so lol
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 08:56 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I take it you read the article in two minutes.
It makes a much larger point.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I wouldn't call it large.
Tried and true special pleading, perhaps, but not large by any stretch.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. I'll take your word for it.
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. Could you apply that larger point to atheism, then?
How would you do so? Be an example to us all.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Easily.
Atheism is no more than a belief that nothing immaterial exists, that there is no morality other than situational, and that meaning is subjective.

How's that for reductio ad absurdum, which is his point? Note, I did not need to mention The Tree of Knowledge.
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. The difference is the gold plates and underwear are real beliefs of Mormonism. Yours are not.
Atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of gods. The "larger point" that it's how Mormonism is lived that matters most would have no meaning to atheism, since there is no unifying belief or expected behavior. But I would at least expect that the respect you seek for LDS folks and their beliefs would be analogous to letting atheists define themselves.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. So then, speaking for atheists, hold that there is immaterial existence?
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. There is no consistent view on anything like that among atheists
Which of course is as far as I can speak for them. I personally know more than one atheist who believes in ghosts for example. Atheism is defined by the absence of something, Asking about any other attribute is like asking if all non-golfers also hate cricket. There are certainly tendencies at least among US atheists. More likely Dems, more likely skeptics about astrology and so on, but no creeds to which we are all bound. None at all. Just absence of active belief in gods.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:38 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Hence the reduction.
Take one strand and absurdly enlarge it unitil it encompasses the whole.

Fun, but not honest.
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 03:11 PM
Response to Reply #25
36. You made strands up. Gold plates and underwear are real Mormon concepts
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #23
30. "like asking if all non-golfers also hate cricket" love that... or
if all non stamp collectors also do not collect coins, etc. etc.

Somehow, it is the religious believers that have the hardest time "believing" that atheism is simply an ABSENCE of a certain particular belief about a deity.
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saras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #16
27. No, atheism is an active disbelief. The default position is "no data is available"
Until such time as people start coming back from the dead in large numbers, and convincing the general public, scientists, and politicians, not just religious people that they're legitimate and have real information, then there will be no real information. A mere assertion of something's nonexistence is not a proof.

And there is underlying expected behavior for atheists. There's a whole gigantic chunk of human experience, from Gilgamesh to Bach to Van Morrison to Shakespeare to Robert Fripp to liberation theology that they're expected/required to not pay any attention to, take seriously, or interpret in a framework similar to that of their creators.

It isn't required, but is highly preferred, that they be radical advocates for corporate junk science as well.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Only if you drastically change the definition.
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #27
37. Bullshit. What does asymmetrical mean? The idea symmetry is impossible? Aseptic?
a = lack of, without
Anti is an available prefix meaning against or opposite.

The word is not antitheist.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. Do you subscribe to objective morality?
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Nobody does
There is nobody who can (honestly) claim that they would see their child starve rather than steal food from those who had excess. There is nobody who can (reasonably) justify only telling the truth to the SS when they ask whether you know where the Jews are hiding and you can lie safely. Everybody both applies and supports moral relativism and situational ethics when the chips are down.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 01:07 AM
Response to Reply #24
29. Not just that...
Objective morality means that something is right or wrong independently of what people believe.
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cleanhippie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #13
31. Yet at the same time, you DID mention the Tree of Knowledge.
:shrug:
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. I really did not mean to mention the Tree of Knowledge.
I promise I will never mention the Tree of Knowledge again.
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cleanhippie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #32
33. Yet at the same time, you DID mean to mention it.
:shrug:
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #33
34. No, I did not mean to mention the Tree of Knowledge.
Why do you insist on saying I intended to mention the Tree of Knowledge?
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
4. Mormon apologetics
Yawn.
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ellisonz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
5. Who are Trey Parker and Matt Stone?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. South Park eviscerated the Mormons.
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Their musical is actually quite redemptive in the end, as is the SP episode
Edited on Mon Dec-05-11 09:14 PM by dmallind
concerning the Mormon family. They make the "larger point" much better than such finger wagging humorless special pleading.
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. The jokes write themselves, and nothing should be immune from humor.
I've heard funny jokes about rape, torture, child abuse, terrible diseases, incest and god knows what else. Making them about gold plates in hats and special underwear (which are not incorrect or uninformed tidbits about the faith no matter how much apologists say so) is neither a problem nor lacking in wit.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. What fun!
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. That's kind of the point of humor yes. Fun. That's it.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Wheeee! There's a Mormon!
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Now there's an example of non-humor.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
15. Mormons spent millions on Prop H8 and that's not a joke.
The underwear is fairly funny in many contexts. The Mormons have so many gay children. The underwear...oh never mind.
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mitchtv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. And those millions were spent on lies
that's how they won. Christian indeed. They have no qualms putting a label on me and mine,They are my enemy as is the RC church,and I don't need to lie.
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bengalherder Donating Member (718 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #15
22. They also spent shitloads of moolah back in the day opposing the ERA.
Where I work we have lots of young missionaries preying on the college kids in the neighborhood. They do well not to approach me as I would give them an earful about their churches inabililty to keep it's bigotry to itself.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 10:11 PM
Response to Reply #15
26. Bingo
They who don't have an ounce of respect for their fellow human beings shouldn't whine when the beliefs they wield as a weapon are made fun of.
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yellowcanine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:30 PM
Response to Original message
19. Biblical Literalism is just as weird as Mormanism. So we should not single out Mormans as "weird."
Edited on Mon Dec-05-11 09:34 PM by yellowcanine
If by "weird" we mean non rational. Just because the Bible has been around longer than the Book of Morman doesn't make it any less "weird" to take it literally.

Just sayin.
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-06-11 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
35. This is symptomatic of the same underlying issue as the distrust of atheists.
I see the underlying issue as the US not yet being a secular nation. If it were then we would be interested in the policies that a candidate was backing, not his religious beliefs. In his essay, Cultural Politics and the Question of the Existence of God, Richard Rorty refers to this as the ontological priority of the social (I think the phrase is actually Heidigger's). The point being that we can talk about things that are widely accepted socially, but risk being mocked if we stray from those accepted values.

An excerpt from his essay:

This means that when somebody reports experiencing an object about which the community has no reason to think her a reliable reporter, her appeal to experience will fall flat. If I say that round squares are, contrary to popular opinion, possible, because in fact I have recently encountered such squares, nobody takes me seriously. The same goes if I come out of the forest claiming to have spotted a unicorn. If I say that I experienced God, this may or may not be taken seriously, depending on what uses of the term "God" are current in my community. If I explain to a Christian audience that personal observation has shown me that God is, contrary to popular opinion, female, that audience will probably just laugh. But if I say that I have seen the Risen Christ in the disk of the sun on Easter morning, it is possible that I shall be viewed with respect and envy.


The currently accepted religious story in the US is the Judeo-Christian story. The beliefs of neither Mormonism nor atheism fit into that story. Therefore, they are not, now, culturally acceptable. In a truly secular society, religious beliefs would not be a political issue.
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