10 months ago
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The plan of assimilation
What does Mormon church teach about salvation and life after death?—Isthatso
Well in some ways the Mormon version of the afterlife is pretty all-inclusive. There's no hell in Mormonism, except for those unlucky few who go to "outer darkness," having sinned against the Holy Ghost (whatever that means, no one seems to know). For Mormons, the spirit world is divided into paradise and spirit prison. But that's only temporary, until the resurrection and judgment. The good guys get really good heaven, and the losers in spirit prison do their time and then get the "telestial kingdom." (Telestial is a word Joseph Smith apparently made up himself, but it's meant to signify the glory of the stars.)
So pretty nice, huh? If you're taking Pascal's wager and being religious just to hedge your bets, you should skip Mormonism and be a Muslim. The consequences of being a non-believer in Islam are much worse. But unfortunately that's not the end of the story, because if your *family* is Mormon and *you* are not, guess what—you just messed things up for everybody.
Wanna know how I spent my evening last night? The ward mission leader invited us over for family home evening. Yes, I'm pretty sure he knows I left Mormonism. On purpose. I'm sure when he was planning his lesson the topic seemed pretty innocuous: the Plan of Salvation. Or maybe it was supposed to open my eyes to the horrors that await if I don't start believing in disappearing gold plates, I don't know. But there we were, talking about how wonderful it is that Mormon families are forever, and my kid asks, "What if someone in your family doesn't make it?"
Here's the thing. I'm an adult. I love this kid, and I'm concerned about him. I trust the other adults in the room felt the same way. Would I want an eight-year-old worrying about the souls of loved ones who don't subscribe to the right brand of faith? No way. Would God want that? Apparently, yes.
If I were allowed to speak openly in this setting, I'd have told him, "You have nothing to worry about. All of this only matters for people who believe in Mormonism. Your family is always going to be here for you." At the least, under the circumstances, it would have been nice to assure him that God loves us all and will make everything work out. Unfortunately, though, it seems missionary zeal trumps concern for children. If Dad doesn't shape up, you can visit him in his lower kingdom or maybe phone him in outer darkness.
Sleep well, son.