Monday, January 08, 2007

Secular Temples

I realize that my last two posts make me sound like a mean, anti-religious bigot type person. While, in my mind at least, I am trying to make the subtle point that, to the extent that a temple is designed to dominate a community, it ends up creating conflict.

In the United States, there has been a concerted effort among religious communities to minimize the domination/submission games that can get started between churches.

Joseph Smith bucked this American ideal by trying to create a church set on politically dominating areas where it existed. Because he was bucking a deep authentic desire of many Americans, he stirred up authentic resistance.

For the most part, I think modern Mormons avoid the excesses of its past. Unfortunately, a little bit of the old thinking pops up again now and then. When it does, it creates divisiveness that the left and right can feed upon to tear our society apart.

It seems to me that people need to point out problems. I don’t know how to do it without feeding the divisions.

The same things I complain about this massive temple building effort undertaken by the LDS Church is true of the various secular temples that we end up building in our communities. When public work projects (like stadiums, dams and even libraries and schools) are designed to dominate a community, they end up creating controversies. Pushing any good idea to the excess ends up creating deep divisions in society and it creates a backlash.

Look at the way the big sports franchises stomp all over our sense of fair play in their efforts to spend tax dollars on massive coliseums! In some circles, anything done for the NBA or NFL team is a righteous cause, justifying the taking of shortcuts with other people’s properties.

In reading different web sites, I’ve found that Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow has been taking a great deal of heat from the left for criticizing Kwanzaa. Mr. Snow sees this as a holiday that was designed to divide people along racial lines while promoting socialism. I believe that there is some truth to Mr. Snows. To the extent that Kwanzaa was designed to divide people along racial lines and to promote Socialism, it is a bad thing. However, to the extent that it gives an oppressed segment in our communities an outlet to celebrate their culture, it is a good thing. As for Mr. Snow’s article, I think that he a good job making a strong case against Kwanzaa (which is the way debate is supposed to work). Open discourse works by people stating their position clearly. Manipulative discourse takes place when you pull a trick like declaring an intentionally divisive holiday or building a garish temple designed to dominate a community, then label those who oppose you as racists or religious bigots.

The forces of evil in the world do their greatest damage when they mask themselves as the good. Actions that corrupt noble instincts really get my dander up. I am at a complete loss about how to address them.

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