Natalie Collins, an ex-Mormon, just posted an interesting piece on why she writes about the culture in which she lives. She does this despite the fact her writings earn ugly labels and attacks from the LDS faitful.
Not surprisingly the primary reason that Natalie writes about the culture where she lives is because that is what good writers are supposed to do. A good writer will write about the world they know opposed to one they don't. We increase our knowledge by people telling us their stories. We don't increase knowledge when people blabber about what they don't know. For example, the idle chatter over the false JonBenet Ramsey confession did nothing to advance our society.
It appears that Natalie's view is that most Mormons very good people, but she sees problems with polygamy and sexism which undermines the good efforts of these good people.
As a gentile (non-Mormon) living in Utah, I find myself asking the same questions. I wonder why I keep lobbing incendiary comments into this blog and other places about the dominant religion in Utah.
The reason that I have a blog is because blogging is supposed to be the great cultural fad of the interet; so, as a dedicated internet afficiando, I blog. Starting a blog has everything to do with the internet, it was not driven by a desire to promote or attack any particular cause.
Again, I find it best to write about the things around me.
I am in an LDS dominated section of the world. Like Natalie, I see the Mormon culture as people who are trying their hardest to be good people. Most Mormon converts were attracted to the religion by the emphasis on family and strict moral code. I think this part of the religion is great. This is people exercising an authentic desire to be good moral people. I know people who have used their faith to become the good honeset person that they want to be.
Like Natalie, I see something underlying the authentic desires of the people who join the church which is terribly, terribly wrong. The problems are most pronounced in the Polygamist cults. However, the same problems exist in the heirarchy of the main LDS Church.
What seems to have happened is that both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young worked tirelessly to create a political structure to focus and and accumulate power into the central hierachy.
They did this primarily by imposing an "us-v-them" philosophy on their adherents. The group used various tricks to undermined the ability of their followers to engage in civil discourse outside their religion. They are taught to value revelation over reason. When it comes down to a crunch, LDS followers will discard evidence that does not strengthen their power base. For example adherents are taught to ignore DNA evidence that Native Americans are not a lost tribe of Israel. The DNA does not make the Mormon church stronger, therefore it must be shunned.
I've been in several businesses that failed because LDS workers suddenly stopped looking at the financial, engineering or marketing data showing that the company was on a wrong path. Rather than making corrections to keep a company afloat, the LDS bishops in a company would suddendly start irrationally supporting the failing path.
This is a bizarre place. I've seen the wall fall off a house because the LDS contractor thought three nails and the holy spirit was enough to keep it attached to the building. Spirit nails are not an adequate replacement for galvanized steel in material constructions.
I've seen too many cases where LDS decision makers simply would not listen to a gentile trying to explain why a business project would or would not work. The combination of the us-v-them mentality and preference for revelation over reason might make the hierarchy of the LDS church powerful; however this denial of reason undermines the ability to communicate and it causes the failure of the efforts of the adherents.
Of course, the LDS Church isn't the only group that uses "The Big Lie" as the path to power. If you follow the progressive movement, you will see the progressive movement works by randomly tossing out barbs against their hated enemy ... the open society. The vast majority of the barbs simply languish. For example, in the 70s several progressives tossed out the barb that civilization would be destroyed by global cooling. Global cooling failed to hook, evidence seemed to indicate that the earth was warming. A big lie has to contain some truth.
The cause of global cooling failed. Back to the drawing board and radical environmentalists were back with global warming.
For a good lie to work, there must be an element of truth. Look at the geological history of this blue sphere. Geology happens. The actions of man clearly has an affect on climate. The big lie is not that climate changes. The big lie is that the radical left is in tune with the cosmic oneness and can stop climate change.
Since big lies generally contain some truth, there is always a problem of separating truth from the lie. There is global climate change. Actions of mankind do accelerate this process.
The big lie is not that climate change happens. The big lie is that giving the progressives the power they lust after will stop climate change.
In Iraq, I concur with the assessment that, in 2003, George Bush's justification for invading Iraq was weak. He manipulated both the people and Congress. I hated the fact that this happened. The president used his authority and political power to get us into a war that we simply have to win. The big lie of the progressives is that since the justification for the invasion was grey, that we should withdraw our troops and hand Iraq to Iran. The truth is that Bush committed this nation to a path and that we must continue this process of gradually turning security over to Iraqis as the troops end their training.
Bin Ladin, that wank in Iran, Hezbollah and others have been pulling their own big lies. The lie is that their jihad will lead to world Islamic domination.
As you see, the problem is that large sections of the world are under the spell of various lies.
In Salt Lake we have a large LDS community and a loud "progressive" community. Both are pushing a philosophy of big lies. What happens from time to time is the leftists of the state occasionally lob an incidiary attack at the Mormons and it bursts into flames in the community at large. A good example here is the protests to Michael Moore's visit to UVSC.
There has been several books and DVDs made on this subject. The books are resonating in the progressive communities throughout the US because the protest against Michael Moore feeds their big lie that the Republican are opposed to freedom of expression.
The far left uses things like the UVSC/Micheal Moore protest to bulster there big lie that the right is a greater danger to the open society than the left. The truth is that the both groups are a danger. Fools like me drawn into the same fray end up helping those who seek to divide and conquer.
Quite frankly, the supposed division between Mormons and progressive is really quite amusing. Mormonism was born from the same desires as modern progressives. I suspect both Smith and Young considered themselves 19th century progressives. Early Mormon polygamy was a mini sexual revolution. Rich powerful men wanted to sleep with young women. Young women were willing to share rich powerful men. Early Mormons lived in collectives. The leaders taught the faithful to scorn private property, while the centers grew exceedingly rich. The Mormons even disliked the United States so much that they left the United States to establish a populist tolalitarian regime similar in structure to the totalitarian regimes progressives admire.
Fortunately, the United States invaded the Empire of Deseret. The United States and moderate members of the LDS Church have helped temper the progressive excesses of the LDS Church.
The claim of many LDS members is that they have rid themselves of the excesses of their past. This is a claim that may be true and should not be dismissed. The wholesale disdain for those continuing to practice "the principle" is supposed to be signs of a tempered religion. I worry about that the underlying philosophy might continue to undermine the society.
Anyway, back to the subject of this long rant. Why did I make the stupid decision to engage in the same game? The first reason is that I decided to join the blog fad, but had nothing to say. The second is that I had received a "progressive" education that taught me the same thing they taught Utah's famous radical cheerleaders. The way you communicate is by lobbing incendiary remarks.
I know this method of communication fails. I want the katusha-rocket-style comments that I lob into the land of Zion to awaken people to the divisiveness of LDS philosophy. Of course, the style of discourse is itself an act of divisivness.
The better approach is to promote rational authentic discourse. Unfortunately, my education didn't include information on how to engage in such rational discourse.
Anyway, I have followed the Utah blogosphere for the last several years. It appears to me that, at this point, internet communications are driving us further apart. While radical cheerleaders revel in the hatred that their sloganeering spawns, the dreams for a better society that drove them into the radical cheerleading position in the first place dims.
Sadly, I fear that, for our society to regain our ability to engage in quality discourse, we have to learn that the methods of discourse that we are taught in our progressive education system fail.
We need to able to recognized big lies when big lies are told. However, lobbing incidiary comments back at the liars doesn't do anything but add to division that liars intended to create.
I don't know the answers to the troubling questions of the universe. I see our country on a spiral of hatred fed by the division of left and right. I see that the problem is not the result of one side being good and the other evil, but a result of fiendish methods that undermine discourse. The left is pulling out every punch and jab, while the right entrenches.
I know in my heart that the only through the troubled times is open communications. We have try communicate even though it seems like our efforts fail. The incendiary comment style that I have been trained to use, does not work. Calmly pointing out big lies doesn't work. I believe that the open society that the Founders of the US advocated could work, and that we need to continue trying to communicate. I still have faith that blogging, forums and web sites can be a force for good.