May 31, 2012

So it turns out everyone is equally stupid

There are things that have been bugging me that part of me feels like are not really worth complaining about, but this is my blog and I can complain about all the stupid things in all the run-on sentences I want to. AND end them them with all the prepositions within throughout above.

I am getting really sick of the websites that I like reading writing about Mormons. (Yeah, I know. That's a crap sentence. I don't care.) Maybe it's because I grew up in a very conservative environment, but I kind of expect liberals to be the voice of reason. But it turns out everyone is equally stupid.

Here's an except from an article on Salon:
When Mitt Romney received his patriarchal blessing as a Michigan teenager, he was told that the Lord expected great things from him. All young Mormon men — the “worthy males” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is officially known — receive such a blessing as they embark on their requisite journeys as religious missionaries.
It's a small thing, but there a subtle sinister suggestion to it. (Do you like that? All the "s" sounds? Sounds like a snake right? I'm so awesome and poetic.) This quote strongly implies that only Mormon men about to go on a mission get a Patriarchal blessing. OMG sexist! Evil patriarchy! Except, it's not true. Every baptized Mormon (even the wimins!) can get a patriarchal blessing. Also? I'm pretty sure everyone's blessing says great things are expected of them. (Well, except mine. It says something along the lines of, "The Lord is pretty sure you're going to become an evil unmarried Democrat that writes bitter whiney blog posts, so let's try and get that bar lowered for you a bit. Try going to church once in a while maybe?")

And then... Stephen Colbert does it too. Oh the heartbreak. He's supposed to be that shining beacon of the devoutly religious AND liberal. But even he gets things wrong. You can watch the clip if you want, but the inaccuracy goes something like this: Only true blue born-in-the-faith Mormons get into the celestial kingdom. So while we do try to convert dead people into heaven, it's still not really the best heaven. So all of our claims that baptism for the dead are an inclusive service done out of love, we are really elitist jerks keeping a super secret awesome heaven all to ourselves. Except, that's wrong. It's a married people only club. Not a born to Utah Valley Hospital club. (That club would be GIGANTIC.)

(As an aside, this made me lol. It actually made me a teensy bit offended at first. Not because I really think it works. Or [blaspheme ahead] that it would even really matter. But because it mocks something I believe in. And then it was like... lightbulb omg for serious. I, like, get it now. Totally. This is like, what it's like for like, other people when we like, do it to them. Like, what-ever. [I don't know why.])

Another thing I'm getting sick of is people seriously criticizing the ridiculousness of magic underwear. Actually, liberals making fun of it. (I don't have examples; it's usually just in comments. People say things like, "How can we seriously consider electing a commander-in-chief who believes his underwear is magic? This is a real issue that should be asked in debates!") And here's why it bugs me: the "LOL magic underwear!" thing was started by other Christians. (I don't have links to prove that, so just believe me, ok?) Most other Christians (especially the Mormon-hating ones) can't really criticize us for things that we should be criticized for: treatment of women, attitudes towards homosexuality, etc. Because they suck at those things too. Usually, more so than Mormons. So they target things that are different than them, thus: lol magic underwear. Liberals aren't bound by this same hypocrisy clause. So demand it be asked, if you want. But only after ALL THE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT ACTUALLY MATTER are asked.

Oh and for the record: NO ONE THINKS THE UNDERWEAR IS MAGIC. I wish we did. I love magic. But they are just like wedding rings. They are a symbolic reminder. Also? They're a little see-through which can be traumatizing when your parents use them as pajamas. True, there are people who will tell stories about their cousin's best friend's roommate's mission companion's sister who was in a fire and everything was burned except the temple garment omg magic. There are also people who think double rainbows are deeply profound messages from God. These are people that we mock.

These are all little things, just details. But I guess I expect better. I go around acting all informed, when the places where I get informed from turn out to get some of the details wrong, in a way that feels deliberate. So what else do they conveniently get wrong? If I can't get the truth from Comedy Central and the internet, where can I get it? I can't afford HBO.

So that was long. BUT MY FEELINGS ARE LONG. And I probably shouldn't publish this, but I feel like doing it anyway.


Jilly said...

Omg keep this published. It is so funny.

SWILUA said...

here here.

Brokenbyclouds said...

It's hard to blame people for having misconceptions about the Mormon religion because Mormons have so many misconceptions about their religion themselves. When President Hinckley was asked if Mormons believe they can become gods he replied that he "doesn't know that we teach it" and most faithful Mormons still believe that Brigham Young was transfigured to look and sound like Joseph Smith to decide the question of who should lead the Church in the wake of Joseph's murder.

Teachings about who goes to what heaven and what ordinances are necessary for that have changed quite a bit. The Book of Mormon says that all who die without a knowledge of the gospel "have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord" (Mosiah 15:24). Later doctrinal development redefines and expands on this idea but not exactly in a "line upon line" linear progression.

In fact things got a little weird in Utah (from our perspective today) where the practice of sealing men to other men was a common way of ensuring someone's salvation. That worked by taking an ordinary Elder and sealing him to a notable Church authority like Brigham or Joseph. The idea was that you knew those guys would make it so if we're sealed to them we'll make it too.

Colbert isn't entirely inaccurate when he says only true Mormons get into the celestial kingdom. If anything he's just referencing out of date doctrines that we've abandoned. Brigham said that no one would get into the celestial kingdom without being in a polygamous marriage for instance.

And how often does any of this get talked about in Sunday School? It doesn't and there's lots of confusion and misunderstanding about it within Mormonism so it's entirely understandable why there's confusion outside too.

I think the garment issue is worth addressing too. You said that nobody thinks the garment is magic. Magic is a pretty loaded term in this context. What if we ask the question in a slightly different way and ask whether people believe the garment acts as a shield and protection for them so long as they wear it faithfully all the days of their lives?

Mormons devote themselves to being worthy to enter sacred spaces that are built in particular ways, usually being aligned to certain compass points, and are given a special item of clothing that is taught will be a shield and protection to them and that it's not to be treated like other clothing. Is that what you might define as a talisman? Is it less "magic" because it's part of an organized religion? Is it less "magic" than the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation? For that matter, is it less "magic" than the "three grand keys" you can read about in section 129 of the D&C?

I think we get offended at the notion of magic underwear because the word magic today conveys an illusion, a trick, and a sham. That's a valid issue but we can't get away from the fact that we do attribute special qualities to the garment.

Jamie said...

Chad, you can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true. ;)

Re: garments: They're less magic than any other religious object, is what I mean. And I'm defining magic the way I assume the critics are defining it: something stupid and fake. If people want to seriously ask Romney about magic underwear, fine. Just be sure to put that same critical lens on the religions of the other candidates.

Re: all of your knowy quotes and stuff: That's interesting, and stuff I didn't know. I'm glad you shared, and I agree with your point. There are too many Mormons that don't even know that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. My problem with the inaccuracies I pointed out was that it doesn't feel to me like they are based on confusion. Colbert gets a pass because he's not really a journalist, but other journalists ARE journalists. (OMG, right?) I think some writers have an opinion and then cherry pick the snippets of doctrine that support that opinion. I expect this from Glen Beck and Fox news. It's disheartening to see it done by people like Glenn Greenwald and Rachel Maddow. They could find the truth, if they cared to, but the misinformation is so much more interesting.

Jamie said...

Comments need an edit feature.

Brokenbyclouds said...

I cringe whenever comparing people's religions comes up, especially in the political realm. Comparing the metaphysical properties of underwear against the transformation of bread into flesh makes me flush with embarrassment. It sounds kinda crazy! I would be super happy to leave out all religion from the public sphere.

I agree though that it is a little disheartening when folks like Maddow (near and dear to my heart) seem more interested in a punch line than adding clarifying light to an issue. Still, it can't be understated just how hard it is to get to the simple truth of Mormon doctrine because even aside from the issues of access and availability, there often isn't a simple answer.

Brokenbyclouds said...

Speaking of things that are difficult by the way, try and be completely 100% mature when talking about men being sealed to other men in light of Prop 8 and all. The jokes... so many...

Jilly said...

Oh yeah, Jamie...did I tell you? Chad's been on a religion kick lately!


Brokenbyclouds said...

And by lately she means the past 12ish years of my life :P