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Should Mormonism Matter?


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#21 ottovbvs

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 01:04 PM

All this discussion of abstruse questions of theology is no doubt interesting but it's not particularly material in addressing the issue of whether Romney's religion is electorally important. Most average voters view Mormonism as a rather screwy but not particularly dangerous religion. However I'm sure the antipathy rises the more coventionally religious you are and this could be a marginal, or even a major, factor in some states.

#22 Sinan

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 01:11 PM

In that case, then the evangelical crowd is likely to view Mormonism as an abomination and will hold their noses and vote anyway because at the end of the day, the far right wing hates liberals far more than they despise Mormons. The rest of the nation will likely not care much since we do have a secular government and there is no religious test for office. If Romney had the faith of Perry, he would be in much stronger position with them, I think everyone can see the truth in that observation.
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#23 Morrisminor

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 01:13 PM

Being a Mormon will help him more than it will hurt him, since he'll have the world's best pool of superficial salesmen types behind him. Since he was born into the whole nonsense faith, cult, whatever, I can cut him some slack. For all we know, he may think it is a load of crap but is too weak, loyal, manipulative to say otherwise. Unlike some creep like Beck and people I have known personally who are straight up crackpots and bigots who were turned on by all their hard sell nonsense. Trouble with any faith that demands that level of proselytizing is that it attracts a lot of unbalanced lunatics as well as creates an salesman's sense of "ethics" amongst its hard core adherents. He could worship the devil for all I care, as long as he refrains from human sacrifices. But the great unwashed gets really upset when someone doesn't lub Jeebus real good.

#24 Raskolnik

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 01:20 PM

Sinan said:

So in my book the claims of God's power and existence in the OT is just as fantastic as Joseph Smith's accounts of the angel Moroni.

Except for the part where you can't prove or disprove that Moses saw a burning bush, which is already a heavily psychologized image, whereas you can definitely disprove the existence of a thousand-year-old chariot-using steel-forging Mesoamerican Israelite civilization with 100% certainty, so either a) Moroni was misinformed about the existence of this civilization b) Moroni was lying to Joseph Smith or c) Joseph Smith lied about his visit with Moroni. It is apples and oranges.

ottovbvs said:

All this discussion of abstruse questions of theology is no doubt interesting but it's not particularly material in addressing the issue of whether Romney's religion is electorally important. Most average voters view Mormonism as a rather screwy but not particularly dangerous religion. However I'm sure the antipathy rises the more coventionally religious you are and this could be a marginal, or even a major, factor in some states.

I agree which is why I have tried to keep this as on topic as possible. As I said on the other thread about Mormonism I think a large part of the reason people think of Mormonism as "not particularly dangerous" is that they don't know all that much about it, Charles seemed shocked by the disclosures in the article cited at the top of this thread but to anyone who has done even cursory research into LDS (e.g. yours truly) he is really only scratching the surface of just how scary LDS is. That is why I feel like, despite the fact that it is perceived as "bad form" to discuss Romney's religion, I think it is high time for a national discussion about Mormonism. The more people know about LDS the better.

As for the electoral ramifications it would be naive in the extreme to believe that Romney's religion won't be a factor, although I imagine his record at Bain will have more impact among liberals and independents and his record in Massachusetts will have more impact among conservatives. I don't imagine for a moment if Jon Huntsman had been the nominee that his religion would have much to do with his electoral success or lack thereof. Back on FF you noted that the key determining factor in 2012 will be turnout. I agree completely, and I also agree with indy that the primary way we'll see the effects of Romney's religion (should he be the nominee) is by further suppressing Republican turnout. How much of that will be because of his real or perceived ideological deviations and how much of that will be because of his religion is impossible to say, although as I said I think it would be naive in the extreme to discount his affiliation with LDS as a reason why religious conservatives will hesitate to vote for him, even if they can't bear pulling the lever for Obama.

#25 ottovbvs

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 01:20 PM

Sinan said:

In that case, then the evangelical crowd is likely to view Mormonism as an abomination and will hold their noses and vote anyway because at the end of the day, the far right wing hates liberals far more than they despise Mormons.

Not necessarily. This is way too simple an analysis. Some, many, undoubtedly will hold their noses but some will not bother to turn out or even if they are activists not show quite the same level of enthusiasm in campaigning. Hence my conclusion it's likely to be a factor but it's hard to judge how much of one amongst the come to Jesus crowd.

#26 Sinan

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 02:18 PM

Perhaps you are right for those in the Bible Belt but I don't think it will affect much of the vote. I work mostly with rural conservatives all across the west and south and to a person they consider liberals to be the worst kind of person imaginable. While they view politics through the prism of religion, I do believe that they feel more disgust and terror at the prospects of this nation being run by liberals than they do having a Mormon at the helm. I have yet to hear one person state they will not vote for a conservative candidate against Obama unless he is a devout Christian. These folks are radio listening, Fox viewing ditto heads whose worldview is teed up for them by the usual suspects. Outside of Christian radio, there is hardly ever a mention of Mormonism as a key issue on most programs. If the left thinks as you do and takes Romney lightly assuming that the vote will not turn out, they have not been paying attention.
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#27 indy

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 02:22 PM

Reduced turnout is my expectation. It is just a matter of how much. These folks certainly aren't going to vote for Obama. I think the total package that is Romney including his Bain days are going to deflate any excitement that would otherwise be there. There is still the hate of course. Is it enough?

dsp said:

My position is this: People should either leave it alone, or dig deep into Trinity United's flavor of Christianity too.

Seriously, you think Clintion/RNC decided not to 'dig deep' into Trinity united because they're nice people? It was either a political calculation because it may alienate too many people or there simply isn't anything there. Both of these still hold. On the other hand, I doubt the DNC is afraid of alienating Mormons unless it also will alienate too many of the friendlies, so the same calculation is being made, except as Raskolnik keeps pointing out, there is definitely something there.

#28 dsp

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 02:56 PM

indy said:

Seriously, you think Clintion/RNC decided not to 'dig deep' into Trinity united because they're nice people? It was either a political calculation because it may alienate too many people or there simply isn't anything there. Both of these still hold. On the other hand, I doubt the DNC is afraid of alienating Mormons unless it also will alienate too many of the friendlies, so the same calculation is being made, except as Raskolnik keeps pointing out, there is definitely something there.

Should have been clearer. I wasn't thinking in terms of political calculus, or how the Obama or Romney campaign should approach the religion angle.

I meant the people in the media and the press who cover the campaign should either leave Romney's Mormonism alone or go after Obama's religion too. This seems only fair. Also, I specifically mean those who produce the news coverage not the partisan pundits.

#29 Morrisminor

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 04:03 PM

Sinan said:

Perhaps you are right for those in the Bible Belt but I don't think it will affect much of the vote. I work mostly with rural conservatives all across the west and south and to a person they consider liberals to be the worst kind of person imaginable. While they view politics through the prism of religion, I do believe that they feel more disgust and terror at the prospects of this nation being run by liberals than they do having a Mormon at the helm. I have yet to hear one person state they will not vote for a conservative candidate against Obama unless he is a devout Christian. These folks are radio listening, Fox viewing ditto heads whose worldview is teed up for them by the usual suspects. Outside of Christian radio, there is hardly ever a mention of Mormonism as a key issue on most programs. If the left thinks as you do and takes Romney lightly assuming that the vote will not turn out, they have not been paying attention.
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#30 primrose

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 07:40 PM

First just a clarification Practical Girl. It takes many lifetimes up the heavenly continuum to get your own planet in Mormonism. You have to become the mormon equivalent of a Buddah, essentially reached enlightenment. Just want to be fair.

Raskolink, plenty of people feel used and abused by Catholocism, and no I am not talking about the sex scandals. At my son's birthday party, I introduced two people and clued them in that they were both atheists, to which one responded, translation raised Catholic. It is entirely unfair for you to claim mormonism is somehow worse.

I agree it seems crazier but then it hasn't had 2000 years to normalize it. The very tone you took with Sinan when he/she (sorry I don't remember) suggested Jesus was con man shows bigotry. How could you possibly prove differently? He could have been just like Joseph Smith and how would anyone know?

I think you rather disprove your point when you say as christian I stake my soul on virgin birth being real but it is a psycho/social etc. So it is ok for you to make a metaphor the literal truth but not the poor, benighted mormons?

And while everyone in seminary may know that these things were made up and do not speak to history, not to mention often contradicting each other, that is not what they tell the congregation, or what they have told the congregation. In few congregations does archeology trump scripture.

Indeed, the most important aspect of Jesus in the catholic church that he is the son of god is not supported by all the gospels. And yet I don't see the Catholic church suggesting this isn't true. Or let's take the Virgin Birth, it may be a story in a number of births but not all the gospels (and here I am only talking of those kept in during Nicean Council, not all written). I don't see any churches spreading that truth about? But you expect the mormons too?

I think the very existence of protestants also suggets that the Catholic Church was just as abusive as you claim the mormon church to be. And it is just screeds like this that put me in a quandary, because I don think what he believes matters but I also know there is a lot of bigotry and double standards flying about. My church is OK but not theirs....

So perhaps, a safer way to judge someone is what they claim their views are, and what evidence their past gives of believing it. There is no way to judge a person's religion as per public service without judging the religion. This is a little more difficult in the case of Mr. Romney (because he is a flipflopper not because he is a mormon). Still, I think it may be wise since it inoculates us against our own bias.

#31 primrose

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 07:56 PM

Since people are feeling free to call Mormonism a cult. I would direct them to the website religious tolerance's discussion of its use. Basically, they advise against it (with the exception of doomsday religious organizations which have experienced loss of life.) and I think they are persuasive.

http://www.religious...e.org/cults.htm


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#32 baw1064

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 10:21 PM

For the record, one of my grandparents was raised in a Mormon family, one in a southern baptist family, one in a catholic family, and one in a methodist family. IMO it's not worth getting too hung up on theological details. Outlawing religious tests for public office in the Constitution was a really good idea.
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#33 Raskolnik

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 10:24 PM

primrose, I know you place a high value on civility, so I will try to adhere to a high standard, but I also want to let it be known that you have failed to substantively address any of the relevant issues here, and gloss over enormous differences with a wave of your hands.

primrose said:

First just a clarification Practical Girl. It takes many lifetimes up the heavenly continuum to get your own planet in Mormonism. You have to become the mormon equivalent of a Buddha, essentially reached enlightenment. Just want to be fair.

This is what I am talking about when I say "gloss over enormous differences." To begin with, let's examine your statement that exaltation according to Mormons means exactly the same thing as reaching enlightenment according to Buddhists. Even if this were true, you have no way to demonstrate its truth, apart from some fuzzy sense that as the end-goals of two spiritual paths they must be the same thing. Unless someone had actually practiced Buddhism all the way to the end of the path, and had actually practiced Mormonism all the way to the end of the path, how would someone be able to tell you that the end of the path is the same for both traditions? Someone famous once said, "What can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof." You have absolutely no proof that Mormon exaltation is the same thing ("essentially" or not) as Buddhist enlightenment.

But the fact of the matter is that your claim is not true, and that it is relatively simple to illustrate why. According to LDS "theology" being in the "Celestial Kingdom," the highest degree of exaltation and the one where you get your own planet, means having a physical body and a harem of celestial wives (yes, wives plural, and no it is not reversed for women). There are basically no requirements for this in terms of your internal state. What gets you into the "Celestial Kingdom" is having been righteous, and much more importantly, performing the Mormon rituals (called "ordinances"). As long as you perform the ordinances and make the covenants, you will go to the Celestial Kingdom, and it really doesn't matter whether you died with anger or jealousy in your heart, far less whether or not you still regard yourself as an individual being (more on this in a moment).

In Mahayana Buddhism, by contrast, enlightenment is defined as the state where you no longer have any cognitive or emotional obscurations. "Emotional obscurations" are anger, desire, and delusion. "Cognitive obscurations" are perhaps most easily expressed as the subconscious belief or habit of thinking in terms of a "self," or else as the cognitive framework of subject-object duality. In Buddhism, there is no such thing as being enlightened as long as your consciousness still operates with the intentional structure of subject-object dualism. It is impossible to be enlightened and regard yourself as an individual being. Furthermore, in Buddhism, it is not even enough to be free of all the obscurations. It is also necessary to have gathered the "two accumulations" of merit and wisdom. This does not mean simply being righteous in your one earthly life, or even in many earthly lives. It means gathering a limitless accumulation of virtue over the span of thee "incalculable aeons" (the longest period of time that a particular universe can exist for), and training in meditation on emptiness/selflessness (as per above) for that entire time, until the cognitive habit of subject-object duality is not merely suspended for a moment or a lifetime, but completely and utterly gone from one's mental continuum.

So to say that "[Mormon exaltation] is the Mormon equivalent of a Buddha, essentially reaching enlightenment" is patently false and doctrinally indefensible. I get that for non-believers this is all just abstruse nonsense, but please try to suspend your judgment and examine these points without your predetermined sense that since it's all false anyway who cares whether enlightenment is the same thing as Mormon exaltation or not? If you are interested in more than sweeping generalizations, it is clear that what these two traditions are talking about as the end-point of their paths are not the same thing.

Just as a side note, this is the kind of thing that I usually hear from hippies and the utterly and completely uninformed. "It's all, just, like the same.... man.... [sound of bong rip follows]." I realize that for the uninitiated the differences may seem trivial, but the only way you can make statements like that is to have no idea what you're talking about, and when you make a statement like that it is immediately evident to anyone who knows what they're talking about that you don't know what you're talking about.

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At my son's birthday party, I introduced two people and clued them in that they were both atheists, to which one responded, translation raised Catholic. It is entirely unfair for you to claim mormonism is somehow worse.

Why? Because you say so? Did you actually read any of the links I provided? Or is our ADHD culture now at the point where "TL;DR" counts as a substantive argument? Sure, plenty of people feel burned by the Catholic Church, but how many of them (the ones who weren't victims of the sex-abuse scandal) need therapy and support groups on account of their exit from Catholicism?

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I agree it seems crazier but then it hasn't had 2000 years to normalize it. The very tone you took with Sinan when he/she (sorry I don't remember) suggested Jesus was con man shows bigotry. How could you possibly prove differently? He could have been just like Joseph Smith and how would anyone know?

First of all, it is not "bigoted" to call a convicted fraud a convicted fraud. It may not stand up to postmodern relativist/secular liberal ideas of political correctness, but that is an entirely different animal.

Second, people know that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. It didn't somehow escape the attention of the people who were there at the time. JS himself taught (in D&C) that Celestial Marriage is plural marriage, presumably to justify his 'extracurricular activities'. Nor would it have escaped the attention of the people of first-century Judea if Yeshue the Nazarene had been overly fond of his female disciples. People talk. A lot.

Your problem--well, one of your main problems--is that you either can't or won't or don't understand the difference between genuine spiritual teachers and false prophets. I have no problem with the idea that there are and have been many genuine spiritual teachers in most major world religions. But it's not true that all genuine spiritual teachers have the same degree of realization, and it is absolutely definitely 100% certainly not true that every person who decides he wants to lead others to enlightenment/exaltation/whatever is worthy of being followed.

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I think you rather disprove your point when you say as christian I stake my soul on virgin birth being real but it is a psycho/social etc. So it is ok for you to make a metaphor the literal truth but not the poor, benighted mormons?


You have this literally backwards. The Mormons do not view the Book of Mormon as a metaphor. They view the Book of Mormon as, among other things, a document that describes the factual, material history of a Mesoamerican Semitic civilization that numbered in the millions, used chariots, and forged steel weaponry. There was no such civilization. This is not some kind of "metaphorical" statement, this is what Mormons believe and teach to have actually happened as a matter of history. So it is not "making a metaphor the literal truth," they start with the proposition that their crazy pseudo-history is the literal truth and proceed from there.

As for the virgin birth, again, just because the symbolism is obvious does not mean that it is not factually true. "Literal truth" is basically an invention of the Enlightenment. For most of homo sapiens' existence, we have told the truth by telling stories. Mythos in the sense of the ancient Greeks is understood to not be true or false per se, but to be "true" in the sense that it reveals something about the human condition, even if it is "false" in the sense of not corresponding to actual events. But again the "correspondence theory of truth" (look it up) is basically a modern invention.

The point is, there is archaeological evidence to support the broad outlines of the history in the Hebrew Bible, just as there is archaeological evidence to support the version of events of the Iliad, even if there is no archaeological evidence to support the claim that the Trojan War was started by the throwing of a golden apple or that the Flood was global (as opposed to local, when in fact there is evidence that demonstrates periodic catastrophic flooding in Mesopotamia, and both the Sumerians and the Greeks have very similar stories). Again, this may be very usefully contrasted to the "history" in the Book of Mormon, which has zero basis in historical or archaeological fact. The Mormons do not see their fanciful "history" as metaphorical, they see it as literal truth. It would be like the someone making up their own scriptures about a lost prehistoric civilization in Oceania that had highways and supercomputers, and their followers spending untold sums of money on the elusive search for any evidence of this whatsoever. If you can't understand the difference between "mythologized" history supported by the historical record, and the utter fantasy of con men that is demonstrably false...

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And while everyone in seminary may know that these things were made up and do not speak to history, not to mention often contradicting each other, that is not what they tell the congregation, or what they have told the congregation. In few congregations does archeology trump scripture.

The obsession with the "literal truth" of scripture is an American phenomenon that is just now turning 100 years old. It is not and never has been the position of the Catholic Church, nor any of the Apostolic Churches. Really, where are you getting your information? Do you ordinarily make sweeping claims without any citations at all? In what non-Evangelical congregation does scripture trump archaeology?

Besides which, as I have repeatedly pointed out, the archaeological record broadly supports the description of the events in the Hebrew Bible, just as it broadly supports the description of events in the Iliad. There is no such correlation between the description of events in the Book of Mormon and the historical record, and your false equivalence is only evidence that you have not read or investigated the Book of Mormon or the issues surrounding it at all. So if you are going to take the time and trouble to argue with experts, I would advise you to actually read the source literature and do some of your own research.

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Indeed, the most important aspect of Jesus in the catholic church that he is the son of god is not supported by all the gospels. And yet I don't see the Catholic church suggesting this isn't true. Or let's take the Virgin Birth, it may be a story in a number of births but not all the gospels (and here I am only talking of those kept in during Nicean Council, not all written). I don't see any churches spreading that truth about? But you expect the mormons too?

Umm... what Gospel doesn't have the virgin birth?

And of course there are many contradictions in the version of events of the Gospels, especially (but not exclusively) following the Resurrection. There are good theological reasons why things seem to go haywire after the Resurrection, but that is a different topic. The point is, there is a difference between quietly acknowledging that events in Scripture don't always line up 100% and going out of your way to suppress the flow of information that you feel challenges your version of events. Once more I feel compelled to ask, did you actually read any of the links I provided? #125 on exmormon.org/stories is particularly relevant here. It's not that long and will help you understand.

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I think the very existence of protestants also suggets that the Catholic Church was just as abusive as you claim the mormon church to be. And it is just screeds like this that put me in a quandary, because I don think what he believes matters but I also know there is a lot of bigotry and double standards flying about. My church is OK but not theirs....

Claptrap. Every religious tradition has a degree of superiorist rhetoric about it, it is practically a sine qua non. On the other hand the Roman Catholic Church (for example, since it keeps coming up) acknowledges the validity of Sacraments performed in other Churches with Apostolic Succession. According to Mormonism, on the other hand, every other Church is "apostate" and "fallen." Mormons, in other words, are arguably worse in their "my church is OK but not theirs" attitude than any Apostolic Church. So your ignorant assertions above are just that: ignorant. But that is something of a recurrent theme with you and LDS.

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So perhaps, a safer way to judge someone is what they claim their views are, and what evidence their past gives of believing it. There is no way to judge a person's religion as per public service without judging the religion. This is a little more difficult in the case of Mr. Romney (because he is a flipflopper not because he is a mormon). Still, I think it may be wise since it inoculates us against our own bias.

Yeah that sounds nice in theory, except for LDS keeps moving the goalposts as far as "what they actually believe." This is already overly long and I increasingly despair that you will ever be able to see past "I am an atheist and this is all gobbledegook," but Mormons have a long history of changing their doctrines whenever it is convenient (sounds familiar?). They justify this by mumbling something about "continuing revelation" but the bottom line is that Mormon doctrine is whatever the Mormon apologist wants it to be. For better or worse, you would be hard-pressed to find this kind of an attitude among e.g. Evangelicals: in actual Christian Churches, the doctrine determines what the faithful believe and what the apologists believe, not the other way around.

#34 ottovbvs

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 08:50 AM

Raskolnik:
"I agree which is why I have tried to keep this as on topic as possible. "

As is the case most of the time you and I are essentially on the same page. I'm broadly familiar with the history of Mormonism and like most religions it has it's totalitarian edge and episodes of violence (Roman catholicism?) but it doesn't in real sense present a threat to US style secularism. It's most familiar aspect is probably the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

#35 Traveler

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:18 AM

Raskolnik,

Always a pleasure to read your philosophical discourses. I still cannot comprehend why you ended up in the arms of Christian beliefs after your long Buddhist journey. Excellent thumbnail there. But that is your path and I am fine with it. However, realize that many of us here are either agnostic, or outright atheist, so you can't attribute this level of spirituality to everyone's political thought. OTOH, you are more than entitled to when atheists attempt comparative religion without knowledge of same.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices" Voltaire

#36 balconesfault

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:24 AM

I meant the people in the media and the press who cover the campaign should either leave Romney's Mormonism alone or go after Obama's religion too.

Damn. I seem to remember a LOT of stories about Obama's ties to Rev Wright, and about the most incendiary of Wright's preachings from the pulpit. I'd be surprised if there was very much more to dig up ... does DSP really think that punches were pulled?

#37 balconesfault

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:31 AM

Nor would it have escaped the attention of the people of first-century Judea if Yeshue the Nazarene had been overly fond of his female disciples. People talk. A lot.

True - but when Church fathers airbrushed the record of what people talked about in the ensuing centuries, I don't think we can feel confidence. For example, you can go to Gnostic Books and find stories of the young Jesus killing his playmates when they messed with his stuff. There's a reason that these didn't appear in the final Canon.

#38 primrose

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:03 AM

"You have absolutely no proof that Mormon exaltation is the same thing ("essentially" or not) as Buddhist enlightenment."

I wasn't trying to prove that it happens or not, or that we all go to heaven. I was trying to correct an often cited but unfair statement said about Mormonism. In their doctrine, you don't "get a planet when you die". Becoming a god, though I think to be fair it should be more correct to say "heavenly father" one must reach a certain make a certain level of spiritual progress.

I can't of course prove that the Mormons are right but I most certainly can prove this is their doctrine just as I can prove that in the Episcopal tradition we all go to heaven if judged worthy (It's more complicated than that but I am not trying to give class in comparative religion) and just as I can prove that many Atheists believe when you die you die. What someone's doctrine is is not only provable but equally provable across religions.

And let me add in an edit, that I think it was obvious to anyone who wasn't trying to demonize another religion that I was not saying things were the same but giving quick and dirty understanding of what they mean. This is generally what one would get from the phrase Mormon equivalent, ie. what the mormons consider a spiritually enlightened being.

I'm not a momon. I don't currently have any mormon friends but I have had and what I say comes from what they have told me of their religion as they understand it. I am amused that rituals go from having important power to being meaningless when the church changes.

Some facts. Both men and women get that planet and our planet has a heavenly mother as well. The theory or "multiple wives" ( not something Jesus frowned on lest we forget) is that one marries through all the levels (and there are levels) and that since women tend to be more spiritually pure than men they would be alone. Think the argument is fishy, sure so do I. Just as I found the idea of orthodox Judaism that the reason women don't do all the rituals is because unlike the men they did not worship the Golden Calf and so are free from obligation. But both those statements are better than your beloved Catholic Church which says women can't be priests because Christ has no disciples who were female. Never mind this is a lie. Never mind a woman gave birth to him. So if I'm suggesting that here are huge differences between the Catholic Church and the Mormon one, the better treatment of women is not the place to go.

Nor frankly the charge than I am pot user because I don't think the Catholic church is quite as pure as you think it. In fact, that kind of statement is really unacceptable.

#39 Raskolnik

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:18 AM

ottovbvs said:

I'm broadly familiar with the history of Mormonism and like most religions it has it's totalitarian edge and episodes of violence (Roman catholicism?)

Yes, it's certainly not as thought the RCC is above reproach when it comes to power politics. I do think that the rap they get is somewhat unfair since a lot of their power came simply and naturally due to the vacuum left by the collapse of the Roman Empire, whose institutions and architecture (and language) they preserved, but the fact remains that there is a long history of violence there. On the other hand Catholics generally seem to have no problem acknowledging the darker episodes in the Church's history, but ask a Mormon about the Mountain Meadows Massacre or what exactly is meant by "White and Delightsome" (look it up) and you are in for either blank stares or obfuscation and denial. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, is the point that I have laboriously been trying to make.

Traveler said:

I still cannot comprehend why you ended up in the arms of Christian beliefs after your long Buddhist journey.

Yeah me neither :lol:

No, in all seriousness, I mean since you've asked a bunch of times, I suppose I can go into it in a little more detail. I didn't always feel the way I do about Christianity, and when I had my first contact with Buddhism I was more or less an atheist. (I say "more or less" because I was really into the Stoics, who had a view that could be described as broadly theistic, but I was still rigidly materialist in my outlook). Part of what attracted me to Buddhism was the (false) perception I had that it was somehow more rational and less superstitious than Christianity. I was taken by the philosophy, and didn't know what to make of the seemingly fantastical elements. The tradition spoke to me very deeply, but I felt that I couldn't maintain my intellectual integrity if I found fault with supernatural or superstitious or fantastical things in Christianity, but accepted those same things--to an even greater degree--in Buddhism.

To make a long story short (if you're interested in the long story I am currently writing a book about my experiences in Nepal), eventually I came to a point where I realized that if I saw Buddhist ritual and practice as efficacious, which I did, that the only reason I would view Christian ritual and practice as inefficacious would be out of an extremely small-minded bigotry. And that, furthermore, in my heart of hearts I couldn't deny that I did in fact believe that the Sacrament of Baptism effects an ontological shift in the person baptized; you could leave the Church, be excommunicated, commit all kinds of horrible sins, but you can never be un-Baptized once you have been Baptized. So the end of the road for me was the recognition that, from a rigorous and traditional Buddhist perspective, it was not and could not be an accident that I had taken birth as a Christian and received the Sacraments as a child. Speaking frankly, my daily practice is Buddhist, not Christian, but that is on account of commitments I have made to one of my Tibetan teachers. I consider myself a Christian by birth and education, and I make every effort to maintain communion with the Apostolic Church.


balconesfault said:

True - but when Church fathers airbrushed the record of what people talked about in the ensuing centuries, I don't think we can feel confidence. For example, you can go to Gnostic Books and find stories of the young Jesus killing his playmates when they messed with his stuff. There's a reason that these didn't appear in the final Canon.

This is a very good point, however there is (I submit) some difference between child Jesus using some crazy mojo on his playmates, and adult Joseph Smith surreptitiously marrying his two foster children along with the wives of his disciples. And I think the establishment of a canon was less about "airbrushing the record" and more about getting a highly fractious community of churches to agree on certain basics. The thing to keep in mind about that period in Church history is that you had multiple competing Christianities, of which a loose association of the largest and most successful organizations eventually became what we think of as the Early Church. This is, interestingly enough, the way in which I believe the Mormon claim to be Christian has the most validity: they are the most recent manifestation of Hermitic or Esoteric Christianity, which was never a part of mainstream Christianity, and is essentially a different religion: Jesus as Horus/Hermes. This also explains the Mormon doctrine that God the Father has another Father (God), and that this Father (God) has another Father (God), and so on: this is precisely the pyramidal structure of Egyptian religion.

#40 primrose

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:24 AM

"This is already overly long and I increasingly despair that you will ever be able to see past "I am an atheist and this is all gobbledegook"

But you have fallen into a vulgar error, I am not an atheist, nor have I ever said I was.





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