I have always been a big believer in the right to choose. And I’m not talking about abortion. (As a sidenote, as an extension of my belief in choice, I also happen to be pro-choice pro-choice. Glad we cleared that up.) I see so many people claiming to have made a choice in one way or another, when really they’ve hardly considered the other options at all. Being unaware or ill-informed about one side of an issue does not lead to choice – it leads to dogma. Continue Reading
How time flies. My brother-in-law, who I first mentioned here (and then again, here and here) is back from serving his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Better known as the Mormons. It was great to see him again and he has changed so much. His mission was a Spanish speaking one so he has returned completely fluent in Spanish. Pretty cool. While I obviously don’t support missions, I do think the church does an amazing job with these young people. My hubby served in France and remains fluent in French to this day. The church, very deliberately, takes these young men (there are some women missionaries but they are overwhelmingly young men who begin their mission at the age of 19) at a pivotal point in their lives and
immerses indoctrinates them even further into the teachings of the church. They are shielded from the world (no tv, no music, no movies, no shopping, no fun) and do nothing but read scriptures or teach scriptures for every waking hour.
Today, a Canadian court upheld our anti-polygamy laws, in a case I have been following pretty closely. This case centers around the polygamous group living in Bountiful, British Columbia specifically and the law has been used to try and protect young women from being forced to marry. Now obviously, I think Bountiful and everything it stands for is sick, twisted and wrong. These young girls are born and raised in a sexist and abusive culture and have very little say in who they marry. Being wife number 6 to a 79-year-old man while still in your teens is wrong by anybody’s standards (well, I guess not everyone…yeah, I’m talking to you Warren Jeffs) and by no means do I support what those crazy Mormons are doing. (On a sidenote/rant: It drives me crazy to hear the rhetoric that the Mormon church and its members are using in order to distance themselves from all this muck. Do you know how many times I’ve heard people say “They aren’t Mormon!” or deny that they are a break-off from the Mormon church? This is what Mormonism looked like 100 years ago folks, deal with it. Ahh, that feels better.)
However, I don’t know that I’m really opposed to polygamy so much. I guess this is where some of my more libertarian views come crashing into my socially democratic ones. I don’t like the government telling people who they can and can’t be with. I’m a big supporter of gay marriage and straight marriage and any other kind of marriage provided everyone within said marriage is an adult and is happy to be there. I’ve looked into this a little and it turns out there is a whole community of people living in polyamorous relationships and they don’t look anything like they do in the cults/compounds of BC. There are women living with two husbands, men living with more than one wife…every configuration you can imagine (and I’m sure a few you can’t). They aren’t hurting anyone and if they want to have two husbands
God help them that’s their choice.
Surely there are already laws in place to protect adult men from marrying under-aged girls several times over. I mean, really. If not then there should be. I’m just not sure that it should ban polygamy outright. There are days when a sister-wife would come in pretty handy.
We received a frantic phone call on Friday night from my MIL informing us that my little BIL (who is serving his mission in Arizona) “blew out his knee” and might have to be released from his missionary duties in order to come home and recuperate. She was upset for a few reasons; she is a mother and of course, she wasn’t able to speak to her son directly, she was surprised and didn’t have all the information she wanted and above all, she was upset about his mission experience being jeopardized. My BIL is loving his mission experience so far and part of the appeal for missionaries and their families is that it is such a long stretch. Two years is a long time to do anything consistently. It is a long time to not see loved ones, only talk to them on the phone 4 times and to commit yourself as a servant of the Lord. Doing the time is part of what makes it such a huge deal, so cutting it in half would have been very upsetting for everyone involved.
My MIL wasn’t totally sure what had happened but was told by the missionary President’s wife (who apparently is responsible for keeping other Mother’s informed of their kid’s accidents/injuries etc.) that they would call back on Monday with more information. There was much concern and worry and discussion about what this would mean.
We called today only to be referred to an email that she had forwarded to us. Basically, my BIL is the proud recipient of a genuine miracle of God. You can only imagine my frustration upon hearing his version of events. He hurt his knee playing soccer and knew right away it was bad. They took him to a doctor who felt it and told him that he thought he may have torn his MCL and to stay off of it for the next few days until he could get an MRI. The bishop came and did a blessing on BIL’s knee. The pain did not subside and it was still pretty bad. On Monday the Bishop came and did another blessing after which my BIL’s knee started to feel a bit better. At the very least, he felt better. When they got the results back from the MRI it showed a small tear in the MCL but there is no need for surgery and his mission won’t be affected. I could hardly stomach reading the email as he launched into his testimony and assurances that he has re-committed himself with even more fervor into bringing the Gospel to the people and that he knows this and that is true and how blessed he is to have been a witness to the glory and power of God’s miraculous love. Blah, blah, blah.
Here is what I would like to say but will not:
1. Your first doctor? Yeah, he misdiagnosed your knee. Not difficult to do when you’re just feeling around someone’s inflamed joint.
2. If the blessing was so effective, why did it take two of them?
3. Maybe the looseness that you attribute to a torn ligament was just loose ligaments that tightened up after you followed the doctor’s suggestions to ice and rest your knee.
4. And perhaps my biggest complaint with all claims of miraculous healing…who do you think you are?! Let me get this straight. This omnipotent and benevolent God who has the power to heal the sick and dying skips over the truly needy only to fix your knee? While you were receiving a priesthood blessing in Arizona, countless women were cradling dying infants and children in their arms, begging and pleading for their lives. Terminally ill people begged for mercy. Innocent babies lay in the dirt, listless from starvation and dehydration. By morning, thousands of people have died painful, agonizing and wholly undeserved deaths but God fixed your knee. Are you kidding me? This to me is the height of egotism.
I thought about saying something but this boy has
drunk bathed in the kool-aid and is now handing out free samples, so he’s beyond reasonable debate at this point.
The Mormons have recently released a series of ads depicting “average Americans” who are also Mormons. They aren’t really average Mormons at all but that’s besides the point. The idea behind the commercials is to make Mormons feel less alien and to normalize the religion in America. It is still tainted (for good reason) by cultish associations and polygamy and it is doing its damnedest to appear like any other religion in America.Here’s an example of one of the (gazillion) videos:
Which makes this recent ad campaign by the Scientologists even better:
Oh the irony – the sweet, sweet irony. In an attempt to normalize themselves, the Mormons have associated themselves with Scientology of all things. I love it.
Also, while you are in a video-watching mood, check out this awesome response campaign at iamanexmormon.com. Genius.
For most people, this is a simple enough question. We know how babies are conceived but if you believe in a soul, then the questions becomes a lot more complicated. This question lies at the root of many pro-life/pro-choice debates as well as the many different religious stances on sexuality, birth control, AIDS, and homosexuality. Your take on this question informs your belief in humanity and the essence which separates us from all other creations.
If you’re Mormon, it’s even more complicated. The Mormons believe in the premortal existence. A place where all the little souls of all the babies to be born are hanging out with God. (In the strictest sense, most religions believe in a pre-existence of the soul before it enters human form but surprise, surprise, nobody has made it as weird and convoluted as the Mormons). They also believe in three composite aspects of the human form; spirit, body and intelligence. Intelligence is a common human essence that is put into a spirit body which is then turned into a physical body. So, souls are not just souls, they are spirit bodies with their own intelligence. Still with me?
Unlike so many other religions that just let non-sensical doctrine stand, Mormons take the bold step of trying to explain this one step further. This is where they lead us into crazy land. So, the Mormons believe that since all these spirit body’s are around, they too must have been created. And how did they get created? Why, the same way physical bodies are conceived. So, now we have the Heavenly Father up in the sky with the Heavenly Mother and their infinite spirit body offspring. This is one of those things that makes non-Mormons go “Whu!?” because it is so against what many other Christian religions teach. The introduction of a heavenly mother who co-created each of us is viewed as blasphemous by many and another example of how the Mormons are not truly Christians.
“Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God—the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like Him, are in the image of God. All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” MFP 4:203.
(As a point of interest, the Mormons also believe that there are spiritual tests and challenges in the pre-mortal existence that will inform your later position in life. These learning opportunities are discussed in “councils in heaven” – a sort of department meeting between uncountable spirit bodies and the big honcho, Daddy God. Up until fairly recently (1978) Mormons believed that people were marked with dark skin for being fence-sitters in the pre-mortal existence, in the War in Heaven. Religion is like the Rabbit Hole in Alice in Wonderland – the deeper you go, the weirder it gets.)
The idea of the Heavenly Mother is part of the doctrine of eternal progression. Ooooh, you’re going to love this one. So, the church basically believes that the Heavenly Mother and Father were themselves once spirit children who received a physical body and were then rewarded for their good behaviour by being given a universe of their own. They were begotten from a Heavenly Mother and Father, who also had their own universe. And so on, and so on. This one (obviously) gets murky and the church has made great efforts to distance themselves from this, at least publicly. This is true for many reasons, the most obvious being because the whole idea is insane. It also goes directly against the teachings of the Bible by implying that there is not one God by many Gods and that each of us (if you are a man of course!) can one day hope to be rewarded with a planet and Godhood. It destroys its own basic principle of the eternal family (hard to all be hanging out together when each male is off being a God to his own universe) and leaves the church out there in the same realm as Scientologists and Raeliens. Even some Mormons seem unaware of this doctrine, despite it being a fundamental plank in their Plan of Salvation.
Deciding how many children you want to have is a personal and sometimes difficult decision. My husband and I talk about it a lot and neither one of us is ure how many we want. There are so many factors to consider – the kind of family you want to have, how much money you have, how easy/hard pregnancy is on your body and how hard baby’s are on your marriage. As a Mormon, a third party enters the debate. God. Yup, you have to pray and reflect on whether there are more babies already destined for your family, hanging out in spirit land just waiting for this one chance to receive a physical body and realize their eternal destiny. No pressure there. My SIL has gone against the direct advice of Doctors and had more babies – all because she had received a revelation that there were more spirit babies waiting for her. (Her pregnancies make her sick, sick, sick for the entire nine months and risk her life every time. She has nearly died with three out of four births and I’m not convinced she’s finished.)
So there you have it in a nutshell. Where babies come from. That is, if you are part of a very weird religion. Everyone else just has sex.
Here is an excerpt from a recent email I wrote to my little brother-in-law who is serving his mission in Mesa, Arizona:
I saw the video of the LDS woman who was in a plane crash and survived. It was a very moving story and that woman was very brave and obviously very strong. It did raise a question however that I have had for some time. I hope you are okay with me asking you a religious question – I figured now that you are a missionary you probably get asked difficult questions all the time. You are an intelligent person and someone who I know thinks about things very deeply so I am hoping you can give me some insight. My question doesn’t pertain to the Mormon religion per se, but to faith in general. In the video, I was disturbed by the part where the woman credited her survival to God and prayer. I watched the video only a few days after my experience in hospital and had been thinking about this already. In fact, it has always bugged me. I remember when 12 miners were rescued years ago in Pennsylvania, people crying and saying they were saved by prayer and by God. While rescue workers who had risked life and limb stood by. I think of all the doctors who worked on that poor lady in the video, and all the amazing science and technology that went into saving her life. The nurses, the physiotherapists, not to mention her own inner strength and perseverance. I find it so frustrating and difficult to understand.
Many people say that faith is not something that can be measured or tested. That is true. However, certain things can be measured. One of those things is prayer. It’s a simple thing really; pray for 100 people, don’t pray for the other 100 and see what happens. You can have control groups and measurable outcomes. It’s been studied and tested hundreds of times over, by those of faith and those without, in many different countries and there has never been a measurable difference. While prayers certainly brings peace to those offering them, it doesn’t actually increase the odds of the sick or injured getting better. Now, what has been proven to work is medicine. Time and time again people are saved by medicine and technology and doctors, and yet, many people of faith insist of crediting prayer when things go well (and God’s will when they don’t, but that is a whole other story) rather than thanking the people who actually deserve it.
Anyway – I don’t mean to go off on a tangent. I saw that video, and it was fresh in my mind and I know you are religious and also smart and so I naturally thought to ask you. I truly hope that you don’t feel offended or put off in any way and if you don’t feel comfortable addressing my question, than by all means just ignore me. :) Having said that, I would really like to know what you think about this. I guess, to summarize, the question would be: why insist on crediting God, when there are so many more obvious and tangible people who deserve recognition?
Now for those of you who are seasoned rational thinkers or atheists this email might seem very mild. There were a million other points I could make – I could tear his world asunder if I wanted to. The thing is, he’s an awesome kid and we have never talked about religion. Ever. Nobody in my husband’s family discusses it at all. We all just tip toe around the fact that they are Mormon and we are not. I hate it but it’s hard to engage people in a conversation when they are unwilling. So, I decided that this topic was safe. It isn’t specific to Mormons, it hopefully won’t be perceived as a personal attack, and it might just get him to think a little. Since this is my first attempt at a religious conversation, I have no idea what to expect.
I asked my husband how he thought my BIL would take it and he said he didn’t have a clue. When my husband told T (my BIL who was 16 at the time) that he was never coming back to the church, T cried like a little kid. Full on bawling for an hour. This kid is not a crier and actually pretty reasonable, level-headed and unemotional. Ever since then, my husband feels like he has little insight into his younger brother which leaves me out on my own. So, I sent him the email and I guess I’ll wait and see what he says. I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and please check out the video. Sad story of course but another example of how incredibly awesome the church is at marketing, communications and spin. I’m in awe.