I finished reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Being a gentile in Salt Lake, I found the book to be quite depressing. The same group think mantality that led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre and widespread coverup (involving a few thousand LDS in So. Utah) that followed.
The problems that define the local church come out clearly when looking at the polygamous cults that exist on the fringes of the city. The philosophy of the religion is simple. There is an "us" and there is a "them". The "us" are moral and righteous. The "them" are evil and corrupt.
"Truth" is revealed to the prophet, seer and relavator at the top of the hierarchy. Truth then flows through the political hierarchy. There is no independent object criteria for truth. It pretty much reduces to whatever is good for the body politic.
It is really funny how this organization that defines "truth" as relative to the body politic lambasts the scientific community for moral relativism as scientists have accepted that they do not know truth.
As there is no truth, the Mormons tend to concentrate solely on image and anecdote. (A lot of the local culture seems to revolve around this strange thing called a testemony, where people try to find an essense of revelation in personal stories.)
Back to truth, as truth is simply a matter of adherence to the body politic honesty simply reduces to the simple appearance of honesty.
In doing business, you will often find the management pulling these self destructive stunts and everyone simply turns a blind eye to the self destruction. The group think mantality simply doesn't have the ability to repair itself. For example, about a dozen people knew that Ron Lafferty intended to kill Brenda Lafferty. But everyone managed to hide the truth in their little illusions of the world and let the self destruction take place.
For example, Krakauer points to the abuse of welfare from the Mormon polygamists. The polygamists simply look at the government as the beast, welfare and tax abuse is simply a matter of bleeding the beast.
Of course, these faults don't just exists in Mormonism. For some odd reason, the people who've laid claim to a superior spirituality or morality seem to do a good job of hurting the people that have the misfortune of knowing them.
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