The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Anybody want a religious nut for president?

I spent about 15 years, starting at age 12, as a titular Mormon. My mother was converted from Methodism by a couple of nice young men in black suits and white shirts who introduced themselves as "Elder" somethingorother. She dragged my brother and me along. When I was 27 my mother urged the church to excommunicate me. They took her up on it. Everyone is happier as a result.

My mother died 20 years ago. As St. Peter reviewed her resume', he exclaimed, "You advocated that your own son be denied the company of God and JC because he smokes cannabis? Wow! Come right in!" Abraham was ready to stab his son at the behest of God, remember.

Mormons encourage members to construct their genealogy. That's cool. Genealogy is fascinating.

Part of the reason the Mormon Church promotes it is to set the stage to baptize our ancestors by proxy, because if they were not baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints during their lives, and assuming they had lived lives righteous enough that they didn't go straight to Hell, they've been sitting in a waiting room right outside of heaven since their deaths. "I know you were a good person, but you gotta wait until your great-great-great grandnephew gets you placed in the family tree and then goes and gets wet in your name."

Lately, some progeny of holocaust victims have been taking offense at the practice. Some of their cousins have converted to Mormonism and are undertaking this rather weird work of baptizing-by-proxy their Jewish grandmother who died at Auschwitz.

Really? Do Mormons really believe that God is holding up the papers of people who were starved, beaten, experimented on, gassed and cooked by the Nazis?

Of course that's only a half-step beyond the weirdness professed by most of those who call themselves Christians. Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all advocate rather bizarre policies based on their interpretation of what they call their "faith."


caheidelberger said...

...and the less religiously nutty choice on the GOP side would be...?

Bob Newland said...


repete said...

Atheism is the newest silent majority and still growing.
Knowing we have so many religious 'flavors of the day' should remind everyone why we need all religion (verb and noun) separated from any and all branches of the government.

Wayne Gilbert said...

I need to get on the "Do Not Baptize" list. Is there an 800 number or a website? I am also adding it to my living will--do use extraordinary life-saving measures and do not baptize post-mortem.

Bob Newland said...

Call Elie Wiesel, Wayne. He's pissed.

Wayne Gilbert said...

When he (Elie Wiesel) heard about the Mormon ritual and that it included Holocaust victims, he had a puzzled look on his face and then uttered something to the effect that there was a simple solution to the problem: 'Let them change their religion.'

larry kurtz said...

So much for moving Israel to Utah, then? Maybe slicing off a chunk of New Jersey makes more sense after all.

BF said...

Did you wear the magic underwear Bob?

Bob Newland said...

I was ordained a Deacon at 12, a Teacher at 14 and a Priest at 16. Those are levels of the Aaronic Priesthood (my dad referred to it as the Ironic Priesthood).

I never advanced into the Melchezidek priesthood. Those levels are Elder, Seventy and High Priest. One must be at least an Elder before going to the Temple and being allowed to wear the union suit underwear with buttonholes over your nipples and navel.

Women may only go to the Temple as a mate of a Melchezidek priesthood holder. Women, of course, can't hold the priesthood (Christ knows what they would do with it!).

Slicing off a chunk of New Jersey makes sense no matter what the excuse.

BF said...

I think the special underwear is the cool part of Mormons. I think they should have progressives who wear it out, like Madonna. Show your stuff kids. Why not?

D.E. Bishop said...

The post-mortem baptismas are how they got that big genealogical database. If your family is listed there, someone in it has become a Mormon.

As Weisel stated, the Mormon hierarchy has heard many complaints from all sorts of non-Mormons, religious and otherwise. They always say they will stop, while they keep doing it.

It feels very wrong to me. My Gramma, who died in 1992 at the age of 92, would be soooo angry about it. I don't think it matters to her any more. But it ticks me off! Just cause she's dead doesn't make it okay. Grrrrrr.

BF said...

I don't know, Deb. It's kind of like canonizing a sain't isn't it? It would only be offensive if it really made any difference, right?

One of the odd things about the self-righteous is how routinely they insult people without either knowing it or intending to do it.

Michael Sanborn said...

"One of the odd things about the self-righteous is how routinely they insult people without either knowing it or intending to do it."

One of the best things you ever typed here, BF.

The true believer is the most dangerous animal on the planet – not because he believes in something, but because he believes that if you don't believe as he does, it is his divine duty to either MAKE you believe, or kill you trying.

Wayne Gilbert said...

I echo Mike's endorsement of this phrase from BF: "One of the odd things about the self-righteous is how routinely they insult people without either knowing it or intending to do it."

And I add that that one of their favorite ways to insult is the sanctimonious "I'll pray for you." Please don't, I pray you.

BF said...

Check my note to "Deb" I meant to type DEB. Sorry Ms. Bishop, I was addressing your post, in case that wasn't clear.

Your mention of your grandmother reminds me of ideas I've gathered from two authors of late... Douglas Hofstadter (in "I Am a Strange Loop") and Richard Dawkins (in "The Selfish Gene.")

Each author points to what Dawkins calls "memes" as being kind of a living, cognitive form subject to mutation in much the same way biological genes, and now computer viruses are.

Hofstadter goes so far as to posit that these idea forms are really all that we "are" when it comes to identifying what we mean when we say the word "I" especially as it pertains to one's personality and sense of "self" (with a small "s".)

When a person is alive, they contain, evolve and comprise the sum total of that identity. But as we come to know one another, an imperfect copy of that root identity forms in each other consciousness the person makes contact with.

Thus, Hofstadter posits, a (low resolution) copy of our "self" lives on in others after our death for as long as someone still remembers us in some way or another.

In this sense, especially if you were close to your grandmother and knew her well, you would be perfectly justified to take offense to your grandmother's posthumous "baptism" since you are in fact still "she" in some conscious (as well as biological) way.

But sadly, not exclusively so.

That's the nature of memes and their mutation. History is rife with personalities we think we know which may in fact be far removed from what they would have preferred their legacy to be. Or conversely, their legacy is far more exalted than the original personality warranted.

Les said...

I have a great older friend Wayne, a WWII nurse corp vet residing over in the VA Ft Meade now.

She had cancer, was cut, burned and sent home to her owned resources much too soon. I found out she had needs not being met, the VA was denying her services and she was all alone.

While I helped her get into the VA and arrange some immediate needs she told me how so many stopped to offer their prayers. "Les", she said, "I don't need their God damned prayers, I need someone to clean my house, make my bed and help me with other things I can't do for myself."

I'm not sure what the word for these people offering prayers with their eyes closed to real needs is but it damn sure fits right up there with the rap sheet of the self righteous in church, state and education.

Bob Newland said...

This is only a two-suck vote so far. C'mon, let's beat the snowfence record.

D.E. Bishop said...

That "I'll pray for you," shit really ticks me off! And praying for people is part of my job, but I always ask first: "Would you like me to say a prayer with you . . . Would you mind if I prayed for you . . . etc."

When I hear that comment sanctimoniously or superiorly spokein, I just want to slap them and tell them they need to pray for personal humility much more than they need to pray for me.

Sometimes I do say that, but I leave out the slapping part.

D.E. Bishop said...

Oh, and Gramma and I were very close. She is my hero.

Those damn Mormons ought not mess with a hero!!!

Bob Newland said...

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but baptisms-by-proxy don't make a fuckin' bit of difference.