Friday, May 21, 2010

Surveillance and the emergence of evil 1

Over at Mormon Stories, mecca of the new wave of mormon apologetics (I've taken liberties with the term), which entails acknowledging that the institution designated by a title too long to type here is not exactly what it claims to be, but that that's OK; the reasons for this OKness are apparently legion, much of them depend of course on who you ask and how you and/or they are feeling at the time (and Mr Dehlin and friends have done their fair share of asking); anyway, they've been talking (a lot), this time to Daymon Smith author of The Book of Mammon. His insights are profound, fascinating, and incapable of being encapsulated by mere superlatives. I will borrow one of them to kick start this post (it went a little something like this): “The 19th century Jesus was a polygamist, communist, revolutionary…20th century Jesus wears pastel colors, holds sheep and caresses childrens hair.”

What a sound bite. To me it perfectly illustrates the current cultural climate of the church. I mean, given how we started as seer stone totting heretics, how is it that we became the most vanilla culture in the history of the world? The answers are all in the podcast, and it all comes down to the the bane of liberal Mormons everywhere: correlation. All the teachings got streamlined, all the definitions calcified, redundancies were eliminated, any so called speculative pseudo doctrines where eliminated (or rather conveniently ignored), and what we're left with is not open to debate.

Daymon explains quite nicely how we got here. As for where we are now and what that means, well that's what interests me. Mormons are mostly indoctrinated robots, almost incapable of editing their own programming. I feel comfortable making these broad metaphoric generalizations, because I was one of these people. Justification by association if you will. I'm like that guy off Nacho Libre now, I believe in science, so please feel free to indulge my abstracting away of the superfluities so we can examine the cold hard facts (I exaggerate yet again).

What does it all mean? I don't have all the answers, but one consequence of the top-down filtration of acceptable behaviors and beliefs, is that when you buy into the game you've got no choice but to put on all the emperor's new clothes no matter how bad the fit. There is fairly limited wiggle room. They call it the straight and narrow for a reason. In the world of correlated Mormonism conformity is king. The call to strict obedience, no less than what is required of the membership (the mythical act of atonement by one J.C. acting as a buffer against the infinite failures that occur as a result of such lofty and yes, absurd expectations, else there would only be 3 people who attained Celestial Glory, President Monson, myself and um), ensures that we all need put only our best foot forward, and people who have seen my feet can understand how this could be a problem. It is probably true that no religious practice can survive a collision with reality. Masking the underlying casualties may only be possible by constructing an appropriate facade.

this post is spinning wildly out of control, to be continued...

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