Monday, January 25, 2010

Mormonism product review

What are pros and cons of the mormon religion? —Ricky M.

NO HATE. I just want both sides of the story.

It's like this. If everyone you care about is Mormon; if the pre-scripted life that Mormonism advocates suits you; and if you have no reason to doubt the veracity of its truth claims—then Mormonism is absolutely wonderful. Really, I think it is. Mormonism takes a big, inscrutable world and makes it small and understandable. There's a purpose, and a plan. And you're loved. And those you love are never lost. You have a foolproof method for making optimum decisions. You have a community and solidarity. You are needed. And best of all, you never even have to consider your own mortality. Because of course death isn't really death. You, yourself, this individual with your DNA, lived before and will go on living after mortal life ends. How cool is that?

As for the cons, see above. If anyone you care about is not Mormon, or heaven forbid has rejected it for any reason, you're left feeling wounded. What if they don't make it? What if your eternal family is broken up? What if you didn't do enough to help them? What if you don't have anything to talk about that isn't wrapped up in church happenings?

I'm being a little facecious there, but there's a sinister side to this too. What if it's a spouse who leaves the faith? Do you divorce? There's a story like this every day on the ex-Mormon boards. What if it's a child who strays? Do you welcome them to family gatherings? Do you trust them? Do you still pay for their college? What if they're gay? Will your child be one of Utah's male teen suicides? Now that's sobering. (A little Mormon joke there.)

And speaking of being gay, that's one of many traits that might make the Mormon lifestyle unsuitable for some. Me, I liked scouts, church, being a missionary. I wanted to get married and have kids. Enjoyed teaching lessons, didn't hate being a priesthood leader. But it's not for everyone. Maybe it works for you, and maybe that's all that matters.

Finally, the whole thing can only work if you really truly believe in it. Not such a difficult proposition forty years ago, like say when the Joseph Smith papyri were rediscovered and translated. We didn't have google then, or discussion boards full of informed people outside the faith community. If you like the idea of the world I described above and want to be a Mormon, I wish you the best. But you should probably tread carefully here on the worldwide web, because for some reason all that ridiculous anti-Mormon literature seems to convince some people that Joseph Smith just made things up as he went along. Like polygamy, and temple rituals, and the Kirtland Safety Society. Or the Book of Abraham.

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